Whose Irish Eyes Be Smiling? 7

Whose Irish Eyes Be Smiling?
Anam Chara

Morgan’s attending physician orders her to stay overnight at St. Bonaventure’s. Sandra brings Sean wearing Kelly’s cheerleading uniform out of the cold rain into Café Tír na n-Óg to sleep off whatever’s wrong. But what about his morning audition for the Daughters of Danaan? News of Kelly’s accident spreads.


For your smile is a part
Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.

—Chauncey Olcott & George Graff, Jr.

* * * * * * * * *

“Please, Doctor, lemme go home,” Morgan begged the young blue-eyed, sandy-haired physician. “I just feel especially tired today. All I really need is some sleep.”

“Sorry, young lady, but I want you here overnight for observation,” insisted Dr. Chafee. “You’ve been unable to sleep at home for the two nights since your cousin’s accident and I wanna make sure you get some sleep tonight. A young woman like you ought not be showing up in urgent care with exhaustion and hypertension as you did earlier today.”

“Morgan, listen to the doctor,” Mrs. O’Donnelly told her daughter. “You need some sleep and here they’ll make sure you get it.”

“But Sean hasn’t called back yet,” whined Morgan. “He doesn’t even know I’m here!”

“You’re staying right here in this room, Morgan,” declared her mother. “I want you rested and ready to go tomorrow morning. You can do that if you’ll listen to your doctor.”

“Your mom’s right,” Dr. Chafee added. “They’ll be back here tomorrow to take you home.”

“But I wanna see Kelly, too,” complained Morgan. “I haven’t seen her today.”

Maureen O’Donnelly went to the closet next to her daughter’s bed, then took out the clothes and shoes that she had worn earlier in the day, and rolled them into a bundle.

“Mom, what are you doing?”

“Making sure you stay here overnight!”

“But I won’t have anything to wear except this gown,” the girl complained. “And I’m half-naked in it.

“Well, you shouldn’t need any more clothing until tomorrow, anyway,” emphasized her mother. “We’ll bring you clean clothes in the morning.”

The duty nurse opened the door to address everyone. “Ma’am, visiting hours end in five minutes. Please be ready to leave. Doctor, the patient in three-oh-four needs to see you right away.”

“Thank you, nurse!” Morgan’s mother acknowledged as Aunt Kathleen just re-entered the room, passing Dr. Chafee who left with the nurse to visit the patient in Room 304.

“Guess what!” Kathleen said. “Sean left Kelly’s room at almost the same time Kelly came in. I’m not sure if he left just before or just after. Morgan, it’s almost like you missed each other in the lobby or passed going up and down in different elevators.”

“Auntie, Mom, then I think I know what happened,” she said. “After he left Kelly’s room Monday, he forgot to turn his ’phone back on until I mentioned it to him. I bet he forgot it again.”

“Does he have a telephone in his apartment?” Mom asked.

“I dunno. I haven’t seen one there. If there is, he prob’ly only uses it for his computer,” said Morgan. “I’ve only seen him use his cell ’phone there. That’s the only ’phone number I have for him.”

“Then maybe he’ll turn it on again when he remembers,” said Kathleen. “But try again in the morning when you wake up. He might have it on again by then.”

“But I’m worried about him,” Morgan protested.

“No, Morgan!” her mother stopped her. “Let your Auntie and me do the worries. You sleep. The doctor said you haven’t slept for two days. Get some sleep, now!”

Aunt Kathleen and Mom bent over Morgan to exchange hugs and kisses.

“I wish Dad were here, too,” Morgan confided with them.

“We’ve put in calls to your father and your Uncle Seamus, too,” her mother assured her.

“Mom, Auntie, I love you both!”

“We know and we love you, too,” Morgan’s mom and aunt concurred with more kisses.

The duty nurse appeared at the doorway again. “It’s time to go!”

“Goodnight, my baby,” said her mother, and then her aunt wished her, “G’night, Morgan.”

“G’night, Mom, Auntie!” The girl yawned to them as they moved toward the door and the nurse ushered them out. When the nurse came back, she had to rouse Morgan.

