Shelly decided she had to escape.
Days in her small apartment had cramped her body and mind.
She shed her oversized Mickey Mouse T-shirt, shoved her heavy breasts into a sports bra, and pulled stretchy workout pants up her thighs. Grabbing her rolled-up yoga mat, she left for the roof of her apartment building.
Compared to the lightbulbs in the lamps and the light in the ceiling fan, the bright, warm sunlight was as fresh as a soak in a bubbling Jacuzzi. The sun on the roof made a nice light, but Shelly knew it was not Xanadu. Of course, it was closer to paradise than the hell her place had become.
She rolled out the pink mat on the faux grass of the patio and lowered herself into child pose. Her big toes aligned, knees spread wide, hands stretching over the edge of the mat. Reaching for the edge of sanity.
She breathed easier, and her pent-up stress melted with the heat. Her spirit centered, and life seemed better—somewhat.
With loosened hips and back, she arched into the downward-facing dog pose. Her head dangled, her legs slackened. Then she shifted into a standing forward bend, attempting to reach to her ankles but touching just below her knees. In the position only a moment, she eased her cramped kinesthesia. The pressure of work and life slid down her shoulders, pooled in her hands, and dripped off her fingers. She even felt bad energy seep from the heels of her feet into the mat.
Peace had arrived.
She smiled, a rarity lately. The sky and the sun—life, even—became sunny. The rays of heat warmed her skin, like a perfect day at the beach. All that was missing was the constant crashing waves.
However, the roof’s access door suddenly banged open, and a young woman screamed, “Fucking hell! Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
The shout knocked Shelly out of the new-found state of being, unraveling her Shanti.
Shelly straightened from her bent pose.
The shouting woman gasped when she saw Shelly. “I’m sorry! If I would have known—I’ll leave.”
“It’s fine,” Shelly conceded. She glanced around as her life returned to car horns, police sirens, and the steady thwop of helicopters overhead. The sun was hot again. Perspiration formed along her upper lip. The heat compressed in her armpits.
She dragged her hair from her face and stepped forward. “Freedom is what we all need. I know I was pent up.” She reached out her hand. “Shelly.”
“Hi. Alessandra.” Her voice was apologetic for interrupting Shelly.
Shelly liked Alessandra’s grip. Confident despite thin fingers.
“If I would have known, Shelly, that you were doing yoga out here, I would have gone somewhere else and let you be.”
“It’s … fine,” she reassured, trying to be believable.
“It’s just that—that life has me overwhelmed. Relationship break-ups, money problems, lies, disappearances.” And her shoulders rounded as she exhaled.
The woman’s frustration could not be alleviated by a single shout.
Shelly said, “Come, get on my mat. You need some yoga. I feel a lot better after only a few minutes. Or I felt better.”
“I’m up for anything.” Alessandra seemed hopeful. She slid off her white New Balance running shoes and short socks and stepped onto the squishy pink mat.
Her tank top showed her knobby shoulders and spindly arms. She had deep-brown hair that fell onto her shoulders and her chest. Alessandra stood straight and put her hair in a ponytail. Her body already started to release some of the tension that caused her outburst of frustration.
Shelly came up beside her. “Can I touch you?” she asked.
Alessandra glanced at the yogi, confused, but then smiled. “A few months ago, I would have thought it a strange question from someone who was about to put me into a yoga pose. Nowadays, it’s a regular question.”
She liked Shelly already.
Shelly continued the yoga session.
“First, the Mountain Pose. Our posture influences our breathing and our mood. Feet close. Balance yourself. Dangle your arms beside the torso. Let them try to meet the mat.”
Shelly had to shake Alessandra’s stiff arms to make them wobbly. She touched her hips to bend her at the waist. Alessandra tensed from the movement.
“I’m no yogi,” Alessandra admitted, in her stiffness. “I’m more of a ‘jogg-i’.”
The ladies smiled, which broke into a fun laughter. Their laughter closed the natural distance between the two who had met so unexpectedly.
“I can tell you’re a runner.” Shelly rubbed Alessandra’s tricep. “A nice, healthy body.”
Shelly worried she may have touched Alessandra too much. She was attempting to get some semblance of Alessandra’s confines.
Keeping her hands at bay, she directed Alessandra.
