Chapter One

The dinner party was not going as planned. There was little to no conversation. The only sound in the room was the clinking of silverware against dinnerware. Shit! How could this have gone so awry so fast?

Ronnie Mannis usually had no trouble seducing women. But Lana seemed different, like a class act. So Ronnie invited her friends and Lana over for an actual dinner party rather than just invite Lana to the bar with them. Her friends knew she was trying to impress Lana, but they sure weren’t helping her.

She excused herself from the table and called for her best friend, Susan, to join her.

“Why aren’t you talking?” Ronnie said in a loud whisper.

“I don’t know. What do you want me to talk about?”

“I don’t care. Your day in the office. The softball team. Anything. Just help me keep the conversation going. I’m afraid Lana’s gonna fall asleep and not with me.”

“I don’t get it. What’s so special about Lana?”

“I don’t know. She’s just different. Like the kind of woman I could settle down with. She has all the traits I value in a woman.”

“Okay. I’ll try to think of something to say.”

“Thanks.”

“Say, is it just me or does Lana remind you of someone?”

Ronnie thought about denying it, but decided against it.

“Yes. She reminds me of Constance. But I have high hopes that Lana won’t destroy my heart like Constance did.”

“She really did a number on you, didn’t she?”

“Yep. And I’ve protected my heart long enough. I’m ready to give love another try. With Lana. But you’re not helping the cause.”

“Sorry.”

Ronnie looked around the room at all the takeout containers. 

“Now let’s get back out there before she comes in here and realizes I cheated at making dinner.”

They went back to the dining room and Ronnie took her seat at the head of the table. Lana was on her left and Susan was on her right. Susan’s wife, Katie, sat next to Susan and Ronnie’s other bachelor friend, Nancy, sat across from her.

“So, Susan,” Ronnie said. “How’s your team doing in softball this year?”

“We’re killin’. Too bad you couldn’t play this year.”

“Yeah. I can’t believe I sprained my ankle just before the season started.”

“How did you work with a sprained ankle?” Lana said.

“I had to take some days off, obviously, but then I just grinned and bore it, you know?”

“That must have been so painful.”

“Ibuprofen really helped. And I took lots of breaks to rest. But I got through it. I still get a little sore, but that’s to be expected I think.”

“I really don’t know how you’d do it,” Lana said. “I mean, you stand the whole time you’re photographing any of us models. I can’t imagine doing that with a sprained ankle.”

Ronnie wondered if she should work the pity card to try to get Lana to stay the night. But no. She would let Lana take her time. She knew she’d come around. They usually did.

“Shall we move this into the living room?” Ronnie stood and started to walk that direction. Lana stood as well.

“I hate to eat and run,” she said.

Ronnie groaned.

“Oh, please. Say you’ll stay for a little while.”

“I’m sorry. I really can’t. We have an early shoot tomorrow, remember?”

“I’ll be there,” Ronnie said.

She walked Lana to the front door.

“Thank you for coming tonight,” Ronnie said.

“Thanks for having me. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Ronnie closed the door and sank back against it. Damn. She’d blown that chance. She shook it off. Lana was just one woman. A woman she was clearly drawn to, but one woman nonetheless. There were many other fish in the sea. And she could bait her hook with the best of them.

“You guys want to go to the bar?” she said when she walked back into the living room.

“Dressed like this?” Susan motioned to her slacks and nice shirt.

“I know we’re a little overdressed, but what’s the harm?”

“Sure,” Katie said. “Why not?”

“I’m up for it,” Nancy said.

They all looked expectantly at Susan, who finally relented.

“Fine. I’ll just feel like an idiot.”

“You’ll be among friends,” Ronnie said.

“Great. So who’s driving?” Susan said.

“I’ll drive, honey,” Katie said.

“And I’ll drive,” Ronnie said.

“I’ll take my own car, too. I’d hate to get stranded there if loverboi here gets lucky.”

“Okay, then that settles that,” Ronnie said. “Let’s get going.”

They drove to the women’s club closest to Ronnie’s house. It was located smack in the middle of downtown, and was the one they frequented most often. They parked, paid their covers, then walked in to the feel of music vibrating through the floor.

“Get us a table,” Ronnie called to Susan. “I’ll get the first round.”

She fought through the crowds and finally got to the bar. She ordered the drinks and turned to take them to the table, but Nancy was there offering to help.

“Thanks, man. I was wondering how I was gonna carry them to the table.”

“No sweat.”

They got back to the table and Ronnie surveyed the women dancing, wondering if any of them would be willing bedmates. She left her group and followed one woman off the floor. The woman was tall and willowy with long blond hair that fell past her shoulders. She looked like an angel.

“Excuse me,” Ronnie said when she caught up with the woman. “Would you like to dance?”

“I just finished dancing and I’m parched.”

“Can I buy you a drink?”

The woman looked Ronnie up and down before she smiled.

“Sure. That would be great.”

“What are you drinking?”

“Gin and tonic.”

“Coming right up.”

Ronnie got to the bar and ordered herself another beer and a gin and tonic for her angel. She took them back to the table.

“Won’t you sit down?” the angel said.

“Thanks. I’m Ronnie, by the way.”

“Angelica.”

Perfect.

“The name suits you.”

Angelica laughed. It was a sweet tinkling sound that made Ronnie quiver.

“Thank you,” she said. “So, what are you doing here? Watching women and waiting to swoop in on them?”

“Something like that.”

“I see. Well, you’re very easy on the eyes, Ronnie, so I don’t mind one bit.”

“Thank you. We have that in common then.”

“Oh. Aren’t you a sweetheart? And a smooth talker.”

