Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 2: Between the Earth and Sky; Cries of A Dying Heart

                I woke up to a dull beeping to my left. A heart monitor registering that I was, indeed, alive. My head was swimming with a blend of sedatives I cannot even begin to name and my arms were bound down to the bed. I slowly opened my eyes to a dimly lit room. I knew I was in a private care facility. The kind of place you bring famous starlets to when they need to hide some kind of strange addiction to drugs or alcohol. Calvin had spared no expense for my recovery.

                I looked to my left, my brain registered the heart monitor and tubes and wires extending out of my arm. Calvin, my father, was sitting in a chair about 5 feet away, his hand resting against his forehead, dead asleep. He had left work for this. Perhaps the thought of losing me had been enough to shock him from his stupor. I did not know and I was afraid of the answer he would give me so I resolved myself to not asking.

                “Calvin..?” My voice came out hoarse, dry and soft. How long had they kept me under? I glanced down my arms to my wrists for signs I had tried to hurt myself and saw nothing. No bandages. No marks of any kind. I didn't even feel like I had been attacked at this point. I wasn't hurting at all. I passed this off as a result of the medication and the heavy sedatives I had been on
               Calvin instantly stirred at the sound of my voice furthering the thought my my near-death experience has saved his own life. “Natalyia… You’re awake?” My father blinked a few times, got up and pulled the chair closer to the bed, laying his hand over mine. “How do you feel?”
                “Like someone tried to kill me. My head feels all fuzzy and I... What day is it?” I croaked this entire phrase out to him and he produced a small bottle with water and lifted it to my lips and I gulped the water down without questioning. “Why am I being held down like this?”

                “Nat… They’ve had you sedated for nearly three days now. Every time you woke up you would just start screaming about talons…” The heart monitor registered an increased rhythm at this. “We didn’t know what to do other than to help you sleep. The doctors only just now agreed a couple hours ago to start pulling you out of it to see if you would be… Calmer.” He was distressed. He did not know how to lose another person in his family.
                My eyes were swimming with tears. My Talon was dead. I had not forgotten this fact only had been hoping, praying and thinking in my deadened state that, by some miracle, he would come back to me. We had just gotten so close to being more normal and natural and that had been ripped from us. I felt inhuman all over again and now no one would be there to pull me back from it.
                “Nat… Why do you keep screaming about talons? Do you remember anything from the other night? Any details..?”
                I could only shake my head. I was not ready to talk about these things because I could not remember them myself. I also was not ready to tell Calvin that I had been seeing someone and had not brought it to his attention. “So why talons..?” he was pressing the issues and I had never, in my whole life, wanted to just lay back down and pass back out.
                “It’s a name, Calvin. Not an object. That’s the other person who was in my apartment when I called the police. He was hurt… an-“I could not finish. It hurt that much to say it, to admit it out loud, to deaden the last resources of my attachment to humanity. I watched as he lowered his head. I think he understood then where this was going.

                “I see. I’m sorry. I haven’t been allowed near the investigation outside of using my influence to get a detective unfamiliar with you onto the case. I wanted someone who was… Unaware of your history.” He hesitated with my past, but had accepted it. I think, in his heart, he was still hoping I would want to get involved with the family business and run his establishment but that had never been in my interest.

                We both sat there in an uneasy silence and then a woman shuffled into the room, smiling at me. “I see you’re awake. How are you feeling Miss Breckenridge?” I just kind of shrugged at her not really knowing how or what I should feel. Physically, I knew I was going to be fine but I knew my mental state was going to slip away from me.

