Skipping out on work wasn't easy for Tucker Holmes, since he was the assistant manager of Persephone's Books, but owning a magic wand that could stop time helped matters enormously. The young student had been asked by his boss Jamie to do the monthly budget report, which would ideally take him nearly two hours. Also during that same two hours his girlfriend Haley would be auditioning for a modeling job; Tucker wanted to go and support her, maybe even give her a little edge if needed. Fully planning to get both tasks done at once, Tucker had formed a somewhat complicated plan that would allow him to succeed.
The first part of the plan had involved downloading some software to make the budget job go much faster, which he then stored on a thumb drive and left on the desk in the office next to the computer. The room only had one window, which was too elevated to really allow people passing by see if there was anyone in there as the room did contain the store's vault. When he felt it was the appropriate time, Tucker produced his wand, tapped it on the desk five times and instantly time was frozen. With the benefit of a frozen world Tucker could instantly run over to Haley's audition and even be there when time wasn't frozen for a while, though he might be a little hard-pressed all the same.
After exiting the office, Tucker's first job was to lock it behind him and make sure the lock was frozen, ensuring no key in the lock would work. The store was short-staffed today, with the dark-haired Faith working the main cash register while Jamie worked the floor and Maggie alternated between the floor and the till. Faith, dressed in a black short-sleeved blouse and jeans with her dark and now curly hair - thanks to an experiment she'd done last week - combed behind her ears, was gesturing towards an older balding customer from behind the register. The short but cute Maggie, dressed in a schoolgirl skirt and a collared shirt, was on her toes as she held an old Greek-looking pot above one of the lower shelves, the girl frozen while attempting to put it up for decoration purposes. Maggie's hair was done in a French braid and she was trying out a new brand of contacts just like Tucker. Jamie was on the other side of the store, holding an old authentic Greek history book in her hands, looking down at it in concern. The somewhat tall redhead's hair was pinned in a conservative bun but she wore a less conservative teal tank top with a cream-colored skirt that ran down to her knees. Were Tucker in the mood he might have relieved some built-up sexual anxiety with Faith or Jamie but decided he'd just live with it. On his way out of the store, however, Tucker did remove the pot from Maggie's hands and placed it on the shelf for her, chuckling at how odd she looked with nothing in her hands while stuck in the pose as he left.
Tucker had stashed a bike and a backpack that contained a change of clothes behind the dumpster outside the store, which he quickly visited. Trading in his jeans and golf shirt for a red, buttoned short-sleeved one as well as changing into khaki pants, Tucker figured he'd look more appropriate as the role of a future model's boyfriend in his new clothes. He was already wearing his nice watch and did have both a cell phone and sunglasses that weren't cheap, so appearance hopefully wouldn't be an issue for Tucker. With his change done, Tucker hopped onto the bike and quickly rode it out into the frozen world, where motionless pedestrians, cars, and birds made it easy for him to navigate the streets.
Over twenty blocks away Tucker pulled his bike into a rack and locked it up, glad he'd worn deodorant. While time was frozen that did not mean that Tucker, not being frozen, couldn't feel the heat or not sweat while getting some exercise. Everyone else was locked in temporal stasis, utterly unaware and fully protected from harm, be it getting hit by a random kid on a bike or burning up in the hot sun. Tucker had run experiments, including hitting a time-stopped gang banger with a baseball bat, and no damage had resulted; not even when he'd been punched a dozen times in the face. Tucker had also left Rebecca, back when she was still technically running the store, outside on her porch for several hours while she was frozen and she hadn't sunburned at all. Freezing people, Tucker had learned over his adventures, did make them helpless but also provided them with an incredible defense.
A private studio had been rented out for the tryouts for the modeling job. Haley was one of six girls remaining from this particular group, all of them medium height blonds. The modeling agency had specific requirements and since it was a job where appearance was important, discrimination was completely allowed and, in Tucker's eyes, almost reasonable though he could never endorse a company that fired a girl based on the color of her skin or size of her waistline. The building itself just looked like a typical section of a row of buildings that were all two stories tall and could be the home to another handful of different stores inside a year, such were how fast things changed in LA. No one was standing out front, but a blue door had a sign that declared any trespassers would be thrown out. Luckily Haley had secured Tucker a guest pass, which was tucked inside his pocket. Since the streets weren't too crowded and Tucker knew he wouldn't draw attention he casually leaned against the left side of the alcove around the door and tapped his wand five times, allowing time to resume.
