Chapter Two

(Six years earlier)

I arrived in Paris as an intern, naive and eager to embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity. Though working as an assistant in a law firm in Paris was not exactly what I had planned for on my summer vacation, I could feel that something bigger had been set in motion. I was chosen by luck, really: I was fresh out of college with hardly any experience; I had no connections or prestige that aided me in securing the internship; and most people's first impression of me was a quirky and scattered boy. Not someone high class bankers are likely to hire. But my Business professor at Yale took a liking to me and got me the internship. It was unnecessarily kind of him, but I wasn't about to complain.

My plane landed at about four o'clock in the afternoon, and from there I took a taxi to my new apartment. I was astounded by the architecture and the culture. The streets were crowded with tall young women in heels and brisk men in suits. Each street corner was occupied by a cafe, all of which had names I could not pronounce. Through the dingy window of the taxi, I made an attempt at people watching. They all reminded me of people in New York: they all had somewhere to be, something to do. As we passed by the Eiffel Tower, a surge of excitement swept over me. I wanted to go out and explore the city and experience all that it had to offer. But I had a meeting with my supervisor, so I suppressed my curiosity temporarily. The taxi driver bid me adieu as we pulled up in front of a massive, older building just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. There were men in suits briskly climbing up and down the stairs leading to oversized double doors. I took a deep breath in and began climbing, each step full of intent.

The instant I stepped through the massive doors, a shrill voice rang through my ears. "Hiiii you must be Nick? I'm Sheyda, we spoke on the phone earlier?" She held out a hand for me to shake. I looked up at the face accompanying the voice. She was a woman, probably in her early twenties, not much older than myself; however, her eyes gleamed with youthful jubilance, and her cheeks were round and rosy. Her smile stretched across her entire face which annoyed me, oddly enough. Determined to not be rude, I responded with a detectable hint of enthusiasm.

"Ah, yes Sheyda. Nice to meet you," I let myself smile, which was directed more at her voice than the girl herself. Once our introductions were over, she immediately devoted herself to giving me every possible piece of information. I followed close behind her, watching her perky ponytail swing from side to side as she walked. As she rambled, I wondered how her voice could possibly go so high.

"And here is Mr. Depaul's office," I heard her say. She motioned for me to walk in before smiling and walking back downstairs. A deep, suave voice came from the office asking me to please step in, so I did. The office was both professional and intellectual: a large globe spun next to a long wooden desk, at which sat Mr. Depaul. From the moment I stepped into his view, I felt the judgment satiate the air.

"Hello, Nicholas," he motioned for me to sit down.

"Hello, sir,"

"Big day, eh?" He smiled, his teeth glinting in the light. I nodded, nervous because his commanding demeanor. "Well, we look forward to having you here with us, Dr. Sean spoke very highly of you." He leaned forward onto the desk, "So, I just wanted to reiterate some of the guidelines that accompany this opportunity you have been given. We rarely take on interns, so I hope you understand what a privileged position you are in. Therefore, you are not in a position to make mistakes. You are an intelligent boy, from what I hear."

Before I had a chance to respond or thank him for the compliment, he interjected and continued with an inevitable 'but.'

"But so many underestimate the alluring forces deep within this city. Do you like the city so far, Nick?"

"Oh yes, it's enchanting," I responded, unsure by his abrupt change in subject. He chuckled menacingly, and I worried that my answer was somehow wrong.

"Yes, that it is…this city is unlike anywhere else, Mr. Porter, as you will see. Maybe you see it already. You will be amazed by the architecture, the history, the people. And you'll fall in love. You won't even know it has happened. But one day, you'll wake up hypnotized by this city. Unable to leave, unable to function. Paris is a captivating place, no doubt. But this isn't some dream fairytale land where work and pain and suffering cease to exist: they are all very real in this world, and when they hit you, you best make sure you're ready for it." His eyebrows lifted as he leaned back in his chair, very serious about what he had just said. He smiled, as he stood up, signaling me to make my exit.

"Got it, kid?" His flashing grin brought me back to reality as I nodded in full agreement. If there was one thing I knew, it was that I wasn't going to mess this up.

The next few weeks I hardly had time to even see what Mr. Depaul meant by his foreboding lecture: my internship kept me occupied throughout the day, and often through the night. Mr. Depaul managed some of the most prestigious international accounts, so I was forced to attend meeting after meeting with advisors and clients. In order to prepare for the meetings, Mr. Depaul had me read up on each and every account and client so I was familiar with their situation and could come up with a plan for their account. He would then analyze each of my plans, critiquing and criticizing at every chance he found. My work load piled higher and higher, and inversely, my time for basic functional needs (such as sleep) waned. As far as they were concerned, the Eiffel Tower could wait.

(I'm not finished with the chapter, but I wanted to put something up for review! Please let me know what you think. This is probably going to be a common thing for me, I tend to write excerpts and then fit them into the story later, so my next submission may not necessarily be chapter 3. I just want to post the stuff so I can get feedback! Thanks!