Toralei’s phone rings. She recognizes the number-- it’s actually still in her contacts-- and answers the phone with what she knows will sting the most. “Who’s calling?”
“… It’s Nefera, Toralei.”
“Oh, Nefera, hey, sorry,” she says, sticky-sweet and not really caring whether it’s obvious she’s lying. “I didn’t recognize your number. Did you get a new one?”
She totally did not, but she’ll hate the idea of being dumped out of anyone’s contact list.
“No,” Nefera confirms. “Shut up. Listen. I’m going to Boo York this weekend for a gala opening at the Museum of Unnatural History and you’re coming with me.”
“Really?” Toralei purrs. “News to me. Not that you’re going, but that you have any room left. I mean. I hear your dad is letting you and Cleo take a friend or two, but Cleo’s taking four friends, a boyfriend, and a pop star-- I sort of figured she was only getting away with that because you were going solo?”
“Cleo’s bringing the fearleading squad. I know how much you hate them…”
Oh, Nefera. So obvious with the bait. Toralei would bat at it, but-- “You know I’m back on the team, right?”
“When did that happen?” and wow, iCoffins were not meant for shrieking, ow.
“I forget exactly. After the time-travel thing, before the ghost invasion thing. It’s been a busy scaremester. Anyway,” she sighs into the phone, “It’s not like I like Cleo or her little minions now, but I’m only going out of my way to irritate, these days. And not far out of my way. Only when it’s funny. Well. Only when I think it’s funny.” Were-fleas. Like that’s even a thing. Oh well, people should know better than to let Toralei get bored around Spectra, that’s all there is to it, really. “Or when there’s something in it for me.”
“Ugh, whatever, look, I know you ruined Cleo’s trip to Scaris, I need you to come do the same thing to her trip to Boo York.”
And not that that hadn’t been fun, but come on, Nefera. “You realize the only reason Cleo and her ghouls didn’t ditch me in Scaris is because they would’ve felt oh-so guilty about leaving me all on my own in a foreign country, which Boo York is kind of… not?”
“Just do it!”
“Why do you even care? Can’t you just invite a bunch of your model friends to come along and look down their sculpted noses at everyone? You do have model friends, right?” Hah. Nefera doesn’t make friends. She doesn’t even collect minions. She only wants subjects and servants, and that’s why she’s not actually going to get anywhere without her deaddy’s money backing her up. Even Toralei knows when it’s better to make connections and network with other troublemakers. Nefera still thinks she can boss Toralei around like she could when she was Fearleading Captain, which is so wrong that it’s almost funny. Nefera was the one who screwed Toralei out of the captaincy after she graduated, and the only reason Toralei was willing to work with her to get to Mashionals was to show up Cleo.
Finally Nefera says the magic words.
“I’ll pay you.”
“Half up front, half after we get back,” Toralei agrees, grinning like the she just ate a canary. “Now let’s talk actual numbers.” And if Nefera wants the twins to tag along, too, Toralei will make sure they get whatever she gets, each. Purrsephone’s always wanted to go to Boo York.