Sitting behind her desk, Sherry Forrester looked down at the photo of the four grinning young men with shaggy hairstyles. John, Paul, George and Ringo.
There hadn’t been a music phenomenon like this since Elvis Presley. It seemed as if the whole world had gone positively crazy over the four boys from Liverpool, England. In the US, their recording of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ had sold a million and half copies in less than three weeks. And when the band arrived in New York, thousands of hysterical fans had waited hours at the airport, hoping to get even just a glimpse of them.
More than seventy million Americans were glued to their TV sets the first time the band appeared on a popular variety series. Sherry herself had watched the show, barely able to hear the music over the screams of the audience. And at their live concerts, teenage girls had fainted.
It was now only four months since that first appearance on TV, and a word had already been coined to describe the group’s popularity: Beatlemania.
‘Try to come up with a new angle for an article,’ her boss, managing editor Caroline Davison, had pleaded. The so-called ‘Fab Four’ had already appeared on the covers of practically every magazine, teen and adult. Gloss had always prided itself on being up to date when it came to anything that affected girls between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, whether it was fashion or beauty or popular culture. Somehow, they’d missed the boat this time. They had to catch up and hit the readers with something different.
Sherry opened a yellow legal pad, took up a pen and waited for inspiration to hit. English . . . British . . . the American Revolution! On the pad she scrawled the words ‘The British are coming!’ No, that wouldn’t work. These guys were already here. She drew a line through the words.
Then she quickly wrote, ‘Why do we love the Beatles?’ Just as quickly she scratched that out too. Not catchy enough.
Her mind was a blank. A figure appeared at her doorway, and she raised her head, glad for a distraction.
‘Hi, Doreen. What’s up?’
‘I haven’t seen Caroline all day,’ the beauty editor said. ‘Is she out?’
‘She’s with the new interns,’ Sherry told her.
‘Oh, right, it’s that time again.’ Doreen closed her eyes and sighed. ‘I hope I get a better one than I had last year.’
Sherry gave a non-committal shrug. Of course, Doreen wouldn’t know that the intern assigned to beauty last summer had been one of Sherry’s closest friends. She probably didn’t even remember that Sherry herself had been an intern just one year ago. But even Sherry sometimes had a hard time remembering this. She felt as if she’d been working at Gloss forever.
Doreen strode away, and Sherry got back to work.
She looked at the photo again, and considered what she already knew about them. Paul was the cute one, John was the smart one, Ringo was the funny one, and George – actually she couldn’t remember reading anything at all about George. But thinking about them as individuals gave her an idea.
‘Who’s your favourite Beatle?’ she scribbled on the pad. She looked at the words, and realized they sounded familiar. From a stack of magazines on her desk, she pulled out the latest issue of their new rival, Modern Girl. Sure enough, over a picture of the group on their cover ran the words ‘Who’s Your Favourite Beatle?’ With a sigh, she scratched out that idea too.
She leaned back in her chair and stared up at the ceiling. Caroline had offered her this office, a converted supply room, three months ago. Sherry had been promoted from general editorial assistant to special assistant to the managing editor, and this had taken her out of the bullpen. But there were no windows, and the four walls seemed to be closing in on her.
Restless, she shoved her feet back into the princess-heeled white shoes she’d taken off that morning as soon as her feet were hidden behind the desk. The toes pinched, but she had to get used to them – everyone was wearing pointed toes this summer. She thought longingly of the penny loafers she’d had on the first day she came to Gloss. They’d been so comfortable.
Of course, footwear wasn’t the only major change in her life. A little over a year ago she’d been a small-town girl from North Georgia, just out of high school, with plans to attend an elite women’s college in Atlanta, after which she would marry her high-school sweetheart. Now she was living the life of one of the heroines in those paperback novels that she along with millions of others were reading these days – a young, single woman in Manhattan, with an apartment and a roommate and a job at a glamorous magazine. Of course, those novels always involved a romance as well, something that was completely absent in her life. Maybe it was just as well, given her history with guys . . .
She stood up, stretched, made a futile attempt to smooth out the wrinkles in her cotton shift dress with the large blue-and-yellow flower print and went out into the bullpen. Although she was happy to have her own office now, sometimes she missed the huge space where over a dozen employees had desks. Frequently she left her office door open, just so she didn’t feel so isolated. The soft clicking of electric typewriters and the hum of conversation made for pleasant background noise. Plus, one whole wall was lined with windows. The sun was shining, the sky was azure and the magnificent New York City skyline was in plain view . . .
At the closest desk, Caroline’s secretary, Gloria Patterson, was gazing dreamily in the same direction. Sherry could understand why. ‘Seventy-two degrees and not a cloud in sight,’ she commented.
