How to Love a Blind yet Faithful Submissive

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CHAPTER FOUR: GETTING READY TO ROLL

Checklist for the brunch at the House of Suez.

FUBU black dress slacks: check.

Alvin Klein deep red dress shirt with black dress tie: check.

Stacey Adams Dress shoes (“There’s no way in hell you are wearing Timberland boots to meet the Saint Croix family,” Natasha said despite my protests): check.

Trusty portfolio with my best formalwear sketches: check.

Hair neatly washed and styled: check.

A calm mind and spirit: check.

I stood in the middle of the living room, taking a few deep breaths as Natasha was in her bedroom putting on the finishing touches of her look and wondering what to expect from this brunch. I knew that the Saint Croix family were very rich and well off, with other endeavors outside the fashion empire that Mr. Saul Saint Croix started with Armand: three luxury hotels and a cruise line partnered in a consolidation deal with Cunard Cruise Lines, a home collection, and even a few villa residential properties in Europe. Mrs. Saint Croix- a former beauty queen- came from a banking and finance family that had to really earn their now-vast empire. Her father came from a poor background in the farming industry yet he was very studious, graduating with a degree in business and joining his wife’s family’s shipping company. The matriarch herself went to Northwestern to study business and minor in art when she met her husband in senior year. After establishing their respective careers, they were married just in time that the Vietnam War ended (Mr. Saint Croix was a two-time veteran himself) and adopted Salim, Armand, and two other brothers. And now, I was slated to meet one of the brothers, the parents, and even a few other guests.

I just hoped that I could pull off this interview.

What if I spilled something on someone’s dress?

Can my stomach even handle all the food after last night’s meal? I should’ve told the chef to cook something much lighter.

“Oh, no you don’t, Izzy boy. I can see you in your little worry-subspace right there and you look like you need a bit of tea.”

I snapped out of my thoughts to see Shadie and Marcus enter the room, the former dressed in a tasteful red pantsuit with her light brown wig in a ponytail and her brother dressed in pastels. Shadie raced into the kitchen to make a pot of peppermint tea as Marcus led me to the table. “Oh, yeah,” I said sheepishly. “It was that obvious, huh?”

“Man, you really need to stop thinking overboard,” Marcus muttered, reaching into the black bag he was carrying and pulled out a small packet of cookies. Lorna Doone. “Thank God that my brother- er, sister- made me stop by and pick up these cookies and mints to make sure that you don’t freak out today.”

“Well, I couldn’t help it,” I muttered as I heard Shadie set the large kettle of tea on the electric stove. “This is one opportunity that I really can’t afford to screw up. Hell, most kids would be freaking out by now over something like this if they were in-“

“But they’re not you, so don’t go overboard,” I heard Natasha pipe as she came out of the room. “And this is the moment to enjoy yourself and hear about the offer, not meeting with the Queen of England.”

“What is she wearing?” I asked Marcus.

Marcus turned to me. “Plum-colored cocktail dress. Beige high-heels. Golden belt. Her makeup is on point, but I’m not too sure about the earrings,” he muttered.

“What was the last thing you put on?” I asked my friend.

“The belt. Take it off?” Natasha asked.

I nodded. “And switch the shoes. Get the kitten heels with the closed-toe.”

I heard Natasha dash back into the bedroom. “Damn,” Shadie said as she set the cup of tea before me. “Chanel’s main rule still applies?”

“Always,” I muttered as I slowly grabbed the up of tea, inhaling in the sweet essence of mint as I took a small sip. “This is good right here.”

“Cookies are on your left,” Marcus pointed out. “And isn’t that the most important rule of thumb for fashion-majors?”

“Only when needed,” I replied before grabbing a Lorna Doone cookie and slowly dunking it in before popping it in my mouth. “The main rule is by Vidal Sassoon: If you don’t look good, then we don’t look good.”

Two minutes later, Natasha came out of the room. “Better?” I said.

“She’s more decent,” Shadie said to me.

I nodded. “All we need now is our ride and-“ A buzz from the intercom interrupted our chat.

“Yes,” Shadie answered.

“It’s Simone Alamendarez representing the House of Suez,” a woman’s voice said. “We’ve come to pick you all up for the brunch.”

