The Night Is A Harsh Mistress, Chapter 5, by A. Catherine Noon

The Night Is A Harsh Mistress

Chapter 5

Rachel gaped at Viktor, until her legs cramped against the edge of the couch. She sat back, feeling pole axed. “What are you saying?”

Viktor tossed the papers back on the desk. One of the photos of David slipped forward a little and she could see it, upside down.

“Doug and Constance Greene are not that boy’s parents,” Viktor repeated. “That isn’t even their name, I would wager.”

“Then why would he be worried for them?” Rachel counted. “When he called me, that’s the first thing he asked.”

Viktor just studied her. His blue eyes, clear like sapphires and about as warm, didn’t blink. She couldn’t even be sure he was breathing, except the smoke from his cigarette moved around him. She wanted to ask him for one, but his manner intimidated her.

“He called you?” Viktor asked finally. “Where? Here, or your mobile?”

“Here, why?” she asked. “It’s a public number, Viktor. Why the intrigue?”

His expression changed and she realized he thought her naïve. “If he is a prisoner of someone, how could he find your number? If he is a runaway, why would he know you are looking for him?”

She stared at him, feeling unfriendly. Part of that was because those were good questions, and partly because she didn’t have the answer to them. “So why are you involved?”

“You need to be careful, Rachel,” Viktor responded. “There is more going on here than you know.”

She felt a chill. “Viktor…”

He stood, startling her. “I must go. But be careful. Lay low on this case for now. Just a few days, okay?”

She stood, facing him. “Viktor, it’s not like I can just stop – ”

“You’ve got two other cases. Take your pictures and let this go for now.”

It was only after he’d left that she thought to wonder how he knew what her other two cases were.

“Dammit,” she muttered, locking the door to the office. She sat down at the desk and realized she’d forgotten to ask Viktor for a cigarette. The scent of his tobacco was still strong around her chair and she breathed deeply. She wanted to quit, maybe she should just bite the bullet and not buy any more. They just smelled so good…

Idly, she fished out the picture of David from the folder where it lay on the desk. A shock of unruly dark hair topped a young face, innocent and clean of whiskers. She pulled the photo closer, trying to see if there was any sign of stubble or if David’s whiskers just hadn’t grown in yet, but she couldn’t tell. His eyes were a clear hazel greenish brown, a bit of yellow right around the irises. A light band of freckles dusted his nose, a small, pert thing that seemed almost like an afterthought. His mouth was wide and his teeth white as he smiled, but his eyes remained serious. She wondered about the photo. Constance Greene had given it to her as though she was handing over something precious.

If it was an act, it was a good one.

7 Replies to “The Night Is A Harsh Mistress, Chapter 5, by A. Catherine Noon”

  1. Loved the part where Rachel wishes she’d asked for a cigarette and sniffs the air deeply, trying to inhale some of the scent his left behind.
    It was a nice, subtle touch of comic relief in all the building tension.

  2. kinda glad that I have started this later so I didn't need to wait after that last cliffie. You have a great touch for building the suspense. I agree with Evey about her sniffing the second hand smoke a funny touch.

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