AN: Here's the 3rd part. Thanks to all readers. I want to inform you that for the next few weeks there won't be an update because I have to finish some school work before I can continue with this one.
Today's part is long...very long.
Maria and Alex won't let the Evans siblings walk over them. Both are too confident to let either Michael or Isabel mess with them.
Good to know you LOVED Maria and the ice bucket. Michael deserved it. As for Alex ordering Isabel around, let's see how Isabel will take it.
True, Michael didn't think that popularity had a negative side. It could be that he messed up his chance or not with Maria. Alex was smart to bid on Isabel. She's at his mercy...Let's just hope that not things fly around.
Maria certainly has the balls to give Michael's balls a nice treatment he wouldn't forget. Maria leaves an impression on Michael the more he gets to know her. Alex is just the best.
You're lame. I was disappointed to see that you weren't close to be 2nd. Maria and Alex are so cool. no one gets in their way. You're right, Michael isn't that selfish asshole he likes to play. There's more to him but he doesn't show it. I think it's not possible to keep a perfect facade up when you know there's nothing perfect around you. Isabel and Michael are actually very decent people but they're afraid of imperfection. I don't know about Alex coming across as jackass. There might be times when he acts like one, but he's actually a nice guy.
I loved being bumped and spanked by you.
WTF, you can link an emoticon to the song?
That's my awesome awesomeness shining through.
I thought you would buy Emilie if you had that much money...but the other blonde should do it as well. Why am I not surprised about you loving the image of Isabel down on her knees?
Disclaimer: The songs 'Impossible' by Daniel Merriweather and 'Erase&Rewind' by The Cardigans don't belong to me. I just use them. As usual just click on the when he appears.
Chapter 3: Meet Paul
It was the day. Today, she would know how the rest of her life would be. Either she would be the model Isabel Evans or she would be just a face in the crowd. That was something that she wanted to prevent with all her might. She didn’t want to be a face in the crowd. Being one of billions was normal and normal wasn’t her standard. She wanted more, after all normalcy was boring.
It was her luck that she had to be at service for Alex Whitman. It couldn’t get have worse for her. Karma was a bitch that kicked Isabel forcefully in the ass. Isabel was kind of intrigued that Alex was willing to pay that amount of money to get her. It impressed her. On the other hand, Isabel was scared of him. She wasn’t going to let his calm demeanour and nice boy next door look fool her. There was something about him that made Isabel nervous. Though he seemed to be the prototype of the ‘nice guy’- image, Isabel wasn’t dumb. She had heard stories about Alex Whitman’s explosive temperament.
There were several rumours about him making a girl cry because she brought him the wrong bagel. In addition, it was told that Alex was responsible for the abrupt end of several careers. It was told while he had an outburst Alex fired two models because he didn’t like their faces; another time he fired a photographer based on the photographer’s bad pictures. There were thousands of stories regarding Alex Whitman and his way of leading ‘Taille’.
Isabel wasn’t surprised about that at all. She assumed that Alex was indeed a cruel bastard. It wasn’t possible to be successful in this business without being a cold hearted, cruel, malicious and manipulating human being. Alex Whitman was one of those people. Isabel was sure he was. He couldn’t have been almighty without being venally. To gain power in the business you had to be ruthless. Achieving the top meant to be alone and knowing who your enemies were. Isabel had learned that a long time ago. She doubted that Alex was really that kind of man he seemed to be to the outside world but you could never know. Everyone was fake. Sure, he looked all nice and sweet but he was certainly a shark.
Isabel wouldn’t let that ‘sweet boy’ demeanour deceive her. She couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t still pissed at her. Since the auction she hadn’t contact him or his office. He had mentioned that he would contact her agency and that was it. He didn’t exchange more words with her. After that little interaction, he ditched her. He just walked away from her. Now she had to see how it would go with him.
After the auction, Michael told her what had happened with Maria DeLuca. Isabel was dumbfounded. There was a woman that had resisted her brother’s charm. Isabel didn’t know if she should have clapped in honour of Maria for being the first female rejecting Michael or if she should have run home hiding in a secure room hiding. That way Alex wouldn’t have been able to find her to make her life hell. It was unbelievable that Michael screwed up. She was certain that her brother could seduce Maria.
Apparently, Maria was one of those women who wouldn’t fall for his little plays. Isabel wished she would have been a fly on the wall while Michael tried to seduce her. It would have been a monumental moment in her life seeing her brother getting turned down. She didn’t like seeing her brother in pain or misery but him getting a reality check was too good to be true. Somehow a feeling of admiration for Maria developed though Isabel was still unsure about Maria. The woman was basically scary.
She had almost as much power in the business as Alex Whitman. Maria was the kind of women that others feared. It was her power that made her untouchable and formidable. It was almost rare that a personal assistant had the influence that Maria had. It was a well known fact that Alex valued her opinion and judgement. She was Alex’ right hand. Many said she was his conscience. She was the one who brought out his humanity. The stories about Alex’ outbursts were legendary.
So it was just Isabel’s luck that not only was Alex but also Maria mad at her. She couldn’t believe it herself that she had managed to enrage two people, who had her fate in their hands. For now, Isabel didn’t know what was worst: insulting Alex or manipulating Maria. One thing was sure that Alex probably knew about the set up that she had arranged for Maria. Isabel hoped that Alex had calmed and wouldn’t hold a grudge against her. Yet she assumed he would be more enraged when Maria had have told him about Michael and her plan. It was all screwed up.
The whole week Isabel was nervous about her second encounter with Alex. Since the auction she didn’t hear anything from him. He had sent an email to her agency so she knew where to go to. Alex’ request to meet her in his office surprised her. Isabel didn’t know what she had expected. Maybe that he would order her to his house to clean it like it was common when you were won at an auction. She didn’t know what to expect. And not knowing what was going to happen made her nervous. She preferred to know what his plans would be so she could get prepared for it. Unfortunately for her, that wasn’t an option for her. She was in the lion’s den who probably wanted to eat her alive.
It didn’t help that Isabel was sitting alone on the couch in the small reception area in front of Alex Whitman’s office. She felt uncomfortable being there sitting still on her spot. For the first time, Isabel perceived herself as a foreign body. While everything around her was hectic as she entered the office no one paid attention to her. It seemed as if she was invincible. No one even casted a glance at her to confirm her presence. She was being ignored. It was a feeling Isabel wasn’t used to. Normally, she was the centre of attention. Everyone would be there to make her stay as comfortable as possible. But this situation was different for Isabel. Men and women were running around like maniacs cell phones attached to their ears. Files were being exchanged back and forth. It seemed as if everyone was on the edge. Isabel never witnessed before how an editorial office worked. She’d have never assumed that it was this hectic.
It wasn’t a secret that editorial offices of fashion magazines were always busy. They had to be up to date and always be the first to report about a certain look or fashion trend. They had to sale the stuff that some crazy designers thought was hot stuff while Isabel had just to flaunt around in said stuff. That was her job. Until today, Isabel didn’t know anything about the making of such a magazine but with every passing second Isabel watched how everyone bustled around, she was amazed. All that stress and running around was for perfection. They reflected a perfect world, which was far away from being perfect.
It was no secret that the fashion business was probably the darkest and instable business that was known. Nothing was for sure and people were easy to replace.
“Good morning, Miss Evans. I’m Kathleen Topolski, Alex Whitman’s secretary.” A woman in her late thirties spoke to Isabel.
Isabel didn’t even notice the woman’s approach. She was busy watching the activities around her. As she raised her gaze to look at Alex’ secretary, Isabel smiled a bit. The woman was the first one who acknowledged her in the office. Slowly the feeling of being out of place disappeared. Isabel’s queasy feeling vanished. Yet she was taken back by the woman’s appearance: normally the secretaries were angry looking, bitchy and frowning older ladies, who just enjoyed the short moment of having the upper hand over a model. Though this secretary was different, her whole demeanour was open and friendly.
“Good morning, ma’am. Mr Whitman is expecting me at 9am. I came earlier because I heard he’s very strict about punctuality so I didn’t want to be late. It would leave a bad impression….and he already has one of me.” Isabel rambled on with no stop. the last part was more spoken to herself than to Kathleen.
She didn’t understand why she was nervous. It wasn’t as if Alex was going to rip her head off in public. She just had to do some work for him and then she could go home. Isabel hoped she would leave in one piece. Isabel took a deep breath to calm down. She needed to pull herself together. Any of her moves was being watched and she didn’t want to mess up. She was still unsure of how Alex would face her. And that suspense made her inwardly more nervous.
“Miss Evans, you don’t need to worry about anything. We still got time before Mr Whitman arrives. I’m here to lead you to his office where you can wait for him. Mr Whitman should be here soon. And Miss Evans, don’t worry. Mr Whitman isn’t as bad as it is told.”
Topolski tried to soothe Isabel. She saw many models going into this office. Sometimes they came out with a big smile and too many times they came out drenched in tears. They had just realized that their dreams of being famous cover girls weren’t going to get true. Unfortunately, many didn’t understand that the business was hard and people like Alex Whitman directed the business. Kathleen knew her boss very well and she knew he wasn’t a bad guy. He was just serious about his job, sometimes too serious. His position required to be hard and ruthless yet deep down Alex was actually a big softie. While they walked to Alex’ office, Kathleen observed Isabel. The model seemed to be too nervous and stiff. It wasn’t that she had an interview or a go-see for a cover shooting. Isabel was just here today to do little jobs. However, Kathleen doubted that the other woman’s job would be easy today. She knew what happened at the auction. Thanks to Maria’s passion for gossip, Kathleen knew every detail of the famous clash between Alex and Isabel. Nonetheless, she didn’t hold a grudge against the young woman. It was just exciting to see how Alex was going to handle Isabel Evans.
