Out of bed and into my bathrobe, cinching the belt tight. Warmth had turned to cold in an instant, and my hand still stung from where I'd slapped her.
I looked down at the stranger in my bed. "Get up, Corey Liddell. Get up and put some clothes on."
Amazing how the self-same collection of flesh and bone could be irresistible one moment, repugnant the next. I watched detachedly while she pulled shirt and shorts back on, thinking "brute" and "menace" about sculpted muscle I'd been moaning over less than a minute before. Things had changed that quickly.
Took me a moment, then, to realise she'd put my check shirt on. It was too big on her, the sleeves hanging down past her fingertips. She sat, schoolgirl awkward, on the edge of my bed. Something so utterly puppy-dog helpless about those big eyes of hers, I couldn't bring myself to yell at her.
"How come you lied to me?" Without anger behind it, the question came out like a limp balloon.
Saw her swallow, watched her hazel-green eyes flick to the door, then back to me. "I lie to everyone. I thought you deserved better."
She was too nervous to look at me. Ducking her head, glancing away. Ashamed.
Found myself about to apologise to her for the bruise I knew was going to be on her cheek tomorrow. Caught myself in time, made myself look stern. She was a stranger, she was a liar, she could have been anyone. I shivered.
"Last night," I began, trying to pick the right words, though I wasn't even sure what I wanted to say, "was the first night in weeks that I haven't been afraid. You know that?"
"Yes." Quietly but surely.
"Someone tried to kill me and I've been jumping at shadows ever since, and you made me feel safe again and ... yes? What d'you mean, yes?"
"Yes," she said again. Something in her look made me sick to my stomach and it was morbid fascination making me track the hand she lifted to eye level. Unbandaged, a fresh scar from her index finger to her palm, still bristling with stitches. She was fighting to hold it steady - I could see the effort in her face - but still it shook. "Remember that favour I was doing for a friend?"
Could feel myself going white, wondered if it was anger or fear.
"I missed the shot because I cut myself."
That was it. That was too much. Somehow I'd guessed it was coming, but to hear it -
I lunged at her, and Arthur's fishbowl, on the mantelpiece in the living room behind me, exploded. Next thing, Corey had thrown me to the floor, her hand between my shoulders, pressing me to the carpet.
Anger gave me strength, and I flung her off, heard the thud as her head struck the bedside table.
"STAY DOWN!" she bellowed, and whatever it had been that was gathering in me to beat her senseless stumbled to a shocked halt.
"Stay down," said Corey again. Confused, all I could see was the blood from her split eyebrow. "He'll be going for a second shot."
Glancing back through the open door, I could see Arthur gasping out his life amongst the glass on the living room carpet.
I couldn't afford a concussion. The cut was nothing - it had bled profusely, as all head wounds do, but it wasn't even worth stitching. The wooziness, though, and the dryness at the back of my throat, had me worried. I wanted to stand up, move around, test my balance, anything to fight off this feeling that I was about to faint.
But I couldn't risk giving Robert that second shot. I couldn't be sure that the first hadn't been intended for me.
Jill had retreated to the flat-to-the-ground position where I'd thrown her. I could see a knot of tension building to a cramp in her calf, and the lines of concentration on her forehead as she held herself still. A rabbit in headlights was the image that came to mind.
"Relax," I whispered, reaching out a hand to touch her arm. I felt the jolt, the recoil of muscle as her instinct to flinch fought against her determined stillness.
"Under these circumstances?!"
The smile I intended as reassuring came out feeling more like a wolfish grin. "Just concentrate ... on breathing ... the tension ... out ... of your muscles." I kept my voice low, soothing, like I was murmuring endearments. "You don't want to cramp, right? You want to be able to run away. So relax. Breathe. Just concentrate on that..."
"Just concentrate on your breathing," he says, and I can feel the light pressure of his hand at the small of my back, supporting my posture, steadying my balance.
I take a deep breath, feeling my chest expanding as my lungs fill.
"That's right." The bass undertones of his voice rumble through his fingertips into my spine. "Now exhale."
I let it out slowly, and his other hand comes up to brush the triceps of my right arm.
"You felt how your shoulders sank a little when you breathed out?"
I nod, and take another breath to confirm the observation.
