Chapter 83:

Volume 4, Chapter 1: Sica’s Jessica Staccato

Heroes of the Past

Sunday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 6Bookmark here

“You want to go to the mall?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I have something really cool to show you,” Felicity revealed with excitement.Bookmark here

“Sure, I don’t have anything to do today. What time do you want to go?” I agreed.Bookmark here

“How about noon?” Felicity suggested.Bookmark here

“Works for me. Which mall is it again?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“I’ll give you a ride, so don’t worry about looking it up,” Felicity offered.Bookmark here

“Just give me a call when you’re here,” I said, hanging up.Bookmark here

I leaned back in my chair, staring at a pile of Ichizen’s books. Last night, I flipped through all the pages, but found no more clues. Just a bunch of his dumb comments about Ace and how cool she was. Might as well check again just to pass the time. I was checking my fifth book when the doorbell rang. Tess walked right past me when I opened the door and up towards my room.Bookmark here

“Uh, Tess?” I called out.Bookmark here

“Something wrong, Yuki?” Felicity shouted out from her car.Bookmark here

I returned to my room, seeing Tess store Ichizen’s books in a backpack. I did agree to lend them out, but that wasn’t the main issue.Bookmark here

“Tess,” I repeated.Bookmark here

“I apologize for the intrusion. I am now picking up the books,” Tess said.Bookmark here

“That isn’t what’s wrong here,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“What is the issue?” Tess looked at me with her flat expression.Bookmark here

“You just walked in without saying anything,” I said.Bookmark here

“Your mother allowed me free roam considering my frequent visits to your residence,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

“Oops, forgot to tell you, Yuki. Tess, I support you all the way!” Mom shouted, poking her head into my room.Bookmark here

“Don’t scare me like that, Mom!” I exclaimed, startled by her appearance.Bookmark here

“So mean, Yuki. Go out and have fun. Tess, care to buy information on my daughter? My offer still stands from last time,” Mom offered.Bookmark here

“Not at this time, thank you for the kind offer. I will consider it at a future date,” Tess replied, giving a slight bow.Bookmark here

You can’t go around and say things like that, Mom, even if it’s a joke. I headed out of my room with Tess following behind me.Bookmark here

“Take care. Bring back cute clothes. It might help you out!” Mom shouted from the front door.Bookmark here

I didn’t respond, entering Felicity’s car. Tess sat in the back, already inspecting a book. Felicity didn’t drive away yet, texting on her phone. Mom stared at me with a wide smile, freaking me out. Let’s just go already.Bookmark here

“Yuki, there’s a really special guest at one of our retail stores today!” Felicity said.Bookmark here

“Must be someone really great considering how you’ve talked about them,” I observed.Bookmark here

“Of course! It’s the Jessica Staccato, an integral part of Sica!” Felicity squealed.Bookmark here

Sica, huh? Felicity’s Christmas present and those undergarments originated from that company. I really shouldn’t be surprised, considering the social ladder she occupied. It made sense she knew the clients that her parent’s company worked with.Bookmark here

“I don’t really know much about Sica as a company. So, what’s her connectio to it?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“She’s only the entire driving force! Everything the company does, she reviews personally before it gets produced. She only hires the smartest and most talented. It’s an honor for her to visit, considering her busy schedule,” Felicity gushed.Bookmark here

Felicity hummed a happy tune once we exited the highway. Tess flipped through the pages of each book, nodding when discovering something of interest. What a strange combination. I never expected for the three of us to ever go clothes shopping together.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I shall return these once my analysis is complete. Forgive me if I hold onto these for an extended period of time,” Tess informed me.Bookmark here

“That’s fine. Whatever you can find, I hope it helps out. I haven’t been here in awhile,” I said, seeing the large shopping center come into view. .Bookmark here

“Really? It’s one of the biggest malls. Where do you usually shop for clothes?” Felicity asked, making a left turn into the parking lot.Bookmark here

“I haven’t really bought new clothes since last year. I just go wherever is closest,” I answered.Bookmark here

“You can’t do that! I’ll make sure you get the best clothes! You too, Tess! You have to impress especially with what you’re doing,” Felicity disagreed. .Bookmark here

Impress who exactly? Tess didn’t give a s**t. Felicity, you surely know that better than anyone else.Bookmark here

“Tai?” I said, noticing the skinny man, as we walked toward the entrance.Bookmark here

It was the Christmas party bartender, Tai Meng. He still wore neon green glasses, black notch marks on the sides. Today, he wore a football sports hoodie with tan pants.Bookmark here

