Home > Secrets (Secrets #1)(9)

Secrets (Secrets #1)(9)
Author: H.M. Ward

“Is that a problem, Miss Lamore?”

I shake my head. It feels like it’s full of rocks. “No, it’s just—”

“Just what?”

I shrug, “I thought that someone else would be in charge of me, I mean my internship.”

He looks me over once and says, “Well, like it or not, I’m the boss of you this week. We have a shoot later today, and then three more later in the week. I want you to assist, and then I want you to second shoot on Friday’s session.”

I can’t swallow. My mouth goes dry. I don’t think I heard him right. Did he say shoot? I c*ck my head and stare at him like he’s crazy, “Excuse me? Did you say you want me to shoot a real session in less than a week? I’ve never done this before!”

He blows off my high-pitched protest with a wave of his hand, “You’ll be fine.” He slides off his desk, shoves the papers in his drawer and it finally sinks in. What he said about everyone else being out on Long Island finally sinks in.

“Why is the staff out East? Is there something going on?” Truth be told, I had no idea what was going on. For all I knew it was a company retreat.

He shakes his head, “Not really. Just an expansion.”

My mouth forms an O but I don’t say anything else. Damn. A second studio on Long Island. Unless he stuck the new studio in the ‘hood, Cole was paying more in rent each month than I could earn in a year.

He looks up at me. His dark hair curls slightly as it hangs over his forehead. He pushes it back. “Ready?”

I answer straight-faced, totally dead pan, “Ready as I’ll ever be. Show me to the nak*d girls.”

Cole nearly chokes, and then laughingly scoffs at me, “Why do all you feminists think I shoot nak*d women?”

I follow him down the hallway. We are headed towards a million dollar shooting room. Curiosity alone makes me want to see it. “Because you do,” I answer bluntly.

Cole turns and looks at me over his shoulder, “They’re wearing more clothes than most women wear at the beach. That’s hardly fair.”

“Life’s not fair, dude. Get over it.”

He stops in his tracks and turns in slow motion. His dark brows are lifting into his hairline. “Dude? Seriously? You called me dude?” He looks shocked and can’t hide the smile that’s running across his lips.

Not realizing that I said it, I try to cover my tracks, “No, I—”

“Said dude. You called me dude.” His eyes are so blue. The way he looks at me makes my heart race. The grin on his face makes the corners of his eyes crinkle a little bit. The expression he’s making is cute and confused. I should be embarrassed, but I’m not.

I shrug, like it doesn’t matter, “Would you prefer something else?” My lips twist into a smile. I can’t help it. It doesn’t matter that I wanted to torment him yesterday. This side of him makes me want to tease him more.

His eyes sweep over me before returning to my face. He laughs, “You’re so young. You have no idea—”

I nod once, the smile fading from my lips. Completely serious, I look him in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. From now on, I’ll refrain from calling you dude.” He looks at me. I nod, and after a moment, I add in my most respectful voice, “Old dude or geezer would be way better.” Our eyes remain locked. My lips twitch as I try not to laugh. I have no idea why I’m teasing him again.

He huffs, rolling his eyes, “You’re such a child.” Running his fingers through his hair he mutters, “I’m getting too old for this crap.”

“Mmmm,” I answer, “Then you shouldn’t have hired the chick dressed like a circus clown.”


The studio is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It has everything I want in my own shooting room and more. Cole shows me around quickly and tells me to ditch my jacket and heels. We’re shooting for the rest of the afternoon. A model is due in at any moment. While we are waiting for her, I slip off my shoes and kick them under a table. That leaves me barefoot in a black pencil skirt with a sleeveless blouse.

I feel underdressed now, but barely process it because I’m too captivated by the shooting room, especially the sets. The walls are lined with them. There are four total—one white, one black, one pink, and one gray. Each set has its own feel and different items. They are all posh feeling with lots of different textures. The white set’s easily my favorite. White flocked wall paper surrounds a white velvet chaise that has a fuzzy white throw over the arm. Bleached wood floors give it just a little bit of warmth so it doesn’t feel sterile.

