LeeAnn, a twenty-two-year-old woman, had a great curvy body, long red curly hair, green eyes, and full lips. She was beautiful and everywhere she went, people turned to look at her, men, and women, old and young.
LeeAnn’s dream was to be a photographer, but she couldn’t afford school and much less, a camera. Her friend, Jena, who was attending the Community College in a near city, added a photograph class to her program just to help LeeAnn sharing her study materials and homework with her friend.
At 10pm, Wednesday to Sunday, LeeAnn worked as bartender at a local saloon, until 2am. That work was bad, but the tips were very good. Male customers wanted to touch her all the time, but the bouncer was always there to protect LeeAnn and the other girls. At the end of the shift, LeeAnn shared her tips with Big Tom, the bouncer, to be escorted to her other workplace or at home.
Every morning, or night, depends on how you consider 3am, LeeAnn rang the bell by the service door of Bahar Dar Bazar, and, on the other side of the door, a thunderous voice said, “Who’s there?”, and LeeAnn answered, “It’s LeeAnn, Bernie”.
Bernardo, Bernie, was the night guard, one of the nicest people LeeAnn ever known. But don’t mess up with him or with the people he cares for, because he can be tough, and his voice thunders all over the building.
Bernie always had a kettle of hot coffee ready for LeeAnn, hot and dark, as she liked it. They sipped it together, chatting about the day, the weather, and some gossip, and then LeeAnn put her ear pods on and got to work. The music was her company and helped her to not think about her life.
She usually started with the lunchroom that was always the dirtiest. The last room was generally the project room. It was mostly empty, a few tables and chairs, scratch paper, and the garbage cans to empty. As agreed with the management, any paper found in that room, will be thrown away.
One day LeeAnn entered the project room and found a big green screen against a wall, a few umbrella lightings used for photoshoots, and tripods. A set for a photoshoot, minus the cameras and the photographer.
She stopped for a few minutes and allowed herself to dream. She closed her eyes and imagined one or two models in front of the camera, the noise of the shutter while she shot photos, the frantic of the people around, makeup artists, lights assistant How wonderful would it be to have her eye behind a camera taking pictures?
A tap on her shoulder made her jump.
She pulled off the ear pods and turned to find herself face to face with a camera hanging from a neck. At the top of the neck there was a blond, very handsome guy, with a very white smirk on his face, and dimples on his cheeks.
“Oh my, I’m sorry! I got taken away”, she nervously apologized.
She went back to clean without looking again at the guy. She thought he was one of the managers of the company. The only manager she ever met was Cindy, the person who hired her. The company didn’t want to hire a cleaning company, they preferred to deal directly with the cleaner.
“That’s ok”, the guy continued, “I’m setting up for a photoshoot”.
“Oh, I see that. I’m just cleaning and leave so you can finish”, she nervously explained.
“No need to rush”, he continued, leaning against one of the tables, intrigued by the sway of that beautiful young woman.
“Would you like a coffee?”, he asked.
“No thank you”, she answered “I generally drink it before my shift starts. Don’t worry, I clock-in after I finish my coffee”.
He chuckled again, and said, “I don’t care. I’m not the one who pays you. I’m just hired for this job”.
Relived, she said, “Oh, ok. Thank you for clarifying. I feel better” and continued her cleaning.
When she finished, she put all her cleaning stuff away and, pushing her cart, she said, “I’m done here. You can go back to work. Have a good day”, and left the room heading to the utility room where she left the cart, drained the bucket and rinsed the mop.
At the door she saw Bernie, “Bernie, who’s the guy in the project room?”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you”, he apologized, “he’s here for a few days. They’re shooting photos for a website. I know nothing about that stuff. He’ll be here the week”.
“Ok, thank you”, she said and then wished him a good day.
That was the easy part of her life. After that came the tough one because entering her ramshackle house and hearing her parents yelling at each other all the time, was horrible. Then, once she’d woken her siblings up, it got even worse, especially sharing the only bathroom.
She began scrambling eggs and warming up coffee and milk. Then she went in her siblings’ rooms and woke them up, gave them breakfast, made sure they were decent and cleaned, and sent them to take the school bus.
Her mother usually worked ten to three, and her father from nine to whenever he wanted to go home. Sometimes it was dinner time, sometimes it was late at night. He used to be one of the drunk patrons of the saloon where she worked, but once she started working there and refused to give him anything with alcohol, he moved to another saloon out of town.
The day after, as usual, after the saloon, she went to her cleaning job, and had coffee with Bernie.
“The guy, the photographer, you remember him?”, Bernie asked.
How could she not? “Yes”, she answered, “why?”.
“Well”, he continued, “all the chicks in the office are going crazy for him. Even Lauren, Mr. Colin’s assistant, she could be his grandmother, she is crazy for him”
“Well Bernie”, she said, “you don’t see it, but he’s handsome”
“Yes”, he said, “I get that. And he asked about you”, winking.
“What?”, she asked, surprised
“After you left yesterday, he came to me and asked your name and wanted to know more. I just said, Listen man, her name’s LeeAnn but you ain’t going to touch her or I’ll kill you. I mean it LeeAnn”, he said with a serious glance.
“Oh, I know you mean it, Bernie”, she replied, “but don’t worry, I doubt he’d be interested in touching the cleaning girl”, she reassured him. But what she hoped was the exact opposite. “I better go now, or I’ll be late for breakfast”. She hugged Bernie and left.
After almost two hours she had the project room left. She quietly opened the door and found the guy with his eye behind the lens of the camera, probably studying the framing or the lights.
Pulling off her ear pods, LeeAnn said, “Excuse me? I need to clean the room. Is it ok?”.
“Oh, hi!”, he answered, “Sure, go ahead. I’m just studying some different lights”
Jeez, she wanted so much to help him to find the right light, being his assistant would be great, to start.
“By the way”, he continued, “My name is Mark”, holding out his hand.
“I’m LeeAnn”, she introduced herself, showing her gloved hand, “I can’t shake your hand”.
“Oh, right”, he chuckled, “Nice to meet you”
She looked for a moment at the setup, then asked, “Can I say something?”
