Growing up BeautifilChapter 1

(Links to Chapters 1, 2 and 3 at bottom of page)
Milan, Italy - June, 1986

  “When are the Americans arriving?”
        Three model composites were placed on Marcella's desk. She looked up and saw Claudio Condé, the owner of Bella Modeling Agency. “Next week on the twentieth,” she replied.
        “Good. Make arrangements for dinner at Cigno de Nero that night. Invite our biggest clients and a few photographers. I want these girls working immediately.”
        Marcella nodded as she took in Claudio's deep blue eyes and chiseled features. He was just as striking today as when they met a decade ago, when he was a teen model, and she was a newly hired booker at the agency. Mutually ambitious, they had discussed the possibility of becoming partners one day and taking over the business. In the end, it was the generous income generated by Claudio's handsome face that allowed him to easily buy out the previous owner without her help. So, she remained behind the counter doing most of the work while he moved into the view office and took clients out to lunch.
        "I also want you to schedule a car to pick them up at the airport,” he continued.
        Marcella picked up the composites and studied the glossy photographs of a sophisticated brunette, an auburn-haired beauty, and a sultry blonde. Without any apparent merit besides their pleasing features, these young women were on the verge of earning obscene amounts of money to pose in front of a camera lens. They were days away from attending private parties thrown by Milan’s social elite. At least one of them would end up spending weekends playing tennis and riding horses at countryside mansions. If history repeated itself, as it always did, the luckiest of the three would be swimming next to a yacht anchored in turquoise-blue water wearing newly acquired diamonds and gold jewelry in less than a month.
        “Marcella?” Claudio ran a hand through his dark-brown hair. “Are you going to make that call?”
        “Of course.” She picked up the phone and dialed. As soon as Claudio left, she hung up and sat back in her chair. It was not easy for an unattractive woman like herself to do favors for other females fortunate enough to be born beautiful. It was even harder to book them for a thousand dollar a day job when her salary as a glorified secretary was much less than that. So why did she stay? There was only one reason. Power. She controlled everything. Castings. Contacts. Money. Only the models who gave her expensive gifts, extended their social invitations to include her, and offered the occasional envelope of cash experienced the European dream they sought. She glanced at the three composites and then pushed them aside. Any young woman foolish enough to believe she could succeed on her own was in for a big surprise.

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