Chapter one

"Daniels, get in here!"

My head jerked up from the computer screen before me to find my boss waiting at his office door. Gus Berkley, Editor- in – chief of the New York Times could be a blustery guy. Standing at Six foot four, with black hair, beard and mustache, and dark brown eyes, it was no wonder why no one stood up to the guy. Despite his rough, bruiser-esque exterior, Gus was a great guy. I rose from my seat in my plain, half height cubicle and hurriedly straightened my ivory sateen long sleeve blouse and skirt, wondering what the Editor- in- Chief wanted from a simple feature writer for the Travel section. I combed through my mane of hair subconsciously as I approached my boss.

"What' cha need, Gus?" I asked, confusion setting in. Gus only nodded toward the interior of his office, adding more tension to the situation. I obeyed the silent order, entering the disheveled room and sat down in the smaller chair at the front of the paper littered desk. "What's going on?"

"Chris, I need a favor from you." Gus began, sinking into his seat. I could see where this was going. They didn't have enough stories and needed me to write emergency filler ones. "The National Opera of Paris is having its 133rd season and has requested that we send a reporter to do a story on it." Okay, that wasn't what I expected.

"Yeah, I heard about that." I responded, baffled. Where was he going with this? That was a huge story, larger than any I had been asked to do before. Besides it had already been assigned last Friday, to my comrade Matthew McPherson.

"Well, I need you to go and get the story. Can you leave tomorrow?" Gus asked. His expression was pleading.

"I thought you had given the story to Matt." I arched an eyebrow; this was too good to not have a catch. A tired sigh escaped from the Editor.

"I did, but he's gotten sick. There is no way he can go with a 105 temperature." He answered, massaging his temple. Great, I'll take a side effect of guilt with my good fortune, thank you Gus. "So what do you say? Interested?"

I was silent for a moment. This was fantastic. My first international story was just what I needed to punch my career to the next level. Plus it didn't hurt that I had always wanted to go to Paris.

"Okay." I finally responded. A huge grin crossed Gus' face. It was amazing what a change a smile could make on a person's appearance because Gus resembled a giant Teddy bear.

"Great! Here's your ticket." He beamed, handing over a crisp white envelope. "Take the rest of the afternoon off and pack."

"Thanks, Gus. You're the best!" I snatched the envelope from him playfully. Giving him one of my patented smiles, I rose to my feet and casually left the office. Once the door shut with a click behind me, I shot my hand in the air with what was clearly a winning gesture. I was going to Paris. I hurried back to my cubicle to grab my jacket and purse. I quickly ejected my USB drive and tossed it in my Louis Vitton with the plane ticket. I then snatched up my denim trench coat, and turned to leave.

"Where are you off to in such a hurry?" a friendly voice asked as I pelted towards the elevator. I stopped to allow Claire to approach me. Claire was the older sister to my fresh out of college career. She was the one who had shown me the ropes while I interned and arranged for me to be hired months later. I respected this thirty- something woman with the celluloid glance.

"You won't believe it." I said breathlessly.

"Try me." Claire's blue eyes were showing her amusement. Claire was one of those classic looking blondes, hair perfectly coifed and makeup flawless like one of the fashionable movie starlets from the twenties, which made me really jealous sometimes. My own brunette curls did nothing but frizz no matter how much hairspray and gel I used.

"I got the Paris story."

"No way!" Claire exclaimed. "Congratulations."

"Thanks. Gus just told me." I continued. Suddenly the elevator doors slid open. "I got to go." I quickly stepped into the gleaming elevator car and pushed the first floor button. I waved emphatically at Claire, who was laughing at my ecstatic expression.

"I'll call you later." She stated as the doors began to glide shut. "We need to celebrate."

"See ya then!" I managed to get out before the doors shut completely.

Moments later, I was pelting through the revolving door and out into the bustling streets of New York City. The buzzing metropolis known as 'the city that never sleeps', was holding true to its name. People were racing down the sidewalks, street vendors and hustlers were bargaining with the odd tourist trying to pawn off some faux Gucci sunglasses or Chanel earrings. I crossed the street and headed to the nearest subway entrance. The gritty looking concrete steps were pouring fourth other passengers as I manipulated my way down. I removed my fare card and, as one trained to do such through rote; I slipped the card through the turn stile, squeezing my way through and onto the platform. Thankfully, my train pulled in just at that moment. I boarded just seconds after the doors opened. The train car lurched forward and swayed as it sped down the tracks, lulling me into a dreamy state. Other passengers were all doing their own thing, reading a book, listening to their IPod, or talking on their cell.

"Now arriving, Chambers Street." A voice droned over the loud speakers. I gathered my belongings from the seat next to me and headed up to street level. I passed the white washed City Hall and crossed Broadway to my apartment in number 80 Chambers Street, feeling confident that this would be the story to change my life. I said a hurried 'hello' to the doorman and security guard before heading to the elevator.

"You're in a hurry today Miss Daniels." The careworn smile of Tom, the burly security guard, stopped me for a moment.

"Business trip." I stated as I continued my trek. The rest if the afternoon flew by in a flash as I raced around my bedroom looking for my best ensembles. We are talking Paris here, Paris! I was determined to at least look like I wasn't a tourist. I was in the middle of debating between an empire-waisted dress and a pink cashmere sweater with jeans outfit, when the trademark theme from Phantom of the Opera filled the room. I launched myself at my purse and scrambled for my Cell phone. With a flourish, I flipped open the cell and brought it to my ear.

"Hello?"

"It's me, you ready to get something to eat?" Claire's voice filtered through the electronic static. I glanced over at the digital display on my alarm clock to find that it was already six in the evening.

"Yeah, I'll be right down." I answered, grabbing my coat and heading for the door.