“Please, Miss O’Donnelly! Do wake up,” the nurse whispered somewhat loudly to Morgan. “You need to take your sleeping pill.”

Morgan stirred in her bed and the nurse helped her sit up for a moment and gave her a pill from a paper cup and some water.

Zolpidem tartrate.

* * * * * * * * *

“Sean! What’s happened to you?” Sandra asked, although she was really talking more to herself than to her employee and friend. He was not fully conscious—if he were, he would be embarrassed and maybe even humiliated—but he was wet and cold. “Come on, Sean! I think you really need some coffee.”

“Huh?” he tried to respond. “Where am—? Who are—?

“Don’t worry ’bout it!” she said, hugging and lifting him all at once. She spoke to him in a quiet, sympathetic voice. “Come inside where it’s warm. Get you some coffee—”

“What am—?” Sean attempted, but was too dazed to ask a complete question. He semi-consciously allowed Sandra to guide him from the patio into the coffeeshop and over to a large sofa. Instinctively, he settled into a corner of the sofa, grabbing a large, fluffy pillow, curling up around it, tucking his legs under himself in a decidedly feminine fashion. She tried to rouse him again, but he just yawned.

Sandra went back to her office where she retrieved a quilted blanket that she kept there. She came back out and just looked at Sean. How delicately feminine he looked, yes! Yet beyond that, his face appeared somehow younger, more demure, as if he were only a fifteen or sixteen year-old girl, much like his cousin Kelly, whose face also appeared two or three years too young.

So then Sandra laid the blanket over Sean and tucked it around him, and then he seemed to snuggle more deeply into the sofa with it and the pillow. He was fully asleep now, appearing content and peaceful. Sandra knelt on the floor next to him and noticed that he was wearing very light eye makeup and lipgloss. And even amid the strong aroma of a morning’s brew, she caught the faint scent of the same fragrance that Kelly was so fond of wearing. Then, Sandra surprised herself, kissing Sean sweetly on the forehead, as a mother might kiss her daughter.

* * * * * * * * *

Heather watched the monitor carefully. The FitzPatrick girl’s EEG was looking strange again. Dr. Belknap was coming in early in the morning, so he’d want to see this. She leaned over her patient and repeated the cheer that she had heard the neurologist whisper:

Out from darkness into light,
Chasing sunshine, leaving night,
All your courage, all your might,
Forward, Kelly! Fight! Fight! Fight!

“We’re teammates after all, Kelly,” she whispered into her patient’s ear and then kissed her forehead. “Rest up, girl, and get well. We have so much to talk about, you and I!”

* * * * * * * * *

Once again, the Sleeper’s mind endured a turbulent night while the body would prefer a healing rest. Yet delta-rhythms yielded to the growing theta-waves and as the line between deep sleep and REM-sleep was crossed another time, a newly formed mindscape emerged…

The children were ready to go on stage. Although two were boys and two were girls, siblings and cousins, each wore a traditional girl’s costume for an Irish step dancer, all with their hair in cute braids. While one red-haired child played the violin, the other three danced the traditional Irish step dances with an excellence that belied their years. The eldest among them was but eight years of age. This group of four seemed to be present through many of the performances, with other dancers and musicians, both boys and girls, younger and older, all joining in and bowing out in turn.

Especially busy was the young red-haired fiddler, once again surprising his audience as much by his sweet emulation of girlish charm as by his dazzling musical talent. Only his family, his teacher, and the choreographer knew that he was a daring lad dressed as a demure Irish lass.

Off stage after their performance, the three young dancers and the red-haired fiddler huddled together to hug their oldest, sad that he must change out of pretty girl’s clothes to dress again as a boy. But now the young violinist discovers that his own clothes are missing from the changing rooms, so he must remain dressed as a girl. The two girls now giggle as he can only surmise their responsibility for his continued habillement.

They emerged from backstage, three apparent girls and a boy. But the boy who had been so sad at changing his clothes now quietly chuckled at the other boy’s predicament. And now, the fiddler smiled at the two girls in approval of their prank, as he endured some embarrassment for the sake of lightening his cousin’s burden.