“Sure”, he replied.
“If you move that light over there”, she pointed to a corner, “then turn on the light in the other room, the reflection through the window will make it more like daylight”
“How do you know?”, he asked.
She explained, “Because I love photograph. I studied a few things about lights, well, it’s a long story. It’s my dream to become a photographer one day. Just a dream”. LeeAnn put back in the ear pods and continued cleaning, humming the music.
What she didn’t know was that Mark couldn’t take his eyes off her and took a few pictures of her working. She intrigued him and her sway gave him naughty ideas.
“I’m done here. Have a good day”, she said, waving.
“Have a good day you too, see you tomorrow”, he answered, happy to know he’d see her again.
LeeAnn continued with her routine, while Mark, that afternoon, got at his motel and immediately downloaded the pictures of the day in his computer.
“Does she know how beautiful she is?”, he said aloud to himself.
The day after, on time as usual, LeeAnn entered the project room. Mark was reading some stuff at the table, sipping probably coffee and, in front of him on the table, he had two chocolate muffins. She recognized the container, they were from her favorite bakery. It was a luxury she allowed herself once a month, on Sundays, to stop at that bakery and indulge in a chocolate muffin.
“Good morning, LeeAnn”, he promptly said when he saw her.
“Good morning Mark”, she replied, then asked, “Can I clean around?”
“Why don’t you sit a moment, relax, and share a muffin with me?”, he suggested.
“I can’t. I have to clean and go home to…”, she hesitated, she didn’t want to bother him with the sad story of her life, “to do what I have to do”.
“The room is clean, as you can see”, he said, pointing around with his hand, “you can relax now”.
She looked around and saw that, true, the room was perfect. “Why did you do that? It’s my job, they pay me for this”.
“Relax”, he said in a calm voice, “I wanted to chat with you and know more about your studies”
She knew how this would end, she heard many of her girlfriends ending up this way, they found a nice guy, they fell in love, or so they thought, and in no time at all, they got pregnant. She didn’t want this for her life. Yes, she wanted kids one day, in the future, when she had a job, and possibly far away. Until then, she didn’t allow herself to fall in love. But she loved some steamy sex.
She sat and asked, in a sharpy tone, “Why? What do you want from me?”
He could see her reluctance, so he tried to put her at ease and made her trust him. He really wanted to know her.
“Seriously, I just want to know more about you- your studies. It’s part of my job, to know the story behind the people I meet. I bought these”, he said, pushing one of the muffins toward her, “they told me this is the best bakery within fifty miles”.
“They told you well”, she confirmed, gently unwrapping the muffin. She bit a little piece of it and, closing her eyes, she enjoyed the strong chocolate flavor.
He took the camera and shot a picture. He knew she’d hear the noise of the shutter, but he couldn’t avoid it. Next time he should prepare the other one that doesn’t make sounds.
“Why did you do that?”, she said, wincing.
“I’m sorry”, he apologized, placing a hand on top of hers, “I couldn’t resist. You were so intense eating the muffin”. Not wanting to frighten her and make her leave, he immediately removed his hand.
With a hint of a smile, she said, “Yeah, beautiful”.
She knew she was beautiful, and she tried hard to hide her body in wide clothes, and never applied a shade of makeup on her face.
“You don’t seem pleased”, he hinted.
“It’s a curse”, she said, roughly.
He chuckled, then said, “That’s a first! In my line of work, women would give their soul to the devil to look beautiful. And you are trying to not be. Why? If I may ask”
“Because I want to go away. I don’t want to find a guy who gets me pregnant and have to live here for the rest of my life”, she answered in one breath, then continued, “I’m working my ass off so I can at least hope I can leave one day. All my friends ended up pregnant and gave up their dreams. I don’t want this life for me”.
Mark saw her eyes filling with tears. He waited a moment to let her recover, then asked, “What keeps you here?”.
She thought for a moment, looking down at her muffin, then looked into his eyes, and answered, “I’m saving money. But… then what? Where do I go? And doing what? Cleaning offices for the rest of my life?”
Lowering his voice, he admitted, “I have no answer to that, I’m sorry. But I promise I’ll think about it”.
“Yeah”, she said in a hopeless tone, “I’ve got to go now. My shift is finished. Thank you for the muffin, it is the best in town”, and she got up, leaving Mark still sitting, looking at her back side while she left the room.
As promised, he thought about LeeAnn the whole day, but couldn’t find a solution to her problems. He liked her, a lot. Not because she was beautiful, but because she was smart. She had a tough life. Not that Mark’s life had been easy, but he was born in a suburb with a better life choice. He had to choose, while LeeAnn didn’t have that chance.
He arrived at the motel room and downloaded the work of the day. He had forgotten about the photo taken of LeeAnn. When he looked at that photo, he could see her soul. She was enjoying that muffin like it was the best thing in her life. Or like that was a luxury she couldn’t afford. How could he help her? Some of the photographers he knew, had one or more assistants, but he was a beginner just out of college, he couldn’t afford one, yet. He couldn’t promise her, but if he ever needed one, he’d call her for sure.
The following days went the same, Mark arrived at work a little sooner, cleaned the room, and waited LeeAnn every morning with the chocolate muffins. He got to know a little more about her and her other job.
Friday afternoon, Mark finished his work. He then had to send the samples to Mr. Colin who’d have to choose which ones to use for the website. He didn’t want to go back home yet.
Mark checked where the saloon was and decided to pay a visit that night. He knew it would be crowded. He got there and found a corner where he could observe around, hoping to not be seen.
When he saw LeeAnn, his heart skipped a beat. She had tight jeans, so tight he could see her amazing butt swaying, cowboy boots, and a blue shirt knotted under her breasts, leaving part of her belly uncovered. He wished he could touch that skin with his hands, or lips. She was so beautiful. All the girls had the same uniform, but she was the only one so beautiful.
He observed her for some time, walking around people, taking orders, bringing a tray with food and beers over her shoulder. But then he saw a man, with the excuse of slipping a tip in her bra, trying to touch her breasts. Clearly, she was used to that and a big guy, seeing that, approached the man and said something to him. The man pulled his hands up as to apologize. Mark wanted to punch the man’s face.
