After my appointment with Todd, I make the smart decision to take the rest of the afternoon off from work. I don't know how such a thing is possible, but Todd, my own patient, mentally experiences my trips to Hell. He has seen me, in my Evil form. There has to be something more to the puzzle, something more about him that I haven't yet discovered or -
My train of thought is interrupted, and I turn my attention away from the grape selection to seek out the female's voice who has just called my name. My eyes land on a younger woman a few feet away from me. She is mid-thirties, perhaps, with a pudgy face and a skinny body. Her fiery red hair is bobbed around her chubby face and bounces merrily as she walks towards me. Her face is bedazzled with freckles and she's wearing quite an expensive pants suit. Her green eyes look at me expectantly, a friendly smile spreading across her face.
I raise a brow at her. I don't know this woman.
She extends a hand to me and I shake it.
"Stella, I knew it was you. I just knew it! I told my boyfriend, I said 'That's Stella. THE Stella!' So I came over and here you are! Wow, and you are even prettier in person, you know that?"
Her excitement is overbearing, and I glance around and take note that others are intentionally slowing their grocery carts to better hear our conversation. Why is this woman fussing over me so?
"I'm so sorry. Where are my manners? I'm Connie. Connie Bryce," the woman informs me.
And then recognition dawns on me as soon as Connie says her last name. Bryce is an 'up and coming' company that advertises and sells interactive televisions. I don't know much about them - just that they're super expensive and can do a lot of cool things.
They are a huge hit in Europe right now; that I do know. They are selling like crazy to all the 'elite' and 'upper class' people of the country. They are all the rage. I wasn't aware that they were becoming popular here in the US now as well. Their company is still relatively new, so the fact they are growing this fast is quite an accomplishment.
Had I known their success would be this fast prior to my contract with them, I may have backed out. Alex Bryce, CEO of Bryce Company, approached me at a restaurant ten years ago and said he liked my look. He said I had the body, face, and voice that he had been looking for to promote his product. He asked me on the spot if he could hire me as a model for his company.
He was quite a smooth talker, and I remember being so excited at the prospect of being on TV or in a magazine for different advertisement commercials and ads. I modeled for him for a solid month and then was given a small contribution for my efforts.
Alex told me if the company 'made it big,' that I'd be receiving more compensation for my advertising skills. I shook hands with him and went on my way. I hadn't heard from Alex or the Bryce Company in years….well, until now.
Connie is still smiling at me, studying me from every angle.
"I can see why my dad thought you'd be so good as our advertising model. I mean, you're great in the commercials and all, but in person - wow. You stick out like a sore thumb! In a good way of course!"
She chortles at her own words. I internally panic. I have not aged a day since that modeling shoot. I hope it's not obvious and that Connie will not become suspicious. From the looks of it though, I should be fine. Her thoughts seem to be focused elsewhere.
"Nice to meet you, Connie."
I smile politely back at her which only spurs her on further.
"Stella, I hate to be too forward, but what are you doing right now? I would LOVE to go out and grab a bite to eat with you. My dad's been meaning to call you anyway to tell you that you'll be getting some very….generous….checks in the mail from Bryce Company."
Connie beams at me, expecting me to be thrilled at the news. I already have all the money I could ask for. But I do my best to seem pleased anyway.
"Sure Connie. That would be lovely," I answer.
Connie squeals, taking my hand, and absently waving a man over to us, who I can only assume is her boyfriend. He is a tall guy, very muscular, and very masculine. His dark eyes smolder mine as he approaches and I can't help but blush. He seems like one of those tall, dark, brooding fella's - the ones that'll sit for hours with frowns on their faces, not ever daring to say a word.
He nods his head to me, and I wonder how someone so quiet and dark ended up with someone as bubbly and bright as Connie.
Connie leads me out of the grocery store, flapping her hands around in a wild frenzy. She is still talking, I realize, and I glance up to her boyfriend to see if her rapid speech is a common occurrence. He returns my gaze, his lips quirking up in a small smile. Oh yes, this is how Connie is on a normal basis.
This ought to be interesting…
My dining experience with Connie Bryce has its up's and down's. There are points through the meal that I just want to plug my ears, if only to get a break from her voice. But then there are things she says that make me laugh and the 'ear-plug' urge dissipates….temporarily.
Connie informs me I am somewhat of an icon in Europe. This news surprises me, but I'm oddly happy to hear it. And even though the company is just starting to really pick up in the US, Connie thinks I'll be even better known here in the states.
When she says this, my prior happiness is cut short. I can't have attention from the press, from the media. If I become popular in America, people will start to recognize me, just as Connie did at the grocery store. And then they will see, through the years, that I do not age and I am not normal.
"What do you think Stella?"
"I'm sorry, think of what?" I question, mentally scolding myself for not paying attention.
"To going out this weekend! Gavin and I will still be here and we'd love to take you out for a few drinks! What do ya' say?"
And just before I can politely decline her offer, I see Evan's sexy physique walking through the front door of the deli just across the street. Changing my mind, I turn to Connie and smile.
"Sure, Connie. That sounds great. Is it alright if I bring a date along?"