Oblivious to any danger, Alexandra Lyons ran full tilt across the icy street, deftly weaving her way between two taxis, a gunmetal-gray Mercedes and a jet-black Ferrari. Her hooded, red wool cape was like the brilliant flash of a cardinal's wing against the wintry gray Paris sky and the falling white snow.
Her long legs, clad in opaque black tights and pointy-toed red cowboy boots, earned a quick toot of the horn and an admiring second look from the driver of the Ferrari.
It was Christmas in Paris. Glittering semicircles of Christmas trees had replaced Rond Point's formal gardens, and garlands of lights had been strung up in the city's leafless trees, turning the Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-elysees into great white ways, reminding one and all that Paris was, after all, the City of Light.
But Alex's mind was not on the lights, or the joyful season. Her concerns were more personal. And far more urgent.
She was on her way to the atelier of Yves Debord to try again to win a coveted position with the French designer. And though she knew her chances of winning a position at the famed house of couture were on a par with catching moondust in her hand, even worse than failing would be to grow old and never have tried.
Emerging ten years ago as haute couture's enfant terrible, the designer had been immediately clutched to the decollete bosom of the nouveaux riches. Fashion celebrity oozed from the perfumed corners of his atelier, glinted off the windshield of his Lamborghini, glowed from the crystal chandeliers in his many homes.
Hostesses in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York fawned over him. He skied in the Alps with movie stars and was welcome at presidential dinner tables in Rome and Washington and Paris.
During Alex's student days in Los Angeles, the Fashion Institute had shown a documentary about the designer directed by Martin Scorsese entitled Pure Pow: The World of Debord. Enthralled, Alex had sat through all three showings.
She now paused outside the showroom to catch her breath. Adrenaline coursed through her veins at the sight of her idol's name written in gleaming silver script on the black glass.
"You can do it," she said, giving herself a brisk little pep talk. "The answer to all your dreams is just on the other side of this door. All you have to do is to reach out and grasp it."
She refused to dwell on the fact that after months of daily visits to the bureau de change to cash her dwindling supply of traveler's checks, she was almost out of funds.
Her night job, serving beer and wine at a Mont-parnasse nightclub, barely paid her rent. The hours, however, allowed her to search for work in the fashion houses during the day, and if sleep had become a rare, unknown thing, Alex considered that a small price to pay for a chance to fulfill a dream.
Throwing back her shoulders, Alex lifted herself up to her full height of five feet seven inches and then, with her usual bravado, entered the showroom. Behind her, the door clicked shut with the quiet authority of a Mercedes.
The front room, used to greet customers, was a vast sea of cool gray. Modern furniture wrapped in pewter fabric sat atop silvery gray carpet that melded into the gray silk-covered walls. Marie...
JoAnn Ross (Author)
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. A member of Romance Writers of America's Honor Roll of bestselling authors, JoAnn lives with her husband and three rescued dogs -- who pretty much rule the house -- in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her on the web at www.joannross.com.