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"If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn't follow. I'd be at the bottom to catch them when they fall."
"Why did we all have to come?" Angelo complained.
We had all come to the Rich Montague memorial.
Wednesday had invited me and told me I
should bring some of my friends as well.
Mauricio had brought Xi, Natalie, Caprio,
Mauricio was so quick to answer. "It'd be a good time for you guys to meet some real heavy hitters in the modeling world. Rich Montague was a very prominent figure in the industry."
"It's always business with you," I stated, "Isn't it?"
Mauricio and I looked at one another. I was waiting for an answer, but he didn't give me one. He could see the disapproval written all over my face as I walked past him. How could he be so damn cold about something so human as her husband dying.
I walked into the building without them.
I left them where they were and started to look around for Wednesday. The whole place was crowded with people. Even though it was a memorial, they still seemed to be stressing their styles as though they were on their way to the Oscars instead of a dead man's memorial.
There wasn't the normal faint grievance that people would carry with their smiles of welcome at a memorial. No one cared about that. No, people were carrying around their same looks of extreme disapproval. They all were judging me...even now...even in this time of horror.
I saw Wednesday.
She was surrounded by all these people...craving her attention. Her mother was beside her. Her mother didn't look as bad as she did at the house. Maybe whatever she had was breaking. I wasn't sure...but the horrible look seemed to be slowly fading away from her face.
She ran to me. I could see the innocent little girl under all that make up. She ran to me and she wrapped her hands around me. For the first time I felt like I was helping someone out and not the other way around.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, god...these people are so annoying."
"Let's walk away."
She grabbed my hand. I saw a few people staring. They were staring and wondering who I was. I knew they were. I wasn't big in the "industry". I was the unknown face still trying to break in. My portfolio looked like shit, I didn't have a walk and my poses were cat scratch. I had been nothing to them...perhaps until now.
"How am I going to run an industry all by myself," she asked,
"Have you thought about selling your shares?" I questioned, "To someone with a little more knowledge about the industry?"
"No! I mean no...he wouldn't
want that," she explained, "He would want his parts of the company to stay in
his dream. I was the one who knew
the most about his dream."
"You must have been close."
"Why do you say that?"
"You were only married for a short time but you are able to know what his
visions for the company were."
She smiled, "I guess it was real love..."
I smiled back, "Yeah, but I wish my relationship was like that."
I looked across the room. I wasn't surprised to see Mauricio standing on the other side of the room watching me. I was surprised to see that he was standing next to Caprio. If I didn't know better, I would think they were having a conversation about me.
I removed my eyes from them. It was just a little awkward having them stare at me as I stared back.
"What's going on with him?" she asked.
I shook my head steadily, "No...no need to get into that. This is your
She smiled and held my hand tighter. She really seemed to be interested in me, as a human being. I liked it. Wednesday was so real to me.
"Go ahead. It helps me take my mind off of it," she offered.
I smiled, "Its nothing really. I swear it isn't. I guess that is the problem. He doesn't ever do something too much to upset me. He just always wants to please me. I feel like he can't upset me, but he can't excite me either. He walks into a room and I just think...oh, Mauricio..."
"I know what you mean."
"Yeah. You can't get hard to him."
I laughed. She was so simple. I could see the look on her face that said she was completely serious about it. She wasn't joking or anything. She was looking at me with these serious eyes. That is really what she believed.
"Wednesday, ha...no that isn't the problem. It isn't physical. I am attracted to him. It's not even mental. He does everything he can for me. It's emotional. I can't explain it."
She looked at me with a blank look.
"Wednesday it's ok. Thanks for just listening."
I smiled. I had been luck talking to Angelo about it. He would probably understand a little bit more. She smiled her sweet innocent smile though and then is aw her grab onto someone.
As she pulled the person back, I noticed who the person was. It was her brother...Vince. He had on a pretty smile when he realized it was me. I could see him light up again.
"Vince, why don't you make Tatum's boyfriend a little jealous?" she stated.
It surprised me that she knew her brother was gay. Vince didn't look like it nore did he act like it. It surprised me even more when he put his arm around me and pulled me closer with a smile spread across his face.
