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Page 84

“But you did, Jules. I had pepper spray in my pocket. A tiny bottle attached to my key ring. Nick appeared so fast I didn’t have time to reach for it. Then you came to my door. And you talked to me just long enough for me to reach into my pocket and grab it.”

I remember that vividly. The way her right hand had been plunged into the pocket of her jeans, grasping for something.

“After you left, I begged him not to hurt you,” Ingrid says. “Then I hit him with the pepper spray. After that, I ran. I didn’t take anything with me. There wasn’t any time. I had to leave everything behind. My phone. My clothes. Money. The only thing I had were the keys, which I threw onto the lobby floor because I knew I wouldn’t be able to come back.”

The locker room door opens, and Bobbie pokes her head inside.

“Ladies, you’re going to need to wrap this up,” she says. “I can’t stay out here all night. It’s getting packed out here, and someone’s going to take my cot if I’m not in it soon.”

Ingrid and I make our way out of the locker room into a shelter even more crowded than when we left it. Bobbie is right. All the cots have now been claimed. Many are occupied by people sleeping or reading or just staring off in silence. A few serve as makeshift social hubs, where groups of women sit in clusters to laugh and converse. It’s a loud and bustling place, which makes me understand why Ingrid stuck to bus and train stations. There’s safety in numbers.

For the two of us.

But there’s still one apartment sitter left at the Bartholomew. And he’s all alone.

That realization prompts another thought. One so awful it makes my heart beat like a snare drum in my chest.

I pull out my phone and swipe through my search history, returning to the lunar calendar I looked at earlier.

I type in this month.

I type in this year.

When the results appear, I gasp so loud it makes others in the shelter stop and stare. Ingrid and Bobbie close in around me, concerned.

“What’s wrong?” Ingrid says.

“I need to go.” I pull away from them, heading to the exit. “Stay with Bobbie. Trust no one else.”

Ingrid calls after me. “Where are you going?”

“The Bartholomew. I need to warn Dylan.”

In a matter of seconds, I’m out of the gymnasium, then out of the building, then out on the street, where the moon still glows bright and round.

It’s a full moon.

The second one this month.

A blue moon.

42


I take a cab back to the Bartholomew, even though I can’t afford it.

My wallet is empty.

So is my bank account.

But speed is the most important thing right now. I’ve allowed myself twenty minutes to get back to the Bartholomew, collect what I can, meet up with Dylan, and then get the hell out of there. No explanations. No goodbyes. Just in and out, dropping my keys in the lobby before I’m out the door.

Already I’m behind schedule. Traffic on Eighth Avenue is a slow crawl north. In five minutes, the cab’s traversed only two blocks. I sit in the back seat, fear and impatience forming a potent combination that has my entire body buzzing. My hand shakes as I grab my phone and call Dylan.

One ring.

The cab, which has been idling at a red light, surges forward the moment the light turns green.

Two rings.

We zip past another block.

Three rings.

Another block goes by. Sixteen more to go.

Four rings.

After zooming across one more block, the cab screeches to a halt at a red light. I’m thrust forward, barely avoiding the plexiglass barrier between the back seat and the front. The phone drops from my trembling hands.

It keeps ringing, the sound distant and tinny on the cab floor. The ringing stops, replaced by Dylan’s outgoing voicemail message.

“This is Dylan. You know what to do.”

I snatch the phone from the floor, practically shouting into it.

“Dylan, I found Ingrid. She’s safe. She doesn’t know where Erica is. But you need to get out of there. Right now.”

In the front seat, the cabbie looks up and gives me a curious glance in the rearview mirror. Arched brows. Creased forehead. Already he’s regretting picking me up. He’ll regret it even more in a minute.

I look away and keep shouting into my phone, the words tumbling out.

“I’m on my way there now. If you can, meet me outside. I’ll explain the rest after we leave.”

I end the call as the light changes and the cab speeds forward again, hurtling us through Columbus Circle at a dizzying pace. On the right, the buildings fall away, replaced with the tree-studded expanse of Central Park.

Thirteen blocks to go.

I send Dylan a text.


CALL ME.

I immediately send another, more urgent one.


YOU’RE IN DANGER.

We zip by one more block. Twelve more remain.

I tell myself to stay calm, stay focused.

Don’t panic.

Think.

That’s what will get me out of this mess. Not panicking. Panic only breeds more panic.

But thinking—calm, rational thought—will work wonders. Only, rational thought is impossible after I check my watch. Ten minutes spent in this cab and I’m not even halfway there.

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