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Chapter 8 The Client's Girlfriend

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  • 1 new message from:
  • Zach Boss
  • "UM called. Done shooting S2's last episode. They need u guys on set 4am this Wed. Promo shoot"
  • Today 1:27PM
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  • Jessi had to do a double-take before the last text message from her boss finally sank in. 
  • Her phone had been buzzing while she was cleaning her makeup brushes, and now that she was done drying them, she had a minute to spare before the models needed another retouch.
  • Season two?  Last episode?  Was he talking about "Road to Valhalla"?  The same TV show Zach was working for as the key makeup artist? 
  • Daniella from HR had told her about the Hollywood series, and about the steadily growing fanbase it was gaining after the successful pilot season. But Jessi hadn't had the time to do an in-depth research over the weekend.  She just didn't expect that someone as rookie as her would get picked from the roster for a job that big.
  • When she just kept staring at her phone screen, it buzzed again and showed another text from her boss.
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  • 1 new message from:
  • Zach Boss
  • "S3 shooting to start before Sept. Hoping show gets picked up by more. For now you Mae and Nik focus on promo shoot with leads"
  • Today 1:29PM
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  • Holy mackerel!  Was he serious? She was going to be part of the promo shoot makeup team?  With the leads. Meaning: she would be working with big Hollywood stars this week.
  • Okay!  Now she really had to do the research. "Thank you, God, and my angels," she muttered as a short prayer of thanks.  At the thought of her career getting a head start, Jessi couldn't stop smiling and giggling to herself. 
  • Wait. She wasn't done yet.  She was still on the clock for today's job.  The creative team already prepared the scene for the commercial shoot.  Focus on the task at hand. Postpone the celebratory dance.
  • "Shucks. He's here."
  • Jessi turned to her side and saw the model approaching her. 
  • Kel kept her head down and wore a different outfit now:  an all-white lab gown with a blue company logo on the  breast pocket.  The wrinkle-free coat hung just above the knee.  Also, Kel had on a plain beige dress underneath the lab coat.  The styling team did a great job making her look like a convincing medical professional.  Even though in reality she really was one.
  • Jessi supposed the client,  Enzo, personally persuaded Kel to be the face of his company's marketing materials.  "You okay?" Jessi gave the model a quick smile as she tried not to mind Kel's nervous glances and obvious fidgeting.
  • "No. He just—  Ugh. I told him not to come in here, 'cause it's just gonna distract me," Kel mumbled while a scowl made her brows and cute lips wrinkle.  "He even brought a bouquet. Jeez..."
  • "You don't like flowers?" Jessi asked while trying not to chuckle.  She glanced behind as she waited for Kel to sit back in the makeup chair so they could prep her hair. 
  • The creative director had instructed her to curl some of the model's dark and shoulder-length hair for the commercial shoot.  Same makeup, slightly different hairstyle.  Piece of cake.  The other model had a shaved head and he looked camera-ready all the time.  Her job would be easier this afternoon.
  • Then a tall, wavy-haired guy in a knitted sweater and dark jeans walked in.  Jessi couldn't help but stare at him and the bouquet of roses he was clutching.
  • "Don't look. Don't stare," Kel muttered frantically and grabbed Jessi's forearm. "Darn it. He just saw me."
  • "Relax..." Jessi snickered and started combing the model's straight hair. 
  • "A bouquet? Really? How cheesy could you get, man..."
  • "He prolly just missed you."
  • "He likes to torture me, is what it is," Kel murmured, checking something on her phone.
  • Jessi opted to laugh it off.  She grabbed the curling iron and leaned over the model reclining in the makeup chair.  "Didn't expect he'd be here today?"
  • "He asked me to do this last year. Date kept getting postponed 'cause of schedules and..."
  • "Your schedule?"
  • "And his," Kel mumbled.  She was trying her best not to glance in the direction of the photographer's chair where Enzo was sitting behind.  "Been busy with his businesses, and court hearings...and family issues."
  • "Court hearing?" Jessi repeated, wondering why the client had to go to court hearings.
  • "His brother and uncle's hearings."
  • "Oh."
