They turned a corner to a hall they hadn’t been in before to find a Relaxation Center, which appeared to be a series of beds in the back and massage chairs in front.
“Now this,” Abby mutters, “every mall needs. Let me tell you, when we get out of here, I’m going to get rich — somehow — and then I’m going to build a mall with a hotel attached. A little one. But attached.”
“When we get out of here,” Olly retorted quietly, “I am never going into a mall again. I might even avoid strip malls. Shop online. Buy from local boutiques in stand-along buildings. Although, with all the shopping we just did, I might not need to shop for a few years.”
Abby flopped down on a bed. “Guys, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m so – so miserable.”
Liv hugged her. “We’re all miserable sometimes. It’s okay. Get some sleep. We’ll all be right here, getting some rest that isn’t bunny-nest-ed, okay?”
“Okay.” She leaned into the hug. “You’re a good friend, you know that? I’m really lucky to have you.” She looked around. “And I’m lucky to have found the two of you, too. Thank you.”
“Even though I tried to trick you?” ‘Via looked at her almost shyly through her hair.
“Well, I mean, there are better ways to introduce yourself, but if the other Abbies you met were…. urr… sub-par, I don’t really blame you.”
“No more stabbing, though,” Liv offered.
“Hey, I didn’t actually stab you! I wasn’t really going to stab anyone… okay. Probably not.” ‘Via sulked a little before smiling, sheepishly. “I was a little nuts for a while there. That place… it’s not bad, but it’s not good, either. If you know what I mean.”
Abby thought back to the place in question. “Yeah. Yeah, I can see it messing with your head.” She stifled a yawn. “Was that the last time we slept?”
The room they were in had started with a sunny yellow light; she thought it was dimming as she sat there. Clever. The dimmer it got, the harder it would be to stay awake.
“That was before eighteen hours of shopping, too.” Liv tucked Abby in, the way she had when she’d snuck in while Abby was sick a couple times – the way Abby had done for her, too. “I see showers back here. We’ll take turns and then sleep; you can shower in the morning, okay?”
“O… kay.” Another yawn cut her off. Abby patted the bed with a wry smile. “Can’t believe a mall has this but- but I’ll take it.”
She fell into unconsciousness faster than she’d believed possible.
She woke in the morning to find herself flanked by lightly-snoring Livs. The light in the Relaxation Station was slowly coming up from a dim reddish light to slightly more orange. She padded out of bed, checked to be sure she had the appropriate number of Livs – three, good. That was the number she’d had when she went to sleep – and headed into the back.
A big fluffy towel and one-shot toiletries awaited her, as well as a deep soaking tub and a standing shower. “Every mall should have this.” She took a long shower, trying hard to think about nothing as she cleaned herself, and then dipped into the hot tub. If she could convince the malls, that was step one…Want more?