More Work, Less Drama by Cortney Joseph

Olivia burst through the doors of the children’s clothing boutique she co-owned with her best friend Reagan. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she bounced around and waited for Reagan to answer.

Reagan, who’d been in the back unpacking new items came rushing, afraid that someone was harming Olivia, and attempting to rob their boutique again. She grabbed her baseball bat quickly and made her entrance into the main area, looking around nervously. “What’s going on? What’s wrong?!”

“Giiiirl, I’ve got great news!”

Reagan looked at her best friend and the wide smile on her face, instantly annoyed by the giddiness and joy in her eyes. She began contemplating if she should strangle Olivia or not as she finally set her bat down. “I thought someone was robbing us again. I thought someone was trying to hurt you.”

Olivia sighed, waving the thought off. “I told you, look into getting a security guard and one of those alarm posts, but noooo ‘wannabe-Pocahontas’ doesn’t know what she’s talking about because we’re in a decent neighborhood. Like that ever stopped a robber or natural-born thief. Anyway, I was out and about, walking around Santa Monica earlier today and you will not believe what happened!”

“So are you going tell me, or do I need to use my sudden excitement as a reason to beat you for scaring me?”

“As I said, I was walking around Santa Monica today, just minding my own business and out of nowhere this woman stops me. She’s like, hi, are you Olivia Clark. I say yes and then she inquires about you, the fabulous Reagan Harvey and the boutique.” Reagan finally let her guard down fully, leaning against the counter where they had their cash registers set up. “Now I’m thinking that she’s some celebrity’s manager or maybe even a friend or close family member. You know, a celebrity with a little girl and she might want a cute dress from Reagan’s Closet and can’t make it all the way out here to San Francisco. Girl, she is a costume designer for a movie studio. She was telling me how she can normally design and make all of the clothing herself, but she’s been looking for things for small girls. High-end specifically. Naturally, I go into sales mode. Reagan’s Closet has outfits that fit the personal styles of all little girls, while matching perfectly with what’s in for the season. Reagan’s Closet holds the finest quality clothing for the inner diva of all little girls. While we’re high-end, we also have very high-quality clothing for affordable pricing.

“Why were you even down there? That’s five or six hours away.”

Olivia giggled, flipping her straightened hair over her shoulder. “It was only an hour or so to fly; I had a little rendezvous with Iman last night and he insisted on sending his private jet, but that’s not important. What is important is that this woman has heard fantastic things about our boutique and she’s looking to purchase multiple pieces that will be worn in four upcoming films. She was saying that she liked how we had styles from different eras and as more studios are going for that whole ‘Shirley Temple’ babyfied style again, we’re one of the few places that have them ready to buy. You know, lots of films don’t have a lot of time.”

“Nor budget.”

“But she’s definitely got the budget, willing to pay big and have us on speed dial should she ever need more. Not to mention, the name of the boutique would be mentioned in movie credits. Create a dress for the tiny starlet’s red carpet debut and we get a name drop, boom! I convinced her that we, Reagan’s Closet, are worth that long ass drive, or flight, to come and pick things out. I gave her a catalogue, but she might find something that’s not in there.”

“Glad you said that, Olivia, we’ve got new items in the back. Since you interrupted me, you can unpack them.”

Olivia rolled her eyes, finally walking behind the counter to set her purse down. “I’d like to remind you that I came into this as an equal partner, not an employee. Which leads me to say that while you’re hiring a security guard, we also need a little help, a sales associate or two.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder again. “And don’t say that it’s not in our budget either. We’ve been in business, and holding our own, for a solid three years now. Two of which we’ve spent in this beautiful shop. And, we always exceed our predictions for the turnout of our monthly profits. In case that didn’t register; we’re making bank, Boo. Think about that Reagan; you started as a buyer for someone else, a paid internship. What you made from that, you used to start and fund your own mini-shop out of your apartment and it blew up. I mean, I would have been sitting on my ass in your parents’ home, living in the lap of luxury, but you made a way for yourself instead of depending on them and their riches. And now you’ve got your own riches, and that big ass trust fund from your grandfather, but you still make and use your own money.”

