The Billionaire's Toy(4)

By: Penny Wylder

His stare is still so intense, and that little smile on his lips is maddening. I want to know what he’s thinking since I know in this second he’s thinking about me. Abruptly he turns, breaking our eye contact, and I feel hollow. It’s like his gaze was holding me up and now I’m ready to collapse. He takes a dress off a nearby rack of clothes. It’s pale blue and it floats lightly as he hands it to me. “Walk in this please,” he says, and nods at the changing screen.

“You haven’t even looked at my measurements.”

He raises an eyebrow, and that little smile is back, even stronger. “I do this every day. I can tell just by looking at you.” He emphasizes his words with a long, slow look from my head to my toes, and I swear I can feel it on my skin, and my knees feel wobbly. I mumble something and take the dress from him. This is insane. Why did I let Fleece talk me into this? Auditioning for a job was what I signed up for, not humiliating myself in front of the hottest man I’ve ever seen. Now I’m going to make a fool of myself because I’m not a model and I’m probably going to fall flat on my face.

The dress is layers of sheer fabric so light they seem to blend in to my pale skin, like the dress is almost growing out of me. The effect is gorgeous, like I was born in it. The downside is that I have to take off everything. Everything. Even the slightest shadow of underwear beneath this dress will ruin the effect, and for some reason I want him to see me like this. I want him to see the effect he was hoping to create even though I’m sick to my stomach with anxiety.

I step out from behind the screen and his eyes are on me instantly. For just a second, I think I see him do a double take, but then he’s smiling. “Walk, please.”

He goes back to the table, and I do my best to ignore the fact that he’s starting at me with a hunger that’s heating up my skin. Here goes nothing. I walk just like Fleece said: like I have a stick up my ass but I want to have someone look at it anyway. That’s not a hard thing to do because I desperately want him to look at me. To keep looking. It’s the most attention I’ve gotten from the opposite sex in months, and I’m surprised to realize how much I’ve missed it.

Before I know it, I’ve walked back and forth across the room and stopped. I didn’t fall over, so at the very least I can walk out of here knowing that. I’m looking at Mr. Xellum, and he’s looking at me. I don’t dare break the pose I’ve ended in. He tilts his head, a curious expression on his face. “You don’t have an agent.”

It’s not a question. “No.”

“I didn’t think so. I would have remembered you.” A fierce blush rises to my cheeks. “And do you have any modeling experience?”

I press my lips together for a second before answering. “None at all.”

“Good,” he nods. “I wanted somebody who is a raw talent.” I try to smile, try to wrap my head around the fact that he thinks I have any talent in at all. “If you don’t have an agent, and you don’t model, how did you end up here? I’m just curious.”

“I have a friend,” I say. “She didn’t think the casting was right for her but she encouraged me to come. I’m recently out of work and had nothing to lose.”

He chuckles. “I like that you’re honest about it. Why didn’t your friend come?”

I raise an eyebrow and aim for honesty. “You don’t hire blondes.”

“Not often, no,” he says. “I find that dark hair contrasts with my clothes in a way I like. But regardless, encourage your friend to come to my next casting. I owe her one.”


“Because she sent you.” He stands again, and comes around the table. “I’d like you to be at the Flatiron building tomorrow, noon sharp.” Giving me another slow look in the dress he designed, he walks past me and out the door.

I take a breath and it feels like waking up. “What on earth does that mean?” I ask to no one in particular.

May smiles kindly at me. “It means you’re hired, dear, for at least the exhibition tomorrow. Please, don’t be late.”

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