Gloria nodded. ‘Just our luck, right? It rains all weekend and now it’s gorgeous out there.’
‘I can’t believe it’s the end of June and I don’t have a tan yet,’ Sherry remarked. ‘It’s too warm to wear stockings, and my legs are so white . . .’ she stopped suddenly, and flushed. Was that an appropriate comment to make in front of someone whose skin was always dark?
But she didn’t have to worry. Gloria smiled. ‘At least that’s something I don’t have to think about.’
Sherry was relieved. Being from the South, she tried to be so careful in everything she said. She was always afraid people might assume she was a racist.
Gloria turned off her typewriter. ‘I’m going on my coffee break,’ she announced. ‘Do you want me to bring anything back for you?’
‘No, thanks. I’ll take a break when Caroline returns.’ Sherry lingered in the bullpen for another few minutes, trying to absorb some natural light before going back into her office. She’d just turned to leave when the main doors to the area opened and Caroline entered, followed by eight girls. They ranged in size and shape and hairstyle, but they were all seventeen or eighteen years old, and they were all wide-eyed, gazing in awe at everything and everyone, especially Caroline, with her sleek, polished Grace Kelly elegance. Sherry could totally identify with what they must be feeling. Nervous, excited, with no idea what the summer would hold for them . . . For a moment she was almost envious. It was all ahead for them, the newness, the adventures.
‘Girls, this is the bullpen,’ Caroline was saying as she led them across the room. ‘Most of you will have desks in this area. Later I’ll be assigning you to work with specific editors in different departments. George!’
A balding man with wire-rimmed glasses stopped. ‘Yes?’
‘Girls, this is George Simpson, our features editor.
George, these are the new interns.’
There were murmurs of ‘hello’ and ‘pleased to meet you’ from the interns, but George Simpson didn’t bother with pleasantries.
‘Who’s the fastest typist?’ he asked Caroline.
‘I don’t know, George. The interns don’t take a typing test.’
‘Well, they should.’ That was all he said before moving on.
Watching this exchange, Sherry had to work at keeping an impassive expression. Mr Simpson had been her boss when she was an intern, and he was the worst, never wanting her to do anything beyond clerical work. That was all he thought interns were good for. Or maybe not just interns, but working women in general. After a year at Gloss, Sherry still couldn’t understand why he wanted to work for a magazine devoted to teenage girls when he had no respect for the female sex.
Caroline was used to George, and she’d managed to maintain her professional smile. ‘Girls, I also want you to meet Sherry Forrester, my personal assistant. Sherry first came to Gloss as an intern, just like you.’
The girls looked at her with interest.
‘I’ll bet you’ve got some good stories,’ one of them said, and another added, ‘Anything you want to warn us about?’ This was followed by a few nervous giggles.
Sherry suddenly felt terribly old and mature, and she tried to imitate Caroline’s smile. ‘You’ll have a better experience learning it all on your own,’ she said, and Caroline nodded with approval.
‘And now,’ she said, ‘I’m going to show you something very special. The famous Gloss samples closet.’
The eager interns followed closely in her footsteps.
Except for one.
The girl who lingered was about Sherry’s height, with straight, shiny jet-black hair and dark eyes. Her name tag read ‘Liz Madrigal’.
‘How did that happen?’ she asked Sherry.
‘How did what happen?’
‘You coming here as an intern and then getting an actual job on the staff. That’s kind of unusual, isn’t it? What did you do to make them want to hire you?’
Sherry was slightly taken aback by the girl’s directness. ‘Well . . . it’s a long story.’
‘I’d like to hear it.’
Relieved at the interruption, she turned to see her roommate, Donna Peake, hurrying towards her.
‘Excuse me,’ she said to the intern. ‘We can talk another time. You should go catch up with the others. The samples closet is really amazing.’
Liz Madrigal left without another word, and Sherry turned to Donna. ‘What’s up?’
Donna waved what looked like a postcard. ‘I’ve got something to show you.’ They went into Sherry’s office and Donna set the card down on the desk. ‘It’s addressed to both of us, but the mail boy came to my department first so I got it.’
Sherry picked it up. The picture was an aerial view of a city, identified as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Turning it over, she immediately recognized the round, almost childish handwriting; she knew only one person who actually dotted every small letter i with a little heart.
Hey, girls! Here’s my news. Pittsburgh is boring and so is my job, and I haven’t met one decent guy. So I’m coming to New York!
There was a line of x’s and o’s, and a signature: Pamela.
‘Is she saying she’s going to visit or move back here?’ Sherry wondered.
‘No idea,’ Donna said. ‘But my guess is that she wants to take another shot at living in the Big Apple.’
Sherry smiled. ‘Wow. It would be great to have her here.’
