Lock Every Door – Riley Sager

Light slices the darkness, jerking me awake. My right eye—someone’s prying it open. Latex-gloved fingers part the lids, yanking on them like they’re stubborn window shades. There’s more light now. Harsh. Painfully bright. A penlight, aimed at my pupil. The same is done to my left eye. Pry. Part. Light. The fingers release my lids, and I’m plunged back into darkness. Someone speaks. A man with a gentle voice. “Can you hear me?” I open my mouth, and hot pain circles my jaw.

Stray bolts of it jab my neck and cheek. “Yes.” My voice is a rasp. My throat is parched. So are my lips, save for a single slick spot of wet warmth with a metallic taste. “Am I bleeding?” “You are,” says the same voice as before. “Just a little. Could have been worse.” “A lot worse,” another voice says. “Where am I?” The first voice answers.

“A hospital, honey. We’re taking you for some tests. We need to see how banged up you really are.” It dawns on me that I’m in motion. I can hear the hum of wheels on tile and feel the slight wobble of a gurney I just now realize I’m flat-backed upon. Until now, I had thought I was floating. I try to move but can’t. My arms and legs are strapped down. Something is pythoned around my neck, holding my head in place. Others are with me.

Three that I know of. The two voices, and someone else pushing the gurney. Warm huf s of breath brush my earlobe. “Let’s see how much you can remember.” It’s the first voice again. The big talker of the bunch. “Think you can answer some questions for me?” “Yes.” “What’s your name?” “Jules.” I stop, irritated by the warm wetness still on my lips. I try to lick it away, my tongue flopping.

“Jules Larsen.” “Hi, Jules,” the man says. “I’m Bernard.” I want to say hello back, but my jaw still hurts. As does my entire left side from knee to shoulder. As does my head. It’s a quick boil of pain, going from nonexistent to screaming in seconds. Or maybe it’s been there all along and only now is my body able to handle it. “How old are you, Jules?” Bernard asks. “Twenty-five.

” I stop, overcome with a fresh blast of pain. “What happened to me?” “You were hit by a car, honey,” Bernard says. “Or maybe the car was hit by you. We’re still kind of unclear on the details.” I can’t help in that department. This is breaking news to me. I don’t recall anything. “When?” “Just a few minutes ago.” “Where?” “Right outside the Bartholomew.” My eyes snap open, this time on their own.

I blink against the harsh fluorescents zipping by overhead as the gurney speeds along. Keeping pace is Bernard. He has dark skin, bright scrubs, brown eyes. They’re kind eyes, which is why I stare into them, pleading. “Please,” I beg. “Please don’t send me back there.” SIX DAYS EARLIER 1 The elevator resembles a birdcage. The tall, ornate kind—all thin bars and gilded exterior. I even think of birds as I step inside. Exotic and bright and lush.

Everything I’m not. But the woman next to me certainly fits the bill, with her blue Chanel suit, blond updo, perfectly manicured hands weighed down by several rings. She might be in her fifties. Maybe older. Botox has made her face tight and gleaming. Her voice is champagne bright and just as bubbly. She even has an elegant name—Leslie Evelyn. Because this is technically a job interview, I also wear a suit. Black. Not Chanel.

My shoes are from Payless. The brown hair brushing my shoulders is on the ragged side. Normally, I would have gone to Supercuts for a trim, but even that’s now out of my price range. I nod with feigned interest as Leslie Evelyn says, “The elevator is original, of course. As is the main staircase. Not much in the lobby has changed since this place opened in 1919. That’s the great thing about these older buildings—they were built to last.” And, apparently, to force people to invade each other’s personal space. Leslie and I stand shoulder to shoulder in the surprisingly small elevator car. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in style.

There’s red carpet on the floor and gold leaf on the ceiling. On three sides, oak-paneled walls rise to waist height, where they’re replaced by a series of narrow windows. The elevator car has two doors—one with wire-thin bars that closes by itself, plus a crisscross grate Leslie slides into place before tapping the button for the top floor. Then we’re off, rising slowly but surely into one of Manhattan’s most storied addresses. Had I known the apartment was in this building, I never would have responded to the ad. I would have considered it a waste of time. I’m not a Leslie Evelyn, who carries a caramel-colored attaché case and looks so at ease in a place like this. I’m Jules Larsen, the product of a Pennsylvania coal town with less than five hundred dollars in my checking account. I do not belong here. But the ad didn’t mention an address.

