After the press conference, they have a lavish lunch at Sarducci’s restaurant. While they are there, Dwight gets a call from Babs, telling him they have been summoned to The Presence. Austin has no idea what that means, but it seems to awe the others.
Dwight tipped his head to Elaine.
She sighed, pushing them toward the door. “The Presence is what we call the God of Broadcasting in this city. He knows all, he sees all, he’s God.”
“Does this paragon have a name?”
“Yes,” Liat said. “I call him Daddy.”
They dragged a stunned Austin to the car. Stu sped along the streets, miraculously hitting green lights and minimal traffic. Though he asked many questions, Austin couldn’t get another word out of the women, Stu or Dwight. Resigned to the fact that he was being ignored, he settled back in his seat and closed his eyes. The car slowed, making a hard left turn. Austin woke. Liat handed him a breath mint. He popped it in his mouth before kissing her.
“Feel better now?”
“Good. You’ll need it.” She climbed out of the car.
Stu ushered them to the elevator and waited with them. “I’ll be waiting in the car,” he promised.
“Where are we?”
“The Vogel Building,” Liat replied.
“You’ve got a building—named after you?”
“Named after my great-grandfather.”
Liat pressed a section of wall and a sliver of wood slid back, revealing a single button. Elaine pushed it and the elevator rose rapidly, not stopping at any other floors.
When it reached its destination, the doors opened to a pink marble floored foyer. The walls were tooled bronze to about chest height, and creamy cloth above. On the left, wide steps led down to a lavish room with a black marble floor. There was a rectangular fireplace standing in the middle. The perimeter of the room consisted of gray leather couches. A padded lip ran around the fireplace, perfect for people to put up their feet.
To the right, a grand piano occupied a cozy nook. A panoramic view of the city filled the bowed glass windows. The room continued, but Austin didn’t have time to look at it all.
Elaine led them to the sitting area around the fireplace. They took seats in a tight cluster, except for Elaine, who sat directly opposite the steps. Moments later, a tall, dark haired man with broad shoulders and muscular chest, came to greet them. He trotted down the steps and stopped in front of Elaine, holding out his hands. She took them and he raised her to a standing position. His arms went around her waist, pulling her close, as he kissed her.
“Hello, darling,” she said with a smile. “How was Paris?”
“Boring. French.” He winked, patting her on the fanny. “You’ve had some excitement. Hello, Precious.” He greeted his daughter with a kiss and hug.
Austin and Dwight stood, waiting anxiously. Liat’s father was an intimidating man. He stood over six feet tall. His black hair was shot with silver, his blue eyes penetrating. His voice was a loud and rumbling baritone, laced with a distinctive Oxford accent.
“You’ve studied Shakespeare,” Austin said as he stepped forward.
The man’s blue eyes twinkled. “I have indeed, young man. Royal Shakespeare, 1971 through 75. Astute.” He shook Austin’s hand.
“No one rumbles like a Shakespearian,” Austin replied. “Which must make you Gordon Vogel.”
“It must, indeed! Gordon Oliver Desmond Vogel, God for short.” He turned to his wife, smirking. “You told me he was sharp. Who’s your friend?” He held out his hand to Dwight.
“Dwight Wales. He’s my personal assistant and good friend.”
“Everyone needs those,” Gordon said, shaking Dwight’s hand. “Friends, I mean. Assistants are a dime a dozen.”
“Not good ones,” Dwight said confidently. “We go for a dollar a dozen.”
Gordon burst out laughing at the silly joke. “I like this one too. Can we keep them, Mummy?” He sounded like a child, directing the comment to his wife. “Sit, everyone. Beverages. Sam-u-el!” He drew out the name like a battle cry.
The windows shook when he called the name. An elderly gentleman in a black suit came to stand by the sunken room.
“You bellowed, sir?”
“Beverages, Samuel. Tea?” He asked the room in general. “Yes, tea. The Oolong.”
“As you wish, sir.” He bowed, turning his back to the room.
“Great man. Deaf as a post,” Gordon muttered.
“I can hear you,” Samuel said. “I’m not deaf.”
“He’s not. I just like yelling. Sit!”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes
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