Author's Note: I know, I know. I am writing a new story and I still have so much to update. Call me a bad ff writer. Be angry at me. Just please give this story a chance. I have been really wanting to write this one for a long while and I decided to finally sit down and do it. So in the words of Munro Chambers, "Leggo!" Also, we all know Degrassi is not mine, despite my wishes.
Summary: When Clare moves to NYC, she is swept off her feet by Elijah Goldsworthy, an upcoming photographer. When he discovers she is his muse, they are swept into a whirl-wind romance, but sometimes life isn't always picture perfect. AU for the sake of the story.
Disclaimer: This is going to be rated T-M. I will list it as T but if there's going to be some "mature" elements in upcoming chapters, I will place a warning in an A/N and you can read at your own discretion. Enjoy!
Beauty and the Devil
"I think you should leave."
"Mom…let's be rational about this…"
"I-I have tried to be rational with you, Clare. I just am not going to willingly stand by and watch you throw your life away. This wasn't the plan."
"This wasn't your plan, mother. I don't want to be a theology major and go on to be a youth minister. I want to do so much in life, but that's just not it. I can't, Mom. It's not what I am passionate about."
"So you're not even going to university in the fall?"
"I just want to take a year, Mom. Just a year. I want to get a job and figure things out for a little while before jumping into something unprepared. I just know I need some time to figure everything out. Please respect that. I need time to sort everything out. I am still trying to decide between Journalism and British Literature..."
"I am not allowing this."
"Helen, when are you going to see that you can't control everything for everyone?"
"Excuse me, I am your mother!"
"If you give me this ultimatum, then you're not. Not anymore. Please don't ask me to leave, Mom. I don't know where I will go and…I can't afford an apartment or anything right now."
"You have money in savings for the education we were going to pay for. Take it out, use it to find a place and get yourself settled. I am done. I lost one daughter, and I refuse to lose another. But if you chose to turn your back on my plan for you, then I am afraid I have no choice. Either you go to university in the fall, or God help you – you get the hell out of my house."
"Mom…you can't mean that…"
"Ma'am? Ma'am, we're here."
Clare stirred herself out of the day dream, and stared out the rain-streaked window of the yellow cab. There was a brownstone building in front of her, though she could barely see through the dusk of twilight and the blanket of rain pounding violently around her. She dreaded, for a moment, having to exit the comforting warmth of the cab. Outside the wind would be cold, the rain would sting, and she would be lost.
"Yes," Clare didn't really know what else to say, and after glancing at the meter, paid the taxi driver in cash. He struggled to open an umbrella before going around to the trunk to take out her bags. Clare nibbled on her lower lip, a bad habit of hers, and wondered if maybe she had made the wrong choice. Maybe she should have stayed home and gone to university. If she had, she would be home right now with her family and not in this strange new city completely alone.
After carrying her bags to the safety of underneath the brownstone's awning, the driver returned and opened the door, holding the umbrella overhead, trying to keep his passenger as dry as possible. Clare shivered even though it wasn't terribly cold outside as she headed up the few steps to the front door of her new place.
"Thank you," she tried her best to smile at the driver. He waved and headed back to the cab. It took Clare a moment to remind herself where she was, and to tell herself she needed to carry her two suitcases inside. After working up the courage to walk through the front door, she headed over to the front desk where a receptionist sat, running an emery board along her nails.
"Hi, I'm Clare Edwards, I spoke to you on the…"
"Oh yes," the woman put down the nail file and turned her attention to a stack of manila folders, "Your lease is in here; I know we went over some technical stuff over the phone and through faxes, but you'll need to fill out a bit more paperwork, and then I can give you your key."
Clare stood at the counter and scribbled through the remaining paperwork, wondering what she was even doing. All of this felt so adult, and she desperately wanted to crawl back under the covers and stay in bed all day watching reruns of Fairly Odd Parents – not signing a lease for her new apartment. After the paperwork was cleared up, the receptionist handed her a key and told her to take the elevator to the twenty-fifth floor.
"You're apartment will be on the right hall – look for Apartment 2515."
Clare nodded, thanked the receptionist, and took the key before grabbing her bags and making her way towards the elevator. She tried to calm her nerves, but she could feel her stomach flip as the elevator ascended. Finally reaching her floor, Clare stepped out and searched for her apartment – Apartment 2515. After finding it, she stepped inside and glanced around. It was fully furnished and everything looked exactly like it had in the photos she had found online – there was a small fireplace in the living room across from a couch and a television. The kitchen was tiny but usable. The couch folded out into a bed, and the final space of the apartment was her bathroom. This place was almost the size of her bedroom back home, and the first month's payment had been a violent blow to the savings account her mother had allowed her to use.
After unpacking a few of her clothes, Clare sat down on the futon and glanced around. This was it, this was her new life and she had no idea what to do with herself. She had no job, no income. Helen had insisted that she leave as soon as possible – barely allotting Clare enough time to search for an apartment. She knew it had to be New York though. She had always wanted to wind up in New York, and maybe there would be some good opportunities. It was just a matter of finding said opportunities. Clare had figured she would live at home and work as a waitress or something until making up her mind. All of this was so frightening to her, and she was beginning to feel overwhelmed. A rumbling in her stomach caused her to abandon her thoughts and focus on the fact that she had had nothing to eat that day sans airplane pretzels and a Coke.