After a knock a tall gorgeous woman in a black turtleneck and dark yellow pants opened the door, pale-blond hair framing her face while being cut short at the back. The woman had surprisingly small breasts for her height so it was easy for Tucker to look at her face. "This is a private function, by invitation only," declared the woman, carrying a thick accent that Tucker placed as being Eastern European and almost like something from a bad movie. Tucker decided the woman reminded him of Mila Jovovich's character in Zoolander though the two women looked entirely different.
"I have one right here," declared Tucker with a smile, handing her his pass. Frowning, the woman took it and had a look.
"Ideally I should let you in, but Madam Hollander doesn't know you are here and she won't," declared the woman. "A man such as you gawking at the models is not a welcome distraction." With that the door, which did have a knob on both sides, began to close, but Tucker was much faster than the amazon-like woman, quickly tapped his wand again. The door stopped with barely enough room for Tucker to stick his hands in and pry it open. The tall blond stood, stiff as a mannequin, with her right hand holding a knob that wasn't there anymore, an evil smile of satisfaction on her face as she looked down towards the back of the building. The first floor seemed to be split in half, with the front area consisting of a lone makeshift desk built from a card table and a folding chair with several similar chairs dotting the walls. A coat closet was on the left side of the room and there was no one else around that Tucker could see, not that he had to look very hard.
"Alright you smug bitch, you want to try and keep me from my girl's biggest day, I'll teach you," snarled Tucker, sliding past the blond and waving his wand right in her face twice. Tucker promptly walked over to the portable desk, which had a basket of cookies on it, and grabbed four large chocolate chip ones, returning to the woman and shoved them into her mouth once he'd opened it. Following the cookies, Tucker adjusted how the woman was standing, shoving her left hand down the back of her pants while her right went to her side. The blond was wearing heels but Tucker then ruined them, cutting off the elevated portion of each with some shears he'd found in a box by the fake desk. Not done there, Tucker cut the open back of the woman's shirt and pants, including making chaps for her rear end, and finally dragged her into the closet, hiding her behind all the coats, and closed the door. Satisfied, Tucker tapped his wand five times and time resumed, though the blond would remain frozen and trapped in the closet.
From behind the large blue curtain that covered the back wall of the room emerged a roughly thirty-year-old blond with a ponytail and a clipboard, dressed in a dark blue silk spaghetti strap top and designer jeans with white heeled sandals. The shirt was ruffled and had a line down the center, which Tucker had to admit looked pretty sharp in spite of his opinions on ruffles. The blond was also wearing a headset with the microphone on the left side, as was typical. "Hello, are you then Tucker Holmes?" asked the blond with a smile.
"Yeah, I guess Haley told you I was coming?" replied Tucker, offering her his best smile. He did have a steady girlfriend but there was no reason not to be nice to a girl just because she was pretty.
"I'm Kathryn Summers, Miss Zoe's assistant along with... wait; where's Tatiana?" began the blond, switching to a question when she noticed the absence of the tall blond.
"If you mean the tall one, she went outside after letting me in for some reason," offered Tucker with a shrug, lying through his teeth.
"Probably smoking again, that damn Nazi," muttered Kathryn, Tucker instantly took a liking to her. "Anyways, you're the only guest who actually confirmed coming. I guess the rest are either single or their boyfriends can't get down here in the middle of the day."
"Well, my job is a bit more flexible," admitted Tucker, which was somewhat true, more so than for the average person.
Holding back the curtain, Kathryn gestured to Tucker. "Good for you; most people around your age are starting typical nine to five jobs," offered Kathryn as a compliment, which Tucker took with a nod as he walked by.