It simply announced the need for an apartment sitter and provided a phone number to call if interested. I was. I did. Leslie Evelyn answered and gave me an interview time and an address. Lower seventies, Upper West Side. Yet I didn’t truly know what I was getting myself into until I stood outside the building, triple-checking the address to make sure I was in the right place. The Bartholomew. Right behind the Dakota and the twin-spired San Remo as one of Manhattan’s most recognizable apartment buildings. Part of that is due to its narrowness. Compared with those other legends of New York real estate, the Bartholomew is a mere wisp of a thing—a sliver of stone rising thirteen stories over Central Park West.

In a neighborhood of behemoths, the Bartholomew stands out by being the opposite. It’s small, intricate, memorable. But the main reason for the building’s fame are its gargoyles. The classic kind with bat wings and devil horns. They’re everywhere, those stone beasts, from the pair that sit over the arched front door to the ones crouched on each corner of the slanted roof. More inhabit the building’s facade, placed in short rows on every other floor. They sit on marble outcroppings, arms raised to ledges above, as if they alone are keeping the Bartholomew upright. It gives the building a Gothic, cathedral-like appearance that’s inspired a similarly religious nickname—St. Bart’s. Over the years, the Bartholomew and its gargoyles have graced a thousand photographs.

I’ve seen it on postcards, in ads, as a backdrop for fashion shoots. It’s been in the movies. And on TV. And on the cover of a best-selling novel published in the eighties called Heart of a Dreamer, which is how I first learned about it. Jane had a copy and would often read it aloud to me as I lay sprawled across her twin bed. The book tells the fanciful tale of a twenty-year-old orphan named Ginny who, through a twist of fate and the benevolence of a grandmother she never knew, finds herself living at the Bartholomew. Ginny navigates her posh new surroundings in a series of increasingly elaborate party dresses while juggling several suitors. It’s fluff, to be sure, but the wonderful kind. The kind that makes a young girl dream of finding romance on Manhattan’s teeming streets. As Jane would read, I’d stare at the book’s cover, which shows an across-the-street view of the Bartholomew.

There were no buildings like that where we grew up. It was just row houses and storefronts with sooty windows, their glumness broken only by the occasional school or house of worship. Although we had never been there, Manhattan intrigued Jane and me. So did the idea of living in a place like the Bartholomew, which was worlds away from the tidy duplex we shared with our parents. “Someday,” Jane often said between chapters. “Someday I’m going to live there.” “And I’ll visit,” I’d always pipe up. Jane would then stroke my hair. “Visit? You’ll be living there with me, Julie-girl.” None of those childhood fantasies came true, of course.

They never do. Maybe for the Leslie Evelyns of the world, perhaps. But not for Jane. And definitely not for me. This elevator ride is as close as I’m going to get. The elevator shaft is tucked into a nook of the staircase, which winds upward through the center of the building. I can see it through the elevator windows as we rise. Between each floor is ten steps, a landing, then ten more steps. On one of the landings, an elderly man wheezes his way down the stairs with the help of an exhausted-looking woman in purple scrubs. She waits patiently, gripping the man’s arm as he pauses to catch his breath.

Although they pretend not to be paying attention as the elevator passes, I catch them taking a quick look just before the next floor blocks them from view. “Residential units are located on eleven floors, starting with the second,” Leslie says. “The ground floor contains staff offices and employee-only areas, plus our maintenance department. Storage facilities are in the basement. There are four units on each floor. Two in the front. Two in the back.” We pass another floor, the elevator slow but steady. On this level, a woman about Leslie’s age waits for the return trip. Dressed in leggings, UGGs, and a bulky white sweater, she walks an impossibly tiny dog on a studded leash.

She gives Leslie a polite wave while staring at me from behind oversize sunglasses. In that brief moment when we’re face-to-face, I recognize the woman. She’s an actress. At least, she used to be. It’s been ten years since I last saw her on that soap opera I watched with my mother during summer break. “Is that—” Leslie stops me with a raised hand. “We never discuss residents. It’s one of the unspoken rules here. The Bartholomew prides itself on discretion. The people who live here want to feel comfortable within its walls.

” “But celebrities do live here?” “Not really,” Leslie says. “Which is fine by us. The last thing we want are paparazzi waiting outside. Or, God forbid, something as awful as what happened at the Dakota. Our residents tend to be quietly wealthy. They like their privacy. A good many of them use dummy corporations to buy their apartments so their purchase doesn’t become public record.” The elevator comes to a rattling stop at the top of the stairs, and Leslie says, “Here we are. Twelfth floor.” She yanks open the grate and steps out, her heels clicking on the floor’s black-and-white subway tile.