Getting no bad vibe from the runner, Shelly slid her hands down her arms and placed a palm on Alessandra’s taut stomach. Her torso tensed at the touch, then relaxed. Shelly’s large breasts, which were broiling in her sports bra, brushed against Alessandra. Alessandra’s body tensed again. At the same time, Shelly’s heart sped. She calmed herself as best as she could.
Shelly guided Alessandra into downward-facing dog. Her gray sports shorts outlined the humps of two tight cheeks of a cute butt. The thought of smacking a cheek might determine how much Alessandra was willing to be touched. However, Alessandra interrupted Shelly’s thoughts.
“All the blood is rushing to my head,” Alessandra said.
Shelly giggled. “I bet it is.”
She looked at Shelly through her arms, confused. “I’m not kidding.”
“Your head is bright, but you’ll be fine,” she said.
Alessandra peeked between her arms again to see Shelly. The yogi’s eyes still focused on her.
“To your hands and knees,” Shelly said.
Alessandra got down on the mat. “What do you want me to do next?”
“Child pose. It’s about relaxation. About channeling something peaceful.”
“That’ll be hard to find.”
“Let’s not make it more allusive than it is by our words and what we say.”
Alessandra settled into the pose, her back rounded sleekly, like a turtle although she was the hare, as a runner. The turtle though was an animal Shelly loved.
Shelly noticed Alessandra’s toes, all cute and scrunched together. They weren’t painted. Maybe as a runner she didn’t see the benefit.
Shelly shook away her gaze. She wished to settle next to Alessandra on the mat to return to her own semblance of peace. However, the mat was too narrow, and the gravelly rooftop would not allow it.
Soon, Alessandra rose a different woman. She breathed out any lingering hints of frustration and inhaled peace. The scream she had released earlier had passed. She spoke gently with eased shoulders and a brightness shining from her face.
“Thank you,” she said simply.
“I can tell you’re doing much better than earlier.”
“It’s as if I’ve had a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
“Must’ve been a bad day,” Shelly said.
“It was, yes, but not anymore.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“I feel like I owe you something nice.”
“Just seeing your smile and you feeling better is payment enough for me.”
Shelly wished she hadn’t said something so moronic or flightily philosophical.
“What are you doing for dinner tonight? There’s this wonderful diner across town that I was thinking of going to. I’d be glad if you’d come with me, assuming you have no other plans.” Alessandra gleamed at Shelly with hopeful eyes and raised cheeks.
Shelly would have gone, but she had a pressing deadline. Nothing could be pushed until tomorrow—or another day.
“I’d love to, but I can’t. I have some work due tomorrow.” Shelly frowned. “I have this model coming tomorrow early to my studio. I need to prep tonight.”
“A model and a studio?” Alessandra asked.
“I’m a photographer. The model is for a women’s wristwatch shoot.” Shelly brightened with a new thought. “How about you come to the studio with me. Maybe we can get a drink after I do the prep work.”
Each went to their apartments to clean up and change clothes. Shelly was excited when she heard the knock on her apartment door. She buttoned her blouse, leaving a tiny bit of cleavage in view for anyone to see.
She opened the door. Alessandra looked amazing as her clothes highlighted her peaceful smile. The pair headed out together.
A few blocks away, Shelly unlocked her studio and led Alessandra inside. “This is where the magic happens. Real life turns into fantasies.”
Alessandra looked around while Shelly got to her prep work. She tightened the camera on its tripod and arranged the reflector softboxes. She raised the light stands and attached the translucent umbrellas. Finally, she unrolled the white sheet that was the backdrop. All the while, Alessandra paced the room, looking at images posted on the walls.
“These are impressive. Your creativity is obvious,” she said. “How long have you been a photographer?”
“Since high school. I have always enjoyed capturing people.” Shelly adjusted the light downward toward the stand where the model would steady her arms to show off the wristwatch.
“Capturing people, huh. That’s a good way to put it. You’ve definitely ‘caught’ models.”
“I get people on the streets too. Capturing real life is so important. Things change so quickly. I only have a slim window of time to shoot what’s happening in today’s culture, in my neighborhood today.”
Shelly finished arranging things.
Alessandra turned to her.
“So, which one would I have: a model look or an ‘on the street’ look?” Alessandra rested her chin on her hands and batted her eyes humorously.
