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I held my mirror close to check my bruises. Yes, the make-up lady had done a pretty good job suppressing them under the layers of foundation and compact on my neck.
“Jenny, come on. Line up! You are the show stopper, don’t keep sitting there.” the stage manger yelled this time.
I followed her, my red Valentino gown flowing. “You look pretty. Now go give your best.”
I think I should introduce myself, Jennifer Clark, or Jenny, if you please. I am a Brooklyn turned Manhattan girl. Yes, the glamorous Upper East Side! When I got this job to be a model, SUPER model as they like to call it (although it beats me what is so ‘super’ about it), I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I left all the Brooklyn crap behind me except my step father. Let me take you for a ride into my past.
My life changing event took place when I was finishing my shift at a local bar in Brooklyn. Andre walked up to me to ask for one last cocktail. As I was preparing his drink, I caught him staring at me. I stopped myself from using the water gun on him because these words came from his mouth, “Darling, a pretty face like yours should not be behind this bar, losing its glow between those alcohol bottles.” Not that I was melting with the compliment he threw at me, but I smiled back at him only because he seemed harmless, was it the pink streaks in his blonde spiked hair and the way he said “Darling”, well maybe.
“What’s your name, doll?”
“Jenny, as in Jennifer, you have a glam name already. Hey Jenny, sweety, tell me how do you feel about working for me.”
“I am not a hooker.” was my response. He flung his hands up in the air and gave a loud laugh. “Oh sweetheart, you are hilarious. Tell you what, here is my card and you call me, after you give this a thought.” He slid his card into my purse.
Later that night I went home, the drunken son-of-a-bitch was lying in front of the television, my step-father. He was all I had left in this world of a “family”, after my mother ran away two years ago
“What took you so long tonight huh?”
I walked away silently to hang my keys.
“Hey! I am talking to you!” With that he flung his beer bottle across the room. The bottle hit my ankle, luckily enough I had my boots on and saved myself from a scar.
I rushed into my room and locked the door from inside. I sat on the bed, looking at the cut the glass had left on my left boot. I opened my bag to count today’s tip money when I spotted that card. “Andre Kain, IMG Agency, 102 Park Avenue, NY”
I stared at the card and looked at the mirror. A modeling agency wants me?
The next morning I went to the given address. I reached the tall building. I took a deep breath and entered the building. It was the most amazing interiors I had ever seen. I could see pretty and the sexiest girls in the lobby. After I was done being awestruck, I went to the security section, “I’m looking for the IMG Agency?” I felt a poke on my shoulder; I turned back and saw a gorgeous woman standing in front of me. “Hi, I’m Sarah. I heard you say IMG Agency. Are you here for…”, she stared at me top to bottom, which is when I realized how stupid I was coming into a modeling agency wearing a faded denim jeans and a t-shirt with those boots which had got a little rip in them last night.
“I am sorry are you here to deliver something?” she said.
“No, I am looking for an Andre Kain.” I gave her the card.
“You are kidding right? YOU are looking for Andre?” She stared at my boots, yet again. “What is happening to this world?” She walked away having said that. I started walking away, embarrassed.
“Hey, bartender!” I heard someone scream. I swirled around and there was Andre. “My office is this way.”
“I am sorry. This was a mistake.” Andre held my hand and took me to his office, after that I never looked back at my poor life again. April 2010
I now live in a penthouse, and as I mentioned before, my life has changed completely. I am a 19 year old girl, earning big bucks as a model and has her own penthouse. How crazy awesome is that, right? Well almost. My step father is still a royal pain in my ass. Every week he shows up at my door asking for money because my agency is such that they required me to name a guardian because their policy is not to hire any models under the age of twenty one without a reliable guardian. So here I was still stuck with my so called guardian.
I came back home tonight after my show and my step father was there waiting for me in the kitchen. As I walked in he looked at me and said, “Look at you, you are all prettied up, aren’t you? Well I’m sure that pretty face of yours would’ve made you big bucks. So how about you give this old man some love, say ten thousand dollars.”
“What? I gave you five thousand dollars last week and I had asked you to leave me the fuck alone for a month.” I yelled.
“What can I say, I have needs, you little slut. So give me some of that whoring money of yours.”
