Rendezvous (On the Runway Series #3)by Melody Carlson
Paige and Erin Forrester take their fashion-focused TV show to Paris, visiting renowned salons, designers, and international models. They meet up with designer Dylan Marceau, as well as with their new friends Taylor Mitchell and Eliza Wilton. When they take time to visit Eliza’s family estate in Provence, romance, jealousy, and some surprises threaten the… See more details below
Paige and Erin Forrester take their fashion-focused TV show to Paris, visiting renowned salons, designers, and international models. They meet up with designer Dylan Marceau, as well as with their new friends Taylor Mitchell and Eliza Wilton. When they take time to visit Eliza’s family estate in Provence, romance, jealousy, and some surprises threaten the stability of On the Runway.
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RendezvousOn the Runway
By Melody Carlson
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Melody Carlson
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Not another French movie," I complain when I see Paige setting a new DVD on the counter. "We don't want to OD on Paris before we even get there."
"This movie happens to be for Mom. She mentioned that To Catch a Thief is one of her favorites, and since she doesn't get to go with us, I thought we could at least humor her a bit." Paige proudly holds up what I'm guessing is a new handbag. "And this, little sister, is a gift from Hermès, Paris."
"A gift or a bribe?" I question as I study the square leather purse with a silver clasp. If it wasn't pink, I might actually like it.
"Let's call it an enticement." She makes a sly grin. "Not that I needed any, since I already wanted to visit Hermès. They're at the top of my list. I absolutely adore Hermès."
"You and Paris Hilton-maybe you were twins separated at birth," I tease. I know the Paris Hilton connection drives Paige nuts. Especially since some celeb-trackers have compared Paige to the hotel heiress, which I personally think is rather insulting to my sister. In my opinion, Paige has more class than Paris. Not that I would ever admit that to anyone.
"For your information, Paris Hilton wasn't the first celebrity to discover Hermès." Paige opens the pink bag, retrieving a black and white scarf, which I assume is also Hermès. "In fact, Jackie O and Grace Kelly were both fans of Hermès decades ago. Hence the Kelly bag."
She holds up her bag and gives me a duh expression. "The Kelly bag. Designed for Grace Kelly back in the forties, I think. anyway, it was a long time ago." Paige gets a faraway look. "What I really want is the Birkin bag."
"Birkin bag?" I ask, at the risk of a long fashion lecture.
"Jane Birkin, the actress, you know."
"Right." I nod. Of course I know who Jane Birkin is. I was in film school back in BS. BS is not what it sounds like-it's actually my new personal shorthand code for Before (the) Show. Anyway, I do know that Jane Birkin was in films during the sixties and later, and I also know she was a fashionista too. Sort of like Audrey Hepburn, but not nearly as popular. "So Jane Birkin has an Hermès bag named after her too?"
"Only the most popular, most expensive, and hardest to get handbag of all time." She shakes her head sadly. "The waiting list is, like, years."
"Even for you?"
Paige gives me a slightly catty smile. "I suppose we'll find that out in Paris next week."
"Maybe you'll totally wow Monsieur Hermès and he'll design a special Paige bag just for you."
She laughs. "For starters, there is no Monsieur Hermès. not as in a designer like Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren. Hermès was originally a family-owned leather company. They made saddles in the 1800s."
"From horses to handbags," I say with irony. "Fashion is so fickle."
Paige places a finger under her chin as if thinking. "Come to think of it, there is a Monsieur Damas-Hermès, but I don't think he's a designer per se. He just runs the company. And he's one of the richest men in the world."
"Will we meet him?" I'm not sure I even care, since I'm not that into money, but it might be interesting.
"I doubt it." She picks up the DVD. "So anyway, back to tonight's plans ... I thought we'd do something special for Mom, since it's only three days until we leave for Paris, and I could tell she was feeling bummed last night when we watched An American in Paris."
"I thought it was because Grandpa had always been a Leslie Caron fan."
"That's what she wanted us to think," Paige replies. "Really, she wishes she could go with us. She even tried to get time off from Channel Five, but there's no way."
"Too bad she didn't take Helen Hudson up on the offer to help produce the show back when she had the chance last December."
Paige shakes her head. "No way. I would not want Mom producing for us. I love her, but I don't want to work for her. Besides, she's as fashion-challenged as you are."
"Thanks a lot." I make a face at her.
"At least you're learning, Erin. Not that Mom couldn't catch on, but she loves her news job. And what about Fran? she totally gets the show. Can you imagine Mom and Fran working together?"
I nod, knowing that she's right. "So what are you going to do that's so special tonight? I mean, besides the movie."
"I ordered dinner from Patina and I thought we'd set a really pretty table and do candles and flowers-the works. then we can watch To Catch a Thief." She frowns. "Although I'd rather watch Funny Face again. That's such a great Paris movie."
"You mean because it's all about fashion?"
