Saturday morning, Rhiannon drives the cousins to the airport, and after an extended session of hugs and tears, they board their plane. They arrive in Atlanta late afternoon and take public transportation to Ponce de Leon, where Abigail has found a motel that won’t strain their budget too much. Arriving there, Genevieve says of the accommodations, “I can live with it, I guess. Not sure why we couldn’t get a place downtown.”
“You’ll appreciate this place more once you see how much we save.”
“I’m pretty sure we can afford slightly more expensive accommodations than this.”
“It’s a colorful neighborhood.”
As with most lodgings, the motel has free wi-fi for guests. Genevieve wastes no time in setting up her laptop.
“You don’t want to rest a little first — maybe do some sight-seeing?”
“I’m just checking how well the Internet works.” Genevieve turns in her chair to face Abigail. “Do you think it’s safe to leave the computer set up here?”
“Should be. If someone’s going to steal it, they’ll steal it whether it’s set up or not.”
“I could just carry it with me.”
“Then someone could steal it directly from us.”
“This is true. I did bring my lock. Plus, I used that program that scrambles the drive if someone enters the wrong password too many times.”
“The one Leah had on her site?”
“It’s actually a pretty handy little program. I can see why she’d use it for marketing.”
“Well, I want to rest a bit. Four and a half hours in the air was more than I bargained for. Next time I’ll know to get a layover somewhere.”
“I’m not tired,” Genevieve says. “I want to get started figuring out our plans.”
“We have all night tonight and all day tomorrow to map out what we want to accomplish for the first few days. Let’s get out and see some of the city.”
“Hey, where’s that place with the carving?”
Genevieve looks it up on the computer.
“Looks like the train doesn’t go there. There’s a couple of buses but they don’t go into the park. You’d think an attraction like that would be easily accessible by public transport.”
“What can we get to on the train?”
Genevieve checks. “Not much of anything actually. Art center. Downtown. We have to take the bus to the train, or walk, or get a car.”
“Please don’t tell me that we’ll have to rent a car.”
“Only if we want to see most of the city. Look, I told you everyone in Atlanta complains about the traffic.”
“Everyone everywhere complains about the traffic. I suppose there’s always Uber.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Genevieve says. “I would like to do some exploring when you’re up to it.”
“Give me half an hour, then we can find something to eat.”
“Oh. There’s this place nearby called The Clermont that a lot of locals visit,” Genevieve says.
“Yeah. I’ve heard of it. It’s a cheesy strip club.”
“Really? Why do college students go there?”
“It’s a strip club.”
The following morning, after hitting the continental buffet, where they load up on pastries and coffee, Abigail and Genevieve station themselves back in the room and start plotting out how they’ll spend their time.
“When should I drop in on Bio-Mom?” Genevieve asks.
“I think you should go by Vital Records first. Pull the info on her parents. While you’re doing that, I’ll scope out the office. We don’t want to risk her seeing you until you drop in on her.”
“She’s going to freak.”
“I don’t know. She doesn’t strike me as the sort to freak.”
“How often do you see someone who looks like your dead mother?”
“Good point. I’ll try to get in the office, but it might be difficult to just drop by since she’s on an upper floor.”
“No, it isn’t,” Genevieve says. “Just go in and say you’re picking up a package and this is the suite number you were given. I’ll see if I can find another company in the building with a similar number but on a different floor.”
“What about the company name?”
“Doesn’t matter. Just say they gave you a suite number but no name. If you need a person’s name, use Shawn Cutler.”
“No one, as far as I know. It’s just an offbeat name that’s not too offbeat, so it sounds more realistic.”
“Who’s the receptionist?” Abigail asks.
“Tracey. She was friendly but somewhat tight lipped the one time I called. Which isn’t surprising given who her employer is.”
“Yeah, Tracey,” Abigail says. “Alyssa said her daughter is getting married in a few weeks.”
“Yeah. She’s marrying David Cairo.”
“The billionaire? Does Leah know him?”
“I hope so. He funded her when she started her company.” She turns to face Abigail. “You’ve been pretty chatty with Alyssa lately.”
“I like her. It’s easy to chat with her.”
“Just don’t forget, you’re Zelda.”
“I won’t. It’s not easy being in contact with someone genuinely nice without developing an admiration for her.”
“Just don’t let your admiration cause you to lose focus.”
“Nothing to worry about.”
“Oh, listen, I downloaded a password cracker I’m going to try out later.”
“What are you going to do with that?”
“I’m going to try to hack into L. J.’s system.”
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea. She’s a security expert. It’s not like you’re trying to trick a librarian at the Seattle public library into giving you access to their user database.”
“Which is why I down-loaded the program. She’s likely to be on guard for a social engineering attack.”
“It’s a last resort, okay? Let’s see how our explorations go first.”
Finished with their planning, they spend most of the following day checking out their surroundings and mapping out the bus system. Next morning, Genevieve sets out for Vital Records while Abigail heads to Colony Square, where Leah’s office is located.
About an hour after they head out, Genevieve is filling out forms at Vital Records when Abigail phones.
“Shawn Cutler, please.”
“What do you need?” Genevieve says.
“Hi Shawn. It’s Natalie. I’m at Colony Square to pick up that package and apparently went to the wrong office. Where did you say you are again?”
“She was going to call, wasn’t she?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“There’s two towers, aren’t there? Tell her the office is in the other one.”
“Got it. Great. Thanks.”
She disconnects then takes the forms to the front desk. “Hi. I’m here to get death certificates on my grandparents. Is this all I need?”