I rush over to the window to verify what Julian said. There is, indeed, a black station wagon, with a scratch on one side, that looks exactly like the car that Rory drove.
I feel unsettled. I can’t understand it. Why is that car in the hotel parking lot?
If I didn’t drive it, the only other person to drive it was Rory. The keys are hidden in his bedroom. Unless the police officer found the key, which is entirely possible, I can’t understand who has the ability to open his car. Even if the cops have the key, why would they drive his vehicle?
“The keys were in his bedroom,” I tell Julian.
“I’m sure they were,” he says.
“So what is his car doing down there?”
My heart pounds in my chest. “What do you think we should do?”
Julian hesitates. “I don’t know,” he says. “I just don’t know.”
I can tell by the look on his face that he’s absolutely horrified. I know exactly how he feels because that’s the way I feel, too. I can’t imagine why someone would want to take my brother’s car. Are they trying to send some kind of message?
“What do you think we should do?” I ask.
“It might be dangerous to go down there.”
“But you think we need to check the car out, right?” I hope that’s what he’s thinking. I want to know what’s going on, and I don’t want to go down to the parking lot alone.
He nods. “I’ll go. You stay.”
“Damita, it’s dangerous.”
“That’s my brother’s car.”
He gives up trying to argue with me. I can tell by the tension is his face that he disagrees with my decision, but he clearly respects me enough to let me tag along. When he holds the door open for me, I’m a little surprised.
“What’s the matter?” he asks.
“I never imagined a sky eyes would hold a door for me.”
“Come off it,” he says. “It’s all right. Let’s do this.”
I don’t feel like arguing with him, either. We have no idea what’s waiting for us downstairs. The longer we put off our investigation, the more I fear something will happen to the car—something decidedly not good. As though things can get worse.
I slip past Julian without touching him somehow. I can’t handle touching him. Just talking to him feels bizarre. Close contact is illegal.
He waits for me at the top of the stairs. He stares up at the ceiling.
“Not a fan of stairs,” he says. “I’m afraid of heights.”
I study the staircase. It contains two flights. “It’s not even that steep or anything, you know.”
“I know,” he snaps. The subject is closed.
I wonder if there’s any way I can help him. “Would it be better if I went down the stairs first?” I don’t wait for an answer. We’re running out of time.
“I’m coming,” he says.
I don’t look back. It’s hard for me to believe that someone comfortable with plotting treason can be afraid of stairs. The only thing I was afraid of was losing my brother.
Now, I am fearless. There’s nothing else that anyone can take away from me.