Erika's next Chapter
Erika was very thankful for the triple shot expresso which she sipped while her father drove her to her new job.
It was still dark out but the eastern horizon was beginning to silver. Her father covered a large yawn with his hand.
“Thank you for driving me this morning, Daddy.”
Her father nodded and took a sip of his own coffee as they pulled into a parking lot.
“There it is.” Erika pointed to the sign. Serenity Salon and spa.
The beauty spa was relatively new to Constitution, only a few people she knew had heard of it, but a Google search had brought up some good reviews.
Her dad parked next to several cars near the entrance. A sign on the front door read closed for a private event.
The door opened, just as her father reached for it.
“You must be the Martins.” A middle-aged woman greeted. “I’m Jessie, the owner of Serenity. Please come in.”
Erika walked into a small, posh waiting area. A limestone wall framed by potted plants. The scent of lavender and vanilla was soothing.
Jessie led them through frosted glass double doors and into a large waiting room with over stuffed sage green chairs and lounges. Vases of flowers stood on small side tables. A few Chairs framed a limestone gas fireplace on one wall.
“Please have a seat.” She invited. “I’d offer coffee, but I see you have some. I have bagels, fruit and pastries?”
“I’m good, thank you.” Erika smiled.
Jessie took a seat across from them. “I saw your billboard, you look fantastic. When Joe talked to me and showed me pictures of that shoot, I knew you’d I perfect for our ad campaign.”
“Thank you.” Erika grinned. “What is your ad campaign? “
“We’d like you to be our model for the upcoming Prom season.” Jessie smiled. “we would like to do before and after photos of you for our brochures and ads. We Plan to give you a makeover which is why this will be an all-day shoot.”
“that sounds like fun, but I really don’t want to cut my hair.” Erika was a bit apprehensive.
Jessie smiled. “We were actually planning on giving you hair extensions, which you will of course be able to keep and we will remove them when you are done with them.”
“Really?” Erika bounced forward in her seat. How long do they last?”
“With proper care, three months.” Jessie smiled at Erika’s enthusiasm. “We will also be giving you a bit of a spa treatment today, but a lot of it will be while Joe is shooting you. So mixing work with pleasure.”
“Sounds fantastic.” Erika agreed.
“We have a robe for you to change into through these doors.” Jessie directed her to small room.
Erika entered a small private changing area that held a bank of lockers. She shrugged out of her clothes except her bra and panties. A warm, plush robe awaited her on a warmer. Erika sighed with delight as she wrapped up in its softness. Matching slippers enveloped her feet in sheer luxury.
As she emerged, Jessie led her into what looked to be a hair salon. On the far side, two women waited for her with smiles.
“These two will be doing your makeup and hair.” Jessie explained. “First we are going to do a light everyday look. Nothing fancy for the before pictures.”
Erika greeted the two women and sat in a chair as one set her hair on large hot rollers, while the other began her makeup.
“Good morning, Erika.” Joe strode in. “It’s good to be working with you again. I’m set up in the very front room for you.” He looked to the makeup artist. “How much longer?”
“Fifteen minutes?” She confirmed with a look from the woman doing Erika’s hair.
“Wardrobe?” Joe asked Jessie as she emerged from another room.
“I set up the racks in the quiet room.” She indicated the room that had the soft chairs and fireplace. “Slacks, and blouse to begin?”
Twenty minutes later, Erika stood in the front room wearing an ivory, button down blouse, charcoal gray slacks, and flats with a small heel.
“Great.” Joe told her as the lights flashed. “look over your shoulder, good, now look at me like you are about to go in to take your geometry test. Fantastic.”
Erika moved and posed for what seemed like hours. She was surprised when she looked at the clock and only thirty minutes had passed.
“Go robe up.” Joe directed.
The next two hours were spent sitting in a pedicure chair, reading a book next to the fireplace, eating finger sandwiches on a covered terrace and getting a facial.
