“I guess this will take forever.” I said as I scanned apartment listings on the back of the newspaper while handing money to newsstand salesman.
“Excuse me?” newsstand salesman gave me a puzzled look.
“Never mind.” I smiled at salesman as I was leaving. I hoped Janine is going to be too busy with getting ready for tonight’s show that she won’t even notice me running a little bit late. Speaking of the devil, my phone started to ring madly and before I pulled it out, I knew it’s Janine.
“Hi, Janine.” I greeted her.
“Where the hell are you?” Janine screamed at me so loud I had to take the phone away from my ear.
“I’ll be there in five.” I was trying to calm her down.
“Are you crazy? You are wearing my masterpiece tonight. You had to be here five minutes ago! You are fired! Do you hear me?” I sensed Janine loosing control over herself.
“Janine...” I didn’t finish what I wanted to say.
“Honey, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean that.” Janine sighted on the other side. “I’m just so worried about the show and I think I will fail.”
“Janine, I’ll be there in four minutes and I promise this is going to be your best show.”
“Just hurry.” Janine said and hung up.
So this is me - Annabelle Stevens, I moved to London three weeks ago from Ramsey, Isle of Man where I worked as a bartender in a small Irish pub. That’s where I met Janine when she was there on holiday. Janine is one of the hottest new fashion designers in United Kingdom and I was honoured when she offered me a job as a fashion model for her clothing line. As I had nothing to lose I took it immediately. You’ll ask about my family. There is no family for me. I was raised by old lady Margaret who claimed I was left at her doorstep, she became my legal guardian and took care of me. She passed away two years ago, when I was nineteen. And from that point I had to grow up faster and start taking care of myself. I got my secondary school diploma in my pocket and no clue what to do. I sold Margret’s house and moved in apartment on Queens Promenade, next door from Irish pub where it’s owner gave me a job.
I arrived at the Roof Gardens on Kensington Street where the show is going to take place and passed the catwalk on my way to dressing rooms in the back of gallery. I rushed into the dressing room and went straight to mirror with my name above it. I dropped my bag on the chair and went straight to rack to pick my dress. When I opened the zipper of the cover, I saw the most stunning piece of clothing right in front of me. It took my breath away! It was turquoise blue wedding dress, with small white pearls all over it’s back.
“Wow!” I gasped to myself.
“Do you like it?” I quickly turned around to see Janine looking at me.
“It’s perfect.” I said quietly. “It reminds me of...”
“Margaret, I know.” Janine finished my thought. “I couldn’t forget your story of her sewing your very first dress for your first day of school. I saw in your eyes you were really proud of her and I want to bring that feeling and these emotions to the people who are going to watch this show tonight and I know that no one could wear it more perfect than you.”
I felt tears forming in my eyes. “Thank you, Janine.” I whispered to her. “Thank you for everything.“.
“Come, I’ll give you a quick hug and we’re getting back to work.” Janine pulled me close to her and hugged tightly.
“We have to work.” I lightly pulled away from Janine. She smiled at me and I knew this is going to be the best show she is ever going to have and I’m going to take care of it.
After the show in the dressing rooms champagne was flowing heavily - the show was huge success. Every single person in the room got up and applauded to Janine as she walked on the catwalk at the end of the show. Every single fashion blogger in that room was blown away.
“I want to make a toast!” Janine declared, everyone went silent and turned to face Janine who stepped on the table. “Girls, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you. Every single one of you has encouraged me to dream more and achieve more. Every single one of you has inspired me to design breathtaking clothes. And believe me, girls, every single one of you are in my mind when I’m working my ass off. I want you to raise your glasses and lets all drink to never-ending inspiration and never-ending success!” We all raised our glasses and had a sip.
When other girls one after another left, I was still sitting in the front of the clothes rack and looking at the beautiful dress in front of me. At this moment I understood everything I wanted from my life. I have always dreamt of my own dance studio and this was my chance to make it happen. Here I could earn money for my studies, here I could make connections I need. I realized Janine has handed me a hand-full of opportunities and all I needed to do was to take what I want.
“You’re not leaving?” Janine asked me as she was organizing clothes on the rack.
“No, I just got into thinking.” I watched Janine putting clothes back in covers.
“Do you want me to leave this dress till the end?” Janine pointed to the dress I was wearing at the fashion show.
“No, you can put it away” I smiled at her. “I know your answer but let me ask you - do you need help?”
“You know I don’t” Janine laughed. “But that’s great you know me.”
“Janine, can I ask you one question?” I looked at Janine.
“Is everything okay?” Janine looked worried at me.
“Why you offered me to be your model?” I went with the question which has been in my mind now for long enough.
Janine sighed “I just had the feeling when I saw you for the very first time. I couldn’t let you stay there. I know that some day you are going to leave me for something much better and more permanent. But at least I know that it was me who helped you to fulfill your dreams.”
I smiled “Thank you, Janine.”
“Now, get out of here and find yourself a decent place where to live.” she was trying to get me out of there.
I stood up, took my bag, put my hat on “Fine, I’m leaving. Have a great evening.” I waved at Janine when I was leaving.
“You too.” I heard Janine answering and I was out in the hall waiting for an elevator. I plugged my headphones into my ears, elevator doors opened and I stepped in it, pushing ground floor button. As the doors were closing suddenly an arm shot in between the doors and in front of me was standing young man - light messy hair, piercing blue eyes, and that was really expensive suit he was wearing! I eyed him in full view as he stepped in. When I realized I was looking at him far too long I averted my gaze to the wall where was placed mirror and there he was again. I started to feel laughter building inside my head and I tried to hide my smile away by biting my lip.
“You have a beautiful smile.” suddenly he said. I turned to look at him. “I saw it when you were on the catwalk. Hi, I’m Sam.” he stretched out his hand at me.
“I’m Annabelle.” I answered and shook his hand. The rest of the elevator ride was silent. Well it was just a few seconds but silence felt awkward! I got out of the elevator. “It was nice meeting you, Sam.”
“Annabelle, maybe we...” he hesitated. I turned around to face him.
“Could go out for a drink?” I asked him and smiled at him. “I think that’s a great idea.”
“Like, right now?” he looked confused.
“You have other plans tonight? With some other girl?” I mocked him.
“No, ‘right now’ sounds good, let’s go. I know a great place.” he smiled and we left the building.
“So, were you following me?” I asked Sam.
“Car is that way.” he pointed to a brand new Mercedes.
I eyed him again “You are a freak, aren’t you?“.
Sam laughed “It looks like I’m your type.”
“You really think I’m going to get in your car after two minute conversation?” I asked him in a high pitched voice.
“We can walk if you want to.” he offered to me.
“No, you’re good. You can take me in your car.” as soon as the words left my mouth I realized how it must have came out.
“I didn’t know I’ll get so lucky just in under three minutes.” Sam teased me.
“Come on, you know I didn’t mean it like that.” I was still laughing. We approached his car, Sam opened the door for me and waited while I got in, he smoothly closed the door. While I was waiting for him to get into drivers seat, I smiled at myself and at the thought that I used to be the shy one.