Shelly laughed. “Definitely a model.”
“I do not believe you. I am the woman on the street.”
“The one who is yelling about some ‘fucking’ thing?”
“And being insane. Yes, that’s me.”
Shelly took Alessandra’s arms and shifted them. Alessandra remained in place like she was a mannequin.
“Being a model is about mood, about looks, but, most importantly, the ability to pose as needed. That’s what experience has taught me.”
Alessandra was surprised. “Not just beauty, or being tall and skinny, but taking direction?”
“An actress who won’t listen to the director loses her job fast,” Shelly said. “You could be a model. Come here.”
Shelly clipped a gold diamond-studded watch around Alessandra’s wrist. She then arranged Alessandra’s hands in front of the camera and underneath the lights. She adjusted her spindly fingers.
“Now, just drag your finger along your forearm. Slowly, elegantly, like the diamond watch is yours and you want to make everyone jealous when seeing it.”
Alessandra did as told.
Shelly snapped a few images. And it was done. “There you go. A hand model in the making.”
They checked the pictures on the computer monitor across the studio. “These aren’t bad at all. Lengthy, lean fingers, simple colored nails, lovely Latina skin tone. Not too light, not too dark. Your hands are exquisite. Mind if I keep these pics to show my client?”
Alessandra agreed. “I’ve never thought of myself as a model.”
“Be prepared for anything.”
Alessandra looked sideways at Shelly confused by those words. Prepared for anything? A sudden surge to the top of the fashion modelling world, glossy magazine covers, glamorous clothes, an extravagant lifestyle.
“It’s early, but dinner?” Shelly asked.
Alessandra woke from her bewilderment. “Yes, yes. Dinner would be great.”
“There’s that diner a few blocks away you’ve wanted to try.”
“Always up for something new.”
The ladies ate lightly, talked and sipped several wine coolies. After signing the check and laying down the tip, Shelly said she enjoyed meeting Alessandra.
“When you opened the door to the roof, I never expected an evening out like this.” Shelly patted Alessandra’s hand.
“I never expected to be a model either.”
Shelly paused and slowly asked, “Could I convince you to be a model once more tonight? I’m always looking for new faces to offer my clients. You are definitely what clients want.”
“My face?” She touched her cheeks, as they warmed to a rosy glow. “This face?”
“Yes, that face. And the rest of you.”
“I would love to.” She giggled, “I guess I can pretend to be a fashion model from Paris.”
“I don’t have the catwalk in my studio. You saw how small it is.”
“I can think of different ways to play ‘fashion model,’” Alessandra said.
That statement confused Shelly. More so, it intrigued her. She was unsure what exactly Alessandra had in mind or how she could play with it. Nevertheless, Shelly first needed to avoid reading too much into it.
In the studio, Alessandra perused the art and photos—some that were several feet wide. One image struck her. A woman on the beach
“Shelly, who is this?”
“I was in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on the coast of the Pacific. I met Luna at a bar in town. We had a few margaritas and got to know each other. At first, we used each other to fend off men. They’re hungry sharks there. Then something sparked. The photo shoot and the award-winning picture, they came so unexpectedly—out of the blue.”
Alessandra leaned in close to study the details of the picture. “Was it the connection between you and her or was it the scene that brought about these pictures?”
“For a non-answer, it was a little bit of both. If we hadn’t been at the beach, the pictures would not have had the dramatic scenery, but a model without her form—and the fun that she conveyed—the ocean would have been a blue bathtub.”
Shelly came up beside Alessandra, having her shoulder brush against the shorter woman.
“There’s a subtle connection between the background, the model and me, the photographer,” Shelly said.
Shelly pointed out lines in the sand, and the whitecaps on the ocean.
“You have that same kind of fun that Luna had.”
“I do not. I was yelling earlier, ruining your yoga. Remember?”
“Not all photos are about fun and beaches. Really, a model needs a connection to the photographer. They work in tandem.”
“I may have the fun, but what about the beach? I don’t want to be in a bathtub.”
“A bathtub with you would not be so bad.”
Alessandra stepped away.
Shelly remained in place. She sensed a change in Alessandra. The young Latina became a shy, little girl who was in a fluster. The comment must have delighted Alessandra and put her as the center of attention.