“I only speak the truth.”

Angelica laughed again. This was going very well. If only Ronnie could get her on the floor for a few dances, she was certain she could take Angelica home with her.

“I’m tired,” Angelica said.

Ronnie felt her heart sink.

“You are? But the night is still young.”

“Why don’t we get out of here? We could go back to my place for an after party.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well…if you’re not interested…”

“Oh no. I’m interested. Lead the way.”

Ronnie followed Angelica out into the warm night air. 

“This is my car,” Angelica said.

“Mine’s parked over there.” Ronnie pointed to her truck. “I’ll go get it and follow you.”

Ronnie followed Angelica to her house in the suburbs. Angelica pulled up in front of a modern ranch-style house and Ronnie parked in the driveway next to her. She got out and followed Angelica to the front door.

“Nice neighborhood,” Ronnie said.

“Thanks. I like it. I’ve only lived here for a few years, but it works for me.”

Inside, Ronnie took a moment to look around. Angelica’s house was filled with antiques. Ronnie didn’t know much about antiques but knew Angelica had to have some money to have that many.

Angelica moved close to Ronnie. So close she could smell her heady perfume. It certainly wasn’t the dime-store variety.

“So.” Angelica’s voice was low and seductive. “Did you want another drink?”

Ronnie swallowed hard. She could feel moisture pooling in her boxers. 

“No, thanks. I think I’m okay.”

“Good.”

Angelica rested her palm on Ronnie’s chest. Ronnie felt it burn through her shirt. She took Angelica’s hand and kissed her palm.

“Hm. That’s nice,” Angelica said. She slid her arms around Ronnie’s neck and pulled her close.

Ronnie kissed Angelica’s neck, her cheek, and finally allowed her lips to hover over hers.

“Kiss me, Ronnie.”

Ronnie closed the distance between them and claimed Angelica in a soul searing kiss. Her head spun, and she lost herself in the feelings of it. Angelica was a wonderful kisser. Her lips were soft and pliable, and when she ran her tongue along Ronnie’s lips, Ronnie’s knees buckled.

“Is there somewhere we can sit?” Ronnie said.

“I have a better idea.”

Angelica took Ronnie’s hand and led her to a large bedroom. Ronnie took in the antiques and the furniture but mostly focused on the king-size bed in the center of the room. That’s where she needed to be with Angelica. And soon.

Angelica released Ronnie’s hand and slowly began to undress. Ronnie stood in awe as she watched each item of clothing hit the ground. When Angelica was finally naked, she lay on the bed and spread her legs. She absently stroked herself, and it took Ronnie a moment to shake herself out of her trance and strip.

She joined Angelica on the bed and gently grabbed hold of her wrist, pulling her hand away from her pleasure zone. She brought her hand to her mouth and sucked each finger, reveling in the flavor of Angelica. She was delicious and Ronnie needed more.

Ronnie kissed Angelica again hard on the mouth while she dragged her hand the length of her. She brought her hand up to cup and tease one of Angelica’s nipples. She pinched it between her fingers and smiled as it hardened into a pebble. She slid her hand lower and found her curls wet. She knew what was waiting for her just a little lower. She dragged her hand back up and cupped Angelica’s jaw as they kissed.

Angelica broke the kiss and looked up at Ronnie with heavy lidded eyes.

“Please, Ronnie. Please touch me.”

Ronnie didn’t have to be asked twice. She skimmed her hand down Angelica’s body again, and this time slipped past her wet curls and into the slick heat that awaited her. She buried her fingers inside, and Angelica moaned in pleasure. Ronnie moved them in and out, deeper and deeper while Angelica arched into her and met each thrust.

Ronnie took one of Angelica’s nipples in her mouth and sucked playfully on it while she played her tongue over it. She heard Angelica’s breathing become rapid and could feel her twitching inside. She knew she was close. She swiped over her clit with her thumb, and that was all it took for Angelica to clamp down hard on her as she came.

Ronnie waited until Angelica’s spasms stopped, then slowly withdrew. She released her hold on her nipple and kissed her way back up to her mouth. She slid her tongue into Angelica’s mouth and relished the moist warmth she found there. Each stroke of tongue against tongue fanned the fire burning inside her. 

“My turn now.” Angelica broke the kiss. She kissed down Ronnie’s body, stopping to suckle first one and then the other nipple.

Ronnie’s nipples were hardwired to her clit, and the sensations Angelica was causing were driving her wild.

Angelica released the nipple and kissed lower. Ronnie placed her hands on her shoulders, urging her on. When Angelica got comfortable between her legs, Ronnie thought she might self-combust.

“You’re beautiful,” Angelica said. Her warm breath brushed over Ronnie, causing her to twitch.

When she felt Angelica’s mouth on her, she groaned in delight. Angelica knew her way around a woman. That was for sure. Her tongue was in Ronnie and on her. She sucked her lips and delved deep inside. And then she finally moved to Ronnie’s rock hard clit. She sucked it between her lips and flicked it with her tongue. In no time, Ronnie was clenching the sheets as one orgasm after another racked her body.

Angelica moved back up and cuddled against Ronnie. Ronnie hated this part. She knew she had to leave but didn’t want to hurt Angelica. She rolled over and propped herself up on an elbow.

“Hey, Angelica. This has been a lot of fun, but I need to get going.”

“Oh yeah. An early meeting?”

“Actually, an early shoot. I’m a photographer.”

“That’s okay. I mean, sure it would have been nice to have a sleepover and a repeat in the morning, but I understand. Thanks for the good time. Can you find your way out?”

“Sure.”

