TITLE: Black Butterfly
GENRE: YA Thriller
When my cab pulls up in front of the café, I’m 20 minutes early to meet Zhang, who will be here soon. Punctuality is in his nature, but my training insists I be in control of the situation at all times. I picked this location, and I’ll pick the spot where we sit.
I step out of the cab and New York City hits me like a right hook to the kidney. I soak it all in for the last time. The wail of sirens a few blocks off underscored by the constant whir of traffic, the pungent whiff of garbage offset by sweetness of honey-roasted nuts. It feels like home, though I only pretend to live here. It’s more of a home than my mother’s shitty trailer park ever was—or my sterile room at headquarters, which isn’t really mine but Agency property. I suppose I’m their property, too, though they use the word “asset.”
A woman and her two young children practically fall out of the café. Warm, yeasty air pours out, along with the bitter scent of stale coffee. A glance through the glass windows confirms I’ve arrived before Zhang.
“Do you know the best way to get to Radio City from here?”
It takes me a moment to realize the question is for me. The woman’s eyebrows plead with me. The two boys cling to her hands, fidgeting like they can’t wait to get out of there.