Dreams Come TrueBy: KB Winters & Evie Monroe
“No thanks. I’ll pass, but if I ever decide to revisit my youth and take up drugs again, it’s good to know I have connections.” I let out a long breath. “Nate wants to bring someone else in. He’s got it in his head that we should form a think tank. Some kind of brainstorming group.”
The look on his face, the way his lips went into a tight O and the way he averted his eyes, told me he agreed.
“You think he’s right?”
“I think it wouldn’t hurt. But I do understand where you’re coming from too. You want them to be your designs, and you don’t feel they could be if the idea is from someone else?”
“Well, I’m not totally against it, actually. He’s got someone in mind; I’m just not sure what kind of credentials they’d have. I don’t want someone that doesn’t know shit about fashion coming in to waste my time. Besides, there’s the brand to protect. If I go pulling everything now, it will look like I’m letting the opinions of the critics sway me.”
“Oh, you should definitely be careful. I’d love to be a part of your think tank, and I have credentials, but that doesn’t mean I’d be the perfect fit. I mean, if I had to throw out ideas I’d give you loafers with heels and floral-printed business suits. Maybe the office kilt? That could be a thing.”
“You’re right; I should be careful.” We shared a laugh. I couldn’t imagine designing clothes like those that he’d wear. He was a mix mash of styles and androgyny at its best, but he always looked good.
“It kills me to think Nate’s right. We’re going to have to find some new designs, and my brain is in such a lazy fog with all of the shows and events coming up, that I’m not sure if I’ll have my next line ready by next season.”
“Fall is a huge season, Johnny. I’ll try and work my brain around something. I’m pretty good with color if I do say so myself. Maybe I could help with that.” He brushed off his shoulder and gave me a sidelong glance.
“I’ll take all the help I can get from friends. It’s bringing in this outsider I’m not too fond of. I don’t know what made Nate think this wouldn’t damper my mood. Maybe I’ll tell him to forget the whole idea.”
I leaned back in my seat and wondered if at forty-six I’d expended all of my creativity.
As I ran the fabric through the machine, I felt the tension loose and sure enough my bobbin had run out. I had thought I’d changed it, but with so much work, I’d run out again. I got up and walked to the other machine, that’s why I had it threaded on the side, so I didn’t have to interrupt progress for something like that.
Changing it would be simple enough, but only after I finished this final pass. I already had plans for the dress. I was going to wear it out with my friends later that night. I hadn’t seen Sabrina in over a month. She was my best friend, and the two of us had an awful lot of catching up to do. Her about school and finishing her final year, and me about my shop. It felt good to have something exciting to talk about for a change. Too many times all I’d had to talk about was school. As I did my final reverse stitch to finish the piece, the door chimed out front.
It’d been a busy day, with people coming in and out to check on their orders and to shop for gowns. There was a pageant coming up in the fall, and I had already altered one gown for that, and I was hoping to get another one done. I got up, and when I walked out to find a man looking at my designs, I felt my nerves tremble.
“May I help you?”
When he turned around and saw me, his eyes widened. “Hello, I’m looking for Alice Carroll. My sister told me she owned this place.” He stepped forward and shoved his hands in his pocket.
“I’m Alice Carroll. People call me Liss.” I extended my hand, and he quickly took his out of his pocket and offered it up.
“I’m Nathan Hare. I’m sorry, I was expecting someone much older.” He tilted his head. “You’re the one who owns this shop and makes all of the dresses?” His tone indicated that he still didn’t believe me.
“Yes, I even dye some of the fabrics, as you can see. I’m sorry, you said your sister?” I thought for a moment and realized that this man had the same toothy grin as the woman who had come in and bought all of those scarves and two dresses.
“Yes, my younger sister, Natalie. She was in here the other day. She bought a few things, actually and she’s bragged on your talent since. I am going to meet up with her and my mother today, so I decided to stop in.”
