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“And your income is, heh, not derived from any activity declared to be criminal,” says the county clerk with a twinkled eye. Chicago’s eyes are flat.

“Just enter the petition,” she says.

“Sweetie, we get a lot of kids in here,” he says reasonably. “I know life with Mom and Dad can be tough, but unless you have a signed form–”


“–and not in shaky cursive–”

“It’s notarized,” Chicago snaps.

“Emancipation isn’t for fun, Miss.” He’s flat-eyed now too. “You’ll be a legal adult and your decisions will have real weight, you understand that?”

Chicago’s heart pounds and pounds.