A Short Story –
Darrin Phillips fiddled with the strap of his second-hand, hand-me-down digital camera, wondering what the hell he was doing here at dawn on a Sunday, when any normal person was either getting ready for church or sleeping off last night. He wondered, as he stared out at the empty, abandoned beach-side forest, why the hell he’d let himself get talked into this. He wasn’t a photographer. He wasn’t even an amateur or a hobbyist.
He was an idiot with a camera he barely knew how to use and a handful of pictures his friends had convinced him were decent enough to post online.
“You have an eye, Dare,” Hayato had told him when the man had first proposed the offer. “A way of looking deep into a person and bringing out their essence and beauty. Of seeing what’s beneath the surface.” Then he’d snorted—an odd sound to come out of the prim, proper man. He’d shot Dare a scoffing look before adding, “Plus, you’ve a reputation of handling even the most stubborn subjects.”
At his job, maybe. Dare worked at Patty’s Playhouse, a children’s arcade and restaurant known for its singing waiters. He wore a stupid toy soldier costume with mitten-hands and sang six-year-old’s burger and pizza orders back to them. He dealt with temper tantrums and crying fits on the daily. Whiny complaints—from parents as well as children—had become the vernacular of his life.
So he’d learned early on to cajole. How to use compliments and distractions as verbal shields against the never-ending assaults. He’d learned how to watch for signs of stress—a wobbly lip from a child, a clenched jaw from a parent. Even in his fellow wait staff, he’d learned to tell when the noise of it all had become too much.
Like he had with Wendy—the rag doll waitress—who’d almost slapped a bratty birthday guest armed with spitballs and an early curiosity about that sacred space beneath a girl’s skirt. From across the room, he’d seen the exact minute her temper flared. The second her rouged cheeks flushed with embarrassed anger when the precocious fourth-grader lifted the hooped tulle. In flash, he’d rushed over in time to grab her pulled-back hand and lead her into a waltz out of the party and into the break room, where he’d poured her a coffee and let her finish her shift unmolested.
It was a shit job and Dare knew it. It wasn’t where he’d planned to be. Wasn’t where he wanted to be for the rest of his life but, he supposed, with working all day with rowdy, hyper kids and tired, on-edge adults, yeah, he’d built a tolerance to stubborn.
He just hoped that carried through to today. The couple approach, strolling the park’s path in the early dusk light. He watched as Hayato and the woman walked, her fiery hair glowing in the climbing sun’s rays as it waved in the chill morning breeze.
Max Wells. Queen bitch of the publishing world. The cocked harpoon in shark-infested waters. Dare wasn’t above admitting that she scared the hell out of him.
Or, at least, he thought she should.
He’d heard rumors about her being a ball-busting ogress. There were legends abound about her shredding grown men with manicured nails before grinding their bones into dust to powder her face.
When he’d imagined her in his mind, whenever he’d listened to those stories, he’d always imagined a giantess. An amazon. A hard, coarse cyborg of a woman built to destroy a man.
Not this woman, who laughed deep and throaty as she and Hayato neared him. She was small. Not even five and a half feet, she wouldn’t so much as brush his shoulder. She was lush too. Softly rounded, curved and full. And she smiled.
Smiled! With her whole face, from her glossed lips to her dimpled cheeks to her crinkled nose to warm, brown eyes.
She was gorgeous. She didn’t look like a ogress or a harpoon or even a bitch. Dressed in a long, tan sweater dress and tall boots, she looked like a nymph in the woods. An angel bathed in golden morning light.
“Dare.” Her voice was rich as her laugh as she held out her hand.
“Ms. Wells.” He held out his own, taking her small, graceful, cream-colored hand in his larger, pecan-shaded palm.
“Please, call me Max.” She shook his hand with a surety that both unnerved and eased him. “I’ve seen your work. It’s good.”
“Thanks, ma’am,” he said with a bow of his head.
“Max,” she corrected, tossing her loose, red curls over her shoulder. “The only time anyone calls me Ma’am is during a scene. We’re not doing a scene right now, are we, Dare?”
He chuckled nervously, his face paling at the thought. “No, ma’—Max,” he stuttered.
“And even if we were,” Max said as she turned an impish, knowing grin—one full of innuendo and unintelligible inside jokes—at Hayato, “I certainly wouldn’t be playing the top today, would I?”
