Predator Bait

Men got confused when they met Jane—she was 19 but could pass for 12. That was why she got the decoy job.

She’d spent her freshman year at NYU trying to decide whether she wanted to study theater or sociology; come summer, she found herself depressed and waitressing at a midtown Italian restaurant, eating too much bad food and getting impatient with her boyfriend Theo, who was also depressed and, at 28, not working at all.

In June, a former T.A. gave her name to a producer he knew at the TV newsmagazine Headline Nation. This producer worked on “Predators At Large,” an ongoing feature in which adult men who sexually approached minors on the internet were lured to a suburban house and confronted by a reporter, then arrested on camera.

The “minors” chatting online were really middle-aged internet vigilantes retained by Headline Nation, but the producers needed a physical decoy to meet the predators when they got to the house—a woman who looked like a girl.

After several interviews, they hired Jane.

On a Friday in July, she went to a house outside Jersey City at 7 a.m. A bunch of crew people, some producers, two security guys, and the reporter, Dan Roberts, were there; everyone seemed to be setting up cameras and monitors. Jane hung around upstairs, listening to the Headline team go over the day’s list of expected predators, known mostly by screen names—scoolmark1238, who had only one arm; AndyNJphreak, who drove a truck; and champiUWS9, who claimed to be a celebrity.

Before noon, Jane changed into flip-flops, a tank top, and pink sweatpants that said “RIPE” across the backside. A hair and makeup woman went over her face, gave her perfect blush.

At noon the first predator drove up. This was MadRascal199, who had said he was “btwn jobs @ tha moment,” “chillin n eatin kfc evry day :),” and “btwn gfs too.” Jane wore an earpiece hidden by her hair. “He’s on the lawn,” a producer said into the earpiece. “Go stand in the doorway and wave.”

Jane opened the front door and waved at the short, sheepish man hesitating on the lawn. He looked like a 30-year-old koala bear.

“Katie?” he said.

“Yeah, it’s me!” Jane had practiced the bright, chirping voice of an adolescent. “I’m really glad you came!”

The predator laughed nervously. “Oh, god, yeah,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was gonna—I mean, I was thinkin’ about it, but I didn’t really know, you know? I was worried if you actually were who you said you were!”

“Oh, no,” Jane laughed. “I’m me!”

“Inside for cookies,” the producer said in her earpiece.

“Hey!” Jane said. “Come inside, okay? I made you cookies!”

The predator ducked his head and hurried over as if beckoned by a schoolteacher. Jane backed up, smiling, to let him enter the house.

“Position two,” instructed the producer. Jane walked around the kitchen island, where the producers had left a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of store-bought cookies. “I got lost like three times,” the predator admitted. “And then I was, you know, I thought about turning around.”

“What?” Jane said. “Didn’t you want to come see me?”

“Yeah, no, I did, definitely. I was just—worried, you know?” He approached the kitchen island.

“Talk about online,” the producer said.

“So,” Jane said, “you still want to do all that stuff we talked about online?”

“Well, yeah, you know,” the predator said. “Whatever you like. We could get to know each other this time, see what happens. Go slow, for now. Or—or fast if you want.”

“Did you bring condoms?” she said.

“Oh—right, yeah. I did. God, you are so pretty.”

“So what would we do, exactly?” Jane said. “If we go fast, I mean. Can you maybe tell me in advance, so I know?”

“Good,” the producer said.

“Oh, you know,” the predator said, his voice catching in his throat. “Just, like, you know, holding and touching at first, just paying attention to you, and then I guess see where it goes. Maybe—”

“And just where, exactly, do you think it’s going to go?”

It was Dan Roberts, the reporter, standing in the doorway behind her. Jane ducked past him and into the living room. Cameramen crouched beside the door. She watched the confrontation on the monitors. Roberts said things like, “Isn’t there anyone your own age who can be your girlfriend?” and “What do you mean you probably wouldn’t have done anything—I have the chat transcript right here.”

Soon enough, Roberts said, “I have to tell you, I’m Dan Roberts and this is a Headline Nation special about adults who sexually victimize children on the internet,” and the cameramen burst out to capture the predator’s reaction. The predator said, pleadingly, “Sir, she asked me to come—she wanted me to come—it’s like, mutual consenting,” and Dan Roberts said, “Mutual consent is between adults.” The predator said, “Am I going to be arrested?” and Roberts said, “That’s not up to me.” A few minutes later the fleeing predator was tackled by police on the lawn and dragged away, sobbing, in handcuffs.

