(c) Copyright 1999 by Wiseguy
I think David and I liked each other on sight. We met
in the waiting area at a Riggs Bank branch downtown.
We were waiting to meet with the loan officer, who of
course was running behind schedule. At first we were
silent, David shuffling through a stack of handwritten
notes and me looking through my business plan one more
time, rehearsing in my mind the presentation I was
about to make.
Soon the tension and the boredom got to both of us. I
looked up to see a pair of cool, gentle gray eyes
studying my face. "The way I see it," he began, "we
have a couple of choices here. We can ignore each
other, we can continue examining our paperwork as if
we hadn't already done that a million times, or we can
pass the time in pleasant small talk."
I liked his style right away. Very sincere, not too
earnest or anxious. "Talk is nice."
He had a beautiful smile. "Yes, it is. My name is
The hand he offered me was firm but not aggressive,
communicating a quiet self-confidence that I found
very enticing. "Jennifer Drake. Call me Jen."
Before long the conversation had drifted to the
reasons we were sitting in a loan officer's waiting
room. I explained that I was two years out of
business school, had a love of photography and wanted
to start my own studio. I had a reasonable amount of
cash in hand and was looking for a business loan to
help get me started. David was also looking to open a
photography studio, having spent several years on the
staff of a well-known high fashion magazine. He'd
been socking away as much money as he could, taking
freelance work at every chance and living well below
his means. He already had a studio site picked out
and was hoping his loan would be approved so he could
set up shop.
I noticed he had a portfolio with him and asked to see
it. Flipping through the pages, I was struck by the
nature of many of the photos. Sure, there were
magazine covers of supermodels here and there but most
of the photos were of ordinary people. They were not
ordinary photos -- every one had an unmistakable aura
about it, that feeling of looking into another
person's soul. And looking at them that way, these
people seemed far from ordinary.
"This is amazing work," I told him, still discovering
new wonders with each page turned.
"You think so? Which ones do you like most?"
I finished flipping through the portfolio. "I'd say
there are probably a dozen pictures in here that any
gallery would love to display. I think my favorites
are the in the park, the Little Leaguer, and
the construction workers perched on top of the
building frame. They speak to me somehow."
When I looked up, he was nodding in agreement. "Those
are my favorites too. The way I see it, anybody can
take a good of Kathy Ireland. The challenge
is to take an average person and make the see
them as extraordinary."
Just then the loan officer's door opened and
walked out, still nervously clutching his briefcase.
The receptionist motioned me into the office. "Think
you can make the money see me as extraordinary?"
His pale gray eyes locked onto mine and I could almost
feel him studying me, like an art student at the
Louvre. Then he broke off, smiling, and replied "If
he doesn't see that himself, he has no soul."
I can't vouch for the loan officer's soul, but after a
painstaking review of my application and finances he
didn't seem to find my business plan too
extraordinary. He was polite and professional, but
his body language and tone of voice were not
encouraging. He promised to get back with me in a few
When I left, David was still waiting. I answered his
inquisitive look with a shake of the head and kept on
walking, anxious to get away into the fresh air.
Fortunately I had a busy schedule for the next few
days. A wedding party, including rehearsal dinner and
reception, occupied most of my weekend. Monday
morning I was looking through the negatives from the
wedding when the phone rang. I picked it up out of
habit, my attention still on the light board.
"Miss Drake, this is Tom Mallick from Riggs. If you
have a minute, I'd like to discuss your loan
application with you."
Something in his voice got my attention. "Sure, Mr.
Mallick. What do you have in mind?"
He cleared his throat. "First of all, I have to
confess that this is highly irregular, but I think
that if you just keep an open mind for a few minutes
this may turn out to be a good thing."
"Are you telling me that my loan is approved, Mr.
He paused a little too long. "Not per se, Miss Drake.
I'm sorry, but your business plan just doesn't meet
our capitalization requirements. The committee feels
that without more liquid assets the risk is too
It was what I'd been expecting to hear until a few
seconds ago, but it was still disappointing. "Then
why are we still talking, Mr. Mallick?"
"That's the highly irregular part. Perhaps you
noticed the gentleman who had the appointment after
you, Mr. Price."
"I remember him. He showed me his portfolio. What
does that have do to with my application?"
"Mr. Price is in a similar position, at least as
regards his application. If I may say so, he lacks
your business skills but he does seem very creative."
I remembered the cardboard folder stuffed with note
paper that David had been looking through in the
waiting room. "The committee rejected his application
as well. When I spoke to him this morning, he asked
me about you. Naturally I couldn't reveal any details
about your case, but I did admit to him that I thought
the committee was unlikely to approve your application
without some changes. He then asked me for your name
and telephone number. It is bank policy not to give
out personal information about our clients, but Mr.
Price did authorize me to give his address and phone
number to you and ask that you contact him. He has a
proposal which, if you are amenable to it, would cast
your application into a much more favorable light. I
can't commit firmly, of course, but in my opinion his
proposal more than meets the criteria for approval."
Butterflies started churning in my stomach as I took
down David's name, address and phone number. My hand
was trembling a little as I dialed the phone -- was
that because of the possibility of getting my loan, or
of looking into those fascinating eyes again? A
little of both, I had to confess.
"David Price? This is Jennifer Drake. Mr. Mallick
said you wanted to talk to me?"
I heard him sigh deeply. "Jen, I'm so glad you
called. I need to see you. Can you meet me for
"Not today, I'm on a deadline." A lie; I learned long
ago that if people think you are busy they are more
likely to respect your time. "How about Wednesday at
"Sold. Do you know where the Toledo Grill is?" He
gave me directions and we agreed to meet there. I
tried to broach the subject of his "proposal" but he
wanted to present it in person.
That night I dreamt that I was a and David was
taking my picture. I kept staring into his eyes while
he told me how beautiful I was, making me feel like
the sexiest woman alive. He took shot after shot,
then put down his camera, folded his arms around me
and kissed me. He was a great kisser and I was happy
to return the embrace, letting my tongue dance with
his while I pressed my body against him. I felt his
hands sliding downward, coming to rest in the small of
my back. I pressed myself even more closely to him
and started stroking his thigh with my right hand. I
could feel him getting harder and harder, so I started
exploring more boldly, rubbing the bulge in his pants.
His hands dropped to my bottom and pulled me closer,
his hands reaching under the folds of my short
I was soaking wet and ready to devour this man. I
stopped stroking the front of his pants and unbuckled
his belt instead, then unzipped him and let his pants
fall to the floor. As I started unbuttoning his
shirt, his hands grabbed onto the hem of my dress and
pulled it up over my head. I wasn't wearing a bra, so
while I finished unbuttoning him he caressed my very
aroused breasts. Soon one of his hands slid down my
body and inside the satin which were all I was
still wearing. I had his hot, rigid cock in my hand
and was squeezing it rhythmically, getting him ready
to penetrate me. Finally he laid me down on the
floor, pulled off my panties, and thrust himself
deeply into me. I squeezed him hard with my pelvic
muscles as he worked himself in and out, and I could
hear his grunts as he got closer to orgasm. My own
climax was only a few seconds away, I could feel it
... and then I woke up panting, dripping wet, more
aroused than I'd ever been in my life -- and completely
alone. I closed my eyes again and imagined his kind
face, his amazing eyes, as my hand slipped down into
my slit and finished what the dream had started.
The next day and a half blew by before I really got a
chance to notice them. Mostly I spent the hours
catching up on errands -- dry cleaning, grocery
shopping, cleaning up the darkroom. All of the little
things that people do when they are waiting for
something to happen.
The Toledo Grill turned out to be a nice place,
tastefully decorated, with lots of space between the
smaller tables to give a sense of privacy. American
cuisine with a touch of Tex/Mex (and presumably Ohio),
not overly fancy but very satisfying. David was
waiting for me inside. He looked completely at ease
in his khakis and knit shirt. I had dressed for
business in a heather gray skirt with matching blazer
and cream colored blouse. He came forward to greet
me, hand outstretched.
"Thanks so much for coming. I know this must all seem
a little strange."
"I've been propositioned by stranger men, Mr. Price."
A little forward, but I needed to know what he had in
mind. His mouth turned upward into a friendly smile.
"I've no doubt. But this is not that kind of
proposition. And please call me David."
He pulled out my chair for me, then sat across the
small table from me. The waiter took our beverage
order (Diet Coke for me, iced tea for David) and left
us to our menus.
Time to get started, I thought to myself. "So, David,
why don't you tell me about the proposal you and Mr.
Mallick have worked up?"
"I will, I promise. Let's have lunch first, though.
It'll give us a chance to get a little more
comfortable with each other. We can talk business
Lunch was delicious. We made small talk as we ate,
discussing everything from the weather to the dismal
performance of the local baseball team. We even
touched lightly on politics, just enough to see that
we seem to share a lot of common ground there. And as
we talked, I could almost see him visibly relaxing.
His body language became broader, more open, and his
smile came and went freely. I found myself relaxing
too as the lunch went on. Most I know don't
listen well, but David was a natural at it. By the
time our plates were cleared I was completely at ease
"Are you going to proposition me now?" I asked, still
trying to get a rise out of him. I could tell he
liked me, and I had been flirting more or less openly
throughout lunch but he wouldn't call me on it.
"Sure. I think I'm ready now." He told me about his
interview with Mr. Mallick, then the rejection phone
call Monday morning. I knew about most of that
already and I found myself only half listening, the
other half studying his face. His eyes were locked
onto mine, shining fiercely as he got closer to the
crux of his plan. "So basically, we were both turned
down for not having enough start-up money already in
hand. Mallick told me that if I increased my own
capital stake, they would be much more likely to
approve the loan. He even suggested that I find a
partner with a business background to make me more
appealing to the money men. That's when I thought of
"If we were to become partners and start a studio
together, I'm sure we would be able to get Riggs to
help finance us. I've got equipment, a location, and a
few contacts in the business that can help us find
quality work. You've got a first-class business mind
and a great eye. If we pool our resources, we can
both get what we want."
The idea was certainly intriguing. I spent several
minutes contemplating my Diet Coke, thinking about how
a partnership with this might be. I thought about
the portfolio I saw at the bank, and the riveting
nature of those photos struck me anew. Then I thought
about my own personal dreams, the ones where I am in
my studio doing my kind of photography. Finally, I
sighed and met those eyes again.
"I don't think it would work out, David." I could see
his chest fall a little as he released a held breath.
"The kind of work you do, it's breathtaking and
compelling and exciting to look at. There are tons of
people who dream of being able to take pictures like
that. But I'm not one of them. My idea of a good
time is Team Photo Day with a youth soccer league. I
like doing portraits, reunions, weddings, what have
you. I'm in it for the memories."
He was nodding to himself. "I respect that, Jen. The
whole point of becoming your own boss is to be able to
do things your own way. I've been doing high fashion
for several years now and believe me, the thrill is
gone. I'd love to do some weddings, maybe a yearbook
or two, and perhaps an occasional magazine spread.
The variety keeps things fresh. It's also good
"Do you realize how difficult it is to make any money
doing just portraits and events? Think about it -- how
often do most people get married? How many class
reunions do they go to? How often do they come in and
actually buy a portrait package? In order to pay the
bills you have to keep digging up new customers every
day. And the competition for those customers is
murderous with all the chain outlets.
"But I've got leads into a whole other tier of
clients, Jen. Ad agencies. Interior decorators.
Book publishers. They pay well and, more importantly,
they like to form relationships with a studio. That
means repeat business, which means better cash flow,
which means we can do more of the kind of work we
enjoy. And we can do it on our terms, knowing that
the rent is covered."
He laid out the numbers for me, sketching on a napkin
as he explained what assets he had to offer. His
enthusiasm was infectious -- soon I was scribbling on
the napkin too, figuring the relative costs and
potential revenues, total assets, the whole bag. In
the end, I changed my mind and agreed to the
partnership. We went to a lawyer I knew and had the
formal agreements drawn up. Within a month we had
received the loan from Riggs and were opening our new
The first year was rough. Our primary competition was
the franchise studios, where all they do is snap the
picture and sell packages of prints -- the franchise
handles promotion, processing, and just about
everything else to get economies of scale. Then
there were the department stores, which mostly were
the same chains neatly tucked in near the store
entrance and always running a dirt cheap offer to get
people in the door, which then gives them the chance
to do a selling job. Since we couldn't compete on
price we tried to stress value and quality, but it's
always a tough sell when the chain studio down the
street can offer everything we do, but at less than
our cost. The Riggs people had been right -- if I'd
started out on my own as planned, my studio wouldn't
have survived the year.
