BILLY DOHENY INHALED the fresh, grassy scent of the track as he stretched his legs, glad to be here. Happy Grounds Home, where he had spent the past thirteen-and-a-half months, didn’t have a place to run, not really. Billy had tried jogging around the green a few times while he was there, but the problem was, he didn’t jog. He ran.
He had started running when he was twelve, before his mother had gone crazy, back when the signs were there but no one knew how serious it was.
LEE LEE KNEW IMMEDIATELY that this would be of of those shows. She could feel it in the way the crowd held its collective breath before anything had even happened. She could smell it in the air, the fresh salt-and-seaweed of the ocean breeze mixed with a tang like warm copper. She could feel it in the way her pulse jumped in her neck, the way the conductor counted out the starting beat, the way the opening act took their opening leaps, the flowing red ribbons they controlled creating impossible shapes in the air.
GABRIEL ZICARTE, creator of and mastermind behind The Circus of Lost and Found, stood by the circular stage of his circus and watched the crowd for the Grand Finale filter to their seats. Venice Beach had been good to them; full houses every night and a kind of atmosphere that exactly fit the circus. It felt very right to land here permanently. And though he hated to admit it, he was also looking forward to the time away from the constant touring.
“EVERYTHING OK back here?”
LeeLee started. She had been so intent on telling Trixie what seemed like her entire life story, she hadn’t even heard the boss man walk in. Guiltily, she jumped to her feet.
“Sorry – sorry! Are there people waiting? I was just…” She trailed off. What was she just? She wasn’t even sure.
“No, no,” said Gabriel Zicarte mildly, although his tone said, yes, if you are not dead, please go back to doing what you are supposed to be doing. “I am just checking.”
“HANG ON, BABE. I just gotta…” Trixie wobbled off to the side, held onto the fencing with one hand, and whipped off her heel, momentarily freeing her aching foot. What had she been thinking, wearing stilettos to a circus? Or anywhere she actually had to walk—or stand, for that matter? Not only was her balance all wacked from being pregnant and having her center of gravity suddenly shift to her stomach, but the extra weight was making her ankles hurt. All the time.
“I am not making good choices,” she announced to Ralph as he maneuvered up next to her.