“I hope I didn’t upset you. I don’t want to go too far,” she apologized.
“Everything’s all right.” Alessandra’s voice was tainted with uneasiness.
“We can schedule a shoot in the future, if you’d like,” Shelly offered. “That is, unless you’re still comfortable now.”
Alessandra stepped to another picture.
“Tell me about this one.”
Shelly kept a slight distance from Alessandra now, making sure she didn’t touch her.
“Skiing in Colorado.”
“She’s not Luna.”
“I have not seen Luna since the day on the beach. It’s not abnormal though. Modeling is here today, gone tomorrow. This model, Elisa—” Shelly looked deep into the oversized photo, remembering the circumstance. “She didn’t have the same vibe as Luna or as you. She was hard to work with. She thought she was doing me a favor by being there. It deadened the connection.”
Alessandra glanced at Shelly. “Would you imagine me on the beach or in the mountains?”
Shelly smiled. “You said you had an ‘on the street’ look. Maybe we should start there.”
“Wanting me at the bus stop or the bodega?” Alessandra asked.
“No, I was thinking more about standing in the middle of the street on the double yellow lines, or even—listen to this—in the center of an intersection and stopping traffic, putting all of life on hold with you at the center.”
“We’d have to call the cops first so no one would run over me,” Alessandra said with a laugh. “I mean I may not stop all life.”
“There are a hot-heads behind the wheel out there, sure. You will stop everyone though.”
“And two women together, we’d have to fend off the men, like you and Luna did in Puerto Vallarta.”
Shelly laughed and patted Alessandra’s shoulder. “Men are insatiable, even when they know the women aren’t interested.”
“Since you had a photo spot for me in mind, what would you suggest I wear in the middle of the intersection?”
“Large sneakers and a dress. A fashion style conflict.”
Alessandra was quiet, imagining herself in the street, halting traffic, forcing all life to stop.
“I have another client who has been asking for a model no one had seen before. You could be that girl.” She halted abruptly, as if rethinking her statement. “But no. That wouldn’t work.”
“No? You’re writing me off fast when I have the fun and we have the connection?”
“A connection?” Shelly eyes her suspiciously, which turned into a broad grin.
“Yeah, I feel it. Been feeling it.”
Shelly shook her head and waved off the idea of her client. “Well, I just think the shoot would go too far for you.”
Alessandra crossed her arms over her chest.
“You’re sure? You don’t know what I would do.”
Shelly played skeptical as she had obviously intrigued her new friend and potential model.
“What is so bizarre about this shoot?” Alessandra urged.
Shelly walked to the first light stand and turned off the burning-hot light. She glanced over her shoulder as she switched off the other light.
“Well?” Alessandra pressed.
Shelly clicked off the softbox umbrellas, darkening the studio. Only the light from the setting sun came through the large windows.
Finally Shelly answered Alessandra. “It’s just too much—way too much. The client has a bizarre imagination. Out there.” She spun her finger at her temple and rolled her eyes.
“Oh, yes. I have turned down some of the client’s requests for shoots because they went too far even for me.”
The two ladies were quiet.
“Now that I think of it. The client had a reasonable—mostly reasonable—request. We can ‘fashionable-ize’ it up.” Shelly paced across the studio as she thought of how to “fashionable-ize.”
“I want to do it, whatever it is. You’ve got me intrigued.” Alessandra patted her fists together, giddily, like a little girl.
“We need to catch the last bit of decent sun,” Shelly said.
Shelly opened the door of the studio’s closet. She reached in but didn’t pull out what she held. “You’re sure?”
“Yes!” Alessandra shouted.
Shelly pulled out an oversized, white fur coat.
Alessandra brightened further at the sight of the mammoth coat. She slid her arms into the coat and pirouetted, letting the coat lift to her waist.
Alessandra pulled the coat tight and snuggled her face against the softness.
“So let’s go outside. Come on. I’ll walk the street like a fashion model.”
Shelly wagged her finger. “There’s, uh, one more thing,” she said cautiously.
“The client always wants the model naked. So you’d be flashing everyone on the streets. That’s the part that kept me from offering this to you.”
Alessandra tucked a bit of dark hair behind her ear. She squinted in her pause. “Everything?”