Donna nodded in agreement. ‘She was a lot of fun.’ ‘As long as she stays away from married men,’ Sherry noted. She shuddered as she recalled Pamela’s disastrous relationship last summer with the Gloss advertising manager.
‘I’m so glad Alex Parker left the magazine,’ Donna said with feeling. ‘I couldn’t bear seeing him around here after the way he treated her.’ She looked at the clock. ‘I have to pick up some stuff in the samples closet. I hope those interns are finished in there. You gonna be home for dinner?’
‘Where else?’ Sherry asked, shaking her head ruefully. ‘It’s not like I have a date.’
After Donna left, Sherry went back to her desk.
With no new bright ideas, she pushed aside the Beatles for the time being and attacked a different job. It was something she was supposed to do on a regular basis – scan the daily newspapers for items and topics that might lend themselves to Gloss articles.
The front page of that day’s Herald Tribune wasn’t exactly uplifting or inspiring. The feature article was accompanied by a grainy photograph of a lunch counter in Alabama, where a civil-rights demonstration had turned violent. In the picture, a sheriff was holding his baton over the head of a Negro man sitting at the counter. A woman next to him had her hands over her face, as if she was protecting herself. In the background, a group of white people held signs demanding ‘Segregation Forever’.
Sherry shivered. The scene had taken place in a town she didn’t know, but the counter looked exactly like one she used to frequent with her friends after school, for Cokes and burgers and ice-cream sundaes. She wondered if this kind of activity was going on back in her hometown. Mama hadn’t mentioned anything in her weekly letters, but that didn’t mean nothing was happening. Mama didn’t like to dwell on unpleasant topics.
Nor did Sherry usually. But she couldn’t stop staring at the photo. It really did look just like the Hillside Luncheonette back home. Of course, you never saw people who weren’t white there. Except for the lady who mopped the floor.
She forced herself to look elsewhere on the page. An earthquake in Japan, a serial killer in Boston . . . a war in Vietnam that was escalating. Nothing for Gloss. She flipped through the pages until she came to the society section, which included the gossip column, and scanned this for anything about celebrities popular with teens. A name jumped off the page.
Pop singer Bobby Dale hasn’t had a major hit for some time, and maybe that’s why he’s heading to the silver screen. The teen idol will be taking a featured role in Tangled Hearts, a romantic drama starring Lance Hunter and Monica Caine. Shooting begins on location in New York this month.
Now, that was interesting – for Gloss, and for herself too. Bobby Dale was going to be in New York. Would Allison Sanderson be with him?
Sherry wasn’t even sure if the two were still together. The former Gloss intern, another good friend from last summer, wasn’t a good correspondent – but then, neither was Sherry, and they had lost touch over the last year. Sherry’s thoughts went back to the last time she saw Allison – in August, at the Copacabana nightclub, where Bobby was performing and had treated the four friends to an evening. Sherry, Donna, Pamela and Allison – that was the last time they’d all been together. It had been so exciting for all of them, having a friend who was dating a real pop star.
She turned a few more pages and stopped at the fashion-and-style section. Men’s fashions were being featured that day, so there wasn’t much of interest. She did note a photo of a man in an odd-looking hip-length coat with a mandarin collar. The caption read: The Nehru jacket, named for the Prime Minister of India and worn by Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No. Is this the next big thing in menswear, or just another fad?
Definitely a fad, Sherry thought. And then, out of nowhere, it hit her. She pushed the newspaper aside and grabbed the yellow legal pad.
The Beatles – Fab or Fad?
A new angle, she thought happily. And feeling very pleased with herself, she picked up her handbag and left the office. Her job entitled her to two coffee breaks a day, but she always felt better when she thought she’d earned them.
‘Hey! What are you doing back here?’
Allison glared right back at the muscular man with the fierce expression who was blocking her way in the corridor.
She lifted the tag that hung from a string around her neck and held it up. The guard squinted at the all-access backstage pass and then lifted his eyes to her face. His grimace disappeared and he almost looked apologetic.
‘Oh, yeah, I know you. You’re his girl.’
Allison bristled. ‘I’m nobody’s girl. I’m Allison Sanderson. I’m a guest of Bobby Dale.’
The man looked confused. ‘But you’re the girlfriend, right? You’re Bobby’s girl.’
Allison gave up. Until someone came up with a better word to describe her role in Bobby’s life, there was no point in arguing.
In the distance she could hear the audience chanting, ‘Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!’ As if in response, from a door at the other end of the corridor, Bobby emerged. The man mumbled something into his walkie-talkie gadget, and from the unseen stage came the sound of a drum roll. The chanting grew louder.
Bobby paused to plant a kiss on Allison’s lips. ‘Wish me luck.’
‘Break a leg,’ she said.
