Having never known her father and lost her mother when she was young, when Ava meets Dan and his wonderful extended family, she is smitten. But is she prepared to sacrifice her independence in order to remain a part of a family she has always dreamed of?
Leaving a life where Ava was once so secure just made no sense. She decided one day that it was time to move on; time to follow a dream she had had, or hadn’t. In fact, she was so tired of being confused of the dreams she had hoped for and waiting for things to happen, that she just decided a new life would be the way to go. Walking out on a seven year relationship was easier than she had thought. Never did she think that this would happen or that she would have the courage to pull the plug and to go on to a life that seemed so full of promise. The realism had finally dawned on her that this was not how she wanted to live the rest of her life. The confusion of being in a relationship; a partnership, or was it convenience?
Ava felt her life was all about compromises and suddenly it dawned on her that she would always end up compromising in some way or another. Being alone night after night with a boyfriend that travelled so much, and who put his career before her and their relationship was becoming the norm.
Dan was a go-getter and always had been. He was extremely successful in his career, but always put his job first. He always had business meetings and any time a client wanted to meet and they had plans, he would just call her and say he couldn’t make it. The spirit of the relationship was lost and Ava, always trying where she could to encourage something, felt as though she was continually being pushed aside time after time and eventually realised that she had started to withdraw, which had become of great concern to her. This was not her, this was not to be her destiny and she knew she would have to do something about it.
Dan and Ava had always been very spontaneous in their relationship. Even when they first met each other, there was always an element of surprise and they would enjoy doing spur of the moment things like grabbing a pub meal on the way home after work, meeting in the city to do some shopping, going out in the early evenings for a walk; this was something they loved to do. They had a small circle of friends and liked to meet every so often and they all got on well, but as time went by they saw less and less of them as they became more wrapped up in their careers.
She was left doing her own thing and that was waiting every night for the man she thought she loved to come home and enjoy a cooked meal and glass of wine with her. Dan had been travelling an excessive amount of late, well the past two years, and this added to the strain on their relationship. He would often stay the weekend wherever he was visiting, to do some socialising with the partners, or leave on the weekend so that he was fresh for work, or he would just be too exhausted and then he would spend the weekend passed out on the couch. What had their life become? What had made them drift so far apart? This couple who were once so in love and did everything together had become strangers in their own world.
Ava finally just lost it when it was her 35th birthday and she had decided to have a bit of a celebration at the new in restaurant in town, The Olive. Her and Dan and four couples who were her closest friends were invited. Since her promotion had not been celebrated, or even acknowledged, she wanted to do something and feel special and maybe start rekindling the fire, so to speak … it was the turning point, everyone arrived at the restaurant and was having a drink and a laugh … but no Dan.
When Ava met Dan ten years ago, she was smitten, as was he and they became involved very quickly. After a few dates, literally three dates, they were an item. Ava was ready to be with Dan for the rest of her life, elope, have kids and live the British dream life, just like the American dream she used to see in the movies. She was an athletic, tall, vivacious woman who took pride in her appearance and was always well presented, whether at work or casually at home. She was spontaneous and full of life. She was well connected in the fashion industry and well respected as a journalist; a job that took her to all different parts of the world to get her fashion scoops. Ava had started at the magazine from the first day they opened which was five years earlier and she had worked her way up to fashion editor … managing the fashion lines, accessories, beauty … probably 60% of the magazine was in her charge.
The magazine had grown quite substantially over the years and wasn’t nearly as big as Vogue or Cosmopolitan, but the 16000 readers per month in year one had grown steadily to 120000 plus. Their magazine targeted the 18–34 female market. It was a well rounded magazine and was sought after. When they began it was just another magazine on the stands, but after two years of progressive marketing and aiming to improve on each issue they started to break through their projected sales and if copies weren’t snapped up by the consumer on time they would lose out.
This was a major challenge for the magazine and they had to enforce some new structures on their planning department as there were definitely opportunities to be had. The planning department needed to understand the cycle of the magazine and that not each month would be the same. Come summer, sales issues could increase by up to 30%, so it was the Managing Chief Editor who had enforced a separate department to manage and control this sales pattern and understand the patterns of the readers’ wants and needs.
