“Well shit,” Zara said. “Now she’s got a fucking pet tiger.”
“What’s up?” Lana asked.
“Nothing,” Zara said. “Let’s just enjoy the rest of the show.” She squeezed Lana’s hand and turned her attention back to the ring; watching the girl through the corner of her eye as she disappeared with the beast.
The rest of the show ran without any scares like that of the tiger, and before long the entire cast of the circus had returned for their final bow. As the lights came up and the crowd began to file out of the tent, Zara stopped halfway down the stairs.
“I’ll meet you outside Lana, I just have to check something.”
“I’ll see you out there in a few minutes.” Zara shot off toward the ring. She grabbed a hair bobble from a girl she passed, and tied her hair up into two pigtails. Then, she grabbed a pair of glasses from a man, popped out the lenses and put them on. Finally, she grabbed a pad of paper and a pen to complete her disguise.
She made her way behind the curtains, eyes scanning quickly. The girl was over by a cage with the tiger inside. Zara moved. She could sense the eyes of the other performers watching her. The girl jumped as Zara tapped her shoulder.
“Hi!” she said. “I just wanted to say what you did out there was so brave and I was wondering could I get your signature? I think you’re amazing!”
“Oh- y-yeah sure.” She signed the pad Zara had extended to her with a shaking hand and a smile.
“So is your name really Little Ren?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is it just a stage name?”
“Oh… It… It’s my name now.”
“Now?” Zara asked, bouncing. “Did you have a different name before?”
“What… oh yeah… I guess…”
“What was it?”
“Molly,” she said.
“Nice to meet to Molly. I have to go catch up with my friend. Byeeeee.”
She ran away, waving until she was behind the curtain once more. After she made it out of the tent she ditched the glasses and hair bobbles, but hung onto the pad. Lana was waiting outside, the end of a cigarette dangling from her lips.
“Let’s go Lana,” Zara said.
“You find whatever you were looking for?”
“I certainly did.”
Zara returned to the Inn some time later. She went to the bar and ordered a vodka, before taking it to a dark corner and sitting alone. Lana had seemed concerned when Zara left her at her place, but she had agreed to part. Zara had promised she would see her again.
She took a drink from her glass and stared at the knotted wood of the table.
“Molly,” Zara said. “Mooollllllyyyy.” She let the name roll over her tongue. “And now Little Ren.” Zara took another swig. “I wonder did she pick that one herself.”
The door to the Inn opened and her brother walked in. Zara did not acknowledge him; she knew he would spot her. Sure enough, he made his way to the bar, got a drink and headed straight for her. He pulled up a stool and sat opposite her.
“Zara,” he said.
“Ez,” she said.
“I’ve not seen much of you these last few days,” he said.
“I’ve been working.”
“So have I.”
“I believe the girl is still in the city. I have not yet been able to find her, but asking around I’ve met a number of people who claim to have seen one matching her description.”
“She won’t have left yet.”
“How do you know?”
“She will be scared. She’s on her own now. This city is familiar, she won’t leave that comfort easily.”
“Have you found anything?” he asked.
“Not yet. Nothing concrete.”
“What does that mean?”
“I have a little more investigating to do, and then you will know all.”
“Right… I hope you are not letting your annoyance at my killing Miss Hiddlestone get in the way of this job.”
“Of course not.”
“Good.” He finished his drink and stood. “I’ll be around.” Zara nodded and Ezra left her alone. She finished her drink and stood.
“A fucking tiger,” she smirked. “That will make things interesting.”