The sting lasted the entire weekend, everyone crashing at the house, hardly sleeping. Twenty-two predators showed up. Old, young, fat, thin. One got tasered while backing away from cops. Jane met the one-armed man, who had just come back from Iraq, and she met the “celebrity” who’d had a supporting role on a sitcom from the previous decade. They all went away in handcuffs.

On the final evening, they ate pizza and, amid exhausted congratulations, dismantled the command center. Dan Roberts gave Jane a long hug, and some of the vigilantes even told her she had been their best decoy ever. “We got a lot of sick fucks off the street this weekend,” said the head vigilante, who went by his online handle, “Avenger.”

It was almost dawn when she got back to her tiny Spanish Harlem apartment. She dropped off her stuff and caught a taxi she couldn’t afford down to Theo’s apartment on 59th. She let herself in and crept down the long hallway to the big, messy bedroom, where she slipped under the covers without waking him. Six months ago, she’d met him at the opening of a new NYU building; it was being named after his parents—the Hirsch Center—-because they’d paid for it. She’d been talking to him and thinking he was kind of endearing—in a shabby, awkward, self-deprecating way—when someone told her that he was a Hirsch. She’d always thought of heirs to phenomenal fortunes as glamorous types, but Theo suffered from a deep-seated social anxiety disorder and had been in therapy for two decades.

Now she tried to fall asleep beside his chubby, gently heaving form. But her thoughts got all jammed up against one another. It was the guys. The predators. Dan Roberts had told her in advance: “You might start feeling sorry for some of these guys, but if that happens, just think back to the chat transcripts and remember what they wanted to do a 12-year-old girl.” But she kept seeing them in her mind—especially that nervous first one, and the old man who’d cried about his grandchildren.

After a minute, she sat up and shook Theo. He groaned.

“Theo, why are you attracted to me?” she said.

He didn’t open his eyes, barely opened his mouth. “I love you.”

“Is it because I’m young? Is it because I look underage?”

“What are you talking about?”

She put her head on the pillow again and fell asleep.

Dreams: Her dad showing up at the Headline Nation house, being arrested. Dan Roberts sneaking into her apartment at night, hugging her. Jane trying to warn arriving predators with her eyes: Get out, run away, your life is about to get worse.

Several weeks passed. She and Theo went to a young patrons gala at the Guggenheim. Fashionable, attractive people mingled in the rotunda. All the men wore tuxedos except Theo. His parents had given $30,000 to the museum in his name. He wore a corduroy blazer and green slacks.

“What is that?” Jane said, pointing to a stain on the front of his shirt. He looked down.

“Gravy, I guess.”

He put his arm in hers and smiled and walked her through the crowd. They ran into Lucien, who’d gone to St. Paul’s with Theo. Lucien’s date was a tall, stunning European woman in a black dress.

“We just got back from Minsk,” Lucien said. “Josipa was born there.”

“Oh, man,” Theo said. “I should travel more.”

Jane studied handsome, angular Lucien and then looked at Theo. His posture was terrible. And the blazer was too small for him; he’d gained weight.

“I’m always saying that,” he said. “That I should travel. Why don’t I?”

Later, Jane went to the bar and Lucien appeared beside her. He said something quietly, grinning, and she wasn’t sure she’d heard right.

“I said it’s not true nobody likes a little tease. I like a little tease.”


“Don’t play innocent,” he said. “I saw you thinking about it. You go right on enjoying his money, but when you need a real fuck, call me. You need somebody with experience.” He slipped a card into her hand.

“Don’t call me little,” Jane said, shocked, but he was already gliding away.

She threw Lucien’s card away. In the cab home, she said, “Did you think your friend Lucien’s date was pretty?”

He shrugged. “So bony, and she was almost as tall as him.”

“Lucien propositioned me,” she said.


“At the bar, he came on to me and said I deserve a man with experience.”

“Experience? What does that mean?”

“That he’s an asshole?”

“That’s—that’s—” Theo’s hand made frustrated, imprecise gestures in the air, fending something off. “He thinks because he has ‘experience,’ he deserves more ‘experience.’ And I don’t. Well, sorry, we can’t all look like Calvin Klein models.”

