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Authors: India Lee

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Diamond in the Rough

BOOK: Diamond in the Rough
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Diamond in the Rough

India Lee

 

Copyright © 2011 by Two Cats

All Rights Reserved

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

- Chapter 1 -

 

Despite the fame, photo shoots were still a foreign concept to Gemma.  While she had graced a considerable number of magazine covers in the past year, she had never actually posed for any of them.  And she had certainly never been interviewed by anyone as unabashed as Fleur Magazine’s contributing editor.

“I’m calling BS.  Something happened between you and Tyler Chase.”

Madeline Riker was a contributing editor at Fleur, the sole publication that Gemma handpicked to work with out of the dozens that called.  The magazine had a biting and gutsy reputation that contradicted its delicate name, and Gemma couldn’t help but relate to that inconsistency.  Though her superstar alter ego appeared wild and fierce in concert, she could hardly consider herself exciting offstage.  Her identity as Queen Bee was far too confidential for her to let loose and risk being identified.

“Okay, I can’t comment anymore, ” Gemma giggled as she sat in her makeup chair.  Madeline’s bluntness was rather enjoyable after a past of overly polite interviewers who wouldn’t risk upsetting Queen Bee or her management.  She was so consistently out-of-line that it was refreshing.

In fact, everything about the shoot was new and refreshing.  Gemma delighted in the hands painting dramatic wings on her eyelids and the chic girls unpacking Rodarte from black garment bags.  She had never met them before in her life, and it was rare that such strangers were ever allowed so close to her.  Penelope and Armand were both in L.A, taking meetings with top makeup artists and stylists who were looking to join Queen Bee’s expanding brand.  For once, the people taking care of her on set were outsiders of her personal and very private team.  It was exhilarating to know that just a platinum blonde wig and colored lenses served as her disguise in front of the unfamiliar crew.  She tried to ignore the fact that Mira and her entire security team were planted in various spots about the room, their eyes boring into her and anyone within a few feet.  It killed the fun of doing something new for once.

“Good answer.” Madeline flashed Gemma a broad smile.  “‘No comment just means, ‘We hooked up and it was incredible, but I can’t talk about it because of his crazy fans.’”

Gemma’s hand flew to her mouth to suppress her laugh.  Just as she suspected Madeline had gone further than Mira would approve of, she heard her aunt’s voice fill the studio.

“Stop right there.”

The room stopped.  Gemma turned to see Mira’s eyes widen and then squint – but at the wardrobe team.  “What’s
that
?” Mira asked, looking appalled yet curious at the same time.  While her assistant held the piece up to show Mira more clearly, the stylist spoke.

“It’s the Virginie bra by Frédérique Mailloux,” she said.  “It’s a one-off from next season’s collection.  We’re pairing it with the Vivienne Westwood blazer.”

As the stylist assistant scrambled to show Mira the blazer, Gemma raised her eyebrows at the bra.  It boasted a striped pattern, interchanging between black satin and a sheer crème lace.  More impressive, however, were its diamond-studded straps.

“How r
isqué,
” Mira cocked an eyebrow and laughed.  “Then that’ll be a buttoned blazer, correct?”

The stylist pursed her lips.  “Sure.”

To both Gemma’s relief and disappointment, the first set of photos did not involve wearing the bra.  Three other assistants emerged from the wardrobe team to help zip, tie, pin and fit her into various other ensembles – knife pleated chiffon with a python belt, a leather motorcycle vest with a neon bandeau bra and high-waisted trousers, a studded silk dress worn with a dramatic bow-and-arrow headpiece.

Due to Gemma’s hectic schedule, the interview continued between camera shots. The lone prop sitting on the white backdrop of the set was a pair of novelty-sized, lavender headphones.  They were big enough for Gemma to sit on, and she did just that as she posed for the camera in a black cutout mini dress and an ultra-high ponytail.

“Absolutely stunning, Bee.  The best cover yet, I have no doubt!” Raul, known best for his work with Vogue and Vanity Fair, snapped away rapidly as Gemma whipped her hair about.  She couldn’t help but let his enthusiasm energize her.  “Let’s try to stand on top of the headphones, yeah? Rule the headphones like a true queen!”

