PROLOGUE

"You have two weeks to find a new place to live and move in," Devin
Fairmont said calmly. His perfectly manicured fingernails tapped on
the immaculate coffee table once -- and only once -- before he crossed
his legs. He fixed the crease of his trousers and looked up
expectantly to see my reaction.

I was slack-jawed with astonishment and fury. My fiancee of six months
just announced that he was leaving me for a nineteen-year-old jingle
singer and model from Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, I said jingle singer.
She was one of those annoying voices that blast from the TV on
commercials for laundry soap or buttered pastries, singing those
God-awful songs that get stuck in your head for days on end.

Oh, and her name was Bianca. Can you imagine? Bianca!

"I can imagine that you would be heartbroken, darling. I will, of
course, aid you on your search for a new apartment in any way that I
can."

I blinked a few times, trying to take in exactly what he was telling
me.

"I won't need your help, Devin. I'll manage on my own," I replied, my
voice surprisingly steady.

It's not that I wasn't hurt by what was happening -- I was. But I had
known for months that Devin and I weren't made for each other. He was
an accountant at a major firm in Midtown Manhattan, where men wore
thousand-dollar suits and owned penthouses with views. I was a budget
interior designer, helping people on small budgets redecorate their
homes or apartments.

My friends described Devin as anal, and that's the best word I can
think of to characterize him. He color-coordinated his underwear.
His socks. Even his vegetables. His aftershave and bath products
were all arranged alphabetically, by name, but he often rearranged
them so the caps that were all the same size were all in the same row.
His towels were monogrammed, dark blue, all hanging with the seams even
and the lettering in the right-hand corner. When he invited me up
after our first date, I put my purse on his foyer table and I thought
he was going to have a coronary. I once put a bottle of wine back in
the wrong spot, not in the chronological order that he placed them in,
and he didn't speak to me for three days. We often fought over my
"unkempt lifestyle" -- his words, not mine -- and his need for all
things cleanly.

Therefore, I was surprised when he popped the question six months
earlier and suggested I move in with him. I sold my shoebox of an
apartment to some grateful Chinese immigrants who I knew from work
and moved in the weekend after the invitation.

Now, I only had a place to live for two more weeks before
Bianca-the-blonde-busty-jingle belter came to stay. It was quite a
dilemma, and I was worried about it. However, my ex-fiancee, always
the adept one, mistook my crestfallen expression for one of being heartbroken.

"Can I get you some water, Chayse?" Devin asked softly. When I didn't
respond, he went to his spotless kitchen and grabbed a glass. He
inspected the glass, holding it up to the light and squinting his
brown eyes, drawing his brows together in concentration. When the
glass passed his scrutiny, he pushed the lever on the freezer door
and filled the glass with crushed ice and very little water. "Here
you are."

I took the glass and looked at its contents, then took a sip. It was
all ice. I crunched the ice with my teeth as Devin grimaced.

"Must you do that, Chayse?" he muttered, sitting back down and fixing
the crease in his pants once again.

"Well, I guess I'll get my stuff together," I said, standing abruptly
and ignoring Devin's complaints. I set my glass down on the marble
coffee table, watching with satisfaction as the water spilled over
and made a slight puddle on the table's glossy surface. I smiled my
most winning smile and walked happily away to the bedroom.

A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders when Devin Fairmont
jilted me. I was worried about my future, yes, but I felt incredibly
free -- almost like a liberated slave.

I felt like I was embarking on a new kind of adventure.