The Billionaire's Toy(2)

By: Penny Wylder

“What do you think happened? I clearly won employee of the year.”

“Don’t do that,” she says, more gently. “You can tell me.”

I sigh, downing half of the glass she put in front of me. It’s delicious and sweet, something with a hint of apple and a little bit of a bite. “I had another complaint.”

She winces and tries to hide it with a smile, but I see it. “Sorry,” she says. “Same reason?”

“I swear I’m not yelling at them,” I say. My voice carries across the bar and at least two people look in my direction. Perfect.

Fleece starts laughing. “Of course you weren’t. Unless you were.”

I roll my eyes. “I know I’ve done that before, but I swear this time I wasn’t actually yelling. I was trying to be nice.”

“So why would they fire you?”

“Once they tag you as having a temper, it seems like they can’t get it out of their heads. Any complaint all of a sudden has to do with my temper, and I had t

oo many customer complaints in too short a time. They have a policy.”

“That sucks.”

“Plus,” I say, “I ran into Joe when I got home. He’s practically stalking me for the rent which I can’t give him because I am now broke and unemployed.”

Someone signals Fleece down the bar and she turns to me. “Look, hold that thought. Everything’s going to be fine. I think I might know a way to help you.”

I sit with my drink, taking occasional sips and gathering the confidence to tell Fleece no, she cannot lend me money again, no matter how much it might save my ass. The bar is busy tonight, especially for a Monday, and Fleece looks like she’s struggling to keep up. I look around and see a couple of waiters, but the bar seems really understaffed today.

When she finally manages to find a second to come back over, she’s practically out of breath.

“Why is it so busy?” I ask.

“No fucking clue. And Barbara is sick, so I’m all on my own back here tonight. She also gave her flu to the waiters she’s sleeping with.”

I choke on my drink. “Waiters? Plural? Isn’t the idea generally not to sleep with your employees?”

“I think Barbara does whatever and whoever she wants. But enough about that, check your email. I sent you something I think is going to help you.”

Pulling out my phone, I pull open the new email from her. I recognize the heading and the format—I’ve seen them before in her emails. I roll my eyes. “Fleece, this is a model casting call.”

“Yes, it is,” she says, replacing my drink. “My agent sent it to me and I can’t go. I’m way too busy with everything here, and Barbara out for who knows how long. On top of that, I’m not the kind of model they hire.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“And why wouldn’t I be serious about helping my best friend?”

I hold a hand to stop her, “No, I know, and I’m grateful, but you’re you. You’re glamorous and you know how to do this. I am not glamorous and I have no idea how to do what you do.”

Fleece pushes my drink at me and I take another sip. “It’s really not that hard, I promise. Besides, how many times have you seen me walk or pose? Just copy me. You’re gorgeous and they would be lucky to have you.”

Anxiety swims in my stomach. “I don’t know.”

“Will you at least look at the email?

I glance at my phone. “Xellum Studios? I’ve heard of them. Why won’t they hire you?”

She shrugs, “They have a darker aesthetic and rarely hire blondes. But you’d be perfect.”

“You’re forgetting again that I’m not a model.” I laugh. “I don’t have an agent.”

She taps my phone. “That’s why it’s perfect. You don’t have to have an agent to go to this one. Just be there early and get in line.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Who knows? Sometimes I think the same models get sent over and over again to castings, and if they don’t find what they want, they’ll try somebody new. I think you’ve got a look they’ll like.”

I roll my eyes again, my stomach churning with anxiety just thinking about it. “I think you’ve been drinking on the job.”

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