Joey’s late night binges had finally caught up with him — and so had Mrs. Bartoli, his wife. His screw-up had definitely been Donovan’s step-up. Given that he had been at Gent Magazine for only a few months, Donovan had been able to slide himself into the “big dollar” photo production with relative ease. Big dollar? Well, that’s how Frank Delgadillo, chief editor of Gent had referred to it. Big dollar, maybe. Nevertheless, it was still just fluff. Donovan thought that working on fluff pieces was okay as a temporary gig but intended to use the magazine as a stepping stone to photograph for its sister company; a world news publication. Delgadillo knew of his plans and he used it to his advantage, giving Donovan no more than “bubble gum” assignments to test his drive and commitment. But not this time. This was a cover page, and Donovan was going to make the most out of the opportunity tossed his way.
He enjoyed the solitude that accompanied driving during the wee hours of the morning and meditated on how fortunate he was to have been able to find a decent rental car in time for his trip to Arizona since his Infiniti was out of commission. According to his mechanic, it most likely wouldn’t be salvageable. Pushing thoughts of the disaster aside, he tilted his seat back and decided to take pleasure in his peaceful time away from the drama at home.
Not having to focus on anything other than the black stretch of highway before him, he contemplated photographing the G.I. women that had been selected for the shoot. The cover caption: Military Babes. Corny title, but hell, he thought, why not be the one to shoot it?
• • •
As he set up, Donovan eyed the main door to the studio as the stunning models filed in. He was surprised to see just how many beautifully feminine women were actually among the nation’s defenders. With a charismatic crooked smile, he happily introduced himself to the camera-friendly Privates representing various branches of the US military. However, there was one woman whom seemed to stand out above them all. And, it wasn’t because of her dazzling looks, although his eyes drank her in like a frosty glass of homemade iced tea offered on a sultry, sweltering summer’s night, but because of the pain that seemed to resonate from every pore of her white velvet skin.
Donovan’s experience in photography enabled him to detect a hurting heart with the accuracy of a well-trained sharpshooter. In his line of work being in sync with people’s emotions was an asset. It wasn’t long before the well-fit, honey-kissed blonde caught him gazing at her and smiled a slow smile; a smile that overtook her countenance and masked the pain with a glow that warmed him in places he had not been warmed by another woman in quite some time. Naturally inspired by his hormones and what he assumed to be her interest in him, it was no accident that her shoot had become the final and longest of the day.
Good. Good. A little to the left. Right there, Nichole. That’s it. Don’t move! Just like that.
Having her work the camera was like talking to her — uncomplicated and relaxed. He found her to be amenable and candid and soon found out that his perception was correct. She had been hurt and wanted to unburden her heart to someone. They had that in common.
Unable to extend the shoot any longer, he finally gave in and asked if she’d like to join him for a drink so they could spend more time getting to know each other. She agreed. However, they never made it to their cocktails but instead went to his single room at the Fairfield Inn Marriott.
The night ended with the two of them sharing confidences in a misguided attempt to connect as only two suffering strangers thrust together by chance could – in bed. Too late to stop and beyond the point of wanting to, he murmured breathlessly in her diamond-studded ear. “I know I don’t know you, but I want you so bad.”
“Show me,” she whispered. Naughtily, she jumped on top of him, causing the red wrapped Trojan to sail from his grasp and onto the floor landing on stark white panties with newly ripped lace.
© Daphne Marie Doucette/Wild Heart Scribe