Áine Blaze is a professor, writer, freelance editor, and in her spare time designs book covers and enjoys digital painting. At an early age she knew she wanted to be a writer. She has two published works and four more in the works. In her personal time. Áine is a homebody. She spends time with family and a few close writer and non-writer friends. She’s an avid mystery and suspense reader and, of course, romance. She and her son are collaborating on fantasy paranormal teen and YA fiction. Alas, his seventy-hour work week keeps those are still in the planning stages. After the death of her soulmate, she moved into Southern middle Tennessee. She’s settling in some and enjoys day trips to mom and pop diners seeking the best hamburgers around, taking the back road to her favorite beach, and of course, the beach itself.
“Annoying diva,” Jacy muttered, her voice barely low enough for him not to hear, all the while, shaking her head. She watched, her gaze transfixed on the male model a few feet in front of her. He turned and gave an exaggerated wiggle of his narrow hips, a blatant come-on, and then sashayed around the oversized bed that was the backdrop for the shoot as if to say, ‘follow me’. Jacy’s body shuttered involuntarily. What had she gotten into? This shoot was supposed to be short, easy. “A few hours, tops,” Jacy mouthed her friend’s, Tamara, words sarcastically. Now, ten hours later, hot, tired, hungry, she was a little more than angry at the model’s repeated attempts to get her in the bed he stood next to. The churning revulsion in Jacy’s gut sent her swiftly back to packing up her equipment. With practiced ease, she removed the zoom lens from her camera and nestled it into its foam slot. She gently laid the camera into the leather bag on the floor, careful not to jostle the other already inside. A movement caught her eye and she jerked her head up just in time to witness the model shimmying around the room once more. The tighty-whitey boxer briefs dipped or hitched. Shocked, her eyes widened. Was he dancing she really couldn’t tell? Dread settled into the pit of her stomach as his hands clutched a bedpost, and he proceeded to wiggle his ass, twirl and buck his hips to an off-kilter rhythm playing only in his distorted mind. Jacy rolled her eyes, not bothering, this time, to conceal the loathing growing inside. She quickly picked up the pace. It was way past time to get out of here. She heard one boot, an expensive black leather pair used as a prop for the shoot, hit the floor. The other followed. She ignored him. Double-checking that she had packed everything, lenses, cameras, memory cards, check. Satisfied all was done, Jacy looked up. “No freaking way.” Her jaw dropped. He was naked. Thank the good Lord. His attention was on his manager and not her. Until he turned his head, flashing her a smile. Brilliant white teeth shone against his golden skin. Had to be capped. Not a muscle in his face moved. Good grief. Botoxed. At the thought, Jacy peered closely. His tanned skin— Sprayed on. Thick pecs. Implants. Another revolting shudder coursed through her body. He wasn’t more than four inches taller than Jacy’s five-six-and-a-half frame and didn’t outweigh her by twenty-five pounds. He’d weigh more if you lost a little weight, her inner thin girl chimed in. Not the freaking time. Still, Jacy peeked down at her body. The hot-pink tank top and black capris fit comfortably, not too tight or loose. Just enough to hide your size fourteen body. Jacy squelched the sarcastic little bitch arguing, Stuck with psycho model and his deranged manager. Besides, she was comfortable with the five extra pounds. More like fifteen, the bitch chimed in. “Got it.” Jacy gritted her teeth, putting a stop to the tired argument she had with herself, agreeing there were ten extra pounds glued to her shapely butt and thighs just to get the heck out of here. Jacy refocused on the job at hand. “Why in the world would Anastasia want a guy like him as her latest cover model?” she murmured as she fished for her cases. Nothing about him screamed cowboy. Shooting him her best smile, courtesy of her nana’s upbringing, Jacy set the bags by the door. She knew exactly what her problem with the man was, and his manager—or agent or boyfriend or whatever label they used. She’d never been treated so badly by clients in her life. The “drama king” complained when she didn’t take a face shot, whined for a break every ten to fifteen minutes, argued that this shoot was beneath him, boasted and bragged last year he’d been on billboards and in magazines featuring Calvin Klein underwear. Then his manager had the gall to tell her how to take pictures: she wasn’t holding the camera right, she was too far away, “get a close-up of his junk”—his words, not hers—and she was