Trashed / Page 42

Page 42


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All through my shift cleaning classrooms, I think about the card in my purse and what it represents.

All the way home, I think about Thom, and wonder if I could do it.

Ruthie is watching the latest episode of Orange is the New Black on her laptop when I come in. I pull Thom’s card from my purse and set it on her keyboard.

She pauses her show and examines the card. “What’s this?”

“This guy followed me halfway to work today. He claims that a modeling agency wants me to move to New York and be a model.”

Ruth gapes at me. “A model?”

I shrug. “That’s what he said. A plus size clothing model.” I hate even saying that phrase; I am who I am, and fuck labels.

She brings up her browser and types in the name of the agency. I sit down and watch as she scrolls through the results. After a few minutes, she turns to me. “They look legit. I’ve seen some of these models before.”

“But…I mean, me? A model? I don’t even know what to think.”

She shrugs. “Does it sound interesting to you? You’ve watched America’s Next Top Model with me. You know how they portray the business.”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I mean, part of me wonders. Having all those questions shouted at me, that was rough. But actually having my picture taken…that was fine. I mean, not the walk of shame picture, which sucked. But…I don’t know. Part of me wants to at least try it, you know?”

“You’d really move to New York? Put your master’s degree on hold, leave Detroit, leave me?” She closes her laptop and traces the logo on the top cover. “Look, Des. I want you to be happy. You’re my best friend. And if you go, I’ll be happy for you, if that’s what you want. I just…I mean, I’d miss you. But…this is a big step. And it doesn’t seem like…you.”

“I’ve never felt beautiful before, Ruth. I’ve learned to love myself, to accept the way I’m built and to rock what I’ve got the best I can. But that’s not the same as feeling truly beautiful. And I felt that way with Adam, and at the dinner. And Thom, the guy I met today, he made me feel the same way. And I mean, what do I have to lose? My loans and scholarships can be put on hold, right? This is the kind of thing that may never come along again. If I finish my master’s and get a job, I’ll probably never leave Michigan. That’ll be it. This is my chance to…do something. To maybe be something other than what I’ve always been. Does that make any sense?”

She nods. “Yeah, it does. I get it. I really do.” She smiles at me, but it’s a sad smile. “Better give him a call, then, huh?” She hands me her cell phone.

I dial the number on the card. It rings once, twice, three times, four, and then there’s Thom’s voice on the other end. “This is Thom.”

“Hi, um, this is Des.”

There’s a lot of background noise, shouts and laughter and music, and then a door closing and it all is muffled into silence. “Des, hi. You coming to New York with me or what?”

“Yeah. I think I am.”

“You’re making the right choice, Des. Give me your address and I’ll pick you up Wednesday afternoon.”

“This Wednesday?” My voice is thin and shaky. Today is Monday; I’ve been home from my summer job for less than a week.

“I knew you’d say yes, so I called Sidney and she’s already scheduled your first shoot for next week. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the meantime, sweetie. Gotta get you ready for your modeling debut.”

“Is there a contract or anything?”

“Oh, sure there is. But I’ll explain all that to you when we get to Manhattan. Sidney, Rochelle, and I’ll go through the whole thing from start to finish and explain it to you step-by-step, clause-by-clause. You’ve also got about a thousand appointments with beauticians and stylists and all sorts of things, plus Sidney wants to meet you, and then there are headshots, and…just a bunch of fun things to do. For now, get packing. I’ll see you Wednesday.”

And then the line is dead, and my head is spinning.

I’m going to be a model…in New York.

* * *

Gareth is pissed as hell at me, but I don’t even care. We’re supposed to be leaving for London tomorrow, and I’m in Detroit right now. We finished the studio portion of filming, and now we’re doing the location shoots. London, Prague, and then Tokyo. I’m supposed to be with the rest of the cast, supposed to be doing the cold read-throughs. But instead, I’m in the registration office of Wayne State University, trying to hunt down a particular black-haired beauty.

I’ve spent the month since the charity dinner trying to act like I’ve moved on from Des, but I can’t fool even myself. I keep thinking about her, dreaming about her. Even Gareth noticed something has been off with me, and he’s typically oblivious to pretty much everything unless it’s film-related.

Rose finally dragged me offset and took me out for drinks and told me—in so many words—to quit being a fucking pussy and go find her.

So here I am.

“Can I help you?” The woman behind the counter is older, with graying brown hair and tired eyes. She doesn’t seem to recognize me.

“Hi. I’m trying to find a friend of mine who I think is a student here.”

“Name?”

“Des. Des Ross.”

She taps at the keyboard for a few seconds. “She’s not registered. I have her in our system, but it doesn’t look like she’s registered for classes this semester.”

“Do you have an address or phone number you could give me?”

The woman peers at me over the rims of her reading glasses. “I’m sorry, I don’t, and even if I did, I couldn’t give that information out to you.” She squints. “Do I know you?”

Am I above using my fame to find Des? Hell no. “You might,” I say, wanting her to recognize me but not wanting to make a scene.

She taps her finger on the desk, and I can see her putting two and two together. “I do. My grandson dragged me to some shoot-em-up movie. Was that you?”

“It may have been. I’ve done some acting.” I lean close, crossing my arms on the desk and whispering conspiratorially. “Look, ma’am. This is important. Des and I…lost touch, and I’m trying desperately to find her. Is there anything you can do to help me?”


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