Prologue
Y+5

He was waiting by the grand staircase, hands in his pockets, eyes roving over the ceiling. It looked as if the designers had failed to make up their minds on whether to go with minimalism or baroque. It annoyed him slightly. He heaved another deep sigh and adjusted his stance.

As she exited the ladies' room, she could immediately spot him by the staircase and sense his impatience. She hurried over to his side, while attempting to maintain composure. Not a very easy feat, when dressed in a corset and stilettos. But it was important to maintain composure. She smiled up at him tentatively. He gave her a once over—a look that unnerved her and made her self-conscious—then held out his arm. She took it, and together they climbed the stairs to the ballroom where the annual gala dinner was taking place.

The gala was held by the Institute of Modern Art to honour leading artists of the nation. Not that either of them were artists, but he did enjoy collecting art. As for her, at the moment she briefly imagined what could have been… being on the other side of the fence… No. Better not to dwell on such thoughts. That was a chapter of her life she had resolved to close. But what if he was here tonight? Impossible. He was a long way from home, and there was no reason for him to be here.

Trying to distract herself, she turned to her partner, "So, do you think you're going to get anything from the auction later?"

There was a pause and it appeared as though he had not heard her, busy as he was smiling and nodding at familiar faces whom he'd done business with. Just as she was about to repeat her question, he mused, "Yes, yes. Perhaps I should. My house could always use a new display."

His house. Of course. Everything was his. Including her. Sometimes she wondered if that was all she was to him—a display, another symbol of his success. A trophy wife. Not in the traditional sense, of course. They're not even married yet. A trophy girlfriend, then. But every time such a notion pops up in her head, she is reminded of how far back they go. How they practically knew each other all their lives, how he had admired her, how life kept throwing them back together no matter how far apart they had strayed. Surely it was an omen? Surely it meant that they belonged together.

She studied his face. She could see herself in him. Wasn't that what attracted her to him in the first place? His ambition, his drive to always be better. Sharp. That's what he was. Sharply dressed, sharp-witted, and perhaps sharp-tongued as well… He was perfect. It only follows that perfection would demand perfection in return. She often wondered whether she was up for the job. And yet, he'd chosen her. It didn't quite make sense to her in the beginning. But then again, these things seldom do. If it were anyone else, she would have chalked it up to feelings. But this was Adrien, and Adrien was not the sentimental type. That's alright though, neither was she. Over time she would stop worrying about it and start working on being better.