“Okay, Erika. We’ll need you to slip out of your bra and lay face down on the massage table.”
“What?” Erika balked. “I, uh, I can’t take off my bra.”
“Sure you can. We’ll keep you covered. We just need to shoot you getting a massage.”
Erika’s heart was pounding. “I can’t.” She protested.
“I’ve seen thousands of women topless.” Joe assured her. “You don’t have anything I haven’t seen before.”
Erika shook her head. “No, Joe. I can’t.”
Joe’s face was turning red. He tossed his camera for his assistant to catch, grabbed Erika by the arm and led her off to a corner. “What is your problem?” he demanded in hushed tones.
Erika’s heart felt like it was going to pound its way through her chest. “I don’t have breasts, yet.” She squeaked. “I wear breast forms.” She swallowed hard as she looked up at Joe, her face becoming as red as his.
Joe’s eyes flicked from her face to the cleavage showing above her robe and then back at her. “those aren’t real?”
Erika looked away, tears filling her eyes. “No.”
“Hey.” His tone changed. His voice became soft. “There are plenty of models out there who aren’t blessed with breasts.” He stated. “Like I said, I’ve seen thousands, of every size shape and color. We’ll keep you covered until you are in position and then we’ll begin shooting. No one will know except one or two people.” He lifted her chin to look him in the eye. “It’s nothing to be ashamed about. You are a beautiful young woman breasts or no. okay?”
Erika took a deep breath. “Okay.”
True to his word, Joe made sure that Erika was covered the whole time as she lay face down on the massage table.
“Erika, this is Marco. He’ll be doing your massage.”
“A real massage? Not just posing?” Erika inquired. She had never had a massage before.
Jessie nodded. “It’ll be short, but yes. We have to get you back in the salon to start on your extensions.”
Marco’s strong hands lightly worked Erika’s muscles, tense from anxiety and stress of being found out. It wasn’t as relaxing as she would have liked, with Joe buzzing around taking photos of her from all different angles.
Back in her robe, Erika was led to the quiet room. Her dad sat next to the fireplace working on his tablet. He looked up and smiled. “How is it going?”
“Okay.” She shrugged.
“There is a buffet over here.” Jessie called from the opposite side of the room. “You should eat while you can.”
Erika was in the middle of loading up a plate when Joe walked into the room with a man a little older than her dad and wearing a very nice, expensive looking suit. A young man in his twenties, also wearing an expensive looking suit followed behind tapping at a tablet.
“Erika, Mr. Martin.” Joe got their attention. “I’d like you to meet Hal Winters.”
Erika’s dad stood and shook Mr. Winter’s hand. “John.”
“Hal.” Mr. Winters returned.
“Hal is an agent from Los Angeles.” Joe introduced. “I sent him some pictures of your last shoot and he was flying through the area and stopped by to meet you.” He smiled at Erika.
“Hello Erika.” Hal greeted. “Please, come have a seat next to your dad.”
“I’ve got to get set up for the next part.” Joe excused himself.
Erika took her plate and a bottle of water and joined her father. Mr. Winters took a seat across from him. The young man stood off to the side.
“Erika,” Mr. Winters greeted. “I understand that this is only your second modeling job?”
“Yes, Sir.” Erika put her plate down on the side table.
“You have done something that doesn’t happen very often.” He continued. “You’ve impressed Joe.” He grinned. “Joe sent me photos of your first shoot and has just shown me some very promising photos from this one.”
“Thank you.” Erika blushed.
Mr. Winters looked from Erika to her father. “I am an agent based in L.A. I work with bands, actors, actresses, models, and singers.” He handed her father a business card and then one to her. “Some of the names you might recognize are Michelle Gray and Tommy Kincaid.” He dropped.
Erika was stunned. This was Michelle Gray and Tommy Kincaid’s agent and he was sitting here in Constitution talking to her? Her heart skipped two beats and then pounded in her chest.