Fortunately for us, David's contacts came through. An
couple of ad agencies offered us short jobs and liked
our work enough to talk about it. Word of mouth
brought us a trickle of additional trial assignments,
which by year's end had become a steady if narrow
stream. Although we still ended the year in the red,
the trend was looking healthy as long as we could keep
growing the commercial side.
On the personal front things were less encouraging, as
the relationship between us stayed friendly but
professional. David was a puzzle: quiet, but not
shy; friendly, but not really outgoing; firm, but not
aggressive; confident, but never vain. He would speak
frankly on just about any subject, but seldom
volunteered anything beyond what was asked. That was
especially true about himself, I was to discover.
About two months into our business relationship, a
woman called the office asking for David. She gave
her name as Stephanie. David spoke with her for a few
minutes, scribbled something in his calendar, and hung
"Who was that?" I asked, figuring it must be a client.
"My girlfriend," he replied, as if this was no big
surprise. "She'll be in town tomorrow, and she's
planning to swing by here a little before closing and
take me away for the evening. We're not that busy
tomorrow, it shouldn't anything."
But wait, as the infomercials say, there's more. When
Stephanie did come over the next day, I recognized her
immediately -- her face and body were on magazine
covers and advertisements all over town. She'd even
been on the Letterman show recently. It was then that
I decided David must be an alien; no red-blooded
American male could be involved with Stephanie and not
talk about it. Most would have "I AM DATING A
SUPERMODEL" tattooed on their foreheads.
Eventually I rejected the alien theory and decided
that David must be something even more unusual -- a
so totally comfortable with himself that he honestly
doesn't need anyone else's approval. He just accepts
everybody as his peer, whether they seem inclined to
do the same or not. There are a lot of who think
they are like that, and they spend large amounts of
energy and time making sure everyone they meet agrees
with them. David is the genuine article. And he was
already taken. I became resigned to the situation.
How do you compete with a cover girl?
As time went on, Stephanie proved to be the definitive
absentee girlfriend, calling up on short notice for a
date every once in a while, but seldom in touch
otherwise. Weeks would go by with no contact from
her, then out of the blue she would turn up and whisk
David away for a night or a weekend before vanishing
again. He deserved better, I thought, but really had
no options to work with. David would never cheat,
it's not in his character. When I remarked on how
little they saw each other, he reminded me that at
Stephanie's level models are 'in' for only a short
time, and they need to take full advantage before a
younger, prettier face comes along. There was no
reason I could see for Stephanie to dump David; he was
always available and never criticized. So I wrote him
off as unavailable and told myself that at least I had
him as a friend. I dated some other in a half-
hearted sort of way, but none of them lasted long.
They could probably tell I was just marking time.
Exactly a year after our first lunch, David and I went
back to the Toledo Grill. It had become our favorite
place to go when we needed to get out of the studio.
The casual atmosphere and feeling of privacy were
highly conducive to free thinking. We had many long
strategy sessions in there -- so many that the wait
staff routinely sets our usual table with notepad and
We had an anniversary toast with our lunch, with the
Toledo staff singing "Happy Birthday" to us. It was
corny, but sweet. With our plates removed and
glasses refilled it was time to get started on the
day's topic, how to improve our cash flow. We must
have kicked around a dozen different ideas, but by the
time we were through there were only two standouts.
The first good idea was mine. The business volume had
picked up just enough that we were spending a lot of
time in the darkroom instead of with the clients. The
obvious answer was to hire a photo processor but the
money just wasn't there. A business seminar I'd been
to recently got me thinking about outsourcing most of
the processing work.
At first, David was doubtful. "If we don't do our own
processing, isn't that a step backward for us?"
"Not necessarily. I met someone at the seminar, his
name is Russell, and he owns a small photo processing
business. He has all the latest equipment and
systems, stuff we can't even afford to window shop
for, and he uses it to do premium quality processing.
He showed me some samples and it's amazing what he can
do with even a department store negative. Let's at
least give it a try, it could really help keep down
"Okay, I'm game," David replied. "In fact, it fits in
nicely with my idea for a new revenue stream. How
would you feel about doing boudoir portraits?"
I was so surprised I spilled soda on my notepad. I'd
spent most of the year putting David and sex as far
apart in my mind as I could, and now here he was
talking about doing portraits of women in lingerie.
He read my expression accurately.
"I know, it sounds pretty wild. It was actually Gina
who gave me the idea." Gina was an ex-coworker of
David's, one of the many people who had risked sending
business our way. "She called me last week and asked
if we do boudoir. Apparently it's fashionable right
now. People are putting out big bucks for high-
quality sexy pictures of themselves. The chains won't
touch it and most small shops don't have the equipment
or know-how for premium processing, so the margins are
healthy. There would be some start-up costs, of
course -- building a set, wardrobe, a little minor
hardware. But if we can out the processing to
your guy Russell we can try it out, see if we want to
do it before we commit cash to retooling the
I didn't know much about boudoir at the time and
neither did David, so we decided to do some more
research. We went through back issues of trade
magazines, surfed the Internet, talked to some
colleagues. After a couple of days, it was clear that
the money potential was for real -- some of the studios
I found on the Web advertised obscene sitting fees and
were booked months in advance. Boudoir is a specialty
done almost exclusively by specialty firms and medium-
sized studios, so there were no chains driving the
prices down. From a business perspective, it made
sense if we could do it well. The logical next step
was a trial.
Gina arranged for the subject, an aspiring named
Lauren who was trying to get the attention of a
nationwide lingerie chain. Lauren's appointment was
for two o'clock in the afternoon. We thought we were
ready for the shoot when Gina stopped by at twelve
thirty to check out our preparations.
Gina turned out to be a tall, full-figured woman in
her mid 40's, with long black hair and a friendly way
about her. We spent a few minutes on pleasant small
talk, then Gina asked for the studio tour. David and
I showed her the set we had pulled together. The
dominant piece was a rosewood four-poster queen size
bed complete with satin sheets and extra large
pillows. We covered the studio floor with an oriental
style rug and the wall behind the bed with a folding
privacy screen. I had a 30-day return window on the
sheets and pillows; everything else was rented for the
Gina nodded approvingly at our setup. "This looks
very good for a first set. A little small, maybe, but
it's a start. If you decide to do this seriously, try
to enlarge the set so there is room for a sofa, a
vanity and maybe a full-length mirror. Different
people are more comfortable in different places. It
would also be a good idea to have a couple of changes
of look -- different bedding, maybe a small flower
arrangement, so you can change the look to suit the
I was impressed. "You sound like the voice of
experience, Gina. Have you done boudoir?"
A big, broad grin spread over her face. "Several
times, dear, but not from your side of the camera."
"Really?" For some reason that surprised me. "Why do
"Why not?" she answered. "It makes you feel
deliciously randy for days, and you get the added
thrill of watching your man's eyes bug out when he
sees the prints. Every once in a while I mail a new
picture to my husband at his office; for a week
afterwards he comes home on time, helps with the
dishes and will jump my bones at the drop of a hat.
You should try it sometime."
"Doesn't if make you feel kind of ... well, sleazy?"
That was my one misgiving about this project, I wanted
things to be in good taste.
Gina laughed a low, measured laugh. "Everybody has a
different idea of what's sleazy, dear. If you take an
average woman, undress her and tell her to act sexy
while some stranger points a lens at her
privates, I can guarantee you she will feel sleazy and
never come back. But when it's done well, a boudoir
shoot is a private, erotic experience for the model.
The key is to get the to relax and be herself,
and to think about her lover and what turns them on.
Rule One is that the more you get your to relax,
the better she will look on film. Everything you say
or do in the presence of the should be
calculated to make her feel comfortable and safe.
Everything she wears and does on the set should be her
own idea, or a suggestion that she chooses to take
because it sounds good. Be professional, earn her
trust, and nobody will feel used when it's over."
We continued into the makeshift dressing room. Gina
clicked her tongue in disappointment at our negligee
choices. I was crestfallen -- David and I had
solicited all of our female friends to lend us their
most revealing nightwear, but apparently it wasn't
satisfactory. "What's wrong?" David asked.
"What you have here is an impressive collection of odd
patches, strings and peek-a-boo lace; the stuff
buy for their girlfriends and then wonder why they
only wear it once. Very few women have both the
figure and the poise to be comfortable in these. With
wardrobe, variety is vital. Rule Two is that no
matter how much skin you see, it's still the model's
eyes that make or break the picture. If she feels
even slightly insecure about what she is or isn't
wearing, it will show up in her eyes."
Things continued in that vein for another half hour as
Gina examined our setups and dispensed advice freely.
She didn't hesitate to offer criticism when it seemed
appropriate, but she was very nice about it and was
trying to help us succeed. In the end I was glad she
With the facilities approved (at least provisionally),
Gina then suggested that we do a simulated session
using her as the to rehearse the process. Gina
clearly knew more about it than both of us put
together, so we quickly agreed.
The first step is makeup and costume. Since the
clients are almost always women, we assumed that I
would be the one to work with the client on outfit
selection, makeup and hair styling and that David
would be the primary photographer. "But both of you
need to work together on the set," Gina cautioned us.
"Never leave a alone with David, Jen. Some
women -- and some -- get so turned on by the whole
process that they take it too far. If that happens,
your presence protects David and the business from an
"But I'd never do anything with a model," David
objected. "You know that."
"Of course I do. I also know that some people take
rejection very personally. You need a witness and a
chaperone to keep things under control." David nodded
I led Gina back to the changing area, where she looked
again through the collection of nightwear we had
assembled, this time picking out a few things that she
thought Lauren might choose. To save time we didn't
do any actual costume change or makeup, we simply
discussed what I would do with Gina's face given her
coloring. She seemed satisfied with that.
Next she came out to the set to be photographed.
David used an empty as a prop, moving around
her silently as she pretended to pose and saying
"click" when he wanted to take a picture. After a few
minutes she called a halt.
"There's too much activity and not enough engagement
here, David. Rule Three is to keep talking with the
model. Conversation keeps her animated; if you stop
talking to her, her mind will wander and that will
come out in the photo. If you talk between yourselves
but not to the model, she will feel like a prop and
lose the mood."
So we spent several minutes more in mock shoot, only
this time David spent the time between shots telling
Gina how beautiful she was, asking if she was
comfortable, did she want to try something different,
etc. "That's better, dear. The most important thing
is to keep it light and friendly, to keep your
at ease. Questions should be simple ones with short
answers, no essays. Ask her about the person who will
see the photos, what she likes about them, what turns
them on. It's okay to suggest poses, but stick close
to what she seems to like.
"And David, I know you love to play with angles, but
you can't keep circling the like a vulture.
Rule Four is that the should be in motion and
the should be still. That way she always knows
where you are and can easily control how much or how
little you see. It's disconcerting to have someone
moving all around while they talk to you." We
practiced a little more, then when Gina said it felt
right we finished preparing for the real shoot.
Lauren arrived promptly at two. She was clearly
nervous but tried gamely to return my welcoming smile.
As I expected, she was a very pretty lady --
barely 21, average height but small at the shoulders,
bust and hips. She had rich, deep auburn hair and, as
so many redheads have, a very pale complexion with
signs of a tendency toward freckles. Her features
were sharp and elegant, with clear blue eyes hinting
at more intelligence than most people expect from a
model. Figuring she probably needed a few minutes to
settle down, I engaged her in small talk while David
finished loading the cameras and checking the lights.
We stayed in the empty reception area, I didn't want
her anticipating things too much.
Once all was ready, Gina brought David out to the
reception area and introduced him to Lauren. David
greeted her warmly with just the right amount of eye
contact, which seemed to put her more at ease.
Eventually Lauren pronounced herself ready to start,
so Gina and I took her back to the dressing room. I
saw her head turn and the nervous look reappear as she
got her first look at the set, and made a mental note
to myself to rearrange things to prevent that in the
Lauren took her time picking through the wardrobe
choices, a vaguely unhappy look clouding her face.
Gina was right, I thought, she isn't finding anything
she likes. After long study she settled on a classic
black teddy, smooth and very sheer in the front but
with enough pattern in the lace to keep her nipples
and pubic area semi-concealed. It was cut for a
slight woman so it fit Lauren's body nicely; Gina and
I could tell, though, that she was a little
uncomfortable being so exposed. "I've never worked
without clothes before," she confided. "Not even
A few finishing touches on her hair and makeup and
Lauren was ready. Gina and I walked her to the set
where David greeted her warmly, telling her how
stunning she looked. Lauren smiled nervously, her
arms remaining close to her body and fingers
intertwined. David told her to choose any position
she wanted to start with, so she walked over and sat
on the edge of the bed, crossing her legs and hunching
her shoulders a little, which emphasized her cleavage.
