Monday, December 5, 2011

The Model excerpt by Serena Yates

In The Model by Serena Yates, Alessandro, a famous fashion model with the perfect body, hopes to find love but people never look beyond his appearance. Is it possible to find someone interested in the man he is deep-down?

Off camera, Alessandro is Fabio Bonardi, a man tired of loneliness and drama. His modeling career is great, but in a world where image is everything, no one is as they seem. When the first wrinkle appears, it's time for Plan B. He wants to start a business and enlists Edwin Zachary to help. The shy financial consultant looks below the surface and connects with Fabio, surprising them both.

Not everyone is happy with this development. A mysterious stalker tries to drive Fabio and Edwin apart. Will he succeed? Or can they overcome the obstacles and build the lasting relationship they both so desperately want?

The Model is #6 in the Workplace Encounters series, standalone stories with the same theme of 'blue collar' workers and/or unusual jobs. Excerpts from The Elevator Mechanic, The Chauffeur, The Ship Engineer, The Carpenter and The Truck Driver will follow in ensuing weeks.

The Model
Silver Publishing
ISBN: 9781920502294


"What the fuck?" Fabio Bonardi stared at his image in abject horror. It may have been a fairly low quality hotel mirror and his eyes didn't quite want to open yet. But even at five in the morning he was awake enough to recognize a catastrophe when he saw it.

There, just below his right eye, was unmistakable evidence that he was getting old. Shit! Of all the things that could go wrong just before an early morning shoot, finding his first wrinkle was... hell, it wasn't even on the damned list! He closed his eyes. Maybe this was a nightmare. Surely, at twenty-eight, with the careful, not to say paranoid, way he took care of his skin, there was no way wrinkles would have a chance. Seconds later, not able to wait any longer despite his fear, he opened them again. Damn! The thing hadn't disappeared.

He bent forward and stretched his skin, hoping it might magically spring back into its previous un-wrinkled shape. Weren't Mediterranean genes supposed to help you look younger? Apparently, his luck had just run out. The wrinkle was still there and not even his otherwise blemish-free olive skin could hide it.

"Double fuck!" He hit the marble basin with enough force that pain raced up his arm. "Ouch." Talk about adding injury to insult. Or was that the other way around? He shook his head as he looked for his special moisturizer. It would have to do until Adair could work his magic. He was the best damned make-up artist in the whole business and almost reason enough to like coming to New York for a shoot. Almost.

Going through the motions of getting ready for a five-thirty pickup to the studio, he let his mind wander. He'd always known this day would come. Taking care of the money he made, carefully investing it so it would still be there once nobody wanted to hire him any longer, was second nature to him. He'd amassed a nice nest egg and it looked like it was time to use it to set Plan B into motion.

With a last admiring look at the figure he cut with his broad shoulders, narrow hips and long legs, he left the hotel bathroom to get dressed in client-supplied underwear, blue jeans, and one of his oldest and most comfortable sweatshirts. Packing only took a few minutes, because he only needed to make sure his stuff was in his carry-on bag, not think about what to take. He hated travelling with a lot of baggage, and he didn't need a big wardrobe when he posed for fashion shoots all day, only to return to the hotel late at night for a quick salad before he dropped into bed.

The glamour of modelling? A total myth. Inexperienced guys might fall for it, but he'd been at this for ten years now and knew better. Paris, Milan, and New York were good places to have on his resume, sure, but they weren't any more fun on his sort of schedule than Timbuktu or Hicksville, Tennessee would have been.

With the last shirt stuffed into the duffel, closely followed by his two bags of toiletries, he closed the luggage, picked it up, and left his room. He'd already checked his mail, updated his Facebook status, and sent a few tweets to fans who'd contacted him, so he was good to go. It was time to face today's music. He sighed as he waited for the elevator to make it to the twenty-second floor to pick him up. He was so hungry, but breakfast was out of the question. So were most other meals. He needed his figure to be perfect, now more than ever. He'd work out later in the day if he was lucky, and would allow himself some food, maybe a salad and some chicken, after that.

Checking out of the hotel consisted of dropping off his key card, the agency that had organized the shoot would take care of the bill. The cute little guy working at reception gave him a radiant smile and he grinned back. There was little harm in being friendly to someone he'd never see again and who couldn't bother him with any requests for an autograph, or his picture to be taken next to the famous Alessandro, his working name. He walked away with a little wave of his hand that made the receptionist blush redder than the plush crimson carpet on the floor of the hotel's entrance hall.

