“Ah, Hunter, it’s good to see you,” Harold said. He was an old associate, and one of the good ones in the business. “Payton, have you been introduced to Hunter Reynolds?”

“I’ve not had that pleasure at all,” she said, smiling at Harold, and then at him.

“This is him. A deadly businessman, and funnily enough, he does work in your area as well. Modeling. You’ve got a firm, don’t you?” Harold said.

Payton smiled. “I’m very aware of your firm, Mr. Reynolds. I believe it’s called Image Counts.”

“Yes, it is.” He held out his hand, and she took it. “I have to say I’ve not seen you there before though, and I’m very involved in all types of our business.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t see me on your books. They declined my application as I didn’t first certain criteria that they were looking for.”

Hunter didn’t like the kick he got to his gut. Payton, though, didn’t change at all. There was no hatred in her eyes. She merely smiled, and he didn’t want to let her hand go. Unfortunately, someone pulled her away, and he had no choice but to release her hand. She got distracted, and began talking with other guests.

He smiled and did what was necessary even as he was pissed.

“What the fuck did she mean that she was turned away?” he asked, looking at Daryl.

“I have no idea, sir. Would you like me to find out any of the possible causes?” Daryl asked.

“I want to know by the end of this party exactly why Payton Hicks isn’t on our books, and why she was turned away.” He put his empty glass on a passing tray, and watched as Daryl began typing on his keypad. “I mean it, Daryl. I want answers.”

“I will have to leave you alone while I get to the bottom of this.”

Hunter nodded. Daryl was also a friend. He had hired the guy straight out of college, and hadn’t looked back. That had been over ten years ago. He was the best PA in the world, and Hunter couldn’t do without him. There had been a few times that he thought he was going to lose Daryl through one relationship or another. The worst was when the guy’s girlfriend actually came onto him, which fucking sucked. Daryl had walked in as Hunter was throwing her off him, and Daryl ditched her.

It had been a strange kind of friendship, but he wouldn’t be without Daryl, not for a second.

Returning his attention back to the beautiful woman currently walking across the floor toward the entrance, he was completely entranced by her. She was such a beautiful woman, and those curves, he wanted to get his hands on them, and fast.

He also noticed a guy didn’t leave her side, and was always there, whispering in her ear, or pointing out people. Hunter didn’t like the swell of jealousy that was rushing through him.

Who was this woman, and where the hell had she been?

It wasn’t long before Daryl was coming back into the room, and he didn’t look impressed.

“What do you have for me?”

“Payton is an internet sensation. She has made her mark on positive body image even during some rather hideous cyber bullying about her weight.”

“I can find out about that any time, Daryl. What about my company? Why did we not take her on?”

“They deemed that she was too fat to be part of your name or your company. She was turned away, and given advice that she should leave the modeling world behind.”

The anger Hunter was feeling wouldn’t bode well for the head of his modeling firm. “I want her details on my desk Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, I want an appointment, and I want you to get Elise on this as well.” He stared at Payton and smiled. “I think we’ve just found the perfect fit.”

****

“You do not need to worry. You look beautiful. Stop being nervous,” Rick, her agent, best friend, and manager said. He was her childhood friend, confidant, more a brother than a friend.

She turned toward him, and smiled. “I’m not nervous.”

“You’re surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t know. I know you, and you’re nervous.”

Payton clasped her hands together and smiled, chatting with guests as they passed. This wasn’t her first charity event, and it wouldn’t be her last. She had campaigned and helped to raise a great deal of money for this venture. Forgotten children was something she felt passionate about, and seeing some of the images, they filled her with hope that with each donation they could help raise enough money to get children off the street, and away from predators that lurked there.

They were escorted into a dinner where the auction part of the charity would continue. She sat with Rick, laughing to the comedians, and then listening to the speeches. She had been asked to contribute but had declined. Speaking at events was never her strong suit.

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