She sighs. "Fashion and Paris and Audrey Hepburn ... it doesn't get much better, does it?"
I chuckle. "Well, I'll admit that I did like Funny Face, but that had more to do with the photography focus and Fred Astaire's dancing skills. Plus the fact that Audrey's character was more into philosophy than fashion. I could appreciate her reluctance to become a model."
Paige points her finger at me. "Come to think of it, her character was a lot like you."
"As a matter of fact she was, at least in the first part of the movie. I could sort of relate to her."
"And you know ..." Paige squints at me as she makes a frame with her thumbs and forefingers. "You even kind of look like her."
"Oh, yeah, sure." I shake my head.
"Seriously, Erin, you really do. You're both petite and you both have that pixie sort of face, big expressive eyes, dark hair."
Now I just laugh. "Okay," I say cautiously, "what do you want from me?"
she makes a face. "I'm serious, Erin. You are an Audrey type. I can't believe I never noticed it before. That explains why you look so great in those little black dresses." She frowns. "But maybe we should change your hair. Then you'd really look like her."
"I don't think so."
She takes my chin in her hand, tilting it up. "Really, I'm surprised I didn't see it before, Erin."
"Well, thanks," I say quickly. "I think. But you have to admit that I'm not nearly as skinny as Audrey was. Do you think she was anorexic?"
Paige considers this. "I don't really know for sure, although she nearly starved during World War two and that probably took its toll. I've always adored Audrey Hepburn, and she was and is the most fashionable woman ever, and every single thing she wore instantly became haute couture. That might not have happened if she hadn't been so thin."
"And see-" I point my finger at her. "That's one thing about fashion that makes me want to scream and pull my hair out. Stick-thin models. Seriously, if we interview any stick girls in Paris, I might not be able to control myself from asking them about their health and eating habits." I kind of chuckle. "Or maybe I'll just bring in a bunch of croissants and pastries and sit there and noisily pig out in front of them."
Paige presses her lips together with a slightly creased brow. "You know, Erin, that's an interesting angle. The skinny trend had really been changing a couple years ago. Several designers even banned overly thin models from their runways. Now that I think about it, though, it seems like some of them went back to their old ways. Especially internationally. You know, maybe we should do a show that specifically addresses this issue."
She nods eagerly as she picks up her cell phone. "I'm going to call Fran right now and see what she thinks."
"What about dinner for Mom? is there something I can do to help?"
"You could run out and get some flowers. Something Parisian-looking, like you picked it up from a street vendor, okay?"
"What about Jon?" I ask. Jon and Mom have only been engaged for a couple of months, but already he feels like family.
"Don't worry. I already invited him. He even offered to pick up dinner on his way over. We're aiming to eat at eight. Is that okay?" she's got the phone to her ear now.
As Paige begins explaining to Fran about my anorexic models story idea, even giving me credit for thinking of this angle, I grab my bag and head down to my Jeep, trying to remember where the closest florist shop is located. The only one I can think of is a few miles down the freeway and it's commuter traffic time now. Still, it's the least I can do, considering Paige has already put this Parisian dinner plan together for Mom. I'm impressed that she cared enough to go to this trouble. My sister used to be a lot more self-centered and selfish. But I can tell she's changing. And that's pretty cool.
It hasn't always been easy being Paige Forrester's little sister. It's even harder playing Camera Girl, Fashion Flop, or even Jiminy Cricket, as our producer, Helen Hudson, likes to call me, since a big part of my job is keeping Paige out of trouble. But sometimes it can be kind of fun, and I am actually looking forward to Paris.
Yet, at the same time, I wonder just how needed I'll be on our reality show now. Because, to everyone's surprise, Paige has really grown up a lot in the past couple months. She's taking life more seriously, taking responsibility for more things both at work and at home, and actually thinking about others. I realize it's greatly due to Mia Renwick's tragic death on Oscar night. Talk about a tough wake-up call for everyone. For a few horrid hours, we actually thought it was Paige who'd been killed in the car wreck. That's a night I never want to relive.
Paige had gone to a party with Benjamin after the Oscars, but when they were leaving and she found out he'd been drinking, she refused to ride with him and called a cab. Then Mia made the fatal mistake of getting into Benjamin's car. Now Benjamin has been charged with vehicular homicide but, according to Benjamin, both he and Mia had been drinking. he claims Mia actually caused the accident when she lost her temper and physically laid into him while he was driving in the Hollywood hills, even grabbing and twisting the wheel right before the accident occurred. According to Paige, Benjamin says that Mia was still enraged over their breakup several weeks earlier. Apparently the evidence is starting to support Benjamin's side of the story too, because witnesses reported Mia was acting hostile when she and Ben left together, and her blood-alcohol level in the toxicology reports was very high. Ben's blood alcohol, however, was under the legal limit when the police arrived and administered the Breathalyzer. also, according to Paige, the police said the skid marks at the scene of the accident match his story-it appears someone changed the direction of the vehicle very suddenly.
