Black & White (Picture Perfect #1)

BOOK: Black & White (Picture Perfect #1)
4.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub







To Kalina and Karter

Love always




Copyright © 2014 - by Traci Hayden.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the consent of the author, except where permitted by law.


Black & White
is a work of fiction. All characters and subject matter are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, alive of dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter One


Frustration made me give the computer a mental bang with my head. As much as I loved my work, some of my clients made life difficult. My latest client was just that type.

Believing in natural beauty and highlighting it, I didn't relish the idea of using Photoshop to create it. A photographer felt so complete when they worked with the technique itself, rather than working with the computer.

Making the changes required by my client's latest round of demands, I decided I really needed to remove my cell phone number from the business cards. All the changes she was continually ordering were making me feel like a plastic surgeon, and less like a photographer.


Dragging my gaze away from the computer, I found Jude poking her head through the doorway to my office. "What's up?"

Jude's eyes were lit up with excitement. It matched the childish grin plastered on her face. "A guy just arrived... damn, Beth... he is fucking dreamy." She exaggerated every syllable.

Rolling my eyes, I shook my head. "Jude, take his information and book him an appointment."

She sighed in disbelief at my indifference. "Beth, you have to see him. Believe me; you'll want to take this guy now." Jude giggled, grabbing hold of the doorframe and grinding her hips against it.

I ran my hands through my hair, tugging on the loose strands in frustration. Of course, Jude meant no harm, it was all done in humor. "If I come and see this guy, will you please stop the damn sexual innuendos?"

"Maybe," Jude answered, twirling around and walking away from the door, heavily exaggerating her hips movements.

Being my best friend, I loved Jude, but sometimes I wanted to wrap my hands around her neck and strangle her.

With a sigh, I got up from the chair. I didn't understand what had her so excited. Jude's normal way of dealing with things would be to take the guy's information, book the appointment and send him on his merry way. She never usually involved me in her little exploits.

Of course, Jude's exploits were more like well laid plans. Two or three days after the initial meeting, she would accidentally call the potential client, claiming she had mixed up his number with our supplier. Jude would lay on the womanly charms and play the fisherman routine; hook, line and sinker. She was a model or used to be; any man would fall for her many charms.

And fall they did, for every single line she fed them. I didn’t understand it, but assumed it was part of her gregarious personality which made men want to date her. Jude had perfected the art of fishing so well, she'd become the queen of free dinners and movies. Of course, Jude claimed she was a woman with class. She never put out on the first date. She insisted she had morals.

It was a very fine line which Jude tread, and I didn't agree with it, but somehow she always managed to walk away unscathed. She remained friends with most of the guys she'd dated. They left her thinking she wasn't the perfect woman for them. The reality was they weren't the perfect man for her. I
’d noticed lately, her M.O. had changed, flirting with men had ceased over the last few months, but that didn’t mean much. I just assumed this guy
was the next big fish in her catch and release program.

Walking into the front lobby, I realized there was nothing about him which was Jude's standard type. She went for tall, dark and handsome; solid without the feel of a brick wall. The fact that Jude was flipping out about him made me wonder if she was ill. She'd never normally give a guy like him a second glance, but there she was gaping at him with more than a little interest. Maybe it was time to give her the afternoon off.
Something was definitely up.

The gentleman was looking at some of my photography displayed on the wall. The reds and orange tints of his light brown hair reminded me of the vibrant colors of a sunset over the ocean. The touches of blonde which frosted the tips were incredibly sexy. I wanted to run my fingers through his hair while he made wild passionate love to me.

From my vantage point, his physique was lean and muscular. Hardened muscles bulged against his plaid shirt and overalls. The dark bronze tan of his skin glowed like it had been kissed by the sun. Everything about him left me speechless and totally breathless and I had yet to see his face.

Realization hit me hard. Jude was trying to fix me up! If she had her way, I was going to become a mini-Jude; a Judette, if you will. From the looks of this guy, it might just happen.

A jab to my ribs got my attention. My head swung in Jude's direction; my eyes, however, didn't. Heat was burning deep inside me, pushing its way to the surface like molten lava. The rise and fall of the burn matched the timing of my labored breathing.

Reality came racing back when a sharp pain stabbed my foot. I bounced slightly on one leg as I rubbed the offended limb on the back of my calf. Tearing my eyes away from the God standing in my studio, I glared at Jude.

What's happening to me?
This wasn't my normal reaction, I wasn't the type to go gooey over a guy. To me, they were all trouble, and they interfered with my professional plans. That was the excuse anyways.

Jude stepped back and slowly raised her hands up in a gesture of surrender. Grabbing the counter to hold myself steady, I looked down at Jude's four inch spikes, one of which had surely lanced my foot. Through my gritted teeth, I growled. "What the fuck?"

Jude's eyes darted between me and the sexy man across the room. She whispered so softly, it was impossible to tell if I'd heard the words or read her lips. "Pull your tongue in, you sexual deviant."

It was at that precise moment that the star of my erotic fantasies turned around, and every nerve in my body exploded. His unshaven jaw line begged to be licked, his naturally, red lips begged to be kissed, and his eyes - oh my god, those eyes! My heart shattered into a million pieces.

His gorgeous, ocean blue eyes were haunted with such despair. Where there should have been light shining brightly like the moon on a clear summer's night, there was a blank stare. His eyes were filled with almost agonizing grief. For an instant, his anguish overwhelmed me. I wanted to wrap him in a cocoon and protect him from the world. A cruel world of torture and grief, that's all his eyes portrayed.

I tightened my grip on the edge of the counter, the corner biting into my palm brought me back to my senses. "Good..." I covered my mouth and cleared my throat. "Sorry... umm... good afternoon."

