This story is intended as ADULT entertainment. It contains material of an adult, explicit, SEXUAL nature. If you are offended by sexually explicit content or language, please DO NOT read any further.
This story is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in it are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. The author does not necessarily condone or endorse any of the activities described.
This story may not be reproduced in any form for profit without the written permission of the author, Nick Scipio (firstname.lastname@example.org). It may be freely distributed with this disclaimer attached.
Copyright© 2007 Nick Scipio. All rights reserved.
It had been a long day, and I was glad it was over. Since seven in the morning, I'd had a studio full of people for a photo shoot. It was for a popular and irreverent men's magazine, and all the models had been scantily clad. I suppose the readership of the magazine liked their women beautiful and dumb, because that's certainly what I'd dealt with all day. Working with fashion models may sound glamorous, but it's usually not. Most of them are either vapid or vacuously chatty.
My assistants Theresa and Steve were shutting down the studio lights and moving props out of the way while I hustled the last of the models and various other people out of the building. I couldn't wait to pour myself a cold drink and relax, although I knew I wouldn't have long before the magazine's art director called. We'd talk about the shoot, when he could see the proofs, and a host of other details.
I had just shut the outer door on the last of the crowd when the office phone rang. With a sigh, I resigned myself to dealing with the call.
"Mike Logan," I said, catching the phone on the fourth ring.
"Mike, old buddy, old pal. How the hell are ya?"
I furrowed my brow in concentration, trying to place the voice. It sure wasn't the men's magazine art director.
"You don't know who this is, do you?" the caller asked when my brain refused to cooperate.
"No," I said, rubbing my weary eyes. "Enlighten me."
Terry. I searched my memory, but drew a blank.
"I'm sorry, Terry. It's been a long day."
"Terry Duggins, from NYU."
Finally, recognition blossomed in my overworked brain. "Terry! Of course. Sorry, man. It's been one of those days. Besides," I said, shaking my head, "it's been what ... eight years?"
"Yeah, at least."
Terry was my roommate the first year I was at NYU. I was studying photography at the Tisch School of the Arts, and he wanted to be the next Stanley Kubrick. Terry's father was some big-shot financial type and had finally convinced him to transfer to Columbia to "pursue a real career." We'd kept in touch after Terry changed schools, but drifted apart a year or two after graduation.
I sat down in the office chair and swiveled to put my feet on the desk. "How ya been, man?"
We chatted for a few minutes, catching up. He was married and still living in the City. I was surprised to hear that he hadn't joined his father's firm after graduation. My respect for his old man grew when Terry told me his dad wouldn't give him a job until he'd proven himself at another firm. The Duggins name carried enough weight that he had no trouble finding a position. In the eight years since I'd talked to him, he'd swiftly moved up the corporate ladder, and had just accepted a position--based solely on his own accomplishments, he said proudly--with his father's firm.
I told him about my life during the intervening years. I was still single and doing what I enjoyed most, taking pictures of beautiful women. Terry told me he'd even seen my photos in last year's Swimsuit Issue. Yes, the models really were that beautiful. No, I didn't date the models. Yes, I did get to travel a lot. I didn't mention that most of the models were not the type of women I'd consider dating. Nor did I mention the hundreds of pounds of cameras and equipment I usually schlepped around on those "glamorous" trips. He had his little fantasy of what a fashion photographer's life was like, and I didn't want to break the spell with a cold dose of reality.
"Listen, buddy," he said. "Let me cut to the chase. I was having lunch with Dad and one of his clients yesterday, and the subject of this guy's youngest daughter came up. She's getting married in June, and the photographer got deported. I told them I was old college buds with you, and that you shot weddings all the time. So, I told 'em..."
"Terry," I said, interrupting him. "I haven't shot weddings in a long time." I didn't like shooting weddings, and I'd done it early in my career simply to pay the bills.
"It's like riding a bike, though. Right?"