“I am not going to. Get the fuck out of my house.” I pushed him away from me. He stared at me with anger and held me tightly by my arms. “What do you think of yourself, you bitch! I can get all of this snatched away from you right this moment.” He dragged me to my bedroom. “Open your fucking wallet and sign me a cheque. You remember that I am still your fucking guardian.” He hit me, so hard that I slit my lip. I opened my bag and gave him the cheque.
“Now that’s my girl.”
The next morning I went for my photo shoot and my photographer, Kevin, walked up to me and said, “Jenny, what happened to your lip?”
“Was he there again, your stepfather?” he said. Kevin had been a very good friend since the past few months. He was one of those guys who seemed genuinely nice to me.
“Well, you know how it is, let’s just forget about it.”, I said sliding my gloss to cover the slit on my lip. He held me from my waist and turned me around. “Hey you don’t have to put up with this, you know that right?” I hugged him and said, “There is nothing anyone can do.”
Kevin and I have been secretly flirting for about a month now. I felt at ease around him. Living in Brooklyn and working as a bartender, I had never really had the chance to get into a relationship and honestly I had never really found the right guy. Kevin made me feel different. He was a friend and the only one who I could share my troubles with. In this world of plastic, he had the power to make me feel real. So it wasn’t a surprise when he started hinting towards us to start dating for real.
There were so many things which turned me off about Kevin, but nevertheless I ended up giving “us” a chance, even though he wasn’t the sort of guy I ever thought I would date. I started spending hours talking to him each day, we never really went out that much but he was always there for me when I needed to talk. I still remember the night I had told him every horrible thing my step father had done to me, he had listened silently as I had sobbed away. He never said a word but held me close to him. The world felt so perfect after that. He made me feel safe, alive!
Kevin and I are getting serious. It’s been so wonderful, working with him and at the same time having fun. We haven’t slept together yet and that makes me feel awkward at times, but I think it’s better this way because I know he likes me for who I am and not in love with my body. He is so special to me, he treats me like a real person, and even though he is from a much lower position than I am, he never lets the fact of me being a model come between us.
We sat sipping coffee at our lunch break when Stacey walked in, with her high heels and tight top. “Good morning!” she said with a bright smile. “Is there any more coffee left? I so need it right now.” She picked up the empty jar and sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll just sip some of your soda then.” She winked as she picked up Kevin’s soda and took a huge sip, leaving a mark of her red lipstick on his glass. Kevin laughed, and I gave her an uneasy smile.
“What the hell was that all about?” I said but Kevin wasn’t listening to me. “Hey” I snapped my fingers.
“Oh, what! That? Come on that was just Stacey being Stacey. You know how she is, fooling around all the time.”
“Well I am uncomfortable with such sort of ‘fooling around’, so ask her to just drop it. Why don’t we just telling her that we are going out? She’ll get the hint.”
“What?” he said always spilling his drink, “Jenny, we have talked about this. We can’t tell anyone about us. It’ll hamper us professionally. I won’t be able to be your photographer. Come on, you know I love being around you, don’t take this away from me.” He held my hand tight.
“Fine.”, I said smiling, unable to resist his charming smile. “It’s just that I don’t like the way she looks at you at times.”
“Oh you are not jealous, are you? We are just friends. You are my girl and you know that, not her.”
“Alright. I’m sorry; I really should not doubt you.”
I pulled the covers over my face as my phone vibrated. I looked at my alarm clock, it was 5.15 a.m!!
I picked up my phone, “Hello?”
“Hey sweety, did I wake you up? I called because I have to leave for New Jersey in an hour. So I won’t be seeing for a few days. Sorry hun, my mom called, she’s not feeling alright.”
“Oh my God! Is she okay?”
“I really don’t know” I heard him sob, “I…”
“Kevin, sweetheart, do you want me to drop you till the airport?”
“No, its fine, Jen. I’m driving down.”
“Oh, alright. Call me when you get there. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
My Vogue shoot happened today, and it went great. It isn’t everyday that you get the chance to become the cover girl of Vogue. I wanted to surprise Kevin, so I asked everyone to stay silent about it when he comes back. I went to Stacey’s room to tell her this. I noticed that she wasn’t around. I caught Jason and asked him whether he had seen Stacy anywhere. “Stacey is on a break. She’ll be back in a week. It’s her birthday today; she has gone to celebrate it in New Jersey.”