The back room was almost purely white, Tucker saw. The walls, floor and ceiling were covered with special panels and several lights dotted the area. A small table was in one corner covered with healthy snacks, primarily vegetables and salt-free crackers from what Tucker could see. A small row of blue chairs was near it. In the center of the room was a camera with an older woman in her forties and a young redhead standing behind it while in the corner six perfect-looking girls stood dressed in very trendy clothing. The older woman had to be on the distant side of forty but looked stunning, a perfect tan hiding whatever wrinkles she hadn't had removed. Short bleached hair was perfectly formed using spray with sharp tips hovering around between the base of her chin and the base of her neck. She was wearing a black dress with silver lines meeting around her belly for what Tucker thought looked like a spider web; her skirt stopped an inch above her knees. The woman wasn't wearing pantyhose, showing off legs waxed so well Tucker almost thought she might of traded them in for ones belonging to a mannequin. She was certainly in the MILF category, if she did have any kids. The redhead had her hair in an ugly bun and was wearing a sweater from Decker State College as well as wire-framed glasses and really brown lipstick, with baggy jeans covering her lower body quite well. Judging from her frumpy appearance Tucker assumed the redhead was the photographer.
The six models stood in the corner, all wearing expensive-looking dresses. First there was a Vietnamese girl (Tucker was good at identifying Asian ethnicities) in a lighter red dress that stopped at least six inches above her knees, with totally open cleavage and both tiny cross straps near the breasts and larger lasagna straps by the edges of the shoulders. The girl's hair had a slight curl to it and it was spilling all around her head. Next was a tall and well-tanned Philippine woman with strawberry blond hair that stopped just at the base of her neck. The Philippic was wearing a leather skirt shorter than the dress on the first girl along with fishnet stockings, leather heeled boots, a jacket also made of leather that supported her proportionate breasts and covered barely anything below them and topped off by a biker hat. The black leather made her seem like some kind of stripper or dominatrix, at least in Tucker's mind, but the giant looped earrings dissuaded him from that conclusion. A petite dark-haired girl with red highlights was next in line, wearing black dress similar to the MILF that Tucker had pegged as being Miss Zoe. The dress lacked the silver lines but stopped higher up her legs and had thinner straps. The girl had a beauty mole on her left cheek, too tiny to really detract from anything. Her hair was incredibly short, just barely thick enough at the back to make her look like a woman. A tall blonde was next, wearing designer jeans like Kathryn and an ivory-colored tube top with a pink scale-like feature on it. The other girls looked like they around Tucker's age but this blonde looked like she was only just out of high school. She had long straight hair that went down to the middle of her back, combed behind her ears but still coming up in front of her shoulders. A girl of some kind of South American or African heritage (Tucker wasn't quite as good at this) wore a V-neck wraparound top with sleeves that stopped halfway up her forearms and three inches above her waist, tight black pants covering her legs while her hair was in a partial bun, the sides of her hair combed behind her ears like the tall blonde's. Finally there was Haley, whose hair was extra curly today while she wore a black vest with buttons only done up around her breasts and brown shorts that were tight enough to almost be bikini bottoms. Tucker was glad that the khaki pants he wore were capable of hiding his instincts.
Seeing her boyfriend arrive, Haley flashed Tucker an eager smile and blew him a kiss, which he returned as Kathryn led him to a seat. "I bet she's glad you're here, but it might make the next test a hard one," observed the assistant.
"What do you mean?" asked Tucker, suddenly worried as he took a seat, careful not to have his wand bulge out from the pocket where he'd hidden it.
"They need to hold a pose for ten minutes, and that includes not looking away," Kathryn revealed as she glanced down at her clipboard. "Miss Zoe's going to have them all stand there and strike a pose before having them hold it. Our photographer, Diane there, is very much about adjusting the light based on the model's position. The eye movement thing is just one of Zoe's nitpicks. She pretty much wants to see which girl will make the best living mannequin, as they've all proven they can take direction and be creative. Holding still is a very important skill for these girls to master."
"Something tells me Haley's got this one in the bag," smiled Tucker, but Kathryn was already walking over to Miss Zoe and Diane.
