The caller ID said Scotty’s Pest Control. Last month it’d been programmed as Ophelia’s Swim School.
“It’s two in the morning,” she answered, flopping back on her bed.
The line crackled, and there was a soft beep in the background. “If I hang up and call back can I have Dottie?” a dangerously smooth female voice asked.
She rubbed her face. “That depends. Is Agent X calling back, or Kay?” she snarked back.
“There’s Dottie.” The voice warmed and picked up a mixed Midwestern accent. “You must be at home if it’s two in the morning.”
Dottie blinked at the lazy whorl of the fan against the bedroom ceiling. “I’m always at home when I answer this number.”
“No, I mean at home at home.” Kay snorted. “Not that you’re usually out painting the town red.”
“If it was anybody else I’d put some sort of effort into pretending I have a secret life as a lounge singer.”
Kay laughed, loud and long. “I bet. If anybody could keep secrets it’d be you.”
“Says the woman calling me from a secure line somewhere off in the world on a dark assignment.” She sighed. “I thought we were both supposed to pretend the day job didn’t exist.”
There was a beat of silence. “Remember when you used to write ‘waves hi to the feebee’ on all your emails?”
“We were small or smallish, and silly.” And not actually hiding anything. “And I’m not supposed to ask about the day job but you sound tired.”
“I’m winding down,” Kay replied.
“I meant tired tired. Battle weary, maybe.”
“I’m going to buy you another thesaurus.”
“I’m pretty sure six is anyone’s limit.”
Kay snickered. “No, two of them were for Seb. He even asked. How is the chick by the way?”
“Old enough he probably won’t want to be referred to as a chick. Growing prehistoric beasts in my kitchen thanks to you. He’s eight, and Seb.”
“I’ll try to land my leave when he’s off school. I got the calendar. Mom and Dad said they’d come visit then, too.”
“Did you actually get to talk to them?” Dottie rubbed her face. “Your mother keeps leaving me messages like I should be preparing for a firing squad.”
“Thea Darling, call me,” Kay said, in her most imperious British accent.
“Oh. How many calls did you miss?”
“One. I was in…working. I was working.”
The line sat silent and still for a long minute. “She only has Dottie’s number, and she worries about you. I worry about you.”
“You’re always fine.” Kay sighed. “You’re as bad as I am.” There was a beep in the background. “I have to go. Tell Seb I love him, and be careful with yourself.”
“I will. We love you, too.”
The line went dead and she watched the fan against the ceiling and fell asleep thinking about how few people there were left who called her Thea, let alone Dottie.