“We’ll be right down,” Shadie said. To me, “Are you ready?”

I took a deep breath, followed by another as I saw the face of my mother in my mind as she was sitting in a living room, holding the Bible in her lap.

Strong eyes, baby,” she said. “Know that you’re bound for greatness. Never let anyone tell you otherwise…”

“I’m ready,” I said, grabbing my notebook and getting out of my stool as Marcus took my hand and led me out of the apartment. “Time to have brunch.”

*******************

Two hours and a stop for gas later, the six of us (Mr. and Mrs. Vinson also decided to join us, the former dressed in a tasteful gray suit and his wife in a floral sundress) were finally walking on the carpeted path that led to the spacious and contemporary building known as House of Suez, the second location in San Diego. “I feel like we’re on our way to Grauman’s Chinese Theater,” I murmured, taking in all the sounds of the busy workers and the faint scents of freshly pressed cloth before heading inside. “This is definitely amazing. Shadie, describe it all to me without sight words.”

“Easy,” she said. “The place we’re at is like the glorified version of Grauman’s, but it’s painted in shades of deep blue-like the kind you’d envision during sunset- and had these accents of gold in the ceiling. The lobby alone is something from “The Phantom of the Opera,” with a ceiling that’s covered with crystals that looks like stars on a cloudless and moonless night sky.”

“Ooh, that’s good,” I murmured. “Anything else?”

“Everyone around here is dressed smart, man,” Marcus said, his voice in awe as he walked beside me. “There’s this girl who’s looking like an African princess with her red-and black braids in a bun and dressed in a red and gold pantsuit. And we’re her U-shaped desk. It’s this steel-type of desk that belongs in the future, but in a good way.”

We came to a stop. Must be the reception area, I thought. “We’re here for the breakfast with the Saint Croix family,” I heard Mr. Vinson say in a gruff tone. “Van Blackwell and company.”

“You guys are expected,” I heard the receptionist in a musical (Cuban or Haitian, maybe) tone. “You may sign in for Mr. Van Blackwell, sir. And you’ll take the elevator to your right.”

“Thank you,” I heard Shadie say in a formal tone.

“What the hell is this?!”

Oh. Hell. “Is that Caylee Amerson?” I muttered to Marcus sotto voce.

“Yeah, and man, I thought she looked like a tramp on TV. She’s more of a bitch in person,” he muttered. “Too-tight pink dress with pink boots and her hair is too much of a blond mess. And way too much makeup. You know her?”

“She was at the job interview at Vibe yesterday,” I said in a dour tone. “She thought that I’d didn’t belong there. Joke’s on her because she got the boot.”

I heard her approach our group. “And it looks like the cripple brought over his ghetto thugs and a drag queen,” she sniffed. “What a bunch of bozos!”

“Uh, bitch, you’re one to talk,” I heard Shadie sass back. “You look like some Playboy-Bunny Mansion reject who’s been sleeping with a clown.”

“At least I don’t look like some K-Mart wannabes,” she sniped. To me, “And you’re here at the House of Suez?! God, you’re really don’t know when to give up and go back to basket-weaving.”

I heard giant footsteps approach us from the right. Guards. “I’m going to ask you to leave,” I heard a female voice say.

“Well, looks like you all got the boot,” Caylee said smugly.

“Miss, I was talking to you,” the guard said. “Mr. Van Blackwell is a guest. You, on the other hand, have been turned away from another job interview. Time for you to go.”

“Ugh,” Caylee growled. “That blind fucker needs to die! Freaks like you belong in hell and-hey! Let go of me!”

“Is she being carried out?” I asked quietly.

“Thank God, yes,” Natasha said as we heard the protests of the reality star echo out the building as she was escorted away. “And she was at Vibe with you?! You never said anything about that, Izzy!”

“You never asked,” I pointed out. “Come on, we got a brunch to attend.”

“I’ll want details later,” my friend hollered as the same female guard returned to escort us to the elevators.

“Given.”

Minutes later, we’re piling out of the elevator and were now currently on the seventh floor. “Describe the place,” I murmured.

