Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 81

Page 81


“Who are you?” says Bianca.

The morning after

“This isn’t what it looks like,” Arden tells Bianca as she sits up in Peter’s bed, pulling the sheets around her. This feels like the ultimate in clichéd things to say, but it is, quite frankly, true.

“Really?” Bianca asks. “So you’re not some random girl sleeping in my boyfriend’s clothes in my boyfriend’s bed?”

Arden has no idea why Bianca is here or where Peter is or what’s going on, but Bianca’s assessment here seems needlessly harsh. “I thought you broke up with him?”

“Yeah, four days ago! Why don’t you at least give someone a full week before you make your move? Just try to show a little class.”

“I didn’t make a move. It’s really not like that,” Arden says. She feels like she would wield more power in this conversation if she were to stand, but she also feels like she doesn’t want to pit her boy-size gym clothes against Bianca’s Anthropologie sundress.

“How long has this been going on for?” Bianca demands, looming over Arden.

“How long has what been going on for?”

“You and Peter.”

Arden doesn’t know what to say. She and Peter have been going on for nearly two months. Or, she and Peter have never gone on at all.

“I’m not hooking up with Peter,” Arden insists.

“I would like to believe you,” Bianca says. “Unfortunately, I can think of approximately one reason for you to be here right now. Who are you, even?”

“I’m Arden,” says Arden. “And you’re Bianca.”

Arden’s knowledge of her name momentarily silences Bianca.

“Look,” Arden says. “Can I get dressed before we continue this conversation?”

Bianca gives Arden a look that somehow conveys both pity and disgust. “Fine. I’ll wait.”

Arden crawls out of bed, feeling like a chimney sweep in comparison to Bianca, with her crisp face and put-together outfit. She checks her phone to see the time, then remembers that it lost its charge on the way to the Just Like Me Dolls Store.

She grabs her clothes from the floor and closes herself in the bathroom to change. Unfortunately, her skimpy dress looks exactly like it spent the night in a ball on the floor, meaning that she probably resembles a particularly disheveled sex worker. She leaves the bathroom without glancing in the mirror.

Bianca is standing right where Arden left her. She watches Arden emerge from the bathroom and asks, “What’s on your arms?”

Arden looks down. There’s loneliness, still, and there’s miss you miss you miss you, winding all the way up to her shoulder. “We went to a costume party,” she tries to explain. “At Jigsaw Manor.”

“A-ha,” Bianca exclaims. “So that’s where you met Peter? Jigsaw Manor?”

“No,” Arden says firmly. “I’m a fan of Peter’s writing. I read his blog. Tonight the Streets Are Ours.”

Bianca’s eyes widen. “That’s even worse,” she says. “You’re like a groupie. A groupie for some sad-sack, self-absorbed eighteen-year-old who has delusions that he’s famous.”

“That’s not what he’s like,” Arden says, shocked and offended on Peter’s behalf. This is the love of his life? This is how she talks about him?

“I think I would be the judge of that,” Bianca shoots back. “Better than you, anyway. And where is he?”

“I don’t know. I just woke up when you came in the room. He didn’t let you in?”

Bianca blinks a few times. “No. The doorman did. I didn’t see Peter anywhere else in the apartment, so I came in. I assumed he was holed up in here.”

“So he just … left me here?” Arden asks, glancing around the room for a note from Peter. He might have texted her to say where he’d gone. Only no, he didn’t, because even if her phone weren’t dead, they’d never exchanged numbers.

Bianca sneers. “Get used to it.”

Arden takes a step toward her. “Why are you being like this? Peter always made you sound like a really nice person.”

This seems to give Bianca pause. “He told you about me?” she asks, her voice quieter.

“Bianca. He talks about you constantly.” It occurs to Arden that perhaps she could help Peter win back Bianca’s heart. She could convey how obsessed with Bianca Peter is, how much Bianca means to him. And maybe just by being here now, Arden seems like enough of a threat that Bianca will want to take him back, to get him away from other girls. This actually would not be a bad plan. Peter would be grateful to her forever.

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