She strolled into my studio on a Friday afternoon without an appointment, and I knew she was somehow different from the others. I've photographed hundreds of men and women, most of them professional models, but also actors, musicians, and athletes. All were beautiful in their own way. Some wore their beauty like a mask hiding whatever lay beneath, others wore a disguise concealing their inner beauty, but it was always there, whether displayed openly or veiled beneath the layers of life. My job was to reveal that beauty, capture it on film so others could view what I see.
There was no obscuring her beauty. Raw sensuality poured off of her in waves, overpowering in its intensity, eating directly through my professionalism, instantly arousing me. One look at her and I felt as if I would do anything she asked. I couldn't understand it. There was something about her, something beyond the perfection of her features, the flawless curves of her picture perfect form. Something in her eyes, in her movements; she exuded pure lust from her very pores, pheromones or something less tangible stirring me in ways no client has ever done in over a decade of photography.
I was speechless. Pauline, my assistant, rushed forward to meet the patron, tripping over herself to be of service. I nearly bolted into my office and collapsed in my chair. Out of her sight, beyond the range of whatever power she possessed, I relaxed. Images of her floated through my mind; arousal bloomed within me. I was shocked as I felt my panties dampen. I am a heterosexual woman, and though I can see and appreciate the beauty of the female form, I am never aroused by it. Today I was, and it made me uneasy.
I dropped two ice cubes in a tumbler and drowned them in scotch, an indulgence I picked up from my ex-husband. He loved his scotch, claimed it helped him to relax after a long day at the office. I hated it the first time I tried it, but eventually grew to appreciate the warmth melting against my tongue, the rich flavor, the thick heat stinging as I swallowed it. If ever I needed to relax, today was the day. What was it about that woman that had so captured me? Where was my practiced distance?
I downed the entire tumbler in three gulps, and poured another. I drank this one slowly, sipping it as I thought about the woman who had entered my reception area unannounced. I had nothing scheduled this afternoon and had planned to leave early. I didn't have any definite plans, but it had been a long week shooting models for an upstart lingerie company's new catalog. Next Tuesday I'd be on a plane for a location shoot in Aruba, swimsuits and summer wear, which was scheduled for five days.
As much as I had been looking forward to starting a long, relaxing weekend, I knew I had to photograph her. To capture even a portion of her exquisiteness on film, to depict even a hint of her magnificence would be a reward in and of itself. My mind raced through poses, outfits, props, and sets, hurtling from one vision to another like a hummingbird from one flower to the next, the transition nearly unseen until I had arrived at another freeze frame in my minds eye.
I had to see her again. Crossing my office, I pulled a slit in the blinds with one finger giving me a view of the reception area. She was still there, in all her shining glory. The first glimpse through the blinds shot a sensation through my body like a tongue on my nipple. I wanted her, wanted to see her stunning body nude before me, to touch her, caress her, kiss her everywhere, feel her hands and mouth upon me. I tried to put my finger on what it was about her that stirred me so as I drank in the sight of her.
Her legs seemed to climb further than her waist, long and lean without any serious muscle tone, but with perfect curves at the ankle, calf, and thigh. Her round hips narrowed to a tiny waist, then gradually back out as my eyes traveled up her form. A perfectly flat stomach with the slightest hint of abdominals rose to the swell of her ribcage. Her breasts were high and pert, their shape and sway giving no hint of plastic surgery. Her arms showed no more muscle tone than her legs, but were perfectly shaped, as if she somehow didn't require the aerobics or weights through which most of us have to suffer to look half as good. Her long neck curved delicately up to a face that could quite literally launch a thousand ships; everything about her screamed 'goddess' to me except her style of dress.
She wore a black micro mini skirt that rode low on her hips and barely covered her. A small, white camisole looked like nothing more than a piece of fabric held to her front by two ties, one across her back and one around her neck. Her white boots were tight around her calves all the way up to her knee, with a heel that had to be at least five inches. She had a tight black choker around her neck, a white stone of some sort dangling from it in the hollow of her throat.
She seemed to wear no makeup, and my instant thought was that no man-made product could enhance her beauty. Her chocolate tresses hung in loose, natural curls around her face and down her back. I was enchanted, awestruck. I hadn't felt this way since...
