As it turned out, Sherlock didn’t have time to study our new neighbor that week. The blog brought in three cases interesting enough for him to accept. They weren’t as challenging as any Lestrade calls with, but they pay the bills and keep him from getting too bored.
Actually, we haven’t seen Miss Northton since. We’ve heard her. The evenings we’ve been in and had a bit of quiet, we heard faint scales and exercises being played. I couldn’t tell what instrument it was. Sherlock says it’s a clarinet.
The man has the ears of a bat, I swear.
“Jennifer said she wouldn’t complain about you playing at all hours if you didn’t fuss about hers,” Mrs. Hudson said when Sherlock mentioned it to her.
“I wouldn’t if she played anything interesting or with any sort of skill,” he growled.
“She’s only out of practice, dear,” chided Mrs. Hudson. “And she keeps her playing to decent hours.”
He’d snapped at Mrs. Hudson after that as I fought not to laugh. Then he slapped on a second nicotine patch and flopped back down onto the couch. That’d been two days ago, a few hours before Sherlock made the final connection on our latest case. He said her noise was putting him off his train of thought, and my hopes of having a fair relationship with our neighbor began to wither.
There were no new messages for us this morning. I groaned. Sherlock was already brooding, tunelessly plucking at his violin, breakfast barely touched. I was scheduled at the practice today. I needed to leave in ten, actually. The kitchen will be burnt out and Mrs. Hudson will be in hysterics when I get back this evening, I just know it.
I sighed and closed my laptop down before taking my dishes to the sink. Sherlock’s phone rang.
“Lestrade,” he drawled into the phone.
I did a mental jig, managing to restrain my physical reaction to a grin. Lestrade was calling with a new case. That’d keep my flatmate occupied while I was at work. It’s odd how often I think such things like he’s a child in need of constant minding rather than a grown man and a genius at that.
“New case?” I asked as he pulled on his coat and scarf.
“A woman collapsed on the street for no apparent reason about half an hour ago,” he answered. “She died in route to the hospital.”
“Things like that happen every day,” I said, pulling on my own coat as I followed him down the stairs.
“Yes, but people in good health don’t drop dead of heart attacks without cause.”
Miss Northton entered from the street, opening a smallish box, as we walked into the foyer.
“Good morning,” she said with a smile.
“Just getting in, are you?” Sherlock asked the same time I returned her greeting.
“What makes you say that?” she asked.
“You reek of men’s cologne.”
Near three years into knowing this man, and he still astounds me with his lack of tact. I winced in sympathy with her and waited for the slap or tears.
“And if I’d scheduled things a bit differently, you’d be looking askance at Dr. Watson just now,” she said.
What on earth is she going on about?
She took a couple cards from the box she was holding and handed them to Sherlock and me, still chuckling, and wished us a good day. I watched her walk into the back, still confused.
“Mrs. Hudson,” she called as she went. “I’m expecting another delivery later this morning. If I don’t hear it, please just let me know. The boxes will be heavy.”
I shook my head and looked back to Sherlock. He shoved the card in his pocket and stepped out the door. I followed finally looking at the card I’d been given. It was her business card. Miss Northton was the owner and artisan of Contentment Body Works.
I laughed, and Sherlock looked back at me, raising an eyebrow in question as the cab he’d hailed pulled up.
“She’s the artisan who makes my brand of aftershave,” I answered. I chuckled again when he scowled before getting into the cab.