The magazine held a lot of content unlike some magazines that were full of adverts. Having said that, while it’s important to have adverts to support the business and take up pages, they needed to be on the right platform to enhance the magazine. This needed to include prestige fragrance ads, or the new designer jewellery fads, to mention a few, not ice cream adverts which belonged in a cook book.
Ava’s role was to ensure that the brand was maintained and that the fashion was on trend and up-to-date. She was always on the lookout, keeping up to date with fashion TV; what’s new in the market. Her goal was to get designers and cosmetic houses also to be chasing after them to expose their brands like that of Vogue.
Ava was at the top of her game and was always being complimented on the look and feel that she had created for the magazine. She planned the themes, obviously with the chief editor as a guide, but Ava assumed responsibility for her area, creating the direction for her team and setting the mood, trends and timelines which had to be managed. She kept in with the younger social circle and as time went by she was invited to more launches and fashion shows.
The launches were her best, especially if it was a fragrance launch; stunning gift bags were always given out and this was a woman who loved her perfumes. Who wouldn’t? She was a glamorous girl in a glamorous world.
Over the years Ava became a well recognised icon amongst the fashion sect and she was invited to top brand launches, such as Chanel, Mac for youth, Hermes, Steve Madden, and the likes. It was a glamorous life. At 25, Ava had really made headway and was a young energetic Head of Department. She was a standout performer, she was likeable and very approachable. Unlike some apprentices or staff in junior roles Ava didn’t snubb colleagues or rub people up the wrong way, which is probably why people never took advantage of her. At that age she was streaks ahead of her colleagues.
Ava had studied Journalism at the independent College of Dublin. She achieved her diploma there and then went on to work for a local newspaper, The Dubliner News, in the hub of the city centre, assisting the News and Events journalist called Harvey, who was also the owner. He taught her the ropes and always made her aware of what she was doing and that it should count for something.
Harvey had started this local newspaper by himself and two colleagues. They were small so there was not much scope for any growth. Harvey saw that Ava had a lot more potential so through his connections he found her a position where she could start up with a new group, same sort of level, but with her work ethics and commitment felt this was for her, and there was plenty of opportunity to grow with the company. She was far more creative than the current job she did could offer and it was only a matter of time before she would become incredibly bored.
Harvey had taught Ava three things in the business which he believed was key: Always fit your business size into the size of the market and optimise it where possible.
Develop multiple ways of bringing in revenue.
Build on the community and tell stories that matter, no need to be focusing on British news when there was a lot in Dublin that was not spoken about.
The Dubliners want to know their own news, and he urged her to take this challenge, sure there was a risk it would not get off the ground and she had to take a knock in her salary, but she needed to venture out.
She earned very little and shared a small apartment with her sister, Sophia who was also new in the business world. Sophia had studied as an architect and was also serving an apprenticeship with the Town Planning department, on a small salary. They found a cheap and cheerful place and rented together, just managing to cover the rent and basic needs together. They were very close and got on well and they had moved out of home together to be in the city and close to their work and also, as young girls, wanted that bit of freedom and city life. Their apartment had the basics in it, they used cushions to sit on the floor for a very rustic look, but they were young and happy.
There was no growth for her at The Dubliner News, which although gaining momentum, was not the sort of place someone like Ava should stay in. She had flair and she was young.
When you’re young it’s easy to jump off a mountain; there seems to be little risk, so she took Harvey’s advice. She was impressed by the editor, Alex, who was looking for a runner to help her coordinate the fashion shoots. Being a newish company, the editor, Alex was filling the role of two people, editor in charge and fashion editor. This was still manageable as it was early days. Who knew that four years down the line Ava would be the Fashion Editor?
Ava had earned her way up in the company and was now the head of her department, the Fashion Editor, and she had worked damn hard to get there. Putting in long hours and being committed enabled this achievement to happen. At times Ava found her calendar was just too full to be able to accommodate all the events, but true to form she managed this well by motivating and incentivising her staff which she did by allowing them to attend and represent her and the magazine at every available opportunity.
