1 | The Offer
All I could see was blue. The entire hall was decorated with blue furnishings and walls. From floor to wall, sofa to the carpet. It was all blue. Even the goddamn chandelier was blue! A deep sense of utter nausea settles inside my stomach as my artistic side shudders at the mess in front of me.
I mean why hire an interior designer if you are going to be one who’s going to decorate and orchestrate the whole thing?
The bright blue color was making me feel suffocated. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m here. Being one of the top-notch interior designers of Washington, my time was priceless, and yet here I am – wasting it. Today was the last day of seeing how my crew members were doing.
Yeah, like they had no choice except for moving things here and there.
Apparently, the bank owner for whom I was designing this time; His girlfriend had a serious fetish with the color blue. The man was in his mid-seventies, almost as old as my grandfather and his girlfriend was a twenty-year-old plastic doll.
I know that I sound biased and judgemental but let’s be real, deep down, we are all like that.
However, I wasn’t being too judgemental about the girlfriend. Everything about her seemed fake starting from her nasal voice to her lash extensions which often made me wonder, what if she flies away just by batting them.
For a man who married five times, I didn’t expect any better. Honestly, I don’t even know what I was expecting from a situation as common as in today’s world like this. It was not like I stalked my clients or anything, but I always liked to be informed about themselves beforehand signing the contract.
Suddenly someone poked me from behind making me halt my thoughts. Turning around in my power pumps, my eyes level with the sleazy frame of Jacob Yuri.
You see, Jacob is Mr. Yuri’s son (aka my disgusting pervert of a client). He had that stupid smile on his face which he thinks makes every woman fall on their knees. The same smile my perverted client gave me the day I first arrived here in Los Angeles when he practically had his girlfriend attached to his arm although if I’m not wrong, the woman was busy eyeing the hunky security guard of the arrival terminal.
An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree huh?
“Hey Fee Fee!” he exclaims with a ridiculous grin plastered on his face making me cringe inwardly at his given nickname.
“Hi” I simply replied knowing what was about to come next.
“So, I was- ′Ah shit, here we go again! ′ - wondering are you free tonight”
“Umm no, I’m not. Actually, I have a date tonight” I lied.
I mean I had to. This was like what? The 7th time he was asking me out in the time span of four days. I was trying my best to remain polite and professional but it’s kind of hard when the other individual constantly harasses you with one single proposal only to get rejected over and over again. That kind of makes me wonder, does he get some type of high from getting rejected?
“Besides don’t you have work to do?” I asked as I moved forward towards the porch, trying to get some space away from him because he was seriously invading my private space.
But, if only he took the hint...
I sigh deeply as I watch him follow me outside the house. I might as well start imagining him with a wagging tail.
Oh wait, I just did!
But before he could say anything further, I turned on my phone and tapped the settings app and after finding my ringtone, I pressed it, making it look as if someone was calling me. I raised my hand motioning for him to stop talking while pretending to be talking on the phone. Muttering a few lame one-sided conversation dialogues, I was done with my poor acting which surprisingly worked and I hesitantly turned around to face him “Look I’ve got to go now. Urgent office calls. Tell your dad that my job here is done and that he can move in inside the house after tomorrow. My crew’s work here is done as well. And if he has any other objections, tell him to email me”
Without giving him a chance to say anything further, I quickly stride towards the car that I rented for the trip and after climbing inside, I start the car ignition. Driving my way out of the blue hole they will be calling home within a few days, I cruise my way into the busy LA streets. It was a bright day with a gentle breeze. A perfect day for going to a beach but I wasn’t a sunny kind of person. I preferred rainy weather. Hence, the reason for me living in Seattle.
I flew to LA for a couple of weeks to handle Mr. Yuri’s project. To be honest, the whole project was a waste of time. I did nothing except for visiting the local restaurants and checking the boutiques.
Huh! Like you had any other option.
