“This is huge, Hope. You’re not gonna believe this.”
She laughed brightly, a feeling of excitement already washing over her. Hope hadn’t been quite sure what to expect when Louis’ name appeared on her caller ID, but whatever he was teasing her with had to be good. He rarely sounded that excited when they talked business… Not unless it was something incredible.
“Well don’t leave me in suspense.” She smiled, pressing the phone closer to her ear.
“Four day shoot in San Myshuno.” Louis told her at last. “With Francisco San Martín.”
Hope’s eyes went wide. Francisco San Martín was one of the hottest designers on the entire planet. She never dreamed she’d ever book a job with him. “What?! Are you serious?”
“He requested you specifically.” Louis replied happily. “He saw your spread in Vogue back in April. Needless to say, he was impressed.” He added. Hope could almost hear his smile. “So who better to help debut his new line… With another Vogue shoot.”
“Vogue AGAIN?!” Hope was practically jumping up and down. A Francisco San Martín shoot… in Vogue! She already knew this would be the biggest shoot of her entire career. It almost felt too good to be true.
“And I haven’t even mentioned the pay yet…”
When Louis told her, Hope nearly dropped the phone. “You’re joking.”
“So… is that a yes?” Louis laughed.
She nodded, though he knew he could not see her. “Absolutely!” She’d be insane to turn down a job like that. “When is it?”
“Two weeks.” He replied. “We’ll fly you out on the 21st.”
The smile vanished from Hope’s face instantly. “The 21st?” She repeated.
“Is that a problem?”
For a few moments, she said nothing. Hope closed her eyes and took a slow breath. “No, it’s fine.” She said at last. “Tell him I’ll do it.”
Hope practically leapt from the couch at the sound of the opening apartment door. She’d been waiting anxiously all afternoon for Zayne to return from his shopping trip. Calm down. She scolded herself mentally. Everything’s gonna be fine.
Zayne placed the large bag of groceries on the counter, smiling warmly at his girlfriend. “Ready for another round of experiments?” He asked with a laugh. “You’re on guinea pig duty again this week.”
Despite her nerves, Hope still managed a smile. “Isn’t that every week?”
“Touché.” Zayne smiled as he opened the refrigerator and began putting things away.
Hope reached over toward where the groceries sat and began helping, handing him a few items at a time until the bag was empty.
When they were finished, she finally decided to bite the bullet. He’ll understand. Hope reminded herself before breaking the silence at last. “So… I got some pretty exciting news while you were out today.” She hoped he was unable to detect the uncertainty behind her cheerful tone. “It’s big.”
“Oh yeah? What kind of news?”
“I think you might wanna sit down for this.” Hope managed a teasing tone as she gestured toward the couch.
“FUCK.” Zayne slumped down onto the sofa, horrified. “You’re pregnant.”
“No! No! God, no!” Despite everything, she couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s nothing like that. Louis called a little while ago…” Hope paused for a moment. “I got offered a shoot with Francisco San Martín.”
The fact that Hope did not even have to explain who he was spoke volumes. “Holy shit.” Zayne’s eyes widened. “That’s crazy!”
“I know.” Hope smiled nervously. “And it’s for Vogue too!”
She shook her head.
“Okay, please tell me you said ‘Hell yes’?” Zayne laughed. “Hope, this is like… Your dream job.”
“I know… There’s just one little catch.” She bit her lip nervously.
Zayne’s smile disappeared in an instant. “What is it?”
“It’s in San Myshuno… On the weekend of the 22nd.”
“But… That’s my birthday.” Zayne replied softly.
“We’re supposed to be in Champs Les Sims that weekend.”
“I know.” Hope repeated in a whisper.
He shook his head slowly. “We’ve been planning this trip for months.”
“Zayne, I am so sorry.” Hope’s voice was pleading. “This timing sucks so much. And I swear to God I’ll make it up to you. But it’s like you said… it’s my dream job. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. I just couldn’t say no.” She shrugged apologetically as she spoke.
Zayne raised an eyebrow at her. “So you already said yes?”
“Without asking me first?!” His face suddenly contorted into a scowl. “What the hell?!”
“What was I supposed to say? Louis needed an answer!” Hope insisted.
“What about ‘I’ll call you back and let you know’? Would that really have been so hard?!”
“Zayne, this could be the most important job of my whole career! There’s no way I would have turned it down.”
Her boyfriend’s eyes widened. “So you would’ve taken the job no matter what I said.” It was not a question.
“I didn’t think I had to worry about what you’d say!” Hope confessed. “I thought you’d be fine with it. No, I knew you would be… I thought you’d understand.” Her eyes narrowed at him.
“Of course I understand!” Zayne cried. “But that’s not the point! How could you cancel our trip without even asking me first?! You just said yes to that stupid job without thinking about how I’d feel about it!” For a moment, he looked almost disgusted. “How the hell could you be so selfish?!”
Hope could scarcely believe what she was hearing. “Selfish?! Are you for real?!” She shook her head, her own anger suddenly bubbling up to the surface. “And this job wasn’t so ‘stupid’ a few minutes ago when I told you about it. You know how important this is to me.”
“Yeah, more important than me, apparently.” He spat bitterly.
“No! Jesus, how can you say that?!” Hope paused, taking a deep breath and trying to let some of her anger melt away. It almost worked. “I love you, Zayne. You know that.”
Zayne was silent for a few moments, and appeared to be trying to calm himself just as she had. “I do.” He replied at last, his anger slowly melting away into sadness. “And I love you too. I just…” Zayne shook his head. “Why couldn’t you just ask me about it first?”
“Look, maybe you’re right. Maybe I should have asked. And I’m sorry I didn’t, okay? I really am” She shrugged helplessly. “I feel awful that everything worked out like this. But I don’t know what else I can say. Except…” The girl hesitated. “Look, if it really bothers you, I can call Louis back and we can try to figure it out.”
“No you can’t.” Zayne shook his head. “I’m still pissed off that you didn’t ask me first… but there’s no way I’d let you say no to a chance like this. You know that.” He tried to smile.
A soft sigh of relief escaped Hope’s lips at his words. “Thank you.” She replied seriously. “And I promise I’ll make it up to you somehow. We’ll find another way to celebrate, and it’ll be amazing. I swear.” She assured him. “Okay?”
“Yeah.” Zayne replied softly. “Okay.” He seemed to hesitate for a moment before rising to his feet. “I guess I’ll go make us some lunch or something.”
They barely spoke for the rest of the afternoon.