Anne finally managed to swallow the bagel.
“Wow, so you’re like…” Anne found herself stunned with disbelief. “You’re Caine’s friend.”
“Magician who’s friends with Caine.”
“That’d be me.”
“Caine, big mean dude who’s in prison and reads people’s minds?”
“Yeah,” Magique said.
“No offense or anything, I’m sure you’re great and all. But Caine’s friend? Like, someone who likes him?”
“Yes,” Magique said. “Why’s that so hard to believe?”
Anne scratched her head. “Sorry, gimme a second. This bagel’s really good.” She spent an unholy amount of time masticating a piece of the bagel. Once she’d finished, she said, “I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything. I don’t wanna insult your friend. But he’s kind of a huge douche monster? He’s like a dumbass gene-spliced with a jack-ass gene-spliced with a…” She searched for the right word. “A douche monster!”
“So you don’t like him.” Magique picked up the deck of cards and shovelled them.
“I can’t even imagine why anyone would like that douche.”
“Honestly, we do jobs together. I like his skill set. Pick a card.” Magique set the now-shuffled deck of cards back on the table.
“Uh, Two of Hearts?”
Magique took the top card off the deck. It was a Two of Hearts.
“I’m here because you’re smart,” Magique said. “Good at science.”
“Yeah like I guess?” Anne said.
“If you figure out how the nanobots in Caine’s bloodstream work, I’ll make it worth your while.” Magique shuffled the deck of cards yet again, her pale bony fingers switching rapidly between riffling the cards and shuffling them overhand.
“What’s that even mean?”
Magique got up from her seat. “Pick a card.”
“Ohmygod, no. I get it, you’re magic or whatever. But aren’t like…” Anne leaned in to whisper. “Don’t you think Jennifer’s people are watching?”
“I’d know if they were,” Magique said.
Anne was about to ask how Magique would know. Instead of asking, she wondered if Magique was really going to pick out the card she was thinking of: an Eight of Spades.
Magique pulled the Eight of Spades off the top of the deck. She flicked it at Anne, then walked away.