I just laugh, unable to believe there is someone else in this world who reminds me so much of my mother. The two of them should meet and share notes about what a sinner I am.
For the first time in a long while during a photo shoot, I actually enjoyed myself. Anytime I felt a twinge of irritation, all I had to do was look over at Matt. The shouts and orders telling me which way to turn my head and how to hold my arms faded before the warmth in his smile.
When the final shot was taken and the photographer announced it was a wrap, I walked away from the bright lights and the fans strategically placed to blow my hair, and slid right into Matt’s waiting arms.
“You did amazing. I saw some of the pictures as they showed up on the computer and they were beautiful.”
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, I would finish a photo shoot and Andy would tell me all the ways I could have done better. He would walk me over to the computer that showed all of the digital images and point out the ones where my face didn’t hit the light correctly or I wasn’t using my angles in the best way.
“Great job today, Paige,” Simon says as he walks up to us, handing his camera off to an assistant. “We’ll send the proofs to Penny within a week so you can see them first before they go to print. We got some great shots to work with.”
With my arms still around Matt, I thank Simon as he’s hustled away by an army of assistants and Penny comes over to us.
“Darling, you were amazing. The magazine gave me your advance: fifty percent of the total offer; you’ll get the rest when the photos go to print. I’ll deposit it today for you.”
She pulls the check for seventy-five thousand dollars out of her purse and I quickly snatch it from her hand. It’s not the entire amount DeMarco is asking for, but it will have to do. “No need to go to all that trouble. I’ll take care of it.”
Penny gives me a strange look and I don’t blame her. I’ve never taken care of anything in my career. Andy made sure I had people who did that for me. But I’m pretty sure whoever has Andy isn’t going to want to wait for this check to clear before they get their money.
“I’ve got a bunch more jobs lined up for you, so make sure to keep your schedule open. I’m so glad you’re back,” Penny tells me.
“Penny, I’m not back. This was a onetime thing. I have another job now.”
Seriously, how many times do we have to go over this?
“Oh, sweetie, you were blessed with a gorgeous face and an equally stunning body. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing you’ll be successful at anything else. I would hate to see you sad when it all comes crashing down. This is what you are meant to do.”
I feel the familiar ache of despair in the pit of my stomach at her words. This woman, who has been by my side for more than ten years, thinks I’m only good for one thing. Before I can tell her where she can shove her opinions, Matt takes a step forward.
“I think it would be in your best interest to stop talking and walk away,” Matt tells Penny with a scowl on his face.
Penny looks up at him in shock. “I’m just being honest.”
“No, what you’re doing is being a bitch. This woman right here is amazing, and she can do whatever she puts her mind to. The last person who put her down like that received a punch to the face, so you might want to quit while you’re ahead.”
I can’t stop the smile from spreading across my face. Penny quietly apologizes to me and scurries away without another word.
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or horrified that you would punch a woman for me.”
Matt shrugs. “I would never hit a woman. But it was fun making her think that I would. I know you can take care of yourself, and you probably would have done a better job telling that woman off, but I couldn’t let her talk to you like that.”
Suddenly, nothing else matters right now but getting this man naked. Immediately.
Grabbing his hand, I pull him out of the studio and down the hall. “Where’s your dad?”
“He asked one of the assistants to pray with him. When she told him she didn’t believe in God, he threw his ginger ale at her. I sent him back out to the truck with firm instructions not to leave unless it caught on fire.”
Pulling open the first door I come to, I flip the switch right inside and see that it’s a supply closet filled with camera equipment. Glancing around to make sure no one sees us, I pull Matt inside and close the door behind us.
“What are we doing in here?” Matt asks.
His eyes go wide as I pull the zipper down on the side of my dress and let it fall from my shoulders. I’m standing in front of him in nothing but a black lace thong and four-inch black stilettos.
“Take your pants off,” I order him.