                She just kind of nodded at me, “Would you like me to remove the restraining straps?” I nodded and she proceeded to undo the buckling, humming as she went. I really was not in the mood for someone so cheerful. She turned, took my chart from the wall and proceeded to check things off down a list. Then she placed her hand over my other one, smiled softly and spoke gently, “It’ll be ok, Miss Breckenridge. “ Then she left the room. I had never felt like crying in my life and now I just wanted to lie down, sleep and never wake up. Calvin pat my hand and I looked to him.
                “They’ll catch him, Nat. They always catch them.” He tried so hard to smile for me but I could tell he wished I knew more. “You really don’t remember anything at all? What about the man who was with you that night..? Could he have done something?”
                “Dad... I was dating Talon.” I sighed. “And he wouldn’t have done anything to hurt me.” I knew this information would hurt him and it immediately registered and he pulled away from me and leaned back in his chair.
                “I didn’t know you two had been seeing one another…”
                “It was… Kind of recent… We’d actually just agreed to be ‘together’ the night…” I went silent again and Calvin just nodded. 

                “I get it. I’m sorry, Nat. it appears you’ve inherited my curse of relationships just... Not going the way you want them to.” He kept staring at his lap and we both just sat there, breathing and awkwardly trying not to think, until there was a light knock at the door frame.
                “Sorry. I don’t want to intrude but… I’ve been waiting to talk to her for several days now. We can’t wait any longer, Mr. Breckenridge.” His voice was steady, authoritative. He wore a long over-coat. His hair was the sandy blonde type you expect of a-typical surfer boys that drive over from California in the winter seasons for heavy partying and one night stands. He had those ridiculously blue eyes that looked like they were formed from ice.

                I didn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.
                Calvin sighed, nodded. “I understand, detective, but she has just woken up and has already told me she doesn’t remember a thing.” The man looked from the door to me and back again and then shut it behind himself and then addressed me as if my father was not even there.
                “Miss Br-“ I held my hand up.
                “Natalyia. I don’t go under my family name. Natalyia will be just fine.” I sat up a little straighter and he sighed.
                “Natalyia then. I’m Detective Mason Winterlys. I’ve been assigned to your case and I need to ask you important questions about the other night. Anything you can possibly remember might help us catch the bastard that did this.” He was serious. He never looked away from me or acted like he did not care. He was genuine.
                He CLEARLY had not seen my arrest record and I kind of laughed in spite of everything. He raised an eyebrow. I suppose most people don’t laugh when cops ask them questions, especially in this particular situation. “Natalyia..?”

                “Forgive me… I just… Don’t usually get along with the police.”   
                “Yeah I’ve got a stack of documents and an entire precinct laughing at me for taking the case." My stomach dropped. So he knew then and I sighed. my case would go unsolved. I felt my tears starting up again and covered my face. 
                 He groaned softly,"Yes, I know. However, that doesn’t change the fact that what happened to you and your boyfriend shouldn’t happen to anyone, anywhere at any time.” He pulled a chair up to the side of my bed and took of his coat and sat down and rested his elbows on his knees and stared at me hard. I let my hands rest on my stomach. “So.” He exhaled, staring me down intensely. 
               “Do you remember anything that might help us catch the bastard that attacked you and your boyfriend and almost claimed both your lives..?”

                The heart monitor registered a skip in my heartbeat followed by a rapid increase in beeping. I was breathing harder and I faced him.
                “Say that again.”  I was gripping my bed covers, my knuckles white as the sheets I had been sleeping in.
                Mason looked from me to my father and then back again. “You didn’t know? He didn’t tell you?” I heard my father exhale loudly to my other side and I turned to face him. “Why didn’t you tell me!? You knew about him this whole time?!?” I nearly screamed at him.
                “Yes, Nat. I knew. I was hoping you would forget... Or not remember... Because no one knows where he IS, Nat… He’s alive, yes. But we don’t know where he’s gone.” The detective attempted to save my father then.
                “His parents claimed him just last night and took him cross country to another hospital to give him better care. When we called over there this morning…. That hospital told us they have no record of a Talon Grece ever having been admitted.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chapter 1.4: Destruction of the Night, My Personal Demise

          When I came to the first thing I knew is that it was night. The second thing I knew was pain; an indescribable amount of pain. My whole body felt like it had been thrown on high heat and the longest setting on my dryer. My brain felt like it was loose and my whole body was just throbbing with each beat of my heart. The third thing I knew is that it was completely silent in my house and outside.

