Your name is Jessie Harrison, private investigator. Your hat sits precariously on the edge of the desk. Your fancy shoes the only thing you're wearing that makes you feel good about life. It had been a string of stings, busts, investigations, and chases every week this year. And that was just your dating life.
You drag on a cigarette, pouring another glass of liquid nerve when your associate walks in the door.
"Mail for you, Jessie."
You reply, "Thanks, Jim."
Thumbing through the envelopes, you reach over to the table behind you and grab the letter opener.
"Bills, bills, bills, one letter of deferred payment, and a thank you letter. I wish we had more cash inflow than out," you complain, rubbing your temples, "Oh, would you look here? It's from Cameron. Best kisser this side of the Fimbrian."
"A little over sharing, don't you think?" Jim questions you.
"Don't be prude, it's 1895 for crying out loud. There's only so much in this world that gives me comfort anymore, and another body's warmth is one of them."
"What does the letter say?"
"A neighbor is in need of some help. North side of town. Some business with a violin. The case is a bit dull, but I think I could still have a good time over there."
"Count me out, then. I've got a date with a bottle down at The Mallard."
"Your choice, Jim."
"You know I don't swing for that sort of thing."
The building was clearly falling apart. You have no idea how Cameron got so desperate as to need to rent in such a run-down tenement.
Then again, it was a lot like your relationship had been.
You ring the number for 2A, and the mechanical locks on the door give way a minute later. Inside, there is an unmanned desk next to a stairwell.
A gentleman comes down the stairs, hopping over the third step to the bottom as if habitually.
Maybe it's a good luck thing? It's certainly a cleaner-looking step than the rest.
"Good evening" you say to them.
"Hello, you're Cameron's friend, right?"
"Yes, are you...?"
"Oh, heavens, no. I'm married. Everyone knows about everyone else here."
"Good to know. I'll have some questions to ask you about-"
"Melanie's violin. Tragic, really, but at least we can get some peace and quiet around here for once."
"I'll just, be on my way then," you say, trying to end a most awkward conversation, to head upstairs.
Room 2A's door is a daunting one. An ordinary door, certainly, but one that causes you great anxiety. You think, "no, it's too early to drink," as you fiddle with your flask. The door clicks open and you rush to put away the booze. You're sure the last thing Cameron wants to see you do is drink. Not after that night so long ago...
"I've missed you."
"Can't imagine why," you say "You must have been with loads better people."
"You could be a demon, and I'd still miss you."
You hug and feel the pain and emotion well back up.
"Are you crying?" they ask.
"No... no I just..."
"Come on in, I'll put the kettle on. You have some questions for me, and then you'll have questions for my neighbor."
"What?" You're confused a moment. What did Melanie have to do with... "Oh, the case, the violin. Right."
You have a long conversation about what happened the night you two broke up and about Cameron's crazy adventures in the Confederacy. The tea was like a warm hug during a hailstorm of reminiscing. You explain all about the mystery of the man who blew up the station in Astam on the day of the fair, and the automaton who wandered Argenstrath for a month looking for a brothel.
The evening turned to night, and you find yourself cuddling, "Just like old times."
"If you want it to be. I still remember how you like it."
"Don't tease me," you say.