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Page 60


“I’ve heard that before.”

Leslie returns to the foot of the bed, her black pumps mere inches from my face. They’re spotless—so polished that I can see my warped reflection in the gleaming leather.

“Tell me about your family,” she says. “Any next of kin?”

“My parents live in Maryland. Same with my younger sister. She wants to be an actress, too.”

“How lovely for your parents.” Leslie pauses. “That’s all the questions I have. Shall we return to the lobby?”

“Um, sure,” the girl says. “Did I get the job?”

“We’ll give you a call in a few days to let you know.”

They both leave the bedroom, Leslie flicking off the lights on her way out. Soon I hear the front door close and the key click in the lock.

Even though they’re now gone, I wait before moving.

One second.

Two seconds.

Three.

When I do start to move, it’s just enough to slide my phone out from under me and check for a text from Nick.

It arrives thirty seconds later.


They’re in the elevator.

I crawl out from under the bed and move into the hall on tiptoes, still too frightened to make much noise. At the door, I undo the lock and peek outside, making sure they’re really gone. Seeing no one, I lock the door again, close it behind me, and sprint to the staircase.

Nick is still on the landing, his expression changing from fraught to overjoyed when he sees me running up the first set of steps.

“That was nerve-racking,” he says.

“You have no idea.”

My heart continues to hammer in my chest, making me light-headed. I think the dizziness is from shock that I wasn’t caught and immediately booted from the Bartholomew. Or maybe it’s because of the way Nick is gripping my hand, his palm hot as he quickly pulls me up the steps to the twelfth-floor landing.

We head straight to his apartment—running, giggling, shushing, both of us riding the high of getting away with something we shouldn’t have been doing. Inside, Nick leans against the door, his chest heaving. “Did we just do that?”

I’m also out of breath, answering in huffs. “I . . . think . . . we did.”

“Holy shit, we just did that!”

Nick, his hand still holding mine, pulls me into a giddy embrace. His body is warm. His heart beats as fast as mine. Adrenaline leaps off him like an electrical current, passing straight into me until I’m so dizzy the room spins.

I look into Nick’s eyes, hoping that will steady me. Instead, I only feel increasingly unmoored. But it’s not a bad sensation. Far from it. Caught in a wave of euphoria, I press myself against him until our faces are inches apart.

Then I kiss him.

A quick, impromptu peck that makes me instantly recoil in shame.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

Nick stares at me, a flash of hurt in his eyes. “Why?”

“I—I don’t know.”

“Did you not want to kiss me?”

“I did. It’s just—I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to.”

“Try it again and see.”

I take a breath.

I lean in.

I kiss Nick again. Slowly this time. Anxiously. I haven’t kissed anyone but Andrew for a very long time, and a silly, girlish part of me worries I’ve forgotten how. I haven’t, of course. It’s just as swooningly delicious as I remember.

It helps that Nick’s an amazing kisser. An expert. I willingly lose myself in the sensation of his lips on mine, his heart thundering beneath my palm, his hand on the small of my back.

The two of us say nothing as we move down the hallway on swaying legs, kissing against one wall before breaking away and reconnecting a few steps later. I follow him up the spiral steps to his bedroom, his white-hot hand brushing mine.

I pause for a moment at the top of the steps, a meek voice in the back of my brain telling me this is all happening too quickly. I have other things to worry about. Finding Ingrid. Finding a job. Finding some way to gain control of my life.

But then Nick kisses me again.

On my lips.

On my earlobe.

On the nape of my neck as he starts to undress me.

When my clothes fall away, all my worries go with them.

Relieved of them, I let Nick take me by the hand and guide me to his bed.

NOW


Dr. Wagner stares at me expectantly, waiting for me to continue. I don’t. Mostly because I understand that I am starting to sound crazy.

I absolutely cannot sound crazy.

Not to the doctor. Not to the police, when it’s time for the inevitable interrogation. Not to anyone, lest they think I’m the slightest bit unstable and therefore refuse to believe me.

They have to believe me.

“You suggested the Bartholomew was haunted,” Dr. Wagner says, trying to keep the conversational ball rolling. “I’ve always heard those rumors. Urban legends and whatnot. But I also heard all of that was ancient history.”

“History can repeat itself,” I say.

The doctor’s left eyebrow rises, cresting the frame of his glasses. “Are you speaking from experience?”

“Yes. I met a girl on my first day at the Bartholomew. She later disappeared.”

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