Charlie wearily opened the door to her penthouse apartment, letting out an exhausted sigh. She called out, hoping for a reply. A mop of brown hair came into view. Locking eyes, then lips, she fell into the embrace of her partner, Jean Paul.
“How was your day, honey” he asked, his voice betraying his French roots.
“Good” she replied, smiling “Busy, but good”.
“Come, I have prepared déjeuner” he motioned for her to follow him.
Their apartment was large and homely, as a busy Doctor, it was important for Charlie to have a sanctuary. The sofas were covered in exotic rugs and heavy cushions, and large paintings decorated the walls. Pictures of friends and family stood on the mantelpiece, and on the large mahogany coffee table the week’s papers still remained. It was their own private nest. The smell of dinner wafted over from the kitchen, Jean Paul was a superb cook, and Charlie’s mouth watered in anticipation.
“Smells good” she whispered, nuzzling at his neck
“First, you must relax” he murmured, his deep brown eyes locking with hers.
Through the open door of the bathroom, Charlie caught of glimpse of a running bath, lit candles and a single glass of wine. Charlie grinned, after eight years together, Jean Paul was still one of the great romantics. “Take your time, chéri. We have all night”
Closing the bathroom door behind her, Charlie breathed a sigh of relief. Home. Removing her clothes, she slid into the bath, the warm water slowing unknotting the tension in her shoulders. She let the day’s events wash over her. The best surgeon in the city, Charlie often worked three days straight without leaving the hospital. It had been a busy week, she specialised in accident and emergency, which meant she was often called out in the middle of the night. She’d seen some horrific things in her time, but she wouldn’t change it for the world. Normally, surgeries went well, and she rarely lost patients, yet sometimes, people were so far gone there was nothing that she could do. She shook her head, water dripping from her hair, must stop thinking about work. Must relax. Her usual Friday night mantra. She thought about the weekend ahead, she was looking forward to spending some time with Jean Paul. As an artist he often worked late nights too, especially now he was preparing for a show. It was hard to give time to each other sometimes, but they both knew that whatever they did, or wherever they were, they always had home to come back to.
They’d met at a New Year’s party. Charlie was still in med school, and Jean Paul had just finished Art College. She remembered thinking how gorgeous he was, but rather than his charm and beauty disarming her, she took it as a challenge. All night she had teased him- he was bordering on the vain and pretentious, and as a logical thinker, she had no time for statements like ‘the performance of beauty’. He clearly had used those lines before, and she called him on it. Holding his hands up he had said “I know, I’m a terrible cliché, but it’s a good cliché, no?”
It was his ability to laugh at himself that got her interested. She laughed at the memory, and the image of them sharing a midnight kiss flashed up in her mind. Students, or living as students, they’d lived off soup and toast for three years. He’d had some success whilst still at art school, but having ended in disaster he’d spent the first few years after they met teaching at a community centre. It had been a struggle. In more ways than one. After years of fine tuning his work, he was now back on the art radar and she was so proud of him. Smiling to herself, she was looking forward to the weekend. Dinner with her best friend tomorrow night, a trip to the farmers market during the day, and then lunch with Jean Paul on Sunday. Bliss.
Yes, she thought, sipping her wine. This really was what the doctor ordered.
* * ** ****************************************************************
The humming of the computer was the only sound. The librarian busied herself at the desk, glancing over occasionally at the lone figure in the archive section. Friday night used to be quiet. Dead quiet. She was looking forward to getting home to her live-in lover, but tonight, like all the other nights; she would have to stay late.
Breaking the silence, the figure impatiently tapped their fingers on the desk as they waited for the screen to load. A loud shh was issued in their direction. This was painstaking work, but they enjoyed it. Enjoyed seeing all the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, enjoyed the slow, torturous anticipation, enjoyed the feeling of approaching revenge. They had a new mantra. She had taken away the only thing that mattered. And that bitch was going to pay.