The Night Is A Harsh Mistress, by A. Catherine Noon

The Night Is A Harsh Mistress

Chapter 3

Of course, you know what they say about good intentions. The alarm went off precisely at eleven and she nearly knocked it on the floor trying to get to the snooze bar. She blinked muzzily out the window and fished for her pack of cigarettes. Only one left.

The broad-leafed tree outside her window waved gently in the breeze, the leaves flipping softly back and forth and creating mesmerizing patterns. She lost herself in it and didn’t realize she’d dozed off until the alarm buzzed again.

“Dammit!” Her cigarette was mostly ash by this point, dwindling to nothing in the ashtray. She sat up resolutely and scrubbed her face.

She felt better after a shower in the building’s small gym. She wandered back to her office, her bag clutch in her hand, and saw a door ahead of her open. She sighed, knowing what was coming.

“Miss Carmichael? Is that you?” The familiar voice of her landlord preceded the rest of him into the hallway. He hadn’t needed to ask, obviously, but he thought it would ‘smooth social interaction.’ She knew this because he told her it was his technique for dealing with all his tenants, as though he forgot she was a tenant too.

“Hi, Mr. Singh. How are you today?”

“How am I today?” he repeated in his sing-songy, overly-friendly voice. “I am just peachy today. I have two more tenants that will move in on the second floor, Miss Carmichael.” He beamed at her. “And how are you today?” He really wasn’t as flamingly gay as he sounded, he was just that friendly. He made her tired.

“I’m good, Mr. Singh. I have a break on a case and I finished another case, so things are moving along well.”

He stepped closer to her. “You should come over to dinner on Friday, Miss Carmichael,” he said in a quieter voice, like it was a secret. “My sister’s friend is here from India and her son is with her. He is a very eligible bachelor, you know!” He beamed at her, showing all of his pearly-whites in an overexuberance of dental perfection.

“Mr. Singh,” she started.

He held up a hand. “Say no more, Miss Carmichael. I understand.”

She doubted he did, but refrained from frowning at him by sheer will.

He bent even closer, so he was only a few inches from her ear. “Just think about it.” He stood up quickly, as though afraid of being too intimate with a single woman in his hallway. “Have a good day, Miss Carmichael!” He disappeared into his office without waiting for a response.

She sighed and walked into her own space and closed the door. She set the bag down on the unmade couch and only then did she realize she wasn’t alone. She whirled.

“Still sleeping in your office, huh Raych?”

9 Replies to “The Night Is A Harsh Mistress, by A. Catherine Noon”

  1. Very good build up happening here, I was getting settled in for more…and there was no more. I am intrigued, I like Mr. Singh, I could hear his voice in my head. And who is in the office….hmmmm?
    I want to to know – looking forward to the next chapter. 🙂

  2. Nooney, loved that first paragraph, the word muzzily and how she attacks the alarm until she finds the snooze button. Her landlord sounds like a decent man, even if trying her patience. And I’m interested to see who’s in her office…

  3. See, I got the biggest kick out of the opening paragraph, lol, since it ties in with the tag line of the first chapter. Funny stuff, that.

    There are SO. MANY. WONDERFUL. POWER. Positions for lead females today. Fun, fun, fun. I can totally see Rachel Carmichael becoming a Stephanie Plumb or a V.I. Warshawski. The name just has the same catchiness.

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