Take Me #1 - Take Me - Bella Andre

Bella Andre - Take Me #1 - Take Me

Take Me (Take Me #1)
Bella Andre



Chapter One

“Me? A model? You’ve got to be kidding.”

Janica Ellis’s lower lip trembled. “Please, Lily. Sonia has the stomach flu. She was my only plus-sized model. You’re my last hope.” Gesturing to the skimpy, colorful dresses hanging from the rack beside her, she added, “This is my big break. My first big fashion show with major buyers in the audience. You just need to model one dress for me.”

Under most circumstances, Lily Ellis would do anything to help out her little sister. But not when

“anything” included showcasing her un-model-perfect size-sixteen body under glaring lights while tottering down a runway in stiletto heels. Already she could hear the baffled whispers from the audience of, “What is that cow doing up on the stage?” She would pass out from humiliation.

She already felt painfully uncool among this cutting-edge crowd of designers and artists. Just walking the two busy city blocks from the parking garage to the Moscone Center in the very hip San Francisco, South of Market area, was enough to make Lily feel like she had the word “boring” stamped across her chest.

Shaking her head forcefully, Lily raised her voice over the din of the models, makeup artists, and designers backstage. “I came to sit in the audience and applaud your incredible clothes, not to put on a skintight, see-through dress and parade around like a lumbering elephant.”

So then why, Lily wondered moments later, am I being poked with pins and made up by an androgynous makeup artist?

A sarcastic inner voice wasted no time in replying, Because you’re a lily-livered pushover, that’s why.

How apt the name Lily was. Even among flowers, lilies were overly large. If she had been named Petunia or Violet, would she have been petite and cute, with a button nose and straight brown hair? In her daydreams, Lily was a reed-slim, perfectly toned size six, with straight blond hair and sparkling blue eyes who everyone gazed at with envy. Just like the women on the Pilates infomercials that she watched late at night alone in her apartment. As it was, all she had going for her was the blue eyes. But given the fact that they were on her face, Lily figured they might as well have been mud brown. And as far as Lily was concerned, her out-of-control curly red hair and pale skin didn’t help matters any. She slumped her shoulders in defeat.

Janica grunted with displeasure and forcefully pushed Lily’s shoulder blades together. “You need to keep your back straight for me to get the fit right.”

But when Lily looked in the mirror and saw nothing but a huge pair of br**sts encased in a wildly printed sheer mesh fabric, she choked on a hysterical laugh.

“Janica, stop,” she pleaded. “My chest looks like the spinnaker of a large ship.”

Her sister glanced into the mirror, and insisted, “It does not.”

At the barely masked worry in Janica’s eyes, Lily wished she had kept her mouth shut. Trying to make her baby sister laugh, Lily said, “Don’t worry, Jan. Swashbuckling pirates always hightail it toward small, cute girls with twenty-inch waists and French manicures, so your dress should come through the salty seas just fine.”

Around a mouthful of pins Janica giggled. “Lils, you’ve got an overactive imagination. Pirate ships and salty seas. Your creative talents are definitely wasted at Barker’s Furniture. Besides, most women would kill to have boobs like yours.” Janica gestured to her A cups. “Like me, for instance. Besides, who wouldn’t want your gorgeous curls and your peaches-and-cream coloring? Which, if you hadn’t already noticed, is perfectly highlighted by this fabric.” Janica took a step back to study Lily more closely and sucked in a breath. “Wow, you look incredible. You’re going to blow all of the other models away up there. It’s as if I made this dress just for you.”

Lily opened her mouth to disagree with her sister’s compliments when the makeup artist bit out, “Hold your head still. I’m doing your lip line now.”

Hardly daring to breathe, Lily decided that a few minutes of extreme public humiliation was worth it if it could make the person she loved most in the world happy. Lily thought back to the day Janica had made her first dress, nearly twenty years ago, when they had gone to live with Grandma Ellen after their parents’ death. Only ten years old herself, Lily had been so proud of her talented, sparkling five-year-old sister. Every now and