“Devon.” He turned to the younger man. “Some water, please.”
The Young man nodded and swiftly, but elegantly strode across the room and brought a cold-water bottle back to his boss. Mr. Winters took a good swallow and looked back at her and her father.
“I am considering offering my services to you.” He stated. “I could get you on national ads and even commercials depending upon if you can act.” He looked at Erika. “Have you been in any local productions or perhaps sing?”
Erika couldn’t utter a sound. She just shook her head.
“Perhaps in time. Let’s see how you do with print ads first.” He smiled. He looked up at Jessie who had just entered then back at Erika. “Ms. Martin, you are wanted. It was a pleasure meeting you.” He stood as she got up, shaking her hand. “I hope to see you again very soon.”
Erika took her plate and followed Jessie into the salon as Hal Winters, Michelle and Tommy Kincaid’s agent sat down to talk to her dad about her.
She absently age what was on her plate, not tasting a thing. Her stunned mind was still making sense of Mr. Winters wanting to be her agent.
Four women buzzed around her. Two were parting off tiny sections of her hair and using an interesting tool, bonded long lengths of hair to her own. The other two were their assistants.
“Usually it takes closes to six hours to put in extensions.” Jessie had explained. “But with two stylists and two assistants, It should be a lot quicker.
Erika took out her smart phone and turned it on. Several text messages and emails were awaiting her.
Samantha: So excited for you today. Let me know how it’s going.
Tricia: Just checking in, Love. How are you doing?
Tricia: What time are you done tonight? Would love to spend more quality time with you.
Victoria: Hey Girl! Love the Billboard. Everyone is talking about it. So many are so jealous. Hope you’re having a great Holiday.
Tricia: Drove by the school. They are replacing your billboard.
Allie: Hello Erika. Annie and I loved seeing you at Mass. Sorry to see someone defaced your billboard. Hope you are having a good Christmas.
Mom: How are you doing? Your Grandmother is so excited about your modeling. We are hoping you are having a fantastic day.
Tricia: Text me when you can. I miss you.
Erika answered the texts and opened her email.
What the hell is going on there? Has everyone lost their minds? Krystal Told me that you were freaking model now. WTF?
You didn’t even like the idea of being a girl at camp and you’re now a model? I must be losing my mind.
Dad’s on a business trip this Christmas as usual. He promised to take me to St. Thomas when he gets back, but I’m not counting on it. If he does it’ll probably be either a business trip or a vacation with a girlfriend.
Hope you are having a better Christmas than I am.
Merry Christmas Erika.
Haven’t heard from you in a while. I heard that the brain operation went well.
Victoria sent me a picture of your face on a billboard. How did that happen?
Would love to hear from you,
Erika looked up to see her dad approach. He dragged a stool over to her.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“Was that seriously a Hollywood agent, Dad?”
Her father nodded. Yes. Hal Winters. He seems to be a pretty big deal in Hollywood. He likes the photos that you are doing. He wants to see how this one turns out. If it is as good as the insurance campaign, he’ll offer you a contract.”
“Holy Shit.” Erika gasped.
“Hey, watch your language.” Her dad admonished, “But yea, holy shit.”
Erika bit her lip. “Does he know about. . . . you know?”
Her father shook his head. “Not yet, but I suspect that is something that he’ll need to know soon.”
“Tricia text and said that they are replacing the defaced billboard.”
Her father nodded. “Good.”
“Have you told mom yet?” she inquired.
“Just about to call her now. How are you holding up?” he leaned over to watch as the women installed the extensions.
“Fine. It’s kind of weird seeing this.” Erika pulled long strands of curly dark hair across her chest.
“It’s looking good.” He smiled. “I’m going to call you mom.”
Erika looked at her reflection in the mirror in awe. This morning, her dark hair barely brushed past the top of her shoulders, now voluminous curls fell nearly to her belly. “That is amazing. Thank you.” She smiled at the women who had just spent two hours working on her hair.
