Archive for December, 2016
Read Chapter 24 before you continue…
Matthew tugged her into a dark room, locking the door behind them. The moment he had reached for her on the stage, hell broke loose. Despite the fact that he had the presence of mind to contain his emotions to a polite peck on the cheek, the media was not fooled and made sure to record plenty of visual proofs. Their chemistry belied their attempt at a nonchalant greeting and the nature of their relationship became one of the primary lineups of inquiry. She dreaded to imagine the kind of reaction a stronger display of affection from Matthew would have generated. His eloquent speech before her arrival had not helped the situation either. Fortunately, Matthew was able to volley the questions like the expert he was and even had tackled a few aimed at her.
There were, however, two questions he could not have answered on her behalf. And although Brooke had helped her anticipate them, allowing her time to prepare responses, when actually posed by the first query, having finally seen the magnitude of the exhibition, she shook to her core by newfound revelations.
“Matthew is a duly renowned artist in his genre. How did it feel to be under the investigation of his lens?”
Matthew’s eyes had sought hers in that moment. It was looking into the blue-green lagoon of his gaze, she had replied, straining her brain to find justifiable words. She remembered stringing together words such as flattering, gratifying, life altering and special into a tangle of sentences. Later, she had returned her attention to the journalist, in a final bid to disguise her more private emotions with banter. “I wasn’t his sole subject at the time but, seeing how it’s turned out, it’s a bit disconcerting really.”
The next question should have been easy. A reporter had asked, given that she had been exposed to the experience if she would consider future modeling offers, which she vehemently negated. However, the reporter had been persistent and went on to ask if she would remain strict on that decision if the request came from Matthew. She had blushed profusely, stumbling for the appropriate answer, and, in the end, mumbled a vague “time would tell”. Yet, she knew even then she would not refuse Matthew. She couldn’t.
She was grateful for the moment when their time on stage came to an end. Matthew wasted no time in whisking her away to more private quarters of the gallery’s back office. Now she blushed again as she stood in the dark with him, close enough for their breaths to mingle, and remembered the power he had to draw her in. In more ways than to just sweet talk her into sitting still for his camera. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 23 before you continue…
Elaina’s mind tumbled through the tide of enlightenment that washed over her. She had never tried to work through the range of emotions surrounding the event before, though five years was plenty time for private musings. Her thoughts had been consumed by two phases of that watershed moment in her life. There was the horrific replay of Brooke’s confession and the harrowing sense of betrayal that took over later, accompanied by a myriad of emotions. Feelings of pain, confusion, mortification, anger and, worst of all, being second-rate had drowned out any reason for recovery. They had kept her from considering there might be a third component, gluing Brooke’s action to her reactions. Withheld contemplations of the loss she had also experienced though she was aware the loss was lurking in there too. Now, while standing before Brooke, the missing piece clicked into place. Talking to Brooke was what it took.
“What do you mean?” Brooke asked again, even as some new realization shone through her eyes. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 22 before you continue…
“I’m so glad y’all came!” There was a giant grin on Brooke’s face, as though she was genuinely happy to see them. Even Elaina. “C’mon in.” She led them through the small foyer of her Garment District factory-turned-flat to the living room.
“Oh, Brooke,” moaned Ahyoka very appropriately. “I do declare, this here is charming!”
A cavernous sitting room opened up into a dining area, behind which sprawled a shiny stone-and-steel kitchen. Picture windows lined the broadest stretch of wall in the expansive space, through which they had a panoramic view of New York City’s high-rises, from the concentration of industrial buildings across the street to the tip of the hotel they were staying in. It was the brightest, cleanest room Elaina had ever set foot in and she immediately became conscious of how dusty her boots were.
Everywhere she looked, gleaming white furniture occupied the prospect. Here and there, accents of gold and silver peeked out from metal and fabric articles ornamenting the alabaster scheme. She even spotted a pair of sequined throw pillows on the snowy leather couch that looked as though it was hardly ever sat on. On principle, Elaina knew she should feel revolted by its almost sterilized appearance. Yet she could not help admiring how tasteful it truly was – much like the image adapted by its resident. This was Brooke’s domain. The refined Brooke. Not the unruly, spirited best friend of her childhood.
