Deleted Content from Hidden Seams
Fun Fact - originally, Avery was a journalist and Marco was a make-up wearing man, living a double life. Sound confusing?
Maybe it was. It also lead me to a dead-end, which is why I tossed out about forty pages of content and started fresh - though I did keep in the car accident.
Want to read the original content and beginning? Scroll down!
I refresh the screen and watch more articles appear. This is the issue with today’s news. It doesn’t freaking stop. No one has time to actually research anything because we are all in this hellish race to be the first to post something, whether it is true or not. I skim the titles, a few interesting options among the list. A new education plan, which appears to be in the final stages of Congress approval. A research study on autism and its link to anti-depressant medications. I eye the clock, and scroll faster, sending a quiet prayer up to the office gods that this month’s assignment will cover something more exciting than … I scroll down, my lip curling at some of the top stories. Well, hell. Something more exciting than ninety percent of these stories.
If I had a cuckoo, it would have burst out in the exact second that Stephanie, my annoyingly-timely boss, swung open my door. “Good morning Avery.” She beams, and my heart sinks. Cheery Stephanie is typically bad news for me. It means that she has something EXCITING for me. And me and Stephanie? We have entirely different opinions of exciting content - hers typically the sort found in sleazy supermarket tabloids.
“Good morning Stephanie.” I spin my chair to face her, and try my best imitation of her beam. Her eyes drop to my pants, and from the way her mouth droops, I can already sense a memo coming - one that will be sent to the entire staff but clearly intended for me. But I know my rights. I’m a self-contractor, which means they can’t dictate my hours, or my clothing. I shift in the seat, letting out a small sigh of pleasure at the comfortable stretch of my sweatpants, and glance at the paper in her hands. “Is that my assignment?”
Technically, it’ll contain a dozen assignments - but the majority of them will be sideline pieces, most under five hundred words - things easily read and forgotten. Only one of them, the top one on the list, will be a full-length article, something cover-worthy - though mine have never won that honor.
She glances at the paper, then back at my hot blue pants, as if rethinking her selection. I straighten in my seat and attempt to look intelligent. Maybe it wouldn’t have killed me to wear jeans today. Or hell - go for broke and pull out my black shirt and a button up shirt. I’ve got a pair of black heels somewhere. I tuck my feet behind the wheels of my chair and hope she doesn’t notice the tennis shoes.
She edges toward the door and my curiosity peaks. I scoot forward without thinking, and her eyes drop to my Sketchers. Her mouth twists, a crooked mess of coral lipstick that I recognize from last month’s Beauty Must Have’s list. Her eyes dart to the page and the anticipation is almost painful. I reach out and snatch the page, startling the woman, one of her hands fluttering after it as if we were playing a game of keep away.
My anticipation and curiosity die a quick, painful death in the headline, one cut and pasted into the FEATURE section of the list.
Vince Horace leaves Fashion Empire to His Gay Lover
I groan. This isn’t cover-worthy, not for our magazine. This is … “Ridiculous.” I spit out the word, holding up the page. “You want me to write about this? It’s…” I can’t even think of an accurate word, my Ivy-League education wasted in the inability to produce something better than … “stupid.” I stare at the page. “Nobody cares about this.” It’s not true. Plenty of idiots cared about it. But that crowd of idiots included the woman standing before me, her shoulders straightening into a haughty pose, so I couldn’t exactly say that.
“It’s the top story on every news outlet this morning.” She says quietly in a tone that I’ve learned to avoid at all costs. “It’s interesting to the entire country. She stabs the air with her finger. “I’m giving this story to you for a reason, Avery.”
I sigh, crossing my arms over my chest and waiting for whatever bullshit storm is about to come my way.
“There’s something here,” she says. “I can feel it. I want you to dive into this story. We have a thirty-seven year old twink inheriting a billion dollar empire. I don’t know anyone in America who wouldn’t be interested, including Sweatpants Susans like yourself.”
I rub my forehead, wincing at the words. “I don’t think you can say twink. It’s offensive.”
“Bullshit. Mario calls himself one all of the time.”