Something froze inside me. Could it be possible? No, I was just being ridiculous. With that thought I stepped in my changing room. I picked up my cell phone. No messages, no missed calls. I dialed Kevin’s number, no answer. I started to panic a bit, but I was called in for another round of shoots.
When I came back I noticed a voice mail from Kevin on my phone, so I played it. “Hey babe. My mom is perfectly fine. It was just a back ache, and you wouldn’t believe who I bumped into here. Stacey! She insisted that I celebrate her birthday with her, and I couldn’t really say no. I’ll call you when I’m back from her party. I love you.”
I drowned in my couch when I heard the voice mail. I was about to dial his number but Hazel, my make-up lady popped in, “Come on Jenny, we have to get you ready for the next shoot.”
Kevin was supposed to return today, we hadn’t spoken in four days after I tried calling a gazillion times on his phone the night of Stacey’s birthday and all I got was his voice mail. After I wore my Versace gown, I stepped outside. I saw Kevin, fixing his equipments. I called Hazel and asked her t request Janice to get me another photographer. “Is everything alright?” she asked. “Just do it, please”
Later that evening Kevin called me.
“Hey I heard you replaced me today during the Versace shoot. What’s going on, Jen?”
“You need to start explaining about your Jersey trip, and then expect any sort of explanation from me.”
“Jen I had to see my mother. Why are talking to me like this? Stacey happened to be there and I could not say no to her, it was her birthday.”
“No I get it. Maybe that’s why you didn’t bother to pick my phone up when I called you like a hundred times.” I hung up.
I parked my car, and checked the address Kevin had given me. It was his housewarming party tonight, and everyone from our agency was invited. I stepped out and fixed my dress. Yes I looked hot! I walked in the apartment and it was crowded with people.
“Oh my god Jen, are you a vision or what!” Jason said as he hugged me, “Who are you wearing?”
“Dolce and these are my Louboutins.” I winked. As I stood there chatting with Jason, I spotted Kevin across the room with Stacey. She was wearing a tank top and denims with a pair of boots. I saw Kevin looking at me and he waved. I nodded my head in response.
“Jenny, you came.” He hugged me tightly. “I am so glad.” He led me to a corner. “I am so happy to see you. Can we please forget about all that happened? Jen when did you stop trusting me? It’s still me, and I haven’t changed.” I felt his hand gliding across my waist, when he kissed me. I smiled at him. And I thought maybe I was wrong to doubt him. He led me to the bar and ordered a martini.
The party was delightful. I had forgotten how much fun it was to have Kevin besides me and I was glad he was giving me all the attention. He was taking care of me, like he always did. He kept the drinks coming, scotch on rocks, my favourite. I was wrong, I felt, I still loved him.
People started leaving eventually. In the end it was just a few of us, when we started to do some tequila shots. I started feeling a little woozy, when Hazel tried to stop me. “Jen, I think you’ve had enough.”
“No, I am fine. I…” Kevin cut me off and said. “Come on, Hazel, she is alright. I am here for her. Come on one more round.”
Hazel got up and said “Jenny I can drop you home. Let’s go.”
“Hazel, I said she is fine. Right, babe?” Kevin asked me.
I got up and with a spinning head. “Hazel its fine I’ll crash on Kevin’s couch. I don’t think I’ll be able to walk till the door.” I giggled.
Eventually everyone left, and Kevin and I sat on the couch. I started talking to Kevin but he didn’t seem to be listening. He started pecking my neck. “Kevin, stop it.” I just wanted to stay and talk to him, while he held me close to him, like he used to.
“Jenny you are so hot. You don’t know how I kept my hands off you the whole night.” He lifted me up and carried me to his room and laid me on his bed.
“Kevin, we should not do this. I am too drunk.” I said. “Kevin…Please stop.. No…”
I woke up the next morning with a bad headache. Kevin was sound asleep. I picked up my clothes and left his apartment. I felt horrible, mostly because I had a very hazy memory of last night. I called a taxi and asked the driver to take me to my apartment. When I entered the apartment I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My make up was gone and I had mascara smudged around my eyes. I stepped closer and saw a rip on my D&G. The memories of last night started coming back to me. I took off my dress and saw red marks around my waist and on my thighs. I started crying. I felt disgusted with myself. How could I let him do this to me? I could still hear him saying, “It’s alright Jenny. Just let me take care of me…Shhh.. It’s okay.”