I thought hard about that. I don't think I've ever felt this way. My heart was racing just looking at her through the narrow opening in the blinds, my pulse beating in my ears as if I'd been engaged in hours of foreplay and was on the verge of orgasm. This was utterly unbelievable. Never had any man or woman caused this kind of reaction in me by their mere presence. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that nothing any man or woman could do to me could ever make me feel this way.
She suddenly looked directly at me through the triangular gap in the blinds, and our eyes met. Her eyes blazed with emerald light, a dazzling and intense green the likes of which I'd never seen before. I wanted to look away, but I could not. I felt a spasm rock through my body, internal muscles contracting, a tightening between my thighs, a warm rush of something like... Dear God! I was having and orgasm!
It rocked through my body, waves undulating throughout my entire being. My mouth hung open, I heard myself gasp as my breath caught in my throat. My entire body was on fire, every nerve alive and apparently subject to the slightest look from this enigmatic woman before me. Finally, I broke eye contact by letting the blind snap shut as I pulled my finger out and clenched my fist, but not before catching a glimpse of the mysterious smile that played about her lips as her face disappeared from view.
I took two staggering steps back and crashed against the credenza, one hand on my forehead. I pushed the glass of scotch onto the credenza, but missed. It crashed to the floor, shattering into a hundred glittering fragments. I didn't, couldn't do anything about it. I was consumed, mind and body still trying to recover from the wonderful, staggering orgasm I had just experienced.
There was a light tapping at the door to my office and then Pauline poked her head in, her brunette bob wagging on either side of her face.
"Lia?" Pauline seemed flustered. "Everything ok?"
I gripped the edge of the credenza and willed my body to calm. "Fine, fine," I couldn't meet her eyes, certain that she would know exactly what had just happened to me. "Just dropped my glass."
"Scotch?" She shook her head like a mother disappointed in a child. "It's barely noon and you're hitting the hard stuff?"
"I was planning on heading home early," I knew it was a bad excuse. I rarely drink at work, generally saving my single bottle for those sessions with egotistical, womanizing, or extremely annoying celebrities whose grating personalities I am forced to endure.
"Can you make time for a quick shoot?" The tone in Pauline's voice told me she was already expecting my negative response.
"Who is she?" I wanted to say no, but I needed to know who this woman was, what was her story.
"Her name's Amara," Pauline looked at me, waiting. She knew me too well.
I have a thing about names. For some reason, I can remember name meanings, origins, famous people who have the same name, everything and anything about a given name. I place a lot of value on those meanings. My fascination with names and their meanings started with my own name, which I've hated since I was old enough to realize that it made me different.
Everyone calls me Lia, but my given name is Odilia. It means 'sight,' and was the name of an eighth century nun who was born blind but gained sight upon being baptized. I never knew why my parents chose it, but it cursed me all through public school. When I started researching names, I still couldn't figure it out. But now, after having made a name for myself as a photographer, I suppose it makes sense.
Another great example of a perfect name for a person is Pauline. It's Latin in origin, a variation of Paula, which means 'small,' and she is a tiny woman. It fits. So does the name of the woman waiting outside my office: Amara. It fits her like a second skin, and I find myself rolling the name around in my mind as I would with a lover, running through my thoughts like a gentle caress. Amara.
"Well?" Pauline interrupted my reverie; she knew where my mind had gone, and wanted the meaning.
"It means 'eternal or undying beauty.'" I didn't elaborate.
"Whew. That's fitting alright." Pauline's eyebrows raised. "Should I tell her you're busy?"
I wanted her to leave. I wanted both of them to leave, go away, let me recover my professional nonchalance. But I couldn't let her just traipse out of here without getting another heart-stopping look at her, and I knew if I looked at her I'd agree to photograph her. She was a dream come true to anyone whose art is capturing the human form, the perfect subject matter; even a first-time amateur could take fantastic shots of her. It would be hard not to, with such a stunning subject.
"What does she want?" I was stalling; I should have just told Pauline to see her out so I could return to my normal, tranquil life, but I couldn't resist the pull of that face, that body.
"Erotic layout. Says she heard you were the best." Pauline grinned. She knew I hated it when strangers showed up looking for erotic photos. The subject matter often left much to be desired.
"I just need to change quick." My panties were soaked, and it had to be showing through my jeans. "Show her into the studio; I'll see her there."
"You're the boss." Pauline flashed a quick smile and disappeared behind the closing door.