The model had already a certain reputation in the business. Isabel Evans was known to have a bitchy attitude and behaving like a diva. For someone who was in the business for less than two years, Isabel had made it to be known as bitch. This attitude she had could break her neck one day and it appeared that this time, Isabel met the wrong person. Alex had a high tolerance towards models. He met enough models to know their kind. In addition, there were enough people who hated Alex. When he was the business man, Alex certainly knew no mercy what probably got him enough enemies and malevolence. Without saying more, Kathleen left Isabel alone in the office. After all the girl had to adjust to this all.
When Isabel was alone, she just wanted to collapse. Her nervousness didn’t fade away as she had wished. In fact her nervousness was in full tact the more she stayed alone in his office. She felt claustrophobic in the office. She didn’t like to be alone. Normally, when she had an appointment the acceptor was already there. So Isabel could about know what she was getting into but with her being the one to wait, she was clueless as to what to expect. She realized that she didn’t and couldn’t have the upper hand here. It wasn’t her terrain.
Isabel looked impatiently at her watch. It was 9:03am. The more seconds passed the more Isabel was getting nervous. She really thought that men like Alex Whitman knew how important it was to be on time. Apparently he didn’t think so. Isabel assumed it was his tactic: on the one hand, he could have been on time here and make her suffer the moment she had stepped into his office. On the other hand, he was coming late intentionally so he could make her suffer while she waited for him. All in all, Alex wanted to see her suffer.
First, she needed to calm down. Alex Whitman had a certain reputation but she didn’t believe that he was a sadist. He wouldn’t try to do anything weird. Alex Whitman had much more to lose than her. While she was waiting, Isabel thought about her approach. She needed a good strategy to convince Alex that she wasn’t as bad as he thought. Today was about damage control. She had to suck it up big time or else she was screwed. Isabel didn’t doubt Alex’ ability to end someone’s career. Certainly, Isabel would do anything to prevent that scenario.
As more time went by Isabel was getting agitated. She didn’t like to wait. Slowly her agitation was transforming into annoyance and frustration. She just wanted to get over this whole thing so both could go back to their normal lives. Isabel checked the time; Alex was already fifteen minutes late. Even she didn’t dare to be that late when she had an appointment. She tried to take her mind of by looking around the office. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Isabel couldn’t stop looking at her watch.
“He could get his ass in gear and come. As if I want to wait for him, while he enjoys a cappuccino at Starbucks.” Isabel muttered annoyed to herself while she regarded the diplomas hanging on the wall.
“Your wish is my command, Miss Evans. I’m here.”
Isabel let out a squeak as she turned around abruptly recognizing the owner of the voice. There was none other than Alex Whitman standing in the door smiling at her. Isabel was mortified. She didn’t know how much he had heard and she feared that he really heard everything. Isabel tried to say something but all she managed was to open and close her mouth without bringing a word out. Her mortification was growing while Alex just stood on his spot with his briefcase in one hand and his mobile phone in the other hand while he just smiled at her. Isabel wasn’t sure why he smiled. Maybe he enjoyed her discomfort, which made him feel powerful. She didn’t like her current situation at all. Their meeting went totally wrong.
That someone could have the power over her made Isabel angry. She never liked the thought that someone else had the upper hand. She never gave the control away. Normally she was the one in control. She was Isabel Evans; she didn’t have to wait for anyone. No matter for who Alex Whitman considered himself, Isabel didn’t care anymore. If he wanted to end her career, he could go ahead and do so. She would find other engagements. All nervousness, frustration and anxiety she had bottled up turned to fury.
“Finally, you’re here. I waited for you 18 minutes. I’d have appreciated some professional behaviour. I made it on time and you were probably God knows where doing shit while I had to wait here.”
Alex was a bit taken back by Isabel’s attitude. He wouldn’t have thought that she would be that brusque towards him. He knew it wasn’t polite to be late and he would have explained himself if Isabel would have chose another approach than being rude. He wanted to explain himself after he and Isabel had settled, getting comfortable around each other. It wasn’t his intention to anger her but he certainly wasn’t going to take her attitude. He had done it once without arguing back. That’s why he bid on Isabel on the auction; he was going to show her that her attitude isn’t appreciated.
“Miss Evans, I apologize for my delay but you shouldn’t forget your manners. I may have come late but you just faced me in a rude way I don’t appreciate. If you have considered the options, you may have thought of the morning traffic. I got stuck in the traffic. It’s as simple as it sounds. You shouldn’t exclude the easy way and jump on the worst conclusion. For your information, my tardiness wasn’t a personal attack against you. In addition, I don’t like Starbucks. It’s too mainstream.”
Alex spoke with a stern voice. He didn’t like lecturing her but he needed to remind her that he wasn’t one of the usual business people that Isabel dealt with. Alex wasn’t one to walk over and misuse his influence but he knew how much power he had. It was useful that people feared, admired or even hated him as long as the respect was given. Right now, Isabel Evans was behaving like a little girl….a very cranky little girl.
Isabel should be mortified that she did it again. Again, she reacted in a disrespectful manner towards Alex but she didn’t care. Isabel was beyond pissed for his lecture. It wasn’t the words that irritated her it was the way he made her feel when he had said them. She felt like a little girl. Isabel assumed that Alex didn’t come late on purpose but it was her own conclusion about him. Again, she messed up. He didn’t seem to be that kind of guy. Isabel could barely imagine that he could get angry. He didn’t look like a mean man. Alex Whitman looked more like ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He had an air of calm around him. In addition, his boyish look made it hard to believe that this guy brought hundreds of people to tears. Isabel didn’t even think he was capable of being mean. He looked as if he was too nice.
“Sorry. It’s just that I don’t like waiting.”
“Well, I don’t like being insulted but it happens. The world is a mean motherfucker. Boohoo.” Alex declined her apology. He didn’t need an apology; he just wanted that she knew her boundaries.
Isabel was shocked. She wasn’t used to such behaviour. Sure Michael was sometimes rude, loud and vulgar but he was her brother so he didn’t count on that matter. Moreover, Alex’ statement was a shock. She didn’t expect him to be that cynical but everyone would get cynical over a long time when you work in a fake world.
Alex took a seat behind his desk getting several folders out of his briefcase. He leaned back in his office chair and just looked at Isabel. Alex didn’t know why she was in defensive mode at all. He wasn’t about to chop her head off. He was just going to make her life miserable for the next three days. There was nothing to worry about or to get scared. He had enough stress dealing with wanna- be designers, fashion experts and shitty people in general along the way he didn’t need a hysteric Isabel Evans. He was just having some well-deserved fun. He needed that. She was still standing around in his office as if any movement would make him attack her.
“Miss Evans, take a seat. We need to get some things straightened out.”
Isabel took a seat in the chair opposite him. She really wanted to give him a piece of her mind. For the last minutes, Alex managed to make her feel small and unimportant. For the first time, Isabel had to admit that she wasn’t immortal in this business. She realized that she was replaceable. Alex could destroy everything she had worked for with a snap. All would be over and she couldn’t do anything against it. She couldn’t fight her fate. Isabel knew that everything depended of Alex and she couldn’t change it. She wouldn’t suck it up to him. Her plan to apologize didn’t exist anymore. Isabel had every intention to go through with whatever he had planned. It wasn’t that he could torture her. Even Alex Whitman had to follow the rules.
“For the beginning, call me Alex and I call you Isabel. I don’t like it when it’s too formal. We’re going to be three days around each other; I think you know the drill. Since I bid on you and won you, you have to do what I tell you as long as it isn’t illegal and discriminating. Of course, sexual favours are also excluded. I think, we will get along well when. There’s nothing you should worry about. As little advice, try to smile sometimes. It would be a shame not displaying your beautiful smile now and then. We should discuss the next days so you know what to expect…” Alex trailed off as his mobile phone rang. As he was busy talking on the phone, Isabel started to think what Alex had planned.
She didn’t know yet if she could really judge Alex right now. He probably had the best bluffer she met. The one second he was intimating her then he complimented her. He asked her to smile because she had a beautiful smile. No one ever had said that to her. Sure, she had gotten compliments for her beauty and all but no one said it like Alex. He sounded sincere and she liked it. She only knew the mysteries about him. Being so close to him was something else; that was the real Alex Whitman in front of her. She couldn’t relate her opinion about him on all those rumours but she was starting to believe that those rumours were particularly true. There was always truth to a rumour. For now, she met Alex as that polite but also cynical man.
He confused her. She didn’t know how to behave around him because she knew it was wrong whatever she did. He made her question herself. He had done it on the auction night and he did it right now. She wasn’t alone with him for five minutes she had already lost control. His presence was making her funky.
Isabel focused on Alex instead on her failures since she met him. She knew it did no good; Alex probably already had an opinion about her. He probably thought that she was some rude bitch that didn’t respect anybody or anything. Isabel had her moments when she acted selfish but she never acted the way she had around Alex. It wasn’t her aim to be known as bitch but something about him made her act out of character. On the one hand he intrigued her as character but on the other hand he had the ability to get under her skin.
