Billionaire and the Cowgirl

By: Ella Goode

I walk to my mirror and stare at myself. Modeling was never something I even thought of before. I’ve always thought of myself as cute but nothing really beyond that. Though when those makeup artists and hair people got a hold of me and Birdie dressed me up, I was even shocked at how hot I looked.

The money could change things for me. It could get me back on my feet. So much shit needs to be updated and fixed around here. I’m not sure I can say no at this point. Something has to change.

Maybe this is finally it.



“No.” I cross my arms over my chest and glare at Birdie. “Abso-fucking-lutely not.”

“Why? Don’t you like my designs?” She pouts.

I glance over my shoulder to make sure my cousin isn’t close by to see that I’m cursing at his wife and making her sad, but this is important business. “Your designs are great. Too great, in fact. I am not having Astor shake her ass down a runway with her back exposed and her tits falling out for all the world to see.”

“Her breasts are not exposed,” Birdie protests. “Fabric covers the entire part.” She pats her own boob. I avert my eyes.

“The side of her tit is open and the other dress sticks to her boobs like cling wrap. It’s indecent.”

“You’re a prude.” She covers her sketches. “Everything is going to look beautiful and tasteful because that is all I design. Now, shoo.” She tries to wave me out, but I drag a chair over.

“I need to oversee the process.” Astor is coming for a fitting. Besides the event Birdie put on a while back, it’s the first time Astor’s been on Justice property since her daddy came to shoot me after he got thrown from the horse he’d bought off a shady trainer we’d fired.

Birdie sighs because she knows I’m not budging. “Don’t be a nuisance or I’ll have to call Calder in.”

I zip my lips, but I can tell she’s not buying it. A few moments later, the guest of honor appears at the doorway of Birdie’s studio looking scared and uncertain. I cross the room immediately.

“If I knew all it took to get you here was a pretty dress, I’d have sewn one myself.”

“The operative word is pretty,” Astor replies with a sharp jut of her chin. Her almost instinctive antagonism toward me drives away any of her nerves, which is why I’m here. I do care about her flashing her money maker to crowds of people who don’t appreciate her beauty, but most of all, I care if she’s uncomfortable, and Birdie’s world is a far cry from Edison, Texas, where the most stylish thing would be Lena Harm’s blue-rinse perm she gives to all the ladies over fifty.

“I’m a man of hidden talents,” I parry.

Astor arches her eyebrows and then pushes me out of the way. “Birdie, I’ve been thinking, and this whole thing”—she gestures around the room—“isn’t for me. I don’t fit into the world of high fashion. I’ve worn cowboy boots for as long as I can remember, and if my shirt doesn’t have snaps, I don’t think I’d know how to put it on.”

“I like snap shirts,” I volunteer. Easy to take off. Like all shirts should be snap front, in my opinion.

“Honey, you don’t have to dress yourself. That’s what I’m here for and what the stylist team is for. You just have to stand and look at the camera and then walk down a runway in some heels. I know you can do that.”

“Heels?” A gray cast washes over Astor’s face.

“Your boots are heeled,” Birdie points out.

“Yeah, but these are two inches wide. Yours are a centimeter wide.” Astor points downward at Birdie’s pink stilettos. My mind takes a detour to Astor wearing nothing but one of her plaid snap shirts and a pair of stilettos. It’s a good image. The best, really. Nothing Birdie can come up with could top it.

“You’ll be fine. It’s like riding a horse. All it takes is a little practice. Come over here, and we’ll start dressing you. We’re going to fit you first and then talk hair and makeup. I’m going soft glam, dreamy, an Alice in Wonderland sort of look.” Birdie pulls a reluctant Astor across the room next to a worktable filled with silks and cashmere and lace. The room looks like a flower garden. I take a seat and settle in for the show.

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