(City Diner, South Grand Boulevard)

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City Diner

Extroverted, mystical, flirtatious: All adjectives that applied equally to Trevor and Cat. As well as some others, which Trevor — self-confident, laughing good-naturedly — would coyly generalize under the umbrella term free-spirited.

Trevor was creating his own deck of tarot cards; Cat was composing a freestyle opera or writing a book about Marrakesh. Or something.

Together they moved to New Orleans, but Trevor returned to St. Louis alone. Even free spirits can push each other too far, and when Cat began peppering the apartment floors mornings with rowdy-gone-sleepy "stripper-crashers," then staying out nights without so much as a Post-It explanation, a natural human instinct, heretofore anathema to Trevor's exuberant nature, unexpectedly revealed itself like a self-inflicted slap in the face.

Trevor was safely in St. Louis when the hurricane hit. "Escaping," he quipped, but the carefree irreverence in his voice had tarnished, gone a little lousy. He was unable to reach Cat at the old apartment in the French Quarter for a week before she picked up. She was staying in New Orleans, she said. Another silent week passed, with Trevor's innumerable calls unanswered. Then another week passed, and the next person to answer the telephone at the apartment wasn't Cat, but another woman whose voice sounded much older.

"Who is this?" Trevor asked.

"I'm Brett's mother."


"Who's Brett?"

And the voice that came through the receiver was as foreboding and sinister as Katrina herself:

Did you really think you had escaped?

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