One of the girls was about to approach him to take his order, but LeeAnn saw him and said something to the girl who turned and winked at LeeAnn.
LeeAnn approached and said, “Hey you!”, with a smile that made his heart skip another beat, “What can I bring you? You don’t strike me as a beer guy”
“Who was that guy?”, he asked, clearly annoyed.
“Who? Oh, that one! He’s one of the regulars. He always tries that, but Big Tom is ready to punch him if he touches. So, what can I get you?”
“I guess alcohol free stuff is not popular here around, uh?”, he asked.
“No, but a sober guy here is much appreciated. Root beer or coke? Something to eat?”, she asked, giggling.
“Coke, cheeseburger and fries”, he ordered.
“Sure thing, hon”, she said, turning and heading to the kitchen leaving him looking at her sway.
“I guess you can’t sit a moment with me”, he asked when LeeAnn brought him the order.
She laughed and said, “On weekends I’m lucky if I have time to pee. Call me if you need anything”.
He watched people dancing. The music was really good, but he didn’t like to see men touching the girls without permission, not only LeeAnn, especially her, but all the girls.
It was a frustration that reminded him of his father. A man who had everything, a good job, money, a beautiful wife, a family. Still, he felt entitled to touch every beautiful woman. Mark discovered that side of his father one day when he broke his bike and went to his father’s office to ask for a ride home. He arrived in time to see his father with his hands cupping his secretary’s boobs. Mark immediately left without being seen.
Mark did the same thing some other times, stopping by his father’s office without being seen, and it was always the same scene, his hands always on her breasts or between her legs… Mark was disgusted. He was twelve, but with two older brothers, knew something about sex. His brothers showed him some porn movies.
He went home and told his mother. She knew, of course, but she couldn’t divorce him. She had nothing, and no job. She said she wanted to give her children a good life.
One day his father got home and announced his secretary was pregnant. His mother divorced, kept the house, the car, the alimony, and after a couple of years, she found an amazing man. She deserved it.
Mark left the saloon leaving a generous tip tapped under his empty glass.
When that morning LeeAnn went to clean the project room, found that the photoshoot equipment was gone. She felt tears filling her eyes. She was counting on those moments with Mark, he was a good listener.
“Welcome back to reality”, she said aloud to herself, and began her cleaning routine.
On Wednesday, the following week, when she arrived, Bernie said, “LeeAnn, today this was delivered for you”, giving her a big, thick envelope.
She checked the sender label, Mark Gaimbert – Photographer, and the address, Naperville, IL.
She opened the envelope with Bernie watching. Inside there were some big pictures of her cleaning, and one while she was eating the muffin. The last one was the only one she knew he took, she had no idea about the others. She blushed.
“Wow! The guy is good!”, Bernie said.
“Too easy when you have a perfect model”, she said, giggling, shouldering Bernie, “Can I leave them here while I’m working?”, she asked Bernie.
“Sure!”, he grabbed the envelope and put it on his table by the security monitors.
Those pictures weren’t compromising, but she had the feeling that her parents wouldn’t approve, for no particular reason. She could probably ask Jena to keep them safe somewhere. Or she might just rip them and forget about them. It’s not that she could ever use them for something. Well, maybe one day, when she’ll have her own apartment, she could frame them. Yeah, she might do that, the day she’ll have her own apartment.
Few days after she sent a thank you card to Mark at the address on the envelope.
The days went by, sometimes slowly, sometimes a little faster, but Mark couldn’t forget LeeAnn, the girl he met during his work in St. Jacob.
He had a copy of the pictures he took of her, framed on a wall where he could see them.
Mark was photoshopping some pictures he’d shot the day before at the Millennium Park, when his phone rang. Generally, when he was working, he let the voicemail take the calls, but today he was waiting an important call. He didn’t check the caller, he grabbed the phone with his eyes still on the screen.
“Hello?”, Mark said.
“Mark, good afternoon”, a male voice said on the other side of the line.
“Uh. Who’s there?”, he replied hesitant, not recognizing the voice.
The person chuckled and said, “Dwayne, Dwayne Colin from Bahar Dar Bazar”
“Oh, yes. Hi Dwayne, how are you?”, Mark replied, recalling those days and LeeAnn.
“I’m fine”, Dwayne said, “Listen Mark, that job was great. Did you see the website?”
“Yes”, Mark answered, “I checked to see which picture you picked and how you set them up. I’m glad you liked them”
“So”, Dwayne continued, “the reason I’m calling is that we are opening a new location and we’d like you to take pictures before the grand opening. The new location is downtown St. Louis”
“That’s great, and when is the opening?”, Mark asked.
“About that”, Dwayne said, “I know it’s not much of a notice, but it’s in six weeks and we need to advertise ASAP”.
That wasn’t much of a notice, so Mark said, “I need to check my calendar and see what I can do. Can I call you back tomorrow morning?”
“Sure”, Dwayne said, “You have my cell, call me as soon as you know a date. Thank you, Mark”.
Mark checked his calendar and he was pretty busy with some weddings and other events. He could stretch some appointments and add this one to his calendar. If only he had an assistant to help him so he could make it faster.
Wait a minute, he thought, actually I know a person who can be my assistant, and now, with all the new clients, I can afford one.
The following morning Mark called Dwayne.
“I hope you have good news for me”, Dwayne said, answering the phone.
“Kind of, but only if you can help me”, Mark explained.
“How?”, Dwayne asked.
Mark then asked, “Do you know LeeAnn? The girl who’s cleaning your offices?”
Dwayne thought for a moment, then said, “Oh yes. It’s Cindy who generally deal with her, but I saw her a few times. Why?”
Leaning on his chair, Mark went explaining, “You don’t know this, but she’s studying photograph, so, if you can get me in touch with her, I can use her help to set up the location. So, when I arrive, I just have to shoot and leave. Otherwise I don’t have the time”.