He rolled his eyes. ‘That’s for dancers, not singers.’
‘Develop a severe case of laryngitis?’ she suggested.
He grinned, and turned to run out on the stage. The chanting turned into shrieking as the band struck up the opening to Bobby’s latest recording. Allison knew she could go and watch him from the wings, but she’d done that at the concert the evening before, and Bobby didn’t expect her to do it again. He hadn’t even expected her to do it yesterday.
‘You’ve seen the show. Why would you want to see it again?’ he’d asked.
That was such a Bobby thing to say. The adulation of a gazillion teenage girls had never turned him into an egomaniac.
So instead of hanging out in the wings, she made her way down the corridor to the staff lounge. It was just a little room with a sofa, some chairs, a coffee machine and a pay phone, but it was better than waiting out the concert in his dressing room.
Unfortunately the lounge was currently occupied by an usher and an usherette, engaged in some heavy necking on the sofa. So she snatched up a magazine from the top of a stack on the table and headed to the dressing room.
The reason she hadn’t wanted to go there in the first place was still in the room. Bobby’s manager, Lou Mareno, was sitting at the make-up table, going through some papers and frowning. He glanced up when Allison entered and grunted something that was supposed to pass for a greeting.
She sat down on the small, hard, uncomfortable sofa. ‘Bobby sounds good,’ she murmured in an effort to make conversation.
‘He always sounds good,’ the harried-looking man muttered. ‘Too bad he’s not sounding good to a full house.’
‘The concert didn’t sell out?’
‘Where have you been?’ he barked. ‘The last five concerts haven’t sold out.’
Bobby hadn’t mentioned that to her. Probably because it wasn’t that important to him.
It was clearly important to Lou Mareno though. ‘No one’s interested in teen idols any more,’ he grumbled. ‘All they want are bands. And not even American ones.’
That was true, Allison thought. Walking down any hallway in her dorm, she invariably heard the Beatles or one of those other English bands. Back in February, a couple of girls she knew at school actually cut classes so they could go to New York for a Beatles concert.
Lou Mareno hadn’t finished complaining. ‘It doesn’t help that Bobby insists on singing those folk songs in concert.’ He glared at Allison, as if this was her fault. It wasn’t, but she would have been happy to take the credit. She loved folk songs, and she’d been very happy when Bobby admitted his own passion for the music.
‘It makes Bobby happy to sing those songs,’ she murmured.
‘Well, it’s not winning him any fans.’
‘Maybe in some other venue . . .’ she began, but the look on the manager’s face made it very clear that he wasn’t open to suggestions.
‘You don’t go from concert halls and arenas to coffee houses and playing in parks,’ he declared. ‘That’s like telling the world you’re on your way out. It’s for losers.’
Now she was getting annoyed. ‘Bobby is not a loser. He’s going to be in a movie, for crying out loud!’ ‘Yeah, well . . .’ He looked at his watch. ‘I gotta make some calls. You ever heard of this band, the Rolling Stones? A bunch of fellows who look like hoodlums? I want to find out if they need representation in the US.’ What a hypocrite, Allison thought. He complained about the British Invasion but given half a chance, he’d jump on the bandwagon.
‘There’s a phone in the lounge,’ she told him, and he left. She knew it wouldn’t bother him if a couple were making out on the sofa. He wouldn’t even notice. And from the way that couple had been going at it, they probably wouldn’t notice him either.
His words hadn’t bothered her at all. She wasn’t worried about Bobby. The fact that until recently he’d been the teen idol had never impressed her, and it hadn’t been what drew her to him a year ago. In fact, if anything, it had made him totally uninteresting to her. She’d never been a fan of this kind of music, or the guys who sang it – cute, wholesome, non-threatening clean-cut types, the object of a typical thirteen-year-old girl’s fantasy. As an intern at Gloss magazine last summer, she’d been less than thrilled when she was given the assignment to interview him.
But Bobby wasn’t at all what she’d expected. He didn’t take himself or his success too seriously, and he wasn’t interested in the glamorous life at all. Raised in New York, he preferred to stay with his grandmother in suburban Queens than at a fancy Manhattan hotel when he was back in town. He was sincere, he was real, he was kind and generous. And it hadn’t been all that hard to fall in love with him.
And they’d been together for almost a year now! Well, not really together all the time. She’d been here, just across the river in Cambridge, in her freshman year at Radcliffe College. Bobby had been touring the country, or at home in California. But he’d come east to see her almost every other month.
It was probably no bad thing that he hadn’t been around more. Radcliffe was demanding, and for the first time in her life Allison really had to apply herself academically. She rarely had time to read anything that wasn’t required for a course, and she could count on one hand the movies she’d seen over the past ten months. She missed Bobby, of course, and she was glad he was wealthy enough to afford a long-distance phone call almost every night. But with all the work she had to do for school, she certainly didn’t need the distraction of a full-time boyfriend.