Ava herself had never had the opportunity when she was an apprentice, runner, and trainee. She found that this really helped as her assistants were slightly younger than her and hungrier, networking and creating leads and trying to outperform one another. The assistants also knew if they built up enough trust she would let them run with some of the projects and they were very keen to impress her.
Sometimes her kindness would lead to her detriment, as some of them would find another job and move on just when you have invested so much time in that person. “Glam” was gaining momentum and readership had increased by 45% over the last year and that was ever since they decided to go more digital and offer new and more innovative ideas that other magazines were not yet into.
Brand Building had always been Ava’s strength and this brand, Glam was what she stood for and if it didn’t fit in it wouldn’t crack it, so the beauty brands were not sending her crappy little nail polish launches, but rather the fashion eye wear and she was getting more of the top end look to feature, which was great, assisted in attracting the clients, especially the young working girls who wanted to be in with all the new trends. However Ava had to know when to tone it down for her readership … as she needed to be true to her brand.
Ava’s world was always busy, travelling to different parts of the world to do fashion shoots, checking out New York fashion week, London fashion week. She knew that to be on top of your game you had to be sure to be included in as much exposure as possible. Alex the Editor for Glam, was the real deal. She had connections all over and got invited to the best shows. When she could take a partner she would invite Ava. They had enormous respect for each other; all in all it was a well rounded team.
Ava had been on a shoot all weekend and was on her way back to Dublin. Normally she would spend the morning dashing around the high street looking at trends and getting any last minute scoops she could, but it had been such a hectic weekend and late nights that she decided she would make her way to Heathrow and wait for her flight in the business class lounge. She had spent the whole weekend looking after everyone’s personalities and mood swings, with photographers and models and making sure all deadlines were met. There was also not much time as her flight was at 1 p.m. and she wouldn’t be able to sit on a street cafe with all her luggage having a coffee.
Ava was a stunning looking woman, with a beautiful athletic figure, dressed well and had the most beautiful face with long flowing golden hair, understated make up and it was difficult to not stare at her; she was a real stunner. She walked with an air of confidence and people admired her wherever she was. This was proof when she walked into the Business Class lounge and Dan looked up and stared.
Walking into the business class lounge Ava dashed to the coffee machine for a cappuccino; this would beat the normal coffee from a street vendor as it was percolated and frothy and smelt amazing. When she saw the machine she headed straight for it and in a hurry for her caffeine fix she dropped the milk sachet on the floor, as she bent down Dan had already rescued it for her and greeted her with a “Hi.” She smiled and took the milk sachet and explained that she was longing for her cappuccino. “I can be so clumsy sometimes, thank you.” She blushed and Dan smiled back admiringly and suggested that he have one too as it smelt so good.
They made the coffee and slowly walked to the lounge area where he sat down next to her. After the normal introductions he asked if she would mind if he collected his laptop at the working station and rejoin her. Ava, being a friendly bubbly person, agreed and Dan rushed over to fetch his bags and laptop.
Dan was relaxed and friendly and she was taken in by his kindness, not to mention his good looks. All she had been exposed to for the last two days on her trip for the company were colleagues who were stressed, lots of tension, and pressure. This man was like a breath of fresh air. Dan was well dressed and she could see he had some style even though he was en route to New York for a conference and was waiting for his flight.
They chatted until it was time for her boarding and by the time she had to leave they had really discussed so many things: likes, dislikes, holiday venues, some childhood experiences and that they were both single and that she loved her job as he loved his. The conversation just flowed as if they had known each other for a while, but it was so nice to chat to someone different and laugh and there was no tension or pressure.
Dan asked if he could get her number and perhaps contact her on his return to London. “Sure”, replied Ava. “Do you ever come to Dublin on business?”
“Not really”, he replied. “In fact it may be something now to look at.” He couldn’t think why he had said that as it was just to make more contact maybe or sometimes when we just say something just to add to the conversation.
He knew he would never travel to Dublin on financial business as the financial hub was in London or New York and sometimes even parts of Asia. But he only had eyes for her right now; he was really taken by her beauty and how easy it was to talk to her. Her smile and cheeriness after she had had such a long weekend of hard work was infectious and he was intrigued by her. She wished him well with his conference and left the lounge.
