A/N: Hello! This is my first story, so I hope it is entertaining to everyone. Please feel free to read and review. I would love advice on where to go with this story. I have my ideas, but input is always helpful.
3 Years Ago
It had been a long day at the gallery, and Sophie was exhausted. After dumping her cold coffee down the office sink, Sophie decided to check in on Matt's office before she left for their little shoebox apartment they shared. It was hard to believe that they had been together a little under a year, and that she had lived and worked in New York for a year. Granted she hadn't lived with Matt for the majority of that time, actually, they had only been living together for a few months.
She had first met Matt when she first arrived in New York City. She had just graduated University, and had been hired to work as a talent scout for "The Unknowns", a popular art gallery featuring immensely talented unknown artists. Her boss, Matthew Inglewald, had given her a chance and pushed her to work her hardest. Her hard work had allowed her to push her way up in his gallery, and she had gradually earned her position as his personal assistant.
It didn't take much time for them to notice that the subtle chemistry that was between them, the chemistry that caused them to work perfectly together, had built into a mutual attraction.
Sophie had fallen in love with her handsome boss. How stereotypical! She loved that he had believed in her. He was the cause of her successes. She respected him because he held strong to his beliefs. He gave chances to unexpected people, to artists that would have never had a chance to have an art show until Matt found them. This was something that always made Sophie feel lucky that she had such a kind man as a friend, and a boss.
Now that mutual attraction was a mutual love.
Finally, the pieces of Sophie's life were all in place. She had a great job, she had a loving boyfriend, and she was settled into a comfortable lifestyle.
By the time she had walked the blocks back to their apartment, it was well past midnight. She idly wondered if Matt had gotten back yet since he had left earlier because his parents called him out, leaving her in charge of the gallery. He seemed stressed out about his parents. They had never liked her. The few times that they had met an "Unknown" art show, they never had to put effort in showing the disdain for the woman on their son's arm.
"I can't help it if I am a poor college grad," Sophie sighed.
She had always lived a comfortable life with her mother; it wasn't a life that Matt had been lucky enough to live. She was always contented with it, she didn't have all of the toys she wanted growing up, but she always had ample amounts of love from her mother. Matt's parents wanted him with a woman who wouldn't put the Inglewald name to shame, a proper woman who had a privileged upbringing.
All of her thoughts had landed her at the front steps before her front door. After she quickly dug through her purse for her keys, she had finally arrived home. She and Matt shared a quaint apartment that was perfect for them; they made the small space work for the two of them. Their matching his and her mugs always sat on the drying rack together after a quick washing before work, and their living room always maintained an organized state. The room was too small for them to be messy, and this was precisely why Sophie was surprised when she had finished putting her coat away.
Their normally clean living room had clothes thrown everywhere. The kitchen was a mess; there were empty wine bottles everywhere, and unclean dishes in the sink. Confused, she walked toward their room, and the sight before her was what confused her the most. Confused at the moment was perhaps not the best word, but hurt would be better. In their bed was her wonderful Matt, but instead of his strong arms wrapped around her protectively at night, they were wrapped around another woman. Another woman who happened to be nude, like him.
Devastated, Sophie fled. She fled from this now completely unknown world inhabiting the shell of her old beloved lifestyle. She felt suffocated.
She needed to get out, and out of Matt's life she went.
The contract was finished.
I pulled my hair out of my professional high ponytail, and let myself relax into my desk chair. I had the entire office designed to be bright, and open. The atmosphere my office created promoted creativity, and it pushed our thought process. I rotated the chair, and faced the floor to ceiling window in my office wishing for once, I could stifle my thoughts. It was a grand effort, but I still failed miserably and started to think about the man who had requested to have the services this contract promised. It has been three years since I have even thought about Matthew Inglewald. Immediately after our break up I immersed myself in my new event planning company I had created, "Sensation". It was my way of healing. I couldn't bear the thought that the one I had loved so dearly had been with someone else. Even worse, he had been with her in our bed, in our home.