Before her brain was all consumed with thoughts of Alex Whitman, she listened to his phone call and watched him. She needed a distraction. There were bits of ‘yeahs’, ‘hmms’ and sometimes ‘yes, I did’. He was drumming his fingers annoyed against the surface of the desk.
“Yeah…I did. Really I did. No, I don’t need you to come. Why you should believe me? You should trust me; you know that I’m very trustworthy. Yeah…yeah…yeah…Yes, I did. I swear if you start with this shit again, I hang up. I can’t come this weekend, I’m busy. It’s not your business but…If you really want to know, I’m staying at home I’m going to have a party with a lot of hookers, liquor and drugs. That’s going to be sooo much fun. I don’t care…I’m not talking with you about it. Say ‘bye Alex’. Come on, it’s not hard. Yes, I love you too mum. Bye.”
Isabel was shocked. He talked that way to his mother. If she would dare to talk that way to hers, she would get ripped a new one.
“Sorry, I had to take this call or my mother would try the whole day to call me. I swear I love my mother but she knows that I don’t take personal calls during work. Anyway, I wanted to tell you what you have to expect the next three days.” Alex looked at Isabel noticing she had a weird look.
“You talk like that to your mother? I mean it’s not my business but you should be nicer to her.”
“Isabel, you didn’t meet my mother. You would avoid her like the plague if you had met her. In her opinion, models are sluts and the men in the business are assholes. My mother doesn’t like my job at all. It’s just bad for her while I love everything I do. I have one of the best jobs on this planet; I travel around the world see the most beautiful places, meet the most beautiful women and I live my life. But my mother just wants me to settle down and have the average job. I can’t do that. Could you give your life up?” His gaze bore into her. Isabel knew that she touched a delicate issue and something told her to not force the issue. So she just negated the question.
“Alright, now let’s talk business here. Today, you’re working here in the office. You make small works nothing too big to worry about. At 1pm, we’ll have lunch together. I come and pick you up from wherever you are. After that we’ll see what your further duties will be. For tomorrow, you’ll come to my house doing some homework. But we’ll discuss that when you come tomorrow. As for Sunday we’ll see. Any questions?” Alex leaned back in his chair. He wouldn’t back down from his plans. If Isabel didn’t like it, he didn’t care. She had to do what he assigned her to.
“What will be my duties exactly? You’re too vague about it and I don’t like surprises. I’m telling you now, if you force me to do something I don’t want to, I’ll leave. I don’t care; I take my stuff and leave.”
“You have duties that you’ll comply. I don’t force you to do something but I suggest you do it. Otherwise I’ll take my bid back and put all the spot line on you. When I remember correctly, you can’t afford bad publicity. So do yourself a favour and just put on a brave mask and go with the flow. Today is going to be fun.” Alex clarified that Isabel had no other option. He knew it would piss her off but for now he didn’t care.
Isabel was shocked and pissed that she was actually blackmailed into it. Alex was using her public image to make her willing to go through with this. She couldn’t believe it. Isabel tried to stay calm, she really tried but there was as much as she could take. Since she had no other way out, Isabel decided to give Alex the Isabel Evans he knew from the media.
“Fine. You’re really the devil as others like to call you.” Isabel glared at the man in front of her.
“Good to know you’re my holiday replacement.”
Before Isabel could retort, they were interrupted by knocking on the door. Kathleen entered the office having an organizer with her and a cup of coffee, which she placed in front of Alex as she was about to take her seat in the chair next to Isabel.
“Thanks Kathleen. The appointments for the noon stay as they are. I just want you to inform the art and fashion directors that they shall come to me at 4pm. That’s the only change. In addition, I ask you to have a briefing with Maria so you can coordinate everything that is needed for the upcoming fashion weeks. That would be it for now, if there are any changes you know I call you.”
Kathleen nodded at Alex and took a last look at Isabel. She was sure something had happened here but she wasn’t going to investigate it. Isabel was glaring at Alex while he had a smirk on his lips. Kathleen knew that Alex enjoyed it to get a rise out of people. Sometimes she wished she was a fly on the wall to get to know what had happened in there. But there were always other ways to find out Alex would tell Maria and Maria would tell her.
Alex took several sips from his coffee before he asked Isabel to follow him. He was going to show her her first ‘workplace’.
Alex took Isabel to another storey. He explained to her that it was very important that she remained calm and had a positive charisma. The people she would have to deal with were a bit queasy around a new person. Whenever Isabel asked him anything about the ‘job’, Alex just smiled and told that she would see what expected her. Isabel was annoyed by those vague descriptions and Alex’ smile. She didn’t like that he was smiling all the time; it was just a sign of something bad. Smiling people always had to hide something. Smiling people freaked Isabel out. It wasn’t normal.
When they arrived on the said floor, Isabel walked out of the lift without glancing back at Alex. Alex followed her but he kept a certain distance to her. Normally, he didn’t care about the reaction of others but something told him that Isabel was going to blow up when she saw what he planned. He was surprised that she was so icy to him. He had really thought she would start to suck it up to him the second they met. He was wrong. He was confronted with an icy and rude model. The joy to have her with him. Otherwise, Isabel was more fun to have around when she was pissed.
Alex followed her loosely. He was getting ready for her reaction. When he finally caught up with her, Alex noticed the horrified look on her face. They stood in front of a door, which was the only entrance there. Isabel wasn’t sure what to say. Again, she wasn’t able to say anything. She was sure Alex didn’t mean it.
However Alex just stood next to Isabel trying hard to suppress the laughter that wanted out. He somehow sensed that Isabel would be shocked but her facial expression was priceless. Her eyes were wide open, her face lost all colour and her mouth was opening and closing the whole time.
“Y-y-you can’t be serious. A kindergarten? Kindergarten? There are kids in there. Real kids…kids that know how to walk and do things.” Isabel rambled horrified. She was bad with kids. Kids didn’t like her. It wasn’t that she didn’t like kids; she just had no talent to deal with kids.
“Yes, a kindergarten. This is our own kindergarten for the employees, who want to have their kids close while they’re at work. So we came up with having an internal kindergarten.” Alex explained slowly so he wouldn’t freak Isabel more out though the thought was tempting.
“Oh god, don’t tell me I have to babysit them. Kids don’t like me and I’m bad in handling kids.” Isabel whined.
“Relax, it’s not that bad. And doesn’t every woman have that maternal instinct? You should know how to deal with kids then.” Alex just shrugged at Isabel. He wasn’t going to let her off the hook.
“Sexist.” Isabel got over her shock and was back at being pissed. He just knew to push her buttons. It took all her power to not snap at him.
Alex ignored the angry glare thrown at him and knocked at the door before he opened the door. Being the gentleman he was, Alex let Isabel enter the kindergarten first.
When they entered the main area, screaming and laughing kids could be heard. Isabel was getting more and more queasy. There was no way that she could survive that. She couldn’t afford another debacle with kids after her ‘Santa Clause’ statement. Scaring off kids wasn’t her plan but she just had no luck with them.
A middle aged woman came towards them. She looked still attractive for her age. Isabel wasn’t really surprised that even the kindergarten teacher was good looking. It was a fashion magazine and everything around it was beautiful.
Everywhere hung picture the kids made and there were also photographs of the kids. They were taken when they had had field days and parties for the kids and parents. The kindergarten looked really friendly with the bright colours. Isabel felt kind of relaxed but she was still mortified about dealing with kids.
“Good morning Alex, how are you today?” the kindergarten teacher greeted Alex. They shook hands.
“Good morning to you as well. Leanna, please meet the infamous Isabel Evans. She’ll help you this morning to get the kids under control. She’s already looking forward to it.” Alex stated enthusiastic pretending that Isabel was going to love this experience. Isabel just looked as if she was to freak out any minute.
“Hey Isabel, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Good morning, Leanna. I try to not make them cry…I mean I do my best…to not make them cry.” Isabel stuttered. What the hell was wrong with her? She didn’t stutter. She was supposed to have the upper hand.
“Good, I leave you alone then. Have fun and try to not kill one of the kids. Leanna, it’s always a pleasure to see you and please treat Isabel like any other here. She’s really great with kids.” Alex hugged Isabel to his side while he was grinning at her.
When he looked at Isabel, Alex felt something he didn’t know. An unknown tingle spread through his body when he touched her. As he really looked at her Alex thought he had never seen such a beautiful face. It was Isabel’s pureness that he saw. She didn’t act aloof, icy and bitchy right now. She showed emotions what was a rarity. She looked normal whatever that meant in her case. Alex released Isabel slowly stepping slowly away from both women. He wanted to leave as fast as possible though he didn’t understand what had happened. He never reacted that way to a woman. Something about Isabel was different.
Isabel just looked confused after Alex when he left. She didn’t understand what happened but as he embraced her she felt a jolt between them. It was the shock about the physical contact with him; it was surprise and something else. She couldn’t put her finger on it but it wasn’t unpleasant to be hold by Alex. He held her tender and had that look on his face as if he admired something.
Leanna didn’t know how to react to that at all. She could see that there was something going on between them but she wasn’t going to dwell on it too much.
“Alright Isabel, let’s tame the monsters.” Leanna stated enthusiastically.
