The rain pelted against the windows in a fury. It had started after nine and he was thankful it had held off long enough to get home. By midnight his belly was full and his eyes bleary from reading the newspaper. He'd spent a few minutes trying to read the new thriller he'd purchased but hadn't gotten time to read yet and knew he wouldn't start it tonight either. Snapping off the light, the flames from the gas fireplace danced against the walls, interspersing with patters of rain hitting his windows. Tony switched on the radio and settled back in his favorite chair. Just seconds later he heard her voice.
"Just a voice in the night to tell you you're not alone. This is Vee Matthews on the air with you until sunrise. Let's embrace this rainy night with Etta Janes…"
His eyes closed as he wondered what she looked like. It didn't really matter, her voice was calm and soothing, her play list similar to the DJ she was replacing temporarily. He woke with a start several hours later to the sound of thunder. The lightning continued and soon after and he knew the storm was still a distance away. With the next clap, he started counting. When he reached eleven, he smiled to himself as the lightening streaked across his tan walls, stretching out on his sofa.
"It's just after four and the storm is still raging outside. Let's give an ear to…"
He dozed off again waking stiff necked when his alarm squealed at six forty five. All but falling off the couch he stumbled toward the bathroom and tapped the clock radio. The beeping stopped but it had done its job. He was awake and knew he wouldn't sleep again. Pulling on sweat pants he flipped on the ever ready coffee maker.
It was the one routine thing he never left the house without doing. No matter how late or hurried, he always made a point of setting up the coffee pot. Detouring to the front door, he went through the process of unlocking and reached for his morning paper. This was his usual routine, except he wasn't prepared for the drowned person trying to get in the apartment across the hall. He knew he was staring and couldn't stop himself.
With her wet hair plastered to her face and neck and her eye makeup pooling in dark circles under her eyes she was quite a sight. He knew he surprised her from the swift intake of air he heard rushing into her lungs and the defensive stance her body spun into. The keys fell from her hands clanking as they hit the floor. She bent to retrieve them, almost frozen in fear, he decided when she saw him watching her.