Now my company is going to have to undertake the massive project of planning his engagement party.
The engagement party between him, and the woman I caught him with.
It took three years to finally rebuild my life. I worked so hard to recreate myself; to become a self made woman, to be a woman to be respected, and most importantly to get over Matthew Inglewald. In the three years that I had rebuilt my life, I had created an event planning company, a powerhouse in this industry. I am now the head of this company, and it is my responsibility to take on the high profile accounts. Now my company has just signed on a high profile Inglewald account, and now I am in charge of it.
All it took to crumble the walls that I had worked so hard for was a single signature on this contract. After that, I would be bound to him once again. Only I would be forced to watch him be together with the woman that he had apparently found to be more suitable for him, someone who his family wanted with him.
"Ugh snap out of it Soph," I whimper. I give my head a shake, and cleared my thoughts.
I have to shake myself out of this. I am a professional! I cannot run away anymore. I am not going to let Matthew Inglewald ruin my life again.
I had worked hard to get away from the life that I had once thought was perfect, and I had strived to create a new life. A life that no man could mess up, I had become a force to be reckoned with in my field and I would not give this life up because of a single contract. The Inglewald project is going to be a big account to "Sensation". I will show Matthew that I am a new woman. I am a new woman that is completely out of his reach.
With this moment of weakness passed, it was time to get to the contract signing. It had been three years since I had last set foot in "The Unknowns" and I am most assuredly going to make this first step confidently. I am not the weak Sophie that had let Matthew Inglewald stomp all over me. I can, and will show him who is the boss.
On the other side of town, there was a sole figure overlooking the same contract with a different set of mixed feelings.
Looking at the contract for the event planning company set off odd feelings within me. After Sophie left, I had never been able to find anyone like her. The gallery had never found anyone like her as well. She had been the best assistant because she had such a creative mind; but she was also able to command a room, and solve problems with ease. These skills always made her quite skilled in planning the quarterly art galas for "The Unknowns". However, since she left, we had never found someone in house who could work as effectively as she did. Which was why we had to immediately find an event planning company.
Normally our current company would suffice, but Melissa got it into her head that for our engagement party, we should bring in a more trendy company. This was exactly why I am holding this new contract in my hand. This company has an amazing track record, catering to anyone who was "worth knowing" according to her.
That thought surprised me. When had I become so fake?
I used to never care about appearances. I always did exactly what I felt was the right move for my gallery, not even my gallery, my life. Yet I suppose I always did have a weakness. My parents have always found a way to manipulate me into acting the way that I supposedly "should" be acting. Since I was such a coward, I let them manipulate me. Since I was such a coward, I lost someone who I now realize was a pillar of strength for me. I lost my Sophie.
Why did I have to act like such an ass toward her? What kind of boyfriend cheats on the woman he loves? Even worse, what kind of person would let their parents get in the way of their relationship? After she left, I gave up, and I did what my parents wanted. I started dating an "appropriate woman", the very woman who had caused my relationship with Sophie to fall apart. Melissa was my parents dream. She was wealthy, and she had the right connections.
Now I am left to my own devices to plan the event, Melissa doesn't have a working instinct in her body. She would rather leave the entire project to someone else, and then take the credit later. This was exactly what she did. She gave my art gallery assistant the job of finding the company who had planned the events that she had been so envious of. Feeling it wasn't my assistant's job to find an event planner, I pulled the assignment from her, and started to work on it personally. I heard a knock on the door. I pressed the intercom button.
"A Ms. Bates is here to see you Mr. Inglewald," my assistant replied.
I froze. I hadn't heard that name in three years. I felt like such a woman, who can hear their heart beating when they hear a name? I sigh, apparently I do.
As I readjust my tie, and re-button my suit coat, I push the intercom button again.
"Send her in."
