The Billionaire's Toy(7)

By: Penny Wylder

God, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’ve never been afraid of getting up in front of people, but this feels entirely different. New. Nerve-wracking. I’m helped up onto the platform, and I wobble in my heels. They arrange my pants around the shoes and I nearly lose my footing again as the rotating platform starts to move. Suddenly there’s music, and I know that the music will play outside as well. The curtain starts to go up and I try to control my breathing as I pick a pose. This is real. This is real. This is real.

There’s a crowd of people gathered outside the windows. Of course there is. If what May said is true, then Andrew Xellum is famous for works of fashion bordering on performance art. Anyone like that is going to have fans that show up to see his next piece of work. Oh god, I might throw up. Don’t look at them. Don’t look at them. I don’t focus on the faces; I focus beyond them as I’m turned around slowly. I pick a point and stare at it for as long as I can, and it helps me keep my balance. If I’m going to be rotating for four hours I can’t afford to be dizzy.

I’m on my second rotation when I see Andrew. He’s standing further back from the crowd, watching just like he said he would be. All those thoughts I tried to lock down come flooding back and my focus narrows to just him. I don’t feel dizzy or overwhelmed or panicked. Instead I feel a new kind of focus, that crippling nervousness I felt moments ago melting away. I slowly change my pose, aware that his eyes are on me, and the movement is slow, sensual, and right. I suppose if you have the right audience you can always find what feels right.

There’s not enough time to think about what Andrew Xellum being the right audience means because the crew is here and they’re changing the look. A few clever hooks in hidden places and the bolero pants separate and are folded up into a sexy short skirt. Openings in the sleeves of the blouse appear to show a little more skin, and suddenly it feels like I’m ready to go dancing.

I let a smile appear on my face as I change my pose and rotate. I see Andrew nod. He likes this. I like it too. It’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, especially when I can feel his eyes on me. It feels like no time at all until the curtains drop and I’m whirled into the next outfit, and then the next. There’s a theme to the clothes, each look starting out tame, and becoming sexier and sexier with each transition. I feel sexy too, knowing that wherever he is, he’s watching. He’s been moving around outside the window, and every time I find him again I get a burst of energy.

The curtains drop and the crew rushes in. “Last one,” someone whispers to me. It’s a deep purple gown with a plunging neckline, lace sleeves and plenty of sheer material around my legs. This is definitely the most couture of the things I’ve had on today. I step into the dress, and there’s some type of body suit inside, but I don’t have a good picture of what the transformation will be. It doesn’t matter though because I’m high on the moment.

The curtains rise and I sweep the skirt out and let it drop. I can’t be a mannequin in this dress, it needs movement. I break my rules for this one, and I don’t stop moving. Even though it’s slow so I don’t fall off my pedestal, I dance, swaying with the music that’s flowing through the speakers and making the dress dance too.

The crew comes in for the final time, and this time there isn’t a clever flowing and clipping. With two buttons, half the dress falls off, revealing the bodysuit I felt underneath. It’s more skin than fabric, and I realize that this is the final transition: eveningwear into lingerie.

I lose my momentum for just a second. Do I want to be in front of half of New York in my underwear? The answer comes immediately and unexpectedly. Yes. Striking a new pose, I raise my arms above my head and lean into it, using poses that push the line between fashion and something too sexy for the Flatiron building on a sunny afternoon. I find Andrew again, but this time he’s not outside. He’s standing in the doorway of the gallery. The encouraging smile he’s worn this whole time is gone, replaced with a look of intensity and sheer heat.

The curtains drop and the crew comes to help me down. Suddenly I realize how exhausted I am. My feet are aching from hours in high heels and I’m sweating. I didn’t feel any of it until this moment. Someone from the crew hands me a water bottle, and another one a robe. They pull me down the hallway, I assume to get me out of hair and make-up, but Andrew stops them. “I’d like a moment alone with Delia, please.”

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