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Gillian has to decide between cosmopolitan Gordon in New York or passionate Chris in San Francisco
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American-born, Danielle Steele lived in Paris for most of her childhood returning to New York to work in PR. When the recession hit and the company went out of business sheExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It was a gloriously sunny day and the call from Carson Advertising came at nine-fifteen. The stylist was sick and they needed someone to assist with a shooting up the coast. Was I free? Would I do it? And how much? I was, I would, and the price was right. One hundred and twenty dollars for the day, plus expenses. After working as a stylist in New York, I had been lucky in California. They were impressed, and they paid well. And it was easy work. All I needed was a job or two a week and, added to my alimony, Samantha and I could live well. Sometimes there was no work for a few weeks, but we made out anyway, and we were happy.
We had left New York one grizzly, rainy day, like pioneers off to another world. I was twenty-eight, she was almost five, and I think we were both scared Brave New World. And off we went. To San Francisco, where we knew no one, but it was pretty and it was worth a try. So we were trying.
We'd been there for a little less than three months the day that Carson called me for the job on the coast. We lived in a tiny flat in the Marina, with a peaceful view of the bay and Sausalito in the distance. We could look out the window and see the sailboat masts just out front, as the boats bobbed around tied up at the Yacht Club dock. And on sunny afternoons when I wasn't working, I could take Sam down to the tiny strip of beach, and I'd lie there while she raced up and down the sand and then up the steps onto the grass. It was still snowing in New York while we were lying on the beach. We had done the right thing, and we'd come to a lovely place. We were happy there. We were alone and still very green at being pioneers, but everything was going to be okay. I'd look at my daughter, all brown and healthy, and I'd look at myself in the mirror in the mornings, and I'd know we had been right. I looked ten years younger, and at last I was alive. Gillian Forrester had been reborn at twenty-eight, in a city that spread itself over a series of beautiful hills, next to the mountains, and within breathing distance of the sea. San Francisco.
I looked out the window at Mount Tamalpais in the distance that morning, and then at my watch. It was nine-thirty, and the truck from Carson was due at ten. The crew was driving out together, except for the people from the film company who were shooting the commercial. They had their own truck. And probably their own ideas. I wondered briefly what they were going to think of having me to "help" them. Probably not much. The advertising agencies always liked to have an extra hand, but cameramen and the like never thought much of the idea. Thus far, it had been kind of "Who's she?...What?...A stylist?...Man, you've gotta be kidding...From New York?...Oh, Christ..." Yeah, but what the hell. I was getting paid for the job, and they didn't have to like me. As long as the agencies liked my work and kept calling.
The school bus had already picked up Sam, and I had just enough time to shower and climb into a pair of ancient jeans, a denim shirt, and my safari jacket. It was always hard to tell about the weather. It was early April, and it might be cold if the shooting got late. And sooner or later the fog would roll in. I dug my feet into an old pair of riding boots, put my hair in a knot on top of my head. And I was all set. A quick call to a neighbor who would wait for Sam to pile off the school bus at noon and keep her till I got home, and I was all ready for Carson Advertising.
We were to shoot a cigarette commercial on some cliffs overlooking the sea, north of Bolinas. And they were using four models, some horses, and a fair amount of props. It was going to be one of those healthy looking ads with the deceptive air of nonchalance and fresh air. Fresh air there would be, but nonchalance relatively little. Hence the need for me. I would spend the day making sure the models looked right, setting out the picnic, making sure the two female models didn't sit on the horses the wrong way round, and no one fell off the cliffs. Fairly easy work for a hundred and twenty dollars, and it might be fun.
A horn honked outside at exactly ten o'clock, and I sped out the door with my "magic bag" over my arm. Band-aids, aspirin, tranquilizers, hair spray, a variety of makeups, a note book, a collection of pens and pencils, safety pins, clothespins, and a book. The book was an anthology of short stories I never got to read at shootings. But it gave me a nice illusion of "one of these days."
As I hopped down the three steps outside our flat I saw a dark green pickup truck and a military-looking jeep out front. The truck was filled to the gills with equipment and props; there were two sleepy-looking girls in the back with sweaters pulled up to their chins and scarves over their heads. They looked like the Bobbsey Twins. Our female models. Sitting in front were two frighteningly virile-looking guys, also in turtle neck sweaters, with carefully kept earlength hair and strong jaw lines. Their whole look told me that they were gay, and I knew that they were the male half of our modeling team for the day. All set. At least they'd shown up for the shooting. But I had stopped worrying about things like that. In San Francisco, people show. It's not like New York. They don't get as much work, so when they get a call, they show. The male beauty queen seated nearest the window waved and the man in the driver's seat slid out and came toward me with a smile. He was small and sturdy-looking with jet black hair and bushy eyebrows, and I had met him at other shootings with Carson Advertising. He was their chief art director, and a hell of a nice guy. His name was Joe Tramino.
