chapter 4 - how tall are you?

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ELLE

A Few Days Later

I place everything I need in my backpack, and before I can make it out the door, I hear my mom calling me. I turn to see her with a file in her hand. "Could you please drop this off on your way? You can make it before your father meets his potential client. He's nervous about it and even left early, but he forgot this. I'll call school and let them know you'll be late."

"There goes my perfect attendance," I joke as she hands me the file.

"Live a little." Mom responds.

"Does that mean I can skip for the day? Maybe the whole year?"

"Don't think about it. I'll send the location now." Mom nudges me out the door, ignoring the last part of what I said, and I internally groan. I get into my car, which was gifted to me by my parents when I got accepted into Harlock. It's a nice, sleek white car, but not a luxury brand that everyone has at school and likes to show off.

I get to the location my mom sent and park on the street opposite where I need to go. I walk closer and notice the building is the office headquarters of the Daniels' family business, Daniels Holdings Inc., and their main hotel brand, Ivory Vista. The modern and elegant design of the building features glass windows that reflect the surrounding landscape. Strolling through the front courtyard, it feels like it has an inviting touch with its vibrant foliage, colorful flowers, and tasteful fountain.

I'm so focused on heading to the entrance that I don't notice that I disturbed a group of people. "Seriously? Did you not see the signage and barrier?" A man holding a high-end professional camera throws his free hand up in frustration.

"I'm so sorry." I apologize, and the photographer shakes his head while looking down to delete the recent shot. He repositions his vintage round glasses and focuses on his camera.

"Wait a minute." He seems to be contemplating before turning to his assistant to show her what's on the small screen.

No one seems to be paying attention anymore as I walk away. In the lobby, I spot my dad pacing back and forth, a worried furrow creasing his brow, along with his legal assistant standing off to the side. He sees me and walks up to me with a forced smile, clearly trying to mask his anxiety as I'm admiring the impressive architecture of the lobby, with its high ceilings and marble floors. "Wow, how'd you manage to land this client?"

"I have no idea. We received a call and just jumped at the chance." My dad takes the file from me. "We haven't had a client like this in a while, so I hope it all goes well."

"You got this, Dad." I say, smiling warmly as I give him a reassuring hug.

My dad is a litigation attorney with his own firm, Caldwell & Associates Legal Group. He represented someone less than a year ago who was facing a lawsuit from their big-name employer. This employer has a way of doing things with a more aggressive approach. My dad believed the accusations against this employee were false, but in the end, they lost the case. In the aftermath, he lost most of his major clients, presumably from the corporation, spreading negative information about his firm. My dad made a formal request to a higher court to appeal.

"Excuse me, miss." A voice echoes through the lobby, and the both of us turn to see the photographer and his assistant.

"May I help you?" My dad asks.

"Yes, are you her father? We just lost our model for a shoot for Ivory Vista, and I was wondering if she could help us out. Your daughter stepped into our shot earlier, and let me just show you." The photographer shows us the screen on his camera. The two of us look down, and I'm surprised with myself. The candid snapshot shows me walking through the scene with poise and elegance. Do I usually look like that when I walk? Even my hair is working well for me.

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