On the Catwalk AGAIN!
A/N: Yes, it's been a while. I hate senior year. It's too damn stressful. But enough of my pity fiesta. I started writing this chapter fresh without looking at the old version because Chapter 4 of the old On the Catwalk was positively atrocious. I redid it completely but still left a hint of the original. I hope you enjoy it. Sorry for the long absence.
Please enjoy this next chapter and don't forget to let me know what you think.
"Hi, Mrs. McGinnis. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Max. I suppose you want to talk to Terry?"
"Well, make it brief. He's grounded for that little incident yesterday." I winced, hearing the motherly venom in her voice. I couldn't help but feel guilty for the whole ordeal because it was my fault for not telling him about Dana. There was movement in the background and then Terry's tired voice came on the phone.
He paused slightly, an intake of breath, and the rest came out in a sigh. "Hey, Max."
I lifted an eyebrow, pulling a pillow onto my lap and lying back on the couch. "What's wrong with you?"
"My Mom's gone nuts. She made me move all of old Miss Johnson's storage stuff. Miss Johnson used to be a fashion designer."
I winced again. "Ouch. I guess she's pretty pissed about what happened. Sorry. At least you only got three days OSS."
"Lucky me. I can only go to work and other than that, I can't leave the apartment. Yet another reason why I need to move out."
I sighed, running a hand through my hair and settling it on my stomach. "What about going to Pete's? You know we have more posing to do today."
He let out a frustrated growl. "Oh man, I forgot. Think she'll let me out?"
A small smile touched my lips. "If she knows you hate it, then yes."
He chuckled and the sound made goosebumps slide down my back. I closed my eyes and squeezed the pillow. Focus, Max. We hadn't even got around to that subject.
"While we're on the subject, d'you think she'll let you come over to get today's notes?"
Silence. I smacked myself in the forehead. Max, what have you done? God only knows what he thinks that means.
"Max…I don't think that's a very good idea." His voice was low and careful with a touch of uneasiness. I hadn't heard him sound like that in a while.
"I know, I know. It's just…" I sighed again, closing my eyes. "I didn't mean for it to come out like that. After last night…"
"Max, relax. I don't regret anything that happened last night." Something tight in my chest relaxed.
"But I think we should talk about…that…in person. I'll meet you at the University at six. I'll call if Ma won't let me out."
I nodded, replying with a soft "Okay", and hanging up the phone. So far, so good.
An hour and a half later, I stood by the front entrance of the University building, drumming my fingers on the spiral notebook in my hands. Nervous, who me?
I shook my head at myself. The Mighty and Powerful Maxine Gibson: nervous about meeting her best friend after confessing that she had a crush on him. What was the world coming to? I truly was a nerd. Maybe I was just making a big deal out of this.
I jumped as I heard a car door shut. The line of shrubs along the side of the stairs blocked my view from seeing if it was Terry or not. Sure, I could keep from hyperventilating but nothing could stop my heart rate from doubling.
Terry came around the corner and jogged up the steps toward me, effectively causing my breathing to hitch up despite my initial intentions. Calm down, Max. You can do this, girl. You can.
"Hey," He said once he was in earshot, smiling lightly at me. My shoulders relaxed. Good. He sounded normal. Which means he hadn't been over-thinking things. Men never do.
I cleared my throat, straightening my back and opening the glass door for us both. "Hey. You're late, as usual."
He grinned, coming up to my side as we started up the stairs to get to Pete's room. Sorry, I had to work on my grandeur entrance." That made me smile. Yeah, I could do this.
"Sounds like someone's getting used to the idea of being a male model." I teased, lifting an eyebrow. He shrugged.
"Hey, I need practice for when Wayne bestows his inheritance on me."
I snorted, turning the corner after we'd reached the landing. The classroom was just ahead.
"That's optimistic. What makes you think you're in his will? Hell, does he even have one?"
"I figure he does. Besides, I'm the closest thing to a successor that he's got. He won't admit it, but he likes me. Everyone does." That last comment was aimed at me and I could see his grin widening, blue eyes twinkling with amusement. I rolled my eyes and opened the door to Pete's classroom.
To my surprise, the seats were empty and instead there were four people sitting in chairs. From the left, there was a rather plump black woman, a brunette woman, a bearded man, and blonde woman. All of them were dressed immaculately in designer suits and had notepads and a pen poised. Terry and I trooped inside and up to Mr. Pete's desk. Mr. Pete was dressed relatively normal today: a navy blue Italian suit with a light blue tie that had little doves all over it. I raised an eyebrow at the newcomers.