Even so, I still think Benjamin's guilty. I realize I'm probably more judgmental than most when it comes to drinking and driving, but I think anyone who gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol should be locked up for a while. Really, what could it hurt?
And I'm not sorry that Paige is keeping her distance from Benjamin now. Oh, she talks to him on the phone sometimes. I call them mercy chats. Mostly she's worried that he's feeling depressed. Hey, he should be depressed. A young woman is dead because of him. He can claim it's Mia's fault, but he was the one driving that night. It's not like I hate him or anything. I really don't. In fact, I pray for him every day. I just don't think he should get off too easily. That's all I'm saying.
Thinking all this, and because I'm stuck in traffic that's not budging an inch, I decide to give Blake a quick call, since I know he met with Benjamin this morning. They've actually been doing a Bible study together. I'm not sure if Benjamin is taking it seriously or just hopes that it will improve his bad boy image, but it sure won't hurt him to hear some truth either.
"Old Ben was pretty bummed today," Blake tells me. "Mia's parents have launched what feels like a full-blown smear campaign. They're talking to publicists and any press that will listen, trying to make Benjamin out to be a murderer who's about to get off scot-free."
"That's not so far from the truth."
"But Erin, they're even comparing him to OJ Simpson. It's like they want him ruined forever. It might even crush his movie deal."
I feel my fingers tightening on the steering wheel, which is pointless since the car isn't even moving. I let go and take in a deep breath. "Okay, I'll admit the OJ thing seems harsh. But it's true that some celebrities beat the rap simply because of their names. It irks me when I see one going off on his merry way like, no big deal. That's just not fair. Maybe losing the movie deal is for the best."
"What about what Jesus said about not throwing stones?" he asks me.
I consider this. "Yeah, I know ... and you're right. But I still think Benjamin should assume some blame for-"
"He knows that he's partly to blame and he wants to admit it. But his attorney is counseling him to continue proclaiming his innocence."
"See, and that bugs me. Maybe if Benjamin took some responsibility for the accident, Mia's parents would let up on him."
"Maybe ..." Blake sounds discouraged. "I'm sorry, Blake, I don't mean to get on my soapbox. Sorry I sound so negative. I know it's not fair for me to take it out on poor Ben. I really do feel sorry for him and it's cool that you're spending time with him." I peer down the freeway with four lanes of immobile traffic as far as I can see. "It doesn't help that I'm stuck on I-5, and you know how aggravated I get. Patience is not my strong suit."
"Where you headed anyway?"
"I was supposed to pick up some flowers for my mom. Paige is giving her an authentic Parisian dinner tonight."
He laughs. "To make up for leaving her home?"
"Yeah, and we have to watch To Catch a Thief with her too, since it's a film that's set on the Mediterranean."
"Man, how many French movies have you girls watched already?"
"Too many." to pass the time, I actually start to list the films. "I really liked Amelie," I admit. "And La Vie en Rose was amazing, but it was kind of a downer too. Paige's all-time favorite is still Funny Face. And any other film with her favorite fashion icon-Ms. Hepburn. We watched Charade and even Sabrina, which is only partially set in Paris." I notice some of the brake lights flashing and I realize that cars are starting to move. "I better hang up," I say quickly. "Thanks for keeping me company in the traffic jam. Please don't take what I said about Benjamin too seriously. I really do care about him."
"I know you do. And if it's any comfort, I agree with a lot of what you said. But Benjamin needs friends more than accusers right now."
"I'll keep that in mind." I say good-bye and hang up as I put the Jeep into gear. After snarking and going on about DUIs, I'm fully aware that driving while talking or texting on the phone or while doing a lot of other distracting things, like eating, is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. After all, I've given Paige that same lecture more than once when I've caught her putting on mascara or lip gloss while she's driving. Although I'll admit I haven't noticed her doing it lately.
Once again I'm reminded that my role on our show might be more expendable than I realized. It might be written out even sooner than I expected. Perhaps it's right around the corner. Because I'm fully aware that On the Runway does not need Camera Girl to make it a success-Paige Forrester is what makes the show so popular. Sometimes, like right now, I worry that I'm just an unnecessary distraction. Extra baggage. Another expense. Really, the show would be perfectly fine without me.
And here's what's really weird, especially when I remember how much I whined about being hijacked into reality TV back in the beginning. The truth is that I would not be perfectly fine without the show. I really like being part of it. I'm actually learning a lot about film and production-much more than I ever would've learned by now in film classes. And I love being with Paige. I don't even mind being called Camera Girl or even Jiminy Cricket that much. What I do mind is not being needed anymore. That seriously worries me.
Excerpted from Rendezvous by Melody Carlson Copyright © 2010 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission.
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