The mirrored glass of the skyscraper shone like a thousand silver eyes in the glaring winter sun. Glory stood on the sidewalk across the street wondering what the hell she was doing there. She played with the business card, flipping it over and over again as men and women in suits and expensive coats gave her suspicious looks from the corners of their eyes. It probably had more to do with the fact that she wasn’t wearing a coat and wasn’t shivering in the frigid wintry air despite the tattered state of her jeans and sweatshirt, though her implied homelessness probably had them wondering what she was doing there as well.
The formerly pristine card was smudged and the edges were beginning to dog ear. One corner was frayed from where she’d absentmindedly nibbled it as she contemplated the reasons why Aaron might have left the card for her before disappearing. If he had… Well she was pretty sure he had. Lori was not likely to set a trap in such a well lit and professional setting; she hoped.
She wanted to go back to the park. That was home now. That was her safe place, the same as her room had once been her safe place, her refuge against humanity where she could retreat and pretend that the rest of the world didn’t exist. But she couldn’t hide there and expect Lori would fade away like some bad dream. Glory would probably never know what role her sister had played in the experiments on the shapeshifters, but it was clear that her sister wasn’t going to just go away. She may or may not have given up on finding Glory and taking what remained of her research before killing her, but Glory couldn’t afford to hide. While she hid, Lori could be doing so many horrible things. Glory couldn’t afford to shirk her responsibilities.
She resolutely stepped off the rime crusted curb and into the street. The professional men and women entering and exiting the building gave her odd looks as she walked through the door, but she did her best to ignore them and their bias against her wardrobe. Without pausing to look around the spacious lobby, she stepped up to the elevators and pushed the button.
“Miss! Excuse me! Miss!” came an anxious voice from behind her. Turning, she saw a young woman coming around the circular receptionist’s desk. “Can I help you with something?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you.” Glory replied tersely, turning back to the elevator door.
“But, that is… what I mean is… can I contact the party you are meeting with today?”
Glory gritted her teeth. Of course, she should have known just walking in would be unacceptable, but she’d really been hoping she could look around before announcing herself. She fussed with the card in her hand again before turning and extending it like a holy talisman. Of course, she underestimated how close the woman had gotten and nearly socked her in the face. The receptionist flinched and took a step back as Glory dropped her arm, apologetically offering the card in a more civilized manner. “I’m here to see these people.”
“Oh, um, okay…” she said as she gingerly took the card from Glory. “Um… I’ll just call Mr. Blitzer and let him know that you are on your way up.” She backed up, clearly expecting Glory to follow. Lifting the phone from its cradle, she held it to her ear all the while keeping an eye on Glory who stood abashedly by her desk, trying not to appear too interested in the conversation. “May I have your name… please?”
“…it’s Glory, but I don’t know if they’re expecting me. A friend left that card for me, and I don’t know…” Glory continued to babble as the woman ignored her after getting her name and spoke to whoever was on the line.
“He says you may go right up. He’s been expecting you.” She said with a plastic smile. It was clear she was well practiced in being gracious with all kinds of people. She was probably a customer service lifer.
“He… has?” Glory was uncertain whether that was a good thing or not. Who was Mr Blitzer anyway? Still wearing that toothy smile, the receptionist handed the card back to Glory. Leading the way back to the elevator, she pressed the button for her before returning to the desk. Glory stepped through the doors and glanced back at the receptionist who seemed to be looking in any direction but the elevators.
The hall that the elevator doors opened onto had the muffled feel of overly luxurious offices everywhere. It was not an unpleasantly decorated hall. The thick carpeting and paintings and other canvas artwork on the walls were probably designed to make visitors feel at ease. It made Glory feel cut off from the world, as if she had just entered a doll house. The fact that none of the windows in the building probably opened and all the plants she passed were fake only enhanced her feeling of a superficiality reality. Aside from the numbers listed beside each door, every office looked the same as she passed. Even the artwork on the walls were in similar abstract shapes and colors. She imagined it must be a pretty tedious place to work with everything designed to pacify and nothing created for stimulation of the mind.
It wasn’t until she finally reached the office that she was looking for that she discovered Mr Blitzer was an attorney. He could have put that on the card! she thought disgustedly, but she supposed he probably didn’t need to. From the look of things, he probably catered to an exclusive clientele, and his business cards were for easy reference, not advertisement.
