Chapter 5 – Changes Preview: Haley gets a new look before Jordan’s band’s show.


The sky finally started to lighten, and I sighed as I lay in bed.  Sleep never came for me.  I was uncomfortable in my khaki shorts.  I guess I am uptight when it comes to foreign sheets.  I’m sure hotels have policies, but even still, it just felt wrong to lay there naked, despite the stuffiness of my room.  I was sweating even after I threw the blanket off of me.


Of course there were many other reasons for my insomnia; one of them was right across the hall, probably sleeping nude himself.  Now there was a nice visual.  My hormones must be out of whack.  Either I’m shooting daggers from my eyes at the boy or thinking crazy, perverted thoughts that I bet he hasn’t even fathomed!


“You need to get laid,” would be Tasha’s response to all of this.  She was right, I’m sure.  Never is a long time to not have sex.  If I were really religious, I would wear a purity ring and use my virtue as an excuse as to why I’m still a virgin.  Since I’ve only been to church twice in the last five years, I had to nix that idea.


There have been opportunities, if you could call them that.  Christian trying to feel me up in the backseat of my father’s company car on New Year’s Eve wasn’t exactly my fantasy.  I always wondered how my father would feel about Christian if I told him that tidbit of information.


In high school, I wasn’t allowed to date until senior year.  By then, either all the boys had girlfriends already or weren’t interested in dating a “prude”, which is what they referred to me as.  They even turned my reputation into a nickname.  Prudence.  Ah, yes, kids could be cruel.  I bet Jordan would have been one of those boys.  He wasn’t even the main reason for my lack of sleep tonight, though.


Between the noise from the streets, the shadows being cast on the walls, and the random creaks and clicks that went on in the room, I was definitely paranoid.  I’m sure it was just the hotel settling, but that didn’t comfort me any, especially since the thirty minutes I did manage to sleep, I had an awful nightmare.


The old concierge from downstairs had walked into my room with a knife, threw back the covers, and stabbed my naked body repeatedly.  Apparently I’m more carefree about sleeping in the buff in my dreams, but I also end up dead…go figure!


I glanced at the clock on the nightstand.  It was almost seven.  I sighed from boredom.  The television wasn’t working, so I couldn’t even resort to watching infomercials.  It hit me then that I had my laptop!  Finally, I would be able to write in my journal in peace.


Getting out of bed, I went to my knapsack and pulled out my computer.  That’s when I realized my battery charger was with my things that were sent home.  With the way my luck has been, I’m not surprised.  I enjoyed my last few moments of battery power, typing away in my journal.  I wrote about my dream of freedom coming to life and the mysterious stranger I met on my new adventure.


I let my thoughts linger on Jordan for a few moments.  I can’t explain it, but I’m drawn to him, and not just because he’s good-looking¾okay extremely good-looking¾there was something behind his eyes; familiar yet totally foreign.  I wanted him to want me, and I knew I would just turn him down if he hit on me.  It didn’t make sense, but I wanted to have that power over a boy like Jordan, who seemed to be in control of everything.  I never had power over anyone, and I was never in control.  A boy like him would break my heart anyway, and besides, it would never work.  My family would hate him, hell, I wasn’t completely sure I didn’t hate him.

My laptop died and I put it away before looking at the time once again.  I was getting hungry now, but it wasn’t even eight yet.  I straightened myself up and brushed my teeth, grateful I kept my toothbrush in my knapsack.  I grabbed my purse, and slipped my key card into it before leaving the room.

When I stepped off the elevator and into the lobby, the concierge was still on duty.  His beady little eyes focused in on me, and his dirty fingernails closed around a letter opener.  I hurried out of the hotel without saying a word.  The muggy heat hit my face as soon as I stepped outside.


The sidewalk was still fairly quiet.  It was nice to see the change of pace from last night with the tourists rushing around and businessmen trying to catch a taxi.  There was almost a quiet noise as I walked down the street.  Street vendors smiled and greeted me as I passed.  I stopped at one of the carts and ordered a couple of things for Jordan and myself.  I had every intention of ordering from a diner or Starbucks, not trusting food from some man on the street.  However, I wanted to earn some street credibility in Jordan’s eyes, and the vendor seemed nice enough.  Plus, there was a huge corn muffin in the window of the cart with my name on it.