While they were in the changing rooms, the teenagers had taken their turn on stage and the audience now turned their attention…

The mindscape faded again as the Sleeper’s theta-rhythms waned and delta-waves reasserted their healing power. So once more, the Sleeper left REM-sleep for more restful deep sleep and the cycle began anew.

* * * * * * * * *

As he began to awaken, Sean became conscious of customers’ voices as they milled about in Café Tír na n-Óg [pron. ka-FEH CHEER nuh n-UHG]. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee caught his senses and he was already enjoying it before he could recognize what it was and where. The lighting was still dim in his corner of the shop and vaguely, he could see fuzzily the outlines and shadows of persons seated in the armchairs next to the sofa where he was curled up sleeping. The quilt covered his bare legs very comfortably and he felt it warming, protecting him. Indeed he felt warm and cozy then and there. Although he knew it was time for him to awaken for the day, he fought his body’s accustomed program to do so.

The warmth and coziness were so much stronger than he had experienced before, that they imprisoned the very willing Sean in a temporary state of bliss. He thought that he had awakened into a pleasant dream and to continue awakening could only disrupt the sleep-in which he believed himself to enjoy. This illusion had been largely created by the zolpidem tartrate still in his system and further sustained by the aroma and general atmosphere of the coffeshop. And the illusion masked who he was to himself. He was yet unaware that he had worn Kelly’s cheer uniform since the wee hours of the morning.

So Sean still lagged behind his normal process of waking up, yet his body now felt sufficently rested to begin the day. He was ready to spring into action, even if his mind was not quite ready to function. All that he needed to become fully alert, was a whiff of his cousin’s favorite perfume, which he had dabbed on his wrists and behind his ears as he had girled up earlier in the morning. His nostrils had been too filled with the aromas of his favorite coffee blends to notice the floral scent of the fragrance he wore.

* * * * * * * * *

Sandra heard someone rapping at the window of the back door. Shelly and Kat were waiting at the employee’s entrance. She opened the door and let them in.

“G’morning, girls,” Sandra greeted her crew.

“G’morning,” replied Kat.

“How are you?” Shelly asked their boss.

“I’m just a little freaked out by events so far this morning.”

“What happened?”

“I found Sean sleeping on the patio with it drizzling when I got here this morning. I brought him in but you won’t believe what he’s wearing. Anyway, he’s asleep on the sofa in the dining area.”

Kat and Shelly went into the dining area of the coffeeshop and squealed and gasped at the scene that awaited them. Sandra was relieved that Debbie had switched her shift, given how strongly she had expressed her dislike of crossdressing. As it was, Sandra guessed that Sean would be embarrassed enough to wake up dressed as a girl in Café Tír na n-Óg.

“What happened to Sean?” Kat asked as Sandra followed them into the room. “Where did he get that uniform?”

“My first guess was alcohol, but I can’t smell any on him. And I don’t see any obvious signs of drug abuse, either—at least not of the more common drugs—so I really have no idea what’s happened to him,” Sandra explained. “Kelly’s name is embroidered on the windbreaker, so the uniform must be hers.”

Shelly looked at her coworker on the sofa. “Sean’s adorable like that,” she assessed. “So delicate!”

“We need to treat her as sweetly as she looks,” proposed Kat.

“Girls, I can recall a time or two when Sean’s helped me out under similar conditions,” Sandra told them. “You’re right, Kat. The very least we can do is give him the benefit of a doubt.”

* * * * * * * * *

The morning’s business picked up faster than usual. Even though Kat and Shelly were excellent employees, Sandra realized that they had seldom worked with each other and never before worked the morning shift together. They had not yet established their own rhythm working as a team. Her most experienced worker for the morning shift was on the sofa, sleeping off whatever had happened to him. She knew what she had to do once Sean was fully awake.

A few minutes later Sean sat up on the sofa, pulling the quilt tightly around himself. In a few seconds he became conscious and aware of how he was dressed and then of where he was. Sandra saw that he was awake and went over to talk to him.

