Authors: Aven Ellis
Table of Contents
A LINCOLN PARK FASHIONISTA
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
Books by Aven Ellis
Waiting for Prince Harry
Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista
CHRONICLES OF A LINCOLN PARK FASHIONISTA
Cover Design by Christy Caughie
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
P.O. Box 24
Macedon, New York, 14502
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
For Alexandra, Vero, and Tanya
First and foremost, I once again give thanks to my publisher, Debby Gilbert, who rolls along with my quirky books. Thank you for completely embracing my writing style and letting me be me. I adore you.
Thank you to my Lovelies, who have been with me since this journey started more than a year ago. I would be nowhere without your endless support, encouragement, and laughter. I love you ladies!
To my Beta Baes—Y’all are the best beta reading team ever. Thank you for pushing, encouraging, reading and loving my characters as much as you do. I would never want to write a book without writing it WITH YOU LADIES. I love you all so much.
Two special bloggers I want to mention: Dawn at Up All Night Book Blog and Isabell at Dreaming With Open Eyes. Dawn, you have been with me from my first publication in October and I value your friendship. Isabell, you were one of the biggest champions of Waiting for Prince Harry and Harrison Flynn, and I’ll always be grateful for the support you have given me. I’m so blessed with your friendship! Sending big love to both of you!
Thank you to my Critique Partners, Lynn and Lauren, for helping me grow as a writer.
Chris and Dawn—Thank you for your technical expertise and patience with my endless questions. You both made Deke Ryan a better videographer.
Holly Martin-Twinnie, you are my ROCK. You inspire me with your beautiful books and incredible talent. I love you so, so much.
And lastly, my assistant, Alexandra. You know you mean the world to me. I could not do this without you, period. I love you so much. You were one of the champions of Fashionista, and it is published because of your encouragement. This book is for you.
I really don’t want to go through life being labeled as a vapid, husband-hunting fashionista.
But apparently, at least according to today’s “Ask Emily!” column in the
Lincoln Park Vibe
, my love of MARC by Marc Jacobs dresses, having a Lincoln Park zip code, and my desire to find a partner to share my life with dump me right into this little-to-be-desired description.
Normally I love advice columns, and I’m intrigued by the fact complete strangers ask someone who is not even a psychologist for advice.
But this column today has me wondering about myself for a change.
Could I really be perceived by strangers like this?
I go back to reading the letter that has me considering this thought on a Monday morning at Starbucks while I wait for my drink.
I have recently located to the Lincoln Park area of Chicago after graduating from the University of Iowa.
I’ve moved into a great apartment with my sorority sisters, I’ve got a fantastic PR job, I love going to pubs and getting manicures . . . And a guy I had a blind date with said I was a nothing more than a vapid fashionista obsessed with shoes and finding a husband and he’s not into those. What’s wrong with caring about how I look? And for wanting to find a husband?
I glance up at the coffee bar, just to make sure my non-fat cap isn’t sitting up there waiting for me. Nope, my drink isn’t ready. So I shift my eyes back to the article to see what Emily has to say in response.
There are some women who are hardcore fashionistas, obsessed with clothing and little else (like topics of substance.) Now, add the living in the desirable Lincoln Park location for the sole purpose of husband-hunting at the top of the “To-Do” list, and you might just see yourself, as well as other women you know, as fitting this description—
“One grande non-fat cappuccino for Avery,” the barista yells out, his voice carrying over the hissing of the espresso machine and interrupting my reading.
I lift my head up at the sound of my name being called. I adjust the shoulder strap on my Tory Burch bag and move forward to the counter. I pick up a cardboard cup holder, slide my coffee into it, and drop my iPhone into my tote. Then I swiftly move outside, the accusations of being a snobby, shallow, fashionista swirling through my brain.
First of all, Emily needs to take a detour to the dictionary because she doesn’t even have the definition of a fashionista correct. A fashionista is someone who works in fashion or follows fashion. Honestly, isn’t she supposed to do her homework before answering the question?
I think about the comments, and just because I’m 22, live on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park, and enjoy fashion doesn’t mean I’m stupid and shallow.
I walk outside in the bright June sunshine and take a deep breath of the city air. Still obsessing over people assuming I’m a vapid fashionista, I pause for a moment on the sidewalk and glance at my reflection in a window, trying to be objective about what other people might see.
My long, blond hair appears even shinier in the sunlight. I’m wearing a gorgeous pink MARC by Marc Jacobs A-line dress, with a fun flared skirt and zipper down the back that has been altered to fit my petite frame. I’ve paired it with a pair of high-heeled black sandals that buckle around the ankle, to add some height. A stack of vintage gold bangles adorn my left wrist.
