It didn’t take long. Rudy saw the birthday boy half a block ahead on the corner of Greene and Duval. Carter had collected half a dozen more wanderers to roam with him in search of drink and debauchery. He picked up and discarded locals like playing cards. He’d always done it. And he was constantly improving his hand. 

But where was she? As quickly as he thought it he saw her, stepping from behind Carter, out of his eclipse, smiling up at him in a way that set off an alarm in Rudy’s head. He watched Carter put his arm around her waist and pull her to him.

Rudy heard himself say, “Stop.” But Carter put his hand behind her head, leaned in and kissed her. She wrapped herself around him as they melted into each other.

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