Marlena flipped through the untidy stack of papers anchored by a glass of water. It was four minutes to midnight; there was no use pretending it was champagne, despite the occasional bubble clinging to the side of the glass.
She flicked her pencil eraser against the table top as the numbers danced and swam through her tears. There was no way to make them fall into line. They were unruly, malevolent markings in her blurred vision.
She tugged the wrists of her fingerless gloves and wiggled her toes inside the two layers of wool socks. Heat wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Shivering heroines always managed to look romantic in period dramas, but her pink tipped nose didn’t look like the Little Match Girl’s.
Of course, Marlena knew how that story went.
So she went back to the columns of numbers, wobbling down the screen of her computer, sighed deeply and began to calculate afresh.