“No. I’m focused on my career, and I don’t have time for relationships. I’ve found that men don’t like sharing their women with other people. Modeling is what I do, and with it I share a part of myself. What about you, Mr. Reynolds? Any special someone in your life?”
“Call me Hunter, and no. I’m very much on the market.” His gaze went to her lips, and Payton couldn’t believe how much she wanted him to kiss her.
The heat of his body heightened her own, and she suddenly felt too hot. His thumb stroked the base of her back, and she licked her lips, needing some space.
“Payton, are you ready to go?” Rick asked, breaking into the haze, for which she was grateful.
“Certainly. It was lovely to meet you, Hunter.”
“The pleasure was all mine.” He took her hand, pressing a kiss where many men had that night. In a weird way she wondered if he was trying to replace all of their touches.
Saying her goodbyes she walked out of the charity event with her arm through Rick’s as they waited for their car.
“You two were smoking hot on that dance floor,” Rick said.
“Shut up. We were not.”
“You totally were. I stood watching you for the longest time, and I swear I got a hard-on with the way he was touching you.”
She giggled, and rested her head on his shoulder. Rick had this way about him that put her at ease. They had been friends forever, and even though many of people thought they were lovers, they weren’t. Neither of them was attracted to the other. When it had come up one day, Rick had told her plainly that even though he thought she was beautiful, he didn’t want her that way. She had told him the same thing. Their friendship had stood the test of time, despite boyfriends and girlfriends coming and going. “You’re the worst. It was some night all right.”
“Vivian called and said a big thank you. Your contribution will help their charity. You’re well loved, Payton, and I’m so proud of you.”
Payton smiled thinking about her sister. Bethany would have loved this, without a doubt. Her sister once had so much love, so much spirit inside her. It was moments like this that she missed her sister more than anything.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without you.”
“You’re the one that started it. I just make sure you’re not taken for granted, and never forget, you do pay me.”
Rick was her best friend. He’d been there through Bethany’s illness and her death. Every moment throughout her life, he was there. Just like she was always there for him. Whenever a girl broke his heart, or he failed his driving test, she was there for him. They were best of friends.
“Did you get his number?”
“Please, don’t try and pretend you don’t know who I’m talking about. You know.”
She chuckled. “No. I didn’t get his number, and I won’t need to.”
“You need to get a man in your life.”
“I don’t need a man. I’m too busy for a relationship, and I have a very demanding boss.”
Rick laughed. “With the way he was looking at you, I reckon I’m going to get a call for you.”
“What do you mean? You sound like my pimp.” They often joked about this.
“The gossip around Hunter is that he’s having a hard time with his latest designer. Elise Hamilton—”
“She’s amazing,” Payton said, cutting in. “I love her work.”
“Exactly, and because of how amazing she is, she’s not known for settling. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to get a call.”
Payton didn’t mind that at all. There was something about Hunter that had left its mark.
From the first meeting with Payton, Hunter had been consumed with finding every little detail out about her. He started on the internet going over social media. Daryl had allowed him to use his accounts seeing as Hunter didn’t have one. Watching how consuming it was, he’d not even joined up, being more interested in work.
By Monday he had Payton’s portfolio on his desk, and Patricia, head of Image Counts, was sitting in front of him.
“So, I got the pleasure of meeting a potential employee over the weekend, and when I asked if she had known of our company, Image Counts, not only did she know about it, but she told me she’d been declined.” He had already gone through the multiple shots of her. Some of them were just stunning. What he loved the most was that even the most revealing shot of her had class. She never went nude, and it even said on her accounts that she had declined many offers. He held out the portfolio for Patricia to take. “Why wasn’t she sent to me? Why wasn’t I aware of this?”
She took the portfolio and flicked through. He didn’t like the look of disgust on her face as she looked at only a few photographs. “With all due respect, Hunter, this woman is fat. Image Counts holds a certain level of requirements, and having a low BMI is one of them.”