“It’s open and very contemporary,” Mrs. Vinson said as she was the one to lead me, Marcus trailing behind and her husband on my right side. “But it’s mainly a bit of a small reception area with a few desks here and there. The walls are a warm orange with the lighting more like the sunlight.”

“Ooh, are the windows panoramic?” I asked in a quiet yet excited tone.

“Yep, and we can see downtown San Diego from here,” Natasha said happily. “And I see a few workers dressed casually, yet one of them is in a formal- oh, wait, she’s a model wearing one of the gowns from the Midnight Phoenix line! Deep blue ball-gown with a petal skirt and a V-like neckline. She’s wearing a string of pearls on her neck and some sort of bracelet with an amethyst center.”

“Girl, I’d get my cousin Lacey to wear that for prom,” Shadie said.

“Glad you all approve,” I heard an unfamiliar male voice say in a similar tone to Mr. Vinson’s yet his was way more refined. That must be Mr. Saul Saint Croix. “And I believe that the young man with the portfolio is Isaiah Van Blackwell.”

Two footsteps and I feel the powerful yet fatherly aura of the older man in front of me, his colors more of deep green and beige with a subtle hint of light blue. “Pleased to meet your acquaintance, Mr. Saint Croix,” I said softly as I shook his hand. “You have very strong and calloused hands. Military served you well.”

“So you’ve noticed,” Mr. Saint Croix said. “I’d take it that you’re using your other senses to size me up. What do you have?”

Time to use my magic. “Judging by the way we shook hands, I sense that you’re about six-foot-five and around two-hundred to two-hundred-ten pounds,” I began. You’re warm blooded, given the impression that you’re from an Irish-French background with a bit of Eastern European or German undertone. You sound a bit like a former drill sergeant, yet you’re more of a leader, like a lieutenant maybe. And you’re wearing Dior Sauvage, one of my friend Marcus’ favorite colognes. And your favorite things are smoked sausage, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and your wife. The first two, I can easily smell on your breath. As for your wife, I can smell her perfume, Chanel No. 5, from your suit jacket.”

There was a pregnant pause. Oh, crap. I went too far.

Then, “Well I’ll be damned. You got one hell of a nose, kid,” Mr. Saint Croix said, laughing heartily. “You should be more of a criminal profiler.”

“To be real, Mr. Saint Croix, my friend had to really ramp up his senses when growing up,” Natasha said. “He went to this boarding school where he took a lot of classes to rely on his other senses. His teachers showed him no mercy, which pushed him to go even further to enhance his life.”

“That’ll make my wife and other son happy,” Mr. Saint Croix said. “Everyone’s waiting for you in the open-aired conference room. Hope everyone’s hungry because we got a spread that would blow you away. Plus, we got some visitors who want to meet you all as well. Drag Queens of the Blue Bayou, anyone know them?”

“Who hasn’t?” I heard Natasha say, clapping her hands. “I can’t wait.”

“Me neither,” I said. Oh, boy. The Drag Queens of the Blue Bayou club were really intense girls. And they’re good friends with that Frazier kid. I hope things go well and those girls don’t kill me if I screw up! One of them can be very intimidating, from what I heard, and the other one’s connected to the mafia. God help us all!

******************

It turns out, I was worried for nothing.

At the start, I was immediately greeted by Aria Melody, one of LA’s top drag queens of the LGBT community who was taken back of my skills of identifying her perfume (Miss Dior by Dior) and happily introduced me to her friends. Carlotta Sonara, (the comedy queen extraordinaire) and Imani Sapphire (the Muslim-American stylist) both commented that they could “eat me up after I get fattened up,” while Vietnamese queen and technology guru Saigon Tiara commented on how I had these exquisite eyes like her friend (“Like cat-eye marbles,” she gushed as I smelled her Mariah Carey perfume). Honey Envy (a tall, Irish Amazon with flaming red hair and the star of Blue Star Chevrolet) and Coco Montresa (the bootylicious hip-hop showgirl) were commenting and deeply criticizing my designs while wondering how I’d stayed skinny while Taffy Ganache (the plus-sized drag queen/ culinary chef) had insisted that I’d been taught by the FBI to identify some of her dishes while the fiery Evita Mateo (who instantly approved of me after fixing her hidden fashion faux-paus) and Samara Davenport (a silent girl with a knack for contortionism) helped Danita Montresa (a Barbie queen) out with fixing me a giant plate of food (“You need to add some meat on those bones,” Aria insisted).