And maybe this was why the relationship was still going strong. Maybe it was true that absence made the heart grow fonder. Would the romance endure if they were together more? Would familiarity breed contempt? She’d find out soon enough.
She took the chair Lou Mareno had vacated and checked to see what magazine she’d picked up in the lounge. Funnily enough, it was the latest issue of Gloss, the first issue she’d seen since she left the internship last August.
Flipping through the pages, she could see that the magazine hadn’t changed at all. Pages and pages of clothes, and all the usual ads with more clothes, plus silverware and china patterns. Lots of beauty and fashion advice. Should you match your eye-shadow to the colour of your eyes, your handbag to your shoes, your lipstick to your nail polish? There was a review of the latest Elvis Presley movie, Viva Las Vegas, and an interview with Patty Duke, the teen star of her own TV comedy. And an article about Sean Connery, who played James Bond, and his upcoming movie in the 007 series, Goldfinger. She remembered going to see him in Dr. No last summer, with Pamela, her roommate from her time at Gloss.
Thinking about Pamela made her smile. She’d been quite a character, with her platinum-blonde hair, tight skirts and low-cut tops. They’d had a lot of fun together, and they’d been pretty close. But they’d lost touch completely since the internship ended, and she didn’t even know where Pamela was living, or if she’d gone on to secretarial school as she’d planned.
It was like that with the other interns she’d been friends with too. None of them had been any good at corresponding. At least she knew where the other two were, still working at Gloss, and checking the magazine masthead she made sure they were still there. Yes, Sherry was still listed as Caroline Davison’s assistant in editorial, and she found Donna’s name under photography, as an assistant to David Barnes.
She heard voices in the hallway. Looking at her watch, she realized it was already intermission time. Sure enough, seconds later Bobby opened the door. He was accompanied by two of those muscular guards and some girl who was making efforts to wipe the beads of sweat from his brow.
‘Can I get you anything, Bobby?’ the girl asked. ‘A beer, a Coke?’
‘Just some water, please,’ Bobby said. And then,
‘Wait a minute,’ as the girl started out. He turned to Allison. ‘Do you want something?’
‘No, thanks,’ she said.
The girl gave Allison a hard look before going off to get Bobby his water. She knew the expression – she’d seen it whenever she and Bobby encountered fans. Jealousy, combined with bewilderment. What was that great-looking pop star doing with that ordinary-looking skinny redhead?
It didn’t bother Allison at all, not even when they tried to flirt with him. Bobby only seemed to have eyes for her. It was really an amazing relationship. But still the doubts were with her. Was their romance so amazing because they spent so much time apart?
Bobby dismissed the guards and turned to Allison.
‘I’d kiss you, but I’m all sweaty.’
She handed him a box of tissues. As he mopped his face she asked, ‘How’s the show going?’
Before he could answer, the girl reappeared with a pitcher of water and a glass. Just one, of course. She clearly didn’t want to acknowledge Allison’s existence. ‘Thank you,’ Bobby said. The girl lingered, and he managed a smile. ‘Thank you,’ he said again, then gently but firmly ushered her out of the dressing room.
Closing the door, he sank into a chair.
‘I am not going to miss this,’ he declared.
Allison smiled. ‘You think making a movie will be easier? Movie stars have groupies too.’
‘I have no idea what it’s going to be like,’ Bobby admitted. ‘I still can’t believe this is even happening. I’m no actor, Allison. What am I doing?’
‘The director must think you’ve got talent, or he wouldn’t have offered you the part in the movie.’
Bobby shook his head. ‘He gave me the part because he thinks my being in the movie will draw a teen audience.’
Allison wanted him to feel better about it. ‘Hey, maybe you’ll discover a talent you never knew you had.’
He shrugged. ‘I’m nervous,’ he confessed. ‘I just hope I’ll be able to get away every weekend to come up here and see you.’
It was the perfect opening for her news. ‘You won’t have to do that,’ she told him.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m going to be in New York all summer.’
His eyes widened. ‘You’re kidding!’
‘I found a summer job as a day nanny for some family. And friends of my parents are letting me sublet their apartment, on the Upper East Side.’
Bobby was momentarily speechless, but his actions spoke for him. He leaped up and embraced her. That led to a massive kiss, which quickly led to the both of them falling on to the little sofa, which had miraculously become less uncomfortable.
It was the worst moment for someone to start rapping at the door.
‘Go away!’ Bobby yelled. A split second later his good manners kicked in and he added, ‘Please!’
‘Five minutes, Mr Dale!’ a voice called.
‘Damn,’ Bobby muttered, but he got up. ‘I have to change my shirt.’
