Madelyn McGivers made her way down the glass staircase that spiraled through the center of one of London's tallest buildings. The tablet she carried in her hand was a welcome change to the archaic stack of a paperwork she'd entered the building with earlier. Her grandfather had never been one for technology and it had taken him years to even accept the fact that paper had been made obsolete in his lifetime. Today he had finally allowed her to transfer his records into an electronic format, and now she has happy to deal with any of his transactions because they were all compressed onto a single pane of glass she could carry easily in one hand. Of course this was technology that had been perfected for everyday use by the middle of 22nd century and they were now well into the 23rd. But her grandfather was old and sometimes grumpy, with a penchant for his old ways, and she loved him to bits despite it. She'd do anything for him.
Her high heels clicked across the wide expanse of tile that formed the ground floor of the building. Her brown hair, slicked back in a ponytail, bounced behind her, and walking in her plain but professional clothing, her head held high, she felt as though she belonged here. High above her, the glass walls, framed with steel, glittered in the midday sun, allowing rays of warmth to penetrate the enormous manmade structure. She was here because that was what her grandfather hated; the metal, the glass, the concrete. Whatever was green in downtown London had been planted there after the remodeling of the city took place almost a century earlier, after the third world war. Madelyn didn't mind the lack of proper green space one bit. She loved the city, the way people rushed to and fro, the skyscrapers living up to their name, the sounds of birds nesting somewhere far above where no one could reach them, the way the sun glinted off the unique architecture. To Madelyn, the city was beautiful. To her grandfather, the city was a prison, which was why he mostly kept to himself, having retired from investment banking many years ago. He now owned and managed his own golf club and pub outside of the city, in what could possibly still be described as a village, Windsor to be exact. Madelyn lived with him, her own attempt at being sure someone in her family was properly looked after.
She nodded and smiled to Kelly, the girl who worked behind the front desk of the building as she headed for the wide revolving doors. The teenage girl glanced at her with a smile, then beckoned to her and called her name. Madelyn paused and came over curiously.
"A man came by earlier asking about your grandfather," the girl said in a Cockney accent.
Madelyn leaned on the counter slightly. Her shoes were growing uncomfortable. "Did he leave a name?"
"No, just a number. I told him your grandfather didn't work here anymore. I could call him to let him know you're here, if he wants to talk to you."
"Did he say what about? You know William doesn't have a lot of friends in the city anymore."
"Something about a private investigation."
William was her grandfather's name. Unlike most men of his generation, he didn't shorten it to the more casual version of Will. He preferred William. He said it garnered him more respect.
"Go ahead and call him, Kelly."
The girl was on the phone for only a few moments. When she hung up she giggled slightly. "Em, he said he could meet you right outside the building just now, if you like."
Madelyn smiled at the girl. Though Kelly was almost ten years younger than her, sometimes she felt they could have been sisters if she'd grown up in England. "Why are you laughing like that? Did he flirt with you?"
Kelly's blue eyes grew wide. "No! It's just, he's got such a lovely voice, and he's so tall, and his eyes! His eyes, Madelyn."
Madelyn snorted. "You need to find yourself a boyfriend, before the next male that crosses your path makes you pass out on the sidewalk. Thanks, though. I may see you tomorrow; William's got some kind of shipment coming in and wants me to make sure its in one piece."
Madelyn exited the building and immediately realized why Kelly had been so googly eyed over a stranger. She could pick the man out of a crowd immediately. He was tall, with slicked back dark hair, and a gaze that could pierce the heart out of anyone who wasn't prepared. Even his cheekbones were striking. He wore a simple black trench with collar upturned over a teal shirt, black trousers and boots.
She walked right up to him and extended her hand. He took it firmly. "I'm Madelyn McGivers. I was told you wanted to ask my grandfather a few questions relating to an investigation. May I ask what it is you're investigating and how my grandfather is involved?"
The man raised his eyebrows at her forthrightness and smiled. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid my investigation is a private affair. If I gave away too much information, your safety and that of your grandfather's could be put at risk."
Madelyn gazed up at him with a little confusion. "In that case, maybe I could set you up with him on a more private level. He's retired and doesn't like coming to the city."
The man nodded. "If it could be arranged, I'd be more than happy to oblige his whims."
She grinned and pulled out her phone. "Great, how about you meet me at his pub in Windsor tonight at eight? It's called the William and Rose."
"Good," he said. "I'll see you tonight."
He turned to leave, but Madelyn stopped him. "Wait, I didn't get your name."
He turned back, his expression unapologetic. "John Harrison. Good afternoon, Miss McGivers."
She watched him stride away, her hand aching from when he'd gripped it. She liked a man with a firm handshake.