Carey Goddard is surrounded by beauty every single day of his life. Having a famous fashion designer for a mother can do that. He grew up around models, being ferried back and forth between fashion shows. He knows what society finds beautiful. And Carey also knows that he has none of it. He'd been dieting lately to make himself thinner and it had been going well. Nobody questioned him and that was how Carey liked it.

That is until Rebecca Cressy entered his life and screwed everything up. A psychology student who moonlights as a model to pay the bills, she can see through Carey and she immediately sees that something's not right. With her help, can Carey recover from an illness he doesn't even realize he has? Or will his image of himself always stay distorted?


4. Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Carey spent the next day just lazing around the house. His mother had willingly let him stay off from school on Friday, thinking he was still sick. But by midday, he was bored out of his skull from doing nothing but watching trashy reality television all morning. So he left the apartment with his camera slung around his neck and took the subway into the heart of Manhattan. He walked around the streets, snapping discreet photographs as he went along. He got one that he really loved. It was a puddle of rainwater left over from a storm a few days ago. Passerby from the street was reflected in the water; the heel of a boot, a flash of yellow from a taxi, a traffic light blinking red. Carey adored it and decided to get it printed up as soon as he could.

Over the next week, life proceeded as normal. He went to school, then to work. It was kind of boring, but what day to day life isn't, really? But Carey's regular pattern was disrupted when he came downstairs Sunday morning to find Rebecca Cressy sitting in the living room of his apartment. They stared at each other in shock for a few seconds, Carey desperately hoping this was some kind of twisted nightmare and he'd wake up any moment now. If not, he was tempted to run out onto the fire escape and take a nose dive.

"It's you." Rebecca said simply, still staring at him. He felt blood rush to his cheeks at her scrutiny and he nodded, eyes glued to the hardwood floor.

"Are you like Ms. Vavery's work colleague or boyfrie-" Rebecca said uneasily

"Oh God no. No. Son. I'm her son." Carey stammered hurriedly, reddening even more, if that was physically possible at this point. Rebecca nodded quickly, looking slightly relieved.

"As you've probably guessed, I got that modeling position. I'm here for a fitting, because Melissa felt this would be easier than at her office. She let me in about ten minutes ago and told me to wait here while she got the clothes. Didn't your mom tell you?"

"Uh- yeah. Yeah, she did, but it must've slipped my mind." Carey fibbed. Rebecca smiled and stood up. Before Carey knew what was happening, she had walked toward him and hugged him.

"It must be you that I've got to thank for this. I doubt I would've even been considered for the position if you hadn't swayed your mother's decision in some way. So thank you, Carey. I needed this job."

Carey barely heard any of that. He'd frozen up as soon as Rebecca had touched him. They were pressed tightly together in the hug and Carey wanted to die. He hated being touched by people normally. Amelia and Elliot were the only exceptions to this and even they knew the invisible boundaries Carey had instinctively set up. They only embraced him by the shoulders, never by the waist. What if Rebecca felt the fat rolls of his stomach? Or the flab of his underarms?

If Rebecca felt him tensing up, she didn't comment on it. She stepped out of the hug, smiling warmly. Carey let his arms drop to his sides, breathing a small sigh of relief as she moved out of his personal space.

"So you work for your mom? Or is fashion like a family business kind of thing?" Rebecca asked.

"I'm just working there to save up money." Carey said quickly.

Their conversation was interrupted as Melissa came back into the room. She pushed the door wide open and strode in, her arms full of garments. She swiftly looked the two of them up and down before saying,

"I'm just working there to save up money." Carey said quickly.

Their conversation was interrupted as Melissa came back into the room. She pushed the door wide open and strode in, her arms full of garments. She swiftly looked the two of them up and down before saying,

"I see you've met Carey. Good. You'll probably be seeing a lot of each other."

"What?" Carey asked in alarm. What could his mother have possible concocted up that would require him spending more time with Rebecca? Not that he minded, she was extremely nice and one of the few people he felt comfortable around, but it would be nice to get some kind of warning.

"Didn't I tell you, Carey? Every model gets an assistant, who helps them with things. You'll prep her clothes at shows and such. I thought you and Rebecca would be a good match, being so close in age."

"Awesome!" Rebecca said brightly as if she and Carey were life-long friends and hadn't just properly met less than ten minutes ago.

