Leslie blinks rapidly, trying to hide her surprise. “Between apartments?”

“My old place went co-op,” I lie. “I’m living with a friend until I can find something else.”

“Staying here would be very convenient for you, I imagine,” Leslie says tactfully.

In truth, living here would be a lifesaver. It would give me a home base to search for a job and a new place to live. And when it was all over, I’d have twelve grand in the bank. Mustn’t forget about that.

“Well then, let’s finish up this interview and see if you’re the right fit.”

Leslie leads me out of the bedroom, down the steps, and back to the crimson sofa in the sitting room. There, I resume my hands-in-lap sitting position, trying hard not to let my gaze drift back to the window. It does anyway, now that late afternoon has brought a deep gold tinge to the sunlight draped over the park.

“Just a few more questions and we’ll be done,” Leslie says as she opens her attaché case and pulls out a pen and what looks to be an application form. “Age?”


Leslie jots it down. “Date of birth?”

“May first.”

“Are there any illnesses or health conditions we should be aware of?”

I jerk my gaze from the window. “Why do you need to know that?”

“Emergency purposes,” Leslie says. “Because there’s currently no one we can contact if, God forbid, something happens to you while you’re here, I’ll need a little bit more medical information. It’s standard policy, I assure you.”

“No illnesses,” I say.

Leslie’s pen hovers over the page. “So no heart problems or anything of that nature?”


“And your hearing and vision are fine?”


“Any allergies we should be aware of?”

“Bee stings. But I carry an EpiPen.”

“That’s very smart of you,” Leslie says. “It’s nice to meet a young woman with a good head on her shoulders. Which brings me to my last question: Would you consider yourself to be an inquisitive person?”

Inquisitive. Now there’s a word I never expected to hear during this interview, considering Leslie’s the one asking all the questions.

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking,” I say.

“Then I’ll be blunt,” Leslie replies. “Are you nosy? Prone to asking questions? And, worse, telling others what you’ve learned? As you probably know, the Bartholomew has a reputation for secrecy. People are curious about what goes on inside these walls, although you’ve already seen that it’s just an ordinary building. In the past, some apartment sitters have arrived with the wrong intentions. They came looking for dirt. About the building, its residents, its history. The typical tabloid fodder. I sniffed them out immediately. I always do. So, if you’re here for the gossip, then it’s best we part ways now.”

I shake my head. “I don’t care what happens here. Honestly, I just need some money and a place to live for a few months.”

That ends the interview. Leslie stands, smoothing her skirt and adjusting one of the bulky rings on her fingers. “The way it usually goes is that I’ll tell you to expect a phone call if we’re interested. But I see no point in making you wait.”

I know what’s coming next. I knew it the moment I stepped into that birdcage of an elevator. I’m not worthy of the Bartholomew. People like me—parentless, jobless, borderline homeless—have no place here. I take one last look out the window, knowing such a view will never present itself again.

Leslie finishes her speech. “We’d love for you to stay here.”

At first, I think I’ve misheard her. I give a blank stare, making it clear I’m unaccustomed to receiving good news.

“You’re joking,” I say.

“I’m as serious as can be. We’ll need to run a background check, of course. But you seem like a perfect fit. Young and bright. And I think being here will do you a world of good.”

That’s when it hits me: I get to live here. In the goddamn Bartholomew, of all places. In an apartment beyond my wildest dreams.

Even better, I’ll be getting paid to do it.

Twelve thousand dollars.

Happy tears form in my eyes. I quickly swipe them away, lest Leslie think I’m too emotional and change her mind.

“Thank you,” I say. “Truly. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Leslie beams. “It’s my pleasure, Jules. Welcome to the Bartholomew. I think you’re going to love it here.”


There’s a catch, right?” Chloe says before taking a sip of Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s. “I mean, there has to be.”

“That’s what I thought,” I say. “But if there is, I can’t find it.”

“No sane person would pay a stranger to live in their luxury apartment.”

The two of us are in the living room of Chloe’s non-luxury apartment in Jersey City, seated around the coffee table that has become our regular dining spot since I started crashing here. Tonight it’s scattered with cartons of cheap Chinese takeout. Vegetable lo mein and pork fried rice.