For the first time

in a long time, Grant was nervous. He inched the BMW toward the towering wrought iron gates, which were set in shining white brick. A call box stood sentry before them, and after checking himself via flip camera on his iPhone, Grant reached for the intercom only to be surprised at how shaky his finger was; it took three tries before he managed to still it enough to hit the correct button.

A long pause. Grant didn’t realize he was holding his breath until his starved body suddenly forced him to suck in a huge lungful of air. At which point the intercom beeped and a terse female voice asked, “Yes?”

Grant spluttered for a moment. “Uh, Ms. Monti? I mean, I’m here to see Ms. Monti.”

Another pause, and Grant wondered if she’d done the equivalent of hanging up on him. Whatever that would be when it came to security gates.

“Do you have an appointment?” the voice asked, and Grant fancied it was perhaps less strident now and maybe even a tad worried. “I don’t see anything on the books. Who is this?”

“Grant Owen.” He glanced around wondering if there were a camera as well as the intercom, but if so, it was well hidden.

“I don’t have you listed.”

“Well, I . . . I did come all the way here . . .” Grant said, telling himself it wasn’t a lie. He was just not mentioning that he hadn’t actually had an appointment.

More silence. Grant glanced around at the greenery, squinted through the gates at the manicured lawn. The house was not visible from the road.

And then suddenly, to his great delight and relief, the gates began to swing inward. Like a blessing, the path was being opened to him.

Slowly, he rolled the convertible forward, whistling tunelessly to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as the gravel popped beneath his tires. Sorry, Mick, Grant thought, but for today you’re very wrong.

Wondering about my A to Z theme? It’s explained here. And remember: these scenes aren’t necessarily in chronological order!

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