               I struggled into a sitting position, my head hanging near my chest. It hurt to just move my pinky finger and I was amazed I got into this position. I was almost naked and worse than that I was covered in blood and not a small amount of it. I was shaking fiercely. I had two deep puncture wounds in my upper inner thigh. I knew about wounds like this from an array of shows I watched and I knew they could kill you quickly. I grabbed whatever was closest to me, something black I later realized was the remnants of my favorite dress, and wrapped it around the puncture wounds tightly to try to stem the blood flow.
                The next thing that occurred to me was that no one was immediately visible. I dug around for my purse and found my phone still inside it and rapidly dialed 911.

                “911 What is your emergency?” Came the calm voice at the end of the line and I had trouble finding my voice. “Hello? Please respond if you can. I’ll have help on its way as soon as I can. Please hit a key on your phone if you’re incapable of speech.” I was not sobbing or even terrified at this point I just knew I needed help and that was the most important thing, “I’ve been attacked in my house. I-I need help. I just woke up... I… Please… Get someone here fast.” I managed to croak out.
                “Ma’am I’m going to need you to slow down. Where are you?”
                “I’m at home at 352-A Primrose in the Glover Apartments.” The shaking was subsiding. I resided myself to this now. I just wanted help to be here.
                “I’m sending help now, ma’am but stay on the line with me until they arrive. Is anyone still in the residence with you?”
                I went silent and dropped the phone as a new realization slammed into me. Where was Talon?

                “Talon!? Talon where are you!?” I could hear the operator calling me back to the phone but I ignored her. Whoever was coming was coming and I needed to find Talon. My leg throbbed at the blood loss every move I made brought on but I had to find him if he was still here. I stumbled around my apartment feeling my way in the blackness.
                Then I tripped as I entered my bedroom and a moan issued from somewhere near my left.
                “Talon?! Talon answer me!” I fumbled for the light on the wall, undoubtedly dragging blood along it as I went. When the light finally came on and I saw him I knew, whatever had happened, I had gotten off easy.
                Talon was barely alive. His throat was a dark red mess. He was shirtless and I found what was left of it nearby and wrapped it around his neck, desperately trying to save his life as he grunted and groaned at me.

                “No. Don’t try to talk, Talon. Please. Please don’t try to talk. Stay with me. Talon you have to stay with me. Remember? Remember what we talked about?? At the club..?” He nodded feebly and the white portion of his shirt faded to deep red in a matter of seconds.
                “Natty…” he barely whispered and reached for my face and I lifted him up slightly without a second thought and clenched his hand. Where we the damned cops!? The ambulance… I screamed loudly enough so the operator on the other end of the line could hear me that we needed medical help and that I wasn’t alone.
                “Natty… I…” he was breathing it out, struggling to say this and to live. Blood bubbled over his lips.

                “Just stop talking Talon, please…” My eyes brimmed over with tears as I felt his grip weaken, “Talon you need to stay with me. You can’t leave me like everyone else… Fight it, Talon. Stay with me... Talon, I love you, please, please stay with me… I’ll say it until you make me shut up. I swear.” I tried to crack a smile but I felt the tears falling and I started shaking as the reality of everything was beginning to settle in. He tried to do his signature grin and then faltered as he tried to continue to speak.
                “Natty… I’m so sorry… I… I lov-.” And then his body went limp, his eyes widened with death and I just stared down at him. “T-Talon… Breathe... Please... Move...” I shook him as the door to my apartment was broken down and then I screamed like I had never screamed before in my life.

Even as the police and paramedics came towards me to save what was left of my life..

I screamed until my world went black.

