“I checked out that little book of requirements that you speak of, and nowhere does it say that. It says we’re always looking for dedicated women to get our message across, that anyone who is anyone can change their image.” He slammed that requirements book down on the desk, and glared at the woman opposite. “Please, show me where the fuck you get off sending away women like this.”

She tensed up, and placed the portfolio back on the desk. “I know how to do my job. I’ve been doing it for many years. We don’t have fat people on our books. We will become a laughingstock. This whole plus-size nonsense. They’re fat. They need to lose weight, and then maybe we’ll accept them in our society.”

There was a noise to his left, and Hunter saw the shock on Daryl’s face that he himself was feeling but didn’t show.

“I see.”

“Image Counts is a success. It’s a rival to all other modelling agencies out there.”

“With all due respect, Patricia, we have lost several contracts with upcoming models, and are experiencing some fall back in demand from reputable clients,” Daryl said.

That made Hunter even more enraged. They were known for turning women away who were too fat, or what Patricia considered too fat. Bullying, encouragement of starvation, everything he had heard about the abuse at Image Counts had disgusted him. He had spent the weekend talking with his models, getting them to admit to the kind of treatment they are subjected to. Not only that, but he’d also called several other agents of the models that had been turned away. He had been more focused on his current link into the fashion market, and had left Patricia to handle Image Counts while he oversaw other matters. This wouldn’t happen again. Patricia had taken things too far, but he was happy that it hadn’t been going on for that long.

This was enough, and he wouldn’t be allowing this woman to hurt women anymore.

“I beg to differ. People come to us before anyone else.”

“In the past six months, there has been a decline in who we have on our books,” Daryl said. “Our contracts have been running dry for the past few months. Elise, our designer, wouldn’t even consider using our models.”

“Patricia, you’re fired.”

“You can’t do this.”

“The fact this has been going on right under my nose sickens me. I’m amazed that we haven’t been sued by one of those girls. Get your stuff, and get the hell out of my office. If you even think to cause a scene, we’ve got plenty to take you to court. Good day, Patricia.”

The moment she was out of his office, Hunter felt better. “What a bitch of a woman!”

“I agree.”

They didn’t have time to talk about their next meeting as Elise came walking into his office, and flopped down. “My work will never be showcased.” She pressed a hand to her head, and sighed dramatically.

“You’re in luck. I think I may have found the perfect woman for you.”

Elise pretended not to look at him, but all the time, her hand was moving out of the way of her eyes. “Really?”

“Yes, really. Daryl, keep trying to set up that meet, and if not, tell them Elise would love the opportunity to meet her.”

“Ha, but I don’t know if I want to.”

Hunter held up a single shot. It was one of Payton in a pair of jeans, and a man’s checkered shirt. Some of the buttons were open, and some wind device was blowing her hair. It was an amazing shot that showcased her curves even as she stared straight toward the camera. Part of her stomach was showing, and also her cleavage, and the smile on her face was just beautiful.

“Yes!” Elise said, jumping out of her seat. “She would be fantastic. Oh wow, please, Hunter. Please.”

There were times this woman acted more like a little sister than a colleague. Of course, they were related, but she never wanted that to be discussed. They were cousins, and she wanted to make her way in the world without Hunter helping her.

He’d not brought her on board because of her family status either. He’d been interested the moment he realized how marketable her new range of designs actually was.

“I’m working on it. Daryl is working on it, and I’m hoping to have a meeting this afternoon. Maybe you could pick something out for her to try on, maybe tempt her to join with us.”

“You know what, I have the perfect thing.” With that she spun on her heel and made her way out of his office.

Hunter watched her go. They were distant cousins, and in the beginning he’d refused to hire her. The projects she had been working on were just not fit for that part of his company. Over the years, she had made a name for herself, and then they had found such a perfect fit that he had to chase after her. Elise had played hard ball, but what he enjoyed the most was knowing that she had in fact learned a great deal with being on her own. She was family so he’d always kept an eye on her, but he made sure his name stayed for away from her. They didn’t have the same last name, so their connection was never brought up.

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