If Love Were By Design, page 3
He smiled. “I was no different. I used to wear nothing but jeans and white t–shirts.” He added, “And now I wear nothing but suits. It’s a phase. Maybe it will go away. Maybe it won’t. We’ll see.”
“Well, that’s not a true statement—you can’t always wear suits. What do you wear swimming?” She asked. He smiled so mischievously that she blushed. “Never mind.” She turned, sipped her water and then went back to her drawing.
“Will you make me that pair of shoes?” He asked her. She turned around, blinked and stared at him in surprise. “I want those shoes.” She looked at him a second longer, then to her drawing and then back to him. She must have looked at him like she thought he was crazy because he said, “It could be payback for breaking my nose—I had to get it set back into place.” He grinned.
“You’re not serious!” She stated miserably.
“I am. I had to go to the doctor for my nose, and I want you to make me that pair of shoes. One of a kind; a pair only for me.” He dug into his gray jacket, which was draped over the arm of his chair. He pulled out a business card and handed it to her. She thanked him, and dropped his card into her purse deciding she would send him a new shirt. “Why don’t you come by my office, and you can tell me everything you need to make it happen. Do you make the first prototype yourself? I admit I don’t know very much about making shoes.”
“Yes, I always make the first pair. I learn from my mistakes, and with each drawing I can see what the leather (or whatever I want it to be made of) will realistically look like folded, or . . .” she stopped talking. No doubt she was boring him. Not even Kimmy would let her drone on without intentionally crossing her eyes to show she was bored to tears. “Anyway, yes. I make them.”
“Even better! Will you make those shoes one–of–a–kind for me? What were you going to make them in, black leather?” He asked.
She nodded, “I was thinking reindeer leather cured in baths of rye, oat flour and yeast, hand–finished and soaked in vinegar and steel wool. I made my father a pair of shoes with that leather last Christmas. I still have some at home. I love the texture.”
“Perfect! I’ll look for clips like that.” He said.
“I’m a perfectionist; I’ll have the clips made.” She admitted.
“Well then they will really be one–of–a–kind.” He smiled. “Come by my office next Monday and we’ll get everything sorted out that you need to get started. I’ll pay for everything, but you’ll have to make them.”
“Sorry, but I haven’t said I would.” She affirmed. “I think I would rather buy an expensive William Berks shirt. I simply don’t have time to make a pair shoes on the side, especially if my boss asked me to take on even more work! It would take me months.”
“I can wait! I’m a patient man.” He said and snatched the design. “I’ll keep this.” He quickly put it in a briefcase above him in the storage compartment. He sat and got comfortable in his seat once again.
“How about I buy you a William Berks shirt as a replacement.” She suggested while staring at the closed compartment above him where he placed her sketch. She was shocked that he took it but then noticed his black and blue eye. Crap! She was obligated.
“I have enough of those—I want a one–of–a–kind pair of Veronica Mitchell shoes.” He admitted.
“My shoes aren’t called Veronica Mitchell shoes. Their Yutan VM shoes.” She corrected him. “Besides, I wouldn’t be able to get to it for a while. You don’t care?” He was asking her to spend a week on a pair of shoes. It would take at least two or three weekends, and that was if she wasn’t overworked and tired. The idea of working all weekend wasn’t appealing. She would want at least one day off a week, and that meant it would take at least two months to get it done.
“I’m patient.” He said again. “But I could talk to Marcus about it. I’m sure I can arrange for time off for you to make me a pair of shoes.”
Veronica eyed him skeptically. “He doesn’t even listen to his wife. Trust me; you won’t be able to ask him for time off for me. I haven’t had a vacation in over a year. And I’ve only had one in the almost five years I’ve been there.” She laughed. “Good luck with that. In the mean time, I’ll make your shoes on the side.”
“I’m sure he would give you a week off to make me a pair of shoes.” He leaned forward. “But if he doesn’t, you should work for me; since your passion is designing shoes, it’s a waste of talent to do anything else.”