Chapter 1.3: Destruction of the Night, My Personal Demise

 The cabbies eyes kind of budged out of his skull when he saw me coming down the sidewalk but I’d gotten used to that for many reasons. As a Breckenridge, not many people were unaware of your existence. Two, I was wearing a black leather skirt and a fishnet woven koi patterned top. All my tattoos were visible through this thing. I think, if I saw someone else wearing something similar, my eyes would bulge out too. I told him where we were headed as I slid into the back and he just kind of nodded and did his best to watch the road. The ride to the club was without incident and I quickly dismissed Toulouse's strange behavior.

             There was no traffic, which is pretty typical for this part of town. Winter was beyond settling in but it had been a light snow season so far. I knew Calvin would be stressing over creating snow or waiting it out. There was only another couple weeks left to decide. I sighed as we pulled up outside of the club, aptly named “Club Eden”, paid my cabby and thanked him for a smooth ride and got out. I thought about Calvin more as I walked up to the club, it was frustrating to me that I was thinking about my father but I had serious doubts that he was thinking about me.

               The good thing about having my last name was that people just got out of your path and cleared the way for you. I faced no resistance getting into the club; the bouncers smiled at me and greeted me by name and laughed as the people in line started complaining. I just smiled as I walked in and began looking for my little portion of Eden. He was staring at me by the time I saw him, grinning from ear to ear. As soon as our eyes locked he stood and started walking to me and I eagerly met him half-way.

“You WERE NOT kidding about that dress…” His eyes were drinking me in like a good wine. His arms wrapped around my shoulders, his body pressed to mine in an intimate hug and I just giggled and breathed into his ear,
  “Just don’t tear it up, Talon. I really like it.” He laughed, loudly and pulled away and smirked.
  “No promises. But I’ll try to be gentle on it.” His face broke into his signature grin and he started walking back to the seating area where everyone else waited. I followed behind and sat next to him. A few people were still missing from our little group, which made me happy, because I wasn’t the last one there. We had a couple rounds as we waited and people gradually trickled in until we were all present.

                   Once everyone arrived and had a drink in hand, Brass stood up in his usual fashion, beating the table with his fist. He was there to have fun and celebrate with us but he was not going to take our shit, either. He loved each of us like his kids but he was a tough old bastard. The truth is, we all loved the old man, too. Even I had a soft spot for him. He was just that likeable.
“Alright alright. Shut up. Shut up. I know the music in here is too damned loud for you guys to actually hear a fucking thing I say so I’ll make it short. The set is up and we didn’t interfere with the girly actors practices. It looks damned good, too. If they don’t like our work they can stuff it.” We all laughed. We knew this would never actually be the case. We’d tear the whole thing down just for the fun of rebuilding it again.
              “Natalyia did a bang out job on all the art, as usual. One of these days those prissy pants are going to notice that talent you’ve got, girl. Keep pressing them for an audition.” I felt a warm blush on my cheeks a little when Talon nudged me but I was grinning happily.

 “You boys did your job, too. The set is sturdy and reliable. Talon, you’re going to be an architectural genius if you keep this up… And... That’s it. Enjoy yourselves tonight, guys. You’ve made this old man proud again. He slammed his drink on the table and then drank the rest. We followed suit. This had become our tradition and, as usual, Brass left shortly after. No one mentioned my erratic behavior. I suppose that’s the good thing about hanging around with a bunch of guys. They just do NOT care. Everything is forgiven and forgotten for them.

 Those of us that stayed would hang out to the early hours of the morning dancing, drinking and laughing it up. This had become our tradition after successfully constructing a stage set. We would work almost non-stop while the actors weren’t around to get more done, sleep whatever time we had, enjoy our time off and keep at it until construction was complete. Once complete we had a night out on the company’s budget. It was a strange way of thanking your employees, I suppose, but when all your employees are in their early to late twenties it’s also the most efficient and most enjoyable thing for them. We did not complain.