“What am I doing in—?” he started to ask.

“Sean, I have no idea why you’re here today and dressed like that,” she said, “but I really need you behind the bar right now. You know the morning shift better than anyone else.”

“Can I go home and change first?”

“Sorry, but there’s no time. Just throw an apron on and we’ll play it by ear.” She grabbed Sean by the wrist and pulled him off the sofa and dragged him toward the employee closet where he put Kelly’s high school windbreaker on his own peg. He slid his own apron over his head and quickly tied it behind him.

“I can’t believe I’m wearing this,” he whispered to Sandra. “I don’t remember getting dressed.”

“Well, you look totally like a girl right now,” Sandra told Sean, sotto voce. “No one’s gonna know you’re a guy unless you tell ’em.”

“I’m still not comfortable with this. And then my shift starts just after this one ends.”

“Then you’re gonna have quite a day!” Sandra teased. “By the way, you’re really cute as a girl. I can see why Fiona wants you crossdressed for her band.”

“The band!” he exclaimed in panic. “Fiona demanded I come for an audition today. I can’t work this morning—I promised to be there!”

“Dibs!” Sandra asserted, arms akimbo. Then she pointed her finger right at him. “You’re here and you’re mine now!”

“But I promised,” whined Sean.

“You wanna let Fiona see you in that get-up?”

“You’re really trying to spoil my day, now, aren’t you?” complained the cross-dressed barista.

Sandra stuck her tongue out at Sean and giggled. He just smiled back.

“Well, every time I’ve worn this, I’ve had a lot of fun,” recalled Sean. “Maybe it’ll be that way today, too. But you’re right. There’s no way I want Fiona to see me wearing this. But I do think I’m maybe a little too old for this sort of thing.”

“Not at all, Sean. In fact, I kinda like it,” admitted his boss. “You certainly will help break up the monotony by wearing it today. Anyway, I need you to help get Kat and Shelly working together. You’re used to working the morning shift weekdays with Kat, but Shelly’s not worked it before. They need to establish more rapport with each other and some kind of rhythm between them.”

“Okay. I’ll get right on it,” he told her. “By the way, when I’m dressed up like this, my cousins and Sis always call me Sá­na [pron. SHEE-nuh]. Might help keep this all quiet if you do the same. Please tell Kat and Shelly to call me Sá­na, too.”

“You got it, Sean—oh!—Sá­na!” Sandra teased, then stuck her tongue out at him between her teeth with a subtle smile and not-so-subtle giggle.

“Sandra, you can be so wicked sometimes!” Sean retorted in a whisper.

“If you’ll promise to dress up like that more often, I’ll promise to teach you how!” his boss offered as she shoved him a mug of americano, his own preferred morning coffee.

“Thanks,” said Sean as he did something that he had not done since high school. He giggled. Girlishly. Sandra’s eyes widened in surprise when she heard him and watched him cover his lips with his outstretched fingers, also observing that he wore a very nicely understated peach nail color. Now that was really strange.

“Sean—Sá­na, I mean—,” she shook her head knowing this time that she really did slip-up with his name. “This may be harder than I thought. Anyway, let’s get it going before the next wave hits.”

She could ask him about his choice of nail polish later. And somehow Sá­na sounded different than Sean, too. She spoke more softly, yes, and maybe her voice was at a higher pitch? No, that wasn’t it, either.

Seeing that Sean already had Kat and Shelly into a modified routine, Sandra retreated to her office a moment and found herself thinking again. She couldn’t figure it out. Since he had awakened from his nap or whatever, he had become someone else. This wasn’t like yesterday when he had apparently pulled on Kelly’s blue jeans by mistake. Now Sandra understood that he really had been unaware that he was wearing girls’ jeans. He had still moved and spoken like a guy. But today, he was moving and speaking as a young woman. He had applied make-up very carefully to his face as well as doing his nails. But why?

This was a puzzle to her. He was out there and as she watched from her office, he looked like Kelly, and acted as she would, too. And his behavior appeared natural and automatic.