Ronnie dressed quickly, kissed Angelica, and left the way she’d come in.

 

v

 

Lana Ferguson woke early the morning after the dinner party. She lounged in bed for a few minutes replaying the party Ronnie Mannis had invited her to. It had been awkward and uncomfortable for everyone there. Or so she thought. The other guests had all been friends, and Lana felt like the odd woman out. She wondered again why Ronnie had invited her. 

She’d heard rumors of Ronnie’s womanizing ways, but had no intention of falling prey to her charms. Sure, she was attractive with her short, spiky dark hair and her piercing blue eyes. And her tall, lean body that seemed to move on its own when she snapped picture after picture of her models. Still. Lana wasn’t interested. She enjoyed being a model, but had hopes of turning that into a career in acting someday.

She got out of bed and made some coffee, still puzzling over the dinner party. Had Ronnie thought that would get her into bed? Or was she just being nice because Lana was an up-and-coming model? It was hard to know with that one. At any rate, Lana was determined to keep a close eye on Ronnie Mannis.

She made herself some breakfast of toast and eggs. She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to watch everything that went in her mouth. After breakfast, she took a nice long shower. If she was so determined to avoid Ronnie, why was she occupying her thoughts? Her whole shower she thought of nothing else.

She toweled off and wrapped a blue fluffy towel around herself. She went to her dressing table and carefully did her hair and makeup. She wasn’t exactly sure what they would be shooting that morning, and they’d probably redo everything she was doing, but she’d be damned if she was going to out in public with no makeup on.

When Lana pulled into the studio, the first thing she noticed was that Ronnie’s truck was already there. Whatever else they said about her, Ronnie was a professional. She was never late and was always spot-on in her photography. She knew just how to capture her models in such a way that was the most flattering and suited whatever the theme of the shoot. Speaking of shoots, she’d better get inside and find out what was on tap for the day.

Ronnie was sitting in the little kitchen area sipping coffee.

“Good morning,” Lana said.

“Good morning. How are you today?”

“I’m great. So, what’s this fun new shoot we’re doing this morning?”

“We’re doing a fundraiser for the Rainbow Women’s Center this morning.”

“What kind of fundraiser?”

“They want a calendar of our most beautiful models posing like pinup girls.”

“And they’re going to sell them? Seriously?”

“Yep. Is that a problem for you?”

“Not at all. I think it’s a real fun idea. And how fun to do a shoot like that.”

“Good. Now, we’re gonna keep it clean. Just so you know.”

“Oh, so no Bettie Page type photos?”

“Right. But if you’re willing to show some skin, that’s great.”

“I have no problem showing skin. Not for a good cause.”

“Great. I’ve put some outfits in the dressing room. Choose one and come on out. Your hair looks great for this shoot, by the way.”

Lana was glad she’d spent extra time curling her hair that morning. Excited, she went into the dressing room and picked out a red polka dot outfit. It had a short skirt and a halter top. She put it on and it fit perfectly. She checked herself out in the mirror. She liked what she saw. She stepped out of the room and went to the kitchen area.

Ronnie raised her eyebrows.

“Dang. You look amazing.”

Lana felt herself blush. What was up with that? She was used to being told she looked good. It went with being a model. 

“Okay,” Ronnie said. “Get to makeup. We’ve got to get this done. I’ve got a lot more pinups to photograph today. But tell them not to get near your hair.”

Lana sat patiently while the makeup artist worked her magic. Lana looked like something out of the forties or fifties when she was through. She wasn’t sure which, but she really liked her look. She walked back out to find Ronnie ready for the shoot.

The background was of a grassy knoll with trees. There was a large ice chest in front of it.

“Where do you want me?” Lana said.

“We’ll start with you sitting on the ice chest. One leg bent, one sticking straight out.”

Lana did as she was asked. Snap went the camera.

“Head back. Good.” 

Snap.

“Put your hand behind your head.”

Snap.

“Okay now stand up and put your hands on the ice chest. Stick your ass out. Good.”

Snap.

They did a few more poses, and Ronnie announced she had enough.

“Are you sure?” Lana said. She was a perfectionist and wanted to be sure Ronnie got some good pictures. “May I see them?”

“Sure. Come on over.”

Lana crossed to where Ronnie stood. She stood on her tiptoes so she could see over her shoulder. Ronnie scrolled through the pictures. Satisfied, Lana moved away.

“Looks good. Thanks.”

“Thank you,” Ronnie said. “You were amazing. You’re free to go now.”

Lana went back to the dressing room and changed back to her street clothes. She went to say good-bye to Ronnie as she left, but Ronnie was talking to another model already, so Lana just left.

 

Chapter Two

Ronnie pushed her creativity hard that day. She used interesting props and had the models in sexy, but not overly so, outfits. She felt like she was an old school photographer and could imagine taking pictures of the greats. She was bummed when the day ended and half the models had already been photographed. At least she had one more day of shooting for the project. She wanted it to be perfect. 

Perfect. Like Lana Ferguson. With her curly blond hair and cherubic face. And lips that begged to be kissed. Not every shoot had gone as smoothly as hers had that morning. She was a professional in every sense of the word. And apparently, off limits. Not that Ronnie had given up. She was simply regrouping. Her time would come. She knew it. Sure, Lana might mean forsaking all her one-night stands but she would be worth it. Ronnie knew it.

She went to the kitchen area and popped open a beer. Whitney, the final model of the day, came out of the dressing room.

“You have any wine?”

“Sure. Have a seat.”

Ronnie poured her a glass of wine.

They sat together in a comfortable silence.

“You’re very good at what you do, you know?” Whitney said.