Quickly running my hands through my hair, I check in the small mirror in my office bathroom to make sure I look presentable. Stepping back into the main room of my office, I can't help but feel a little excited. Could it really be Sophie? Will I get to see her again?
"Damn, get yourself together man." I whisper to myself.
I hear my door open, and I see the woman that invaded my dreams walk in. Only, she has changed a little. She is more professional looking now. Her once flowing brown hair is now tied up high on her head. She now is adorned in a cream pantsuit. My eyes now land on her face, and I am shocked into place. She used to have this wonderful smile that lit a room. Now she is cold, sending me a fake smile from two feet away. I can't feel any warmth from her. It panged my heart to see such a difference in her. I knew she would grow up in the three years we were separated, but I didn't think the entire atmosphere she had around her would have changed so dramatically.
"Mr. Inglewald?" Sophie calls toward me. I flinch into attention. I wasn't used to being addressed so formally by her.
"I apologize, what were you saying," I reply.
"Here is the contract for my company's services, sign here, here, and here," Sophie replied.
I looked at the contract, realizing that I had ended up back at my desk. Reading through the contract I saw that it required frequent meetings. I felt a glimmer of hope rising. Melissa would never lower herself from her pedestal to plan our engagement party. I would have to take her place. I grabbed Sophie's attention.
"How many meetings are there that we have to meet for?"
"There will be about ten, my company is built on a strong customer company relationship. We want to be assured that we cover every aspect of your event thoroughly, and to your liking," Sophie said proudly, the pride for her company showing on her face, however her face fell after she realized that she would have to interact with me more than she may have wanted. I frowned. This was not the reaction I wanted to pull from her.
I missed seeing her smiles, hell I missed making her give me these smiles. I missed holding her in my arms as we slept, I loved the protective feeling that eased into my gut when I felt her snug against my body. I missed how she smelled like vanilla after she baked. Damn! If I hadn't messed up with Melissa three years ago, we could have still been running "The Unknowns" together.
I can't stand this half-life I am living anymore! After Sophie left, I got out of my chair, and passed my desk towards the adjacent window. I touched the window where I could see Sophie walking toward a cab. I am tired of living in a shell of the old life I stupidly threw away. Screw my Parents! The only thing they ever wanted from me were the things that I could do to help propel them further into society. Only Sophie had ever truly cared for me, acted selflessly for me. I can't stand living like this anymore!
My only hope rested in the signed contract resting in the drawer of my desk. Walking back over to my desk, I pulled it out of the space I had stored it in. I ran my fingers over the section that required meetings between the company and the customer.
I felt determination flash through me. I want this woman back. I want my Sophie back. She will not be able to run from me again, she is contractually obligated to meet with me. I will prove to her that I am worthy of being with her. I will show her that I am not the same asshole who hurt her those years ago.
Reality hit me like a lightning strike. Melissa. I have a fiancé. She may be shallow, but she doesn't deserve to be humiliated by me. I shake my head, clearing my thoughts. I will have to figure a way for me to get out of my engagement while placing all the blame on me. Melissa may be innocent, but Melissa was never the one for me. She never will be. She will always be the mistake that my parents thrust onto me.
Letting the realization of the fact that Sophie was so close to being back in my arms again, I felt happiness flow through my body.
Let the chase begin Sophie, I will get you back.
My happiness depends on it.
Melissa walked to the bed she and Matt shared. Lying on the bed, she turned to Matt's side. While stroking his pillow, a malicious grin formed on her mouth. He had finally become hers. It had taken four years to be able to lie in his bed, one of those years spent scheming to get rid of that twit of a girlfriend he had.
Now all my work has paid off.
I will marry Matt; he was the ideal man for me. He was handsome, and ridiculously wealthy.
He will give me the status that I have craved all my life.
"I will not let anyone take him away from me," Melissa swore to herself. Getting up off the bed, Melissa left the bedroom and waited for her fiancé to come back home to her.