* * * * * * * * *

Paolo Cassini looked down at his agenda for the day. He noted that today he should check for responses from the new girls that he had scouted. One girl had signed and returned her letter of intent to Cassini & Sons, but not the other.

“David, we haven’t heard yet from the redheaded girl that you introduced me to,” the tall talent agent with hollow cheeks told his young intern, shorter by six inches (15 cm). He continued scanning notes from his journal. “The one who had modeled for your class project? Kelly FitzPatrick?”

“Oh! Good morning, Mister Cassini,” the intern replied. “I didn’t know you had sent her one. I’m sorry to tell you this, but she’s in the hospital.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“She was in an accident. Apparently a car hit her bicycle head-on and she went flying. She’s been in a coma since.”

“Sorry to hear that,” said Paolo. “How did you find out?”

“Her cousin works in the same coffeeshop with her and my sister.”

“The Irish-themed place?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“That’s too bad,” Paolo continued, running his hand through his dark, though graying, curly hair. “Even though she’s a little older than most of our girls making it in the business, I feel good about her prospects. I think she’s got what it takes.”

* * * * * * * * *

Mórag wondered, why hadn’t she heard from Sean? Of course, there was no question why he hadn’t called Fiona. He simply did not wish to talk with her. So, Mórag dialed Sean’s number and it rang a few times, but he didn’t answer and the call went right to voice mail.

“Sean, this is Mórag calling. You have an audition scheduled with us today. You do remember, right? Please call me back to confirm. You’ve got my number. Bye!”

* * * * * * * * *

Sean wondered if the Daughters of Danaan might’ve been trying to call him.

“Sandra,” whispered Sean to his boss. “Did I have a purse or anything else when you found me?”

“Y’know, I didn’t notice,” she answered. “Didn’t really even think about it, let alone look. Lemme go check.” So Sandra went to the main window and glanced outside and saw a large megaphone-shaped bag on one of the patio tables. The bag matched the colors of the cheer uniform that Sean—or Sá­na—wore.

“Yes, there’s what looks like a cheerleader’s bag on a table next to the bench where you were sleeping.”

“Could I take a moment to go for it? I need to let someone know I can’t make the audition.”

“As soon as the crowd thins out. That’s only fair,” agreed Sandra. “I really do appreciate you helping us out this morning, especially since you’ve inspired me with an idea for the business.”

“Oh? And what might that be?”

“Not telling just yet,” Sandra teased and then turned to look at him with a grin and a tinkle in her eye. “I need to talk about it with the owner first.”

Looking down at what he was wearing, Sean asked “Do I need to worry?”

“Maybe,” she answered with a giggle. She looked him over and nodded. “Definitely.”

* * * * * * * * *

Major Seamus FitzPatrick relaxed as he felt the helicopter touch down at the base in Kandehar and its rotor blades whirred to a halt. He and his team had been on a reconnaissance mission in the mountains of Afghanistan once again. Although they had come under fire at one point, apparently the Taliban scouts mistook them for a different detachment of soldiers. Thus, the enemy soldiers reported back the size of FitzPatrick’s smaller team of Marines instead of the larger force. As a result, a sizeable Taliban force had been defeated as they attempted an ambush against a superior number of forewarned US Army troops. The major had tracked the scouts all along and, thanks to his team’s intelligence, a counterattack had been set up behind the Taliban position.

As he disembarked from the helicopter, the major noticed an Asian-looking non-commissioned officer, coming towards him double time.

“Good evening, Major FitzPatrick!” he said saluting.

“Good evening!” Maj FitzPatrick returned the salute. “You’re Staff Sergeant Trinh—from Personnel, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir! I’m sorry, sir, but I have urgent news for you,” SSgt Trinh related. “While you were on mission, your daughter Kelly was seriously injured in an accident and is now in a coma at a hospital in Philadelphia.”

“Do you know anything else, Sergeant?”

“No, sir, I don’t. They’re awaiting more news at HQ. After your debriefing we can take you to Kabul, if needed, sir.”