“Why don’t we just get started?” Hayato said with a matching smirk at Max.
“Aye, aye. Sir.” She gave him a mock salute, her goading grin full of brazen defiance before she turned to face the other man. “So, Dare,” she challenged, “how do you want me?”
Dare swallowed and blinked, his throat suddenly dry and his mind a blank.
He coughed. “Um,” he said as he pointed toward the beach, “I thought we’d start near the water. Before the sun gets too high.”
“Whatever you say.” She walked over to the shoreline.
“Max,” Hayato called, his authoritative voice stopping her mid-step, “aren’t you forgetting something?”
Dare watched Max wince before she slowly turned to face the stern-looking man. She sighed, a resigned defeat weighing down her face. “Now or never, huh?”
“You agreed to this,” Hayato reminded her, an entire conversation held in that phrase. Dare watched the Asian man hold out his hand expectantly.
Max closed her eyes and sighed, her breath almost visible in the cool air. She reached for the hemline of her short dress, her hands pausing as they gripped the edge. She licked her lips—Dare practically tasting the sweet waxen taste of her gloss along with her—as her eyes flicked around the park as if looking for a reason, an evasion, to save her.
But they were alone. No one was coming. Not this early in the morning.
Her frantic eyes flashed pleadingly at the unbending man with hard arms crossed over his chest. Hayato just stared, raising a single eyebrow in impatient expectation. “Now, Max,” his said, his voice impeccably reserved but unmovingly resilient, “or never.”
She swallowed hard and nodded before her decision burned determined in those wide, dark eyes. Dare watched with expectant unease as she pulled the dress up over her head, baring her body like a rising curtain.
Dare’s breath came short and shallow, her nervousness making him anxious. She stood before him in the empty park, her dress bunched in front of her body as her pale, milky skin flushed a warm pink glow, her feet shuffling awkwardly in her boots.
Hayato shook his held-out hand.
Max, dragging her feet, turned her back and made her way to him, looking too much like the young, frowning, pigtailed princesses as they left the Playhouse. An indignant dignity wrapped about her like a cloak, a prideful pout painting her curved lips. She stopped in front of the firm, unyielding man, her profile mulish and bent. Her hands clenched the dress before she reluctantly handed it over.
Dare had known this was coming. The other man had talked him through what was going to happen, what wasn’t, and what might.
Dare just hadn’t quite believed it until now.
Even staring at Max’s nude body, he still didn’t.
The man took the dress from her hands, folding it neatly. “Boots too.”
Dare watched her bend, the muscles in her full-figured ass tightening as she unzipped her boots and slipped them off.
Hayato took those from her too before gently touching her cheek. “You can do this,” he told her. “It won’t be like before. Trust me.”
Not understanding what that meant, Dare did his best to ignore the private moment as he watched Max from behind, the play of sun and shadow glinting against her soft, silken skin as she leaned into the other man’s touch.
Idly, he remembered pictures—scandalous and racy even in newsprint—of Max published and splashed over the local circuit. He remembered the stories—gossipy, grasping tales of her personal life and her ties to Donovan’s—that accompanied them.
Dare’s lips thinned thoughtfully as he studied the shape of her body, the curve of her hips and breasts. The perfect, ample roundness of her ass. The sweet dip of her spine. Even her thighs—as full as a Renaissance painting—that were perhaps too thick for the thigh-gap fashion, drew the eye, making it long to linger as it traced the soft lines.
She turned and took several steps toward the shore, her arm crossed over her chest with the other one wrapped protectively around her lush loins, her eyes averted but her chin held high.
“Stop,” Dare said, gripping his camera, his eyes widening as they took her in. “Just stand there. Just like that.” The still rising sun cast a rich, golden light over the beach. The light caught her hair and set the autumn color ablaze, flaring as the wild curls waved in the wind. Her flushed skin, the color of a perfectly ripe peach, looked warm and welcoming against the water’s backdrop.
He aimed his camera and took the shot.
But he stilled—stiff—when he saw her shudder. He frowned, playing with the settings as he studied her. Her full breasts heaved with harsh breaths that hurt to look at. She bit her lip, her teeth a white slash digging into her pink flesh. Her eyes looked nervous and downcast as her hold around herself tightened. She looked like a sacrifice, a harrowing humility hanging about her neck, weighing her—shutting her—down.
