Party Crashers

Party Crashers by Stephanie Bond

Book: Party Crashers by Stephanie Bond Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephanie Bond
and the person wants a refund, we have to apologize and explain the refund policy. If they’re a good customer, we’ll usually give them a store credit. It’s only the ones that are out to cheat us that get upset.” He looked past Jolie’s shoulder and angled his head. “Well, look who’s slumming.”
    Jolie turned to see Carlotta striding toward them wearing her normal smug smile, stunningly swathed head to toe in pea green—a color, Jolie noted, that would make her look like a zombie. Carlotta was carrying a shoe box and an inventory slip. She gestured toward the nearly vacant sales floor. “I see it’s dead down here, too.”
    Michael nodded. “Everyone’s holding out for the Blahnik appearance on Saturday.”
    “That’s right,” Carlotta said. “It’ll be a zoo.” She held up the box, marked SIZE 7. “You’ll want to put these back right away.”
    Michael frowned. “Your customer didn’t want them after all?”
    “No,” Carlotta said ruefully. “Pity, too—they looked great with the dress she picked out.”
    Michael opened the box and peeled back the tissue paper. Jolie swallowed her gasp—the limited edition pinkand rhinestone shoes that Carlotta had worn the night before. She lifted her gaze to Carlotta, who was staring back with one eyebrow raised ever so slightly.
    Michael removed the shoes lovingly and set them on the counter. Indeed, they looked pristine. “They’ll sell Saturday after Manolo signs them.” He removed a key from the cash drawer and unlocked the glass case next to the counter, then situated the sandals next to a pair of alligator slingbacks, and relocked the case. “Carlotta, we’re going to need some extra help down here Saturday. Would you like to pitch in?”
    “Sure. I could bring a dozen pairs of my own shoes for him to sign.”
    Michael wagged his finger. “No carry-ins for the autographing. Only shoes purchased during the event, and maybe a pair you’re wearing, at Manolo’s discretion.”
    Jolie looked back and forth between them. “The man is going to sign shoes?”
    Michael grinned. “Hundreds of pairs, hopefully. And I need for you to come in as early as you can to help me set up ropes to control the lines.”
    Jolie balked. “There’s going to be crowd control?”
    “Oh, there will be lots of extra security, and Manolo will have his own crew, too. But it’s always better if we try to maintain as much order as possible, set up a separate area for the media, that kind of thing.” He glanced across the showroom. “I’d better get back to my customer. Jolie, you look exhausted. Aren’t you due a break?”
    She nodded gratefully, and stifled another yawn.
    He winked. “I hope you were out doing something fun last night.”
    “She was with me,” Carlotta said.
    He scowled. “Don’t corrupt Jolie—she’s a good girl.”
    Carlotta stuck her tongue out at him, and he returned to his customer. She glanced at Jolie and frowned. “You look ghastly.”
    “Thanks.”
    “Are you still sick from last night?”
    “I…haven’t been sleeping well,” she said evasively.
    “Well, you left too soon. Guess who I saw!”
    “Who?”
    “Michael Stipe!”
    Jolie squinted.
    “Michael Stipe —the lead singer for R.E.M.?”
    “Oh. Right.”
    Carlotta sighed and leaned on the counter. “You’re slightly hopeless, you know.”
    Jolie blinked back sudden moisture in her eyes, then looked away, mortified.
    “Hey, I didn’t mean that,” Carlotta said, her voice low and soft.
    Jolie waved her hand. “Trust me, it isn’t you. It’s…” She looked back to see real concern on the woman’s face. “I’m exhausted, that’s all.”
    Carlotta made a cooing sound. “Come upstairs with me to the lounge—you can take a catnap. And something just arrived that I think will look sensational on you.”
    Jolie managed a laugh and followed her across the showroom. “Right.”
    “You should perk up your wardrobe a little, wear bright colors.”
    “I’m more

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