"What's up, Mr. Pete?"
"These are my associates from the modeling agency." He explained, gesturing a hand at them in turn from right to left.
"Mrs. Tiffany Welling, Mr. Timothy Malcolm, Ms. Elise Campbell, and Mrs. Lashaundra Banks."
Terry and I nodded to them and they did in return. Pete turned back to us, another one of his blindingly white smiles going. "And these lovely, talented people will be evaluating you for tomorrow's activities."
Terry raised an eyebrow. "And those are…?"
"That's when your training starts. I told you in the beginning you will be on the runway for the agency's debut. We only have until Saturday to get you two ready!"
"So why do we need evaluations if we're already gonna be in the show?" I asked.
"Because if you are, for lack of a better word, untrainable then we'll have you dropped from the program and just do a paper for a grade. We still have a business to represent, Miss Gibson." His blue eyes were serious now, the smile fading his mouth into a straight line, and it startled me. He was actually serious about this modeling stuff. But in a flash, the smile was back and he clapped his hands together, whirling to face his desk. He handed each of us a black spiral notebook.
"You have ten minutes to familiarize yourself with modeling concepts and then you will be strutting your stuff for these wonderful people."
"Ten minutes?!" Terry exclaimed in disbelief. Pete pinched his cheek, his voice teasing.
"You're so cute when you're in shock." Terry's face flushed pink. I bit my bottom lip to avoid giggling and went passed the seated model agents to a seat in the front row. Terry followed me and took a seat to my left, looking disgruntled. I patted his arm reassuringly.
"Calm down, Ter. We've crammed before. Besides, it's modeling. It can't be that hard."
"Straighten your back!"
"Lift your chin!"
"Your leg should not be looking like that when you pause on the runway!"
A twitch began to throb on my forehead as I contorted my body in the way these people told me to, muscles straining and burning as if I had just run a marathon. God, why did I have to open my stupid mouth? There was no reason on Earth that a woman should subject herself to this kind of torture. All four of the "wonderful" agents seemed to have gotten it into their heads that I was some futuristic form of Gumby and that I could bend in any way, shape, or form all while balancing a dictionary on my head.
Speaking of which, the incredibly thick green Webster's chose this moment to obey the laws of gravity and come tumbling down off the crown of my head right on my foot. I ground my teeth to keep from screaming and bent to pick it.
Mrs. Welling, the blonde, sighed in annoyance, throwing down her pad and pen and standing to her feet.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Pete! Where did you get this girl? Clumsy 'R Us? She hasn't an ounce of grace about her!"
A sour scowl formed on my lips before I could stop it. "Excuse me for not being Miss America."
Ms. Welling waved a hand dismissively at me, snatching the book out of my hands. "You're excused. How long have you been like this? It's not hard to have good posture, Miss Gibson."
She set the book on top of her perfect blond hair and walked in a straight line, hips sashaying, the curves of her body following the pattern of her walk. I watched her legs intently. Wasn't that what I had just done?
"This is it, right here, darling. Shoulders back, head held high, hips swinging. Is it really that hard?"
I frowned, crossing my arms under my breasts. "Look, Miss Perfect, you try walking like a model when you've been carrying textbooks on your back for 13 years and counting."
A sneer curled on her red lips. "If you had even an ounce of estrogen, you'd know that has nothing to do with—"
"Lay off her, Tiffany." Ms. Campbell snapped suddenly with an annoyed look. Mrs. Welling frowned coldly at her as if she were unused to being silenced. That much was probably true.
"She's obviously more concentrated on academics rather than aesthetics. I was like that when I was her age." My shoulders relaxed a bit. Finally. Someone understood.
The brunette woman stood and moved to my back, placing a hand in the small of my spine and pushing. I straightened up as much as I could, a bit surprised, and lifted my chin as she placed the dictionary on my head. She took a step back, shooing Ms. Welling out of the way.
"Walk for me, dear."
I thought of how Ms. Welling looked when she was walking and started forward, pausing as the book wobbled on top of my head. I heard the blonde woman snort and ignored it, walking until I reached the line of tape Pete had put down as the beginning of the imaginary runway. I turned, hands flying up as the dictionary began to slide off my hair. I needed a new hairstyle for this sort of thing.
"You concentrate too much on keeping the book up there," said the black woman, Mrs. Banks, I think it was. Her brown eyes were fixed on me, scanning my body critically.