“Why thank you.”

“Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.”

“You’re surrounded by beautiful women all the time.”

“That’s a question?”

“No. My question is, why has nobody snatched you up yet?”

Ronnie threw her head back and laughed. She took a sip of beer.

“Maybe because no one’s been interested.”

“Oh, don’t you feed me that bullshit, Ronnie Mannis. You’re gorgeous, you’re successful, you’re available.”

“I don’t know about all that.” She allowed her mind to drift back to the real reason she was single. She’d been dumped. Hard. She had no intention of experiencing that pain again. Unless Lana…

“Well, I do.”

“I guess I’m married to my job. Though I suppose if truth be told, I’m about ready to settle down.”

“Is that right?”

“And you? Why are you single?” Ronnie said.

“If I’m honest, I’d have to say because I enjoy playing the field too much.”

Ronnie laughed again, this time almost spitting out a mouthful of beer.

“Well, there you go. I like your honesty,” she said.

“So is this what you do after work? You sit here by yourself and drink beer?”

“I’m not by myself now, am I?”

“You know what I mean, smartass.”

“I usually have a beer as I wind down. But I don’t hang here too late, usually.”

“So what are you doing after your beer tonight?” Whitney said.

“I have no idea. Look through the pictures, I guess.”

“Why don’t you do something fun?”

“Like what?”

“Like take me to dinner.”

Ronnie was surprised at the offer but didn’t want to turn it down. She wondered where it might lead.

“Okay. I suppose that can be arranged.”

“Don’t sound too excited.”

Ronnie laughed. Whitney had spunk. She liked that.

“Where shall we go? I mean, being a model I’m guessing your choices of what to eat are limited.”

“I have a great metabolism. I can eat anything.”

She winked, and Ronnie felt the heat rising to her cheeks.

“Well, I’m in the mood for a steak,” Ronnie said. “How does that sound?”

“It sounds good. And if I change my mind, I’ll find something else on the menu.”

“Right on. Well, let me just lock up and we can go.”

She got everything from the last shoot put away and locked her camera in the safe. Then she walked over to the door.

“You ready?”

She watched Whitney gracefully stand and walk toward her. Ronnie’s pulse quickened. Whitney was gorgeous with a bob of dark hair and dark eyes. She had high cheek bones and full lips. Ronnie really hoped she’d be up for dessert. Because Ronnie wanted her in a big way.

Once Ronnie had locked the door behind them, Whitney slipped her hand in hers.

“So, are we taking two cars or can I ride with you?”

“I think it would be best to take two cars.”

Whitney pouted.

“Why? Are we not on the same page here?”

“Oh, yeah. I think we’re on the same page. I just think having both cars is a good idea.”

She sighed heavily.

“Okay. If you insist. I’ll follow you to the restaurant.”

“Great.”

Ronnie pulled into the steakhouse with Whitney right behind her. They parked next to each other and Whitney looped her arm through Ronnie’s elbow as they walked inside. It was a weeknight, so there was no wait for a table. They were seated and Ronnie ordered a bottle of wine for them. 

“So, is the steak here really that good?” Whitney looked around. The booths were logs covered in red material and there were pictures of cowboys and cattle on the wall. It was small, though, with only enough seats for maybe thirty people. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“It’s the places you’ve never heard of that have the best food.”

“Okay. I’m going to have to trust you. Because believe me, if I get food poisoning, you’ll never hear the end of it.”

Ronnie laughed. 

“Fair enough.”

They ordered their dinner, then chatted amicably while they waited for it to come.

“So, where are you from, Whitney? Are you from Houston?”

“No. I’m originally from Tallahassee.”

“Wow. You don’t have much of an accent.”

“Neither do you.”

“Touché.”

“What brought you to Houston?”

“I’m going to the University of Houston. I’m studying to get my BFA in graphic arts with a minor in film study.”

“Dang. You must be smart.” Ronnie regretted the words as soon as they were out.

“Not all models are airheads, Ronnie.”

“Yeah. I realized how that sounded as soon as I said it. I’m sorry.”

“You’re forgiven. Especially if you pour me another glass of that delicious wine.”

“Fair enough.”

“And what about you, Ronnie? How did you end up as a photographer?”

“I always knew I wanted to be a photographer. My degree is in digital photography.”

“Where did you go to school?” Whitney said.

“TCU.”

“Did you always know you wanted to photograph beautiful women?”

Ronnie laughed.

“No. I just kind of lucked into that. It was the first job I got when I moved back to Houston. I enjoyed it and found I was good at it, so as soon as I could, I opened my own studio.”

“Very nice.”

Their dinner was served and they ate in comfortable silence. When they were through, they finished the bottle of wine and chatted some more. Finally, the wine was gone and it was time for Ronnie to make her move.

“Tonight’s been fun,” she said.

“Yes, it has.”

“I really don’t want it to end.”

“It really doesn’t have to then.”

“No?” Ronnie arched an eyebrow.

“Of course not. Why don’t you follow me back to my place?”

Ronnie followed Whitney to an apartment not far from her own house downtown. She parked in a visitor’s spot and crossed the parking lot to where Whitney was waiting for her. Hand in hand, they walked to Whitney’s apartment. It was on the ground floor and nicely furnished for a college student’s apartment.

“Nice place,” Ronnie said.

“Thanks. I like it. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll go get us some more wine.”

Ronnie sat on the couch in the living room. She kicked her shoes off and rested her feet on the coffee table. She sat up straight when Whitney came back. She handed Ronnie her wine glass, and Ronnie felt like an electric current had shot through her. Their fingers touched for a minute longer than necessary. 

