She shrugged and blew smoke through her nostrils. “I understand that he’s an insomniac. Through choice.”
“Why would anyone choose not to sleep?”
The green eyes turned coldly to the young man sitting opposite and one shoulder rose and fell. “How should I know? I assume bad dreams because we sometimes hear screams in the middle of the night. He always looks worse those days. But why should I care? As long as it doesn’t disturb me I’m not bothered by his problems.”
He couldn’t find an objection to her callousness, but found himself disliking her.
It was 3.26 am by his watch and there was a gentle knock on the door. He continued to watch the seconds tick past, wondering if he was hearing things. Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty, forty-one, another knock…just loud enough to hear if you were awake and not too loud to wake someone up. Neat. He sighed and swung his legs out of bed, half glad of the interruption and half wishing that his demons could remain his own, without bothering the rest of the hall. The door handle felt cold against his clammy palm as he swung the door open on the chain.
“Hope I didn’t disturb you.” the face outside said. “Wondered if you wanted company or if I could borrow that book you were on about. If it’s not bothering you?”
He swung the door shut and took the chain off, then locked it again as soon as the young man had stepped inside. “You been out?” He was wearing jeans and a loose t-shirt.
“No. Didn’t know if I would scare anyone by wandering around in sleep gear.” He took the chair indicated.
“Accurate guess. Miss Pretty’s a bit fussy about that kinda thing.”
“Slim girl, brown hair, pretty, smallish. Rachel to anyone that does know her. You musta seen her. Or heard her. She’s got a loud voice when she’s upset. Want a drink?”
“Wouldn’t mind, if I’m not bothering you.”
“No. It’s nice to have some morning company. Speaking of, I assume you’re the new lodger called, variously, Ben McIntosh, Mr Tosh and Benny Tosh.”
“Yeah. Benjamin McIntosh, that’s me. I’m happy enough with Ben. Rachel didn’t mention your name, though. May I ask?”
“Wynne. Wynne Wordsworth. Bad name, I know. Most people know me as Will.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
“So what did Rachel tell you about me? She has attitude, does that lady.”
“You’re an insomniac through choice. And that she doesn’t care. I get the impression she doesn’t like anyone very much.”
“Not really.” He sighed. “Yeah, insomniac. Nice way of putting it. I’d say permanent nightmare machine.”
“Know the feeling.”