I didn’t remember passing out the night before, but I would certainly remember the way that I woke up. My dreams were interrupted by loud banging and someone screaming my name. I thought that I was still in a dream at first. Maybe someone was in trouble and I needed to save them, but suddenly they started to shout Harry’s name too. I rolled over onto my back, partially rolling on top of Harry’s body. We were in his bed, but I was still wearing the yellow cleaning gloves from yesterday and last night. I remembered cleaning every little nook and cranny in the apartment with Harry; the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen, even inside of the refrigerator and freezer. By the time we got done cleaning his room, I remember feeling so sick from breathing in all of the cleaner fumes and laying on his bed with him, but we must have just passed out completely before even changing out of our cleaning clothes.
“SCOTLAN! DAMMIT SCOTLAN OPEN UP QUICK! HARRY! ONE OF YOU!”
Harry shifted underneath me and groaned. “Is this a dream?” He rolled out from underneath me and onto his side, dug his arm underneath me and pulled me into his chest. He smelled like Lysol.
I cleared the morning gunk out of my throat and used his chest to scratch an itch on my forehead. “I don’t know.”
Harry let go of me and rolled off of his bed to walk across the clean, hard-wood floors of his room. I never realized how much I liked the deep brown color of the floors because we could never see them. I rolled back over and slept while he went to the front door and opened it. I heard bickering and yelling, but I was too much asleep to actually make anything out.
Moments later, Harry was back in the room with Anna. “Scotty,” he said, firmly shaking me awake. Anna slapped on the light and stood rigidly in the doorway. I squinted up at him and Anna, getting worried when I saw the flustered looks on both of their faces.
“What? What is it?”
Harry grabbed me and carried me into my room. “You need to get dressed now. Bonnie McLynn is at the studio waiting for you. She’s been waiting since 8 this morning.” He stood me up on my feet and rushed out of the room. I heard Anna’s footsteps down the hall and to the bathroom. I checked my phone and saw that it was 10:30. I had 18 missed calls from Anna, no doubt trying to get me to wake up.
Finally awake and having taken a second to let the situation sink in, I scurried over to my closet and tore through it to find an outfit. “ANNA!” I called. I heard her on the other side of the wall from the bathroom.
“Bring me my dry shampoo please!”
I threw on my black leggings and a large cream-colored sweater. I ran my fingers through my hair a few times and slid on my knock-off Keds. When Anna entered the room with my dry shampoo, I sprayed some of the powder all over my dirty hair and ran my fingers through it again. “Did we even know that Bonnie was coming today?”
Anna huffed and shook her head. I knew she was irritated, but not at me. We were all frustrated with Bonnie. “I remember she emailed me about setting up a meeting with you but we never set a date or a time. She called me this morning at 8:30 and told me that she was waiting for us, so I just got dressed and came right over.”
I widened my eyes at her as I calculated all of the timing in my head. “You were knocking on our door for an hour?”
She laughed and nodded. “You two are the heaviest sleepers ever. Good thing you don’t have any neighbors because I would have woken them up too. Why don’t I have a key to your apartment yet?”
Harry cackled across the hallway. “We have doors and locks to keep the wild animals out.” Anna glared at him and gave him the middle finger. Harry grinned as he fixed his hair and then paused. “Why aren’t you on your honeymoon?”
I hadn’t thought about that.
“Tim and I are supposed to fly out to Cancun this afternoon but I doubt that will happen at this point,” she answered, checking her watch.
I pouted, silently apologizing to Anna. “We’ll try to keep this short, I promise.”
I rubbed my forehead as the three of us drove to the studio in Anna’s car. “This is so irritating,” I groaned, looking out the window at the passing buildings of the city. “No heads-up or anything.”
Anna flipped on her blinker as we turned down another street. “If it was anyone else, I would have told them to reschedule. But it’s-“
“Bonnie McLynn, I know,” I said, putting my head back in my hands and squeezing my temples. Harry reached forward from the back seat and massaged my shoulders, a gesture more appreciated than he probably knew. I had only ever heard of Bonnie, but never spoken to her before. Her clothes were so expensive that they didn’t even put them on the catwalks or in any fashion shows. She claimed that she was better than that, which I didn’t understand at all. But whatever floats your boat, right? She only put out a few advertisements each year for a few of her collections, but somehow she still sold enough clothes to make her a billionaire. I wouldn’t have been so nervous if we had some sort of heads-up about her coming to the studio. I hoped she was a patient person, but I’m sure even the most patient of people would be pissed off if they were kept waiting for over two hours.
Anna’s tires squealed as she skid to a stop in the studio apartment next to a black limousine. I tried to peer through the tinted windows but couldn’t even make out a silhouette. I shuddered and swallowed hard before stepping out of Anna’s car.
