Meet the Governor’s daughter Katie Mahoney Brown: catch up on Part 1 here!
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dia Morgan knew no one else would touch the case. She was the only black woman in the office, the only one without ties to the current governor. She saw that for the others, her apparent decision to sabotage her career felt inevitable: she was to be congratulated on getting this far.
What they didn’t know was that she was about to blow everything wide open. Hand Boston the Mahoney family on a platter, with Big Jim’s chestnut-colored scalp served up as the main dish. As for that weasel Tom Brown … he wouldn’t even know what had hit him.
None of them were aware that she and Katie Mahoney Brown had their own history. They’d met on college move-in day. Everything had felt so different from what Dia had always known, like the school needed to be sure that she understood how out of her depth she was: the eighteenth-century stonework, the impossible green of the never-ending lawn. The students wore no obvious brands, emitting an aura of affluence that she’d seen only in magazines. She watched as awe, then shame, flitted over her father’s face.
There were a few other black kids, but they were different from those she’d grown up with in Mattapan. She sensed in them how it wasn’t her race that would isolate her here: it was her fear, her certainty that she didn’t belong, her suspicious glares in response to the friendly greetings of the beautiful people in this beautiful place. She’d soon learn that the problem wasn’t her blackness, but rather her refusal to forget it, or the fact that once they left these walls, neither would they.
Dia felt humiliated by her bulky suitcases, so different from the matching plastic crates used by her fellow freshmen, pastel like their outdoor performance gear, streamlined like their slim bodies. They and their possessions made sense in this immaculate institution. She, with her jiggling stomach, oversize T-shirt, and cornrows that shone with pomade, did not. It was on the sixth-floor landing that the zipper on her biggest duffel bag broke, along with her resolve. She dropped onto the stairs, deaf to her father’s gentle words. She should have never left Boston.
“Those suitcases are so badly made,” someone behind her remarked.
She turned, hastily dabbing at her tears, and saw a slender girl, with hair mousier than it was now but eyes that were just as piercing. She was the most stunning person Dia had ever seen. She looked like one of the heroines from her favorite childhood books, where white girls took care of horses and rode into adventure and romance.
Before Dia or her dad could protest, Katie had already heaved the broken baggage up into her arms.
“We’ll be done in 30 minutes,” she cheerfully pronounced over her shoulder, as the other two huffed and puffed behind her. “And then I’ll show you the best place for Thai food.”
She was lying, it turned out: they were done in 26. When Dia’s father asked Katie to join them for lunch, she declined; she would have loved to, but her parents were forcing her to participate in all the orientation activities.
“My dad’s an alum, so they really get into this kind of thing,” she smiled.
“Try to become friends with that girl,” Dia’s father later advised, over pad Thai and green-curry noodles. “She’s going places.”
Dia refrained from explaining that that was the last thing she’d ever do. She hated Katie. She hated her smile, her ease, her alumni parents, her wealth.