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.
“THIS PLACE IS COOL,” said Youssef, sliding his hands into the pockets of his perfectly-fitted jeans and nodding appreciatively. “Very cool.”
“Just look out for the bird guy.” Jenna had been jumpy since they first walked through the gates to The Circus of Lost and Found. “Last time I was here he practically dropped out of the sky right in front of me. Scared me half to death.”
“You mean him?” asked Youssef, pointing.
Across the pavement, the Winged Man was giving a pantomime flying lesson to a little boy, who was nodding seriously and flapping his arms.