“So,” Kanesha said. “This fire giant wants you to fight for him.”
“He wants me to do something for him. Fight was the most strongly implied possibility. He didn’t hurt me, though. But he might hurt you.”
Kanesha frowned. “I’m not abandoning you.”
“You can toss a warrior over your shoulder, but if he throws a fireball at you, you’re cooked,” I pointed out. “I don’t have any defenses from that and neither do you.” I let out a breath. “Well, you certainly don’t, and I don’t think I do, but he isn’t going to kill somebody he thinks will help him win a war.”
She nodded. “Thing is, you’re my friend.”
I put my hand on hers. “Thing is, you’re not expendable. You’re supposed to be going to college, getting out of this trap, living your life. Not fighting my battles.”
“I…” She tailed off.
“Not fighting my battles. That might be Thea’s job. It’s not yours.”
“Thea’s job is to make sure you don’t get yourself killed. But it doesn’t have to be my job. Jane…”
The name didn’t ring true at all. The name didn’t feel remotely right, at this point. But I didn’t have a better one to use, so I just shook my head a little. “I have to live with myself if he kills you. Don’t forget that. Besides, I don’t know that I can stay here.”
And…my cell phone rang.
I picked it up. “Jane.” Not using the full name, which always got sniggers. As soon as I hit eighteen I was legally changing it, whether I knew what my real name was or not.
“Ms…Doe. It’s the Velvet Agency. We’d like you to come in.”
Now they offered me a job? Then I knew I had to take it. Surtur would expect me to be spooked. Expect me to run. Maybe try some more forceful persuasion. He might not want to kill me, but he might try abducting me.
Or, as had already been tried, abducting my friends. “Uh…okay.”
“10am, then.” And he hung up, but I heard a smile in the man’s voice that told me as clear as words that this was good news.
“You got the modeling gig.”
“Just when I’m thinking I should head out of town before I endanger anyone.”
“If he wants to get you to help him, he might try more nice persuasion first, at least.”
“I think…you’re right.” I sighed at Kanesha. “You’re right. He wants to convince me he’s the real good guy in this affair.”
“What if he is?”
“I don’t know.”