From there, David and I pretty much took over with
some helpful suggestions from Gina. We had Lauren
make small, incremental posture changes. Soon we had
established a simple rhythm -- change the pose, say
something comforting to Lauren, snap the picture,
repeat. Occasionally I would step into frame to
adjust Lauren's outfit or move a pillow between shots.
Gina watched from behind David, giving her a sight
line very close to the camera's. Technically it was
all working smoothly, but it didn't feel quite right.
Like a band in rehearsal, everyone was playing their
part but it wasn't blending together. David seemed
dissatisfied too. Finally he called for a break,
suggesting that Lauren go back to the dressing room
and pick a different outfit. As soon as she was out
of earshot, David turned to me.
"Rule One," he said. "She's not relaxed, she's not
comfortable. She's posing like a robot. We have got
to get her to loosen up and enjoy this or there's no
Gina nodded in agreement. "Lauren is still very new
to modeling. I'm afraid she isn't comfortable with
traipsing around half naked in front of strangers
"Don't apologize for that," I told Gina. "If we are
going to do this, the models we work with will pretty
much all be amateurs. We have to be able to make them
"That's nothing a double bourbon and coke won't cure,"
David offered half-jokingly. "Maybe we should get her
sloshed and try again."
Something clicked in the back of my mind. "That gives
me an idea. Get ready for another series, David.
I'll get Lauren ready. Gina, just stay back and
"What's the plan?" David asked.
"I know a way to get Lauren to loosen up, if I still
have the knack. Trust me."
I found Lauren in the dressing room, still looking
through the negligee collection. She had taken off
the teddy and was holding a gold chemise to her front.
It was clearly too big for her but it provided some
cover while she looked through the rack one more time.
"I'm having a little trouble finding something," she
said uncertainly. "I'm not used to things like this."
"Maybe we should try a different approach. What do
you normally wear to bed?"
"I have a couple of oversized nightshirts, I usually
wear one of those and underpants if I'm going to bed
by myself. Otherwise, well, nothing." She blushed a
"Why don't you put your own back on? I'll be
I walked out of the dressing room, past the set into
David's and my office. What I wanted was still there
on a hanger -- one of David's spare shirts. We each
had a change of clothes in the office in case we
spilled something in the darkroom. David had two
shirts in the closet. The one I chose was a light sky
blue, and soft like flannel, with subtle white
pinstripes and short sleeves. It felt smooth like a
light blanket, and was about 3 sizes too large for
"Try this," I said as I handed Lauren the shirt.
Her eyes lit up immediately and she eagerly slipped
her arms into it. She skipped the bottom buttons and
just buttoned the area from her waist to her bust,
leaving the tail loose. She tucked her face into the
open collar space and inhaled deeply. "Mmmmmmm," she
said. "I love it. But is it sexy enough?"
"If you feel sexy it will come through no matter what
you wear. Do you feel sexy?"
Lauren thought about it for a moment. "Not really. I
mean, I feel better than I did when we were shooting,
but I think maybe I was trying too hard. It didn't
feel like me." She hugged the oversized to her
chest. "This feels like me."
"Then that's what we'll go with," I promised. "You're
right, it's hard to feel sexy when you are constantly
thinking about how to move, where to touch, where to
look. Let's try something here and see if it helps.
I want to take you through a breathing exercise,
something that will help you focus your mind and
decompress a little bit."
"You mean like yoga?" she asked. "I've never done it,
but I have a friend who says it's very relaxing."
"Sure" I replied, stretching the truth a little.
"Only without the complicated positions. We'll do
this just sitting in the makeup chair." The makeup
chair in our makeshift changing room was just a
regular low-back office chair with a throw over it; I
hoped it would be comfortable enough for what I had in
mind. My chances seemed better in the semi-privacy of
this room than if I tried having her lie down on the
bed in front of the and lights.
Lauren slipped into the makeup chair and spun to face
me. "What do I do?"
I instructed Lauren to turn around. "Face the mirror
for this exercise, Lauren. I want you to look at your
reflection carefully, notice every detail about your
face and head. And while you do this, I want you to
take three deep, slow breaths. With each inhale, I
want you to imagine that you are breathing in fresh,
clean, healthy air that relaxes you and makes you feel
good. With each exhale, I want you to imagine that
you are breathing out a dark cloud of anxiety, fear,
and shame. Do that for me now please and you will see
your reflection relaxing with you."
"Okay." She took a long breath as instructed, held it
a few seconds, then exhaled even more slowly. Even
through David's I could see the tension leaving
her shoulders and upper arms. By the third exhale her
head started to droop down, but she lifted it back up
again. This may just work, I thought.
"Very good, Lauren. How do you feel?"
"Much better, thanks. That's a very nice exercise."
"That was only a warm-up," I told her. "To get you
ready for the real exercise. Are you ready to feel
even better than you do now?"
"Okay then. Continue to face the mirror. Now look
deeply into the reflection of your eyes. Concentrate
on your eyes, let them become fixed on the eyes you
see in the mirror. Pretend you are trying to
hypnotize yourself." Oops -- bad choice of words, I
thought, but Lauren didn't seem to mind. I lowered my
voice and stood just behind her chair. My eye caught
a movement in the doorway as Gina started in. I waved
her back to the doorway, afraid the movement would
distract Lauren. Gina backed up but continued to
watch from the doorway. As long as she didn't
interfere, no problem.
"Very good, Lauren, you are concentrating well. Now,
as you continue to lose yourself in your own eyes, you
will soon become more aware of your breathing. You
will feel your chest rise and fall, again and again,
and soon you will notice that your breathing is
starting to slow down. As you feel yourself breathing
in, you find that each breath serves to calm you and
each time you breath out you will feel your body
relaxing a little more. Pay close attention to your
breathing and feel it becoming deeper, slower, easier
with every breath."
Gina had reentered the room, quietly easing herself
into another chair with a view of the mirror. She
seemed fascinated but I was glad she did not start
asking questions at that point. I gave Lauren half a
minute or so before continuing. "Yes. You are still
focused on the reflection of your eyes, and now you
are aware of how much more smoothly and easily you are
breathing. At any moment now, you will become aware
of your heart beating inside your chest. You feel the
slight thumping of your pulse as your heart does its
work. If you concentrate, you will find that you can
slow down your own heart beat just a little, relaxing,
slowing down, little by little. Try it now, you'll
see that you can do it. Keep breathing, evenly and
slowly, and feel your heartbeat slowing down. Just a
little at a time, slowing down, relaxing even as your
body relaxes. So calm, so peaceful, slowing so
In the mirror, Lauren's eyes were starting to glaze
over. The faintest ghost of a smile showed at the
corners of her mouth. In the mirror I could just
catch the reflection of Gina's wide-eyed stare.
"You are well on your way to total relaxation now," I
continued, letting my voice become even softer and
speaking very slowly. "Your breathing is slow and
smooth, your heart beats slowly, and you are still
concentrating on your own eyes. Keep that focus.
It's okay to blink, but do not let your eyes wander.
As you continue to concentrate on all of these things,
you can notice your body continuing to relax in
sections. Even now you feel the muscles in your legs
going limp and loose, relaxing, letting go. You don't
need those muscles right now, the chair will support
you. Notice how wonderfully heavy, so heavy they are
becoming. Too heavy to bother moving them. No need
to move them, not right now. The only need is to
allow them to rest.
"Now that your legs are completely relaxed, you can
feel the sensations of warmth, of peace, flowing
through them. Soon, as you continue to concentrate,
you will feel that same warmth and peace flowing from
your legs into your upper body. Your hips, your
stomach, your chest, your back, all feel that warmth
and slowly, gently, they relax. You can feel waves of
relaxation now running from your feet all the way up
to the top of your chest, one with each breath, and as
you breath out you can feel every muscle in your body
release its tension. Again, the chair will support
you. It is perfectly safe to let your muscles relax,
to just let go. Let it happen as you feel yourself
sinking into the chair, your whole body supported by
the chair and totally relaxed, safe, secure.
"You are doing so well, Lauren. Becoming so relaxed,
so peaceful. You feel the warmth and comfort that
spread from your feet and legs into your belly, back,
and chest, and now you realize that the feeling is
still spreading, still expanding. Now feel your
shoulders becoming warm, lazy, loose. The warmth
flows down into your arms, making them feel so heavy,
so limp and loose and lazy, all they want to do is
just rest there in your lap, no need to move, no need
to do anything but relax and enjoy."
Lauren's eyes were starting to tear. Every so often
her head would droop down, only to be jerked back up
again by the need to remain fixed on her own eyes.
Gina continued to sit quietly in rapt attention. Time
to finish this off.
"You feel so good right now, so safe, so beautiful.
Warm waves of relaxation continue to flow from your
feet up through your upper body, arms, and hands. And
now, as you enjoy that sensation, you feel the warmth
spreading up your neck, to the back of your head.
Feel it spreading to the top of your head, relaxing
the thin layer of muscles in your scalp, in your
forehead. Feel your face relaxing as the warmth
spreads through it, your mouth perhaps opening a
little, your eyelids closing. As your eyelids close,
feel your head become heavier and heavier, too heavy
to hold up any more. Feel your neck muscles straining
to hold your head up, your heavy, sleepy head. When I
touch your forehead, Lauren, I want you to release all
of the muscles in your neck. Just let them go limp,
let go of the weight of your head. I will support you
so your neck can rest and relax."
A shiver ran up my spine when I saw her eyelids drop
and her face go slack. Holding a pillow behind her, I
gently pushed on her forehead. With a small sigh, her
head flopped back and into the waiting pillow.
"Very good, you are so relaxed now, so completely at
peace. It's a wonderful feeling, to be so at ease, so
safe, so comfortable. No need to think about
anything, no need to do anything, just follow my voice
and let yourself go. Continue to breathe, imagining
that you can see the air flowing in and out, with each
breath releasing a little bit more of those last bits
of tension in your muscles. Growing more relaxed,
more comfortable, with each breath."
She was well under at this point. Her head was a dead
weight against the pillow I held behind her, her mouth
wide open, even her fingers looked still and limp. I
wedged another pillow into the seat beside her, then
gently tilted her head forward to rest on her chest.
Then I saw Gina's reflection in the mirror. She too
was slumped in her chair, eyes closed, head flopped to
one side. I couldn't risk disturbing Lauren by waking
Gina, so I let her be while I worked on deepening
Lauren's trance state.
"You are doing so well, Lauren. You should be pleased
with yourself for being so cooperative, for being able
to relax yourself so completely. You can relax even
more, as much as you want, in perfect safety. I'm
going to help you do that now. Would you like that?"
Her lips moved a little, and I heard a kind of hiss
that I took to mean yes.
"It makes me happy to help you like this, Lauren. In
a moment, I am going to begin counting down from 10 to
1. When I first count the number 10, I want you to
imagine yourself standing at the top of a small
staircase, all alone, in a safe and comfortable place.
When I count 9, and for every number I count after 9,
you will yourself taking one step down the
staircase. At the bottom of the staircase is a big,
bubbling, steamy warm Jacuzzi just waiting for you.
When I count the number 1, you will be at the bottom
of the stairs and you will allow yourself to just sink
into that Jacuzzi.
"Ten. You can see yourself standing at the top of the
stairs, ready to descend the stairs and have a nice
whirlpool bath. Nine, you take a step down. With
each step down, you relax a little bit more. Eight.
Seven. Six, relaxing more and more with each step
down. Five. Four. Three. Almost there now, you can
feel how ready you are for that hot tub. Take a slow,
deep breath for me now, Lauren. Two, let the breath
out and feel how it relaxes you even more as you take
another step down the stairs. There is only a single
step to go now. One. You have finished on the
stairs, and you can now let yourself sink into that
warm, flowing Jacuzzi. Feel your body sinking into
the warm, swirling water, taking all of your cares and
worries and washing them away. Feel yourself becoming
weightless, floating in the water, your head held up
comfortably by the sides of the tub. I'm going to
talk to Gina for a while now, Lauren, but you are
perfectly safe where you are. Just ignore any sounds
you might hear, they are not worth your attention.
Just relax and let yourself drift in the hot tub for a
little while. When you feel me touch your shoulder,
you will pay attention to my voice again. Do you
"Mmmm hmmmm..." Close enough for me. I walked over to
Gina. Her face was completely calm, but I could see a
slight fluttering of her eyelids as her eyes
maintained a rolled back position beneath them. I
spoke quietly into her ear.
"Gina, do you hear me?"
"Yes, Jen." Her jaw and mouth moved the barest
minimum needed to form the words. So either she
wasn't as deeply under as Lauren, or she had
experience with hypnosis and knew she could speak
clearly while in trance. Why not find out?
