xxxxiv. dinner and a show

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Katrina, Ethan, and I got into a small chauffeured limo by the dock. The partition was up, leaving only the three of us in conversation. The line of dialogue was casual, good, even. At least to an outsider.

My heart was pounding against my ribcage the entire time. The fact that Ethan was here really threw me off. What exactly was supposed to happen tonight? My plan was just to hand over the hard drive, contemplate how my father worked for the CIA, then self-medicate with chocolate.

And alcohol. And old Disney movies. And making fun of Banana Bread. And more alcohol.

"What are we doing tonight, Katrina?" I ask. "The proposal was quite vague."

"You two have been selected to meet the founder of our enterprise as representatives of your firms due to your hard work," she smoothly says.

"Where are we heading exactly?" I press.

"One of his houses."

Ethan looked through the window with excitement. Why wouldn't he be? From his perspective, his hard work had been shown, acknowledged, rewarded. Only I knew something more sinister was going on. He suddenly wrapped an arm around my waist, pulling me close. I pry away from his disgusting grasp.

"I'm surprised to see you here," Ethan says. "I didn't know you worked for the Vinclair foundation."

Right. That's probably the institution Thirteen mascaraded all his finances behind. "I've worked with them ever since interning in college," I state. "About three years now."

I tune out the rest of the conversation. Only the persistent touch of Ethan's hand on my knee kept interrupting my thoughts. If I could aim, I would have shot him by now.

We arrive at a large brick mansion in the middle of nowhere after thirty minutes of driving. It was one of those mansions that looked like a perfect mosaic of ancient and modern features. When I was in high school, I'm pretty sure all the cliche mean girls lived in this type of house. Brightly lit light shone through from the windows, seeping outside, casting into the surrounding thick forest.

We follow Katrina into the mansion. We wait in the living room, which was complete with an elite, small art collection. Thirteen soon enters the room wearing a tailored suit. It was navy, bringing out the contrast in his wild-green eyes.

He carried a glass of champagne with him down the steps. There was a smile on his lips, one that mirrored warmth, or whatever was the machiavellian equivalent.

Ethan was a child. He shook Thirteen's hand immediately, excited, then introduced himself. "It's such an honor Mr. Vinclair," he smiles.

"Please, just call me Ian," Thirteen grins back. He then extends his hand to meet mine.

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