Reagan sighed, knowing that her best friend was right. Smoothing down the front of the sleeveless, jean dress she wore, she shrugged. “Now you know that had I leaned on my parents, I would owe them more than what I actually pay to rent this space. I’d rather use my own money. And, you know that I’m very particular. This boutique is my baby. Not only am I out here buying the things I sell, some of them I make myself. I’ve done a good job maintaining, with your wonderful help and insight of course, and I’d hate to bring someone in and then it falls apart.”

“Girl, it won’t fall apart. You know what else popped in my mind as I was speaking to this lady though?”

Reagan shook her head, walking away to straighten up the few dresses that had been left off of their original racks and hangers. “No, what?”

“We should look into boys’ clothing too. Those sell just as well. Can’t you imagine people styling their sons in cute little vests, corduroys, button downs, and bowties, or suits and prep-ish uniforms that come from us? You are amazing when it comes to making cute dresses, but I am a beast with hooking up boys’ clothing. And, as a former stylist, I definitely know a thing or two about pairing styles and creating signature looks that can and would be associated with Reagan’s Closet forever. More clients, more money.”

“And you’re just now telling me this, Olivia. Thanks.”

Olivia laughed. “I had to make sure we survived a good amount of time first. We’ve got celebrities and everyday people buying from us, we can afford to expand a little. It might not be the second store to jump start our chain, but hey, it’s something. You’ve accomplished so much already, at twenty-two, so let’s step it up a little.”

“Mm-” Reagan stood still for a moment, tilting her head to the side for a moment. “It sounds great, but you’re forgetting one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“My dislike of children. You know how much of a struggle it was for me to come to terms with the fact that little girls would actually have to come in to try on the dresses and outfits first hand. Just the thought of having to deal with them while tailoring and making alterations hit a nerve.”

“But you got past it! What’s so different about little boys coming in?”

“Are you serious? We have mannequins, those things would be knocked over before some little boy’s mother could even state what she wants. I could just see all of our clothes being knocked over and pulled down, strewn across the floor and …. ahhhh.”

“Well, that’s the price you pay for hating children but owning a children’s boutique. Deal with it.”

Reagan shrugged, returning to the bit of cleaning up she was doing. “Children are profitable, when you’re not the one who has them. And we both know, I am all about making my money. If these parents want to spend twenty dollars and up on cute clothes and custom pieces, and I have the actual talent to make or good eye to pick out great pieces… why not cash in? If you really want to expand, you should go back to making those cute jewelry pieces for little girls. It’s surely better and lasts longer than the plastic, toy jewels parents buy from toy stores.”

“True! And you know I’m on it. Those tiaras and jeweled scepters I made were such a hit at my niece’s birthday party. Ooo, think about it. Our biggest items are always your custom party and princess dresses. Ohhh, we’d make a killing, especially if we had deals where they could be bought together. Let me get on the phone with my sister, see if she still buys all of her craft things in bulk, I need to get in on the good deal she has that saves her money.”

Olivia rushed to the back and Reagan sighed again, halfway taking the suggestions her best friend had made into consideration.

After making a few sales and successfully closing the boutique for the day, Reagan and Olivia went their separate ways. While Olivia would no doubt dive right back into her party girl lifestyle, Reagan headed straight to the comfort of her home.

She’d never been the type to just go out, especially on a whim. She barely liked to be around people she knew, so interacting with more strangers than necessary was definitely out of the question. She preferred privacy, the comfort of her own space, and the ability to do whatever on her own time. Reagan had spent too many years of her life cooped up, under the watchful eyes of others, being told what to do every hour of the day. Now on her own, her personal time was her own, and she’d wait for no one, she’d answer to no one.

If she wanted to sit on her couch eating a big bowl of banana split ice cream in nothing but a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, commando with no bra… that’s what it would be.

Placing her keys on the hook next to her door, and locking her top and bottom locks, Reagan set her purse down and headed straight for her living room. She only stopped next to the table where her phone sat and clicked the bright red button to check her messages.

