Built Piece By Piece

an excerpt

Chapter One

As the black Town Car wove through the crazy New York streets to the Warehouse District, top fashion stylist, Montgomery Peyton Ravenscroft, looked out the window. He rested his elbow on the armrest and tapped his fingernails against the glass. The sky was gray and rain dropped on and off throughout the day. It was similar to his mood.

Monty loved everything about the fashion world and helping his exclusive clients dress in the finest clothes possible. He was honest to a fault, sometimes too honest, but it worked. He never wanted his client to end up on the 'Worst Dressed' list. That was the bane of every stylist. He dressed everyone from Hollywood and Broadway stars, politicians and European elite.

Still, for some reason, the drive to find the perfect look no longer seemed to thrill him. He didn't have the heart for the hunt, to sit through multiple shows of the different Fashion Weeks where he saw everything from haute couture, to modern, to ready-to-wear and menswear. He even went to the lingerie and swimsuit shows. After the shows, he spoke and flirted amongst the crowds during the parties to keep up appearances and contacts. There were even clients that he traveled with to attend special appointments with one designer or another.

His bank account was well padded. His investments were safe from any market craziness. He enjoyed a penthouse a few avenues from Central Park. Other than the exquisite designer created rooms of furniture and art, his home was empty. His life was empty except for friends and clients. His family was long gone. The last man he'd been with left him for someone younger and hot he met in a club.

Monty found himself almost forty with only a successful business and empty home to fill his life. It wasn't working.

"Have you made a decision on what you're going to do?" his best friend, Andres Morefield, asked from his spot on the other side of the car. He sipped from a glass of sparkling water and tapped his wedding ring against the side.

The sound was starting to annoy Monty.

"No, I would never abandon Ravens' Style or my clients. I need something else because I feel like I'm floundering," Monty said, but didn't glance at his friend. "Where are you taking me?"

"To see someone I think you would want to help or become an investment partner," Andres said. "He's quite an interesting young man. Brilliant designer."

"Do I know him?"

"No and that's the unfortunate problem he's having, which is typical for most young designers. It's difficult and fierce competition."

"What is the problem?"

"He's prone to high anxiety attacks and has trouble mingling and being in large crowds. Sometimes it'll affect his speech by causing a slight stutter or missed words. He has a tendency to squirrel away somewhere. Poor boy is so lost in the creativity within his mind that he has almost no social skills."

"How is he able to work and sell his designs if he can't step out and promote himself? That's the majority of the business, get out and show off your work. No matter how good his designs may be, if no one sees them then there's no point."

"He hired an assistant, a stylist of some sort, to handle potential buyers, clients and companies. A pair of part-time tailors assists him with the odd job or two, but he's not busy. Last I heard the tailors took on full-time positions elsewhere." Andres shook his head. "For reasons you pointed out, I don't know how much longer he can survive."

"Why isn't the assistant doing his job and bringing clients to him?"

"I'm not sure what that fella is doing, but his way isn't working. I'm hoping your way will do the trick. I hate to see this kid disappear."

Intrigued by all this flattery from someone who's been in the fashion world for so long, Monty turned his head to study his friend. "What's his name? The designer."

"Dillen Ashbridge. He's barely twenty-eight, but graduated from Parsons at the top of his class and interned with Dior and a New York house-- Michael Kors, I think. His background started with high school theatre costumes and prom dresses. His grandmother taught him everything from pattern making to beading and knitting. He can make anything except accessories, but he can design those pieces." Andres finished the water and set the glass in its spot. "I've seen Dillen create everything from the most exquisite haute couture gown to a sleek men's suit even you would want to wear everywhere."

"Yet with all this promise and talent, he's gone nowhere."


"When did he start his brand?"

"Two years ago. When I asked him to qualify for a place in Fashion Week, even one of the minor shows, he almost fainted in front of me."

"Seems to me he needs a psychiatrist, not another stylist," Monty said.

"He has one, Monty, but he needs more." Andres shook his head with a sigh. "I'm not sure what he needs. Dillen is alone in the world. His grandmother raised him, but I believe she passed away. I'm not sure of the details. It was around the time he graduated from Parsons."

"What did he call his business?"

"DA Designs."

"Short and to the point, but I'm not sure it's strong enough to capture attention. If he doesn't have a show, then it wouldn't matter what he calls his business. If no one knows about him or his place, then there's no point to advertise his business. If he doesn't do these bare basics and put his name out there like all the other young designers, what good would it be for us to support him? I'm sorry, Andres, but not even I can help him," Monty said.

"Before you make a final decision, please meet with him first and see his portfolio and work."

"It's why I'm sitting here. Does he know we're coming?"

"Umm. No. He would panic."

"Wouldn't our sudden appearance make this reaction worse?"

"Possibly, but I heard him mention your name several times. He admires your style and skill," Andres said. "Win him over with your charm."

"Charm?" Monty raised an eyebrow. "I've been called brash, harsh and brutal with my clients. I don't think it's ever been called 'charm.'"

Andres chuckled.