"Have you ever been hypnotized before, Gina?"
"Yes," came the answer in a sleepy monotone. "To stop
smoking. Dr. Keller says I'm a very good subject."
"You are a very good subject, Gina. So good that you
went into a deep trance just by watching me hypnotize
Lauren. Do you mind that I hypnotized you?"
"No, I don't mind. It feels great. Please take me
"I can if you wish, Gina, but not right now. We have
to finish our shoot, remember? In a few moments you
will feel me touch your right hand. When I do, you
will return to your normal waking state, completely
alert and aware, feeling refreshed and energized, and
you will remember everything that happened while you
were in trance. Ready?"
Gina nodded, and I touched her right hand. Her
eyelids fluttered open, focusing first on me and then
on the somnolent form of Lauren. "You could do a
stage act," she said after swallowing a couple of
times. "Have you tried that on David yet?"
"This is the first time I've tried to hypnotize anyone
since college," I told her. "One of my best friends
in was a psych major. I let her practice on
me, and in return she taught me how to hypnotize other
people. It was a very useful skill; we used it to
manage stress, improve our memories, and get rid of a
few bad habits. And once in a while one of us would
hypnotize a couple of our sorority sisters or their
boyfriends and make a few goofy but harmless
suggestions. She transferred out after our sophomore
year, and I just stopped practicing it until now."
"It must be like riding a bicycle, dear, because you
had me before I even realized it was happening. What
do we do next?"
"You go back to the set and wait," I told her firmly.
"I'm going to do some more work with Lauren and I
don't need you zoning out on me. Does she have a
"Not that I know of. I think she'd tell me if she
were seeing anyone special."
"She does date men, doesn't she?" Best not to assume
anything, I figured.
"I've never heard otherwise."
Lauren looked so peaceful in the makeup chair that it
was almost a shame to disturb her, but we still had
work to do. I needed her to feel confident,
desirable, sexy -- all the things she wasn't feeling
during the first part of the shoot. Her head bobbed a
little when I touched her shoulder. "Do you know
where you are, Lauren?"
"You'll find that even though you are deeply asleep,
you can still speak to me without disturbing yourself.
In fact, speaking clearly will only help you to relax
and enjoy the sensations even more. Where are you?"
"In my hot tub. Floating. Feels so nice, so nice."
This was working out extremely well. I remembered
that one of the things we always did in school was to
set up a trigger for putting people back under
quickly. "Lauren, are you enjoying being in such a
deep trance today?"
"Oh, yes. Wanna float some more."
"You can, as long as you want. In a little while you
will have to awaken to finish your session. But you
can return to this wonderful, restful, serene state
any time you wish. In fact, whenever I say the words
'time out' to you, your mind and body will
automatically return to this state and relax as deeply
as you ever have. Your body will become limp and
heavy, your face will go slack as your eyes close
themselves, and you will give in completely to this
deep, refreshing, irresistible sleep. You won't try
to resist, you will want to give in completely,
because you know you can trust me to keep you safe
while you float peacefully in your hot tub. Will you
do this for me?"
"Lauren, I need to ask you some very personal
questions now, and it is very important that you
answer them truthfully and completely so I can help
you be successful today. When we are through you
won't remember the questions or your answers, and you
can trust me to keep your secrets safe. Will you
cooperate with me by answering my questions, Lauren?"
"Okay." She sounded like a little girl.
"Thank you, Lauren. You will find as we do this that
each time you answer me, you relax even further, just
floating in your soothing hot tub. The rushing water
will take away the memories even as you answer.
Lauren, are you romantically involved with anyone
"Is there anyone you would like to be romantically
involved with?" I was trying to find out her
preferences without asking outright. Despite all the
preambles, I was still afraid that such a dicey
question would shock her back to full awareness.
She smiled. "The photographer is pretty cute. He
smells nice, too."
Okay, that can work, I thought to myself. "He is,
isn't he? His name is David, and I know for a fact
that he finds you very attractive. He loves your
hair, your face, your body. He thinks you are the
sexiest woman he's ever seen, and he would like
nothing more than to make love to you again and again,
slowly and passionately, bringing you to climax after
climax. that happening, Lauren.
yourself making sweet, passionate love with your new
boyfriend, David. Feel him sitting with you in your
hot tub, his hands caressing your while you
stroke his thick, rigid cock. How does that make you
"Uhhh ... so good ... oh, I want him inside me. I want to
cum with him inside me."
"And he wants that too, Lauren. Deep down, he wants
that too. But he is shy, Lauren. He is afraid to
tell you how he feels. He is afraid that you might
reject him, because he knows that you are so
beautiful, so sexy, that you can have any you
want. He wants you desperately, but he is afraid that
he's not good enough for you. You're going to have to
show him that you want him, that you won't reject him.
Seduce him with your eyes, your body, your voice. Can
you do that, Lauren?"
"I can do that."
"Good, Lauren. Very good. Now it's almost time to
continue the shoot. I'm going to count to five, and
when I reach the count of five you will return to your
normal waking state. You will not remember that you
were hypnotized, only that you did some deep breathing
exercises to help you calm down. You will feel calm
and confident. When we start posing again, your only
desire will be to make David want you. With every
click of the you will become more aroused, more
confident, more irresistible, and more determined to
seduce him. Look straight at him through the
and let him see the lust in your eyes. Do you
"Very good, Lauren. At the count of five you will
awaken completely and carry out your instructions.
One, limbs growing lighter. Two, breathing picking
up. Three, energy returning to your muscles. Four,
eyes starting to open. Five, wide awake."
Lauren's face had a look of wonder on it, the warm
glow that changed her whole look. "Wow," she said.
"I feel incredible. What a great exercise that was."
"Ready to face the again?"
"Sure, let's do it."
David and Gina were waiting for us when we emerged
from the dressing room. David noticed a difference in
Lauren immediately -- she was walking with authority,
her face lit up with purpose. When she first saw him,
her eyes burned into his. At the same time, her hands
went to the front of her borrowed and undid an
extra button, letting the fall open to a point
just above the navel. She ran her fingers up and down
one side of the plunging opening as she stepped up
onto the set. David stood stock still. Finally she
prompted him. "Don't you want to take my picture?"
"Sorry," he said, snapping a shot. "It's just that I
had no idea that could look so good."
Lauren gave him a sly, feline sort of smile. "Just
At that point Lauren took control of the session. For
pose after pose she moved like a trained seductress,
all grace and assurance, and all the while keeping her
eyes locked onto David. She circled the bed like a
dancer, offering him different angles, each of which
caused the loose to gap open, revealing more
than it was intended to do. Then, stopping close to
the camera, she unbuttoned the completely,
letting it fall open to reveal the valley between her
breasts and the simple cotton bikini brief she had
worn to the studio. As David continued taking shots,
she lifted her arms and placed her hands behind her
head, causing the to open up even more. She
turned sideways to David and slowly slipped the
off her shoulder, holding it loosely to her as
the fabric slid down to her elbows, her face bathing
David in a 1000-watt glare of pure lust.
Gina's jaw dropped. "Whatever she does, David, just
Lauren toyed with that like a world-class
stripper, alternately clutching it close and then
letting it almost fall off, offering David view after
view of her hips, her butt, her shoulders, the inside
or outside of her breast, all in succession. She grew
more brazen with each new position. She was clearly
getting to David, who shifted positions frequently in
a futile attempt to hide the signs of his own arousal.
Lauren seemed to be growing impatient -- after a few
more poses she walked right up to the edge of the bed,
let the fall to the floor, and addressed David
"How am I doing, David? Am I sexy enough for you,
David? Are you getting hard watching me pose like
this for you, David?" The poor was totally
unprepared for this -- all he could do was stare,
agree, and keep shooting as Lauren fondled her own
breasts not three feet away.
"How do you like my tits, David? They are small, but
the nipples are very, VERY sensitive." They were also
very, very erect I noticed. "Wouldn't you like to put
one of them in your mouth? Wouldn't you like to
stroke them, tease them, kiss them?' All the while
she continued moving fluidly from one pose to the
next, seeming as comfortable in her naked hide as any
animal. She eased herself onto the bed and continued
"This is making me so hot, David, so hot and so horny.
I'm starting to get wet thinking about it, posing for
you and telling you how hot it makes me feel while you
take pictures of my body. This is such an incredible
turn-on, David. Is it turning you on too, David?"
His verbal skills failed him completely as he watched
Lauren stretched out on the bed, her hands roaming
over every part of her body as she spoke her erotic
thoughts aloud to him. At Gina's urging he kept
shooting, even as Lauren hooked her briefs with her
thumbs and slid them off, tossing them toward David
where they landed on his shoulder. I could tell from
across the room that they were soaking wet.
"Keep shooting, David," Lauren continued, climbing off
the bed toward him. "I love it when you take my
picture, it gets me SO horny. I'm so horny now,
David, I'd like to rip your clothes off and wrap
myself around your gorgeous, magnificent cock!"
For David that was the last straw; he put down the
camera down and stepped backward. "I think that's
enough now, Lauren, you can go get dressed."
"You don't really want me to do that, do you?" she
asked, her voice almost singing as she closed the
space between them. "I know I don't want me to do
that. Aren't you aroused, David? So aroused, so
horny, that you can't think of anything but how much
you'd like to put your cock between my legs?" She had
him backed into a corner and pressed her hand against
his bulging pants, tracing the outline of his organ
with her fingers. "Fuck me, David, like you know you
want to. Don't be afraid, I won't reject you. I want
you. Let go and fuck me now."
"No." David pushed her strongly away, but she
recovered herself quickly. "This is not a good idea,
"It's a GREAT idea!" she replied. "Listen to your
body, David, it's telling you how much you want me. I
want to make you again and again and again." She
practically threw herself at him, wrapping her arms
around his neck and her legs around his waist,
shutting off his objections with an open-mouthed kiss
that could melt steel. I'd let this go on too long.
"Lauren, time out."
The change was astonishing. In the blink of an eye
she went from clutching David to collapsing on him,
totally limp. He felt it happening and went just as
quickly from fighting her off to holding her up as she
slumped toward the floor. Her head and shoulders
flopped back as he shifted his hands to improve his
grip. He stared at me in amazement. "How did you do
"A little something I learned in college. I swear I
had no idea it would work that well. The pictures are
great, aren't they?"
"Yeah, I think so. We'll have to talk about this
later." He looked again into Lauren's sleeping face.
"What do I do with her?"
"I'll take her back to the dressing room. Lauren, can
you hear me?"
"Yes. Floating again, so nice."
"That's very good, Lauren. You can continue to relax
now. As you do, you feel the strength returning to
your legs. You remain deeply relaxed, but you can now
stand and walk while your mind continues to float in
your hot tub. Do you understand, Lauren?"
"Yes." Her legs shifted and straightened as they took
on her weight again. David let her go gently, as if
he wasn't quite sure she would stay standing.
"Come back to the dressing room with me, Lauren. You
can open your eyes as you walk without disturbing your
relaxed state." She followed me into the dressing
room, where I had her sit again in the makeup chair
and told her once again to just drift and ignore
everything until I touched her shoulder.
David started to ask questions as I came out of the
dressing room, but I cut him off. "First things
first. Where is her underwear?" I found it on the
floor near where David had been standing when she
threw it at him. Fortunately, our studio had a modest
but functional laundry room. I ran the
through a quick hand wash and put them in the dryer
for a short cycle. That gave me about 20 minutes to
get Lauren cleaned up and explain things to David.
I started out by telling him about my previous
hypnosis experience, then gave him a basic idea of
what suggestions I'd used on Lauren to overcome her
nervousness. "I really didn't expect her to strip and
attack you, David. I'm really sorry about that."
"No harm done," he replied looking down at his pants,
which were still stained with Lauren's juices. "No
lasting harm, anyway." His wry face told me that all
was forgiven, at least for now. "How much is she
going to remember?"
That's the big question, I thought to myself. "If I
wake her right now she won't remember being hypnotized
the first time, but she will remember all the details
of the second sitting, how she felt, what she did.
She probably won't remember how she ended up in the
dressing room again."
Gina spoke up. "We're going to want Lauren to look at
the proofs, so it would be better if she could
remember at least some of the posing. She'll be
mortified if she realizes she ended up naked and on
film, and I shudder to think how embarrassed she'll be
over throwing herself at David."
"On the other hand, maybe this is an opportunity to
try and break down some of those barriers. Maybe what
she really needs is to remember everything up to when
David stopped shooting, including how much she liked
it and how relaxed she felt in front of the
even with nothing on. That could be a major
confidence booster for Lauren. What do you think,
I looked up to see David shaking his head.. "I'm not
comfortable with the idea of tinkering with someone's
personality. Who are we to decide what Lauren should
think and do and remember? She trusted us completely,
so we should trust her as well."
