Authors: Alexis Gold
I managed to book Jeffrey for the shoot and another model who fit the description Armani was after. Marissa came striding out of her office and told me again how she wished Kristi wasn’t pregnant. I thought that was her way of thanking me. The rest of the day, though, went by just the same as all the others. I was a glorified errand girl. With Kristi out and Marissa thinking I should have her job,
she gave me all of Kristi’s work to do on top of everything else. Yet, I was still being paid the same damn salary. Intermittently throughout the day, I found myself also wishing Kristi wasn’t pregnant.
“Alright Christina, are you ready to go? I know you had a tough workload today. Don’t worry, I plan to give you a much needed bonus for it.” Marissa stepped out of her office with her bag and keys. I stood up from my desk, not completely sure if she said she’d give me “a much needed bonus.”
“Maybe then you can afford to buy yourself a cell phone for Christ’s sake,” she mumbled and a wide grin spread across my face. Well, maybe I actually
getting somewhere with the job…maybe. I followed Marissa to the shoot and she ordered me to freshen my makeup before we went in.
I sat in my car and studied my features as I touched up my mascara, lipstick and powdered my nose. I was pretty enough. Marissa had high standards and would certainly not hire anyone less than “model worthy themselves”, or so she said.
I really didn’t see it. Yeah, I had a nice bone structure, feminine with nice cheekbones, I had dimples and a nice smile. My nose wasn’t overpowering on my face. My lips were full and my chocolate brown skin smooth from my Caribbean roots. I had nice eyes, though, they were a caramel color, framed by thick lashes and my eyebrows had a natural arch to them. I seldom had to get my eyebrows done. I was also blessed with manageable curly black hair, so I didn’t have many of the problems other girls with my skin tone had with their hair.
Thinking about hair made me remember my mom. She grew up in Jamaica and came to the USA for school and that’s when she met my father, who was also Jamaican, and they had me. She swore up and down that I was adopted because my hair was so different from hers.
Of course, she was joking and made sure I knew I was theirs. She had pictures all over the house of me when I was a baby, of her in the hospital with me just having been born. A tear sneaked down my face and I quickly dabbed it away. I couldn’t get lost in thoughts of my parents, not now.
I pulled myself together and met Marissa at the front of the hotel where the Armani people were shooting. Marissa gave me a once over and nodded in approval. “You have good genes; you could go into modeling, you know. Perhaps not on such a grand scale as Armani or Vogue, but your face could be seen in Targets everywhere.” I looked over at Marissa and wondered if she was serious. She made eye contact with me and I saw that she was and meant what she said as some sort of compliment.
“Um…thank you, but I’m not one for modeling, I’m too shy.” Marissa shrugged her shoulder dismissively as if it made no difference to her. I discreetly shook my head and we went into the Waldorf Astoria and headed back to the private bar that was reserved for the shoot.
“There are my beautiful men. Where’s Stephan? Why haven’t we started yet?” It was really weird, but Marissa went truly soft when it came to her “beautiful men.” She almost coddled them and made sure they were well taken care of.
“Christina! Come and help Mister Bates here with his tie, I have my hands full with the other two…” My eyes widened at the nearly suggestive way Marissa said that. But I quickly schooled my expression before fully turning towards her. She was only helping them track down the photographer…I hope. I watched Marissa leave with the other two models and then I walked over to a very tall, dark, and handsome Jeffrey Bates. He looked even better in person than he did on his headshot. Well, really, all the guys did, but he had something special about him.
I thought it was the odd swirl of green in his hazel eyes. They were what caught my attention first. They were framed by long lashes and he had the smokiest gaze. I wonder if that came natural to him or if he had to practice at it. He had the perfect cheekbones for a male model, well formed, but not too feminine. His dirty blonde hair was styled into a sexy undercut and was purposely moussed. He had a straight nose that led to perfectly plump pink lips and a masculine angular jaw and slightly cleft chin. Sometimes I thought it hard to believe that these models were real people.
“Are you Christina?” he asked me, his voice carrying over to where my feet were rooted into the ground. I had almost forgotten that I was supposed to be helping him with a tie.
“Um, yeah! I’m sorry. You needed help with your tie?” I asked tentatively, trying to cover up my embarrassment.
“Yeah, I suck at tying these things. Do you know how to do a bow tie?” His voice was deep and a little raspy. It was definitely sexy, though. I tried to ignore the little thrill that went through me at the sound of him speaking to me.
“I do, I used to tie bow ties for my dad all the time…” I paused for a fraction of a second before he sat down on a bar stool so I could reach his tie. I didn’t know why I just told him about my dad.
“Your dad sounds like a smartly dressed man. What does he do?” The question was harmless really, it would come as a normal response to what I said. I silently kicked myself for having a slip like that.
“He’s um…he used to be an investment banker,” I said shortly, not wanting to continue this line of talk.
“Really? That’s actually a lucrative line of business. I bet he does well for the family.”
I smiled politely and nodded vaguely. Jeffrey seemed to pick up on my reticence and he changed the topic.
“So, you work for the ever lovely Marissa. I heard she’s kind of a hard ass when in the office.”
I snorted and then bit my lip to keep from commenting. Marissa had the habit of popping out of thin air and hearing everything you would normally try to keep from her.
“She’s not so bad. She just runs a tight ship and likes to be organized. That’s commendable really, so I can’t complain,” I said softly.