Matt doesn’t waste a second. His pants are pulled down in record time, and as he struggles to get his shoes off with his pants wrapped around his ankles, I reach my thumbs into my thong and slide them down my legs.
When I start to pull one of my shoes off, Matt’s hand comes out and grabs my wrist. “Nope. The shoes stay on. Those shoes are fucking hot.”
Is this guy for real? He likes me better without makeup and he loves shoes? Am I dreaming?
Before I can tell him how awesome I think he is, his hands are on my ass and he’s lifting me up, pushing my back against a shelf. My legs automatically wrap around his waist.
He attacks me with his mouth while his hands are everywhere, touching me, stroking me, and making me burn with need for him. My arms move above my head to grasp onto the shelf while one of his hands slides between my legs. Two of his fingers slide through me achingly slow, circling my clit before plunging inside of me. My hips thrust forward to pull him in deeper; his tongue pushes into my mouth, matching the rhythm of his fingers moving in and out of me, and it’s all I can do to hold on to the shelf when I feel my orgasm quickly approaching.
“Fuck, Paige. I love the way you feel,” Matt whispers against my mouth.
My hips move faster while his fingers pump harder, his thumb circling me and driving me wild. I squeeze my thighs tighter around his hips as I tumble over the edge, my release exploding around his fingers with his name on my lips.
“Matt, Matt, oh, God!”
My orgasm is still tingling through my sex when his fingers are quickly replaced with his cock. He slides into me hard, our bodies crashing against the shelf and sending photography equipment clattering to the floor. His hips thrust against me roughly, and my body takes everything he has to give. I should feel guilty right now that I’m floating on a cloud of lust and ecstasy when my ex is most likely tied to a chair somewhere crying for his life, but I don’t. Matt makes me forget everything. He makes me feel special and smart and I never want this feeling to end.
His hands clutch tightly to my hips and he helps me move my body faster and harder against him. The angle I’m in forces my clit to slide against his pubic bone with every single thrust and I already feel another orgasm within reach. This has never happened before, and I’m a little mystified at the way my body reacts to Matt; I can’t get enough of him.
“Jesus, Paige. You feel so good around me,” Matt mumbles, burying his face into the side of my neck, licking and sucking the sensitive skin right below my ear into his mouth.
“Don’t stop, don’t stop,” I chant.
I feel myself coming apart around him for a second time as the shelf against my back rattles with our thrusts and a camera falls to the floor, breaking into pieces.
When he feels me coming, it pushes him over the edge. He drives himself into me two more times before holding himself still, his release spilling inside of me while he shouts my name and clutches my hips tightly against him.
Our skin is slicked with sweat and we pant against each other, trying to catch our breath. Matt moves his mouth away from my neck, kissing his way up to my lips. He kisses me softly, bringing his hand up to cup my cheek.
I want to stay in this storage closet and never leave. I know as soon as we walk out that door, real life will come calling and I’ll have to deal with the mess surrounding us. At least for right now, we’re alone and happy and nothing can ruin that.
“Matthew? Are you in there?”
There’s a knock at the door and our lips pull apart as we stare across the room.
“Oh, my God, is that your dad?” I ask in a panic.
“You locked the door, right? Tell me you locked the door?” Matt whispers frantically.
“MATTHEW! I have to be at my doctor’s appointment in thirty minutes. If I’m late, all the good magazines will be gone from the waiting room,” he shouts from the other side of the door.
We hear the handle rattle and I know it’s only a matter of seconds before Mr. Russo throws the door open.
With my arms and legs still clinging to Matt and his penis still inside of me, he quickly shuffles us over to the door and slams his hand against it right as it starts to open.
“Dad! You were supposed to stay in the truck!” Matt yells.
“The truck was on fire!” Mr. Russo shouts back.
“The truck was not on fire, Dad.”
We hear Mr. Russo huff. “Well, it could have been.”
There’s silence for a few minutes and I assume Mr. Russo finally walked away.