Shelly nodded. “Everything.”
“Maybe it is too much.” Alessandra pulled an arm out of the coat. Not the other arm though. “Wait! Yes, yes, I can. I can do it. Let me go behind the sheet for a moment.”
Shelly listened to Alessandra who was out of sight. Alessandra huffed as she took off her shirt. The slap of her bra. The clomps of her running shoes on the floor. The zip of her zipper. The ruffle of her shorts as they fell. The snap of her panties against her skin.
“Put your shoes back on,” Shelly called. “I like those Pumas. White fur and gold Pumas. I like that.”
Wrapped in the giant coat, Alessandra stepped from behind the curtain, saying, “Your client likes shoes on his models? Is your client a shoe company?”
“I give the client a variety of images. I don’t ask a lot of questions.”
Shelly grabbed another camera she had, hooked a large flash to the top of it. “Let’s go before the sun leaves us in the dark.”
The two women rushed down the stairwell and onto the busy street.
Shelly gave her model some directions and pointers.
“Remember that you control the intersection. You are the centerpiece. Life revolves around you. You are the sun.” Then, Shelly pushed the white knee-length fur, with Alessandra wrapped inside, to the center of the intersection.
Alessandra sauntered out as all of the streetlights were briefly red. As Shelly said, traffic stopped. She paused when at the center point between the crossroads. She raised her chin confidently, pursed her lips.
No cars moved when the streetlight turned green. She had control of the intersection. The drivers stared at the woman like men at a strip bar.
She turned to each road as a queen thanking her servants for their servitude and determining that they knew her grand place in their world. Alessandra continued.
Toes in a gold Puma elegantly touched the iron sewer cap in the center of the intersection. A knobby knee appeared through the fur, a narrow thigh bared. But the leg pulled back, covered by the coat.
Alessandra’s long fingers tugged at the large collar of coat, spreading it slowly, intriguing the waiting drivers. She spread the coat and showed the cleavage of her breasts.
In no time, car horns were honking wildly. Even a semi-truck got in on the action, wailing its air horn in a steady rhythm.
She pulled the lapel aside to show her small, brown nipple.
The intersection became a maelstrom of horns. Those horns were not angry but excited blares, creating a tumult of sounds, which echoed between the tall buildings.
Still Alessandra kept everyone at bay for a while. She showed her breasts. When she left only her most private part hidden, the drivers demanded it be shown. She opened the coat fully and turned so everyone could see.
All the while, Shelly snapped pictures, gathering as many as she could of this new model.
As Alessandra turned, a Mercedes pushed into the box of the intersection and slid by the model. The heavily tinted window lowered, and the driver clicked an image to his smartphone for social media. Shelly nabbed images of Alessandra’s interaction with the black car. Following the Benz’s crossing, other cars moved ahead. Alessandra was still the center, but life now passed by her.
In the studio, Alessandra was on a high. She couldn’t stop talking and leaping on her tiptoes and clapping her hands. She retold her account of being the center of the world and what the Benz driver had said.
Shelly basked in her excitement too. Alessandra was the new model that the client already loved.
“Give me your number. I want to reach out about more shoots. And I’ll also have your payment tomorrow.”
They exchanged numbers and email addresses.
Shelly gave her a hug. She held Alessandra’s hands. Before letting go, she said, “You don’t know how glad I am that you were angry today.”
“Let’s talk sooner rather than later.”
“Yes, yes. I plan to. Dinner again. More jobs. A friend.”
Alessandra kissed Shelly on the cheek.
Later that night, Shelly sat in front of her bright computer monitor, the light washing the color from her face. She stared at Alessandra, zooming in on her breasts and hard nipples.
Shelly spread her legs wide and rubbed her pussy. She shifted the image to focus on the woman’s bald mound, set between her two long legs and a huge fur coat.
Studying each image, Shelly felt the familiar warmth bubble and then boil inside of her. Her fingers drove deep into her pussy. Her other hand massaged her large breasts and soon squashed the heavy flesh and tugged her nipples as her body agitated into orgasm.
When she lay tired in bed, Shelly dreamed of the next shoot with Alessandra. There were so many things Shelly wanted, so many places and outfits. And no outfits.
Would Alessandra go as far as Shelly envisioned?
She had to find out.