She glanced at Brooke’s matching attire, which was a short white peasant frock cinched at the waist with a fat gold chain. Gold hoop earrings, bangles, and sandals completed the look. Elaina was ready to bet her horse that even the underwear was color coordinated with the living room. As usual, Brooke was showing off and Elaina once again wondered if this was not the worst plan that Brooke had ever had and she agreed to. She could never compete with the gorgeous Brooke of then, much less the glamorous Brooke of now.
Beside her, Elaina felt downright dowdy in her trademark plaid shirt and faded wrangler jeans. The newest item on her was the Suede jacket she had thrown on out of respect for the city’s cooler weather, the oldest were her spur-less boots and Stetson. The latter, she could not leave behind in her hotel room despite much deliberation because stepping outside without it made her head tingle too much to see whether she was coming or going. The overall effect drew too many curious glances down the four blocks they walked from the hotel to Brooke’s apartment building. Even Ahyoka had managed to citify her appearance, as indicated by the admiring smiles from the suits they had passed on the way. The knitted wool turtleneck in rich terracotta with grey-green safari pants and some kind of laced up heels perfectly suited the honeyed colorings of her exuberant companion.
“Thanks, the agency set this up for us,” Brooke was saying in response to Ahyoka’s profuse appreciation.
Ahyoka cocked her head inquisitively. “Us?”
“I have four roommates. We model through the same agency. The girls are all out now but they will be back in time for dinner. I told them y’all were coming and they canceled their plans to join us. Also, they usually try to stay in on nights I cook,” added Brooke with pride.
Elaina couldn’t help raising an eyebrow. “You cook now?”
Brooke smiled sheepishly, seeming to lose a bit of her nerve at the blunt question. “Yeah, had to teach myself when I moved out here. There was a lot of spare time in the first year while I was getting acquainted with the industry. I can make only a few dishes but I practiced them enough to make them edible.”
Elaina noticed again how Brooke’s drawl kept slipping in and out when she spoke. Must be a side effect of life on the East Coast, she concluded.
“I’m sure dinner will be delightful,” Ahyoka encouraged.
Brooke visibly relaxed. “Well, don’t just stand there. C’mon. I’ll show you my room. Then y’all can sit at the kitchen while I ready dinner and we can have ourselves a chat.”
Ahyoka made to follow but Elaina hesitated. “I better not walk in here with my boots on. They’re dusty,” she explained. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 21 before you continue…
“Absolutely not!” Elaina stared down her three opponents. She was on to them. Their speech on trying out new things, with a side order of an attempt to make her feel obligated towards the bride’s wishes as maid-of-honor, was as transparent as the glass wall birds flew into. Well, she was no bird brain and she had never before heard of Ahyoka’s dream to have her bachelorette party in New York City. Convenient, this dream should reveal itself so soon after they had all received invitations to a certain photo exhibition. “Y’all are just trying to get me to Matthew’s show. I ain’t falling for it.”
“She saw right through that one, didn’t she?” muttered Ethel from where she was attending the stew simmering on the stove in the Coreys’ kitchen.
“It was Brooke’s genius plan, I was just enacting it,” Ahyoka defended herself, sitting down across from Elaina in dejection.
“It got us all down to the business of talking about the subject all the same,” June tried to pacify the situation, looking kindly at her future daught-in-law. “Better out than boiling in our heads.”
Not a chance in hell. “What’s this about Brooke?” Elaina demanded, trying to curb her surprise at this new piece of information.
“The cat’s outta the bag now and here comes the hissy fit,” Ethel alerted, turning her back to the rest of the tableau as though seeking cover from a battle field.
“No one’s going to have a hissy fit,” June talked over Ahyoka who was beginning to stammer another protest at being chided for the plan and its source.
“I will if no one explains to me what’s this about it being Brooke’s plan,” warned Elaina.
“June, meet your only daughter,” threw in Ethel like an aside. “She’s blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful and likes to stomp around the ranch with an angry cloud of steam over her head, picking fights with anybody and everybody willing.” No one paid her much mind. Sarcasm was part of their housekeeper’s charm – her snarky comments, an embrace.
“You have been a tad bit hard to live with recently,” her mother added tentatively, trying to iron out the harshness in the appraisal.
“Try more like in recent few months,” Ethel put in.
“Just shy of three months actually,” Ahyoka tidied up, ever the banker with her penchant for numbers. “Since about the time that photographer we’ve all come to admire vamoosed.”
“I have not,” Elaina challenged across the kitchen table. Read the rest of this entry »
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