“Oh, Tomo, right?” Tai asked, pausing to chat with me.Bookmark here

“Hey there, Meng! Do you have work today?” Felicity greeted him.Bookmark here

“I just got off. Tomo, if you ever need a phone, stop by the mobile store inside. I work there, so I might be able to hook you up with some deals,” Tai offered.Bookmark here

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind,” I said.Bookmark here

Interesting, I didn’t know he had that kind of job. I would stop by if I ever needed a new phone.Bookmark here

“I can’t wait! She’s such an inspiration,” Felicity praised.Bookmark here

Tess held one of Ichizen’s books by the spine, reading through it, walking without bumping into anything. No surprise there. This was the same person, who entered my house eating homemade cereal. The bizarre and strange seemed to be her forte.Bookmark here

“This way!” Felicity led us in the correct direction.Bookmark here

Tess nodded, not saying anything. We ascended to the third floor, heading to a plain boutique. I expected something flashier. Tess almost struck the wall, swerving at the last moment. Damn, how solid were her reflexes?Bookmark here

“Let’s head to the back office. Jessica is already waiting there,” Felicity directed, pointing at the back.Bookmark here

She showed one of the employees an ID card, allowing us entry into the back. Felicity stopped at a door marked with “Manager’s Office” and knocked twice. A woman in her late thirties opened it, peering at us.Bookmark here

“Felicity, you’re early. That excited to see Jessica, huh?” she asked with a smile.Bookmark here

“Don’t tease me like that,” Felicity replied.Bookmark here

“I couldn’t help it. She’s in here,” the woman said, leading us all inside with a flourish.Bookmark here

Inside, a woman in her early twenties, sat on a couch. Her clothes looked expensive, but at the same time contained common sense, which the more absurd brand names lacked. She had an incredible smile, rivaling that of Felicity’s.Bookmark here

“You must be Felicity Smoke. Nice to finally meet you in person. I’m Jessica Staccato,” she greeted, shaking Felicity’s hand.Bookmark here

Total joy filled Felicity’s face. I thought she might faint from excitement. Tess finally closed her book, acknowledging the woman with a slight nod.Bookmark here

“And you brought your friends. Oh, you’re….,” Staccato said, looking me over.Bookmark here

“She’s the one I recommended for the prototype,” Felicity replied.Bookmark here

Staccato walked around me, her eyes traveling all over my body. This was super creepy. She grinned, calling the manager over and whispered something to her. The manager then left the room with a knowing look.Bookmark here

“She definitely fits. A great asset for any future tests,” Staccato finally commented, smiling.Bookmark here

“I knew it! Did you hear that, Yuki? Jessica gave you her seal of approval,” Felicity said, looking over at me.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much, Miss Staccato. Um, Tomo Yuki, by the way,” I said.Bookmark here

“No, no, just call me Jessica. Don’t be so formal. I’ll call you Yuki, if you’re okay with that,” Jessica directed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m fine with that,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“You must be the other one. Hm…. you’re an intriguing one,” Jessica commented, turning her attention to Tess.Bookmark here

“Zha Tess. A pleasure to meet you,” Tess introduced herself.Bookmark here

“Tess is fine, right?” Jessica inquired.Bookmark here

“By all means, Jessica,” Tess said.Bookmark here

“I quite like her. Felicity, you know really interesting people. Anyways, now that the introductions are done, let’s talk business,” Jessica decided.Bookmark here

“Yes, that would be lovely,” Felicity nodded, taking a seat next to her.Bookmark here

The manager returned, carrying an assortment of clothes over her arms. She placed them on the coffee table, chatting with Felicity and Jessica. For the next fifteen minutes, they discussed business and exchanged paperwork. Jessica, at last, left the conversation and rejoined us.Bookmark here

“Already done talking?” I asked, looking over at Felicity.Bookmark here

“They don’t need me. Just a few legal things to confirm,” Jessica assured me.Bookmark here

“A wise decision,” Tess commented, looking up from the book.Bookmark here

“You really do catch my interest, Tess. My brother might learn a few things from you. Although, he probably be against it. That’s just the way he is!” Jessica laughed.Bookmark here

“How old is your brother?” I asked, curious.Bookmark here

“Still just a high school brat,” Jessica responded, giving me yet another smile.Bookmark here

Tess’ phone rang and she placed her book down on the table. She answered it with her usual courteous, but flat tone. Tess scribbled down a few sentences and a rough diagram in her notebook, before hanging up.Bookmark here

“How’s it going?” Felicity asked, walking over to us.Bookmark here

“I have you to thank for more test models. Let’s go to the changing rooms and see how these clothes fit. Felicity, I’ll coordinate their outfits, since I know my product better than you. I’ll bring them back and you won’t even recognize them,” Jessica ordered, looking over at us.Bookmark here