“With pleasure,” Gemma laughed as she stood and allowed two assistants to help her climb onto the prop in her six-inch stilettos.  “Oh!” she yelped as she felt herself wobble on the slippery surface.  The entire set took in a collective gasp but relaxed as Gemma’s security guards bounded forward to catch her.

“Can you do it, Bee?” Raul asked.

Gemma opened her mouth to answer, but Mira spoke before she could.  “I don’t think this is a very good idea.  I don’t want any broken necks here.”

“Are you sure? Queen Bee could make a neck brace very fashionable,” Raul said with a chuckle.  Mira blinked.

“Bee, you should probably step down from there,” Mira said sternly.  She was in business mode, and there were no signs of Gemma’s fun and doting Aunt Mira when she was managing her as Queen Bee.  Gemma eyed Mira and then Raul, whose disappointment was visible in the creases of his forehead.

“Eh, I think she can do it,” Raul insisted.

“I’d rather not take any chances,” Mira responded.

Before they could continue bantering, Gemma spoke up.  “I’m fine,” she said decidedly, straightening her posture atop the headphones.  She even struck a pose and dared to wink at Mira, her false feather lashes grazing her cheek.  The camera clicked as Raul caught the shot.

“Brilliant!” he shouted zealously.  “Now, it’s time for the
Frédérique
.”  He clapped his hands together as the stylist and assistant dashed to ready the bra ensemble.

With a curtain drawn, Gemma carefully pulled the diamond straps over her shoulders and clasped the back together.  Only then did she realize that it was a push-up bra – and a pretty stellar one at that.  Without even looking in a mirror, she felt an immediate sense of confidence.  She had never worn anything like it in her life.  It was a bit of a shame to cover it up in a blazer.

Raul finished the final set of photos rather quickly and the crew began dispersing upon the wrap of the shoot.  Mira excused herself to make phone calls while Madeline scurried over to the white backdrop where Gemma still sat in the bra and blazer.

“Back to Tyler Chase,” she said, sitting on the floor below Gemma.  “If you wouldn’t characterize your relationship as a romance, would you say it’s more of a very close friendship? With mutual attraction?”

Gemma laughed.  “No, I already have one of those,” she said.

“And who would that be?”

Gemma unbuttoned her blazer, admiring the diamond straps of the bra.  “Just a friend from school,” she answered distractedly.

“And you don’t anticipate this graduating onto a full-blown romance?” Madeline inquired.

Gemma snorted and shook her head.  “Pretty sure he has a girlfriend.”

Madeline’s eyebrows ascended halfway to her hairline.  But before she could ask another question, Raul’s voice bellowed over her.

“Now
that’s
how we should photograph it! Isn’t that right, Bee? You agree with me, right?” he asked, gripping his camera as it hung around his neck.

Gemma laughed.  “Absolutely.  This thing is a work of art.”  She opened the blazer dramatically and winked, looking exaggeratedly sultry.  Raul snapped away quickly, catching the shot and sending Gemma and Madeline into a fit of giggles.

 

~

 

“It really, really is the story of my life to finally be dating the guy I’ve crushed on for like, four years and then have literally two months to hang out with him before he ships off to basketball camp.  And then college.”  Leah flopped onto Gemma’s bed face first and let out a muffled whine into the bedding.  “My life sucks, Gem.”

Gemma suppressed a laugh and patted Leah’s back on her way to the walk-in closet.  After a month of them dating, Gemma still got the giggles at the thought of her brother having a real girlfriend for once.  “Gavin’s going to Syracuse, though.  It’s not that far away.” 

“I know, but I – ” Leah’s hand flew over her mouth.  “Actually, nothing.”  She went quiet, picking at the sequins on her mini dress.  Gemma poked her head out of her closet. 

“What?”

“Sorry, that was totally insensitive of me wasn’t it? With Damian being at UCLA.”  Leah cringed at herself.

“No, Lee, you’re good.” Gemma laughed.  Damian was in fact her first love, but she had decided to end their relationship before he moved across the country.  It would have been too much for them to maintain a romance from coast to coast – especially with Gemma living half her life as someone he didn’t know.

