Keep it together, keep it together.
I kept repeating this mantra as I adjusted my equipment – my photographic equipment, that is – and got everything ready for the shoot.
Marcus had come early so that we could discuss exactly what I wanted to do with him. Well, in an artistic sense, that is. I couldn’t tell him what I really wanted to do with him.
“Something very manly, I think,” I said, adjusting my glasses as I tried not to look at the way he filled out the dark jeans he wore. I cleared my throat. “Um, what kind of underwear do you have on?”
“Pardon?” He said, looking up from where he was putting his wallet and keys away in his backpack.
“Sorry, I mean, are they in good shape? Not ratty at the top?”
He laughed. “Well, no. I just got them.”
I blushed. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. It’s just, if we can maybe have your jeans riding low and the top band of your underwear showing, I think it would be … great.”
He met my gaze. “You didn’t embarrass me. And that sounds fine.”
Then again, I don’t think anyone would care if his undies were ratty at the top.
“Okay,” I said, trying to break eye contact but not succeeding. My traitorous body responded even more to his presence in my studio. “I think, uh, carpentry maybe. I’ve got the props and, uh, there’s nothing like a man that knows how to handle … wood.”
Oh my God.
Marcus laughed. “I suppose that’s true. I take it you want my shirt off?”
I nodded, maybe a little too vigorously. “Yes. Yes, definitely. Off. The shirt. Yes.”
“Only, I should probably look sweaty, right?”
“Right! Yes, of course. I’ll get the spray bottle,” I said, making a beeline for the nearby kitchen. Where was the damn plant mister when I needed it? Ah, on the fridge. I grabbed it and filled it with lukewarm water from the tap.
When I got back in the room, Marcus had set up the props – a two-by-four and a tape measure – on the sawhorse that I’d already dragged into the middle of the floor. He’d taken off his shirt and adjusted his jeans the way I’d wanted him to.
I had a visceral reaction and squeezed the trigger on the mister, quite unintentionally.
He smiled. “Whoops. I’ll need to come closer if that’s going to work.”
Keep it together. Keep it together. He stood very close to me while I sprayed him with a fine mist of water, all over his chest, abs and neck.
“Here, do my face,” he said, closing his eyes while I got his face a bit wet and braved a lingering glance down his body. He shook the damp hair off his forehead. “Ah, that’s refreshing!”
“Okay, that should be good,” I squeaked, trying to breathe normally as he walked back to the props. I went over to my tripod and peeked through the camera.
He picked up the saw and pretended to be hard at work. I tried not to get distracted by his bulging arm muscles.
“Wait, it still needs something,” I said, but not really sure what was missing.
He glanced around and picked up a thick carpenter’s pencil. Looking directly at the camera (me) he slowly put it between his teeth.
“Oh yes,” I said, breathless. “That’s…that’s…perfect.”
He grinned around the pencil, then looked down at his wood, holding the saw at an appropriate angle. Then the grin was gone and he affected a look of genuine concentration as he pretended to work.
After a few seconds of staring and imagining what it would be like to be the object of that look, I remembered to start shooting.
“That’s wonderful, yes, that’s perfect, just like that, OH, YES!” I shouted by mistake as he used the back of his large hand to wipe some moisture from his forehead.
He looked up, surprised and, dare I say, amused? “You okay?”
I coughed as the blood rushed to my face and other areas. “Yes. Fine. I’m so sorry. I, uh, sometimes get very passionate about my work.”
He smiled, looking me over. “I can appreciate passion.”
Oh dear Lord. Did he mean? Could he mean? I stared at him, frozen and not daring to breath. “Uh, good?”
“I love that you think I’m so hot.”
“I do? I mean, you do? I mean, is it obvious?” Of course it was obvious, you moron.
He laughed. “Well, yeah. But that’s okay. Want to go for a drink after?”
He was asking me out?
“Are you asking me out?”
“Yes. Only because it would be a little inappropriate to lay you down and lick you all over without some sort of romantic prelude.”
Be still my heart. I think I love you.
“Okay?” I looked down, blushing even more but so thrilled that he wanted the same thing I wanted. Miraculously. “Uh, can you bring the pencil?”
He stared at me, then burst out laughing. “I suppose. But not the saw. That might be dangerous.”