Whitney sat next to Ronnie and looked at her over the top of her wine glass. Ronnie looked into her dark eyes and saw a desire there that matched her own. Why were they wasting time drinking wine? There was so much more Ronnie would rather be doing.

“Are you okay?” Whitney said.

“Yep. Are you?”

“I’m fine. You just seem kind of antsy.”

“Well, if I’m honest, there are other things I’d rather be doing than drinking wine.”

“Patience, my dear. All in good time.”

Ronnie fought the urge to gulp her wine down and be done with it. She took a sip.

“This is really good.”

“The agency pays me well.”

“I’m happy to hear that. Because you’re a natural in front of the camera.”

“And you work miracles with that camera of yours.”

“You make it easy.”

Whitney laughed.

“So we’re the mutual admiration society, huh?”

“I guess so.”

Ronnie moved closer to Whitney.

“Patience. Remember?” Whitney said.

“I’m being patient.” She took another sip of her wine. “As patient as I can be.”

She pressed her leg into Whitney’s, and the heat made her boxers wet. She knew she was in for a good time. But could she wait for it?

They sipped their wine, and Whitney seemed intent on keeping the conversation light.

“I really like that calendar idea we shot today,” she said.

Ronnie leaned back against the couch and took another sip of wine.

“Yeah. It’s for a great cause, and so far, I think it’s going really well.”

“How many models did you shoot today?”

“Six. I’ll shoot the other six tomorrow.”

“Sounds good.”

They each had a swallow left of their wine. Ronnie finished hers and set her glass on the table. She looked at Whitney who swallowed hers and set her glass next to Ronnie’s.

Ronnie placed her arm around Whitney and drew her close. Whitney smelled clean and fresh, and Ronnie buried her nose in her hair.

“You smell amazing.”

“Thank you. So do you. Whatever you’re wearing is subtle but woodsy. It suits you.”

“Thank you.”

Ronnie moved away and placed her finger under Whitney’s chin. When she was looking directly at her, Ronnie dropped her gaze to Whitney’s lips. Whitney parted them slightly, and Ronnie dipped her head to taste them. The kiss was brief, but it still made her heart race. She tried to pull back, but Whitney had her arms around her tight. She kissed Ronnie and ran her tongue along Ronnie’s lower lip. The move was dizzying, and Ronnie opened her mouth and welcomed Whitney inside.

Their tongues tangoed in a dance of lust for what seemed an eternity. Ronnie was breathing heavily when the kiss ended. She needed Whitney and didn’t want to wait another minute.

“Let’s go to your room,” Ronnie said.

“Yeah. Like, now.” Whitney’s voice was deep and husky. She stood and offered her hand to Ronnie. Ronnie took it and allowed herself to be led down the hall to the small bedroom with a queen-sized bed that occupied most of it.

Ronnie pulled Whitney to her and kissed her again. As they kissed, Ronnie untucked Whitney’s shirt and ran her hands over the exposed skin. Whitney moaned into Ronnie’s mouth, fueling her desire. Ronnie moved her hands higher and deftly unhooked Whitney’s bra. She had to have more. She had to see her naked. She broke the kiss and backed up.

Whitney took her shirt off and shrugged out of her bra. Ronnie bent and took a nipple in her mouth. She straightened and ran her hands over Whitney again.

“You’re beautiful,” she whispered. “So perfect.”

Whitney pulled her back in for another kiss. It caused Ronnie to melt. Her insides were flip-flopping and her toes curled. She needed to be naked with Whitney and soon. She unbuttoned Whitney’s slacks, but Whitney backed away again.

“What?” Ronnie said.

“We need to get your shirt off, too.” 

Whitney unbuttoned Ronnie’s shirt. It seemed to take forever. After she slid it off her shoulders, Ronnie lifted her undershirt over her head. She moved close to Whitney again and stood breast to breast. The feeling was electric. She kissed Whitney again, an intense, passionate kiss that had her boxers drenched.

She unzipped Whitney’s slacks and admired the black lace thong that was left when they fell to the floor. That thong was all that was between Ronnie and paradise. She knelt down and peeled it off with her teeth. She inhaled the scent of Whitney. She was all woman. Ronnie’s mouth watered. She kissed up one inner thigh but felt Whitney’s hand on her arm, pulling her up.

“What now?” Ronnie said.

“You’re still dressed from the waist down. I want to see all of you.”

Ronnie made short work of stripping out of her jeans and boxers.

“Happy now?” She smiled.

“Very,” Whitney purred.

Whitney ran her hands all over Ronnie’s body. She brought them up to cup her breasts and tease her nipples. She ran them down to cup her ass and press their pelvises together.

“Let’s lie down,” Ronnie said. “My legs are like jelly. I can barely stand.”

“I know what you’re saying. Yeah. Let’s get in bed.”

Whitney lay down, and Ronnie climbed on top of her. She held her close, bringing their breasts together again. She kissed her with fiery abandon and brought her thigh up between her legs. Whitney ground into her thigh, and Ronnie felt her wetness and felt her own clit swell. She had to have Whitney. She couldn’t wait any longer.

Ronnie released her claim on Whitney’s lips and kissed down her neck to her shoulder. Whitney moaned her appreciation. She was arching her hips and gyrating by the time Ronnie kissed lower and took a nipple in her mouth. Whitney held her head in place as Ronnie sucked and flicked her tongue over it.

Whitney pressed her hands into Ronnie’s shoulders, urging her downward. Ronnie kissed down her soft belly until she arrived where her legs met. She placed Whitney’s knees over her shoulders and bent to taste her. She ran her tongue over the length of her before delving in as deep as she could go. She lapped at all the juices flowing there before sliding her tongue over Whitney’s slick clit. She circled it several times.

