I can’t tell where my failings end and the failings of the universe right now begin.
Okay, that was in the heart of it all.
Miranda slipped her flute of wine, newly manicured nails delicately gripping the stem. She was aware of the time. She was aware of what she had set into motion. Daylight was melting into dusk outside the massive glass walls of Daedalus and the alcohol was draining the strength of her senses into one, a warmth that settled around her head like a nimbus, an incubator, a blow dryer on high.
She had taken off her shoes, silvery pumps with a heel high enough to be noteworthy. In this city, that was a good six inches and her legs throbbed from her knobby knees down to her clammy, irregularly sized toes. Miranda’s body had always been a little off. She’d been born a hairy child with clubbed thumbs. Her mother and father called her una piccola scimmia pelosa. Through the services of a good – no, excellent – aesthetician, the aggressive eyebrows had been thinned decisively, her upper lip as silken and hairless as the rest of her. But the murderer’s thumbs, like so much else, were destiny.
“What do you know about your…friend?”
Maybe she had had more of the Barbaresco than she intended. But she could be excused for craving it. The taste of strawberries melded with rose petals blooming in a delicate, garnet-hued vintage. Was like drinking blood must be for a vampire, radiating life’s essence. As she turned to meet the eyes of this boy, she realized the black bottle was empty. She’d have to ask for another.
The boy chained to his chair didn’t answer.
“Come on now, I’ve requested your company, and you don’t have anything to say to me?”
Her Barbaresco, and maybe some of the drugs from the party, were starting to kick in. The black glass, his black eyes, the obsidian awards lining the shelves. A perfect darkness. She flicked at the top three buttons on her ivory dress shirt.
“He’s out doing what you wouldn’t. 7:02pm. 11th and Halvorson. A tall man with a noticeable limp that is just about to become moot. He’s out there protecting you from your fate, your destiny. It’s almost romantic. He’d like us both to think of it that way. I’ve sorted him that far. And I also know it would upset him for you and I to become friends. Jack’s always been rather possessive. But, you see, I need to upset him. Turnabout’s fair play.” She reached, inelegantly, to shimmy out of her panty hose.
The boy in the chair smiled just enough to feel she’d been silently ridiculed. Miranda felt a dryness in her throat. She flicked another button to and smiled back.
“I’d offer you a drink. You’re old enough now, right? There’s some white wine over by the caddy. ” She motioned vaguely behind him. “But I’ve had the sort of drink you can’t follow with swill. It’d be like going from caviar to White Castles. Besides, the light is rather bright, anyway. And we’re all well past breaking ice.”
She stepped behind him, on those waxed but unsteady legs, leaning forward to press herself into the back of the chair as she ran her hands down his shirt.
In a thick, cakey whisper, she moaned with an amiable sincerity. “It’s a terrible thing we have to do together. You have to prove he doesn’t own you, and I…have to prove he does.”