At three o’clock in the morning, she wiped off her make-up, cleaned her teeth and fell into bed, hoping to fall back to sleep. But sleep never came. By six she was up again, back in the leather armchair, watching the light change over the park and the yellow flashes of taxis like darting fish. Slowly, traffic built up and a miserably pale sun struggled into the sky. Still no Mitch. Rosanna filled the espresso machine with water and inhaled the scent of freshly-ground beans. After several cups of coffee and some buttered toast, she laid out her work clothes on the bed and stepped into the shower.
The day dragged. Mitch didn’t call, didn’t answer his mobile and, when she arrived home from work that evening, there was no sign that he had been there. Rosanna felt the knot that had formed in her chest tighten. She ordered Chinese for two in the hope that he would arrive soon and, sure enough, not long after the delivery, his key rattled in the lock.
“Where have you been?” She had planned to stay calm, but the words just burst out.
“Give me a chance to get in the door.” Mitch groaned. He stank of cigarettes and alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot. “I got dragged to a card game in Brooklyn and it didn’t end until this morning, so I crashed at a friend’s apartment.”
“Were you playing for money?” Rosanna had no idea that Mitch was a gambler. She was relieved she had insisted on keeping their finances separate.
“Call me the Cincinnati Kid.” Mitch gave her a crooked smile. “I’m heading for the shower and then bed,” he said, throwing his jacket on a chair and disappearing into the bedroom.
The takeaway stayed in its packaging, leaving a hint of soy sauce in the air. That was the last time Rosanna ordered Chinese food.