I looked down, but couldn't see a trace of anything on my jeans. I felt like I'd been dropped in a dunking booth by a pre-pubescent little leaguer, but it wasn't showing. I still needed to change.
I almost always keep a duffel bag in my office with a change of clothes. The trouble was, I had brought it home last week full of chalk-smeared t-shirts and jeans from a very messy shoot and hadn't brought it back yet. I checked the back of the door to the private bathroom. There was a dress hanging there, I was saved.
Of course, it was the proverbial little black dress. I had left it there in the hope that there would be an invitation to dinner after shooting portraits of a favorite entertainer who claimed to be a fan. Unfortunately the evening didn't go as I anticipated and the invitation never came through. His agent had him running around like a dog on a leash. I searched through the cubby holes hoping to find some shoes that might match and came up with a pair of strappy black sandals with a four inch heel; not the ideal shoe to wear while working, but at least I'd match.
I stripped down in the tiny bathroom and washed quickly in the sink; again not exactly the epitome of class, but it got the job done. I toweled off quickly, slid into the dress, and strapped on the sandals. I twisted my hair into a bun with two lacquered wooden sticks, a skill of which Pauline seemed incapable no matter how many times I demonstrated it. I fixed my makeup as quick as possible, eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss, then checked myself in the full length mirror. God, I looked like I was going out on the town, not to work, but I had nothing else to wear.
I didn't want to keep Amara waiting, but I felt strange heading out there like this, as if I had changed to try to impress or seduce her. I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I hesitated, trying to determine the best course of action. I always felt sexier in my little black dress, but professional was what I needed, not sexy. I finally decided to just go talk to her, outfit be damned.**
The studio lights were on, though I swore I'd turned them off. Amara stood in middle of my studio, a silken white robe hanging open over her petite frame, its sleek smoothness pointing out at the tips of her breasts, hanging in shimmering folds down her body, exposing a wide swath of tanned skin from her neck to the top of her lacy g-string. She still wore the knee-high white boots but had removed all the rest of her clothing except her panties beneath the robe. Her chocolate hair cascaded over her shoulders, covering half of her face, masking one eye. She gave me the look. In all my years as a photographer, I've never understood how every woman knows how to give the look. It smolders in her eyes, pouts out her lips, shadows her face, sends out a message to the soul of any who behold her.
Her look seared a hole in my brain, more potent than any other woman in history; there was something mystical about her sexuality, almost as if she personally embodied sex in its purest form. It touched me, warmed me, made desire blossom within me, and rendered me helpless before her; it awakened feelings in me for her: desire, yearning, craving. I wanted her then, wanted to touch her, kiss her, taste her skin, feel her touch, pleasure her, feel her tongue between my legs. I wanted nothing more at that moment than to be with her in the most intimate way possible, naked and writhing, bodies entwined, exploring each other, caressing, loving.
As an artist, a professional, I could not be distracted from my work, and no matter how strong the pull of lust, I wanted, no needed, to capture her on film. The thoughts entered my mind unbidden, the longing for her touch moved within me, pushing my rational aside until all I could do was to lift a camera from the table, press the button and focus on the click of the shutter.
She posed. I pressed the shutter release. Click. She moved, flowing from one pose to another, graceful, beautiful. Click. Click. Her body was everything men define as desirable. Click. Her arms rose over her head, the robe rose with them, more skin was bared, her breasts almost exposed. Click. Her hands moved over her body, more erotic than anything else I'd ever seen. Click. It was as if her very touch was masturbation, every time her hands moved over her own body she moaned as if in the midst of making love. Click.
I was in a frenzy, desire and the need to capture her on film warring within me. I wanted her touch so badly, but my mind allowed me no closer than through the lens. Click. She let the robe fall from her shoulders, hugging it around her like a shawl. Click. I moved closer, bent down to get the right angle, my hands and eye working in tandem at the vocation I had chosen. Click. She let the robe fall from her body. Click. It crumpled on the floor at her feet, a pool of silky smoothness that looked like granite compared to the softness of her skin. Click.
I felt my legs shaking, so strong was my arousal, but I continued snapping pictures. She somehow knew exactly how to pose, what look to direct at me, where I would be next, as if she had some sort of precognition that allowed her to anticipate my movements. I was out of film. I rewound and popped out the empty cartridge, and then loaded another roll of film.
