Authors: Mary Martinez
Tags: #General Fiction
That was not her plan. She’d succeed.
Slipping on her shoes, she grabbed her brief case and with her other hand pumped her fist in the air, “Yes.” Just before she closed the door, she saw the sun wink off one of Bella’s beads.
A laugh bubbled up. It was like those commercials where the handsome guy smiled and a twinkle gleamed on his tooth for a minute.
Bella was as happy as she was. Someday they’d both meet their mates.
Clearing her calendar for the wedding and the honeymoon really worked to her advantage. When she slipped in for a few minutes each morning and then left, everyone assumed she was like every other happy bride. They figured she was running last minute errands or whatever for the wedding.
No one suspected she was planning to build a new life
Cecelia met Joy at their favorite mid-town Deli. Even though most people were at work, the place was jammed with people, voices of all languages bounced off the wall. The smell of coffee fought the aroma of fresh donuts.
Too early for lunch, they both sipped on coffee. Her friend had come prepared with listings, and appointments for a few apartments she thought Cecelia would like.
“Before I start, I forgot to ask you the other night, how much can you pay? Have you figured out a budget?” Joy nibbled on a blueberry scone, as she doodled.
“I created a file for a fictional client. In it, I had their financials, of course they were mine. That way if Broderick snooped he wouldn’t think anything of it. I even have a tentative list of billable hours.”
“God, your dad is scarier than a stalker.”
“Tell me about it.” Cecelia wiggled her eyebrows at her friend over the top of her mug. “I haven’t had to spend any significant amount of money since I started at the firm. I sort of assumed it would all go toward a nice place with Chandler.”
“In other words you’ve got a stash. How much?”
“Well, I’ve got to plan startup costs for my own practice. Building clients takes time. At least father Wilson can’t black list me from my own firm.” Excitement chased through her, “I’ve decided to go into Family Law.”
Joy grinned and patted Cecelia’s hand. “You’ve loved that since we were in school. I remember you and Fanny discussing it. So what would Daddy say about that?”
“He’s not going to worry. He doesn’t consider there’s money in Family Law. So he’ll figure I’ll come to my senses and crawl home to him and Chandler.”
Joy’s laugh tinkled over the deli, every male head within hearing turned to see the source. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when it finally dawns on him, that’s
going to happen.”
“Me too, he thinks he knows me. I’m his daughter, his own flesh and blood. You’d think he’d realize he didn’t raise a wimp.” Cecelia let her own snicker float out. “It’s my fault though. After all, haven’t I always done what Broderick has told me? I was actually going to marry Chandler.”
“Thank God, you came to your senses, Cecie. What’s the budget?”
Cecelia slid away from the table so she could balance her brief case on her lap. She retrieved the file, flipped it open. If needed to, she could live for a year without a single dime of income, if she didn’t have some money coming in by then though…
“As much as I’d love to live in the lap of luxury, I think I’m going to enjoy actually having to budget and scale down my spending.”
Joy grinned at her. “Let’s see how long you enjoy living like us paupers.”
“Joy, you’re a pediatrician. You’re hardly poor.”
“Cecie, you forget I’m a lowly resident trying to get on the pediatric surgical team at Bellevue.” Joy paused as if considering something. “I need to hustle if I’m not going to be late, I have the afternoon shift.”
“What about the bachelorette party tonight at Pandora’s?” Cecelia had been in the process of placing the file and setting her case on the floor. It thunked to the ground as she stared at her friend.
All of her four best friends had to be there. They were celebrating her liberation from Wilson and Evan’s.
“I’m doing the swing shift. I work one to nine. I’ve got my party clothes with me so I don’t have to go home.”
Relief flooded her. “Good. I don’t want you to be late…”
“Hey, you two I’m glad I caught you.” Rae pulled up a chair from another table and swung it around to sit. “I’ve found some great combinations to rent.”
“I have no idea what a combination is,” Cecelia said.
Apparently, Joy did though. “I have a few listings also. Since you’re doing office space I was going to call you if Cecie was interested. We haven’t got that far yet.”
“What have you done?” Rae wanted to know as she spread her papers.
“Not much. I was just about to tell Joy what my budget is. I have my bed and office furniture from home, whether I’ll be able to have those after I ditch the wedding is anyone’s guess. I think we need to plan as if I have absolutely nothing. Once I have my practice going, and I can pay my expenses, hopefully before I’ve gone through my savings. Then I’ll upgrade on my living quarters.”
“Good thoughts. So?” Joy asked.
“I’ve budgeted between two and three thousand for a place to live and four to five thousand for office space.”
Joy choked. Spewed coffee sprinkled the papers on the table. “You can afford that for how long? Cecie, remember food, and other necessities.”
Cecelia noticed Rae’s gaze ping pong from her then to Joy. “I have a feeling Cecie can afford the necessities. She is a partner at one of the biggest, if not
biggest, law firm in Manhattan.”