“You could exercise,” Jane said.

“What?” Theo said.

“I was just saying.”

“Are you going to leave me?” Theo said. “For a guy like that?”

Jane sighed. “I’m not interested in Lucien.”

“All the guys I went to kindergarten with became guys like that. And I became me.”

“Yeah, you have it rough, Theo,” she said.

Petulance crept into his voice. “Women always leave me eventually. God forbid they stay loyal to a nice guy. This city’s just a playground for guys like him to fuck models and have threesomes and god knows what. Then cite ‘experience’ as why they should get to fuck my girlfriend.”

“Is that what you want? Models? Threesomes?”

He sighed. “Look, I know who I am. I know women only date me because of my money.”

Of course it hadn’t hurt. “That’s not true,” Jane said. “I found you endearing.”

“Come on, Jane—there are a lot of short, chubby guys in this city.”

“I did find you endearing,” she said.

“How can I make you happy? Just tell me what to do. I’ll do it.”

“I am happy.”

The night “Predators At Large” aired, she made sure that she and Theo went out to dinner and a movie. When they got back to his apartment, Theo flopped on the bed and she went to the bathroom. She came out to find him watching “Predators At Large,” which, it turned out, he had recorded.

“Turn that off.”

“But I want to watch it,” he said. “Look, there’s you.”

She got in bed and put her face in the pillow. “Turn it off.”

He didn’t respond. Jane heard Dan Roberts say, “Coming up next, we meet a man with one arm.” Jane groaned.

“Why are you ashamed of it?” Theo asked.

“I’m not.” But she was, a little. The producers had called to ask if she’d do the next edition of the show, but she’d declined.

When she awoke, Theo was propped up beside her with his laptop. It occurred to her that they hadn’t had sex in more than a week. She got up, went to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and returned to bed. She kissed his shoulder.

“Would you have a threesome with me?” he said.

“What?” She leaned away. “You and who?”

“I don’t know. Another girl—a hypothetical girl. It’s a hypothetical question.”

“Another girl like who?”

“It’s hypothetical.”

“Where are you getting this?” she said, alarmed. “No. I don’t know. Why?”

He closed his laptop. “Just thinking about it.”

That night, when she came home tired and footsore from the restaurant, he was again in bed with his laptop, still wearing the same clothes. She undressed to take a shower.

“You look really good,” he said. “How come you wouldn’t be into a threesome?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Why are you asking this now?”

“It would make me happy.”

She sat on the floor in her underwear and rubbed her feet. “Would you want to have a threesome with me and another guy?”

“I don’t know,” he said, typing. “Yeah, I’d do that to make you happy. If it was the right kind of guy. Not a guy like Lucien.”

“I’m not interested in him! I never should have told you what he said.”

“I would totally do something if it would make you happy,” Theo said.

“Don’t try to guilt me.” Jane went into the bathroom. In the shower she massaged her arms and legs under the hot water. She closed her eyes and imagined a threesome. It wouldn’t be like you saw in porn, with a confident, heavily-endowed man dominating two sex kittens; it would be a timid hedgehog of a guy fumbling around with self-conscious girls—-awkward. Anyway, she had zero sexual interest in women.

When she returned to the bedroom in a towel, Theo said, “I was thinking, maybe you could just keep it in mind?”

“Are you still talking about that?”

“Just keep it in mind, maybe?”

“I’ll keep it in mind,” she sighed. She put on sweatpants and got into bed.

The next morning, when she woke up, he was showering. Sun streamed through the big windows. She rolled over. Theo’s laptop was on the bedside table. She picked it up to check her email and saw two windows open—his email and an online personals site. Her stomach flipped over. She clicked on his messages for the dating site: none received. She clicked “Sent Messages” and saw four. All identical, copied and pasted:

“hey, whats up. liked ur profile—cute and witty. would u be interested in a 3some w me and my gf or maybe w another girl off this site? hit me back. –theo”

Theo came out of the shower naked, toweling his face, making a noise like an old bear waking up.

“‘Or maybe with another girl off this site?’” Jane said.

Theo gripped the towel to his chest. “Oh—no, no!” he said. “I was just seeing how—you know, how people meet people for that kind of thing. I wasn’t going to do anything—I wouldn’t even want to without you—”

“Oh, fuck off.” She was putting on clothes, she was out of the bedroom, he was following.