When I turned around she was lying on the table that was still setup from my last shoot. Four chairs surrounded it, and she lay upon it like a feast ready to be eaten. I moved to the foot of the table, stood between her outstretched legs and shot up her body, capturing the perfection of her face, the bedroom eyes that gazed at my with casual lust. I bent to the left, then to the right, snapping pictures madly. I could feel my dress hiking up my thighs from the acrobatics of finding the right position for the camera, but I couldn't bring myself to care.
In my mind, I was still at the foot of the table, I was climbing onto the table, sliding along that perfect body, feeling the warmth and softness of her beneath me. I snapped pictures of her there, rolling around on the table, posing for me, but through it all I saw myself straddling her, lowering my mouth for a kiss, long, tender, passionate, the kind of kiss everyone dreams about giving or receiving. I continued snapping shots, feeling myself grow wetter, my panties now soaked as the vision in my head played out like a scene in some x-rated movie.
I saw myself atop her, kissing along her body, my lips on those perfect breasts, circling her nipples, delighting in the pleasure I was giving her. I watched as I moved further down her body, my tongue finally moving between her legs, her panties pulled aside and my mouth buried there, her arms thrown above her head in reckless abandon, her eyes shut tight, mouth open, whimpering, moaning, sighing with pleasure. I kept snapping pictures of her as she writhed on the tabletop; I couldn't stop.
In my vision, I sat up and she pulled my dress off over my head, her hands were on my bare skin, her tongue working across my breasts. I started, the camera dropping to my side. I felt that. I actually felt a tongue on my breasts. She licked my nipples and I felt that as well. It was as if my fantasy were happening from across the room. The camera hung forgotten by my side.
She paused, turned and glared at me. I felt a stab of something vile and unclean lance through me, as if someone had run me through with a rapier and at the same time welled all my guilt and shame in the same wound. She looked at the camera, then back at my eyes. I understood her message, but the delivery left me shaken.
I lifted the camera to my eyes and continued shooting, and through the viewfinder there I was on the table with her, our bodies entwined, her atop me now, her hands all over my body. I could still feel her touch on my body as if I were in two places at the same time. She bent her head between my legs and the faintest tickle of her touch lighted upon my inner thigh, then on my other thigh, upward, closer and closer until I felt her on my lips, my clitoris, her lips and tongue caressing my secret places, teasing and taunting the reactions from me.
I tried to keep shooting, but my body would not react as I wanted it to, her attentions were driving me wild, pushing me to the brink of orgasm, them backing off, keeping my engine running, never giving me release. I kept shooting; by now I was on my fourth roll of film, the pictures coming fast and furious, not even consciously aware of what I was capturing, just letting nature and my artistic instinct take control.
When she finally let my phantom self orgasm, it rolled over and over my body like storm waves pounding me into nothingness, erasing the distinctions that made me an individual and leaving me in a realm of pure pleasure, of eternal orgasmic bliss, erotic fulfillment of the highest order, orgasm after orgasm rocking my body until I couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't breathe, could only hold on and let the ride take me where it would.
It could have been hours later, possibly days. I returned from a daze to find myself lying naked on the table in my studio, my camera resting at the head of the table. I sat up slowly, my mind fogged as if waking from a dream. My entire body ached as if I'd run a marathon or lifted weights far exceeding my limits. I looked around, but the studio was empty. A white silken robe lay pooled on the floor.**
When I developed the pictures of Amara, they were perfect: sensual, sexy, playful, everything I wanted them to be. When I got to the roll when I had imagined myself on the table with her, I couldn't believe my eyes. I was in the pictures. Amara and I lay entwined on the table, two nude bodies pressed together, pleasing each other, touching and feeling, everything. Everything was on those pictures, including the mind-blowing orgasm, when my world imploded into nothing but sensation. At the end of the last roll was a series of pictures of me, asleep on the table.
They were obviously the work of an amateur; all were off in some small way, all except one. There is one picture of just my face and shoulders, sleeping on my side on the table, where I look more peaceful and serene than I can ever remember feeling. Something about that photo calms me.
I never saw Amara again.
The negatives and prints are locked in my safe. I enlarged the one photograph of my face to and eight by ten. It is framed and hangs in my office. It is a reminder, a souvenir.
I look at it every day.