Cole speaks as he moves about the room, explaining how the shoot will go and what to expect. “Never touch the model without asking. Never say anything inappropriate,” Cole glances at me like he isn’t sure if I can control my mouth. “Those are the only two rules that you need to know for today.”

I nod, “What am I going to do? I thought that I’d be getting coffee or something.”

My gaze is on a rack of wardrobe, if you could call panty and bra sets wardrobe. They are the things we’re shooting today. Honestly, they’re cute. And one is insanely sexy. It is a white shelf bra with a matching lace G-string. It is the kind of thing I would want to wear, but it wouldn’t look good on me. I have too many curves for that kind of skimpy thing. I rub the lace with my thumb, feeling how soft it is.

Cole stops moving, watching me for a moment before saying, “Maybe if you were at Sottero. At Le Femme, you work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”

Dropping the bra, I turn sharply. “I get paid?”

He nods and looks at me surprised, “What’d you think, you were working for free?”

“Well,” my eyes are wide and I’m still shocked, thinking he’s dicking with me, “yeah. Internships aren’t paid.”

He shrugs, “This one is. You get about $2200 per week, take home, after taxes. Miss Todd can give you the exact amount.”

“Holy shit!” the words fly out of my mouth. My jaw is hanging open. I quickly slap my palms over my face and shut the gaping hole to keep anything else from flying out.

Cole looks at me like I’m crazy. He shakes his head and lifts his camera off a shelf. Selecting a lens, he puts it on and adjusts the settings. “How did you not know it was paid?” He shakes his head. “You’re going to learn so much more here than you would anywhere else.

“Lesson 1: Never work for free. Some new photographers think you have to, that you can build your client list by offering free sessions. Don’t do it.”

“Why not?” I ask, still shocked that I’m getting paid and really happy about it.

He looks over his shoulder at me, “Because free is never free. It always costs something. Money. Time. Reputation. Those are things that you need to work hard to control. Giving them away for free screws with perceived value, and your worth as an artist.”

I’m staring at the side of his face, shocked. Cole shoots girls in their underwear. What does he know about marketing and business practices? He sells sex, and sex sells itself. Cole notices me staring at him. He glances up and opens his mouth to say something, but the intercom buzzes. The model is in the building and on her way back. Whatever he was going to say died on his lips.


For the next three hours Cole is serious. He tells me what to do and I do it. I’m standing, bending, kneeling and doing the assistant’s job. At one point I have to reset the model’s hair. She moved and it’s no longer in place. It’s when she’s wearing that shelf bra. Her perfectly man-made boobs fill the thing up. To make the ad compliant with the company’s guidelines, there can’t be any n**ples showing. Cole was right. Most of the shoot hasn’t felt weird, not once I realized that she is covered. The only thing that’s awkward is this.

“I’m sorry, Cole,” Angela says, her sultry voice matches her curvaceous body. I’m slightly envious, but she’s too tall. In real life it must be hard to find someone to kiss without bending down. That sucks for a girl.

“It’s not a problem,” he says. “Miss Lamore will reset your hair. Don’t move. Everything else is still perfect.” Cole gestures for me. I step onto the set of the white room, and he says, “Take that strand of curls and drape it over her breast. Ask her before you touch her. Company policy.”

I feel stupid. She’s leaning backward over the chase. Her hair is spilling all around her and I’m asking to move a strand over her boob. I ask, and do as I’m told. She smiles at me and grants permission. I take the lock and drape it across her flesh, but I can’t see if it covered her properly from the angle Cole is shooting.

“Is that okay?” I ask and step back.

“No, I can still see her. Use more strands,” he replies. He’s looking at his camera and adjusting settings. “Make sure I can’t see anything through the center of the curl.”

I ask the model if I can touch her again and move more curls. Her hair doesn’t want to stay. It slides off her breast and I’m starting to make it frizz. The hairstylist is standing in the corner with her arms folded over her chest. The make-up artist is watching from her chair on the other side of the room. No doubt they both think I’m going to screw this up. How hard can it be to get some hair to stay? She has enough of it and it’s insanely long. I try again, but the curls slide off. I’m starting to get bent out of shape. I’m blushing horribly, touching some girl’s breast and I still can’t do it. I refuse to ask Cole for help, but he’s already next to me.

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