I sprawled out on my snow-white sheets with a blank page of my sketchbook open, I bit gently on my pencil and attempted to tap into my creative side of the brain for the hundredth time today, but still nothing. It was my final assessment and I would finally have my designer degree, not that I needed it, I already worked with my mother and I would take over the business in a year.
My mother owned The Clemonte Fashion Boutique which she opened using all her savings twenty-five years ago, after meeting my father. My father already had millions by that time, since his own father (my grandfather) died from cancer at fifty-five years of age and passed down the family business to his one and only son.
Even though my family was filthy rich, I still had to work for my share of success. If you didn’t have a degree, it didn’t matter how rich you were, people would never respect you. That was the family motto. My dad had a bachelor’s degree in business and majored in finance, my older brother Mason had also completed a bachelor’s degree in business but majored in economics.
My dad owned multiple investment companies and in a few years my brother would take over. That’s how the Clemonte family worked, we were expected to follow in our parents’ footsteps from a young age. It wasn’t as bad as it sounded, I enjoyed designing fashion pieces and I was good at it too.
Last year a few of the pieces that I designed landed on the front pages of magazines, I was proud of myself, but my mother always wanted more from me. I sometimes wondered what I would have done with my life if I had a choice, but I tried not to dwell too much on that.
My long, platinum blonde hair fell onto the page, I brushed it out of the way and sighed. I’ve been in my room all day trying to sketch ten pieces of contemporary swimwear, but my mind has been elsewhere.
It was my twenty-first birthday in two days on Saturday, my mum and Stella, my best friend practically my sister insisted they throw me a party. Stella and I were childhood friends, our parents use to go on vacation together when were little and she only lived a few streets away from my house.
I guess you could say this was the upper-class suburban neighbourhood, it was a close drive to the city but far enough that you didn’t hear the busy streets. The timeless, extravagant homes were owned by hardworking businessmen and their beautiful, housewives who had nothing better to do than gossip and shop while their husbands were away and their kids already sent off to college.
The streets were spacious and tree-lined, every house had a large, modern sliding gate with security cameras even though there hasn’t been a crime here since before I was born. As you can imagine, our house was unnecessarily large.
With multiple-businesses and a famous fashion designer, Elizabeth Clemonte (aka my mother), the Clemonte’s were considered the wealthiest family in the country.
I decided to stretch my legs and go get a glass of water. I had to walk past my dad’s office to get to the kitchen, his light was still on and I heard voices. He must be having one of his meetings again, he always worked late and since my brother graduated a few years ago, dad has already dragged him to the men’s family business. Not that Mason objected, Mason had always been interested in taking over our family business, ‘someone has to carry down the legacy’ as he would say.
As I walked past my father’s office, I glanced in, there were three men in the room. Mason, my brother, my father and a man that I haven’t seen before, Mason’s friend I assumed or my father’s co-worker, or both. Mason’s friends all came from wealthy families, I mean all the individuals that we associated with were well-respected and well-off, it was all about connections.
Mason sat in an office chair with his back to me, he looked a lot like our father, tall, dark hair, the complete opposite to me except for our prominent blue eyes, they were almost translucent, like the palest blue glass. Since finishing college, he looked like he had aged a decade, constantly working and travelling for business meetings, I barely had time to see him.
My dad’s broad shoulders hunched in the chair next to Mason’s and he ran a hand through his slightly greyish hair. In front of them, there were documents scattered and they were both in deep conversation, pointing to and discussing different files.
The other man was leaning against my father’s desk, his body was facing me, and his expression was focused on the paperwork that he held out in front of him.
I paused for a second to get a better look at him. His dark hair was cut short on the sides with the top slightly longer and slicked to the left. His hand slid up to stroke his neatly trimmed stubble as a knot formed between his eyebrows, he looked around my brother’s age, mid-twenties.
He was wearing a dark suit but even through the layers of clothing, and the distance between us, I could make out the outline of his muscular figure. He clearly worked out to have a body like that and I found myself wondering if he looked as good without any clothes on.
His gaze shifted to mine and his eyebrows furrowed in engrossment while his emerald green eyes travelled up and down my body, not once but multiple times. I stood confidently--straighter, taller, letting him examine me and even smirking in the process. When his eyes landed on mine again, he tilted his head to the side and his enticing lips turned up at the corners as if he was offering me a challenge, but I could've been reading into this much more than it was intended.
I held his gaze for a second longer as I bit down on my lower lip and his smile widened, Mason looked up at his friend, and before Mason could look back to see what his friend was ogling, I quickly disappeared behind the corner.