I brighten at the mention of the writer. “Mario! Why don’t you give this to him? He loves this stuff.”
She looks at me as if I’m suggesting anarchy. “I want a story, Avery. A well-researched, respectful profile on the new heir of the Horace empire. Preferably one that includes as much dirt and scandal as humanly possible.” She nods toward the page as if the scant headline contains all of the tools I need for success. “So go and find it for me.”
I watch her leave, the old glass door rattling in its pane when she pulls it shut. I swivel in the chair, propping my tennis shoes on the desk and staring at the page.
Vince Horace leaves Fashion Empire to His Gay Lover
Crumbling the page into a ball, I toss it toward the trashcan and miss.
“God, look at this clown.” I flip through the internet image results, struggling to find a single good image of Marco Lent, one where he wasn’t hidden behind Vince Horace, or looking down at something, or a far shot by a paparazzi with no skill whatsoever.
“I’m looking.” Ella giggles, her hair tickling the top of my shoulder, and I lean away, nodding to her own laptop.
“Go look somewhere else. Like at those tickets you’re supposed to be finding for us.”
“Ugh.” She straightens, her eyes still on my screen. “Your work is more fun. I don’t know what’s wrong with you. He’s hot.”
“You’re saying that because of the money,” I gripe.
“Nooo….” She drones. “I’m saying that because he’s HOT. Look past the makeup, Avery.”
“I can’t.” I stop at the closest thing I can find to a straight-on shot. “Look at this. Who can tell what he looks like behind all of that?”
“That’s what guys always say about us,” she points out. A stupid point, since a squirt of foundation and some mascara didn’t compare with whatever Marco Lent was trying to do. His eyes were doused in black, dark powder covering his eyes from the bridge of his nose outward, the effect one that makes his eyes glow, the effect enhanced by a dark V of color. In this image, it was red, but in other images it was green or blue or gold - the color often matching with his outfit, and the wide top of the V starting at the rough tousle of his hair and traveling down to a point just under his lips.
“He looks like a superhero.”
“A sexy superhero,” she coos. “God, look at that jawline, Avery. And his body.” She reaches forward and clicks the mouse, skipping forward to an image of him in an expensive suit, the sleeves artistically sheared off, his biceps screaming as he lifts a wrists and checks the time.
“He’s okay,” I hedge. “If you like your men to look like Sonic the Hedgehog.”
“Whatever.” She snorts, turning and walking toward her spot on the couch, snagging her laptop off of the microsuede surface and plopping down. “Now.” She peers at the screen. “We got bar seats for a hundred bucks or somewhere out in hell for twenty-five. How rich do you feel?”
I felt rich. Rich enough to charge a ticket AND splurge on a cab, her and I cramming into the back of a sweaty New York bumblebee, and jostling the twenty-minutes into downtown. We spill out twenty minutes before the show, and join the line, leaning against the side of worn brick and joining in the line’s conversation, a heated debate over the Knicks season potential, then Family Guy versus the Simpsons.
The doors open and the line shifts forward. I push off of the wall and dig in my pocket for my ticket.
“So tell me about this make-up-wearing billionaire.” Ella slides her drink closer, and lowers her mouth to the thin red straw.
I shrug, my attention caught by a man walking by with a mic in hand. I follow his movements up to the stage, where he hands it to a stagehand, the mic quickly affixed to a pole where some wanna-be Jagger had tied a long scarf. “I can’t find out much about him, actually.”
“Yet.” She smiles. “Right?”
“Yet.” I confirm. “I’ll dig more tomorrow. But I think that Marco Lent is a fake name.”
Her eyes widen. “Really? The plot thickens.”
Yes, it certainly has. Despite myself, I am intrigued, sucked into the vapid pit of middle-America, my fascination with the story growing with each click of my mouse. And it has nothing to do with Marco Lent’s looks and more with everything else. Death. Billions. Fashion. Homosexuality. A Contested Will. Marco Lent himself, a man who seems to be a ghost, one who materialized in Vince Horace’s life thirteen years ago, and didn’t leave the man’s side since. Friend. Lover. Advisor. Designer. The man seemed to have a dozen different roles, depending on whose quote you read. According to some, Horace had leaned heavily on Lent’s designs in more recent years, which explains the more edgy designs, the reemergence of the Horace brand, the popular collaboration with Versace one that had catapulted sales for both brands. For the mysterious man to have no discernible past, to never share personal details or allow for interviews … and for that man to be fashion’s newest billionaire … Stephanie had been right. There is a story here, one certainly worthy of a cover, or AP, or more.
