Today was the beginning of another slow week at the office. I worked as Secretary to the Managing Director for small Advertising Agency here in Barbados. My boss, Mr. David, had left for vacation last week, a two-month vacation. I generally loved when he was absent, for I had little or no work to do as I was his Personal Secretary and not the Company Secretary. But that was only when he was absent for a day or two, not two months. We were just into week two and I was bored out of my mind already. In times like these, I sometimes didn't even come to the office, but today being the first working day of the week, I decided to come in.
* * This was to be, in ways that I did not know then, an important decision. * *
Around midday I received a phone call from a woman by the name of Nasma Sharp. She called concerning her daughter Ava Sharp who was a contestant for the Ms. Barbados title in the next three months. She wanted me to be the Chaperon of her daughter for that show. I told her I would have to meet with her daughter before I can make any commitments and we arranged a lunch date for the following day.
Apart from this work that I do here as a Secretary, I am also into the modeling world. In my younger years I was a model, most of my modeling career was here on the island. I've done countless fashion shows and also entered a few pageants, claiming six crowning titles, Ms. Barbados being one of them. That one I gained at the age of twenty. I am now thirty-nine and my modeling days are long gone. What I do now, and have done for the past fifteen years is act as Chaperon for the girls entering various pageants upon their request or the request of their parents or even the Organizers of whichever show it was. The role of the Chaperon was to get the girl fully ready for the show. This included just about everything. From soliciting necessary sponsorship to ensuring that she got her rest. Organising for her outfits, her hair, practicing her walk, her smile, her speeches, her performances, photo shoots. Ensuring that she got everywhere she needed to be and on-time. I took over the role of their mothers in a time like this. In extreme cases, telling them when to go out and what time to be home. As I said, it included *everything*. But it was something I enjoyed doing, working with the girl and passing on my knowledge thrills me the most and my best reward - apart from my fee of course - is having them gain a title. These things always excite me and as I headed of towards the restaurant the following day. I felt like I always do, like I am the one signing up to take part in the show.
I got to the restaurant around ten minutes earlier than we were scheduled to meet. I headed over to table 7 as had been arranged. Ms. Sharp wasn't there as yet. But I asked the waiter to bring me a glass of fruit punch. This particular restaurant made the best punches and it was always a drink of mine when I dined here. I sat going through the menu, for lack of anything better to do, when I was interrupted by a voice.
"Good Afternoon. Ms. Grier?"
I looked up and there was this gloriously, gorgeous young girl standing above me.
"Yes. You must be Ms. Sharp. Please sit." I smiled to her and was greeted with one of the most stunning smiles I have ever seen. It was warm. It was welcoming. It was pleasant.
As she sat I noticed a few more of her great attributes. She was slender, but my no means was she *bony* as many models often are. She had an ample bosom for her size and what many refer to as ‘Caribbean hips'. She appeared to be about 5'10," possibly a tiny bit more and to top it all off she had a head of long, thick, flowing hair. She had - for lack of a better phrase - a ‘fresh' look about her. I took to her instantly.
"So, I hear you're vying for Ms. Barbados. How prepared are you?"
"Not very. I was only approved after signing up, last week, and so I've turned to you."
"Yes. I've heard that you have a great history in the modeling field, not just for yourself, but with the girls you've worked with as well. I know that many have won titles and I want to be one of them" she said
I smiled. "Quite great praises coming from a young lady like you. I see you've done research. She smiled at my statement. "By the way how old are you?"
"Just turned nineteen" she said with a proud tone in her voice.
"Something tells me you hated being eighteen." I said laughing.
"You could say that again., because although I *was* eighteen and considered an adult, everybody always went ‘but you're *just* eighteen', and I hated it. I never got to do the things I wanted to do."
As we spoke another thing that drew me to her was her eyes. She had a pair of striking eyes. They seemed to smile with her when she did, frown when she frowned.
Without even seeing the other contestants, I was ready to believe that this girl was a winner.
The waiter came over and we ordered.
