Psst... click here for Chapter 1.
This chapter pairs best with a gin & tonic (extra lime) and Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous by Good Charlotte.
8:40pm, the Meatpacking District, NYC.
Elle came directly from her office to an 8:30pm reservation at ZaZu, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Meatpacking. “Cool spot, right? My VP gave me his reservation – it’s booked out for weeks,” Hayden said.
The handsome 6'1" investment banker stood up to give Elle a kiss on the cheek as she arrived, his freshly trimmed stubble grazing her skin. Hayden was the son of a retired CEO and a mother that was an off-Broadway actress. At age 35, Hayden Wilcox was eight years older than Elle. The two had been dating for just about two years, although, it didn’t feel like that long to her. The pair’s demanding work schedules left limited time to spend together.
Hayden was sitting beside Colbie Bradford, son of Kent Bradford, a well-known hedge fund titan. Colbie was one of Hayden’s closest friends since Georgetown and Elle didn’t understand why. In her opinion, Colbie was an entitled trust fund baby that was kind of an ass. It almost made her question Hayden’s character. What kind of respectable man spends his time with a guy like Colbie? She thought about what Petra said: there are two types of rich people. It made her doubt Hayden. He seemed like a good one but she had been wrong before.
Elle pulled up her chair next to Makena – a bright eyed beauty that was newly involved with Colbie. She had one of those glistening smiles with perfect teeth like the daughter of a dentist. Makena was sweet and well-mannered. You could tell she came from good family values. Her bronde (blondish brown) hair was sitting neatly just above her shoulders – swaying as she giggled at Colbie’s jokes.
Elle had met Makena a few times before at previous gatherings. Her first impression was that Makena was raised with finite aspirations – to find a wealthy man and start a family. Elle didn’t blame her – that’s all she knew growing up in a white-collar neighborhood of Connecticut.
Although Colbie tried to hide it, his friends could tell he liked Makena. Elle hoped her etiquette would rub off on him.
Elle’s hair looked auburn under the lighting sculpture above. It was tied back in a bouncy pony tale. She quietly skimmed the menu – the light freckles on her nose peering through her mineral foundation in shade Summer olive. Elle had big brown eyes with honey filled centers that made you lose your train of thought when they were fixated on you. Her thick brows were brushed up accentuating their high arches. Elle was smart and beautiful – but never acted like it.
“There’s this drug that my cousin took when he spent a Summer in South America… it triggers the same chemical in your brain that’s released right before you die,” Hayden said.
“Bro, no sh*t, really?” Colbie replied.
“Yeah, supposedly everything became clear and he was permanently altered, psychologically. Like he was Juuling all the time before and then immediately after he didn’t really feel the need to,” Hayden said.
“Siiick, I should try it with my brother maybe he‘ll finally get clean… but then I wouldn’t be Kent’s favorite son anymore.” Colbie laughed.
The waiter arrived with a second round of cocktails and Hayden changed the subject. “So, babe, have you started interviewing at new companies yet? Lineage underestimates you. I swear you could make double elsewhere.”
Elle was a strategist at Lineage Interiors, a European unicorn that had showrooms all over the globe. It was basically like an upscale Ikea – much more digitally savvy.
“Fintech is taking off – I bet Colbie’s dad could get you in somewhere. Maybe as a director of online growth & strategy, that sounds pretty tight,” Hayden added, glancing at Colbie. "Those directors basically wipe their asses with Benjamins and take the company jet out for “research” in Ibiza."
Elle sipped her elderflower lime gin & tonic with a smirk. Don’t get caught up in the shallows. You’re destined for something deeper, she told herself. As for Hayden, she wasn't so sure.