Trouble. In the charcoal shadows that delivered dawn to day in my Manhattan apartment, trouble lurked like a horrible thief. It would snatch my guilty life out of my pocket. I could sense but not pinpoint the exact location. It did not matter. Trouble would get me anyway. Trouble so practiced and seasoned that I would never know its clammy hand, each fingertip as light as feathers had been there mocking me the whole way to ruination.
Except for one telling detail. Before I threw back my bedcovers, before I even glanced at my alarm clock, my left eyelid had begun to twitch in earnest. Always a redoubtable warning of approaching and certain disaster. My heart pounded. Was it a dream?
Moments later, real life began again. My cell phone rang and vibrated against the blond wood of my bedside table. It was my secretary, Sandi, calling to say Ben Bruton wanted to see me that morning.
Wonderful. I was to begin my day with an audience with the Great and Terrible Oz. Not to mention I had a scheduled meeting later that morning with a gaggle of fast-talking suits from Tokyo.
Swell. No one at my level was called to see Bruton unless he wanted you dead and out of his life — or your status was to improve vastly. I had no reason to fear for my position and no reason to believe I was in line for anything except to continue what I had been doing for the past four years — evaluating and restructuring the distressed properties in our portfolio. Sounds boring? Anything but.
I was late, which was unusual. Normally, I'm up at six. My nerves got in between me and everything I had to do. As I dressed, I pushed my toe through an expensive pair of Wolford panty hose, jabbed my eyeliner into the white of my eye, spilled tea on my shirt, on and on it went until I finally got out the door.
I rushed the nine and one-half blocks from Park and Sixty-first to work dodging traffic, juggling my Tazo chai, my handbag, the Wall Street Journal, and my briefcase. Click, click, click. The heels of my Prada pumps clicked and echoed in my ears as I hurried across the rose-colored, gold-speckled granite floor of the lobby. In my peripheral vision, I spotted Dennis Baker swinging into action, moving toward me like a PI, knowing he had caught my eye.
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