Angel Falling Softly

Chapter 6

Look before you leap

The secretary returned to the conference room promptly at twelve-thirty. As they rode the elevator to the penthouse suite, Milada said, “I take it the invitation was Edward’s idea?” While Karen stammered for an answer, Milada continued, “No matter. I appreciate the thought.”

The city looked deceptively cool through the tinted windows, but Milada asked the waiter to seat them away from the wall of plate glass.

Milada said, “What do you recommend, Karen?”

“I usually get—” She didn’t seem too sure about what she usually got. “I usually get the chef’s salad.”

Milada said to the waiter, “Two chef’s salads.”

The waiter retrieved the menus and left. Karen said under her breath, “To be honest, I don’t eat here that often.” She quickly added, “But the chef’s salad really is good.”

Milada smiled. She appreciated that the girl was not good at lying and knew it. “Tell me, Karen, are you married?”

Karen shook her head. “Engaged. Well, almost.”

Milada took a sip of water. “An employee at the firm?”

“Tom Wilkins.” She brightened saying his name. “He’s an accountant with Smith Barney. We met at the Salt Lake AICPA conference last fall.”

“Where do you live?”

“I share an apartment with Cindy—at the front desk. Tom’s building a house in Draper up on the bench. It’s got a great view of the valley, but it’s a little far from things, you know? At least it’s not as bad as commuting from Lehi or American Fork. Draper’s the only place on the east side that’s affordable these days.”

“Where would you prefer to live?”

“Sandy would be nice, or Granite. But you’ve got to be totally rich to live there.” Karen reflected for a moment. “It’s going to be a real nice house, Tom’s.”

Milada put on her sunglasses and turned toward the windows. “Where is Draper from here?”

“You can’t really see it because of the haze. It’s due south, right before Point of the Mountain.”

“And Sandy?”

Karen pointed off to the left. “Right there, where you can see the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon. That’s actually Granite. Sandy is west a bit.”

The waiter came with their salads. Milada straightened her chair and unfolded the napkin in her lap. She selected a fork and inspected it briefly. “Karen, is there a real estate firm that Loveridge employs on a regular basis?”

Karen thought for a minute. “Mr. Christensen uses Valley Real Estate Management.”

“When we have finished lunch, would you get them on the phone for me?”

Karen cheerfully said that she would.

After lunch Milada found the missing SEC filings on the table next to her laptop. Better late than never. She got out her cell phone and called Kammy. Some conversations she preferred not to make over company lines.

“What’s up, Milly?”

From the background noise, Milada guessed her sister was at the student union. “Where are you staying?”

“The Crocker Science House. It’s a dorm for post-docs. Why?”

Milada frowned. She lowered her voice to a few decibels above a whisper. “Where in the world do you keep blood in a dorm room?”

“Gee, Milly, a medical college. Where could I get my hands on whole blood? Hmm, let me think that one over and get back to you.”

“I was only asking. How was the seminar?”

“Not bad. I’ve got rounds, so don’t go penciling me in for dinner or anything.”

“You know, you could apply for a residency, open a practice—”

“Not going there, Milly,” Kammy replied in the singsong voice she used whenever her sister started waxing maternal. “Bye. Gotta go.”

Milada knew she shouldn’t be surprised. For the last two decades, a significant portion of the charitable donations made by the Daranyi Foundation had ended up buying internships and fellowships for Kammy. Or maybe Kammy being so content playing the eternal student was what annoyed her. She, on the other hand, did everything she could to come across older than she appeared.

Why couldn’t her sisters settle down and work for a living? She could only dream of Zoë disciplining herself sufficiently to even attend school.

The intercom buzzed. Karen’s voice announced, “LaDawn Gunderson from Valley Real Estate.”

Milada thanked her and picked up the phone. “This is Milada Daranyi. I’m an associate of Mr. Christensen’s. I’m going to be in Salt Lake City on and off for the next six months or so. I was thinking of renting a house in the area.”

There was a block of upscale apartments a hundred yards north of Eagle Gate Plaza. But the thought of sharing walls and floors and ceilings with strangers—not to mention the halls and lobby—made her skin crawl. At least in a hotel the people next door had no pretensions of being her neighbors.

“Mr. Christensen’s a wonderful man, isn’t he!” The voice of an older woman, bubbly and overly enthusiastic. “What part of Salt Lake?”

Sandy would be nice, Karen had said. “Sandy,” Milada casually suggested. “A small ranch or rambler with a finished basement. A covered porch facing north.”

The line fell silent. It was a clear connection. Milada could hear a pencil scratching against paper. LaDawn said, “I’ll see what I can find. I’ll phone Karen, okay?”

“That would be fine.”

LaDawn called back half an hour later. “Miss Daranyi, I have just the thing for you! Came on the market two weeks ago, a split-level rambler, three rooms up, bedroom and full bath in the basement. It’s in Cottonwood Estates. A really nice neighborhood. Right on Dimple Dell Park in Sandy. Would you like to see it?”

Milada tried to remember what time the sun set. “Would eight o’clock be acceptable?”

“Eight o’clock? Um, tonight?” The woman’s hesitation was obvious.

“Would seven be better?”

LaDawn collected herself. “Oh, sure!” she burst out, revealing a Midwestern accent tinged with Scandinavian roots. “The address is 1204 Larkspur Lane. Do you need directions?”

“I’m sure my driver can find it.”

“That’s just great. I’ll see you tonight, Miss Daranyi.”

“Seven o’clock,” Milada confirmed. After hanging up the phone, she opened the folder and thumbed through the SEC filings. LaDawn, she repeated to herself. In her long life, she’d never met a woman named LaDawn before.

It briefly occurred to her that she had no good idea about what she was getting herself into. She kept too many secrets not to know what she was getting herself into every minute of her life.

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