She frowned. “And you know, preventing Lee from finding something out isn’t the only reason the previous Bloodmaidens might not tell me something. It’s just as possible that they made an arrangement with him to push me in some direction. All they have to do is give or withhold the right information at the right time.”
Shaking her head, she pushed herself off the stool. “Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Unless you need anything else, I should go to bed.”
I shook my head. “That’s all for me. I should sleep too. I know I’ve got stuff to hand in tomorrow. If I go to bed soon, I’ll be able to do it tomorrow morning.”
And with that, we both left, me to my room and her to her car.
I found myself lying awake in bed in the dark, wondering what would happen the next morning. The twenty-sider sat on the dresser next to the bed—unlit. This was good. The two situations in which it would glow were if the woman I’d fought had tracked me home or if Lee or one of his relatives had decided to visit and picked it up.
My thoughts ranged from the room I stayed in—it had been my grandparents’ bedroom—to Amy and Vaughn and the possibility that Amy would leave. The homework that I was leaving till tomorrow made an appearance as well as the bots I’d planted in Higher Ground’s offices. They had to have captured something by now. If that weren’t enough by itself, I drifted into replaying the fight outside Hardwick Industries in my mind, feeling my heart race at the memory.
I took a few breaths and forced the thought out of my mind, paying attention to the movement of the air through my body—first into the nose, then down to my lungs, and back out through the mouth.
After a few minutes of that, I did drift off, waking once to find that Tiger, Jaclyn’s dog, had curled up next to me on the bed. I drifted back to sleep again, this time dreaming of the planet Hideaway and the herds of animals I’d seen there.
The next time I woke up it was around seven in the morning. Tiger had gone somewhere else, possibly back down the elevator. The dog was smarter than he ought to be.
I got up, pulled on clothes, grabbed my laptop, and walked into the kitchen to work on a two page reflection on Citizen Kane for my film studies class. Doubting that the prof wanted to read another paper about the sled, I wrote about the effect of Kane’s wealth on the life of Susan, his second wife, who he pushed to take up opera despite her lack of talent for it, and how Kane himself had been sent away from his parents for education after the discovery of a gold mine on family land.
Adding more examples of how wealth affected the different people in the movie (but especially Kane) easily filled two pages. I wasn’t sure I bought my own thesis, but I did my best to find support for it in the film.
While I was finishing up, Vaughn stepped into the kitchen, pulled some cereal from the shelf and poured it into a bowl, followed by some milk. He sat down next to me and started eating.
I saved the last changes to the document, uploaded it to the class page, and closed the laptop. I began to push my chair back when Vaughn said, “I hear that you got into a fight near the family business last night.”
Remembering back, I’d seen Vaughn and Amy leave before we even got the call. “How did you know?”
He put down his spoon. “Nothing special. Tara, Amy and I were upstairs when she said she’d act as Control for you. Amy and I went downstairs and listened after you left.”
“Huh.” I’d had no idea. “It wasn’t too bad. Chris and Sydney did most of the work. I got lucky enough to have one of the two burglars bleed on me. I texted Amy for help and now we’ll have a chance at finding her if she works at Higher Ground.”
Vaughn blinked. “Oh. That explains that. Amy and I went upstairs and we were having an argument. Then she just said, ‘Gotta go,’ and left.”
“I’m sorry.” I’d suspected as much, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
He shook his head. “No. It’s okay. It was time to stop talking anyway, but neither of us could do it. She’s going to go home someday. She’s decided she doesn’t want any attachments to this place stopping her from saving her family. I think she’s going go home early even though she doesn’t have to. What sucks is she doesn’t want to bring us along even though she could use us. Taking on whatever’s happening over there won’t be easy.”
Stopping, he stared down at his cereal bowl. Then he took another spoonful, speaking as he chewed. “What’d she do for you?”
“She made a twenty-sided die that glows when the woman I fought gets near.” I stood up, picking up the laptop. “I’ll show you on the way to work. If you get impatient and you want to see it now, it’s in my room. I’ve been writing since I got up, so I’m going to take a shower.”
Vaughn poured more cereal into the bowl. “I can wait. Do you want me to drive?” Not waiting for an answer, he added, “Same time?”
“Same time,” I stepped toward the doorway to find Tara there, already dressed in black and pink running clothes. From the sweat on her forehead, she’d already been out. She reached up, mussing my hair like I was five and stepping past me into the kitchen.
There she looked down at Vaughn’s cereal. Putting her hand on his shoulder, she asked, “Is that Cheerios?”
Vaughn peered up at her. He was as aware as I was that this could get weird.
“In Infinity City,” she said, “we had a version of Cheerios that had drugs in them that made you happy—except when it made you depressed or put you into a murderous rage. My parents didn’t let me have any after the first time.”