“Thanks, Sergeant. Then get me to the debriefing, ASAP! The sooner it’s done, the faster I can get to Kabul.”

“Yes, sir!”

* * * * * * * * *

Sean ran outside, grabbed the cheerleading bag, and came back in. He felt more than a little silly venturing outside in Kelly’s cheer uniform. Nonetheless, he was focused on a single problem and zipped the bag open and retrieved a clutch purse. He opened it and retrieved his smartphone.

Quite a few messages had been left for him, the most recent from Mórag, but several others from his sister, his mother, and his aunt. His family had been trying to get in touch with him since yesterday afternoon. He had forgotten to turn the ringer back on after visiting Kelly at St. Bonnie’s.

* * * * * * * * *

“Turn right onto Finnegan Avenue…,” the GPS device instructed Paolo as he vaguely remembered the intersection. “Continue another fifty yards to your destination… Parking in the adjacent lot is available for customers.”

The talent scout turned his GPS off. The locale was now more familiar to him. He had approached it from a different direction on his previous visit, but he recognized the Irish motifs of Café Tír na n-Óg. He took his binder out and opened it to his Prospects list and scanned the pages…

FitzPatrick, Kelly, age 19
Barrista, Café Tír na n-Óg
Student, college unk.

Notes: Intro David, sister Shelly works w/K.
Prospects: Must sign!! PTM

This seemed the right place. He had noted “PTM”—Promise the Moon—for Kelly. At first, he has simply dismissed his intern’s raving about her as mere infatuation. Then he saw David’s photo essay. His intern was a rank amateur (although promising) photographer, but she was perfect in every shot. Yet she was a novice as a model, unknown, untried, and until now untested. How could anyone look so brilliant?

There was but one explanation.

Kelly had the best raw, natural talent that Paolo Cassini had seen in his career as a talent scout and agent. But now she was injured and lay in a hospital somewhere. He hoped that her cousin who worked in the coffeeshop might know something.

* * * * * * * * *

Sean heard the telephone ring twice before it was answered.

“Hello! Mórag speaking…”

“Hi, Mórag! This is Sean returning your call…”

“When are you coming for your audition?…”

Sean decided that a direct approach would be best.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do it today, now…”

“But didn’t you say you had the morning free?…”

“Well, I did, but when I came by the shop earlier this morning, we were unexpectedly busy and my boss put me to work right away…”

“That’s too bad… Hmm?… Any time available later today?…”

“Sorry, but my own shift starts after this one and after that I have an evening class… I guess Friday evening is the only other option?…”

“I think so… Well, I’ll let Fiona know… And Sean—thanks for calling back!…”

“You’re welcome, Mórag… G’bye!…”


* * * * * * * * *

Mórag called Fiona right then and there to relay the news. Fiona answered on the first ring.

“That you, Mórag?…”

“Yes, it’s me. Sean just called back and said that he was called into work this morning unexpectedly…”

“You don’t think he’s trying to back out of it, do you?…”

“Now why would he do that?…” Mórag asked Fiona, then thought to herself, Maybe to avoid a raving, lunatic bitch like you?

“Well, I don’t want him backing out,…” Fiona insisted.

“Hey! You haven’t even heard him play yet,…” Mórag reminded her. “We still don’t know if his style will sound right with ours…”

“But we don’t have anyone else…”

“No, and we don’t know that we have him yet, Fiona, so leave him alone!…”

“Okay! Geeze! Lemme have break, will ya?…”

“I’ll see you later, Fiona… G’bye!…”


* * * * * * * * *

Just as Sean put his smartphone away after talking to Mórag, the little bell over the door rang and a tall, blue-eyed man with dark, curly hair, grayed at the temples, entered the coffeeshop. He stopped and stared right at Sean.

“Kelly? You’re okay?”

“Oh no! I’m Sá­na, her cousin,” answered Sean as he prepared himself for another conversation with a stranger mistaking him for Kelly. “She’s still in the hospital.”

“You two could be twins.”