"I just moved to the city, and I could use more friends my own age."

Rebecca turned to beam at Carey and he mustered a feeble twitch of his lips, over awed by the pure brilliance of her smile. Melissa turned and walked away, beckoning with her head for them to follow him. They walked through the house, heading toward to the small fitting room in the back. It was originally a tiny guest room of some sort, but Melissa had converted it almost as soon as they'd moved in. Mirrors covered nearly every square inch of the room, going from wall to wall. Consequently, Carey hated going in there.

Melissa hung the clothes up on a rack and turned to look at Rebecca. She and Carey had gone to sit on the cushy green sofa chairs that were crammed into one corner of the room. The girl looked up at Carey's mother expectantly, seeming eager to get started and ready to please.

"So, Rebecca. You'll be modeling at a small Manhattan fashion show a month and a half from now. If that goes well, we'll see about signing you on for more shows. You'll be wearing spring wear; a skirt paired with blouses, some khakis, and one long sun dress. They've all been designed already, but now we need to fit them to your body shape. Over the next few weeks, we'll be doing fittings, and practicing walking up and down the runway. I, of course, will assist you and Carey will be there to help with whatever you may need."

"Excellent." Rebecca said cheerily, blinking rapidly. She looked a little overwhelmed. Melissa nodded and turned back to the clothes, taking down an item of clothing. Rebecca looked at Carey and whispered teasingly,

"Should I have brought a pen and paper to take notes on or something? There's so much to remember!"

Carey didn't reply and his mother trotted back over, holding the sun dress. Rebecca stood up and took it from her, looking at it appreciatively. She held it against her chest and then grinned.

"This is so awesome! All my friends were so jealous that I'd get to wear beautiful designer clothes like these."

"Yes, yes." Melissa said proudly. "Now, go behind that screen and try this on. Then we'll adjust it accordingly."

Rebecca nodded and walked behind the changing screen. Carey whirled around so he faced the wall. Even though the screen was there, he knew hoe uncomfortable he'd be if the roles were reversed. He would give Rebecca as much privacy as possible. He was facing his reflection in the mirror and shut his eyes, not wanting to see himself.

A few moments later, he heard Rebecca come out from behind the screen. He turned back around and looked closely, judging how much alteration the dress would require. It was a long maxi dress, a peachy orange shade that complimented Rebecca's skin tone. It was a bit too long, and would need to be brought up a little so she could walk comfortably. But other than that, Carey saw nothing wrong with it.

However, the fashion designer in the room seemed to disagree. Melissa pursed her lips together in thought and then moved towards Rebecca, shifting the dress around her. Rebecca looked at her nervously, chewing on her bottom lip,

"Did I screw it up somehow?'

Care's mother said nothing, still fiddling with the clothes. Rebecca glanced at Carey helplessly, looking worried.

"What do you think, Carey?"

"It looks good to me." Carey said quietly.

"That why does Melissa look like that?"

"That's just her face when she's concentrating." Carey explained. Rebecca' scared expression cleared and she stood still, letting the other woman work away. Melissa looked her over one more time and then said,

"Obviously it'll have to be taken up. And you might have to lose some weight for it to fall comfortably, but that's easy. Just diet a little-"

"Hold up." Rebecca said quickly, eyebrows rising, "If the dress is too snug, take it out. I'm not changing myself to fit the dress. Change the dress to fit me."

Melissa looked a little shocked, some color coming to her cheeks. Carey watched the exchange with bated breath. No one ever challenged Melissa on anything. This was uncharted territory for her. But, as smooth as ever, she glossed over it soon enough.

"Of course, dear, if that's what you want." She chirped, "As I always say, what the model wants come first!"

Carey rolled his eyes to himself at that. Never, not once, had those words lets his mother's mouth. What the designer wanted always came first. To her, Models were her dolls, told to dress up and act pretty when she needed them to. Rebecca caught the motion and shot him a grin.

"Well, if that's your philosophy, I won't argue with it." She said.

Carey couldn't keep the grin off his face. It seemed Melissa Vavery may finally have met her match. He wondered where Rebecca got the confidence to even think like that. If someone had mentioned to Carey he needed to lose some weight, he would've been in the bathroom with his fingers down his throat faster than you could blink. But Rebecca not only rejected the idea, she rebelled against it and refused to comply. And that would be a more than welcome change around here.