Dwayne chuckled and said, “Are you sure that’s the only reason you want her contact?”, laughing now, he said, “Never mind. I can ask Cindy. I’m gonna text you her info ASAP. Thank you for helping us”.
Mark wanted to say that actually Dwayne was helping him, instead he said, “You’re going to pay me for the job”.
After about an hour, Mark got a text with LeeAnn’s info. He was excited and called her right away.
“Hello?”, LeeAnn answered with a sexy voice.
“Hi LeeAnn, this is Mark”, he said, knowing she wouldn’t know who Mark was.
“Mark who?”, she asked.
“I see I made an impression!”, he said chuckling, “The photographer”
“Oh. Hi Mark. How did you get my number?”, she asked. She was happy to hear his voice.
“Dwayne Colin gave it to me”, Mark explained, “It’s work related, don’t get mad at him. I need your help”.
“My help?”, she asked, with a sharp laugh “You need a cleaning service?”, giggling.
Understanding her bewilderment, he explained, “The company asked my help for another photo shoot, but my time is stretched. I can do that if you can help me. I will pay you, of course. I need you to go visit the new location and study the lights. Then I’ll send you the equipment and you set them up. This way when I get there it’s all set up and I don’t waste time”.
LeeAnn thought for a minute.
Mark couldn’t see her face and didn’t know how to read that silence, but he decided to give her time to think. He was scribbling on a piece of paper, he always did that while talking on the phone. Today he was drawing her name in several different fonts.
Then LeeAnn, playing nervously with a lock of hair, started talking again, “Why spend the money to send the equipment? I’m pretty sure I can find it for rent. I need to ask Dwayne where’s the new location so I can tell you when I can go to see it. I’ll text you the cost for the equipment and the date. OK?”
Mark wanted to hug her, not only for the help, but because his desire for her was growing by the minute.
“Sounds great. Thanks, LeeAnn, I really appreciate your help”, he said in a kind voice.
“Well”, she said, giggling, “You said you’re going to pay me, and I never refuse honest money”.
LeeAnn contacted Dwayne and they agreed to visit the location the following afternoon together. Then she called a place she knew where to rent the equipment and the guy gave her an estimate of the cost, including the insurance for damage, and a fee for late return.
She texted the information to Mark and he replied with a thumb’s up emoji, then added, “Text me your bank account info so I can give you an advance for equipment and gas”.
The following day Dwayne drove her to the new location. LeeAnn took several pictures with her phone and a short video. She actually had a nice idea and she was going to share it with Mark later that day.
When she was done, Dwayne took her out for a quick lunch, and they talked.
“See?”, Dwayne said when they were on their way back, “you see people every day, and you think you know them. But the truth is that you never know them until you go out for lunch or dinner”.
LeeAnn giggled, but this statement made her think. He was right, you don’t really know a person until you spend some time together in a comfortable setting.
When she arrived home, after she took care of her little siblings, she sent an email to Mark attaching the picture she took, the short video, and the contract for the equipment rental.
Mark got the email, checked the pictures and he knew she’d aced the lights, even with her cell phone camera. He checked the video and saw that the new location was very nice, and the outside too. Then Mark checked the rental contract and realized it was a good deal. While he was designing a lights layout for LeeAnn, he got another email. It was from LeeAnn. In that email LeeAnn said, “Hi Mark, while I was there this afternoon I got this idea for a lights plan. Check the attachment. Of course, it’s just an idea from an inexperienced person, so feel free to disregard it”. He checked the layout she designed, and he was stunned. Her idea was great, it was probably a female instinct that made her design it that way, but she knew the technicalities and the lights plans. He decided to call her.
“Hi Mark”, she answered.
“LeeAnn, you did great”, Mark said, as a way to greet LeeAnn, “I was just designing the layout, but yours is way better”.
She was again playing with a lock of hair, as she always did when she was nervous.
“Do you really think so?”, she asked, pacing the kitchen.
“I do”, Mark exclaimed, “You have a natural instinct for sure”
“Thank you”, she said, blushing. Luckily, he couldn’t see her.
“Listen, I can be there Thursday late afternoon. Can you have it all set up for Friday morning?”, Mark asked. He wanted to involve her and was testing the ground.
“Yes, of course. Dwayne gave me the keys. I’m picking the equipment up Thursday right after work, I’ll be there after my morning chores, before dinner time it’ll be all set up”, she said excitedly.
“Do you have time to have dinner with me Thursday night?”, he asked, hopeful.
“Thursday to Sunday I have to work at the saloon”, she said, uneasy for that invitation.
“I understand”, he replied, disappointed, “But you’re helping me Friday, right?”
She hesitated a moment, but said, “Yes, of course. Can you pick me up at my place at nine?”.
The idea of spending half an hour driving with LeeAnn beside him, was exciting. He wondered if she would wear something that would make her body stand out.
During his four hours driving from Naperville to St. Jacob, Mark thought if he could hire LeeAnn. He wanted, first of all, to take her away from the saloon job. He didn’t like the idea of all those men touching her without permission. He thought about using this photo shooting as an interview, to see how she worked, how confident she was, and possibly hire her. He wasn’t rich, that’s for sure, but with an assistant he could take more jobs, assigning her the easy ones at the beginning, giving her the chance to study and learn. He had to make some accounting to prepare an offer.
Yes, he thought, this might work.
Now, with this new goal in mind, his driving was less boring, way more interesting.
Friday morning at 8:45 Mark was outside LeeAnn’s house. The house was modest from the outside in a modest neighborhood. He was early and didn’t want to go inside uninvited, so he decided to wait there. Five minutes later he saw LeeAnn walking to his car.
She was wearing sneaker shoes, discolored tight jeans, and a jeans jacket on top. Her long red hair captured in a thick braid hanging on the side. When she got in the car, Mark senses a whiff of a fruity fragrance that perfectly fitted her.
“You’re early”, LeeAnn said, “I saw you by the window. How are you?”
“Good morning”, Mark greeted her, “Yes, I wasn’t sure about traffic. Better be early than late, that’s my philosophy”, he chuckled, getting onto the main road.
