Monday, November 11, 2013

The Model

She walked into the auditorium on the arm of her husband, a little sore from the spanking she had received a couple of hours before.  He concentrated on her sit spots reminding her to be on her best behavior and not to let this award go to her head.  Their two children, Nicca and Ricky, were already there seated next to her parents.  All eyes turned toward them.  After all, she was the most photographed model in the world and he was the one that helped make her so.  Alexis Markova had graced the cover of most of the world’s fashion magazines for over two decades.  She was still in demand at 39 years old.  It just took longer for her to get that fresh dewy-eyed look. Glycerin, concealer and lip-gloss were never far from her reach and neither was her husband who kept her best interests at heart.

She had been modeling since she was fourteen years old.  Her mother, Carolina, had taken her to New York City for her 8th birthday.  It happened to coincide with a ballet performance by one of her friends still touring with the company.  Carolina had once been a performer with the same company, so naturally, they attended the performance and went backstage afterward.  While there, an agent had taken one look at Carolina and Alexis and was struck by their natural beauty and grace.  He tried to convince Carolina Markova she and her daughter should sign with his agency. He was sure once his clients had their portfolios he could practically guarantee immediate work. Carolina politely declined but the agent kept pushing until finally she took his card with the promise she would think about his offer.  She put it in her purse but never intended to call.  She had her time in the spotlight and she was done and didn’t want that kind of life for her daughter.  Her quiet country life on their Connecticut farm with her husband, Alex, the twins David and Wayne and, of course Alexis, suited her just fine.  

Five years later, the Markova’s were attending a charity event when the same agent spied them standing near the podium. The agent had never forgotten them and had hoped that one day he would get a call telling him they were interested in pursuing his offer.  It never happened.  It must be fate because here they were and the young girl was even more beautiful. 

“Do you remember me?” he asked as he walked over to them.

Alex looking at him said.  “I’m sorry, I don’t think so.”

“No, I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, but I did meet your lovely wife and daughter years ago.”

Carolina looked at him and did not recall his face at all. 

“Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Peter Strider and am a talent agent.  I met you backstage at a performance of the White Elm Ballet Company in New York City about five years ago.  I represent several modeling agencies and was interested in signing both you and your daughter.  Do you remember now?”

“Vaguely, Mr. Strider, but we weren’t interested then and are not interested now.” Carolina responded and started to walk away. 

“Have you given any thought to perhaps your daughter being interested?  The opportunities could be limitless” he called after her.

Alex stepped in and said tersely.  “Mr. Strider, My name is Alex Markova and we appreciate your interest.  If you will give me your card, we will call you if ever we want to pursue your suggestion. Until then my family and I would like to enjoy the auction.”  Strider handed over his card and knew he was dismissed.  Any further conversation would just be considered harassment and he had a sense that Alex Markova would not hesitate to have him removed from the premises.

Alexis was interested and talked to her parents about it when they returned home.  Both parents were against it, especially Carolina because she wanted for Alexis what she did not have, a normal childhood.  However, Alexis was determined and so eventually they gave in to her request. They found a photographer, commissioned a portfolio and after vetting Mr. Strider and his agency and finding out he was all he said he was, they called and made an appointment. Six months later, Alexis Markova was on her first magazine cover. 

By the time she was twenty-five she had funded her sibling’s college educations to Princeton, purchased a condo in Manhattan and started her own line of clothing.  She pursued her own education with night and online courses through New York University.  She was beautiful, intelligent and a first class diva.  She knew her craft, and was generally pleasant but there were times she could be downright strident.  Her favorite photographer had left the business and on the first shoot after his retirement the fellow that replaced him was new to the business.  Alexis ran him ragged and he quit.  Nico Martinelli, a freelance photographer who was well known in the fashion industry  replaced him.  He was gorgeous and could have been a model himself.  He was six feet tall, with olive skin, caramel colored soulful eyes and moderately long brown hair that had been kissed by the sun. He possessed that easy grace associated with a man comfortable in his own skin. Alexis admired his work and he was easy on the eyes.

“So Nico are you ready for me?” She asked flirtingly

“Whenever, you are Ms. Markova.” He answered all business like.

“Please call me Lexi, all my friends do.”

“I didn’t realize we were friends.  Why don’t we get this shoot under our belts before we pursue friendship?” 

Wow, he’s a little arrogant Alexis thought.

He was not about to succumb to the charms or whims for which she was famous.  He knew Josh had quit and why and only took this job because he owed a favor to Bobbi Cannon, the photo editor of the magazine sponsoring this shoot.  He didn’t plan to get all warm and fuzzy with ‘Lexi’.  Despite his career, models were not his favorite subject. They were usually empty vapid creatures that could benefit greatly from several good meals.  For the most part, he thought of them as coat hangers. 

The shoot went very well, better than Nico expected and it was finished on time and under budget.  Bobbi was pleased; she didn’t think Lexi had ever looked better.  When Lexi saw the finished product she told her business manager, she wanted to hire Nico to shoot the layout for her new perfume line.  Nico accepted the job and once again did exceptional work. She requested him on several photo shoots over the course of the next year.  He was surprised to learn she was different from some of the models with whom he worked.  She was intelligent, caring and did not exhibit many of the behaviors he had heard about through the rumor mills.  So when she turned surly on a shoot he was surprised.  He ignored the behavior and continued with his work.

“I’m talking to you Nico.  Answer me.”  He pretended not to hear her and sat and waited for her to get back into position.

