Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 53

Page 53


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It reminds me of the time when I was in sixth grade and we went to Paris and my mom’s purse got stolen. She was so upset. And she tried to explain that it wasn’t about the purse itself. “I can buy a new bag to carry my belongings,” she said. “I can cancel my credit cards and get new ones. I can replace my cell phone and my lipstick. That’s frustrating, and it takes time and money, but I have time and money. What makes me sad is that this was supposed to be our trip to Paris, and now I’ll never again be able to look at photos of us outside of Notre Dame without remembering that on that very same day, a thief stole my purse.”

This is how I feel about Bianca. A thief stole my happiness.

And now I have to go work at the bookstore for the next eight hours and pretend like my heart isn’t in pieces.

Arden let the phone again fall from her hands. She rolled onto her back and stared at the cream-colored ceiling.

Peter. He seemed to have so much going for him. He was rich. He was probably hot—all signs pointed that way. He went to cool parties, constantly. He was a really talented writer. Maybe he’d even get a book deal. He had fans across the Internet, people he didn’t even know.

And yet. The people who were supposed to be closest to him, who were supposed to be on his side … where were they? His brother was out of the picture. His parents, from everything he said about them, were cold, bossy, and judgmental. His girlfriend broke up with him—twice. His art-school friends always seemed to be right there when it was time to party, but when he needed support, their names never came up.

What Peter needed was someone like Arden.

No.

He didn’t need someone like Arden. He needed Arden.

She sat up. Peter needed her—and why shouldn’t he have her?

She grabbed her phone and called Lindsey.

“How goes the big anniversary?” Lindsey asked when she picked up.

“Miserable. Want to go with me to New York?”

“New York City?”

“Yeah.”

“When?”

“Now.”

“You’re going to New York City, now. On your anniversary.” Lindsey paused, calculating. “I take it Chris isn’t with you?”

“Nope.”

“Are you okay?”

Arden shrugged, knowing that Lindsey couldn’t see her. “I need to get out of here.”

“How the hell are you getting there?”

“I’m driving the Heart of Gold, obviously. How else?” She had not even considered the question until Lindsey asked, but now it seemed like the only logical answer.

“Okay,” Lindsey said. “Yeah. I’m in. Can you come pick me up?”

“Wait, seriously?” If Lindsey hadn’t said yes, Arden might have concluded this whole plan was absurd, and not even a plan anyway, and New York was a six-hour drive away, and she’d never driven that far, and certainly not in the Heart of Gold, and she had no idea what she would even say to Peter, and maybe she should stay right here, like the good girl she was, have a sleepover at Lindsey’s, like she’d told her dad all along.

But Lindsey said, “Seriously. My track meet’s already over, so I’m just hanging out. You know I’ll take any excuse to get out of here.”

And Arden said, “Okay. Meet me down the block from your house in fifteen minutes.”

She grabbed her overnight bag and her brownies, she left the card key on the nightstand, and she walked out of the hotel room, letting the door slam shut behind her. And as she did so she felt her heart expanding in her chest—because finally, finally, something was happening.

Part Two

On the road

“Hi, is Peter in today?” Lindsey said into her phone. She paused. Arden tightened her grip on the steering wheel. “Oh,” she said, “you don’t have a Peter there? That’s cool. Don’t worry about it.” She hung up.

Arden cursed under her breath.

About thirty miles out of town, once Arden had finally started to wrap her mind around what she was doing, she’d realized that she didn’t actually know what bookstore Peter worked at, just that it was somewhere in New York City accessible by subway. “No problem,” Lindsey had reassured her. “How many bookstores could there be?”

A lot, apparently. Arden hadn’t known. Cumberland had only one bookstore, which doubled as a cat adoption center and a tobacconist.

While Arden drove, she instructed Lindsey to pull up a list of NYC bookshops on her phone, and now Lindsey was systematically calling them all. But so far, none of them employed Peter.


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