The minute I see the car, my heart stops. I saw it earlier at the house, but it’s somehow different now. Changed. It doesn't look different, but it feels different. As we get closer, I’m struck by a sense of dread. Something’s off. I can’t explain it. Somehow I just know.
Julian must feel something, too. He stops short of the car and turns around. His face is tight. “This could be a trap.”
“Yeah, I thought about that.” Rory was murdered and the police haven't caught the killer. What if he wants to silence me next?
“I’ll go first,” Julian says. “That way, if something happens…” He lets his voice trail off. Neither of us wants to talk about death.
By the time we get around to the side of the car, we realize that the driver’s side door is wide open. There’s no one sitting behind the wheel. The keys dangle from the ignition. A faint beeping echoes into the parking lot, reminding the driver what he left behind.
“I don’t understand it,” Julian says. His face is creased in fear and frustration. “Someone had to drive it here. Where did they go?”
I scan the parking lot for clues. There aren't many other cars around and certainly no people. Where could the driver be?
Then, I hear a door slam. Mine and Julian’s heads snap up in the direction of the noise. Someone walked out of the front office. The man is tall, dark-skinned, and radiating charm. I take a step back. I know nothing about him. The way he eyes my brother’s truck makes my skin crawl.
Julian’s shoulders slump. He smiles. “Malcolm. What are you doing here?”
The man keeps his eyes on me. “This is her then? Damita?”
“How did you get my brother’s keys? They were in his bedroom.” My stomach ties itself in knots. I step closer to Julian. Even though he seems to know this man, I have no idea how. My brother knew him, too. So why haven’t we been introduced yet?
“He told me where they were. Is there somewhere we can talk?”
“Neither of you should probably be seen with me,” says Julian. “I’ll go back upstairs first. We can reconvene in my room.”
I remember Atalanta and wonder if she’ll be there, too. I’m still not sure how I feel about her. Julian trusts her, at least on some level, but he expressed concerns for my safety with her around. What does it all mean?
“The officer who dropped me off yesterday said he was coming back,” I say. “They want me to answer a few more questions.”
“Your brother was my friend,” Malcolm says. “I've heard a lot about you.” I’m sensing a pattern in my brother’s circle of so-called friends. Malcolm digs the toe of his shoe in a crack in the asphalt. “I’d really rather you and I have this conversation in private.”
I want the opposite. “I’m not comfortable being alone with you. Julian,” I say, “can you come to my room with him?”
Julian nods. “Of course. I’ll be upstairs in my room. Knock when you get up there.”
With my eyes, I implore him to stay. With his eyes, he dismisses me.