Apologies for forgetting to post last week – to make up for it, I’m going to post tomorrow too!
With the book due out on Sunday, let’s get into some of the nitty gritty of Henri and Elizabeta and their developing relationship.
Elizabeta came in, dressed in what he assumed was her usual attire of slacks and knitted jumper. The new bob meant she still looked dramatic, and she’d only lessened the makeup rather than remove it completely. She already looked a far cry from the woman who’d bargained with him in this office two days ago.
“It’s starting to come together,” Elizabeta said, sitting. “I was getting worried.”
Ree decided it would be best not to agree with her. “I have been thinking about the voiceover. Rather than reading things out, how about we do it like a conversation? I’ll ask you questions, you answer and explain. Hopefully that will make it sound more natural.”
“Sounds good,” Elizabeta said.
Ree set up the iPad. “So, Elizabeta, tell me about Effortless Elegance.”
She leant forward. “Effortless Elegance is an opportunity to show how you can use the things you have in your home to turn any room or moment from ordinary to special.”
She spoke in the same staccato style she’d used when filming. “Elizabeta, sit up. Look at me.” She did so. “Don’t worry about the iPad. It will pick up your voice. Just talk to me, as if we were friends.”
“But we’re not friends. You’re my boss, and I’m trying to win a challenge for you.”
“Then stop thinking about the challenge. Right now, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose. What matters is that we’ve come up with this idea, and we want to make it the best it can be. There’s no pressure on you.”
“Of course there’s pressure,” Elizabeta said. “We’re adults. The pressure never ends.”
“But you can have fun too.”
Elizabeta nodded. “That’s what Effortless Elegance is about. It’s showing that it’s easy to use little things, little moments, to escape the never-ending pressure of life. You can have a beautiful place in your home, and every time you look at it, it will take you out of what is happening at the moment and show you that there’s beauty in life, no matter how hard it seems.”
It was working. “A lot of people don’t see the point in having elegance in their lives.”
“Because they think beauty, elegance, glamour is hard or it’s expensive. And sure, if you want gilt pillars and silk everywhere, that is hard and expensive. But that’s not all elegance and glamour is. Elegance and glamour is a moment above and beyond the normal. For example, when was the last time you ate dinner by candlelight?”
Ree frowned. “Candlelight?”
“Practically everyone has candles. You’ve got them for emergencies, or you were given one by that sister-in-law you don’t like and you’ve put it away and don’t know what to do with it. Well, tonight, wherever you eat dinner – at the table, in the lounge room in front of the television, whatever – turn off the lights, turn off the devices, light a candle and eat. A simple thing that takes a few seconds, and it makes the moment magical. Glamorous. Just like that.”
“So when you were making Kristin’s lounge room and bedroom more elegant and glamorous today, what were you thinking?”
“In the lounge room, it was about masking what made it look old. You can’t be happy when every time you walk into your lounge room, you’re seeing all the stains on your lounge or the scratches on the post the cat made. There’s going to be something in your house – sheets, blankets, old bits of material from forgotten craft projects – that you can use. And if not, you can head to your local op-shop and find some wonderful things. Don’t worry about colour. Don’t worry if it looks cheap or not. If it works to cover that thing that you hate, and you don’t see it any more, it’s going to make you happy.”
Elizabeta went through each one of the things she’d done in each of Kristin’s rooms, explaining what she’d done and why. By the end, Ree had everything he needed for the voiceover.
“Perfect.” He turned off the iPad.
Elizabeta frowned, then shook her head. “I’d say that was cheating, that you recorded me without me knowing, except I did know.”
“Once you forget about what’s going on and can just be you, it works well,” Ree said. Better than well. She was damned inspiring.
“Thank you.” She looked at her watch. “And here we are, 5pm. I feel bad about leaving, since I know you have work to do.”
“You’ve done all the work today, and done brilliantly. Go home, relax with your family, celebrate. Tomorrow, I’m going to show you the first two episodes of Effortless Elegance and we will see where we go from there.”
After she’d left, Ree listened to what he’d recorded. The staccato bit was truly awful, and he decided to keep it and show Elizabeta how far she’d come. But she started talking to him, and her voice was wonderful. The soft accent made her sound exotic, and gave her words a compulsion they might not otherwise have.
He was on such a winner. Such a glorious, amazing winner.
And during the conversation, he’d only thought about fucking her twice.
He thought it was all a game…until he grew accustomed to her face.
Henri Higgins is bored by everything – his life, his work, even the models he regularly sees socially (and privately). So when a close friend suggests a high-stakes, friendly competition, a ‘fame’ game, Ree leaps at the opportunity for a little shake-up in his daily routine. The rules are simple: the competitors are to take the first person that they meet at a certain time and make them as famous as possible within two weeks.
But Ree doesn’t expect Elizabeta.
Elizabeta Flores del Fuego has a plan. An office manager by day, she moonlights at a number of creative Canberra businesses by night to learn all she can about the fashion industry and put her in the best place possible to help launch her beloved daughter, Angelina’s design career. Cleaning the office of Higgins Publishing is just one of those jobs, but when Henri Higgins offers her a week’s worth of work and a paycheque large enough to get Angelina Designs on its feet, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.
But Elizabeta doesn’t expect Ree, and neither expect the lessons in love they’re both about to learn.
Pre-order The Making of Henri Higgins now! (Electronic only)