"Trust me Honey, we all went through it." I said smiling at her complaint. She seemed so relaxed and easy to talk to. It seemed that she was able to express herself freely. This was a quality that some girls lacked. They may be able to sashay themselves down a runway, flashing brilliant smiles, but conversations with them seemed forced. "So, what do you have in mind for the show?"
"Well.. I don't know, not really"
"My first tip as your Chaperon, avoid the opening "Well" when you're talking to someone."
"Okay" she paused "What I do know, is that I want you to do my gown."
"Ahhh.." I said smiling. "So you really have done some research"
I also designed and created evening gowns. Although I've never considered it to be by any means a ‘profession', I've done it as far back as my own gowns for different shows. The money was very good, but I considered it more of a hobby.
"Yes, I have.. and I know you're the best"
"Are you sure you don't want to get into politics?. You talk a good game Ava" I said with a smile "Might I call you that?"
"Ofcourse. I'm serious tool. I need you to do my gown."
"Wonderful." Now lets discuss the ever-so-important; money. What sort of funding do you have already?"
"W-" I looked at her sternly, knowing what she was about to begin with. She immediately picked up and continued "As it stands, the Committee is giving us some money, I don't know how much, but some. Apart from that I am not sure of anything else.
"okay darling, don't worry your head. I'll contact the organizers of the show and get an idea of what's happening. Up front though, my usual charge to design and create the gown is $2,500.00. That could fluctuate. It depends on what's the theme of the show. My Chaperon service is $2,000.00. But you need not worry. Once we gain sponsorship for you, everything will be covered."
"As I said earlier, you're the best and I'm okay with whatever you say."
I smiled to myself. My, my. Isn't she a charmer?
"Okay. We have three months. That's enough time to play with. In the next month we'll set a financial foundation for you. Following that we'll work on your modeling and your talent and in the last month, we'll do the dress."
"Sounds like a plan" she said smiling.
The waiter brought our food and we began to eat. During the meal, I asked her about herself, trying to get a feel as to what type of person she was, the things that relax her, the things she enjoys. I was trying to paint a picture of her in my head. The perfect setting, with the perfect gown.
As we were finishing the meal I said to her "Okay Ava, give me about week to come up with an outline for the show, and to get some feedback on sponsorship. I'll most likely have a sketch of the gown for you then."
"Great. So soon?" she asked. You heard the excitement in her voice.
"Yep. How about Saturday afternoon? My place."
"Saturday it is"
I gave her the address to my house and asked her to bring her parents along.
"nice to meet you Ms. Grier."
"Same here Ava." We stood, shaking hands before we left.
I was anxious to work with her on the show. I usually was, but something about this girl held me. Something I couldn't place my finger on.
* * *
Getting back to the office, it appeared that much hadn't changed. I didn't expect it to. It was still a slow day. I sat at my desk. I looked through the directory and found the names and numbers of persons on the Organizing Board for the Miss Barbados Pageant. I got in contact with one, Mrs. Newman. I introduced myself to her, explaining who I was. We got into talking about the show, in which I learned some more about the show. As usual the winner of the show would move on the Ms. Caribbean Pageant in the next few months and then Ms. Universe next year. This years show had a Caribbean theme and the girls were to portray something that would depict "Caribbean Splendor" as the theme was.
Hmmm... Caribbean Splendor. It had my mind spinning already, coming up with vivid images of gowns for the show.
She went on explaining that it was a total of twenty-five girls. They would compete in Swimsuit, talent, evening gown categories, and then be broken down to a final five. She also informed me that each girl would be given $2000 and that they were to come up with the rest to carry them through the show. They would be given swimsuits as they will all wear the same piece. The ultimate prize, apart from the title, would be a BMW 525.
‘Wow!! What a prize' I thought. Why didn't they have that in my day.
There was also going to be a general meeting for the Girls and their Chaperons/Managers two months prior to the show where they would be briefed on the full running of the show.
I thanked her for her assistance, and me being the one to always believe ‘strike while the iron in hot' I Went right into preparing a list of persons from whom I can solicit sponsorship.
