“Alright, enough is enough, sweetheart. Anyways, we started our own studio, and named the business Your Best Image, a very generic name, as a precaution. Our website promotes family photos and pet portraits; you know, the type of pictures that hackers wouldn’t really care about. We love those jobs too, but X-rated is sort of our hidden specialty. After all, privacy issues are a big deal these days, so why paint an X on your back?” Corey shrugs his shoulders and laughs.
“Oh, boudoir is definitely your specialty,” I say dryly. “I guess the only way that these pictures getting out wouldn’t mortify me is if I purposefully put them out there. To say, win an award or something.”
“Sweetheart, you are too funny,” growls Corey. “Did you eat a clown for breakfast this morning?”
“Absolutely hilarious,” adds Castor. “But awards are just statuettes on shelves. It doesn’t really mean anything to us.”
“Oh really?” I ask in a dry voice. “Winning the Grand Prize from the Juicy Peach contest is no big deal? Why’d you even bring it up then?”
The two men don’t look fazed.
“Winning the statuette is no big deal, but ten thou is a big deal, sweetheart. That’s ten juicy big ones.”
I want to interrupt, but they cut me off.
“But enough about us, Ginny. What do you do? What gets your wheels going? Clearly, you’ve got a smart mouth and a way with words.”
I stare at them, trying to decide if the men are serious. Finally, I decide they are and take a deep breath.
“I’m an art major at Beaumont College in the next town over,” is my stiff reply. “I’m a senior. I’m not quite sure what my plans are for after graduation, but I would love to do something artistic.”
Then I laugh, trying to brush off the fact that I’m a bit lame and don’t have plans. “Art’s a broad field and really tough to get into, but it’s my passion. Honestly, all I ever want to do is sketch or paint, or design something.” I look down, twisting a curl in my hand.
Castor’s eyes are twinkling and his smile is so warm.
“That explains a lot. We could tell from the moment we saw you that you were a true artist. It really makes sense. You belong in the art world. Besides, we were so impressed by your use of props. It was very creative.”
Oh shit, are we going there again? But Corey nods in agreement.
“Damn creative, Ginny. Believe it or not, not everyone is a natural. You know what looks good, what angles are right, where to put props and how to use them. You have a vision, and are really talented.” He nods again, smiling and grabbing my hand, squeezing it for reassurance.
I look up right in their flashing blue eyes, and honestly feel a bit faint. Looking at their gorgeous faces is like staring into the sun, and I’m dazzled and dizzy at once.
“Thank you so much. That really means a lot, especially coming from you two. You make me feel better than I have in a long time. You make me believe in myself. ” I stand on my tiptoes and kiss Corey on his cheek, and then turn and bend to kiss Castor.
Castor stands, smiling broadly.
“Happy to be of service, sweetheart. Seeing you happy makes us happy. By the way, are you hungry? We’re starving.”
My stomach growls right on time, and the three of us laugh together.
“I guess that answers your question,” I say wryly.
The two men smile again.
“We love women with meat on their curves,” drawls Castor, “and in fact, you’d look better with another twenty pounds.”
I stare at him.
“Twenty pounds?” is my gasp. “Are you insane? I was trying to lose weight, not gain weight!”
The two handsome photographers merely grin again.
“You look amazing sweetheart, but we like our girls with heft and bounce. Twenty pounds,” winks Corey. “Come on, a generous helping is on its way.”
I laugh again, feeling joyful despite this odd turn of events. After all, these men appreciate me for who I am, curves and all. They’ve lavished me with compliments, and seem to love the things about me that I can’t change. So what if a little blackmail is involved? Maybe, the blackmail will just make our time together more fun.
Corey and I are delighted to be with Ginny. She lights up the room wherever she is, and she’s a peach, there’s no doubt about it. Okay, so we’re kind of blackmailing her, but it’s a nice type of blackmail. We just want to get to know her, and we want her all to ourselves too.
We decide to get Chinese take-out for our meal, and sit around the studio eating lo mein and discussing our pasts and futures. I love that Ginny eats like a real woman, and that she isn’t afraid to devour food in front of us.