Gina looked incredulous. "You mean you want her to
That sense of honor is one of the things that I like
about David. Unsure of the outcome as I was, I knew
he was right; we owed it to Lauren to trust her.
"David's right, Gina. Why don't you come in and help
me talk with her?"
Gina agreed. David went back to cleaning up the set
area while I retrieved Lauren's underpants from the
dryer. When I returned to the dressing room Gina was
perched on the edge of the vanity studying Lauren's
slack face. "I just can't get over the change, " she
said. "From wall flower to sex goddess in ten easy
minutes. Can you teach her to do that to herself,
"We'll see." I touched Lauren on the shoulder. As
before, her head stirred a little and settled back
down. "How do you feel, Lauren?"
"So nice ... sleepy ... "
"That's very good, Lauren. You had an excellent
session today. You were confident, beautiful, sexy,
everything you could possibly have been. You should
be proud of yourself."
A soft, happy smile formed on Lauren's parted lips.
"Do you realize what happened to you today, Lauren?"
"Yes. ... You helped me relax, taught me the exercise.
Made me feel really, really sexy. Told me to seduce
David." The smile straightened out again, and a
small crease appeared on her forehead. "I made him
hard, but he wouldn't take me. Why didn't he want
"He did want you, Lauren. But David knew that it
wouldn't be right to take advantage of you when you
were feeling so aroused. He didn't want you to feel
bad about what happened. None of us want you to be
hurt or to feel uncomfortable about anything that
happened today, do you understand?"
"Okay. I still want him, though." Best to ignore
that, I decided.
"Lauren, I am going to count to five soon. When I
reach five you will return to your normal waking state
feeling refreshed, alert, and completely comfortable.
You will no longer feel compelled to seduce David.
You will remember everything that happened to you
today and everything you did, and none of it will make
you feel or used. You will remember this day as
a positive experience, a day when you made new friends
and had your best shoot ever. Do you understand?"
Yes, I was hedging a little. I didn't want to get
"Okay. One, two, three, four, five."
Lauren's eyes fluttered open. She looked alternately
at me, at Gina, and at herself in the mirror. "Am I
really awake now?"
"Yes," I assured her. "Wide awake, feeling good."
"I do feel good," she affirmed. "Better than good.
That was the most amazing thing that's ever happened
to me. I felt like a queen." I could see her mental
gears turning, assimilating all the things she could
now remember. "So that's what it's like being
hypnotized. Did David know what you told me to do?"
"No. I didn't plan to do that at all, Lauren, you
have to understand that. It was an impulse, a way to
get you to be a little less self-conscious. We wanted
you to be relaxed and in command in front of the
She was nodding vigorously with me. "Well it worked,
that's for sure. I can't remember ever feeling that
sure of myself. I also can't remember ever feeling so
... aroused." Her nipples stood up again as she
finished her sentence. "I really wish I had a
boyfriend to take all this home to."
"I'd lend you mine if I had one," I told her. "Do you
want to grab a shower before you get dressed?"
"I'd love to!" I showed Lauren to the full bath we
had near the kitchen, leaving her street clothes
neatly folded on the vanity counter. The water ran
for what seemed like a very long time.
Russell was as good as his word. Two days later he
hand delivered the proofs from Lauren's shoot. The
processing quality was exceptional, they all felt and
looked like top-dollar portraits. He also made a
point of presenting me with the negatives and assuring
me that he had processed the pictures himself and
shredded the wasted sheets.
Lauren was thrilled when she and Gina came by to see
them. "Oh my god, is that really me?"
"It's you all right," Gina assured her. "Post some of
these on the Internet and you'll be the most
downloaded woman in history."
Gina picked out about six of the best non-nudes to
show to the lingerie company. David offered to have a
scrapbook made up for Lauren at no charge if she
wanted to choose some for herself. She thanked him
profusely and selected about 12 proofs, all from the
post-hypnotic session, including several topless and
nude photos from the end of the shoot. "I want to be
able to look at these whenever some agency suit tells
me I'm not sultry enough," she explained. David
blushed a little, I guess remembering his own reaction
Our business concluded, Lauren seemed inclined to hang
around. "Is there something else we can do for you,
Lauren?" I asked, suspecting what the answer might be.
"There is one thing." She looked over at Gina. "Gina
has me scheduled to meet with the lingerie people
tomorrow afternoon. They are going to want me to
audition for them. I'll have to talk to them and walk
around for them in skimpy underwear, and I'm a little
nervous about it. Do you think you could, well ..." Her
voice trailed off, and I could see pleading in her
"Hypnotize you again?" I concluded. "To help you feel
more confident for your audition?"
Lauren nodded several times. "Please? I want that
job so much, and they won't want me if I look
I led Lauren back to the dressing room, where the good
chair was. "Have a seat and get comfortable."
After a few moments of wriggling in the chair, she
pronounced herself ready. "Do I start staring into
the mirror now?"
"Not necessary. Time out, Lauren."
She resisted for a second or two, watching herself in
the mirror as her body turned to rags and her head
became too busy to hold up. She quickly gave in to
the inevitable as her eyes closed, settling into the
chair with a deep and satisfied sigh.
"Very good, Lauren. You remembered to respond to your
trigger. You can use that same trigger on yourself if
you wish, as often as you wish. Just go to a safe,
comfortable place and imagine my voice saying 'Time
out'. Every time you do that you will go deeper into
relaxation and feel greater pleasure."
"Now, Lauren, think about the pictures you saw of
yourself today. Remember how totally irresistible you
are, how sexy and confident you felt during the
shooting here. Remembering those feelings has a
marvelous affect on you -- those feelings are coming
back to you right now, as powerful as they were during
the shooting. You feel strong, sexy, vibrant, in
control, and absolutely self-assured. Do you feel it,
"Mmmmm, yes ..."
"Good. This is very important, Lauren. The way you
feel right now is perfectly natural, perfectly okay.
It is how a needs to feel about herself in order
to succeed. You will find that this feeling of power,
of seductiveness, of control, will tend to return to
you any time you are auditioning or working. If you
ever find yourself feeling uncomfortable or nervous,
you can close your eyes for a moment and take a deep
breath. As you do, the feelings you are experiencing
now will return to you. Each breath will make those
feelings stronger, until you are completely at ease
and confident. The more you practice this the more
effective it will be for you. Do you understand?"
"I understand. Thank you for this wonderful feeling."
I heard later from Gina that Lauren wowed the
lingerie people at her audition. A few months later
she was on the cover of a nationwide edition of their
The success of Lauren's session left no more doubts in
either of our minds -- we were going to do boudoir, and
we were going to do it better than anyone. We built a
big, permanent set with several looks that could be
changed quickly and easily. We also assembled a huge
wardrobe of intimate wear for every body size and
taste, from shiny black leather to pink flannel. I
quickly discovered that my success in hypnotizing
Lauren was more a reflection on her ability than mine;
it took me a bit of time and some serious study to
regain my hypnotic skills. Gradually I put together a
good repertoire of induction techniques and time-
tested suggestions that worked most of the time. My
rediscovered talent kept the models feeling
comfortable, in control, and aroused enough to show on
film but not so much that David would have to fight
them off. The women seemed to take to David almost on
sight, and his patient, deliberate, supportive manner
put them at ease quickly. And Russell turned out to
be a real find. His print work was so good we never
did upgrade our own darkroom. Between the three of
us, we got great results from every client. Yes, even
Gina -- she was the first person we photographed on the
new set, and her husband still sends us Christmas
Months passed and we kept very busy, setting our
session prices by the appointment book method: when
we felt the book was getting too full, we raised our
prices. As much as we enjoyed the boudoir work, we
wanted to be true to our original intent. We limited
our boudoir calendar to one or at most two sessions
per day, which still left time for the commercial and
family portrait work that had sustained us through the
first year. I was getting used to the idea of David
as a platonic friend and partner, although on some
level I was still waiting for an opportunity.
My opportunity came in an unexpected form. Stephanie,
the prodigal girlfriend, called to make a lunch date
with David. I heard him agree to meet her at a
restaurant across town and hang up.
"It's been a while since you two had any time
together, hasn't it?" I asked him. It had been at
least six weeks by my reckoning.
He shrugged. "She's been busy, we've been busy."
It's so hard to read David, but I thought (hoped?) I
heard a hint of resignation in his voice. "I'd better
Less than a minute after his car pulled away, a tall,
willowy figure strode through the studio door. She
had a model's practiced walk, short black hair styled
carefully so as to seem unstyled. Her long coat
parted at the front as she moved, revealing a casual
yet elegant knit top and slacks.
"Stephanie?" As usual, my vocabulary withered in the
face of surprise. "You're not supposed to be here."
"I need five minutes with you, Jen. Can we talk?"
"Umm ... sure. Do you want to use the office?"
"Definitely." She headed for the office immediately,
assuming I would follow. Stephanie and I had
exchanged maybe 15 sentences since we first met, so I
knew something had to be up. This is either going to
be very good news or very bad, I thought.
Stephanie closed the door behind me and leaned against
it, looking upward. She took a couple of deep breaths
and brought her gaze back down to me. "I've seen the
way you look at David. Does he know how you feel
All I could do was stare. Was it that obvious?
"It's okay, Jen, I'm not here to play the jealous
girlfriend," she assured me. "I just want to know how
far things have gone between you two."
"We have a very good business relationship," I told
her. "Nothing else."
Was that disappointment in her face? "That's David,
all right," she mused. "Too many scruples for his own
good. He should have dumped me for you long ago. It
would have been so much easier."
She wasn't going to get an argument from me on that.
I kept quiet and waited for my new confidant to get to
"Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I'm meeting David
for lunch at Toscani's. We're going to have a nice
friendly lunch, catch up on all the who's and what's.
And at some point in that conversation I'm going to
tell David that I've started seeing someone else."
Which was exactly what I wanted to hear, but at the
time it felt like a blow to the stomach. To make
things even crazier, I found myself fighting back a
growing moral outrage on David's behalf. "Why are you
telling me this?"
"Because we both know he won't tell you himself. I
just want you to know that if you can pry him out of
his shell, now is your chance."
"So this is strictly for my benefit." I wasn't buying
"Okay, that's not all. By telling you, I now know
that I can't chicken out at the last minute; I have to
tell him before he sees you again. David has never
been anything but honest with me, and I feel like a
louse for on him, but ..." Her voice just
My head was spinning, half a dozen different thoughts
screaming to get out. Finally, I settled on the
safest one. "I'll take care of him. Thank you."
Stephanie shot me a relieved look, then held up her
watch. "Gotta go." We locked eyes for a moment and
shared a nod and then she was gone as abruptly as she
had come in. I got to the glass storefront just in
time to see her duck into a waiting sports car driven
by a good-looking in an open shirt. Neither one
looked back as they disappeared into the stream of
Twenty minutes later I was still staring out the front
window, a storm of related thoughts swirling through
my mind. I knew I wanted to sleep with David, but did
I want it for the right reasons? Was I willing to
risk a failed relationship and possibly a ruined
business too? How much should I say, and when?
I needed clarity, and I needed it soon. I had an hour
before I estimated David would return, another 30
minutes after that before our last boudoir appointment
of the day. Time enough if I used it wisely.
I went back to the office, forwarded the phones to
voice mail and put on some soft instrumental music.
Then I settled into a small sofa in the office, my
shoes off and my jeans open and unzipped for easier
circulation. I took three deep, slow breaths, and
willed my body and mind to relax. With each breath in
I envisioned the tensions gathering like electrical
sparks in my forehead. With each breath out I
pictured that energy as blue lines rushing out of my
body and disappearing into the cushions of the sofa,
like lightning drawn off by a lightning rod. That
imagery has always been very effective for me, and
within a few minutes I felt myself drifting off into
my personal sanctuary.
When I hypnotize myself I don't always have specific
suggestions in mind; just the act of going into trance
and coming out again is usually enough to banish
stress and clear up my mind. This time would be
different, though. This time I needed to ask myself
some tough questions.
Still picturing myself in my safe, quiet room, I
imagined that my subconscious was now in the room as
well, in the form of my favorite childhood toy -- a
Magic 8 Ball. Like a Chevruel pendulum, my
subconscious would use the Magic 8 Ball to provide yes
or no answers to simple questions. I pictured the
ball in my hands, pictured myself turning it over
several times in my lap then asking, "Am I ready to
explore the questions that are troubling me?" The
ball turned over of its own accord, and shortly the
answer rose from within its murky depths: 'You May
Rely On It'
I turned the ball over again, satisfied that I was
sufficiently relaxed to continue. "Do I really want a
romantic relationship with David?"