"That's when you aim." He scoops up the rifle from the floor at my feet, and in his hands it is a child's toy. "If you're holding your point of aim with all your muscles tense, what happens if you need to wait hours for the shot? You're there, waiting - and waiting itself will take its toll, make no mistake - and knots begin to form in your arms, in your shoulders, in your back..."
Settling the rifle against my shoulder, I feel the stock come to rest in its cradle of bone. I lower my eye to the sight, still awkward in finding the triangle of cheek, elbow and shoulder. I breathe in, and watch the crosshairs drift as my shoulders rise with the intake of breath. I breathe out, let myself relax, let the reticle settle once more on the bullseye of the target.
Again I breathe, slowly, steadily, finding the rifle's point of balance, the angle it sinks to with bones alone to guide it. I am relaxed, alert, poised, waiting. My aim is dead on target.
It was Robert who taught me to breathe. It seemed only fair to use it against him. I continued to murmur to Jill, while I propped myself carefully against the chest of drawers by the bed. If I lay flat, I didn't trust myself not to pass out. If I passed out, Jill would try to run.
And I had no illusions about Robert, or the things he'd be prepared to do.
"The building beside this one - how tall are the windows? Full-length? Half? Are there balconies this side?" I was trying to estimate the angle he had on us, but my mind was sluggish to respond.
The bedroom window was open: there had been no initial shattering of glass as the shot went through, and even now I could feel the slight chill of a breeze. From the point on the empty mantelpiece, then, where the fish had been, back through the bedroom doorway, past the foot of the bed where Jill had been standing, out through the window - I traced the bullet's flight back to Robert.
"Balconies?" Jill echoed, looking blank.
The trajectory of the bullet had been relatively flat. If Robert was higher than us, the bullet would have embedded itself in the brickwork of the fireplace. Lower, and it would have shattered the glass facing of the framed Ansel Adams print on the wall above.
"There's a building directly opposite the window..." I craned my head for as clear a look as I dared. "And at a guess there's a window, a balcony, something, offset a little to the..." I closed my eyes, struggled to visualise. My brain was full of cobwebs. "A little to the right. That's where he's firing from."
"Is this what you do?"
"We should be safe here behind the bed. It's the doorway that's the risk." It was strange how calm I felt, being at this end of the barrel. I knew the damage those bullets could do to human flesh, but panic was the furthest thought from my mind. "He has a clear shot at us there."
Blood was clotting on her forehead, dripping down her cheek. Doubtless she was used to it in her line of work. She hadn't even made an effort to clean it.
"You missed, and now your understudy gets to take a turn. Is that how it works?"
"I don't know how it usually works." Slurring slightly. "I never missed before." Something in her eyes. Wondered a moment if she was going to cry.
"So you thought if you couldn't kill me, you'd fuck me instead?"
Her hand shot out, clamped down on my shoulder, pulled me down. Even having felt hard muscle under my hands while we made love, her strength still shocked me. Belatedly realising I'd been going to stand up, I sank to my belly.
"That could have been it." Thoughtful. Her hand still on my shoulder, her fingers started toying with my hair. Wasn't even sure she knew she was doing it. "I couldn't take the second shot, because you looked up at me ... and..." Definitely slurring now. "I couldn't shoot someone I'd seen as a person. I learned to switch that off, you see. I could make them ... not a person. Except ... you broke it." She closed her eyes, frowned so ferociously her forehead started bleeding again. Must have hurt, but the pain seemed to clear her head. "I don't think he has that. I don't think anyone is human to him."
"I'm sorry," I ventured. "I shouldn't have hit you."
"Probably not." An unsteady smile. "I'm concussed, aren't I?"
"I think so." Dabbed at her bleeding forehead with the sleeve of my bathrobe.
"This will complicate things." She didn't flinch. I had to press the wadded towelling of my sleeve to the cut to stop the blood, keep myself flat to the ground, stretched full-length beside her.
Sunlight brightening through the window, stretching beams across the carpet, gleaming off the broken glass and the brilliant blue of Arthur's scales.
Corey shifted beside me, gingerly lowered herself till her head rested against the ground. So unsteady, if she'd been trying to walk, she'd have lost her balance. I stole a glance at the blood on my sleeve, then at the corner of the table, half expecting some tuft of hair, some smear of blood. Nothing.
She slid beneath the bed, and I heard her grunt. There was a minefield of shoes and dust bunnies under there.
"What are you doing?" I hissed.