Michael still couldn’t believe what happened six days ago. Everything had gone the way he wanted, they met, looked at each other and she wanted him. He could see the desire and lust in her eyes. What he didn’t comprehend was the rejection he experienced. Every woman was fond of him and wanted to be with him. He didn’t need to be too charming or pull other tricks. Women loved him. He was good looking, semi famous and just awesome. Nonetheless Maria DeLuca’s rejection bruised his ego. It was the way she did it. It didn’t feel good to get ice emptied in the lap. Michael still shuddered whenever he thought about it.
Today he was on a mission; he was going to get Maria DeLuca. By the end of the day she was going to be his. She would crave his touch. She would wish they had gone further the night they met. She would crawl in front of him and do anything he wanted. The thought excited Michael having Maria’s lips on his, then on his body and further down. Michael enjoyed that mental image. He had the perfect plan to get her.
It was his lucky day that Isabel had to work in the office where also Maria worked. It was a great reason to suddenly appear there. No one would suspect anything. Michael had everything planned. He would walk up to her, look into her eyes letting her see his desire for her and then she was his. She wouldn’t resist him. He knew she wouldn’t. He still couldn’t explain what had happened between them before the cold awakening but Michael was sure they had something special.
Until that day, Michael had never experienced the things he felt when Maria was with him. She made him feel sensations that he didn’t know. He couldn’t forget her and as much as he wanted, it wasn’t able. Sure, she humiliated him and succeeded in making him being ashamed of himself for his intentions. Instead of being mad, Michael was impressed with Maria’s attitude. She was the first woman he met that didn’t fall for him. It was kind of intriguing in a sexy way. Nonetheless, his ego was pretty bruised.
The closer he got to her the more excited Michael became. He had to admit seeing Maria again was good. There was no denying that she was the most gorgeous woman he met. He couldn’t remember meeting anyone, who had this effect on him. The way she looked at him was incredible moreover the way her touch made him feel. It was electrifying. It was addictive to feel her, to touch her and to kiss her.
A little smile appeared on his lips when he thought about the library adventure.
The lift came to a stop Michael took one last deep breath and put his flirt face on.
As Michael stepped out of the elevator, a part of his confidence dissipated. He thought when he would enter the office everybody would notice him instead everybody was buzzing around him. No one paid attention to him. Michael was a bit bummed that not even the post boy stopped to look at him. He got noticed wherever he went. It seemed as if here he had to take measures into his hands. Michael saw some woman coming along his way.
“Hello, I’m Michael Evans. I’d like to know where I can find Maria DeLuca.” Michael was as charming as always. Except Maria no woman could resist him.
“Do you have an appointment with Miss DeLuca?” said the woman who supposedly couldn’t resist Michael’s charm. She just looked Michael up and down wearing a boring expression.
“No, I don’t. I…” Michael wasn’t able to finish his sentence due to him being interrupted by the office woman he talked to.
“Are you a model, who’s here for a shooting?”
“Are you a photographer?”
“Make up artist?”
“Are you a hooker?”
“What? No…I just want to know where I can find DeLuca….”
“Right behind you, dumbass.” A familiar voice sounded from behind Michael. Michael whirled around finding himself toe to toe with the object of his affection. Her glare for him was just another reminder that this woman was hot.
“Thanks Jenny, I take over. Please throw that for me in the trash. Thanks.” Maria gave the office girl a paper where ‘Hooker’ was written on.
“Funny Maria…nice to see you again. I might add you look fantastic today.”
“Tell me something new. What are you doing here? Looking out for Isabel?” Maria fixed Michael with a glare. Michael had to swallow; he wasn’t prepared for such a reaction. He assumed she would be happy to see him instead she was pissed. She was still pissed at him. It pissed him off that she was pissed at him. She didn’t see he came for her. He wanted to pick up where they had stopped while she probably wanted to kill him.
“No, I came to see you. Well, I’ve got those chilblains on my dick thanks to you hoping you could take care of them. Will you kiss my dicky dick dick better?” Michael pouted but he didn’t get the desired effect. Instead of a smile or laugh Maria kicked him in the shin.
“Ow! What the fuck….fuck that hurts…You’re crazy. Do you know that that hurts?” Michael yelped. He wanted to get physical with Maria but not like that.
“I took care of the pain your chilblains give you. Instead of focusing on your little, hurting dick, the pain in your shin distracts you.” Maria replied sweetly.
“Hey! Never ever connect the word ‘little’ with my penis.” Michael growled at Maria.
“Sure, dumbass. Have a nice day.” Maria walked away from Michael. She couldn’t suppress the smile anymore. It was fun messing with him.
He came for her and she liked that thought. Nevertheless Maria was still suspicious towards his intentions. She knew that Alex would take care of Isabel today so it couldn’t be Michael’s reason to be here. Maybe it was really because of her but the bitter taste of their last encounter was still there. He wanted to use her. That thought didn’t anger her it was upsetting her. In the last few days Maria had to think about Michael. She asked herself the typical ‘what if’-questions: What if he really meant it? What if they had met before Alex and Isabel had?
Maria couldn’t deny that there was some chemistry between them and she felt enthusiastic when she saw him. The way he looked at her made her kind of feel special. It was the same feeling she had felt the night they met. Immediately Maria’s thoughts went back to their activities, their kisses, their touches, their passion and their lust. Maria had never reacted that heavy to a man like Michael Evans. No man before him was able to provoke those feelings in her. There was no doubt that both felt attracted to each other. It couldn’t have been all a fake. It couldn’t be. However Maria was afraid. She was afraid to open up to a man, who probably only saw her as another conquest.
Maria was busy arranging the next appointment for Alex when Kathleen came up. Both women were assigned to coordinate the today’s meeting with the style staff. Maria needed to hurry up since she had to leave soon being at a location for a photo shooting. Alex would head her if she was late. She dearly loved Alex but he was scary when it came to work. Alex had made it clear though she was his best friend, she still had to respect him as her boss and that he had the final word. Of course Maria had been able to sometimes influence his decisions but she didn’t want his job. He was great doing it. Sometimes he looked like that big heartless asshole that every sane human being would hate. But deep down, Alex was a softie. Everyone knew that. No one tried to capitalize on that trait, every employee knew that Alex was probably the fairest boss in their business.
Maria always wondered how it was possible that the boy she met so many years ago had become the most hated at the same time most respected man in the fashion world. Maria knew Alex as loveable, funny, caring and friendly guy. Yet when somebody screwed up or did something wrong, Alex’ temper knew no boundaries. Maria experienced many times how bad Alex’ outbursts were. She had been an victim of it as well. Still none of the staff was mad or hurt; they knew he only wanted the best and it had to be very bad when Alex got mad. But Maria knew he never meant it personally, he was bent on perfection. The irony was that perfection was far away from the fashion world. Everyone was fucked up in their own way.
“Maria, the helicopter just arrived and you have to leave in the next 10 minutes or Alex will get a shit fit when he sees you here.” Kathleen informed Maria.
“Damn it. Okay like I told you at 4pm Alex has the meeting. Please, make sure that everyone is on time. I don’t want that Alex gets mad because no one’s on time. In addition, please call Tess Harding’s agency, we have a photo story for a new collection and we need three male models. Last you need to call the hotel in NY to confirm the reservation for Alex. I call when I’m on my way back.” Maria instructed Alex’ secretary while she grabbed her stuff.
When Maria was about to leave the office, she came face to face with Michael, again. He stared at her and she didn’t know what to say or to do since he was doing nothing but staring. Maria didn’t know what to do and Michael was quiet.
Michael didn’t know what to say when he stood in front of her. It was as if he lost the ability to talk when he saw her. He couldn’t help himself but stare at her. He hoped she would see that he wasn’t that bad guy she thought he was. He searched her face for any indication that he was wrong about her. He knew they had something. There was something going on between them he couldn’t explain. He just knew he couldn’t forget her. He enjoyed when she was pissed, she looked cute and sexy when she was angry. He wanted to have her near him. He wanted to know her and make her see that he was actual a decent guy.
“You need to say something otherwise get the hell out of my way. I have to be somewhere.” Maria demanded impatiently. She didn’t know why that guy was able to make her mad and yet hot for him
“I come with you.” Michael said curtly.
“What? What did you say?” Maria asked incredulously. This wasn’t happening.
“I said, I come with you.” Michael repeated slowly as if he was talking to a child. It was the first thing he could think of to say. Maybe she would agree.
“No? Why can’t I come with you?”
“I’m working and you cannot just come with me to have fun. You don’t know my boss, he’s a mean bastard. I mean he’s the meanest and he wouldn’t appreciate it when strangers are coming along.” Maria tried to talk her way out of having to deal with Michael. She didn’t trust herself when she would be near him for a longer time. She knew a simple ‘no’ wouldn’t prevent him from following her.
“You’re boss has his hands full with Isabel and I promise, I won’t distract you. I promise. Let me come with you and you won’t even notice me. Please?” Michael tried his puppy dog eyes that always worked.
Maria wanted to object but somehow the idea of having him close was too intriguing. In addition, it was the perfect chance for her. She could watch him finding out what he really intended. Maria didn’t know why she was doing this. Maybe she was crazy and loved having strange people around her.
“Alright, you can come with me. I just have to tell the pilot that he has to transport one person more.” Maria gave in and she hated to give in. Moreover she hated that she couldn’t resist Michael.
“We’re flying? Flying high in the air?” Michael asked anxiously.