'Yes -- Definitely.'
"Do I want it for the right reasons?"
The ball remained still for a long time before
answering. 'Reply Hazy, Try Again.'
Okay, reword the question. "I know that I have a
strong physical craving for David. Is a sexual
relationship all that I want with him?"
'Relax' said the ball. I sent a couple waves of extra
relaxation from head to toe and felt myself settling
down again. The ball's message changed to 'Very
"Is David interested in me?" I was trying to tap into
my own intuition here.
'Signs Point to Yes'
"If we start a relationship and it fails, will we
still be able to work together?"
'Cannot Predict Now' Okay, that's fair.
"Am I willing to risk losing the business to gain the
relationship I want with David?"
A very long pause for this one. I concentrated on
breathing and staying relaxed, following the music,
holding onto that feeling of complete detachment. I
couldn't afford to let my conscious self influence the
outcome. Finally, the Magic 8 Ball rolled over and
displayed its answer: 'As I See It, Yes'
Just to make sure: "Did my conscious mind influence
that last answer?"
'My Reply Is No' I did not feel a surge of relief,
just continued detachment. A good sign, I would
"Would it be better for me to take the initiative
instead of waiting for David to approach me?"
No hesitation this time. 'Most Likely'
"Thank you very much." I set the Magic 8 Ball aside
and watched it fade away. The session had gone well,
so I gave myself permission to let go completely until
the end of the music tape. I felt myself sinking
deeper into the couch, letting go, drifting ...
I woke up to the CLICK! of the tape player's automatic
shut-off. All of my confusion and anxieties were
gone. I knew exactly what I wanted and felt confident
of achieving it, knowing I could work out a plan at my
leisure. Fixing my clothing, I checked the desk. The
message waiting light on the telephone glowed red, and
the time display showed that I'd been out for 45
minutes -- David would be back soon.
The phone message was from Claire, a boudoir client
scheduled for the following week who needed to
reschedule. That was easy to take care of, and it
gave me an idea. Instead of offering the opening to a
client (we keep a special list of those interested in
taking advantage of cancellations), I crossed out
Claire's name in the appointment book and wrote
"Jennifer D." in its place. I knew David would see
it, but would he see through it? I felt like the
foreplay had already begun.
David returned a little later than I expected, only
ten minutes before our afternoon boudoir client was
"I'm really sorry, Jen. I had no idea it would be
such a long lunch." He seemed like his normal self,
not overly flustered, just annoyed at himself for
running late. I couldn't tell whether Stephanie had
told him or not, and we couldn't afford to get
sidetracked then by discussing it. My pulse quickened
for a few beats as he checked the appointment book.
"Yikes!" he exclaimed, tapping the name of the client
who was due any minute.
"I'll help you get the gear ready," I offered.
"Not necessary, I can catch up while you prep her."
The client was right on time, so I put the personal
issue aside to give her my undivided attention. By
the time I had her fully prepared with makeup,
wardrobe, and hypnotic suggestions David was ready.
In front of the client he was absolutely his normal,
professional self. We kept our focus on the client
and had a very successful session.
With the client on her way home, it was time to find
out what had happened at lunch. With David a direct
approach is usually best. "So," I began, "what
brought Stephanie to town?"
Perhaps my tone betrayed something, because I saw a
shadow cross David's face. It was gone almost
immediately and replaced with his normal, relaxed
expression. His eyes lingered on me for a moment or
two longer than normal before he replied, "Personal
business." Then he pointedly returned to unloading
the in his hand.
That was my signal to butt out, but I wasn't about to
do it. Unlike Stephanie, I knew that David would tell
me everything once assured that I really wanted to
know. I gave him my strongest you-can-talk-to-me look
as I asked, "Are you two okay?"
He sighed, still concentrating on the camera. "It's
been a long time since Steph and I were really okay, I
guess. Too many other things get in the way."
"Relationships like yours are hard to maintain," I
offered. "Busy schedules, different priorities. It's
bound to be tough on everyone."
That got him looking back at me. "I guess so. Steph
said almost the same thing and I couldn't disagree.
Anyway, the relationship is over. Today was sort of a
closing ceremony. Misty-eyed reminiscing, fond
farewells, we'll always be good friends, etc."
"David, I'm sorry."
"So am I," he replied. "I'll get over it, of course.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Just put up with me for the next few days until the
worst is over. I'll try to keep my mouth under
"You talk as much as you need to, David. It's okay."
He gave me a wry smile. "We'll see. Don't let me go
maudlin on you, okay?"
We spent the next few hours in the office doing the
mundane paperwork that builds up in any small
business. David surprised me by suggesting a late
dinner at a blues club a few blocks away. Naturally I
took him up on it. We didn't talk about the breakup
any more, but the steady rhythms of the blues music
seemed to be comforting to him. We made party
conversation -- nothing too heavy, no business -- and
drank as we listened. After a little while, David
"This is such a cliché," I remarked. "Is this really
a good way to avoid depression?"
"Shhh," he replied. "Just listen a few minutes."
So I did. I was always a rock and roll lover myself,
so I'd heard a lot of blues songs but never really
paid much attention to them. Now, with no Aerosmith
or Rolling Stones in the mix, I started to feel the
healing power of good blues music. The rhythms,
strong but gentle, worked their way into my brain and
I found myself relaxing with each slow, heavy beat.
After a little while David ordered another round,
bringing me out of my reverie.
"Blues is not about being depressed," he volunteered.
"The essence of blues is hope. No matter how bad
things get today, we always seem to keep on going. We
carry our grief for a while, then life goes on."
"And the experience makes us stronger?" I added.
"Not always. Some of us are destined to keep
repeating our mistakes. Bad karma, unlucky in love,
call it what you like. It doesn't matter. The song
is still about surviving the sadness, not wallowing in
"I'm beginning to understand, I think." I let my eyes
close and leaned back against my seat, letting my head
fall back to rest on the cushioned booth wall. "It's
so relaxing, so comforting." I looked back at David
and he was doing the same thing, leaning back against
the bench, eyes closed. Temptation rose up within me,
or maybe it was just too much wine. I lowered my
voice and continued speaking to him, slowly and
deliberately. "So easy to just sit back, relax, let
yourself drift along with the rhythms of the music.
Not thinking about anything in particular, just
concentrating totally on the beating of the drum, the
quiet guitar riffs, the pure emotion in the singer's
voice. Let the music surround you and carry you
deeper, deeper into itself, slow and easy, leaving
your body behind to just rest."
I was a drink over my usual limit, and the David's
beer glass had seen at least 3 refills by my count.
These are not ideal circumstances for a hypnotic
session, but my improvised induction talk seemed to be
working. His face went slack, the mouth falling open
as his head turned ever so slowly to the side.
"It's so nice sitting here like this, relaxing,
listening to the soothing sounds of the music and my
voice. The longer you listen to the music, the more
deeply it relaxes you. The more deeply you relax, the
more you can concentrate on the music. Nothing else
needs your attention, nothing but my voice and the
music. The music and my voice. Let your conscious
self float along with the music, while your inner mind
listens to my voice. Trust me, David. Let go, follow
the music, and trust me."
Within a few minutes his body let go completely
leaving him slouched against the side of the booth,
his breathing soft and slow, his eyelids fluttering a
little as his eyes moved rapidly beneath them. For a
moment I thought he had slipped into sleep.
"Can you still hear me, David?"
That's good. "You can speak clearly to me David.
Speaking to me will not disturb you at all, in fact it
will help you to relax even more. Every word you say,
every word you hear me say, will relax you more and
more. Do you understand?"
Alcohol normally interferes with concentration, which
hinders hypnosis, so I hadn't really expected the
induction to work. With no particular plan and the
wine buzz occupying more of my brain, I just watched
him in silence for a few minutes. I was half in a
trance myself, and the music kept trying to pull me
further down. As I studied David's slack face I
became aware of a strong, moist heat radiating from
between my legs. At the same time, I started noticing
the sensations in my as my simple knit sheath
dress stretched and moved against my nipples. I
pressed my thighs tightly together, although I still
don't know whether that was meant to contain the
feeling or to savor it. My id was screaming at me to
go down on him right then and there, but despite the
wine my better judgment prevailed.
"How do you feel, David?"
"Strange," was his answer. "Sad. Peaceful. Good.
All at once."
"These are good, normal feelings, David. It's natural
to feel sad when a relationship ends. At the same
time, when two people have been growing apart over
time it feels good to finally acknowledge that and go
your separate ways. You and Stephanie have been
growing apart, David. The real relationship was over
a long time ago, it just took until today for you both
to recognize it. In a few days you will find that you
are more relieved than sad about the breakup. Every
time you think about Stephanie you will remember the
joy of the good times but the sadness and bad memories
will fade like a photograph in the sun. Trust me,
David, it will happen."
"I trust you, Jen."
"Thank you, David. Go ahead and think about Stephanie
right now. Think about her as if you last saw her a
year ago, remembering the fun times, while those sad
memories fade away." I gave him a few minutes,
watching a gentle smile crease his face. "How do you
feel now, David?"
"Happy," he said. "Contented. Getting a little
I almost lost it. My hand hovered just an inch over
his zipper, longing to reach inside, but I held firm --
not here, not now. Soon, I promised myself, but not
tonight. "Yes, this music is very sensual, isn't it?
I find it very seductive. Isn't it good to know that
whenever we want to feel good like this, we can listen
to some blues and recapture the feelings we have right
"I think so too, David. From now on, we will always
find blues music to be incredibly arousing, putting us
in the mood for slow, delicious sex. Don't you like
that idea, David?"
"Very good. Soon it will be time to wake up from your
rest, David. When I count to five you will wake up
completely, feeling refreshed and content. Your
waking self will remember only that you dozed off
listening to the music, but your inner mind will
remember all. One, two, three, four, five."
David's eyes popped open and he sat up with a jerk.
"Jesus, Jen, I'm sorry. I've never done that before."
"It's okay, you've had a rough day."
A curious expression came over him. He was studying
my face closely. "Are you all right, Jen? You look
Oops -- I should have told him not to notice anything
odd. My sex drive was fully engaged, and there was no
way to hide it completely. "Too much wine," I
suggested. "Maybe I'd better go freshen up a little."
The ladies' room was mercifully empty. I splashed
some cold water on my face, dampened a small wad of
paper towels with cold water and squeezed it between
my thighs. It was going to take more than a little
cool water to make the heat go away, but I felt much
more in control as I touched up my makeup.
When I got back to the table, David had already paid
the check and looked ready to go.
"Calling it a night?" I asked.
"Since I can't seem to stay awake on my own, I might
as well. See you tomorrow?"
"Sure," I said. "Don't worry about the time, just
come in when you feel like it. I can cancel the
boudoir sessions if you don't feel like doing them."
"No, that wouldn't be fair to the clients. I'll be
That voice came back in my head, urging me to jump him
immediately. I allowed myself a sisterly hug instead,
and felt another rush of desire when I felt his arms
ever so gently encircling me. "Goodnight, David."
"Goodnight, Jen." He took my hands in his. "Thanks
for the company."
"You're welcome, really."
By the time I got home the wine had worn off, but my
libido was still raging. I went to bed early and gave
in to the dark side, climaxing repeatedly until I was
too exhausted to stay awake.
The next several days were surprisingly normal. David
was at the studio every day at his normal time. If my
customary "How are you doing?" was a bit less casual
than usual, so was his "Fine." Every once in a while
I'd catch him staring into space with a faint smile,
but he really did seem like his normal self. I'd
like to think I helped him with my suggestions at the
blues club. Then again, he's a pretty stable guy to
At David's suggestion we took the weekend off instead
of staying open Saturday for walk-in business. My
boudoir appointment was for Tuesday afternoon, so I
spent much of the weekend thinking about that and
communing with my Magic 8 Ball to make sure I really
wanted to go through with it. I also visited a number
of music stores. By Monday I had everything planned
I started getting butterflies on the way to work
Tuesday morning. Fortunately for me, David would be
out doing a location shoot for one of Gina's clients
until after lunch. That left me alone in the studio
to handle the portrait sittings, which kept me just
busy enough to stay focused. I saw David check the
appointment book before leaving. If he suspected
anything about "Jennifer D." it didn't show.
By the time David returned, everything I needed was in
place. Since there was still a good hour before the
appointment, David retired to the darkroom to do some
preliminary prints. We used Russell's lab for all of
our final print work, but still we often do an initial
print run to weed out the non-contenders. I had
anticipated that and taken the liberty of turning up
the thermostat ever so slightly. I wanted him to come
About fifteen minutes before the appointment, when I
judged David would be about done, I poured him an icy-
cold glass of iced tea (his favorite beverage) and
brought it in to him. "The client's here," I told him
truthfully. "I'll start getting her prepped."
