The thief sighed and said, “You know, this isn’t normally how I do things. Robbery and extortion are so… inelegant. I prefer subtler methods.”
“Like breaking and entering?”
“And you’ve never gone somewhere you weren’t supposed to in pursuit of a story?”
“That’s different,” Frederica said. “I—”
“Do it for a good cause?” the thief said. “We’re both in the information business, Miss Osbourne. I simply have fewer delusions of moral superiority.”
“I’m not interested in being lectured on morality by a criminal,” Frederica said. “I haven’t called the police yet so it’s not too late for you to walk away. Just return my laptop and I’ll pretend none of this happened.”
“I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that,” the thief said. “Look, you seem like a nice kid. You go to a nice school. You’ve got a nice family, if these photos on your computer are anything to go by. I don’t want to ruin your life. But I have a job to do, and I do it very well. So just… think it over, yeah? I’ll be in touch.”
The thief hung up. Frederica stared at her phone, trying to will her hand to stop shaking. She didn’t have any skeletons in her closet that the thief could exploit, but her brother, Kay, had a mysterious—possibly criminal—past that he never talked about. And then there was Angela and her “consulting” work.
The apartment door opened and Griffith hurried inside. He hugged Frederica, wrapping his wings around her as if he were shielding her from the rest of the world.
“Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner,” he said.
“It’s fine,” she said.
“No, it’s not,” he said. “You’re shaking. Did something else happen?”
Frederica sighed, leaning her forehead on his shoulder.
“Do you have any deep, dark secrets that you wouldn’t want getting out?” she asked. “Like, if someone wanted to blackmail you, is there anything they could use against you?”
“I don’t… think so,” he replied. “Why?”