I was exceptionally irritated by this because my time is highly precious to me. I wasn’t willing to throw it away for such meaningless projects. Even though the commission was quite high, I still wasn’t satisfied because of my lack of work. It was like someone tied my hands and I hated it. I hated not being in control.
Also, I abhorred the fact that I missed a very big charity event. It was hosted by a non-profitable organization that provides shelter to homeless people. The event was held yesterday in Washington but unfortunately, I missed it all because of this ridiculous sham.
Today my flight is at 3 pm and the digital clock on the dock now reads 10 am. Before checking out of the hotel I decide to go to a local coffee shop that serves amazing croissants. To say that I’m hungry would be an understatement, I’m famished. Sadly enough, breakfast wasn’t in my list of priorities this morning because I couldn’t wait to wash off my hands from this project.
Reaching the café, I park my rented black BMW M4 on the side of the street and get out of the car. Brushing away strands of hair that managed to escape my ponytail and are now sticking on the side of the face due to the persistent humidity, I make my way towards the front door of the coffee shop.
As soon as I open the door, I’m thrown with the addictive aroma of fresh coffee beans and cream pastries of many sorts.
I order myself a cup of iced caramel latte and a plate full of spicy cream-cheese stuffed croissants and settle down on one of the empty two-seater tables. The cafe had a vibrant Parisian theme, which reminded me of my favorite coffee shop back in Seattle.
I missed home.
As I sip the sweet concoction of the iced beverage, the ringing of my phone causes me to look down at the phone display, noticing that the caller ID read ‘Dear killjoy’. Swiping the green icon on the screen, I press the phone against my ear and soon I’m greeted with the deep voice of my elder brother, Adrian.
“Hey Pheebs, how’s the vacation going?” he asks giving a slight chuckle in the end and his amused voice gives away his mockery towards me.
Rolling my eyes, I answer, “The last time I checked, I don’t remember mentioning that I’m here on a vacation”
“Oh c’mon it’s not that bad” he snorted.
“You’re right. It’s not bad. It’s terrible and I miss Seattle” I sigh dejectedly and glance at my watch, noting with disapproval just how slow the time’s passing by today.
I hear him sigh at the end of the line before he begins or more like stutters, “So...uh-h, how are things going-g at UrbanCresent?”
Sensing something wrong, I narrow my eyes in suspicion at his stuttering because one thing about Adrian is that he’s one confident bastard. He never stutters.
“Ok, mind telling me what’s wrong?” I thought the line died since I almost started hearing crickets on the other side. After a while, he gave out a long frustrated sigh and I realized something was terribly wrong.
“Adr-” I was cut off when he said “Nate is in Seattle”
After hearing those four words coming out of his mouth, I felt my world spiraling erratically against its axis. I resist the burning urge to hurl my breakfast on the floor by the mention of that name after almost nine years. Just the thought of that particular person made my eyes brim with tears and sent shivers down my spine.
Damn it, Phoebe! Don’t go there...
The phone slipped out of my grasp and landed on the table with a dramatic loud thud and the sound made me recompose myself from the shock that I was previously facing. I quickly check if my phone is alright or not, thankfully it is.
The last thing I need is my phone to be broken just a few hours before my flight.
Quickly muttering, “I have to go, bro” I end the call.
After sitting like a statue for what feels like 5 more minutes, I start taking deep breaths in and out, something I became a master at doing over the last 9 years. Gaining my self-control back, I exit the cool confines of the shop and make my way towards the hotel after entering my car.
(8 hours later...)
Paying the Taxi driver, I make my way to my own personal heaven.
My house was like my hibernating cave and I can bet that nothing beats the feeling of returning back home after staying away for a long time. I designed this villa right 4 months before graduation. I was indeed extremely lucky to be born into a rich family. But just because my father was wealthy didn’t mean that I was a spoilt brat.
My mum and dad taught me how to be humble, courteous, gracious, behaving, and so on. They always supported all of my decisions. I learned to live my life in a simple elegant way despite earning 5 figures every month. I learned at a very young age that life wasn’t as easy as it seemed and not everyone was blessed with a privileged life.
