ISC Paris Business School. It took so long to figure out what in the world those first three letters meant. He bet he spent the first year there without even knowing the acronym. But, after spending three years there and undertaking the bachelor's program, he didn't really care anymore.
A business school was never his first choice...as were most things, he supposed. He would have preferred the prestigious, oldest university in Paris if his opinion mattered. Paris-Sorbonne University;. home to the study of arts, various languages, human sciences, communication, education, and classical literature. Most of them were interesting, but useless for what had been planned out for him.
The bachelor's degree flew by whenever he took a few moments to think back on it. That first year was a challenge, mostly because everything was in English instead of French. A standard for the school to prepare the student for international dealings, probably. Thankfully, due to so much "rigorous" home-schooling by Natalie, he had no trouble excelling in his classes and getting an edge on most of his fellow beginner students in much of the vocabulary.
The whole first year was just basic business stuff. Some things he was already aware of by being under his father's thumb for so long. Another helper, although unintentional. He would've been more thankful if he wanted to be there in the first place.
It was so boring for more reasons than he could count, and he would have struggled if the information were more unknown to him. Those were little blessings that he held dear whenever he drifted off on a topic he was slightly familiar with and the teacher noticed. Every time, he would redirect any queries about his lack of attention with questions he had about the topic to show that not only did he know what was going on, but he had something to bring to the class.
The first half of year one made him "Gabriel's Son" and a few girls were actually awed at sitting next to him. It was a fun distraction during class and it made group projects a little more bearable on the days he really didn't want to be there. It wore off by the end of the year when everyone was more used to him though. He supposed it was fine; it wasn't like he advertised his status by being there. A few times, some of those slipped notes got him in trouble, and it was annoying to have to listen to his teacher go on about his responsibility as a role model because of who he was.
A role model. Right.
The only reason he got through the second year was because the third year had a short-term, study abroad program attached to it. He still couldn't believe his father let him go! Course, it WAS Milan and it wasn't a runway show during that time. Even if it was, he knew his father would have flown him back for the event, school be damned.
Ah Milan...close enough to be called upon when necessary, yet far enough away from his father's grasp for a little while. A mere hour and a half of a flight, and he could have spent more on lunch in Italy than his father would spend on plane fare.
Without a doubt, those were the best times out of all three years of that program. He could've gone to other English-speaking countries to finish out the degree, but Milan was one of the options and his father wanted him to round out his Italian for the future. That city was the biggest fashion rival to Paris and it was good to know everything others did, including their ways of speaking. His father didn't like going through translators because slip-ups meant serious business problems. Because of that, Gabriel was fluent in Italian, along with English and Japanese, and expected such things from his son as well.
Not that it was a problem; learning languages was fairly fun. He had been given Chinese during his home-schooling years by a native speaker in the past and still practiced with the person twice a month to keep his skills up because his father had been breaking into the Hong Kong markets lately.
Natalie was called upon to give her expertise when Gabriel found out that the program called for studying abroad. She tutored him during year two and when it came time to leave, he was only brushing up on his conversation skills via books he purchased for the plane ride over.
It would have been a wilder experience had his teachers not been informed to report to Natalie if anything unsightly happened. A slip in the grade, not turning his homework in on time, wild parties, too many late nights out...
Did his father think that twenty-year-old males just stayed home every single night and studied?
It took about a month to get the "system" down, but once he figured out how to get out without getting caught, he took advantage of it whenever possible. A few clubs, some quiet strolls, a couple of quaint dates, sneaking out of a few rooms late in the evening...
Those four months flew by, but they were memories he still went back to time and time again. Whenever he was bored, in the middle of homework, not really focusing as he should in class... Often times, he reminisced about those days when he cut loose more than he ever had. The freedom was nice. Even though he had class responsibilities every day, they were managed with ease and the fun he had was more than he had seen in all his school years.
Immediately after obtaining his bachelor's in "Specialization in Luxury Management", he was enrolled right into a master's program. Not even a break to enjoy his hard work! Not that he was really shocked. Whenever he thought back to the conversation with his father, he didn't even know why he was that stunned in the first place. He was only twenty-two; of course his father was going to want him to spend his best years getting as many degrees as possible to best represent the company when he was forced to take it over someday...
What was the point in finding some down time when he never had it in the first place?
Even if he was an adult by legal standards, he would never get out of the impressive shadow that was his father. Even if he technically worked for his father, he only saw the money in food and rooming he didn't pay for so he really had no money to strike out on his own with.