    This is the most high-class place we had actually had the privilege of going to. Brass had decided to go all out for this set since the clientele was so much higher this time around. With the winter season the higher end clients came in and so did the money. So Brass rewarded us with a higher-class establishment. The guys, I’d noticed, were having a hard time keeping their eyes off me tonight. I think the reality of me being a female was sinking in tonight since I wore this outfit. They usually saw me in my set clothes. Black pants, black top, hair up in a pony-tail. I was also usually coated in paint and saw dust. They each took a turn dancing with me and we had our own laughs but I stuck close to Talon most of the night.

 We had our fair share of drinks, laughs and even stole a couple kisses every now and then. We were not much for public affection around people we knew. That isn’t to say people didn’t know we were together. It was pretty obvious we were but we never publicized it in such an open way. My thoughts from earlier haunted me and after a while Talon took notice and took me upstairs and onto the open deck of the club

  “You’re doing it again.” He was smiling in his usual way and I just sighed.
  “I don’t really think we need to talk about it here, Talon. I don’t think that’s fair to either of us.” His eyebrows raised and he tilted his head, clearly confused at this direction and he stood up straighter,
  “What’s going on, Natty. What are you thinking? You can let me in, you know. It’s not like we haven’t talked about weird topics before.” He was right and I knew it but I didn’t know how to bring this up to him without just straight asking him. I bit my bottom lip so hard I thought it was going to bleed.
   "Hey. Stop that.” He grabbed my chin, lifted my face to his and kissed me.
    This was not one of his usual public kisses. He was pressing his mouth to mine like this was our last kiss. Like he was desperate to make me feel his thoughts, emotions and-
   I broke away from him. I was not a crier and I did not want to start now.
  “Talon. I’m not leaving you. You don’t have to act like this…” and then he grabbed me, wrapped me in his arms and kissed me again. My heart, nearly exploding as it is, was beating faster and faster. I’d never felt like this before not even with him. I felt a snap inside me and I knew I was done for.
   I kissed him back, my arms wrapping tightly around his neck and the tears fell.
  By God it was like he knew how to open the flood gates. Everything I had ever wanted from someone was right here, in my arms, wanting me back. When he broke away from me he left his forehead to mine, not letting me go,

   “Natty. I know you won’t leave me for the same reason I won’t leave you. I know we’re not… exactly…” he struggled with his wording. He did not want to upset me. For once, I was reading his mind.
   “Traditional..?” I suggested through a silent sob and he half sighed and half laughed.
    “Traditional. But we are… Connected.” He wiped the tears from my cheeks “Jesus, Natty. Please don’t cry like this.” He grinned, “You’ll ruin your make-up.”
    “Only you… ONLY you, Talon would be able to joke in this kind of situation.” I said with a soft chuckle and wiped at my eyes. He kissed me again not as eager or as desperate as before but with the same strength and gentleness he’d always possessed.
  “I know. And only you, Natty, would laugh… That’s why we’re stuck together.”
  “You think that’s it..? I looked up and into his eyes cautiously, afraid of what I would see there.
  “Natty…” He was staring at me intently and hesitated so long that I looked away. He could not say it either. We were both cowards. I felt his forehead against my temple and his lips inches from my ear.
 “Natty I do. I can’t say it… but I do. You know it. I know you do. We both know it.” And that is when I felt him shake. He wrapped his arms tighter around me. “I’m not supposed to… I was never supposed to do this. I told myself I wouldn’t. I don’t want you to get hurt, Natty. I’m sorry I can’t stop it.”