I came up with a fabric company, a jewelry company, a clothing company, a Shoe store, a hotel and a couple banks. They were all businesses that I had worked with in the past. I had a good relationship with them and I didn't think I would have many problems if at all any.
I completed my day at work by sitting back at my desk, returning to Solitaire. A few telephone calls came in, but nothing major.
At the end of the day I packed up and left the office. I went directly home. Getting there I immediately went to my desk, putting pencil to paper, remembering her shapely, beautiful body, imagining how the dress would fit. After a few trials and errors. I came up with the perfect sketch, of what I pictured. Having the base of the gown. I set it down. Deciding to work on the detailing another time.
I looked up and realized that the only source of light in the house was the one from my workstation. I didn't realize it had gotten so late as I worked.
I went to my room, changing as I went.
I lived in a two-bedroom house, except one wasn't bedroom. I had converted the larger of the rooms into my work area. My computer/workstation to one corner, sewing machines and table to another and my treadmill and workbench in their corner.
The kitchen was small and simple. The better parts of my house was the living room and the verandah . They were relaxing and homey yet at the same time had an air of sophistication - or so I was told. The living room was covered in a plush brown carpeting, with lovely beige leather sofas. I remember them being a ‘thank you' present from one of the girls I worked with, who later became Ms. World. The verandah was long and spacious, but for a few wicker chairs.
My life, as it stood was basically work and the occasional show or wedding or some other event that I did a gown for. Outside of that, there was very little. I didn't go out much. The occasional stop at a bar, of course, but I couldn't remember the last time I went to a party. In my latter teen years I as at party every week, I was now thirty-nine and I guess as you grow older, you grow out of it.
I also hadn't been in a relationship for quite a while. My last partner was almost a year ago. Desiree was wonderful girl and I missed her. Our relationship was a great one and of course, as a key element in most relationships, the sex was wonderful. She was a great lover, very passionate and ohh very kinky. We spent much time together but that was before she had to leave the island. She had family abroad, and I understood that she wanted to be with them. We still kept in contact and ever so often I would think back to the good times we had and would miss her terribly. My drawer filled with strap-ons, vibrators, cuffs, gags, lotions and various other stimulators and toys served as a constant reminder. My vibes were often used, but the rest sat in my drawer. Finding another partner was difficult. See here in Barbados the ratio of straight to lesbian women was in my mind, somewhere around 100:1. Not only was that the issue, but such relationships were still closeted, as it was not commonly accepted by all.
The best bet in meeting someone was at the only gay bar on the island, and that often proved futile as many of the ladies there was only up for ‘fun and games'. I wasn't looking to rush into a relationship but at the same time I wasn't only after sex and one night stands either. I hadn't given up on finding someone, but I wasn't going to make it an element in my life. I believed that what is meant to be, will happen. And that everything takes time.
I changed into some workout gear, as I intended to get some exercise. I spent about and hour an a half going through my routine, then had a shower and settled in front of the television for while before heading off to bed.
* * *
I headed off to work the next day. Every day went the same as expected. I had little to do. I used the opportunity to call around the different persons I had targeted for sponsorship and doing the usual formal request letter. I advised them that they would receive the necessary information on the contestant soon. The general response was one of interest, but would be delayed, as anticipated, until they saw who was going to be carrying their name and products.
I spent the rest of the week at home. If there were any emergencies at the office I would be contacted. My days were spent adding in the details to the sketches for Ava's Gown
By Saturday it was perfect and as I presented it to Ava and her parents, I saw the look of delight all over their faces, especially Ava's.
"I love it. I love it" cried Ava. She was smiling that beautiful smile I knew would win the judges over. It was a long flowing gown, which would flatter her hips nicely, but not pronounce it. Its bodice was for the most part in a sheer fabric, all but the bust area. And it was covered in trails of Hibiscus flowers and leaves. From the bust line, the flowers cascaded down to the hem of her gown. The material of the gown was a soft yellow tie-dyed fabric that can be hand done and would be complemented with rhinestones adorning the leaves.
