People who ring my doorbell probably think I’m the maid. “Rough” would be a generous way to describe my stay-at-home ensemble. The sad thing is I’m Southern and was raised by one of those women who wouldn’t get into her car unless every hair was in place, jewelry just so, shoes perfectly shined. I’m supposed to be the embodiment of all that is genteel and polite.
I do try to avoid wearing beer tee shirts in public, and I’m old enough now I wouldn’t dare leave the house in deconstructed anything. But when I have to be somewhere that involves networking or cameras, I schlep out the mascara and put on a better bra. I clean up pretty well, I think.
“I feel really exposed.” Trinity tightened the robe around the skimpy outfit she didn’t even know was being held in her trunk. If she’d been curious enough to actually examine the items she’d so blindly picked up, she might have questioned who they were for. Gabby would have been the only other person employed by N-by-N who would have come close to being able to fit it and no way would Nikki let that child wear something so short.
“Oh, quit your griping,” Gretchen sniped, now swatting some black mascara onto Trinity’s lashes to complement the cake of black eye shadow Trinity was already wearing. “You could be famous for this.”
“I don’t want to be famous!” It sounded petulant, even to Trinity’s ears, but it was true. “I’m a chemist. I don’t want people thinking I care about my looks.”
“Oh, people who know you know the opposite’s true,” Gretchen said. “Now, do this.” She sucked in her cheeks to hollow them out.
Trinity sighed and mimicked her as the grumbly auburn lady swept her cheeks with a dark blush. Trinity’s back was to the big mirror, but she figured by the time Gretchen was done she’d either look like Edenton’s highest paid whore or a feral raccoon. Neither sounded sexy. At least the only people to see her in that ridiculous get-up would be the girls…or so Trinity thought. No sooner had she taken solace in that small thing did the studio door click open and Dom and Cole entered in full female impersonator mode.
Dom and Cole both worked for a traveling drag and female impersonating revue. Cole also acted as the troupe manager. He was married to Nikki’s accountant, Macy, and appeared on television a lot to judge competitions and provide guidance on talent shows. Dom was Beth’s live-in sweetie…when he was in town, anyway.
Dom liked to vary his acts, but on that day he was done up like Lea Michele as Rachel Berry complete with heavy bang, Scottie dog sweater, plaid schoolgirl shirt, high white knee socks and flat brown loafers. He held up his hands to show off his pale pink nail polish. Gretchen guffawed.
“Haters gonna hate, Gretchen,” Beth said cheerfully, straightening up and walking over to give her lover an air kiss so as not to disturb his make-up. She was all done and the stool was open. Gretchen’s turn.
While the make-up dust settled, Trinity took a moment to assess the other newcomer in the room. Cole, Dom’s boss and conscience, was in his usual Nicole Scherzinger get-up with fire engine red nails (which seemed to take on a special significance following the previous day’s disaster). Cole did one act and did it well. Trinity thought he was a pretty humble guy to be so damned handsome. More often than not, Trinity saw him out of make-up, which made sense because he didn’t want to confuse his toddler. She’d kept an eye on Courtney a few times at the barn when Macy brought her in to hang out while she handled accounting stuff with Nikki. Sweet baby.
The public outside of Chowan County would probably think Nikki had performed some sort of coup to get both Dom and Cole to appear in the N-by-N marketing materials, but the truth was nobody in Chowan County batted an eyelash at them anymore. They’d been around for a few years and had started to blend in with the rest of the nuts.
Gretchen took about fifteen minutes to shoot then Dom, who was a bit of a diva, took half an hour because he wanted to make sure he had the pout down pat. Cole nailed it on the first shot, holding a microphone and narrowing his eyes to make a sultry stare, but the photographer grabbed a few back-up shots as well. Both he and Dom hurried off to shower and change for a later shot Nikki was being coy about.
And then it was Trinity’s turn. Nikki yanked her robe off, minding Trinity’s wet nails, and gave her a shove toward the faux lab bench Charlie and Juan had apparently set up earlier in the morning.
“Here, don’t forget this.” Nikki held out a pristine white lab coat. Trinity grabbed it, glad to have some cover over the short sparkly party dress she felt like such a fool in. The mirror indicated the dress wasn’t as short as it felt, but ending mid-thigh, it was certainly shorter than Trinity was used to.
Nikki patted the center edge of the table. “Sit here. Cross your legs at the knees.” Trinity did as she was told and allowed Nikki to pose her hands so her fingers dangled over the edge of the table. Beth came over to pat down some errant hair and refresh Trinity’s already-heavy lip-gloss then both women backed away. The photographer swooped in and started grabbing shots before they were all the way out of the frame.
“Um…should I smile or something?” Trinity asked through clenched teeth.
“Nope,” the photographer said, getting in close to capture the platinum-colored nails which matched the metallic sequins of the dress then backing away to get a full portrait. Five minutes in, Nikki swooped in and handed Trinity an Erlenmeyer flask to hold.
Five more shots.
“All done.” The photographer popped out his battery pack and squatted over his bag to locate a charged one.
Trinity hopped down, relieved to be able to get back into her own comfortable clothes. Nikki had other ideas. She hurried over and wrested the lab coat off Trinity then pushed her to the stool Beth had last occupied.
“Not done with you,” she said. “Gretchen, is he ready?”
“Yeah. Last-minute shave. Didn’t want Ron to have to edit out the shadow. He’s coming up the stairs now.”
“Who is?” Trinity asked.
The door creaked open again and the answer was standing in it.
Jerry didn’t look amused. He looked fabulous. Gorgeous, even. Downright sexy, certainly, but not amused.