 I felt the tears spill over my cheeks again.  Why could we both not say what we needed to say? We were both so damaged, so fucked up, that we did not know how to properly do it so we just stayed away from it? I steeled myself I knew what I needed to do and I just needed to grit my teeth and do it.
  I turned my face to look into his eyes and I saw his own were swimming with tears. “Talon… I know we don’t have to say it because we know it… But I’ve never before, not even to my parents, have said it to someone else… And it sounds so stupid, I know but…” I whispered, choking these last words out of my system, un-stoning my heart and my frozen core, “I do love you. I’ve known… For a while I just…” I shut myself up. I’d prepared it all in my head and now I could not remember a word of it. He chuckled a little.
  “I know. You don’t have to keep going. I know.” He kissed my cheek delicately. This is as close to declared as we could get. We would never be a traditional couple but we could at least find our own version of happiness in our own way. I was satisfied with that. I had finally admitted something to myself, and to him, that I never thought I could.
I was in love and he loved me back.
He chuckled into my ear. “Are you ready to go home? I’m afraid if Brace looks at you like that one more time tonight I’m gonna kick him in the head.” A fit of laughter exploded out of me. True, deep hearted, strong laughter. I’d laughed before in my life but this felt like the first time in a long time.
 “Talon! Are you JEALOUS!?” Another fit of laughter took me over and I leaned back against the balcony, holding my sides. He looked flustered. We’d just gone from declaring ourselves to one another to talking about going home together, to me laughing in his face all in a span of five minutes.
 “Well not like…THAT jealous, you know. He’s been eyeing you all night in that-“

  I kissed him, smiling. “Like you really have anything to worry about.” I scoffed against his lips, felt him smile and instinctively knew he rolled his eyes and then I quietly asked, “So, you were asking about going home..?” He grinned and pulled away from me, taking my hand and leading me back inside the club. We stopped by the booth to tell everyone bye and, some of the guys, upon noticing our grasped hands kind of half-grinned and gave Talon the thumbs up sign
We left the club then and climbed in a cab and gave the driver my address since it was closer and we did not want to deal with his roommates tonight. We had so much to talk about and really did not want interruptions. On the way to my house I gave him a sidelong look and he just shrugged already sensing what I was going to ask, “They’re happy. They’ve been waiting for it to become official, I think. Kind of think those bastards had a bet going on when it would happen.” I had to laugh again.
                        “That makes sense in some messed up way.” I leaned against him and he put his arm around me. At least this felt natural. The drive home was just as fast and smooth as it was going to the club that night. I got out of the cab, Talon paid him, thanked him and followed me up the steps to my apartment.
                      Had I been more sober or less in love than I was I might have noticed a few things. Like how the lights were all out around the complex, how I was having a hard time getting into my apartment, about how the night was dead silent or, upon walking in notice the balcony doors were both wide open.
                 Somehow though, I missed it all.
                            As I turned to face Talon as he walked in... The figure waiting in the dark attacked us before we could even react and defend ourselves against his onslaught.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chapter 1.2: Destruction of the Night, My Personal Demise

I turned on my heel and started running. Normally I get a taxi to get myself home but tonight I felt like being out in the air. Sometimes, in the dead of night after a late-night romp with Talon I would just stand out on my balcony, naked, over-looking the scenery in the night. He would laugh at me for this and call me an exhibitionist. Either way, something about the night has always called to me and tonight, it was screaming for me. It’s like being wrapped in silk and swimming in perfect water, a feeling of being at home and where you belong. 

As I got closer and closer to my apartment I could not shake this feeling that something was following me. I never have felt like that before, especially at night. When I made it home without incident I shrugged it off. I assumed it was a part of my anger manifesting in another form now that Talon had calmed me down. I made it upstairs and dug around in my closet for the black dress I’d been taunting him with. Calvin, having won the settlement had decided to let me have part of my inheritance. It was not exactly a small sum of money. I had spent a little of it before my conscience got the better of me. One of the things was the “black dress”. I never let Talon, or anyone else for that matter, see it. It was my favorite material possession for so many reasons. I was ecstatic to finally have a situation to wear it in.

I jumped into the shower to further rid myself of the icky feeling left lingering in my stomach. I followed up that with a serious teeth brushing and mouth wash. I was in the middle of drying and styling my hair when I noticed my phone was blinking in the bedroom. I grabbed it, opened the balcony doors and turned the screen on. There was a message from Talon on my screen:

             “Looking forward to seeing you in your black dress. We both knew you’d come anyways. :)”
 Bastard indeed. 