“I know. We hear that all the time,” Sean confirmed. Then thinking the man just another one of Kelly’s regular customers, he continued. “Can I help—?”

“Good morning, Mister Cassini!” Shelly suddenly interrupted her coworker as she stepped out of the office. “Uh—Sá­na, this is Mister Cassini, my brother’s boss. I believe you met David yesterday?”

“Oh yes, I did!” Sean—as Sá­na—replied. “Nice to meet you, Mister Cassini!”

“Oh please, ladies! Call me Paul,” he warmly introduced himself. “Mister Cassini sounds more like my father than like me.”

Perhaps, thought Sean, thinking him at least as old as his own father. And somehow the name Cassini seemed vaguely familiar to him but he wasn’t certain from where.

“What would you like?” Sean asked him.

“I’ll have a caffᨠlatte, short, and a chocolate croissant.”

“Five seventy-five, please,” announced Sean ringing up the transaction.

“Keep the tip,” Mr. Cassini said placing a ten-dollar bill on the counter. “I’m sorry about your cousin. David told me earlier today what had happened to her. How is she?”

“She’s still in a coma at Saint Bonnie’s. I’m working her shift here today,” Sean informed the man as he dropped the change in the tip jar. “If you’d prefer, find a table and I’ll bring your order to you when it’s ready.”

After their new customer went to sit down at a table, Shelly whispered to Sean, “He’s a talent agent and David’s interning with him at his agency. Kelly’s photos got his interest. David thinks his agency wants to talk to her about signing a modeling contract.”

“Kelly never mentioned anything to me about modeling. I didn’t know she had until I met your brother yesterday. David called me later to ask me to dress up like her to reshoot some of the pictures.”

“Looks to me like you could pull it off,” Shelly giggled back to him as she steamed some milk.

“I told him no.”

“You wouldn’t help my brother with his project?”

“Sorry, but just because I look like Kelly doesn’t mean I can model like her,” Sean told her. “Besides, I really hate getting photographed.”

“So do I,” Shelly said grinning back at him. “David tends to get overly enthusiastic with his camera sometimes. I’ve been his frequent but unwilling model.”

Shelly had finished brewing the caffᨠlatte for Mr. Cassini and Sean warmed a nice croissant and took it and the coffee over to him.

“Here’s your latte and croissant, Mister—”

“That’s Paul, if you please!” stubbornly insisted the talent scout.

“Sorry, Paul! I’ll try to remember that,” Sean apologized, blushing just a little. “I’m just trying to be respectful, sir.”

“I understand. You’re a nice girl, just like your cousin,” he attempted to flatter Sá­na. “But such formality seems so out of place here.”

Sean smiled. “We only want you to feel appreciated.”

Paul returned the smile in acknowledgement. “So tell me, Sá­na, have you considered a modeling career, yourself?”

“No, not at all!” denied Sean. “I was just telling Shelly that unlike Kelly, photographs of me don’t turn out very well.”

“Too bad,” he dismissed her rejection casually, accepting his coffee and croissant from her. He reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and withdrew a small, gold-plated card holder. “Here’s my card, if you ever change your mind.”

Sean looked at it:

Cassini & Sons, LLP
An Agency Representing Talent
Modeling & the Performing Arts

He recognized the name and graphic design of the business card as matching that of the return address of the mysterious large envelope.

“Kelly received something in the mail from your agency the day of her accident. I let her use my apartment for a contact address.”

“So you have it, then?”

“Uh-huh,” affirmed Sean. “It’s at home.”

“That’s good news,” said Paul. “Please get it to her as soon as she’s well enough to do business. It’s a letter of intent. We think she’d be an excellent model and want her to sign with us as soon as possible. It would be a shame for her to miss out on such an opportunity because of the accident.”

“Thank you for your concern about my cousin. I’ll try to do that when she wakes up. I just hope it’s soon.”

“So do I,” concurred Paul.

Just then Kat came over to the table. “Get into the office quick!” she told Sean. “Shelly just saw Fiona coming here!”

© 2011-2013, 2017 by Anam Chara

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