Chapter 4.3Z

Annie walked into the kitchen, the door closing swiftly, leaving Double-J alone in the cold winter night’s air.

Jimmy looked up at the sound, his body arched over the sink. He turned to Annie with a smile. “Are you a fan of the Tigers?”

Annie looked at him, confused. Jimmy pointed at his body, over his heart. “Your shirt,” he said.

Annie looked down, saw the white of her fencing jacket, and a moment later she finally understood Jimmy’s reference. She had put on a baseball shirt with the Detroit Tigers’ logo earlier that evening, was still wearing it under her jacket.

Annie nodded, then shook her head. “Not a fan, no. I just like that old English D,” she said, walking past Jimmy into the dining room.

Rex was shaking hands with Annie’s silver-haired father, thanking him for the evening’s hospitality. “My pleasure,” Carl Hutchinson replied through his glistening white teeth, before motioning for Rex to approach closer.

Annie walked into the room, taking a path close enough to remain within earshoot of the conversation between Rex and her father, while distant enough to conceal her intent to eavesdrop. Over the murmur of other conversations, she was only able to hear individual words her father whispered — Johnson (a name she had heard Rex mention before — yes, that man from the state, Child And Family Services), attorney, fight — before Coach Dan called her over.

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