"Okay girls, this is it!" declared the aged organizer of the shoot moments later after speaking with the photographer and her assistant. "I'll be calling you up, two at a time, and see if you can hold your poses for the several minutes it will take Diane to properly adjust for the shot. I do need two girls for my featured works for my next show, so four of you will be going home with only a maybe, and even then only on filler materials. Now then, first up are Chi and Victoria!" Immediately the slim Vietnamese girl and the short redheaded one both walked into plain view of the camera, clearly already knowing where their marks were, and struck poses. Chi did a simple one, placing her right hand on her hip, her left foot forward and bending her head forward slightly with a sexy but mild smile on her face. Victoria was more adventurous, putting her arms behind her head and offering a bright smile. Tucker doubted Vicky, as he was now calling Victoria, would last three minutes in that pose.
"Alright, and... hold it!" exclaimed Diane, immediately beginning to work with her camera. Miss Zoe crossed her arms and watched the two models with a keen eye, but neither seemed to move an inch. There was a slight hint of wobbling from Vicky, but Tucker could see that Miss Zoe wasn't going to call her on it. Kathryn was darting around the set and making subtle adjustments to the lights.
"Looks like you're done; you haven't sat still once since we got here," Tucker overheard the tall blonde trash-talking Haley from afar.
"I'm surprised you can notice, what with you running your mouth off all the time," snapped back Haley, getting smiles from the other two girls with them and Tucker as well. Haley wasn't about to let herself be intimidated, especially by some high school ice queen. Still, Tucker was going to give his girlfriend a little edge.
Careful to not let anyone notice, Tucker produced his wand from his pants while pretending to peruse the snack table. Five solid taps were all he needed and the set instantly went quiet. Miss Zoe still stood with her hands on her hips, staring intently at the two motionless would-be models in front of the camera. Diane was holding the sides of her camera and looking up at the pair before her with her tongue touching her upper-left lip, concentration fixed in her eyes. Kathryn was in mid-stride, her clipboard in her hands tight against her chest as she looked at the next light she was going to change. The other four girls still stood in the corner, all watching the two current competitors with their arms at their sides save Haley who had crossed hers.
Haley was his choice to win, no question, but Tucker wanted another girl to make it, since Miss Zoe did need two after all. As cute as Vicky was, Tucker thought it would make more sense for her to fail so he got in behind the girl and carefully moved her cupped hands a bit higher against her back. After some deliberation Tucker waved his wand in Chi's face, making sure her pose would last. Unfreezing her would be tricky, since two taps canceled out all freezes but another wave of the wand would return her to sync with normal time. The wand was complicated like that, as Tucker had discovered while playing with Maggie one night.
Returning to the table Tucker tapped his wand five more times and time resumed. "Victoria, you moved!" screamed Miss Zoe a mere half-second later. "Get away, now!" Poor Vicky, breaking her pose and pouting, quietly walked off of the set and began raiding the snack table as Tucker returned to his seat with a plate of fruit and crackers with some fat-free dip. Chi, thanks to Tucker's magic, remained perfectly motionless; so much so that Tucker was certain Miss Zoe would be impressed.
"Okay, and... done!" exclaimed Diane literally two minutes later, a full eight minutes since Chi's initial striking of the pose. Vicky had done well with six, but Tucker had ensured Chi would outlast her. The camera went off, loud enough for all to hear, and Miss Zoe motioned to Chi. Tucker once again stopped time, using the bottom of his plate as a surface to tap his wand against. The scene hadn't changed much, but now Miss Zoe looked happy, Kathryn was walking towards Chi and Vicky was standing at the table with a celery stick in her mouth, her eyes wet with sadness.
Taking his time, Tucker got up and headed over to Chi, preparing himself for his next feat. With honed skill he tapped Chi with the wand twice, unfreezing the Vietnamese girl from behind, but then quickly waving his wand at her twice, freezing her like the rest before she could break her pose. One Chi was done Tucker returned to his seat, doing his usual five taps to get time going again. "You did excellent, my dear!" exclaimed Miss Zoe as she and Kathryn walked over to Chi, who looked a bit confused but quickly accepted their praise. Kathryn then led Chi into the other room, something that worried Tucker.