This time it was Joy’s turn to stare at her, then Rae. “I knew you made booku bucks nevertheless I had no idea. Wow. Are you sure you don’t want to marry Chandler to keep the money? You could have wild affairs.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to Chandler. If he didn’t feel the same as I, then it would be something to consider.” Cecelia shrugged. “It’s not just love, it’s everything. I want freedom. As long as I’m with the firm everything I do will continue to be scrutinized by Broderick. Nope I’d rather live on a park bench.”
Rae stood. “I doubt you’ll need to do that, though to you it may seem so after you see what’s available. Be back.”
Cecelia watched her friend go to the counter to order coffee. While they waited, she turned to Joy. “You really didn’t think I had much money did you?”
“No. I didn’t lack for money growing up, however it was never that much money. At least I do have some apartments in your range, along with some combinations.”
“What the hell is a combination?”
Rae returned with her latte in time to hear the question. “It’s a combination apartment and office. Did you bring all the information? Two year’s tax returns, two months bank statements. The reference letters we’ve taken care of. In addition, you’ll need your ID photo. The letter from your employer is going to be a problem.”
For a moment panic set in, then Cecelia took a cleansing breath, she knew all this and was prepared. “It’s all in the file.”
Rae looked bewildered until Joy explained. “She made a mock client file with her financials, etc.”
“Excellent. Joy what do you have?”
“Cecie, would you be interested in working from your apartment at first?” Joy asked.
“Of course, at this point I can’t be too choosy. Maybe in a year things will change. For now, let’s see what you have.”
Joy flipped open a folder and spread out a few papers. It looked as if she’d printed them out, complete with floor plans and pictures.
She separated them into piles, “These are apartments only.” Pointing to the next group, “These are combos.” The last one was the smallest. “And these are studios or lofts.”
Cecelia used her index finger to spread them. A crawling sensation tightened her scalp; she was actually going through with her plan. She’d have her own place and business.
She’d be a grown up. A victory bop wanted to pour from her soul.
Rae leaned in, and pointed to one from the combination file. “I saw the same one. It’s in the financial district near Battery Park. It’s perfect.”
“I’d love to see it. We’ll start with that one.” Cecelia gazed at the floor plan. The high rise on Whitehall was actually more than she’d expected. It had an office, and the rent would still be a bit more than she’d planned but six thousand wasn’t her maximum. The only drawback, it wasn’t furnished.
Then she thought of all the second hand stores she loved to browse, looking for bargains. Sandra Wilson would faint dead away if Cecelia had ever brought home any of the treasures she’d spied when shopping with her friends.
Renewed energy gripped her. “Let’s go.”
She pushed to her feet in exhilaration. She pumped her hand in the air and accompanied it with a loud “Yes.” Heat zipped up from the pit of her stomach as people turned to stare.
What the hell, she didn’t care.
It had to be a sign her friends had found the perfect rental where she could start her practice and live.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here before we’re thrown out for causing a scene.” Rae clutched Cecelia’s elbow and practically pulled her from the Deli.
For some reason, Bella ran through her mind. Since she’d tried on the dress her life had been on a rocket to change.
Not yet complete, though she’d set the changes in motion.
Twenty minutes later, Cecelia stood on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building with two of her closest friends. She wished Fanny and Skye were there also.
A house warming party with her four BFFs crossed her mind. It would happen.
She titled her head to let her gaze travel the glass walled building. It was perfect. Taking a deep breath, she linked arms with her friends and pulled them toward the door.
The doorman—the building had a doorman, she felt a shout bubbling up again—nodded his head in greeting and instructed them to where their sales person waited. She almost pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.
Cecelia could hardly wait while the woman unlocked the door, but once in… The place took her breath away. Somehow, she’d pictured herself in a hovel not an elegant residence with Italian marble countertops. She’d been saving for eight years for this moment.
She deserved the best. Who cared if she was supposed to have shared this with Chandler?
“I’ll take it.”
Rae and Joy gasped in unison then gaped at her.
“You can’t take the first apartment you see.” Rae explained to her as if she were mentally challenged.
“If it fits all my needs and it’s in an ideal location for business. Why not? Think of all the people in this area who need an attorney who specializes in trusts, etc. It’s perfect.”
The sales person had stepped out to give the three friends time to discuss, she re-entered the room in time to hear what Cecelia had decreed.
“When would you like to move in?” The confident woman seemed to know to assume it was a done deal.
With Rae and Joy shaking their heads in wonder, she signed the paper work.
“Wait a moment.” The woman frowned at Cecelia. “Your identification says Cecelia F. Wilson.”
Cecelia explained the situation, hoping the woman would work with her. “I will bring all the legal documents for my name change after the hearing. In the mean-time you have my references, salary history, taxes and bank statements.”