Love, Chloe - Alessandra Torre Page 0,1

condom. Every time a foil package got pulled out of a pocket, Nicole Brantley got paid. At sixteen, she played a blonde bimbo on a Party of Five knock-off and had humped the Lifetime movie circuit ever since. My mother met her at a charity golf luncheon last year, and they’d stayed in touch. Mother promised that “Nicole was a doll” and “would be a pleasure to work for.” This all coming from a woman who hadn’t worked a day in her life. Regardless, I couldn’t be picky. I needed money, and Nicole Brantley had piles of that.

“Yes?” she asked, her bright blue eyes skipping over me, darting from my heels to my handbag, a critical appraisal that ended in approval. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Chloe Madison. My mother said you were looking for an assistant? I have an interview scheduled for one.” A pathetic opening. My mother? But, remarkably, the woman’s face curved into a smile, the Madison name still having some pull in the lowly area of hired help.

“Thank God,” she drawled, dragging me through the front doors. “This week has been a disaster. Come inside and let me track down Clarke.” She turned on her heel—a hot blue Louboutin—and clicked a rapid path through the foyer.

I’d been in New York for four years. Enough time to realize the mansions of my Florida youth didn’t exist on Manhattan’s streets. Pools and guest homes, tennis courts, and country clubs—those niceties were in the Hamptons or New Jersey. In the city, wealth was spoken through garages, Central Park views, and square footage. The Brantleys had all three. I spied a housekeeper, uniformed in the white and black attire that a sliver of the upper-class demanded. Saw the Picasso and Kandinsky in the hall. Noticed the views of the park that dominated the room we moved into, and the man who stepped away from the window, a phone to his ear.

He nodded to me, a curt smile passed over before he refocused on his conversation, his voice sharp as he spoke into the phone. I watched his hand come up to the window and press, the lean of his body against the glass stretching his suit tight across broad shoulders and a tight ass, the drop of his head a masculine, sexual gesture. I watched him and felt a pull of longing, the Chloe romance channel devoid of excitement for a very long time.

“That’s Clarke.” Mrs. Brantley’s voice rang out loudly, no concern given about his call. “Sorry about his lack of greeting,” she said airily, snapping at me and gesturing for me to follow, her ability to move in five-inch stilettos admirable. “His hand is permanently attached to that phone.” She rounded a staircase and headed up and glanced down at me. “Chanel is up here.” She took the steps two at a time, her calves ridiculous, my follow more laborious in execution. I tried to respond and managed a wheeze, glancing around for the elevator that surely existed. Chanel. Mom hadn’t mentioned any children, and I prayed this girl would be old enough to be potty-trained.

Nicole glanced back. “As far as pay, it’s a thousand a week. I’ll need you from nine in the morning until four, Monday through Friday. Chanel will be a large part of your job. Does that work for you?”

My breath was short as we finally hit the top of the stairs, my mind working overtime. A thousand a week? That should be enough for food and rent, with a little extra to pay down my tuition until NYU coughed up my diploma and allowed me to get a real job, one that would make use of my real estate development degree. I frowned. My original plan, after graduation, had been to work in commercial and residential real estate, a non-salaried, straight-commission job. A job that—in the wake of my newfound poverty—was now unfeasible. I refocused on the conversation, my mind stuttering a little at the second mention of the child. I’d never been around a baby, my knowledge of infants restricted to sporadic episodes of Teen Mom. “Yes, great. That sounds perfect.”

She stopped on the landing, holding up a red-tipped finger and pressing it to her lips before turning the handle, pushing open the door to a nursery. I silently groaned at the crib, set in the back of the pale pink room, CHANEL on the wall in block letters. I followed slowly, reluctant to meet the baby. A smile fixed into place, I