“Please,” Whitney said. “Please don’t tease me. I need to come. Please get me off.”

Ronnie ran her tongue over her clit and Whitney arched up off the bed, froze for a minute, then collapsed.

“Damn. I was so right about you,” she said while catching her breath.

“What’s that?” Ronnie nuzzled her neck again.

“You’re damned good in bed.”

Ronnie laughed.

“Why, thank you. And how long have you pondered that?”

“Since our first photo shoot together.”

“Is that right?”

“Yep. One look at your long, lanky frame in those tight black jeans and black shirt you always wear and I was curious. Then I saw your blue eyes and knew I had to have you.”

“Well, you succeeded in your goal.”

“Hm. But I haven’t had you yet. Lay back, sister, because the fun has just begun.”

Ronnie lay on her back and opened her legs for Whitney. Whitney kissed her on her mouth, her neck, and the hollow just above her chest. She took first one and then the other nipple in her mouth. She sucked hard, almost to the point of pain. Rather than being turned off, Ronnie found it quite stimulating. 

As she suckled, Whitney slid her hand down Ronnie’s body.

“Your body is so tight,” she said. “I love it.”

She went back to sucking her nipples as she slipped her hand between Ronnie’s legs.

“Hm. You’re so wet.”

“Imagine that.”

Whitney laughed, a low seductive sound that made Ronnie cream even harder. Whitney thrust her fingers inside Ronnie, who bucked off the bed and met each thrust.

“More,” Ronnie said. “Give me more.”

Whitney complied. Ronnie had never felt so full.

“Oh, my God. You feel amazing,” Ronnie said.

Whitney kept moving in and out, going deeper with each thrust. Ronnie arched her hips and gyrated, forcing Whitney deeper. Finally, when she didn’t think she could wait much longer, Whitney moved her fingers to her clit which was swollen with need. She rubbed it hard and fast, and Ronnie felt her whole body tense. She held out as long as she could, but finally the tension released as wave after wave of orgasm washed over her.

She held tight to Whitney until her body quit convulsing.

“That was something else,” Ronnie said.

“Yeah. We’re pretty good together, aren’t we?”

“That we are.”

They lay in silence, and Ronnie finally mustered up the courage to do what she hated to do.

“So, listen, Whitney. This has been fun.”

“But?”

“But I’ve got an early shoot in the morning.”

“Of course you do.”

“I do.”

“I believe you. It was fun though. Maybe we can do this again?”

“Maybe.”

“I’m not asking for a commitment, Ronnie. I’m asking for a good romp in the hay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Even though you said you’re ready to settle down. I’m not. So can I hope for a repeat?”

“Yeah. I don’t see why we can’t do it again.”

“Great. So I’ll see you at the studio, huh?”

“Yep,” Ronnie said. “I’ll see myself out.”

She quickly dressed then let herself out.

 

Chapter Three

Lana was feeling good after her shoot that morning. She knew she’d looked good and had done everything Ronnie had asked. She was glad things hadn’t been awkward between them. Especially after that horrific dinner party. But Ronnie was nothing if not a professional. There’d been no mention of it, nor had there been any offers for another date. That was just as well. Lana sensed Ronnie was trouble in the personal department and planned to stay as far away from her as possible.

She went to the Galleria and shopped for new dresses and new shoes. Not that she needed them. She just felt like rewarding herself for a job well done. After she was through, she drove to her modeling agency to see what other jobs they had lined up for her. She relaxed in the waiting room while she waited for her agent. She flipped through magazines on the table there and saw several pictures of herself. It always surprised her to see herself there. Sure, she knew she was in magazines, but it was still surreal to see her face smiling back at her.

“Lana?” Madeline’s voice cut through her reverie. “Did you want to see me?”

Lana stood.

“Yes, ma’am. If you have time.”

“I always have time for my star.”

Lana laughed and blushed. Madeline was the agent to many models, and she doubted seriously that she was her star. But she appreciated it, nonetheless.

“Actually,” Madeline said. “Why don’t we go to lunch? There’s a new bistro around the corner I’ve been dying to try.”

“That sounds great.”

Madeline turned to her receptionist.

“I’ll be out of the office for a couple of hours. Keep things going for me.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the young woman said.

Madeline and Lana walked around the corner to find the bistro empty. It was two o’clock and they were happy they’d missed the lunch rush.

Madeline ordered a Caesar salad and Lana ordered a turkey sandwich. They sat and waited for it to be delivered.

“So, you’re one of those lucky ones who can eat carbs and stay thin, huh?” Madeline laughed.

“Yep. At least so far. I suppose as I get older my body will change. But for now, I do love my bread.”

“So, how was the shoot this morning? Tell me everything.”

Lana described the shoot down to the very last detail.

“It was so much fun,” she said.

“Oh, good. And it’s for such a good cause.”

“I know. I’m really excited to see the whole calendar.”

“I have to ask. And I know it’s unprofessional, but come on, this is girl talk, right? What’s it like to work with Ronnie Mannis?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Did she come on to you?”

“She did invite me to a dinner party at her house last night.”

Madeline arched an eyebrow.

“Do tell.”

“It was awkward and uncomfortable for all of us. I’m not even sure why she invited me.”

“You know she has quite a reputation, don’t you?”

“How so?” Lana feigned ignorance.

“She’s reputed to be quite the womanizer.”

“Well, if she’s trying to womanize me, she’s barking up the wrong tree.”

“Why’s that?”