“Jane, wait—will you give me a chance to explain?”

“No, no, no.” She got to the front door. “Don’t explain, there’s nothing to explain, don’t ever talk to me again.”

He wrapped the towel around himself and followed her to the elevator, but she shrieked, “Get away from me!” and he cringed and fled back to his apartment.

As she waited for the elevator, a young British man leaned out of an apartment and said, “You all right, love?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “But thank you for caring.”

She was in her apartment, the Spanish Harlem sweatbox. It was afternoon. She was back in bed. There was a problem now, and the problem was that without Theo’s support she didn’t really have enough money to live on.

Working at the restaurant brought in a few hundred a week, but in the city, with rent and loans and cable bills and monthly Metrocards, that was nothing. Her credit card debt was creeping higher. Her parents had already taken out loans to put her through school; she’d starve before she asked them for more money.

She called the Headline Nation producer.

Three weeks later, early on a Friday morning, she was in a sprawling suburban house outside Bliss Corners, Rhode Island. She sat on a folding chair as the makeup guy made her look younger. This time it actually felt necessary—she hadn’t been sleeping well, hadn’t been eating well. Theo had been calling—leaving voicemail about being lonely, being sorry. His last message had said he was going to one of his family’s summer places, she should fly up and join him there.

Once her makeup was done, she went upstairs to the makeshift command center, where Dan Roberts was eating donuts with the vigilantes.

“Long weekend ahead,” Roberts said, looking at Jane and tapping his knees like he was playing the drums.

“Get ready for the freak parade,” said Avenger, who wore braces on his wrists because he had tendonitis. “We got at least twenty pervs coming.”

“Yeah?” Jane said.

Roberts tossed her a printout and she skimmed a chat between MrHippity and Lilgurlsweets13, her eyes flashing on the key words—suck, anal, shave, luv.

“That guy’s first. Says he’s a Columbia senior.” Roberts shook his head. “Throwing it all away.”

“MrHippity” drove up just before two. Jane had taken several aspirin as well as a Xanax.

She stood in the doorway and waved him in. He was a short, scrawny East Asian man with gel in his hair. He came inside, smiling widely.

“Thank you for having me, this is a really nice house!” he said with too much enthusiasm.

“No problem, glad you came.” Jane backed up through the kitchen. “Did you bring—”

“I’m so glad you’re for real!” he said, coming toward her. “I wasn’t sure!”

“Yeah, no, I’m definitely—”

“You’re beautiful,” he said, still coming.

“Aw, thank you,” she said, backing up fast. He was coming toward her too quickly—-it felt like a nightmare.

“Position two,” the producer said over the earpiece, but MrHippity was already grabbing her in a too-tight hug. As she squirmed away, she heard Dan Roberts bark, “Sir, I’d like you to sit down over there. MrHippity flinched and backed away, palms up, eyes bugging.

“No, no,” he said. “It’s nothing bad—I wasn’t going to do anything!”

Dan Roberts pointed to a stool. “Take a seat.”

But MrHippity was backpedaling. “No, no, I’ve seen this show, but you have to believe me—I would never—I’m a virgin, okay?”

“Well, I have to tell you,” Dan Roberts said, “I’m Dan Roberts with—”

MrHippity fled the house. Roberts turned to Jane and said, “You’re supposed to get out of the room when I come in.” Fucking Xanax, Jane thought slowly. Outside, cops shouted, “On the ground!”—and then MrHippity burst back inside and dashed up the staircase with cops in pursuit. Shouts and commotion from upstairs—the vigilantes in their command center in uproar—Jane and Roberts standing stunned in the kitchen. More screaming, then thuds on the ceiling.

They hauled him down the stairs and out the door in cuffs.

Jane slipped into the bathroom, ate another Xanax.

All weekend it went on. Jane knew she was underperforming—moving too slowly to positions, forgetting to ask important questions (“Did you bring condoms? Can you tell me what we’re going to do?”)—and the guys were getting spooked, sensing something wrong. She felt unable to project youthfulness. Dan Roberts stopped joking around with her, started speaking in a sharper, pedagogic tone (“Remember to smile, it puts them at ease …”) as if she actually were a child.

