Coming Summer 2024
WHAT IF PROMISES WEREN'T MADE TO BE BROKEN?
From the outside, Harper Emery's life appears to be picture-perfect—wealth, celebrity status, accomplishment, and admiration from those around her. Yet despite all her successes, something is missing for the thirty-year-old fashion executive. After recently breaking off her engagement, she begins to wonder if her opportunity for real love has slipped away. But when she accepts the role of maid of honor at her best friend's wedding, little does she know that her happily ever after is waiting just around the corner.
Harper Emery's designer heels clicked against the marble floor as she strode purposefully through the atrium of her east side high rise. The 30-year-old fashion executive wore a flawless navy-blue pinstripe suit that hugged her curves, accentuated by a dazzling smile, and chestnut hair that cascaded in perfect waves down her back. With each step she exuded confidence and poise, looking as if she was ready to take on the world.
"Morning, Ms. Emery!" the doorman called out, tipping his hat to her as she breezed past him.
"Good morning, David," she replied, her voice smooth and velvety. As she exited the building, Harper was greeted by the sounds of honking car horns and the chatter of New York’s busy streets. For a moment, she paused to take it all in, feeling invigorated by the energy of the city around her.
When her car pulled up, out jumped Harper's assistant, Kim, and opened the door for her.
"Right on time," said Harper, regarding her with a smile. "It's nice to see you've finally mastered the midtown traffic."
"Good morning to you too," said Kim, beaming back at her.
As Harper slid into the back seat, she took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, the excitement of the day ahead bubbling inside her.
"So what's on the agenda today?"
"You have a meeting with an exec from Vogue at nine,” said Kim. “Followed by a call with the design team at Elle at ten, and lunch with Bella from Gucci at eleven-thirty."
"What about the afternoon—how's it looking?"
"Jam packed. But you should be finished in plenty of time to see Dr. Andrews at six. I got you on his calendar, just as you requested."
Harper breathed a sigh of relief. "What would I do without you?"
"I shuddered to think," Kim teased as she merged into traffic. “Oh, by the way, Diana called. She wants you to meet her for dinner at Gramercy Tavern at 7:30... says she has something important to discuss with you."
Harper looked up from her phone. "Diana? I didn’t know she was in town. Did she happen to tell you what this is about?”
Kim shook her head, focusing on the cars in front of her. "Only that it was of the utmost importance—her words, not mine."
In all the years Harper and Diana had been friends, only twice had Diana used the words utmost importance; once when she had been accepted into Harvard, and again when she got engaged to Justin. Which meant that whatever she wanted to talk about was monumental. Huge. Life-changing.
At the corner of 7th Avenue and 38th Street, Kim let Harper out then went to park the car.
When the elevator doors opened on the sixty-second floor, Harper went directly to her office. After putting away her purse and coat, she stopped and took a deep breath, feeling grateful for the life she had built for herself.
No sooner had she sat down at her desk when her phone buzzed.
"It’s me again,” said Kim. “Sorry to bother you, but here's been a change of plans. The Vogue exec just messaged me and said she needs to reschedule to next week. But," she said, hardly able to contain her excitement, "I just got off the phone with none other than Eleanor Le Roux—the CEO of Chanel—and she wants to meet with you right away."
Harper's heart skipped a beat. She’d had her sights set on a collaboration with Chanel ever since she started her own company, and meeting with the CEO was an opportunity she couldn't miss. "Thanks for letting me know. Where are you?"
"Turning around. I'll be out front in two minutes."
As she stepped into the sleek Chanel headquarters, Harper's skin prickled with excitement. Eleanor Le Roux, a tall, lean woman in her mid-fifties with piercing green eyes, greeted her with a firm handshake.
"Ms. Emery, it's a pleasure to finally meet you in person," she said. "I'm Eleanor Le Roux."
"Mrs. Le Roux, it's so very nice to meet you, and the pleasure's all mine. I've followed your work for many years. You probably hear this all the time, but I’m a huge fan. I mean, you’re an icon.”
She smiled kindly. "One never tires of flattery, my dear. Come, we have much to discuss."
Eleanor led Harper into a spacious conference room, the walls adorned with photos of the latest Chanel collections and fragrances. Eleanor took a seat at the head of the table while Harper sat adjacent to her.
"I apologize for the last-minute theatrics," said Eleanor, watching Harper with an appraising eye. "But I had an appointment cancel this morning, so I thought what the hell, I'll roll the dice."
