Sunshine, p.7
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       Sunshine, p.7

           Robin McKinley
Chapter 7


  "You tell time real well," I said. "Is that an important skill in SOF? Mary will fit on the stool. You won't. " I kept a stool wedged in the one semifree corner that wasn't next to the ovens, for staff on break, or anyone else I felt like letting into my territory. No SOF was on that list tonight, and I wasn't in a good mood.

  Jesse went and sat on the stool. He did fit. SOF made you keep in shape to keep your job. No lard butts there. The SOFs weren't that much easier to keep topped up than teenage boys. All that fitness makes you eat. Pat in particular could put it away. When he sat on that stool I had to keep a sharp eye on him. He could make whole loaves of bread disappear in moments.

  I opened the oven doors and dragon breath roared into the room. I shoved in muffin tins. I closed the doors and set the timer. I dumped the bowls in the sink and turned on the water. The coffeehouse doesn't have the most efficient layout in the world, and the dishwasher is in the main kitchen. When I had time, I washed up my own stuff.

  I made as much noise as possible.

  "Rae," said Jesse at last.

  "Yeah," I said.

  "We're on the same side. "

  I didn't say anything. Are we? Am I sure I'm on the right side any more? It was a very pretty conundrum. People don't escape from vampires. Since I'm alive. . . It wasn't really consorting with the enemy. It was just something that happened. Yeah, and it just happened that I could keep the sun off a vampire.

  It wasn't him I needed to forget. It was me. It was what I had done.

  Why would a vampire stick around to feed a human milk and muffins - and make sure she didn't choke on them? Honor among thieves? I'd said that. To him. Why the hell had I wanted to save him? He'd almost had me for dinner. He'd thought about it.

  Why had my tree said yessssss? What the hell was I?

  Maybe the fact that the vampire slash on my breast hurt all the time and wouldn't heal was a good sign. Maybe it meant I was still human.

  Eventually Jesse got down from the stool and went away.

  The nightmares that night were particularly bad, and apparently I'd been clawing myself in my sleep, because when the alarm went off at three-forty-five and I groaned and rolled over and turned the light on, not only had the scab split open again but my pillow had big ugly streaks and blotches of blood all over it.

  The alarm was still going off a quarter hour earlier than it used to because it took me a quarter hour longer to get moving in the morning than it used to. I was still tired all the time. Okay, it was just the nightmares stopping me sleeping properly. Plus worrying about stuff like my face in the globenet archive and what all my friends thought. I wasn't losing enough blood from the vampire slash to make me tired that way. And it didn't hurt all that much. It was just a nagging nuisance.

  I drove to the coffeehouse and made cinnamon rolls and rye bread - it was rye bread day - and then I made banana honey nut bread and fig bars and Hell's Angelfood and Killer Zebras and a lot of muffins, and by late morning I was done. I had the rest of the day off till six.

  There was one thing that helped the tiredness a little, and stopped my breast prickling and itching as well. Sunlight. It was a glorious, blue, sunny day and I went home and lay in it. For nearly seven hours. I should have burned to a crisp, but I never sunburn. It goes in somewhere. I've always been like this. But since those two nights on the lake I'd been spending more time than usual when the sun was out, lying in it. And I seemed to be doing more and more of it. I'd missed an old-books fair with Aimil and Zora, and the last time Mel'd suggested we go hiking I'd opted to lie in the sun in his back yard while he took another motorcycle apart. This was fine with him but it wasn't at all like me. I wasn't even reading as much as usual; it was as if I had to concentrate on soaking in as much sunshine as I could, and didn't dare distract myself from that crucial activity.

  Okay, I had a lot of catching up to do. The part of me that was my grandmother's granddaughter had been having a free ride the last fifteen years, and out of nowhere I'd tapped her flat. Whether for good cause or bad. Recharging was in order.

  But it wasn't just that. It was like I was under attack. And it didn't feel like it was only from my own negative thinking.

  There were more people than usual at the coffeehouse that evening too, but not as many as the night before, and there were no TV vans and nothing to make me jumpy, except maybe that six of our little SOF gang were there. Six? Didn't these people have lives'?

