11

Sleep eluded Angelica. She lay awake, wondering what her day would be like. Soft fingers combed through her hair as she envisioned changing into expensive garments by top designers in the fashion world. She hoped that one day her name would become a household word that would command millions of dollars for her services. Angelica saw herself stroll-ing the catwalks of New York, Paris, and Milan-the buyers not only checking out the latest fashions but also admiring her beauty. And later, there would be television ads promoting her new line of clothing.

Donna was up early, chatting on the phone. It was four-thirty a.m., and Angelica decided to get on up. She walked into the living room where she found an assortment of cameras strewn throughout it.

Donna had certainly carved her way into the industry. The weekend had been fascinating, to say the least. Hobnobbing with Donna’s rich friends and rolling up on Diddy and his crew at a lower Manhattan nightclub was the cr?me de la cr?me for Angelica’s first few days in the big city. Fayetteville was now a distant reminder of the past, although Angelica knew she needed to call Margo, who had left several messages, to let her know she was all right.

“Anxious to get started, I see.”

Angelica jumped. In the shadows stood Donna, who had walked quietly into the room and disturbed Angelica’s thoughts.

“Yes, so excited I can’t sleep.”

“Well, Angelica, this may make or break your career-that’s if you desire one in modeling.”

“Donna, if I haven’t said it already, I’m grateful for this opportunity. I won’t disappoint.”

“Oh well then, be ready at six. We have an early morning shoot at eight. Hope to be done by noon for the first set. Dress casual.”

“I’ll be ready.”

Ari brought Donna’s car to the front of the building, and she and Angelica jumped into it. The city was abuzz, and Angelica marveled at all the people who were already up and about so early in the morning. A bagel hung out of Donna’s mouth as she maneuvered into traffic.

New York noise was so different from the sounds of Fayetteville. Angelica sat back as Donna cursed every other car and talked about the pathetic driving, even though she wasn’t qualified to vent because she jerked forward and put on brakes as much as the next person. There was a moment when Angelica almost jumped from the car as they entered Times Square and saw the Good Morning America crew on the marquee. Before she went to jail, she always watched Diane and Robin in the morning with a cup of coffee. That’s what she needed right now-a good ole cup of gourmet coffee.

It was another twenty minutes before Donna finally pulled in front of a warehouse near a dock.

“This is it. Let’s move it.”

There was nothing glamorous about the grayish-looking building that stood all by itself. It was an elongated building with no windows, and grass grew wildly around it. A lone Porsche sat in the parking lot next to it, but other than that, Angelica could neither make heads or tails of where she was nor identify the building that held no sign.

Dragging her fleet of cameras, Donna approached the building with Angelica at her side. Almost immediately, three females exited the Porsche that sat in the parking lot, and Angelica recognized Madeline, Coco, and Jazz. They did not look as glamorous as they did on Friday night-no makeup and their hair was either straight or pulled back into a ponytail. They wore high-fashion leather jackets in colors of red for Jazz, black for Madeline, and butterscotch for Coco, and they each wore a pair of jeans that looked like they had been spray-painted on. Before the group entered the building, another car drove up.

Upon entering the building, Angelica felt surprised. She wasn’t quite sure what she expected; however, there was a makeshift lobby off to one side and a large stage, decorated with some type of props she could not readily see. It must be the place where they would do their photo shoot.

A couple of guys passed by with curling irons and other gadgets in leather holsters that were strapped around their waists.

“As soon as the crew gets set up,” Donna said, “you will go to wardrobe to choose your outfits and then go to make-up.”

It was hard to keep the smile from Angelica’s face. This was for real. She was getting ready to plunge into the world of high fashion without even an interview, much less a portfolio, and what was really puzzling to Angelica was that she was a lot older than the other girls but, like Tina Turner, her body was still in fabulous shape. She would remember from now on not to come made up because there would be someone to do that for her. Madeline, Coco and Jazz already knew that.

The door opened and three unfamiliar females walked into the room. They seemed rough around the edges and not very attractive. Being a model was all about the look. If you happened to have the total package, oh well.

The three newcomers found Donna and kissed her on the cheek and the mouth the way the others had done Friday night. Angelica believed in welcoming a friend, but all that kissing was getting on her nerves. As long as no one tried to do it to her, she would tolerate it, but she didn’t have to like it. Artists were strange people to her.

A very tanned male with streaked blond hair escorted the ladies to a back room. Clothes racks littered the room, and there were shelves that housed several hundred pairs of shoes. Out of the corner of Angelica’s eye something else caught her attention. Grown-up toys were also on display. She dismissed it when Donna came into the room.

“You all have one hour to get ready for the first photo shoot. The lighting must be just right.”

“We’ll be right there,” Coco shouted, digging through the racks to get the choice pieces.

“Okay. And Angelica, after you’ve gone through make-up, you’ll stay put until you are called,” Donna said.

“You got it,” Angelica responded.

“Andr? will pick out the outfit you will wear. See you in a few.” Donna left the room.

Ooh’s and ah’s erupted each time Andr? held up a piece of fabric. Absent were the beautiful couture designs that made Givenchy, Chanel, and Christian Dior household names. Instead, there were pieces of leather with large brass buckles that had to be manipulated onto the body. This was not quite what Angelica had envisioned and she wasn’t certain about exposing her goods to the world. She may have played hard as a young woman, but the only exposing she was inclined to do was next to a warm, sexy man whose abs of steel would fold themselves around her body. And there was no one in the building who remotely resembled the description of the man she envisioned being with forever and ever.

Andr? handed Angelica a brown thong, a short-short, brown leather skirt with slatted pleats that stopped at the top of her thigh, and a leather-padded bra that would leave her midsection bare. Angelica stared at the items in her hand and wondered what she was supposed to do with them. The photo shoot was taking a bizarre turn, and the runway lights Angelica hoped to see were clearly nonexistent.

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