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Pulling On All Your Threads

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Erica was glad she'd gotten a new manicure; it kept her from biting her nails nervously, and bitten nails were not a great look for an aspiring fashion designer even if her work did mostly trend toward the rock chick aesthetic. But her lipstick was perfect and she was keeping it that way by sipping a protein shake and not eating anything off the very tempting craft services table. Never mind that she'd flown cross-country; she'd stopped in the bathroom to fix her hair and felt like Madonna at the beginning of Desperately Seeking Susan.

Which, really, was a good omen. She'd put on her longest earrings.

Now she was walking along Broadway toward Lincoln Center with a camera crew walking backwards in front of her, which was a weird way to experience Manhattan for the first time. But the excellent thing was that when she got to the little park next to the plaza, where they held fashion week, there was a familiar face.

"Oh my god! Erica!" Isaac shouted, and they ran toward each other. He picked her up, hugging her and twirling her in a circle, and she stopped worrying about her lipstick.

"I'm so glad you're here!" she said.

"Me too! I guess they got us in twos, because these guys know each other." He pointed at two men standing next to him, both dark-haired and reasonably good-looking. "Scott and Stiles went to FIT together."

Erica shook their hands.

"So you're from LA?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, Isaac and I are both in the rock scene, I guess you'd call it," Erica said. "When he isn't modeling anyway."

"Oh my god, of course you're a model." Stiles shook his head.

"Erica!" Isaac said.

"Like they wouldn't find out," Erica said. "He makes great clothes too! So are you from here in New York?"

"No, we grew up in California. We just went to school here," Scott said.

"Speaking of which," Stiles said, looking past Erica to the entrance of the park.

Scott looked up. "Holy shit."

"What?" Isaac asked.

Stiles grimaced. "You know how, in school, there's always that one person who aces everything, has the best show at the end, and everyone knows they're going to be amazing? The Marc Jacobs, the Proenza Schouler?"

"Yeah," Erica said.

"That redhead was our Marc Jabobs."

Erica turned and saw a small woman in boots with very high heels making her way toward them. She wore a blue dress that fluttered in the slight breeze and her hair was long and wavy, giving her a nymph effect, though with her confident stride it was obvious that she was no pushover. She seemed like the kind of good fairy who could still fuck your shit up. Next to her was a brunette who was taller, even in her flat cowboy boots.

"Hey, Lydia," Stiles said. "Didn't expect to see you here."

She shrugged. "Got to get the brand out there. Shows under the tents don't grow on trees, you know. Anyway this is Allison. We met at the auditions and she's very good. Sick jackets."

"Hi," Allison said, waiving, all dimples and girl next door charm. Erica kind of wanted to hate her, but hating other girls was a cliche she wasn't going to give into on camera.

"Hey, um, I'm Scott! Jackets are great! Did you make that one?"

Stiles turned to his friend, blinking; apparently blurting out ten words a second wasn't Scott's usual behavior. Erica smirked, and when Stiles caught her eye, he shrugged.

He was cute, too, with big bambi eyes in a pale face where his friend was darker and more classically handsome. Maybe Stiles could be her buddy; she hated that whole "I'm not here to make friends" thing.

After about twenty minutes the rest of the designers had arrived, sixteen of them in all, including one dude from San Francisco that she'd heard of before, Derek Hale. He was a certified hottie, absolutely, and had been pinned within a few minutes of his arrival by some chick from Portland named Jennifer who liked making fabrics out of trees or draping them over trees or something similarly crunchy.

Erica liked making clothes out of leather. She was okay with her position in the food chain.

Finally Tim and Heidi arrived, walking across the park from the other direction, and all the designers duly applauded. Tim had been at Erica's audition in LA so she wasn't too star-struck, and she'd never been a giant Heidi fan to begin with, so she was able to be calm and listen to the instructions, which were that they were to run over to the tent opposite them and pick a bunch of remnant fabrics to make a signature look out of.

She glanced down at Lydia's high heels, but thought they probably wouldn't be a problem for her. Lydia, seeing her, looked her up and down and then whispered, "Racing is so silly, don't you think?"

Tim had a little starter gun, and when he fired it many of the designers sprinted across the hundred yards or so of grass to get to the tent and frantically grab what they wanted. But Lydia, Erica and Allison walked—quickly, but confidently—into the tent. Hey, it looked cool and besides, Erica had known that the deep red velvet that had caught her eye would be shunned by the other designers.

"Good call," Erica said to Lydia, who had a diaphanous bit of sea-green fabric.

"I just think, if you can't make a killer dress out of any old thing, what are you doing on this show?" She looked at Erica's bolt of fabric. "Apparently you feel the same."

"You know it," Erica replied.