As promised, here is the first chapter of my work in progress. Meet Ivy Greentree, one of three sisters who all have their own story to tell.
Ivy took a swipe at her hair. There was no point looking in the mirror, she would only see a smudge of auburn. Next time her sisters thought it would be a good look to swap her contact lenses for glasses, so that she could put them on and look more intelligent when she was doing the test part of her interview, she should not listen.
Those glasses were in her handbag rather than perched on her nose, rendering her short sighted vision all but useless when she needed to check her appearance. Ivy paused at the door, a whisper from opening it. Whilst she tried to ignore the little gymnast who was performing an Olympic-worthy routine in her stomach, the little gremlin in her mind was wondering, in this day age, why hadn't somebody invented a bathroom door that opened itself. Goodness only knew how many people didn't wash their hands after using the facilities.
The gymnast was ramping up for the big dismount as Ivy walked back into the reception area. There was only a typing test between her and the job that could open up so many doors, automatic or not. Her hands were trembling. She clenched her fists and hoped the officer manager was fluent in gobbledygook, as that was what she was likely to type.
A man's voice carried across the room. "No. No. No. No. None of them."
She wondered if he was a scout turning down some of the girls waiting. There was nothing wrong with her distance vision and she spotted him at the reception desk. He didn't look like any of the male scouts she'd been introduced to, not that she could pick any of them out of a line up. They looked like they'd all consulted each other before coming into work; over-styled hair and boy band uniform of too-tight v-necked t-shirts, skinny trousers in various hues of brown and boots that weren't tied up properly.
This man, though, was different. He was tall and wore a suit. He was slim but he filled his clothes in a way none of the scouts did. They strived for cool, but this man just was cool, he didn't need to try. Not many men piqued her interest, certainly not suited and booted hoorays like Damon had been, but there was something so careless about this man, at odds with the clearly tailored outfit.
The office manager held a big book through which the man flipped. Ivy knew this was called The Book, she'd been shown it in the first part of her interview. The Book contained a head shot of every model registered with the agency. Still he was shaking his head, blond hair perfectly coiffured.
Ivy looked for a gap in the blurry sea of faces that would indicate an empty chair. She was sure they were beautiful faces; who else came to a model agency but models and wannabe graphic designers masquerading as receptionists. There was no gap. Great, she'd have to stand, wobbling on her high heels like a baby giraffe on stilts. How these models wore them day in day out, was beyond her. It wasn't like she needed the extra height, but again, she listened to Laurel and Fern who told her the 4 inch spiked platforms were de rigeur. De ridiculous, more like it.
"What about her? I'll take her," the man announced. Ivy was curious to see if he'd chosen one of the wannabes waiting to be discovered. It would be a fab chance for whomever he picked. The man was moving towards the back of the room. Her eyes were losing their focus the nearer he got, but she could make out the outlines of the girls straightening, preening as he passed them, like a row of soldiers on parade for their general.
He headed straight for her; Ivy glanced over her shoulder to see who else was sitting behind her, but there was only the door she had just come through. Oh, no. No.
“Perfect.” His voice sounded close and Ivy slowly turned her head to find him in front of her. “Just the ticket.” He had white teeth, really white teeth. And he smelled of limes. “Come along then.”
The warmth of his hand on her wrist registered before she realised he was tugging her gently behind him.
“I’ll have her back to you in a day or two. Put it on my account,” he called to the office manager. Ivy trotted to keep up with him, her pencil skirt straining as she tried to match his long strides.
“Mr Domenici, this young lady is not a…” the office manager called, but she held Ivy’s bag and coat in her hands ready.
“Everyone’s available for the right price. I’ll take those, thank you.”
Ivy’s thoughts were screaming at her to say something, but her whole attention was taken by staying on her feet as he led her through the office door, halting for just a second to press the elevator button. The red LED showed floor 7, they were on floor 2.