I unlocked the door to the studio but turned to wait for Bonnie or anyone to get out of the limo. Anna and Harry stood behind me, waiting for her as well. The three of us were tense. I tried to relax all of my body, especially my face where I could feel I was beginning to glower. Finally, the driver stepped out of the car and opened the door for Bonnie. She snaked her way out of the back of the limo, arching her long back as she stretched. She had short gray hair and looked much older than I would have imagined, but I couldn’t tell for sure because of the large, pink sunglasses that covered most of her face. It wasn’t really cold outside, but she still had on a lengthy, black trench coat that was wrapped snugly around her long body. She didn’t smile as she approached us, but that didn’t stop me from trying to be a little bit pleasant.
“Bonnie?” I asked, sticking out my hand to shake hers. “It’s such a pleasure to meet you. I’m so sorry for making you wai-“
“I didn’t know that we would be joined by a third,” She interrupted coolly, peering at Harry through her sunglasses. “And I prefer Mrs. McLynn.”
I dropped my outstretched hand, which Mrs. McLynn seemed to ignore. “Um, this is Anna, my assistant who you’ve been in contact with. This is Harry, he works as one of my models.
“Hmm,” Mrs. McLynn frowned and peered over her sunglasses at Harry, taking a closer look at him. “You’re a model?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah.”
Bonnie arched her eyebrows.
Harry’s voice cracked. “I mean, yes ma’am.”
Mrs. McLynn shifted her attention to me. “Shall we go inside?”
I turned quickly to the door and fumbled with the keys, sighing when they fell out of my hand and onto the ground. I picked them up and grabbed the studio key, but before I stuck it in the lock, Harry clutched the door handle and pulled the door open. “You already unlocked it,” he whispered in my ear. “Breathe, you’re okay.” I felt my cheeks flush and I hurried into the studio to try and hide my embarrassment. I started to walk into my office, but I spotted all of the scattered papers and old coffee cups everywhere, so before Bonnie could see inside, I slammed the door shut.
“I think we’ll have more room in the actual studio area. You can see where I work too. Anna, will you please get a few pictures from my portfolio for Mrs. McLynn to look at?”
Anna nodded and turned to go back to my office.
“There is no need for that. I’ve already seen your work.” Mrs. McLynn said, folding her sunglasses and tucking them into her pocket as she followed me down the hall to the studio. She handed her black gloves to her driver, who I hadn’t noticed was following us. He stuck her gloves in her purse, which he carried for her. When we got to the studio, Bonnie pushed past me into the open room and looked around. She flicked the lights on and off a few times and then hummed when she saw one of the lights was out. I groaned quietly. The light bulb must have blown out that weekend when we were gone. Mrs. McLynn continued onto the set that Racquelle built for the shoot with Mr. Kyrie and kicked around some of the fake snow. She sighed as if she were exasperated when some of the snow got stuck to her perfectly black pants, leaned down, and flicked the snow off like it was a complete inconvenience to her. She looked behind the set at the other backdrops, pulling at the maroon backdrop that Louis had torn last week. As she pulled, the tear got worse and eventually ripped all the way across. I tensed when the whole backdrop came crashing loudly to the ground. Mrs. McLynn raised her eyebrows and walked over to her driver. She mumbled something quietly to him, he removed a pad of paper from the front pocket of his black uniform, and scribbled a few things down as she spoke. She pointed to the backdrop, the lighting, the set, and the clothing racks that lined the walls. When Bonnie seemed satisfied with what he wrote, she said, “I’ll be leaving now.”
My stomach flipped. “You don’t want to sit and talk?”
She sighed. “I’ve seen enough. You’re an amateur. I don’t know what all of the fuss is about you. You weren’t even on time. You’re shaking and stuttering like I’m the devil here to take your damned soul. What more is there to talk about?” She took her gloves from her driver and put them on, replaced her sunglasses on her face, and turned to walk away.
Harry must have seen me tense because he put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed tightly as if to urge me to stay quiet and let her go, but I was beyond pissed at that point.
“You know something, Bonnie?” I gritted my teeth and waited for her to turn around and face me. “I was nervous because I knew how trashy the place looked from my last photo shoot. Shit happens. The backdrop tore. I already ordered a new one. The light went out. I can replace that in three seconds flat. You got snow on your pants. Well why the hell did you walk in the snow anyways if you didn’t want your damn pants to get dirty?”