God I was hoping Mauricio wasn't looking...or maybe, I was hoping more that Caprio wasn't looking. He pulled me real close.
"I'd be happy to make your boyfriend jealous," he whispered in my ear and as he pushed closer he licked the inside of my ear.
"Vince I didn't mean that much," Wednesday said and laughed, "His boyfriend looked like he was just about to walk over here and kill you, before that other guy held him back. You better be careful in the parking lot."
"Hey, it wouldn't be the first time," Vince said,
taking his hand away from me and
pulling back, "Maybe me and you can hang Tatum."
Vince smiled, "Well...um...close friends."
"No," I stated, "I can't be close to you.
I have a boyfriend."
Vince exchanged looked with Wednesday as he backed up with his eyes steadily on me. They weren't moving even a little bit. They just pressed into me.
"He's a hard one to get."
Wednesday and I just stood there. God her brother was so hot. I could tell he really was interested in me too. Why would a guy like that...with all that familial wealth and prowess be interested in a struggling amateur model like me?
"Your boyfriend seems kind of upset, maybe you should go talk to him," Wednesday stated.
I looked over at Mauricio. Damn he was upset. I could see Caprio talking to him in a way and it was obvious that Caprio was trying to calm him down. It seemed to be taking a lot too. All of a sudden Mauricio took an exit and Caprio watched him leave.
After he had left the building, Caprio approached Wednesday and I. He had a real bothered look at his face and it seemed glued there even as he took a glance over at Wednesday.
"We just got here not too long ago."
"Well I'm sure
The attitude that Caprio had was obvious. I rolled my eyes. I didn't want to go back to having a beef with him, but it was unnecessary for him to approach me like that.
It wasn't staying with
"Go ahead," Wednesday stated, "I'm going to leave in not too long anyway. I have to start doing some research with this new job position I have."
I gave her a hug bye and went with Caprio. A part of me wanted to prolong having to defend myself, but then there was also this slight excitement that said Mauricio really seemed to care if I talked to another guy or not. I had never had that feeling with him. It was exciting to know your boyfriend was jealous of another guy talking to you. It made you feel secure of your place in his heart. I had never gotten that, nor anything much of the type from Mauricio.
Caprio gave me this evil look as we walked, "I can't believe you. You know I really can't believe you."
I stopped walking and stared at him. He was serious. He had this whole upset look on his face that I didn't really understand.
"That boy really cares about you.
He loves you and you let some boy be all over you.
In his face no doubt!
What kind of shit is that?"
I opened my mouth to argue. I opened my mouth to defend what had happened, but I just closed it back up again and thought for a minute. Caprio was pissed off about what I did to Mauricio. I wouldn't blame Mauricio if he was twice as mad. He had a reason to be upset.
"Damn you think he's going to be mad."
"You're going to get your ear talked off," Caprio stated and crossed his arms, "You can't do no stuff like that. I mean, you think you know those people. You really know those people? You want to be the industry slut or something?'
"Slut! Boy...hold on one second..."
Caprio didn't even let me finish my interruption, "Yea, slut. I said it. I meant it too. I know you're not one, but gay guys in the industry are looked at the same way females are. Straight guys might get away with sleeping with a lot of people, but you sleeping with all these people is messy."
I rolled my eyes. Whether it was true or not wasn't the issue. I wasn't worried about what people were saying. I was worried about whether or not Mauricio was mad at me.
"You know what! I was trying to be cool with you for a while...but you are sitting here calling me a slut. How am I supposed to respond to that?"
"You are at a memorial with some guy who has his tongue stuck in your ear
and you are smiling at him, all amused like he is performing Cirque de Soliel!"
He was pissed.
For a moment I had forgotten he was Caprio. For a moment I thought he was Mauricio. Why the hell was I getting so upset by what Caprio was saying? I wasn't even in a relationship with him. His opinions didn't matter.
"Kiss my ass. I don't have to explain anything to you."
"There is no explanation. Everything you can say in defense of this would be stupid."
"Now I'm stupid. Listen, don't even talk to me."
"Whatever, whiny ass spoiled brat."