  No, they didn't have lives. SOFs weren't expected to have lives. You were a SOF, you stayed very fit and you didn't have a life. A bit like running a family coffeehouse really. Maybe that was why they felt we should be kindred spirits. And our SOFs had dinner at the coffeehouse more nights than they didn't, and a lot of the staff from our county SOF headquarters, which was only about a half a mile away north of Old Town, came by some time in the mornings for coffee and a cinnamon roll. Relax, Sunshine.

  I tried to relax. They released the name of the poor bod that had got sucked: nobody any of us knew. He lived in our city, but not around here. Nothing else happened. No more dry guys, at least none left for us to find. By three days later when things appeared to be back to normal I managed to say, "Hey, how's it going," in an ordinary voice when I found Jesse and Theo sitting at the table next to the door when I walked in for the evening dessert shift. Paulie had been in the bakery all afternoon, and he was eager to leave. I was still letting him have most any evening he wanted off, letting him put his hours in during the days; I was chiefly interested in that second morning a week I didn't have to get up at three-forty-five. I was used to not having a life, and I wanted to hold on to Paulie. He was the first apprentice I'd hired who both had a brain and liked playing with food. Also he was the first guy who didn't seem to think his manhood was under threat by having to learn stuff and take orders from someone of my age and gender. He still had to live through his first August in the bakery with the ovens on, but I was hopeful.

  We emptied out a little earlier than sometimes, especially surprising on a three-day-weekend Sunday. We'd be open tomorrow while most of the rest of the working world was celebrating the birth of Jasmin Aziz, the famous code-breaker of the Voodoo Wars and why we still have Michigan, Chippewa, and most of Ontario instead of the biggest smoking hole on the planet. But she had been nicknamed Mother Durga, "She Who Is Difficult to Approach," long before she was a hero, and the name stuck. Ha. Even if Charlie's didn't stay open automatically for three-day weekend Mondays, we'd've had to stay open for that one.

  I'd pulled the last trays out of the ovens a while back, racked or frozen what wasn't going to get eaten that night, started roll and bread dough for tomorrow morning, and had come out front to sit at the counter and gossip for the last few minutes with Liz and Kyoko, who were on late that night, and Emmy, who had recently been promoted to assistant cook and wasn't sure she could take the pace. (I was slightly insulted by this, since I'd been using her in the bakery between apprentices, and felt that I must be at least as merciless and temperamental a taskmaster as anything the main kitchen crew could do. ) Theo showed occasional signs of wanting to get fond of Kyoko, but she knew about SOFs, and she wasn't having any. Charlie was there, prowling; he didn't know how to sit down. Mel was closing down in the kitchen, which included preventing Kenny from sloping off early. A quiet night gave you time to catch up.

  It was warm, and the front doors were open. There were still a few people sitting at one of the outside tables; another couple had drifted off with their cups of coffee to sit on the flower bed wall and smooch. One of the last closing-up rituals was to have a sweep through the square for coffee cups, champagne glasses, and dessert plates. If you paid your bill beforehand, we didn't stop you taking your sweetheart and your sweet thing on a plate to a quieter spot. (Your bad luck if you chose a spot already occupied by a wino or a hype head, but hey. ) This was probably illegal too, by civil regulation 6703. 4, subheading Behavior of Clientele
at Eating Establishments and Potential Broadcasting of Crumbs to Deleterious Effect, viz. , the Vermin Population, but no one had stopped us yet.

  It was so quiet. Peaceful. Even the SOFs looked pretty relaxed, for SOFs.

  And I heard a familiar goblin giggle.

  Did I hear it? I don't know. I'll never know. But I knew it, one way or another, however it got to me. And I had picked up a table knife and bolted out the door long before any poor following-on function like rational thought had a chance to kick into gear.

  No human has ever destroyed a vampire by thundering down on it brandishing a table knife. In the first place, vampires are fantastically faster than humans. You can't race up to a vampire to do anything, because it's done it several times already, waiting for you. And you can bet it's not going to stand there waiting to be staked.

  In the second place, a table knife is a real bad choice. You can do it with wrought iron, although no one in their right mind is going to haul a wrought iron stake around with them when wood works better and weighs a lot less. But stainless steel, forget it: it slithers off, like a swizzle stick on an ice cube. You have as much chance of punching a hole in a vampire with stainless steel as you have racing up to it and getting it to hold still while you try.

