Authors: Ryan Field
Tags: #Erotica, #Romance, #Fiction
Copyright ©2010 by Ryan Field
First published in 2010
Copyright (C) 2010 by Ryan Field
100 Cummings Center
Beverly, MA 01915
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.
This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
On the night of the Rendell Vista Male Model of the Year Award, Harris Wolfe wore a Calvin Klein tuxedo and black Prada quarter boots. His socks were Versace, his underwear Italian silk, and the tip of his black tie had been dipped in eighteen-karat gold for an effect no one would even see unless he removed his jacket in the men's room. The outfit had set him back almost as much as a weekend in Paris. And this didn't include his watch, his two diamond rings set in platinum, a six-hundred-dollar haircut, and the fifteen-hundred-dollar botox injections for his sixty—year-old forehead.
He'd also had his entire body waxed and spray-tanned so he'd look as if he'd just stepped off a yacht on a Greek Island.
Only, his scalp felt tight. He'd told the stylist to put extra product in his hair that afternoon. He didn't want to take any chances. He was wearing his salt-and-pepper hair differently that night, with the hair at the top of his head parted on both sides and combed inward to the middle of his crown so it would stick up straight and form a spiked Mohawk effect. If his hair became messed while he was dressing, he knew he'd never be able to achieve the same look on his own.
Altogether, it had taken him three weeks to prepare for the awards dinner. He'd starved, he'd trained, and he'd primped. And it had been well worth the effort. Anyone who was anyone would be there that night. This was the most prestigious annual award ceremony for elite male models in the fashion industry, and Harris wanted to look absolutely perfect. He was the editor-in-chief of
Menswear Monthly Magazine
and he had a reputation to uphold as a fashionista and trendsetter.
When he arrived at the dinner, the driver opened the door of the limo and he stepped onto the sidewalk. He cleared his throat and squared his shoulders. As he passed photographers and fans, he kept his head straight and his eyes focused on the gilded door. He knew none of them cared about him. To the public, Harris wasn't significant. They were only interested in the male models and the designers, not the people behind the scenes who actually pulled all the strings within the industry. But he knew he was being watched by some people, and he had to keep his limp wrist firm and straight for just that one night.
The awards dinner was always held at the same Upper East Side hotel, in a small but elegant room, with gilded walls and marble-topped tables that could seat four to six people easily. Harris smiled and joked with the most important fashion designers in the world. He traded quips and laughed when they told him how wonderful he looked that night. When he walked away from them, he usually rolled his eyes and pitied the way they had shamelessly sucked up to him. As a rule, Harris had never been fond of designers. He thought they were a quirky, arty group with quick tempers and low-end personal habits (the women were outright slobs). In print, designer always came off looking spectacular and glamorous to the public. People couldn't seem to get enough information about them or their ostentatious lifestyles. But Harris knew better. Run into any given designer on a rainy Wednesday afternoon and they could be mistaken for the hired help.
The male models were the people Harris truly loved. He found them fascinating. They didn't have to work hard to look good. There was something about them, an inherent gift with which they had been born that other people didn't have. Harris himself didn't have the gift. He knew how to work hard and spend money to look good. He kept his waist a size thirty-two and worked out at the gym four times a week. But he didn't have the same natural good looks the models had. After a ten-mile hike in the woods, a male model could step out of the shower, put on a tuxedo, and just run his fingers through his hair. He didn't even need to shave or brush his teeth. All he had to do was button his shirt, zip up his fly, and put on his shoes and he was ready to go anywhere. Though most wore the latest designs while they were working, they didn't have to concentrate hard on their own personal wardrobes. That was because a top male model could look just as good in cheap discount store clothes as he could in the most expensive designer wear in the world.
After dinner, while Harris was waiting to present the award, he smoothed out his napkin and nodded at Marco Denny. All the less important awards had already been handed out by then. Harris was sitting at the head table, a long one-sided affair that seated about thirty people and overlooked the dining room. Marco stared back at Harris for a moment, nodded with his right eyebrow arched, then turned his head in the opposite direction. Harris wasn't surprised. He hadn't been expecting Marco to run up and hug him.
Marco Denny had been the most sought-after male model in the fashion world for more than fifteen years. He'd been modeling since he was ten years old. There was nothing about him the public didn't know. He'd appeared on the most popular late-night talk shows, his life had been written about in print and electronic pieces, and he had so many fans on Internet social networks they had to start multiple fan pages for him. Marco been the recipient of the Rendell Vista award the previous year, and at thirty-five years old he could still hold his own with any of the younger models. His hair was still thick and sandy blond, his face was still as chiseled as it had ever been, and his lean, lanky body was still in faultless shape.