I walked away. I guess we were officially on bad terms again. Caprio was only so dramatic with me and it wasn't fair. Maybe it was because Mauricio and him were like brothers and he felt like I would hurt Mauricio. Who knew? I didn't.
We had gotten home before anyone had said anything.
It had been a completely silent
trip. When we got home I saw Caprio
standing there, watching and smiling as though ready to be amused by
everything. What did he think that
Mauricio was going to embarrass me?
"You looked nice today," Mauricio stated to me.
I guess he told e that because I had been staring at him with a concerned look for a most of the night.
"Are you ok Mauricio?" I asked.
He nodded, "Why wouldn't I be?"
I looked over at Caprio, wondering where all the dramatics payback was coming from. Mauricio was just standing there crossing his arms. I bet he didn't find this so funny. I was the one who actually ended up smiling, teasing Caprio because Mauricio obviously wasn't as mad as he had claimed.
"Maury, why don't you just tell him what we were talking about earlier?" Caprio said stepping up.
"No...that's the past," Mauricio said.
He was cool and collective, with a business exterior that outweighed all his other attributes.
"It was within the hour!
Maury you can't be really over him doing that!"
"Mauricio we can talk about it if you want to," I stated.
Mauricio looked at me for a minute. At first I really thought he was going to tell me something. I really thought that after all these years together, we would finally have an argument and it would be everything I imagined it to be.
"No...baby, you looked nice today though," Mauricio complimented me and continued, "We need to get you measured again. We'll do that tomorrow? Good time?"
I nodded and looked over to see Caprio's reflection. I could tell Caprio was irritated with Mauricio's response. Hell, I was irritated with Mauricio's response a little. Where was the care at? It was almost like...he just stopped caring completely.
Caprio started to say something, "Mauricio..."
"It's ok," Mauricio urged. He gave Caprio a stern look. I didn't know what it meant. It was confusing actually but it seemed like Caprio knew what it meant. He just crossed his arms and looked away.
"Am I in the twilight zone?" Caprio asked and looked over at Angelo who had just walked in the room, "Hey kid, are you an alien abductor disguised? Are you about to give Mauricio here an anal probe! He might need some because he damn sure isn't acting much like a man right now. I think I'm hear the theme music already! This has to be the TWILIGHT zone!"
He walked away, leaving Angelo laughing and Mauricio smiling as though what Caprio said was the funniest thing in the world. It bothered me a little bit though. Why was Caprio more upset about it then my own boyfriend?
Mauricio grabbed me and hugged me up. He laid a soft, soft kiss on my lips and turned to the door to leave, "Don't pay him any attention. I...I love you."
"I do to."
The reply I gave was distant, extremely distant. The truth was I wanted to love him. I wanted to love Mauricio more then anything, but I had to find someway to do it.
The next day, I was called into the Bella Verino's office early.
It was real early. Hell, it
was still kind of dark outside.
When they said
I had opened my mouth to speak, but then forgot that we were back to not speaking. He looked away when he realized that I wasn't going to greet him.
I went to the fridge and got some orange juice.
I couldn't help but to see that he was sitting in his room watching Gia. It was about a beautiful model who caught Aids and died because of her drug addiction. It was really sort of sad.
"Why aren't you sleeping?" I finally asked.
He probably didn't hear me. He did seem like he was somewhat into the movie. He looked sexy as hell sitting there, leaned to the side, with one foot up on the sofa and big bulge in his basketball shorts.
"Hey," I said, looking over at him, "I didn't mean what I said yesterday. We can still speak."
He ignored me. He actually turned the sound on the television up a few notches. I couldn't believe he was being such an asshole. I walked over to him and sat on the loveseat perpendicular to him.
"I said we can speak."
He paused for a while. For a moment I thought he was going to ignore me again, but he seemed to just be trying to create this big awkward atmosphere.
"I heard what you said," he told me.
"Well you don't want to talk to me or something?" I asked.
He rolled his eyes at me as though I was speaking the most idiotic things in the world. He put down the remote and sat on the chair correctly to face me. I could see his eyes intently blaring at me with so much frustration in them.