“So…” she drawls, sending an obvious glance down at my outfit. “How exactly are you planning on infiltrating the world of fashion?”
I bristle at the look. These are, after all, my nicest jeans, a solid black skinny pair that can sometimes pass as dress pants if in dim enough light. And the baggy off-shoulder tee looked just like a dozen others in this club. Granted, mine was from her closet, but that was beside the point. “I’m a journalist,” I point out. “My fashion skills - or lack thereof - don’t matter.”
“Trust me,” she intones. “They will matter.”
“I can’t even get an appointment, so right now, it doesn’t matter.” I counter. “I’m getting shot down faster than…” I draw a blank. “Fast,” I end weakly.
“Faster than a virgin on his wedding night?” She supplies helpfully, the edge of her mouth curving around her straw as she makes eye contact with someone over my right shoulder. She straightens in her chair and I inwardly groan as I feel the two men settle into the chairs beside us. There is an awkward introduction, an offer of drinks, and I smile politely and eye the stage, wishing the music would go ahead and start.
I wasted a hundred bucks. I decide that after the fourth guy hits on us, this city too filled with suits and assholes to allow a girl to just dance to music and drink a damn beer. I push away from the table and stand. “I’m going to run.”
Emma makes her sad face, and reaches out a hand. “Whaaat?! No.” She grips my forearm. “Just stay for the first song.”
“I’m sorry.” I give her my best attempt at a regretful face. “Are you okay getting home?”
“Oh yeah.” She waves at the group beside us, a crowd of servers she used to work with. “I’ll be fine.” I watch her other hand, which creeps up higher on the thigh of the forty-something banker to her left. While I avoid suits, they are Emma’s brand of arousal. She winks at me, and I laugh, leaning forward and hugging her. “Text me when you get home. And feel free to crash at my place if you don’t want to go all the way to Brooklyn.”
She kisses my cheek. “Boring prude.”
The shoe fits, and I can only smile at her, waving to the group and grabbing my jacket and bag. I work my way through the crowd, and take a deep breath when I step onto the street, inhaling the scent of a New York night - exhaust and food, perfume and garbage. My first year here, I hated the combination. Now, it is almost reassuring, the smells of home.
A cab stops, a cluster of bare legs and bodies crawling out, and I consider the expense. I turn my head, looking down the dark step, the subway stop just three blocks down. I move left and lean against a street light, unstrapping my heels, dropping them into my bag and working my bare feet into my flats.
The subway, definitely. Three blocks to save twenty bucks? No brainer. I step down the street, skirting left to avoid a bum’s legs, then have a sudden and brilliant thought.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t brilliant. It wasn’t even really that smart. I should have known that Vince Horace’s Celebration of Life Gala would be a ticketed event. One with Secret-Service level security. One that no amount of flirting and eyelash batting could get me into.
I turn away from a guard with absolutely zero human qualities and slink across the street, elbowing through the paparazzi, who look at me as if I am nine levels of dumb. I glance back at the building, the towering ex-church awash with led lights, the faint sound of music audible, the velvet ropes and limos perfectly paired with the cameras, suits, and lightbulb flashes.
I lean against an opposite building and consider my options, one which includes a giant cheeseburger, strawberry milkshake, and that greasy diner one block up. The other involves my bed, some Netflix, and possibly … depending on my enthusiasm level … a round with my vibrator.
I eye the diner and head that way, stepping off the curb and into the cross street.
I heard the squeal of brakes too late, but see the lights, brilliantly white Xenon bulbs, and I throw up my hands and scream.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into how Hidden Seams almost began! And I hope you preferred the final version over this one. :)
Till the next novel!