Persona

Persona Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Persona Read Online Free PDF
Author: Genevieve Valentine
snap of Philippe Arnaud walking hand in hand with a model. (It was a small picture, and the caption hadn’t even bothered to identify the model. Guys usually got away with flings outside the IA—if he wasn’t under contract with someone, there wasn’t much story there.)
    He’d been gone only a couple of minutes, but he wasn’t surprised when he turned the corner to an empty bench. She wasn’t the type to wait around and debate her options. Still, his throat went tight. The reflex of losing a story, probably. Her necklace was in his pocket, heavy, still warm from her neck.
    But he pulled himself together. She couldn’t go far in the state she was in. He scanned the thin early-evening crowd for anyone struggling to stay upright.
    He saw something move—fall?—and vanish from sight just as two tourists jumped down from the stairs right in front of him, gasping and clutching at each other for balance as they held up their phones to record what they’d descended.
    As they passed him (he was edging around them, head down and turned away from the cameras), he saw a pair of shadows kneeling over someone, too far away to distinguish.
    There were people still in the streets, he thought—nothing could happen to her, not in front of so many people.
    But then one of them was on the phone relaying details, and whatever carrion birds he’d imagined hovering over her became just another pair of tourists calling an ambulance for a stranger.
    They reached down (Daniel started moving, they couldn’t just start jostling her, something could be broken), but he was too far away and one of them was already holding up Suyana’s wrist, saying something to his friend, who repeated it into the phone. Her hand was limp, he could see it even from here. Out cold. Did they know who she was? Had the news gone out about her?
    If Daniel had an ounce of sense he’d turn around now, take what he had to the black market, and try to catch the eye of an agency. A frame of a Face getting shot was enough to go on. He’d get plenty of offers. He closed his hand around the necklace until the stones bit.
    Still, it would be a shame not to follow her. The more complete your story, the better the money was. He needed the money; he needed enough to buy himself out of trouble. She would understand, if she knew. She hadn’t been home in a long time either.
    She hadn’t wanted to be taken to a hospital. He could guess why.
    The hardest thing was staying out of the way until the ambulance came—those tourists hovered, and they didn’t take pictures of themselves with an unconscious woman, but it came close. (Daniel was nearly on top of them by the time the first guy talked the second guy out of it. He vanished around a corner for a little while just in case they’d noticed.)
    After the authorities had her it was easier. He was no stranger to tailing someone, and traffic was bad enough that it was no trouble keeping the red van in sight all the way to the hospital.
    Daniel stood outside the emergency-room doors as night crept over him, wondering what the hell was happening, and how he was ever going to get to her.
    Ã—  ×  ×  ×  ×  ×  ×
    Even if they required a little more groundwork first, Daniel found that the best lies always came in pairs, so they could rest on each other.
    For the first round he feigned flower delivery, walking up and down the halls with the ugliest lilies he’d ever seen, peering at room numbers and marking exits for fifteen minutes, until he overheard one of the nurses mention needing blood for “Mlle Dupont” as she passed an orderly.
    He couldn’t tell if they’d recognized her yet. They’d have called the police, so he’d have that to worry about, but if they knew she was IA, no flower-delivery act was going to cut it. He could rule out sneaking in with a lab coat, too—wherever
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