“I don’t know you,” I tell Malcolm.
“I’m trying to help you. To keep you safe.” He waves his hand. “The rest is just extra. Can we start fresh?”
I shake his hand. If Rory appointed this man to watch over me, I can give him a shot. There have to be several reasons I was given to him instead of Julian or Atalanta. It’s just bizarre that the man I know the least has the strongest tie to me. I want to learn more about him and my brother.
Julian watches us interact with a smirk on his face. He knows something I didn’t–about Malcolm, that is. I wonder what it could be.
“All right,” he says to Malcolm, “you’d better get going. Attie and I might go on a run of sorts tonight.”
I don’t know what he’s talking about, but the scowl on Malcolm’s face tells me it’s not good. I come right out and ask.
“What are you talking about?”
Malcolm’s scowl intensifies. “She doesn’t need to know about any of this, Julian.”
“It’s too late,” he says. “Don’t be stupid. She’s involved.” He looks pointedly at me. “And don’t speak about her as though she isn’t there. It’s rude.”
I feel a surge of affection for Julian. He seems to care about me, too. I don’t understand why Rory didn’t make him my guardian. I’m most comfortable around him. Maybe he has some kind of dark side I don’t know about.
Malcolm goes to put his arm around me. Without meaning to, I flinch. He withdraws and shoves his hands in his pockets instead. “Damita, Rory wouldn’t want you to know about all this. He never would’ve wanted you to go out on a run.”
“She’s not going,” says Julian. “She just asked what it was.”
There’s a knock at the door. Julian gets up and answers it. Atalanta blows a stream of smoke into the room.
“Where have you been? I thought we were going…” She makes eye contact with Malcolm and her voice dissipates. “Oh my God! How long have you been here?” She rushes toward him and pulled him into a hug. “Julian and I were worried sick!”
Julian scoffs. “She was. Not me.”
I don’t believe him. I haven’t known him long, but Julian Hartwell doesn’t seem to be apathetic about anything.
Atalanta flicks ashes off her cigarette, waltzes into the room, and plops down on my lap. I freeze in shock. She grabs my hand and pulls my arm around her waist.
What’s wrong with this woman?
“Julian and I are going on a run, Malcolm? Isn’t that exciting?”
His face doesn’t change as much as it had before. “So I hear. Same place as last time?”
“We’re going to try down by the docks,” Julian says. “China said she knew a guy, and he might have an idea what to do.”
“Speaking of China,” Atalanta says.
Julian clicks his tongue. “What, you talked to her?”
“I need to tell you all something,” Atalanta says. “It concerns everyone.”
The room is all ears. She leans forward, placing her hands on her knees.
“Wesley Cray has been spotted in the woods near Rory’s house.”