He steps aside and allows me to walk past him. I make my way across the room and through the front door without so much as a look over my shoulder. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if I never see those two again.
I can’t understand why Rory kept company with them. The woman is attractive but volatile–a smoker and a rebel and God knew what else. Julian is trickier. An aristocrat at first blush, he seems to be more of a poor little rich boy with a past I can’t fathom–a past I’ll never know.
I hate the idea of going back there and confronting Julian even more.
After a little deliberation, I go back to my room, close and lock the door, and slide the deadbolt into place. I take off all my clothes and tear the scratchy blanket off the bed. I turn off the lights and slide between the sheets.
I fall asleep in minutes.
When I wake up, I’m disoriented. I think it’s morning, but the light is all wrong.
Then, I remember the strange encounter in the adjacent hotel room. I remember Julian telling me to run away before Atalanta came back. None of it makes sense. Why is he so insistent, so terrified? Atalanta won’t hurt me. She was Rory’s friend, too.
I think again about my brother and want to throw up. I go into the bathroom and crouch down in front of the toilet. With my eyes closed, I count.
One, two, three, four…
No vomit comes. I spit into the bowl. Clear.
I stand, shaking, and flush the toilet. What’s going on with me?
Grief is a strange animal. I don’t have a weak stomach, but since Rory’s death, I feel like throwing up every time I think about him. When I remember he’s dead, I feel sick. It’s awful. I wonder if the feeling will ever go away. Based on the way Atalanta talks about her brother, I don’t want to get my hopes up.
Someone knocks on the door.
I start to answer before realizing that I’m still naked. I’m not expecting company. For all I know, Atalanta is waiting for me outside, ready to kill me once I open the door. I’m still not sure whether to trust her or not. For one thing, she took me in after I passed out. But there’s also the look of panic in Julian’s eyes when he talks about her and the urgency in his voice as he told me to leave. I don’t know much about Julian, either, but something about him seems more sincere. I’m torn.
“Damita,” says the visitor. I recognize the voice.
“Julian,” I say. “Just give me a second.”
I grab my dress off the floor and pull it over my head. It settles over my body. After smoothing it a few times, I walk to the door. A look through the peephole confirms that Julian is waiting for me.