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Page 52

“Have you seen the price of oranges?” I say.

Bobbie laughs again. “Honey, the last time I had fresh fruit, Obama was still in office.”

“Well, I hope life gets easier for you very soon,” I say.

“Thanks,” Bobbie says brightly. “And I hope you find your friend. Doing good deeds—makes this rotten world just a little bit better.”

24


When I return to the Bartholomew at three o’clock, Charlie greets me outside, a dark look of concern in his eyes.

“Someone’s here to see you,” he says. “A young man. He’s been here awhile. After an hour, I told him he could wait inside.”

Charlie opens the door, and my stomach drops.

There, standing just inside the lobby, is Andrew.

His unexpected—and unwanted—presence makes me see red. Literally. For a second, my vision turns crimson, just like in that Hitchcock movie my dad made me watch once. Marnie, it was called. She saw flashes of red like I do now as I march through the door, a scowl on my face.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Andrew looks up from his phone. “You haven’t responded to my calls or texts.”

“So you just decided to show up?” A thought occurs to me, momentarily cutting through my anger. “How did you even know I was here?”

“I saw your picture in the paper,” Andrew says. “It took me a minute to realize it was you.”

“Because it’s an awful picture of me.”

“I always said you’re much prettier in person.”

Andrew flashes me his seductive grin. The one that made me weak-kneed when we first met. It’s a dazzling smile, and he knows it. I’m sure he used it on the co-ed he was fucking. One flash was probably all it took to lure her into our apartment and onto our couch.

Seeing the grin now leaves my body humming with rage. That’s something I’ve managed to push to the wayside the past two weeks, consumed as I was with worry. But now that he’s here, right in front of me, it comes roaring back.

“What the fuck do you want, Andrew?”

“To apologize. I truly hate the way we ended things.”

He takes a step toward me. I take several steps back, putting as much distance between us as possible. Soon I’m at the row of mailboxes and digging out the mail key.

“The way you ended things,” I say as I open the mailbox and peek inside, finding it empty. “I had nothing to do with it.”

“You’re right. The way I treated you was awful. There’s no excuse for it.”

I slam the mailbox shut and turn around, seeing that Andrew has followed me. He stands about three feet away. Just out of punching range.

“You should have said all this two weeks ago,” I tell him. “But you didn’t. You could have apologized then. You could have begged me not to leave. But you didn’t even try.”

“Would that have changed your mind?” Andrew says.

“No.” Tears sting my eyes, which pisses me off. The last thing I want is for Andrew to see just how hurt I really am. “But it would have made me feel less stupid for being with you. It wouldn’t have made me feel so—”

Unloved.

That’s what I’m about to say but stop myself before the word can escape. I fear it will make me look as pathetic as I often feel.

“Were there others besides her?” I ask, even though it’s a pointless question. I’m certain there were. I’m also certain it doesn’t make any difference now.

“No,” Andrew says.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Honest.”

Despite his protests, it’s clear he’s lying. His eyes shift ever so slightly to the left. It’s his tell.

“How many?” I say.

Andrew shrugs, scratches the back of his head.

“Two or three.”

Which probably means there were more.

“I’m sorry about all of them,” Andrew says. “I never meant to hurt you, Jules. I need you to know that. They meant nothing to me. You did. I loved you. Truly. And now I’ve lost you forever.”

He moves in even closer and attempts to tuck a lock of hair behind my ear. Another one of his surefire moves. He did it right before our first kiss.

I slap his hand away. “You should have thought about that earlier.”

“You’re right, I should have,” Andrew says. “And you have every reason to be angry and hurt. I just wanted to tell you that I regret everything. And that I’m sorry.”

He stands in place, as if waiting for something. I think he wants me to forgive him. I don’t plan on doing that anytime soon.

“Fine,” I say. “You’ve said your apologies. Now you can go.”

Andrew doesn’t budge.

“There’s something else,” he says, growing quiet.

I cross my arms and huff. “What else could there possibly be?”

“I need—” Andrew looks around the lobby until he’s certain there’s no one else around. “I need money.”

I stare at him, stunned. When my legs start to buckle with anger, I try to cover it by taking a step backward.

“You can’t be fucking serious.”

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