“I have no desire to sleep with her.” 

“Well, she is drop-dead gorgeous. Have you looked at those blue eyes? I think I’d even be tempted at my age.”

They laughed together.

“No,” Lana said. “She’s my photographer and that’s it.”

“Well, if she invited you to her house for a dinner party instead of just trying to take you at the studio, that’s got to count for something.”

“She wouldn’t dare?”

“Again,” Madeline said. “Just gossiping here. I probably shouldn’t, but why not?”

“Well, she’s got a whole stable of women who I’m sure she could get with. I doubt I’m even on her radar anymore.”

“So, do you date at all, Lana?”

“Mm. Not much. My early shoots and overall mental health keep me from doing so.”

“Well, I can always schedule your shoots for later on.”

“No, I’m not complaining.”

“But you’re a beautiful young woman. You should get out and meet people.”

“Like who?”

“I don’t know. There are lots of eligible women in Houston. Unless you don’t swing that way?”

“Oh, I do. I dated a man once and that was a disaster. I’m a lesbian, just not practicing.” She laughed.

“Well, I for one, think it’s a waste. You should get out there.”

“And I’m telling you I wouldn’t know where to meet a woman. I don’t do clubs, so that’s out. And I’m perfectly happy in my solitary lifestyle.”

“What a waste,” Madeline said again.

“Well, thank you, but I’m happy.”

Their meals arrived, and they ate in companionable silence.

“So, what’s next up for me?” Lana asked when she’d finished her sandwich.

“I have a new magazine that’s just starting out. They’re looking for models. I sent them your head shot and they want to use you in their inaugural edition.”

“Really? Sounds good. What photo studio will you use?”

“Ronnie’s. Like it or not, she’s the best.”

“I don’t mind. She was nothing but professional this morning.”

“Good. The shoot will be the day after tomorrow.”

“I can handle that. That means I’m free all day tomorrow. Maybe I’ll drive to Galveston.”

“Or maybe you can meet some nice lady to spend the time with.”

“Lord, Madeline. You sound like my mother.”

“Can’t blame us for trying.”

They walked back to the agency and said their good-byes. Lana drove back to her house and packed a few things to take to Galveston with her. She loved it there so much she kept a beach house away from the crowded part of the island.

She drove to Galveston proper and stopped for dinner at her favorite restaurant. It was busy that afternoon so she sat at the bar and sipped a martini. A woman came up and sat next to her.

“Excuse me,” the woman said. “You look familiar. Do you live on the island?”

Lana bristled against an obvious pickup line. She quickly softened when she turned to face a lovely young lady with auburn hair and a full figure. Her eyes held nothing but innocence.

“No, I’m not,” Lana said. “I must have one of those familiar faces.”

Sure, she could have said she was a model and the woman had probably seen her in a magazine, but why bother?

“Oh. Okay. I’m sorry to have bothered you. Do you mind if I sit here? It’s the last stool available.”

“Of course not. Have a seat.”

Lana liked this woman. She was sincere and not pushy. All things Ronnie was not. Where had that thought come from? She quickly shook it out of her mind.

“I’m Danielle,” the woman said.

“Lana.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“You, too.”

Danielle had beautiful blue eyes and a warm smile. Lana found herself thinking of lunch with Madeline. Maybe it was time to broaden her horizons.

“So, Danielle, do you live on the island?”

“Part-time. From March to September.”

“Oh. And what do you do?”

“I work for a rental property agency.”

“Nice.”

“Yeah. I like it. What do you do?”

Lana hesitated then decided there would be no harm in telling the truth.

“I’m a model.”

“For real?” Danielle’s eyes went wide.

“For real.” Lana laughed.

“That is so cool.”

“Thank you.”

Lana was called to her table. She was sad to have to say good-bye to Danielle.

“Would you like to join me for dinner?” she said.

“I’d love to. If I’m not imposing.”

“No imposition at all.”

They shared a nice dinner and pleasant conversation. Lana was sad when it was over.

“So there’s a women’s club here on the island,” Danielle said. “It shouldn’t be very busy on a weeknight. Would you like to go have a drink?”

“I’d like that. I have no idea where it is so I’ll have to follow you.”

She followed Danielle to a building out on the pier. The music was low, as were the lights, but there were very few people there. They got their drinks and went to a small table on the edge of what Lana imagined must have been a dance floor.

They kept the conversation going until Danielle looked at her watch.

“Oh my. It’s gotten so late. And I need to be at work early. I hate to end the evening, but I really should get going.”

“Well, here,” Lana said. “Hand me your phone.”

She entered her number in Danielle’s phone and Danielle did the same in hers.

“I’ll be back through here tomorrow evening,” Lana said. “Can we have dinner again?”

“That would be great.”

They walked back to their cars, hugged each other tight, and promised to see each other the following evening.

 

v

 

Ronnie was at the studio early the next morning. She was tired from her night with Whitney but felt good. Whitney had been a willing and able bedmate, but it was time to concentrate on the day’s shoots.

She was drinking coffee when Whitney walked in bearing coffee.

“What are you doing here?” Ronnie said. She was decidedly uneasy at the early morning intrusion.

“I just thought you’d like some coffee after your late night.” Whitney smiled.

“Well, it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but I have coffee here.” She raised her cup. 

“But this coffee is better.”

“I like my coffee, but thank you. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this, too.” She took the proffered cup.”

“Do you mind if I join you?” Whitney said.

Yes, Ronnie wanted to scream, but didn’t want to offend her.

“I’m really trying to get mentally prepared for my morning shoot.”

“I understand. Say no more. I’ll see you later.”