  Wood will break through that little layer of whatever-it-is, the electricity of the undead, and let your stake penetrate. You still have to ram it in hard, and you have to know where it's going, and it has to reach and enter the heart, or you've just died as the vampire rips your head off. A sucker repelling a staking doesn't bother to be cool about it. (Note that while a vampire may have to ask permission to suck your blood, it can kill you any time it likes. It just won't get a square meal out of the experience. ) Macho SOFs will go straight in through the breastbone, but the more sophisticated approach - as well as the more likely to be successful - is up underneath it. The notch at the bottom of the breastbone is a useful road marker - so I'm told. It's still not at all easy to do. There are lots of dead people who have tried. There have been a lot of studies done about the best wood for stakes too. Turns out it's apple wood - and not any old apple, but a tree that is home to mistletoe. Retired or invalided-out SOFs (this latter category a small number: SOFs tend to live or die with nothing in between) often end up tending SOF orchards, and making sure the mistletoe is happy. Mistletoe is cranky stuff, and nobody knows why it sometimes grows and sometimes doesn't. Makes you wonder what the druids knew - or Johnny Appleseed. Of course the druids are a fairy tale and Johnny Appleseed never existed. They say. But then, they also say that no human has ever destroyed a vampire by charging at one flashing a table knife.

  Maybe no human ever had.

  I did have one advantage. He wasn't expecting me.

  I had time to see the look on his face. I probably didn't figure out what I'd seen till later, but this was what it was: he was looking for me - for me - but he wasn't expecting to find me. He was working under his master's orders, all right, but privately he thought his master had a wild hair up his ass, and he wasn't going to find me, because I was dead. He didn't know how I was dead, or where I had disappeared to, but I had to be dead. Therefore I was. I understood this point of view completely.

  Maybe it was just the surprise of seeing someone thinking they could do anything with a table knife.

  He paused. The girl he'd been pulling under stood swaying and stupid while he turned to me. We stared into each other's eyes for the last time fragment, my last few running steps, before I thudded into him. . .

  . . . and slammed the table knife up under his breastbone, and into his heart. I remember the hot evil smell of his last breath on my face. . .

  I'd never heard or read anywhere that vampires explode when staked. Maybe it's only when you use a table knife. Vampires aren't made of flesh and blood quite the way we are. . . but near kali goddam enough. It was. . . horrible. The contact, when I drove against him, not just arm's length with the knife - The sense of the knife going in - maybe I didn't think I was going to be able to do it either; maybe that was the plan - The texture of the knife sliding into - The way it seemed to know where to go, with my hand on it -

  The smell -

  The surprise on his face, just before my knife reached his heart and it stopped - being a face -

  The sound -

  The pressure of the - blast - which made me stagger, which smeared and stained me with -

  From the taste in my mouth a few minutes later, I assume I threw up. Maybe I passed out as well, although I was still on my feet when I began to hear someone shouting, "Rae! Rae! It's over! You're okay!" and also began to realize there were arms around me and they were trying to stop me thrashing around. There was a lot of other noise; someone screaming; other people shouting; and, coming closer, a siren. The siren should have been reassuring: the sound of approaching authority. Authority would take over and I could relax. Relax, Sunshine.

  It wasn't reassuring. But it did have the effect of sobering me up. I stopped flailing. The arms loosened - not very much - and let me stand on my own feet. It was Jesse, holding on to me.

  There was already a crowd. I suppose the screaming brought them. We're the kind of neighborhood that responds to screams. Jesse and I were in a little alleyway - one alley over from where the corpse husk, the dry guy, had been found a week ago - and from somewhere someone had found a couple of halogen floodlights. This meant you could see. . .

  I started retching, and Jesse turned me round and started hauling me toward - what turned out to be a car, driven by Theo. It's a good trick, getting anything with four wheels, including a kid's little red wagon, this far into Old Town. Maybe that's part of SOF training too. The crowd was still gathering. Maybe they didn't understand what they were seeing - the dark, dribbling blotches on the ground, stickily trailing down the enclosing walls - the charnel house smell might have been a dead rat or a backed-up drain; Old Town can be like that - but the scene the floodlights illuminated. . . I managed to look away before I heaved again, not, I think, that there was anything left to come up.

  Jesse bundled me into the back seat and was now. . . wiping me down with a towel. I had. . . horrible stuff all over me. Did SOF vehicles automatically carry large absorbent towels for. . . cleanup? This one had hung outdoors on a line. I tried to think about the smell of the towel - laundry soap, fresh air, sunlight. I was crying. Less messy than throwing up anyway. Easier to clean up after. I cried harder. I'd cried more in the last two months than I had done in my entire previous life.