As I walked back to the hotel, I dreaded seeing the concierge again.  I was starting to believe he was capable of murder.  Visions of my funeral flashed through my mind.  My parents throwing themselves on top of my coffin.  Christian standing, holding a rose as if he were the love of my life.  Tasha telling everyone off for never letting me experience life for myself.  And my parents blaming her for my death while Tasha blamed Jordan for taking me to a cheap hotel in New York.


I shook the vision from my head as someone yelled my name.  I looked up, startled, and there was Jordan coming toward me, as if he were panicked.  It was quite a change for him; always suave and at ease, as if nothing ever riled him.  My first thought was, of course, the concierge.  Had he gotten to Jordan?  I half expected to see him running behind Jordan with the letter opener aiming at us.


“Are you insane?”


“I don’t think so…” I looked at Jordan confused.


Maybe he could read the paranoia in my thoughts?


“I didn’t know where you went.  The damn concierge was no help,” he gritted.


Was he worried about me?  The thought made me smile.


“I got us breakfast,” I held up the bag and tray for evidence.  “I couldn’t sleep.”


“Oh, well…I knocked on your door and I just…never mind,” he said walking back to the hotel, keeping a good distance ahead of me.


The concierge eyed us as we passed him and I shivered.  Does he ever go home?  We stepped onto the elevator and I noticed Jordan looking at me from the corner of his eye.




“Nothing,” he laughed before smirking to himself.


“What?” I asked again.


“I had an interesting dream last night.”


“Yeah, so did I.”


“Were you naked in your dream?”


I looked at Jordan in disbelief.


“How did you know?” I gasped.


“Wow,” he smirked again, inching closer to me.  “I guess I’m affecting you more than you let on.”


“What?” I laughed and moved away from him.  “You weren’t in my dream.  The concierge was.”


“The old guy?” Jordan looked appalled as he laughed.


“It wasn’t a sex dream!  He stabbed me…and I was naked,” I muttered.


Jordan was amused.


“That’s not exactly how my dream went…but you were naked,” he trailed off, smiling again.


“Not going to happen,” I sighed, stepping off the elevator.


“Too much work,” he mumbled from behind me.


I ignored his comment, although I felt a little of my initial hatred toward him renew itself.


We took breakfast into my room.  I placed coffee in front of Jordan and orange juice down for myself.  I took out the corn muffins and handed him one.


“Thank you,” he said as he unwrapped the muffin.


“You’re welcome.  I didn’t know what you liked, I hope this is okay,” I shrugged.


“It’s fine,” he said, biting into his muffin.


We ate breakfast in silence and I noticed he didn’t touch his coffee.


“Not a coffee drinker?” I asked.


“It’s bad for the vocal chords,” he shrugged.


I laughed loudly.




“And these aren’t?” I pointed to the pack of Marlboro’s on the table.


“It’s one thing at a time,” he shrugged.  “I see you don’t drink coffee, either.”


“I like vanilla lattes,” I said with a smile.


“From Starbucks?”


I nodded.


“Like I said, you don’t drink coffee, either; that’s mostly sugar and milk.”


“Well, excuse me…” I rolled my eyes at him.  “Are you always so…”








“No…uptight?” I asked.


Jordan all but fell on the floor laughing.


You’re calling me uptight?”


“Basically, yes,” I smiled.


He laughed again.


“Don’t think because you’re this carefree spirit that you’re not uptight, because you are.”


“Oh, please explain, Queen Stuffed Shirt!”  He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair.


“You make these ridiculous rules and judgments for other people that just put more pressure on you to keep up your façade.”


“My façade?  I wasn’t aware I had one of those…”


“I see right through you.  You think you’re so bad-ass because you have tattoos, you smoke, you’re in a band, and nothing bothers you,” I said, and I had to admit, I was feeling mighty empowered by my accusing tone.


It was nice to be on this side for once; the side my parents were always on with me; the side Tasha was always on with everyone, and I bet it was also the side Jordan had always been on until now.