It molded me into the person I am today.
Each and every month I make sure that half of the money that I earned goes to charity. It gives me immense joy to know that someone out there is getting food and shelter because of me.
Heaving a deep sigh, I open the black iron gates at the entrance and enter the white rose garden that surrounds my house. The scenery is peaceful and therapeutic to look at. The neighbors always make sure to tell me how much my home resembles the ′Paradise’, which is kind of disturbing because I don’t recall reading about living people knowing what paradise looks like unless they are dead.
In a sense, it is quite hilarious, my home might represent heaven but my soul is the absolute opposite.
It’s darkened like an eclipse.
Opening the door, I make my way inside the foyer and shrug out of my black blazer before tossing it on top of the kitchen counter. I make my way towards the living room and plop down on one of the leather couch facing the built-in fireplace.
All the jetlag that I experienced due to my flight was killing my head, making it throb like a drum.
After deciding to make myself a cup of hot coffee, I rise up from the couch and head towards the kitchen at a snail’s pace, and make a strong cup of black coffee for myself. Pumping the caffeine into my system, I feel energized and suddenly the ringing of my phone breaks me out of my momentary peace.
Releasing a frustrated sigh, I saunter towards the couch where I left my purse. Once I’m done retrieving the phone out of my purse, I check the caller ID and not that it’s Ava, my childhood bestfriend. My grouchy mood brightens instantly since it’s been a long time since we talked. Swiping the screen I am greeted with such a loud squeal that it compels me to remove the phone several inches away from my ear.
“Guess who just dumped that lame excuse of a boyfriend John?” she squeals and her statement captures my attention.
“Whoa, what?” I ask in a daze.
What is this? ‘Surprise Phoebe with unexpected news’ day?
You see, John is- correction- was Ava’s douche boyfriend whom I deeply despise with every fiber of my bone. That guy literally managed to ruin Ava’s life by forbidding her to go out or anywhere. And now I’m extremely glad that he hopefully out of the picture.
“Ok I know that you just landed almost an hour ago but can you please meet me at my house, I desperately need someone to talk to and share the pizza with,” she says pleadingly and I almost imagine her pouting like a kid that the adorable person that she is.
“Yeah, sure. I mean this clearly deserves a celebration. I’ll be there within twenty minutes and I’ll bring the wine too” I say while making a beeline towards my bedroom. Getting inside, I quickly run towards the bathroom whilst managing not to break my neck by slipping on the cold tiles and take the shortest shower that I’ve ever taken
Washing the grimy feeling of the journey and feeling fresh afterward from the shower, I rush towards my closet and pick out dark blue denim jeans and a black crossed neck top. On my way out of the closet, I pick up my Louis V brown boots and close the doors. From the bedside table, I quickly grab my car keys and head towards the fridge to pick up a sealed bottle of Boudreaux.
Upon reaching the front door, I pick up my house keys and close the door locking it on my way out. It takes me 10 minutes to reach 5th avenue, thanks to the non-existent nighttime traffic. Ava happens to live in a gorgeous condo that overlooks Elliot Bay.
Reaching outside the huge building of her condo, I hand my car keys to the valet and enter the pristine glass floor-to-ceiling foyer of the building. The receptionist recognizes me immediately and passes a friendly smile which I mirror back.
No one ever questioned me here since I visited quite Ava frequently.
Entering the confines of the steel elevator, I start checking my phone for any missed calls or texts and notice a bunch of missed calls from Adrian and a couple of calls from my therapist.
Perhaps seeing my therapist is exactly the thing I need right now.
I have to admit that I am kind of avoiding my therapy sessions with Dr. Alana Axton. She is absolutely one of a kind.
She always worries about me and is a very dear friend of mine who often calls me out on my shit, not like I minded. She is one of those people who have the brain of a genius yet for some reason chose to be psychiatric for her own personal reason. She is truly an amazing human being. Thinking about her instantly makes me smile because, despite her irritating probing about my feelings towards certain situations to understand my mentality, I actually like her.
