I had never felt so relieved to see my battered front door in my life. I dug around in my bag for the door key, struggling to find it in the half light of the hallway. I finally produced it, pushing it into the lock and jerking it round with more force than I'd intended. The door flew open and I stumbled into the house.
'Alannah?' A familiar voice called out. 'Is that you?'
'Yeah, I'm back.' I turned on the main light, surveying my cramped kitchen/dining/living area before crashing on the sofa in front of the TV. I guess I hadn't noticed how exhausted I was getting until I'd stopped for a moment to catch my breath. I looked up at the clock on the oven. Ten minutes to ten in the evening. We'd been working late, far more so than normal. I closed my eyes and began to doze.
A kiss on my forehead brought me back to reality and I opened my eyes. Leaning over the back of the sofa, smiling at me with his perfect smile, was my beautiful long-term boyfriend, Alfie.
'Good day at the office?' He asked gently.
'Not too bad. Just a really long day.'
'Anything interesting happen?' That was one of the things I loved about Alfie. Even after living together for well over a year, he was still interested in my day. It might have something to do with solving murders that sparked his interest. I mean, my job was far more exciting than his, as fascinating as some people may find secretarial work.
'Well we've got a new case. A man found dead in the tiger's cage at the zoo, the usual.'
'Do you think it's murder?' Alfie sat down at the end of the sofa, lifting up my feet and putting them on his lap.
'That's what it's looking like at the moment. But let's not talk about work. I'm so tired and trying to work out what makes sense hurts my brain.'
'Well then,' Alfie said cheerfully. 'I suggest you go to bed, catch a few z's before Mendrick calls you out again.'
'That is a brilliant plan, except for one detail. It requires me moving from here to the bedroom, getting changed into my pyjamas and getting into bed. That takes far too much energy.'
'Well I can sort that one out.' In one movement, Alfie stood up, put one arm under my knees and the other around my back and lifted me up off the sofa. My arms went around his neck instinctively to stop myself from falling. I would normally have protested, it was all part of this little game we played, but tonight I allowed him to carry me into our bedroom and get me ready for bed, even letting him brush the knots out of my hair as I sat on the edge of our bed.
When my head finally touched the pillow it was impossible to keep my eyes open. I could hear Alfie getting ready to got o bed around me but I was asleep before he turned off the light.
RING, RING! RING, RING!
I groaned loudly, and rolled over towards the sound of the ringing noise. I found the landline phone on my bedside table and answered it, my brain still fogged up from sleep.
'Alannah it's your boss. We need you in at the station, now.' I'd known it would be Mendrick, he was the only person I knew that called at such unsociable hours without being drunk.
'I can be there in about half an hour,' I mumbled down the phone, preparing to wake up properly to do my job.
'Make it twenty minutes,' David said before hanging up. I put the phone down, knocking over a lamp in the process. My eyes wandered over to the electric clock that stood on my bedside table. Twenty minutes past five in the morning.
'I'm not being paid enough for this job,' I moaned as I rolled myself out of bed.