- Summary -
Set in New York City, Justin Timberlake and Amelia Domineck are the hottest couple in the Manhattan social scene, and their wedding is fast approaching Event of the Year status. Amelia, headstrong and domineering, is not just planning her wedding, she's choreographing it and Justin seems to simply be along for the ride, as well as Amelia's assistant Charlotte who after accepting the job wonders if slavery somehow became legal without her realizing it. A Lolita wedding planner, a flakey assistant, and one bridezilla converge together to bring Charlotte and Justin closer and Justin begins to wonder… is this really all that's left for him? A ring and a promise of forever with Amelia, or does he dare to dream of something more?
- CHAPTER ONE -
It's 11:17, or so Charlotte Jenson's watch reads as she checks it for what seems like the thousandth time. Her stomach flutters, running her hands down her thighs, smoothing over the fabric of her skirt, her foot tapping nervously against the carpet. Her palms cup the warm skin of her bare knees and she wonders briefly if she should be wearing panty hose. Was it a fashion faux pas to have bare legs at a job interview? She never knew. Going into her sixth year of living in New York City, she still found herself eternally clueless to the day to day trivialities of what the definition of cool was this week.
But it's not like she really had a choice in the matter today. Her last pair of panty hose had run as she tried to put them on and when she stepped out of her apartment building she had regretted it. The weather was unseasonably cool for the beginning of October and the walk to the subway was somewhat harsh.
She had arrived at ten till eleven, smiling brightly at the secretary who took her coat and bade Charlotte sit on one of the cream colored leather couches, her small heels sinking into the plush rug under the couch and small glass table. And there she had sat for - she checks her watch again - thirty three minutes.
Charlotte's eyes fall on the young woman behind the French writing desk. She's writing diligently, looking between her papers and her computer screen, long lashes seeming to lay perfectly against her cheek as she looks down and then fanning out around her eyes as she looks up again. Her long dark hair is pulled back simply, chicly and her pale skin glows in that way that makes the lack of a tan acceptable. The phone rings, stuttering Charlotte's assessment of her.
"Amelia Domenick's office."
Her voice is cool and unattached but still pleasant, much like her appearance. She is the epitome of New York business chic, all pencil length skirts, cashmere sweaters, and designer shoes. Charlotte looks down at her simple black suit, a mix of polyester and rayon, her shoes, some no name brand from Macy's. She is the exact opposite of this girl. She wonders if she even has a chance at this job.
Charlotte sighs, checking her watch again. 11:31. She's been here for forty-one minutes now. Could she have gotten the time wrong? No, she had checked six times this morning and the post-it note on her fridge had said Amelia Domineck interview. Tuesday, 11 am. Charlotte looks around, searching the room for a clock, thinking maybe her watch is wrong, that she somehow set it forward three hours and she is insanely early. She's just about to ask the secretary for the time when the door to the reception area swings open.
"Kaitie would you call Arthur and tell him I'll have to meet with him tomorrow. That meeting with the investors went entirely too long."
Charlotte's eyes fall on the woman who has just breezed effortlessly through the door. Her eyes widen at the sheer beauty of the tall, slender woman as she shrugs off her snow white trench coat and hooks it on the rack next to Charlotte's old wool peacoat.
"Yes, Ms. Domineck," Kaitie replies, nodding eagerly and reaching for the phone.
"And call Justin and tell him I'm running late," Ms. Domineck adds with a sigh and she turns, her eyes falling on Charlotte.
Charlotte's eyes widen, completely taken off guard and she feels caught in the woman's gaze. Should she smile? Maybe stand and offer her hand? The woman looks at her secretary, who is just ending her phone call and about to start another, and raises an eyebrow. Kaitie's eyes fall to Charlotte before flitting back to her boss.
"Your eleven o'clock," Kaitie replies and the woman gives a small nod before moving to the French doors just to the left of the receptionist's desk.
"Send her in," she casually calls over her shoulder as she passes through the door and into her office.
Kaitie gives Charlotte a smile that softens her face, making it less severe and Charlotte realizes that she can't be any older than herself. She returns the smile, tugging on the bottom of her suit jacket as she walks into the office, with what she hopes is outstanding grace and confidence.
The room is large and airy, giving the illusion of warmth with its soft taupe walls and cream settees arranged comfortably around a small short glass table. Large windows look out over the bustling city street, sheer curtains muting the morning sun and giving the room a soft glow. Framed fashion sketches hang on the walls and more windows cast light onto the antique Louis XV writing desk and the woman who is moving behind it, giving her an ethereal glow. The sun catches her hair, making it look more like spun gold than soft blond curls.