  • "He's staring. Dang it. Yep—staring again." Kel murmured a mild swearword and gripped the chair's arm rest, no longer busy texting.
  • "It's fine. Chill..."  Jessi continued curling some sections of the model's soft and shiny hair. "He probably just...wants to talk and thank you for showing up today.  Despite your busy schedule and training."
  • "Just doing this as a favor, actually." Kel sighed and kept her eyes closed. A moment of silence passed as they kept up the styling with some setting spray.  "Too broke to pay him back, so..."
  • "Pay him back?" Jessi pulled a face at her reply, then resumed twirling and heating the model's hair using the curling iron.  "If you don't mind my asking."
  • "'Cause I owe him lots of money. Tuition money, and all that."
  • "I see."
  • "Really hope we don't do a dozen retakes. Ugh."
  • "Take deep breaths. Pretend he's not here. You'll do fine."
  • "Hi."
  • Jessi paused from styling the model's hair and turned to see the owner of the unfamiliar voice;  it sounded deep and quite...unsure.  "Hi," she greeted back.
  • The tall and tan guy stood before her with a thick posy of roses. "Jessi? Right?"  The client held out his hand for her.  "Enzo."  He looked even more good-looking up-close.  Stunning, light-colored eyes like Kel's.  Actually, he looked much more attractive than Ian Somerhalder.  
  • "Nice to meet you." Jessi shook hands with him, her other hand now holding the curling iron.  She put on a big smile while Kel kept her head down, obviously pretending to be busy with her phone.
  • "Likewise." Enzo grinned and placed the bouquet on the small table beside the makeup chair, right beside Kel.  "Zach said you'll be coming with us tonight? To LA?"
  • "Yeah. He just texted me half an hour ago,"  Jessi replied.  "I mean, if it's no hassle..."
  • "No. All good," Enzo said with a slight nod.  His accent didn't sound American at all. Not a thick Italian accent, either. Mostly British. "Ready to go after this? Or do you have to pick up some things before we head to the airport?"
  • "No. I didn't check into a hotel or anything."
  • "Cool. Alright. Erm...thanks for being here, by the way. On such short notice especially." Enzo gave her another polite smile.  He was glancing at Kel from time to time, obviously just waiting for her to acknowledge his presence.
  • Jessi found it rather entertaining to watch up-close.  "No problem, really. Glad to help out."
  • "We're gonna start shooting in a minute."  It was Kel talking now.  Well, more like, mumbling and deliberately avoiding the guy's stare to seem unfazed by his sudden arrival.
  • To give the two some privacy, Jessi turned and backed away from the makeup chair.  She checked her kits and acted casual.  She heard Enzo muttering something in Italian while he stood in front of Kel now.
  • "Could you just...wait in the car?"
  • Enzo scoffed.  "Perché?"
  • "I don't want you watching the whole thing," the model replied with a pout while keeping her voice down.
  • Enzo sighed out loud in response. "What, I can't even look or talk to you?"
  • "Just...later. Okay? Jessi's not done with my hair yet, and, they're all waiting. Need to finish shooting today."
  • "Alright."
  • "Later."
  • "Fine. Alright," Enzo replied, his voice almost a whisper. "But, what d'you want for dinner?"
  • "I dunno. You pick." Kel sounded fairly irritated now.  "Hey, Jess? Nigel's staring now. Can we finish this up?"
  • "Yeah. Sure."
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  • The commercial shoot lasted another three hours or so.  The laboratory-inspired scenes and closeups featuring Kel and the male model took a while to complete. 
  • Although there was a bit of awkwardness at first in front of the camera—mainly because Enzo was around—Kel breezed through the shoot like a seasoned pro.
  • Jessi couldn't help but admire the model's professionalism, despite the messy personal drama going on behind the scenes.
  • The creative team were packing up now, wrapping up after an entire day of shooting.
  • "I'm so relieved."
  • "I would be, too." Jessi snickered and handed the model some wipes. "Not one retake in the second and third scene. Ah-mazing!"
  • "Haven't done this in a while; I thought I would just bomb it." Kel sat back in the makeup chair.
  • "He didn't even need to walk out of the set."  Jessi tidied up her makeup kits and hair styling accessories.
