Page 59

I text back. Up?


I aim the flashlight at the book in the drawer. Heart of a Dreamer. I’d recognize that cover anywhere. When I pick it up, I find a bookmark with a red tassel tucked among its pages.

I’ve seen this book—and bookmark—before. In a photo Ingrid posted on Instagram. The same post with the caption boasting how she had met Greta Manville.

This was Ingrid’s copy.

I’ve finally found something else she left behind.

I slide the bookmark from its place and see that nothing about it is personalized. It’s as generic as can be. Just an illustration of a cat curled up on a blanket. Ones just like it are sold in every bookstore in America.

My phone glows three times in quick succession, brightening the room like lightning flashes as I start to flip backward through the book, checking for scraps of paper tucked among the pages or notes in the margins. There’s nothing until I get to the title page, which bears an inscription written in large, looping letters.

    Darling Ingrid,

Such a pleasure! Your youthfulness gives me life!

Best wishes,

Greta Manville

My phone lights up again, forcing me to finally check it. I see four missed texts from Nick, each one more frightening than the last.

Elevator stopped on 11.

It’s Leslie! Someone’s with her.

They’re heading to 11A!!

The last text, sent mere seconds ago, makes my heart rattle.


I drop the book back into the nightstand drawer and push it shut. Then I rush to the hallway just in time to hear the sound of a key turning a lock, the door opening, and, finally, the voice of Leslie Evelyn filling the apartment.

“Here we are, sweetie: 11A.”


Leslie and her guest are roaming 11A, their voices low, conversational. So far, they’ve stayed on the other side of the apartment. The study. The sitting room. Right now they’re in the kitchen, Leslie saying something I can’t quite make out.

I remain in the master bedroom, where I’ve stuffed myself beneath the bed. I lie on my stomach, the phone shoved under me to block the glow if Nick texts again. I keep my mouth clamped shut, breathing through my nose because it’s quieter that way.

Outside the bedroom, Leslie’s voice gets louder, clearer. I can now make out what she’s saying, which means she’s left the kitchen and is getting closer.

“This is one of the Bartholomew’s nicest units,” she says. “They’re all nice, of course. But this one is extra special.”

The person with her is a woman, young and chipper. At least, she’s trying to be. I notice a quiver of nervousness in her voice when she says, “It’s such an amazing apartment.”

“It is,” Leslie agrees. “Which means staying here is also a big responsibility. We need someone who’ll truly watch over the place.”

Ah, so this is an interview for Ingrid’s replacement. Leslie wasted no time. It also explains the girl’s nervousness. She’s trying hard to impress.

“Back to the questions,” Leslie says. “What’s your current employment situation?”

“I’m an actress,” the girl says. “I’m waiting tables part time until I get my big break.”

She lets out a nervous chuckle, making light of the idea, as if she doesn’t even believe it. I feel bad for her. I’d feel worse if I wasn’t hiding in fear, watching their shadows glide along the hallway wall. A moment later they’re in the bedroom, Leslie flicking on the overhead light. Like an insect, I shrink farther under the bed.

“Do you smoke?” Leslie asks.

“Only if a role requires it.”


“Not really,” the girl replies. “I’m not legal yet.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty. I’ll be twenty-one in a month.”

They cross the room.

Then approach the bed.

Then stop so close that I can see their shoes. Black pumps for Leslie. Scuffed Keds for the girl. I hold my breath, covering my nose and mouth with my hand for good measure, afraid to make the slightest noise. Even so, my heart pounds so loud in my chest that I’m certain they could hear it if they stopped talking long enough to listen. Thankfully, they don’t.

“What’s your relationship status?” Leslie asks. “Are you seeing anyone?”

“I, um, have a boyfriend.” The girl sounds thrown by the question. “Will that be a problem?”

“For you, yes,” Leslie says. “There are certain rules that temporary tenants must follow. One of them is no visitors.”

Leslie walks toward the master bath, her pumps vanishing from my field of vision. The girl in the Keds stays a moment longer before reluctantly following her.

“Ever?” she says.

“Ever,” Leslie replies from inside the bathroom, the tile giving her voice a watery echo. “Another rule is no nights spent away from the apartment. So if you’re approved to stay here, I’m afraid you won’t be seeing very much of your boyfriend.”

“I’m sure it won’t be a problem,” she says.