Part Two: Katrina

Katrina sat down and leaned her cane against the side of the desk. She took a sip of the banana smoothie she'd just finished making and sat it on the stone coaster on the desk's surface then guided her legs up onto the footstool placed under the desk.

She leaned back and blew a wispy blonde curl out of her eye. She was procrastinating and she knew it. This article had to be finished by Monday and there would be no time to do it this weekend.

She stared again at the screen which held a week's worth of work. "Ten Undergarments That Will Drive Your Man Wild" by Katrina Black. That was as far as she'd managed to get. She shuffled her notes and snorted in disgust at the idea that she'd actually made notes on such a ridiculous piece. Worse yet she couldnít believe she actually used to dream of writing such drivel for a living! Luckily this was a freelance job so the sooner she buckled down and finished the better. Maybe just one more sip of the smoothie would fortify her.

The phone startled her mid-swallow. "Hello?" She didnít care who was on the other end of the line. She just hoped the party heard the gratitude in her voice.

"Well itís nice to know at least someone is happy to hear from me today! You wouldnít believe how grouchy the guy before you was!"

Katrinaís smile broadened. "Hey there, cousin Ed! How are you? Howís Roger?"

"We are both doing great! Just very busy with last minute preparations. Weíve got your room all made up here at the house and we canít wait for you to get to town!"

"I canít wait to see you two either. Itís been ages and I wouldnít miss this event for the world!"

"The foundation really appreciates you for doing this. I know you donít really make public appearances anymore, but just your name on the speakerís list has already put us over the top of our fundraising goal. I just hope itís not too much strain on you."

"Donít worry, I wouldnít do it if I didnít feel I could." She hoped she sounded more confident than she truly felt.

"Iím glad sweetie." She could hear the smile in his voice turn serious. "But you know you are much more important to me than any fundraiser. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, you just let me know and Iíll just tell them you couldnít make it. The money be damned! Family is much more important."

"Of course Iíll be there. I want to do this. I need to do this, Ed. Its for Katherine." Her twin sister had meant the world to her. People often thought that just because Katherine's cerebral palsy meant couldn't walk or speak, that the two sisters couldn't have a relationship. They were wrong. No two people understood each other better, and when Katherine died a part of Katrinaís heart went with her. Katrina still ached for her lost other half even all these years later.

There was a soft grunt of understanding on the other end of the line then Edís sunny voice replied, "Just let me know when youíll be getting into town tomorrow so we can have some of my world famous chocolate chip cookies warm and waiting for you." Katrina hung up the phone smiling. Ed truly did make amazing cookies! The best part was that nowadays she could actually eat them.

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Five years ago Katrina Blackís stomach would have been tied in knots at the very thought of eating even the smallest crumb of cookie. That was because five years ago Katrina Black was the top fashion model in the industry. Her ice blue eyes and honey blonde hair had graced the covers of more magazines than most other models put together. Sheíd done numerous television commercials and had even done some supporting roles in a few feature films. She was at the height of her career and on top of the worldÖ or so everyone thought.

In fact Katrina hated every minute in the spotlight. She had only entered the business because it was "expected" that she would. Her whole life she had heard nothing but praises about her flawless beauty.

Family friends always whispered behind their hands that it was so lucky that her parents had her to make up for her "unfortunate sister". She had never given it much thought until her flawless childish cuteness blossomed into stunning adolescence. Then the praises began to come increasingly from much older men and the attention increasingly inappropriate.

By the time she was 12 she had come to the conclusion that beauty was not something to be desired and she went to great lengths to hide herself in baggy clothing and a pronounced slouch which allowed her to hide her face behind a curtain of hair.

It was working too until her mother decided she was depressed. When the counselor she was required to see became quickly smitten, she decided there was no way to avoid her fate. She combed her hair, "put on some lipstick and a dress" (her mother's words), and did exactly what everyone expected.

She became head cheerleader and dated the star quarterback. She got great grades in school and had tons of friends. Everyone envied Katrina. No one understood that she thought she was probably the loneliest girl at school. She truly never had a genuine friend all through high school. Just people who flocked to her because they knew that she was in the "right circle."

What kept her sane was her "secret weapon". No one expected the pretty girl to also be smart. In fact, she was. She kept her grades high and read everything she could get her hands on. When she got the scholarship to an ivy league school she told no one but her parents. It was her ticket away from other people's expectations and she intended to use it!

Her mother had other plans for her of course. She had been sending Katrina's photographs around to agencies for months. She got signed to a contract almost before she knew it. She resigned herself to it once again accepting it as part of her curse and throwing herself into the work like she did with everything she undertook.

Of course a model's life had its perks. It was not all drudgery. It was also so far removed from her own actual dreams that she often sank into despair. She been in one of those black moods the day she crashed her sporty two-seater into a tree. To this day, Katrina was never really certain that the accident which scarred her face and twisted her right leg was entirely an accident.

She lived with daily pain, disfiguring scars, and the pitying looks from people who thought her unimaginably tragic. Even despite all that, Katrina was secretly relieved! At last she could live for herself. She took herself to the nearest fashion magazine and got hired on pure sympathy value. It was only later that they discovered that she could actually write.

The clout she earned on the fashion rag allowed her to write spec articles and submit them to publications that covered topics she was actually interested in. She had built a fulfilling and wonderful career for herself.

Of course, she still did the occasional obligatory article for the fashion magazine. Despite her distaste for it, she was actually quite good at it. Katrina sighed once again, still looking at the blank glowing page in front of her and absently massaging her stiffening thigh muscle. "Well the article is not going to write itself!" With that she bit the bullet and set to work on the hated piece.

To be continued...