â€œCan I join you?â€ he asks, motioning to the table.
Thereâ€™s interest in his eyes, the kind a man has for a woman, but who knows, maybe itâ€™s real or maybe itâ€™s not real. Maybe he knows who I am and sees a path to power and fame. The way Tobey wanted me for money and power, right up until the moment Iâ€™d called his number aka his agenda; thus, he has not called me since I left. Maybe Harvard will lie even better than Tobey did. Maybe Harvard will at least kiss better than he did, and the lies would taste like temptation rather than convenience. At least then, if Iâ€™m used, Iâ€™ll enjoy being used.
Whatever the case, itâ€™s clear I might actually be angry with Tobey and that aside, the interest that Harvard has shown in me, must be controlled before my Denver sanctuary is destroyed. â€œYou can join me,â€ I say, â€œbut only because Iâ€™m trying to save the rest of the place from the attorney in the house.â€
I am pleased when Harvard laughs, where Tobey would have scowled, proving that Harvard has a sense of humor, which is rare for those in my life. Iâ€™ve barely completed this thought when he moves forward and claims the seat next to me, not across from me, settling his briefcase on that chair instead. In the process, his leg brushes my leg and for the briefest of moments, Iâ€™m transported back to the place that Iâ€™m now trying to forget: to Austin, to Drewâ€™s leg next to mine, his wink, and I do now what I did then. I jerk back. If Harvard notices he doesnâ€™t react. â€œSince we havenâ€™t been formally introduced,â€ he says, resting his naked hands on the table. â€œIâ€™m Logan. Logan Casey.â€
â€œLogan Casey,â€ I repeat trying to ground myself in the present, at least for now, but some part of me is still swimming in that memory, which naturally has me wondering if this man is a shark in the water around me. â€œTwo first names,â€ I add. â€œSounds like your parents fought over who got to pick your first name. Did they draw straws for which choice became your middle name?â€
â€œYouâ€™re actually right on target,â€ he says, laughing again, and itâ€™s a nice, masculine laugh, and oddly this thought feels familiar while Logan does not. â€œNo one has ever guessed that,â€ he adds. â€œMy mother won the name war. The women always win. Speaking of names. Do you have one?â€
â€œHailey Anne Pitt,â€ I say, â€œand in my house, my father won the name war.â€ Because in my fatherâ€™s world, I add silently, the women donâ€™t win the wars. At least, not that he knows, not in an obvious way. Iâ€™ve learned this well.
â€œWell then, Hailey Anne Pitt,â€ he says, â€œwhatâ€™s a Stanford girl like you, doing in a place like this? Youâ€™re a long way from school.â€
Iâ€™m smacked in the face with a lesson Iâ€™ve long ago learned and forgotten with this man; strangers do not always remain strangers and all offhanded remarks can come back to haunt you. â€œThat was a joke,â€ I say, shutting the door connected to my real life, and a path that leads to my father. â€œI hate attorneys, remember?â€
He narrows his eyes on me, and for no reason other than instinct, I believe heâ€™s looking for a lie that he wonâ€™t find. Iâ€™m simply too well-taught from birth, too skilled at being more than one person to allow such a detection. Well that, and the fact that I really do hate attorneys, which is why Iâ€™ll be a good one.
â€œThat was a joke?â€ he confirms.
â€œYes,â€ I say. â€œAre you amused?â€
â€œYes, actually. I am. What does a lawyer-hating smart ass like yourself do for a living?â€
â€œWhen not busy taunting those who went to law school,â€ I say. â€œIâ€™m an aspiring artist.â€ Both honest answers, if you put a â€œwasâ€ in front of the â€œaspiring artistâ€ which Iâ€™d thought that Iâ€™d come to terms with, but the knot in my stomach says I have not.
Logan motions toward the art room. â€œYour career explains why you ended up here.â€
â€œI guess it does,â€ I say, as this place serves me well to reconnecting to the Pitt part of my life, which is a place I really need to be right now, for all kinds of reasons.
â€œAre you good?â€ Logan asks, as if heâ€™s read my mind.
My fatherâ€™s words answer him in my head. Art is useless unless youâ€™re famous, he used to say often, because of course, it was inconceivable that I might be good enough to be famous. â€œArt is like movies and food,â€ I say, shoving aside that bad memory. â€œGood is subjective.â€ I donâ€™t give him time to reply. I ping the conversation back toward him. â€œWhat kind of law do you practice?â€
â€œCorporate,â€ he says, and this time he pings back to me. â€œDo you live in the neighborhood?â€
â€œYes,â€ I say simply. â€œDo you?â€
â€œI bought a building a few years ago where I live and work which means this is my home turf, and why I know youâ€™re new here.â€
â€œI am,â€ I say and since heâ€™s clearly going to ask for details, I quickly preempt with an on-the-fly story. Actually, itâ€™s the suggested story, Rudolf included in my file. â€œI came here for a job, and my new boss owns a house heâ€™s rented to me for dirt cheap.â€
â€œAnd what does an artist do but create art for a living?â€
â€œIâ€™m working for a private art acquisitions firm. I now hunt for treasures for a living.â€ This lie is actually my dream job that Iâ€™ve never been allowed to entertain.
The horror flick loving waitress delivers my coffee and brownie. â€œThank you,â€ I say, because every politicianâ€™s daughter has manners beaten into her.
â€œNo problem,â€ she says, â€œbut if you come to your senses and want a better version of that coffee, just shout.â€ She eyes Logan. â€œI already know you want a crappy tasting coffee, on endless pour and a chocolate chip cookie. Coming right up.â€
â€œThanks, Megan,â€ he says, giving her a wink that I donâ€™t classify as flirtatious, just friendly, and Megan is gone.
â€œObviously youâ€™re a regular,â€ I comment, â€œand they even like you.â€
â€œAnd they like me,â€ he confirms, â€œdespite knowing Iâ€™m an attorney.
â€œBecause youâ€™re good looking and use it to your advantage.â€
He arches a brow. â€œYou think Iâ€™m good looking, do you?â€
â€œOh, come on,â€ I say, crinkling my nose. â€œEveryone thinks youâ€™re good looking. Iâ€™m simply stating a fact. We use what we have and those of us that are smart, know what we have.â€ I move on from what is really quite inconsequential. â€œWhy work here, not at home, or in the office?â€
â€œI find I get a lot of work done with a cookie, coffee, and no access to streaming television,â€ he explains.
No one in my D.C. crowd would make an admission of being human and distractible. Some people in my situation might take comfort in that fact, but I donâ€™t. Loganâ€™s an attorney, and my gut, which Iâ€™ll confirm with research, says heâ€™s a powerful one, the kind that radiates toward my father. Maybe thatâ€™s a coincidence and maybe itâ€™s not. Maybe heâ€™s testing how well I execute my cover story. The possibilities are many. Though in all fairness to Logan, perhaps Iâ€™d lean toward his innocence, if not for the laundry list of recent events such as Tobey being gay and the FBI agent, who is likely working for my father, that I slept with to prove I was a) still desirable and b) not a killer.