Beth pulled aside her bedroom curtains and stared out into the gathering darkness. She'd never really given it much thought, but it occurred to her now that she'd always preferred the day with all its activity and color. Lately, though, lately she realized that night had begun to seem like a friend, dark and mysterious and surrounding her with a sense of cool protection. She'd always felt protected—after more than one teenaged scrape had nearly miraculously worked out without serious consequences, her mother used to tell her, "Your guardian angel works a lot of overtime." Still, the feeling had intensified recently.
It looked to be a quiet evening tonight. Josh hadn't called in a couple of days; she knew he was wrapped up in preparing for a trial, and she wasn't expecting much attention from him for the next few weeks. She thought about that for a moment, smiling a bit ruefully out into the gloom. Somehow, the idea just didn't bother her the way it might have once. Besides, this would give her a chance to relax, maybe sit down with her laptop and do a little research, or even put everything aside and just read a novel. She couldn't remember the last time she'd done that. Maybe she owed herself a little down time.
The muffled shrilling of her cell from her purse startled her. She wasn't expecting a call from anyone. As she retrieved the phone and glanced at the screen to see who was calling, she told herself it was just the unexpected noise that was making her heart beat a little faster.
She hit the button to answer the phone. "Mick," she said, "hey. What's up?" She hadn't heard from him since the explosion at the black crystal lab, and she allowed herself a momentary twinge of embarrassment over what had happened during her experiences with the drug. She'd surely never made such an ass of herself with anyone ever. If he hadn't been so damn civilized about the whole thing…it was a wonder he was still speaking to her.
"Beth," he said, "hi. I, umm, well, are you all right?" The velvet warmth of his voice was like a caress.
"I'm fine. Why do you ask?"
There was a pause. She could almost feel him choosing his words. "I thought you might have had some trouble today."
"No, not really. I had a bit of a fender bender this afternoon, but nothing serious. I'll have a bruise or two, and the car's in the shop. But I'm fine." She paused. "How did you –"
"We have a connection, Beth. Never forget that." There were volumes hanging unspoken in the evening air. Beth closed her eyes, almost feeling his comforting presence by her side. She heard him draw in a breath, as though about to speak, then the connection broke.
Beth looked out the window. It was full dark now, and the lights of the city glowed. She smiled. She was beginning to like the night.