"Forgive me for being late," she says sighing as she shuffles through the papers on her desk and Charlotte can't help but do as she says. "You're here for the assistant job?"
Charlotte's eyes are roving over her face, taking in the softness of her cheeks, the slight slant of her nose, the perfect bow of her lips. She is caught up not only in her beauty but the quiet authority she exudes. This woman holds power Charlotte can only admire. Her pale blue eyes meet Charlotte's, lifting her eyebrow questioningly.
"Yes," Charlotte's says finally, fighting her blush as she holds out her hand. "Charlotte Jenson."
"Amelia Domineck," Amelia responds, grasping her hand firmly and giving it a slight shake. "Please sit."
They both take their seats and Amelia eyes Charlotte appraisingly and Charlotte squirms under her penetrating gaze.
"Do you have a resume?" Amelia asks after a moment and Charlotte jumps, digging in her bag before handing her resume across the desk.
"Yes, sorry," Charlotte replies chuckling and Amelia smiles softly before her eyes scan down the pages, her face settling into an unreadable mask.
It breaks into a pleasant expression as she reaches the bottom of the page. "You went to NYU," her eyebrows raise. "The Stern School of Business."
"Yes," Charlotte says nodding, shifting in her seat.
"There's no finance involved in this position," Amelia says, tilting her head down slightly, eyeing the woman across from her.
"Yes, I know," Charlotte responds and Amelia's eyes narrow just slightly as she reads on.
"Bachelors in Finance, worked for Guage-Whitney," Amelia's eyebrows rush toward her hairline. "Impressive."
Charlotte smiles tightly, feeling just slightly uncomfortable when Amelia's ice cool eyes fall on her again.
"Only for eight months. What was your reason for leaving?" Amelia looks down again, flipping a page. "I see you'd been promoted from your entry level position."
"Yes, I just…" Charlotte pauses, which causes Amelia's eyes to return to her. "…needed a change of pace."
"Too fast for you?" Amelia prods, her eyes boring into her and Charlotte shifts in her chair again.
"Not really, no," Charlotte says, trying to choose her words carefully. "It wasn't what I thought it would be."
"Guage-Whitney is one of the foremost financial firms in Manhattan." Amelia says, smiling somewhat suspiciously. "It says you were a financial analyst when you left."
"Yes," Charlotte responds, feeling herself beginning to sweat.
"Sounds fairly straight forward to me. Did they mislead you when hiring?" Amelia smiles wryly.
"No," Charlotte says slowly, swallowing hard. "I was just going in a different direction."
"And that led you here?" Amelia asks and Charlotte smiles.
"So it would seem."
Amelia breaks into a smile for the first time and Charlotte is dazzled momentarily. "So it would seem."
Amelia eyes her for a moment, taking in her plain but tidy appearance. Charlotte does her best not to squirm. They are silent, each appraising the other and Charlotte wonders if she's completely botched this. If she has she's quite possibly ruined her chances for an assistant job anywhere in the city. Amelia Domineck is big business, one of the most recognizable faces not only in the boardroom but in the papers as well. If word gets around that Charlotte is a bumbling idiot, any chance at a job goes flying out the window.
"Alright," Amelia says, leaning back in her chair and smiling. "You're hired."
Charlotte's jaw drops. "What?"
"I like you," Amelia says nodding. "You're educated, capable, fairly well dressed." Charlotte looks down at herself. Amelia goes on. "You don't buckle under pressure," she smiles again, "and you have just enough cheek to keep things interesting."
"Um," Charlotte says, a slow grin creeping over her face, "thanks?"
Amelia nods. "The job consists mostly of errands. You're going to be running all over the city, delivering and retrieving things for me. Not necessarily my dry cleaning but if Kaitie can't get to it, it may come to that."
Charlotte laughs. "I can handle that."
"And now this is the important part," Amelia says, her face serious and Charlotte nods. "You'll be running things back and forth between my fiancé and I-"
Amelia's sentence is cut off by a loud voice, masculine and deep, singing a pleasant tune.
"What's so maybe about? What's so maybe ABOUT? What's so maybe about Kaaaaaaaatie!!! You heard that song, Kaitie? BareNaked Ladies. Good stuff."
