I love days like this.
It started off as a typical Sunday drive (which I take quite frequently) in my little Volvo station wagon out on the open roads outside of the city. It’s very peaceful and during the autumn months the temperature is just perfect. Even during the blistering hot Southern California summers, it is not a bad time to get out and about and enjoy the freedom of being alive.
My name is Leia Daniels. I was twenty-five years old, still a child in many ways, when I met the man who would have the most profound impact on my life, far more than I had ever dreamt of. It is something that I still think about, still dream about, and continue to this day to reflect upon at certain times of the year. I don’t think it will ever leave me and I would not be the person I am today if it ever did. I’m grateful for all of it.
The day started off as any other Sunday. I arose early in my mansion about ten miles outside of San Diego. I have always been an early riser even if I stayed up late the night before, and this morning was no different. I woke up and enjoyed my early morning jog, a quick shower, and a small oatmeal breakfast. The maid and butler both had the day off and I had the house basically to myself. Sometimes I enjoyed the solitude, but most of the time it could get rather depressing and lonely as I remembered how lively the house used to be when my parents were still alive.
I will never forget the day that the dreadful knock came at the door, and the policeman stood there with fear and regret in his eyes as he tried to look me in the eyes, and uttered the words that will ring on in my deepest fears, in the most dreaded part of my memory. “There’s been an accident. Your parents…didn’t make it.”
I was just fifteen years old. I thought I was grown up (or damn near) and that I was mature beyond my years, but at that crushing moment I might as well have been a five-year-old who was now totally alone, totally lost in the world. Nothing in life is as devastating, especially to a child, as the loss of a parent. You are a part of them and they are a part of you; your very essence feels shifted, misplaced. It had happened over ten years ago and I still felt that I was trying to center myself and move forward.
And I was very fortunate in many ways that I have never forgotten or taken for granted. Our long term butler, Walden took care of me. He’d been given guardianship over me in the event that something ever happened to my parents. My father had seen to it that all of his affairs were in perfect order, just in case…
He couldn’t have known that a tragic car accident would take the lives of both him and my mother that chilly, dark night, but my father was a brilliant businessman and he used all of the skills that he utilized to build and run a successful cosmetics empire and he applied that same zeal and dedication to every single thing that he did in his life. I would inherit the business and I would one day oversee things, as I’d been doing since I graduated from college (as per the agreement my father and his lawyer had drafted up). At twenty-two I did just that, graduating summa cum laude from USC with a degree in Business.
I loved the company my father built and I loved overseeing the day to day operations, but I have never been silly enough to think at my youth and inexperience that I was competent to run my father’s company. Many of the same people that helped him run things when he was alive continued to do so now. They were brilliant and they did a wonderful job. All of them were great people and I’d become very close with them.
That Sunday morning after breakfast I went into the huge garage that was brimming with every type of sports car imaginable and I selected the Volvo. I had a lot of fun with the lavish, luxurious sports cars—they were a hoot—but I didn’t want to be noticed today. On quiet Sundays I liked to drive into town, get a manicure and a pedicure, and head to the Salon to get a touch up on my hair. After that I usually went to the spa to get a massage, and then meet a few of my girlfriends for a round of golf at the country club. Doing many of these things, I didn’t like to attract too much attention. I’ve never been one to seek out validation from other people and I’m actually uncomfortable doing so. I deeply love my privacy.