It was probably that conversation which had him shrugging his shoulders and trudging back into ISC, a little older, but a little wiser. A part of him wanted to rebel more than those few sentences he had attempted, but after going through so much, it was almost pointless to try at this time in his life.
"Gabriel's Son" was back, but the people he had taken bachelor's classes with didn't pay him the same attention as that first year. It didn't matter really; he didn't care much for the popularity it brought him in the first place and at times it was annoying to have girls fawn over him because his face was better than most. The great thing about those in the master's classes was that everyone was much more professional than the undergrad classmates. Those students were still around, but now he didn't pay them much mind whenever they stopped in the hallway with saucer eyes as he passed.
The beginning of the year was most annoying because his father kept pulling him away more for photo shoots and clothing fittings for the upcoming, winter show. The main ideas had been initialized and now was the time for the model to walk in the outfit so people could poke and prod, pull and bunch up fabric to get that look which made him appear the best on the catwalk. Natural. Desirable. Fashionable.
If he had to choose "living mannequin" or any of his first year basic classes, he'd choose school in a heartbeat! Being a model was boring when all you did was stand there and everyone else did something to you, around you. There were so many times when he couldn't move, could hardly speak when makeup was working on him, and couldn't touch anything that was on him. Any of the items he wore could easily pay for any of the classes he was in and they were nice to wear, but he'd trade those long hours for his textbooks any day.
The worst thing was when he was pulled out of his classes in the afternoon and then forced to do as everyone else wanted well into the evening. Even if dinner was provided to the staff because their attendance was dire, he was pretty much a fly on the wall. There was nothing to do except stand there and listen to people drone on in vocabulary he had long ago memorized and wish he could leave before midnight showed up.
Getting back to the school's dorm was a blessing and a curse. It was nice because he could get away from everyone and finally find his bed, but horrible because it only reminded him that he had morning classes which were way too early for his liking. Any time he trudged into his small room and eyed his bed, an annoyed, sleepy groan would erupt at that thought and his head would droop. He was only so lucky that there were fairly extended breaks of nothing during those meetings which allowed him to get his reading done!
All he wanted was his huge, comfy bed at the mansion and three days to sleep at any given time! But that wasn't possible for so many reasons: his father would have him woken up for something he needed to do, he had class, and there were too many windows which he couldn't keep the sun out of at that apartment of a bedroom he had forsaken.
He could fit three of his dorm rooms into that bedroom easily, but he preferred this to his home because it was another way to get away from his father. The school was extremely close to the mansion and it was a mere drive to get from one to the other. He knew he only got away with living in the dorms for so many years was because he argued that he could get to class faster and could still be readily available should he be called upon.
The worst thing about so many late nights like he was recently having was that his alarm went mostly unheard. He was so overly tired that he slept through it. It forced him to leave the curtains open on his window so that daylight got in his eyes and helped wake him up. Anything other than full sun only caused him to roll over and throw a pillow over his head. There was just one more problem with that though...
He rolled over with a groan, eyes squinting open at the mass amount of light invading the walls of his room. Not again! It had to be one in the morning and he had almost fallen asleep! Throwing a pillow over his head didn't help because then he couldn't breathe very well. He needed darkness to sleep and the amount of light spilling into his room from the dorm across the way was irritating!
After a moment of attempting to sleep, he threw the pillow from his head and sat up with a growl. He really wanted to report whoever kept doing this! Why did it have to be the dorm across from his window?! What did he do to deserve this?
Throwing the blankets off brought a chill from the fall weather and had him grabbing the robe he draped at the edge of the comforter. He threw it on and stumbled to the window to see what was going on this time. Maybe he could find something to use and finally get some sleep for once!
The dorms were all the same design; simple and small. Furniture was provided in sparse amounts. Thus, he could look at any of his classmates' spaces and not find anything interestingly different from his own.
This however, was oddly not the case and it was always interesting to see what was there after the initial annoyance wore off.
The window was big enough to see half of the bed, part of the desk, and a small chunk of walkway around the room. The bedspread that was provided was absent with a much brighter one, though he couldn't see most of it. Much of it was littered with clothing, chunks of rolled up fabric, a mannequin torso, and the owner of the room.
