The first thing he noticed was the release of that tight, stale air feeling. No matter how many times he flew, it always amazed him how exiting the plane was like his body was finally able to take the good, clean, deep breath in hours. San Francisco International Airport was brighter and busier than Jonah Parker expected at just shy of Nine in the morning. He hadn’t slept at all on the plane, anticipation was always keeping him awake on flights, and the smell of a nearby Starbucks made Parker realize just how tired he was. With just three hours until the big meeting, Parker wondered if he could squeeze in a quick nap before heading to the high tech town of Palo Alto and Dragon One Ventures. Parker knew how important this audit would be for his career and the stories he’s heard of Dragon One’s young, enigmatic VC had Parker already intimidated. He vainly hoped a 20 minute power nap would suffice.
Luckily, The Four Seasons was just off the highway and there were more than enough taxis lined up at this hour. Parker had traveled light. He had just a carry on and a garment bag holding his best suits to avoid the feared mad-rush for baggage claim. Clearly, that wasn’t going to be the case. He wasn’t sure how long he would be staying in Palo Alto, Dragon One’s representatives had been strangely unclear with the parameters of the audit, but he had assured Willa when he left that he would be fine for now and had already prepared a box of things for her to send him, just in case. Parker counted back the time difference as he stepped out to the short queue for a taxi and figured 6:30am was too early to call Willa in Boston. A surprising white and very clean taxi pulled up in front of him, gleaming in the pale California sunlight.
“Four Seasons, Palo Alto please,” Parker said to the baby-faced driver.
“You got it.” The kid, thought Parker was one to talk as his thirty-six-year-old self was constantly getting carded at bars, chugged the rest of a Red Bull before pulling out into the growing Arrivals traffic.
Parker settled in the back and fired off a quick text to Willa. Made it, call you later after the meeting. Miss you. Parker hesitated with adding I love you, they were newly engaged after all, but something about affections via text always seemed foreign to him. Grunting to himself, he hit send, sands love.
The Four Seasons was much nicer than any of the hotels Parker was used to staying in on business. Typically companies weren’t thrilled to put up the auditor in even the three star category places; Dragon One clearly functioned on a different level.
“This is one of our best rooms, Mr. Parker,” a smiling concierge boasted as he checked in. “Mr. Drake saw to it himself, and he wanted you to know that whatever you need is on behalf of Dragon One,” she continued, “Mr. Drake wanted to be sure that you would be most comfortable, so please do not hesitate to ring for anything. I’m Kristen and you can ask for me personally.”
Parker was entranced by her gleaming smile, teeth all white and straight and perfect. He stared at her mouth as he thought how strange it was for Connor Drake, a powerful VC, to personally see to his sleeping arrangements. She didn’t relax the smile the entire time she spoke and yet her face didn’t look forced. He looked up when he noticed her mouth was no longer moving and realized that it was his turn to say something.
“Thank you. Kristen,” Parker murmured awkwardly. Kristen outstretched a perfectly manicured hand, delicately gripping his room key.
“Pleasant stay,” she grinned even wider than before, showcasing each and every pearly white. It bordered on gruesome but somehow her sunny demeanour made it more pleasing. Parker nodded a thanks, as he plucked the card from her hand and headed for the elevator.
Glancing at his phone he noted he had a little over an hour before he had to leave for the meeting with Mr. Drake himself. Just enough time to nap, shower, get ready and prepare himself for what was ahead.
The elevator signaled its arrival with a low ding and opened, empty. Parker stepped in, wheeling his carry on behind him, suddenly very aware of how exhausted and wary he felt about this whole trip. He jabbed 7 and it glowed red, waking the elevator as it effortlessly climbed to the top floor of suites. The elevator doors opened to reveal a long, wide corridor with a bowl of apples and cookies halfway down, I could get used to this, Parker thought.
He made his way down the minimalist, yet clearly lavishly decorated, hallway to suite 757. The room was more than Parker expected, taken right out the glossy pages of some designer living magazine. Everything screamed luxury and comfort. Then through the living room doorway he spied the bed. King sized and puffed up all in white, it looked like heaven. Parker left his carry on in the living room and draped the garment bag over one of the large tables, focusing only on getting some quick sleep. He would need it. In less than 120 minutes, Parker could never have known he would be meeting that man that would change his life.