Twenty-eight-year old Annabel Green is about to tie the knot with her college love, an aspiring author Jeremy Blake, but her plans for an ideal wedding are rudely interrupted when she catches Jeremy kissing his gorgeous book agent.
Shell-shocked by Jeremy’s betrayal, Annabel retreats into the quiet routine of TV dinners and solitary evenings. It is then that Annabel’s best friend, fashion designer Lilly Clayton, sets herself on a mission to draw Annabel out of her shell. In an attempt to persuade Annabel to keep an open mind on dating, Lilly takes Annabel for a stunning makeover, but after Annabel passes on a date with a dashing entrepreneur, Lilly decides that more drastic measures are needed. Lilly invites Annabel to see a palm reader who gives Annabel a lucky charm that is supposed to help her find true love.
A few weeks later, during her trip to Paris, Annabel meets a handsome Parisian, and as the two embark on a whirlwind romance, she starts to believe in the power of the talisman the palm reader has given her. But what Annabel doesn’t know is that Lilly is hiding a secret that could unravel her faith in her newly found luck in love.
Read an Excerpt from Lucky CharmBack in her office, Annabel began outlining her ideas for the Artemis Club website. Currently, the website contained little more than the address and location of the shooting range, so she pretty much had a blank canvass.
On Monday Jeremy taught a writing workshop. It was a part-time job that he had started a few months ago. Jeremy’s class ended at six-thirty, and Annabel thought that she would surprise him by meeting him after work.
She locked her notes in her desk drawer, just as an extra precaution in case Janine decided to pay an after-hours visit to her office.
“Have a good night, Janine,” Annabel called over her shoulder as she headed out the door. Janine could stay as late as she wanted to impress Paige, but her copy was still bland and unoriginal – just another proof that quality was rarely replaced by quantity.
Paige’s agency was on Fifty Seventh and Third, and the workshop where Jeremy taught was on Seventy Fifth and Madison. With an hour to spare, Annabel opted for a walk. It was a gorgeous evening, and she had spent the entire day wishing she could be outside instead of being stuck at the office. As she walked up Madison Avenue, she absentmindedly scanned the windows of the nearby cafes and boutiques. The landscape was constantly changing, with new shops opening up and old ones going out of business. Her cell phone began to ring, and she rummaged through her purse. The contents of her bag were always a mess, and half the time she managed to locate her phone only by the time the caller had given up hope and hung up. This time she was lucky and picked up on the fourth ring.
“Wow, I can’t believe you actually picked up your cell phone!” Lilly’s voice rang from the receiver.
“Hi, Lilly.” Annabel ignored her friend’s pointed remark. “How did your date go?”
“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven! Although I don’t know if orgasms are allowed in heaven.”
“Lilly!” Annabel lowered her voice to a hushed whisper for fear that someone might overhear her. “Don’t tell me that you’ve slept with him already? You’ve only just met the guy!”
“Well, he’s going back to Paris in a little over a month. That doesn’t exactly leave much time for chit chat, does it?” When it came to sex, Lilly maintained an opinion that in today’s world, women could sleep with whom they wanted, whenever they wanted. Her choice of partners was as diverse as her timing of intimate encounters. Some got lucky after the first date while others had to wait as long as three months.
“That’s not the point. What do you even know about this guy? He could be a serial killer or a sexual deviant! Serial killers can be very charming, you know. That’s how they lure in their victims,” Annabel recited a line from an article she had read on the subject a while back.
“He’s definitely not a serial killer. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now, would I? As for the sexual deviant part – he could certainly qualify…” Lilly giggled self-contentedly. “Do you want to meet for a drink? I’m dying to dish.”
“How about tomorrow? I kind of wanted to spend tonight with Jeremy.”
“Oh, that reminds me. Did he appreciate your little get-up last night?”
Annabel was about to give her standard “No comment” response, the answer she always gave Lilly whenever her friend’s questions about her sex life got too personal, when her glance fell on one of the tables of a sidewalk café across the street.
“Annabel, are you there? Don’t go all quiet on me. I get it, you don’t want to talk about your sex life, which is fine by me, since I’m more than happy to talk about mine instead.”
“Lilly, I have to go. I’ll call you later.” With her eyes glued to the pair seated at the table across the street, Annabel snapped her cell phone shut and shoved it into her bag.
The wheat-blond back of the man’s head looked unmistakably like Jeremy’s, and the bleached blond updo of his female companion belonged to none other than Jeremy’s book agent, Athena Christy, a statuesque blond whose credentials were as powerful as her looks. The two sat together at a small table – the kind that every New York café with sidewalk space puts out at the slightest sign of warm weather.
Annabel told herself that there was nothing for her to be worried about. There was nothing wrong with an author having a meal with his book agent. She was about to walk over and say hello, but the sight of Athena putting her arm on Jeremy’s shoulder stopped her dead.
Her heart pounding like a sledgehammer, Annabel jaywalked across the street and slipped into the grocery shop next to the café, quickly ducking beneath the row of flowers that stood in the shop’s window. From her cover-up, she peered at the table on the sidewalk, hoping that she had been mistaken, but the way Jeremy and Athena leaned into each other, like a couple, along with the sight of Jeremy’s hand on Athena’s thigh left no room for excuses.
A waiter approached their table with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. He uncorked the bottle and poured the golden, sparkling liquid into Athena and Jeremy’s glasses. The champagne fizzed, and Athena threw her head back in delight, clapping her hands.
They are celebrating, Annabel thought bitterly. Perhaps Athena has finally cinched the deal on Jeremy’s book – the book that I waited for him to write all these years.
Jeremy finished his champagne and moved his chair closer to Athena’s. He whispered something into her ear, and she smiled, turning her face toward his. Then their lips met in a kiss that seemed to last an eternity.
Watching Jeremy and Athena together made Annabel feel as though her heart was being pierced with a million of glass shards, and yet, she remained transfixed in her makeshift hideaway. Part of her yearned to confront them, to unleash the hurt and betrayal that was churning inside her, but she knew that she did not have the guts to walk up to them. She longed for Jeremy to see her, for him to cower in shame for his betrayal, but instead she was the one cowering in her ridiculous hideaway.
“Can I help you?” An alarmed voice sounded behind her.
She turned around and saw the store clerk eyeing her suspiciously.
“No. I didn’t find what I was looking for.” Annabel stumbled onto the sidewalk, quickly turning in the opposite direction of the café where Jeremy obliviously swooned over Athena.
Back in her apartment – that was how she was going to think of it from now on: her apartment, not their apartment, not anymore . . .