Dreams Come TrueBy: KB Winters & Evie Monroe
“Hello,” she said. I recognized her style from the dresses Nate’s sister had bought and shown us.
“Liss, this is Johnny; Johnny, Liss Carroll.” She stepped forward and offered her hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Hatter.”
“The pleasure is all mine.” Her voice was smooth and sexy, and even though I wanted to rip off her ugly shoes and throw them away, they weren’t the only things I wanted to strip off of her. “I hope you had a good flight. Have a seat, and we’ll talk a bit.”
“Thank you.” She took the seat next to Nate, and I could tell that she was a tad star struck. “Yes, my flight was fine. It was my first time.”
“By the time we’re done with you, you’ll be used to flying. We have a show we’re going to in a couple of weeks. You’ll be there. So, have you ever worked for a designer before?”
“No, you’ll be my first.” I didn’t like the sound of that. There were other things I’d preferred to be her first at, but I had a feeling that she’d taken care of that first years ago. As for the job, I’d hoped for someone with a little more experience at what we do.
I steepled my fingers and did my best to look intimidating. “Nate said you have your degree?” I hoped that part wasn’t a lie.
“Yes, I do. Not on a professional level, but I’ve been sewing since I was ten. My mother died when I was six, and after I found her machine a few years later, I was hooked. I went to design school, and I recently opened my own boutique where I make all of my own inventory.” I had to admire her story and felt for her losing her mother. I knew what it was like to lose both of my parents, but she didn’t quite have the experience that I had hoped she’d have. I couldn’t be upset though, what was done was done.
“Who is taking care of your shop while you’re away? Do you have others employed?” I wanted to get a feel for how she might work with others or be a leader.
“No, it’s just me, and my father is running my shop. He’s been very supportive of my dreams. He’s taken me all over Washington to fashion expos.” She’d been all over her home state, but nowhere else.
“I’m going to put you with my event coordinator. He’ll show you a little bit of the production side of things. I want you to see how the stage works. If you know that then you’ll have a better understanding of what goes on here before we go any further.”
Nate glared at me across the room.
She turned to look at him and then lowered her eyes to her lap where she wrung her hands. “Oh, okay. I was under the impression that I’d be working with you?”
I liked that she seemed disappointed by that and her desire to work with me was flattering. “That’s okay. You will. I’ll be around.” I got up and waited as she joined me and then I led her to the door. “Go down three and turn left and take the next two to the back. You’ll find a tall man in pumps named Weed. Tell him I sent you.”
“Wait, did you say a man in pumps? Heels?”
“Yes, maybe you can get him to trade with you.” She glanced down at her feet and frowned back up at me.
With that she turned and started to leave, but stopped in her tracks. “I was going to ask Nathan when I’d be able to check in at the hotel? We came straight from the airport, and I’m afraid I’ve nowhere to go when the day is over.”
As if things couldn’t get any better. I considered sending her to a hotel, but I knew I’d be a fool to miss out on an opportunity to have her closer. “You will come back to my place. I’ll put you up in a room, and you’ll be quite comfortable.” Her mouth was gaping, and she looked like I’d just invited her to an orgy.
She shook her head. “I’m afraid I told my father I’d stay in a hotel. Perhaps that would be more appropriate. Besides, I don’t want to put you out.”
“I have ten bedrooms in my house, Liss, I don’t think you’ll put me out, and besides, I wasn’t asking. I’d like to keep you close and have you see what kind of personality I am. When we get to brainstorming, I’d like you to at least be familiar. We should get to know each other.” I could think of a hundred different ways I wanted to get to know her.
“Yes, sir. Thank you.” She seemed content, and that was all I could ask for. At least she was reasonable and didn’t argue her case, but I had a feeling she wasn’t going to be easily manipulated.
“Please, Liss. Call me Johnny. I know I’m a good bit older, but sir is a bit too formal.” I didn’t want to feel older than her. God knew I didn’t feel any older.
“Sure, sorry.” She turned and headed off, and I wasn’t sure if she remembered where I told her to go.
Once she was out of sight, Nate got up and crossed the room. “Have you lost your mind? Sending her to be with Weed of all people? He’s going to scare her away back to her daddy, just wait and see.”
“She’ll be fine, and if she can put up with Weed’s quirks, she can handle anything. Besides, I can’t babysit her all day. I’ll check in on her, trust me.” I watched as she got to the other end of the hall and took the turn, and then I shut the door.
“You invited her to your mansion. You never let anyone stay there. Why her? She’s half your age. You’re probably her father’s age.” He knew why I’d asked her.
“Thanks for the reminder. And you can relax, by the way. I just wanted to get to know her.” I didn’t have to come clean about my intentions.
He let out a barking laugh. “You want to sleep with her. I know you. She’s here to help you think. Not help you, you know.” I watched as he fumbled with the thought.
“Please, Nate, you’re a grown man. Do you have an affection for her?”
“No, Christ, Johnny, she’s only twenty-four years old. My baby sister is older.” He fanned himself.
“She’s a grown woman. Besides, she wouldn’t be the first or the youngest. I’ve dated women in their twenties before.” It wasn’t a big deal.
“When you were thirty.” He let out a long breath. “Whatever man. She’s here to feed your head.”
“And I’d like to feed hers as well.” I chuckled, and he gave me a withering glare.
“You do realize that Mandy was younger, right? And we kicked it just fine.”
“You’re an animal. Remind me to say I told you so when the press has a field day, or you knock her up.”
“Mandy or Liss?” I winked, and he turned and paced the room. “Calm down. I’m going to let her get familiar with things, and then we’ll kick off this brainstorm for the next line. I’ve seen her stuff; she might be okay.”
“Might be?” Nate grumbled. “You know her stuff is amazing. You’re probably jealous you didn’t design it. It’s the colors that drew me in, Johnny. She’s got that magic. You always said that color was key.”
“I’m still trying to figure out why she wore those shoes with that dress.” The navy shoes were not only outdated but looked like something she’d bought at a flea market.
“She had a long flight? She wanted to be comfortable. Who cares. It’s not half as bad as some of the decisions you’ve made in your own closet. And let me be the first to tell you that I hate the tie you’re wearing.” Now Nate was trying to be hurtful to prove a point.
“You bought me this tie.” He’d given it to me a year ago, and it was one of my favorites.
“Oh. Well, it would look better on me. It clashes with your tooth.” He turned and headed for the door. “Don’t ruin this arrangement, Johnny. She’s the best we’ve seen in a long time.” With that, he left.
He had a point. She was the best he’d found in a long time when it came to her own designs. But I wanted someone who could lend to my style, not hinder it, and I had a feeling that she was only going to do that. I needed someone to sit down with fresh ideas, something unique. Looking at her clothes, they all seemed very similar in a way, and I knew that wasn’t going to translate well for me. I needed something fresh, but still, clearly my style, like those dye splattered patterns were hers.
I wondered if she’d found her way down to Weed’s office and hopefully the guy would give her some insight into what she’s getting herself into. We were a motley crew of characters; a bag of mixed nuts, one crazier than the next.
I checked out the calendar and realized that our next big event was only a week away. We had a photoshoot for a magazine and would be showcasing some of our lines. I had Weed getting things together, and he was supposed to come in and discuss the models with me later in the day.
I decided to call, and he answered on the fifth ring when I was about to hang up. “What’s happening, darling?” Weed had always called me some form of endearment, and I often wondered if he’d forgotten my name in his dope haze.
“Don’t forget I want to talk to you about the models for the shoot. I want Lysandra in the outfit that Mandy wore for the shoot since she won’t be participating.” She was a star model who only did certain shows with me.