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The phone rang insistently. Anna groaned. It was still practically dark outside. Who on earth was calling at this ungodly hour? She tried to ignore it, but whoever it was, they weren’t giving up. It stopped ringing as her voicemail kicked in; there was a beep and a brief pause before the ringing began again.

“Damn you to hell,” she muttered as she heaved herself out of bed. She grabbed her dressing gown and put it on, blearily groping for the cord before realising it was inside out. She clutched it closed instead and staggered down the stairs towards the phone.

“Hello,” she muttered in a voice heavy with sleep.

“Anna! I’m so glad I caught you!”

She groaned inwardly. There was only one person she knew who could be so perky at this time of the morning.

“Of course you caught me,” she said. “I was still asleep.”

“Oh, I’m sorry! I was just going through the preliminary reports for the Andersen account, and I wanted to just run through a few things with you before the meeting, so I thought I should -”

“Sienna,” Anna snapped. “Am I a morning person? Do I sound like a morning person to you?”

“Um, but-”

“No buts, Sienna. I don’t ‘just run through’ anything until I’ve had my cup of joe. Meet me in my office at half eight, and we’ll run through whatever it is then. Okay?”

She hung up without waiting for an answer, glaring angrily at the receiver for a few moments as if daring her perky assistant to try calling back.

She stomped into the kitchen, still holding her dressing gown shut with one hand. At least, now she was up, it meant she could take her time over her morning drink. Her favourite mug and a sharp knife were already out on the counter, where she had set them the night before. She picked them up and opened the cellar door.

A groan echoed up the stairs as she turned on the light.

“I know,” she said in a soothing voice as she descended the stairs, “It’s dreadfully early, isn’t it, Joe?”

© Kari Fay