Rounding the corner, the Buick pulled to the curb outside the high rise downtown condominium.
“Well, here you go Lauren,” Luke said as he shoved the gear shift to Park.
He turned the key to the off position. Music from the radio immediately stopped as he opened his door and quickly slid out of the car, leaving her peering up at the sign on the marquee that shaded the sidewalk. It read “Glenwood Manor”. "Gwenny had moved from the house on Thrush Street", she said to herself.
The trunk lid was opening as she slowly exited and walked to the rear of the vehicle as Luke muscled her bag out of the trunk.
“Just look for her name in the front entrance. Push the button and she’ll buzz you in okay,” he said as he extended the handle of the suitcase, rolled it from the street, over the curb and stood it in front of Lauren.
Lauren didn’t say a word as she grabbed the handle and began rolling the suitcase and walking toward the door.
“It was nice to see you again Lauren.” Luke said, quickly turning and not waiting for a response.
She glanced over her shoulder and kept walking as she saw Luke walk quickly to the driver’s side of the vehicle and climb in.
As she reached to glass doors of the entrance, and pulled on one to open it, the Buick’s reflection slid silently across the glass. “Turd!” she thought to herself as she rolled her bag across the entrance and into the lobby. She breathed a sigh and was glad he was gone.
A cool wisp of fresh smelling wind hit her in the face as the door closed and she looked up at the chandelier lighting the lobby. A doorman in a uniform eyed her from behind a desk that stood behind another set of glass doors. On one wall of the lobby, there were rows of brass mailboxes; each with a surname and a button next to it.
She studied the wall and found that that surnames were in alphabetical order. Finding her surname, Preston, she pushed the button and held it for about fifteen seconds. Gwenny’s voice came from a speaker above the mailboxes. “Luke, Lauren, come on up. I’m pushing the button that will unlock the doors to the elevators.”
An electronic buzz came from the set of doors leading into the vestibule beyond. Lauren heard a metallic clunk and pulled one of the doors open. While Lauren had been busy pushing buttons and listening to her sister’s instructions; the doorman had come around the desk and was there to take her suitcase and help her through the door. “Thank you.” Lauren said as the door closed behind them and again there was a metallic clunk as the doors locked.
The doorman pulled her bag into a standing position in front of the elevator.
“I’m here to see…”
“Gwen Preston”, he said, finishing her sentence. “She told us you would be arriving today Miss…uh…Miss Lauren right?”
“uh.. right.” She said.
“Welcome to Glenwood Manor Maam. My name is Franklin,” he said, tipping his cap to her. “Miss Preston is on the fifth floor Maam. I’ll show you up.” He pressed the button on the wall. There was an immediate “ding” and the elevator door slid open.
The elevator started upward. Franklin was an older man, maybe fifty or so years of age. The hair that wasn't covered by his cap was grey as were his eyebrows. He seemed to sense she was looking at him…
“Miss Gwen has been looking forward to your arrival. She stopped at the desk for the last two days to remind us you were coming. She’s been in and out all week getting things ready for you.”
“Has Luke been up to see her much?” Lauren asked.
Franklin didn’t skip a beat and didn’t seem to give any hint that he thought this an odd question. “No. Saw a Mr. Luke here a few times when Gwen first moved in, but we haven’t had the pleasure to see him in quite some time Maam.”
Lauren was relieved. “Are you here, all the time?”
“Oh no Maam. I’m the dayshift doorman. I leave at 7 pm Maam. If you need anything just call the desk by pressing 311 on the phone okay?”
“Yes thank you,” Lauren said.
The elevator barley bounced as it came to rest on floor five and the doors opened. Franklin brought her and her bag to a door with the number 543 on it. “This is Miss Gwen’s residence Maam,” he said as he pressed the doorbell button.
Before one ring had finished, the door opened quickly and the blonde Gwen rushed up to her, giving Lauren a tight hug, taking some of the wind out of Lauren’s sails. She hadn’t expected this warm of a greeting, nor the emotion that flowed from her heart upon seeing her sister again. Gwen kissed her cheek. “Sis, I’m so glad you came!”
Lauren noticed the tears on Gwenny’s face, and was surprised that inwardly she was suddenly choking back deep emotion and gave her sister a hug in return. “I’m glad to be here little sister,” she said; barely getting the words out before feeling deep warmth in her face, tears welling up in her eyes and then spilling down her cheeks.
Gwen stepped back, wiping tears from her face. “Oh my gosh. I'm a mess. Thank you again Franklin,” she said.
Franklin slid Lauren’s bag inside the door and turned to leave. “You're welcome Miss Gwen, and welcome home Miss Lauren,” he said as he strode off toward the elevator.
Gwen grabbed Lauren by the arm and hustled her through the doorway, shutting the door behind them.