  • Kel muffled a giggle and rubbed the foundation off her pale skin.  "Told him to stop staring."
  • "You two make me laugh."
  • "You need to go to work first thing?"
  • "Early promo shoot this Wednesday." Jessi glanced behind. 
  • Some suit-clad men were approaching them.
  • "Hi, guys," Kel greeted with a pleasant smile.  She stared at the two men wearing a black, wired headset stuck in their ears.  "Could you please take care of Jessi's stuff? She's coming with us."
  • "Oh. No thanks," Jessi replied as she zipped her tote bag full of professional brushes.  "It's no bother. Not that heavy."
  • "We insist. It's protocol, Miss." The older-looking guy gave her a curt smile before he glanced over the makeup kits and her bag of hair styling accessories.  His accent sounded Italian.
  • Protocol? Were they Enzo's bodyguards?  Wow.  So he's got a personal detail and all.  Must be a big-time businessman.
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  • A brand new-looking private jet was parked on the runway.
  • Jessi just gawked at the thing.  It wasn't huge but the shiny, high-security private plane sure looked way more expensive than everything her family owned over the years.  Not that they owned a lot.  She'd never seen a private jet in person, right before her eyes. 
  • She initially thought Zach meant she would be sitting in first class on a commercial flight with Enzo and his girlfriend. This wasn't what she expected at all.
  • "First time?" Kel grinned at her fleetingly while they stood close to the plane.  Beside Kel, Enzo sounded busy on the phone, speaking in Italian.
  • "Yeah. Definitely not what I expected."  Jessi could only watch by the sidelines as the well-dressed bodyguards carried their luggage into the jet. 
  • "You can sleep on the plane. The seats are comfy," Kel said matter-of-factly, busy checking her phone now.
  • "Does he have...bodyguards all the time?"
  • "Yeah," Kel sighed. "You get used to it."
  • "I probably won't. But you obviously are."
  • "Last year, two of his guys were following me all over campus." Kel snickered. "Not a pleasant feeling being stalked like that, but. it is what it is," she murmured.  "Give me your mobile." Kel stepped closer to her. "I'm friends with a couple agents and casting directors in LA. In case you wanna do some print jobs or commercials on the side."
  • "Oh. Wow. Thank you." Jessi smiled.  She gave Kel her contact details before they boarded the plane.
  • "Just text me if ever you'll be back here in New York. Or you need some help with go-sees, finding good agents or something." Kel waited for her to get settled in the seat along the second row. "Or if you need medical advice."
  • "Gee. You're too nice." Jessi glanced down at the seat belts.  They didn't look like the typical seat belts on commercial flights. "Thanks."
  • "Just text me if ever." Kel giggled when Enzo stood before them to kiss Kel on the lips.
  • "Hungry?" he murmured, their noses almost touching.
  • "Not yet. You?" Kel tried not to smile when he put his arm around her waist. 
  • "No. You comfortable, Jess?" Enzo grinned. "You can tilt the seat back if you want to nap or..."
  • "Okay. Thank you. Really." Jessi smiled back and tried not to stare at the adorable PDA going on in front of her.
  • "No biggie.  Zach and I go way back. Just call the stewardess if you need anything."
  • "Thanks." Jessi smiled at the couple, pretending she wasn't intimidated by the fact that it's her first time on a private plane. 
  • The couple sat in the front row seats.  The jet took off shortly after. 
  • Jessi checked her phone for any new messages from her boss. While the plane ascended, Jessi started her research.  She looked up the main cast of Road to Valhalla.  The hit show piloted two years ago. Now it had millions of fans online, judging by the show's four to five-star ratings. 
  • She wasn't the type to watch paranormal and horror shows—she definitely had a lot of catching up to do.  And soon.
  • Her eyes and brain froze at the photos that appeared after she tapped on the Search button.  She stared at the first headshot on the screen.  It was a photo of one of the male leads.  The stars of the show. 
  • Holy cow.  It's him!
  • "Jenson Ross — actor, director, producer (Road to Valhalla)"
  • None other than Tall Guy with the baseball cap, the guy she met the other day in LA. 
  • Huh.  Small world.
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