Friends

PHOTOSTUDIO
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She didn’t know what she was thinking. She shouldn’t have come here. She should never have said yes. Never in a million year, she would have imagined herself in such a situation.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror: why did he pick her in the first place? What did he see in her that she couldn’t? Why did he insist over and over again?

She looked at her face – her tired eyes from the lack of sleep all week. She couldn’t stop worrying about tonight. She opened her purse and took out her pencil case. She put on a little make-up and hoped she looked alive.

A gentle knock on the door followed by his gentle voice.

“You alright there, Annie?”

“Yes, yes I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Alright. All is set in here.”

She was not even ready but she didn’t want him to get impatient. In any case, if she stayed more than a minute in this bathroom, she was sure that she’d talk herself out of this. Maybe she should though. She removed her pants and top then stood in her underwear in and stared at the mirror again. Luckily he snatched her out of her thoughts before they could start.

“Would you like something to drink? I can make coffee.”

“I’m good, thanks.”

She removed the remaining clothing items and took the white bathrobe that he had prepared for her. She put it on and took a deep breath.

She unlocked the door then slowly opened it.

“Hey!”

And there he was, all dressed-up but barefoot. His blue jeans and white shirt. His dark skin. His beautiful face. His brown eyes. What did he see in her?

He came closer.

“Shall we start?”

She nodded. He led her to his bed.

“If you could just lay here, it’d be perfect.”

She responded quickly to his request.

“Annie?”

“Yes?”

“The bathrobe.”

“Oh right!” She sat back up and removed the robe as he looked away. Who were they kidding? In less than a minute, he was going to see everything.

He walked towards the tripod and stood behind his camera. She let the robe fall to the floor and lied back on the bed. She shivered as her body touched his blue bed sheet.

“Cold?”

She shook her head.

“Comfortable?”

She nodded.

“Ready?”

She smiled. He smiled back and looked at her through his camera.

“Perfect.”

She blushed.

CLICK. The first picture.

“Just perfect.”

She blushed even more.

“You were always the quiet one.”

She smiled and thought that maybe they could – eventually – become friends.

An hour passed.

Two hours. He would come closer, take his pictures then stand by the entrance and take some more. They never took a break, he was in “the zone”. But she was exhausted and sore. The lights on her. The camera on her. His eyes on her. She never liked to be the centre of the attention.

Another hour passed and she couldn’t wait to hear these words:

“Okay, I believe we’re done for the day.”

He smiled as she relaxed for a moment then quickly wore back the robe. He laughed.

“Beautiful work. Beautiful girl.”

He came closer to her. She stopped moving as he kissed her lips softly. So much for becoming friends, maybe they’ll become lovers instead.

“So same time next week?”

“Next week?”

“I’d like to do this on a regular basis.”

Maybe she’ll become his muse.

She shrugged: “Um sure.”

His smile widened and he kissed her again.

“Perfect. You’re a natural.”

She smiled nervously. Natural? Natural at what? Lying naked on a bed? That required talent indeed.

As she drowned in her thoughts again, he stood up and reached his wallet left on his desk and took out a hundred-dollar bill. He came closer to her and handed over the bill. She looked at him in disbelief.

“Patrick told me you needed cash.” He smiled and put the money in her palm. “Don’t worry, this will be our little secret.”

She stood there in silence unable to speak, not sure how to feel.

“Lighten up.”

He pointed to his laptop. “I’ll check how the pictures turned out. Feel free to put your clothes back on, or just stay as you are. I don’t mind.”

He sat on his bed, connected the camera to the computer. She took a step back to the bathroom as the last hope of them ever becoming friends or lovers vanished into thin air.

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