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"I suppose you want to borrow cab fare?" Zoey's roommate, MaryBeth, asked. MaryBeth was the worst part of Washington, D.C., as far as Zoey was concerned. When Zoey had been asked to stay an extra week for a special journalism internship that was awarded to the most outstanding participant in the program, she had accepted. Zoey had never counted on having to spend another week with MaryBeth.
But MaryBeth had counted on being awarded the internship -- so her plane ticket wasn't for another week. MaryBeth was taking the week to explore D.C.
"Isn't this great?" she had asked Zoey. "We'll still get to be roomies!"
At this Zoey had merely sighed.
But now she was relieved to have someone to borrow money from. Even if she was the most annoying person in the world.
Zoey nodded. She watched silently while MaryBeth counted out seven dollars. Zoey's clear, fair skin was even paler than usual, and her dark blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, accentuating the heart shape of her face.
"You don't mind signing a receipt, do you?" MaryBeth asked.
Zoey shook her head.
MaryBeth wrote, I.O.U. seven dollars! on a scrap of paper and gave it to Zoey. Zoey noticed that MaryBeth had put smiley faces in both the 0 and the point of the exclamation mark. She signed it. She couldn't have cared less. If MaryBeth hadn't agreed to lend her the money, Zoey would have waited until MaryBeth left the room and then she would have smashed MaryBeth's china piggy bank, which had For a Rainy Day written on the side in flowery script. Zoey had had it with MaryBeth. Who carries a piggy bank around in a suitcase? she thought. Get awallet!
MaryBeth put the I.O.U. in the piggy bank. Zoey put the money in her jeans pocket and caught a cab to the nearest Western Union center.
She slumped down in the back of the cab, wondering why Lucas hadn't called her. Her anger of the night before had evaporated. She just wanted to hear his voice. And yet he hadn't called. The most likely explanation was that his mother hadn't given him the message. In fact, Zoey found that she couldn't picture Mrs. Cabral actually giving Lucas any message. She thought that even if the president called and left a message, Lucas wouldn't learn about it unless the president happened to call back. Later Lucas would say to his mother, Why didn't you tell me the president called? and his mother would say, Do you think I don't have anything better to do than act like your personal secretary? and Lucas course. Zoey gave the cabdriver all seven and got out.
She went up to the Western Union counter. "Can I help you?" the clerk asked.
"Envelope for Zoey Passmore," Zoey said. Her voice croaked a little bit. These were the first words she'd spoken all morning.
The clerk flipped through a stack of black-and-yellow envelopes and extracted one. "There you go, Ms. Passmore."
Zoey thanked him and took her envelope outside. She ripped it open standing on the sidewalk in the ovenlike weather. Inside were two hundred doll in traveler's checks and a letter from her father.
I hope this is enough cash to see you through the rest of your time in Washington. I have also enclosed my Visa number, although you are not, repeat not, to pull a Nina Geiger and max it out. (Yes, word gets around, even to me.)
Sweetheart, you sounded so unhappy on the phone last night that I wonder if Washington is the right place for you right now. I hope you know that no one will think less of you if you decide to come home. I'm not encouraging you to buy a plane ticket, but I imagine the old Visa could withstand a train ticket, and I always found trains to be excellent places to "get your head together," as we used to say in my day.
Best of luck with whatever you decide.
"Here we are, miss' " the cabdriver said, and Zoeytried to rouse herself. She glanced at the meter. Sixdollars. MaryBeth had predicted accurately, of Zoey read the letter twice and then groped around in the envelope until she found the scrap of paper with the Visa number on it. She tucked it in her pocket along with the letter. She walked all the way back to the youth hostel, deep in thought.
Nina was sure that Benjamin would call her and tell her that it was all a mistake, a misunderstanding, that he didn't mean it when he said they shouldn't see each other anymore, that he still loved her more than anything. She was so sure he would call that she put the phone by her bed before she went to sleep and woke up at seven A.M., straining her ears for the sound of its ring.
The phone actually did ring at eight-fifteen, and Nina's heart gave a glad leap.
"Hello, could I please speak to Mr. Geiger?"
"Oh, jeez." One of her dad's stupid businesspeople.
"I'll go get him," Nina said, not bothering to apologize.
The phone rang again at eight-fifty.
No answer. Just the sound of breathing. Oh, perfect, Nina thought. The crank caller
"Could you call back later?' she asked. "We'reexpecting an important phone call. "She hung up.
Some other businessman called at nine, and then Nina dozed a little until the phone rang again.
"Is Claire there?" It was Aaron.
Nina put her hand over the mouthpiece and bellowed. "Claire...