“If you wanna talk about it, we totally can,” Leah said, flipping onto her back and fanning her black hair out.  “I mean, your ex and my boyfriend are probably going to end up famous NBA players with tons of groupies in four years, and they’ll totally forget that they ever loved us.”  She paused.  “Oh my God, that is so awful to think about, I can’t even.”

“You’re such a freak.”

“Ew, that’s how you talk to a depressed friend?” Leah flung a pillow at Gemma.

“Hey,
ow
! Would it comfort you to know that Gavin isn’t nearly as good a basketball player as Damian? He probably won’t have any groupies at all,” Gemma joked.

“How rude! He would have tons of groupies.”

“You don’t
want
him to have groupies.”

Leah groaned, ignoring Gemma as she chewed at her scarlet manicure.  “Ugh.  I don’t even want to go to Lilac tonight.  It’s too sad.”

With Gavin leaving directly for Syracuse at the end of summer league, Mira had arranged a going-away dinner for him at Lilac in Manhattan’s West Village.  Owned by Mira’s friend Hudson Gunn, the intimate space boasted celebrity clientele and one of the city’s hardest doors to get into.  Upon arrival at the chic restaurant and lounge, Leah quickly forgot about her misery.  Antique mirrors lined the walls and a massive candle chandelier hung from the ceiling.  The crowd appeared as if they had been plucked from the runways of Lanvin and Burberry. 

 “A toast to Gavin, the Orange’s next star shooting guard,” Gemma smiled.  Seated in a private corner booth, she raised her champagne flute with Leah, Kate, Lucas and a few of Gavin’s other teammates.

“Cheers to a future NBA star,” Leah planted a kiss on Gavin’s cheek, leaving a bright red lipstick mark.

Gavin looked around.  “What, Damian’s here?”

“No,
you
, silly!”

Gavin eyed Lucas, and the two of them laughed.  “Let’s just see if summer league can even get me a backup spot at Syracuse.  Then we’ll talk pros.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Leah shrugged before gasping in excitement.  “Oh my God! Maybe Lucas will get into Syracuse next year too and you’ll both play together again! That would be so sweet,” she cooed.  “Would you want to apply there, Lucas?”

Gemma raised her eyebrows and eyed him.  He had been fairly mum about college options thus far, despite being a star forward on Beauford’s varsity basketball team.  He, Gavin and Damian had been deemed a formidable trio in the local papers for years – though Damian was the only one of them to be ranked in Sports Illustrated as a promising prospect for college ball.

“I don’t know, I’d have to see about tuition and everything,” Lucas answered.

“Oh, psh! Tuition?” Leah waved her hand in the air, sloshing her champagne all over everyone.  “Ever heard of a thing called scholarships?”

Gavin raised his hand.  “I haven’t,” he said.  He put his arm around Leah.  “Babe, Damian was kind of a freak of nature.  Most people don’t get full rides to Division I schools.”

As Leah sputtered in confusion, Gemma eyed Lucas, who sat across from her.  He nodded quietly.

“But you did that ESPN interview,” Leah pouted.

“No, Damian did while Lucas and I sat next to him,” Gavin clarified.  He laughed.  “The only reason any of us looked good was because Damian was a beast of a point guard.”

The guys from the team nodded in agreement.  Leah looked to Lucas for confirmation.  “Pretty much,” he said before biting into his burger.

“It’s okay, if my NBA career doesn’t pan out, I’ll just roll in Damian’s entourage,” Gavin said with a mouth full of citrus scallop.  

Gemma laughed and rolled her eyes.  Her gaze landed at the private booth directly across from hers, which sat atop a small balcony.  It was no doubt reserved for the utmost VIP of guests.  Dancing there, among a group of others, was a pretty blonde with rainbow streaks at the ends of her hair.  Turquoise, magenta, rose and orange twirled about her wavy tresses, adding all the more life to her wild movements.  She wasn’t a particularly good dancer, but she was laughing so hard that she made Gemma want to get up and join her.

BOOK: Diamond in the Rough
4.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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