"It must be fate," Harper noted. "I had an appointment with Madeline Marceau, but she cancelled at the last minute."
Eleanor chuckled and said, "Perhaps you're right; maybe this is fate. Believe it or not, I too am an admirer of yours. I've been following closely your meteoric rise, and I must say that I'm impressed. You remind me of myself, when I was your age."
"Thank you," she said, floored that Eleanor even knew who she was.
"I realize your time is precious, so I'll get straight to point. I have a proposition for you. As you know, Chanel has always been a brand that values elegance, sophistication, and timeless beauty. However, we're looking to expand our reach to a younger audience. I believe that's where the industry is moving, and that's where I think you can help us."
Harper leaned forward, intrigued. "What do you have in mind?"
"We want to partner with you to design a limited-edition collection. We want you to bring your fresh take on fashion and inject it into the classic Chanel style. We believe that with your eye for detail and unique perspective, we can appeal to a new generation of fashion enthusiasts while still maintaining the essence of our brand."
Harper’s head spun. "Wow! I don't know what to say."
"I hope you’ll say yes.”
"Yes! Of course. I'd be delighted to work with you and your team.”
"Fabulous! We're targeting the launch for fall, which means we'll need to start right away. I'll have my legal team send over the contract tonight. If the terms are agreeable, planning will begin immediately. And we'll need to work quickly. I hope you weren't planning any time away soon, because you're going to be very busy."
"I don't take time off," Harper said proudly. "My work is my life."
Eleanor nodded, pleased with her response. "Excellent," she said, her lips curling into a smile. "I think we're going to make a great team."
For the rest of the day, Harper was on cloud nine. Collaborating with Chanel had been a dream of hers since she broke into the business, and now that it was a reality, she couldn't wait to tell her team.
Harper's hands shook slightly as she held the delicate porcelain teacup to her lips, the fragrant jasmine tea doing little to calm her nerves. The cozy office of Dr. Allen Andrews—an expert in dealing with broken hearts—filled with plush armchairs and shelves of leather-bound books, was a stark contrast to the chaos swirling inside her head.
"Harper," Dr. Andrews said gently, snapping her back to reality. "You mentioned that your breakup with Grant has been quite difficult for you. Can you tell me more about that?"
Harper took a deep breath, willing herself to remain composed as she recounted the painful experience. "It wasn't just the end of our relationship,” she said. “It felt more like the end of the world. I had invested so much time and energy into us, only to find out he was someone else entirely.”
Dr. Andrews nodded thoughtfully, his pen hovering over the notepad in his lap. "It's natural to feel betrayed and hurt when someone we love turns out to be different than who we thought they were. But remember, this is not a reflection on you or your worthiness of love."
Harper's eyes filled with tears, her lip quivering. "I know that," she said. "But it's still hard to accept. For whatever reason, I've never had much success with relationships. Sure, there's been the occasional fling throughout the years, but nothing serious. I just thought that this time was different, that I'd finally found my someone." She hung her head, embarrassed at her vulnerability. "Do you think that maybe I'm just not meant for love—that I'm somehow unlovable?"
"No. You are not unlovable," he said. "You deserve the same happiness as everyone else, and it's crucial for you to understand that your past relationships do not define your future potential for love."
Harper wiped away a tear that had escaped and took another sip of her tea. She forced a small smile. "Thank you, Dr. Andrews. You don’t know how much I needed to hear that."
"Of course," he replied with a gentle smile of his own. "Now, let's discuss some strategies for moving forward and finding the healthy, fulfilling relationship you deserve."
As they dove into their session, Harper felt a flicker of hope ignite within her. She hoped that with Dr. Andrews' guidance, she could navigate the complexities of her love life and find happiness once more. With each passing moment, the image of Grant's face began to fade, replaced by the promise of a brighter future.
When the session ended, Harper hailed a taxi and had it take her directly to the restaurant. After paying the fare, she went in and was immediately enveloped in the warm, inviting atmosphere. The scent of fresh herbs and garlic wafted to her nose, and as she took a deep breath, her stomach rumbled with anticipation.
After finding Diana at a table in the back, Harper embraced her best friend in a warm hug.
“It’s so good to see you, Di,” she said as they parted.
"You too, Harp. I was starting to think you weren't going to make it.”