“Answer me, Goddammit.” She yelled at him. He did not reply.  She got up from the pose, walked over to him and with hands on her hips yelled at him.  “Goddammit, I am talking to you and you will answer.”

He put down his camera, turned to the rest of the crew, and said he was taking a break.

“I’ll be outside. Call me when Ms. Markova is ready to get back to work.”  She was beside herself and followed him out the door.

“I am not used to being ignored, Mr. Martinelli.  When I ask a question I expect to be answered.”

“And when you ask a question in a polite way, rather than the demanding tone you are using, I will answer you.  Until then I will ignore you.”

“Why you sonofabitch.  How dare you talk to me like that?  I will have you thrown off the shoot.”  She said to him while poking her finger into his chest.

“If you don’t remove that finger from my chest, I will take you over my knee and give you the spanking you so richly deserve.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” She said with a steely voice.

“Oh yes I would.  Now I am not telling you again.  Please remove your finger”  She looked at his face and it was the face she remembered on her father when he was serious.  She thought twice and removed her finger.  She turned and stomped off thinking.  My God, that was soo hot.  No one other than my dad has ever talked to me like that beforeEveryone she ever dated gave in to her every whim and she walked all over them.  It wasn’t fun.  She wanted someone she could respect and look up to.  Until now, she hadn’t met anyone that fit that bill. All she had to do is to get Nico to ask her out on a date and see if he treated her differently than everyone else.

In the two years they’d known each other, he never asked her out, made any advance, or showed any interest at all.  She would run into him occasionally at social occasions and each time he was either alone or with a different person so she figured he was not involved with anyone special.  The problem was somewhat solved for her when the promo party for her new perfume line was scheduled for the following week.  Since he did the layout shots, an invitation was not out of order.  Now do I ask him to be my escort or just issue the invitation and take it from there? No, I’ll just ask him to be my escort.

Once the shoot was over and he was gathering up his equipment, she approached him and apologized for her earlier behavior.

“I don’t know what got into me.  I suppose because the rollout for the new perfume line is due this week and the promo party is next week, I am a little stressed.”

“Everyone has stresses; it is no excuse for rudeness.”

“I agree and once again, I apologize.”  Now I’m not sure whether I should ask him or not? What the hell, go for it. “While we are talking about the promo party, would you like to be my escort?  After all you took all the beautiful photos.”

“Thank you for asking and I am flattered but I cannot accept.  It’s not you; it’s just a personal policy of mine.  If I escort you, the paparazzi will be all over us and start couples rumors and I like to keep my private life separate from my professional life.”

“Oh, I see,” but she didn’t, she wasn’t in the habit of being turned down.

This was going to be harder than she thought.  People were always asking her out, why was it that the one person she wanted to date, just turned her down?  She would have to try another tack.  Two weeks later she invited him to a party her parents were giving for her brother who had just completed his Masters Degree.

“Is this an actual date, or just an open invitation?” he asked.

Damn him, why is he giving me such a hard time.  “I am asking you to be my date.  It will be a small party, just family and a few friends. Very informal.  It’s at my parent’s farm in Connecticut, I promise no paparazzi.”

“In that case, my answer is yes.  What time shall I pick you up on Saturday?”

“Anytime after 2:00 pm.  It’s about a two-hour drive from here.  No pressure, but you are welcome to spend the night if you don’t want to drive back.  There are plenty of guest rooms.”

“Thanks, we’ll see how it goes.”

He was right on time and when she answered the door, he smiled and handed her a small bouquet of violets.  How sweet is that? She thought to herself.

“You look so different.” He told her.  “I like this look.”

She told him that when she wasn’t being “professional,” she didn’t bother with the make-up.  Just a little mascara and some lip-gloss.  Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was wearing a tee shirt and jeans with sandals.  He looked gorgeous as ever.  His jeans rode low on his hips and the tee shirt showed off his great physique.  She wanted to jump his bones right there and then.  He was so hot.

They talked constantly on the trip to Connecticut.  They found that outside of industry talk, they really had a lot in common.  The two hours flew by and when they arrived, her family and their way of life charmed him.  He pulled her aside, thanked her for inviting him, and told her he would like to take her up on her office of the guest room. Yes, she thought and smiled broadly.  

“I love that they are so normal.  And you, no diva behavior here.”

“No, it wouldn’t be tolerated.  Not by my parents or my brothers.  Their contention is I am just lucky, not necessarily special."

“Whether or not you are special doesn’t mean you have to act that way.  It’s one of my real bugaboos.  I was brought up to respect others and if my brothers or I crossed that line, my father made his displeasure known and we usually didn’t sit well for a while.”

“So you were brought up in a patriarchal family too.”

“Very definitely and it’s the only way to go.”  She had that feeling she had experienced when he threatened to spank her.

That was their first date and the start of their life together as a couple, rarely in the public eye.  They were married six months later at a small ceremony at her parent’s home.  She loved his family as much as she loved her own.  They settled in a small town in Pennsylvania, far from the maddening crowd.  Their neighbors had no idea they lived down the lane from a legend. She was Lexi Martinelli, wife and mother. Nico certainly never treated her as if she was famous.   Any ‘diva’ behavior was dealt with immediately with either a look, a swat or a trip over his knee.  An heirloom hairbrush, a gift from his parents, was always in a permanent place on their dresser.  She was convinced his parents knew exactly how that hairbrush would be used, and they were right.