The night was far too warm. Normally the darkness had brought some respite from the heat of the days, but the fall of night had brought no such relief today.

Damian sat by the window, looking out across the town and the flickering lights of candles in windows. The town at large did not have electricity, but he was glad that the compound had a generator, if only for the fan that was working overtime trying to cool down his study.

He took a sip of the ice water that was a undreamed of luxury for most of the people readying themselves for sleep below and then picked a cigarette out of the packet in his breast pocket. He turned the lighter over and over in his hand, trying to recall the look in Danielle’s eyes when she had given it to him; the expectation of him being pleased by the gift, the anticipation of his happiness. He flicked the lid open and it made the characteristic and satisfying clunk that it always made; a predictable sound that bore the promise of the satisfaction of the first lungful of smoke.

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