using the wrong zoom lens. All the while, both men hit on her as if she was a street corner prostitute. Jacy was well-acquainted with dicks like him. She had lived in San Francisco for a few years, and even had dated a few self-absorbed males like these two, but the pair was by far the worst men to cross her path. Ever. Jacy grumbled beneath her breath, “I can understand why Klein let you go.” What should have been a few hours of work dragged into ten. Now, she was tired and hungry and put out with their silly shenanigans. Snapping the lid shut on the last case, she set it beside the other two. Ho, ho. His little show had lost its potency after the model’s manager/boyfriend rushed up, wrapped a short robe around his shoulders and kissed him, gushing how good he looked, what a great job he was doing, blah, blah, blah, for the thousandth time. Jacy didn’t care whether they were gay or bi after the way they both had insinuated the three of them test the king-sized bed after the shoot. But these two? “Obnoxious turds,” she murmured. Her gaze darted toward the manager fawning over the model, and Jacy mumbled a nasty swear word at both men. Their eyes were lined in kohl, slightly understandable for the model considering he was under bright lights all day, but he’d put it on a little too thick, and Jacy had a feeling he wore makeup every day. Not a hair was out of place, their waxed bodies as hairless as a baby’s bottom. She had wanted to tell the manager shirts unbuttoned to the waist had gone out style in the ’80s. Heck they never really were in style. As far as Jacy was concerned, today had been a waste of time and Anastasia’s hard-earned money. It wasn’t that the model wasn’t gorgeous. Or that the setting was wrong. Or that, even pushing forty or a little past it, his body was a solid mass of muscle. He was and they were not cowboy material. That was the problem. The guy knew it. It came through each shot of his cheesy smile that Jacy took. She felt it in her being: none of the pictures were what Anastasia wanted. She sighed heavily. It wasn’t her call. She took one last look around the one-room, rustic cabin. It was homey, if not masculine. Blue plaid curtains covered the windows. A navy spread covered the king-sized bed, pushed up against the back wall. The combination kitchen and living area to her back had state-of-the-art appliances, and the oversized couch and chair in leather still managed to make the place feel country. She called toward the closed bathroom door, grateful they had disappeared in there some time ago, leaving her alone. “Tom, you and Drake almost done?” If that was his real name. Jacy squelched a threatening yawn. She lifted her hands over her head and stretched the kinks out of her back. Silence met her query. She rolled her eyes. It had been bad enough the manager rushed toward the model between each take, kissing and bootlicking, but this was too much. “Really—can’t these two keep their hands off each other for three minutes?” she groused, shaking her head in utter disbelief. “Tom,” Jacy yelled louder as she pushed open the bathroom door. Mistake. “Crapola!” she shrieked. She couldn’t stop her eyes from dropping to where Tom crouched in front of… Big mistake. “What the…?” Drake was bent at the waist, snorting lines of white powder off the marble vanity top while Tom had his lips wrapped around—her hand flew up to cover her eyes. “Oooh. Stop it.” Jacy tripped backward and slammed the door shut. “Guys, get a room. …Somewhere else,” she yelled through the door, now, thankfully, blocking her view of them. A muffled, “Sure thing,” sounded through the barrier before a moan escaped someone’s lips. Jacy clenched her eyes shut, tight, trying to wipe the image of the two naked men out of her head. It didn’t work. She had nothing against men having sex with each other. She’d seen a lot, attending college in San Francisco, and had a few offers of threesomes as well. Jacy wasn’t that adventurous. She could barely handle one guy, let alone two, and call her old-fashioned, but she liked the idea of being someone’s one and only. These guys were pushing the envelope of Southern generosity. “Mr. Blackwell asked us to make sure the lights were off and the place was closed up tight before we left,” she called again, hearing wet noises and moans that should have stopped moments ago. To hell with it. “I’m outta here,” Jacy called over her shoulder. “You two close up. Don’t forget the lights and door.” She grabbed her bags and beat a hasty retreat out of the house. She should feel bad about leaving, but she wasn’t sticking around while the two went at it. Heck, they would probably move on to the bed next, expecting her to join them and then most likely provide a deplorable display of fornication when she vehemently declined.