I rolled my eyes and snapped the phone closed and tossed it on to the bed and went to finish working on my hair.  I had been looking forward to wearing this dress around Talon for months. Tonight’s party was a celebration of the show’s success and completion. It had been a hard road for all of us and I knew my attitude hadn’t been helping. I sighed was it really going to be ok for me to go..?

                As if on cue, my phone rang. The lit up screen registered it as Talon and I answered without hesitation.“What do you want now?” I asked playfully.
                “Am I going to have to drag you out..?” He was smiling. I could hear it in his tone. “I didn’t get a response so... I figured you were worrying over nothing… As usual.”
                “Ah... So you’re telepathic now.” I sarcastically responded.
                “Always have been… You didn’t notice..?”
                “Smartass.” I scoffed playfully.
                “Only because you make me be.” We both laughed then. This was our relationship in a nutshell. We were playfully, sarcastically, abusively childish.  I could hear his grin through the phone and it was infectious.
“So you were worrying about making an appearance, huh? ‘Cause Brass told you to take a few days and you think everyone’s upset..?”
                “Kind of. I’ve been a bit over-the-top lately, don’t you think?”

    “Natty. I’m ninety-nine percent sure everyone here gets it. Your parent’s divorce settlement drug on for years. We all know that’s not normal and now your dad’s gone off the deep end and you’re feeling like a kid again. No one blames you, Natty. Really.”
                “But what about the whole ‘days off’ speech Brass gave me?”
                “I talked to Brass. He even said it wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t come. We all know you’re the life of the party. He just doesn’t think work needs to add to your current stresses is all. The set’s all up, anyways. We’re just kind of in-the-wings. Just wanted you to know that.” I heard his shower come on then.
                “Yeah… I get it. I’ve got ‘the dress’ out of the closet. We both knew I’d come, right?” I semi-sighed and he laughed.
                “You worry too much. I’ll see you at the club, ok?”
                “Right. See you there… ”
Love was terrifying to me so I just hung up the phone but this was the first time I felt open air between us. We both knew what was supposed to be said but neither of us could ever say it. Not to mention I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to. It wasn’t something we discussed but I knew, deep down, Talon was important to me. I hadn’t seen, or been with, anyone else in, what felt like, forever. It had just been Talon and I for at least a year. In my past I had never settled for one guy, and I still had guy friends, but at any advances I had cut them off, laughed and told them no way. This was as close to becoming “a couple” as I saw us. At least right up until that moment.
Talon had been watching out for me ever since I’d started work at the theater and had never stopped looking out for me. He'd been so brotherly in his ways of helping me that being around him had become natural and not being at his side felt some what awkward. I had originally thought of us as just friends and nothing more but one night at a party after work we had all been playing some stupid drinking game or another gotten horrendously drunk and started our own private game of twenty questions out on the balcony.

     “Have yooouu…. Ever... kissed a girl?” he slurred though his speech in the most pathetically adorable way.
                “Tsch,” I slurred back, just as drunk, “I’ve had girlfriends... and girls that are friends... and friends that are more than girls…Wait…” And then we both laughed so hard we ended up on our backs with tears streaming from our eyes. When we both sat up we knocked heads so hard we ended up back on the floor, laughing.  Then he rolled over on his side and stared down on me, rubbing his forehead, chuckling. “You’re something else, Natty. You know that..?”
                “Is that a good thing or a bad thing, Talon? I’ve heard that my whole life and have never understood what people actually mean by it.” I rolled to my side to face him. 

