Avril suddenly became aware that she’d been standing in the same tense pose since they’d started talking. Her shoulder blades ached. Her calves screamed for release from the murderously high heels. She dropped into the nearest lounge chair and fingered the broken vinyl on the armrest.

I like the idea of showing that there are many levels in the trans world, and tried to express it in Avril’s description of Lonny: “Lonny had transitioned late in life and all the hormones and surgical procedures in the world couldn’t disguise her masculine beginnings.”

“Everywhere I look, there’s dead ends,” she said. “I went to the police to ask them to look into it, but they don’t even pretend they will.”

She didn’t expect sympathy. Certainly didn’t want it from Lonny Kane. But she also didn’t expect the frigid bitch to look down her nose at Avril and say, “You sure there’s a problem, Avril? Sure you’re not overreacting?” That gave Avril more buzz than an 8-hour energy drink.

“Oh, that’s right, accuse the drama queen of theatrics.” Avril jumped to her feet, ignoring the stab of pain from her feet when she did. “Makes life easy for you, does it? Pretend Zara’s fine. The tranny just crazy, that’s all. If you wasn’t a woman, if you wasn’t so pathetic a woman, I’d black your ass from here to Lake Michigan.

“How’s that for overreacting?” she called over her shoulder as she stomped to the exit. “You just lucky I don’t react all over your face.”

The sun and heat blasted her like a welding arc when she stepped outside. Blinded by the light, by her mad, with the blood rushing through her veins, Avril had to take a sec to calm down before she could think, before she could move.

She should be home sleeping, resting up for the long haul of making ends meet after dark. Some people whored because they were roped into it, hard-run by pimps like Riley King. Some just didn’t give a shit what happened to them, maybe doing it to feed a bad habit. Booze. Drugs. Whatever. For Avril, it was a job. A job that could be fun as hell, or scary as hell.

Some day, it wouldn’t bring in enough to build a life with, but she didn’t like to think about some day. Live for today. And today, God damn it, she was going to find out what the hell happened to Zara Rose if it killed her.

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