"Think she's still mad at me?" I asked Luther as we went through the pictures a few days later.
"Without a doubt," Luther said. "Ooh, I like that one."
I clicked the check mark on one of the group shots. I had taken over a thousand photos per shoot. Halfway through the second days group shots, I realized I had been favoring Mirela so I did my best to change that. It was hard, though. Just looking at the photos again made my heart race and my face heat up.
"You know, she would look great naked," I muttered and Luther shook his head, smacking the back of my head.
"Keep your head in the game," he snapped. The outfits you put her in were, like, two inches away from being naked anyway."
I smirked. "I'm going to see her tomorrow."
"Going to Starbucks again?" he asked and I nodded. He scoffed. "You're a glutton for punishment, my friend."
"Don't come anywhere near me," Mirela snapped when I approached her the next day.
"I come bearing apology coffee," I said, handing it over. "And please don't toss that one on me. It's a waste of good coffee."
"You're not apologizing," she said but took the coffee anyway. "Why are you really here?"
"To ask you to dinner again," I answered, sitting across from her. "I also thought you'd like to see the studio without being half naked."
"No," she said, just like I thought she would.
"Because I'm mad at you," she said, "and because I know the real reason you want me to go to the studio."
I leaned forward. "Have you never had any fun?"
She rolled her eyes. "Of course I have, you idiot. I just don't want to have 'fun' with you."
I smirked. "Really? Tell me why."
"Because you're a narcissistic asshole that's only interested in using women for sex objects," she snapped.
"That's not true," I said and she looked at me. "Not just sex objects."
She groaned. "You're such a dick, Caleb. Just leave me alone."
"Go on one legit date with me," I insisted. "If you still hate me after, I'll leave you alone."
She narrowed her eyes at me. "Swear?"
"Swear," I said, holding out a hand. "I'll even sign another contract if it makes you feel better."
"Shut up," she said but shook my hand. "Now go away. I'm busy."
"See you tomorrow night," I said cheerfully and left.
"Lookin' sharp," Luther said as I stepped out of my room in a pair of nice jeans, a button up black shirt with a white wife beater under it, and my designer boots. "Let me guess: gonna try and seduce her?"
I scoffed. "Pretty sure that's impossible to do, Luther. Nah, I just want to show her she's not the only sexy one of the two of us. See you later."
"Have fun," he said and turned back to his movie.
She flat out disagreed with me picking her up at her house so we agreed to meet at the studio. I was surprised she agreed to see it. There's only one reason I take women to the studio after hours and she made it clear she didn't intend on having sex with me any time soon.
When she arrived, I threw my hands up in the air.
"Are you trying to seduce me?" I asked, stepping to the side so she could walk in.
"It's not my fault you can't keep your eyes to yourself," she snapped. "This is what I normally wear."
She was in a pair of blue yoga pants and a long sleeved red shirt.
"That's my point," I said. "It's not fair to men."
She cocked a brow, turning to me. "So you'd rather I showed up in a Mumu and house slippers?"
"Nope," I said. "But you're going to have to deal with me staring at that ass of yours."
She sighed wearily. "Stop being a dick and show me the studio. I'm genuinely interested."
I shrugged. "Okay." I led her to the white screen. "It's not always white," I said. "Sometimes it's black or green."
She frowned. "Wouldn't black be hard to keep clean?"
"Incredibly," I nodded. "That's why I don't like using it very often. The white is hard for people coming in on their street shoes but we have special brushes to clean their shoes off with. The green is what I use more often."
"So why didn't you use that during the shoot?" she asked. "I would think you could achieve a cheesy Vegas theme easier with a custom background."
"I could," I said, impressed. "But the investor didn't want us using the green screen and the white screen looked better with the second day's shoot. Famous studios have their backdrops rigged so they can easily switch between them without a problem. We don't have the money to do that so Luther and I have to do it by hand. It's time consuming so we do the best we can."
"Why would the investor have you guys do that Vegas shoot?" she asked while we went to the computer room.
"He's testing our skills," I explained and pulled up some of the pictures. I smirked at her. "There's only one chair so, if you need to sit, I've got an open lap."
"You're such a gentleman," she said dryly. "Are these the edits?"
"And the originals," I nodded. I pulled up her underwear pictures and smiled at her embarrassed groan. "Shut up. Like I said, you're fucking sexy. You'd make one hell of a model."
"Do you have a lot of filters you can do?" she asked, getting on her knees beside me.
"Nice position you've got there," I said and she shoved me.
"Just answer the damn question."
I chuckled. "Yeah, I do. It's not just sepia or black and white like on Instagram. I can do different colors. Oh, this is my favorite thing to do." I made it so that it was black and white. "I can enhance a specific color on your outfit. I can even change the color."
I highlighted the bra and underwear and made them red. I adjusted the brightness so that it popped more.
"Wow," she said in a surprised voice. "What else can you do?"
I slid my hand slowly down her back and murmured, "I can show you."
"Get your hand off of me," she snapped but her voice shook a little. "I meant the pictures."
I frowned at her. "You always so uptight?"
"When a guy is trying to grope me? Yes. Like I said, I'm genuinely curious about this kind of thing."
"So why didn't you get into photography?" I asked as I pulled up more pictures and showed her the different edits.
"My father wanted me to be a business woman," she answered with a sigh. "So, I tried to go to college for that. It came natural to me, though. Then I started my business and I haven't had the chance to start looking at photography."
"You're using the past tense. Does that mean he's dead?" She nodded, her eyes fixed on the screen. "Sorry."
"Thanks," she muttered. She pointed at the current picture which was another of her underwear pictures. "Can you angle the picture?"
"What do you mean?" I asked. "It's angled already."
"I mean, like, rotate it," she said and used both hands to show me what she meant.
"Oh! Yeah, I can do that."
We talked about editing for a while longer. This was the strangest date I had ever been on. Usually I'd have her bent over something by now. She glanced at her phone; it was well past midnight.
"Well, I'm going to go home," she said and made to stand up. "Oh shit."
"My knees are stiff," she sighed and looked around. "Is there anything I can grip?"
"Yeah," I said, winking.
She sighed again. "Are you always like this?" she demanded.
"Only when I'm around hot women." I stood up. "Go ahead and use the stool."
I stood behind her and smirked as she used the stool to prop herself up then stand. She winced and bent her knees. She turned around and bumped into my chest. I smiled down at her, enjoying how close our bodies were. She stared at me and, for a second, I thought I had her.
"I have to go," she said firmly.
"One kiss?" I asked.
"No," she said. "Thanks for showing me the studio."
"Do you still hate me?"
She looked around and shrugged. "No, I guess I don't."
"Good. Then you can kiss me."
"No," she repeated.
"Please," I begged.
"That's not going to work this time," she said. "I'd like to go home now, please."
"Just one," I whispered, moving closer.
She gulped and took a step back. "Please, Caleb," she whispered and I frowned. "You're scaring me. Let me go."
I was shocked. "I'm scaring you?"
"Can I go now?"
"Uh.... Yeah, I guess. I'd like to do this again sometime, though."
She rolled her eyes as we walked back to the elevator.
"More like you'd like to gape at me some more."
I shrugged, pressing the floor button. "That's just a perk. You seem like a cool chick. What do you say?"
She sighed but I knew she'd say yes.
"All right," she said, running a hand through her hair. "I'll give you my number, though. I lost your card."
I laughed, unlocking my phone and passed it over.
"On accident or on purpose?"
"I can't remember," she said with a shrug and put her contact info in. "See you later, Parrish."
She walked off before I could even say good night.