Over the next few weeks, Rebecca visited Carey's house repeatedly for more fittings. Melissa would leave them alone a lot as she went to make alterations to the clothes, so because of that, Carey got to know a lot about Rebecca. She was in her first year of college, studying to be a psychologist. She was originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and all of her family still lived there; her mother and father with her eleven year old little sister Molly. Rebecca liked reading, drawing even though she said she was bad at it, and "sappy romantic movies." She chattered constantly, which reassured Carey. He didn't have to keep up much of the conversation.

Until one Saturday morning when Rebecca suddenly decided it was time for Carey to tell about himself. They were in the same fitting room as before, Rebecca changing out of the altered sun dress and Carey watching patiently,

"So, Carey," Rebecca said as she changed from behind the screen. "I've told you all about me, but know practically nothing about you. And I think we should change that, because otherwise it would be a very one-sided friendship."

Carey swallowed nervously, fiddling with the long sleeves of his hoodie. Rebecca poked her head out from behind and shot him a grin.

"Don't be shy!"

"That's impossible. Erm- I'm not entirely sure what to say about myself. I'm not extremely interesting." He mumbled, tapping his feet on the ground.

"Everyone's interesting. And I want to know more about you, and as your mother said, what the model wants comes first. Go on, Carey!"

"I'm a senior in high school, if that means anything to you."

"It doesn't. I knew that just by your age. Tell me something- something personal about yourself."

"Like what?" Carey said in distress, feeling worry flood his body. He didn't want to disappoint her, but honestly Carey couldn't think of a single thing about himself that would be at all intriguing to her. He wrinkled his brow together and chewed on his bottom lip, hard. Rebecca caught sight of his stressed face and her features softened.

"Oh, alright, if it's that difficult. Something easy, then. What's- what's your favorite color, Carey?"

"Green. Not neon green, but more like a forest green?" Carey explained.

"And you like the color green because you grew up in the city and there isn't much of it?" Rebecca guessed as she stepped out from behind the screen, walking over to a mirror.

"Yes, exactly." Carey said in amazement. "How did you know?"

"I didn't. Just a lucky assumption. You're attracted to something that's foreign and out of reach for you.'

Somehow it suddenly felt like they weren't just talking about colors anymore. Carey reddened and broke off their eye contact. Rebecca noticed his clear embarrassment and she said,

" Well, personally my favorite color used to be silver, but now its bordering on gray."

"What kind of gray?"

Rebecca slipped out high heels and sauntered over to Carey, taking his hand and pulling him up. She guided him over to the mirror and pointed at it.

"The gray of your eyes is pretty gorgeous, if you ask me anything. Maybe that's what changed my color preference."

Rebecca lightly tapped Carey on the nose and it brought a tiny smile out of him. She glanced at the clock and then jumped.

"Jeez, I better get going or I'll miss my sociology class!"

Rebecca turned away and grabbed a pen and paper of the small coffee table in the corner. She quickly scribbled down a number and handed it to him.

"Here, that's my phone number. Text me if you ever want to talk about anything. Maybe that way I can learn more about you. I might even find out who your favorite musician is!"

And with that, she was gone, leaving Carey feeling strangely empty and more alone than ever before.

That night, Carey stared at his phone for hours, contemplating what to do. He knew texting Rebecca would mean bringing her more into his life than she already was. And Carey wasn't entirely sure if he could do that. Having someone as bright and vibrant as Rebecca in his life one day and then she'd just leave, like everyone else did. Carey didn't feel he was able to survive that; giving that girl pieces of him to take away when she undoubtedly left.

But- she was so happy and amiable and friendly and she made Carey hope in things he hadn't allowed to hope in before. That maybe things would be okay and there were beautiful and miraculous things happening, simply because someone like her existed. So Carey grabbed the phone and the paper Rebecca had given him, plugged in the phone number and then spent the next fifteen minutes wondering what to say. Finally, he bit the bullet and just sent,

My favorite musician is Ed Sheeran. What about you?

He wasn't going to go in headlong. He'd tread carefully, only give certain pieces of himself away. Maybe that way there would be enough of him left afterwards for him to piece himself back together again.

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