I quickly leave her a brief text saying that I’ll see her tomorrow at the hospital.
The dinging sound of the elevator forces me to look up from my phone screen as the polished green-carpeted hall of the 17th floor comes into view. I make my way towards door no. 1703 and the sound of my boots gets muffled in the thick carpet covering the floors of the hall.
Before I could ring the calling bell of the door, it dramatically swings open revealing a gorgeous raven-haired woman wearing an oversized black Metallica t-shirt paired with white cashmere lounge shorts. Her wavy waist-length hair was tied in a high ponytail revealing her slender neck and light caramel skin.
“Phoebe!” Ava exclaims joyously with childlike glee and grabs me in a bear hug. My face instantly breaks into an enormous grin as I reflect her enthusiasm.
It feels great to be in Ava’s arms after such a long time. She is the only person who possesses the ability to understand me like no one else and who has always been there for me in my dark days. For some reason, thinking about all this overwhelms me and makes me teary-eyed, causing me to release her from my hold to discreetly rub my eyes.
Noticing my actions, she frowns before asking me, “Hey Pheebs is everything alright? Is there something you are not telling me?”
I quickly flash an assuring smile and tell her “It’s just good to see you after such a long time”. Nodding her head, she opens the door wide and I enter her unit.
It is just like I remember - all dark hardwood floors and warm beige walls. The curtains of the windows at the far end of the room near the entertainment area are moved to a side revealing the stunning Seattle skyline beside the calming shores of Elliot Bay. The lights from the skyscraper twinkle like stars in the darkness of the night.
Looking down, I notice the coffee table littered with Ice cream cartons of various flavors, three boxes of pizzas, and a good number of beer cans. With the number of things laid out on the table, it’s pretty much obvious that I would gain at least 8 pounds by the end of the night. When I turn around, I find her heading towards the kitchen, presumably looking for a corkscrew to open the bottle of French Bordeaux that I handed her on my way in.
Feeling the exhaustion of the whole day kick in, I plant myself on the spacious loveseat facing the television to the left.
After what feels like an eternity, she returns with clear crystal wine glasses, opens the bottle of wine with a slight ‘pop’, and settles down on the brown armchair on my right while handing me one of the heavy glasses. As soon as I take the first sip, my taste buds are hit with the sensational taste of something fruity with a slight hint of mineral leaving a prickly feeling in its wake.
“So, what do you want to watch? Horror, comedy, or romance?” Ava asks whilst flicking her way through the numerous Netflix suggestions.
“Anything but horror,” I say whilst warily eyeing the painting ′The flaying of Marsyas’ mounted on top of the fireplace on my left. Realizing my fear, she lets out a small laugh and starts scrolling through the movies and we decide to watch ‘The Last Summer’ starring KJ Apa.
By the time the movie has ended along with the bottle of wine, various ice cream tubs, and pizzas, I start feeling droopy with the excessive alcohol and carbs in my system.
However, instead of closing my eyes, I down a glass of water to feel sober and face Ava who is still munching on a slice of pizza looking unbothered by the amount of alcohol she consumed tonight.
Boy, she must be really sad to devour all of that without any remorse or regard for her health
Ava was one of those people who were really conscious about their bodies. She always took care of her body but never resisted a slice of pizza if offered. How she manages to remain fit and lean eating all that junk food is still beyond me.
“So tell me...” I drawl out tipsily, looking towards my beloved best friend who passes me an amused smile while munching on her food “...what exactly happened between you and John. Because the last time I checked, you were pretty much hung up on him and he was still the douche that he was” Her smile immediately gets wiped off at the mention of her ex which almost makes me regret my question with a frown on my face.
Way to go at cheering up your bestfriend, Pheebs, way to fucking go!
