I look up in surprise to see Jeff running towards me, swinging a large black briefcase. "We thought you'd never get here," he pants. "You know what would happen if we kept Francine DeMitrio waiting! You're just lucky she's still on her coffee break! C'mon!"
Grabbing me by the hand, he pulls me down the hallway, and I catch glimpses of beautiful models scurring in and out of various set rooms, followed by men in suits holding cameras, or women with clipboards. One attendant races across the lobby pushing a cart full of pink feather boas, mumbling into a headset.
Outside a large brown door marked Conference Room E-6, with a smaller sign beside the handle that reads DeMitrio, Jeff stops hurrying and looks me over. "Just be cool," he tells me, even though he is shaking with anticipation. Honestly, he can get so carried away!
"I know, Jeff. It's just a meeting. I'm totally prepared."
"It's Francine DeMitrio," he spits back meaningfully, and then he knocks on the door.
When it's opened by a petite Asian woman in a cream-colored suit, I have to draw in my breath at the scene in front of me. Even though the long conference table could easily have seated thirty executives, only five chairs were placed around it, close together near the doorway. The 10-feet-tall ceiling, supported by off-white pillars, is covered with an intricate gold design, and life sized portraits of several different models are hung tastefully around the room. I recognize a few of them, and wonder briefly if my picture will someday appear there.
"Ms. Romere," Jeff nods to the woman, and then gestures towards me, "This is Locki Vertina. Is Ms. Demitrio--"
"Josie!" Another voice pierces the silence of the conference room. "Have they arrived? Oh my, I see they have!"
I glance up, surprised, and then double take as I recognize the woman standing in front of me. With her large, signature orange suit and black bun, no model could ever mistake her, and none would ever want to. "Ms. DeMitrio," I half-nod, half-bow in her direction.
"Your portfolio was quite well-put together, my dear," she says, hanging in the doorway. "A wonderful candidate for my newest line...come in, come in, and we'll have a look."