Whether it was the drugs or my emotions, I couldn’t tell. But for that moment all my senses heightened as our lips pressed together. The world around us fell silent and all I could hear was her soft breath and my pounding heat.

But then it shattered into a million pieces. Gun shots ran through the air. The rickety fire escape outside of my bedroom window rattled against the bricks. Feet pounded down the hallway. Ty’s drum set crashed against the wall in the next room. “Ty!” Grace screamed. She started to open the door, but I grabbed her wrist and pushed her behind me. A foot smashed through my bedroom window and several hooded figures propelled themselves into my room.

Grace stumbled into the closet like bathroom. I slammed the door behind her and turned to face the intruders. The one nearest me whipped out a switch blade. I lunged at the guy. Knife extended I almost impaled myself. Backing up I searched for a weapon. The intruders advanced on me and shoved me against the wall. With the knife blade one of them brushed my spiky pink hair from my face. “Piper?” the familiar voice caught me by surprise.

“Baz?” I croaked.

“I didn’t recognize you with the pink hair. It’s been awhile, Kid.” He let me go.

“Yeah well, when you’re in jail it’s hard to visit, right?” I glared.

“Who’s the pixie who’s hiding in your bathroom?”

“Grace,”

“Just Grace? Looked like my guys interrupted something…”

“What do your guys want?” I snapped.

Baz’s expression darkened. “They want ‘Just Grace’.”

My stomach dropped. Arms crossed I glared at him. “Why?”

Baz sighed. “Look, Kid, Grace is in a spot of trouble with my…collectors. She owes us for room and board.”

“What? But I thought she lived with her grandpa?”

“She didn’t tell you that she is an alley cat? It’s not a good idea to pick up strays. They bite.”

Thump! I turned to the bathroom and opened the door. Grace’s body sprawled on the ground. Blood dripped from a gash on her forehead. An empty pill bottle rolled out of her hand. I bent down and checked for a pulse. Nothing. “No!” I slammed my fist against the gritty sink. Written across the mirror in Grace’s purple lipstick was one word, “Sorry” with a heart for the ‘o’.

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