Ingrid kept the caption simple—three heart emojis, pink and throbbing.
The photo received fifteen likes and one comment from someone named Zeke, who wrote, cant believe ur back in NYC and havent hit me up.
Although Ingrid never responded, it’s heartening to see she knows at least one other person in the city. Maybe she’s with him now. I take a closer look at Zeke’s profile picture. The Neff cap, scraggly beard, and scuffed skateboard raised conspicuously into the frame tell me all I need to know about the guy.
That impression is reinforced when I click on his own photo gallery. Most of the pictures are selfies. Him shirtless in the bathroom mirror. Him shirtless at Jones Beach. Him shirtless on the street, his jeans slung low enough to show off his boxer shorts. He even took a shirtless picture this morning, snapped in bed as a woman slept next to him. All that can be seen of her is a patch of bare shoulder and long hair spread over the pillowcase.
Blond. No trace of blue. Definitely not Ingrid.
Still, I send Zeke a message just in case she decided to, in his words, hit him up.
Hi. I’m a neighbor of Ingrid’s. I’m trying to get in touch with her. Have you heard from her recently? If not, do you have any idea where she might be? I’m worried about her.
I leave my name. I leave my number. I ask him to call.
After that, it’s back to Ingrid’s Instagram account, where I hope her older pictures might offer clues about where she could have gone. The photo before the park selfie is a close-up of her fingernails, which had been painted bright green. It was taken five days ago. The caption quotes Sally Bowles from Cabaret.
“If I should paint my fingernails green, and it just so happens I do paint them green, well, if anyone should ask me why, I say: ‘I think it’s pretty!’”
Seven likes. No responses.
It’s the picture before it that truly grabs my attention. Taken eight days ago, it’s another close-up of Ingrid’s hand. The fingernails are light pink this time. The color of a ripe peach. Her hand rests atop a book. Jutting from its top is the red tassel of a bookmark. Glimpsed in the spaces between her spread fingers is a familiar image—George perched at the corner of the Bartholomew. In addition to that are scraps of a familiar font spelling out an equally familiar title.
Heart of a Dreamer.
The caption Ingrid included is even more surprising.
I met the author!
I’ve also met the author, and she wasn’t too happy about it. Still, this photo seems to suggest that Greta and Ingrid were, if not friends, then at least acquaintances. Which means there’s a small chance she might know where Ingrid went.
With a sigh, I grab the last bottle of wine Chloe gave me, leave the apartment, and make my way down the hall to the stairwell.
I’m going to risk breaking another Bartholomew rule and see Greta Manville, no matter how much it’s sure to annoy her.
My initial knock on the door to 10A is so tentative I can barely hear it over the sound of my thudding heart. So I rap again, using more force. Behind the door, footsteps creak over the floorboards and someone shouts, “I fucking heard you the first time.”
When the door finally opens, it’s only a crack. Greta Manville peers through it with eyes narrowed to slits. “You again,” she says.
I raise the wine bottle. “I brought you something.”
The door opens wide enough for me to see her outfit of black slacks and a gray sweater. On her feet are pink slippers. The left one taps with impatience as she eyes the bottle.
“It’s an apology gift,” I say. “For bothering you in the lobby yesterday. And right now. And for any future times I might do it.”
Greta takes the bottle and checks the label. It must be a decent vintage, because she doesn’t grimace. I’ll need to thank Chloe for not giving me our usual Two-Buck Chuck as a going-away present. Especially now that Greta has drifted away from the door, leaving it open still wider. I pause on the threshold, moving only after her voice drifts out the gaping door.
“You can come in, or you can leave. It makes no difference to me.”
I decide to enter, the movement prompting a nod from Greta. She turns and moves wordlessly down the hall. I follow, sneaking glances at the apartment’s layout, which is far different from mine. The rooms here are smaller, but there are more of them. A backward look down the hall reveals several doors leading to what I assume are an office, a bedroom, maybe a library.
Although, quite honestly, the entire apartment could be considered a library. Books are everywhere. Filling the shelves of the room opposite the door. Sitting on end tables. Rising from the floor in tilted, towering stacks. There’s even a book in the kitchen—a Margaret Atwood paperback splayed facedown on the counter.
“Who are you again?” Greta says as she retrieves a corkscrew from a drawer in the kitchen’s marble-topped island. “There are so many of you apartment sitters coming and going that I can’t keep track.”
“Jules,” I say.
“That’s right. Jules. And my book is your favorite and so on and so forth.”
Greta caps the comment with a mighty pull of the cork. She then fetches a single wineglass, filling it halfway before handing it to me.
“Cheers,” she says.