Glancing out the window, she noticed the rain had let up, and reminded herself she had seen a little deli not far down the street. After working up the courage to leave her new apartment and step out into the strange city, Clare made her way outside. Once arriving at the deli, Clare picked out a few odds and ends she knew the apartment would need – toilet paper, paper towels, a ham sandwich, and several bowls of instant macaroni. As she was paying the brusque man at the counter, Clare noticed a flyer printed on neon green paper.
"You lookin' for a job?" The cashier asked.
"Yes," Clare scanned over the flyer, "A receptionist position?"
"Yup, that just went up this morning. Some photographer is looking for a secretary for his studio."
"I don't know," Clare nibbled on her lower lip, never imagining herself to fit into the role of receptionist; but she knew she desperately needed the income, "It says walk-in interviews are welcome. I guess I could check it out."
"You never know," the cashier handed Clare her paper sack of groceries, "Check it out. See if it interests you. You're welcome to take that flyer with you."
As Clare was heading back to her apartment, the flyer safely tucked in the bag away from the rain, she began to genuinely think it over. She did desperately need the money, and maybe a receptionist position wouldn't be so bad – after all, it could look good on a resume. Clare sighed and heaved the front door to the brownstone open, trying to get a bearing on the thoughts that were swimming around in her head.
After unwrapping her sandwich, Clare sat down at the coffee table where she had propped up her laptop, and began to Google the photography studio. A pretty barren website was the only result, depicting the outside of what seemed to be another apartment building. Clare found the address that was listed on the flyer, as well as a phone number. She decided to give it a shot – after all, she was in a new city, and this was her new life. She would have to get a job eventually, so why not make the most of it?
The next day, Clare found herself standing outside of the apartment building from the website. She glanced back at the cab driver and gave him an unsure wave before making her way inside. The flyer had instructed her to take the elevator up to the thirteenth floor. As she rode the elevator, Clare felt her stomach churn. She really didn't know where she was and she had no idea who these people were. Maybe she was in danger. The thought quickly exited as the elevator dinged, and the doors pulled apart. Clare found herself standing in a studio. There was a desk off to the side of the room, and a couch on the other side. Behind the desk, there was a door. Clare honestly didn't know what she was supposed to do as no instructions had been provided on the flyer. She clutched the little piece of green paper in her hand, and glanced around.
As she was about to turn to leave, fear overcoming and getting the best of her, the door behind the desk opened and a man not too much older than her raised an eyebrow in greeting to her. He was dressed in black tight jeans and a black t-shirt. A skull necklace hung from his neck.
"Hi…I am here for the interview. I mean, I saw your flyer and I didn't know if I should call first, but the flyer said walk-ins were welcome and so I just…stopped by. Oh, I'm sorry! My name is Clare. Clare Edwards," Clare moved closer to him, her hand extended. The man quickly took a step back and the eyebrow rose further into the shaggy hairline.
"I'm sorry," Clare blushed and recoiled her hand, "Um…if the position is already filled…"
"Clare Edwards?" His voice was velvet, and Clare could feel the hairs stick up on the back of her neck as he circled her like a lion going in for the kill, "I just don't think you're really what I'm looking for."
"But…but you haven't even really heard anything about me."
"I can tell by looking at you."
"Not if I am doing it to try to protect you it's not, Clare Edwards," the way he said her voice made Clare's stomach flutter, "I am sorry, but you just aren't right to work here."
"But I will work hard. Please…"
"I'm sorry," he held his hands up as if he had no say in the matter, "You just aren't right to work at E.G Photography. Don't feel bad, really. I am sure you'll find another job."
"But I need to find a job soon and…"
"And I have said multiple times that I am sorry, but I am just not going to hire you."
"I'll do anything," Clare regretted the words as soon as they spilled out of her mouth like water from a faucet.
His lips upturned into a half-smirk and again, he raised that eyebrow, "Anything? Something tells me that's a lie, Clare Edwards and you really do not strike me as one to be a liar."
Clare didn't know how to respond to that; she really wanted to just leave, but at the same time, she wanted an explanation as to why she couldn't have the job. She didn't think there was exactly anything wrong with her. She had dressed professionally for her interview – floral skirt, navy leggings, high heels, a blouse that was only to be cleaned by dry cleaning. She had even pulled her hair up into a tight bun. Really, she had no idea what the problem was.
"I just don't understand why I can't have the position."
"You want to know why you can't have the position? Because, darling, it's not for you."
"How do you know?" Clare grew defensive, "You don't know me, and don't call me darling."
"Whatever," he rolled his eyes, "Here," he slipped behind the desk and slid a black binder her way, "Take a look. You want to know why you can't work here? That's why."
Clare cracked the binder open and instantly snapped it shut when she saw what was inside.
"That's what I thought," he smirked, yanking it from her hands, "You're blushing."
"I-I had no idea it would be this kind of photography…."
"Well, now you know. Shut the door on your way out."
Clare had to remind herself to shut her mouth that had somehow fallen open. She curtly nodded, cursing the heated blush on her cheeks, and turned to leave.
I had no idea, Clare mused as she rode down on the elevator, I mean how could I have possibly known? And he was such an..an…egotistical jerk about everything. Honestly! It's for the best. I don't think I could stand being around that…that cad for another minute!
She had no idea at the time though that her dance with the devil was only just beginning.