Pushing the garment rack on rollers was getting a bit harder with the extra clients she got after the holidays. She was working on several projects and the sequins made the garments heavier. Zelda, her secretary had called in sick and would not be helping her today.
Her work was finally getting recognition in Houston Texas’s Uptown District. She was glad she had kept her business here, especially after the decline in the economy had given her room to doubt. At twenty eight years, she wanted to know she had chosen the right profession.
She bought fine silks and wools for the fashion industry’s “giants” and literally made the gowns come to life for her clients. She had her own business going on five years now. Her professional reputation was growing.
Chloe had been a model herself once, tall and slender by nature, her curly red hair was shorter now. It was shoulder length and easier to manage that way. She knew she looked pretty in emerald tones. It was her job to “know” these things. She was after all, a designer and fashion consultant.
Although, it bothered her a bit that sometimes it was all about looks and little character. Oh well, Zelda would tease her, ” You think too much!”
That’s when Joel Corona- Sinclair came into her life. That Thursday afternoon Zelda was out sick. Her first meeting was funny. He saw her pushing and pulling on the garment cart and supposing she was an employee asked her to call her Supervisor.
“What makes you think I’m not?” she teased the perplexed young man, who seemed closer to her age if not a bit older.
“Sorry!”, he countered, ” I saw.. and I just thought..” he labored hard for excuses.
Chloe let out a small giggle and walked over to the long marble counter.” How can I help you? I am the owner slash, worker, everything today.”
Composing himself, the young man explained simply that his company of musicians had recently arrived from Spain. They were to perform a series of concerts in the Houston District and possibly leave on Valentines Day. So, in short, he needed quick dependable service.
The last couple of weeks of January were fast approaching and he needed to have a place to buy and alter tuxedos and gowns as necessary. If she could recommend a dry-cleaner it would be even better.
Not only that, he was also looking for someone to show him all the places he would be performing in the surrounding area. That entailed a “manager” of sorts . That person would set up notices, newspaper articles etc. Chloe thought of Zelda because Joel was willing to pay good money
“So handsome!” she thought. He had European features with the long Roman nose and dark neatly trimmed beard, he looked every bit the professional conductor. His dark suit set off his light complexion rather nicely too. If anybody knew good suits, she did!
“So, can you do it?” he finished. Chloe, meanwhile, was caught up in her own thoughts.
“Why sure, now can I please have the address and phone numbers?” she stalled for time.
She was flustered and she didn’t know why. She pretended to leaf through her ledger but it was just to calm her thoughts.
She took down his name Joel-Corona – Sinclair. His Orchestra consisted of fifty musicians!
Chloe had decided that she would take on the secretarial part to insure everything would run smoothly for Joel. Zelda, meanwhile would help her with running the day- to- day work of her shop.
Joel and his group usually performed in Europe but the Winter had been too harsh lately. So he decided to bring his music to America. His mother was Spanish and his father from Ireland. “That was good,” she thought. “Part of my family is from Ireland!”
Weeks into her assignment with Joel and the orchestra, she caught herself, thinking of him constantly. What his family must be like; if he probably already had a wife, girlfriend at least. Good grief, could he be divorced already. Her imagination really ran away with her.
“Earth to Chloe,” interrupted Zelda, she was quick and Chloe accomplished a lot with her help. Since she first met the young maestro, as the reviews called him, they had met with him nearly every day of January and never once did he let on he had any wife or anyone for that matter. That was nearly three weeks!
As Zelda was going through the racks of women’s black gowns for the orchestra in the storage room, she took a red gown from another forgotten Winter collection and added it to the black ones. They were all beautiful.
Chloe noticed one very “candy-apple red” gown on the silver rack. “What’s that doing there?” she asked.
“Oh, I thought you might like to see it again,” answered Zelda, as if she really wasn’t into their conversation.
“Well, put it back” commanded Chloe.
“Oh, come on, try it on”. Do it for for Valentines Day. You made it yourself. Who knows Joel might buy it for someone, anyone!”
It was true. Chloe had made that particular dress for a debutant from the East Coast. The young girl never picked it up because she had lost “interest” in the young man. That was last year actually.
Chloe kept it because it was a simple, strapless red gown with soft ruffled tiers from the waist to the floor. It really was beautiful and she liked it!
That was her greatest fear. What if you “think” you love someone and it doesn’t work out? Zelda, knew it and she was the direct opposite. Ever the romantic believing in true love no matter what. She was always encouraging Chloe to let love in to her young life.
“Oh, I nearly forgot” interrupted Zelda again. ” Joel wants to have a late brunch with you at the Hyatt Restaurant. Wants to go over the final details with you.”
Well, it was one o”clock already. If she hurried, Chloe could still make it on time. This time, she really thought about wearing something nice for the meeting. Although she told herself, it was just that, a business meeting.
When she was led to the table by the restaurant hostess, her heart sank to the ground, so much so that Joel commented on her health. “Are you OK?” he asked rather sincerely.
There was a lovely woman sitting with him. Chloe had not met her before and she was beautiful! She wore her blond hair in a bun, and had on a very stylish European business suit.
Chloe supposed this was the “other woman” she dreaded to meet! She was so dumb to think she even had a chance with him! Oh all right! She would muddle through all this and be done with it soon enough!
“”Well, he continued, as he pulled out the chair for her, “Meet my aunt Roseanna. She just flew in from Spain to be with us.” Chloe almost fell into her chair as she dropped her small bag.
The lovely lady held out her hand and thanked Chloe for all she was doing for her nephew. She explained that usually was her job, but Joel’s uncle had knee surgery recently and was just recovering. That’s why they were not in America with him.
Oh yes, she had one more HUGE favor to ask. Could she PLEASE go with Joel to the Valentine’s Day Ball given in their honor for all the charitable work they were doing in the United States. She herself, would have to decline because she was flying back home to be with her husband once again. Joel could stay a couple of more weeks.
She flashed a lovely smile and looking at Joel, said “Don’t let this one get away from you. She is a lovely young woman. ”
His aunt smiled at her now, and taking a sip of ginger ale from her goblet, continued, “He needs to think about marriage and a family. Life is not all career you know!”
Joel blushed, and called the waiter to place their order.
So it was that Chloe and Joel attended the Golden Guild of Performers and their Annual Valentine’s Day Gala. So did Zelda with her boyfriend in a gray tux and she, ever the romantic, in a pale pink gown overlaid with Spanish lace.
Who wore the lovely red dress?
Why Chloe of course! She was a beautiful sight.
Joel looked regal in his black tuxedo and she in her splendid red gown!
The buzz the following day in the fashionable district of Houston was all about the lovely young lady in the red Valentine’s Day gown and her handsome escort, the famed Spanish maestro!