Her scent was elating and in Mark’s mind appeared the image of her sensual body, walking in an orchard, naked. He needed a distraction.
“So”, he said, “Do you like the new location?”
“I love it”, she answered, enthusiastic, “It’s bright but warm, vibrant”.
He turned to look at her for an instant, smiling, and said, “I think only a woman can use the word vibrant talking about a store”.
“Yes”, she confirmed, “Women’s vocabulary contains more adjectives than men. Like colors. You say green, blue, red. We say lime, sage, emerald, apple green, harlequin…”
They both laughed.
He felt she was nervous and wanted to put her at ease.
“Is it just a store, or there are offices too?”, Mark asked to make conversation.
“There are two offices in the back”, she answered, “and a storage room that is bigger than the one they have in St. Jacob. There is also an upper floor but it’s empty now. I don’t know but, in my opinion, they should move the headquarters there. St. Louis is better for the market. Now that they have a name and an extended clientele, they probably can afford it”.
Tapping his finger on the wheel, Mark said, “But you’ll lose the job”
“I don’t plan on cleaning offices for the rest of my life. I have other plans”, she explained, looking out of the side window.
“You wanna be a photographer”, he stated.
They parked in the parking lot in front of the store ‘Bahar Dar Bazar 2’.
LeeAnn helped Mark with the cameras and other equipment, and, pulling the keys out of the backpack, she unlocked the door.
They placed the equipment on a folding table LeeAnn set up the day before for that. LeeAnn went to open the curtains to have the natural light, then Mark looked around to see her set up. He was impressed.
“The setup is perfect”, he said, looking around.
“Well, I followed the layout”, she replied.
“Yes”, Mark confirmed, “But you’ve been able to design the layout studying the place and the lights, and you were absolutely right. You have a good eye”.
“Thank you”, she said in a low voice, avoiding his eyes.
LeeAnn liked Mark, a lot. He was honest with his words, and good looking. When she met him the first time during her cleaning, they talked a lot and he was a good listener. Not many men liked listening. Well, her experiences were mostly with boys and boys don’t have the patience to talk and listen, they just want one thing. Growing up she decided to not waste her time with relationships that led nowhere. She liked the sex part, but she wanted something else.
Could Mark be that kind of man? He was sexy, and she was attracted to him, but he lived four hours away. She couldn’t afford that long drive and her used car wasn’t reliable. But he sent a few hints to her that made her think he was interested in her.
Mark pull his cameras and the lenses out off the bag and passed a camera to LeeAnn, “This was an old camera I’m not using anymore. It’s not much, but it’s a good one and here”, he gave her a bag, “there are some lenses”.
“I- I don’t understand”, she said, hesitant.
“It’s for you. To practice.”, he said smiling.
“I can’t accept”, she said.
She blushed and her heart galloped in her chest. She never had a gift so important. Actually, she probably never had a gift. The only things her parents could afford, were used clothes and a birthday cake. When she started working, she decided to buy her own clothes so her parents could save the money. She also used her money to buy her very used car, pay for the insurance and gas.
“Yes, you can. I was going to donate it to Goodwill, then I thought you might need it”, Mark said. It wasn’t true, he donated stuff to Goodwill but not one of his cameras for sure. He said that to convince her to accept. He knew she would never accept a new camera, that’s why he tried with an old one.
LeeAnn held the camera. It was a Nikon D600. She looked at it, looked in the viewfinder, the display, pressed some interface buttons and shot some photos.
“Do you have a laptop?”, Mark said, diverting her thoughts.
“Uh? What?”, she asked.
“I asked if you have a laptop because the camera has a memory card so you can upload the pictures in your laptop. Then I can suggest you some nice programs for photoshop”, Mark explained.
“I have an old one”, she said. She didn’t want to tell him it was a laptop she got from the school when the school swapped to Macs.
He made a mental note on that. He didn’t know if there was anything he could do about that, but he could think about a solution.
“Let’s get to work”, Mark said.
If anyone had been there, looking at them working together, they would have thought they were partners and had been working together for years.
They had a sandwich for lunch and resumed the shooting immediately after.
They finished at four, pulled down the equipment and loaded Mark’s car.
“LeeAnn, I’m impressed”, Mark said on the drive back to St. Jacob, “You have a natural talent and we did great together. You were able to understand what I needed”.
“We were in perfect harmony”, she confirmed, relaxing on the passenger seat, “I loved it. I never did it before. I watched thousands of videos on how it works, and I’ve dreamt about it, but this was my first time”.
“You kidding, right?”, he asked dumbfounded.
“Nope”, she said, with a smug smile.
After a few minutes, Mark said, “I might need an assistant”. He knew he had to first make some research about salaries, but he didn’t want to wait.
She didn’t answer.
Mark turned to look at her and saw she was sleeping. Well, more time for him to think about it. But he wanted to make an offer for sure.
He parked in front of LeeAnn’s house and, gently, woke her up.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I fell asleep”, LeeAnn apologized when she realized they arrived at her house, “Do you want to load the equipment in my car so I can return it tomorrow morning?”.
“Don’t worry about that”, Mark said, “I’ll drop it off first thing tomorrow morning, then I’ll go back home. LeeAnn, it’s been amazing working with you today. I’ll get in touch in case something else comes up. Meanwhile,”, Mark pulled an envelope from his backpack, “this is for your help today”, and gave her the envelope.
“Oh, thank you.”, she said.
“Of course. And you can put this job in your resume, and I can write a recommendation”, he said.
LeeAnn wanted more than just his recommendation, she wanted him. Unfortunately, that was it. They had to say goodbye and she probably would never see him again.
When she entered her house, her parents’ house, she felt disappointment. For an afternoon she forgot about the scrappy house she lived in with her family, about the job at the saloon and the cleaning one. For that afternoon she allowed herself to dream of a possibility.
She was falling in love for Mark. She wasn’t sure if it was true love or just an infatuation because he represented all she wanted in her life, a handsome man, and a job as a photographer.
Be realistic LeeAnn, she thought, this is your life, your real world. That was just a dream.
Back at the motel Mark called Dwayne to confirm the job was done and he would get the photos by Monday.