Then I gaze at my prized summer accessory, my oversized Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, which are parked on the top of my head. Oh, I
them. They were quite the splurge—$330—but somehow, in my first month of being a young, urban professional, I came out way ahead in my budget and treated myself to these gorgeous shades.
So that’s what I see: a young woman who pays attention and
good fashion. I lower my sunglasses and head toward the train stop. I don’t think it’s horrible to have an interest in fashion or to want to find a husband and be married someday. Those are just two things
me, but not
I read the rest of the
on the L, then get off downtown and catch the train going into O’Hare International Airport. I’m a marketing assistant for Premier Airlines, an all-first class, international airline headquartered in Chicago.
I finish the last of my coffee by the time I get off the employee shuttle, the one that runs from the airport terminal to the gleaming, glass complex that is the Premier Airlines World Headquarters. The smell of jet fuel lingers in the air, and a jumbo airliner roars overhead on take-off.
I head inside with other airline employees, streaming into the spacious, modern lobby. I pause for a moment, staring up at the large silver airplanes suspended from the atrium-like ceiling, models of the Premier Airlines fleet. It’s a striking display, along with the world map mural on the wall, one pinpointing all the luxurious places serviced by Premier Airlines.
I remembered when I first got this job a few weeks ago. People seem to be impressed when you say you work for an airline. Everyone tells you how cool it is and how great it would be to fly around the world for free.
And it would be, if I weren’t deathly afraid of flying.
A teeny, tiny, little detail I left out on my employment application. And during the screening interview, and during my final interview with the marketing department heads.
To be honest, if any clothing company or department store had been hiring in their marketing or communications departments, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I’d have gone there first. After all, I
shopping, as opposed to my fear of flying.
But they weren’t, so I went with Premier Airlines. Besides, it’s not like I’m planning for a serious long-term career or anything. I really want to have children someday, and I want to stay at home to raise them if I can afford to. My mom did that with me, and was active in our Chicago suburb doing all kinds of things for the community, and I had the best childhood. It’s a lifestyle choice, and one I feel compelled to make.
So my marketing career is nothing but a necessary pit stop on the long road of my life, that’s all.
“Oh, good morning, Avery. What are you doing just standing in the lobby?”
I inwardly cringe. That annoying, high-pitched voice belongs to Rebecca Clinton, a marketing coordinator in my department.
“Uh, reflecting,” I say honestly, taking off my sunglasses as I approach the elevators.
“That’s interesting. Me? I don’t have
to reflect, I’m so
I don’t respond to the comment as we enter the elevator. In my few short weeks at Premier Airlines, I’ve come to the conclusion that Rebecca plays the role of office martyr. I don’t think I’ve gone a day without her telling me how busy she is, how late she stays, or how it’s been forever since she’s had a vacation.
Of course, Rebecca also spends 90 percent of her day talking and flirting with a coworker, so none of this comes as a surprise to me.
“I stayed late last night to finish up promotional ideas for our new ‘Elegance In the Air’ campaign. I don’t think I even
of dinner until 10—”
“Mmmmm,” I say, hoping the elevator will hurry to the third floor and end my torture.
“Oh, I have a project I think you can cut your teeth on,” Rebecca declares, tossing her head so her shellacked black hair moves as an entire unit. “We’re going to put out the arts calendar in the fall, and I need you to proof all the event dates and times to make sure it’s correct before printing. I would do it myself, you know, but I’m so swamped and undermanned that it’s nearly impossible to do everything I need to do.”
Oh God. I seriously think I’m going to throw up.
But I put a smile on my face and nod. “Sure.”
We step off the elevator and enter the third floor. With quick strides I push open the doors to our department and hurry to my cube, with Rebecca still babbling behind me.
“So, Avery, if you could just swing by my cube and pick up that copy, as I’m simply
to my desk this morning, that would be—” Rebecca suddenly stops. “Oh, hi, Spence.”
I put my tote bag down on the floor and see Spence Lewison strolling toward my desk.
Ick. My nose automatically wrinkles up in distaste. Spence is one of those guys who flirts with any girl who has a pulse. He’s got this creepy air about him, too—he’s always wearing tight shirts and super fitted pants—ones that show off his pumped up muscles—and puts tons of gel in his hair so it looks rather greasy.
“Hi, Rebecca,” Creepy Spence says. “Are you ready for some coffee? I waited
just for you
before getting some.”