  I croaked something. I didn't understand what I said either, and Jesse said, "Don't talk now. We're going to get you some clean clothes and a cup of cof - tea. " He knew me well enough to know I didn't drink coffee. That should have been reassuring too, that I was with friends - but I wasn't with friends. I was with SOF. Who had seen me explode a sucker with a table knife. I wondered if they were getting me away so fast, before anyone from the coffeehouse had a chance to intervene. Mel. Charlie. Where were they taking me anyway? And why? I could make a guess and it didn't make me feel any better.

  Jesse's dark face was invisible in the darkness of the back seat. I was almost desperate enough to ask to turn the dome light on, just so I could see his face. That he had a face. A human face.

  I croaked again. "Will she be all right?"

  "Who?" said Jesse.

  "The girl. The. . . girl who was screaming. The girl who was. . . under the dark. "

  Jesse said, "She'll be okay. "

  I was silent a minute. We were out of Old Town. I couldn't figure what we were doing at first; I was used to the front door of the SOF county building - not that I made a habit of going there - of course there would be a back way. Where they parked their cars. Also perhaps where they brought people in they didn't want to be seen. How soon before the TV van showed up in the alleyway and started panning over those blotchy walls, those gruesomely amorphous lumps on the pavement?

  "You don't know, do
you? You don't know if she'll be all right. "

  Jesse sighed and sat back, leaving the towel in my lap. It didn't smell like sunlight any more: it smelled like disintegrated vampire. The car smelled like disintegrated vampire. Jesse, because he'd been holding on to me, had disintegrated vampire all over him too. In the flickering light as we went from one streetlight's aura to the next he looked rather too much like a pied demon. Pied demons are not among the nice ones. "No. I don't know. We don't snatch people out from under the dark at the last minute like that very often. But I'm pretty sure she'll be all right. I can tell you why, but you could tell us something too. Something for something. "

  I grunted. I had been rolling my window down for some fresh air, and had discovered that it would only roll down halfway, and that the doorlock button was engaged, but not by me. No escapees from the back seat of a SOF car.

  He almost laughed. "It's not what you think. Hell, Sunshine, what do we have to do to - "

  The car stopped. We were in a parking lot tucked in among a lot of big civic-looking buildings. It was nothing like empty, as you might expect it should be at this time of night, although all the cars were parked at one end of the lot, near one particular building. I didn't recognize SOF HQ from the back, but I could guess that was what it was. Most municipal departments don't run a big night shift, and the ordinary cop station was across town.

  The doorlocks popped open. We got out of the car, first Theo and then Jesse again holding my arm, as if I either needed support or might run away. They took me up some stairs and down a long ugly windowless hallway with doors opening off on either side. Eventually Jesse tapped on a cracked-open door with a light behind it.

  "Annie," said Jesse, "can you give us a hand?" Annie wasn't reassuring either, but she was nice about trying to pretend that she didn't think there was something extremely fishy about why I was there and in what condition and at this time of night. After all, she was right: there was something extremely fishy about it. She took me to the women's shower room and gave me fresh towels, soap, and this shapeless khaki jersey fuzzy-on-the-inside one-piece thing to put on that was like little kids' pajamas only without the feet.

  I walked into the shower with all my clothes on. It was harder getting them off wet, but I didn't want to wait even long enough to get undressed before I made contact with hot water. Then I knelt on the shower floor and scrubbed them - and my sneakers - and left them in a heap I had to keep stepping over while I washed myself. But I wanted all the blood and. . . muck. . . drummed out of them. I wasn't as long about it as I had been the morning after coming back from the lake, but I scrubbed myself till I hurt all over and came out feeling boiled because I'd had the hot water turned up as high as it would go. I was sweating as I tried to dry off: partly because of the hot water. The cut on my breast had opened again, of course. I put some toilet paper on it, like I'd cut myself shaving, hoping it would scab over enough not to leave bloodstains that might need explaining on the pajamas.

  I belatedly rescued the contents of my pockets when I hung my sodden clothes over the midsummer-cold radiator. My knife didn't mind a wetting so long as I dried it off again right away but my leather key ring would probably never forgive me, and the charm loop on it was definitely a goner. It was one of Mom's charms and it was one of the sort that keep going bzzzt at you so you know they're paying attention and I hadn't meant to drown it but I wouldn't be sorry to have it stop pestering me.

