HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 111

“Just give her what she wants and she’ll go away,” he said. “She’s a woman of her word.”

“So am I,” Frederica said, “and I made a promise to protect my sources. Sources who have lives and families of their own. What kind of person would I be if I betrayed them?”

“A practical one?” he replied.

“Unfortunately, that’s not what I am,” she said, and peered into his eyes.

She caught a strong memory of a young Middle Eastern woman with spiky hair sitting on the other side of a glass partition with a phone to her ear. She was telling Alex about a cellmate who was helping her stay out of trouble.

“Look, I get it,” Frederica said. “She watched over your sister when they were in jail. You feel like you owe her.”

He narrowed his eyes.

“How do you know that?”

“I know a lot of things,” she said. “And I’m going to know where Virginia lives eventually, so why don’t you just tell me now and then warn her I’m coming? At least that way she’ll have a head start. That would be fair, right?”

“Ma’am, I’m just trying to run a bar here,” Alex said. “Virginia’s my friend, but I’m not involved in that part of her life. And I don’t want to be. So you might as well just leave. Unless you want me to call the cops and have them escort you out.”

Frederica shrugged.

“Suit yourself.”

She probed his mind again. His thoughts drifted to a memory of Virginia, helping her move into a dingy basement apartment after her release, carrying boxes down a narrow set of stairs. Frederica laughed.

“Seriously?” she muttered.

She summoned up Virginia’s power and sank through the floor. She touched down on the floor of a darkened apartment. Feet stomped down the stairs and the door flung open. Alex flicked on the lights but Frederica had already turned invisible.

“I know you’re in here somewhere,” he said. “I don’t want any trouble.”