"Alright girls, once Kathryn is done with her I want Michelle and Candice to be next," dictated Diane, indicating the younger blonde girl and the African-American. Tucker pegged Michelle as being the blonde as it suited her. The four girls remained where they were, Haley and the remaining Asian even engaging in what sounded like a friendly conversation while Michelle and Candice stood around bored. Victoria, still heartbroken, headed for the curtains, no doubt planning to leave. This alarmed Tucker so his once again tapped his wand five times, glad it didn't have a limit. The world turned into a rigid tableaux once more.
In the front room Kathryn was sitting at the makeshift desk, frozen while writing something down. Chi was standing next to her, eyeballing a cookie, while Victoria was mere steps away from opening the coat closet. Not wanting the girl to discover Tatiana hidden inside, Tucker panicked but quickly came up with a plan. First he opened the closet and removed Tatiana by tipping her onto her back and dragging her out by her shoulders. The amazon was on the floor now and Tucker had an easy time removing her outer clothes, leaving her in tight spandex underwear that was black and blue while she lay there with her arms raised towards the ceiling, cookies stuffed in her mouth. To appease his stomach, and to have some fun, Tucker leaned in and sucked up the contents of Tatiana's mouth, getting a nice snack and a taste of the giant enforcer-woman's mouth. When Tatiana was cleaned up, Tucker stood her up and dragged her behind the giant curtain finding a point near the wall to hide her effectively. Tucker then adjusted her pose again so she was slumped against the wall, curled up and apparently asleep. Tucker had more revenge in mind for her but that would wait for another time. Returning to the closet, Tucker slid Tatiana's ruined clothes inside and raided the coats, finding Victoria's and checking her wallet. Her license was inside, as was a notebook, which Tucker used to write down the former number, slipping the note into his pocket. Deciding to do the same with the others, Tucker quickly learned where every single woman there lived, just in case he ever needed to do another unannounced photo shoot or if he just wanted to make a booty call. Following his completion of the notes Tucker returned to his seat in the other room, but only after getting some quick kisses from Vicky, Chi, Kathryn and even Diane, whom he thought was cute in spite of her dumpy appearance.
After taking care of the Tatiana problem, Michelle and Candice were easy to fix. During their own shoot Tucker eliminated them both by carefully making Michelle look to her left and lower her arm, the young blonde having struck a pose similar to Vicky but with her hands in her hair and her face more neutral. Candice had chosen to place both hands on her hips, her right lower than her left, and had been leaning to the left, but Tucker had fixed the lean slightly and moved two of her right fingers, resulting in Miss Zoe calling them incompetent and having them exit. Now it was the time to shine, as Haley and the other girl, who's name turned out to be Anastasia or Ana for short, both stood before Diana's camera. Haley was imitating Candice slightly but her head was turned to the left and her right hand was hanging around her waistband while her left hand went behind her. Ana meanwhile had placed her left hand on her hip with her right on her head while looking down to the camera's left. The Asian girl was good, but Tucker had immediately stopped time as soon as the girls had been told to strike a pose.
"I know you can actually do this, but I'm here to support you, remember?" Tucker reminded his silent girlfriend, walking over to her and waving the wand in her face. He then eyeballed Ana, whose leather outfit was giving him a serious flagpole situation. The girl was incredibly thin too, and Tucker couldn't help but wrap his arms around her waist and feel her skin. Miss Zoe, Diane and Kathryn looked on while fixed in place themselves as Tucker ended up rubbing against Ana to relieve his built up tension. It took him a little to recompose and remember that it would be odd if Ana was eliminated so fast, so he returned to his seat and let reality play out.
It was seven minutes in when Ana finally moved, her right elbow shifting ever so slightly, probably due to a gravity problem. "You're done!" screamed Miss Zoe immediately and the would-be biker girl stormed off of the set, immediately walking past Tucker and heading out into the other room. Haley, frozen by Tucker's magic, didn't even flinch, and another three minutes went by before Diane snapped her picture and Tucker needed to stop time once more.