But Marco was aging now. Harris could see this. He had seen it happen to other models and it wasn't always graceful. There were lines forming below Marco's eyes and at the edges of his lips, and the dimples in his cheeks were becoming hollow crevices. Marco's partner, Frazier North, was sitting next to him. Frazier, the head designer, was not male model material. He had a slight paunch, a receding hairline, and one glass eye from a boating accident. He wasn't bad looking, in a rugged construction worker way, but he was nowhere near as perfect as Marco. Frazier, however, was one of the leading designers in the world, and Marco had been Frazier's top model since they'd met fifteen years earlier. Marco and Frazier had built a fashion empire and had made millions together, with Frazier designing the clothes and Marco modeling them. In the fashion world, they were the ultimate gay power couple.
Marco was also sitting with Molly and Jasper Page. When Marco had turned his head away from Harris, he'd whispered something to Molly Page. Molly was a light-hearted clown of a woman with brassy blond hair, a deep campy voice, and outfits that borderlined garish. If she hadn't come from old money and graduated from Smith College, no one would have taken her seriously. She either wore too much flashy jewelry, or her skirts were the wrong length. She wore flats with dresses, heels with jeans. Harris had known her just as long as he'd known Marco, and in fifteen years he couldn't say he'd ever seen her dressed well. This was surprising, being that Molly's husband, Jasper Page, owned half of Frazier North Designs. Even though Jasper handled the financial and production matters and left the designing up to Frazier, anyone would have thought Molly would have paid closer attention to her own wardrobe. That night she looked so bad Harris had trouble looking at her. She was wearing an outfit that looked more like a business suit than an evening dress, a leopard print number with black roped trim and large gold buttons. Harris couldn't see her feet from where he was sitting, but he wouldn't have been surprised if she was wearing bright white sandals.
Harris knew Marco and Molly were talking about him. Even though Marco looked straight, he never went anywhere without his fag hag, Molly. Harris also knew they weren't enjoying the evening. They were only there for the sake of appearances and to promote Frazier North Designs. Marco had won the award the year before, but the model who would be accepting the award wasn't one of Marco's best friends.
Harris rose from his chair and adjusted his jacket. He crossed to the center of the table and stood in front of the microphone. Before he spoke, he looked down at the award and stared for a moment. It was a Greek sculpture of a perfect male specimen, over a foot tall and solid eighteen-karat gold. People Magazine's Man of the Year Award was nothing compared to this award. People's award was for amateurs. The Rendell Vista award signified more than just a pretty face and a nice body. It was about grace and dignity, style and manner. It was about the ability to communicate through visual imagery, without ever having to say a single word.
When the room became silent, Harris cleared his throat and said, “And now for the moment we've all been waiting for. Each year, Rendell Vista Publishing presents this prestigious honor to the male model who has most earned it through hard work and sacrifice. Tonight is the first time this award is being presented to someone so young and fresh in the industry. Though he's young in years, he appears wise and dignified and dedicated to his work as a model as much as any other artist we've ever known. He's been on more magazine covers in one year than most models manage to achieve in five years. He's become a household name and a pop-culture phenomenon, thanks to his home shopping segments on television. The world knows everything about him, from what he eats to where he rides his bicycle. Those of us who have been lucky enough to know him personally know how simple and shy and unassuming he is. He was born to be a star, but came from humble, if not tragic, beginnings. His only dream in life was to become a model and win this grand achievement. Tonight I'm here to present it to him. So without further comment, this award goes to Yves Marisano, the youngest man to ever win the Rendell Vista Award."
As Harris announced Yves's name, he glanced over at Marco Denny's table. He couldn't help himself, because he knew this was killing them. Marco and Molly were sitting with their backs straight and their arms folded across their chests. Everyone else in the room was applauding for Yves. But Marco's lips were pressed together and his eyebrows were furrowed. Molly had a similar expression, only she was tapping the table with her fingers.
Yves had been sitting at the other end of the room all night. When his name was announced he looked back and forth and placed his palm against his heart. The people around him pulled out his chair and helped him stand, patting his back and offering praises.
When Yves stepped around the tables and crossed to the head table to receive his award, Marco gave Molly a look, then swallowed his entire martini in one fast gulp.
Almost a year before this award dinner, Molly Page pulled up to the side entrance of the TV studio where they were shooting a new reality show about the fashion industry and male models. The show was called
Meant to be a Model,
and Marco and Frazier were producing it. Marco was also starring in the show, and it was the first time he'd ever done anything like this. It was a damp, rainy night in early June, and Molly was bundled up in a long raincoat and high-heeled boots that pinched her toes. She was meeting Marco, Frazier, and her husband, Jasper, and they were all going out to dinner after the show to celebrate the fact that Marco had won The Rendell Vista Award the night before. Winning the award was exciting for Marco because it had taken them fifteen years to give it to him.