“I love my work and I don’t need lengthy vacations. But don’t worry; I’ll make you the shoes. It’s the least I can do.” Veronica said with another glance at his eye, and as she did, she came to the conclusion it wouldn’t be that bad. It would only be three long weekends. After all, she did break his nose.
“It looks worse than it is.” He said. “How long are you in Paris?”
“Until Thursday.” She said.
“Thursday? The fashion show is Wednesday. That’s a long trip to make and not even stay one weekend. Are you planning on seeing the Eiffel Tower?” He asked.
“Oh, I’ll walk around Paris all night after the show.” She said.
“You won’t have time because the after party on Wednesday night lasts until at least three in the morning, then the after, after party goes on until early Thursday morning. It’s practically mandatory to be there.” He added, “Well, if you’re serious about getting your name out there, you’ll need to network. The most important part of my job is making relationships. It will be the most important part of your job too, and the sooner you learn that, the quicker you’ll rise. You should go. Have to really.”
“I wish you didn’t tell me that.” She sighed, “I wanted to sightsee, and now I can’t or I’ll feel guilty about not representing Marcus Yutan . . .”
“Change your ticket. It doesn’t cost a thing to change a first class ticket.” He added, “Better yet, I’ll have my assistant do it. You call Marcus Yutan and tell him you’re staying until Saturday, and will be back on Monday. I can show you around Paris after the fashion show, and we can spend all day Friday touring. I speak fluent French and I’ve been there a million times. I’ll be a perfect guide and gentleman, I promise.” He paused, “What do you say?”
“Um.” She smiled. “It’s a good idea, but I don’t think I will. Thank you, though.” She declined, but she liked the idea of changing her ticket for free and staying a few days longer. Marcus no doubt wouldn’t mind her staying one business day longer, and she could sightsee Thursday and Friday before leaving. It would be fun. And she didn’t know when she’d have another vacation. Plus she had never been outside New York. She had to do it!
“You’re shy,” he smiled, “and you’re blushing. That’s attractive.”
“I’m not blushing,” she lied. “I just don’t think I’ll go sightseeing with you. I . . . I don’t know you.”
“Of course you don’t know me—yet. But a day in Paris would fix that.” He said with a shrug.
“I can’t.” She said. “Sorry.”
“No. Don’t be. I’ve seen it all. It’s me who is sorry. You’re going to miss out.” He added, “I could have my assistant take you. He speaks French, not as well as me, but nevertheless he could show you around.”
“No. I appreciate it, but I don’t know him either.” She said and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Thank you, though.”
He smiled. “So you’re shy and coy. I like that.” He paused, “Do you drink?”
“Not often, maybe once or twice a month. I have a few when I go out dancing or to bars, but who doesn’t.” She said.
“Do you smoke?” He asked.
“No.” She replied and shook her head.
“Do you boat?” He asked.
“Never have.” She paused, “Why?”
“Never?” He looked shocked. “Do you run marathons, bike, swim, or anything like that?” He asked.
“I swim, sometimes. In the summer I walk in the park and I ice skate in the winter. I must have a good metabo
“Are you a dog or cat person?” He asked.
“A cat person. You?” She looked at him with a quizzical brow.
“I hate dogs—they stink. But I like cats fine.” He then asked, “What kind of music do you listen to?”
“Typically anything but techno.” She said.
“I hate techno myself. It’s annoying!” He sat back in his seat. “Huh.” He smiled. “Well, it’s nice meeting you, Veronica. I’m going to sleep.” He got the attention of a flight attendant and asked for a blanket, sleep mask, and two pillows. “Goodnight.” He said, got comfortable, turned off his light, put on the visor, and then lay down. Veronica watched him. That was the most intriguing conversation she’d had in a while. Veronica sat back in her seat a little confused about the way it ended. The only word that came to mind was perplexing.