  I paused a moment when I was dry and dressed to gather together what faculties I had left. I was so tired.

  Annie was lurking outside to take me to wherever. She offered me some shuffly fuzzy-on-the-inside slippers too, also khaki, but enough is enough with the regression to childhood, and I stayed barefoot. Besides, I hate khaki.

  I figured it was Jesse's office, since he was the one sitting behind the desk, while Theo was tipped back in a straight chair to one side, his feet against the edge, the toes of his shoes curling up the messy pile of papers on that corner and leaving black marks on the bottoms of the pages. Tsk tsk. Jesse's jacket had disappeared and he was wearing a clean shirt that didn't fit. There was a coffee machine in the corner going glub glub.

  Nobody said anything right away. If this was supposed to make me start talking to fill up the silence it didn't work. There wasn't anything I could say that wouldn't get me into more trouble than I was in now. Okay, here's another thing: magic handlers have to be certified and licensed. I had lied about what had happened by the lake for a lot of reasons, and needing to register myself as a magic handler was the least of them and barely worth mentioning from my point of view, but by not doing it I'd still committed the sort of crime that even the ordinary police don't like and SOF really hates. Tonight I'd totally, inexorably, undeniably, blown it. Even a magic handler shouldn't have been able to skeg a sucker with a table knife.

  I wasn't going to be able to fudge that one either. The table knife in question was lying on the one clear space on Jesse's desk. I assumed it was the same knife. It was the coffeehouse pattern and while it had been wiped roughly off, the smear of remaining bloodstains was convincing.

  I had no idea when I'd dropped it. But the fact that it was here meant that they knew what had happened. No escape.

  And then Pat came in carrying a pot of tea and a paper bag with the Prime Time logo. I wanted to laugh. They were sure trying. The Cinnamon Roll Queen wasn't going to be bought off by a fast-food hamburger - supposing I ate hamburgers, which I didn't, and after tonight, even if I had, I'd've given them up - but Prime Time was a twenty-four-hour gourmet deli. Downtown, of course. Far too upscale to open a branch in Old Town. Not that they'd survive on Charlie's turf anyway.

  I stopped wanting to laugh when I noticed that Pat looked like a man who had been got out of bed for an emergency.

  It was even good tea.

  Jesse said, "Can you tell us what you're afraid of? Why you won't talk to us. "

  I said cautiously, "Well, I'm not licensed. . . "

  There was a general sigh, and the tension level went down about forty degrees. Pat said, "Yeah, we thought that was probably it. "

  There was a little silence and then the three of them exchanged long meaningful looks. I had tentatively started to relax and this stopped me, like sitting down in an armchair and discovering there's a bed of nails instead of a cushion under the flowered chintz. Uh-oh.

  Pat sighed again, this one a very long sigh, like a man about to step off a cliff. Then he shut his eyes, took a deep breath, and held it. And held it. And held it. After about a minute he began to turn, well, blue, but I don't mean human-holding-his-breath blue, I mean blue. Still holding his breath, he opened his eyes and looked at me: his eyes were blue too, although several degrees darker than his skin, and I mean all of his eyes: the whites as well. Although speaking of all of his eyes, as I watched, a third eye slowly blinked itself open from between his eyebrows. He was still holding his breath. His ears were becoming pointed. He held up one hand and spread the fingers. There were six of them. The knuckles were all very knobbly, and the hand itself was very large. Pat was normally no more than medium-sized.

  Theo gently lowered the front legs of his chair to the floor, drifted over to the office door, and locked it. He returned to his chair, put his feet against the edge of the desk, and rocked back on two legs again.

  Pat started breathing. "If I let it go any farther I'll start popping my buttons. Pardon me. " He unfastened his belt buckle and the button on his waistband.

  "You're a demon," I said.