Haley stood there, in her perfect pose, and Tucker contemplated unfreezing her and telling her his secret. He loved her, he was certain of it, but he still wasn't sure if that was enough for him to reveal the wand to her. Maggie had been a no-brainer, as she was like his sister and his platonic love for her knew no bounds. Haley however... the relationship was still just not tried and tested enough. One day, Tucker decided, as he quickly unfroze Haley from behind and then froze her again as he'd done with Chi earlier.
"Congratulations, you are going to be my second!" exclaimed Miss Zoe when time resumed, Haley blinking and then quickly smiling. Tucker had to admire Haley's ability to adapt, as Chi had seemed a bit too surprised at first and Tucker had wondered if anyone had noticed. Seemingly in the clear, Haley quickly thanked Miss Zoe, Diane and Kathryn before running over to her boyfriend and giving him a big hug.
"That was so much easier than I thought!" she exclaimed, unknowingly pressing against the hard wooden object that was Tucker's wand in his pants and not his manhood, which she's claimed she was okay with feeling. Tucker hugged her back and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, before she was led into the front room by Kathryn to take down her information.
"You should be proud; she's quite good," mused Miss Zoe after Haley had left, approaching him for the first time. "She was stiff like a statue, the most perfectly still model I have ever seen. Chi was good, but Haley..."
"She's not always like that, just to warn you," admitted Tucker, his face a bit red. "She, uh, practiced a few times with me helping out by pretending to be the photographer. A few times she could only hold a pose for maybe a minute, another time it lasted quite a while." Tucker didn't add that some of that practice had been one of his private photo sessions for the cosplay merchandise he sold online with Maggie. If he couldn't tell Haley about the wand, he certainly couldn't tell Miss Zoe; that was just silly.
* * *
Haley had driven home while Tucker had taken a more complicated route. First he'd retrieved Tatiana from her hiding spot, placing her on his handlebars and taking her back to the store with him. He'd stopped time so it wasn't a big deal; he'd even had time to explore Kathryn, Diane and even Miss Zoe in their more private areas. It turned out Diane had the best body of the three and Tucker figured she hid her body with large clothing to make sure people wouldn't pay attention to her looks. Kathryn unfortunately had nipples that were just too large for her breasts while Miss Zoe's crotch just couldn't hide signs of age, or signs that she'd been a bit of a slut at some point, or that she still was. Tucker had ultimately dragged Diane into the street and taken her in front of a tour bus, having always wanted to do so, then returning her more or less as she was with Miss Zoe touching her rear end just for some simple fun.
Nearly an hour had passed since he'd left to meet up with Haley and Jamie, Maggie and Faith were none the wiser. Ultimately while the software he'd brought in did Tucker's work for him, thanks to him unfreezing the computer, he was free to go at it with Tatiana in the office chair. By the time the program was done so was Tucker and he got dressed, hiding Tatiana in the office closet, which he currently had the only set of keys to. His job done and his playmate secure, Tucker restarted time and hid the secret to his rapid success by stashing the thumb drive in his pants and resetting the computer's clock to the correct time. He then exited the office with the printed documents, having unfrozen the lock earlier.
"Hey Tuck," greeted Maggie with a smile as she stood nearby getting a drink from the water cooler. "You changed your clothes while you were doing the budget?" Tucker looked down and realized he'd never put his old clothes back on and that they were still sitting in the alley.
"I got hot so I grabbed something else," lied Tucker, spotting Jamie over at the till helping a customer.
"Right," laughed Maggie, and Tucker somehow knew she knew the truth.
"When did you figure it out?" Tucker merely asked, not wanting to give Maggie something to hold over him.
"Yesterday when I read your email," revealed Maggie, getting her an annoyed stare from her friend. "Hey, you're the guy who left it open on the computer when you went out to pick-up dinner."
"Right, now I'm not going to share," was Tucker's simple reply, heading over to give the report to Jamie before Maggie could protest.
To Be Continued, when we spend Three Days With Maggie