“Do you think he knows what we were doing in here?” I ask, unwrapping my arms and legs from Matt and sliding down from his body.
“No, definitely not. He probably thinks this is the bathroom,” Matt assures me.
Scrambling for our clothes, Matt helps me zip up my dress and I help him button his shirt.
“Shake a tail feather in there, you two. It doesn’t take that long to put your clothes back on,” Mr. Russo shouts. “Ain’t nobody got time for this.”
On the way to the office after the photo shoot, I received a phone call from an unidentified man. He told me to bring the money to an abandoned building on Lincolnway West by the next afternoon or they would start cutting Andy’s appendages off. I told them to start with his penis before I hung up.
The anger over what I’m doing for him makes me want to kick something, but since I’m still wearing the black Manolo Blahniks that Matt loves so much, I refrain from doing them any harm and instead pound my hand against the steering wheel.
I immediately call Dallas and let him know what’s going on while I’m stopped at a red light.
“That’s good. Swing by my office. I’ve got someone here you might want to talk to.”
The dial tone sounds in my ear before I can reply and I roll my eyes. No wonder Lorelei finds him so annoying.
I leave a message on Matt’s voice mail so he knows what’s going on. Even though he trusts me to do my job, he still asked me to keep him updated so he wouldn’t worry. Because of me he has yet another thing added to his plate to fret over. I feel bad. He should be worrying about Melanie and not about my pathetic excuse for an ex-husband.
Parking my car in front of Dallas’s office fifteen minutes later, I hurry into the building and stop in my tracks when I see who is sitting in a chair in the middle of the room filing her nails.
She looks up at me and scowls.
“What is SHE doing here?” Melanie asks Dallas as he comes out of the back room and hands a cup of coffee to her.
“Dallas, what the hell is going on?”
Why would he have Melanie here? She has nothing to do with Andy. And by the looks of it, she remembers me from the night at the club when I pretended to be a drunk socialite with her and her gaggle of girlfriends.
“Melanie, this is Paige Mc—”
She cuts Dallas off mid-introduction. “I know who she is. She’s the woman fucking my husband and trying to steal my boyfriend.”
I’m sorry, what?
“You’re separated. And what the hell would I want with the creepy old guy that you’ve been screwing behind Matt’s back while trying to take his father’s company?” I fire back.
“You skanky tramp! How dare you talk to me like that!” Melanie shouts, getting up from her chair and throwing her nail file in Dallas’s direction.
“Did you seriously just call me a tramp, you home-wrecking whore?”
I don’t even realize we advanced on each other until our hands are in the air, smacking at each other like two cats playing patty-cake.
“LADIES! WHAT THE FUCK?”
We ignore Dallas’s shout and continue with our slapping match. One of my hands manages to make its way past hers and I grab a chunk of her hair, pulling as hard as I can.
“LET GO OF MY HAIR, YOU BITCH! THOSE EXTENSIONS WERE EXPENSIVE!”
“STAY AWAY FROM MATT AND HIS FATHER’S COMPANY, YOU SLUT!”
I pull harder on her hair and she lets out a yelp, taking a chunk of skin out of my arm with her fingernails.
I scream in pain just as strong arms wrap around my waist and yank me away from Melanie before I can throw any more insults at her, or finish pulling out the chunk of weave I had my fingers around. My arms and legs flail as Dallas moves me across the room and far away from Melanie.
“Jesus H. Christ. Why are chicks so batshit crazy?” Dallas asks in exasperation as he sets me down on my feet.
“Get her out of here before I kick her ass,” I tell him, shooting an angry look in Melanie’s direction.
“I don’t know what the fuck is going on with you two, but I just found out this morning that the guy Andy owes money to is this chick’s boyfriend. We need her, Paige.”
“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”
Dallas raises his eyebrow at me. “Why do I feel like I just got myself into a whole shitload of trouble by helping you out with this?”