"Trying to get a better look," came the reply.
"From under the bed?" Was this concussion? Delirium? Was Corey Liddell an escaped lunatic?
Stretched out on my stomach, on my bedroom floor, with her blood on my clothes and her scent on my fingers, and wondered if now might be a good time to start praying.
From memory - though admittedly my memory had been on other things than the layout of the room - Jill's bed had a good three feet of clear space on its other side. The curtains came down to the sill, with a window seat below that. Ideal cover - if my memory served me correctly. And with my brains as rattled as they were, I couldn't count on my memory serving me at all.
I lay beneath the bed for a moment, steadying my breathing, trying to gather my thoughts. A headache, like a lead bar through my skull, had begun to throb. One of Jill's shoes was digging into my kidney, and I shifted carefully, then felt a shoebox crumple under my weight.
"What are you doing under there?"
"Trying to get to the window." I stared up at the pinewood slats beneath the mattress. The knots in the wood stared back like tiny, malevolent eyes. I shifted a few inches closer to the window, ignoring the shoes, boxes and books that drove their corners into my back. My palms were sweating, and my breathing sounded loud and hoarse in my ears.
"J- Corey?" Jill stumbled on my name, and I could hear the nervousness in her voice. "Keep talking to me. I need to know you're conscious."
"Even though I tried to kill you?" I moved another inch, flinching as I heard fabric tear.
"Right now, you're trying to keep me alive. I think that counts for more."
Something caught in my throat, and I had to swallow hard, unable to speak.
"Corey?" she asked again, unnerved by my silence.
"Thank you," I said quietly.
I wiped my hands on the carpet, and felt my palm cling stickily to photographic paper. Photographs.
There was so little space between the mattress and my eyes that I had to draw the photograph up the length of my torso, past my chin, and press it to the slats overhead to bring it into view. Even then, it took a moment to bring my eyes into focus.
"Who's the man in the photograph?" I thrust it out to her, felt her fingers brush mine as she took the photo from me. "Your brother?"
Her hair, in the photograph, was blonde, a few inches shorter than now, her roots recently touched up. His hair was its usual raked-back mess of curls. His arm was draped protectively, affectionately, across her shoulders, and his smile - even with his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses - was genuine happiness.
I'd forgotten I had the photo. I'd thrown out most every reminder of him once he'd left. Hadn't been able to bring myself to sleep in sheets he'd lain on, so they'd gone in the trash. Moved the Janis Joplin CDs to the back of the stack, made a point of switching stations when "Piece of My Heart" came on.
And here this photograph thrust suddenly into my hand, and with it memories I'd thought put aside.
Each of his thrusts smacks the point of my hip painfully against the wall. He's breathing down my neck, into my ear, panting thick and heavy. Concrete cold against my belly and breasts, his body hot against my back. We're stuck together with sweat, clinging like wet leather. Our fingers clench, entwined, my knuckles barked against the wall above my head.
Trying to feel what he's feeling, trying to catch something of it through sheer concentration - but he shudders and sinks against me, and he's done, and I'm left wondering what I'm missing.
There's still the dark fleck of a scab on my knuckle in the photograph. And a look in my eyes like I still don't get it. He's grinning like a fool, like he's won himself some grand prize - and that prize is me. Funny, looking back at things. Realising.
He loved me.
If I pressed my cheek to the wall and craned my neck to the right, I could see Robert. To be precise, it wasn't Robert that I could see, but the nose of the rifle peering out of the foliage.The balcony was such a jungle of potted plants run wild that I doubted the tenant even realised Robert was there. My vantage point didn't give me a clear enough view of Robert's perch to tell me how he'd reached it. Seeing more clearly would have required standing, which would have placed me in his line of sight. If he fired at me, the window would shatter, and at the very least Jill would be picking glass splinters from the carpet for weeks.
How he'd gained access to the balcony was a minor concern at present. It was what he could do while he was there that mattered. And what he could do, and most effectively too, was restrict our access to the bedroom door.
Even crawling on my belly, I would offer him a target the instant I crossed the threshold.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I could feel the needles of hurt and anger and bewilderment, but the logical side of myself - the part of me that calculated trajectories and angles and compensated for wind speed and direction - had taken control of my active brain. I was glad of it.
"He was my ... my lover." Jill's voice startled me. She was invisible behind the bed, but her voice was clear. "The man in the photograph."