Jeffrey’s gaze locked onto mine as I gently fixed his bow tie and there was an intensity in his gaze that was hard to ignore. It made me nervous, yet it also brought butterflies to my belly. I quickly shook myself and focused on his tie, there was no way someone like
could be attracted to me. I was a glorified intern and after the research I did on Jeffrey yesterday, I knew that he owned a huge airplane manufacturing business.
Jeffrey was worth four
dollars and that’s at thirty-four years old, after inheriting his father’s company. Four billion dollars was sitting in a bar stool in front of me and I was fixing his tie. Yeah, I needed to get a grip, four billion dollars and I were a completely unrealistic couple.
“Does she ever give you a break?” Jeffrey confused me by asking. I blinked at him in bemusement and he laughed. The sound was delicious and reminded me of chocolate. “So I’m guessing that meant no.” Jeffrey chuckled and I smiled a little crookedly.
“I’m allowed to eat lunch at my desk while working, so maybe…?”
Jeffrey laughed again and I wanted to kiss his throat for the beautiful sound. I really needed to pull myself together. Sheesh, when was the last time I’ve even been around a guy? The office was full of women and all I ever did was work. I held in a sigh, I really needed to get out more. I finished with his tie and he stood up to check himself in the mirror.
He was wearing a gorgeous black tuxedo that fit him beautifully. I wondered if models got to keep the clothes they dressed up in.
“That’s perfect, thanks, Christina,” Jeffrey smiled at me in thanks and my heart almost seized up. He glanced around at the few people milling around, waiting to get started. The lights were set up and the other two female models were dressed in stunning gowns and ready to shoot. “I wonder if they’ve found the photographer yet,” Jeffrey said rhetorically.
“While we’re waiting I can get you some water or something to eat if you’d like?” If Jeffrey so much as needed to scrape gum from the bottom of his shoe, Marissa informed me that I was to take care of it. Anything one of her models needed I was to tend to, or else I’d be fired, of course.
“No, no. Thank you, though. I bet you hate this job, are you an intern?”
I couldn’t stifle my sigh.
Then Jeffrey smiled at me in knowing sympathy. “We’ve all been there, my father made me intern at the company he passed down to me and the work was menial and grueling sometimes.”
I was surprised to hear that, I couldn’t imagine a sexy, young Jeffrey having to fetch someone’s coffee and lunch, much less at the very same company he was to own someday.
“I’m an assistant…but yes, basically an intern. I just need the job to pay the bills until I get a real job in advertising and marketing. It’s what I went to school for.” Again, I wondered why I was revealing so much about myself to him.
“Really? Do you have any connections to help you with that?”
I sighed again and shook my head.
“No, I’m not from this city originally, so it’s slow going,” I admitted.
Jeffrey seemed to consider this as he studied me.
“I’m sure something will come your way soon. It’s not all about connections really,” he tried to reassure me. But in this city I didn’t see how it wasn’t.
“Christina! Wonderful job with Jeffrey’s tie, we’ve found the photographer, but I’m going to have to ask you to fetch these boys some sparkling water. They’re parched.” Marissa breezed into the room giving orders and I smiled at Jeffrey in parting before going to get Marissa’s “boys” some water. While I went in search for sparkling water, I wondered why normal water, that wasn’t sparkling, wouldn’t do.
I always found normal water to be more refreshing anyway.
Once I got back with the water, Marissa had me go out to pick up dinner that they’d eat after the shoot. I had to run and get steaks from a nearby Cuban restaurant that was really good, but the smell of the food in the car tortured me on the way back.
After I dropped off the food, I had to help load up the equipment in the hot summer rain and got soaked. Of course, as I was about to simply get into my car and leave, Marissa called me on the work phone and reminded me to lock it up in the office. So I had to walk into the freezing hotel yet again to get the keys to the office from Marissa, then drive across town to deposit the freaking cellphone. I hated my job.
“Whoa, you’ll catch a cold walking in here soaked like that,” Jeffrey practically jumped up from eating at the bar when I walked into the room. He covered me with a suit jacket and smiled crookedly. Again, I wasn’t sure if I saw attraction in his green hazel eyes.
“Um…thank you, you didn’t have to ruin your jacket, I was only coming in for a quick second,” I said hurriedly. I didn’t want Marissa to see me and get the wrong idea.
“No, I insist. I can’t believe she had you go out in the rain like this. You shouldn’t be working for her,” Jeffrey said in muted frustration. He was concerned for me? But why…?
“Thanks for the jacket, I’ll have it dry cleaned and mailed to your office,” I assured him before hurrying to retrieve the keys from Marissa. Thankfully, she was caught up in a conversation with one of her boys and didn’t pay much attention to me. I hurried past Jeffrey who looked like he had more to say to me and made a quick exit to my car.
Once inside, I let out a loud groan of frustration, drove to the office to drop off the phone and then drove home, refusing to cry. I just needed to find a job, then I wouldn’t have to work for that slave driver anymore.
The very next morning I discovered that Jeff was right, walking in the rain and then being shocked by the cold air conditioning
make me sick. Marissa would kill me if I got anyone else in the office sick, she’d be pissed that I have to take sick days, too. But it was the lesser of the two evils. Really I’d be glad for the break. Marissa had been giving me more and more of Kristi’s workload as she didn’t think Kristi was “capable” of performing as she usually did, what with the “symbiotic fetus growing inside her.” Honestly, the woman was a piece of work.