The man’s name is Julian. He has blue eyes. Their intensity startles me more than their color. More surprising than his eyes is the fact he knows my name. I swear we’ve never met. He looks at me like he can see under my skin. I’ve never been looked at like that before. I avert my eyes.
“Julian,” I say, repeating his name. I like the way it rests on my tongue, “you’re a lawyer?”
“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me.”
“Why, should I?”
His expression darkens. “I defended your brother.”
I feel like I’m falling. As far as I know, Rory never stood trial for anything in his life. “What are you talking about?”
Atalanta stands and puts her hand on Julian’s arm. Her fingers curve around his bicep. “Careful,” she says.
He shoots her a look that says, I know what I’m doing. “Look,” he says to me, “I’m guessing there are lots of things your brother never told you. I can reveal a few secrets here and there, but I think it’s best you hear everything directly from him.” He puts his arm around Atalanta. “If the three of us know anything about Rory, it’s that he’s honest.”
“Almost to a fault.” Atalanta smiles.
My stomach churns like someone’s put it on spin cycle. They don’t know. Then again, how could they? Rory has only been dead for a few hours. It’s impossible for me to believe he isn’t dead in their world yet.
“Damita,” says Julian, “are you all right?”
I lie back down and close my eyes. Julian knows my name. Presumably we’ve met before, so why don’t I remember him? Why don’t I remember seeing him with Rory? Most importantly, what has my brother been doing hanging out with a sky eyes? Fraternization is illegal. Everyone knows that–especially Julian, if he’s serious about his career.
“What crime was he accused of?” I ask. My voice sounds small. I try again. “When you defended
Rory, what was he on trial for?”
Julian hesitates. “It’s better he tells you. He might frame it better.”
“There’s no other way to frame it,” Atalanta says.
“She should hear it from him, don’t you think?”
“He’s dead,” I say. “My brother died. He can’t tell me anything.”
“You’re joking,” says Julian. I open my eyes. He’s holding on to Atalanta with both hands, as though he needs her to stay standing. She has a vise grip on his arms. Her nails pierce his skin.
I look at him. That’s all. We don’t need speech.