In the lounge, Lo is struck by yet another fancy chandelier and the miniaturized scale of the room, giving the impression of a dollhouse replica. She looks around for the Pink Floyd girl, but is interrupted by Cole Lederer, the award-winning photographer. He offers her a drink, which Lo accepts, against her better judgment.
The unsettling, slightly unreal atmosphere persists. Lo’s curiosity has been piqued by the neighboring passenger, and she’s alert to a possible story. At the same time, she’s uncomfortable with networking and finds that drinking takes the edge off.
Lo takes in the other passengers, including fellow journalists Tina West, Alexander Belhomme, and Archer Fenlan, but she doesn’t see the mysterious girl anywhere. Then she’s startled by Ben Howard, a writer whom she used to date. When he mentions the bruise on her face, she has a momentary flashback to the burglary.
Lo is still responding with hair-trigger anxiety to reminders of the recent break-in.
Lo sees Lord Bullmer and is amazed how young he looks. Ben mentions that most of his money comes from his wife, heiress of the Lyngstad car manufacturing family. Lo is shocked by Anne Bullmer’s apparent illness. With her headscarf and grayish skin, she contrasts starkly with everyone else in the group. Lo looks away when she finds herself staring. Ben explains that she’s been fighting breast cancer and is barely thirty.
Lord Bullmer doesn’t match expectations for a stereotypical peer of the British realm—he’s unusually young, and his fortune comes mostly from his wife. Anne, meanwhile, looks even more out of place among a crowd of healthy people looking their best. Lo feels uncomfortable with Anne’s illness and doesn’t study her appearance too closely—a point that’s significant later.
When Lo is surprised by Ben’s knowledge of everyone aboard, Ben looks at her in surprise and points out that it’s “not exactly Sherlock Holmes stuff.” Lo realizes that a good reporter would have done background research, but that she’s been “in a haze of sleep deprivation and PTSD” and forgot.
Lo realizes that the events of the past few days have hampered her ability to function professionally; she’s forgetting to do even her basic journalistic homework.
Lord Bullmer makes a speech welcoming everyone to the Aurora, using “that curiously classless tone that people from public school seemed to strive for.” He raises a toast to the ship and to the majesty of the northern lights, “something that everyone should see before they die.” Bullmer then escorts a weary Anne back to their cabin, and Lo notices her sweet smile and her face’s “curious, skull-like appearance.”
Bullmer seems to go out of his way to distance himself from a wealthy, unapproachable persona. His comment on the northern lights has a vaguely morbid undertone, especially in light of Anne’s obvious ill health.
Lo watches Ben “networking like a bastard” and thinks that this is why he’s advanced to writing for the Times, while she’s stuck at Velocity. Yet she can’t seem to make herself move. She takes another reckless drink of champagne. Cole Lederer flirts with her, but Lo deflects his attempts by joking about Tina. Cole replies that Tina “would skin her own grandmother for the sake of a story.” As the group makes their way to dinner, Lo notices Tina staring speculatively at her from a distance.
Lo continues to feel uncomfortable with the norms of professional networking and drinks in order to deal with the pressure. She recoils both from the emphasis on schmoozing and the prevalence of flirtation. Tina seems to have taken some kind of an interest in Lo.