Spencer got home from work as the darkness of the autumn evening closed around her. She was getting home later and later these days, and had to make an effort to leave earlier. She unlocked the door of her apartment, and let herself in. She busied herself, making dinner, tidying up, generally musing about. As she dusted, she made her way along the bookshelf, to her photos. Her family, smiling, larking about in the way they always did. Spencer wondered if they were ever as happy as they looked in those photos. Before things fell apart.
But they did fall apart Spence, a voice whispered in her head. They did.
She picked up a photo of her and Glen, smiling. He was ruffling his hair, and she had her arms around his waist, hugging him from the side. Spencer felt the warmth of tears slipping down over her cheeks. Dropping the duster, she hugged Glen's photo to her chest and fell into a chair. Pulling her knees up, she buried her head and sobbed.
It had been 8 long years since the night that Glen had died, and the night that Spencer had watched the world as she knew it twirl away. She could remember the night like it was right in front of her, and the clutch in her chest had barely lessened since.
The smell of rubber burning off the bitumen, Spencer stood, watching in horror as the red convertible stripped backwards in a cloud of smoke. The sound of flesh hitting the pavement, of Glen's tortured screams. The vision of red and blue lights as they shone, spinning, in the puddles. The numbness in the cold, as I watched you walk away, into the fog and the night.
Spencer jerked out of her revery, squeezing her eyes and trying to still her shaking body. It was too hard at this time of year. She jumped up, placing Glen back on the shelf where he belonged, and began her long nightly ritual of cleaning her flat from top to bottom. This time, she would exhaust herself completely. This time, she would sleep.
Spencer reached for the office door, and glanced up at the clock. She grimaced. She was getting later and later. Tim raised an eyebrow quizzically, and handed her the days mail. He took the pencil out of his mouth:
"Later and later boss", he leaned back in his chair, "Am I gonna have to start making you toast to get you here on time?".
Spence couldn't help smiling in reply.
"Wouldn't help Tim… I wouldn't eat it"… She started towards her office, leafing through her mail absentmindedly…
"Boss, your 9.30 appointment is in there" Tim warned.
Spencer stopped in her tracks. What appointment. She could feel her brow furrow, and knew that she had to start paying more attention to her life. Even work was slipping now.
"Tim.. do I even HAVE a 9.30 appointment", she looked at him, hoping he would tell her he was joking. She needed some time to sort out her projects. Workaholic or not, she was starting to feel just a tad overloaded.
"Ms. De Francesco rang earlier" Tim said, looking puzzled. "She said you'd arranged it yesterday".
Spencer knew that things were slipping a little, but she could remember yesterday very clearly, and it had NOT involved making a 9.30 meeting with Portia.
She marched into her office, partly interested and partly disgruntled. The white blonde lady sat in the chair by her desk. When she saw Spencer, her face formed a wry smile, but somehow Spencer was not amused.
"We had a 9.30 appointment?" Spence demanded. "I usually expect appointments to be agreed on by both parties… I believe it's part of social graces". Spence knew she sounded disgruntled.
"I'm sorry Ms. Carlin. I know it was rather rude of me, but we are very keen to have you working with us as soon as possible, and, well, the timeline your office man was offering us was less than helpful."
Now Spencer was really mad.
"Ms De Francesco, my 'office man' as you choose to call him, makes those decisions on my behalf because they're what I want" Spencer replied pointedly. "I may be willing to have a look at this project of yours, but I have other work to do, important work that is also on a strict deadline. I must say, that this is hardly endearing me to your little … project". She practically spat the last line.
Portia seemed unmoved by the reply.
"Ms. Carlin, I really am very sorry". Her voice seemed to have smoothed in an effort to become soothing. To Spencer's annoyance it was working. "I promise that I want nothing more than to arrange a time for you to stop by our offices, to get a better handle on this project."
"You could have arranged that through Tim" Spencer pointed out. "My 'office man'".
Portia smiled. Her teeth so white they were blinding.
"And be given a time somewhere in the next few months?" She tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Ms Carlin, all I'm asking is that you come to our offices tomorrow afternoon to meet our client".
"Fine" she accepted flatly. It seemed easy. 'And you want to know what the hell is going on' her mind threw at her.
It was cold out, and Spencer was glad for her leather jacket. It had been a present from her father, and she treasured it. Nonetheless, she could feel the icy cold wind cut through her at the knee level, and she was glad she was close to her destination. Once again, she pulled the card Portia had given her out of her pocket, and tried to make some sense out of this.
AAD Record Productions
It was bold, striking. If a little boring, the artist in Spencer spoke up. It also didn't make any sense. Why would a record company want to talk to her? Spencer did illustrations, mostly children's drawings. They were hardly the style that a hard edged music company would find interesting. And what was so secret about all of this? Why didn't they just tell her what they wanted? New business cards would be start, Spencer mused.
She went in the front door, and was grateful for the sudden burst of warmth that enveloped her. She had to admit she was a little surprised. She didn't know what she'd expected from a record company, but somehow, she thought it would be… edgier. This just looked refined. Like a lawyer, or… an accountant. Spencer rethought that, this was a little too refined for an accountant. She never did like accountants.
At this point Spencer realized she was nervous. Babbling in her own mind. The feeling threw her a little. It had been so long since she'd felt much that the anxiety was surprising. She made her way to the desk, and spoke the receptionist.
"I'm here to see Ms. De Francesca, I have an appointment".
The girl behind the desk smiled.
"Of course Ms. Carlin, if you'll take a seat, she'll be right out". Spencer looked surprised. How had the girl known who she was? The receptionist, who Spence had to admit was kind of cute, flashed her a grin.
"She only has one appointment this afternoon".
Spencer grinned back, and took a seat.
She managed to amuse herself for ten minutes with the latest Cosmopolitan before the familiar figure of Portia strode towards her. Spencer stood to meet her.
"Ms. Carlin, so glad you could come", the blonde took Spencer's hand in her own and shook it.
"Call me Spencer".
Spencer had never really liked formality all that much. It somehow reminded her of her mothers less stunning qualities. Spencer forced the thought of her mother out of her mind.
"This way", Portia led the way across the foyer and through a door on the other side, stopping only to punch in a code. Spencer followed, anticipating growing. They moved down a corridor, and eventually came to a door. Portia opened it, and they went in.
Spencer found herself in a small antechamber, and followed Portia into the production area of a small recording studio. Through the glass, she could see the a brunette, guitar in hand, crooning softly. For a second her heart flew, pounding as though it was going to burst out of her chest. Although the brunette was facing away from the glass, there was something there that was so familiar. It was only when she tuned into soft, sweet music, that she knew what it was.