The hallway walls are burgundy, with sconces placed at regular intervals. We pass two unmarked doors before the hall dead-ends at a wide wall that contains two more doors. Unlike the others, these are marked. 12A and 12B. “I thought there were four units on each floor,” I say. “There are,” Leslie says. “Except this one. The twelfth floor is special.” I glance back at the unmarked doors behind us. “Then what are those?” “Storage areas.

Access to the roof. Nothing exciting.” She reaches into her attaché to retrieve a set of keys, which she uses to unlock 12A. “Here’s where the real excitement is.” The door swings open, and Leslie steps aside, revealing a tiny and tasteful foyer. There’s a coatrack, a gilded mirror, and a table containing a lamp, a vase, and a small bowl to hold keys. My gaze moves past the foyer, into the apartment proper, and to a window directly opposite the door. Outside is one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen. Central Park. Late fall.

Amber sun slanting across orange-gold leaves. All of it from a bird’s-eye view of one hundred fifty feet. The window providing the view stretches from floor to ceiling in a formal sitting room on the other side of a hallway. I cross the hall on legs made wobbly by vertigo and head to the window, stopping when my nose is an inch from the glass. Straight ahead are Central Park Lake and the graceful span of Bow Bridge. Beyond them, in the distance, are snippets of Bethesda Terrace and the Loeb Boathouse. To the right is the Sheep Meadow, its expanse of green speckled with the forms of people basking in the autumn sun. Belvedere Castle sits to the left, backdropped by the stately gray stone of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I take in the view, slightly breathless. I’ve seen it before in my mind’s eye as I read Heart of a Dreamer.

This is the exact view Ginny had from her apartment in the book. Meadow to the south. Castle to the north. Bow Bridge dead center—a bull’s-eye for all her wildest dreams. For a brief moment, it’s my reality. In spite of all the shit I’ve gone through. Maybe even because of it. Being here has the feel of fate somehow intervening, even as I’m again struck by that allconsuming thought—I do not belong here. “I’m sorry,” I say as I pry myself away from the window. “I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding.

” There are many ways Leslie Evelyn and I could have gotten our wires crossed. The ad on Craigslist could have contained the wrong number. Or I might have made a mistake in dialing. When Leslie answered, the call was so brief that confusion was inevitable. I thought she was looking for an apartment sitter. She thought I was looking for an apartment. Now here we are, Leslie tilting her head to give me a confused look and me in awe of a view that, let’s face it, was never intended to be seen by someone like me. “You don’t like the apartment?” Leslie says. “I love it.” I indulge in another quick peek out the window.

I can’t help myself. “But I’m not looking for an apartment. I mean, I am, but I could save every penny until I’m a hundred and I still wouldn’t be able to afford this place.” “The apartment isn’t available yet,” Leslie says. “It just needs someone to occupy it for the next three months.” “There’s no way someone would willingly pay me to live here. Even for three months.” “You’re wrong there. That’s exactly what we want.” Leslie gestures to a sofa in the center of the room.

Upholstered in crimson velvet, it looks more expensive than my first car. I sit tentatively, afraid one careless motion could ruin the whole thing. Leslie takes a seat in a matching easy chair opposite the sofa. Between us is a mahogany coffee table on which rests a potted orchid, its petals white and pristine. Now that I’m no longer distracted by the view, I see how the entire sitting room is done up in reds and wood tones. It’s comfortable, if a bit stuffy. Grandfather clock ticking away in the corner. Velvet curtains and wooden shutters at the windows. Brass telescope on a wooden tripod, aimed not at the heavens but at Central Park. The wallpaper is a red floral pattern—an ornate expanse of petals spread open like fans and overlapping in elaborate combinations.

At the ceiling are matching strips of crown molding, the plaster blossoming into curlicues at the corners. “Here’s the situation,” Leslie says. “Another rule at the Bartholomew is that no unit can stay empty for more than a month. It’s an old rule and, some would say, a strange one. But those of us who live here agree that an occupied building is a happy one. Some of the places around here? They’re halfempty most of the time. Sure, people might own the apartments, but they’re rarely in them. And it shows. Walk into some of them and you feel like you’re in a museum. Or, worse, a church.