The bearded man nodded in agreement. "It's not your posture that needs work: you are unconscious of your body movements."
I dropped my hands, a bit crestfallen. "To be honest, I've never been in the opportunity where I've ever needed to be aware of them."
"That much is apparent," Ms. Campbell smiled. "But it can be helped. Have you ever had a crush on someone before?"
I felt my face flush and fought not to let my eyes wander to Terry, who was still in his seat, watching and waiting for his turn.
"What does that have to do with anything?" I asked nervously. Mrs. Welling rolled her eyes.
"The art of seduction, darling. Something you obviously were born without."
I contemplated throwing the dictionary right at her forehead but decided against it. This was for a grade, after all. "What? Like how you were born without human sympathy?"
Shock appeared on Mrs. Banks' and Mr. Malcolm's faces while Ms. Campbell coughed into her hand to hide a smile. Ms. Welling's scowl deepened and Pete jumped in, patting the blonde's shoulder gently.
"Now, now, Maxine. That was unnecessary. Mrs. Welling was one of the world's top models not too long ago. She's a tough girl, but she has only good intentions."
Distantly, I could hear Terry snort. My lip twitched, but I hid the smile though I secretly agreed with him.
"Anyway, back to the point," Ms. Campbell interrupted. "Have you ever had a crush on someone?"
I cleared my throat, crossing my arms and not meeting her eyes. "Yes."
"Okay, I want you to imagine that this person is in this room, standing right where I am."
I flinched, my face slowly growing in heat. "Okay?" I answered uneasily.
"You're wearing the most beautiful dress you have ever seen. It's long and black, elegant, yet soft as silk against your skin. Everyone in the room knows you look drop-dead gorgeous in it. You have the most expensive diamonds of anyone and your crush waves you over. This is your only chance to get him to notice you. Show me your walk."
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I imagined a ballroom and at the bottom of the steps in front of me is Terry in his tuxedo, looking handsome and adorable all at the same time. He smiled at me, that one smile that makes my insides turn into melted butter every time I see it, and held his hand out for me. I threw my head back and began towards him, knowing how every inch of my body looks to him. My hips swayed on their own, stretching the fabric of the black dress flat against my sides. My hands were limp at my sides and I could feel each tremor that ran up my back with every step I took. When I reached him, his eyes were wide with surprise and his mouth fell open slightly. I knocked him dead and it felt wonderful.
The sound of applause snapped me out of my little fantasy and I realized that I was back in the circle with the model agents and all of them except for Ms. Welling were clapping. Ms. Campbell smiled at me, patting my shoulder.
"You nailed it perfectly. All you needed was a little inspiration."
I ducked my head down sheepishly, which made the book slide off, and caught it before it hit the ground. I had never really gotten compliments like this before. It was embarrassing.
The four agents tore off the papers they'd written on and handed them to Pete, who took them up one by one with a beaming smile on his lips. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he was proud of me. Go figure.
"Excellent job, Maxine. I have never been more impressed in my entire career." Pete said, looping one arm around my shoulder and giving me a half-hug. I blushed, risking a glance at Terry. He shook his head at me and smirked as if I'd impressed him. It seemed to be a theme of the day.
"Alright, Mr. McGinnis! Front and center!" Mr. Pete ordered, a wicked gleam in his eyes. I headed back to my seat, brushing by Terry who whispered, "Nice job" in my ear as he passed, and sat in my chair, glad to be able to have time to breathe. Terry learning how to walk like a model? This should be entertaining…
"That was not funny."
"Yes it was!"
I craned my neck at Terry, who was sprawled on his stomach across my bed, careful not to cause the book on my head to fall. Our homework was to practice our walk for tomorrow.
"Please. It wouldn't be half as funny if you hadn't imagined it," I teased. Terry's face flushed pink.
"I didn't imagine anything! Pete groped me, Max! I don't remember my back being all the way down there." Terry insisted darkly. I chuckled, taking the book off my head and tossing it to him. He caught it on impulse.
"You're being paranoid. The guy is probably a millionaire: what would he want with some skinny high school homophobe?"
"He probably wants to convert me to the Dark Side," he grumbled, standing and taking my place while I sat on the bed. "Or would that be the Pink Side?"
I shook my head, still grinning. "Whatever, McGinnis. Let's see what you learned post butt-groping."
He glared at me and placed the book on his head, holding his arms straight out to keep his balance and took a few steps. And I could stare at his butt all I wanted without him noticing. Nice.
