For a brief moment, his face is wide and open and warm; the face that leaned toward hers in the street and smiled through shared secrets in the café and laughed as he walked her first to her home and then to his.

But in the time it takes for him to fully wake, that face slides away, and all the knowing with it. A shadow sweeps across those warm blue eyes, that welcome mouth. He jerks a little, rises on one elbow, flustered by the sight of this stranger in his bed.

Because, of course, she is a stranger now.

For the first time since they met the night before, he frowns, stammers a greeting, the words too formal, stiff with embarrassment, and Addie’s heart breaks a little. He is trying to be kind, but she cannot bear it, so she gets up and dresses as fast as she can, a gross reversal of the time he took to strip the clothes away. She does not bother with the laces or the buckles. Does not turn toward him again, not until she feels the warmth of his hand on her shoulder, the touch almost gentle, and thinks, desperately, wildly, that maybe—maybe—there is a way to salvage this. She turns, hoping to meet his eyes, only to find him looking down, away, as he presses three coins into her hand.

And everything goes cold.


It will be many years before she can read Greek, many more before she hears the myth of Sisyphus, but when she does, she will nod in understanding, palms aching from the weight of pushing stones uphill, heart heavy from the weight of watching them roll down again.

In this moment, there is no myth for company.

Only this beautiful boy with his back to her.

Only Remy, who makes no move to follow when she hurries to the door.

Something catches her eye, a bundle of paper askew on the floor. The booklet from the café. The latest of Voltaire. Addie doesn’t know what drives her to take it—perhaps she simply wants a token of their night, something more than the dreaded copper in her palm—but one moment the book is on the ground, cast-off among the clothes, and the next it is pressed to her front with the rest of her things.

Her hands have gotten light, after all, and even if the theft was clumsy, Remy would not have noticed, sitting there on the bed, his attention fixed anywhere but her.

New York City

March 15, 2014


Addie leads Henry down the street and around the corner to a nondescript steel door plastered with old posters. A man loiters next to it, chain-smoking and scrolling through pictures on his phone.

“Jupiter,” she says, unprompted, and the man straightens, and pushes open the door, exposing a narrow platform, and a set of stairs that drops down out of sight.

“Welcome to the Fourth Rail.”

Henry shoots her a wary look, but Addie grabs his hand and pulls him through. He twists, looking back as the door swings shut. “There is no fourth rail,” he says, and Addie flashes him a grin.


This is what she loves about a city like New York. It is so full of hidden chambers, infinite doors leading into infinite rooms, and if you have the time, you can find so many of them. Some she’s found by accident, others in the course of this or that adventure. She keeps them tucked away, like slips of paper between the pages of her book.

One stairwell leads to another, the second wider, made of stone. The ceiling arches overhead, plaster giving way to rock, and then tile, the tunnel lit only by a series of electric lanterns, but they’re spaced far enough apart that they do little to actually break the dark. A breadcrumb trail, just enough to see by, which is why Addie has the pleasure of seeing Henry’s expression when he realizes where they are.

The New York City Subway has nearly five hundred active stations, but the number of abandoned tunnels remains a matter of contention. Some of them are open to the public, both monuments to the past and nods to the unfinished future. Some are little more than closed tracks tucked between functioning lines.

And then some are secrets.

“Addie…” murmurs Henry, but she holds up a finger, tilts her head. Listening.

The music starts as an echo, a distant thrum, as much a feeling as a sound. It rises with every downward step, seems to fill the air around them, first a hum, and then a pulse, and then, at last, a beat.

Ahead the tunnel is bricked up, marked only by the white slash of an arrow to the left. Around the corner, the music grows. One more dead end, one more turn and—

Sound crashes over them.

The whole tunnel vibrates with the force of the bass, the reverb of chords against stone. Spotlights pulse blue-white, a strobe reducing the hidden club to still frames; a writhing crowd, bodies bouncing to the beat; a pair of musicians wielding matching electric guitars on a concrete stage; a row of bartenders caught mid-pour.

The tunnel walls are tiled gray and white, wide bands that wrap in arches overhead, bend down again like ribs, as if they are in the belly of some great, forgotten beast, the rhythm pulsing through its heart.

The Fourth Rail is primal, heady. The kind of place Luc would love.

But this? This is hers. Addie found the tunnel on her own. She showed it to the musician-turned-manager looking for a venue. Later that night, she even suggested the name, their heads bent over a cocktail napkin. His pen marks. Her idea. She’s sure he woke up the next day with a hangover and the first stirrings of the Fourth Rail. Six months later, she saw the guy standing outside the steel doors. Saw the logo they’d designed, a more polished version, tucked beneath the peeling posters, and felt the now-familiar thrill of whispering something into the world and watching it become real.

Addie pulls Henry toward the makeshift bar.

It’s simple, the tunnel wall divided into three behind a wide slab of pale stone that serves as a pouring surface. The options are vodka, bourbon, or tequila, and a bartender stands, waiting, before each.

Addie orders for them. Two vodkas.

The transaction happens in silence—there is no point trying to shout over the wall of sound. A series of fingers held up, a ten laid on the bar. The bartender—a slender black guy with silver dusting his eyes—pours two shots, and spreads his hands like a dealer laying down cards.

Henry lifts his glass and Addie raises hers too and their mouths move together (she thinks he’s saying cheers while she answers salut), but the sounds are swallowed up, the clink of their shots nothing but a small vibration through her fingers.

The vodka hits her stomach like a match, heat blossoming behind her ribs.

They set the empty glasses back on the bar, and Addie’s already pulling Henry toward the crush of bodies by the stage when the guy behind the bar reaches out and catches Henry’s wrist.

The bartender smiles, produces a third shot glass, and pours again. He presses his hands to his chest in the universal gesture for it’s on me.

They drink, and there is the heat again, spreading from her chest to her limbs, and there is Henry’s hand in hers, moving into the crowd. Addie looks back, sees the bartender staring after them, and there is a strange feeling, rising like the last dregs of a dream, and she wants to say something, but the music is a wall, and the vodka smooths the edges of her thoughts until it slips away, and then they are folding into the crowd.

Up above it may be early spring, but down here it is late summer, humid and heavy. The music is liquid, the air thick as syrup as they plunge into the tangled limbs. The tunnel is bricked up behind the stage, making a world of reverb, a place where sound bends back, redoubles, every note carried, thinning, without trailing off entirely. The guitarists play a complicated riff in perfect unison, adding to the echo chamber effect, churning the waters of the crowd.