by Kat Heckenbach -
The lift doors shut with a quiet hiss as Robynn watched the man—‘droid?—disappear around a corner at the other end of the corridor. She shook her head and jabbed the touch panel again, angry that she’d gotten so distracted and now had to wait on another lift when someone could come by at any moment and throw a fit about her being where she didn’t belong.
Angrier that Denton and Strand had abandoned her…
Angriest because she knew she didn’t dare say a word to them about it. She needed their protection. They were the toughest urchins she knew, besides Ave. But Ave couldn’t be around all the time to stop them—or anyone else—from picking on Robynn. Better to befriend the bullies than be bullied by them. It was a matter of survival.
Tears burned her eyes and she chewed at her lip. It wasn’t her fault she had no home, no parents. So why did she have to be treated like a stray dog?
The metal wall in front of her hummed, and a ping sounded with each change of number above the door. The lift was close. Robynn shifted her weight nervously from one leg to the other. Hurry up, hurry up…
And then movement caught in the corner of her eye. She snapped her head to the side, expecting to see a grown-up, someone ready to scream at her (filthy little urchin!), and threaten to call Level Security. But it was a boy, crossing past the end of the corridor.
She stepped away from the lift doors just as they opened and jogged along the edge of the wall. When she reached the end, she peeked around the corner.
He snuck along, glancing side to side, like he was playing “secret agent.” His clothes were clean, his hair trimmed, and he’d gained a few pounds, but Robynn still recognized him.
What was he doing here? Ave had told Robynn…well, something. It was always something. Excuses for why Gavin never seemed to be around.
Robynn skulked along the adjacent corridor, following as Gavin rounded the next corner. He stopped in front of a door and she ducked behind a support column, pressing her cheek against the cold metal.
The door opened, and Gavin stepped through. A man’s hushed voice said, “You weren’t followed?”
“You’re sure? There were some kids poking around earlier.”
A grunt, and then the man leaned his head and shoulders out the door, facing away from Robynn. She held her breath as he turned in her direction. It took everything she had not to gasp. It was him—the ‘droid!