Then there’s security to think about. If word gets out that a place in the Bartholomew is going to be empty for a few months, there’s no telling who might try to break in.” Hence that simple ad buried among all the other Help Wanteds. I had wondered why it was so vague. “So you’re looking for a guard?” “We’re looking for a resident,” Leslie says. “Another person to breathe life into the building. Take this place, for example. The owner recently passed away. She was a widow. Had no children of her own.

Just some greedy nieces and nephews in London currently fighting over who should get the place. Until that gets resolved, this apartment will sit vacant. With only two units on this floor, think how empty it will feel.” “Why don’t the nieces and nephews just sublet?” “That’s not allowed here. For the same reasons I mentioned earlier. There’s nothing stopping someone from subletting a place and then doing God-knows-what to it.” I nod, suddenly understanding. “By paying someone to stay here, you’re making sure they don’t do anything to the apartment.” “Exactly,” Leslie says. “Think of it as an insurance policy.

One that pays quite nicely, I might add. In the case of 12A, the family of the late owner is offering four thousand dollars a month.” My hands, which until now had been placed primly on my lap, drop to my sides. Four grand a month. To live here. The pay is so staggering that it feels like the crimson sofa beneath me has dropped away, leaving me hovering a foot above the floor. I try to gather my thoughts, struggling to do the very basic math. That’s twelve thousand dollars for three months. More than enough to tide me over while I put my life back together. “I assume you’re interested,” Leslie says.

Every so often, life of ers you a reset button. When it does, you need to press it as hard as you can. Jane said that to me once. Back in our reading-on-her-bed days, when I was too young to understand what she meant. Now I do. “I’m very interested,” I say. Leslie smiles, her teeth bright behind peachy pink lips. “Then let’s get on with the interview, shall we?” 2 Rather than remain in the sitting room, Leslie conducts the rest of the interview during a tour of the apartment. Each room brings a new question, just like in a game of Clue. All that’s missing are a billiard room and a ballroom.

First stop is the study, located to the right of the sitting room. It’s very masculine. All dark greens and whiskey-colored woods. The wallpaper pattern is the same as in the sitting room, only here it’s a bright emerald. “What’s your current employment situation?” Leslie asks. I could—and likely should—tell her that this time two weeks ago I was an administrative assistant at one of the nation’s biggest financial firms. It wasn’t much—just a step above being an unpaid intern. Lots of photocopying and coffee fetching and dodging the mood swings of the middle managers I worked for. But it paid the bills and provided me with health insurance. Until I was let go along with 10 percent of the office staff.

Restructuring. I assume my boss thought that sounded nicer than large layoffs. Either way, the result was the same—unemployment for me, a likely raise for him. “I’m currently between jobs,” I say. Leslie reacts with the slightest of nods. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad one. Yet the questions continue as we return to the main hall on our way to the other side of the apartment. “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Drink?” “An occasional glass of wine with dinner.” Except for two weeks ago, when Chloe took me out to drown my sorrows in margaritas.

I had five in alarmingly quick succession and ended the night puking in an alley. Another thing Leslie doesn’t need to know. The hallway makes a sudden turn to the left. Rather than follow it, Leslie steers me to the right, into a formal dining room so lovely it makes me gasp. The hardwood floors have been polished to a mirror shine. A chandelier hangs over a long table that can easily seat twelve. This time the busy floral wallpaper is light yellow. The room is situated on the corner of the building, offering dueling views out the windows. Central Park on one side, the edge of the building next door on the other. I circle the table, running a finger along the wood as Leslie says, “What’s your relationship status? While we don’t exactly frown on having couples or even families serve as apartment sitters, we prefer people who are unattached.

It makes things easier from a legal standpoint.” “I’m single,” I say, trying hard to keep bitterness from seeping into my voice. Left out is how on the same day I lost my job, I returned home early to the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, Andrew. At night, he worked as a janitor in the building where my office was located. During the day, he was a part-time student at Pace University majoring in finance and, apparently, fucking one of his classmates while I was at work. That’s what they were doing when I walked in with my sad little box of things hastily cleared from my cubicle. They hadn’t even made it to the bedroom. I found them on the secondhand sofa, Andrew with his jeans around his ankles and his side piece’s legs spread wide. I’d be sad about the whole thing if I wasn’t still so angry. And hurt.

And blaming myself for settling for someone like Andrew. I knew he was unhappy with his job and that he wanted more out of life. What I didn’t know was that he also wanted more than just me. Leslie Evelyn leads me into the kitchen, which is so huge it has two entrances—one from the dining room, one from the hall. I rotate slowly, dazzled by its pristine whiteness, its granite countertops, its breakfast nook by the window. It looks like something straight out of a cooking show. A kitchen designed to be as photogenic as possible. “It’s massive,” I say, awed by its sheer size. “It’s a throwback from when the Bartholomew first opened,” Leslie says. “While the building itself hasn’t changed much, the apartments themselves have been renovated quite a bit over the years.