"Robert." I caught a glimpse of his dark head amongst the leaves. If our positions had been reversed, I might have risked a shot. My instinct for such things had always been good. With that thought in mind, I drew away from the window and huddled down against the skirting board. "Did you know he sent me?"
Even that would be enough to hurt her. I heard her nervous inrush of breath.
"It wouldn't surprise me," she admitted finally. "But the strangest things seem logical nowadays so I don't know that it counts for much."
"You broke it off?"
Robbie? The diminutive hardly suited him; it was like calling a grizzly bear "Binky" - I snorted, amused despite myself.
"I kept thinking..." Jill continued, "I kept thinking I'd misunderstood how it worked, and that if I tried hard enough, I'd get it. And we'd be in love and live happily ever after."
"But it doesn't work like that." I wished I could see her face. There was a tremulous doubt in her voice, and I was curious as to what her expression would give away.
"Didn't stop me from trying," she retorted glumly.
There was nothing I could reply to that. I held back a sigh as I slouched down against the wall. Robert would have to get tired eventually. It was all a matter of waiting...
Or of distracting him.
I found myself staring at my jeans, discarded in a crumpled heap at the side of the bed. Staring, more particularly, at what was jutting from the back pocket.
Corey was out from under the bed and sprawled across my legs before I'd noticed she'd shifted from the window.
Moving a little more carefully - I'd heard her bones crunch when she'd hit the floor - she slid down beside me.
One hand stayed resting on my knee. I considered a moment, then left it there; strangely, I felt safer that way. When I glanced at her, the corner of her mouth lifted in something I could only read as a "be brave" smile.
"When I take my hand away," she said, "I want you to get up and run for the door, get out of the doorway as fast as you can. Get your keys; you dropped them on the table by the front door. Go down to the car, start the engine - and remember to unlock the passenger door, okay?"
My heart sank. Felt stupid for thinking it was a gesture of affection, then wondered why it mattered. "Okay," I replied dully.
A brief squeeze of her hand on my knee - I looked up, startled.
But she wasn't looking at me. She had a cellphone up to her ear, and her eyes were slits. Glow from the phone's display tinted her cheek sickly green. I could see this mask as a killer's face. No shy smile, no dimples, no yearning puppy eyes. Ferocious concentration, this.
"Robert," she growled into the phone, "Are you listening to me?"
Pick up, you bastard.I could hear my heart drumming in my ears, almost loud enough to drown out the electronic ring of the phone. My hand was tightening on Jill's knee - I felt, rather than saw, her glance at me. Don't let it ring through to voice mail.
The third ring - click. And his hand was off the trigger.
My wrist barely twitched, but the muscles of Jill's leg flexed as she scrambled to her feet. I was a half-step behind her, my mouth forming the word "go" even as something slammed into my shoulder and spun me half off my feet. I threw myself at the floor, feeling my ribs jolt as I hit the carpet. I rolled over, already groping for the wound, trying to stanch the anticipated gush of blood.
"You're okay." Where she'd been storing that strength I didn't know, but she hauled me upright like I was a rag doll and propelled our stumbling steps towards the front door. "You hit the doorjamb coming through."
The cellphone lay on the living room carpet, separated from its battery by a distance of several feet. It wasn't worth going back for. My hackles were up, still waiting for the sound of a gunshot. If I closed my eyes I could almost...
"Don't go fainting on me, Corey."
It took me a moment to realise that Jill's hands on my shoulders were all that was holding me up. Her hair was a blackberry tangle, and something fierce in her eyes had hardened her features to alabaster. Her robe, and her breast where her robe had come open, were smudged with my drying blood.
I had the time to take these details in while solidity returned to my legs, and the light-headedness I hadn't known I was feeling evaporated from my throbbing skull.
"I need you to tell me what to do." She was grabbing clothes from the half-folded laundry pile on the sofa, throwing me a sweater and a pair of shorts, which on her probably wouldn't hang absurdly past her knees.
"He'll be coming here," I gasped, dragging the sweater over my head en route to the door. We were both barefoot, but that couldn't be helped. "We have to leave."
Robert would be down from the balcony by now, striding across the road ... had I blacked out for any time at all? There was no telling. There was no time.
I heard the jingle of keys in Jill's hand as I wrenched the door open, and slammed myself back against the wall in anticipation of a bullet.
