I started working on the next revision, jumping right into it rather than going through the whole reading through it thing. Here’s a little piece of it.
Charissa’s red patent leather Prada slipped, her knee struck the top step, and the box she carried tumbled onto the scuffed wooden floor, spilling office supplies everywhere. She dropped on the side of her hip on the third floor landing, and clutched her knee as she cursed out loud. She was going to sue Nate Howell, her landlord, completely bleed him dry, for letting the elevator break down again.
She lifted her hand and glanced down at her knee. A line of red welled up almost instantly. “Great,” she said to the empty, ugly beige hallway. “Now I’m bleeding.” She looked to the right, and saw that John Sinclair, a lawyer who shared the third floor with her in the small building, still had his lights on, and she checked her watch. 7:30. One might think he’d heard the noise in the hallway, even through the closed door, and maybe would come to see what was going on out here. And then, he might help her up, and ask her if she was all right, while peering down at her with those soft brown eyes. And maybe she’d need to clutch at him to steady herself, and he would lean ever closer and….
The door remained closed despite her dropping everything on the floor, her cry out in pain, and her swearing.
She sighed and picked up her boxes of thumb tacks, staples, and tape and threw them into the box with a little more force than required, and hauled herself up off the floor with a yet another dramatic sigh. With another yearning glance at the light on in John’s office, she turned toward her office door on the opposite end of the hallway. She smiled to see the new etched glass door that had been installed last week. It was so pretty, with soft wavy lines; she wanted to pat it like a kitten. She limped towards the door, holding the box in both hands, and realized that she’d placed her keys in her left coat pocket again. She shifted the box awkwardly to her right hand to try to fish the keys out and her cell phone began to ring.
With another swear under her breath, she dropped the box on the floor. Her office hours were over. She’d just had the dinner from hell with her oldest brother Greg and his on again/off again fiancée and her mother, and she just wanted to drop off this stuff and be gone.
“Hello?” she answered, when she didn’t recognize the number, against her better judgment. “This is Charissa Logan, P.I.” She made a valiant effort to sound professional despite her irritation and the pain in her knee. A client was a client. She resolved to get another cell phone for work only calls, now that her business was beginning to take off.
“Hello?” a female voice answered. “My name is Regina Riley. I need your help.”
Great. “Would you mind holding for a moment?” Charissa placed the call on hold before the woman could respond, and shoved the key into the lock. It jammed, multiplying her aggravation with the entire world at the moment. She grasped the handle and jiggled the key as she wiggled the lock. The key turned abruptly and the door flew open, hitting the wall. She gasped, but it appeared her pretty door was undamaged for the moment. She couldn’t say the same for the wall behind, which had punched a dent in the drywall. She shrugged it off for the moment, picked up her office supplies again, tossed the whole shebang onto the visitor chair, and plopped her butt into her ergonomic office chair. After a quick inspection of the blood slowly rolling down her leg, she picked up the phone again.
Call locksmith, she wrote on the desk calendar, then answered the call. “Thank you for holding. How might I be of service to you this evening?” She politely inquired.
“It’s about time,” the woman huffed, then gave a long-suffering sigh. Charissa rolled her eyes, well familiar with that sound as it had emanated from her ex-husband frequently in the last two years of their marriage. “As I said, my name is Regina Riley…” she continued on and Charissa robotically jotted down details of the woman, but focused more on the manicure she’d had done yesterday. Shiny, red paint that screamed HARLOT to the world. Not that she was a harlot, per se. But maybe she would meet up with Taylor, her current fling, later this evening and….
“…if he takes my babies, I’m going to…”
That caught her attention. “I’m sorry, what?” She scanned the sloppy notes she’d just taken.
“Aren’t you paying attention? What kind of private investigator are you? I said my husband is planning to take my babies!”
Envisioning Clomid-induced septuplets being kidnapped by their father made Charissa angry on the woman’s behalf, despite her haranguing attitude. “How many babies are we talking about here?”
Charissa paused for a moment. Octuplets? Hmm. The poor woman. Could they just do a four-four split? Who needed eight children? “So. You have eight babies.”
“Cats.” This didn’t compute for a second.
“My cats are my babies, Mrs. Logan.”
She started taking notes again. “What about children?”
“My children are grown and moved out. Haven’t you been listening?”
Apparently not. She’d been ogling her fingernails and planning a tryst with her lover. And she’d completely lost control of the conversation.
The woman continued. “My husband is planning to hurt my babies!”
The catch in the woman’s voice made Charissa wince in a combination of irritation and guilt. “What is he planning to do to them?”
“He’s going to kidnap them and drown them. He told me. You need to stop him!”
Charissa doodled a cat on the border of her calendar. She had a cat, a singular precious white Persian named Serena. She was family when her own family made her crazy. But she couldn’t imagine eight meowing, fighting, pestering cats that kept her awake all night. She’d want to drown them too. Since she hadn’t had the foresight to allow this call to go to voicemail, she tried to wrap it up. “What exactly do you want me to do about this, Mrs…” Oops. She glanced back at her notes quickly. “Riley.”
That long-suffering sigh again.
Charissa wanted to kick Bob, her ex-husband, in the head just hearing the sound, and resolved to wrap this up quickly. “Mrs. Riley, I don’t perform protective services for cats. Perhaps your divorce lawyer can help you?”
A long pause followed. Charrisa had just enough time to wonder if the woman had hung up on her, when she finally answered. “I see.” Her tone burned like acid in Charissa’s ears. She utilized her preferred method of managing a client who’d gone off the handle like this, and hung up on her. She sighed, a long-suffering sigh, and clunked her head down on the cream colored marble-topped desk, wincing at the cold stone against her forehead. Some days she just couldn’t handle the attitude. She looked at the yellow legal pad onto which she’d jotted the details of Regina Riley, wrote CRAZY CAT LADY on the top and filed it neatly in the cabinet under C. She would know where to find it. Other files were named HOMELESS MAN #3 and ROCKET SCIENTIST, among many others. Some even had normal names on them. Those were all in pale green folders with dark blue writing. Those were the serious, steady clients, the ones that paid the bills on top of the alimony her ex forked over every two weeks on top of paying her rent in her beautifully appointed little office here. The kinds of clients that enabled her to buy the red patent leather Prada pumps on her feet right now, or the Oriental on the floor. Oh, wait. The rug she’d acquired in the divorce after he’d kicked her out of the home she’d helped design.