Chapter 2, Scene 6: The Reluctant Conspirator
I take the towel from him and lay it down on the bed. “Just come out and say it. Someone’s going to kill me like they killed Rory. Isn't that what you’re worried about?”
“Yes,” he says. “That’s exactly what I’m worried about.” He doesn't say another word. He doesn't have to. We both understand the gravity of the situation. By telling me about the conspiracy, he’s unwittingly dragged me into it. I’m a part of it whether I like it or not--whether he likes it or not, to be frank. Even if I don’t do anything, I know what’s going on. Knowing is the crime.
“So,” I say, “that’s it, then. That’s where we are.”
“I’m sorry,” he says.
I ignore him. “What’s next?”
“If you decide you want to actively participate,” he says, “Atalanta, Malcolm, and I can walk you through our philosophy and basic strategies. You’ll meet Malcolm soon, I hope. Not sure you haven’t.”
Realization dawns on me. “Malcolm McKinney? The district manager?”
“The one and the same.”
I gape at him. “But he’s a government official.”
Julian smirks. “So am I.”
I can’t believe it. Malcolm McKinney. He was appointed to the position by Alaric Silver himself. And Silver doesn't appoint just any brown-eyed citizen. No—he’s only interested in stocking the ranks with loyalists. Malcolm is a better actor than I gave him credit for.
“Where’s Atalanta?” I ask. “Do you think I should trust her?”
“Absolutely not,” he says.
“But you do?”
He shrugs. “I trust her when I have to. Otherwise I don’t think about it. You’d be wise to do the same.”
I think long and hard about his implications. For all intents and purposes, it looks as though the two of them are dating, but that’s impossible. Skies and muddies don’t mix. Everybody knows that.
Besides, how could someone be in a relationship with someone they don’t fully trust?
Julian goes over to the window and pulls back the curtain. His eyes scan over the parking lot. He turns back to me. “How did you get here?”
“There was a policeman. He dropped me off.” I don’t understand why he’s suddenly so anxious.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
Julian stares at me. He seems to be frozen.
“What is it?” I ask.
“There’s a car down there,” he says, “and it looks just like your brother’s.”