C. L. Kraemer
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Staring at the reflective elevator door, I didn't recognize the middle-aged face staring back at me.
When had I grown so old? When had gray become the dominant color of my dark brown hair? And please, tell me, where the hell had I picked up those doggie jowls?
Cassie Thorpe, my best friend since, well, what seemed forever, looked into the reflection.
"What are you doing?" She cocked her head in that funny way she always does when she's questioning my sanity. This time she added crossed arms and a hitched eyebrow.
"Wondering how age snuck up and attacked me without my knowledge." I peered at my likeness, my finger tracing a line from my nose to my chin around what used to be a full voluptuous mouth.
I watched Cassie roll her eyes as she uncrossed her arms and adjusted the purse on her shoulder. She shook her head and blew air between her lips.
"Lucy, just schedule a face lift. I told you I'd front you the money."
The elevator had reached the top floor of the Equitable Building in downtown Salem. The interior had recently undergone a major renovation and featured Italian marble in most of the lobby and down the hallways. Small areas of plush carpet covered the remainder of the floor. The new owners had muted the government gray walls with a faux Tuscan-inspired paint, adding art deco sconces to the walls. Bronze lamps hung from the cathedral ceiling adding a touch of elegance to the lobby area. Dark leather couches and chairs placed in comfortable conversation settings invited the visitor to stop and admire the effect. Every effort had been made to rid the visitor of the government feel of the square, granite and smoked-glass building.
"Where are we going again?" I followed Cassie out of the lift toward a hallway that wound to sculpted, cherry-stained office doors bearing the gold suite number.
She placed a hand on the gold-plated door handle and turned as she spoke to me. "My lawyer. Bobby's balking about handing over the chalet at Mt. Bachelor."
We entered an office painted in muted tones of blue. The money invested in the cherry wood desk occupied by the receptionist would've paid for that facelift Cassie had offered. The blue-gray guest couches were satiny soft and comfortable.
Speaking into her silver, state-of-the-art headset, the pencil-thin blonde at the desk announced Cassie.
I hadn't even transferred the latest issue of People magazine to my lap when a door, magnificently blended into the cool blue wall opened revealing a young man wearing a fitted, black Baroni suit. A Rolex peeked from beneath the sleeve of a silk dress shirt and Gucci loafers covered his feet. He lifted a manicured finger and beckoned us into the inner sanctum.
I would've been happy to stay and read the most recent dirt on the latest it couple, but Cassie dragged me behind her. My feet sank into the carpet. I swear. It was like walking on that miracle foam bedding. I turned to see if I'd left my footprints. Cassie cleared her throat and shook her head.
I shrugged my shoulders and stood awkwardly, waiting for permission to seat myself.
The young man moved around the L-shaped desk made of Koa wood and seated himself in a large steel-blue leather chair. He motioned us to sit in the two upholstered chairs in front of his monstrosity of a desk as he perched straight backed and rigid in the chair. Behind him an impressive ten foot tall, thirty foot long array of silver gray curtains waved slightly with the breeze from the rising warmth of the heater.
Once we were all settled and our roles firmly established, he moved to the front of his desk to languidly lean on the edge. Grasping Cassie's hand, he placed a delicate kiss on the top of it, his steely eyes gazing into her chocolate brown ones.
"What can I… do for you?"
Courtney Rene for Rogue's Angels says: "If you are looking for a good fast paced read this is the story for you."