"Good morning, sir." The uniformed driver of the limo opened the door for him with the same cheerful efficiency as he'd shown the last two mornings. He was clearly more awake than Fabio.

"Morning." God, he needed coffee so badly. His head was going to kill him if he didn't get his next ration of caffeine soon. The coffee in his hotel room had been good, but only a start as far as he was concerned.

He entered the dark blue limo, sinking into the leather seats while the driver closed the door, slid behind the wheel, and made his way into the early morning traffic. At least Fabio was ranked high enough on the global list of top models to be given his own car, so he had another twenty minutes or so to close his eyes and doze.

No sleep would come.

He pulled his BlackBerry from his pocket and composed an e-mail to his personal assistant. Lisa lived in LA and hadn't come with him this time, since it was only a three-day shoot for an underwear manufacturer he'd worked for before. He hadn't expected to need her help during this trip. Now, he would put her in charge of researching financial and small business consultants. He knew what Plan B was, but he needed help with the details. Lisa was just the woman to find him what he needed.

"We're here, sir." The driver's voice returned him to reality and he nodded his thanks before leaving the car.

The chaos once he entered the huge open-space studio on the second floor was reassuringly familiar. He'd seen a few remodelled warehouses in his career, but this was one of the biggest. Instead of putting up separation walls to give different areas a separate identity and space, the architect had kept it all open, with only the occasional supporting wrought iron pillar to break up the space. There was a catering area to his right with tables stretching out along half the wall, the make-up and changing areas were in the back and included both corners, and there was a model rest area against the left wall. The corner to his left and most of the area in the center of the room was set up with various groupings of furniture, lighting screens, cameras, and assistants with notepads running around like headless chickens.

Most of the other models were already there, gossiping in the back and providing the ever-present buzz any shoot worth its name would create over time. They waited for their turn in make-up, and those who weren't online using various types of smart phone to stay in touch with their fans were drinking what must be vegetable juices and herbal teas. Most of them were sipping water and looked famished as they glared at the tempting doughnuts and Danishes on the long buffet table. None of that was for them, but the equipment guys, lighting people, and various clothing assistants all wanted to eat. Nobody cared what sort of cravings it created for the models.

Coffee was also available and Fabio made a beeline for it. At least it was good quality. Ian Cery, one of his favorite photographers, knew him and his preferences well and always made sure the juice of the gods was high quality. Never mind some health nuts said it was bad for the skin. He needed it almost more than to be wrinkle free, and that was saying something!

Where was Ian, anyway? Fabio shook his head. He was sure to appear at some point, the man was nothing if not professional. Fabio took a small cup of coffee and sank into one of the easy chairs in the waiting area at the back, sitting as far away from the other models as possible. None of them were in his league, so there was nothing to be gained by pretending to be friendly. That was all it could ever be between rivals who'd fight each other to the death to get the better shoot, the more famous photographer, or the more up and coming client. He snorted, quickly covering up the sound with a cough. Everything in the business was so damned artificial, it wasn't funny.

A few odd glances from the other models later, he had finished his coffee and started looking around to see where Adair might be lurking. After all, there was no point in facing Ian until Adair had seen to his newest disfigurement. That thought made him sit up.

Disfigurement? A wrinkle? Now that he was fully awake and caffeinated it suddenly seemed a little dramatic to be thinking that way. It wasn't as if he had a damned scar like that kid had got a few years back. What was his name? Kyle something? The poor guy had only been eighteen when he was in a horrible accident and he'd vanished from the scene faster than a photographer could press the releaser. Rumor had it that the damage to his face was extensive and he'd certainly never appeared on the cover of another magazine.

Fabio shuddered. Now, that was a real problem. He wasn’t quite there yet, thank God, but the writing was on the wall since his horrible discovery this morning. He couldn’t wait to hear from Lisa. Plan B had suddenly become a true priority.

“Ah, there you are.” Xavier, Ian’s newest assistant, smiled and showed off a row of perfect white teeth. “Adair wants you in make-up straight away. Your first session isn’t until eight, but they want to do some test shots with you at seven.”

“Sure.” Fabio rose from his chair and followed the little guy into the back section. Where did Adair find these eager little college kids? He went through them at an alarming rate, none quite good enough to stay on, but there was always the next one to take the fired one’s place. Maybe there was a nest of them somewhere around here. The thought made him chuckle just as he entered Adair’s domain.