"Go! Quick! Now!" I barked, praying for eyes in the back of my head. There were twenty-four steps from Jill's door, down past the first floor landing, down to the driveway. I took them in four strides.
On a normal day I get up, 7 am. Radio on. Feed Arthur, dabbling my fingertips in the water till he bobs up to nibble at them. Shower ten, fifteen minutes, till I forget the words of whatever song I find myself singing. Wrap my hair in one of the big towels Dad gave me for my twenty-first. Check the date on the milk, sniff it anyway, onto the cereal to soak while I'm in the bathroom drying my hair. Mushy wheat no one else can stand, but always tempting me to lick the bowl clean. Clothes, makeup, shoes. Book from the bedside table wrapped in plastic to protect the pages, shoved into my shoulderbag. 8:30, out the door, off to deal with morning traffic.
Traffic was no different, cars still banked up past the lights on the main road.
"I should be at work." The car clock, an hour fast since I never bothered adjusting it for daylight savings, blinking at me; quarter to. Anna would be giving me that cold look from behind the front counter, tapping her watch face like she hadn't been out the back five minutes before, sneaking one last cigarette.
"You don't think that'd be the next place he'd try?" Corey scooped something up from the car floor, handed it to me: a coaster from a bar. My address, terrible handwriting. "He told me you worked in a bookshop."
"He got me the job there." Wanted to lean back, close my eyes, but the car behind was honking. Had to think about driving. Edged a few car spaces forward, heard the driver honk again. Didn't need to hear Corey twist in her seat: I felt the heat of her glare. Wasn't sure she wouldn't have jumped from the car and marched back to vent her anger on the driver. Wasn't sure I'd have made any move to stop her. Fortunately avoided having to make that decision - the traffic cleared, and I could just be driving.
And it was just driving. Couldn't go home. Couldn't go to work. Didn't have anywhere else to go - all these neat little compartments of my life shutting off one by one. Where to from here?
It was like I was separated, like I was removed, from everything I knew. Like I was floating.
At Corey's voice, I realised tears were streaming down my cheeks.
"Hey ... c'mon ..." Her hand covered mine on the steering wheel, holding the car steady. "You can't drive like this."
"But we've got to..."
"We'll be fine, Jill." Voice like a lifeline. "Okay? Now stop the car - the light's red."
Felt an idiot grin crack the corner of my mouth. Eased the car to a halt, sat with my forehead pressed to the wheel. Crying was supposed to make it easier. Sitting there, waiting for the tears, expecting the numbness in my chest to ease but feeling it crushing my lungs instead.
"I keep reminding myself," I said, wiping my eyes, "that this was nothing personal. That you weren't trying to kill me, exactly. You were just doing your job. And ... and it just happened that it was me."
He'd wanted me dead. He'd paid someone to have me killed. That same money he'd spent on me - theatre tickets, expensive restaurants, all the little things he could sneak in without me refusing them ... Take this, he'd said to Corey. Take this and kill her.
Hadn't realised it would take that little to make her snap.
"I'm going to kill him," she snarled. "I'm going to fucking kill him!"
She exploded out of the seat, out of the car, so suddenly that the door bounced off the side panel of the car next to us. Buckled it.
Not sure she noticed. Doubted she cared. She was halfway across the road already, shoulders taut, so angry she crackled.
A corrugated iron fence around the nearest house; she strode straight up to it and her fist went half an inch into the metal. And again. And again.
Pounding at it, the metal booming with every blow, caving in under the onslaught. Her right hand, her wounded hand, clenched into a fist, hammering at the sheet of metal with a rage that only seemed to increase.
Every head in every car was turned, watching her. Wouldn't have mattered if the lights were green. Everyone was watching my lover implode.
Corey. Oh God.
Getting out of the car, I was accosted by the sedan driver, protesting about the damage to his car. Don't know what was in the look I gave him, but he stepped back, holding up his hands like he was afraid he'd go the way of the fence.
I hurried past him, felt my footsteps fall into time with the sound of Corey's fist hitting the fence.
Other people out of their cars now, standing, staring, like the scene of an accident. No one quite sure what to say, but everyone looking on.
Cars further down the line already beginning to honk their horns, and the lights only just gone green.