"You think I'm like Mauricio? I'm not here for your leisure. You aren't going to play around with me. You said you didn't want us speaking so we won't speak. Period."
"I don't play around with Mauricio."
He rolled his eyes again and let out a short little laugh. It was so demeaning when he did it. I crossed my arms and sat up in the chair. What the hell was his problem with me?
"You let that boy lick in your ear. You LET him!"
"Why are YOU so upset about that?" I asked, "Mauricio doesn't give a damn. It was obvious."
"He does care. He's just scared to upset you. He treats you like you are made of glass and it pisses me off. I understand you had a lot of issues in your past, but this is here...this is now. There is no reason that he has to be so sensitive to you all the time."
We were arguing again.
It seemed like Caprio and I had these huge debates all the time about things that had nothing to do with him. These things were all MY concern. They were all MY business. Why was I allowing him to interfere with my life.
"Mauricio's your friend. If you have a problem with how our relationship is...go talk to him. Don't talk to me."
"Whatever. If you don't want me to speak to you, make sure of it.
Don't keep going back and forth with
I had gotten up and walked across the room before he finished his sentence. As he finished it, I stopped. I was so damn unsure of what I wanted from him. Why was he the only one able to get to me like that? Still, I didn't want to just stop talking to him.
I turned around, back to him.
He was in my face. He was inches away from my face. I could smell him so close to me. Damn...he smelled so good next to me. I looked up at his eyes. They stared into mine. He probably hadn't expected me to turn around, because there should be no reason he had gotten this close.
His lips. I couldn't deny that I never wanted to kiss anyone, including Mauricio or Vince or anyone as much as I wanted to kiss Caprio at that moment. It was such a pure lust.
"I don't want to stop speaking to you," I told him.
"Good...I didn't want you to stop," he replied.
I could feel his breath up against my face. Even at this hour, god knows why it still smelled sweet. We went and sat next to each other. For a minute, I just wasn't sure if it was the right thing to be here with him.
"Why do we fight all the time like we do?" I asked him.
He shrugged his shoulders, "Who knows?"
I sat there and thought about it some more. He was blowing it off as nothing, but it seemed to be more to me. I didn't get it.
"I mean, you and me aren't really similar. Maybe that is why...opposites you know...you have a way of effecting me."
"You're special," he said looking at me.
He turned away just as he said it as though it was the most natural thing to tell someone. He continued to watch tv. I knew he could see my eyes on him. My eyes were damn near glued onto him and not letting up.
"What is it about me that really bothers you?" I ask him.
He looked as though he really didn't want to have a conversation, but still he obliged me. He looked my way slowly and looked me up and down.
"I hate your big toe. It's so damn big...but the others ones make up for it, so its good."
He extended a cute smile as he had said it. I smiled at him. I was interested in him. I was really interested in him and I didn't know what it was that kept me so damn connected like this.
"I'm serious," I told him, trying to hide my amused smile with a hand.
"Ok ok, ok," he explained and changed the
channel. It was funny that
He had changed it to a music channel. I heard the slow melody of Lloyd singing his song, "Feels so right." For a minute it was hard to talk. How the hell could this moment be so perfect as it was right now.
"Can I come closer?" I ask him.
"If you want."
OoO Ms...lady sexual thoughts keep running through my mind. All I want to do is touch you...
The song was serenading me. We sit on the same song. Feels so right. No...why didn't he change this? Maybe it was the same reason that I didn't change the song.
Even thought I'm only in your town for one night // I got enough time to rush through the drill // Girl tell me how you feel deep down inside
"Are you going to talk?" he asks me.
"Hold on a second, I love this song."
"Me too," he said. He leaned over to me on the couch and started to sing, "Shorty just relax your mind. Sit back and let's unwind. I promise it'll feel real good. Just let me massage your spine. Cause baby there's no need to rush. We got no where to go. Take your time. And you see by the end of our escapade. I'll make you mine."
I was hypnotized.
Even though he just sang the lyrics to the song, it felt like he was trying to move my soul. He could sing. No...he sounded better then Lloyd. The flowing through his lips were perfect.
