Madame Collete informed Carmen that her pay was being applied to the dresses Frierri wanted her to wear when she entertained. She smiled warmly enough, but the warmth never reached her eyes. She added that if Carmen did well, she would be offered a room at the hotel, so she wouldn't have any expenses to worry about besides "making pretty." Carmen complied with the fittings for the dresses and tried to calculate how much money she had saved. If only she hadn't bought new boots last week, and a cloak to replace her threadbare shawl. Precious little remained of her pitiful savings, compared to the distance she had to travel to evade Gio Frierri's reach.
"Cleveland certainly isn't far enough," Carmen whispered now, staring at the condensation on the window.
She stood up straight, frowning. When had the idea of Cleveland come into her head? If anything, she should head west, maybe try to reach her father's friends in Denver.
Carmen shivered, hearing Essie, her make believe friend, insisting she had to go to Cleveland. Perhaps the strain of her circumstances had become too much for her and she had broken, at long last? She was losing her mind, imagining a friend who came to her in the darkness and shadows and promised help and whispered advice. Yet what if she weren't losing her mind?
Her mother had always told her to pay attention to her dreams, and to never dismiss the impossible when it happened in front of her. Anna had taught her to search for details and patterns and think about the why and how of things. Otherwise, how would she have realized that wonderful, small, helpful things happened when she sang?