“We’ll take the stairs.” Ivy saw a flash of white again and assumed he was smiling. She failed to see what there was to smile about. Her muscles were screaming at being made to move so quickly.
“Sir, can you slow down?”
“No time, got to get to the airport. The flight to Paris leaves in ninety minutes. Do you have your passport with you?”
Paris? This man was crazy. “Yes, I do but…” She’d found it at the back of her memory drawer last night. The office manager had taken it to photocopy, along with her birth certificate for identification purposes.
“Great. See, this was meant to be.” Teeth again.
“Please slow down. I’m going to fall.” Ivy begged. She wasn’t sure what would give way first, the seams on her skirt or her ankles in these heels.
He stopped on the landing between floors and released her hand.
“Thank you. Oh, oh.”
He bent and scooped her into his arms, cradling her against his chest. She held on tight as he jogged down, marveling silently at his strength. Her weight was the world’s best kept secret, only she and her electronic scales knew the truth. Right now, she felt as dainty as any of those models upstairs and only just the tiniest little bit self-conscious of how he held her; one arm wrapped around her back, his palm on her ribcage, his thumb grazing the curve of her breast and the other arm supporting her legs, fingers splayed on her thigh.
The top buttons of her fitted blouse had popped open when he picked her up and she was conscious of the bounce of her breasts with each step he took. Praying he might be as short-sighted as she was, she raised her face to look at him and all she saw were those teeth again. Perfect teeth had to mean perfect vision. Shame about those imperfect manners.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and he put her gently on her feet on the marbled floor, her heels clicking against the tiles.
“Bag?” She demanded, holding out her hand.
“I’ve been called worse.”
“Don’t tempt me,” she muttered as she reached into her handbag for her glasses. As she put them on, his grinning face came into focus. He was classic perfection, a blond blue eyed hero, who rescued the damsel in distress. Shame the only distress she was feeling right now was…
“You messed up my interview.” Ivy shrugged her coat on.
“Good looking girl like you, you can get any agency to sign you up.”
Flattery will get you precisely nowhere, buddy. “I’m not a model.”
“Not yet. There will be other chances.”
“I’ve waited a long time to get an interview here, Mr…?” Ivy raised an eyebrow in question.
“Domenici. Rhys Domenici. And you are?” Rhys held his hand out, that bloody grin still on his face.
“Pissed off, Mr Domenici. I needed that job.” She did not want to touch him again. His hands on her were a bad idea.
“If it’s about money, name your price. I’ll double whatever you would earn over the next three days.” The smile faded and he put both his hands in his pockets, the amusement gone from his voice.
“It’s more than money. It’s my future.” Ivy dreaded the prospect of returning to bar work if she didn’t get this position, which didn’t look very hopeful since he’d dragged her out in the middle of her interview. He’d screwed that right up.
Ivy glared at him, trying to ignore how handsome he was. After Damon, she swore she’d never let a man ruin anything for her again. “It’s my future,” she whispered, suddenly feeling very lost. She’d never live her dream of designing and editing glossy magazines.
“Give me three days, then we’ll take care of your future.” He stepped closer, looking down at her. “Trust me.”
He sounded so sincere and she felt so rotten, her anger at him dissipated.
“What do you need me to do?” Ivy’s common sense was telling her not to trust him, that he was Damon version 2.0, that she would get hurt just like she always did.
Rhys took her hands in his. Over his shoulder, Ivy saw the elevator doors open and the office manager walked quickly towards them.
“Miss Greentree, thank goodness I caught you,” the woman caught her breath. “Your paperwork. I was in the middle of taking copies when Mr. Domenici came in. Your birth certificate and your passport.” The older woman gave the items to Ivy.
“Brilliant.” Rhys grinned from one woman to the other. “That’s just perfect.”
Ivy frowned. Why so enthusiastic that she had her paperwork back?
“What exactly was it you want me for, Mr. Domenici?”
“You, Miss Greentree, are about to become my wife.”
Let me know what you think!
Don't be a stranger, love Tasha x