Wind blasted through the orange convertible Jaguar, blowing the red hair of the passenger back as she scrolled through the latest news on her Smart phone.
"Jazzy, you'll never guess what kind of shoot I got you!" The driver yelled, pushing up his sunglasses and grinning with dazzlingly white teeth.
"What?" The woman in the passenger seat glanced up. "I'm hoping it's not another weird animal one. That was just creepy."
"No, no! You should know better, Jasmine!"
Jasmine rolled her bright blue eyes, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear in an attempt to keep it from her face.
"What kind of shoot, Nikki?"
"So, Cars Unlimited is doing a calender shoot, but they don't want to hire some ridiculously expensive model to do it. They've hired you to do the entire shoot, but we have to supply the cars." Nikki brushed his short brown hair from his face as they slowed to a stop behind a line of cars.
"Well, where are we getting the cars then?" Jasmine frowned, turning to look at Nikki. Sun beat down from above them, sending Jasmine's windblown locks into a blaze of fiery red.
"I've made a call to my good friend, Sarah Lennox. She's on maternity leave right now, with her baby girl, but she's the manager of one of the dealerships in town. Her husband has recently been made commanding officer of a new military section, so we're meeting them at an abandoned strip of land. They'll blindfold us and then fly us to their temporary base. Just wait until you see what they've got!"
"I do like cars, Nikki," The young woman sighed, smoothing her jeans. "But I'm not a obsessive fan like you are. I only know a few designs by heart, and only because I want one, or they're really popular."
"I know. I know. Humour me, sweetheart." The male snorted, slamming his foot on the gas and take a very unused exit as the traffic began moving again.
"Welcome to our NEST base. My name is William Lennox, commanding officer of this base. Please follow me to where the vehicles are waiting. Would you introduce yourselves?"
"Sure, muffin! I'm Nikki, Jasmine's manager!" Nikki grinned, fluffing his red designer jacket and adding a bounce to a stride that didn't need one.
"My name is Jasmine Volkov. I'm a model." Jasmine supplied, keeping a firm grasp on her large yellow purse as she watched military men go by. For the most part, they didn't notice her, but when they did they smiled happily.
"Are you German?" Will asked, turning his head back to look at her. Jasmine shook her head, heels clacking against the concrete as she sped up.
"I'm Russian on my father's side." She paused behind the commander, who nodded and used his shoulder to push open the door to a large hanger bay overrun with cameras, lights and people. Several vehicles sat in the various open places in the room, a white backdrop on one side and lights shining down on the other.
"Jasmine! Over here. Now!"
"Sorry, Commander. That's my prep team. They're rather bossy." Jasmine apologized, hurrying over to the team of women in a shielded off area to the left. Nikki bustled after her, and Will only shook his head and exited the room.
Not long after he left, the commander received a call that he quickly put into his Bluetooth.
"Hey. Speak to me, Ironhide. What's going on?" Will strode through the base.
"The red haired one is taking off her clothing and changing into a very revealing outfit involving human medics."
"That's so weird that you can watch them and get away with it. Ratchet's first, I assume." He peered around another corner and grinned when he saw his friend Epps.
"Keep me posted."
"Epps! My man!"
"What do you want, Will?" The black man growled, pushing his commander's arm away. "I'm nervous enough without people sneaking up on me. Those bots are gonna blow their cover, I know it."
"Naw. They'll be good. However, I think the nice Russian model and her manager could use a beverage. Guess who gets to be the waiter?!"
"It's an order."
"Fuck you, Will."
"That's Major Will to you."
"More like Major Pain-in-the-Ass."
Nikki was nearly drooling over all the vehicles the base had; his favourite was the bright yellow Camaro and the Search and Rescue Hummer.
Jasmine wasn't sure what she liked, but the giant truck kind of scared her with how big it was.
Currently, she was lounging on the hood of a very nice Corvette Stingray. It was one of the four cars she knew in this bay; the Corvette, the Ferrari, the Hummer and the Camaro.
