Christina arched a brow at Gwyneth and challenged, “You’re welcome to find another designer if you don’t trust me.”
Christina would never jeopardize her reputation by putting out a subpar design.
“Well, I’m not in a rush, and I’m sure you’ll work on the design until I’m satisfied, yes?” came Gwyneth’s
She had witnessed Christina’s talent in the past, or she would not have approached the latter.
Plus, I can’t find a better designer now…
Christina replied, “Then don’t fret about it. I feel obligated to remind you, though, that the design is going to take some time.”
The process of designing a dress did not merely stop at the sketching stage. After rounds of editing and the client’s stamp of approval, there was still the final step of sewing the dress from scratch.
Back when she still worked for Radiant Corporation, Christina had always felt as though she was sacrificing quality for quantity.
Things were different now. She could nitpick at every aspect of the design until she was satisfied instead of leaving it to another department or colleague.
“I’m not in a rush.” Gwyneth surveyed the empty studio and added, “And since your studio just opened, I suppose I’m your only customer at the moment.”
Christina shot her a sheepish smile. In fact, there was still a pile of work to get through before her studio’s operations were in full swing.
Before she could utter a reply, Gwyneth smirked amusedly and offered, “If you need some extra publicity, I’m happy to shoot a couple of promotional photos for you. I’ll give you a discount.”
Delight flitted through Christina’s gaze. No wonder she’s such a popular celebrity.
Gwyneth’s shrewdness was impressive. Christina surmised that Gwyneth must have recognized her talents because of Coco’s dress and wanted to build a close working relationship with her.
Christina propped her jaw on one arm and muttered thoughtfully, “As you know, my studio just opened. There’s still a pile of expenses to get through… Coco actually offered to let me take her photos for free.”
“Coco can hardly be considered in the same tier as me, can she?”
The retort masked Gwyneth’s panic and frustration at the mere possibility of someone else swiping her accolades and popularity in the film industry.
Still, she had her pride and would not admit defeat so easily.
That’s the whole reason I’m here buttering Christina up!
“You’re absolutely right. You’re more experienced since you’ve been in the industry longer than her,” answered Christina truthfully.
The flattery worked. Gwyneth was in excellent spirits as she left the studio. She even promised, “Fine. I’ll
do my publicity shots for free if you want me on the job.”
Her expression implied that Christina had snagged herself a great deal.
Christina hurriedly saved all the information. She was grateful to Gwyneth for the celebrity’s support on
her first order.
Then, she registered her company’s official website and Twitter account.
She spent the morning glued to her computer and got the social media channels set up. It was now time to
create some content.
Words alone would struggle to capture public attention without any photos.
Christina could not use any of her past designs from when she worked at Radiant Corporation. While photos of Coco’s dress were a viable option, the material was depressingly scarce.
She decided to put out some original designs as showpieces for her new studio.
Inspiration struck her soon enough, and she began sketching furiously at her desk.
A phone call in the evening snapped her out of her work–induced trance.
Christina answered the phone absent–mindedly. A woman’s gentle voice drifted over the receiver. “Hello, is your studio hiring an assistant? I have relevant work experience.”
“Yes. Let me send you the address. Come over for an interview when you’re free.”
As she spoke, Christina looked up and appraised her messy studio. The floorboards were in need of a good scrubbing. I really need an assistant, pronto.
“I can come right now,” replied the caller.
“Great. I’ll wait for you in the office.”
Christina hung up and texted the other party her studio’s address. After putting down her phone, she promptly returned her attention to her draft sketches.
She was exceptionally motivated to work because she was creating the designs for herself.
A series of exquisite evening gown sketches materialized on her desk that night. The colors and cutting of each design were flawless; the gowns were gorgeous enough for a major runway show.
Christina stretched out her sore muscles just as the doorbell rang.
She opened the door to a slim, tall woman in casualwear. The visitor did not appear dressed for an interview.
The woman asked, “Hello, I’m Rayne Maguire. I called earlier about the assistant job. Are you the boss of this studio?”
It felt odd being called a boss by someone for the first time. Christina chose not to dwell on that and replied, “Yes. Do you have a résumé?”
“Here it is.” Rayne handed some documents to Christina.
Christina read through the résumé and realized the applicant had a wealth of experience in assistant jobs.
She asked, “Your salary will be ten thousand after probation. However, you won’t be able to take most. public holidays off. Is that okay for you?”
“Of course. I never got public holidays off at my old jobs,” replied Rayne.
There were no red flags that Christina could see, and a permanent hire still hinged on Rayne’s work performance. She declared, “Great. You can start work tomorrow.”
“All right. Thank you, Boss.”
Rayne left shortly after confirming several details about the job.
All in all, Christina thought her entrepreneurial career had been off to a good start.
Still, she never expected to receive as many visitors as she did that day.
A strong, floral fragrance filled the studio then. Christina looked up and saw a tall figure entering through the doorway.
Francis strode into the studio, dressed in a black suit and looking as bewitching as ever. With his dark gaze, a cross–shaped earring on his right earlobe, and a bouquet of blood–red roses in his hand, he looked like a vampire prince straight out of a medieval castle,
“Congratulations on founding your own studio!”
Christina received his flowers and replied lackadaisically, “Thank you.”
-She knew he followed her Instagram profile and definitely saw the new updates on her feed. As such, she
was simply surprised that he had shown up personally at her studio.
She paid some attention to developments in the entertainment industry and knew Francis had signed on to many projects. He should be drowning in work now.
Francis brushed her nose with his finger and laughed. “What’s wrong? You seem rather unhappy to see
Panic flitted through Christina’s eyes, and she averted her gaze like a frightened kitten.
She sputtered, “Of course not. How did you find the time to visit?”
Christina busied herself looking for a vase and rearranged the roses inside. The flowers were in full bloom and looked absolutely splendid.
“I missed you, so I came.”
Francis approached her and picked up the vase. After placing the vase in an eye–catching spot in the studio, he crossed his arms across his chest and admired his gift.
Good. This spot is excellent. She’ll see my roses every time she looks up, and then she’ll think of me.
Meanwhile, Christina was reminded of the spy–catching incident in the private room as she stared at Francis. Her well–buried doubts from before resurfaced.
She jumped on the opportunity to ask, “You’ve got plenty of other people to miss, so you won’t necessarily
miss me. What about Madison?”
Though Francis wasn’t around when the incident happened that night, he heard what had happened from
Is Christina suspecting me?
Francis turned around and narrowed his eyes. His gaze was affixed to Christina’s innocent expression as he explained, “I don’t want to drag you into this mess. I already warned her after what happened that night.”
said I would handle it and told Madison not to stick her nose into this.
Conflicting emotions warred in Christina’s heart. She did not wish to get into a fight with Francis, nor did she wish to endanger Nathaniel.
Eventually, she said accusatorily, “I knew you were in the same boat! Madison’s a bad person, and so are you!”
I’m no fool. Does he think I’m blind to Madison’s character?