All colour drained from Michael’s face when he heard ‘pilot’. He didn’t know that they were going to fly. Flying meant leaving the solid, trustworthy, dependable ground. Flying meant the possibility to die increased. Flying meant that Michael hated it. He hated flying and everything else that meant he would lose the ground under his feet. That was bad.
On the other hand it meant he would be in close proximity to Maria. In addition he could try to get to know her better.
“What did you think how I was getting into desert for the photo shooting? Now let’s get going or I’ll be late. I know someone will fuck up when I’m not there.” Maria didn’t wait for Michael she just walked past him.
Michael was glued to his spot. He wanted to be with her but his fear of flying was his other problem. It was either both staying and losing any chance to be close to Maria or he showed he had balls. Michael didn’t know if it was worth it or not without taking the chance. Taking a deep breath, Michael prayed Maria was worth it to shit his pants.
When they arrived at the roof, Michael wanted to run back as he had seen the helicopter. Michael didn’t believe that this thing was save but he suppressed his fear. Maria was talking to the pilot when she looked over to him; she knew something was wrong with him. She noticed his change in demeanour when she mentioned the pilot. Unfortunately, Michael didn’t know what he had to expect.
Both got into the helicopter, Michael’s palms were covered in sweat the more he heard how the rotors turned. Inwardly he was praying that he would survive this and not look like a sissy in front of Maria when he would start crying like a baby. As the helicopter took off Michael felt as if someone was pushing all the air out of his lungs. He was starting to panic. As kid he had hated flying and that didn’t change now as adult.
Maria noticed Michael’s discomfort. She actually liked seeing him sweating but knowing that he was doing this for her flattered her. She never met a man who would have done that for her. Overcoming fears for somebody you only knew for some minutes spoke for itself. Maria couldn’t take it anymore she felt sorry for him. Maria glanced at Michael before she slowly reached her hand out taking his in hers. Michael was surprised by the sudden touch yet he was glad for it. He gave Maria a little squeeze to show he appreciated it.
Alex walked down the hall that led to the infamous kindergarten Isabel was staying. He thought it was time to get her out of there. Two hours with the kids was enough. Alex had to smile about Isabel’s panicked face when she realized she had to work in the kindergarten. It made his day. He didn’t expect such a reaction, more that she would insult him and be pissed at him. He had never thought that she would panic begging him to not send her in there. He thought it was the perfect way to make her realize that she had to shut her trap sometimes. Kids were the perfect partners in crime when you wanted to punish someone.
When he had gone back to his office, he had to laugh. The thought Isabel Evans with kids amused him since he knew about her last encounter with kids. Somehow he felt sorry but he didn’t know for whom more: the kids or Isabel. As he approached the entrance to the kindergarten, Alex heard loud kids’ screaming. This time it was louder than in the morning.
Maybe he should have told her that the kids were on a sugar high. He arranged for the kids several sweets this morning. Of course he asked the parents before he had done it. Alex tried to imagine getting twenty kids under control that seemed to have ADD. Was it mean to do that? Sure it was but it was more fun than ethnical reprehensible. In addition, Isabel didn’t have to suffer the whole day. Two hours were nothing.
Alex waited a bit before he entered, maybe he should let her stay there more. As much he enjoyed the thought, Alex wanted to continue his ‘educational day’.
As Alex entered the kindergarten, he saw the pure horror before him. It was mayhem. It was the worst he ever saw. Isabel lay flat on her stomach on the ground while about fifteen kids jumped on her pulling her hair and her limbs. Isabel had no chance to flee. Defeated she just lay face down there on the ground.
“Look, here I come.”, came the shout from a rather chubby boy who ran across the room before he jumped high in the air then landed on the pile of kids that covered Isabel. Alex had to cringe when he saw Isabel letting out a groan.
Alex hurried over to help her.
“Hey kids, come on get off her. It’s enough now. Go and jump on other things. “Alex said while he lifted several kids off Isabel. When all kids were off her Alex took a quick look at her. He didn’t want that she got hurt.
“Come on, I help you up. Are you alright?” Alex inquired apprehensive. The only response he got was another groan.
Isabel still had to get her orientation back. The chubby kid worked a number in her and her bones. She would love to have a talk with his parents about healthy nutrition. Isabel looked up and found Alex in front of her. She didn’t know when he came but it seems that he was the one rescuing her from the diabolic kids. It was now that she noticed his worried gaze and that he still held her by her elbow. Somehow those little gestures touched her. It made her speechless that he cared that bit about her though she was nothing but bitchy towards him. When she felt his fingers tracing the side of her face, Isabel felt funny. She didn’t know how to interpret it but it wasn’t a bad feeling. It felt good. She felt how the heat crept up her neck and that unfamiliar feeling in her stomach came back that she had felt when he had hugged her earlier. Before she was completely confused by those feelings, Isabel took a step back. That way she was out of reach for Alex and she could get her bearings together.
“I just wanted to check if you’re hurt.” Alex murmured uncertain.
He didn’t know what had happened but the moment he touched her, he didn’t want to let her go. Feeling her skin under his fingertips was like a shock to his system. He didn’t know how to say it but he felt as if someone pulled the ground from under his feet. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, when he looked into her eyes he swore that the time stood still for a moment. She looked so calm when he held her though a bunch of kids had tortured her.
“I’m fine. What do you want here? Aren’t you supposed to walk around and make everyone’s life miserable?” Isabel groaned uncertain why she had to be that way around him. He didn’t do something wrong this time.
“For now they suffered enough and I focus on you. I have a new assignment for you.”, was his sarcastic reply to Isabel’s bitchiness.
Whenever she went into defensive mode, he couldn’t stop himself provoking her more. She looked kind of sexy when she was pissed at him. So it had its good side.
“Oh joy I feel for the work I’ll have to do. What’s now? Running around in a maid’s costume and spanking you or being the cleaning lady for the restrooms?”
“Kinky, I might get back to that…”
“Thanks, I know. Seriously, let’s go. You have a lot to do. I didn’t spend money on you so you can sit around and do nothing.”
Alex was getting fed up with her attitude. There was as much as he tolerated and Isabel was going to be very near his limit before he exploded. Isabel noticed the form tone in his voice. Maybe she was reacting exaggerated. It wasn’t bad at all with the kids but when they had abused her as bouncy castle, it wasn’t fun anymore.
Alex grabbed her hand dragging her out of the room. Isabel didn’t know how to react to that sudden movement moreover she didn’t know how to react to the contact of their hands.
“We’re reaching our destination in 20 minutes.” The pilot informed Maria and Michael through the radio.
Maria was still holding Michael’s hand. She felt that he had relaxed since he didn’t try to crush every bone in her hand. He was calm. In the first minutes Michael seemed to be a bit woozily. He really hated flying and it was obvious this state wasn’t going to change. Maria didn’t want to think about his reaction when he had realized they had to take the helicopter again to get back.
Actually Michael did really good not to panic and scream around like a maniac. Maria was worried he would open the door and jump out of the helicopter. Maybe it was his mantra that calmed him Maria never heard anyone saying that often ‘Fucking hell, I don’t wanna die’. Maria didn’t have a problem with that but their pilot was an ultraconservative Catholic, who didn’t appreciate those words at all. He probably wanted to throw Michael out but killing was against the Ten Commandments so Michael was saved. If you didn’t want to die you should pray to god and not to Satan, someone should have informed Michael.
Suddenly the helicopter shook and lost on altitude. Michael bolted up in his seat and started to scream his mantra. Maria just wanted a drink and the pilot was smiling, even he deserved some fun.
“You have to be kidding me. You cannot be serious.” Isabel asked shocked.
“Of course, I’m serious. It’s not that bad. It’s just the copy room. I know it’s a bit chaotic but you arrange the folders by date, place the boxes in their right spot clean the room and that’s it. There’s no need to pretend to be shocked now.”
“I’m not pretending I’m shocked. I am shocked. I’m not here to clean your shit. I thought I’d be by your side the whole time and do some shit then go home. I didn’t sign up for being your cleaning woman.”
”And what if I get you that maid’s costume would you then…?” Alex trailed off grinning at Isabel. She was getting pissed but he wouldn’t let it come that far.
“You’re sick. I’m not some call girl that does anything due to you having paid an amount of money…”
“Back off Isabel, I never ever implied something like that. I didn’t treat you a bit like a hooker or as if you were beneath me. I try to be calm here, I really try but you push it the whole time that I’m really tempted to just send you home. Don’t dare to accuse me of shit. You get this done and then we’ll see how it will go one. And for your information though I doubt you care at all, the guy who usually works here is with his wife that is currently in labour.”
Alex didn’t wait for Isabel’s reply. He just walked out of the room slamming the door behind him. Taking some deep breaths Alex tried to calm down. She was just so irritating and confusing. The one minute he thought she was actually a decent girl that took his breath away with the slightest touch. In the next minute she made him so angry that he wanted to scream. No one ever was able to provoke those feelings in him. He wasn’t going to let her off the hook just like that. It was only going to get better. Alex looked at the closed door separating him from Isabel doubting that she cared.
Isabel just stood there. She didn’t know why she was so bitchy to him but he had that effect on her. He provoked her, said the wrong things to her and he was just annoying when he smiled or grinned the whole time. She wanted to wipe that smile of his face.
She felt bad for her behaviour but he was just pushing her buttons. He knew how to make her mad. He just knew it.
“Don’t tell me we have to get into this monster again? I don’t fly back with that. I won’t fly at all. We almost died up there. Your pilot is a fucking psycho.” Michael argued.
