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Authors: Kat Parrish

Fashionista

FASHIONISTA:
A modern retelling of Cinderella
Kat Parrish

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author

s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons, whether living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

FASHIONISTA: A modern retelling of Cinderella

Copyright
©
20fifteen by Kat Parrish

Cover design by Andrijus, Rocking Book Covers

http://www.rockingbookcovers.com/

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems

except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews

without permission in writing from the author.

Please contact the author at
[email protected]
if you experience any formatting or readability issues with this book.

Chapter 1

Allegra was running late.

Ever since her stepmother had taken over the company, it had been harder and harder to ignore the siren call of the snooze button on Monday mornings.

And this first Monday after Christmas, she

d succumbed to temptation and when she finally left her warm bed, she

d paid for her sloth with a series of delays that had a cascade effect.

First she

d tripped over the antique wooden shoemaker

s last she used as a door-stop. Then, while inhaling her breakfast of peanut butter toast, she

d stepped on her cat

s tail and spilled coffee on the floor, which Gus-Gus immediately ran over to lap up, tracking little coffee footprints all across the tile.

Rushing back to the nook she called her bedroom, Allegra managed to step on a box of Christmas tree ornaments that she was planning to take down to the tiny storage room she rented in the basement of her apartment building.

Resisting the urge to look at the damage, she

d thrown on a pair of skinny black jeans and a soft dove gray sweater. She noticed there was a tiny hole near one cuff that looked like a moth might have been nibbling at it but decided it was too late to change into something else.

Allegra was half out the door before she remembered she was meeting with a buyer at eleven. With a sigh, she rummaged through the little hatbox where she kept her scarves and pulled out a vintage Nicole Miller silk square she

d snagged at a thrift store. Looping it around her neck she hoped the effect was an approximation of style and didn

t just look like she

d tied it on to hide a stain on the sweater.

At the door she paused long enough to run a lint brush over her jeans because she already felt like an unmade bed and the last thing she needed was to walk into a meeting with cat hair on her clothes. She knew her assistant, an elegant Frenchwoman whose style remained firmly Parisian even after two decades in Chicago, would not approve of her ensemble, but it would have to do.

And at least she

d be warm, Allegra reflected.

Her stepmother, though she

d never admit it, was going through menopause and kept the offices at a glacial temperature to accommodate her hot flashes. Since the office had central heating, everyone else had to suffer. Margot in the billing department had even bought a space heater for her cubicle.

It was nearly nine-thirty before Allegra finally walked through the rustic metal-bound doors of the historic building that housed the House of Zangari. The office was next door to the factory where the company

s luxury leather goods were produced, connected by an underground tunnel that made it convenient going back and forth in the frigid Chicago winter.

Allegra

s grandfather had always told her the tunnel had been built during Prohibition and used by gangsters to store the booze they imported from Canada. She didn

t know if that was true or not, but she knew her law-abiding grandfather Dom had secretly relished the thought of being connected in a small way to the city

s outlaw past. A photo of her great-grandfather Giuseppe

Joe

Zangari with his most famous customer, Al Capone, still had pride of place in the foreman

s office in the factory.

He was a natty dresser,

Dom Zangari had told her.

And he knew quality when he saw it.

Jeri Johnson waved a pink slip at Allegra as she approached the receptionist desk.

The guy from Thalhimers called. He flew back to Richmond last night so he wouldn

t get caught in the storm. He said he

d call you this week.
”’


Okay,

Allegra said, taking the slip.

Thanks.

She didn

t know whether to be annoyed or relieved at the last-minute cancellation with the department store buyer. She settled for relieved, but she was starting to get a headache behind her right eye and the temperature in the office wasn

t helping; she could feel her mood plummeting to match the reading on the thermometer.

M
ondays
, she thought.

As she passed by the conference room, she noticed the door was open.

Did I miss a staff meeting?
She wondered and peeked in.

To her surprise it was empty except for a dark-haired woman she didn

t recognize who was cutting a pattern free-hand from a length of material laid out on the twelve-foot cherry-wood conference table.


Excuse me,

she said.

Startled, the woman whirled around, clutching her shears like a weapon, her doe eyes wide with fear.

What on earth?

Allegra thought, realizing the woman couldn

t be much past her teen years.

Hello,

she said.

I didn

t mean to scare you.

The girl didn

t seem reassured.

Sina,

she said with an anxious look.

Okay
, Allegra thought.