In the shower he couldn’t help but think about the day that just went, how good it was working with LeeAnn. He wondered if making love to her would be so perfect, and immediately his cock reacted. Stroking his cock, he thought about her jeans, how perfect they wrapped her thighs and her butt. He recalled the sway of her butt while walking, and when she pulled off the jacket to uncover a green shirt that perfectly wrapped her breasts. Closing his eyes, he also recalled her fruity scent. He would never forget her scent. He had never been so sensitive to perfumes. He reached his release in the shower, thinking about her sinuous body.
Mark wanted to see her one last time, but he knew that going to the saloon wasn’t a good idea. He couldn’t tolerate those men trying to touch her. He knew he would’ve sparked a fight. Besides, seeing her wouldn’t have changed anything. So, he opted for a steakhouse by the motel and a good night of rest.
All the way back home, he tried to mentally find how to afford an assistant.
It wasn’t until Monday morning, when his accountant answered the email Mark sent her Saturday morning, and he had his answer. Mrs. Lukaric fully explained how he could deduct an assistant from taxes and that with his income and the growing of his clientele, he could afford it.
While he was preparing all the documents to send to LeeAnn in case she accepted the offer, he got an email. It was from LeeAnn, an email containing some pictures she took during the weekend. And she returned the favor sending him some pictures she took Friday of him working.
He knew this was the right time to call her.
“Hi Mark. You got my pictures?”, LeeAnn asked, answering the phone.
“Yes”, Mark said, “I knew you were good. You enjoy the camera?”
“It was amazing. I loved to walk around taking pictures.”, she said.
“LeeAnn, I have an offer”, he began, “for a job, for you”
“What do you mean for me?”, she asked, astonished.
“I need an assistant. I couldn’t ask you Friday because I wasn’t sure I could afford it, but now I know I can. We worked so well together that I’m sure it’ll be easy”, he said, agog.
“But I don’t have the experience and a degree”, she explained, hoping he’d say that it didn’t matter to him, that he wanted to work with her, that he wanted her.
“You don’t have the experience in the field, but you did very good the other day. About the degree, we can think about it later”, he said, “What do you think? If you need time to think, I can understand”.
“No, I don’t need to think. I just need - “, she hesitated a moment, then asked, “Can you help me to find a place to stay that won’t cost me a kidney?”.
He hadn’t thought about that. He thought for a minute, then said, “I might already have a solution. My sister has a small apartment over her garage. It’s just a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchenette, but I’m sure she could cut a good deal. When can you start?”, Mark was impatient, like a teenager at the prom dance. What Mark also knew was that he had to put some distance between him and LeeAnn. First because he was about to become her boss, and he didn’t want to push her in a moment when she was vulnerable at most. She was going to miss her family, her friends, her town. He needed to be sure she got comfortable in this new life before asking her out for a date, but he would ask her out for sure, sooner or later.
LeeAnn had to give the two weeks’ notice to both her jobs and had to give her parents time to accept the idea of their firstborn leaving the nest.
It was two very long weeks for both of them. Before leaving town, she stopped to say goodbye to Bernie and get the envelope with her pictures.
It wasn’t easy for LeeAnn this change of life. She knew she’ll miss her family, her siblings, and her friends. On the other hand, she really needed to fly on her own wings, even if the flight would frighten her.
When LeeAnn arrived at Mark’s sister house, she was nervous, nervous because of the new life ahead of her, and for working with Mark, for Mark.
She rang the doorbell.
“LeeAnn?”, a beautiful woman said, opening the door.
“Hi. Brenda, I guess?”, LeeAnn replied.
“Come on in”, Brenda said, opening the door wide for her, “I was making lunch. Then I’ll show you the apartment”.
In a few minutes LeeAnn got to know that Brenda was five years older than Mark, she had a husband who was a surgeon, and she was very much pregnant with their first child.
“The baby is due in 6 weeks”, Brenda said, while cooking lunch, “But don’t worry, the walls are well insulated, and our bedrooms are on the other side of the house. Not that it’s that big, but believe me, you’ll be fine”.
“Oh, believe me, I’m not worried about it. I generally sleep like a stone”, LeeAnn said to reassure her.
The apartment was little, but enough for her, and she didn’t plan to live there forever, just the time to get on her feet and have the money for her own apartment.
She started working with Mark, or better, for Mark, the next day.
For the first few weeks she followed him everywhere and they worked together like that very first day, in perfect harmony. She always knew how to set up the equipment, she knew what camera he wanted to use and what lens he needed before he even asked.
What left her uneasy was his distance and his coolness. She liked him a lot, she loved working with him, but once she moved to Naperville, he got more distant. At that point, she thought she misread the hints.
She liked living in the apartment over Brenda’s garage. It was close to the studio, close to downtown, and to the grocery store. This way she didn’t need to use her car. Besides, Brenda and her husband, Steven, lent her a bicycle and she loved it. They made an amazing couple, and sometimes invited her over to dinner.
On a Saturday, free from any work duty, LeeAnn decided to go shopping because she really needed new clothes, and she wanted something for the apartment. Brenda suggested a few stores where she could find nice clothes, and she did. She bought a few dresses, some pants, and shirts, and also some sexy underwear.
When she got home she found a sticky note on the door, “Dinner at 6:30. Xxx B.”. LeeAnn smiled. She really loved this family.
Even if it was just the three of them, LeeAnn decided to wear one of the new dresses she bought that day. After a shower she put on her new blue lace panties and the matching bra, and the blue dress. It was perfect with her red hair and gray-green eyes.
“Wow!”, Brenda said, opening the door, “You look gorgeous”.
“Thank you”, LeeAnn said, a little embarrassed, “I went to that store you told me about and I spent most of my last paycheck”, LeeAnn said giggling.
“Oh, wow!”, Steven said too, “Nice outfit”.
Brenda lightly punched his arm, “Hey! I’m right here!”.
“I know hon”, Steven said, kissing her on the mouth, “I love you but I’m not blind. I wonder if Mark is blind though”.
“Speak of the devil”, Brenda said when they heard a knock on the door.