                “Just means you’re special in your own way. You’ve got a spirit that most people can’t control on their own and you’ve struggled and fought through some demons in your life. And we’re still young. You’re just… Fascinating. That’s what I mean by it.” He grinned a bit then laid back on his back. I remember blinking a few times and being utterly confused.
                “So I’m fascinating? That’s how you… Do whatever it is you do?” I scoffed. Why was I so irritated at him? We'd been like siblings up til now. I could tell I caught him off guard and he snorted.
                “I didn’t think this was going to go THAT direction, Natty…” He inhaled sharply, shrugged and his eyebrows rose and dropped. I was completely taken back.
                “So I’m not good enough for… THAT..? Is THAT it..?” I stood up, stumbling as the room spun in circles. He was up right behind me, steadying me. “No do not touch me if I’m not th-“

                He caught me so off guard with that first kiss that first real touch I immediately backed away from him and straight into a wall. I didn’t know what had just occurred. Did he not just get done telling me I was not the right kind of girl for him? Before I could finish that train of thought he was there, in front of me and pressing to me, kissing me more, harder, stronger. His body was solid from all the hard labors in his life. He loved odd jobs and his body was the evidence of that. Scars, scratches and bruises were his trophy and he wore them proudly. His hands were rough from his work but gently agreesive as they found their way to me, down my sides and over my body. His lips pressed to mine and it was like meeting a mold for the first time in my life.

I don’t remember much after that. Only that we have been inseparable ever since. We never talked about “20 questions” again though we questioned one another frequently about impersonal things. I don’t know his parents. He’s never met mine. We’ve never had a need for it, after all.

            So now, as I’m finishing my make-up and sliding on this dress, why do I feel like we’re missing out?

I stared into the mirror at my completed outfit, my makeup and my hair. I felt vain doing this but there was rarely a chance where I felt the need to dress up so I dismissed my thoughts. This dress was going to blow everyone away. I knew it in my soul.

I grabbed my phone and called for a cab. It was getting too late and the club was too far for me to walk, especially in these shoes. I settled for walking onto my balcony and feeling the night air again.  I leaned over it and looked all around. Not a paranoid searching but just to look, to take in the landscape to appreciate it in all its hidden beauty. People, as a whole, dismiss the night as something scary or impenetrable. No one sees the true glory of the night and how nature really thrives in the dark. Something snapped to my left and I spun so hard I almost broke off a heel.
                “Mroew…” Solid black he’d managed to sneak up on me.
                “You little scamp... You scared me half to death. Was that really necessary?” The neighbor’s cat, a Bombay mix, had decided to pay me a visit. He is such a sweet animal but tonight he seemed almost hesitant to be around me. I went to pick him up and he just backed away, staring at me, like he was trying to make me see something or predicting something.

                “You’re being awfully strange tonight, you know… Are you hungry? I think I’ve got some tuna inside.” As if he understood me he walked right into my apartment and right for the kitchen. Weird animal. Maybe his owner talked to him a lot and he just understood “tuna”, either way, he was staring at me impatiently as I tore open the packet and put it into a bowl. He impatiently walked around my legs but avoided making contact with me which was really unlike him.

                As I set the bowl on the ground he hissed and bolted away from me, but not out of my house. I went after him but he was already behind the couch. Making eye contact with him was disturbingly off tonight. He seemed almost terrified of me all of a sudden. His eyes were wide, glowing in the dim light of the lamp.

                “Toulouse… You know you can’t stay back there forever… What’s with you tonight you strange little kitty?” He mreowed really low, a warning, and hissed again. His eyes kept staring into me as if he was almost pleading an understanding into my mind and then he ducked under the sofa as my wall box buzzed at me, notifying me of my cab.I sighed, frustrated, audibly and stood up straight and stared at my sofa.

                “I expect you OUT of my house and that tuna gone by the time I come home, you hear me under there?” As if in response, he mewed, quietly, almost pleading with me for the third time.
                “I have to go.” I said as I walked to the balcony doors, shut one and left the other slightly open to let him escape at his leisure after I was gone. Living on the third floor I did not really concern myself with break-ins, someone would have to be damned determined to get into this apartment.

                I walked to the front door and heard him mreow for me again.
                “Goodbye, Toulouse. I’ll see you next time.”

                With that, I left my apartment and left behind the only warning that something was coming my way and that I was completely unprepared to stop it.