A tall handsome man strolls easily into the room, a wry smile pulling at his lips. Charlotte's eyes rove over him, taking in his shaved head and smooth jaw and down to his lanky frame donned in a suit that must have been tailor made by God. She tries hard not to stare but it's difficult when it seems that his presence commands every ounce of your attention effortlessly. She wonders if this was a honed skill from his performing days or if it's just inherent.
"Hey darlin'" he drawls brightly, moving around the desk to peck Amelia on the cheek.
She purses her lips but her eyes lighten as she looks up at him, trying for a withered look that doesn't quite reach her eyes. The man grins down at her for a moment before his eyes fall on the woman in front of the desk.
"Hello," he says simply and Charlotte tries her best not to gape at him.
"Charlotte, this is Justin Timberlake, my fiancé. Justin this is Charlotte. My new assistant."
"Ah," Justin says, reaching his hand to Charlotte, holding his tie against his chest as he leans over the desk. "I'm so sorry," he says sarcastically, shaking Charlotte's hand and she giggles, causing him to break into a grin.
"Oh, stop," Amelia says swatting his side and he chuckles, moving around the desk.
"You almost done? I'm starving," Justin says, moving about the room and looking around.
"Yes, just let me finish up here," Amelia replies, rolling her eyes before sharing a look with Charlotte who smiles. Amelia is just about to open her mouth to speak again when:
"Can we go to Scalinatella today?"
Amelia gives Justin a look that causes him to cringe, turning away from the two women and fingering the trinkets on a side table pressed against a far wall. Amelia smiles at Charlotte again.
"As I was saying," Amelia continues, eyes flitting to Justin, who is now settling back on one of the settees, shrugging his shoulders and popping his neck. "You'll be running things back and forth between-" she stops. "What are you doing?"
Charlotte turns in her chair and finds Justin laying across one of the settees, one of his long legs dangling over the arm. He folds his arms behind his head, frowning and reaching for one of the small pillows nestled into the corner of the couch.
"Waiting," he replies, stuffing the pillow under his head and sighing, wiggling a little until he is seemingly comfortable.
"Will you sit up please? You're wrinkling your suit and you know how I hate it when you put your feet on my couches," Amelia sighs shaking her head. "I'm sorry," she adds to Charlotte.
"No problem at all."
"You'll be going back and forth between Justin and I and as you can imagine privacy is of the utmost-"
Amelia stops again and Charlotte jumps a strange thumping beat wafts through the air. Both women turn their eyes to Justin again, still finding him stretched out across the settee, hips lips pursed and vibrating as he bobs his head to the beat he's setting.
"Justin!" Amelia exclaims harshly and the beat stops abruptly as he turns his face to her wide eyed. "I swear you should not be allowed in civilized society."
Justin gives her a condescending look and Amelia returns with a wry smile. Charlotte shakes her head, turning back to Amelia who is still watching Justin, a disapproving look on her face but a lightness in her eyes.
"As you can see we have a lot that I don't want getting out to the press-"
"Hey!" Justin exclaims looking at her offended but his eyes dance playfully.
"Oh fine," Amelia says, throwing her hands in the air and sighing. "Charlotte can you come in tomorrow around nine and we'll discuss this further?"
"Tomorrow?" Charlotte asks slightly astonished. Who knew it'd be this easy?
"Yes," Amelia says, standing from her chair. She pauses. "Is that a problem?"
"No!" Charlotte exclaims smiling. "No, its just fast."
"Well, this is New York," Amelia says smiling as she reaches under her desk for her purse. "We never sleep."
"Apparently, we never eat either," Justin deadpans and Amelia glares at him.
"I'm coming," she replies annoyed, moving from behind her desk and Charlotte stands. "It was a pleasure meeting you Charlotte. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yes, thank you Ms. Domineck."
"Call me Amelia."
Justin grins, pulling himself up and walking over to them. "Or you could call her-"
"Don't!" Amelia exclaims, glaring at him and Justin snaps his mouth shut. "I swear you are the most impatient man."
"I'm hungry," he whines and Amelia rolls her eyes.
"You're a child," she replies and he glares at her before looking away.
"You love me."
"You hope I do."
Charlotte watches as the two of them turn to the door, Amelia walking just ahead of Justin as they bicker back and forth. She briefly wonders if this job is going to be worth it, but she shakes her head, clearing the thought from her mind. It's just running errands. How bad could it possibly be?