Corvettes were her favourite type of car, next to Lamborghini's.
"Jazz, look up more." She lifted her blue eyes to the roof, ignoring the chatter around her in favour of recalling her latest book, one of which was her mother's favourites before she died.
"What are you reading, Mama?" The thin girl pulled herself up onto the soft leather couch beside her mother.
"Ah, I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." The blond woman smiled, handing her child a picture book. "I'll read this book with you, though."
"Alistair's..." The little girl frowned at the title, sounding out the words. "Un...Under...Underwater! Adven...ture. Alistair's Underwater Adventure!"
"Very good, Jazz!"
"Mama, why do you call me Jazz? Isn't that a type of music?" Jasmine pushed up her thick-rimmed glasses.
"Because jazz is a wonderful type of music, just like you're wonderful!" Cassandra laughed, tucking her daughter's hair behind her ear. The blond woman let out a harsh cough, blue eyes dulling as pain wracked her body.
"Mama, are you okay?" Jasmine asked, worry older than her seven years flashing through her eyes.
"Mama's fine. She's just sick, Jazz-Hands."
"What kind of sick?"
"Mama has cancer. I'll be okay, honey. Why don't you go play with the neighbours?"
"Okay!" Jasmine's eyes lit up as she scrambled off the couch to grab her little shoes. "See you later, Mama!"
Jasmine sighed, climbing out of the bright orange Jaguar with a groan.
"And be sure to get enough sleep! And coffee isn't good for your teeth, Jazz! Remember-!"
"I know, Nikki. I'll do my best with the sleep thing." Jasmine threw a smile over her shoulder before trudging up the front pathway to her front door. Once the model had shut the door behind her, she let out a relieved sigh.
Jasmine loved Nikki; she really did. But sometimes -all the time- he was constantly nagging at her to do something or another. It was his job, but Jasmine wondered if sometimes he could tone it down.
Nikki had been with her since she first joined the agency, back in eleventh grade. She'd transferred when she moved after graduating and Nikki went with her. He lived closer to the new headquarters anyway.
Jasmine moved towards her kitchen, kicking off her heels as she went and leaving them where they landed. She leaned against the island, sipping a glass of water.
The cars back at the NEST base gave her a strange feeling, as the base itself did. Like she'd been there before and the experience hadn't been very good.
The cars...had felt like they were watching her. And she had sworn that the little red car, the Chevrolet Trax, had shuddered a little, and the hood had heated up.
It was seriously creepy. Hopefully, she'd never have to deal with the cars again. Especially the big Peterbilt with flames. It was just too big, and it felt old. Nearly as old as the Hummer and the black pickup; but the Peterbilt felt...wise. Like it knew everything.
And if it was alive, Jasmine wouldn't be surprised if the thing could read minds. It freaked her out.
But she was done with the cars, and now she was home. The redhead set her glass on the counter and moved towards the bathroom, where the bath was waiting for her to fill it with scalding water and bubbles.
Jasmine paused as she passed her home phone, which was on the hall table. She'd forgotten to check her messages. The model sighed, pressing the button on to play them.
One was from her grandmother, checking to see how she was, and one was from Nikki yelling to get her up this morning.
Jasmine shook her head, continuing on to the nice bath she wanted.
Jasmine sighed from her bed as the cell phone beside her head rang again. Her hand pat around her beside table until she knocked the phone to floor and had to fish along the ground for it.
In the end, Jasmine ended up with her legs on the bed, and her torso on the floor and her phone in her hand.
"Why are you calling me?! It's, like, seven in the morning!"
"Good morning to you too, Jazzy. I'm pulling up to your house in fifteen minutes. We're going to breakfast at the new cafe, then hitting the gym, and going to a fitting. After that, we're having a light lunch, going to a runway casting, and then we're heading to the evening fitting, before dinner. Tomorrow you get to sleep in a bit before we go to the show for the local wedding shop."