“Nice to see you, too,” he says. “I didn't wake you, did I?”
I wonder why he cares. “What’s going on?”
He looks through the crack in the door, bracing a hand against the door frame. “Would you mind if I came in?” He lowers his voice. “It’s urgent.”
“If it’s so urgent, you better just come out and say it,” I say. I’m still not sure I can trust him. How do I know that this isn’t a trap?
He sighs. “Damita, please. I've been nothing but cordial thus far but unless you let me in, I’m afraid
I’ll have to get a tad more assertive.” He pushes against the door until it opens.
I don’t push back. There’s no use. Now that I think about it, he probably doesn't mean me any harm. If he wanted to hurt me, he would've done it already. I decide to trust him until he gives me a clear reason not to. For now, he’s one of my only ties to Rory. He might be able to shed some light on my brother’s murder.
Julian seems taller as he brushes against me. I haven’t been quite so close to him before. He smells nice, like mint. Rory had always smelled like cinnamon. I feel a twinge of grief. I choke it back before it has time to take root.
After I close the door, Julian sits down on the edge of the bed. “I hope I didn't scare you too much yesterday. What I said about Atalanta… well, I was wrong.” He rubs the back of his neck. “You’re not in any danger where she is concerned.”
I want to ask him why he was so insistent before. I put my hands on my hips. “Am I in danger otherwise?”
Julian pauses. “We think you will be.”
“If I don’t get your help, you mean?”
“No,” he says, “it’s not like that.”
Julian stands again and goes into the bathroom. He turns on the tap, gathers water in his hands, and splashes it on his face. Odd. I hand him the towel wadded up on the floor.
“What are you saying?” I ask. “Be specific.”
He waits a long time before answering me. “I’m afraid we dragged you into something terrible. We were reckless.”
I wait for him to continue. He dries his face, goes to throw the towel back on the floor, and decides to fold it neatly instead.
“I promised Rory you wouldn't get hurt. He made me swear that if anything ever happened to him, I wouldn't try to contact you.”
“You didn't,” I reply. “It happened by accident.” Even as I say the words, I doubt the truth behind them. It’s all too convenient--what are the odds of me getting dropped off at the very motel in which
Julian and Atalanta are staying?
The universe is seldom slapdash. Something big is brewing.