Again he stood toe to toe with Maria. It occurred to him that this had to be their natural state standing toe to toe. The only time he didn’t stand this close to her was the night they made out. Then they were closer.
“I understand you hate flying and it scares you…”
“I’m not scared of flying.” Michael denied immense.
Maria rolled her eyes. She couldn’t understand why he had to keep that façade of the strong man up. He was scared and that was okay. She didn’t think less of him but he made it hard for her to not wanting to smack him. He just agitated her with his stubbornness. She did him the favour of taking him with her. If Alex knew what she did, she knew he would blow up. He didn’t appreciate private affairs at work and especially when it came to the love life.
Maria was shocked by her own thought. Michael Evans didn’t belong to her love life. He wasn’t part of it. He was just there.
“Michael, just get in, pray and shut the hell up. If you don’t do that I leave you here and you can see how you get back. I have to get back and get those pictures to my boss. Otherwise he’ll kill me. Then my friendship to him doesn’t matter anymore, he’ll just kill me. Now do me a favour and get your ass in that helicopter there. You have two minutes.”, frustrated Maria stomped away.
Michael Evans was going to be her nemesis. During the shooting he criticized that it was too hot and the drinks weren’t cooled enough. In addition he called two of the models ugly and one of the male models a ‘brown nugget digger’. It took Maria several minutes until the models agreed to get back to work. After the models calmed down, the photographer was offended because Michael criticized his photos as being ‘Penthouse’ material. Dealing with offended models was one thing but having to deal with an offended photographer was too much. To solve the situation, Maria had threatened to call Alex and tell him in every detail what had happened. Of course the photographer hadn’t wanted to explain himself to Alex so the situation was solved.
Basically Michael messed up the shooting and was annoying Maria with his attitude. That’s why Maria was beyond being angry she was on the brink of going ballistic. She was the one, who had to explain why the photo shooting was going to cost 10.000$ more than intended.
Isabel sat in Alex’ office. He had cancelled their lunch date due to him having a sudden meeting. Isabel was kind of disappointed that they couldn’t have their lunch together, she wanted to make things better
between them. She felt bad for her behaviour and it didn’t suit her well that he might have thought she was indeed a bitch. She didn’t want to be associated with the word bitch. It was just her temper that she couldn’t control from time to time. It was always around him that she didn’t know what to do or how to behave. He intimidated her.
Alex didn’t reflect the typical mean, bad boss who controlled everything and everyone. He looked more like your nice boy next door, who would always help you when you need him. Alex had that boyish aura around him. Moreover, he looked like the nicest guy on this planet. Isabel still had to find out why people were afraid of him. He didn’t give her the impression that he could harm anyone. Sure, he raised his voice or spoke in that formal tone that left no argument but she didn’t know what was so mean about him. Isabel rather thought that he was too suave to be known as boss from hell.
What intrigued her the most that the staff didn’t suggest that they were afraid. Everyone was chatting away, laughs could be heard and still the work got done. It was fascinating that the most feared man was able to get his business running while the nicest boss had problems to get theirs running.
The door opened and Alex came in again talking to someone on the cell phone. He looked distressed and angry.
“Why the hell did the shooting cost 10.000$ more? I just got a call by the photographer telling me that the costs rose due to the delay. Now I want to know of which delay he was talking.” Alex demanded while looking on his desk for some papers.
Isabel knew it wasn’t good that she was there. She knew when he finished his talk he was in a bad mood and unfortunately for her, she was the person with him. She knew he would vent his wrath on her. Isabel thought about leaving the office but that wouldn’t help her either. Suddenly Alex turned his attention on her and Isabel had the feeling that she was in trouble.
“Michael Evans was on the set and insulted our photographer. He insulted his work. Maria, you know how sensitive those photographers are. Just one wrong word and they have shit fits. Look, get back here, bring the pictures and then we talk. You know I love you but you were responsible for the whole photo session. You know how this people are yet you haven’t been able to control the situation. We talk when you’re here. Bye.” Alex hung up without giving Maria a chance to defend herself.
Alex was mad. He was beyond mad. First that shooting cost more than intended and he had to deal with another Evans. Therefore, he thought Maria should keep taking care of him. It wasn’t his business. Alex knew what had happened at the auction but it was also not his business what Maria did. It was certain, he would interfere when Michael would have the intention to hurt Maria.
“What’s your brother doing here?” Alex gazed at Isabel. He didn’t like it at all that Maria was alone with that guy.
“I don’t know. He didn’t tell me that he was coming by.”
“Okay, if you say so. He better gets his shit together and doesn’t cause more chaos here.” Alex replied tiredly.
He fell into his chair and looked at Isabel. He just watched her. She looked normal sitting on the couch. She didn’t reflect the image of being a model. Sure, you could assume that a woman with her physique was model material but there was also the possibility that she was the normal girl you could meet in a coffee shop. Alex imagined how it would have been when they had met in a coffee shop or a supermarket both not working in the fashion business. Work changed people. It didn’t change somebody basically but people would get another perspective to life. The fashion business had changed Alex.
When he was younger he was a dorky computer loving, bass playing young boy. Then he grew up and had to realize that the world eats you alive when you didn’t fight.
“Did you know that the fashion business has a world wide business volume of 300 billion$? Of course it would be more if we wouldn’t have the problem of fashion counterfeiting. But it is needless to say that we’re working in one of the strongest industries of the world. We give people the image that perfection is needed. We project perfection for an imperfect world. Our society needs that image to know that life doesn’t suck at all. We tell that women have to have a certain body. We tell men that they can get every woman when they wear the right clothes. We dictate perfection for an ill society. If you take a close look at the outside world, you realize that the real life is actually perfect and we, who force an imaginable perfection on people, are the sick ones. The fashion business is far from being perfect. Look at all the drug use, the majority of models suffer from anorexia and we make money with it. We use them. We use the humans’ wish for perfection. We’re a sick society.” Alex spoke quietly as if he was giving himself a pep talk.
Isabel just stared at the man in front of her. She was speechless. She knew that all and still she tried to block that all. Normally Isabel blocked all the dark sides from her mind. If she would think about that every second she wouldn’t be able to work in this industry.
“Alright now to happier thoughts. Do me a favour and mark the information. There are instructions on the table for the upcoming fashion weeks. Please highlight the addresses and phone numbers for me.” Alex threw a highlighter towards Isabel, which she caught clumsy and got hit in the face with it.
Instead of being worried about Isabel, Alex just laughed. As Isabel glared at him, his laugh turned into a cough.
“Thanks to you I’m in trouble. I might be his best friend but that doesn’t stop Alex from giving me hell when that whole session is shit. Why couldn’t you keep your mouth shut? Every other normal person would have shut up. But no, you felt the need to make this my day in hell. You have no idea how sensitive those people are. You just have to criticize that one hair is out of place and they start crying. God, help me to not kill anyone today.” Maria was soon hyperventilating when she kept thinking of her talk with Alex.
“Do you ever shut up? You’re rambling for the last minutes about Alex giving you hell.” Michael tried in his special way to soothe Maria.
They just arrived back. When Michael felt the solid ground under his feet he wanted to fall on his knees and kiss the ground like the pope. Nonetheless, Michael felt slightly guilty for causing trouble since Maria was the one who had to clean up his mess. He didn’t think that everyone would react sissy like. It wasn’t his intention to get Maria in trouble but he didn’t regret his comments.
It didn’t help that he was trapped with Maria in the lift right now. The second the doors closed she was rambling about his stupid mouth and his ignorance for her job. Michael enjoyed seeing her angered, she looked cute and sexy.
The motion of her lips was sensual for Michael. He couldn’t look away from her lips. Especially since she put lip gloss on her lips looked fuller and more kissable.
“Don’t tell me to shut up. I’ve got every damn right to ramble since you’re the very end to my professional career. I can’t believe that I was stupid enough to allow you to come with me. I should have known that you meant trouble…”
Maria wasn’t able to finish her sentence as Michael crashed his lips on hers. He held her face and pressed her body lightly against the wall behind her. Maria didn’t know what was happening, the one second she was insulting him and the next his tongue was in her mouth. And it was a good feeling. It felt as if everything inside her head was spinning and her blood was rushing through her body. Michael’s hands travelled down her neck to her shoulders to her ribcage resting on her hips. He pressed his body more against hers generating a soft moan by her. Michael wanted to hear that sweet sound again but before he could work his magic on Maria the lift stopped. Both stopped their kissing immediately looking shocked and delighted by the current activity. Michael stepped away from Maria giving her space and getting out of her reach if she decided to slap him. He just looked at her breathing heavy which caused that her chest to rise. As much as he wanted to continue he couldn’t. He couldn’t understand why she was able to create those emotions in him.
When Michael kissed Maria he felt so light headed like never before. It felt as if his body was heating up and she was the one eliciting that rush of feelings he wasn’t used to.
“I wanted to calm you before you face your mean boss.” Michael murmured, his eyes fixed on Maria.
“Thanks, it helped.” Maria replied in the same way as Michael.
As the doors opened, she exited the lift leaving Michael behind. Michael couldn’t move as much as he wanted to go after her, he couldn’t. The doors closed giving Michael the opportunity to breathe while Maria hurried down the hall.
“Are you saying I’m too fat to walk on the catwalk?” Isabel screeched incredulously.
