Hot Flash! The Shoot!

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The damn screw was stripped, Dani saw, and that meant she was going to have to do the shoot without the tripod, not exactly ideal.

“Wouldn’t you rather be in front of the camera?” Harding asked, sucking on a long-filtered cigarette as he leaned against the rails of the bridge.

Dani tucked a lock of stringy black hair over an ear as she regarded the man, easily twenty years her senior, and she was pushing thirty.  Still, he was every bit the refined European gentleman, with his tailored gray suit and perfectly-trimmed hair.  He had the air of the aristocrat, and Dani had not before been in the presence of a man who could make her feel quite so small.  It was a foreign sensation for Dani, who had been called up for this gig, like all the others, because she was considered one of the best portrait photographers in the world.  If you’d seen the cover of a magazine at the grocery store in the past five years, you would have seen her work, and there were rolls of film (or disks, now that everything had gone digital) showcasing some of the biggest stars in the world, shots that would never see the light of day for one reason or another.  In all of those shoots, Dani had not once felt intimidated by her subject, but this man, a stranger, gave her the creeps.

“I’m not as photogenic as most of my subjects,” she said, bringing the camera to her face to gauge the lighting.  She snapped a couple of quick test shots of Harding and checked the display on her camera, tightening the aperture.

“I find that a camera brings out the inner beauty, don’t you?” the gentleman asked and took another long pull from his cigarette, which was quickly burning down to the filter.

“Yes, but you have to have some outer beauty to start with.”

“You sell yourself short.”

His accent was hard to place, but something European, Eastern Europe most likely.  Dani tilted the camera on its side and snapped two more test pictures, examined them, tweaked, and repeated.

“Light’s a little tough here, but I think we have it.  We should start soon, before the morning brings out the locals.”

“We won’t be disturbed,” Harding said.  “I’ve secured the location until noon.”

“That must have cost some money.  I don’t mean to pry, Mr. Harding, but what it is that you do, exactly?”

Harding gave a short laugh and examined his fingernails.  “I do what I like.  Go where I like.  Meet whom I like.  That’s why I looked for you.  I’ve been a fan of your photography for some time.  Seeing the way you capture others, I was intrigued to meet the woman behind the camera.”

“I hope I haven’t disappointed you.”

“Not at all,” he said with a chuckle.  “You are more than I could have hoped.  The woman behind the lens, too ashamed of her own features to ever be seen without the camera in her hand.  Too quiet to proclaim her own beauty.”

Dani shifted uncomfortably on her feet, her toes curling in the vintage sneakers she wore.

“I don’t know that I would agree with that characterization exactly.”

“Really?  Your work shows far more introspection than that.”

The familiar manner of Harding’s words only highlighted the discomfort Dani felt, and she focused on the camera, side-stepping to take a new angle on the man and capture some of the architecture behind him.  It’s not that he was wrong, Dani had certainly felt her own perceived lack of beauty, but that was how it went when dealing with models day in and day out.  It was hard not to compare yourself to these freakishly beautiful people.  And yet, Dani had always felt in control.  Now she had a rising coolness traveling along her spine and an uncharacteristic awareness of her small breasts beneath her denim top, the too-thin legs in black skinny jeans.

“I’m just happy with what I have,” she said, taking another series of pictures in quick succession.

“If only that were true.  But you and I know different, don’t we?  The reason I have succeeded for so long, Dani, is that I can tell the real want of a person.  The thing they desire more than anything, even if they refuse to admit it to themselves.”

“I have everything I want,” Dani said, looking down at the camera’s display.  She frowned, seeing a wispy pale cloud around her subject, a fog that seemed to cover his face and hands.  She looked up to confirm for herself that she could see him clearly.  She checked the lens, saw no smudges, nothing that would have caused the effect.

“Not what you really want, Dani.  You want to be beautiful.  To be desired the way so many of your subjects are.”

“I-“ she began, but had no more words.  He wasn’t wrong, she knew, she’d always considered her models to be gorgeous, and often wondered what it would be like to live a life where everyone catered to you because of your looks, but that was such a rare life to lead, she never considered it seriously.

“You’ve even looked into plastic surgery, but that’s a temporary fix.  What you desire is real beauty.  But what would you be willing to trade for it?”