"Hello." The lack of life in his eyes extended to his voice. "Umm, my name's William, William Lorde"

"Hi, William, welcome to Huntley Studios. My name's Beth Huntley."

"Are you the photographer?" Chills crawled over my skin at the flat, dead English accent in his voice.

"Yes. Are you interested in having some photos taken?" I asked cautiously. Something told me I needed to be gentle with him.

"Yeah, but I'm wondering about the prices. Your pictures very professional and I'm not sure if I can afford them." He sounded deeply disappointed.

I took a moment to notice things Jude had obviously missed in her initial assessment of William. His hands were rough and calloused. The dirt under his nails gave me an the impression he worked at a labor intensive job. The dark shadows under his eyes told me he either worked hard or rarely slept, perhaps a combination of the two. My final evaluation confirmed money was a definite factor for him. I felt myself gravitating towards him, wanting to show him some kindness. He was in need of a little ray of light to warm up in.

Something had drawn him into my studio; a reason I didn't yet understand, but it must've been extremely important to him. Tilting my head in Jude's direction, it was apparent she was trying to figure out William too. She must've seen what hadn't been so obvious before.

"Jude, I need the sample package from the back, please." Knowing Jude, it was practically guaranteed that discussing reduced prices in her presence would give her a brain hemorrhage. She always thought I was too caring and giving, and being my equal partner, she was all business when it came to money. William didn't need to be taken to a new level of whatever the atmosphere was surrounding him was.

Jude paused for only a second, then simply nodded her head and walked down the hallway. Once she was out of sight and, hopefully, out of earshot, I turned my full attention back towards William. "We have a special package which I think you could afford."

"Really?" There was a slight reaction in his voice, a tinge of hope. "What kind of package?"

"It was one we used for the opening a few months ago. It was supposed to be over at the end of last month, but it's been such a success in bringing in customers, it was extended." I kept my crossed fingers under the counter. It was a half-truth at best; the package had ended last month. The bold faced lie was in the extension.

My mother had raised me to never lie, otherwise I would rot in hell. She wasn't religious, by any means, but blasphemy and lying were the two things Mom preached. In Mom's home, you couldn't be casual with either one. But children will be children. The harder a parent preaches, the harder the child fights against what's being preached.

I swore and told lies when I was growing up. I passed this habit onto my brother when I visited him and Dad every holiday. I'd learned and used some words which would make a whore blush, but, the lies had always been for good reasons. We had been raised with good morals by both our parents, and we did live by them. Our evil powers for lying were as beneficial to our friends as they were for us.

William pulled me out of my reminiscing with his next question. "What's included in the package and how much?"

"One 8x10, two 5x7s, four 4x6s and five wallet size for fifty dollars."

My heart swelled when a tiny ray of hope glistened briefly in his eyes. His day had just gotten a little brighter and I was pleased I'd been able to make it happen. He looked up at my face, and his eyes seemed mesmerized by something; a memory, perhaps? I had a sudden desire to find out what it was.
wanted to know more about this stranger. What had made him so haggard and sad? What was the cause of the deep grief he was clearly displaying?

"Let's do that, Miss Huntley. Thank you." William's formal attitude heightened my curiosity.
It was a stark contrast against his look of being used to hard labor. It seemed there was so much more to him than what was visible on the surface.

"So, when did you want to come in for your consultation?" I asked, moving over to the computer and silently swearing at Jude. She'd left one of those ridiculous dating sites opened, and after a few abrupt clicks I'd closed it and brought up my schedule planner.

There was a look of confusion on William's face. "Consultation?"

"Yes. I like to consult with my clients before the shoot. Selecting the right backdrop, choosing the right lighting, discussing the types of shots I'll be taking, how many people will be in the shot. Things like that can make or break a good photo."

"You do a consultation and photo shoot for just fifty dollars?" There was a layer of disbelief behind the question.

"That and a follow-up; we want our clients to be satisfied. Word of mouth is a much more effective tool for keeping a business open." It wasn't the only reason for doing business this way. Non-electronical advertising was my way of staying off the radar. C
omplications were something I’d gotten good at avoiding.

William's face seemed to relax with my explanation. "Well, I don't work on Saturday, do you have an opening then?"

I scanned over to Saturday on the planner and found the afternoon was completely empty. "Saturday will work for me, how about one?"

"One sounds fine, thank you." A small smile lifted his lips.

William's name was input in red covering one of the hour-long blocks. I would only need half that time, but a gut feeling instinct told me I might need more time. Since it was a Saturday, I blocked off the rest of the afternoon. An early finish would be good for both Jude and I.

"Beth, here are the samples you wanted," Jude said as she stepped up to the counter. Her voice was hard and even, and from the look on her face, I was standing in the deepest pile of shit ever dropped.

She wasn't happy. My demanding attitude had obviously pissed her off. Dismissing her like a slave hadn't been done on purpose, and now I was certain to pay for it. She didn't take kindly to being treated like common everyday people.

"Thank you, Jude." I spoke with all the affection possible. These were dangerous waters, and anything which might soften my punishment was necessary. She handed me the envelope which I passed to William. "These are a few samples of the types of shots I create. Feel free to look them over and pick out a few you like. We'll go over the choices at your consult and decide what will work best for you."

"Okay, Miss. Huntley. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to seeing you Saturday." William responded as he stuck out his hand. There was a spark of emotion in his voice and a ghost of a smile graced his lips.

My heart began beating out of my chest as my hand was absorbed in his. The small electrical impulses traveled from my hand and up my arm, setting off a tiny grenade of pure lust in the pit of my stomach. The warmth circulated around my body, pouring out through my skin, and a sheen of sweat coated my exposed areas.

BOOK: Black & White (Picture Perfect #1)
4.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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