Naturally, knowing what they wanted, she skipped over the ones that came from the couple she rented her space from. There was one from an ex, one from her current ‘friend’ with benefits, and another from her mother.

Although she wanted nothing more than to avoid the final message, she would never hear the end of it. Pressing play, she stepped back and began to remove her jacket and shoes as the sounds of her mother’s voice began to fill the living room. No more than a single word had been said, and already, Reagan could hear a judgmental tone oozing out between each syllable.

Reagan, this is becoming a big ridiculous. It’s been months since I’ve been able to reach you and you know that this does not sit well with me. I need contact at all times. I know you’re trying to act all tough, distancing yourself again now that your grandfather is gone, but you are still apart of this family, whether you like it or not, and there are things and responsibilities you have to live up to as a Harvey. Now as our only child, it is expected of you to present an award to your father at his retirement banquet. You also have a speech to make, it’s being pre-written. I don’t expect you to have a date, not one that’s suitable to be seen in our limelight anyway, so I already have a date set up for you. CALL ME BACK so that we can discuss all of the upcoming dates. Bye.

No ‘Love, Mama’, No ‘I hope you had a great day’, and no ‘I love you’. Those were sentiments, along with others that had never been apart of Ramona Harvey’s vocabulary, and though Reagan should have been used to it, it still never sat well with her.

However, she could play at the detachment and ‘no love’ game just as well. It was only until recently, following the death of her beloved grandfather, that she’d stopped talking to her parents altogether. She’d moved out on her own, pulled herself out of the family business and spotlight and cut all ties emotionally and financially.

ONLY because her grandfather was a man who believed strongly in peace, love, and forgiveness… only because of him asking Reagan to make amends as his final wish, had she caved in and took the few steps he required to be at peace with leaving his family behind.

She deleted the message and headed into her bedroom, pulling down the side zipper of her dress. Letting it fall at her feet, she stepped out of it and picked it up, tossing it onto a chair she kept in front of her work desk.

Just as she was about to grab some things for a hot shower, her phone rang. Sitting on the right side of her bed, she picked up the receiver and silently counted to three. There was only one person who called her any time after eight p.m. on a weeknight. “Guess your little family is asleep and unaware that Daddy’s trying to creep.”

He chuckled, clearing his throat as he spoke lowly. That made Reagan believe she was right, and that his wife was somewhere close by. “Come on Reagan, at least you know now.”

“But your wife doesn’t know, Leon and that ain’t right. It was one thing when I was blind and playing fool, thinking that you were this great guy. But I am not a homewrecker, I refuse to try to put myself in any other woman’s shoes. YOUR WIFE doesn’t deserve that, your kids don’t deserve that and if you’re going to continue to mess up your home, it damn sure won’t be with me.”

Leon chuckled. “Oh, so now Ms. Reagan wants to act all holier-than-thou? Wasn’t no issue when you came after me though, was it?”

“It was no issue because you weren’t wearing your wedding ring! You knew you were married, it would have been nothing for you to stop me and let it be known that you had a wife. But no, because you were a selfish ass dog, you felt the need to lie to her and lead me on. I meant what I said when I caught on to your ways, it’s over. I don’t want anything to do with you.” Regan hung up, shaking her head as she made a mental note to call and get his number blocked.

Family problems, losing the person she loved most, bad luck with love… what else could go wrong for Reagan? That’s what she asked herself everyday, and the answer ‘everything’ only reaffirmed her new way of thinking. Life had a funny way of either going the way you wanted it to, or blowing up in your face. When she tried to live freely, just going with the natural flow of things, it blew up in her face. When she forced herself to focus on her career and kept herself guarded and protected, made no room for anything outside of work, things were just fine. And that was the way she liked it.

“All work and no play makes for a happy and sane Reagan. How I’m going to stay sane and happy while dealing with my mother and her foolishness, that’s a whole other task.” And she could feel a headache coming on, just as she thought about it. She quickly got up and grabbed some night clothes, heading into her bathroom to take a shower, de-stress, and clear her mind.

Published by mypenwritesnice

Creative Soul. Artist. Perfectionist. Virgo.

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