His visor was hiding his eyes and bruises. She looked at his black thick wavy hair, and his thick arms. He obviously worked out. That was probably why he asked if she ran marathons, but what sane person did? The last time she ran on a treadmill she was in high school. Running was painful. She preferred to swim, but that was a once in a blue moon event.
She lay down and thought about their conversation, all the while catching glimpses of him. He was definitely interesting. Pity he stopped talking. She had no idea what he was thinking, which was half the appeal. That was the second time he left her in the midst of a conversation. She couldn’t figure him out; he kept surprising her.
“You’re late!” Kimmy stated when Veronica walked into her office. A moment before Kimmy was cutting the split ends off her bleached blond hair. When she saw Veronica she put the scissors down; and jumped off her desk. Kimmy quickly closed the door.
“I’m not late; I’m right on time.” Veronica said defensively. She put her purse down, the large bag she had brought to work full of scribbled notes from the fashion show, and her many quick drawings of shoe ideas she got in Paris. None of which had anything to do with clothes unfortunately. Marcus’s idea of sending her to Paris to help him to find fashionable, in–style clothes was a colossal waste of time, but she on the other hand was inundated with designs for the Yutan VM line. The heavy bag was proof of it.
“You’re on time for when you’re supposed to be here, but usually you’re here at least a half hour early.” Kimmy chimed and helped her remove her light–weight designer coat. “Somebody is here talking to Marcus, and he’s acting extremely weird! He came looking for me because you weren’t here, and asked me to hide you in your office. So, you’ll have to stay in here.” Kimmy giggled. “Cute skirt by the way. It looks new.”
“Why am I supposed to stay in my office? What does his meeting have to do with me?” Veronica asked.
“Beats me! Like he tells me anything.” Kimmy laughed.
“You didn’t call me back last week. I have to ask you something, and it pertains to work.” Veronica said, but Kimmy held up a hand to stop her.
“That will have to wait! Now that you’re here, I’m supposed to go to his office and ask him if he wants coffee. It’s code for ‘you’re here’.” Kimmy hung up Veronica’s coat. “Ridiculous, right? I’ll be right back.” She said and then scurried from the room.
Veronica didn’t think about it. She had a lot to do. She practically had a week off especially after sightseeing all weekend. It turned out to be a decision that left her frustrated—she got lost several times because of the language barrier. But she was still glad she had stayed. She hadn’t returned home until late last night, and collapsed in her bed. Now that she was back home, she hit the snooze button for extra sleep, but it only managed to make her more tired. She got coffee on the way to work, which also slowed her down. Finally she came into work, as Kimmy said, “Late!” And it felt late, too.
Veronica sat in her chair, stretched, and sipped her coffee. The bag was calling her. However, she had to store it in her desk because she needed to finish the pair of shoes she started before the trip.
The loud knock on the door made her jump and she spun in her chair as the door opened. Marcus hurried into her office. “I thought you would be here by now, and then I saw Kimmy in the hallway.” He quickly sat in the other chair. “So, imagine my surprise to have William Berks in my office this morning. I was shocked when he asked to borrow you for two weeks. Do you know what this is about?”
Veronica blinked. “No.” She said sincerely. “Why does William Berks want to borrow me?” She was as surprised as Marcus was acting. He must have believed her because he relaxed his shoulders and sank into the chair.
“Your expertise on shoes, of course. He probably wants to start his own line of men’s shoes. If he wasn’t him, I would have flatly refused, but . . .” Marcus’s words were laced with disdain. Veronica thought it odd because he always spoke highly of him. It was through Marcus that she had first heard about him. It was a sudden change. He glowered as he continued, “I bet he’s here to recruit you. Pompous ass! Like you would ever work for him! He’s a womanizing louse, but I can’t refuse him. We’re all friends in the fashion world, but please, whatever he offers you, I’ll pay more. No matter what he offers you! Just come back to me with his number and we’ll talk.” He smiled, stood, and said, “Should we shake on it?”