The makeup artist then stepped in. “You ready for the next step?” she asked.
“Can I use the Ladies room first?”
“Right over there.” She pointed.
Erika had to pull the long tresses over her shoulder for fear of them resting on the porcelain.
This day was almost unbelievable. With instant long hair, bits of spa treatments, Hal Winters wanting to sign her… It was just unbelievable.
Erika washed her hands and sat back down for her makeup.
“This will be a light everyday look as well.” Jessie stated. “You’ll then pose while getting a manicure and pedicure and then we’ll do the final look.”
“Okay.” Erika nodded.
“How are you doing? Can I get you something?” Jessie asked.
“A drink please?” Erika closed her eyes as the artist began applying a base to her face.
An hour and a half later, Erika’s fingers felt relaxed and pretty. A new set of gel nails painted a light pink with tiny metal flecks kept catching her eye as they sparkled in the light. Her feet felt tingly and fantastic, the slippers feeling even softer on her feet.
“Okay let’s break for dinner.” Joe and Jessie agreed.
Erika grabbed a salad and tucked into it as her father worked on his laptop and was on the phone.
“Joe says that he is getting some first-rate photos of you.” Jessie startled Erika as she came up from behind. “We are very excited that you’re doing this for us. Just a few more hours and we’ll be done.”
Erika found herself back in the makeup chair. This time getting a heavier application. As the makeup woman worked on her face, a stylist was curling and styling her hair.
When finished the women refused to allow Erika a glimpse in the mirror, both smiling manically. Erika was then directed to a whole rack of red dresses.
“Blue looks better on me.” Erika informed Jessie and Joe.
“I know it does.” Joe stated, but for sake of these being prom pictures, red is the color that will pop.”
It took trying on a dozen dresses before Joe and Jessie were satisfied.
“Here dear. Put these on.” Jessie handed Erika some simple, but flashy earrings. She stood back and grinned like a proud mother. “Stunning.”
“Can I look now?” Erika asked.
“Yes, of course.”
Erika was speechless as she gazed at the beautiful woman in the mirror. Was that really her? The right side of her ebony hair had been pulled back and clipped just behind the ear with a silver rhinestone hair comb. The curls with the added length of the extensions cascaded over her left shoulder covering her breast. A red beaded dress with a halter neck showed off slim smooth shoulders and tapered in to her waist. The skirt flared, just slightly and cascaded down to her rhinestone strappy sandals that peaked out of a slit that ran up to just past her knee.
“No, no. You can’t cry.” Jessie ran forward with a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. “What do you think?”
Erika just shook her head in wonder. She had always thought that Samantha was the most beautiful girl that she had ever known. This young woman looking back at her now would definitely give her a run for that title.
Erika’s eyes darted from the image of her to that of her father entering the room. Tears flowed freely from his eyes as he gazed with pride upon her. “You look….. you look….. I have no words. Beautiful doesn’t come close to describing how stunning you look.”
“Thank you, Daddy.”
“Okay, we need to touch up your makeup and get your last shoot done.” Jessie physically directed Erika into the other room.
Joe had her posing in the front room again for close to an hour before calling a halt. “Okay, only a few more.” He told Erika.
Jessie and all of the people who worked on Erika throughout the day came in, all dressed nicely. “Group photo.” Jessie smiled at Erika. Erika felt like a movie star as they all gathered around her and posed for a few pictures.
“Only one more quick shoot to go.” Jessie promised Erika. She led her back into the quiet room. “We have to get pictures with a prom date.”
The furniture by the fireplace had all moved to the opposite side of the room. Her father was by the fireplace talking to a young man in a tux with his back to her. With broad shoulders the young man definitely filled a tux nicely.
Her father’s eyes flicked up to hers, they smiled with mirth and he smiled. The young man turned towards her.
Authors note: I'd like to thank Melanie Brown for permission to use and mention her characters.
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