Part One: The Search
Chapter One: Sheila
It all began with a lie. A little one really, but it ended up taking on a life of its own; turning into something I hadn't anticipated or even really said; like some bad game of telephone.
The fateful day started with a particularly disturbing nightmare involving alleged tuna fish and cats, which had the undesired effect of waking me up. I grumbled and shifted around on my bed as I glared at the 4:12 a.m. time on my digital clock. I turned on the TV and frowned, trying to fall back asleep to an old Will and Grace episode on Lifetime TV. Finally at around five thirty, I returned to a dreamless sleep.
When the alarm screamed at me at 7:00 a.m., I opened my eyes in horror at my clock radio. Time to get up already? Surely, this was some sort of nightmare! The cold breeze from my air conditioner blasted on my skin and forced me to pull my beige satin comforter tighter around me, and I knew that it truly was the harsh reality of early morning. Ten minutes later, after thoughtlessly watching the morning news, I got up for work, still pissed at my lack of sleep.
Further, my nutmeg complexion was experiencing a type of breakout I hadn't had since I was a teen, which only seemed highlighted behind layers of expensive department store camouflage. Despite my efforts to the contrary, and the new jet-black rinse I'd put in, my bob-cut hair was frizzy, so I had to pull it back into an unflattering, tiny ponytail. Since I had not gone to the cleaners or washed clothes in three weeks, I had to wear one of my least-favorite suits, which fit poorly to my 5'6" frame. I kept having to twist the skirt back around and ignore odd looks from other passengers the whole Metro commute to work.
Before I could even make it to the Metro I was unfortunate enough to lock myself out of my condo. I had to call my cousin, who lived about 15 minutes away, and had a spare key. In traffic, it took more like 30 minutes. My cousin gave me an angry glare as she let me in my house, as if it was her day that was going down quick. The woman didn't have anything better to do; she was a housewife whose kids were already in school, and she had a maid. Worst-case scenario, she'd miss her morning spin class.
I fought hard not to flip her the bird as she chastised me for being so forgetful. I really needed to make some friends that lived closer.
Needless to say, this was not a good start for my day.
Once at work, I closed the door to my office at Washington and Morrison Law Firm and flopped into my large leather swivel chair, yawning and wondering if I would make it through my 10-hour day. The bright sun from the floor-to-ceiling window behind me, showcasing a busy part of North Massachusetts Avenue (or NoMa, as we call it), did not serve as the mood motivator it usually did that morning.
I heard a knock at my door and sucked in a deep breath before answering.
My coworker, Gregory "Greg" Walters, opened the door and strolled in. Greg was something out of a GQ magazine. He was 6'2" with a muscular body, shaved head and was the color of peanut butter. Damn, that man was fine. But Greg was a pit bull in Armani, and we had sort of a complicated friendship. He sat down and began to yammer away about something. Since I really wasn't mentally ready for my day to begin, my mind couldn't really hold in everything he was saying. Instead, I was wondering if I had time to stop past a drug store for some zit cream at lunch.
"So, you going?" he asked me, seated in one of the two chairs in front of my desk.
I hadn't even noticed him sitting down. And what the hell was he talking about? "What the hell are you talking about?" I asked. For a guy he could talk. Sometimes, even in the best of moods, I just tuned out parts.
Greg shook his head, smiling. "Are you going to the Entertainment and Sports Conference?