Could see her sobbing, the shaking in her shoulders, the hard set of her jaw. Practically a machine, like she was channelling every bit of hurt into this one motion, and nothing left to make her human. Nothing in her eyes but pain.
I didn't care. I stepped in, caught her hand between my own. The touch broke whatever it was that held her. She bowed her head, closing her eyes, crying silently.
Felt her hand shift in mine, intertwining our fingers. She leaned against my chest, resting her forehead in the hollow beneath my chin.
The people were still staring, but losing interest fast. My car still in the middle lane, banking up morning traffic behind it.
And here was me, just standing there, watching her fall apart, and I couldn't do a thing.
Coffee was a brave pretence at normalcy. I couldn't keep myself from scanning the surrounding buildings, the cars in the street, for any sign of him.
Jill stopped at her fifth teaspoon of sugar, and sat with her spoon poised above the wilting foam of her cappuccino, like she was waiting for me to say grace.
I breathed a sigh, squared my shoulders, and took a sip. It was too hot and too sweet, but I forced myself to swallow, to smile, to put the cup back down on the table with a steady hand.
Her hand came up, sweeping towards my jaw, and I jumped. My knee jolted the table, and coffee splashed across the laminex.
"Don't touch me." The words - more like a snarl - were out of my mouth before I could stop them. My hand had wrapped around hers, catching it in mid-motion, holding it in a death grip. Panic had shifted to anger so suddenly it left me raw and trembling in its wake.
"I only meant to ... you had ... froth on your top lip..." She managed, and I unfurled my fingers, leaving her to make some hapless, incomplete gesture. "I'm sorry."
The movement of her hand took in the line of my top lip - but carefully, so carefully. Not touching. There was fear etched in the startled brightness of her eyes. Not fear of Robert. Fear of me.
I took a deep breath. It did nothing to dislodge the anger that had coiled up inside me. Breathing out left my stomach curdled and me no calmer.
I stumbled for the bathroom, down past the kitchen where the frying stink of breakfast only made the sick feeling worse, down a flight of stairs. The concrete underfoot was wet and rank, and there was no lock on the bathroom door.
I stood staring at my bleached face in the mirror. There was something grim, hunted, in my eyes. It might have been self-loathing. I'd come a hair's breadth from hitting her, and I hated us both for it.
"That was a nice little performance you put on back there." His voice was dry, just this side of sarcasm. Robert shouldered past me to the sink and began lathering his hands like a doctor preparing for surgery.
Soap suds glistened in the dark hair of his forearms, and dripped from the heels of his callused hands. I remembered quite clearly the way his long fingers looked coiled against the trigger guard.
There was a bruise, thin as a crescent moon, darkening high on his cheekbone - the rifle had a kick to it. With the spit of the bullet, the sight would jerk back against the edge of bone. I could picture it, and joined it smoothly to the memory of Jill, jumping, nervous as a colt, as the fishbowl shattered on the mantelpiece.
It wasn't anger, but something far smoother and more lethal, that snaked my hand beneath his jacket and found the revolver pancaked - as I knew it would be - against his ribs.
I gave him no time to react. My thumb had already released the safety, and it was simplicity itself to draw the weapon free, to press the muzzle into the scrub of beard at his throat.
Pulling the trigger had long ago become just another reflex.
My father seems surprised. I wonder if he thinks it is a heart attack, this eruption of pain in his chest.
He breaks like a marionette with its strings cut, limbs splaying loose and useless. Blood blossoms, bright as poppies, across his t-shirt as he falls, tumbling from the momentum of his still-pumping legs.
His feet bounce when his body slams to the asphalt, and the laces on his jogging shoes darken where the dew soaks in.
I'm still unwinding my finger from the trigger when I feel Robert's hand on the back of my neck.
Up close, death was far messier than the quiet gaze of the rifle had ever led me to believe. There was blood on my clothes, on my face, in my hair.
Then there was the shocking weight of his body falling limp against the sink, the thump of flesh somehow more sickening than the ripe, wet eruption of his skull.
We lay there, entangled like lovers, with the gun featherlight, forgotten, against the hand I'd splayed across his chest.
The sound of footsteps in the hallway outside sent a tremor along my arm, and I had the revolver cocked and raised even before the door swung open.
Jill's face, peering past the doorframe, was very white. She stared back at me with her mouth half open, as though the words had congealed on the tip of her tongue.
My hand on the trigger.
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