“Very well. This provides a prime opportunity in updating my clothes,” Tess agreed, following Jessica.Bookmark here

“Felicity, bring those clothes over. You go on ahead and set up,” Jessica commanded.Bookmark here

Felicity’s face lit up and nodded. She rushed over, scooped up all the clothes, and exited the room with a flushed look on her face.Bookmark here

“Tess, I’m surprised you agreed to go along with this,” I remarked, glancing over at the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“I am not fashion conscious. It’s not everyday someone well versed in that field offers their help. It’s only natural to accept their offer,” Tess explained her reasoning.Bookmark here

“I’m looking forward to see what clothes I can put together!” Jessica returned.Bookmark here

The dressing room consisted of six comfortable seats and several tall mirrors. A rack, numerous clothes hanging on it, was in the corner.Bookmark here

“Let’s see. Tess, try this dress. I know it’s still winter, but it’ll be perfect for the summer. As for you, Yuki, let’s see here….,” Jessica said, handing Tess a dress.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I heard from Felicity you’ll be moving around a lot, so consider these workout clothes. Sica is still developing this type of clothing, so I’ll be happy to hear your input,” Jessica suggested.Bookmark here

I touched the fabric. Of course it felt nice. I felt bad taking these clothes without paying. For all I knew, Sica was operating in the red. Then again, Jessica looked pretty well off.Bookmark here

“Don’t be shy, Yuki. Take off your clothes and try them on. I’ll look away if you’re that shy,” Jessica urged with a chuckle.Bookmark here

Tess already changed into the summer dress, staring at herself in the mirror. That was fast! Even with her flat expression, the clothes made her stand out. Damn, Jessica had an amazing eye. Over the next two hours, Jessica handed us different clothes. She inspected us from various angles, checking if the combination worked or not. How would I keep track of this?Bookmark here

“That should do it. I have great data now. It’s nice to have new people. I, of course, will allow you to keep everything. In return, I ask for you to update me on their comfortableness and durability. Maybe the occasional modeling job too. Felicity can send you my contact information,” Jessica concluded.Bookmark here

“Are you sure? This is a lot,” I said.Bookmark here

“Of course, these are still prototypes, no need to be concerned. But, if you want to buy any of my other stuff, I won’t stop you,” Jessica confirmed.Bookmark here

“If you say so,” I said, not pushing the issue.Bookmark here

“Here’s a list of everything we went over. A copy for both of you. Felicity’s capable of answering any questions you should have,” Jessica said, giving both of us folders filled with pictures and notes.Bookmark here

I peeked through it, seeing sketches and color swatches. When did she even do these?Bookmark here

“I can’t really thank you enough for all of this,” I said.Bookmark here

“Remember to tell your friends about the brand. It’s always nice to have exposure,” Jessica reminded.Bookmark here

“Spoken like a true business person. I offer you my gratitude as well,” Tess bowed, her face displaying actual emotion.Bookmark here

We left the changing room and met back up with Felicity. She was busy staring at a chart, having a serious conversation with the manager. We sat back at the coffee table, waiting for her to finish. Jessica had a few more words with Felicity and the manager before leaving.Bookmark here

“That was amazing!” Felicity shouted.Bookmark here

“She is indeed an interesting person,” Tess agreed, her enthusiasm much more toned down.Bookmark here

“I know, right? Shoot, we have chemistry homework, don’t we?” Felicity suddenly brought up.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I already finished it. Didn’t you?” I replied.Bookmark here

Felicity blinked, pulling out her phone. She swiped on the screen with a crestfallen expression. Guess she forgot.Bookmark here

“Tess, you have time today?” Felicity asked, looking over at the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“Yes. Fel, you need help, right?” Tess nodded.Bookmark here

“You know me so well,” Felicity said, hugging Tess.Bookmark here

It took three trips before we finally finished transporting all the clothes. It was going to be a pain to organize all of this. I’m sure Mom would have a few snide remarks too.Bookmark here

“Yuki, we didn’t get to hang out much, but you had a good time, right? How couldn’t you? Jessica Staccato was here!” Felicity exclaimed.Bookmark here

“You don’t have to worry. It was fun today,” I assured her.Bookmark here

“Wait, wait! Tess, tell me. What is tomorrow?” Felicity exclaimed, relief appearing on her face.Bookmark here

“It’s a holiday tomorrow. We don’t have school. Regardless, Fel, we should complete it by today,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

I knew what I was doing tomorrow. I already studied enough, time for a little break. I thanked Felicity again, hauling all my new clothes into my house with Tess’ assistance.Bookmark here

“Tomo, we shall enter Kisai’s dimension either tomorrow, or sometime next week,” Tess relayed.Bookmark here

“Got it,” I said.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.