In Five Years A Novel Serle Rebecca

In Five Years A Novel Serle Rebecca
In Five Years A Novel Serle Rebecca

Rebecca Serle is the New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years The Dinner List and the young adult novels The Edge of Falling and When You Were Mine Serle also developed the hit TV adaptation Famous in Love based on her YA series of the same name She is a graduate of USC and The New School and lives in Los Angeles Find out more at RebeccaSerle Excerpt Reprinted permission All rights reserved Chapter One Chapter One Twenty five That s the number I count to every morning before I even open my eyes It s a meditative calming technique that helps your brain with memory focus and attention but the real reason I do it is because that s how long it takes my boyfriend David to get out of bed next to me and flip the coffee maker on and for me to smell the beans Thirty six That s how many minutes it takes me to brush my teeth shower and put on face toner serum cream makeup and a suit for work If I wash my hair it s forty three Eighteen That s the walk to work in minutes from our Murray Hill apartment to East Forty Seventh Street where the law offices of Sutter Boyt and Barn are located Twenty four That s how many months I believe you should be dating someone before you move in with them Twenty eight The right age to get engaged Thirty The right age to get married My name is Dannie Kohan And I believe in living numbers Happy Interview Day David says when I walk into the kitchen Today December I m wearing a bathrobe hair spun up into a towel He s still in his pajamas and his brown hair has a significant amount of salt and pepper for someone who has not yet crossed thirty but I like it It makes him look dignified particularly when he wears glasses which he often does Thank you I say I wrap my arms around him kiss his neck and then his lips I ve already brushed my teeth but David never has morning breath Ever When we first started dating I thought he was getting up out of bed before me to swoosh some toothpaste in there but when we moved in together I realized it s just his natural state He wakes up that way The same cannot be said of me Coffee is ready He squints at me and my heart tugs at the look on his face the way it scrunches all up when he s trying to pay attention but doesn t have his contacts in yet He takes a mug down and then pours I go to the refrigerator and when he hands me the cup I add a dollop of creamer Coffee mate hazelnut David thinks it s sacrilegious but he buys it to indulge me This is the kind of man he is Judgmental and generous I take the coffee cup and go sit in our kitchen nook that overlooks Third Avenue Murray Hill isn t the most glamorous neighborhood in New York and it gets a bad rap every Jewish fraternity and sorority kid in the tristate area moves here after graduation The average street style is a Penn sweatshirt but there s nowhere else in the city where we d be able to afford a two bedroom with a full kitchen in a doorman building and between the two of us we make more money than a pair of twenty eight year olds has any right to David works in finance as an investment banker at Tishman Speyer a real estate conglomerate I m a corporate lawyer And today I have an interview at the top law firm in the city Wachtell The mecca The pinnacle The mythological headquarters that sits in a black and gray fortress on West Fifty Second Street The top lawyers in the country all work there The client list is unfathomable they represent everyone Boeing ING AT T All of the biggest corporate mergers the deals that determine the vicissitudes of our global markets happen within their walls I ve wanted to work at Wachtell since I was ten years old and my father used to take me into the city for lunch at Serendipity and a matinee We d pass all the big buildings in Times Square and then I d insist we walk to West Fifty Second Street so I could gaze up at the CBS building where Wachtell has historically had its offices since You re going to kill it today babe David says He stretches his arms overhead revealing a slice of stomach David is tall and lanky All of his T shirts are too small when he stretches which I welcome You ready Of course When this interview first came up I thought it was a joke A headhunter calling me from Wachtell yeah right Bella my best friend and the proverbial surprise obsessed flighty blonde must have paid someone off But no it was for real Wachtell Lipton Rosen Katz wanted to interview me Today December I marked the date in my planner in Sharpie Nothing was going to erase this Don t forget we re going to dinner to celebrate tonight David says I won t know if I got the job today I tell him That s not how interviews work Really Explain it to me then He s flirting with me David is a great flirt You wouldn t think it he s so buttoned up most of the time but he has a great witty mind It s one of the things I love most about him It was one of the things that first attracted me to him I raise my eyebrows at him and he downshifts Of course you ll get the job It s in your plan I appreciate your confidence I don t push him because I know what tonight is David is terrible with secrets and an even worse liar Tonight on this the second month of my twenty eighth year David Andrew Rosen is going to propose to me Two Raisin Bran scoops half a banana he asks He s holding out a bowl to me Big days are bagel days I say Whitefish You know that Before we find out about a big case I always stop at Sarge s on Third Avenue Their whitefish salad rivals Katz s downtown and the wait even with a line is never more than four and a half minutes I revel in their efficiency Make sure you bring gum David says sliding in next to me I bat my eyes and take a sip of coffee It goes down sweet and warm You re here late I tell him I ve just realized He should have been gone hours ago He works market hours It occurs to me he might not be going to the office at all today Maybe he still has to pick up the ring I thought I d see you off He flips his watch over It s an Apple I got it for him for