Never let it be said that I never fitted in with drag queens.

Also, I met the iconic matriarch of the family alongside two more drag queens known as Maria Velour (who described herself as a glamour queen with a love for diamonds and wore Givenchy perfume) and Anastasia Vanour (a Russian girl who had a knack for automobiles and quizzed Marcus on every brand known); and the iconic Frazier family who currently owned the iconic gay-friendly Black-American bakery and café known as Firenze Bakery with four new locations and five more to come by the end of next year. Mrs. Frazier, now married to her late husband’s brother (the new chief of police for LA) invited me over to her kitchen after her parents-in-law had me test out my tongue to identify which cupcakes were homemade and which were knockoffs.

But the main discussion that was yet to come was my future in fashion, which was about to take place as we settled down to breakfast. “So, Isaiah,” Coco asked me as she took a sip of orange juice as Taffy set a plate of warm food in front of me. “You said that you design using the colors that you pick up in your head alongside the touch therapy for you cloths and textiles. How is that?”

I took a deep breath, inhaling the rich scent of sausage, scrambled eggs, and blueberry muffins. “Well, I usually think of how I’d see different auras for certain occasions,” I began. “I can’t really explain how, but look at it this way. Miss Carlotta is wearing the stunning canary-yellow suit-and-skirt separate that complements her charming and hilarious personality, like Harvey Firestein. From the warmth of the fabric and the colors that I pick up from her, her vibe is mainly this summer-in-the-Hamptons kind of feel that has an air of nineteen-thirties flair.”

“Amazing,” Carlotta picked up. “And the hat?”

“The fedora also suits you well, though it would be better if it was a bit larger. Then, I’d envision you as this present-day version of Bette Davis. Other than that, your outfit complements you well. But as there are some outfits that pair well, there are some that needs to be tweaked. Anastasia-“

Dahlink, I always look polished,” said the drag queen in her polished Russian accent.

“And I know that you do, but you have this vibrant personality that contradicts your ‘Black Russian’ vibes,” I said. “No offense, but you give me this Anastasia Romanov kind of aura that leaves me seeing snow-white, artic-blue, and a hint of silvery gray. The leather skin-tight dress really doesn’t feel it for me, though you do wear it well. And I can see you wearing a jewelry set that’s more regal like the Dowager Duchess with sapphires and sterling silver. If you want to go big with your Russian beauty, then don’t be afraid to show it.”

“That’s what I told her two weeks ago when she placed runner-up for South LA Continental Queen,” Honey said.

“Isaiah, man, eat something,” Marcus reminded me. “Eggs at noon, potatoes at three, sausage at six, and a blueberry muffin at nine. A glass of OJ is on your left.”

I paused to take a few bites of food before I smelled something awful. And this was definitely a fashion faux pas in the air. “Uh, is there someone working on a project or a dress design?” I asked hesitantly.

“Why do you asked?” Mrs. Saint Croix wanted to know.

“Uh, Mr. and Mrs. Saint Croix, when it comes to Isaiah, he’s the only person who has these strange senses to know when someone is committing a fashion sin,” Shadie explained. “And I take it that he’s imagining it now in his mind.”

And she was right. In my mind was this atrocity of a black ball gown that had a giant bow for the back and as a headpiece. And the skirt was all wrong for the heavy fabric. There was too much and too little going on. My stomach lurched though I wasn’t on the verge of vomiting just yet.

“What is that ‘Gone with the Wind’ atrocity?!” I exclaimed. “Take me to where it is at once.”

“No need,” said a molten-rich and masculine voice. “I brought it outside as a test for you. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to know what’s wrong and how to change it. Be warned, though. I have the final say.”

Two things that I knew about this moment. One, I was in the dominating and presumptuous presence of Salim Saint Croix. And two, I definitely had a challenge on my hands. But never let it be said that I can’t handle a challenge.

“Bring it on,” I said, standing up and taking a deep breath.

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