I've seen my fair share of handsome men, but this one seemed to captivate me from the first glance. However, I knew the unspoken rule, dad’s co-workers and Mason’s friends were off-limits. Even if they weren’t, which they definitely were...I have a boyfriend. Samuel McCoy.
I have been dating Sam for six months now, it all happened with one kiss. We were watching movies in my room one night, and Sam just leaned in and kissed me. I kissed him back. From then on, we have been acting like we were together, never official but my parents were ecstatic, he was everything they dreamed of. Handsome, successful, comes from a well-respected family. My family is close with his and we were pretty much destined to be together since we were born.
I knew I would never be able to find someone that my parents approved of like Sam, I’m sure they planned our wedding when we were still in nappies. Don’t get me wrong, Sam was perfect, I couldn’t find a flaw in him. He was about to finish law school with the perfect GPA, so the guy definitely had brains.
His genes also didn’t fail him in the looks department, he was six feet tall and had broad shoulders, a ‘footballer’s body’ some would say, due to playing all throughout high school years. His hair was dark blonde, and his eyes were the type of brown that was like sweet chocolate.
He did everything right, the perfect gentleman. The boy was in love with me since primary school and I loved him too. But it wasn’t the kind of love where it swept you up in the whirlwind and gave you butterflies but I hoped that someday it would become that.
“Charlotte, darling, what coloured theme would you like for your party? I was thinking silver with a touch of pink because that’s your favourite but we don’t want to make it too pink...” my mother trailed off. She was seated at the kitchen table with her planning book wide open on one side and her laptop on the other side.
She glanced up at me with her mature pale blue eyes, and with an index finger pushed her wide glasses further up the bridge of her slightly turned-up nose. She was in her early fifties but looked ten years younger with her styled blonde hair which sat perfectly just above her shoulders. She brought her index finger to her wide, thin-lipped mouth, and touched it to her tongue to it before she softly used the same finger to turn the page of her planning book.
“Whatever you think would be best, mother,” I replied flatly, as I filled a tall, frosty glass with cool water. I didn’t want this party, all I wanted was a normal night with my friends, where we would go to a club and dance till the sun came up.
There was no point arguing with my mother, she would find any excuse to throw an excessive party and invite everyone we knew. She tried to make it sound like it was about me, but I knew after the first hour, the house would be filled with conversations about business and money. But that was the plan, wait till the grown-ups were preoccupied and then my friends and I would escape to a bar in the city.
Back in my room, I sat on the bed too quickly and spilled the glass of water down my shirt, “Crap,” I mumbled to myself as I took my shirt off and threw it in the laundry basket which was in my ensuite.
“Ahem, excuse me, I seem to be lost, where is the bathroom?” I looked up from the sketch pad and I was met with a pool of green eyes on me, the same man from my father’s office. His sleeves were slightly rolled up and I could see black ink peaking from under his Rolex watch and just above his collar.
I could appreciate his features better now that he was under the light and closer, I took the opportunity to admire his face, he had a manly look to him, something that drew me in completely. The stubble on his jaw was dark and slightly over-grown. His lips were turned up slightly, forming a smirk, as he continued to study me as if I was the most interesting thing in the world. He had bags underneath his eyes like he hadn’t slept in days but that did nothing to his looks.
I was aware that my shirt was off, I was laying on my bed on my stomach, in my bra and he was enjoying the view. I slowly put the pencil in between my front teeth and flicked my tongue over it as I looked up and kept my eyes on his. I brushed my hair to one side, revealing my bare shoulder and his body stilled. I played with my bra strap while biting my lip, his expression didn’t give anything away.
He leaned on my bedroom door, still smirking at me like he found me amusing, if it wasn’t for his jaw that slightly stiffened, I would have thought that I was making a fool out of myself.
“Cole!” I heard Mason’s voice echo through the house, that must be this enticing man’s name.
“Fuck,” Cole grumbled as he unwillingly turned his back and strode towards Mason’s voice.
It took a moment for me to realise what just happened, I groaned and covered my face with my hands from embarrassment. That was not my usual behaviour, I was much more conservative and closed-off around unfamiliar men. I blamed it on my boredom, sitting in my room all day must have influenced my thinking capabilities.
I didn’t want to admit to myself that my actions were brought on by the unacquainted feeling in my stomach from when I first laid my eyes on Cole. I closed my eyes and hoped that this wasn’t the last time I would see this gorgeous man.