“That’s not what I meant. I just meant that you’re not the type of model that should be on the catwalk…” Alex tried to reason with Isabel but she kept yelling at him accusing him of things he didn’t do.
“You mean fat.” Isabel deadpanned. She couldn’t believe that Alex criticized her as model. She might be not having many jobs for fashion shows but she was still a model for photo shootings.
“Don’t accuse me of say or meaning things. What I want to tell you is that you’re too feminine for the catwalk. You’re not one of those skinny, pale-faced models. You have curves. You are a woman. You have boobs and an ass every man would lust after. But designers don’t want women like you. They created that image of skinny women.” Alex explained.
He couldn’t believe what went on. He had mentioned that Isabel wasn’t runway material due to her figure. She jumped out of her seat running over to his desk and screamed at him. He didn’t understand it. She should be used to hear things about her figure.
“You think my ass and boobs are too feminine for fashion shows?” Isabel wanted to be sure that she heard right.
“Yes, that’s what I said. All in all you’re a woman…a beautiful woman I might add. Every sane man would go for a woman like you than for a bean pole. Let’s be honest Isabel, with your attributes you would just be a model for lingerie and beach ware. You can more than this being jerk-off material for men.” Alex shrugged at Isabel as he explained himself.
He felt slightly uncomfortable talking about her body. Suddenly he had those images on his mind how he trailed his hand over every curve of her body feeling her smooth skin and just worshipping her. Alex averted Isabel’s gaze as he noticed that she smiled.
Isabel didn’t know what to say. No man before had ever said something like that to her. In the beginning she had thought Alex just wanted to piss her off and see her lose control. It wasn’t his aim. He just wanted to tell her something that she had known for quite some time. She wasn’t the typical runway model and not the typical haute couture model. It frightened Isabel to be confronted with the truth since honesty wasn’t a welcome trait in the fashion world. The man in front of her was honest. His look told her that. Isabel never believed in the saying eyes were the mirrors to the soul but she should probably think about it again
“Be still my throbbing heart, the tamed beast is smiling.” Alex murmured. He felt uncomfortable being so close to her. He had to do something to forget those images of her being nude.
“Keep your heart beating, I won’t do any first aid on you. God knows where you have put your lips on.” Isabel advised jokingly.
“Where do you think my lips were? I have very nice lips and they don’t feel so bad.” Alex enjoyed her playful side. She seemed more humanly and not aloof as usual.
“I think, they were on a tanned body, very muscular and his name was Francesco.”, was Isabel response. It was then that she registered Alex’ shocked face.
Isabel thought Alex didn’t want that anybody knew about his homosexuality. She understood that a coming out was hard because there were still prejudices on the part of the society but in the fashion world it was normalcy. She didn’t want to make Alex feel uncomfortable. In addition, he shouldn’t think that she would shout it off the roofs. It was his privacy.
“Francesca.” Alex mumbled as his blush spread over his face.
“I said Francesca. Isabel, I’m not gay. I’m straight. I’m a straight single.” Alex responded calm when he had sensed that Isabel was shocked about his statement.
“Oh…oh…I- I didn’t intend to m-make you…”Isabel stuttered her way through her supposed to be apology.
“It’s alright. You’re not the first one who thought I was gay.” Alex soothed Isabel.
He didn’t want her to think he was mad about her faux pas. He patted her hand letting his hand linger on hers longer than intended. It felt as if time stood still and it was just the two of them. Alex wanted to withdraw his hand but he couldn’t. Feeling her skin under his touch awoke emotions in Alex he didn’t want to feel. He couldn’t let that happen. It could have been coincidence or someone’s prayer for him when suddenly the door was thrown open and Maria ran in. Alex jumped up shocked by the sudden irruption.
“I’m sorry to come in like that but I just want to tell you that I didn’t know that Michael would behave out of line like this. I swear if I had known how primitive he behaved I wouldn’t have take him with me. I tried my best to sooth the crew. Please don’t be mad, I learned my lesson that I don’t let any people with me who have no clue about our job…” Maria talked without making sense until Alex interrupted her.
“Maria, you’re rambling. Take some deep breaths. We’ll talk about it. By the way that’s Isabel.”
Maria looked over at the other Evans. She thought the family must have been blessed with great genes. Isabel looked in flesh better than on her pictures and Michael was hot enough that his aura screamed sex when you met him. Nonetheless, she didn’t forget why Isabel was here and what caused her own involvement with Michael.
“Yeah, nice to meet the bitch that sent her asshole brother to clean her mess.” She didn’t forget what that woman had intended.
“Look who’s talking? You bitch was all hot and heavy for my brother. Maybe you should learn to keep your legs closed, bitch.” Isabel returned with the same venom as Maria.
“Yes, I am a bitch. Compared to you I didn’t need to fuck my way through the business so someone would take a look at my sorry ass, bitch.”
“You bitch…I don’t care for whom you brew the coffee but when I’m finished with you, you’ll need the best plastic surgeon to repair the damage. Though, you could use the surgeon now.”
“You fucking who…” By now both women stood opposite each other shooting daggers and wishing the other would drop dead.
“Shut the fuck up both of you. Right now you both behave like bitches. Sit down both of you, I don’t want to hear either one of you talking or making any noises. This is not high school or some other teenager shit. You’re damn adults so behave like that. Maria, give me those damn pictures.”
Alex’ temper surfaced. He was angry. He was beyond being just mad. He felt like a teacher instructing his students to behave. He didn’t care if Isabel and Maria were about to kill each other but they should remember this was his office and he was still the one being in charge. While Alex regarded the pictures, Isabel and Maria sat next to each other glaring. Maria would have loved to give Isabel a peace of her mind. Isabel just wanted to release some good, old bottled up aggression. Maybe her plan had been bad that Michael was supposed to seduce Maria but the way the other women behaved didn’t suit well with Isabel.
When Alex said he didn’t want to hear any sound by the women, he was serious. Already fifteen minutes passed with Alex looking through the pictures making here and there notes while Maria and Isabel still glared at each other. The silence was interrupted when Kathleen called Alex on the intercom. She announced that there was someone special arrived Alex needed to see.
A few moments later, Kathleen walked into Alex’ office having a leash in her hand behind her trudged a dark brown stained bulldog. When the dog entered the office he knew no boundaries. He barked loud and ran past Kathleen enthusiastic towards Alex’ spot. Kathleen wasn’t able to hold the leash in her hands as the dog pulled at it full force.
“Paul! Buddy you’re here.” Alex yelled as he saw his beloved pet.
Paul’s barking increased after his master called him. Alex jumped out of his seat running half way towards his dog. Alex kneed in front of him petting his belly while he rolled on the floor, playing with him and talking to his dog as if it was a baby.
“Yeah, that’s my boy…You’re a good boy… Who’s a good boy? You are a good boy… I missed you buddy. You missed me? Did you miss me?” Alex babbled as if he lost the ability to talk properly
Latter was answered with a bark that was so loud it echoed. Isabel couldn’t believe what she saw. The infamous Alex Whitman, who was feared because of his temper, became a puddle of goo as his dog had come in. It was almost laughable when the sight wouldn’t be so sweet. She couldn’t imagine Alex as owner of a bulldog. They looked a bit odd together. Bulldogs were mostly owned by men who radiated strength and power. Alex had power but it wasn’t obvious. Isabel was brought out of her musings about dogs and men as Alex walked up to her holding out the leash for her. Isabel looked disbelieving at Alex. He couldn’t be serious.
“Oh no…No, I can’t. I don’t want to. Please don’t make me…please don’t.” Isabel pleaded to not take care of Paul.
“Oh yes, you will. I’d do it myself but I have to get ready for a meeting. In addition, Paul is the nicest and sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. Come on, he’s a gentle dog. Look at him.”
Right this moment, Paul decided to lick his butthole which caused to activate Isabel’s gag reflex as she looked at the dog.
“Normally, he had better manners but today he’s edgy. Isabel, meet Paul, the nicest dog ever. Paul, meet Isabel. She’s around for a couple of days.” Alex introduced both before he pressed the leash, a shovel and some plastic bags in Isabel’s hands.
Isabel wasn’t used to energetic dogs around her. She wasn’t used to dogs at all. Therefore, as Paul realized he had a new play buddy he ran out of the office dragging a powerless Isabel behind. While Paul barked enthusiastic, Isabel only yelled that he should slow down.
Alex closed his office and went back to his desk. He focused on the pictures he still had to look over. He knew that Maria was watching him. He decided to ignore it as long as possible. Yet his long friendship with Maria taught him, he couldn’t run away from her so it was just a matter of time before she would act.
“Did Isabel know about Paul?”
“Did you indicate that she has to deal with Paul?”
“So, Isabel does know that Paul has the runs?”
“You’re evil.” Maria laughed as she imagined Isabel’s face.
It wasn’t bad as she thought. Walking with Paul was indeed nice and also relaxing. It was nice to get out of the office. He trudged before her and she just kept an eye on him to interfere if he was going to get into trouble. Paul had found a nice tree, he ran towards it.
Several minutes later, Isabel only was able to say one thing.
Isabel was on a mission. Alex Whitman was going down. She would repay him for his little stunt. She would make him pay. She returned from her walk in the park with Paul riding up the lift to the office. She couldn’t believe that man. She couldn’t believe that his evil, malicious mind came up with such an idea. It was evil. It was mean and it was perfect to pay her back for her stupid mistake.