I ran into the shower and took a bath, but his smell still clung on to me. I called him after I stepped out from the shower, but there was no answer.
I walked out of a coffee house, when I spotted Kevin and Stacey at the diner across the street. It had been six months since I left the agency and my career as a model. I stood there staring at them. They were laughing and they seemed happy. Stacey turned her head and saw me. She waved and got up from her chair. I saw Kevin staring at me; he ran up behind Stacey and said something to her. They exited the diner and sat in their car, and left. I stood there feeling like an invisible person.
That night I went to my apartment and called Stacey, she didn’t answer my call. I figured she must be with Kevin. I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling when my phone buzzed. It was Stacey.
“Hi, Jenny. It was nice to see you today.”
“You too, Stacey.”
“I am so sorry we left like that. Kevin made me leave.”
“Of course he would Stacey. Why are you even with him?”
“Look, Jen. I know you guys had a fling but Kevin was always in love with me. It must be hard for you to hear because he never loved you back. But Jenny, Kevin and I have been in love since the day you joined our agency. We did have a hard time when you came along, and we split for about a month, but then he surprised me for my birthday and we got back together. We are even getting married this August.”
“What? Is that what he told you? Stacey, Kevin and I were in a relationship.”
“Jen, I know that’s what you believed, but…”
“Listen to me. He cheated on you, Stacey. Remember his housewarming party? He and I were together the whole night. Why do you think that was?”
“He told me if he didn’t give you attention, you would start being crazy and Jen, you did quit the agency after a few weeks.”
“Stacey, he had you fooled. You are marrying the wrong person. You don’t know what happened that night. Kevin… Kevin… He…”, I sobbed, “You don’t know what he did to me.” I explained to her what happened that night after the party, and Stacey’s phone clicked. She had hung up.
It was a lazy Friday night; I sat flipping channels, waiting for the pizza I had ordered. The doorbell rang and I opened the door and found Kevin standing there, “You bitch! Stacey called off the wedding. What did you tell her?”
“How dare you come to my home?” I slapped him across his face. “Get the fuck out of here before I call the police.” I could smell rum on his breath. “How drunk are you?”
Kevin forced his way inside my house and pulled a pistol out of his jacket. “I knew you would be a trouble. I should have done this a long time ago. But then you quit the agency and I finally got my life with Stacey. You thought I loved you? Models like you don’t deserve anybody’s love; all you deserved was what I did to you that night. I had my fun with you.” He laughed.
I ran across my apartment and picked up my phone. It was dead. “Please don’t do this. You have already destroyed my life.”
“You had to go and tell her everything, didn’t you?” He came close to me and pulled me by my hair. “You just could not tolerate that I had raped you and left you!!”
I struggled my way out of his grip and tried to reach for my cell phone. He kept muttering insults at me. I could hear my heart thudding. I turned around and with all my force pushed him off me. The gun fell from his hand and he hit his head across the table. I ran for the gun but he caught it first. There was a loud BANG, and all I could see was a pool of blood, as I lay in it.
There was a knock on my door. I looked up as the warden let her in.
“Hey Jenny, how are you? The doctor said you can finally leave this place. You will be let out, aren’t you happy?”
I looked up at Stacey and asked her, “Is my step father here?”
“No, he left New York about three months back. I am sorry; no one knows where he vanished off to. I tried calling him, to come clear your bills, but there was no answer. It’s alright I have taken care of the bills; you just worry about getting your life back. The agency is willing to take you back Jenny.”
I sat and looked out of the window; New York City looked beautiful under the bright sunshine. “Did you ever visit his grave, Stacey?”
Stacey sat beside me and said, “He put both you and me through hell, Jen. I would never go back to him, even his grave. He is the reason you are in this psychiatric institute. After you step out of here, I never want you to think about him. I want you to feel alive, Jen. He is dead and you have your justice.”
All I could think of was- Do I really have my justice?