The alarm clock burst into a discordant racket.
It managed to rattle itself across the top of the bedside cabinet, past the half-empty glass of rum and the trashy novel, and tipped over the edge before she had a chance to slam it into silence. It landed in a tangled heap of clothes and Turkish Delight wrappers, where its screams were muffled.
A tattooed arm snaked out from under the covers. Fingers daubed with chipped blue polish groped for the clock, finally choking off the awful sound.
After a long, quiet moment, she hauled herself from the bed, dragging a voluminous bed-sheet with her. Her bare feet, curiously grubby, padded across the cigarette-burned carpet. Her face was screwed up in a sleep-crumpled snarl as she yanked on a cord, and the blinds spun open to reveal a sun that was already high in the sky. Rubbing sleep dust from her eyes with the back of her hand, she looked down at the city spread out beneath her, bustling and buzzing, huffing and honking.
'For God's sake,' she croaked. 'Everyone's so damned busy.'
She turned and made her way towards a kitchenette in the corner of the room, still clutching the sheet tightly about her shoulders. She filled the kettle, set it to boil, and slammed about in the cupboards as she assembled a mug, a jar of instant coffee and spoon. She turned to grab a bag of sugar, but then stopped.
She had completely forgotten about him. But there on the counter top, already soiled with grease and crumbs, was his card. She picked it up, oblivious to the whistling kettle, and examined once again the curved, swirly lettering.
'Sirocco. Astrologer, by Royal Appointment.
Some of us are looking at the stars.'
She flipped the card over and ran her eyes over the phone number he had carefully written out for her in spidery handwriting.
She bit her lip, her gaze wondering off into the middle distance. Today, she thought. Today's the day.