"Hi, Gillian. How've you been? I'm glad you could make it."
"So am I. Looks like a nice day for the shooting. Are the guys in the jeep with you too?" We stood on the sidewalk and he rolled his eyes in semi-Neapolitan style.
"You bet your ass. Those are the account guys. Three of them. This commercial is for our biggest account. I'll introduce you." He strode over on his short legs and one of the men in the jeep rolled down the window. "This is our stylist, Gillian Forrester. Gill...John Ackley, Hank Todd, Mike Willis." They all nodded, smiled, and shook hands with me, without looking particularly interested. They had a fifty-thousand-dollar commercial to get out for an important client. And that was all they cared about. Making charm with the stylist wasn't what they had in mind.
"You wanna ride with them or with us? It's gonna be crowded either way." Joe shrugged his shoulders and watched me for a minute, wondering what I would decide. I could tell that he liked me and thought I was a "good looking broad." I was a little taller than he, and my complexion was as fair as his was dark. That was probably what fascinated him. My brown hair and blue eyes had never seemed like such a big deal to me, but he seemed to like the combination, and I could tell he liked my ass.
"I'll ride with the crew, Joe. No sweat....Nice to meet you, gentlemen. We'll see you there." I looked at Joe as we walked away from the jeep, and broke into a laugh. "Surprised? What do you think I am? A snob?" I gave him a friendly shove and then hopped in the back seat of the truck with the girls. One of them was asleep and the other was reading a magazine; the boys up front were talking "shop." According to them, men's fashion was going all to hell. I saw Joe roll his eyes and give me a wry grin in the rearview mirror and then we were off. He slid the gear into drive, let out the brake, and stomped on the accelerator, and we sped around the jeep and off toward Lombard Street, which would get us onto the Golden Gate Bridge.
"Jesus Christ, Joe, you drive like a goddam Italian." I was hanging on to the front seat so as not to squash the girl sleeping next to me.
"I make love like an Italian too."
"What's the point of betting? Try me sometime....Try it...you'll like it."
"Yeah, sure." I smiled back, and then sank into my own thoughts as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge which never failed to have an effect on me. A feeling of overwhelming power and beauty would sweep over me, and I'd raise my eyes to dizzying heights, like a child, feeling pleased with the effect. The deep orange color of its spires stood out in the blue sky, and its sweeping lines reminded me of kite strings.
"Whatcha looking at, New York?" Joe had seen the slow smile spread over my face, and I leaned against the window and looked upward.
"I'm looking at your bridge, Joe, just like a hick."
"Come on, I'll give you a better view than that." He leaned backward in the seat, turned a handle in the ceiling of the car, and slid a panel back. It was a sun roof, and by opening it the view had improved still further. The Golden Gate Bridge stood over our heads in the sunlight, and the fresh Northern California air whipped our faces.
"Wow...this is neat. Can I stand up?" The opening looked just big enough.
"Sure. Don't step on the girls though. And look out for the cops. They'll give me a ticket." I saw him watching my behind again as I gently placed my feet between the two sleeping girls and disappeared through the roof. He was some Italian. And that was some bridge! It was hard to breathe, standing unprotected in the wind, and my hair started to whip around my head. And up above was...it. My bridge. And my mountains and my sea. And off in the distance behind us, the city. My California. It was stupendous.
I felt Joe tug at my jacket as we approached the end of it, and I came back in and sat down.
"All you Easterners are nuts." But he looked pleased with what I'd done. There was a nice atmosphere in the car, everyone was minding his own business, we were all going to work, and no one was feeling hassled. It was a far cry from what I'd experienced working in New York, first at an ad agency and later at a decorating magazine. Everything was different in California.
"Who's shooting the commercial? Shazzam or Barclay?" I had learned that Shazzam was the "in" new group that did most of the really with-it movie production in town and Barclay was the most established production house around.
"Neither one. That's why all the account guys came along. They're tearing their hair out. I'm using a new house. They're young, but they're good. They're not even a house, really, just a team. A crazy young guy and his crew. They look like lazy, good for nothing freaks, but they've really got it. And their bid was terrific. I think you'll like them, they're easy to work with." I nodded, wondering if they'd like me. "Freaks" don't usually like stylists from New York, even if I didn't look like one anymore.