Mr. and Mrs. Sharp were both smiling as well. They seemed to be a nice couple. They appeared to be in their mid-forties and I saw where Ava got her beauty. Mr. Sharp was strikingly tall and very handsome, a nice dark brown complexion and the same warm eyes that Ava had. Her mother was quite shorter and of East Indian decent and it was evident that Ava got her long soft flowing hair from her Mom. Another thing the mother had handed down was that gorgeous smile.
They seemed very supportive of Ava, and from my experience working with girls on this level, this was one of the most important things in carrying them through the competition
"What are you going to call it?" asked Mrs. Sharp.
"Ahhh...Catchy. And appropriate, very appropriate" came Mr. Sharps impressed tone.
"Yes. The theme for the Show, being ‘Caribbean Splendor' I don't think that anything things shows the splendors of the Caribbean more than the Bloom of the tropics, so I think this will represent it well" I explained
"and I love the use of the colours. Ava will look so lovely in it" Mrs. sharp was already so proud of her daughter.
After discussing the gown a bit more, we launched into the financial aspect of things.
"I'm assuming Ava told you of my charge. That will only be part of her expense of the show. We have to consider the costume for the talent and of course events prior to the show. I've but together a slight budget covering the expected things. Have a look"
I handed them copies of it
"How do we come up with that kind of money?"
The Organizing committee of the show is giving each girl $2,000. As you see this won't cover as much as quarter. But the rest, we are hoping to come up with in sponsorship."
I explained to them the different persons I have contacted and the expected volume of contribution. Which would cover the entire balance of the costs. I explained that I needed some photos of Ava with a bit of a history on her. Listing every show or public appearance she has made and persons she has worked with. They agreed and assured me I would have it on Monday. This was great, as the earlier I got it the better.
Mr. and Mrs. sharp had to leave and they excused themselves as I had more things to discuss with Ava.
I wanted to get a feel of where her head was in preparation for the show.
"Do you want something to drink?" I said getting up.
"Yes please. Some juice will be nice"
"No problem. Come with me." I made my way to the kitchen as she followed.
"So Ava, I guess you're very excited" I said while I poured a glass each.
"Are you kidding me Ms. Grier?! I'm more than excited! I'm jumping out of my pants!" She said grinning.
"Okay, first off, lose the first name Sweetie. Jordan will work just fine." I smiled at her
She smiled back. "No problem Jordan."
"The next couple months will be very hectic, so you've got to be ready for it. Especially within the last month."
"Prepared to put the rest of your social life on hold for a while?. Every time you go out, it will be something associated with the show" this I had to make clear upfront as some girls in the past still wanted to do things that their schedule didn't allow and I cant even begin to discuss the boyfriends. "Is your boyfriend going to understand?"
"You don't have one? ..Sorry I just assumed that a pretty young woman life yourself had someone spcial in your life. And why such a tone anyway?" I asked laughing "What's wrong with boyfriends.
"Nothing I guess" she said, before drinking from the glass.
"Go on." I said, probing for more
"Let's just say that having someone special in your life doesn't necessarily mean having a boyfriend"
Was I hearing right? Is this beautiful young woman in front of me, just like me? She doesn't have a boyfriend? ‘Having someone special doesn't necessarily mean having a boyfriend?' Is that someone a woman? Is that what she was saying? Or was I thinking too fast?
I don't know if she saw the thoughtful look on my face, but she quickly changed the topic.
"What sort of pictures do you want for the sponsors"
Trying to tear my thoughts away from where they were. "They're not sponsors yet, but I know after they see your face, they will be" I said smiling to her.
She blushed. "Thank you Jordan."
"I'm serious you're absolutely gorgeous. They'll love you. Send a full-length shot, a half shot, a face shot, and one other that you like.
She was smiling, slowly. Seductively?
"No problem, my mom will get them to you on Monday"
"Good. Now, what's your modeling like?"
"Fair to fine, I've done a couple small shows, nothing major though and this is my first competition. Wanna see something's now?"
She rest down her empty glass and headed off to the living room. She began slipping on the sandals she came with.