"Sorry,” she said as she settled into her seat. “I got here as soon as I could. Traffic is a nightmare.”
“Tell me about it. It took me almost an hour to get here from the hotel.”
The waitress appeared and Harper ordered wine and a Brussel sprout salad, while Diana chose a chilled tomato soup.
"You won't believe what happened to me today," said Harper as she settled in. "I met with Eleanor Le Roux, the CEO of Chanel. She wants to collaborate with me on a limited-edition collection. Can you believe it?"
"That's amazing," said Diana in awe. "You really are on fire right now."
"I know.” She sighed. “If only my love life would follow suit."
"Speaking of that, the last time we talked you said something about scheduling a visit with Dr. Andrews. Have you been to see him yet?"
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I just came from his office. That's the reason I was almost late—our session ran over."
Diana sipped her wine, then asked, "Well, what did he say?"
"The usual—stay strong... keep your head up... don't lose hope."
"That sounds fairly customary."
Harper nodded along. "But he also said that the love of my life was waiting for me out there somewhere, and that when I least expected it, things would fall into place for me."
"He's right, you know," said Diana. "I've been telling you the same thing for years. Maybe next time you should save yourself the trouble, and the money, and come to me. I'll even cut you a break on my usual rate," she said, then winked.
"You're probably right." Harper sighed. "At this point, I almost feel cursed... like whatever I do is the wrong decision. I just wish things were simpler, like they used to be when I was younger."
"Don't we all," said Diana, before taking another sip of wine.
When the appetizers arrived, they devoured them before the conversation turned to Grant.
"So you haven't heard from him?" Diana asked.
Harper shook her head. "And I don't expect to either. He's probably in Mexico or Greece, searching for his next unsuspecting victim. I just can't believe I was so stupid not to see that he was a conman."
"Don't beat yourself up. Grant had everyone fooled, me included. At least he's gone now, and you won't ever have to worry about him again."
"True." Harper finished her wine and asked for another. "You know, I'm not asking for the world, just to find someone who loves me for who I am, not who I am in the fashion world."
Diana shifted her gaze to the side and said, "Well, I do know of one man."
"No.” Harper shook her head. “Don't even go there. Cam and I are just friends. Besides, he's on the other side of the globe, doing God knows what. And anyway, we haven't spoken since...” She dropped her eyes. “Well, not in a long time."
When the main course arrived, they ate while discussing Diana's flourishing real estate empire.
"Business is booming," she said in between bites of duck meatloaf. "At this rate, I can retire by the time I’m forty.”
"That's great, Di," said Harper. "You always wanted to retire young and travel the world. What does Justin think about that?"
"He's happy with whatever I do. Besides, he's busy with his writing, and that's going well, so I think we're both in a good place."
"Well, I'm happy for you both. So have you set a date for the wedding or are you still mulling it over?"
"Actually," said Diana, beaming, "that's why I asked you here tonight. Justin and I have agreed to a summer wedding. June, to be exact. And it's going to be a destination wedding?"
Harper's brows went up in anticipation. "Let me guess: Jamaica? Mexico? Hawaii?"
"Florida," said Diana. “Destin, to be exact. I know it isn't Mexico or Hawaii, but it's where Mom and Dad have their beach house, and where I spent every summer growing up. Besides, it holds sentimental value for me." She took another sip of wine. “For you too, I imagine.”
“Yes,” said Harper, recalling fondly summers spent with Diana at her parents' beach house—the feel of the wind in her hair, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the turquoise waters of the gulf. But those weren't the only memories that came to mind. Close to her heart, Harper kept safe the memories of a boy with deep blue eyes, sun-kissed skin, and a charming smile. Memories of long walks on the beach, of endless conversations and stolen kisses. Memories of a love that had ended before it had even begun.
The clink of wine glasses snapped Harper back to reality. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"
Diana ignored Harper's flightiness and continued telling her about the wedding. "And I want you to be my maid of honor."
Harper's eyes widened with surprise. "Me? Really?"
"Of course. Who else would I ask? You're my best friend... the one who knows me best... the one who has been by my side through all the ups and downs of the last twenty-three years."
Tears threatened to spill from Harper's eyes as a wave of gratitude and joy washed over her. "Thank you, Di. That means the world to me."
"So you'll do it?"
"Yes," she answered through blurry eyes. "I'd love to be your maid of honor. And I promise I'll do whatever it takes to make sure your day is perfect."