“Paul, Alex is a mean man. He didn’t tell me anything about you. Nothing. Can you believe that? I bet you are the nicer one of you two. You are too cute to be mean. You’re a good dog. Normally I don’t like dogs. I don’t like them at all. You’re an exception. You’re cute. That gets you kudos. But Alex, he isn’t nice. Did you know that he made me clean and re-organize the whole copy room? Well, he did. He didn’t even thank me. I think I deserved some gratitude. What do you think?”
Isabel looked down to Paul who stood close to her legs. The only response she got was him tilting his head.
“Great, now I’m talking to a dog.”
Isabel reached her destination. She exited hastily the lift not seeing the figure she ran into.
“Ouch, damn it…Can’t you see where you’re going?” Isabel groaned at the person she had collided with.
“Well, I can’t. I see you’re still your charming self.”
Isabel looked up seeing her dearly brother smiling smugly down on her. It was the first time she saw him today. Something was different about him. Isabel knew her brother, though he always denied that she knew him the way she wished, something was different about him. He didn’t have this cocky aura around him. He looked carefree and relaxed. Michael was never relaxed around anyone.
“Funny…I would laugh at that but I prefer laughing about you fucking up today.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Maria, photo shooting and you insulting people. God, Michael what did you think? You got her into big trouble.”
“Why do you care about her? Besides that, why the hell is that meat ball with you?” Michael pointed at Paul, who responded with a low growl.
“Leave him alone. That’s Paul, Alex’ dog.”
“Alright. Are you now a dog sitter?”
“No, I am not. I just take care of him for a little time while Alex is doing something else.”
“Isabel, that’s what a dog sitter does for other people.”
“Whatever. Why are you still lurking around here?”
“Just checking out the place.”
“Checking out the place where a certain blonde works is a bit stalkerish, dear brother.”
“Shut up, I’m not stalking anyone.”
Paul chose that moment to throw up on Michael’s feet.
“Gross Paul…not again.” Isabel couldn’t believe it happened again.
Isabel helped Michael cleaning up before he had decided to go home. He had wanted to go to Maria but he couldn’t do it. He was emotionally agitated, afraid of what he might do or say. In addition, Michael was confused. He didn’t understand what was going on between Maria and him. One minute they were insulting each other and the next he kissed her or she showed a sign of affection. It didn’t matter who made the first step Michael was confused about his feelings. Before he messed more up or did something he would regret later due to his emotional turmoil, Michael left.
When Isabel came back to the office, she saw that everyone had gone home or probably to the next bar to get drunk. The only office where light was still on was of course Alex’. Taking a deep breath, Isabel walked towards it Paul walking beside her. Somehow she had a strange connection to that dog. It wasn’t all that bad with Paul. He just couldn’t control his body fluids. Alex’ door was slightly ajar what gave Isabel the opportunity to observe him when Alex thought he was alone. She knew she shouldn’t do it and her mother would teach her about respecting somebody’s privacy. Isabel remained outside as she heard that he was talking to someone on the phone. Paul let out a little whimper next to her, shushing him Isabel tried to hear what was said. Just now, she wished to be a fly on the wall. Her curiosity was getting the better of her as Isabel took another step towards his office pulling Paul with her. From her current position, Isabel had a better chance to listen.
“Yes, I had lunch today and I’ll get something for dinner as well. Mum, stop worrying about me. I’m a grown man who can take care of himself…I know you want to see me happy with a wife and kids but now is it not the time. I’m too busy. Apparently, I come across as homosexual… Can you stop laughing? I know it’s funny but it wasn’t her fault…Mum, stop laughing. Yeah I told you about her…How I met her? Uhm…let’s just say we crashed into each other and she left an unforgettable expression. No, I’m not going out with her. What is it with you hooking me up with everything that has a vagina?...Yes, I said the v-word. It’s called vagina and I say it as it is. Alright mum, I’m hanging up I still have something to check before I go home…Yes, I will. Love you mum.”
Isabel wasn’t sure what to think. This morning Alex seemed to be annoyed by his mum and here he was having a lovable, funny talk with her. The guy was strange or had mood swings. Isabel couldn’t even remember when the last time was she called her mother. She missed talking to her mum like back in her college days. She had called her mother every day because she had been terribly homesick. All changed when her model career began. They talked to each other from time to time otherwise every call would turn into an argument. Isabel knew that Michael had a much better relationship to their mother than she had.
“Isabel, you can come in. There’s no need to stay outside.” Alex called out to her.
Cursing under her breath Isabel entered hesitantly the office. She found Alex standing in the middle of the room, in the one hand holding his briefcase and jacket, in the other holding her purse.
“I heard you talking and thought I wait until you finished your talk.” Isabel took her purse from him giving him Paul’s leash.
“Hey Paul, did you like it with Isabel? Do you like her?” Alex cooed scratching his dog behind the ear.
“It was interesting with him. It was nice that you informed me that I had to dog sit today.”, was her sourly comment to the days activities. Isabel liked Paul but she didn’t like being pushed into certain situations she couldn’t control, like with the kindergarten.
“I know I should have said something but it wouldn’t have been that much fun.” Alex smiled as he saw the look of irritation on Isabel’s face.
“Yeah, thanks. Babysitting kids and a dog was great.” Isabel retorted sarcastically.
“Speaking of kids, Leanna has brought that for you. A girl painted something for you, who had fun with you today.” Alex reached into his briefcase taking out a sheet. “It’s a sweet gesture.”
Isabel took the sheet gazing at the painting. Isabel didn’t know what to say. It was the first time she received such a sweet gift. The little girl painted sunflowers with butterflies surrounding them. Seeing the painting, Isabel didn’t care anymore that she was abused as bouncy castle, receiving several bruises and feeling as her limbs were ripped out. It was worth it getting in the end such a sweet reward.
“Do you have a lift home?”
Alex’ voice brought Isabel back to reality, who was still smiling about the received gift.
“I just take a cab.”
“No, you’re not doing that. You shouldn’t be alone on the street waiting for a cab by that time. I drive you home. Come on, it’s enough work for today.”
Alex led the way to his car with Paul walking beside him while Isabel was several steps behind them. She just watched him. It was probably better to watch him from behind than being in close proximity to him. Isabel didn’t know how she should interpret the whole day. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride for her. She had been swaying between anger and sereneness. She never experienced such a day like today.
Alex was able to provoke emotions in her that she usually had under control. She was always in control but he managed to get through her control. He managed to bring her to the point where she only wanted scream out her frustration but at the same time he managed to make her feel. Whenever he touched her it felt as if her body was violently shaken by an invincible explosive.
It made her nervous that he had that power over her. She didn’t want to feel that way. She didn’t want that a man-she barely knew- was able to make her feel and after three days everything would be over. Feelings meant vulnerability. Isabel didn’t want to be vulnerable in front of him. She had to remain cool and strong.
It scared her that Alex could be able to come close to her. She didn’t fear the physical closeness it was more the emotional closeness that terrified her. Physical attraction could be fought but fighting the own emotions was a lost battle. In just one day he was able to get to her. He pissed her off; he made her smile, he threw a highlighter at her- Alex Whitman was just scaring her in so many ways. He got to her.
During the drive Alex glanced at Isabel from time to time. He didn’t know what was going on but she seemed distracted. He had to call several times her name before she had paid attention to him. It was weird for him as well. He didn’t know how to act around her since they were out of the office. His office was his bastion. He knew what to do there. He had the power there. There he was able to protect himself seeking safety. But outside he was helpless. He felt like the teenager he had been: dorky, awkward and afraid of making the wrong move.
He didn’t want to come across as mean or evil mind-though the thought for itself amused him-he just wanted to show her that their own world wasn’t better than the real one. Everyone had flaws.
He was no exception.
He was falling. Unbelievable but true, he was falling for Isabel Evans. Aloof and icy Isabel. He wanted to laugh at the irony. The woman that thought he was a loser and idiot was the woman he was falling in love with. If Alex wouldn’t be driving he would bang his head against the steering wheel.
He wasn’t mad at her anymore for her stupid comment, he just wanted to see her real self. It wasn’t possible that she was always in control. Today he got a glimpse of her real self. She reacted. That’s all he wanted he just wanted to see her true self.
While he loved to get a rise out of her, it had to be her hobby as well. She knew how to piss him off and how to enrage him that he wanted to scream at the top of his lungs. Nonetheless, he saw her other site. She could be fun to be with if she wanted to take part.
Isabel Evans was actually the only person who could drive him crazy.
When they reached Isabel’s condo, Alex got out of the car first walking around to open the door for Isabel. He reached out his hand for her to take helping Isabel stepping out of the car. They stood still for a few seconds just gazing at each other. Isabel wanted to say something but she wasn’t able to form the right words while Alex just wanted to enjoy that silent moment between them.
Isabel started to feel awkward being in that position. She didn’t trust herself. She was afraid to do something stupid. She lowered her gaze stepping away from Alex. She needed the distance. Distance meant to be able to gain control.
“Thanks for the drive home, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Isabel said while she was already walking up to her front door.
“You’re welcome. Good night and you did well today.” Alex replied waiting till she was inside her home safe.
Isabel placed her purse on the floor after she got her mobile phone out dialling a familiar number. After three rings, Isabel heard the voice she wanted.
“Hey mum, it’s Isabel. Guess what?...A bulldog threw up on Michael today…I swear it happened. You should have seen his face.”