our two year anniversary four months ago But I should jet I was going to work out David never works out He has a monthly membership to Equinox I think he s used maybe twice in two and a half years He s naturally lean and runs sometimes on the weekends The wasted expense is a point of contention between us so I don t bring it up this morning I don t want anything to get in the way of today and certainly not this early Sure I say I m gonna get ready But you have time David pulls me toward him and threads a hand into the collar of my robe I let it linger for one two three four I thought you were late And I can t lose focus He nods Kisses me He gets it In that case we re doubling up tonight he says Don t tease me I pinch his biceps My cell phone is ringing where it sits plugged in on my nightstand in the bedroom and I follow the noise The screen fills with a photo of a blue eyed blond haired shiksa goddess sticking her tongue sideways at the camera Bella I m surprised My best friend is only awake before noon if she s been up all night Good morning I tell her Where are you Not New York She yawns I imagine her stretching on some seaside terrace a silk kimono pooling around her Not New York Paris she says Well that explains her ability to speak at this hour I thought you were leaving this evening I have her flight on my phone UA Leaves Newark at p m I went early she says Dad wanted to do dinner tonight Just to bitch about Mom clearly She pauses and I hear her sneeze What are you doing today Does she know about tonight David would have told her I think but she s also bad at keeping secrets especially from me Big day for work and then we re going to dinner Right Dinner she says She definitely knows I put the phone on speaker and shake out my hair It will take me seven minutes to blow it dry I check the clock a m Plenty of time The interview isn t until eleven I almost tried you three hours ago Well that would have been early But you d still pick up she says Lunatic Bella knows I leave my phone on all night Bella and I have been best friends since we were seven years old Me Nice Jewish Girl from the Main Line of Philadelphia Her French Italian Princess whose parents threw her a thirteenth birthday party big enough to stop any bat mitzvah in its tracks Bella is spoiled mercurial and more than a little bit magical It s not just me Everywhere she goes people fall at her feet She is the easiest to love and gives love freely But she s fragile too A membrane of skin stretches so thinly over her emotions it s always threatening to burst Her parents bank account is large and easily accessible but their time and attention are not Growing up she practically lived at my house It was always the two of us Bells I gotta go I have that interview today That s right Watchman Wachtell What are you going to wear Probably a black suit I always wear a black suit I m already mentally thumbing through my closet even though I ve had the suit chosen since they called me How thrilling she deadpans and I imagine her scrunching up her small pin nose like she s just smelled something unsavory When are you back I ask Probably Tuesday she says But I don t know Renaldo might meet me in which case we d go to the Riviera for a few days You wouldn t think it but it s great this time of year No one is around You have the whole place to yourself Renaldo I haven t heard his name in a beat I think he was before Francesco the pianist and after Marcus the filmmaker Bella is always in love always But her romances while intense and dramatic never last for more than a few months She rarely if ever calls someone her boyfriend I think the last one might have been when we were in college And what of Jacques Have fun I say Text me when you land and send me pictures especially of Renaldo for my files you know Yes Mom Love you I say Love you more I blow dry my hair and keep it down running a flat iron over the hairline and the ends so it doesn t frizz up I put on small pearl stud earrings my parents gave me for my college graduation and my favorite Movado watch David bought me for Hanukkah last year My chosen black suit fresh from the dry cleaners hangs on the back of my closet door When I put it on I add a red and white ruffled shirt underneath in Bella s honor A little spark of detail or life as she would say I come back into the kitchen and give a little spin David s made little to no progress on getting dressed or leaving He s definitely taking the day off What do we think I ask him You re hired he says He puts a hand on my hip and gives me a light kiss on the cheek I smile at him That s the plan I say Sarge s is predictably empty at a m it s a morning commute place so it only takes two minutes and forty seconds for me to get my whitefish bagel I eat it walking Sometimes I stand at the counter table at the window There are no stools but there s usually room to stash my bag The city is all dressed up for the holidays The streetlamps lit the windows frosted It s thirty one degrees out practically balmy New York winter standards And it hasn t snowed yet which makes walking in heels a breeze So far so good I arrive at Wachtell s headquarters at a m My stomach starts working against me and I toss the rest of the bagel This is it The thing I ve worked the last six years for Well really the thing I ve worked the last eighteen years for Every SAT prep test every history class every hour studying for the LSAT The countless a m nights Every time I ve been chewed out a partner for something I didn t do every time I ve been chewed out a partner for something I did do every single piece of effort has been leading me to and preparing me for this one moment I pop a piece of gum I take a deep breath and enter the building Fifty one West Fifty Second Street is giant but I know exactly what door I need to enter and what security desk I need to check in at the entrance on Fifty Second the desk right in front I ve rehearsed this chain of events so many times in my head like a ballet First the door then the pivot then a sashay to the left and a quick succession of steps One two