“What are you trying to run from, Jordan?  Who are you afraid of turning into?”


Jordan looked at me for a moment.  I couldn’t quite place the expression on his face.  It was a mix of anger and intensity that intimidated me, but at the same time, made his green eyes glow, and his smooth lips tighten in such a way that squared his jaw off perfectly.  Had he been in his underwear at that moment, Jordan Walsh would have looked like a Calvin Klein model.


“Listen Freud, I thought you were pre-law, not a psychology major.”


He laughed it all off just then; the lines in his forehead smoothing out, and his jaw rounding out again.  He went back to eating his muffin, and I decided to not dig any deeper.  If the shoe were on the other foot, I was sure Jordan would push me to the limit.


After breakfast, Jordan went back to his room and I took a shower.  I felt completely gross having to put the same clothes on from yesterday, which I slept in last night as well.  I tried to do something with my hair without any styling products, and failed miserably.  I needed a haircut badly.  My hair hung lifelessly past my shoulders, which oddly enough, seemed symbolic of my life in Bakersfield.  I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and scrounged out what little make-up I kept in my purse.


Masked in just some concealer, mascara and lip-gloss, I was out the door feeling self-conscious and insecure.  Granted I was never a beauty queen, and I certainly didn’t spend hours in front of the mirror primping myself, but for the first time in my life, I wanted to look flawless.  I was the furthest I had ever been from it.  My clothes were wrinkled, and my pedicure was chipped, which could be seen through my espadrille sandals.  I suppose I could have dealt with shopping in New York looking like this, however, after taking one look at Jordan, it assured me that he won’t be dreaming of me naked anymore.


Jordan emerged from his hotel room in a ratty, but clean t-shirt and torn jeans.  His hair was a mess, and it just made his look complete.  I hate boys, especially obnoxious, overly-attractive boys.




“I guess,” I muttered, following behind him.  He sang softly to himself, and I was glad he didn’t examine the way I looked.  Maybe he hadn’t dreamt of me last night after all.  Maybe he said it to make me uncomfortable.  It worked, but now with me looking like a subway bum, and he looking like he stepped off a CW television series, I wouldn’t mind being the star of his naked fantasies if only for my own personal ego boost.


We walked in silence to the Manhattan Mall.  I don’t believe I had ever been there.  My mother always took me shopping on the upper east side.  The pricey, high-end lines did nothing for my fashion sense.  According to Tasha, just because it costs a fortune, doesn’t make it look good.  Then again, Tasha had a flair for style at any price.  As for me, fashion was no different than the rest of my life: chosen for me.


Each Christmas and each birthday, I would receive a closet full of clothes my mother had purchased.  I had more than enough outfits to wear, but I never stopped to think what I liked or didn’t like.  Every once in a while I caught sight of myself in a mirror.  I didn’t look twenty; more like ninety.  My clothing was conservative and boring, with the occasional overly bold pattern.  I was incredibly grateful when Mom decided to get me a few pairs of jeans last year, but instantly considered giving them to good will once I saw they were two sizes too big.  Tight pants give the wrong message, Mom warned.  I swear sometimes I feel like I was born in 1950, not 1990.


We stepped into the mall and I saw stores I had never been to, but at least heard of.  Jordan turned toward me.


“Are you going to be okay alone?”


“Where are you going?”


“I need to run some errands for the show tonight.”


“Oh, right, the battle of the bands.”


“Are you coming?” Jordan asked.


“Do you want me to?”


“Haley, sure, okay?” he sighed.


I couldn’t figure out why he seemed aggravated.  I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with me.


“All right,” I offered a smile, but he didn’t return it.


“Meet me right here in two hours.”


Great, just what I needed: another person telling me what to do.  I walked toward the first appealing store I saw.  I took a quick inventory of the place, and headed in a direction that appealed to me.  It was nice to follow my own instinct, for once, instead of what my mother would want me to wear.  Then there were the rare times Tasha took me shopping.  My nickname may be Prudence, but Tasha’s idea of bringing me on the cutting edge of fashion was to dress me in next to nothing.


