Truth be told, Ema’s first thought wasn’t ‘That’s a lot of purple!’ or ‘wow it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve done that’. Those came later. Her first thought, upon discovering herself awake and naked and staring at a ceiling too clean to be hers, was: ‘Glad I shaved my legs the other day!’
Then she rolled over, saw the sheets, and thought: ‘That’s a lot of purple!’ etc. etc. etc.
Either someone had gunned down the very last purple leopard on earth or someone had amazingly gaudy tastes. Ema could make a very educated guess which it was. There was no mirror on the ceiling. She counted herself lucky for that. Then she saw the carpet and took it all back. The patterns of sheet music ran all up and down every walkable inch of the floor.
And the place was huge. The bedroom took up a space that’d fit half of her whole apartment. A huge window opened on what must’ve been a killer view. The curtains were drawn, thankfully. They were also purple. So was the beaded curtain hanging over the wardrobe. The wardrobe could’ve contained the rest of her apartment.
The third wall housed an EPIC sound system and the door to the bathroom. It was closed, and Ema could hear the dulled rush of the showerhead. The rest of the room held the bed. With her in it.
‘I’m in a love den,’ thought Ema. This seemed her lot in life. Failed exams. Crappy work hours. The absolute waste of her True Skills. Purple love dens.
Her deeply misused observational skills soon observed: the sky through the curtains shone a noonish hue. These same skills also picked up on a steady ping! ping! ping! coming from somewhere down on that hideous carpet.
‘Oh, shit,’ thought Ema. ‘Lana!’
She dove for the mess of clothes piled at the foot of the bed. Her bra had taken the liberty of not getting stuck in the ceiling fan and a helpful pant leg stuck out from under the bed. She fished her phone out of the back pocket. The beeping stopped.
The text was a simple, cool: ‘Call me when you get back’.
Coming from anyone else, this would’ve been simple and to the point. This was Lana. Ema knew Lana. ‘Call me when you get back’ translated to approximately: ‘oh my GOD is my younger sister DEAD.’ Not that most people would pick up on that.
Ema wriggled into her underwear, scrolled for the number, and pressed ‘call’. Mentally, she composed a reply: ‘Hey, Sis. Sorry for cutting you off. It got busy all at once. I would’ve called you back right away but I was somewhat delayed by the little problem of shagging my boss that loud bang was just a car backfiring by the way!’
… followed by a high speed chase on a motorcycle, but that part could be omitted.
Someone picked up.
“Ah. Hello, Sis!” Ema pulled the sheets around her waist and sat up straight. If she didn’t Lana would somehow just sense her slouching on the other end. Lana knew those things. “I haven’t got you in the middle of a class, have I? Oh! Good! We caught the suspect. He’s in custody. And he’ll face some lovely traffic related charges, by the way. Er. He was uncooperative. It was nothing too strenuous. I had to tackle him. Just a few bumps. I promise. Right now I’m…” Somewhere in the mass of scrolling light, the sound system had a clock. “I’m on my lunch break. Yes, yes. I’ve been watching what I eat.”
Ema eyed her stomach sullenly. She tugged the sheets higher on principle. Then, she turned red. “AndnoI’mnotsmokingagain! It’s been a month!” One or two cigarettes on the really bad days nonwithstanding.
The hiss of water had come to a dripping stop. The door creaked. Ema waved wildly with one hand, indicating Absolute Silence Would Be Absolutely Appreciated. The humming that’d replaced the shower sounds ceased.
“It’s not much. Just a sprain. Iced it right away. After I broke the beaker over his head, I mean—anyway sis, I should be worrying about you! You’re the one facing the hordes of carnivorous beasts!”
A weight settled on the mattress beside her. Ema tipped and grabbed a handful of bedding with her free hand.
She sighed and recited: “Yes, Professor. I know that is not the proper scientific term to be used on your students. I… good.” She smiled, shaking out her hair. It fell shaggy down her shoulders and in her face. A hand brushed it out of her eyes. She jerked her head away. The smile stayed, though. “Good. I’m glad. Can I call you back tonight? I’m sorry to worry you. Say ‘hi’ to Jake for me? I…OKAY I PROMISE I WON’T GET INTO ANY GUNFIGHTS IF I CAN HELP IT. Bye.”
She snapped her phone shut. She closed her eyes, a slow twitch started at the corner of her mouth. “And if I am docked for missing work today I will find a very interesting compound to slip into your conditioner you silly shiny man.”
Klavier laughed. “No, no. There will be no need for that.”