"Didn't know I could sing huh?" he said laughed and moved away a little bit, "Yeah that is my true passion. I want to be a singer. I'm thinking this modeling thing will help me bridge into the music world."
"You should get rid of the middle man. You would be a damn singer," I told him.
He laughed, "What about you?"
"You asked me what bothered me the most about you.
It's the fact that you don't believe in
yourself. That is the only thing
keeping you from immortality. Do
something for me...ok?"
He grabbed my hand. He extended out, "Stare out, reach out..."
I did it. I knew it was corny, but as I did it, I didn't feel corny because Caprio was the one who told me to do it. Why was I having these thoughts about him again? It was like when we first met.
It was so much.
"What am I staring at? What am I reaching for?"
"Immortality baby...immortality is yours. You just have to reach for it and grab it."
We sat there for a couple more minutes, listening to slow music. I knew I would be late, but I didn't care. Soon, the slow music put Caprio to sleep.
I fixed the pillow underneath him, fluffed it and looked down.
God he was such a beautiful thing.
He was so perfect.
Like I had said earlier, when my story first started, no one is perfect until you are in love with them and it was becoming harder and harder to take back the fact that I was in love with this strange man.
I was in a meeting with Natalie as she told me my bookings for the week. She seemed so excited about them, but I didn't know half of the people she was mentioning. She kept holding out the suspense and saying the name, then looking up at my face and expecting me to jump for joy...I didn't though.
I just stood there, half-witted. I knew so little about the fashion world except what I saw in magazines.
"Somehow...your photos with Caprio leaked out..." she stated, "They were posted all over the internet."
I got up out of my seat. How the hell does that happen? I could see Natalie getting up and trying to calm me down. I just shook her off though and started to have a little semi-panic attack. My heart was beating fast with rage. They were all over the internet...meaning people saw them. God...
"Did anyone important see it?"
"The wonders of internet. They were forwarded around to photographer after photographer."
"How the hell does it happen?"
I'm pissed by now. I didn't want those pictures out. I REQUESTED that no one have those pictures. How the hell does it happen that they have them?
"It wasn't Mauricio and I. I can assure you, we thought about you and respected your wishes."
I wondered if she was telling the truth. I didn't know whether or not to trust her. I didn't know whether to trust any of them...any of theme except Mauricio. I wish he was in the office now...
"No, he wouldn't. He can't unless he had written permission."
"There was only one other person who had access to the photos..."
I left her office and walked into the main office building.
They were all getting ready for the open
house that was going to happen in a month or something. Mauricio was out having interviews for
new modeling agents and everything.
I looked around for him...where the hell was he?
He had to be around the office
somewhere. I was sure no one
That was when I saw him.
He was standing by the vending machines shaking it like he was digging for gold. Xi and Angelo were next to him, laughing the whole time.
"What the fuck!" I said to him, screaming from down the hall and then walking closer.
"The machine took Angelo's money."
I pushed him, hard as hell. I pushed him up against the wall.
"Come Xi," Angelo stated as soon as I did it, "It's Tatum versus Caprio, round 12, let's go see if we can get Natalie to give us some vending change."
Caprio just looked at me smiling with this innocent look even when I pushed him hard into the wall and it obviously hurt him.
"Damn...did you have a personal relationship with that vending machine? Something I need to tell Mauricio about?"
I rolled my eyes, "You put the pictures we took out there."
Suddenly the innocent face turned into one that had guilt in it. It was obvious. Every part of his body was admitting to what the hell he did.
I wanted to hit him so bad. I clenched onto his collar. I couldn't believe he was trying to do this to me. He was trying to ruin me. Just as I clenched him by the collar I saw my reflection in the window of the vending machine glass.
"Useless," the mirror devil told me, "You always are...you always will be."
"I wouldn't be if they didn't keep messing with me. I would be fine if people weren't trying to sabotage me!" I replied.
I noticed Caprio's face as he heard me. He looked at me weird. His forehead wrinkled with curiosity.
"Sabotage? Who you talking to Tatum?"
"Shut up...you sabotaged me!"
Suddenly at that moment, I saw Natalie running down the hall. Both her hands were balled up in a fist as she came down the hall. She looked real excited for some reason. Angelo and Xi were behind her, both of them almost as excited as her, but not quite.
