Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 79

Page 79


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“All rich people get to go into that park?” Arden asks, perplexed.

He blinks at her, as if she is the confusing one. “No. Just the ones who live here.”

Okay.

They approach Peter’s building, and he mutters at her, “Just act natural.”

An instant later, she sees why. A fully uniformed doorman, with a cap and everything, holds open the door for them. “Good evening, Peter,” the doorman says. He tips his head at Arden. “Miss.”

“What’s up, Kareem,” Peter replies. Arden smiles meekly.

Kareem calls the elevator for them, and Arden keeps smiling meekly until she and Peter get inside. As soon as the doors close, she starts squealing. “I didn’t know you were going to have a professional door opener! Is he going to tell your parents? Are we going to get in trouble?”

“For what?” Peter asks.

Where to start. “For coming home at five thirty a.m., when you’ve clearly been drinking and you have some random girl in tow for God knows what purpose?” She blushes at the last part, but she didn’t say it because she thinks he has designs on her. She just knows that’s what parents would assume. Look at Mrs. Ellzey.

“Kareem won’t tell,” Peter says. “He never tells. He’s cool.”

Arden wonders what else Kareem has never told. About Peter, about Peter’s brother when he lived here, about Peter’s parents. Kareem must keep so many secrets under that flat-topped doorman cap of his.

The elevator stops on the eighth floor, and Peter says, “My parents should be asleep. My mom takes sleeping pills. She almost never wakes up. But—be quiet, okay?”

Arden shivers and nods. She wonders what Peter’s parents would say if they saw her here. She could try to explain, of course. But what exactly would her explanation be? And she has no idea how she will leave here later without attracting parental attention, but she pushes that off as a problem for another time. For now she focuses on only one goal: making it to Peter’s bedroom.

The elevator doors open, and they are deposited into Peter’s apartment. Even in the dark and shadows, Arden can make out the art hanging in heavy frames on the walls, the wispy drapery covering the broad windows overlooking the rich-people park, the mahogany credenza in the front hall. Everything in here is quiet and climate-controlled. It seems like the sort of place where nothing bad could ever happen, which is confusing because Arden knows for a fact that bad things happen in this family all the time.

The two of them creep down the hall, which is, fortunately for their purposes, covered in a cream-colored carpet. It seems like sound is incapable of permeating this thick carpet and the even thicker windows, so the only things Arden hears are the rhythmic tick-tock of the art deco clock on the side table and her quick, anxious breathing.

They reach Peter’s room.

He closes the door behind them and locks it.

They both breathe a deep exhale.

“I’m going to use the bathroom,” he says. “I’ve had to pee since Thirtieth Street.”

He disappears into the bathroom attached to his room, and Arden takes this moment to look around. This room has the same wall-to-wall carpeting as the rest of the apartment, and his bed is sleek and modern, with a low headboard and shimmery gray sheets. Arden’s bedsheets are white and patterned with faded flowers, and this is the first time in her life that it occurs to her that looking at somebody’s sheets could actually tell you something about them.

Peter’s hung a few quotes and prints around his room, like Arden’s mother’s embroidered You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed and Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. None of that is what Peter’s wall art says, though. His say things like A writer is someone who has written today and There is no friend as loyal as a book.—Ernest Hemingway.

A long bookshelf runs along one entire wall of his room, and under it is a desk sporting a brand-new laptop computer. That’s the computer he writes Tonight the Streets Are Ours on. That’s where the words come from. Arden cannot believe that she’s in the same room as that computer. She cannot believe this is happening.

Peter opens the bathroom door, comes out, and flops down on his bed, clothes and all. “What a night,” he mumbles.

Arden agrees. She stands there.

“You’re not going to sleep in that, are you?” Peter asks her.

“What else am I going to sleep in?” Her heart is thudding so loudly, he must be able to hear it. She wishes she’d thought to bring her overnight bag with her, but it’s still in the backseat of the dead Heart of Gold.


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