Some got bigger. Others smaller. This one used to be the kitchen and servants’ quarters for a much larger unit below. See?” Leslie moves to a cupboard with a sliding door that’s tucked between the oven and the sink. When she lifts the door, I see a dark shaft and two tendrils of rope hanging from a pulley rig above. “Is that a dumbwaiter?” “It is.” “Where does it go?” “I have no idea, actually. It hasn’t been used for decades.” She lets the dumbwaiter door slam shut, suddenly back to interview mode. “Tell me about your family.

Any next of kin?” This one’s harder to answer, mainly because it’s worse than losing a job or being cheated on. Whatever I say could open the floodgates to more questions with even sadder responses. Especially if I hint at what happened. And when. And why. “Orphan,” I say, hoping that single word will prevent any follow-ups from Leslie. It does, to an extent. “No family at all?” “No.” It’s almost the truth. My parents were the only children of only children.

There are no aunts, uncles, or cousins. There’s only Jane. Also dead. Maybe. Probably. “Since there’s no next of kin, who should we contact in case of an emergency?” Two weeks ago, that would have been Andrew. Now it’s Chloe, I guess, although she’s not officially listed on any forms. I’m not even sure she can be. “No one,” I say, realizing how pathetic that sounds. So I add a slightly hopeful caveat.

“For now.” Eager to change the subject, I peek through the door just off the kitchen. Leslie gets the hint and ushers me into another hallway, a smaller offshoot of the main one. It contains a guest bathroom she doesn’t even bother to show off, a closet, and—the big surprise—a spiral staircase. “Oh my God. There’s a second floor?” Leslie gives a happy nod, more amused than put off by my sounding like a kid on Christmas. “It’s a special feature exclusive to the two units on the twelfth floor. Go ahead. Take a look.” I bound up the steps, following the corkscrew curve to a bedroom that’s even more picture-perfect than the kitchen.

Here the floral wallpaper actually works with the room. It’s the lightest shade of blue. The color of a spring sky. Like the dining room directly below, it’s located on a corner of the building. Because this is the top floor, the ceiling slants dramatically to a peak ending at the far wall. The massive bed’s been placed so that whoever is in it can gaze out the windows flanking the corner. And just outside those windows is the pièce de résistance—a gargoyle. It sits on the corner ledge, its back legs bent, front claws gripping the top of the overhang. Its wings are spread so that the edge of one can be glimpsed through the north-facing window and the other through the one pointing east. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Leslie says, suddenly behind me.

I hadn’t even noticed her come up the steps. I was too taken with the gargoyle, the room, the whole surreal idea that I could maybe, hopefully get paid to live here. “Yes, beautiful,” I say, too awed by it all to do anything other than repeat her. “And quite spacious,” she adds. “Even by the Bartholomew’s standards. Again, because of its original purpose. Once upon a time it housed several servants. They lived here, cooked downstairs, worked a few floors below.” She points out everything I’ve failed to notice, such as a small sitting area to the left of the steps with cream-colored chairs and a glass coffee table. I cross the room on white carpet so plush I’m tempted to kick off my shoes and see how it feels on bare feet. The wall to the right bears two doors. One leads to the master bath. A quick look inside reveals double sinks, a shower encased in glass, and a claw-foot bathtub. Through the other door is a massive walk-in closet with a mirrored makeup table and enough shelves and racks to fill a clothing store. All of them are empty. “This closet is bigger than my childhood bedroom,” I say. “Scratch that. It’s bigger than every bedroom I’ve ever had.” Leslie, who’s been checking her hair in the vanity mirror, turns and says, “Since you’ve brought up living arrangements, what’s your current address?” Another tricky topic. I moved out the same day I found Andrew screwing his classmate. Not by choice, mind you. Andrew’s name was the only one on the lease. I had never added my own when I moved in. Which technically meant it was never my home to begin with, even though I had lived there for more than a year. For the past two weeks I’ve been crashing on Chloe’s couch in Jersey City. “I’m between apartments,” I say, hoping the situation doesn’t sound as Dickensian as it truly is. 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?” “Twenty-five.” 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?” “No.” “And your hearing and vision are fine?” “Perfect.” “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.”


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