Chapter 1 - part 1

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The plane is accelerating, getting ready to take off the ground. I hear the turbines working, feel my body being pushed into the cushioned seat, and get even more anxious. Flying has never been my thing. No matter how many times I've done it-and we are talking a hundred, no less-I'm a nervous mess every time. Take offs and landings are the worst. I can deal with being up in the sky, the serenity of the view takes my breath away and calms me. The getting to and from that high is a whole different story. Working in my family's investment firm, I endure flying on a weekly basis. Every time, I try to talk myself into not caring about the upcoming flight, only to get on the plane and get anxious all over again. Luckily, I'm taking this trip for pleasure. Should make me feel better, but it doesn't.

Finally, the plane loses contact with the ground and lifts into the air. We are taking off from O'Hare, so it takes a sharp angle up and I grip the armrests, my knuckles white from pressure. Just another few minutes, keep it together a few more minutes and it will get easier. I'm tight, my muscles tense, my nerves in coils. Taking slow, shallow breaths, I try to think of something relaxing. The ocean comes to mind, blue and endless, wave after wave after wave, slow and peaceful. My thoughts drift to my destination: Miami. I'm finally taking the trip I've been planning for a few years-planning, but never actually making. There was always something urgent that required my attention, or the timing wasn't right, or my family had other plans that required my presence.

At last, we reach a high altitude and the plane levels off. I visibly relax and let go of the armrests. I have three hours to spare with no propositions to review or documents to go over: a rare luxury for me. My days are usually planned to the minute, weeks in advance.

I close my eyes and think about my life. After all, this is, for the most part, why I'm taking the trip: to rethink my life, set new priorities, and most importantly, plan a new path.

I'm in my late twenties-a successful young heiress to the family business. I'm good at what I do, and I know it. Years of nonstop work will do that to you.

My family owns a real estate investment and management company. In the years since my graduation, I've initiated and completed several projects, effectively doubling the company's worth by reversing a near-collapse situation and taking advantage of the overall economic downturn. In addition, I've managed to attract a few major investors. I love and hate what I do. I wish I could make my own decisions, bring the company into the twenty-first century. Instead, I feel stuck. My father has little trust in my decisions and ultimately, he maintains tight control of things.

Being a part of the family business is both a blessing and a curse. I have to fight with my old-fashioned father every step of the way, then never hear one good word once my idea proves to be a success. Even with all the setbacks, I've managed to build quite a reputation in Chicago and beyond its limits, on both coasts. Luckily, I don't conduct any business in Miami yet, so I'm running a small chance of being recognized. Good for me, given the current state of my personal life.

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