She opened the door and poked her head into the large room cautiously. An older woman looked at her quizzically from her desk. “Can I help you?” she asked when it became clear that Glory was not going to speak.
“Um, I’m here to see Mr Blitzer…?” Glory replied, confused by the woman’s presence.
“Ah, you must be Glory. I’ll let him know that you’re here,” the woman replied, picking up her phone. It was only then that Glory saw the second door beyond the woman’s desk and realized this was his secretary. Feeling like an idiot, she edged into the room and quietly closed the door behind her. The secretary hung up the phone and got to her feet. “Right this way,” she announced, leading the way to the door.
If the secretary’s anteroom had been large, then the room beyond was enormous. Floor to ceiling windows lined the outer wall, giving a stunning view of the city. Mr Blitzer stood as she entered, but Glory waved shyly without taking his offered hand. He smoothly moved to offer her a chair with hardly a sign that she had rejected the courtesy. He didn’t seem in the least bit put out by her clothes either.
“Well, Miss Lewin. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to show up.” He smoothed his dark hair back with one hand as he sorted papers on his desk with the other. She couldn’t tell his age but imagined he couldn’t be too much older than she was.
She sat gingerly on the edge of the offered chair, but sank at least three inches into the plush upholstery, having no choice but to slide into the seat. “Um… sorry?” she apologized, feeling quite lost. “I didn’t know anyone was waiting on me.”
“It’s to be expected, I suppose. We were informed by our client that your living arrangements were… unique, and that he’d left instructions for you himself.”
“I’m not sure what you want from me. I didn’t get any instructions, just this card.” She offered the battered business card to him. He took it and flipped it over in his fingers with a hrrmph, probably over its state, before placing it on his desk.
“Then you are not here about the will.”
“What will, whose?” she answered, suddenly anxious on top of her confusion.
“Aaron Adonai? I assumed you knew of his death.”
“Aaron’s dead?!” she jumped from the chair. The tears started before she could speak. “B-but… how? When?”
“Well, he was quite old,” Mr Blitzer replied a little alarmed by her reaction.
“No he wasn’t…”
“According to his birth certificate, he was 124,” he assured her. “While he seemed in relatively good health when he came to me to write his will, I was not surprised when he passed a month later. I was actually much more surprised that he had not seen an attorney before me.”
Glory fell back into her chair, her stomach making its presence known for the first time in months. She wanted to throw up. Mr Blitzer pulled out a box of tissues and offered her one, but she took the box and cradled it in her lap protectively.
“The medical report states that he died in his sleep of complications due to his advanced age. I’m sorry that you didn’t know.” He waited a few minutes for her to calm down before continuing. “According to Mr. Adonai’s last will and testament, he had no spouses and no offspring. His parents and siblings all died during the Depression. You are his only heir.” He paused again, waiting for her to say something, but she was too stunned to think of anything. “I’m not sure you are aware of how wealthy Mr. Adonai was.”
Mutely, she shook her head.
“I am not sure what his living arrangements were before he came to me, but he had me purchase a $30 million mansion in your name in the Upper East Side, as much for the size of the library as for the building itself. It’s my understanding that you’re something of a bibliophile….” When she did not respond to his lame joke, he continued. “The building it paid for and the taxes will be taken care of by my office in perpetuity unless you wish to handle it personally. Most of Mr Adonai’s fortune is tied up in investments, but you will receive a monthly stipend which will more than see to your needs. All in all, you are worth approximately $560 million, not including various other property and businesses.”
“Do you have any questions Miss Lewin?”
“I… do you… know where Aaron is buried?”
He shook his head. “Im sorry. He was cremated and his ashes scattered as per his wishes. There is no burial site.” When she obviously had nothing further to ask, he shuffled some papers on his desk. “I’ll just need your ID and your signature on these papers. “It’s my understanding that you’ve been, ah, living on the streets. If you’d like, I can get my car and take you to your new home when we’re done here. It’s fully furnished. We’ll need to go to the bank tomorrow to set up your accounts of course, but I can get some money from our expense account for food and new clothes in the meantime.
to Book 3, page 2