"Tatum got fashion week! You got fashion week!" Natalie stated.
"You got fashion week!"
She ran back down the hallway towards Mauricio., completely ignoring me. I looked over at Angelo wanting some type of explanation to her madness. He smiled. He was excited...not nearly as much as her but still was.
"Tatum, you got booked for the Spring Collection Olympus
I turned to Caprio. I realized I was still clutching onto him. This time he was looking at me, with an angry face.
Angelo looked over to Xi, "Let's get out of here.
Tatum vs. Caprio,
Round 13. You don't want to
get caught up in this storm, trust me."
Caprio slapped my hands off of him. He started to walk away. I was going to let him go but then I realized how fucked up I was. Him sending those pictures got me fashion week. It didn't get HIM fashion week, it got ME fashion week.
I grabbed him but he pulled away from me. He was aiming for the bathroom door. Just as he opened it and tried to close it, I ran in there with him.
"What, I can't piss in peace now?" he asked me.
"Listen, I want to apologize. I'm sorry really, it's just I specifically
said I didn't want them out there like that."
He rolled his eyes, "They were good pictures. You don't believe in yourself, so I had to."
It was sweet. I realized we were in a cramped space like this. It was so small we couldn't help but be really close to each other. The feeling of being in such a tight place with someone you found attractive and I found Caprio attractive.
His breath hit my face and it smelled so sweet. His masculinity hugged me even though his hands remained at his side.
Why did I want to kiss him as bad as I did? I knew he wasn't even thinking sexual around me but I just felt it. I just myself falling for him.
Over and over and over.
"I may say I don't want your help...but I do...I want your help."
It was night time before I made my way home. The streets were black. I had gone to the place called the village. It was the gay part of town. I just wanted to see what it was like. It wasn't really interesting enough for me to stay however. I ended up walking around Timesquare for a little bit longer before finally deciding to go home.
Suddenly I felt a feeling.
It felt like someone was following me.
I looked down the streets. There were cars but the block that I was walking on was never usually this empty. It was late night, but I still didn't expect it to be this empty.
Still...I could feel eyes on me.
"Hello!" I called out.
Then I saw figure. It
slightly moved in the distance, speeding as though running from one wall to the
I started to run. I had such a fucked up feeling about whatever it was that was moving. I felt like whoever it was had been following me but it took me so long to realize it.
It wasn't the first time I felt the feeling, but it was the first time I was admitting to it. What the hell was going on? Who the hell was following me!
My footsteps got faster, but I could feel the person at my back. Then I heard the footsteps. It was obvious the person was running as well. They were running to keep up with me. What the hell was going on?
I wasn't going to stop and wait for the answer. My heart was beating too fast. Sweat rolled down my back and my thighs. Then I realized that my legs were getting tired. Fuck. They were giving out on me. I kept trying to beat the pavement. I could feel the person as though the person was right behind me, chasing me with all the might that they had.
I looked up, I was at the building. I ran right into the lobby and to the security desk. Fuck! It was empty. I looked over at the door. I saw the black, cloaked figure walking to the door, slowly pacing to the door. It wasn't my imagination. This was real. This person had followed me for blocks.
I took steps backward away from the door. As I took a step back, the person took a front forward. They were mocking me. What the hell? What the hell was all this about?
Suddenly I felt a hand from behind me and I jumped.
I turned to see Caprio. Fuck I was happy to see him.
"What's wrong?" he stated, "You look freaked out."
I turned back to the door, pointing, "See look! Look over there did you see someone walking up those steps."
"Yeah, but they turned back."
I thought about telling me the person was following me and chasing me, but rather I just stood there and tried to get it out of my mind. Why would someone want to follow me? Who the hell was I that someone would actually want to follow me?
"I'm glad you're here."
He smiled at me, "I'm going to be there for you. I'll help you out. I'll help you get ready for fashion week. We'll do it together."
We waited for the elevator together. I believed what he said to. I believed he would be there to help me. All of a sudden I felt the small boost of confidence through me.
Maybe things would start changing around my way.