With an audible sigh, she replies “Things were pretty much low ever since he returned from New York after his book signing. I knew that something was off in his behavior even after he constantly reassured me that he was fine. I know I was naive to believe him and not listen to you but I guess deep down I never wanted to believe that he was wrong or that he was capable of doing anything wrong”
My blood starts boiling instantly as I watch her dejected face and I almost lose it when she says “Yesterday I went to his apartment to surprise him but instead I was surprised seeing him with a blond girl in his arms. And of course, they were declaring their undying love for each other and making out on the couch” She pauses with a huff before continuing again “I mean I never really loved him but it simply hurt to see him cheating on me when I put effort at the end of our relationship even after knowing that it wasn’t going anywhere. I felt rejected more than betrayed” she said speaking the last sentence so softly that I almost had to strain my ear to listen to her.
Honestly speaking, if it happened to any other person I would’ve laughed my ass off because the whole thing sounded so cliché but after seeing Ava like this, so vulnerable, I pushed the ‘Nate’s in Seattle’ ranting in the back of my head and decided to not burden her with my problems. She had enough on her plate already.
Without thinking about my life any further, I grab her in a comforting embrace with her head resting on my shoulders.
This is the bond we share. We always understand when either one of us needs comfort or just mental support and when we need to stay quiet to give the other person space and right now I knew that she needs someone to not pity her but to simply hold her, and being her close friend, I have to be that person and understand her pain. It may sound like some job but in reality, I’m honored to be her bestfriend and I’m glad that I can be there for her because she has always been there for me.
By the time my head starts to feel hazy, she pulls herself out of my arms and gives me one of her glorious ‘I’m all okay now’ smile and immediately widens her eyes as if remembering something and says “Oh dear! I almost forgot to tell you. Remember I was talking to you over the phone the other day about an event in Monaco?” I nod slowly and curiously implore her to go on.
She continues “So my next project is in France and I’m going to need an interior designer for two weeks to design the palace halls and other places where the event will be held because my usual designer is on maternity leave.
“Each and every year the Russo and Hunter family lavish extravagant throw charity events in exotic places like Paris, Hawaii, India, and thousands of natives and their guests gather to witness it. It’s a huge deal.
“So this year they are going to hold it in Monaco and want me to be their event planner. This is going to be a huge breakthrough for me and your firm if we manage to make it memorable. The Russo and Hunters are both richer than the Royal family of England and are very reputable too.
“If we can pull this off, they will reward us heavily and since you are my best friend and knowing how successful you are in the designing department, I want you to be there with me. In fact, Noah is going to be there too since it’s his family business co-hosting it. In fact, he’s the one who recommended us to his cousin who’s the CEO of Hunter industries! So, what do you say?”
To say I was glad hearing the news would be an understatement, I was absolutely elated! Not only did it mean vacation for me but also a good opportunity for my interior designing firm, UrbanCresent. And I get to have my best friends by my side. Not to mention working for people as powerful as the Hunter Industries. I’ve always heard so much about them. Also, that’ll mean that I’ll be successful at avoiding bumping into him in the city.
Could I be any happier?
In fact, Noah is going to be there too.
Noah Hunter is one of our other bestfriends. Ava and I met him in middle school when he changed schools transferred to the ones where we were studying. Ava already knew him as they used to be neighbors and playmates back when they were kids but they never went to the same school. I think it has almost been a month since I last talked with him.
He joined his family business right after graduation since he’s a huge business fanatic. The three of us used to hang out all the time until we all became busy with our jobs, Noah with his business, Ava with her Event planner job, and me with building my firm. It was hectic.
After realizing that Ava was still waiting for my response, I raise my hand in the air and say “I’m in of course!”
A/N- OK guys, so this is my first time writing. I would really appreciate it if you share your thoughts with me about this chapter. And please feel free to point out my grammatical mistakes and other errors. Many of you readers who already read this chapter before might be confused since I changed a lot of things. I was really not happy with my last plot so I decided to change it. Hope you all enjoy the new version of the first chapter! And if you like it, please leave a review.
P.S- English is NOT my first language so please forgive my error about the grammar and location.
Thank you! With lots of love,