And so our plucky heroes beard the lion’s den (or something) posing as models and caterers for the photo shoot and later on for the runway show. Armed with nothing more than courage, tenacity and a little dumb luck, Drea, Kirk, Margo and Tommy do their best to find the mysterious organization threatening vampires.
The next morning, Kirk and Margo reported to the photo shoot extra early. They wanted a chance to look around before the business of the day began. They didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. There was the usual hustle and bustle of the hurry up and wait nature of the business. Fortunately, the people in charge were more on the ball than some. There was more hurry and less waiting than they’d anticipated.
When they weren’t in front of the camera, thus negating yet another vampire myth, they did more poking around. About two hours into the day, Margo hit pay dirt. It might not have seemed like it to some, but she’d been associated with the fashion business far longer than many. A history of nearly seven decades of both modeling and design (under pseudonyms, of course), she knew how things worked. It struck her as odd that there was so little chitchat among the models and crew. In fact, it was so quiet, she found it mildly disturbing.
The crew went about their jobs efficiently. The models came and went as told. None of them seemed to feel things were out of the ordinary, but they didn’t have Margo’s senses. Even before becoming a vampire, she had extraordinary perception. Some might call it clairvoyance or ESP. Margo called it her cat sense.
“Were I to sprout whiskers, they’d be vibrating now,” she whispered to Kirk. “Something isn’t right.”
“I have a feeling like there’s a musician in the orchestra playing slightly off key and a beat behind. Though the piece sounds superb, something’s off.”
“All you needed to do was agree with me,” Margo said with a pout.
“I agree completely. But what? What aren’t we seeing?”
The waitress came over with a tray of delicious, low calorie appetizers. She handed some to Kirk and Margo, who ate happily. Both were very hungry.
“I can’t give away the canapes,” she complained. “No one eats. Even if the models don’t, crew always does! I’ll have to throw it all away.”
“What did we do wrong?” Kirk asked, sniffing it.
“Nothing. Delicious as always,” Margo replied as she smoothed her skirt. “And no one’s talking but us.”
“We’d better stop,” Kirk replied, putting the hors d’oeuvre back. “Oh, we’re being called.” He rose, smiling. “Be right there!”
Margo wiped crumbs from his face, kissing his cheek. Kirk and Margo were a playing pair of super models recently hired by Andres. They had to act the part.
After seeing Kirk and Margo eat, it was obvious her food had no ill side effects for the lead models, more people drifted over to the finely laden table. One of the gaffers stayed to chat with Tommy, who was manning the beverages. He was tall, with long black hair, glasses and a big belly.
“Thank God,” he said softly. “Didn’t think we were gonna get to eat!”
“What do you mean? We’ve offered trays to everyone.”
“Yeah, but until they saw the new guy was fine, they didn’t dare touch it. Weird things happen when you eat the food—that’s the scuttlebutt anyhow.”
“Not ours! Our food is prepared with the greatest care!”
“The other caterer….” He shrugged uncomfortably. “I dunno, can’t explain it. Folks got sink, went home, never saw them again.”
“Only the models?”
“Crew too. I mean, you expect a little of that kind of thing once in awhile, but every job?”
“You work for Andres a lot?”
“The company owner, Andres Cavedo.”
“Oh, thought it was some holding company somewhere.”
“Every holding company has someone holding the strings,” Tommy said with a wink.
“I dunno from Adam,” the gaffer replied, his mouth full. “But this food is kick ass! I never seen you guys here before.”
“This is our first job for Mr. Cavedo. If he gets a good response, he’ll keep us on.”
“Sweet! Boss will hear from me.” He dusted his hand on his jeans before extending it to Tommy. “Gene. Gene Schwartz. Delicious. I mean it. Not even my grandmother cooks this good.”
“Thanks. I’ll extend your compliments to the chef.” The truth was, Tommy had prepared most of it himself, with only a modicum of Drea’s supervision.
The day finally over, they packed up and went home. The following day, Margo and Kirk had a runway show. Both were nervous. Coming in at the last minute, they hadn’t had much chance to practice. The elegant sunken living room became the seating and the area before the kitchen and dining room gave satisfactory space for strutting.
With running commentary from Carly, Drea and Tommy, they found the right expressions to convey utter boredom with not only the show, but their attire. Tommy found it highly amusing that Margo flaunted her figure while sporting a sweatshirt and bunny slippers.
Margo finally flopped on the couch, massaging her cheeks. “I’d forgotten just how exhausting being beautiful is. Carly, how on earth do you stand it?”
“It’s not so hard. I do what they tell me and stand where they want me. Sure, it’s crazy hours and can be tiring, but it’s pretty easy work, all things considered. The money is good. Dad always says—said….” She started sniffling. “Nice work if you can get it. He worked so hard. I wanted to make a lot of money so he could sell his business and retire. He was a good man,” she whispered. “Why would anyone want to kill him?”
“We want to find that out, Drea said, hugging her. And we will, honey. Your dad was a great guy. He always treated us well—gave us first pick of his fish. I wish we’d had the chance to get to know him better, but he was always in such a hurry.”
Carly smiled through her tears. “He used to say that fish take on an unwelcome odor if left on the truck too long. He tried to be prompt so his customers got the freshest and best…. I don’t understand why anyone would hurt him. He hadn’t even met Andres. He knew I was seeing someone new….”
It was Kirk’s turn to comfort her. He put his arms around her in a very fatherly fashion. Without saying a word, he conveyed that strength and warmth of character that had so endeared him to Drea when they first met. He’d come a long way from his humble beginnings.
Drea smiled with an almost maternal pride at her handsome spouse. Carly eventually stopped crying and even managed a smile or two when Kirk and Margo continued their fashion show with Tommy providing ridiculous commentary. The practice session turned into an impromptu party until Andres showed up unexpectedly at the front door.