“Can I help you?” a short bleached blonde girl squeaked.  I smiled at her.


“I basically need enough clothes to last me two weeks, and I am kind of at a loss as to where to begin,” I informed her.


I wasn’t too sure if she worked on commissions or not, but I could tell this girl was going to make me her pet project.  There was this gleam in her eyes, and I didn’t know whether to be afraid or grateful.


“My name is Meghan,” she announced before shouting, “I totally have something you’d look amazing in.”


She practically hopped two feet over and pulled out a cute dress that definitely interested me.


Meghan had me follow her around the store as she picked out garments for me.  I had to admit, I absolutely loved every single item she picked.  It was like she was my own personal shopping fairy gifted from heaven.  I was shoved into the dressing room, and forced to model everything.  I was a bit self-conscious in some of the tight and revealing outfits, but Meghan was full of compliments.  She seemed sincere enough, but I still wondered if it was all salesgirl talk, or honesty.


“So, I’m going to this battle of the bands thing tonight…” I said as I was changing into my own clothes.  “What should I wear?”


“What kind of music?” Meghan asked.


“I’m not completely sure.  I’m guessing alternative?  Punk?”


“Ooh, don’t go anywhere!” Meghan yelled, her voice already trailing in the distance.


I laughed to myself.  Whoever said all New Yorkers were rude obviously hadn’t met Meghan.  She was too adorable and a huge help.  I just wanted to put her in my pocket and take her back to Bakersfield with me.  Lord knows that town could use a bit of bubbly.


Meghan was back a moment later, shoving items over the door.  I was a little suspicious of her choices, and she must have felt my hesitation.


“Just try it on!”


I stepped out of the dressing room a moment later and Meghan squealed, causing several people to stare.


“Haley, you’re hot!”


“Really?” I asked, turning toward the mirror.


I looked at the v-neck, form-fitted tank dress that came right above my knees with silver and black horizontal stripes.  The silver leggings, that I had been horrified of at first sight, looked much better with the outfit.


“Here,” Meghan handed me short black boots in my size, and I slipped into them.  “Perfect.”


I glanced at myself from every angle.  I loved the look!  The outfit was comfortable and different, but it felt like this could be me, and I was relieved by that.


“Thank you so much for your help, Meghan.”


“It was easy,” she smiled, waving her hand at me.


“You don’t accept tips, do you?”


“Are you kidding?” she laughed.  “I could get fired.”


“Well, I’d like to repay you in some way.”


“You think you could get me into the battle of the bands tonight?  It’s the one at the Canal Room, right?”


“I think so,” I nodded.


“It’s supposed to be the best one.  A lot of the big local bands will be there.  My favorite one is Tortured.  Oh, wait until you see the lead singer…he’s so gorge!”


I laughed, “I’ll keep an eye out.  So, why can’t you get in?  Is it expensive?”


“I’m only sixteen,” she pouted.


“Oh, I see,” I thought for a moment.  “I’ll see what I can do.  Meet me outside before the show, okay?”


“Okay, thanks,” she smiled.


We took my things up to the register and I asked Meghan if there was a decent hair stylist nearby.  Luckily, her stylist was right down the block.  I checked my time and was amazed it only took forty minutes.  I hurried out of the mall and toward the address Meghan gave me.


The hairdresser was a feminine male named Anton.  He had some crazed hairdo with streaks of blonde and black in it.  I gave him full creative control and wondered if I would regret it.  I felt bold, though, especially since I had a new wardrobe.  I figured it was about time I took some chances.


After washing my hair, Anton began chopping away, and I tried to hide my fear.  How short was he going to go?  What if he turned my hair into his half-buzzed, half-new wave ‘do?  I refused to look until he was finished.  Anton spun my chair around to face the mirror.  Suddenly, I felt like I was on one of those stupid reality makeover shows, minus the plastic surgery.


I opened my eyes and my mouth dropped.  My dirty blonde hair shined with the finishing spray Anton used.  The cut was layered and stopped right above my shoulders.  I had side swept bangs that seemed to make my eyes look more dramatic.  I felt like I was seeing myself through fresh eyes.  I almost didn’t believe I was looking at me.


