On Friday morning, I sat watching the meteorologist jump all over the screen, moving her arms around and commenting on the swiftly dropping temperatures in Winthrop. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and held a hot mug against my cheek. The coffee was too thin; I hadn't put enough grinds in the maker. Placing it on the table, I pulled a blanket around my shoulders and looked for something else on TV. Nathaniel hadn't told me any more about his memory, saying it was for the best. He didn't know details, anyway. He ducked out before the environmental seminar began, and I sat through an hour of discussion on global warming and wave patterns. The analytical side of the ocean.
When I finally settled on some old sitcom, I heard my mail slot open and close. That's strange, I thought. I didn't get much mail. All of the bills were electronic these days. Wrapping the blanket around my waist, I shuffled to the entrance hall. A simple white envelope lay on the floor. The handwriting was long and thin, written in dark red ink.
"Hello, Beck," it read. "We are excited you are coming to dinner with us. Hopefully, you will make it through the night. This is a black tie affair, please dress accordingly. Take care to prepare your character role as the Lawyer. Your life may depend on it."
Later that night, I ran my hand through my hair once again. I had cleaned myself up, bought a new tux, and tried to tame the mess of curls that I had for a head. My wealth showed tonight, and I grimaced. I hated it. It wasn't real wealth, it was stolen. Inherited, yes, but stolen originally. Annie would have hated it, too. I tugged one more time on the lapels of the suit and headed to the seventh floor.
Catching Nathaniel at the door, he seemed cool and collected. He had a tux on, also, and cleaned up well. Upon entering the warehouse, I set my worn briefcase against the wall beside the door. There was nothing in it; I had dug it up from the back of my closet earlier, and only carried it in to add to my "lawyer" persona. If there was one thing I was good at, it was theft, and tonight, I was the thief of someone's identity, and I played the part flawlessly. While mingling before the party as a good-natured, trustworthy family lawyer, I made more friends than I ever had during my entire existence at Winthrop. It was ironic, almost, but I wasn't upset. I didn't get out of the aquarium much, anyways.
Just when things were going extraordinarily well (I was talking to a girl who had an uncanny resemblance to Annie), the lights flickered and went out. There was a scream, and when the lights came back on, one of the men from the circus had slumped over the table, his face smacked into the middle of his soup bowl. Blood spilled over onto the table cloth. Women screamed, men jumped away in fear. I looked around frantically, searching for some sign of guilt in the faces of the guests.
Another benefit of growing up with Greyson was that I can lie and detect lies like nobody else. The fear in Annie-look-alike's eyes is too real... the familiarity in the young reporter's face is not malice... and Nathaniel's eyes are filled with dread; he's had too much happen to him in the past week. But when I turn to look at the ring master, he is already staring at me. And on his face is the biggest smile I've seen in a while.