| Chapter 1
"What do you have for me?" Freya Jordan raised an eyebrow at her columnist. It was raining hard in the city of Harper. It was suppose to be blazing hot since it was the first week of summer. She grumbled about the effects of global warming as she shifted her attention back to River.
River was bubbly, amidst the gloom and doom of the weather. She handed her rough draft of an article on Freya's desk. "Here it is: The title is 11 "Summer Trends." You know when they say green is the new black? Well, this one dictates purple is the new green. Tank tops are gone out the window. Making the grand entrance are sleeveless cotton hoodies..."
"River, note my sarcasm: your article so vaguely reminds me of last year's summer issue of our rival magazine, Glitz." Freya said nonchalantly. "For Christ's sake, sleeveless cotton hoodies? Are we living in the same city because I'm pretty sure you're aware of our gradual change of climate." She gestured to her window.
"Miss Jordan! It's not the same as last year's issue of Glitz!" River protested, "Glitz had 10 Summer Trends. I think plus one summer trend is a big difference."
"I have a meeting in half an hour." Freya replied icily, standing up. "Throw your 11, or 12, or 20 summer trends in the trash. Come up with something that's actually original?" She put on her coat and wrapped her scarf around her neck. "You're a great writer, River. You're just not doing your homework."
Freya stepped out of her office. She stopped by her secretary's table. "I have a lunch meeting, Meredith. If Poncho calls, tell him he can drop by around 3."
Meredith nodded, "yes, Miss Jordan. Oh, by the way. Your mother called."
Freya sighed. "What did she want?"
"She wants to know if you're coming to the Wiscon's wedding."
"I'll... think about it." Freya stiffly put on her gloves. "Tell Kelly that I want to see the layout before I leave after 6."
Freya cursed as she got out of the building. The rain was coming down by the torrents. She had no umbrella. The venue of her lunch meeting was a couple of blocks away. It was a very important meeting with one of Harper's celebrities who could boost the sales of her fashion magazine. She held her breath as she proceeded to venture into the rain.
Her coat did little to prevent her from getting drenched. She envied the people who carried umbrellas rushing past her. She wrapped her scarf tightly around her head like a hood and kept running. She stopped to catch her breath under the shelter of a cafe's quaint little porch. Panting, she texted to the Harper celebrity that she might be a bit late for the meeting. "Dammit." She muttered under her breath. It was a killer running in heels. Freya composed herself, prepared to do another running.
She had to slow her run to a walk because of the crowd. She seemed to be the only person in town without an umbrella. Suddenly, just a few feet away, stood a man with a maroon umbrella who had stopped at his tracks, as if waiting for her. Freya wasn't sure if she was the one being waited on. He smiled and gestured for her to get under his umbrella. She breathed a huge sigh of relief as she quickly accepted the invitation. As soon as she got under the umbrella, both of them started walking at the same walking pace.
"How come you're not carrying an umbrella?" the man demanded. Freya found his question and manner of speaking rather surprising. But she politely answered him, "I guess I underestimated the weather man's prediction this morning."
"Ah." he nodded, seemingly amused. "Where are you headed?"
"The Tinderbox Bistro." Freya replied. "Good." the man answered, "I'm on my way there too. To meet someone."
"Your girlfriend?" Freya tried to lighten the conversation. "No." the stranger answered, breaking into a grin. "I wish, though."
They shortly arrived at the restaurant. The owner of the restaurant was good friend of Freya's. "Hey, sweetie." Jill Conaghan smiled. "Got a reservation?"
"I believe you have a Mr. Gordon in your list. It's a lunch meeting."
"Of course." Jill smiled, looking at the leather clipboard, "and you sir?" She smiled at the gentleman who rescued Freya from the rain. "I'm Tony Gordon." he grinned.
Freya froze and felt the world collapse around her as she slowly turned around at the gentleman. "You're... Mr. Tony Gordon?" She said unsteadily. How couldn't she recognize him? He's a celebrity for crying out loud! Jill was as stunned as she was but not for the same reason. "Mr. Gordon, Ms. Jordan, please follow me to ...your table." She said, her tone formal. Freya was in a daze as she followed Jill. Tony pulled a seat for Freya who slowly slumped on her chair. A menu appeared for both of them. "What would you like, ma'am?" Jill asked her. Without looking at her menu, Freya answered, "I'll have a martini... and a towel."