“Marcus, I’m not about to go work for someone else.” She looked around her room. “I love my office: I’m rarely bugged and I hardly ever have to answer the phone. You offered me an assistant and the opportunity to review your designer’s sketches before they hit your desk. I’ve been considering it, and I’m actually starting to think I might like that. As long as it only took a few hours out of my workday so I can continue what I’m doing. Plus I know I’m already getting a raise.”
“Yes, but we haven’t discussed salary. I don’t think it’s wise to on the eve of you possibly getting another job offer, but let’s just say my number is around a $100K. If he asks, tell him you make enough.” Marcus instructed her.
“Really, that is almost double what I make now.” Veronica said.
“When you get back, and you keep working with me it will be double. For now, go for the two weeks, and come back ready to work.” Marcus said.
“And you’re sure I have to go?” Veronica asked.
“I wouldn’t refuse him. I won’t. You’ll have to do it.” Marcus admitted. “So pack up your stuff, and go to this address, and ask for him.” He needlessly wrote down the address to the William Berks store. Veronica knew where it was. “He wants you there this morning, right now. Well, he mentioned he would be back after a breakfast with . . . Claudia Slavic. Anyway, it was something like that. A date I imagine, too. Knowing his taste in women, she’s a model.” He scoffed. “You can’t accuse him of being gay the way he goes through women.”
“I didn’t know you thought so little of him.” Veronica said.
“We were fine, until he tried taking my jewel!” Marcus said. “But whatever he offers you, I’ll do better. We’ll leave it at that, and you should go. He’s probably out of the building by now.”
Veronica packed up for the day and easily found her way to William Berks. She passed his store on her way to work every day, and even went in to look around once, and thought it was nice.
She parked in a parking garage three blocks away, and then went in. Not much had changed since she had last been there. There was everything from suits, tuxedos, and belts, to ties, and umbrellas in the showroom. Nothing was under a hundred dollars. But Veronica had to admit there was a shocking lack of shoes, in fact, no shoes at all. Another surprising thing was Veronica could see herself working there. Any reserve she had about coming to work for William Berks for two weeks evaporated. Maybe it was best to keep an open mind. Besides his reputation preceded him as the leading suit designer worldwide, and had been for the last four consecutive years. Until Marcus’s na
She approached the front counter. “I’m Veronica Mitchell. Mr. Berks asked me to meet him here today.”
“I’ll call his assistant. He’ll be right out.” The clerk picked up the phone and mumbled into the receiver before hanging up. He smiled before saying, “Actually, you can go back through that door there. Then it’s up the elevator, on the third floor. He’ll meet you there.”
“Thank you.” Veronica said and then followed the directions. She found the elevator easily and went up.
A man with red hair, blue eyes, and smile greeted her at the elevator. “Miss Mitchell?” He asked her. She nodded a reply. “I’m Chip Larson, Mr. Berks’s assistant. He isn’t here, but I can show you where you’ll be working.” He motioned for her to follow him. He took her into an office that had a wall of windows, a large dark–cherry desk, a couch, a library filled with books on fabric and clothing designs, and a large built–in shelf that had colored fabric stacked like a rainbow along the opposite wall. Outside the window she could see an amazing view of the park.
Chip escorted her into the room before saying, “Can I get you anything—coffee, soda, water, muffin, scone, bagel, anything?”
“I’m good.” She smiled. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing.”
“Right now, wait for Mr. Berks. He said he should be back around ten. You have a half hour. Are you sure you don’t want something to drink?” Chip asked.
“Okay, I’ll take some water.” Veronica recanted. The moment Chip left, Veronica struggled to decide what to do. She sat uncomfortably on the couch and crossed her legs. More than once she wondered if she was even allowed to sit on it. She fidgeted while she waited. When Chip came back with water she jumped up as if the couch had suddenly become hot. He rolled in a cart that had a carafe of water, and ice tea.