The Billionaire's Toy(5)

By: Penny Wylder

“Wait though, is that just how he is? Is he always that intense?”

“Oh, yes,” she says. “Don’t worry, if you work with him, you’ll get used to it. He’s very direct and never lies. In this business, it’s refreshing.”

Handing me a paper with the official details for the next day, May ushers me back towards the changing screen. “We’ll see you in the lobby of the building tomorrow.”

And then she’s gone. I change out of the dress as quickly as I can and leave the store, trying to avoid the murderous glances of the other models milling around, maybe hoping for another glimpse of Xellum. Is it possible that they figured out that I was picked?

I pull my cell phone out of my bag as I hurry towards the subway. Fleece is never going to believe this.


The Flatiron building has always been one of my favorite buildings in the city. Gorgeous architecture and a great neighborhood. All benefits for me.

I made sure to leave my house earlier than I normally would, and make it in plenty of time. Fleece and I aren’t even exactly sure what the exhibition is, even though we spent more than enough time last night poring over the casting call for any details they might have slipped in. There was nothing. The only thing we know is that it will be over the top. Everything that Andrew Xellum does is over the top, which does nothing to ease the growing ball of nerves in my stomach. But at the very least, Fleece did coach me through what I would be doing with hair and make-up and what to say in case I have any problems. She’d be a good agent, if that were her thing.

Even though I’m early, May is waiting in the lobby of the building. She gives me a warm smile, and I know that at least part of it is relief that I’m not late. “Right this way.”

She sweeps me through a side door into a tiny room that’s been converted into a dressing room. There are already way too many people in here. Oh god, I can’t breathe. What if this is a mistake? I need a second to stall. I pull May to the side. “Sorry, I just want to know what it is exactly that I’m doing before I go in there.”

Her face goes blank for a second. “Oh, I’m sorry sweetie. I forgot that you don’t have an agent that would have told you. Today Mr. Xellum is having a display of his clothes in the Prow Art Space. You’ll be on a rotating platform, and every 10 minutes, the curtains drop for you to change clothes.”

Nerves crawl in my gut. “So I’ll be just standing there with people looking at me?” I guess that’s what modeling is, but doing it in a window somehow seems really different than walking down a runway.

“Yes, that’s the idea. A living mannequin who can change her pose and make the clothes come to life. And you’ll be modeling day and evening counterparts. Convertible clothes that a woman can spend the whole day in.” She leads me inside. “Oh, and before I forget, here’s your pay rate. I’ll need your bank details for direct deposit.”

I look down at the piece of paper that she’s handed me. I struggle to keep my jaw from dropping. “Are you serious?” To a lot of people, three thousand dollars might not seem like a lot of money, but it’s going to save my ass. I’ll be able to pay my rent and my bills.

May laughs, “Yes, we’re serious. If Mr. Xellum likes your performance, I’m sure you’ll be up for more jobs. Once he takes a liking to someone, there’s always work.” She pushes me into the make-up chair with a firm hand on my shoulder.

“If that’s true, then why was he looking for someone new?”

She smiles. “Mr. Xellum can be a bit…avant-grade with his shows. Not everyone is up for it. This one is tame by his usual standards.”

I nod, making a note to look up his other work when I get home this evening. I was too nervous to look at much last night because I would imagine myself doing those crazy things and it didn’t help my nerves. I send up a prayer that the things he has planned aren’t too out there for me. If the money is this good for every job, it could really change my life.

May rushes away, and I’m left in the room with a bunch of strangers. A bunch of strangers whose job it is to make me perfect for this exhibition. The make-up artist goes to work on me, and over the next thirty minutes, I transform from someone ordinary into a dark-eyed woman with sexy, curly hair and shiny lips.

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