When you create a platform with millions watching, it’s vital that you say and do the right things. That’s why Esta accepted a role as an ambassador for the Warren Foundation six months ago. Helping to spread Mental Health Awareness, fund free walk-in centres, and mobile crisis units across the UK – all while being able to create the content she loves. She just never thought it would come hand in hand with bad press.
I didn’t realise how much work it would be, and while I try not to complain, it’s hard to feel grateful for the experience when I’m regularly getting dragged in magazines for how I look.
“Ms Coleman arrives in a dress from last years winter Millen collection. Saving money, are we?”
Yes, I’m saving money. Because, unlike the donors, I don’t have a bank balance that resembles a mobile number… I sigh, sitting back as I flick through the articles.
Last night’s party was for one particular donor and the newest ambassadors; it wasn’t even a formal function… The only phone number my bank balance resembles is 999…
“Would you like a refill?” A voice interrupts my train of thought. I look up and find the waitress.
“Yes, please.” I nod nervously and hand her my cup. She walks back to the counter. Turning back to my tablet, I close the articles down. That’s not important. Opening my document, where my newest article is sloppily and half-written, I begin typing. Just five hundred words – that’s all we need. Then Jimmie can finish up the photography, and we can submit it before Sonny even has the chance to question where it is.
My cup reappears next to me as a body slumps in the seat opposite me. I peek up to find Jimmie frowning. “Don’t.”
“You were supposed to be at the studio over an hour ago…” They mutter, crossing their arms over their chest.
I look back down, continuing to type. How am I supposed to be able to focus with the model and you in the room?
“Why are you here?”
“Because I need to focus,” I blurt. “I’m sorry, it’s a little hard to write when there’s you two standing in a studio half naked.”
Jimmie chuckles. “You mean without getting distracted and writing Boobs, Boobs, Penis, and Boobs in the article?”
I sigh, “yes…”
Rolling their eyes, they grab my tea and downs the entire thing before placing the cup back down. “Well, you’ve finished your tea, and you need to come help with the shoot.”
“You finished my tea, and I need to write the article. I’m a writer, not a photographer,” I remind them, keeping my eyes on my screen. Just three hundred words left to go.
“Fine, finish up, and come back to the studio. You have thirty minutes,” they say as they stand up. “And if you’re not back, I’m going to have hot sex with the model and you can’t watch.”
I erupt into laughter, smiling from ear to ear as I look up at them. “Explain what sex isn’t hot,” I chuckle.
“One word: Parents.”
I roll my eyes. “One word: Orphan.”
Jimmie nods, pressing their lips together. “Touché. Thirty minutes, Missy,” they state before strutting off and out the door.
Three hundred words in thirty minutes – I can do this.
~Three Months Later~
“We need better ideas – something fun, entertaining, but nothing too risqué,” Cormac announces as he sits at the head of the conference table.
We’ve been here for hours, trying to come up with ideas for games or competitions to raise money at the foundation’s tenth anniversary. So far, there’s been options from a dunk tank all the way to a stripper burlesque show. And while the gala will be adults only, stripping doesn’t seem the right way to go.
“What about date auctions?” I ask, my eyes glued to my tablet as I doom scroll through lists of fundraiser ideas.
“Date auctions?” Cormac questions.
Jimmie pipes up, “effectively, single volunteers will be put up for auction and the winner gets to take the volunteer on a date.”
Cormac hums. “Is anyone interested in that?”
I look to find six ambassadors with their hands up – half of us.
Jimmie elbows me as if to say raise your hand.
I shake my head.
“Okay,” Cormac says, scribbling on his notepad. “Anything else?”
“Kissing tournament,” Jimmie blurts out of nowhere.
I peer up at them, finding them looking as shocked as the rest of us. That definitely slipped out by accident.
“Explain.” Cormac frowns.
Jimmie sits back in their chair, trying to look relaxed – failing miserably. “Well, the crowd would pick who has to kiss who, then they put donation bets on which couple will kiss the longest without breathing. The contestants would be wearing nose pegs. The winning couple gets prizes, and so does the person with the highest donation bid on the winners.”
“Anyone interested in that?”
Looking around the table, seeing nine hands raise. “Okay, I’ll submit that, too.” Cormac writes down the suggestion. “Anything else?”
Everyone remains silent.
“Fantastic.” Cormac stands up. “Thanks for coming, we’ll see you all on the day.”
We all get up, but as I make my way to the exit, Cormac says, “Ms Coleman, can I talk to you for a few minutes, please?”
Everyone leaves; Jimmie gives me a soft smile as they close the door.
I turn to find Cormac standing with his arms crossed. “Take a seat,” he says. I slowly make my way back to my chair, sitting back down as I hold my tablet to my chest – as if it’ll protect me from the blow that’s about to hit me. “This is going to be a very public event – there’s going to be photographers outside, there’s a red carpet – the whole shabang,” he explains before pausing.
Is he about to uninvite me?
“With that being said, Sonny has asked if you’d like a dress to be picked out for you.”
To avoid shaming the foundation again like last time… “Unless that’s being offered to the rest of the ambassadors, I don’t think it’s a good idea…”
“This isn’t being done by the foundation,” he adds. “Sonny is doing this, he was going to ask you today himself but he got a little tied up.”
I wish I could tie him up… Stop it. “I’ll pick out a new dress for the event, no assistance required. But, thank him for me?”