"How am I doing?" he asked, trying to look back at me while not causing the book to topple over. I tilted my head, waggling my hand in the "kinda" motion.
He turned suddenly, catching the book as it fell, and my eyes were still fixed on his lower region. Whoa, girl. Pay attention.
"Max? Max, I'm up here." He pointed to his face. I looked up, blushing and glad he couldn't see it. He grinned at me, knowing to some degree what I had been thinking. I stood and snatched the book from his hands, rolling my eyes.
"Don't flatter yourself."
"I don't need to. I have you."
I smacked him in the back and put the book back on his head, hiding behind him so he couldn't see that I was embarrassed.
"Stop looking down and look forward. You're a guy, so you don't have to focus on your hips or anything. The agents said your strongest facial expressions were sadness and seduction so either pout or look like you're about to nail Lindsay Lohan."
He chuckled and went to the other side of the room away from me, then turned and came towards me. His face arranged itself into the latter of my suggestions and I felt my heart speed up on its own. Man, that was a stupid thing to say. He could melt all the ice in Antarctica with that look. I wasn't even sure if his walk was right because I'd been too focused on his face and the look in his eyes.
Terry stopped a couple inches from in front of me, a smirk tugging at the edge of his very full and tempting lips.
"Did I do it right?"
Breathe, Max, breathe. He just asked you a question. Say something. Anything. Well, not anything because then you might accidentally blurt out that you want to pin him against the far wall and suck his face off.
"That…that was great. You did it perfectly." My voice sounded very distant. I cursed myself inside my head and hoped to God that he would back the hell up or at least have the decency to molest me.
"Are you gonna show me yours?"
My IQ dropped about 150 points. "My what?"
I nodded dumbly, unable to take my eyes off those lips. "Uh-huh. Right after I do something."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Do what?"
"Make out with you." Without another word, I grabbed a fistful of his t-shirt and pulled him down to my mouth. The kiss was fiery, burning hot and it didn't take him long to get with the program. Part of me was yelling for me to stop being a stupid, hormone-ridden slut but it sort of died when Terry pushed me into the door, trapping my body against his. To hell with it.
I tugged his shirt out of his jeans and ran my hands up his abs, feeling him flinch under my fingertips because they were probably cold. His skin was warm, almost hot, and his chest rippled with muscles. He had bulked up from being Batman. I approved.
Meanwhile, his hands were busy massaging my waist, lifting the t-shirt one inch at a time. I made a sound against his lips as shivers ran up my back from his touch. He broke from my mouth and pressed a kiss to the side of my jaw, working his way down my neck. I squirmed, giggling because it tickled, and let my hands run through his hair. It was soft and fine and made me wonder why I hadn't done this sooner.
A ringing sound came from my nightstand. Terry's cell phone. We both groaned at the same time. Our luck was unbelievable.
"Oh God, tell me you're not going to answer that." I mumbled, suddenly aware that my voice was low and husky. He sighed into my neck, lifting his face up to mine and kissing me slowly without any tongue. I liked it just as much.
"Would it be wrong not to?" he murmured against my lips.
He pulled away with another sigh and grabbed the phone, grumbling an answer into it. I wriggled my shirt back down over my stomach and leaned against the door with my arms crossed, trying to catch my breath. Great job, Max. This is the second time you've made out with your best friend. Have you no restraint?
Terry hung up the phone and stuffed it in his jean pocket, rising to his feet with a heavy look of regret.
"I have to go."
I smiled sadly up at him. "I know. I'm used to it now."
He smirked faintly and it managed to be bitter. I knew that feeling. "I promise to be back some time tonight so we can finish "practicing" for tomorrow." I felt my face grow hot. Sure, blush after you make out with him. I watched him come towards me and closed my eyes, lest I jump him again.
"Then maybe you shouldn't come back at all. We don't want to be "practicing" all night."
He chuckled and I felt the air in front of my face stir. I opened my eyes. He was leaning his arms against the door, trapping me against it again. He brushed a quick kiss across my mouth, still smiling.
"Maybe not. Bye, Max."
I stepped away from the door and watched him go, trying vainly not to smile because some part of me knew this was incredibly irresponsible.
A/N: There. All the Ter/Max you guys can handle! Also: if you want to see an AMV I made starring the two of them, go to my Profile page and click on the link. I hope you liked this chapter. I only hope the next one will come to me more easily…
You know what else is easy? REVIEWING. :D So drop me a line and let me know what you think.