Dani tried to brush the thought away, but the answer came to her in the same way it had when she was a schoolgirl, left home alone at school dances or forced to play second fiddle to her more attractive friends as they chatted up the young boys.  The answer was, of course, that she would have given anything

“You would sacrifice all you are, your mind and soul, for a taste of it, wouldn’t you, Dani?  To know what it’s like to be an object of desire and not just someone taking pictures of them?”

“Who are you?” she asked again, even as the pictures she took revealed more of the fog, more obscurity around this strange man.

“I am the one who can make your dreams come true, Dani.  All you have to do, if you truly want to know what a new life could be, is to close your eyes and make a wish.”

“That’s impossible,” she said, but she could feel the camera falling to her side.  The whole world seemed hazy now, and she could feel a dizziness surrounding her.

“If it’s impossible, try it, Dani.  Close your eyes and make the wish that you’ve been keeping inside you for years.  Go on, Dani.  Make your wish.”

Dani wanted to, couldn’t help it, really.  Her eyes squeezed tight and the words came before she could hardly give them voice.  She heard her whispering lips release them…

“I wish I was one of the models, I wish I had that life and that body.  I wish I was one of them.”

The words came tumbling out once she started, and she opened her eyes again.  Harding was standing before her, and she had to look up at him to see his cold gray eyes catching her in their gaze.  Her mouth opened slightly as she felt her breath quicken.  His finger tilted her chin up and he was bending toward her, his cool lips against hers.

Her eyes fluttered and she shivered, taking an unconscious step backward, nearly stumbling as she looked down to find that her old, hip sneakers were gone, replaced by black patent heels with tall arches that lifted her four inches from the pavement.

“What-?” she managed, but she couldn’t keep up with all the sensations.  Her skin itched like mad, from her toes to her scalp, and she had the ridiculous notion of the animated film about the servant girl made into a princess and the draping twinkles of blue light that accompanied that change.  But this was more visceral, twisting her guts and making her want to call out with the shifting flesh.

And her thoughts were tough to track, too, and she tried to seize one as they flickered by, and they were disappearing, draining away from her.  She was trying to remember herself, now, remember why it was she felt so strange and why she was here.  More importantly, who she was…

Her legs stretched, the jeans shrinking around her and splitting, reforming just as her body was into something smaller, a tight black skirt to wrap around her hips and to expose more than a share of her shapely thighs.  Her legs were smooth, now, long and tan, the skin so soft she wanted to touch them herself.

Her shallow torso was filling out, her flared hips bending inward to create a thin waist and perfectly toned stomach.  She could feel the flatness of her stomach beneath the top, no longer a grungy hipster top but a cream blouse, made of silk, drifting delightfully against her skin with every motion.

Dani’s hair, too, was changing, smoothing and growing light until a curtain of satiny blonde hair draped over her shoulders.  She looked down at the swell of her chest, always modest, but she could see her breasts rising, growing rounder and more full with each breath until they hung heavily on her chest, tight nipples visible beneath the crema blouse.  She wore no bra, nor did she usually on shoots like these.

Lips grew puffy as she brought a finger to them, trying to remember what had led her here.  Had she been partying the night before, which was probably a safe bet.  She liked to party.  Guys (and more than a few girls when she was in Europe) liked to try to get her drunk.  What they didn’t know was that Dani liked the idea of fucking just as much as they liked the idea of fucking her.  She loved it when people stared at her tits, some of the best-shaped D-cups in the business.

She swung her head, tossing her long, golden hair over a shoulder as she regarded the man with her, out here in the middle of some Euro-dump where someone wanted her to get half-naked in the cold drizzle.  Still, the guy was cute, she thought, her hips cocking as she sidled close to him.

“How do you feel, Dani?”

“Mmmm,” she purred, running a long-nailed finger down his shirt, catching one of the buttons and flicking it open.  She opened the shirt wider, putting aside the camera he carried for no reason she could recall, her lisp opened to lick down his chest.  She dove her hands into the opened shirt, and she could feel her pussy start to moisten as Harding held her.

“Does my little kitten want to go somewhere a little more private?”

She giggled, amused by his shyness.  “You could fuck me right here if you wanted.”

“Such a horny beauty you are.”

“That’s why they pay me the big bucks,” Dani tittered.  “They say I look like I like fucking and guess what?”  She leaned up, rubbing her fingers over his nipples beneath the shirt.  “I totally do.”

“Come on, then.  We have a few hours before your next shoot.”

Dani reluctantly removed her arms from the cocoon of Harding’s shirt and trailed behind him, the camera left behind, forgotten.

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