“So,” Gwen began breezily, “Ethan invited this woman tonight. He thinks she’s, like, this amazing journalist. Apparently she got hooked on heroin for a while when she was undercover with some street kids.”

That was all Gwen said, but Denise understood. Gwen wouldn’t get any closer to admitting she was worried about her husband’s interest in another woman.

Denise feigned an extravagant yawn. “Ooh, heroin addiction. I must have missed the press release.”

The door buzzer sounded, and Ethan yelled, “I got it” from upstairs.

The apartment was all upside down: the main entrance was upstairs, along with the bedroom and bathroom. So now a wet-haired Ethan led a skittish-looking couple down the narrow staircase to the living room and kitchen, where Denise and Gwen were setting out wine glasses and napkins. A patch of dirt lay beyond the vaultlike back door. “Wow, garden access?” the blinky-eyed girl said, peering out a filthy little window. “Great apartment.”

The third or fourth buzz produced a woman who wore a black vintage dress and heavy black boots. She paused at the top of the stairs and surveyed the room. As she came down to the living room, her silver jewelry jangled.

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