"We don't have to do anything rash," Julian says. His voice is calm but I sense a touch of malice in it. My pulse spikes. What are they going to do?
"She's dangerous," Atalanta says. "If she tells anyone--"
"She won't tell anyone. Look at her. She's a mud eyes. Who would believe her?"
Normally I’d be offended, but I know he’s trying to help.
"I don't know, Julian. I think it's risky."
Julian nods to me. "Would you mind stepping into the bathroom? Atalanta and I have some things to discuss."
I don't dare disobey. I doubt Julian would press charges if I did but I don't want to take the chance. I slip into the bathroom, shut the door, and flip on the fan. The lid on the toilet is down. I sit on it and bury my face in my hands. What’s happening to me?
I hear them talking. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but I hear their voices. For all I know, they’re plotting my murder. But if they’d truly been close to my brother, surely they won’t kill me, will they? I don’t know anything about them.
I think about throwing open the bathroom door, pushing past them, opening the front door, and running away as fast as I can. What if I can’t get past them? What if they pursue me? If I do get away from them, where will I go? Home isn't home anymore. I’m out of options.
I stand and knock on the door. The talking stops. I knock again. Julian opens the door and peers in at me. His eyes shift around the room as though looking for something to cling to. They find me instead.
“Atalanta’s going out,” he says. “You should be gone before she comes back.”
At first, I don’t understand. Julian lowers his voice. “Please. I’m trying to help you.”
“She won’t hurt me,” I say. It comes out like a question. “Tell me she won’t hurt me.”
“Please go,” he replies.
I hear the front door open and close. Atalanta has gone out. I want to get as far away from this hotel room as possible. Whatever these two are involved in--even if they’d known my brother--I don’t want to have anything to do with it. Treason is insanity. I’m only half-crazy.
What is it that’s keeping me standing in the bathroom? “I want answers,” I say. “All you've done is confuse me. I have so many questions.”
“I know,” he says, “I’m sorry. I didn't want--” He cuts himself off. “Please get out of here, Damita. Go to your room and lock the door. Pretend this nonsense never happened.”
He has no idea how much I wish that’s possible. “My brother was murdered. That wasn't pretend. You can’t understand how bad it hurts.”
Something flashes in his eyes. “You have no idea.”