“Oh”, LeeAnn said, surprised, “He’s coming too?”
“Yes, he wanted to see me”, Brenda explained.
When Mark entered the kitchen, LeeAnn was leaning against the counter cross-legged, her arms crossed under her boobs, her hair, her beautiful red hair, on one side. She was beautiful and Mark’s heart skipped a beat and his cock twitched.
For the past few weeks Mark tried to keep his distances, to be professional with LeeAnn, they had a work relationship and he didn’t want to ruin it for sex. But now he had the feeling that it wasn’t just carnal need. The more time he spent with her, working with her, knowing more about her, the more he liked her. Did he love her?
He never loved anyone. He had a few relationships “with benefits”, but he never had such strong feelings. When he was home, alone, he felt emptiness. When he was at work, with her, he just wanted time to stop.
When he called his sister that afternoon to know how she was doing, she told him she just invited LeeAnn for dinner so, he pushed her to invite him too. He couldn’t wait until Monday morning to see LeeAnn.
Seeing her there, he just wanted to hug and kiss her.
“Ladies”, Steven said with a warm smile and kissed his wife, “Mark and I are going to make dinner while you relax and chit-chat”, gently pushing his wife away.
Once they were alone, Steven turned to look at Mark and asked, “Is everything all right?”.
“Yes, why?”, Mark asked, chopping vegetables.
“Listen”, Steven began, “I’m not generally prying, but this time I really don’t understand. When you were back from St. Jacob you could only talk about LeeAnn. Now she’s here and you are somewhere else. Did you see her tonight?”
Mark leaned against the wall in front of Steven, “It’s just-“, he rubbed his face trying to collect his thoughts.
“You’re in love”, Steven whispered. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.
Mark looked at him, eyes wide open, “What? I don’t-“
“It’s clear to me”, Steven interrupted him again, “and to your sister. If you haven’t realized that yourself, LeeAnn is hooked”
“What are you talking about?”, Mark was confused, and his heart galloped in his chest. Was that true? Was LeeAnn in love with him? “Did she say something to you?”
“No need”, Steven said grinning. Seeing his friend and brother-in-law in love, made him happy, “it’s pretty clear to me. I’m surprised you didn’t notice”.
“She’s beautiful”, Mark said more to himself than to his friend.
“No doubt. Not my type though. I like your sister more”, Steven mocked his friend.
“You better”, Mark replied.
Together they chuckled but they got interrupted.
“Guys?”, Brenda yelled from the other room, “I think we need to postpone the dinner”
“Why?”, both men asked.
LeeAnn ran into the kitchen, blushing and panting, she said, “Water broke”.
It took few seconds to register what she was talking about, then, “Oh Jesus!”, Steven yelled.
Despite Steven’s excitement, in less than ten minutes, he was ready to take his wife to the hospital, leaving Mark and LeeAnn to take care of the cleaning.
“So”, Mark started talking when Brenda and Steven were gone, a little uneasy, “Do you regret moving here or are you fine?”
“I have no regret at all”, LeeAnn declared, “In fact I can say I’ve never been happier. I talk with my mom once a week, and I already sent her some money even if she says I don’t have to. It’s just that-”, she didn’t finish her sentence.
Mark turned to look at her, beautiful with an apron on to protect her new dress.
She stopped doing what she was doing, she leaned against the counter, holding on with her hands, and said, “I don’t understand you, Mark”.
He looked at her, puzzled, “What is it?”.
“Before moving here”, she began, “I had the feeling that you liked me, that you were… interested. It’s not that I moved here for that reason, no. I moved for the job, but-“, she hesitated a moment, crossed her arms below her boobs, then, “I like you Mark, a lot, and if this is a one-way feeling, it’s ok for me, I make up my mind. I just need to know and move on”.
He looked at her, cleared his throat, and said, “First of all, if you don’t mind, I need you to uncross your arms”
“What? Why?”, she asked, not understanding.
“You’re distracting me!”, he explained.
“Oh, ok. Sorry”, she said, blushing.
“LeeAnn, I like you”, he began, “It’s more than that. I don’t know if it’s love or what, but I’m willing to try”.
LeeAnn’s mouth made an ‘O’, not expecting this kind of confession.
“The thing is”, he continued, “that I wanted to be professional. I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation. You, working with me, far from your family, it didn’t feel right to ask you out. I wanted to give you time and space. I guess I did it all wrong. Now, knowing your feelings, and as we still need to eat dinner, can I invite you out to dinner?”
“As a date?”, LeeAnn asked.
He covered the four feet separating them and got closer to her, kissed her plump lips, and whispered, “Yes, a date”, and kissed her again.
“Yes”, she said, sighing and smiling.
They went to a nice and cozy authentic Italian restaurant.
During dinner Steven texted Mark saying, “Bun still in the oven”.
After dinner they went for a walk by the river, holding hands, and talking, talking, talking.
Once they were in front of her door, she asked, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”.
They got inside and she went to prepare the coffee.
He looked around, and said, “I actually never saw this place finished. It’s nice”.
“It’s small but for me it’s enough, for now. And it’s cozy. And your sister is amazing”, she said.
He went closer to her, until his nose was in her hair. He closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of her soft red hair.
In a low, husky voice he said, “I imagined doing this since the day I first met you”,
She closed her eyes and stiffened.
Smoothing her hair on the side, he bent to kiss her neck, and then he moved his hands to her stomach.
She leaned against his chest, her lips parted, she breathed deeply, and her heart tried to punch its way out of her chest.
“You’re beautiful and your scent is fantastic”, he continued, in between kisses.
Sighing, she flattened her hands on his thighs, and arched her back, pulling out her breasts and her butt against him. Through the thin material of her dress, she felt his hard cock pressing against the low of her back.
His hands travelled on her breasts, his thumbs rubbed her nipples through the material of her dress, meanwhile he left a wet trail of open mouth love bites on the hollow between her neck and shoulder.
She turned her face to touch her lips with his.
Close to her ear, he whispered, “I want you so much I can’t think straight. You’re a mix of sweet and sexy, all wrapped up in a gorgeous package”.
