Home > The Allure of Julian Lefray (The Allure #1)(2)

The Allure of Julian Lefray (The Allure #1)(2)
Author: R.S. Grey

I still couldn’t believe I was en route to the gala. When my invitation had arrived (in a gold envelope smelling of baby angels, no less), I’d screamed with excitement for all of two minutes before the stress of attending such an illustrious event crept in. The gala was the fashion event of the year. Every big-time designer, model, socialite, and blogger would be in attendance. Normally I read about the juicy details of the event on blogs and celebrity websites the day after it happened, but for the first time ever I was going to experience it all firsthand.

“So why are you going to the gala? Are you wunna them models or something?” the cabbie asked, eyeing me in the rearview mirror as if assessing whether or not I could cut it on the runway.

I snorted. “No. I’m a fashion blogger.”

He nodded as if impressed.

“My buddy Geno started a blog, but it’s mostly about the best hoagies on Long Island. What’s yours called? I’ll tell my daughter to look it up,” he said, reaching toward the console for something and swerving toward the car next to us in the process. I flinched and reached for the door handle, ready to jump for it and get the hell out of his death trap. Just tuck and roll. You’ll survive.

“Whoops,” he said, righting us on the road and reaching back to give me a paper and pen.

Aw man. He’d just about killed me, but it was because he wanted to pass my blog along to his daughter. Am I prepared to die for the sake of my blog? Oh hell. I jotted down the URL and passed the paper back to him.

“What Jo Wore,” he said, reading off my blog name with his thick accent. “Clever. You Jo?”

Hearing him read my blog name with his heavy accent brought a smile to my face.

“Josephine.”

He lifted up onto one side so he could slip the piece of paper into the back pocket of his pants. I can safely say that’s as close as my name has ever been to a cabbie’s ass.

“Well, Josephine, I’ll be sure to tell my daughter I gave a ride to a famous fashion lady. She’ll be impressed.”

I nodded, not bothering to correct him. I might have been a “fashion lady” but I was far from famous.

For now.

When we arrived, there was a line of cars wrapped all the way around The Carlyle Hotel. I peeked through the window to see a string of sleek limousines with a few Maseratis thrown in for good measure. Suited hotel attendants rushed to the limousine doors and whisked gala attendees out one by one. Meanwhile, my cabdriver tried to discreetly light another cigarette and then openly flipped off every limousine driver that tried to cut him off. Pure class, people.

I should have had him drop me off down the street, but it was too late. A hotel attendant whisked open the back door of the cab and I fumbled to pay the driver as quickly as possible so that I wouldn’t hold up the line.

“Crap, I don’t have any cash,” I said, flipping through my purse and hating myself for not being more prepared.

“I take cards, lady,” the cabbie said, pointing to the credit card machine in the center of the console. “I take numbas too,” he said with a wink.

The hotel attendant cleared his throat, and I threw him an awkward smile as I swiped my card.

“Just a second,” I said to the attendant, pretending not to hear the last part of the cab driver’s sentence.

“Of course,” the attendant replied with a curt, practiced tone. If I hadn’t been about to make my debut at a ritzy party, I would have turned to the attendant and told him exactly what I was thinking. You’re a hotel attendant, not the King of England. Now be quiet and take my hand so I don’t trip over my rented designer dress getting out of this smoke-filled cab.

The driver handed me my receipt and met my eye.

“Well good luck anyways, Jo,” he said with a quick nod.

I smiled weakly and nodded. I can totally do this. Italian cabbie believes in me, and that counts for something.

I exited the back of the cab with my head held high and let my bright red dress flow down around me. The sweetheart bodice was so fitted that it had been hard to breathe during the ride over, but standing up seemed to help. I adjusted the strapless top and let the rest of the dress fall into place. Red was a bold choice for my first gala. There was no way I could blend in with the masses, but that’s the way I’d planned it. There would be fashion industry bigwigs in attendance and I wanted to make a memorable impression.

I fell in line on the red carpet and pulled out my invitation in case they asked to see it, but when I scanned the line, no one else had their invitation out. Rookie mistake. I quickly rolled it up and tried to discreetly conceal it in my clutch.

Most everyone in line seemed to be arriving in couples or groups, but I was rolling solo. The invitation hadn’t specified whether or not I could bring a date and I didn’t want to assume it would be okay. Also, who am I kidding? I didn’t have anyone I could have invited.

“Name?” the event coordinator asked in a clipped tone as I approached the front of the line.

“Josephine Keller.”

She scanned down her clipboard, using a small penlight to illuminate a giant list of names. I saw a few surnames starting with K but she scanned over them, flipped the page, flipped another one, and then flipped back to the front.

“I don’t see it, next please,” she said, uttering the very words that had been my worst nightmare in the days leading up to the event.

I broke out in a cold sweat immediately.

“There must be a mistake,” I said, holding up my rolled invitation—which now looked like I’d nabbed it from someone’s curbside trashcan. Dammit.

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