Mr. King directed her away from the table, along the edge of the eating area, toward the back set of escalators.
"I could have been nicer to him," she said. "Maybe been a little more understanding. He probably has issues and a routine."
"He has a routine, all right," said Mr. King. "But he changes it whenever it suits him. We get a lot of nonworking regulars here, and he's probably the most selfish one. All about him at all times."
She smiled. He was a military man who appreciated order so of course he had a name for the indigent segment of building visitors.
"Nonworking regulars?" she asked.
"Doesn't work in the building or anywhere, could be somewhere else but is here every single day. Sometimes he hangs around out front, bumming cigarettes. He doesn't smoke but he swaps with other nonworking regulars. Last week I saw him trade three cigarettes for the autobiography of Steve Jobs. Go figure."
They were making their way in front of the the back escalators toward the cell phone counter. The youngest man who worked there, with a sweet face and dispostion to match, looked up from screwing a phone into its stand and smiled.
"Hey," he said to them. "How are you two today?"
"Fine, thanks," she lied. "Have a nice day."
"Great, man," said Mr. King, and nodded at him.
They continued walking and she realized Mr. King was taking her to the bank of elevators that led to the office building lobby. No zigzagging up the two sets of escalators, just directly to the elevators which he knew she preferred.
He pressed the up button.
"I saw your friend before. The one you're always with? About five minutes ago. He looked concerned."
"You mean Lee?" she asked and described him vaguely.
"Is that his name? Yeah, nice guy. Is he okay? He's usually smiling. Nice guy."
"He's fine," she said. "I think he's worried about, well, me."
Mr. King looked her up and down, his eyes meeting hers.
"Do I have to worry about you today?"
Right then the elevator came with a loud ding, the green arrow on its external box pointing up.
"Please don't worry about me, Mr. King," she said. "It's just one of those things."
She stepped on the elevator and turned around.
"I'll be thinking about you and hoping you have a blessed day."
She managed a big grin for him.
"You, too, Mr. King," she said.
"I hope to see you later," he said and the doors shut.
The elevator went nowhere because she'd not pushed the button. It sat there for about a minute and the doors popped open. Mr. King was still standing there.
"Do you want me to take you up to the lobby?" he asked.
"No, no, no," she said. "I'll push the button." A pause and, "Thanks again, Mr. King."
He smiled as the doors closed.
She pressed two, where people went for the bar and the order-food-and-sit-down restaurant with padded seating and windows that looked out onto the street. While the bar didn't open until lunch, the restaurant opened early. The coffee was terrible but the food was pretty good and filling. Coffee refills were free -- bad free was still free -- and unless you made a stir or caused trouble, they never asked customers to move along.
She wished she'd thought of this place earlier and got in line, paying for a medium coffee. She loaded it up with lowfat milk and artificial sweetener. She headed to the back, where no one could see her unless they came all the way inside, settling down on a banquette that put her back to the wall, all the restaurant before her, like she was didn't want to be surprised by the assassins who might be coming for her.