After buying some hair products from Anton, I was on my way back to the mall.  I still had some time left, and I was grateful since I desperately needed underwear, and some makeup.  Once my shopping was complete, I ducked into the bathroom by the food court and changed into my new battle of the bands outfit.  I did my makeup, and took a step back before looking in the mirror.  I looked pulled together and trendy, but a little wild, too.  Now, I really wish I had a camera on me.  Tasha would die to see me looking like this!  I darted toward a cart that sold film and batteries, and picked up a disposable Kodak camera.  It was no Nikon D40 like I owned, but it would get the job done.  I snapped a quick shot of myself in the mirror of the bathroom.


I glanced at my watch and realized I was a few minutes late meeting Jordan.  I struggled to grab all of my bags, and headed toward the escalator.  It was nice seeing normal price tags on things.  No item was over sixty dollars and everything I bought looked great on me.  I finally felt like a normal college girl.  As I wondered if Jordan would notice the change in me, I turned into even more of a normal girl, with butterflies in my stomach.


It’s not that I wanted anything to happen with Jordan, but I wanted to be wanted.  I may have been out of Jordan’s league in the class system, but he was out of my league on the good looks.  I was curious to see if I would turn his head at all.  My hopes weren’t up high, but I still yearned for the attention.


I spotted Jordan as I stepped off the escalator.  He looked just as aggravated as earlier, and I wondered if it was because I was ten minutes late.  If he was going to chew me out, I was ready to walk away.  I had the money to get home now.  I liked knowing that fact, but I’ll admit, the danger of having to depend on a stranger was a bit alluring.  Up until yesterday, I was always safe.  Safe gets boring.


I walked toward Jordan, and he seemed to look right past me.  I was a couple of feet away from him now.  Jordan blinked twice, and a crooked smile crept over his face.  I saw his eyes pan down my body, and I wanted to cover up somehow.  I felt exposed, but once I saw his smile spread wider, I tried to portray a confident woman.


“What the hell happened to you?” he asked, still looking me over.


“It was time for a change,” I shrugged.


“Did you buy a whole new wardrobe?”


“Just enough to get me by.”


“The look suits you…you look…normal.”


Was that supposed to be a compliment?




Jordan laughed, “I mean, not normal…you look good.”


“Thank you,” I smiled, satisfied with his answer.


He seemed to have forgotten about his sour mood as he followed me out of the mall.


“I see you covered your bases,” Jordan tried to peek into my Victoria’s Secret bag, and I blushed.


“What did you do while I shopped?” I wondered.


“Oh, just met up with the band.”


I didn’t know Jordan well enough to know for sure that this was a lie, but I was pretty perceptive, and his assurance never wavered until that moment.  If I had to guess, Jordan was involved in something illegal, or he had a girlfriend.  Okay, so maybe I was being presumptuous, and just a bit stereotypical.  Just because Jordan was a boy, and a musician, and a born New Yorker, did not mean he was a criminal, but he did have the criteria to be someone’s boyfriend.



On the subway ride to the Canal Room, I remembered what I had promised Meghan, and turned toward Jordan.  He was flashing someone a dirty look, and I followed his line of sight.  There was an attractive man in his late twenties sitting across from us.  When I looked, the man winked at me.  I smiled at him, as I blushed.  Jordan turned his dirty look on me, and whispered in my ear.


“Don’t smile at him.”


“Don’t tell me what to do,” I whispered back.


“He’s a drug dealer.”


“How do you know?” I wondered.


Maybe because Jordan was a drug dealer, and recognized his own kind?


“I saw him on the platform making an exchange,” Jordan said, eyeing the man again.


“You have a problem?” the flirty drug dealer asked.


“Do you?” Jordan retorted, and panic struck me.


Visions of West Side Story flashed through my head for some reason.  I pictured this man pulling a knife on Jordan while several members of his gang jumped out, and danced around the subway car snapping their fingers.  Okay, so that wasn’t nearly as frightening as a real fight, but when did I watch gang movies?


“Baby, let it go,” I said, grabbing Jordan’s hand.