Sorry to have disturbed you,

she said as she backed out of the room.

On her way to her office she passed her assistant coming out of the break room with a china cup of coffee in her hand. Severine Belloc did not believe in coffee mugs or paper cups and she was too frugal to splurge on coffee shop caffeine.


Who is that in the conference room?

Allegra asked.

Severine looked a bit annoyed.

Ask Sina,

she said. Then she took in Allegra

s jeans.

Is this casual Friday?

she asked in a disapproving tone. Severine did not believe in casual Fridays.


I have to go out to my mother

s storage unit this afternoon,

Allegra said defensively, well aware that on her best day she couldn

t approach Severine

s level of effortless chic.

I want to see if there are any flat ankle boots.

Severine thought about it, head cocked to one side so her rich chestnut hair pooled on one shoulder of her immaculate white blouse.

I think I remember a pair of chocolate brown, crocodile-skin ones.


Me too,

Allegra said.

Now I just have to find them.

Easier said than done,
she thought, visualizing the dozens of bins crammed into the small space. Whenever Allegra wanted inspiration for her own designs, she went to the storage unit to rummage through the shoes and bags her mother had acquired over the years of haunting estate sales and online auctions. She

d left the collection to Allegra, and although the new Mrs. Zangari had tried her best to get her hands on it, Allegra

s father Enzo had intervened and made sure the leather legacy stayed in his daughter

s hands.

Allegra sighed as she thought of her father. It hadn

t been quite a year since his death and she still missed him keenly.


I won

t be meeting with the Thalhimers

buyer today,

Allegra said to Severine.

Any fires that need putting out?


The proposal for the new sports shoe is on your desk. Leander

s been asking for a decision,

Severine said.

Allegra groaned. Leander Spinks, one of her stepmother

s new hires, was driving her crazy with his ideas for expanding the Zangari brand.

There

s already been a decision,

she said to Severine sourly,

and the answer is no.

Allegra

s right eye twitched. Her father would turn over in his grave if he knew Mariella was thinking of making what he had always called

tennis shoes.


Sorry,

Severine said, adding,

and Mr. Wisnicki is waiting for you in your office.

Fantastic
, Allegra thought with an inward sigh. If the foreman of the Zangari factory was in her office, it wasn

t to wish her a

Happy New Year.

But Allegra liked Gary Wisnicki. He was an old school Chicago guy who rooted for the Bears and believed the best pizza in the world was the deep-dish

Chicago Classic

at Bartoli

s. He was also squarely on Team Allegra when it came to choosing sides and since it was her stepmother who signed his paycheck, Allegra appreciate his loyalty all the more.


Morning Gary,

Allegra said as she entered her office.

Before she even had a chance to take off her coat, he barked out the question he

d come to ask.

Is she moving the shop to China?

he said, nodding his head in the direction of Mariella

s office to indicate which

she

he was talking about.

Allegra

s first instinct was to say,

What? No!

but she stopped herself and then closed her office door behind her before she answered.

What have you heard?


Not much,

he said,

but I don

t like what I am hearing.

Allegra

s silence prompted him to go on.

She

s in there with that Asian business consultant right now.

Mr. Chu

s back in town
? Allegra thought.
That is interesting
.


And that trip Julia made to Hong Kong over Thanksgiving? I

m hearing it wasn

t all massages at the Oriental Spa,

the foreman continued.


She went to Hong Kong to meet with reps at Lane Crawford and Shanghai Tang,

Allegra protested, naming two of the most upscale department stores in the region.


If you say so,

he said.

Allegra shook her head. Her stepsister had returned from the Hong Kong trip complaining about the pollution and had been vague about her success in placing Zangari leather goods in the stores she

d been pitching. But still

.


If a move that big was in the works
—“

Wisnicki interrupted her before she could finish.

No offense Allegra, but you don

t exactly have the boss

s ear any more.

Truer
words were never spoken
, Allegra thought ruefully. She

d never begrudged her father marrying again after the death of her mother, but even at fourteen she could see that Mariella McIintyre Zangari had a dark side that she never let her new husband see. Mariella had been Enzo

s assistant for a decade when Allegra

s mother died. From gossip she

d overheard when Mariella showed up at her mother

s funeral, Allegra gathered that she had tried unsuccessfully to seduce her boss from the moment she started working for him and had even left her husband to clear the way.

Why didn

t he fire her?

she

d asked Severine, who

d known her mother well.

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