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?


2. Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Carey was lying on his bed, looking through all the old pictures on his camera and deciding which ones to keep when his mom barged into his room. Well, maybe barged wasn’t the right word. She teetered in on seven inch stiletto heels, somehow managing to keep her balance. Swaggering to a stop by his bedside, she looked down at him, her hands on her hips.

“What’s up?” Carey asked, already mentally preparing himself to be yelled at about whatever he’d done wrong now. She sat down on the edge of the bed and reached out as if to pat his knee. But at the last second, she pulled back, curling her fingers back in. She brushed a blonde-highlighted bang out of her eyes and then spoke,

“Carey, I was wondering if you’d like a position at my company? Just something small to get you started. College will be here before you know it, and it would probably be for the best if you had some savings stored up.”

Carey said nothing, staring at his knees. He chose not to remind her about the money he’d been saving since the sixth grade. Every allowance, birthday money and Christmas cash had gone into his back account, because Carey had been planning his escape from his home for years. He couldn’t wait to get away.

“You’d basically be sorting files and getting people coffee, but it will pay well.” Melissa said.

Carey took a few seconds to think about it. He could always use some more savings, and besides, it would get him out of the house more. And Carey might be able to sneak into the photographers’ print room and get a look in there. He’d always loved how a camera could preserve so many memories with just a single click of a button. Carey had tons of albums of just snapshots; Elliot and Amelia, landscapes views he’d seen, random strangers on the street that caught his eye.

Admittedly, a tiny part of Carey was pleased about his mother reaching out to him, even if it did relate back to her work. This was the most they’d spoken in days. And no matter how much Carey hated that side of him, the side that desperately longed for her approval, it wouldn’t go away. He couldn’t crush it no matter how hard he tried.

So Carey nodded his acceptance and Melissa smiled a wide lip-sticky smile. She did pat his shoulder this time, but it felt awkward and too forced. They both realized it and she swung back from him.

“Great! You’ll start this Friday, I’m going to say around five o’clock in the evening?”

Carey nodded and she walked away, arms swinging at her sides. And from somewhere deep inside the boy, he wanted her to stay. He wanted her to sit down beside him and talk about her day, ask about his in turn. He wanted them to sit down and watch television together for once. Carey just wanted his mother to be there.


When he told Amelia and Elliot about his newly acquired job, their reactions were about as different as they could be. They were huddled by Amelia’s locker, Elliot frantically filling in his unfinished Chemistry homework and Amelia using a hand mirror to trim her choppy bangs.

“Well, you know how I feel about your mother.” Elliot said, scribbling in an answer. “But being surrounded by models all the time? Definitely a bonus. Get some, Carey!”

Carey blushed and stifled a laugh. Amelia, however, looked murderous and Carey thought someone better get those scissors away from her before she went for Elliot’s jugular vein.

“I’m going to do my upmost to ignore that, Elliot, if you want to live another day. And Carey, I think this could be a good thing. It could bring you and your mother closer. She might get to see the real you, maybe.”

“As if.’ Carey scoffed. “My mother and I had developed a system. She pretends I don’t exist and I try my upmost to not bother her in any way, shape or form. It’s a simple system and one that has not failed us yet.”

Amelia said nothing, just looking at him sadly out of the corner of her eye. Carey pretended to not notice her blatant concern. She put an arm around him, gently running a hand through his brown mop of hair.

“I still think it could work out for the better.” She said softly, so only Carey could hear. He shrugged his shoulders slightly, looking down at his feet and scuffling them back and forth. He didn’t want her worrying about him. He wasn’t worth worrying over, really.

The warning bell for homeroom rang and Elliot cursed, leaning against another locker and writing faster. Amelia chuckled, before reaching into her bag and pulling out her own Chem homework,

“Here, you idiot.” She said, tossing it to him. “I don’t have Chem until after lunch; just give it back to me then. We can’t have you failing a class and then not graduating, can we?”

Elliot whooped and strode over to Amelia, picking her up and spinning her around.

“You absolute angel! I love you!”


“Yes, my beautiful savior?”

“Put me down before I kick you in the groin.”

Carey burst out laughing as Elliot hurriedly dropped Amelia down and scurried away, shoving both sets of homework into his backpack as he went. Amelia rolled her eyes and walked back over to Carey.

“What is he going to do without us?” she said as they walked down the hall to their respective homerooms together.