On Sunday morning, everyone was bleary. Jane was eating pizza for breakfast in the command center when Avenger started tossing around chat transcripts. She flipped through three or four of them, then saw something that gave her a chill.

“When—what—when are these guys coming?”

“Dunno,” said Avenger. “Why, what’s wrong?”

She gripped her knee so she wouldn’t tremble. “This one—it just creeped me out. Just … weird, you know?”

“Which one is that?”

“Uh …” She choked on her own voice. “Carygrant007.”

“Yeah, we’re talking to him, I think we’ve got him for early afternoon.” He turned to a fellow vigilante. “Viceroy, you got Cary Grant on the hook?”

“He’s texting he’s on his way from Martha’s Vineyard—I think he’s for real.”

It was Theo’s screen name. She knew he could barely drive—she wasn’t even sure he had a license. She was shocked by the thought of him driving all the way from his parents’ house in Martha’s Vineyard.

It was 11 a.m. She paged through the transcript. Carygrant007 had messaged the decoy sweetprincess14 (“14/f/RI”) and initiated a conversation that went on for a page and a half—discussion of sports, high school, TV shows Jane knew Theo didn’t watch—until he finally asked “so … u a virgin?” Blood rushed to Jane’s face. She read on: Theo claiming to be 21, Theo asking sweetprincess14 if she watched porn, Theo saying he’d just broken up with a girlfriend who “didnt put out… was kinda a prude :( …”

She read it all again. She looked at the timestamps—last night. How could he be so stupid—he’d not only seen the show but his ex-girlfriend had worked on it. In a haze she walked downstairs and out the front door. When he arrived, he’d be pinned to this lawn, a cop on each shoulder.

It was twelve-fifteen. She still had time to call and warn him.

Something wouldn’t let her.

She went back upstairs, where the vigilantes waited at their computers. Her purse lay on the floor, her cell phone inside. She watched Dan Roberts pick crumbs off his jacket.

“Is that a cab?” someone said. The cameras down the street had a yellow cab creeping up the block.

“Gotta be Cary Grant,” said the bald vigilante.

Heart thudding, Jane went downstairs with the camera guys, a security man, and Dan Roberts. They hid in the living room; she went into the kitchen alone, her earpiece in. She peered through the curtains and saw Theo hesitating in the driveway. He kept looking at a piece of paper in his hands, nervous. “He’s not sure,” a producer said in Jane’s ear. “Go out and wave at him.” She didn’t move. Theo took a step back. He looked back at the waiting cab. Then he walked to the house and rang the bell.

She went slowly over and opened it. There was Theo, in jeans and a black t-shirt. The color drained from his face. His mouth opened and the muscles under his forehead did something strange. “Jane,” he croaked.

“Sorry, Theo,” she said.

He glanced around for the cops he knew were hidden nearby. “I wasn’t gonna do anything,” he said. “Tell them—you know I wouldn’t do anything, right? Jane?”

“What’s he talking about?” the producer said. “How’s he know your name?”

“Don’t run,” she said. “They’ll taser you.”

His voice shook. “Jane, I wasn’t gonna do anything, I swear. I’ve been so fucking depressed—please, will you tell them?”

“Tell them what, Theo?”

“Jane—what do I do? Tell me what to do right now to fix this. I’ll do exactly what you say.”

“Don’t run,” she said.

He started backing down the steps. Behind her, she heard Dan Roberts: “Hey there, sir—I need to talk to you about something, can you come in the house?” But Theo was on the lawn now, and police charged around the house to throw him on the ground, a knee on his back. “I wasn’t gonna do anything,” he moaned, as a camera hovered above him. “Ask Jane! She’s my girlfriend! Ask Jane—”

Jane went back in the house. Dan Roberts was staring at her.

“I don’t want this used,” she said. “Can you please not use this? I’m asking you.”

Roberts said, “That’s not up to me.”

Three weeks later, the episode aired. Because of Theo’s family name, his arrest had already made news—“HIRSCH SCION IN SEX STING”—and Headline Nation had used it to advertise the episode, promising an additional revelation on the show. The revelation: In a bizarre coincidence, their decoy had been Theo Hirsch’s ex-girlfriend, leading to a dramatic confrontation between former lovers!

Theo was out on bail now, awaiting trial, but hadn’t called her. She’d never speak to him again, she knew. She’d been having nightmares: a threesome with Theo and Dan Roberts, cameramen everywhere.