He watched as she controlled the entrance on her exit, people coming in and out of the Business Class lounge gazed at her as she walked out; it was hard not to notice how she made heads turn.
Dan was totally stoked on this latest encounter and immediately saved her name in his phone for fear of losing her card. This was definitely someone that he would want to meet up with again. Dan had to wait another three hours as he was on standby as all the flights were delayed to New York due to poor weather conditions.
He worked through some financial reports that he had to go through but was severely distracted about the meeting he had just had with Ava. He couldn’t stop thinking of her and he just could not get over her and how lovely she was. It was not often that he encountered a meeting with such a beauty. He then did something that he would never have done before and texted Ava. “Hey Ava great to meet you, hope you had a good flight, boarding now … regards Dan.”
Ava landed in Dublin and caught the cab straight to the office where she got straight into the article which was on a deadline and worked well into the night until she felt like she was going to collapse. She grabbed her things and darted for the door … on her way home in the cab she read the text again and smiled, secretly hoping that they would meet up again. Ava had thought about their encounter the whole way on the flight back to Dublin, thinking to herself what it would be like to have a boyfriend like him, as her previous relationships had been so dodgy.
When the weekend finally arrived Ava was pretty exhausted and decided that the weekend was going to be spent in her pjs, in front of the TV watching all the soapies she loved to watch and eating take out. The weather had turned bad so this would be a perfect time for her to catch up on some much needed sleep and also a lot of magazines she had bought off the high street always seeing what the competitors were up to. On her way home she stopped at the local grocer and picked up a few things. She never really kept much at home as she was often off on a shoot with two days’ notice so things would spoil, and also she stayed on her own so often bought only as she needed or ate with mates at the local pub. Of course she grabbed a couple of bottles of red wine and fresh milk. Once she was home she packed her laptop away under the desk in the corner of her lounge; this was where she would often do work from home.
She took a leisurely shower, put on her pjs and ignored her phone. She was dead tired and after her dinner which was a prepared meal from Marks and Spencer’s, and two glasses of wine, she passed out on the couch, only waking up at two in the morning with the TV going and feeling rather uncomfortable and cold. She moved to her bed and slept till nine the next morning and not feeling that energetic decided to just get the kettle on and catch up with some of her mail and some magazines she had brought home to glance through. She picked up her phone and noticed a few messages and proceeded to read them … Ugggh, bank payments had gone off. Yay! I am rich for a day and then poor for the month, she sighed to herself. There was a message from her sister, Sophia who was planning on coming to Dublin at the end of the month and a friend of hers who had collected her dry cleaning and wanted to pop in and catch up with her in the day and there was a message from Dan.
This intrigued her. She said aloud, “What so soon, mmmm.” Dan had sent her a text explaining that he had had to wait a further three hours longer than what he thought so in total six as there had been bad storms in New York and flights had been cancelled into New York. He chatted about how cold it was and wet and windy and hoped that she was having a better time. She smiled as she read his message and immediately texted back what a hectic week she had and that she had vowed to not leave her house the whole weekend and catch up on some much needed sleep … She hoped his business conference was going okay and that the weather would let up a bit.
Two minutes later her phone went and she had a reply from him. It was ten at night there and he was just relaxing in his hotel room … the texts went on for about 20 minutes until her door bell rang and she said her friend had popped in and she needed to go. She wished him a good night’s sleep and said good bye. He texted back thanks, good bye to her as well.
As she walked to the door she was smiling to herself … She secretly wished it hadn’t been texts that they actually spoke …
Ava updated Cheryl on her trip and her meeting with Dan, and of course Cheryl was all ears. “At last”, she said, “a man that makes you smile.” Ava had not been in a relationship for some time. Truth being she always seemed to meet the wrong guy that was either a man’s kind of man and liked a good looking woman on his arm, or someone that was obsessed with his mates and ball games or a career man that never had time for her. Not that she was sure about Dan, it was just to dream a little and the fact that he had texted her back made a huge difference to the fact that maybe he liked her and this could go further.