three one two three The elevator doors open to the thirty third floor and I suck in my breath I can feel the energy like candy to the vein as I look around at the people moving in and out of glass doored conference rooms like extras on the show Suits hired for today for me for my viewing pleasure alone The place is in full bloom I get the feeling that you could walk in here at any hour any day of the week and this is what you would see Midnight on Saturday Sunday at a m It s a world out of time functioning on its own schedule This is what I want This is what I ve always wanted To be somewhere that stops at nothing To be surrounded the pace and rhythm of greatness Ms Kohan A young woman greets me where I stand She wears a Banana Republic sheath dress no blazer She s a receptionist I know because all lawyers are required to wear suits at Wachtell Right this way Thank you so much She leads me around the bullpen I spot the corners the offices on full display Glass and wood and chrome The thump thump thump of money She leads me into a conference room with a long mahogany table On it sits a glass tumbler of water and three glasses I take in this subtle and revealing piece of information There are going to be two partners in here for the interview not one It s good of course it s fine I know my stuff forward and backward I could practically draw a floor plan of their offices for them I ve got this Two minutes stretch to five minutes stretch to ten The receptionist is long gone I m contemplating pouring myself a glass of water when the door opens and in walks Miles Aldridge First in his class at Harvard Yale Law Journal And a senior partner at Wachtell He s a legend and now he s in the same room as me I inhale Ms Kohan he says So glad you could make this date work Naturally Mr Aldridge I say It s a pleasure to meet you He raises his eyebrows at me He s impressed I know his name sight unseen Three points Shall we He gestures for me to sit and I do He pours us each a glass of water The other one sits there untouched So he says Let s begin Tell me a little bit about yourself I work through the answers I ve practiced honed and sculpted over the last few days From Philadelphia My father owned a lighting business and when I was not even ten years old I helped him with contracts in the back office In order to sort and file to my heart s content I had to read into them a bit and I fell in love with the organization the way language the pure truth in the words was nonnegotiable It was like poetry but poetry with outcome poetry with concrete meaning with actionable power I knew it was what I wanted to do I went to Columbia Law and graduated second in my class I clerked for the Southern District of New York before accepting the reality of what I d always known which is that I wanted to be a corporate lawyer I wanted to practice a kind of law that is high stakes dynamic incredibly competitive and yes offers me the opportunity to make a lot of money Why Because it s what I was born to do what I have trained for and what has led me here today to the place I always knew I d be The golden gates Their headquarters We go through my resume point point Aldridge is surprisingly thorough which is to my benefit as it gives me more time to express my accomplishments He asks me why I think I d be a good fit what kind of work culture I gravitate toward I tell him that when I stepped off the elevator and saw all the endless movement all the frenzied bustle I felt as if I were home It s not hyperbole he can tell He chuckles It s aggressive he says And endless as you say Many spin out I cross my hands on the table I can assure you I tell him That won t be a problem here And then he asks me the proverbial question The one you always prepare for because they always ask Where do you see yourself in five years I inhale and then give him my airtight answer Not just because I ve practiced which I have But because it s true I know I always have I ll be working here at Wachtell as a senior associate I ll be the most requested in my year on M A cases I m incredibly thorough and incredibly efficient I m like an X ACTO knife I ll be up for junior partner And outside of work I ll be married to David We ll be living in Gramercy Park on the park We ll have a kitchen we love and enough table space for two computers We ll go to the Hamptons every summer the Berkshires occasionally on weekends When I m not in the office of course Aldridge is satisfied I ve clinched it I can tell We shake hands and the receptionist is back ushering me through the offices and to the elevators that deliver me once again to the land of the mortals The third glass was just to throw me off Good shot After the interview I go downtown to Reformation one of my favorite clothing s in SoHo I took the day off from work and it s only lunchtime Now that the interview is over I can turn my attention to tonight to what is coming When David told me he had made a reservation at the Rainbow Room I immediately knew what it meant We had talked about getting engaged I knew it would be this year but I had thought it would have happened this past summer The holidays are crazy and the winter is David s busy time at work But he knows how much I love the city in lights so it s happening tonight Welcome to Reformation the salesgirl says She s wearing black wide legged pants and a tight white turtleneck What can I help you with I m getting engaged tonight I say And I need something to wear She looks confused for half a second and then her face brightens How exciting she says Let s look around What are you thinking I take barrels into the dressing room Skirts and low backed dresses and a pair of red crepe pants with a matching loose camisole I put the red outfit on first and when I do it s perfect Dramatic but still classy Serious but with a little edge I look at myself in the mirror I hold out my hand Today I think Tonight

 

In Five Years A Novel Serle Rebecca
Publisher: Atria Books March 10 2020
Publication date: March 10 2020
Language: English 

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