‘I have absolutely no idea.”


On Friday afternoon, Carey was rushing around to get ready for his first shift of work. He debated long over what he was going to wear because he wanted something that wouldn’t show off his flabby arms and tummy. He had to impress these people and showing everything wrong with him would definitely be detrimental to that. Eventually he chose a dark blue sweater that Amelia had bought him for his last birthday and jeans that didn’t cling too much. Apparently, the sweater brought out his eyes and that must be a good thing, right? He couldn’t look too atrocious.

At four fifteen, he got the subway from Brooklyn into the heart of Manhattan, where his mother’s company was. At his stop, he got out and then walked the short distance to the main building. As Carey walked, his body was wracked with shivers and his teeth practically chattered together. He zipped his jacket up to the neck and bowed his head against the wind.

Carey stopped outside of the building and looked up at the imposing complex that towered high above him. Vavery Fashion Inc had started out as a humble business, but Melissa was anything if not determined. Using her many connections in the fashion world through her career of modeling and her instinctive head for business, she had built it up to become one of the most prominent fashion industries in New York City. Carey took a deep breath and pulled open the glass door, the cold handle stealing the minimal heat from his fingers. He stepped inside and was enveloped into the warmth of the lobby. He breathed a sigh of relief, feeling the chill leech from his bones.

Carey jumped as a young man walked briskly toward him. He glanced at the clipboard in his hands and said,

“You’re Carey Goddard, Melissa Vavery’s son, correct? Due to start working here tonight?”

He nodded nervously, flicking his hair out of his eyes. The man stuck out his hand from him to shake.

“I’m Marcus, your mother’s personal assistant. I’ll be showing you around this evening.”

As they shook, Carey quickly took in his appearance. He was dressed very formally, in a white shirt with a stiff collar and staid dress pants. Trendy glasses were perched on his nose and his whole being practically radiated business. But as they walked away together, Carey realized what his abruptness was really masking; pure nerves. This man was in charge of his boss’ son. He assumed that Carey would have complaints that would just get relayed straight back to Mom later that evening. Anything Carey didn’t like, Marcus would probably suffer for.

Carey wanted to reassure him that he most certainly would not be talking to his mother that night and that he had absolutely nothing to worry about because he’d probably put up with, if not enjoy, whatever he had him doing. But Carey wasn’t forward like that, so he just smiled and went along.

The rest was pretty much a blur for Carey. He followed Marcus around dutifully, struggling at times to keep up with his quick stride. he showed him basically everything there was to see; the communications room, the design room, clothes storage, business, sales representatives, PR. As they went, he explained what his position would be,

“Due to you being underage, we can’t legally hire you as anything more than an intern. You’ll see nearly all sides of the fashion industry in that position, though.”

“So I’m basically here to do jobs other people don’t have time to do.” Carey said quietly.

“Like sort stuff and make coffee and carry clothes back and forth from room to room.”

Never let it be said Carey did not understand his mother’s work. He’d grown up around it, and knew just what it entailed for a fashion company to be a success. At this Marcus smiled, pushing his glasses further up her nose in what, Carey now recognized, was a nervous habit of his.

“Pretty much. That’s how I started out; a nineteen year old intern who didn’t know what he was doing. And look at me now, five years later. Still without a clue.”

Almost as soon as he said it, Marcus blushed, looking down at his shoes. Carey felt a pang of disappointment. He’d just shown a little of his actual self; not the businesslike side. He’d shown the side that was nervous, the side that doubted and was maybe a little insecure. But now he was retreating again, just because Carey was the boss’ child and he was almost afraid of him.


Carey did not understand why, in today’s day and age, stairs existed. They must have become useless once the escalator was introduced. The elevator would make ordinary stairs irrelevant as well. Science had given the human race these inventions. Surely, this is what science was for.

Advances in modern scientific technology did not change the fact that Carey was hauling heavy cardboards boxes up three long flights of stairs at seven o’clock in the morning on a Sunday. He would have gladly used the elevator, but it was clogged with people going up and down and he didn’t want to be disruptive. Plus, hopeful models were being interviewed this morning, to get a chance to be taken on by the company and model some of the incoming spring wear. They wouldn’t be going globally or anything, just a few small shows around New York, but it was a start and that’s all many young girls wanted.

