They say that you only hurt the ones you love.
So I guess that means I can't get hurt.
Nobody's close enough to hurt me.
And nobody ever will be again.
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June 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Alone by Francine Pascal
With that, he locked lips with her, and Heather felt like she was drinking turbocharged Gatorade.
Gaia stepped out of the dank subway station and into an equally dank, overcast morning just typical for late March on the East Coast. She strode downtown on Lexington, the sidewalk cluttered with strollers, nannies, and purebred dogs. It was early in the morning, but they were already out in full force: the perfect people, spending wads of money on Lexus strollers and canine cologne.
Downtown, where Gaia used to live, the buildings were smaller and the people a little more on the ball. Within blocks of her brownstone were immigrant neighborhoods whose streets brimmed with personality. Exotic smells drifted out of shops whose signs were handwritten in different languages. Chinatown. Little Italy. Up here, everything looked as bland and generic as a J. Crew catalog, and Gaia had given it her own name: Little Connecticut.
She had a job to do this morning, and she wasn't looking forward to it. When she'd first gotten parked in the superfancy digs of Natasha and her daughter, Tatiana, she'd been pretty peeved. Her dad had a habit of ditching her in the well-appointed apartments of his friends while he indulged his five-year-old habit of totally ignoring her existence. But what had started out as annoyance at the two Russian women's insistence on interfering with her life had become decidedly more sinister.