He snapped another shot—just to test the light—only to stop again as she shook as if struck.
He lowered his camera and looked at her outside his lens. She looked frightened, cold, hurt.
Dare glanced back at Hayato, still standing off to the side, uncertain. Max obviously didn’t want this. Looked pained by the experience. Dare felt dirty, like a voyeur or a sneak, stealing something from her with each sharp snap.
The man met his gaze surely as he gave a single, precise nod. “It’s okay.” Dare wasn’t sure whom he was talking to—whom he was trying to assure—Max or himself. “You can do this.”
Max looked up, just a tiny tip of her head—barely a flicker of her eye—as she met the other man’s gaze. Their eyes met and held—just for a moment, brief but sweet—before she closed her eyes again, shoring up her confidence, trudging up her touted temerity.
With a nod of his own, Dare lifted his camera, determined to capture that—that expression, that feeling.
This perfect moment.
This time, as his shutter snapped, Max held her breath and place, her mouth set with a brassy aplomb. Dare grinned. “You’re doing great, Max.” His camera clicking, he moved around her, catching her from several angles. “You’re stunning.”
A flicker of a smile touched her lips as a fresh flush of color brushed her ale peach cheeks.
Max blushed, her head dipping even as she peeked up behind Dare. “Thank you,” she murmured, her hesitant gaze turning hot as the arms around herself relaxed a bit. Her gaze flicked to Dare. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome,” he said, holding her gaze even as he kept an eye on the LCD screen.
He saw her take a deep, shuddering breath before she let the arm around her chest fall to her side, revealing the beautiful mounds of her breasts. The rose crowns of her nipples hardened, teased by still jittery nerves and the brisk, blowing breeze, even as her skin warmed with pretty, pink excitement.
For a moment, Dare was stunned, unable to do more than just stare at Max’s beauty, his mind racing with images and ideas as his hands clutched his camera.
Then she moved her other hand.
His eyes widened and his nostrils flared, sure he could almost smell the sweet, sea scent of her wetness that he spotted slick between her soft thighs, even from this distance away. Dare licked his lips, his mind wondering at the taste of that glistening sheen. He shifted his tense legs and felt his body react, a reflex predictable and unstoppable. His finger itched over the shutter release, brushing anticipatory over the button.
His eyes flicked to a nearby picnic table, an idea taking shape in his mind as he stared at the faded, worn wood.
After beckoning, Dare positioned Max on the table, spread her out on her back like a feast. He took his time, deliberately arranging her legs in a lazy, delectable sprawl. He lifted her shoulders so she leaned up on her elbows. “Give me a sexy look,” Dare told her, “something inviting and hot.”
Max nodded as her dark amber eyes flared and her mouth curved.
“Perfect.” Dare took the shot. “Lick your lips,” he said as he looked through his lens. She did. And it was good, but something was still missing.
He bit his lip and tried to puzzle it out. Her body looked luxuriously relaxed and comfortably lustful. Her eyes burned with a promising passion and her lips looked wet, beckoning a kiss. And the wetness gleaming on her bare, exposed pussy dared a man to look. To touch. To taste.
It was a good image. Very good.
Dare’s eyes narrowed on her breasts, her nipples soft and full now atop her plump, pillowed chest. It was nice, but he wanted them stiff again. Stiff and sampled, slick with saliva as if someone had sipped from the sweet tips.
“Lick your fingers,” he told her, pleased when she did so right away with little more than a quirking eyebrow. “Really suck. Then touch your nipples. Really get them wet.”
“Excuse me?” A shocked hand hit the table.
“You heard him,” Hayato said before Dare could repeat himself. “Do it.”
He watched her swallow hard, her eyes checking the park again, her nerves returning. For a second, even though it was well within the limits the man had laid out, Dare wondered whether she’d do it.
But she sighed and brought her hand to her mouth again. She sucked, her cheeks hollowing as her tongue worked over her skin before she let them pop from between her lips. With her gaze uncertain but heated, she lowered her slippery fingers to glaze the tightening crests.
It was good.
But it still wasn’t right.
Read Part Two Here