He’d been climbing and lifting for at least thirty minutes and had yet to reach the top staircase. Carey could barely manage getting himself up the steps without getting out of breath; this was just an unrealistic expectation. Some executive in the company needed these boxes of files in his office this morning and Carey had been given the job. That’s if he could even get up there.

His heart was pounding, his mouth was dry and every joint on his body had a strong steady ache. He muttered a curse under his breath and sank down along the wall, sitting down in the middle of the stairs and resting his head on his knees, trying to get his breath back. Carey could feel his heart fluttering like a trapped bird in his chest and began to get a bit worried.  He didn’t mind the stomach pains; he actually enjoyed them in a way, because it meant he was losing weight. But he hated the heart palpitations. He thought someday his heart would keep going faster and faster until it just gave out entirely. And some deep part of him almost hoped that it would. It would definitely save people a lot of trouble.

“Hey, you alright there?” a voice said. Carey nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound. He stumbled to his feet, clutching at his chest. The shock was still coursing through his body. That, combined with the usual dizziness whenever Carey moved too quickly, made his knees go weak. He grasped out blindly for anything to hold onto and gripped someone’s shoulder. He kept his eyes tightly shut, seeing stars behind closed eyelids.

“Are you okay?” his companion asked tentatively. He nodded and then opened his eyes, glancing at the person. It was a young woman, looking down at him in concern. Her tanned face was furrowed with worry and she kept a tight grip on his sweater, as if he was about to go tumbling down.

“I’m alright.” He said quietly, shrugging out of her grasp. “Really, I’m fine. Just felt a bit faint there, for a second.”

She nodded, clearly unconvinced, before reaching into her bag and withdrawing a small bottle of water,

“Here,” she said, passing it to him, “Drink this.”

He nodded his thanks and took slow sips of the water. While he did so, he took in the appearance of his unlikely hero. She was extremely young, maybe just a year or two older than Carey himself. She was tall, made even taller by heels, wearing a forest green shirt and white blouse that contrasted sharply with her tan skin. Her hair was dark brown, jagged, choppy and short. But the thing that got him was her eyes. They were a kaleidoscope of colors; mixing between green, gray, and blue. She had kind eyes, and that made Carey trust her.

“Were you moving these boxes or something?” she asked, looking around them.


“Why didn’t you just wait until the elevator was free? No wonder you almost fainted, this building is far too overheated.”

“It’s too busy this morning.”

“Well, I suppose so. I’m meant to be getting to an interview for some modeling position upstairs and I decided to take the stairs because I thought it would be faster. But you’d think for someone like you, somebody that has an actual job to do, they’d make an exception.”

Carey shrugged his shoulders. He turned around and picked up another box, resting it against his chest.

“Thank you for helping me, and for the water.” He said, adjusting the box in his arms. “I hope your interview goes well.”

With that, he turned around and started moving up the steps, planning on coming back down for the rest later. But he looked back when he saw the girl climbing after him, a box in her arms.

“I’ll help you,” she said, coming up to walk beside him.

“You really don’t need to. And I don’t want to make you miss your interview.”

“Screw the interview. If I’m late, I’m late. I’m not going to get the position anyway. This was just a whim. I’ve never modeled before or anything.”

Carey said nothing, just steadily moving up the flight of stairs. But the girl chattered enough to the fill the silence. It nearly made Carey’s head spin, but in a good way. He didn’t like talking to strangers that much, so anyone who carried the conversation for him was good in his book.

Carey set his box outside of the executive’s office and the girl did the same. She beamed down at him, showing even white teeth with a just a hint of an overbite.

“It was nice meeting you!” she burbled, “What’s your name, by the way?”

“Carey Goddard.” He replied, mentally thanking whatever god was up there that his last name wasn’t his mother’s. The last thing he needed was another person backing away because of his parent.

“Rebecca Cressy.” She said, smiling brightly. Carey returned the smile, feeling rather overwhelmed by the sheer vividness of her personality. They shook hands and then Rebecca jumped as she glanced at the clock,

“I’ve got to go, or else I really will miss that interview, but I might see you around sometime, yeah?”

Carey knew she was just being polite, that they’d probably never clap eyes on each other again. Besides, someone as brilliant as her wouldn’t willingly want to spent time with somebody as dull as Carey. But as she whirled around and rushed away, Carey let himself think, for just a split second, that maybe they actually would meet again.





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