‘I was thinking,’ Allison said as he took a fresh shirt from a hanger, ‘this apartment I’m subletting, it’s supposed to be pretty big. You could stay there with me.’
There was clear regret in his eyes and he shook his head. ‘No, how would that look, living together? For you, I mean. Your parents would have a fit if they found out. I’m better off staying at my gran’s in Queens.’ Then he cocked his head to one side and looked thoughtful. ‘Of course, there will be times when we’re in Manhattan, it’s late at night, I can’t find a taxi . . .’
Allison laughed. ‘Yes, I can see that happening frequently.’
He finished buttoning his shirt, gave her one more kiss. ‘I’m really, really happy,’ he declared before running out the door.
And so was she. She just hoped that they’d both still feel that way at the end of the summer.
Donna slipped the contact sheets into an inter-office envelope, and scrawled ‘Belinda Collins – Fashion’ in the address box.
Picking up some other mail, she went out into the hall. Just as she was dropping the items in the out tray on the receptionist’s desk, the elevator doors opposite opened and a tall, very slender girl ambled out.
The receptionist was off on her coffee break, so Donna turned to the girl with a slightly nervous smile. ‘Oh, hello, Bonnie. Have a seat. I’ll go get David.’
She hurried down the corridor to the darkroom. The red light was on over the closed door, so she couldn’t enter. Rapping on the door, she called, ‘David! Bonnie’s here!’
‘I’m developing!’ the photographer yelled. ‘Tell her to wait.’
Tell her to wait. Tell Bonnie Bailey, the number-one, most-sought-after teen model in the universe, to wait. Oh, David, Donna thought mournfully, why do you do this to me? Even after almost a year working here, she was still intimidated by the celebrities of the fashion world who occasionally crossed her path. Would she ever feel secure and confident? Would she ever stop seeing herself as a fraud, with no business whatsoever being in this glamorous world?
She hurried back to the reception area. Bonnie was sitting on the small sofa, her mile-long legs crossed as she flipped through a magazine.
‘David’s in the darkroom. He’ll be right out,’ Donna told her, and hoped fervently that was true. Seeing that the receptionist was still on break, she asked, ‘Can I get you something? Coffee? A soda?’
‘No thanks, Donna.’
She couldn’t believe Bonnie Bailey actually knew her name! True, Donna had seen her maybe half a dozen times, but most of the models who came in here looked right through her, as if she wasn’t even there. Although, if she was to believe what David told her, half of those models were such airheads they probably had a hard time remembering their own names.
Bonnie yawned, and then clapped a hand to her mouth. ‘Wow, sorry, that was so rude! Late night – you know what it’s like.’
Donna didn’t, but she nodded understandingly. ‘I’m sorry you have to wait.’
Bonnie shrugged. ‘I’m used to it,’ she said cheerfully. ‘Ninety per cent of this job is standing around and waiting! People think modelling is glamorous. If they only knew how boring it really is.’
‘You don’t love it?’ Donna asked curiously.
Bonnie grinned. ‘Of course I love it. What other job would pay so much for just hanging around and waiting!’
Donna thought about all the other models who complained incessantly. Bonnie’s frankness was a nice change.
The model yawned again. ‘Maybe I should have some coffee after all. I don’t want to fall asleep during the shoot.’
‘Of course. Milk? Sugar?’
‘Just black,’ Bonnie said. ‘And only if it’s no trouble,’ she added, flashing her dazzling smile.
Donna ducked into the little staff lounge and searched for a clean mug. Finding one, she held it under the coffee machine and held her breath as she turned the spigot. Thank heavens there was some coffee left. And there were the cookies she’d brought in the day before. She placed a few on a plate.
Bonnie accepted the cup gratefully but eyed the cookies with mock horror. ‘Oh, get those away from me!’
‘You don’t like chocolate chip?’ Donna asked.
‘Are you kidding? I love chocolate chip! And those look home-made. Are they?’
Donna nodded. ‘I made them.’
Bonnie’s eyes widened, and she looked at Donna as if she’d just claimed to have painted the Mona Lisa. ‘Wow.’
‘Have one,’ Donna urged.
Bonnie’s face took on an expression of extreme despair. ‘I’m a model, Donna. I eat a cookie and I’m out of a job.’
‘I won’t tell,’ Donna promised.
Bonnie turned her head from one side to the other, as if to make sure no one else was watching. Then she grabbed a cookie. Biting into it, she rolled her eyes in ecstasy.
Donna couldn’t help laughing. Bonnie had a reputation for being terribly theatrical, but she did it with a sense of humour. This was probably one of the reasons she was so successful as a model – she was able to communicate strong feelings and reactions.
