Loud rapping on the door of the apartment jolted her from the edge of sleep and Hannah snapped back to full alertness. Glancing at her watch, she hauled herself from the sanctuary of the sofa and got to her feet. Her pajama pants had twisted when she curled up on the sofa and she tugged them back into place as she made her way to the door.
“Who is it?” she asked, loud enough to be heard through the wooden door but quiet enough not to disturb Jack. In New York City you didn’t open your door for just anyone at 2am.
“Hannah? It’s me.”
Hannah’s heart leapt into her mouth and she stood staring at the closed door.
“It’s me… Nick.”
Reaching for the deadlock, Hannah noticed her hands were shaking and she cursed herself under her breath. She left the security chain in place as she turned the deadlock and twisted the handle, pulling the door open a few inches. Nick stood on the other side, dripping wet and with a small suitcase at his feet. Hannah stared at him in silence.
“I had to come,” Nick stated flatly. “Can I come in?”
Hannah nodded and pushed the door to, sliding the chain off and stepping back to let him pass.
“Let me get you a towel,” she muttered, heading for the linen cupboard.
Nick slipped out of his shoes and pushed them against the wall alongside Hannah’s. The tiniest pair of Chuck Taylor’s he had ever seen caught his eye and Nick swallowed hard – they were about as long as his DC shoes were wide. How could a human being have such impossibly small feet? The toes on those feet must be almost nonexistent.
“Here,” Hannah said, handing him a faded red towel.
Hannah watched as Nick shrugged out of his sodden jumper and slung it over the back of a dining chair. Rubbing at his hair with the towel, he cocked his head to look at her.
“I’m sorry it’s so late,” he said, slinging the towel over his shoulder. “I had to come.”
Hannah arched an eyebrow, silently asking for an explanation. Nick sighed.
“I don’t know what Jack’s pajamas look like,” he continued.
Hannah arched her other eyebrow and Nick sighed again.
“I just… I don’t know what his pajamas look like,” he repeated. “He’s my son – he’s over a year old and I don’t know what his pajamas look like, you know?”
Now it was Hannah’s turn to sigh.
“I’m going to make a hot drink,” she said as she moved past him. “Tea, coffee or hot cocoa?”
“Coffee, please,” Nick replied, pulling at his t-shirt. “Do you mind if I change? This is soaked.”
“Sure. You know where the bathroom is.”
Nick picked up his suitcase and disappeared into the tiny bathroom. Standing at the kitchen counter, Hannah closed her eyes and tilted her head back. Sleep was no longer even a blip on the radar.
Nick muttered a thank you as Hannah handed him a steaming mug of coffee and sat down beside him on the sofa.
“What were you doing out in the rain?” Hannah asked, prodding the marshmallow in her cocoa with her finger. “Why didn’t you get a cab to the door?”
“I did. But then I realized I had no idea what I was going to say to you,” Nick admitted. “So I walked a few blocks and got caught out.”
Hannah looked at him as he ran a hand through his still damp hair before lifting the mug to his lips.
“Where are you staying?” she asked.
Nick shrugged as he swallowed.
“I don’t know – I didn’t book anything other than the plane ticket. I’ll find something nearby.”
Hannah sipped her cocoa and leaned back on the sofa, savoring the sensation as the hot liquid trickled down her throat.
“How long are you staying?” she asked, resting her mug on her knee.
“I don’t know. As long as it takes us to figure out how we’re going to make this work.”
“Does Cassie know you’re here?”
Nick looked at her.
“Twenty questions, Hannah.”
“All of them valid,” she replied. “Does Cassie know you’re here?”
“I left a message on her mobile. She’s not returning my calls.”
Hannah sighed and rubbed her free hand over her eyes. Nick set his mug down and shifted on the sofa so he was facing her.
“Cassie doesn’t matter right now, Hannah…”
“Excuse me?! She’s your wife!”
Nick held his hands up, asking for calm.
“Wait a second. That came out wrong,” he began. “What I meant was… I can’t do anything about it if Cassie won’t return my calls, okay? I can’t make her talk to me. But I can be here, getting to know Jack.”
Hannah stared past him, out into the dark, wet night. Rain distorted the light thrown from the streetlamp across the road and the yellow splotches danced on the glass as new drops fell.
“I really… I just… I can’t even think straight right now, Nick. It’s almost 3am.”
Nick nodded as he picked up his mug and took another sip. Hannah sighed, blinking hard against the sting of fatigue.
“I have blankets,” she said as she stood and moved towards the kitchen. “You can sleep on the sofa.”
“But tomorrow you check into a hotel. You don’t stay over again.”
“Okay,” Nick agreed as he got to his feet and followed her.
Hannah took his mug from him and placed it along with hers in the sink. Nick stood behind her, watching as she rinsed their mugs with warm water. Placing them upside down to drain, she turned to face him again.
“I’ll get those blankets for you,” she said, stepping around him and opening the linen cupboard.
Pulling three blankets from a shelf, she handed them to him and closed the cupboard door.
“Do you need anything else?” she asked.
Nick looked down at the blankets and shook his head.
“No, I don’t think so. Thanks.”
“Okay,” Hannah replied, reaching through the door to her room to turn the light on. “Well, you know where everything is if you do need anything.”
“Okay,” Hannah repeated, lingering in the doorway. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Nick replied as the door closed softly.