No, I thought to myself, it's not. Working with fashion models may be trying at times, but if I didn't like the lighting or the angle was bad, I simply stopped for a moment and fixed things. Brides walking down the aisle were like silk-clad juggernauts. They didn't care if the lighting was bad or the angle was wrong.
"Terry, I'd love to help, but ... I don't do weddings anymore."
"C'mon, buddy. Help me out here. How much would you charge this guy to shoot his daughter's wedding."
"Terry, I'm telling you, I don't do weddings."
"When I mentioned you, Reuben said he knew your name, and he wanted the best for his little girl. So ... how much?"
I quickly realized I wasn't going to beg off, so I decided to try another tack. Back when I was shooting weddings, I usually charged a thousand dollars for a complete package. But that was when I was new to the business and hadn't established a name for myself. These days, the going rate for a good wedding photographer was probably somewhere between three and five thousand. I added a little to the top-end fee and then doubled it, hoping to put Terry's friend off with the price alone.
"Look, Terry, my time's really booked. But if you've got to tell this guy something, tell him I'll do it for fifteen grand." I expected Terry to sputter, maybe even gasp. I was hoping he'd simply tell me I was crazy and gracefully, or not so gracefully-- I didn't care which--drop the idea.
"Did you hear what I said, Terry?"
"Sure. Fifteen thousand. No problem. I'll tell Reuben."
"Terry, I don't even know when the wedding is. If I'm booked that week, then there's nothing I can do. Like I said, I don't do weddings."
"I dunno when it is, exactly. Sometime in early June. I'll tell ya what, let me give you Reuben's daughter's number. You got a pen?"
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. The last thing I wanted to do was to shoot a wedding. He gave me the number and I reluctantly wrote it on a Post-it note.
"Her name's Lara. Lara Talbot."
"Right," I said, writing her name under the number. Something about the girl's name tickled the back of my brain, but I couldn't figure out what it was. I drew two lines under her last name and then it hit me. "What did you say her father's name was?"
"Reuben Talbot?!" I asked.
"The Reuben Talbot? The guy who owns more of Manhattan than Donald Trump?"
"Well," Terry said. "The Donald doesn't own that much anymore."
"Yeah, he's that Reuben Talbot."
"Christ, Terry! Why didn't you tell me it was Reuben Talbot's daughter?!"
"Would it have made a difference?"
"Hell yes, it would have."
"Why?" he asked.
I couldn't begin to explain to him the problems involved. Weddings are bad enough--if you screw up even the smallest thing, families get really bent out of shape. You usually only get one chance to get a shot, maybe two or three for the posed shots of the wedding party. But during my thankfully short career as a wedding photographer, I'd learned that rich weddings were the worst. Demanding parents, haughty participants, and spoiled children could quickly turn things into a fiasco.
"Trust me, Terry," I said. "It would've made a difference."
"Oh, well," he said, sounding indifferent. "I know you'll enjoy it. And it'll certainly be good for your business."
"I'm not in the business of shooting weddings, Terry."
"You'll have a blast, buddy. I think you'll like Lara. She's a real firecracker. Hey, buddy, I gotta go." I could hear another phone ringing in the background. "I'll tell Reuben to tell Lara to expect your call. It was great catching up with you. I'll see ya at the wedding."
Without even waiting for me to say goodbye, he hung up.
Super, I thought. Even fifteen thousand dollars couldn't make me enjoy the hell I was going to endure to shoot Lara Talbot's wedding. Of that, I was positive.
For three days, I debated whether or not to call her. Unfortunately, I'd told Terry I would, and my professional ethics wouldn't let me avoid it. Finally, I sat down in my office and dialed her number. After the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up. I listened to the greeting--she actually had a pleasant voice--and was preparing to leave a noncommittal message when I heard a click.
"Hello? I'm here! Don't hang up."
I heard a beep as she turned off the machine. "I'd like to speak to Lara Talbot, please."
"This is Lara," she said, panting slightly.
"Ms. Talbot, this is Mike Logan. I'm a..."
.... There is more of this story ...