"I'll have what she's having." Tony smiled, "I'm pretty soaked myself."
"I'll see what I can do." Jill said, awed at her customers.
As Jill left, Freya leaned forward at the table. "Mr. Gordon, I'm so sorry I didn't-"
"Whoa, sweetheart, don't hurt yourself, it's pretty understandable." Tony spread his table napkin on his lap. "Lots of people don't recognize me these days, specially when I've dyed my hair brown."
So that's why she didn't recognize him. He was originally a blonde heartthrob. "And please call me Tony." he added. "You must be the lovely Miss Freya Jordan."
"Thank you once again for the umbrella." Freya replied, still a little flustered. "Mr. Gordon-"
"Sorry. Tony, just a quick question... why do you want to be on the cover of Adore, of all magazines in Harper?"
Tony chuckled, "if my research is correct, you're only the forteenth top selling magazine in the city, next to Animal Lovers and Real Estate Realists."
"I'm quite proud of this publication, Mr. Gor- Tony, no matter how it ranks."
"I admire your spirit, Freya." Tony replied, "I want to be on the cover of Adore because I want a fresh image. People are too familiar with me in Glitz, and Fashion Charts, and Sass. I'm always projected as another pretty face in the entertainment industry."
"And now you want to project an image of yours that's more than a pretty face. Someone who's unpredictable. Deep..." Freya suggested. "...and maybe a bit eccentric. Knows his way around life. Down to earth. Something like that?"
"Bullseye." Tony snapped his fingers, nodding in enthusiasm. He leaned forward on the table, "yes, yes, and yes."
Jill appeared by their table, carrying their martinis. "I only have the kitchen towels. Freshly washed. Got them from the cleaners yesterday, it should do." She handed each of them a small cloth.
"Perfect." Freya sighed, standing up. "I'll dry myself a bit in the ladies' room, if you don't mind Mr. Gord- er, Tony."
Freya pulled Jill alongside as she marched to the bathroom. "Oh my God, oh my God, Freya!" Jill gushed. "Tony Gordon?? And he offered you his umbrella?"
"Shut up, Jill." Freya started rubbing the cloth on her face and neck. "Are you insane? He's only a client. He'll just be featured on our magazine, what's with the cuckooness?"
"Well, excuse me Miss Independent. For once, maybe you should get a life." Jill placed her hands on her hips as Freya used the hand dryer for her hair. "I do have a life, Miss Hopeless Romantic." Freya shot back. "It just happens that I don't need a man to get me through everything. Please, Tony Gordon?? Maybe you should ask him to offer his umbrella to you."
"I should whack his umbrella on your head." Jill snickered. "When was the last time you went out with a guy just to have fun?"
Freya stood upright from the hand dryer, trying to recall. "Almost a year?"
"There you go."
"Honey, I love you, but I will not go out with Tony Pretty Face Gordon, okay? He's an actor."
"So what if he's an actor?"
"You know how actors are behind the scenes. They're bigger drama queens than models. And I've worked with models. I'm just lucky that I'm editor-in-chief of a magazine he desperately wants to be featured in."
"You know what I think?"
"You've got no guts."
"Feel my love."
Freya threw the kitchen towel at Jill's face, cursing.
"Where were we?" Freya answered as she sat down across Tony. "Ah yes... Mr. Gordon, I must admit your manager was rather...reluctant about letting you be on Adore."
"Sam Thorden is an ass. But a very good manager of an ass." Tony admitted. "But he does agree that my image has to have more depth. And you sound like the perfect person for the job. I trust that you'll want to find out more about my life."
"Why, of course." Freya took a sip of her martini. "I can schedule an interview-"
"No, no. That's not the kind of approach I want. I've done hundreds of interviews and I end up saying the same things off the top of my head."
"I've got a crazy idea." There was a glimmer in Tony's eye. Freya wasn't sure if that was a good thing. "What about... you go out with me for a month?"
Freya gaped at Tony. The glass of martini was halfway to her mouth but what Tony announced made her drop it on the table and spill. "Oh shit." she cried, quickly standing up. "Er, Jill! A little help."