Breathing became more difficult for LeeAnn, least of all talking, especially when one of Mark’s hands moved from her breasts to her waist, down to her thigh. He reached the hem of her dress and pulled it up, slowly, very slowly, to give her time to react in case he was going too forward.
Her only reaction was a moan. She then rubbed her behind against Mark’s hard cock, creating a friction that was killing him.
“Stop, please”, he groaned, “or I’m going to lose it”.
He stroked the smooth skin of her thigh, moving up.
Her legs turned into noodles and she had to hold on to him to not fall down.
Gently he pulled up her dress. She held up her arms and drop it on the floor.
“Turn”, he whispered gently.
When she turned to face him, he looked at her, head to toe. Her clear complexion, dotted with freckles here and there, her big firm breasts, wrapped in a blue laced bra, her flat stomach, her wide hips, and her mound in the middle, covered with a matching blue laced panties. Her legs weren’t too thin, but shapely, and Mark imagined being wrapped between those legs.
“Jeez, you’re so beautiful”, he said.
“You’re not so bad either”, she managed to say, giggling.
He hugged and kissed her. Stroking her back, his hands encountered the clasp of her bra. He unhooked it and slowly made the bra slid down her shoulders.
When her breasts were finally free, he admired the slightly darker pink nipples and bent to kiss one, then the other.
He fondled those beautiful full breasts, blowing against her and noticing her nipples tighten more, forming those little bumps.
Her hips began a rhythmic rocking, making him crazy.
Realizing she was holding her breath, he carefully caught her nipple with his teeth and tugged.
He was teasing her and pushing her over the edge.
While he suckled on her nipple, he also stroked her butt, squeezing each cheek over the panties first, then sliding one big hand into her panties, against her smooth skin.
He tugged her other nipple and her rocking rhythm became frantic.
“Mark, please-”, she sighed.
He ignored her and continued teasing her.
Then suddenly, surprising him, she started panting and shaking. He placed a palm between her open thighs. Against his fingers, he felt wet heat, and the more he stroked her mound, her panties got wetter.
Then she cried out, holding on Mark’s shoulders.
When she calmed a little, he caught his fingers in her panties and pulled them off.
He brushed his fingers over her hot mound, going lower until he found her slick wetness, and teased her pussy with two fingers.
LeeAnn hands, shaking, reached out to stroke his hard cock against his pants, and, still panting, whispered, “One of us is wearing way too many clothes”, pulling his shirt up, over his head.
Mark’s breathing became deeper.
She opened the snap and slowly slid down the zipper of his pants. She reached into his boxers and closed her hand around his pulsing, warm shaft.
With his forehead against her, he watched her hand stroking his cock. He felt big in her hand.
Her thumb stroked over the head of his cock, feeling the warm slippery droplets.
Choking he covered her hand with his, saying in a husky voice, “Stop or I won’t last”.
Fishing in his pocket, he pulled out two condoms, then toed off his shoes and pulled off his pants and boxers, freeing a gorgeous erection.
Looking at him she felt her nipples tightening more and hot wetness dampening the hair of her mound. She wanted that gorgeous man on top of her, and that big cock inside her pussy. She was going crazy.
He lifted her and carried her to the bed. He bent down to kiss her and helped her down in the middle of the full bed.
He joined her on the bed, bracing his weight on one arm, with the other hand he went to fondle her breast again, and bent down to kiss and tug her nipple. Teasing her nipple with his mouth, the hand moved down her side to her hips. When he reached her thigh, he moved his hand to the inner thigh. He moved his fingers around the triangle of hair, teasing her.
She wanted to tell him that this foreplay wasn’t necessary anymore, she was close to the edge. What she really wanted was to feel him inside, deeply inside her.
He growled and said, “I can’t wait any longer. Tell me you’re ready”
Her eyes heavy, she whispered, “I’ve been ready for weeks”, opening her legs wide.
Mark unwrapped the condom, rolled it on his cock, and went between her legs, He opened her pussy’s lips with his fingers and guided his cock to her entrance. He slowly glided his cock against her pussy, ensuring they were both slick, then filled her with a long, firm thrust.
She cried out, digging her fingers into his shoulders.
He groaned and for a minute stayed like that, relishing the newness and the rightness of it.
She bent her legs, pulling her knees to her chest.
He was so deep inside that LeeAnn couldn’t catch a breath, but she didn’t care.
He kissed her and began a slowly and steady rhythm.
She tightened around him, squeezing him inside her, and he groaned. She felt immediately a rush of heat and dampness, and the skin of her whole body heated and tingled, straining for release.
Mark wasn’t in so much of a hurry. He lazily kissed, stroke, and touched her, and slowly pumped inside her.
Against him, she hasted her movements to encourage him to go deeper, faster, harder.
“Easy”, he whispered against her mouth, pressing in all the way, then withdrawing until his cock was almost out, and slowly sank in again.
She was going insane. “Mark-“
“Shh, let it last”, he whispered.
She gasped, “I can’t”, an instant before her body went taut, her back arched, and she cried out when the intense sensation clenched inside her. That was the best orgasm she ever had.
Just as her climax had started to fade, LeeAnn heard a deep guttural groan. Mark drove into her hard and fast, and brought her right back there with him again.
She locked her ankles around the small of his back, her fingers behind his neck.
Their bodies became one. Their hearts became one.
In that specific moment, both Mark and LeeAnn realized that that was love.
And they both let go.
They woke up one hour later when Mark got a call from Steven, “You’re an uncle!”, he announced excitedly, “Nora Lee was born at 12:25am. Mother and daughter are both fine and asleep. Dad almost passed out”.
To celebrate the newborn, LeeAnn straddled Mark and impale herself.
Few months later, LeeAnn moved into Mark’s house.
Two years later, LeeAnn graduated and her graduation essay was published in a famous photo magazine.
Now they both work for that same magazine, travelling around the world taking pictures, and writing the story behind each photo. At the end of each trip, they send the material to the editor to be published in the following month’s issue.
This story is (c) copyright of Wise Ginger.