He nods. “That’s all, you can go.”
“He offered you a dress and you said no?” Jimmie blurts.
I roll my eyes as I slump onto the couch in our flat. “If I’d said yes, and someone found out, they’d assume something was happening. And I don’t want to put him in that position.”
Jimmie sits down next to me, offering me a glass of wine. “I didn’t think about that… Especially considering people have seen you both flirt.”
“It’s hardily both of us – it’s like flirting with a brick wall,” I mutter. I can’t blame him for that, he’s my boss at the foundation, and his daughter is older than me… I miss the days before the foundation… When he was just my friend.
“He definitely still flirts back; it’s just more subtle than it used to be. I’m sure he’ll be more chill at the anniversary Gala,” Jimmie sighs, sipping their drink. “Remember when he asked you if you wanted a creampie so loud that everyone heard it?”
“Everyone heard it because he shouted it at me from across the room,” I howl. “Why does his daughter have to be older than me…”
“Because he started really young… That’s why,” they chuckle. “I don’t even see that as an issue, Natalie loves you…”
“Yeah, but I don’t think she loves me enough for me to be her stepmother…” I sigh. I’ve known Sonny for five years; we’ve worked together on human rights projects before, and when he took over the Warren Foundation last year, I was his first pick for an Ambassador. He’s approaching forty-five, two decades my senior, but he’s tall and handsome without a grey on his head. He’d rock the salt and pepper look…
“Why are the men I like always unavailable to me in some way,” I mumble.
“Maybe you should look at men more our age?” Jimmie questions. “Or maybe… women…” They wink.
I laugh and rest my head on their shoulder. “Maybe… Someone in between?” I purr.
“Ooo,” they coo before ducking down and kissing my head. “Don’t tempt me.”
I roll my eyes; I know they’re not interested. We’ve never had the conversation, but it’s always been blatantly obvious. “What am I going to do?”
“Die alone with me?”
I smile, watching TV as I sip my wine – still leaning on them. “I think I’d like that.”
~Tenth Anniversary Gala~
“You know, it’s not too late to sign up,” Jimmie says as our car approaches the red carpet walkway. “You could get a nice date with a rich old man, marry him, and steal his money,” they joke.
“Jimmie!” I exclaim. “You can’t say things like that tonight.”
They shrug. “Worth a shot. We could’ve split the cash.”
I giggle, “you could always do that.”
They look at me with an eyebrow raised. “I’m already in the auction. I’m just not marriage material.”
“I beg to differ.” The car stops, and the driver gets out. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”
“You are,” they say. “Just remember – no jumping, your tits will pop out…”
I look down, my chest extremely visible in the low-cut dress. The plunging neckline makes my breasts look a thousand times better than they do in my usual clothes – but dresses like these were not made with thickness in mind. One quick action away from a nip slip – and that’s the last thing I need on a red carpet.
“And we’re off,” Jimmie gets out of the car, and I follow closely behind them. Cameras flashing left and right, the intense lights hurting my eyes compared to the dim lighting of the car. “You okay?” They ask.
I nod and link arms with them. Walking beside Jimmie wearing heels reminds me that I’m hardly average height, even on platforms.
We pose for a few pictures and give a few smiles before we escape into the building. “I hate this,” I mutter as we enter the banquet hall with round dinner tables surrounding an empty dancefloor and large stage.
“Where is my man?” Jimmie questions, looking around.
“Sonny’s the head of the foundation, he’ll be here… Somewhere.”
“Oh, there he is!” They point to my right.
I look over; he waves and smiles but looks uncomfortable. Mrs Smith… The oldest donor of the Warren Foundation, ninety-two and still a flirt. I want to be that confident at her age. “I should save him.”
“Oh, look at you with a saviour complex,” Jimmie jokes.
I roll my eyes. “You’ve got it all wrong, I’m just hoping that if I help him enough – he might creampie me tonight,” I laugh, the music stopping just at the right moment to screw me over. “Brilliant.”
“Hurry before I take your advice and try to save him myself,” they chuckle.
I spin on the spot and head over. “Good evening, Sonny,” I say as I finally get near him.
He offers me a hug, and I accept. “So, you want to be creampied, huh?” Sonny whispers into my ear.
As I step back, I see the wide grin on his face as Mrs Smith and the other women disperse. “Shut up,” I giggle, crossing my arms.
“Thanks for the save,” he whispers, his soft brown eyes holding eye contact.
“It’s what I’m here for.”
His eyes float down, taking me in. “You look… Spiffing.”
“Spiffing?” I giggle.
Sonny’s smile widens, his cheeks gaining a little colour as he blushes. “It’s an appropriate word for the style you’re wearing. It’s a 50s swing dress style, after all.”
He’s right. He’s always right.
“But, I will apologise now because I think I’ll probably get caught looking at those a few times tonight,” he mutters, his eyes darting between my face and my chest.
That comment from anyone else would be embarrassing. But from Sonny, a man known for being a true gentleman… It’s a compliment I’ll never recover from. “Well, then. It’s a good thing that I give you permission.”
He laughs, stepping around me, his right arm around my waist as he leans in. “Keep talking like that and I might give you what you want.”
I turn my head to look at him, his face close to mine. I can smell his mint breath and see every fleck in his irises. Don’t threaten me with a good time, Mr Bellamy.
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