charlotte de luca had resigned herself to a life of subtle digs and sideways glances, all because she'd yet to find "the one". perhaps for anyone else, this would've been seen as acceptable, but growing up in a large half-italian family meant that it was highly encouraged that you settle down and start a family of your own sooner rather than later. charlie wasn't a late bloomer. she wasn't flawed in some irreconcilable way, and was arguably stunning, which was why it baffled her family that she was 28 going on 29 and still without a single prospect in sight. perhaps it was the fact that she was picky, or that she was focused on her budding career...but from her own lips, 'unless something magical fell into her lap, she wasn't taking her eyes off the prize' of being one of the youngest fashion editors in the history of hearst publishing family of magazines. a degree from FIT, a time-consuming and back-breaking internship at 'good housekeeping', and a couple of years of low-level jobs at 'town & country', and she felt like she was finally positioned on the right track to achieve her dreams.
charlie had been manning the entrance table at an event that hearst was throwing, and she'd just stepped away to excuse herself for a bathroom break when a slightly tipsy gentleman bumped into her and spilled his champagne down the front of her dress. he was extremely apologetic, but charlotte didn't hear any of his words, because there was something about him that drew her in, and it probably had something to do with the way that his eyes seemed to be an intriguing mix of mortified and amused as he fussed over her ruined outfit
not quite 'something magical' falling into her lap, but close enough.
their romance was whirlwind. charlotte had been swept off her feet, and luke prins was the perfect gentleman. her parents were baffled that she seemed happy with someone who was over 20 years her senior, and a someone that already had two young children from a previous marriage. charlie merely made some comment about them being eager for her to start a family of her own, so jumping in feet first with a ready-made one still got the job done, right? true, she didn't know everything there was to know about her new beau, but he made her laugh, and treated her like a queen, and regardless of the failure that was his first marriage, he loved his children dearly, and that should be everything that mattered.
then she found out that he wasn't just some finance guy who settled in new york when his children were born. he was one of the former managing partners at some swanky accounting firm based in south africa that she had never heard of. granted, it wasn't hard, when her eyes seemed on the verge of glazing over whenever he started talking about what he did. the important tidbit she missed in all of his explanations of what he did, was that he was the former co-founder of one company, and the founder and chairman of another. one that meant he had far more commas and zeros in his bank account than most people could even dream about, and his nonchalance and general reluctance to delve into the specifics were because he wanted to be absolutely sure that she was with him for him and not the promise of the money.
zuri valentina was a mix of contradictions from the very start, and as the years went by, it became more and more apparent to everyone that she would be impossible to pigeon-hole. she was born during a terrible thunderstorm one september evening in manhattan, but almost in direct defiance to the howling weather outside the hospital, she came into the world with little fuss. instead of the standard introduction with a lungful of air and sharp cries at being exposed to the cold and harsh world outside of the womb, she was alarmingly quiet, curious eyes staring up at the fuzzy lights and shapes around her. it wasn't until the nurse pricked her heel that she let out a loud wail, but that reaction had to be forced from her, and that stubborn streak only grew as she did.
strong-willed, bossy, mischievous, calculating, these were all words that zuri's teachers used to describe her over the years. they'd never seen so much personality from such a tiny little thing, but even at the tender age of three, she was aware of what she wanted, and would stop at nothing to get it. at the time, that had been more reading time, and less of that nap foolishness, but her inability to back down from a challenge was something that followed her throughout her young life.
school was difficult for her, not because she didn't have an inclination toward learning, but because she had too much of one. her curious nature meant that she wanted to be involved in everything at all times, and there simply weren't enough hours in the day for her to fit everything in. 'jack of all trades, and master of none' is exactly the phrase that described her during her formative years. following in her mother's footsteps with an eye for fashion, a love of the dainty and delicate with her ballet lessons, while also trying to chase after her older half-brothers when they wanted to play soccer or baseball. this desire to do everything matured into a deep, near-obsession, with learning all there was to know about...everything. this drove the adults in her life a little crazy, but the fastest way to zuri's heart was through the gift of knowledge.
unfortunately, luke's business dealings kept him away from home more often than not, and charlotte's career meant many late nights at the office, so it was up to the rotating handful of nannies to help parent the three prins children, cultivating the curiosity that they showed while keeping them from getting kidnapped or skinning all their elbows and knees. inevitably, though, when luke would return from a business trip, he'd bring zuri a little something from whatever country he'd been visiting. first was an atlas, so she could fill her head with all the random tidbits she could find about a place, and then came the trinkets (many of which met their untimely demise when her inquisitiveness got the better of her and she took the thing apart to find out how it ticked).
when she was fifteen, luke's company expanded even further and opened a home base in san francisco. the family tossed around the idea of him going on his own (as he spent most of his time away from new york anyway), but zuri's excitement to explore a new city, and charlotte's desire to find a way for her and her husband to reconnect while also getting the san francisco office up and running was the push they needed to pack up and go. this also meant that zuri was going to need to finish high school in a new school, all the way across the country (something her parents were wary of), but she convinced them that she was up for the challenge. turns out, she was right. by sheer force of will, she graduated with honors, and gained admission into the economics program at stanford.
her father was pleased that it seemed she had an interest in anything remotely related to business, but it took until the end of her sophomore year to break it to her parents that she was miserable. she'd been floundering for the bulk of her sophomore year, and it wasn't until she'd taken an elective in linguistics that she settled on one of her passions. starting with the 2014-2015 school year, she switched to be part of the pilot program stanford was offering of a joint degree in computer science and one of the multitude of humanities majors they had to offer. she graduated with a bachelor of arts and sciences in computer science and linguistics in the spring of 2018, and promptly decided to lean in to her desire to be a lifelong student, submitting her application for graduate school and starting her program in the fall. the goal is to take the full time to complete her master's in computer science with a specliazation in artificial intelligence (putting her at a graduation date of 2020), and from there, she'll either finally be tired of school, or continue on to a ph.d.
• has an decent relationship with both parents, but is closest with her mother. because her father was always gone on business, she was half raised by her mom and a series of nannies (one of which taught zuri both afrikaans and xhosa).
• believes in the mystical powers of a good red lipstick and winged eye, but will still spend the majority of her time in sweatpants and sneakers.
• named her dog basquiat, as a nod to her love of art. she calls him “bas”, and he’s truly a cat in a dog’s body (but she loves him more than she loves most people).
• has a joint degree (bachelor of art and science) from stanford in computer science and linguistics. hers was the second to last class that could graduate with a degree from the joint major pilot program (started in '14-'15)
• well-meaning, and loyal to a fault, but sometimes comes across as a cocky know-it-all. probably isn't helped by the fact that sarcasm is her first language.