0*0*0 Chapter Two 0*0*0
"I didn't do it," I said, meeting gazes with Horatio—David Caruso. I was taking part in a follow-up episode of CSI Miami, where I was suspected of another crime. I tilted my head to one side. "But, of course, you don't believe me, right?"
David did his slow-mo thing then said, "In here, we don't take chances."
I smirked up at him and let out a short laugh. I looked down at the table and laughed again. "I've heard that before."
"CUT!" the director called out and I leaned back on my chair, slowly easing the fake tension. David clapped my shoulder and told me the same thing he told me on my first time on the show: 'good job.'
"Thanks," I said then stood up from the stool.
Cooper walked up to me, his eyes on his Blackberry, and said, "Ed, you've got another shoot with Calvin Klein after this. Don't forget, dude."
"That's what you're here for," I told him. And then I winced. "And don't call me Ed."
He shrugged and finally looked away from his gadget. "So, how's Bella?"
I stiffened a little. "She's fine," I said. "Still a bit jetlagged, I think."
"There's nothing new with her?"
I thought of her longer hair and more tired but more mesmerizing brown eyes. But then I remembered Demetri beside her, looking so smitten with her. "She's thinner," I said lamely.
Suddenly, his Blackberry beeped in his hand. He looked down at it and scowled. "Tanya has news for you. And it's kind of not good." With Cooper, 'kind of not good' meant really bad.
"What is it?" I asked, walking toward the snack table and grabbing a bottle of water. I twisted it open and took a big drink. Acting made me thirsty.
"I think you might know more about it," he said. "It's about Bella and some Italian guy. They're being linked again."
I looked down at my water, trying not to scowl. "I know."
"So I guess you saw him as well at the airport yesterday?" Cooper asked. "Tabloids said he went on the same flight as she."
"Yeah," I said glumly. "And he kind of ruined our reunion."
He chuckled and clapped my shoulder, the way David Caruso did. "Dude, Bella won't leave you for him. She's crazy about you," he assured me. I chuckled, knowing that that feeling was mutual. And for a second, I forgot about Italian Face.
"Papa Maxi!" I squealed as I hugged my boss. I hadn't seen him for months and it was great to be back at the modeling agency. He chuckled and hugged me back.
"It's nice to see you again, Bella," he said as we pulled apart from each other. "I'm glad you haven't forgotten us."
I looked at him meaningfully. "Not a chance," I said then sat down on the seat in front of his desk.
Max sat on the desk and lazily waved his bottle of water at me. "Are you ready for work? I've got a lot for you. It'll last a lifetime, I warn you."
I laughed then took the folder with my assignments from the desk and browsed inside. My eyes widened. I just got accepted into a project by the Volturi Company and I already had so many offers from international fashion labels? It felt awesome.
"Wow," was all I could say. "Max, this is just… wow. You weren't kidding."
He shrugged then took a sip of his water. "I don't kid," he said humorously. "And what's more 'wow' than that is the fact that Dona's company is asking for you as well." I looked at him carefully. Dona Smith was Max's wife for three years. They divorced about a year ago, when I was only just starting my career.
"Max," I said, "if you don't want me to take it, I won't."
"It's your choice to make—not mine," he chuckled. "Dona and I are on good terms now." I noticed that he was slightly stiff but I didn't want to question him.
"Okay," I said then hugged the folder to my chest. I stood up and slung my bag over my shoulder. "Well, I better go. I'll go up here again tomorrow."
Max nodded and mockingly shooed me away. I laughed then did what I was told. Instead of making my way toward the elevators, I went to…
"Bella, oh my god..!" Jessica ran up to me, her stilettos clinking on the tiled floor, and hugged me tight. Her sweet perfume wafted around me and I couldn't help but laugh at her excitement to see me. "You're finally here from Italy!"
"I am and I'm ready to work," I laughed when we pulled apart. I noticed that Jessica was thinner than before, her blonde hair slightly messed up from our hug. "How is the agency doing?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, you know," she Pfft-d, rolling her large eyes. "Same old, same old."
"Nothing exciting happened?" I asked.
She grinned slyly. "Well, there was one time," she said vaguely. But being Jessica, she couldn't bear to be all secretive. Of course, she spilled, "your friend Chris applied here to be a photographer."
My eyes bugged out. Since when did Chris like photography? "Really?" I blurted out.
"Yes," she said. "He's really good. Maybe he discovered his talent for photography just lately or something. But that's not the exciting part." I noticed that she was blushing.
"Okay," I said, stretching the word in a suspicious tone. "So what's the exciting part?"
"We're going out," she giggled, blushing like a schoolgirl. I giggled and hugged her.
"That is exciting!" I exclaimed. "I hope it goes well for you two."
"Me, too," she said. But after a few moments of idle chatter, she had to go to her office and do her work. So I went out of the agency and hailed a cab home.
I sighed as I collapsed on my chair, wiping off sweat on my forehead with a towel Cooper gave me. I was finally done with the CK shooting, the last work of the day. I couldn't wait to spend time with Bella. Well, we didn't actually make plans yet. I knew she was busy catching up with her friends.
"Dude," Cooper walked inside my dressing room, just as I was about to change into my own clothes. I looked at him over my shoulder and waited for him to continue. He was looking at his Blackberry again. "You have an event to attend to tonight. Tanya called about it earlier. She said it was out-of-blue and she was sorry about it."
I sighed then glumly buttoned my shirt. I ran my hand through my hair and sat back on my chair. "What is it this time?" I asked.
"A launch," Cooper explained, taking a seat on the sofa. "The company's invited to it."
"Is my brother going to be there?" I asked. I didn't really care, but I thought I would just ask.
Cooper looked at me. "Well, he is the fiancé of the company president."
I shrugged then fished my cell from my pocket. There was a text from Bella and I clicked at it.
Are you done with the CK thing? I'm done with my reunion. =)
A smirk slowly crept to my face.
Yeah. How'd your reunion go?
It was suffocating—in a good way.
You were hugged too much?
So you're free now?
Yeah. Why? Not that I don't know.
What do you say to a lunch date?
I say 'yes.' Where?
The small restaurant near your apartment sounds good? Meet you there in thirty.
Mmm… sounds great.
I closed my phone and stood up from my chair. Cooper followed me out the room, reminding me once more about the event tonight. I went to the photographers and said my thanks then left the studio. I had a date with my girlfriend.
"Sorry," he said, standing up from his chair, his eyes still on his phone. "I have to go." He leaned over so that he could kiss me on the lips. I held onto them for a few moments. He was really busy now and I didn't know how much time I would have with him in a day. It saddened me.