Alone on Earth (Signal Bend Series Volume 4)(5)

By: Susan Fanetti


never, ever left the house undone. Ever. Maybe if her house ever caught fire. But only then.

So to travel to the middle of the country in fall, she wore her softest pair of skinny jeans, a sheer, slub-

knit tunic tee with a black camisole underneath, a funky scarf looped around her neck, and her favorite

suede coat. She almost wore her matching suede boots, but they had 4-inch heels, as most of her shoes did

(got to get height somewhere). She was heading to the country, and who knew what kind of terrain she’d

have to walk on—did they even have paved sidewalks? So she instead grabbed a pair of cowboy boots

she’d worn for Halloween a couple of years back.

Marta knocked on the open door as Pru and Riley were closing up the bags. “Miss Riley, the car is

here.”

“Thanks, Marta. We’ll be down in a few minutes.” The housekeeper nodded and picked up two of the

bags that were closest to the door.

When Riley and Pru lugged the rest of the bags down and out to the front, a black limo was parked

outside, and Joe, her favorite driver, was leaning against the rear fender, waiting.

He smiled and opened the rear door, the trunk of the limo coming up at the same time. “Hello, lovely

ladies.”

“Joe! Glad it’s you!” But as Riley approached the door he’d opened, she saw that the limo already had a

passenger. Her mother. She cast a betrayed eye at Joe, who’d been around long enough to know very well

that Riley treasured her moments free from her mother’s keep. He shrugged, abashed, but said nothing. She

understood. Nobody said no to Eleanor. Not for long.

“Mother. Why are you in my ride?” The thought that Eleanor had somehow finagled her way onto this

trip had Riley feeling suddenly panicked. She slid in and sat at the side. Pru followed her and sat next to

Eleanor. Riley gave her cousin a good, hard look and decided that her mother had surprised them both.

Good. At least they weren’t all in cahoots against her.

“Don’t worry, muffin. I’m just along for the ride to the airport. I wanted to make absolutely certain

everything was in order, and I wanted to give you a proper goodbye. I can’t remember the last time we’ve

been apart so long.”

Because it hadn’t happened before. Eleanor always came everywhere. It had caused a substantial

amount of drama when it became clear that there would be no convenient accommodations for an

entourage larger than one, and Riley had worked her best persuasive magic to make Eleanor think that it

was her idea to have Pru go instead of her. “Mother, I am capable of packing and getting myself to the

airport. Especially since I have Pru with me.”

“Oh, please. I know. I just want to go over what the studio is expecting and what I’ve set up with the

people in that town. Sign Post or whatever it’s called. The manager of the bed and breakfast you’re staying

in will be your main contact point. Shannon Ryan is her name. She will liaise with the motorcycle people

and with the woman you’re playing—Lilli. Who owns that bed and breakfast, by the way. Everything seems

very tangled together in that place. I double checked, and Shannon has your menu. There’s not a gym

anywhere around, but the motorcycle people have a workout room at their…clubhouse, I think she called

it. I don’t much like the sound of that, but if you have your yoga mat, maybe you can just do some yoga in

your room.”

Riley had been trying to block her mother’s chatter out, but she couldn’t. She was tired. She had it

handled. She wasn’t going to Siberia or something, and she was sick of listening to all the ways everybody

had her life worked out for her. “Mother! Enough! Everything’s arranged. I’m going to be gone a week. I’m

sure I’ll manage any hardships that arise. I’m not exactly roughing it.”

Eleanor laughed at that. “Oh, sweetheart. Wait until you see. It’s not the Marmont, that’s for sure. And I

don’t know how in touch we’ll be able to be while you’re gone. I keep hearing that cell reception is a bit

spotty in most places out there.”

That was the best part, as far as Riley was concerned. She might just turn her phone off. If she could