Here's a bit of a change for you, after the drama of TW.
Massive thank you to Alice's White Rabbit for her amazing beta skills; and Hotteaforme and Meguhbot for being badass pre-readers.
I did plan to start posting this tomorrow, but I'm so impatient so ... SURPRISE!
If you've already read this chapter over on The Lemonade Stand Sneak Peak, don't worry, chapter two will be posted tomorrow, just to get this story underway. After that, I'm hoping to update twice weekly.
"Miss Swan, congratulations, you've just won fifty million dollars."
Words that echo and bounce in my head, like loud, daunting jungle drums; just as difficult to process now as they were back then.
Life-changing words that won't register, that refuse to. They're fighting me.
The large apartment swallows me whole, my new reality surrounding me, making me feel so, so small. High ceilings, pristine white paneled walls, marbled floors, floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing my own personal, uninterrupted view of Central Park, natural light that threatens to blind me, endless space I could only have dreamed of before now.
I'm staring, unseeing, my eyes a pendulum swing.
In my mind, I think back, trying to remember. There's a gap between then and now. My brain fogs over, the memories blurred. Emotional highs, crippling lows, choked breaths that turn from maniacal laughs to loud unladylike I-don't-know-why-I'm-crying sobs.
Blinding sun, smooth lines … twelve million dollars of New York real estate, and it's mine, bought and paid for—in cash.
My nose doesn't burn as I inhale deeply. The air is fresh, too fresh for the city, cool and clean—purified, expensive. Expensive air. I laugh.
Things like this don't happen to people like me—poor people. I still can't comprehend the term "millionaire". I literally choke on the word, made so nervous by the very thought that I can taste bile in my throat—desperation and endless anxiety to remain true to myself despite my lavish surroundings.
Cold shivers, worry. Fear. Endless fear. What now?
But it's a welcomed relief—my only worry being that I don't turn into a pompous, spoiled brat. Dad wouldn't let me anyway. He'd kick my ass.
No less than a month ago, I was worrying about affording this month's rent.
Now I'm standing in my brand new apartment, in one of the buildings I used to walk past, wondering who I'd need to sell my soul to in order to afford such an extravagance. Sometimes, I'd watch the people entering and leaving this very building—well dressed, confident people—curious about what they did for a living. Doesn't everyone? Back then, these apartments were nothing but an indulgent dream—a castle high in the sky, so devastatingly out of reach for someone like me.
I had no chance.
I had—have—no potential as a trophy wife, so that option was out from the very beginning. An errant thought that made me snort. No, a trophy wife I am not.
Diamonds that I'd lose, flashy cars I'd crash, extravagant spa trips and tiny luncheons at Country Clubs that leave me unsatisfied, are not style.
My Converse sneakers squeak against the marble as I make my way toward the windows. Central Park—so green and inviting below the clear blue sky—stretched out before me. My breath fogs the glass, I cringe, wiping it with the cuff of my sleeve, smudging it, marking it. Oops.
"If you could just sign here, Miss Swan."
Head jerking in the direction of the kitchen, my smile is shy, embarrassed, as though I've been caught doing something I shouldn't be. Guilty. I don't know why.
The short, round, middle-aged realtor shuffles a stack of paper atop the glossy, marble counter—my glossy, marble counter. Who'd have thought?
Hand shaking, I accept the expensive pen he offers, admiring it briefly—it's heavy—and sign my name on the dotted line.
Here's to new, richer beginnings.
Let me know what you think!
For those of you fabulous readers patiently waiting for the next chapter of DTTF, I promise it'll be with you soon.
Chapters lengths of this fic will vary, so bear with me. They won't all be this short.
Thank you for reading!