The morning after the show aired her phone rang continuously with interview requests. She skipped class and hid in the apartment. She agreed to an interview on American Morning, mostly because it was on a different network than the one that produced Headline Nation.

At 6 a.m., she went to the studio in Times Square. She refused hair and makeup. A 16-year old pop singer was the first guest, promoting her new single “(Taste and) Smell the Roses.” Jane simmered in the green room.

She had no idea what they’d ask her or what she’d say. She wanted to say complicated and contradictory things. She wanted to talk about entrapment. She wanted to say Dan Roberts gave her the creeps. She wanted to say that at least some of the predators were just flawed lonely men who made a bad decision.

Dan Roberts invaded her mind to say, Mutual consent is between adults.

“Jane,” said a woman wearing a headset. “Ready?”

Jane followed the woman to the stage. The American Morning hosts, Marty Regent and Nancy Gulliver, were smiling and clapping with the studio audience, and Regent said, “Ladies and gentleman, Jane Shelley.” Jane walked out and sat across from them. On a sofa beside her perched the pop singer, Lola.

“So, Jane,” said Marty Regent, in his fifties but spry and bronze. “Two days ago you were the decoy on Headline Nation’s “Predators At Large” show. Now, you’re 19 in real life, but in the show you’re supposed to be what, 12?”

“13 or 14, depending on the scenario,” Jane said.

“And these men who think you’re that young, these guys want to, you know, go all the way with you?”

“Yeah, basically.”

“Oh, God,” Lola said. “They’re the ones that write me the letters.”

The audience laughed.

“They’re—just kind of normal guys,” Jane said.

“Except they prey on 13-year-olds,” Nancy Gulliver said.

Marty Regent said, “And on the show, one of the guys who showed up was Theo Hirsch, whose father is Patrick Hirsch, the philanthropist and media mogul, one of the richest men in New York. Now that’s a story in and of itself, but as it happens, he’s also your ex-boyfriend, right?”

“Right,” Jane said.

“But a total coincidence, that he showed up.”

“Yes,” Jane said.

“How long before the show did you break up with him?”

“Um, a couple weeks.”

“Now, Theo Hirsch is 28. Did you ever see any signs that he might be, you know, a pedophile?”

Jane could feel her heart beating in her forehead. “I’m not sure.”

“Let’s show the clip,” Nancy Gulliver said. Monitors on both sides of the stage cut to a replay of Theo’s Headline Nation scene, complete with subtitles. Jane stared at her hands.

“Oh God,” Lola said, touching her hair.

“So how did you feel when you opened the door and saw him?” Nancy Gulliver asked.

“Um,” Jane said.

“If that was my boyfriend,” Lola said, “I’d have kicked him somewhere in particular.” More laughter.

“Did you feel shocked?” Nancy Gulliver asked.

Jane swallowed. “I felt fucked.”

There was a moment of silence before Marty Regent managed a chuckle.

“Ha, this is live TV, you know. But don’t worry, we’ve got a five-second delay. So you felt—uh, disgusted?”

“No, I felt fucked,” she repeated. “I felt trapped. I felt dirty for taking the job. I felt ashamed of myself.”


“I saw his screen name on one of the chat transcripts and I could have called him and warned him, but I didn’t. But then when he showed up I felt horrible, because even though it’s pathetic and gross, I don’t think he deserves to have his entire life destroyed.”

Regent frowned. “But don’t you feel it’s a good thing that—”

“And actually yes,” Jane said, her face hot, “I felt disgusted. That’s why I wanted to do this interview. To say how disgusted I am with everyone, including me, who’s involved in this. But now I feel disgusted with you, too.”

Regent drew back in surprise. “We didn’t have anything to do with this.”

“Now you do, though.”

“Wait.” He held up a hand. “I want to understand what you’re saying. You’re saying it’s bad that dangerous predators are getting put behind bars, and you think it’s good for adult men to prey on young children?”

“I’m done here.” She strode off the set, lightheaded, trying not to stumble. The technicians and PAs backstage stared at her. On the monitors she could hear Marty Regent say something and the audience laugh. An elevator took her down to the street. The day was just starting and Times Square jostled with bodies. Jane leaned against a wall and tried to catch her breath. A man swaggered up to her, smirking. “Hey baby girl,” he said. “Show me love?”

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