Crash Into Me

By: K.M. Scott
Chapter One

"You're going to be late!" Jordan yelled from the kitchen in her usual bellow.

She didn't have to remind me. As I stood checking out my look in the mirror that hung on the back of my closet door, I cringed at the idea that people were going to actually see me in my outfit in just minutes. I looked more like a waitress than a junior assistant to an art gallery owner. A short black skirt and white button down blouse? I might as well be serving pasta down the street at Mama Leone's. Or serving drinks at some gentleman's club. Why my boss thought this was appropriate for an art gallery was beyond me.

Smoothing my light brown hair that fell to just below my shoulders, I leaned in close to the mirror and saw that the tawny eye shadow and the darkest black mascara did their best to make my blue eyes pop. I stroked a final coat of plum lip gloss over my lips and put on my best supermodel face.

Too bad everything below my neck ruined all my hard work.

I made my way down the hallway, stopping by the kitchen to give my roommate a look at my getup. She'd seen it before, but some things never got old.

"And here she is, Miss America," I sang.

Jordan put her glass down on the counter and brought her hands up to her face to cover her smile. A pretty blonde with knockout green eyes, she was my best friend and the only person who knew just how much I hated the outfit. "Oh, honey. At least you make that look good. Good legs make everything look better, and you have great legs."

"I think I've heard that," I joked. At least Jordan helped make me hate this outfit a little less. That is until I got the first sneer from some overly made up woman dripping with expensive jewelry looking down her plastic surgery perfect nose at me. Then I'd hate it again.

"I'm off to work. What are you doing while I'm moving up in the art world?"

"Justin and I are catching a movie."

"So you're doing Justin," I teased. She'd begun dating him a while back, but recently they'd gotten much closer, much to her delight. Jordan saw him as a possible "Mr. Right" and loved that he wanted to move toward more commitment.

"Don't hate," she said with a smile. "You'll be late, and then that nasty boss of yours will be all over you."

"Enjoy. I'm off to pay my dues again," I joked only slightly as I headed out the door.

I walked toward the subway with Jordan's words rattling around in my head, oblivious to the throngs of people heading out for the night. "Don't hate." In truth, I didn't hate the idea that she had found someone. I actually liked Justin. He wasn't an ass like a lot of guys, and he was pretty tolerant of having a third wheel when Jordan dragged me along with them to save me from a Friday night in. And he was just her type—tall, dark, and lanky. While I wasn't as convinced as she was that he was "The One," simply because I wasn't sure that even existed, I liked that she was happy.

It gave me hope that as she was always claiming good things did, in fact, happen to good people.

The crowd of New York art devotees far less knowledgeable about art than parties milled about the Anderson Gallery, champagne glasses in hand and noses in the air as they feigned appreciation for the work of a new artist that odds were would likely be a has-been by this time next year. The artwork wasn't bad, as far as modern art went, but I didn't have the time to stand around feeling unimpressed. As the lowest rung on the gallery's ladder, I was responsible for ensuring that the patrons were happy, full of alcohol and hors d'oeuvres, and convinced that the artist's work was the "next big thing," as Sheila Anderson, my boss and owner of the gallery that bore her name, had made quite clear in the pre-show meeting just hours before.

Her hand-picked outfit for me fit oddly, which was exactly the purpose. The black skirt was far too short and felt more like a big belt in the chilly, air conditioned room. God, my ass was almost hanging out! And the white, button-down shirt one size too small? My biggest fear that night was that a button would pop, fly from my chest, and take someone's eye out. But since my job was to be a "hostess," as Sheila liked to term my employment as her personal slave, this was what I had to wear. The only thing that made it even bearable was that she'd hired two other women to work that night, so at least I wasn't alone in my outfit of shame.

Four years of school and a degree in art history and I was handing out cocktail weenies. But it was a job that paid the bills. Well, barely paid the bills. No matter. I had bigger plans for my life than this, and I knew I needed to pay my dues before the good things showed up.

On nights like this, though, it just felt like I was paying more than anything else.