(OFF-STORY: I haven't touched my character for almost a year. Here I am now, attempting a return to the role playing stage, with some changes to my character -- but not reinventing her from scratch. Call it a makeover of her life since she last entered the stage many months ago.)
Heart pounding, Norah stood in her doorway. She stared at Corelli's concerned frown. How far could she trust him? Pretty far, she thought. And she needed to trust somebody. She took a deep breath, and pulled open her door.
As the light hit her face, she felt rather than heard Corelli gasp. She knew what he was seeing. She'd done a lot of looking in the mirror, and it hadn't gotten better. The whole side of her face was black and purple with bruises.
Corelli reached sharply toward her, and stopped. "What happened?"
Norah managed a wry grimace. "I never feel more alive than when someone's trying to kill me. But I'm usually faster at getting away."
Corelli shook his head in disbelief. "Not last night?"
"After I left the crime scene." Norah shrugged, and motioned him inside. "You're not one for alcohol, I know- and anyway I used it cleaning this. But coffee?"
Norah's flat was not what Corelli'd expected. The room was packed with books, maps, street art and a battered piano. Her single window was crowded with thriving herbs. She motioned him to an ancient sofa and pulled down two mugs.
Corelli watched her as she poured from a battered urn. Her movements were hampered, her hands clumsy and swollen. But her eyes weren't that red from injuries. Something else was wrong.
He waited patiently for her to fill the silence.
Norah stared into the middle distance, clutching her mug like a life ring. "They took it," she said finally. "Left me in the alley out back- wanted me to know they know where I live. But they took the satchel. Now there's no way to prove anything. No justice for Dellilah, who has seen such pain. Just once, I wanted..."
She trailed off and gestured in frustration. "But they took it. And the case dies there."
Corelli watched her for a long moment, and made a decision. For the first time in a long time, he felt the old excitement rising. Deliberately, he put down his coffee mug. "In that case," he said, "we'll just have to get it back."