“Someone is in a good mood today.” Adair stood with his hands on his hips, his jean shorts barely protecting his modesty and the hole-y T-shirt giving everyone who cared to look a great view of lots of upper-body skin. His hair was as unkempt as ever, but his eyeliner, mascara, and foundation were immaculate. The dusky rouge accentuated his steel gray eyes and the lip gloss was outrageously shiny. The man looked good enough to be on a magazine cover himself.

“Not really.” Fabio shook his head as he took a seat in front of the mirror. “Just no longer a totally foul one.”

“Oh? Tell me more.” Adair shook out a protective cape and placed it around Fabio’s shoulders. “We haven’t had any good gossip all morning.”

“Well, this one is highly confidential.” Fabio frowned at Adair, quickly smoothing his face back into a bland non-expression when Adair tsked at him. Right, he didn’t need even more wrinkles. “Top secret in fact!”

“Classified enough so you’d have to shoot me if anything leaked?” Adair looked delighted, eyes bright with joy. “I’ve always wanted to know one of those.”

“I bet.” Fabio sighed and sat back, trying to relax and failing abysmally.

So, tell me already.” Adair bent forward until one ear was at Fabio’s mouth. “Come on, I really want to know.”

Fabio shook his head.

“What?” Adair stood back up and pouted. “Not fair.”

Fabio silently pointed to the area below his eye where he knew the offending wrinkle to be. He couldn’t even bear to look at his face in the mirror. His looks were all he had. How the hell was he going to make significant money without them? He may have a plan for what to do next, but fuck if he knew whether it was going to work. He needed that appointment with the financial and business wizard as soon as possible. Yesterday would be good!

“No!” Adair’s gasp was loud enough for several of the assistants and other models to turn their head.

Fabio hid his face in his hands. More attention. So not what he needed. Normally he craved it, but not with a weakness like that exposed for all to see. Ridicule and bullying were sure to follow. He remembered those awful days in kindergarten when he was fat and ugly. The other kids had been merciless. His parents had shrugged and told him the other kids were right, he was a disgrace to the family. He’d almost starved himself to lose weight, but all they’d said was he shouldn’t have gotten fat in the first place. All of that had happened before he was ten, but he remembered it as if it had been yesterday.

“Honey, I am so sorry.” Adair had gone straight into his fluttering state. He rushed around the room to collect different products, some brushes and other tools of his trade, before he returned to Fabio. “I’ll make it go away, don’t you worry.”

“Permanently?” It was too much to hope for, but he suddenly wanted Adair to be a miracle worker.

“Sorry, sweetie, no can do.” Adair took Fabio’s chin in one hand and tilted his head this way and that. “I can hide it very effectively for a few more months, maybe, but only Botox or laser therapy or something similar can completely remove it.”

“Shit!” His voice was way too loud and a few grins were sent his way before the two other models being powdered looked away. Man, people are nosy around here.

“I agree.” Adair picked some foundation and started applying it across Fabio’s face. “It’ll be expensive, but it can be done.”

“No. Can’t do it.” He couldn’t even think about it without his stomach turning.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” Adair paused for a second before returning to his task. “They’re getting very good at this stuff.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about. Well, not entirely.” He shook as goose bumps appeared across his body.

Adair just looked at him with his ‘come on, give it up’ expression and Fabio had no choice but to tell him. After all, he might still need the man’s advice to find a less invasive method for ‘ironing out’ this wrinkle.

“Well?” Adair stopped working and leaned back, making Fabio decidedly uncomfortable.

“I have a fear of needles…” Anything doctor or medical-related, in fact. He didn’t know what had caused it, but it had been this way ever since he could remember, so it must be due to something that happened when he was extremely young.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry to hear that.” Adair squeezed his shoulder. “Have you tried therapy?”

Fabio nodded.

“It didn’t help?” Adair shook his head. “Must be really bad.”

Fabio nodded again. Even his wrinkle and its message about aging weren't scary enough to get him to revise his belief about the medical profession. He knew it was stupid, but he’d rather accept the wrinkles than subject himself to a doctor’s care.
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Victor J Banis said...

Oh, this is as smooth as cream - thanks Serena, for sharing it. It sounds like a great series.

Serena Yates said...

Thanks, Victor! That means a lot to me. :-)