Windsor Street, New York City;
“All American Girl, right on time.” The blond secretary in the grey blazer and gold-framed glasses smiled up at her. “I’ll tell Mrs. Dearborn that you are here.
The executive didn’t keep Stella waiting long. She didn’t even have time enough to sit down in the chair provided before a smiling woman stepped out from behind her office door. Dana Dearborn, although well into her forties, was a very attractive woman with long black hair cut across the front in bangs. Her very businesslike attire extended only to the bottom of her miniskirt, cut well above the knee. Her platform pumps were definitely on the slutty side.
“How nice to see you again, Stella. Come with me and I’ll walk you down to the studio. Andre has it all set up. I was on the phone with Irving this morning finalizing everything. As you know, we already have you as part of our Up and Coming Heroesseries and the Chicks Who Kick Assseries. We thought we’d play a little more to our target demographic this time. We’re going with Hero Pin-ups. Irving said you would be okay with that.”
“Why not? My costume is only a bit bigger than the typical swimsuit anyway.”
“We won’t be doing any nudity. After all, we’re really aiming at teen boys. A few swimsuit shots on a beach set and maybe some coquettish poses—you know the stuff, tugging on your lower lip; that kind of thing.”
They passed through double doors and into the photography studio. A backdrop with a beach picture had been set up and sand toys and inflatable floaties were arranged around it. A chocolate brown man with a faux-hawk was adjusting the lens of an expensive camera on a tripod.
“Stella!” he squealed when he saw her. “I have been waiting for you, girl. You know this just couldn’t be a real pin-up shoot without that luscious bod of yours.”
“Thanks Andre. You’re always good for my ego.”
“I have two different outfits I’m dying to see you in. I picked them out myself. I just knew they would be perfect for you.”
One of the assistants brought out two swimsuits on hangers. One was an American flag bikini. While decidedly on the skimpy side, it wasn’t much smaller than Stella would choose to wear to the pool. The other was a one-piece which, while relatively conservative on the top was cut down to a thong on the bottom.
“This one won’t work,” said Stella. “I don’t do thongs.”
“I think it would look fantastic on you honey,” said Andre.
“I’ll give you the bikini. I’ll sexy it up by tugging down the side of my bottoms. Hell, I’ll even do the topless, I’m holding my own boobs thing. But I have a firm policy against wearing anything that rides up my ass.”
* * * * *
Stella relaxed at the sidewalk café just across the street from Turvy. She was wearing jeans, a white top, and a Cubs cap and could have been any attractive young woman. Her cell phone rang just as the waiter staggered out with a tray containing two chicken Caesar wraps, a steak quesadilla, two bacon double cheeseburgers, an Italian beef sandwich, a walnut-tuna salad sandwich, a cob salad, and a French dip. As he began arraying the food around her, she pulled the phone from her pocket and slid it open.
“Stella baby! Irving is so flattered that you’ve given him his own ring tone.”
“I didn’t give you your own ring-tone, Irving. I just knew you were going to call me. The Turvy people are pissed that I didn’t wear that suit, aren’t they?”
“Irving is not their people, baby. Irving is your people. Irving cares about what Stella cares about, and what Stella cares about is being on the New York Times list, and guess what?”
Stella waited a beat before asking “What?”
“All American Girl is on the list!”
“No fricking way!”
“Yes baby! You are on the list my sassy mega-girl, and not at one hundred either. No, you debuted at number-ninety eight!”
“You’re fricking kidding me! Wait, did somebody die?”
“Nobody died. Well yes, some people did die, but that’s not why you made the list. You made the list because you kicked the crap out of some power-suited baddies and saved America!”
“Did Skygirl make the list too?”
“Yes, Skygirl did make the list and that is what Irving really called about.”
“Where did she debut?”
“Skygirl is not important. At least she should not be important, but you are making her important by letting her in on your turf. Chicago is All American Girl’s territory. Why are you letting her steal your thunder, my girl?”
Stella was silent for a moment.
“Did you hear me, baby? Are you still there? Is Irving talking to a dead line?”
“Yes, I’m still here. Where is she?”
“She’s number ninety-seven.”
“Irving feels your pain, baby. So why are you letting this chick hang out with you?”
“It’s just… well, it just kind of happened, Irving. She sort of saved my life and then she was all nice and stuff, and the next thing I know I’m living with her.”
“Irving understands baby. That’s how it was with his second wife. But you cannot let her steal your thunder. The thunder is yours. It’s All American Girl brand thunder, with all the legal rights and privileges there-of.”
“Yeah, I get it.”
“You’ve got to get rid of…”
Stella closed her phone and then accidently crushed it in her hand. Tossing the pieces down on the table, she looked at the vast array of food. She really didn’t feel all that hungry now—maybe just the two cheeseburgers.