Excerpt: 'Priceless'


Greta smoothed her gray uniform over her hips, before heading out the door. "He misses your mother, and he missed you. He's going to be very glad to see you tonight."

"Do you expect him for dinner?"

"No. I think later than that."

Charlotte nodded. It was rare that her father was home before ten; it had always been that way. She'd eaten dinner alone every night, once she no longer had a nanny. She would curl up in his study, after her homework was done, and fall asleep waiting for him. If she closed her eyes, she could still remember the feeling of being lifted from the chair, the smell of whiskey and cigars, the roughness of his stubble as he kissed her, the smooth wool of his suit jacket. They would sit by the fire while he told her about his day, spinning fairy tales about the world of money and the knights and dragons that lived there. He was wonderful, when he was with her, and Charlotte loved him deeply. He just wasn't there very much. But while his work had kept them apart, it had also paid for this triplex on the park, a pony stabled at 89th Street (until the stable closed), a new Jaguar for her eighteenth birthday, an apartment in Le Marais for her year in Paris, and all the clothes and jewelry she could ever want. She had a lot to be grateful for. If she felt she'd missed out on a lot, too, she never said so.

Charlotte called some friends and set up an impromptu welcome-home dinner for herself. Then she threw open her closet doors and walked in, stepping between the racks, flipping hangers. The closet was nearly twenty feet long and curated like a gallery. On one side were pants, suits, jackets. The other held dresses, skirts, shirts. Everything from Abercrombie to Alaïa.

Floor-to-ceiling shelves held four dozen pairs of shoes, each in a clear plastic box. Sometimes, when she'd been a bored teen, she would rearrange her closet by designer. Or decade. Or color. She'd been bored a lot.

Her favorite section held her mother's clothes, those her father had kept. Her mother had died in a car accident when Charlotte was seven. On her way back from a party, for once without her husband, stone-cold sober and apparently driving below the speed limit. Another driver, drunk, high, traveling at nearly eighty on a cross street, had run the light at Fifth and rammed her car from the side, killing her instantly. He, of course, had gotten out of his car and walked away. Charlotte barely remembered her, though the house was filled with photographs. Jackie Williams had been a great model, internationally known and instantly recognized, and Charlotte had inherited her slanted green eyes and wide mouth. Her death had rocked the fashion world, and Charlotte's main memory of that time was that the phone never stopped ringing. Her father had come home from the funeral and pulled it out of the wall, locking himself in his study, drinking and sobbing inconsolably. When he'd come out and found Jackie's assistants packing up her clothes, he'd flown into a terrible rage, firing them on the spot and carefully smoothing each garment, delicately replacing them on their padded hangers, closing the closet door quietly.

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