Hooked Up:Book 1

By: Arianne Richmonde

PEARL





PARK AVENUE WAS broken into a patchwork of glimmering colors, the streets a slick, shining wet as rain made mirrors of the red and green of the traffic lights. I was mesmerized by the windshield wipers of the taxicab washing away the deluge of a sudden summer downpour that had taken the city by surprise.

I loved New York City in the summer rain, a relief from the muggy air. But that day it threatened to make me late for my appointment. By habit, I always aimed to arrive early because by nature I was disorganized, so I needed time on my side. I asked the driver if he could go any faster, if he could pull a miraculous short-cut out of the bag, but no, he and I were both aware that was not going to happen. The traffic was lugging, straining; all I could do was be patient, calm myself, take a breath, and remember that work was not the be-all and end-all of my existence. So what if I was late? Did it really matter in the big scheme of things, in the giant picture of life?

Life—that was something to mull over. I wished work wasn’t so important to me, but I clung to it like a piece of driftwood in a stormy ocean. Work was all I seemed to have going for me. I’d just turned forty, was divorced, single, and I lived alone and didn’t have a child. Work was my lifeboat.

I sat back into the scuffed seat of the cab and looked through the notes on my iPad.

The conference would be packed, my boss had assured me. Replete with an international crowd from all corners of the globe. It was the biggest I.T. convention of the year, and I knew I wouldn’t fit in. Nerdsville here I come, I thought.

I knew very little about that world, and the only reason I’d been summoned was to see if I could connect with two of the people who were going to be speaking: a brother and sister from France who had made a small fortune, seemingly overnight, not unlike Facebook computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg. This duo was young too. She the business, and he the brains, apparently. They had started a social network company, HookedUp, a sort of Twitter cum social dating interaction which, although not so popular in France, went pandemic here in the U.S. Everyone had joined, even married couples, even me—which was really saying something as dating was a game I played badly; I’d had no luck and had all but given up.

My company, Haslit Films, wanted to do a documentary about this pair of siblings. Not so easy. They were very private and rarely did interviews. They didn’t go to openings or parties. They didn’t do red carpet. There had been a big piece about them in The New York Times, but other than that they were a bit of a mystery. He, Alexandre Chevalier, was twenty-four, and she, Sophie Dumas, was ten years older, his half sister from a previous marriage. They shared the same father. This much I knew. But I could find only one photo of him on the Internet, wearing a hoodie, his face practically masked—he looked like a typical college student. His sister stood beside him, her hair in a neat chignon—looking formidable, poised. HookedUp was going from strength to strength. Rumor had it they were looking to sell, or go public, but nobody could be sure. All this, I needed to find out.

I stared out the cab window and sighed with relief as the traffic sped up. I thought about all the millions out there trying to find a mate, trying to get “hooked up,” and smiled to myself, trying to remember the last time I’d dated. Two years ago? It had been a rebound disaster waiting to happen, or rather, I was the rebound waiting . . . hoping to find love again. I hadn’t expected my divorce to knock me sideways the way it did. I had stopped loving him. It was mutual. There was nobody else involved, we just drifted apart. We had gotten to the point where we couldn’t even watch each other eat. Yet, when those papers came through, the ink hardly dry, I had cried myself to sleep, for weeks. If Saul and I had had a child, at least that would have given me some sort of purpose, a perspective—but there I was, a two-time miscarriage vessel, empty, null and void—my sell-by date looming.

It’s funny how others saw me, though. So many of my friends were envious of my life. “So glamorous,” they purred. “So free.” No homework to deal with, no snotty nose to wipe, no husband’s dirty socks to pick off the floor. Instead, a fabulous, well-paid job with a fabulous, successful film company making top-notch documentaries, meeting fascinating people . . . and yet, I felt so unfulfilled.

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