Here’s Rosetta’s introduction:
The chime of a clock broke the late morning silence. Rosetta sighed, shifting her feet in the thickly drifted snow. “An hour late.” she murmured. Her eyes flicked to the alleyway. “Jordan, where are you? The sparrow meeting was supposed to be over by now. But what if the police got involved? What if he didn’t even make it to the meeting?” she sighed again.
A few moments more she stood, staring down the alley. Finally she stomped her foot again and unfolded her arms. “That does it. I’m not just going to stand around freezing to death and not knowing where he is!” she looked around quickly, “The first place to look would be at Joan’s. . . if he’s not on the street. That boy!” she bit her lip, “Well I guess it’s cat and mouse again.” with strides that seemed far too long for her short build, she hurried off down the alley.
After about half an hour of walking she stood in front of Joan’s door. She hesitated. She didn’t like to interact with people. She didn’t like to be seen, but neither did Jordan, and he still trusted Joan. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door. Dropping her hand, she waited, rubbing the grip of her sidearm.
After a moment, the door opened and Joan looked out. Her expression softened and she smiled. Rosetta smiled too. Act natural. She told herself. Talking to another sparrow shouldn’t be nerve racking. It’s not like you haven’t talked to Joan before.
“Hello. Joan. Sorry to bother you so early. I was only wondering if you had seen Jordan lately.”
“It’s alright Rosetta. Would you like to come in and get something to eat? I’ve got a little stew.” Joan answered.
Rosetta noticed her carefully sidestepping the question, but she acted like she hadn’t and replied graciously, “No. I’m sure you need all the food you have for the children. I only want to know if Jordan is here.”
Joan sighed, “He’s not.”
“Then where is he?” Rosetta’s heart pounded hard. Joan hesitated. Rosetta stomped her foot impatiently. “Joan. Where is he?!”
“He’s at the sparrow hospital.”
“What?” the younger girl’s face went blank.
“But you can’t just run over there-”
“And what’s going to stop me?!” Rosetta challenged, lowering her voice to an almost sinister whisper.
“Rosetta, please.” Joan put a hand on her shoulder.
Rosetta pulled back. “I’m not a child! I’ll go if I want to go.” spinning on her heel, she took off down the street. She didn’t look back. Jordan. In the hospital? That was the last thing she expected. Jordan dying on the street would have been easier to believe. How had they ever gotten him to the hospital? He must have been hurt badly.
She gritted her teeth hard. She didn’t care what Joan said, she was going to find Jordan. Ian bossing her around was bad enough. He was her brother. But she wasn’t about to take orders from a girl she barely knew.
After running what seemed like a marathon, she arrived at the clinic. Smoothing back her rose-colored hair, she slowed to a professional, rhythmic stride. She stopped at the door and knocked sharply, using the sparrow’s knock. Dropping her eyes she surveyed herself with satisfaction. She looked professional enough, not to mention beautiful and intimidating.
The door opened and a young man opened the door. He opened his mouth to speak, then stopped and stood speechless. She flashed a strategic smile to further disarm him and spoke smoothly.
“Hello. I’m here to see Jordan Vickery. I learned from Joan that he was here.”
“Uh- yeah. I guess he might be.”
“Might be?” she raised an eyebrow, and put a hand on her hip. “Sir, I didn’t expect a sparrow clinic worker to be so unprofessional.”
The man’s face reddened, “Um. Yeah. I guess you wouldn’t. I mean- sorry. What’s your name? I don’t remember seeing you at a sparrow meeting.”
“Oh? You remember everyone you see at sparrow meetings?”
“No. But I’d remember if I’d seen you before.”
“Is that so? Well, you can call me Rosetta. Now how bout telling me where I can find Jordan?” she glowed at her success.
He gave her the room number. “It’s on the third floor.”
A voice interrupted him from inside, “Olyver, who are you talking to?”
“Um- just a girl- named Rosetta.”
A tired-looking nurse appeared in the doorway beside him. “Hello? What do you want?”
Now for the professional act. Rosetta straightened her back and spoke clearly, “Yes, ma’am I was hoping to visit Jordan Vickery. Joan sent me.” she didn’t even flinch despite her bold lie.
“Hmm. Jordan can’t have visitors.”
“May I ask why?”
The woman rolled her eyes. “He’s a sparrow agent. He was attacked and we have to protect him. You never know when his attackers might show up for a little ‘visit’.”
“I understand, but I am also a sparrow.” Rosetta spoke slowly and deliberately as though to a small child, “I was sent by Joan. You may know who she is?” her eyebrow flicked tauntingly.
“Of course I do.” the woman reddened.
“Good. She sent me to check up on Jordan.”
“Well you can go away and tell her that Jordan is fine.” the woman slammed the door.
Rosetta stiffened. “So it has to be this way?” her lip curled as she looked up. “The third floor is it?” Circling the building she counted rooms all the way up. Her eyes locked on a window. “There.” Looking down, she spotted a crack between two bricks of the wall. Her eyes narrowed as she kicked the toe of her boot into the crack and stepped up. Carefully she searched with her hands for cracks. She smiled to herself as she found the perfect crack.
Little by little, she inched her way up the wall. It was one lesson she could thank Ian for teaching her. Though she hated admitting that he had taught her anything worthwhile. She gritted her teeth at the thought. At that moment, her foot slipped. She gasped and dug her fingers into the cracks of the wall. Kicking her foot against the wall, she finally found her hold again. She breathed slowly when at last she reached the window. Sliding her foot onto the wide brick sill, she tested it. It felt solid enough to hold her slight figure. She eased herself onto it and peered in the window.
Her eyes locked on the bed. Jordan. She gasped. He lay there so still and pale with shut eyes and one arm lying limply across the sheet. For a moment she was too stunned to move. Never in her life had she imagined she would ever see Jordan looking like that. He almost looked- she bit her lip, cutting off her own thoughts. She had to get in there. Slowly she crouched on the sill and took a knife from her pocket. Carefully she pried at the bottom of the window till the rusted latch gave. With a small cry of victory, she pulled the window open and swung herself inside. Retrieving her knife from the window sill outside and returning it to her pocket, she shut the window and hurried across the room.
Sold souls and dead promises