She nods at me, still looking down. Her eyes flicker up to my face, and then return to their previous position, a small frown etched around her lips. “Are you newly Independent, Dom?”
“Yeah, I –”
“You better hurry,” she says, cutting me off. “You don’t want to be late.”
“Late?” I ask, not recalling anything instructions about activities tonight.
“For reporting to work,” she clarifies. She nods at my bag. “You should probably get that dropped off and get to it.”
“Um...” I’m honestly not sure what to say. This is my first real interaction in which our designation system has really come into play. I’m a little embarrassed that she thinks I’m lower tier, but I’m also a little ashamed for thinking that way. I play with the SmrtPad in my pocket a little, debating how to respond.
Lane’s eyes dart side to side, gauging whether there are any other people in our vicinity. Satisfied that the coast is clear, she leans in closer. The top of her head barely reaches my neck. Her breath is warm against the base of my throat. “You’ll want to make a good first impression,” she says nervously, like she’s telling me something she shouldn’t be. “It’ll matter.” Done with her good deed for the day, she leans back and shrugs. “Congratulations,” she adds, and then shuffles away.