She kissed Ronnie briefly before she left.

Ronnie sat pondering what she’d gotten herself into. Whitney had been fun, but was she seeing more than Ronnie wanted to offer? Maybe she never should have mentioned wanting to settle down. She was wondering if they’d get together again when her first model, Miranda, showed up.

“So what is this exciting shoot I’ve heard I’m doing today?” she said.

“We’re doing a calendar as a fundraiser for the Rainbow Women’s Center.”

“What kind of a calendar?” Miranda looked suspicious.

“It’s like the olden days pinups. Showing a little skin, but not too much.”

“Ooh. How fun.”

“It should be. The models who I’ve shot so far have really enjoyed it. Now go on into the dressing room. You’ll find a sailor’s outfit. I’d like you to put it on and come on out.”

While Miranda was changing, Ronnie set up the scene. The background was the hull of a ship, and the prop was a huge anchor. She was sure Miranda would take this and run with it.

Miranda came out of the dressing room looking absolutely adorable in the white skirt and the matching halter top. She hugged the anchor in several different positions, and Ronnie caught them all. She was happy with the shoot and dismissed Miranda to get changed back into street clothes.

She checked her schedule. A newbie, Christine, was scheduled next. She sipped the coffee Whitney had brought while she waited for Christine to show up. She still had a few minutes.

A tall, willowy blonde walked in.

“You must be Christine?” Ronnie stood and offered her hand.

“And you must be Ms. Mannis.”

“Please. Call me Ronnie.”

“Okay, Ronnie. Are you ready to get started?”

“I like your attitude. Yes, I’m ready. The dressing room’s right over there. In there, you’ll find an old-style two-piece bathing suit. Go ahead and put it on and come on out.”

Ronnie got out the ocean backdrop while she waited. This was going to be a simple shoot.

Christine listened to directions very well and the shoot went smoothly. Ronnie was impressed.

“You did great,” she said. “Are you new to modeling or just to me?”

“I’m new to the whole thing. This is my third shoot ever.”

“Well, you were wonderful.”

“Thank you. That makes me feel good.”

“Say, would you like to grab dinner this evening?”

“Are you serious?”

“Sure.”

“Is that ethical?”

Ronnie laughed.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I don’t know. Are you supposed to show preferential treatment to one model over the other?”

“Well, for one thing, I’m the photographer, not the agent. And for another, I just thought it would be nice. To welcome you to the fold, per se.”

“Sure then. What time and where?”

“Are you familiar with Houston?”

“Not really.”

“Okay. Why don’t you give me your address and I’ll pick you up at, say, seven?”

“Sounds good to me.”

Christine wrote her address down for Ronnie and left the studio with a smile on her face. Ronnie couldn’t help but smile either. Christine was quite a looker. She could only hope dinner led to a sleepover.

The rest of the day didn’t go as smoothly. Some of the models protested at the idea of being a pinup girl. Some just couldn’t quite do what Ronnie was telling them to do. How could she put this calendar together if her vision for it didn’t play out in the models?

She finally finished at just after five. She ran through the pictures again and realized she could make them work. It had just been a long, grueling day. Some models were such prima donnas.

She sat at the table in the kitchen and opened a bottle of beer. She finished it and was about to open another one when she remembered her date with Christine. 

“Shit,” she said. She checked her watch. It was five thirty. She just barely had time to get home, shower, and dress for dinner.

Ronnie used some gel to put the finishing touches on her hair and she was ready. It was six forty-five. Time to go. She arrived at Christine’s apartment at precisely seven o’clock. She knocked on the door and actually found herself nervous. She was never nervous for a date. She just knew she needed to be careful. She’d watch Christine’s gestures carefully. She hoped the night would end back here at her apartment, but she couldn’t risk alienating a new model.

Christine opened the door wearing a short skirt that showed off long, firm legs. The top, a matching green, made her eyes look like emeralds. She was a knockout. There was no doubt about it.

“You ready for dinner?” Ronnie finally found her voice.

“I sure am. I’m famished.”

“Great. Do you like seafood?”

“I love it.”

“I know just the place.”

Ronnie drove them to one of Houston’s famous seafood restaurants. There was no wait so they were seated immediately.

“Oh wow. Everything looks so good,” Christine said as she perused her menu.

“Order whatever you like. This one’s on me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

Ronnie decided on what she wanted and set her menu down.

“I’ll have the seafood salad,” Christine said.

“Are you sure? That’s all?”

“Gotta keep my girlish figure.”

“Fair enough.”

The waiter came and took their orders and they sat in awkward silence. Ronnie finally thought of something to say.

“So, you’re new to Houston and modeling? How did you end up here?”

“My dad’s company transferred him here. I didn’t want to be too far from them, so I moved here, too.”

“Ah. Where were you before?”

“Dallas.”

“Oh. So not that far then.”

“No.”

Ronnie felt like she was pulling teeth.

“And how did you become a model?”

“People always said I should be. So I got some head shots made and dropped them off at several agencies. Someone called me in, and voila.”

“Nice. Well, welcome to the business.”

“Thanks. The three shoots I’ve done have been a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the one we did today. It was my favorite so far.”

“Well, you’re really easy to work with. I hope we get to work together some more.”

Their dinner was served and they chatted as they ate. But as the evening wore on, it was clear to Ronnie that she was barking up the wrong tree. She wasn’t getting any signal from Christine that she was interested in anything more than a nice meal.

After dinner, she dropped Christine at her door and headed home to an empty house. She liked her own company just fine, but some nights, she just really didn’t want to be alone. This was one of those nights. She checked her phone and regretted not having gotten Whitney’s number.