Noah’s face was smoothed into an unreadable mask, the one he reserved for everyone else. There was something he wasn’t telling me, but pushing him now would get me nowhere.
“Okay,” I said, letting it go for the moment. “So your mother and my grandmother had the same jewelry.”
“And hid it,” Noah added.
I withdrew the silver charm from my back pocket and placed it flat in my palm. The detail was intricate, I noticed as I examined it. Impressive, considering the size.
I looked up at Noah. “Can I see yours?”
He hesitated for maybe a fraction of a second before slipping the fine black cord over his head. He placed it in my hand; the silver pendant was still warm from his skin.
I compared them both with an artist’s eye; the lines of the feather, the contours of the dagger’s half-hilt. The two pendants looked the same, but something bothered me. I turned the charm—my charm—over, and then I realized what it was.
“They’re mirror images.”
Noah bent over my open hand, then looked at me from under his lashes. “They are indeed.”
“And they’re not identical,” I said, pointing out the slight imperfections that distinguished one from the other. “They look handmade. And the design is a little—it’s a little crude, right? It kind of reminds me of the block printed illustrations you find in old books. And the symbols—”
“Fuck,” Noah said, leaning his head back against his headboard. His eyes had closed and he was shaking his head. “Symbols. I didn’t even think.”
“I never bothered to think about it in that context,” he said, rising from the bed as I handed him back his pendant. “I just saw it, knew it was my mother’s, and wore it because it was hers. But you’re right, it could mean something—especially since there are two.” He headed for the alcove.
“I was just going to say it reminds me of the symbols on a family crest.”
Noah stopped mid-stride, and turned very slowly. “We’re not related.”
“I know, but—”
“Don’t even think it.”
“I get the picture,” I said as Noah slipped his laptop off of his desk and brought it to his bed.
What was it Daniel had said about Google?
“So, the preponderance of hits for ‘feather symbol meaning’ bring up the Egyptian goddess Ma’at,” Noah read. “Apparently she judged the souls of the dead by weighing their hearts against a feather; if she deemed a soul unworthy, it was sent to the underworld to be consumed—by this bizarre crocodile-lion-hippopotamus creature, it seems.” He moved the screen so I could see it; it was, in fact, bizarre. “Anyway, if the soul was good and pure, congratulations, you’ve earned passage into paradise.” Noah typed in something else.
“What about ‘dagger comma symbol?’”
“Opened another tab already but alas, said search has generated not much.”
“Did you try ‘feather and dagger symbol’ together?”
“Indeed. Nothing there, either.” Noah snapped his laptop shut.
“How many hits did you say the feather thing brought up?”
“Nine million or so. Give or take.”
“But most of the first ones were all to the Egyptian goddess,” Noah said cheerfully. “That’s something.”
“Not . . . really.”
“Well, we’re further ahead than we were yesterday.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Yesterday when I woke up to find that I’d been sleepwalking.”
“Yesterday when I was ready to blame my should-be-dead stalker for the creepy doll-in-underwear-drawer incident.”
“I see where you’re going with this.”
“Good,” I said, handing my grandmother’s pendant to him. “I was starting to worry you didn’t care.”
“Is that what you think,” Noah said coolly. Then, “Why are you giving me this?”
“I don’t want to lose it,” I said. But I didn’t want to wear it, either.
Noah studied me carefully, but his fingers closed around the charm. “I have someone looking into the Jude issue,” he said then, his voice level. “A private investigator my father’s worked with. He’s trying to find out where he lives, which is proving difficult since he’s completely off the grid, and apparently isn’t stupid enough to use the illegal immigration channels for help.”
I rubbed my forehead. “He was kind of stupid.”
“Well, he’s not acting like it.”
“Maybe he has help?”
Noah nodded. “I’ve considered it, but who besides you even knows he’s alive?”
“Another question,” I groaned. I flopped down on the bed and then turned my cheek to face Noah. “Why didn’t you tell me you were looking for him?”
“I don’t tell you everything,” he said indifferently.
The words stung, but not as much as the way he said them.
“In any case,” he said, “about the pendant, at least now we know that at some point, your grandmother and my mother crossed paths through whoever made them. I’ll look through her things and see if I can find anything else.”
I was quiet.
I shook my head. “I shouldn’t have burned the doll, Noah. I should have looked for a seam or something—”
“You couldn’t have known.”
“There was a piece of paper, too.”
“It could have been the answer to all of this.”
Noah lightly tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “There’s no point worrying about it now.”
“When would be a good time to worry about it?”
Noah shot me a look. “No need to get snippy.”
I bit my lip, then let out a breath. “Sorry,” I said, looking up at his ceiling, following a pattern of swirls in the plaster. “I just—I’m worried about tonight.” My voice tightened. “I don’t want to go to sleep.”
I didn’t know where I’d be when I woke up.
NOAH STOOD UP SUDDENLY THEN, AND CROSSED the room. He locked his door as he met my eyes.
“Risky,” I said.
Noah was silent.
“What about our parents?”
“Never mind them.” He moved back to his bed and stood beside it, looking down at me. “I don’t care about them. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” he said. “Tell me what you want and it’s yours.”