  "Only a quarter," said Pat, "but it runs pretty strong in me. " His voice sounded funny, deeper and more hoarse. "My full brother couldn't turn if he held his breath till he had a heart attack. Nice for him. Sorry about the locked door, but it takes a good half hour for the effects to wear off again. "

  It's only really illegal to be a vampire, but people who too regularly call in sick the day after the moon is full somehow never get promo
ted beyond entry-level positions, and a demon that can't pass is an automatic outcast. And miscegenation is definitely a crime. Since the laws about this are impractical to enforce, what happens is that if you have a baby you know can't pass, you arrange to look as careworn and despondent as possible (which will be easy in the circumstances) and go wail at the Registry Office that no one had told you that great-granddad - or great-grandmother - had been or done or had, whatever, great-grand-something being safely dead, of course, and unavailable for prosecution. So the kid gets registered, and grows up to find out it can't get a job in any industry considered "sensitive," and if any of its immediate family had been on the fast track, they're probably now off it. For life. Even if nobody else shows any signs of being anything but pure human.

  It's probably worse, the partbloods that are fine till they hit adolescence, and suddenly find out that the Other blood, which they may not have known about, is alive and kicking and going to ruin their lives. Every now and then it happens to a grown-up. There was a famous case a few years ago about a thirty-eight-year-old bank manager who suddenly grew horns. They fired him. He'd had an exemplary career till that moment. He appealed. The case got a huge amount of publicity.

  They still fired him.

  As "sensitive" industries go, SOF was at the top. No way any demon partblood was going to get hired by the SOFs.

  Even someone like Mary might be turned down if she applied for basic SOF training, if anyone was so poor-spirited as to report to her recruitment team that the coffee she poured was always hot. Mary wasn't registered. If the government insisted on registering everyone who could sew a seam that never unraveled or pour coffee that stayed hot or patch a bicycle tire that didn't pop somewhere else a hundred feet down the road, they'd have to register sixty percent or something of the population, and fond as the government was of paper trails and tax levies, apparently this boggled even their tiny minds. But SOF cared down to this level. The deep widow's peaks you sometimes get with a little peri blood and which are so fashionable that models and actors are forever having cosmetic surgery to implant them, if one of these people had a sudden desire for a midlife career change to SOF they'd have to go in with their surgeon's certificate taped to their forehead, or they'd be turned away at the door. SOF didn't fool around.

  Pat blinked his blue eyes at me and smiled. He had a nice smile as a demon. His teeth were blue too.

  "SOF is rotten with partbloods," said Jesse. "I'm one. Theo's another. So is John. So are Kate and Millicent and Mike. We somehow seem to find each other to partner with. Safer, of course. 'Hey, doesn't that blue guy look a lot like Pat? Where is Pat, anyway?' 'Look like Pat? You must be joking. He's at home with a head cold anyway. ' But Pat's the most spectacular of us, which is why we called him in tonight. "

  I had maybe about managed to keep my jaw from dropping round my ankles while Pat turned blue - it had taken several minutes, I could go with the flow - but this was absolutely one too many. This was on a par with, say, finding out the president of the global council was a sucker, the moon was made of green cheese, and the sun only rose in the morning because of this complicated system of levers and dials overseen by an encampment of the master race from Antares settled on Mars. . . "What the hell d'you mean SOF is rotten with partbloods? What about the goddam blood test when they take you?"

  All three of them smiled. Slowly. For a moment I was the only human in the room, and they were all bigger and tougher than I was. I went very still. Not, I'm sorry to say, the stillness of serenity and compassion. Much more like a rabbit in headlights.

  The moment passed.

  "It must have been a bastard in the beginning," said Jesse.

  "When the only drug that worked made you piss green for a week," said Pat.

  "Or indigo or violet," said Theo.

  "Yeah," said Pat. "Depending on what kind of partblood you were. "

  "But the lab is pretty well infiltrated by now," said Jesse. "Once you get that far you're usually home already. "

  There was another pause. Maybe I was supposed to ask what "you're home already" meant, but I didn't want to know any more. I hadn't been so mind-blasted since I woke up next to a bonfire surrounded by vampires. As the silence lengthened I realized that the tension level was rising again, and there were more meaningful looks flashing back and forth. I tried to rouse myself. But I was so tired.

  At last Pat spoke. "Okay," he said. "Where we were. Um. We've been thinking for a while that something like. . . turning blue must have happened to you out at the lake. Or - wherever. But we haven't had a good excuse to, well, ask you about it closely. Somewhere we could lock the door when I held my breath. "

  "Till tonight we haven't been totally sure that's what we were looking at anyway," said Jesse. "Arguably we still aren't. "

  They looked at me hopefully.

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