‘I have a fantasy,’ Bonnie confided. ‘Someday, when I’m too old for this gig and I can quit modelling, I’m going to walk into a pastry shop and buy one of everything.’ She paused. ‘Maybe two.’
They were laughing as David finally emerged from the darkroom. The handsome photographer, who bore a marked resemblance to the actor Rock Hudson, headed towards them.
‘So good-looking,’ Bonnie said as she watched him approach. ‘And so unavailable – or so I’ve heard. He’s gay, right?’
‘Um . . . I think so.’ Donna knew this, as did just about everyone at Gloss, but no one ever came right out and said it. Once again, she was impressed by Bonnie’s forthright attitude.
‘Let’s get to work,’ David declared. He sent Bonnie down to see the hairdressers and make-up people, and told Donna what equipment he would need.
Twenty minutes later, they were ready to start shooting. Donna had followed David’s instructions and set up the appropriate tripods and umbrellas. Bonnie had changed into the first outfit she’d be modelling – a long-sleeved forest-green flannel dress with a flared skirt and narrow leather belt. Totally inappropriate for a hot June morning, but this was for the September issue.
Personally, Donna thought the model had looked better before she went into hair and make-up. Her hair was still in her trademark style, a chin-length straight bob with bangs that came to her eyebrows, but it was shinier now, due to a heavy application of lacquer. A thick layer of pancake foundation made her skin look artificial, almost like porcelain, and the rouge on her cheeks had been applied so heavily it looked almost clownish. But Donna knew from experience that under the heavy lights required for this kind of photography, the model needed this make-up. When the pictures appeared on the pages of the magazine, Bonnie would look completely natural. In a perfect sort of way.
Belinda Collins from fashion arrived to supervise the shoot, and Donna was surprised to see that she was accompanied by Caroline Davison. She couldn’t remember ever having seen her at one of these sessions before. Nor had she ever seen the elegant managing editor pay so much attention to a model. She greeted Bonnie warmly, and chatted for a bit while Belinda hung a handbag on the model’s arm. Then the fashion editor stepped back, frowned, shook her head and tried another bag.
At this point, Donna stepped into her role as ‘gofer’. If necessary, she’d run down to the samples closet for more handbags, or fetch the make-up artist to do touch-ups, or gather different cameras. There was always something, and she never knew what it would be. That was part of what made the job so interesting.
‘Oh no,’ Bonnie moaned.
‘What’s wrong?’ Caroline asked in alarm.
‘I think I feel a drop of sweat on my forehead.’
‘Could someone turn the air conditioning up?’
Caroline asked, and Donna took off to do this. Then she returned with the make-up artist to touch up the spot on Bonnie’s forehead.
‘Thank you, Donna, you’re the best!’ Bonnie cried out. To Belinda she said, ‘I always like working here, because of Donna.’
‘Mm,’ Belinda murmured, not really listening as she pinned a brooch on the flannel dress. But Caroline was looking interested.
David heard what she said too. ‘Thanks a lot,’ he called out, pretending to be hurt.
Bonnie laughed. ‘Oh, David, darling, you know I adore you too. But Donna keeps me company.’
Finally everyone was ready, and the shoot began.
‘Bonnie, look to the left,’ David ordered. ‘No, not that much! Now tilt your head to the right. A little more.’
‘Extend your arm so he can see the bag,’ Belinda called out.
‘Not so far out!’ David yelled. ‘Now relax your left shoulder. Look this way. Smile. Stop smiling.’
‘Wait!’ Belinda shrieked. ‘Her nose is shining. Makeup!’
It went on and on like this, with both David and Belinda shouting directions at the poor girl. Despite the air conditioning, Donna thought she looked awfully hot. She ran back to the lounge to get a glass of cold water for the model. When she returned, David was letting her have a break. Donna hurried over to her with the water.
‘You read my mind,’ Bonnie cried out. ‘Thank you, Donna.’
The receptionist appeared at the door. ‘Miss Bailey, there’s a message for you. A Susie Phillips called and said she can’t meet you for lunch.’
‘Oh fudge,’ Bonnie moaned. ‘We were going to the Russian Tea Room and I am so craving a little caviar. Donna! Want to have lunch with me there when we’re finished?’
Donna had never been to the famous restaurant, but she’d certainly heard of it. And she knew it was very expensive. Bonnie probably didn’t realize that a photography assistant’s salary wasn’t in the same league as a top model’s.
Before she could respond, Belinda was ushering the model to the changing room to get into her next outfit. And Caroline approached Donna.
‘I want you to have lunch with Bonnie,’ she declared. ‘And don’t worry, Gloss will pay.’
Donna’s mouth fell open. ‘Why?’