I gave him a sidelong glance and sized him up. Maybe he crossed on weekends? To each his own. “You’re interested in something for an event? I mean, I only make dresses and scarves; things for women.”
He chuckled. “No, I’m not shopping for myself, actually. She was so impressed by your talent that she called me because I’m in the fashion industry. Have you heard of Mad Mode?”
I could see the double M logo in my head as he mentioned it. It was one of the hottest labels in the business. The designer was incredibly hot, and he had been an inspiration of mine for years.
“You work for Johnny Hatter?” My heart began to race.
He nodded as he spun the scarf rack. “Yes. These are amazing.” He looked up and met my eyes. “I think my sister was spot on.”
“I’m sorry, I still don’t quite know what you’re here for.” I felt a touch light-headed and hoped this wasn’t some kind of joke.
“I’d like to offer you a temporary position at Mad Mode. If things go well, then maybe Johnny would keep you on full time.” I didn’t believe what he was saying.
“Me? Why?” I caught my breath and stopped to think a minute before I made a fool of myself. “What kind of work?”
“Because you’re crazy talented. You’d be there to assist with ideas for a new line.”
“But Johnny Hatter would be there, right? I mean, they are his designs, aren’t they?” I wasn’t sure about offering my ideas out to someone else, but working with Johnny Hatter would be a dream come true.
The man’s phone rang, and he glanced down at it and then offered me an apologetic look. “I’m going to need to take this. It’s Johnny.”
My nerves were frazzled. This man was speaking to my favorite designer right here in my very own shop! His voice was low, and he turned his back to me. Even across the room, I could hear Johnny arguing on the phone with Nathan who was just as firm and not afraid to state his opinion.
“She’s everything Natalie said she’d be and more.” He covered the phone and glanced over his shoulder. “Do you have a degree?” he asked in a whispered tone.
“Yes.” I nodded. “In fashion design.”
“She has a degree. Trust me on this one, Johnny. You’re going to love this girl.” There was more back and forth, and then he glanced over his shoulder at me again. “How old are you?”
“I’m twenty-four.” Almost twenty-five, I’d wanted to say. It was hard not to be offended, but I tried not to listen in as he continued.
Finally, he lifted his head and turned to face me. “I’ll handle it!” his tone was sharp, and I took a deep breath and wasn’t quite sure what to say.
“Is everything okay?” I lifted my shoulders and fidgeted with my pony tail. I liked having my hair up when I sewed.
“It’s perfect.” He stepped closer and did one more look around the room. “You look like a girl with a lot of ideas. How would like to come out and work with us for a while?”
“I’m not sure. I’ve only recently got this place up and running and—
The door chimed as a woman and who I believed to be her daughter entered. They went right to looking at gowns, and I took pause to greet them. “Hi, let me know if I can help you.”
“We’re just looking. Thanks,” said the older woman.
“Look, you’ve got a great thing going here, and I respect that,” said Nathan. “But this is the opportunity of a lifetime for someone like you. Think of the things you could learn, the inspiration you could not only give him but gain in return.” His eyes seemed to search mine as he waited for my response.
It was the offer of a lifetime, and I knew that my work was caught up and if I didn’t take on new orders for a while, I’d still be covered by the ones I already had. Working fast and staying ahead of the game had paid off and the inventory I had was going to last me a while. I’d have to make more scarves before I left, but that wouldn’t take but a few hours. But then I thought of my father. I couldn’t just up and leave him. And since I’d never left home, not even for a vacation, I was afraid to step out and leave my home. Mad Mode was stationed in L.A.
“Where exactly would I be going?”
“The home office is in Los Angeles.” He glanced over his shoulder at the women who were gasping and cooing over my collection. “They seem to like your stuff.”
“Where would I be staying? If this is an internship without pay, I can’t afford to come. I mean, I have to make a living.”
“I said it’s a temporary job. I’ll gladly pay you. As for where you’ll be staying, since the job is temporary, we’ll arrange a hotel room.”