David took the glass from me and drank deeply. "Mmmm,
I needed that. Thanks, Jen. I'll be ready in a few
Yes you will, I thought as I headed for the dressing
room. Behind the closed door, I removed the small
glass bottle from my pants pocket and set it on the
makeup counter. It was still mostly full, despite the
fact that Gina had given it to me the week after
Lauren's trial session. "This is what people use who
don't have your skill, dear," she had told me. "It's
usually known as LPR, for liquid pants remover. It's
very popular with the adult magazine and crowd
because it temporarily erases all inhibitions but
doesn't interfere with speech or motor skills. It
wears off quickly and with no adverse effects. Give a
model 2 or 3 drops in a beverage, wait 20 minutes, and
she'll do anything you tell her to for an hour."
Smiling with anticipation, I released two drops into a
short glass of water and drank it down. There was a
very slight bitter taste, but David hadn't seemed to
notice. "That's it," I told my reflection in the
mirror. "You're committed now."
One eye kept stealing glances at the clock as I
changed into a satin cover-up and worked on my hair
and base makeup. I pulled out the barrettes that
normally hold my hair up to frame my face, then got
out the blow drier and some mousse. I had practiced
this look over the weekend -- still the same medium
brown, straight locks folded back at the sides but I
gave it a fuller, windswept look. It followed every
movement of my head with a natural flow, neither too
glued down nor too free. Perfect. I took equal care
with my face, accentuating my chocolate-colored eyes
and just equalizing the tones in my face without
looking too made up. A subdued lipstick added the
It was a good half hour after I had brought David his
drink when I heard him knock at the dressing room
door. "Anybody home?"
I opened the door, still in only the satin cover-up.
David's jaw dropped and his eyes opened as widely as
I've ever seen them. They looked me all over, more
than once in a couple of places, before meeting mine
again. "Surprised?" I asked.
Shaking his head, he replied, "Very sneaky, 'Jennifer
D.' I never made the connection. Who's going to be
"We don't need one," I answered. "Trust me." Then I
closed the door between us.
Slipping off the robe, I took a long look at myself in
the full-length mirror. Shoulders square and strong.
Breasts 38D, still holding up well against gravity
with minimal help. Tummy, could be leaner but flat
enough to draw hungry looks at the beach. Legs long,
a little on the muscular side but kept smooth and soft
by daily moisturizing. Butt, firm.
I decided a little body makeup might be in order.
Just a little powder here and there, to keep from
shining too much under the lights. The powder puff
lingered over my bare nipples, teasing them into
erection. I found it fun to watch them react. Then I
thought, why not? I picked up my lipstick and slowly,
deliberately painted them, savoring the sensation of
smooth lipstick against sensitive skin. I'd never
done that before, but it seemed like a perfect idea at
the time. I felt so relaxed, so calm. In the mirror
I saw that my pupils were a little bit dilated, but I
didn't care. They looked sexier that way.
Now for the wardrobe. Remembering David's reaction to
Lauren, I had chosen an apricot-colored pajama with
string-tie boxers, three-quarter sleeved, in pure
silk. I'd set aside a brand new thong as well,
but changed my mind -- I didn't intend to be wearing
anything for long, the shorts and top would be enough.
I pulled the shorts up and tied them loosely, so they
just barely clung to my hips. I slipped the top on
slowly, luxuriating in the feel of the silk against my
skin. With one eye on the side view mirror, I
buttoned only the middle two buttons of the pajama
shirt, allowing the V-shaped neckline to gap freely.
If I stood just right, I could see my right in
profile all the way to the nipple.
"Ready," I announced as I emerged from the dressing
room. David had finished his tea, I could see, and by
the way his eyes were exploring me I had no doubt that
the drug was working. "How do I look?"
"Wow," he replied immediately, his eyes focused
intently on my visible cleavage. "You look amazing.
I always thought you'd look great without clothes on --
oops, I mean ..." He actually blushed. It was so cute;
I had to string him along a little.
"Play your cards right, and who knows?"
David grinned. "Shall we begin?"
I opted to start on the divan, a fairly new addition
to the boudoir set. David adjusted the tripod and
lighting a little, then started shooting. I let
myself relax completely against the side of the divan,
draping my right arm along the back and letting my
left arm fall toward the floor, causing the pajama
neckline to open up wide. Bending my left knee to let
the hemline of the shorts slide up my thigh, I focused
my eyes on the blackness in the center of the
lens and thought, "You're mine."
We spent several minutes and a full roll of film on
the divan as I shifted positions, exposing different
parts of my body to David's view with each move. His
eyes never left me, not even between shots. When he
stopped to reload, I suggested we relocate to the bed.
At the request of a few clients, we had recently added
an audio system to the set; I had preloaded a very
special tape while David was in the darkroom, now
would be a good time to start it up. I pressed Play
and slid the remote out of sight in the night stand as
David signaled he was ready to continue.
I turned and gave him a full left profile, opening the
V neck a little with my hand, and strode slowly toward
the foot of the bed as he started shooting. His ears
perked up when he heard Stevie Ray Vaughan coming from
the audio system.
"The Sky is Crying," he observed. "You have great
taste in music, partner."
The big bed gave me plenty of opportunities to move
about. I tried sitting on the edge, looking back over
my shoulder as the pajama shorts rode up my thighs;
crawling across the bed toward the camera, letting the
V neck fall straight down, which let the look
all the way through to my crotch; kneeling up,
stretching, arms held high to make the top pull away
from my tummy and show how close the shorts were to
falling off. David took shot after shot, getting more
intense with every new song from the tape.
Stevie Ray soon gave way to Jeff Healey, starting with
his cover of "Hoochie Coochie Man" -- a very sexy
version; I recommend it to anyone for stripping. I
lay back on the bed, arching my back so David would
see my distended nipples clearly pushing out against
the silk shirt. Dismounting with a flourish, I stood
before him and slowly, deliberately, unbuttoned the
top. I danced and posed in several positions designed
to make the fall open in the front, making the
most of the valley between my and the low-
riding shorts. David kept shooting, talking to me all
"Yes, Jen, you are so hot, so sexy," he was saying.
"Every who sees these photos will get rock hard
thinking about you, longing for you. Try turning to
your left a little. God, that's good. You are just
oozing sexuality from every pore." He was really
getting turned on. I saw his left hand reach down
every few minutes to adjust the growing bulge in the
front of his jeans.
I was still posing against the bed, using the corner
post the way strippers use the chrome bar, sliding up
and down with my back to it. "Keep moving," he
continued. "Swaying, side to side, dancing for me.
Show me you hips. Let me see you swing them back and
forth, slow and sexy. Beautiful, beautiful. Relax,
Jen, remember to stay relaxed. Let the music lead
you. Let it take your mind away. Let go, Jen. Let
Somewhere deep in my head, it occurred to me that
David's patter was starting to sound like a hypnotic
induction. Who cares, I quickly decided, this is my
show. He's as good as mine. Jeff Healey gave way to
a long series of vintage Eric Clapton, which was my
signal to turn up the heat.
Turning my back to David, I spread the pajama top open
and let it fall to my elbows, holding the loose fabric
against my nipples. I let him coach me through
several poses, front and rear, highlighting my
and thighs. Soon David suggested that the top was
really getting very heavy, very uncomfortable, and I
would feel much freer if I just let it go. He was
right, I felt reborn as I let the silk pajama top fall
to the floor.
"Excellent, Jen, you must feel so much better now.
Keep relaxing, keep losing yourself in the music, feel
yourself growing more and more aroused, more and more
passionate. You body is slowing down now, Jen,
getting tired from all your exertions. It needs to
rest, Jen. It needs a nice, soft bed like the one you
are standing by. Feel the bed pulling at you, begging
you to lay down and let it relieve your tired body."
A fog had descended over my brain, I was barely
conscious of continuing my striptease. David
understood, I knew that, because even as he was
speaking my body felt drained and weary, tired, even
as the lust continued to build up inside me.
Stretching out on my back, I let my hands wander all
over my body. I fondled my breasts, teasing the
nipples. I pressed the silk shorts against my mound,
feeling the heat being generated within. My eyes
became heavy and tired, so I let them close and
focused completely on the feel of my own hands sliding
over my skin. Loose as it was, the drawstring waste
on my shorts was becoming uncomfortable, binding, so I
slipped them off slowly and sensuously.
Through all of this David kept talking, his voice a
constant companion even though I wasn't really paying
attention to the words. I lost myself in the music,
in the buzzing of his voice, the frequent click of the
camera. A sudden overwhelming need came over me,
energizing my hands as they moved faster across my
erogenous zones. My left hand squeezed and teased my
breasts more insistently than before, while my right
dove in between my legs, fingers curling and parting
my lips as I they probed my center. The pleasure was
so intense I wanted to come. I needed to come, but I
was waiting for something. What was I waiting for?
Oh that's right, I was waiting for David. Waiting for
him to say ...
"Come now, Jen."
My body bucked like a on a bull, back arching
and twisting, legs clenching continuously, arms thrown
skywards again and again, head flung back and mouth
wide open. I had never come that hard before, never.
The spasms continued for what felt like an hour, again
and again, sometimes seeming to die down but then
getting stronger again. Slowly, I started to realize
that my hands were both above my head but I still felt
fingers exploring my sex, sustaining my climax with
perfect pressure in every conceivable place. Somehow
I wrenched my eyes open and saw David seated on the
edge of the bed next to me, his left hand buried deep
in me while his right worked unseen inside his own
jeans. Another wave of ecstasy threatened to drown
me as I grabbed his waistband with both hands and
ripped his jeans open, exposing his marvelous cock.
The moment I saw David's cock, that splendid battering
ram of an organ, I knew exactly where I wanted it.
Pulling the pillows behind me for support, I grabbed
him by the belt loops and plunged the entire shaft
into my mouth. As I did his fingers found my G spot
again and started another set of uncontrollable,
unbelievable, convulsions. My lips closed hard
against his fuselage and I found myself alternately
sucking and blowing, my lungs trying to pump enough
air to sustain my tiring muscles. He was about to
come, I could feel the tension rising. Suddenly my
body just couldn't hold on any longer, I collapsed
back onto the bed like a rag doll. Summoning every
ounce of strength, I reached up with my left hand and
locked it around his cock, fucking him with my fist as
hard as I could. He didn't last long, maybe five or
six strokes, before his cock exploded in my hand,
sending spurts after of thick, white liquid
through my hand and far across the bed. His fingers
finally withdrew from my center as his knees buckled
Even after his climax, David's cock stayed hard. My
hand was still around it when he dropped to his knees
next to the bed. He started to pry my hand off, but
I'd had a few moments to recoup and squeezed harder.
"I'm not done yet," I told him. Rolling off the bed,
I pushed him down to the floor. Holding his shoulder
down with my right hand, I reached back with my left
and tickled his balls, running my finger up and down
the seam in his scrotum from front to back, stopping
just short of his anus. His eyes bugged out and his
every breath became a groan of delight. He started to
shake his head, still looking up at me.
"Do you want me to stop?" I teased him, continuing to
stimulate that very sensitive area.
"Ugh ... Ugh ... No!" His left hand reached up below me
and grabbed onto my breast, sending a sudden jolt
through my body that made me lose track of what I was
doing for a moment. Soon he was kneading my
in rhythm to my strokes of his genitals and we were
both heading quickly for another shattering climax.
When I couldn't stand it anymore, I let go of him and
climbed on top. We both gasped as I slammed myself
down over his immense cock, squeezing with all my
might. That sensation alone was enough to rock my
world and I gave in completely, holding his hands
tight against my as I shuddered around him.
Seconds later I felt the unmistakable twitch that told
me he was about to come too. Pressing his hands even
more firmly into my chest, I squeezed down on his
shaft one more time as I lifted up and dropped down
again. He bellowed unintelligibly as he came again,
writhing and pumping inside me. The pulsing head
found another highly sensitized spot inside me and I
heard myself screaming out loud as each spasm racked
my exhausted body.
Finally I collapsed on top of David, rolling off onto
the floor beside him, my body still twitching as the
orgasm finally began to fade. I couldn't move,
couldn't speak, couldn't believe some of the things my
body had just done. As my breathing slowed my eyes
grew heavy again, and as I sunk into deep sleep I
could just make out the last few strains of my blues
I woke up lying on my side on the bed, the silk pajama
top just draped over my nude body like a sheet.
"David?" I didn't see him.
A few moments later he poked his head into the doorway
from the office area. "Hi there."