The hair was thrown up in such a messy bun, he knew it was done mostly to keep out of the way of her face. The clothes she had on were still daytime wear, as if she had just gotten home and wasn't even close to getting ready for bed. It was oddly simple, yet looked good on her. Dark, plain tights and a knit tunic with the sleeves pulled up. The whole setup she had on screamed "I'm working" and a curious brow went up as he watched her move around.
This wasn't the first time he had seen something like this. Over the last month alone, he had lost maybe an extra hour of sleep each time he stayed up to see just what she thought was so important at such an ungodly hour of the night and interrupted his sleep. If she was going to do so, he was going to see the spectacle!
He leaned against the wall, partially hidden from view with the intent to duck out of sight should she turn around and happen to see him watching her. Hands rested in the pockets of his robe to keep his hands warm, feet curling against the chill of the floor as he huddled in the warm cloth. He barely moved as he stared, watching her pace back and forth around the small space she called hers.
He had never planned on doing something so pointless more than once, but the first time he did this caused something inside him to be captivated. He still couldn't put his finger on it and he didn't understand it, but maybe that was part of the allure. Green eyes avidly watched as she pointedly strode from one point to the other, shoulders squared and her head sharply pointing in whatever direction she ended up flittering to. The surety in her work and confidence in her movements brought grace to her arms and legs.
He never checked the clock at the start of these times, but figured he stood and watched for at least an hour or so. It was amusing to see her work and try to figure out what she was making at the time. If she was at such a school as well, it was because she had plans for design of some kind...obvious enough by what she was working on so late at night.
The few times he managed to see the more finished product, he was impressed by what he saw. She had an eye for talent and her color choosings were good. Any designs he could make out he could tell were well-crafted and very detailed. He often wondered if the things she made were projects for class and what kind. Was that why she was up so late? Did she do classes during the day like him and then squeeze in a few extra hours to do what was necessary for the next day?
Most times the back of her head was facing his window, or an occasional side profile would show up. He guessed there was no point in turning the lights on to work and then merely stare out the window. But, he never could pick the face out well enough to know if he had any classes with her or not. It would have been nice; then he could pull this person aside and have a conversation with her...maybe even let her know that she was seriously inconveniencing him like this.
Well...maybe not seriously inconveniencing him...maybe it was slightly entertaining to see her work in the same manner as those he was a doll for every day. She never lacked in new things she did and thus it was never boring to watch her at the most random times in the evening. After a few moments his annoyance would cool and peak his curiosity...especially when he could catch the glimpse of a smile or silent laugh she would give to the occasional, invisible person somewhere in the room with her.
There was only one time that this puzzle of a woman gave him one good piece to ponder over the next day after he had seen it. One night, much like now, she was working with the lights on and the curtains brazenly opened...but not alone.
From what he could see, there was a noticeably toned arm and part of a naked torso in view. She kept moving around the faceless person, measuring him and touching him as if used to him. It was about the time when those male arms went around her torso and didn't let go that he decided he was done peeking for the night and went to bed.
Tonight, her only companion was a female mannequin torso on its stereotypical stand. She walked around it with her measuring tape, head cocked to one side in obvious thought as she circled it again and again. If the neck part wasn't so in the way, he would've been able to see more than a quick flash of blue eyes under that chunk of bangs covering her forehead. It had been the biggest piece he had ever been given to know who she was and perhaps he counted himself lucky for seeing it this time.
A hand finally rose and rubbed his eyes. He looked to the clock and found it past two. His head clunked against the wall lightly with a groan. If he wanted enough sleep to be useful by noon, he had to shuffle her away and get back to bed.
He frowned as he stared at the curtains. As he fully knew, she was deep in the middle of whatever work she was doing and would probably be up for another hour. This meant that he had to chance closing the curtains to block her out so he could rest. He could only pray the alarm two meters away would be loud enough to wake him, though far enough that he wouldn't shut it off in his sleep.
He stared for what felt like forever. When he swayed a little as sleep tried to claim him, he finally reached up and closed them as well as he could. Slight darkness enveloped him and he easily felt his way to the now cold mattress. He mentally groused losing out all that warmth as the sheets stole his body heat to warm them back up. He huddled in the robe for a bit until the space around him was warm enough and then relaxed as sleep claimed him. All he could hope for was that he would be coherent enough for his eight o'clock class.
The initial, loose idea came from this music video. The lyrics also pretty much fit too, oddly enough.
Initial story inspiration: youtube com/watch?v=Yki3X1pG3ZE
international iscparis com/mba/luxury-marketing/