...It always took longer to drive into downtown Chicago than Miranda anticipated. No matter what the season there were roads dug up and the traffic was down to one bottlenecked lane.
Miranda blamed Richard. After the incident at the wake, she decided to blame him for everything. Every dark cloud in the sky, each spot of bird crap on her windshield, each green light she missed was now his fault.
By the time Miranda made it to the three-story brick building across from Harpo Studios, she had three minutes to make her appointment for the consumer survey.
Judging by the distance she had parked from the building she would have to become a world-class sprinter to make it there on time. All those years of skipping the gym suddenly came back to haunt her.
Regardless, she ran.
In a jean skirt, fitted blouse, and pumps Miranda ran like a gazelle with her purse tucked under her arm. She tried not to think of what she really looked like prancing down the street. A hundred bucks for an hour of telling a panel of people how she liked shampoo was a hundred bucks worth running for.
Miranda pressed the call button twice and finally something that sounded like a reply came through the speaker.
“Can you hear me?”
Miranda shifted her weight and sighed. “Hi, I’m running a little late. I’m here for the survey.”
“Wuzzz zuur Name.”
“I swear I’m not stalking you,” a distinctly British voice said from behind.
The door buzzed just as Miranda looked over her shoulder. Before she could open it and walk inside, the door locked again.
Garic Wenham was standing behind her in a dark blue button-down shirt and khaki pants. He pulled off his sunglasses and placed them in his shirt pocket. In his right hand he had what looked like a laptop bag.
“You again,” Miranda said as she reached for the doorknob. Even though she knew it had locked she tried again. “I’m beginning to wonder if you are stalking me.”
“Or just making you late for appointments.” Garic chuckled.
“There is that,” Miranda said with a forced laugh. Her brow was damp and she knew that she had slipped from ladylike glistening to full-blown sweating. Like a monkey in an experiment, she tried the door again. “God, I hate these stupid doors. They give you half a second to open them.”
Garic pressed the call button again. “Allow me. The English accent works wonder with these things.”
Miranda stood back and crossed her arms while she waited for him to use his masculine, caveman abilities to open the door.
“Good day, I’m here for the Sabiano Gallery.”
“The Sabiano Gallery.”
He spoke slower, but the same fuzz of confusion blared through the speaker.
“Let me try again,” Miranda insisted. “We can both drive her mad. I do a terrible German accent...”