Former male model and fashion photographer Simon McCallan had a jaded view of women, especially the slender beauties he photographed. But then, Simon had a secret: he wasn’t attracted to thin women. Being in the fashion industry, however, he’d never dated or had any real interaction with women larger than a size six. Then, one stormy afternoon, his new assistant arrived. She was the Rubenesque lady of his dreams, and his one thought from the moment she stepped in was that he had to have her. But Adrienne Parks was no push-over; handsome as Simon was, she wasn’t going to bed him just for his looks. Could he prove to her there was more to him than a pretty face? (F/M)
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He sighed, glanced at the prints and felt his heart skip. His landscapes: images of seasonal forests, moon lit mountains, the crisscrossing scratches of dirt roads.
“I love these pictures,” Adrianne said emphatically.
“They’re as I photographed them,” Simon said defensively. “Exactly what the camera captured, nothing faked or changed.” He didn’t know why, but it was important to him that she know that.
“They remind me of Larry Burrows,” she said. “Especially this one.” It was a mid-November scene featuring a New England forest. The ground was pale ochre with a carpet of dead leaves; a rock of almost the same color stood centermost. To the left was a line of barren black trees. Only a single red leaf remained amid the naked branches. As if that tree were refusing to give it up and surrender to winter.
“Burrows.” He didn’t know what stunned him more. That she knew who Burrows was or that she’d made the comparison. Burrows was a real photographer, one who’d made what he’d seen into art, rather than creating it with models and lighting. “Burrows… took pictures of the Vietnam war.”
“Duh,” Adrianne retorted, but her brown eyes were forgiving. “It’s not the subject that’s like Burrows. It’s the composition. This bleakness, even down to the color, accented with those dark bare trees. But the viewer can’t look away because there’s this one spot of fiery red. The last drop of autumn’s blood. That keeps us riveted. Like Burrows, it’s starkly real and true, but also strangely beautiful.”
Jesus. He didn’t know quite what to say. She got it. What he’d been going for. She saw it! He flushed with pleasure. He was proud of his landscapes, even if few of them had seen print. One such photo had recently been featured in a travel magazine, and he’d been prouder of that than of his fashion covers.
“This is my second favorite,” she brought out the one of dirt roads forming vein-like patterns over green hills. He was leaning in close to her now, and he could smell the scent of jasmine on her hair. She had pushed up the sleeves of her wrap-around top, exposing plump arms. Simon found himself utterly fascinated by the dimples in her elbows. Yet another new landscape he wanted to photograph.
As he reached to adjust the picture he brushed past, touching her. So soft! He’s never felt skin like that in his life. He drew back his hand and brushed again. A jolt in his groin. He stroked the skin, delicately. He just couldn’t believe it.
“What are you doing?” Adrianne asked quietly.