Harry pulled me backward a little bit. “I am so sorry, she’s just really tired-“
“God dammit Harry, no I am not.” I pushed myself in front of him again to face Bonnie who stood and watched, not seeming phased by anything I was saying. It didn’t stop me from saying what I wanted. “I am pissed off. YOU came to ME for MY business, UNINVITED and UNEXPECTED. I could have told you to fuck off and come back another day when I was prepared for you but I didn’t. So don’t walk in here like you’re a boss ass bitch unimpressed with everything, when in fact, in this situation, I am the boss ass bitch, and I can have everything perfect with the snap of my fingers.”
“Oh dear god,” Anna breathed behind me, running her fingers through her hair.
I heard Harry swallow hard.
I waited anxiously for some sort of response. After replaying everything I just said in my head, I felt stupid. Boss ass bitch? Really, Scotlan? Bonnie didn’t even so much as bat an eyelash for a few moments. It was driving me absolutely insane that I couldn’t read her. “Jared,” she finally called to her driver without looking away from me. He waited for an order. “Please run to the car and get my agenda. I would like to schedule a shoot date with Miss Ray.”
“Oh my god,” Anna repeated quietly as Jared left the room.
Bonnie’s heels clicked as she approached the snowy set again. She didn’t walk on it this time, but instead admired it from afar. “Where did you buy this set?”
“I have a set architect of sorts who builds my sets right here in the studio.”
She raised her eyebrows and nodded like she was impressed. I was a little bit thrown off by her sudden change in attitude.
“So how long have you two been dating?” She asked, looking at Harry and myself.
I gawked at her and quickly answered with, “We’re not dating.”
She nodded like she didn’t believe me. “Is Harry the only model who works with you?”
I shook my head. “I have three more, but they’re all males.”
She studied at Harry as she approached him slowly, crossing one tall black heel over the other. “Do they all look like him?”
I looked back at Harry and frowned. “What’s wrong with him?” Harry gave off no indication that he was offended but I could tell that he was intimidated and unsure of what to think about Bonnie, so he didn’t say anything.
“Nothing is wrong; he’s quite handsome. He just has so many tattoos. It’s… unorthodox, I suppose.” I was so used to the tattoos that I didn’t really notice you could basically see all of them through his plain white v-neck tee. Harry looked down his arms at the ink rose, ship, and other miscellaneous drawings that were uncovered by the sleeves.
“Two of the other models are the same. We usually just edit the tattoos out if necessary,” I explained.
Bonnie nodded but frowned at Harry’s tattoos, trying to read what some of them said or even try to understand half of them. ”Is that a butterfly?” She whispered, almost as if asking herself. Had Jared not returned to the room right then, I was positive Bonnie would have asked Harry to take off his shirt and let her study him with a magnifying glass.
Jared already had Bonnie’s agenda open for her and had a pen in his hand, ready to mark down whatever date she wanted. Next to me, Anna dug through her large leather purse until she found her small book of dates and opened it too. “Does the 21st work for you?”
“No,” Bonnie shook her head, squinting at the page. “I’ll be in Berlin visiting my wretched father for his birthday.”
I exchanged glances with Anna and then looked back to Bonnie. “I’ll be back on the 24th. Is the 26th good?”
I looked at the agenda with Anna. “No, we have another shoot that day.”
I knitted my brow. ”That’s confidential.”
Bonnie huffed. “Well the only other day I can do it is the 30th and that’s getting to be too late. Can’t you ask your other client to reschedule?”
I shifted uncomfortably, slightly appalled. “No, I can’t just ask them to reschedule. If no other time works for you then you just might not have a shoot this season.”
Next to me, Anna sighed heavily in disapproval of my attitude, but I didn’t care. Bonnie blinked behind her sunglasses. “The 30th will work.”
Jared scribbled down the date in her book and folded it up. Bonnie looked up at me and smiled. “Scotlan, please relax. Thank you for your time this morning. I know this meeting was a bit tense but I just had to make sure you were right for me to work with.”
The corners of my mouth turned down in vexed confusion. “So you were testing me.”
Bonnie grinned again. “Please don’t hate me. The last photographer I worked with – and I won’t tell you who because I’m sure you know him – was a bit of a pushover. It just seemed like I was doing more of his job than he was. I just needed to make sure you had balls.” She grabbed her purse from Jared and started to leave the room. “The more I talk to you, the more you remind me of myself when I was younger. I think we’ll work well together.” And with that, she left the room.
I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or completely pissed off. I don’t think any of us did.
Anna spoke first. “Two Scotlans in one room for a whole day. This should be fun.”
"I can totally handle that," Harry laughed and walked around me to look at my face. “Scotty, please. Whatever you do, don’t grow up to be like that.”
I widened my eyes and punched Harry’s arm. “I would never.”
Harry grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into his chest. “Good. Now let’s let Anna go on her honeymoon,” he said, pushing both of us forward into the hallway of the studio. “And you and I can go get some breakfast.”