We were past Sausalito and Mill Valley by then and already on the winding mountain road toward Stinson Beach. It was lined with immense trees, and the smell of eucalyptus was everywhere. And it was beginning to feel more like a day in the country than a job.
The models were all awake by then and everyone was in a good mood. We started down the other side of the mountain and the view was breathtaking. Great splashes of panorama would appear, the mountains would drop down to cliffs at unexpected moments and the sea roared up to meet them with a great gush of spray. Everything was lush green and soft brown and bright blue. God's country.
We came down the mountain singing songs and then drove on past Bolinas up the coast to a place I didn't know. But it was more of the same. More mountains, more sea, more cliffs, and more splendor. And I was glad I'd come.
"You look like a kid at a birthday party, Gill."
"Oh shut up, you blasé dago. That's the way I feel about this place."
"It sure as hell ain't New York."
"Is that so?" He grinned at me again and pulled the car off the road onto a dirt track which led across some hills, high above the coastline.
"Where the hell is this place?" The models were craning their necks but there was nothing to see. We were miles from civilization. There was still no sign of a waiting film crew.
"You'll see in a minute. It took the camera boys three weeks to scout this place. It's fantastic. Belongs to some old lady who lives in Hawaii and hasn't been here in years. She rented it to us for the day."
We came to a bend in the road then and swooped down toward a plateau lodged between the hills and the cliffs. The sea was hurling itself at the shore with greater force than I'd seen at Big Sur, and there were trees sticking out along the cliffs like giant flags. Huge boulders stood in the water below and the spray sprang up from them so high that it seemed as though it could have watered the trees. Maybe it did.
I saw the jeep then and wondered how they got there before we did, especially the way Joe drove, but there they were, parked alongside a horse trailer, an old car, and a dilapidated truck with a lot of hippies crawling all over it. We hopped out of the pickup truck and the various groups merged into one as everyone prepared to do their bit and get the show on the road.
The account men from the Carson agency stood slightly aside in a nervous little clique and began to look over their notes. The models jumped back into the pickup and started doing their faces and hair. They left me with Joe and a bunch of rag-tag looking boys who looked like they had run away from home the day before.
I watched them unload their heavy equipment as though it were weightless and saw Joe standing near the cab of the truck with a tall, blond boy. He had a strong, muscular body, a full head of shaggy hair, strangely wideset eyes, and an incredible smile that exploded two deeply entrenched dimples. And I saw that he was watching me.
"Gill, come here a minute," Joe called out to me with a wave and I wandered toward them wondering which of the crew this boy was. He looked younger than the others and seemed to have less to do. "Gillian Forrester, Chris Matthews. He runs this madhouse."
"Hi." The smile widened and I saw that he had beautiful teeth. His eyes were of a soft green color. He didn't hold out a hand to shake, or seem particularly interested in who I was. He just stood there, nodded at me, seemed to keep an eye on his troops, and went on talking to Joe. It made me feel a little out of place.
"Hey...where you going?" Chris asked. I had decided to go back and check up on my models.
"I thought you two were busy. I'll be back."
"Wait a sec, I'll come with you. I want to see what I'm shooting." He left Joe and strode along the hillside with me, kicking through the weeds in his boots and looking up at the sky. He had all the mannerisms of a young boy.
The models introduced themselves and I was pleased to see them looking about right. They were pros and it was nice not to have to start from scratch with them. I had been on a shooting the week before with a bunch of kids who hardly knew how to comb their hair.
Chris stood aside from the group after a moment and then shook his head. "Joe!" His shout rang down the hill and caught Joe's attention instantly. The kid had a hell of a voice. He beckoned to Joe and I could see there was a problem but I didn't want to intrude. It was obviously between him and Joe.
"Okay. What's up?" The little Italian huffed and puffed as he got there and he didn't look happy. He sensed that there was trouble and that was all he needed, with the account boys sitting on his neck.
"We've got a problem. And it's going to throw the budget out of shape. You've got five models. We only needed four." Chris looked unhappy about the excess and Joe looked baffled.
"We do?" He cast ...
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Book Description Cengage Gale. Hardcover. Condition: Fair. A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. Pages can include considerable notes-in pen or highlighter-but the notes cannot obscure the text. An ex-library book and may have standard library stamps and/or stickers. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. Seller Inventory # G0816133786I5N10
Book Description G K Hall & Co, 1982. Condition: UsedAcceptable. book. Seller Inventory # M0816133786_4