I hurried out of the store even as she was picking up my money. This late, most of the neighborhood’s small stores were closed. The door to a stationary shop was set far back underneath the second-floor overhang. I moved into the darkness.

A girl should always look her best when going out, so I tried to be neat while I slurped the liquid from the Styrofoam trays and sucked the raw meat until it was gray and dry. Energy flowed through me like a current. I would see a doctor tomorrow.

I’d find out what was causing this abnormal craving.

I threw the remnants of my meal into a trashcan by the metro station and descended the broken escalator steps to the trains. As my train racketed its way downtown, I remembered what Sebastian had been like at F.U.

Everything about him had been golden—his hair, his reputation, his family—and when he introduced himself to me at a visiting professor’s talk, I had been dazzled. His grandfather was Frederick Beckett-Witherspoon, a magnate who had guided more than one president in international affairs, but Sebastian wasn’t interested in economics or politics. He liked the arts, lectures, dining out, and books. He was invited to faculty parties, not because of his family’s donations but because he was pretty, charming, and bright. Women flocked around him, yet he wanted to spend time with me.

Was it possible to revive what we’d had? I certainly wouldn’t have thought so by my last encounter with Sebastian, and yet I felt a small flutter of hope somewhere deep inside.

After scrounging through my purse, I found an old, hard piece of gum. By the time I rode the escalator out of the station, my mouth was fresh and minty. The crowd milling outside My Dive cheered me. Lenny was at the door. He smirked lasciviously when he recognized me, but his smile fell away as I approached. “Hell, babe, what happened to you?”

This is not the sort of thing a girl on the town wants to hear. “What do you mean?”

“You’re a little, uh, you eating okay? You’re not smoking your meals or nothing?”

“No, Lenny, I had the flu. I’m better.”

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