I’ve changed the opening to my bad side. Yes, again, but now it has more action, more of a hook, as those in the know have advised…My hand reflected ghostly in the silver elevator panel. There was a kind of liquid sound, almost like metal rain, inside me, a fluid crinkling in my brain, chewing into my ears and down my neck. I didn’t know what was wrong, a sickness or terror. Crystal was convinced she had brain cancer. She was always saying things like that, determined to be the loneliest, the purest of all. I rotated my heel back on the stiletto, my foot angling sharply up, and thrust through out of the elevator, only half open, my key already out, and pushed hard on the apartment door.
“Last warning.” Derek stood between the back of the couch and the window, a broom held up. Apollo crouched, his sleek serval shoulders tensed, his rear legs coiled like springs.
“What are you doing?!”
He turned on me. “Your fucking cat—“
“Leave Apollo alone!”
“Leave him alone?” Derek stepped sideways, his fire fighter’s cap tilted back. “Are you fucking serious?”
Apollo kept his body tight, his eyes on Derek, watching him, a rodent in the savanna.
“This fucking exotic monster of yours attacked me!”
“You need to leave.”
He came around the couch, stepping drunkenly; that’s when I realized he had a gun. “What’s with the dress? You fucking a prince?”
I stepped back.
“You turned your sister against me!”
“You need to go home.”Apollo sprang, stretching fully across Derek’s chest and dug his claws into his shoulder. There was a bang, like a window slamming shut. Apollo fell suddenly, in the middle of the rug, his bottom leg stuck out. I crouched over him and saw the hole in his shoulder, a tiny nothing and then a watery line of red trailing into the rug.
“I told her to call me.” Derek stood just above. “You know that.”
Everything in me was twisted tight, my heart erratic, a mess of veins squenched together, vibrating madly, almost still. I grunted as I swung around and threw myself fully into his legs, bringing both of us down, my arm under him. I swung at his face, missed, hitting the floor, surprised that none of it hurt, that I was that strong and had the gun, got up and kicked him in the neck.
“Stay there. Just stay there.”
He slumped back, his hand drunkenly clawing the air.
I tried to lift Apollo, but my arm wouldn’t work, and could only pull him around, his long legs almost lifeless. I drew the clothes off the dresser into a bag, a pile of shirts and underwear from a drawer, all of it onto his cage, like I had been waiting for this, and dragged everything behind me onto the elevator.