She slowly replaced the receiver on the base and stood for a moment, holding on tightly to the counter, and trying to calm herself. She took ten deep breaths and let them out slowly. She had seen this on a morning TV show sometime and it seemed to be working. An officer was coming. Help was on its way. Surely the policeman would call for backup or whatever it was they did, when they saw that this person was real. She took another couple of deep breaths and turned round.
And nearly jumped out of her skin.
The woman was standing there, in her kitchen doorway, staring at her.
Angelica put her hands up to her chest. Her heart was pounding, her breaths now rapid - the deep breathing exercises gone completely to pot.
She backed against the counter, her hands out as if to ward her off, never taking her eyes off the woman's face... and then saw... she wasn't looking at her. She was looking straight through her.
The woman looked to Angelica's right, and walked into the kitchen. Angelica edged further away from her, still watching intently. Her heart was still thudding painfully. The woman opened Angelica's food cupboard and was rummaging through it. She picked up a bag of rice, looked at it and put it back. Then she found an opened pack of raisins. She took it, turned her back on Angelica, and off she went, back into the sitting room.
''Well, I ask you!'' she said. ''You're going to eat me out of house and home, you are.'' She followed the woman out of the kitchen, and, sure enough, there she was, back in the chair, book on her lap, bag of raisins in one hand, dipping in and putting a few at a time into her mouth.
''No wonder you're such a lump, missus!'' she shouted at the woman, who took not a bit of notice. Some raisins were missing her mouth and bounced off her chest, going onto her skirt, down between the cushions of the chair, and onto the carpet.
''And Muggins here is the one who'll have to clear that lot up, isn't she? As if I didn't have to do that all day!''
She walked to the front door, looking through the frosted glass as if that would bring the police any quicker. They had said to wait in another room. Well, this would do nicely, thank you.
Periodically she went back and looked at her ''guest''. Still reading. And eating her raisins. She wondered what the book was. She certainly seemed engrossed. She didn't really want to investigate though.
She wondered what would happen if she flicked the light off. The woman wouldn't be able to read then. She went to the switch, her finger poised to try it out, then decided against it. Who knows, she might be dangerous. She was a hefty looking thing - and Angelica herself was thin and wiry. She didn't really fancy her chances in a scuffle. No - best to leave it to the experts.
Back to her vigil at the front door again. She looked at her watch. How long had it been since the phone call? She had no idea, as she hadn't noted the time when she called them.
Just then, she heard a car draw up outside, and a car door open and slam shut. A tall figure was approaching the door, . She realised she'd been listening for sirens. Cheek! No ''blues and twos'' for her then, she thought, disappointed.
She opened the door before he had a chance to ring the bell.
The officer, who looked to be too young to be out of school, had a radio to his mouth and was muttering something into it.
''Evening ma'am'' he flashed a badge. ''I understand there's been a problem.''
She went onto the doorstep, looked up into his face.
''Shhhhh!'' she whispered. ''She's in there. In my sitting room!''
He looked past her. ''May I come in, ma'am?''
She stood aside, eager for him to be there first, to see this... creature for himself. He walked ahead of her into the room. Then turned to face her.
''Where?'' he asked, looking a little nervous.
''Are you blind?'' she shouted. Shes right th....''
They both looked. Angelica's heart sank. The chair was empty.