Book1: Change of Plans
I’ve had my life meticulously planned out since I was sixteen years old.
I had the grades, extracurriculars, and community service to get into my dream school.
I graduated from high school with honors and did four years of college, where I met the man of my dreams, Archie Smith.
He’s handsome, smart, good with money, responsible, and perfect in every sense of the word. As long as I can get him to propose to me within the next year, everything will be on track.
My planning helped me to land my perfect job right out of college; I interned at LILAC during the last two years of college and befriended one of the writers so it was easy for me to work my way in.
I’ve been working my way up to my dream position for two years and, finally, landed it last week: head fashion consultant.
I get to style and arrange all the photoshoots for the blog and, sometimes, help with video content too.
Life cannot get any better.
My boss, Marlene, pokes her head through the door to my office. “Sloan, can you come to my office for a few minutes?”
I follow my boss quickly and, honestly, I feel kind of nervous. What does she want to talk to me about?
When we get to her office, she closes the door behind her and just says, “Take a seat.”
I sit down across from her and do my best to hide the fact that I’m shaking in my Jimmy Choos.
“I know you’re new to the position, but I have something I want to ask you about.”
“Okay, I’m all ears.”
“It’s LILAC’s tenth anniversary in two weeks. You know the party? Well, I just saw the plans and they’re not looking right. Could you work with the designers to give it that LILAC look?”
“Sure, Marlene, but I’m not an event planner,” I admit.
“It’s just the look I’m worried about. They splashed purple everywhere but it’s just not right.”
“Okay, sure. I am pretty much done for the day. Who should I talk to?”
She slides a folder across the desk. “The contact info for the planning company is in there. I’ll give them a call and let them know you’ll be handling them going forward.”
“Thank you for trusting me, Marlene, I’ll do my best,” I assure her.
Over the next few days, I exchange a few emails with the event coordinator, and we agree that I’ll attend the venue with them next week to provide styling assistance.
Marlene clears my schedule for the week. She wants this party to be perfect—a few big influencers are on the guest list and we have to impress.
I believe her exact words were that she wants us to “break the Internet.”
I don’t know if that’s still hip or not but I know what she means.
Now that it’s finally Friday, I can’t wait to go home to see Archie.
We rarely see each other during the week. Typically, we exchange a few texts here and there. We’re busy, it’s understandable, but someday, we’ll live together and see each other every night.
When I get home, I quickly shower and try to make myself look pretty. Archie likes it best when I wear a dress and full makeup. He’s just old-fashioned.
Soon, he rings the doorbell, so I hop over to the door and open it.
“Archie! I’m so happy to see you, I missed you.”
“Hi, honey,” he says with a smile.
“Come in.” I wrap my arms around his neck, and he pats my back like he always does, then kisses my forehead.
“Are you almost ready?” he asks as he checks his watch.
“Yes, let me just grab a sweater.”
“The pink one,” he suggests.
“Okay, I’ll be right back.”
Every Friday, we have dinner with his family at their favorite restaurant. Archie’s parents are very strict and polished, so I have to dress the part.
Archie will never propose to me unless they bless our union. Five years of a relationship means nothing without their stamp of approval.
Archie escorts me to his car and lets me in, then starts to drive to the restaurant.
“How was work?” I ask.
“You know how my father is. Lots of running and planning, but I can’t complain.”
“What are you working on?”
“I can’t talk to you about that. You know what my father says, work stays at work,” Archie says, I can feel him shutting down.
After a few minutes of silence, I try again. “I didn’t tell you but I got offered a pretty big opportunity at work this week. I’m in charge of styling the anniversary party.”
“You know, the LILAC party, you said you would come,” I remind him.
“Is it on my calendar?”
“I don’t know. You just said yes.”
“Tell me tomorrow, and I’ll send an email to my secretary.”
“So, you’re blowing up balloons and serving snacks? Doesn’t seem like a big opportunity,” Archie says and it makes my stomach hurt.
“Just don’t bring it up with my parents. They’ll eat you alive,” he says through a laugh.
The rest of the car ride is silent. Archie must be stressed. He always gets like this when he’s stressed.
When we get to the restaurant, the valet takes the car keys, and Archie walks me inside.
Almost as soon as we step into the restaurant, the host greets us. “Mr. Smith, follow me. Your parents are waiting.”
After we greet his parents, we sit down at the table across from them. As usual, everything has been chosen and ordered for us. Mrs. Smith is nothing if she isn’t picky.
“Archie, your father tells me you have news?” his mother asks.
“At the table?” Archie asks in shock.
“You’re among family, son,” his father assures him.
“I’m up for the VP position,” he admits.
“Archie! Congratulations,” I squeal.
“Yes, I’m very proud of you,” his mother adds.
“He just needs to dot a few Is and cross a few Ts and he’ll be golden,” Mr. Smith explains.
Archie smiles proudly but quickly returns to his stern face when his father looks at him.
“Sloan, how is your work going?” Mrs. Smith asks.
I don’t want to be cold but I, also, don’t know what to say because of the way Archie was acting in the car. “Well…,” is all I manage to say.
“You got that promotion last week,” Archie says.
“She is doing great. She got offered another opportunity this week,” Archie explains.
Why did he say that if he doesn’t want me to tell them?
“That’s wonderful, dear. After all, this is all just in the meantime. Once you and Archie start your life together, you’ll be at home anyhow.” Mrs. Smith smiles.
What is she talking about? Thankfully, I have the good sense not to say my thoughts aloud. “I’m not sure. I think I’d like to stay in my field.”
“Sloan,” Archie warns.
The waiter places our food on the table and breaks the tension. I pick at my salad and eat my food in silence while everyone else talks. This night is not going well for me at all.
After dinner, Archie drives me home.
“Do you want to come in?” I ask.
“Not tonight, honey. That meal was heavy, and I need to get some sleep. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Okay, Archie, I love you. I hope you feel better.”
“Good night, Sloan.”
After I have a cup of tea, I decide to take a bubble bath and go to bed.
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