Chapter 8—Local Help
Disclaimer: The only character I own is Ela, the rest all belong to….whoever created National Treasure.
A/N: I am so sorry this chapter took so long. My life has been absolute chaos for the last three weeks. Thank God for my amazing roommates or I probably would have jumped off a bridge by now. j/k. Anywho sorry for the wait. Hope you all enjoy!!
The next two hours were spent driving through winding valleys and across rolling hills. Eventually the generally flat country side of Maryland gave way to the jutting mountains of Pennsylvania. In the backseat Riley sat with his legs sprawled in front of him, computer resting comfortably on his lap. The sound of keys being struck in rapid succession would randomly fill the silence.
Abigail continued to stare out her window at the scenery flying past. Such a weight had been lifted off her shoulders when she told Ben about the baby. He was happy and now so was she. Still she couldn't help feeling a little guilty about bringing a baby into the world when she was so close to losing the other. 'Don't think that way.' She berated herself. 'Ela will not die. I'm not going to let that happen.'
"Incoming email," Riley announced as animated graphic appeared on the screen.
"From him?" Ben asked.
"Of course," Riley muttered while opening the message. It took a few seconds for the text to load, but when it was finally complete Riley read it aloud.
Glad to see you've made some progress. It won't be long until you reach Johnstown now. When you get there follow the signs to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The librarian on campus is expecting you and will be able to provide you with some resources to help in your search. I guess it's back to college huh Ben? Remember the good times in college? I'll bet your memories are filled with wonderful thoughts. Mine aren't and it's all because of you.
You still don't know who I am, do you? Typical. You wouldn't remember someone like me. It's not as though we spent much time together outside of our weekly meetings. I was in love but you were selfish and naïve. I was barely important enough to get your precious attention. Do I have it now Ben?
A Ghost from Your Past
Silence once again reigned as they absorbed the words in the email. Ben began frantically racking his brain or any inkling as to who this psycho was.
"Wow," Riley finally spoke. "You seriously pissed this person off."
"Riley," Ben growled. He was quickly becoming frustrated with the whole situation.
"It's a woman," Abigail spoke. Her blood boiled at the thought of another woman taking her juvenile vendetta out against her daughter. She wanted to meet this woman and have it out as soon as possible. Pregnant or not, she would make her pay dearly.
"How do you know that?" Riley asked.
"The email said she was in love," she pointed out.
Riley thought for a moment and finally chuckled. "Wouldn't it be funny if it wasn't? If it was a guy that was in love with Ben in college?" He laughed again softly to himself and looked at his two companions; neither of them looked amused. "Or not."
"I don't remember anyone like that from college," Ben spoke. " Georgetown was a big campus. I knew a lot of women there."
Briefly Abigail wondered exactly what context Ben "knew" these women. It killed her to think of her husband with another woman, though it was only natural to assume. After all he had been to cavalier in his personal life, according to Patrick. 'Now is not the time for jealous thoughts Abigail!' she thought. 'Besides I won in the end. That's all that really matters.'
" University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown," Ben read as he pulled the silver BMW into the right hand lane. The lane then veered to the right turning into an exit ramp. Ben followed the traffic through two intersections and up an enormously steep hill. A few turns later and they were pulling onto campus.
"Talk about a rural campus," Riley mumbled from the backseat. The entrance to the campus was surrounded by trees and as the car progressed down the bumpy, unkempt road more trees greeted them.
"It's very picturesque," Abigail agreed. She noticed a sign on the left hand side of the road and told Ben to slow down so she could read it. "Owen Library…keep going straight." They continued to follow the road around a bend and past several housing buildings.
"I'm not seeing a library," Riley said from the back. He was looking out the back passenger window at a group of girls they had just passed. All of them wore red windbreakers with white Greek letters across the back. "Maybe we should ask them for directions," he added beginning to roll down the window.
"Riley look straight ahead," Ben said. As if on cue the large four story building rose in front of them, a large sign in front reading 'Owen Library'.
"Oh," Riley sighed.
Ben pulled the car into a parking space in front and killed the engine. All three climbed out of the car, noticing a small group of young men standing some feet away. They were staring at either the car or at Abigail, but Ben decided neither was a good choice.
"Sweet ride," one of the students called out as Ben, Abigail, and Riley passed him.
"Thanks," Ben nodded and continued his approach to the library. A young female student inside directed them to the circulation desk on the second floor where they could find a librarian.
"Excuse me," Ben said as they entered the second floor and approached the small circular desk.
"Shh," the librarian scolded. She was an older woman, probably teaching since the school had been built. Her curly grey hair was pulled back into a bun and her too-large glasses sat perched at the end of her nose, brightly colored strings attached to each side. A small black nametag clung to her blouse reading Mrs. Marianne Tosky.
'Yep just like high school,' Ben thought bemused. "Sorry, but I need a little help."
"Yes young man?" she responded icily.
"When's the last time anyone called Ben 'young man'?" Riley whispered to Abigail next to him. The two smirked careful not to incur the wrath of the librarian.
"I was told there would be some information waiting here for me. My name is Benjamin Gates."
"Ah yes, Mr. Gates," Mrs. Tosky responded cracking what could be considered in some cultures as a smile. "I was informed to send you to Dr. Newman's office. Krebs Hall, Office 117."
Abigail stared at the older woman incredulously. "Are you kidding me? We were told to come to the library and now you're sending us somewhere else?" Her last nerve was wearing thin and there was no time to play around.
"Look, I'm merely passing along information," Mrs. Tosky replied looking at Abigail over the top of her glasses. "If you don't want it then—"
"No we'll take it," Riley interjected. He watched as Ben took Abigail's arm and pulled her aside attempting to calm her. "How do we get to…where was it?"
"Krebs Hall," she replied. "Go back out the way you came. It's directly across the quad. His office should be just off the main lobby."
"Thank you," Riley answered. The trio moved quickly away from the elderly woman in the direction she had indicated. Riley took the lead, walking a few feet in front of Ben and Abigail towards the large stone building at the end of the sidewalk.
"Is this ever going to end?" Abigail wondered aloud. She wasn't asking anyone in particular, but hoped that someone would answer.
Without words Ben wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled his wife flush against his side. She laid her head on his shoulder and fell into an easy stride next to him. They would figure it out, Ben was sure of that. The question that nagged at him was, would they do it in time?
Alright so I have to let you guys in on a little secret. The university that the trio is visiting does actually exist, and I've been a student there for nearly three years.