He cursed his luck as he typed. Officially, he’d started his vacation two hours ago. Three hours ago, if you counted his plan to leave work early so he could be home in time to finish packing. But as he had shut down his computer, his boss, Ian, had dumped a pile of work on him, work that he’d quickly discovered were reports Ian should have completed.

The thought of leaving them undone and making his boss do his own work had been tempting, but he’d quickly pushed the idea aside. He didn’t want to cause any trouble.

James worked frantically, the clatter of the keyboard echoing throughout the empty office. Forty-five minutes later, he typed the final words on the last report and hit ‘Send.’ He sighed with relief. They weren’t perfect, but they would do. He’d been afraid he was going to be stuck in the office until midnight. At least he was going to have time to finish packing.

As he threw his few personal items into his bag, he glanced at the calendar on the rear wall of his cubicle. Seeing the next two weeks blocked out with ‘Holiday’ gave him a feeling of comfort. His fiancée had been pushing for the trip for months, and his agreement had changed their conversations from how much she wanted to go, to what they should do when they went—a much more pleasant topic. Then, he noticed the note he’d scrawled on the calendar for today.


His heart leapt into his throat. The parcel! He’d forgotten all about it in the mad rush of the afternoon. The other reason he’d planned to leave early was to intercept it before Laura got home.

The bus ride seemed to take forever. A glance at his phone as he got off the bus confirmed that it was almost eight thirty. He hoped Laura had gone out with her friends for after-work drinks when he’d messaged her that he would be late. It was the only way he would get home before she did.

Rounding the corner onto his street, he breathed a sigh of relief. The lights in the small flat they shared were off. He was safe. Then, he realized he was looking at the wrong flat. His heart sank when he saw the lights of his own flat. Laura was home.

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