His eyes flickered in my direction, and a smirk formed in the corners of his mouth.


“Sorry, he’s just protective.”


“I would be, too, if I had a hot little thing like you,” he winked again.  Jordan didn’t miss a beat this time as he put his arm around me.


“She is a beauty, isn’t she?” Jordan said, looking at me instead of the drug lord of New York City.


I stared into Jordan’s eyes, and was once again drawn to the gold around his pupils.  Reminding myself that this was all a show was difficult.  This was the kind of stuff I needed.  Two men attracted to me, jealousy, flirting…too bad it wasn’t real.  Well, maybe on the stranger’s end it was, but what did he know?  He was probably high, or wanted to rob us.  Wow, I never realized just how paranoid I was until I got to this city.


A few stops later, we got off the train, and Jordan shook his head at me with a laugh.


“I’m afraid to leave you alone.”


“Hey, I can handle myself,” I argued, following him up the stairs, the heels of my boots clanking against them.  Jordan laughed loudly.


“You probably would have gone off into a dark alley with that guy if he asked you to.”


“Give me some credit,” I huffed.  “I’m not an idiot.”


“That’s still to be decided,” Jordan said as we made it out of the subway station.


“Gee, thanks.  You’re such an asshole.”


“Aww, what happened to calling me baby?” he asked, putting his hand on the back of my neck.  I smacked it away, and he took my hand in his, pulling me along behind him.


“Oh, um…I kind of need a favor.”


“What kind of favor?” he raised an eyebrow at me, and I rolled my eyes.


“I made a friend at the mall.  She’s coming to the show tonight…”


“Is she cute?”


“Ugh, she’s sixteen, pervert!” I said, digging my nails into his hand.


Jordan shrugged, and didn’t even flinch, though I was sure I broke the skin.


“Anyway, can you get her into the place?”


“Are you asking me to partake in illegal activities?” he gasped.


“She’s a big fan of one of the bands, and she really helped me out at the mall.”


“Wow, are you doing a good deed that would make several people break the law?”


I rolled my eyes.  “My father’s a lawyer.  I’m sure I could get anyone off the hook.”


Jordan laughed loudly, “I’m sure his only concern would be his innocent daughter, who was forced by a low-life to roam the streets of New York.”


We turned the corner, and walked toward the large line outside of the Canal Room.  Suddenly, several girls screamed and a few men were flashing some kind of rock symbol.  I looked around me, and I realized the outburst from the crowd was because of the man standing next to me, still holding my hand.  He released his grip to wave to the crowd.


“Haley!”  I turned to see Meghan standing there.


“Jordan, this is Meghan,” I introduced them, but by the look on her face, she knew exactly who Jordan was.


“I love your music,” she gushed, holding her hands together against her chest.


I almost expected Meghan to grab onto Jordan’s leg, and not let go.  He would have to drag her along the floor the entire night.


“Thank you,” Jordan flashed a smile, and pushed his hair back.


I rolled my eyes, and laughed softly.  He had to be kidding me!  The thing is, it worked.  Even though I was fully aware of his little conscious gesture to make girls melt, I still felt my heart beat faster watching him.  As for Meghan, she looked ready to pass out at any moment.


We walked up to the bouncer, who looked like he could crush Jordan with his pinky finger.  Of course, the burly, bald man’s face lit up as he shook Jordan’s hand.  Was I missing something?  Jordan seemed to be a mini-celebrity!


“They’re with me,” Jordan pointed to me and Meghan.


The bouncer allowed us in, not even checking our I.D.  Meghan hugged me once we were inside the club.


“You rock, and you totally held out on me,” she said whispering in my ear as Jordan walked ahead.  “When I mentioned Tortured, you didn’t even flinch!  Here you are, dating the lead singer!”


I laughed, “We’re not dating…we barely know each other.”


“Well, just wait until he’s onstage,” Meghan gushed, clutching her hands over her heart once more.


I remembered the impromptu performance while Jordan and I were stranded at the rest stop yesterday, and could only imagine the maximized impact he would have on a stage.



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Copyright © 2010 by Sandy Lo.
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About the Author

Sandy Lo ()

Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.


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