, I will myself as I turn on my computer.
“Oh, Spence.” Rebecca giggles. “That’s so sweet of you. Of course I have time for a cup of coffee. Avery?” she says, telling me with her eyes my butt better stay planted in the chair and not get in the way of the coffee flirt fest this morning.
“Actually, Avery is needed in the conference room,” a deep voice from behind me says.
I quickly turn and find Craig Potanski, the senior executive vice president of Marketing, standing behind me. I freeze. My heart flinches. He was the really scary one in my group interview. I know he’s one of the most powerful, innovative leaders in the entire airline industry.
And usually he has nothing to do with assistants like me unless there is a major screw up.
“Uh . . . is something wrong?” I manage to squeak, my palms beginning to sweat. Oh, God, have I already screwed something up? Did he see me reading
underneath the expense reports I should have been coding yesterday? I’ll be fired. I’ll have to eBay my beloved Cavalli sunglasses to scrape up money for bills and—
“No, not at all. Why would you say that?”
Crap. Paranoia probably wouldn’t be a good answer.
“Come this way, Avery,” Craig says, sweeping his arm out and encouraging me to lead the way.
I move past Rebecca and Creepy Spence, who appear shocked that Craig is taking me away to the conference room.
I bite my lip, wondering what he wants. I’m just an assistant. And a new one at that. What could Craig possibly want to talk to me about?
We reach the conference room, and Craig opens the door for me. I step inside, and six heads turn and focus on me. Three of them I know—they’re different managers in marketing—but three are completely new. One is a middle-aged woman with wild, curly hair and glasses; the other is a younger woman who has a choppy haircut and dressed in a black turtleneck, despite the fact it’s going to be 80 degrees today.
Then I shift my attention to the man, and my eyes stay still for a second.
He’s young, I’d guess mid-twenties. He’s wearing a plain T-shirt that looks stark white against his deeply tanned skin. He has blondish-brown hair that is naturally highlighted by the sun. There’s a hint of five o’clock shadow on his face, and his blue eyes intently stare back at me.
I muse, mulling him over in my mind.
“Avery, please take a seat,” Craig says, interrupting my thoughts.
I sit down in a vacant chair, and Craig sits down beside me. I glance at the table and see that everyone has the same sheet of paper in front of them. Then I notice that it has my handwriting on it.
I peer closer at Craig’s sheet. It’s the personal survey they had asked us to voluntarily take weeks ago. I thought it was an odd thing to do—and it asked even odder questions. What color your eyes were, what your morning routine was like, your hobbies . . . But I eagerly did it, because it was more interesting than ordering business cards and making copies anyway.
“Avery, I’d like for you to meet these people from the First Class Travel Channel,” Craig says. “This is Marie Tolliver, senior executive producer. Everyone, this is Avery Andrews, an assistant in our department.”
The woman with the glasses smiles. “Hello, Avery.”
“Uh, hi,” I say, really confused now.
“And this is Tina Roy, a casting agent,” he continues.
“Good morning,” the girl in black says, not sounding like she means it.
I nod and turn my attention to the cute guy.
“And this is Deacon Ryan, videographer.”
“Deke,” he says, nodding at me. “Please call me Deke.”
“Deke,” I repeat, thinking his eyes are more blue-green than blue.
But then I frown, wondering if a T-shirt is really appropriate attire for a business meeting. Maybe the art of dressing for work is really dead after all in this country.
“Avery, we’ve asked you here today for a special reason,” Craig says. “The First Class Travel Channel is doing a documentary on Premier Airlines. They want to follow certain employees this summer to see how they do their jobs and how they live outside of work.”
“Mmmm,” I murmur, wondering what this has to do with me. “That sounds interesting.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Tina says.
I glance across the table, and Deke is still studying me. He picks up a pen, scratches through my answer to question number two, and writes something over it.
“Any promotion for the airline is a valuable thing,” I say smartly. Then I sneak a glimpse at Craig’s sheet. Question number two is eye color. Eye color? How can Deke Ryan
my eye color? Is he
? I have green eyes. Why on earth is he changing that?
“And after reading your questionnaire, Avery, we think you’d be a perfect fit for the documentary,” Marie says.
I sit still, shocked. They want to know more about
“But . . . I’m new. I’m just an assistant,” I blurt out.
Everyone laughs. Well, except for Deke Ryan, who is still studying me. Okay, that can stop anytime now. It’s starting to make me paranoid, and apparently I don’t need any help in that department.