"Hi, indeed." I reached up and stretched, making no
attempt to keep the pajama top from sliding off.
"Are you hungry?" David asked, looking down and away
as soon as soon as he saw my exposed body.
"I've got some shrimp and egg rolls in the office if
you like." He was now talking to the doorframe.
"Sounds delicious." My body felt great, like I'd had a
full workout followed by massage and steam. I put the
pajamas back on since they were handy, but didn't
bother buttoning the top. The office had no windows.
David was waiting for me inside, a series of paper
food cartons on his desk. He had showered and dressed
in clean sweats and a T-shirt. His eyes met me at the
door and then dropped to the floor immediately, like a
schoolboy who knows he is in trouble. Out of the
corner of my eye I saw the office clock: 8:20. I'd
been asleep for almost three hours.
"What's the matter, David?"
Willing himself to look me in the eye, David took a
deep breath before speaking. "I'm sorry, Jen. I
don't know what got into me. I never—"
"Stop," I interjected. "I know exactly what got into
me," I continued, looking pointedly at his crotch,
"and I'd like nothing better than for it to keep
getting into me regularly." To underscore my point I
walked right up to his desk and leaned over him,
letting the pajama top fall aside and my hang
down in full view. He tried valiantly to maintain eye
contact but failed, his eyes darting down
instinctively as the silk parted and lingering for a
full second before he regained control. A guilty
blush crept through his face. "Believe me, David, you
have absolutely nothing to be sorry about."
"Yes, I do," he insisted, wrenching his gaze away from
me and fixing it at a spot on the floor. "Hear me
I decided to back off. Picking up a carton of food
and a napkin, I settled onto the office sofa. I
buttoned one button on the pajama top and waited,
eating shrimp fried rice directly from the paper
carton with a plastic fork.
After a few minutes David seemed to find his words.
Looking at me again, he started to explain. "I think
you know I like you a lot, Jen. I've been a little
bit in love with you since we met at the bank. I knew
that Steph and I were headed for a breakup eventually,
so I promised myself that when it finally happened I
would reach out to you and see if you felt the same
way. I almost did it at the blues club, but instead I
embarrassed myself by getting drunk and dozing off on
you. Not the best way to start a relationship.
"When you opened that dressing room door today and I
realized you were the client, I went a little nuts.
Having you pose like that has been a fantasy of mine
since the day we built the first set, but I never
thought it would really happen. Most of the women we
shoot in there get me aroused to a greater or lesser
degree, but watching you and filming you was too much.
I lost every bit of my self-control."
I knew why he'd lost it, but now did not seem like the
time to say so. I just sat quietly, concentrating on
"I love to listen to you hypnotizing the clients. The
way you talk when you are putting people under is so
erotic, I can't get enough of it. In my fantasy, I
can do that too. I use your words, your tempo, to put
you in a trance and make love with you over and over.
The more I saw you on that set, real and alive and
irresistible, the more I wanted to live out the
fantasy. I told you to relax, let go, follow the
music, deeper and deeper, all that. When I could see
it was working, I told you to take off your top and
pose for me some more. I gave you the idea to start
feeling yourself up, to take off your shorts, to let
me feel inside you. I wasn't concerned with your
feelings, all I could think about was how much I
wanted your body right away. I didn't care how wrong
that was until after it was done, when I saw you
sleeping on the floor. I had no business using you
that way, Jen, and I'm sorry."
He looked so contrite, I couldn't help it -- I laughed.
"You sneaky bastard," I began in mock outrage. "After
all the trouble I went through to seduce you, how DARE
you take control of the situation and twist it to give
me the most incredible, mind-blowing sex I've ever
had? You cad, you."
"The effort YOU went through?"
"Damn right," I continued. "Do you think it was easy
holding back a cancelled boudoir appointment for
myself? Hypnotizing you at the blues club so that the
next time you heard that kind of music you'd get
turned on and hungry for me? Doping your iced tea
with LPR to make sure that noble conscience of yours
would take the afternoon off? It was hell, I tell
A highly relieved David was beaming at me. "Hoist by
your own petard, I see."
"Watch it, Mister, Shakespeare makes me SO horny."
"In that case, let me recite the first act of
Midsummer Night's Dream ... tomorrow, when I've
recovered a bit."
"I have a better idea." I set aside my empty food
carton, wiped my mouth lightly with the napkin, and
approached David, walking around the desk until I
stood directly over him, our faces just far enough
apart to focus on. "Look into my eyes, David. Lose
yourself in my eyes. Relax and let go. Feel yourself
becoming tired, so tired, getting more and more sleepy
as you feel yourself getting drawn into my eyes. You
can't resist me, David. You don't want to resist, you
want to obey. You feel yourself relaxing piece by
piece, breath by breath, your body slowly settling
deeper and deeper into the chair, your mind aware of
nothing except my eyes and my voice. Let go, David.
Trust me, I will take care of you. Follow my voice
down, down, down into the deepest depths of hypnosis,
where you can experience the ultimate pleasure."
His eyes glazed over as they remained fixated on mine.
Still repeating deepening suggestions, I slowly
unbuttoned my pajama top and let it fall to the floor.
David's eyes never moved from mine.
"That's it, David, keep sinking down into deep
hypnosis for me. You know you want to, you know you
have to. You will go deep into hypnosis for me any
time I ask you to because you know how much it pleases
me, and how much I can please you. Lose yourself in
my eyes, David, let them take you deeper and deeper.
Surrender you body to me."
David's body was totally slack, his head supported by
the high back of his office chair. His eyes followed
me as I moved back and forth, testing his
"Thank you, David. Thank you for surrendering
yourself to me. Thank you for trusting me to take
care of you. I will control your body now, David,
while you relax and concentrate only on the pleasure
that you will be feeling. You didn't notice it at the
time, but a few minutes ago I took off my pajama top.
My are right here in front of you, completely
exposed, ready to assist in bringing us pleasure.
Look at them now, David. Examine my closely,
memorize their contours, their coloring, their
movement. Do you like my breasts, David?"
"Yes. Very much."
"How does looking at my make you feel?"
"It makes me want you."
"Mmmmmm, David, it's so nice to hear you say that.
Keep looking at my breasts, David, and feel the blood
rushing into your delicious cock. Feel the rising
tide of pleasure as you become harder and harder, just
from studying my breasts. Knowing that the sight of
my can get you so aroused, so ready, is
turning me on as much as it is you, David. See? My
nipples are getting hard while you watch, while your
wonderful cock gets harder and harder." Placing a
hand on the front of his sweats, I began massaging his
growing erection through the fleece. "Harder and
harder, David, your cock keeps getting longer and
harder as you look at my breasts. Do you feel it,
"Yes ... yes ... so hot ..."
"Yes, David, you feel hot. I feel hot too, hot and
horny, all I can think about is how much I want you
right now. Just as the sight of my has made
you hot and horny, and all you can think about is how
much you want me. I can't stand to wait any longer,
as I know you can't stand to wait either. Stand up
now, David, and take your clothes off for me."
His vacant eyes still locked onto my chest, David rose
from the chair. His eyes didn't move even as he
pulled the T-shirt off over his head. The sneakers
and socks came off next, then he hooked his thumbs in
the waistband of his sweats and pushed them and his
briefs down together. His cock was at full attention
and starting to ooze a little at the tip.
"Now me, David. Undress me." There wasn't much
undressing to do, of course -- just a matter of letting
him pull down the drawstring shorts. My skin tingled
with delight as I felt the silk sliding smoothly down
over my bottom. I backpedaled to the office couch and
sat back lazily into it, my body draped diagonally
across about two thirds of the length. "I want you to
kiss me, David. I want you to start at my forehead
and kiss everywhere I tell you. Each kiss will make
you want me more and more, each kiss will get you more
and more excited, but you will not come until you are
inside me. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Jen." He came forward and planted a soft kiss
on my forehead. I directed him to continue with my
eyes, lips, neck, shoulders, having him linger on each
breast before heading further down. His lips were so
smooth, so nice. By the time David reached the
insides of my thighs he was grunting every breath,
clearly straining, his cock almost purple.
"You can stop kissing now, David. Would you like to
please me with your tongue?"
"Yes, Jen. I want to make you happy." I gave him
permission and felt his tongue working up and down my
slit, probing, caressing. God, he was good. For
several minutes I just wallowed in it, silently
thanking the unknown women who had trained him so well
in handling our anatomy. Before I realized it I was
convulsing again, surprised by the intensity of the
climax. My thoughts scrambled as I rode it out.
David continued working, keeping me just on the edge
of another explosion. His face was covered in my
fluid. "Would you like to come now, David?"
"Yes, please. Please let me come."
"Put your magnificent, giant cock in me right now,
David." Rising to his knees, David parted my thighs a
little further and teased the entrance with his tip,
causing my body to react with an involuntary sharp
intake of breath as he eased his way into me. "Oh,
David, that feels so good. Focus on the feel of your
sensitive shaft moving in and out, in and out, getting
more excited with each stroke. When I tell you to
come, David, you will have the most powerful, longest-
lasting orgasm you have ever had." He kept stroking,
slowly and evenly, and I squeezed down on him with my
pelvic muscles, savoring the feel of every ridge and
bump on his shaft. David's groans were getting louder
and louder, and I realized that I was grunting with
him. My eyes closed and wouldn't open again, the
eyeballs rolled up into my forehead, as yet another
lightning bolt crashed through me. Between moans I
managed to grunt out, "David ... David ... Come ... NOW!" I
felt him jerk and shoot again and again, in synch with
my own rhythm of clench and release. The feel of him
bursting loose inside me pushed me even further over
the edge. I heard us both shrieking, then grunting,
before we finally fell silent. David collapsed on top
of me, his knees still on the floor. I ran my fingers
through his hair as we lay together recuperating, his
arms limply encircling me as his head came to rest on
After a long while David's dead weight on top of me
started to become uncomfortable. "Stand up now,
David," I told him. He didn't respond right away.
"David, you have been asleep. Now it is time for you
to wake up. Awake now, David, and stand up."
I felt his eyes fluttering as they opened. Realizing
where he was caused him to shudder and stand up a
little too quickly. David's eyes swept over my body,
over the sofa, around the room, back to my body. I
could see him assembling the memory of what had
happened. "You're amazing," he said. "You put me
under just like that. All I could do was obey you.
Do you have any idea how that feels?"
It must feel pretty good, I thought, because he was
getting hard again just remembering. "Why don't you
"Umm ... Well ..." He shook his head, as if to clear it.
"I can't even begin to describe it. I've never been
so randy in my life, but I didn't feel any pressure to
perform. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride while
my body did everything you told it to. The sensations
were ..." He just shrugged. "I can't think of a word."
"I guess that makes us even, then," I remarked. "What
David lifted me up off the couch, throwing his arms
around me and pulling me to him. David's mouth found
mine and locked on in a hungry kiss that seemed to
last for hours. Too tired to make love anymore, we
held each other close, kissing and caressing each
other, until we finally came up for air.
I got up first, locating my wrap and heading for the
shower. I dressed in my street clothes while he took
his turn. We shared another long embrace before
parting company, each of us wanting to go home with
the other but also needing time alone to absorb what
had happened to us.
For the rest of the year everything, business and
personal, went smoothly. The boudoir sessions were so
profitable they not only put us in the black but also
enabled us to hire our first employees -- a photography
assistant and a receptionist. We moved into a large
3-story loft building in a better part of town. The
ground floor became the portrait studio, the second
floor we dedicated to advertising shoots and boudoir
sets. We had the upstairs level finished out into a
spacious but cozy loft apartment, which David and I
shared. We took walks through the park hand in hand,
played on the beach, all those fun, corny, magical
things that new couples do. We learned to enjoy each
other with or without hypnosis, in whatever way
pleased us the most.
The time flew by, and before I knew it our anniversary
had come again. Continuing our custom, David made a
lunch reservation at the Toledo Grill (still our
favorite spot, with the blues club a close second).
Jerome showed us to our usual table and served us a
delicious lunch. All through the meal I noticed the
staff looking over at our table, as if they were in on
a secret. Had I missed something?
Eventually the plates were cleared away and the empty
glasses set aside to be refilled. It was time for the
business meeting. "It's been a tremendous year,
hasn't it?" I began.
David smiled broadly. "It has. But we can do even
better, I know we can." I became aware of a crowd
gathering beside our table, as the entire Toledo staff
stopped working to watch us. Reaching into his jacket
pocket, David said, "I have another proposal for you,
Tears filled my eyes as I saw the little velvet box in
his hand. I started saying yes before he even had it
open. Jerome produced a bottle of champagne and a
cake, then closed the restaurant while we celebrated