Even though the model was out of the room, Caroline lowered her voice and pulled Donna aside. ‘Did you know that every time Bonnie’s on our cover, our newsstand sales double? We’re trying to get her to sign an exclusive contract with Gloss, so she won’t work for any of our competitors. Clearly you’ve got a rapport with her.’
‘You want me to ask her to sign a contract?’ Donna asked nervously.
‘No, no, nothing like that. Just be her buddy – it will make her want to be here more. Get a real friendship going. Believe me, Donna, this will help when I approach her about the contract. Will you do it?’
‘Well . . . OK. Sure.’ It wasn’t as if she’d be doing anything under false pretences, Donna thought. She did enjoy being with Bonnie.
Caroline beamed. ‘I’ll call the restaurant now and tell them to charge the lunch to Gloss.’
‘I only get an hour off,’ Donna warned her.
‘Don’t worry about that. I’ll tell David you can take all the time you want when you lunch with Bonnie. After all, you won’t just be eating, you’ll be working!’
So one hour later, Donna found herself entering the Russian Tea Room on West 57th Street with Bonnie Bailey. The doorman recognized the model and ushered them both in with a tip of his hat and words of welcome. Then a man hurried forward and practically bowed.
‘So pleased to see you again, Miss Bailey! And Miss – Miss. . .’
It took a few seconds before Donna realized he was asking for her name. ‘Peake,’ she squeaked out. ‘Donna Peake.’
‘Oh, of course!’ the man exclaimed, as if he should have recognized her. ‘Right this way.’ He led them through the opulent room, all red and gold with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and sparkling lights, to a large red banquette. Then he snapped his fingers, and a uniformed waiter magically appeared with enormous menus. Donna accepted hers, but Bonnie didn’t want one.
‘I know exactly what I want,’ she said.
The waiter smiled. ‘Your usual, Miss Bailey?’
Bonnie nodded happily.
‘And you, miss?’
Donna stared at the menu. It was in English, but she still didn’t understand what half these items were. She looked up helplessly.
‘You’ll love it,’ Bonnie assured her. ‘Oh, there’s someone from my agency. I have to go say hello. Do you mind, Donna?’
‘Not at all,’ Donna assured her. She was happy to have a moment alone to absorb what was happening to her.
She’d been in New York for a year now, and she’d had a multitude of new and exciting experiences. But she didn’t think she’d ever get used to them. Now, as she gazed around this luxurious and terribly chic place, she couldn’t help remembering who she was and where she came from.
Poor Donna. From a dreary, Midwest working-class town where the word ‘restaurant’ meant a diner or the Dairy Queen. Where she’d grown up in a trailer in the worst part of town. Struggling at school because she had a condition that made it hard for her to read. Struggling at home because her mother was an alcoholic and there was no father in residence. Two young siblings to take care of. Kathy and Billy . . .
It used to be that she couldn’t let herself dwell on them, since tears would come to her eyes. But now that the little ones had gone to stay with their father and his new wife, they had a better life. And Donna could actually play a part in this life too. This past Christmas, Martin Peake had flown her out to their home in Michigan to spend the holiday.
Only Sherry and the other two friends from last summer, Allison and Pamela, knew the truth about Donna’s background. They even knew about her wretched ex-husband, Ron. They knew about the baby she’d lost, the fighting, how scared she’d been. That she’d stolen someone’s application to become an intern at Gloss and had run away to New York.
Watching Bonnie table-hop now, she wondered if they could ever be real friends. What would the model think of Donna’s past? Not that Donna had any plans to reveal her story to Bonnie. Or anyone else, for that matter. Somehow she’d managed to avoid getting too close to anyone over the past year. She’d never been plied with questions, and she’d never had the temptation to tell.
But now Caroline wanted her to get close to Bonnie. Well, Donna would be happy to have the occasional lunch, chat about fashion, listen to Bonnie’s tales of her dates and parties and whatever else she did in her free time. Bonnie must have lots of friends, so she probably wouldn’t start confiding in Donna, telling her secrets and expecting her to do the same.
Meanwhile, she should sit back and enjoy herself. Think about where she had been just over a year ago, and where she was now. No longer an abused housewife in a broken-down trailer. No longer ‘Poor Donna’. She was Donna Peake, a New York career girl, having lunch with a celebrity model in a glamorous restaurant.
And as Bonnie returned to the table, Donna found it pretty easy to smile happily and wonder what caviar tasted like. She wasn’t even sure she knew what it looked like.
Excerpted from Summer Scandal: Gloss 2 by Marilyn Kaye. Copyright © 2014 by Marilyn Kaye.
First published 2014 by Macmillan Children’s Books, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited, 20 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RR, Basingstoke and Oxford. Associated companies throughout the world http://www.panmacmillan.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Pan Macmillan Australia solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.