The photos lay on the dining table in the order she'd received them.
"I really wish you'd tell someone about those. They give me the creeps." Her roommate was the one who'd found them, tacked to their front door while Summer signed the unmodified versions for her adoring fans.
"I know. But they just don't feel threatening to me. They feel more like, I don't know, a promise of something."
These versions altered her cold celebrity smile into an ethereal picture of ecstasy. She wondered if she'd ever actually feel that kind of pleasure.
"Whatever. You coming?"
"Not yet. I want to run through my lines one more time."
She flipped the deadbolt and slid into the chair in front of the last picture. This original had been her favorite, the gold sequin gown gaping open just enough to barely reveal her breasts, her bare leg thrown out to the side. In this version his hand pulled her head back by her hair, her breasts fully revealed. Her own hand rested on her left breast and the stranger's hand cupped the right as he stood behind her in the shadows. She stared at the shadow, struggling to put features with the vision. Her hands slipped under her open robe, mimicking the photo. She closed her eyes and raised her chin toward the ceiling, imagining his hands pulling her hair back, his breath warming her forehead as he leaned over her.
She looked down toward the first photo. The original was awful, an ugly promo of today's Nude Day live taping. This version stripped away all of the quotes about how cutting edge the show was, how edgy to have a series about a strip club that could be shown on cable TV, and filled in the leftover space with a brightly lit background. The center shot still showed her leaning back against the pole, arms over her head, peering seductively into the camera. Where the show's name and cast had originally littered the bottom, a single onlooker had been placed. She saw just his back, one foot lifted and hand poised on the stage to push himself up to her. She could almost smell the liquor and sweat of a real strip club, hear the noise and cheering as he raised up to join her.
Her right hand dropped to stroke herself as she imagined him moving behind her, the pole between them, his hands running up her arms to meet her outstretched fingers. He would turn her as he lowered their hands together, pulling one pair of their intertwined hands to his growing cock, and one pair twisted behind her back to pull her closer. She shuddered as her own hands finished before her imagination did. As her breath slowed, she began to cry again. It had been so frustrating, the darling of the press, the sexiest woman on TV, star of the sexiest show ever created. Everyone wanted her but no one had ever been able to satisfy her, to interest and excite her in a way that made her face look like it did in these photos.
She glanced at the clock and sighed. Three more hours until the big pay-per-view event. The season premiere would be live. An extended audience would join the normal cast, appearing naked in celebration of National Nude Day. One really long day, then back to just teasing the audience with the promise of seeing more than they'd ever see again.
She could hear Boris on the bullhorn before she reached the studio door.
"...and if we catch you crossing that black line, you are out, no second chances. This is live and I won't have anyone closer than they have clearance to be..."
"Where have you been? Boris is freaking out!" Her assistant was on her immediately, grabbing her bags with one hand and her arm with the other as she dragged her into a makeup chair. Summer had to smack the woman's hand away to keep her coffee.
"Yeah. He sounds like he's really worried about me."
Boris was always worried about everything. To be fair, it was actually his job as the director to make sure everything worked, and the show was a massive success, so it was hard to blame him for the constant screaming.
A tall redhead plopped into the chair next to her and started dragging a straightening iron through her long hair. Summer had always admired Shawna's natural coloring. Her own dishwater blonde hair took constant maintenance and long hours in the colorist's chair.
Summer greeted her with "Hey beautiful. How are the extras?"
"Better than ever. The older I get, the younger they taste." Shawna had a thing for the extras, actors that came and went so quickly that she didn't have to pretend to want them around too long. "Your favorite is here too. The one from last season's finale. You know. The kisser."
Summer's stomach fluttered. "Really? Are you sure it's him?"
"Oh yeah. You can't mistake those ice-clear blue eyes. It's definitely him."
It had been a really short scene, perfectly forgettable, a quick kiss in a bar as a dare from the other girls. A scene designed just to make her character's boyfriend jealous. He'd surprised her though. Some no-name actor who'd turned a bit part into such a hot kiss that they'd had to cut the scene to pry her away from him. A bit embarrassing, but luckily he'd disappeared and she hadn't had to face him.
"Is he cleared for the stage, or just in the back crowd?"
"Oh he's cleared. Front and center. Should we keep the hose handy?"
Summer blushed and the make-up woman giggled. Shawna smiled and patted her on the knee. "Don't worry honey. It was just as hot for the rest of us as it was for you. Maybe this time he won't run away so fast!"
Her make-up and hair finished, Summer stood and walked to the rack, paging through costumes to the sheer white top, blue vinyl mini-skirt, and blue boa she'd been fitted for. She could barely remember his face except for those clear blue eyes. He'd stared at her as he pulled her in slowly, his breath warming her lips for just a moment before he kissed her firmly, still staring into her eyes. She remembered gasping for air after they'd called "cut", having forgotten to breathe while he'd had her mesmerized. As she strapped on her stacked heels, she gasped again.
Perhaps this time, there'd be more than a kiss.
Boris ran to the stage as soon as the scene ended. "We have a problem Summer. The actor for this next scene didn't show. There's an extra that knows the scene though. Just go with it." He ran back to the camera for final adjustments.
She tried to see the replacement but couldn't shake the make-up woman desperately dabbing at her face. After an hour under heavy stage lights, all Summer really wanted was a cold beer and a pair of sweats, not another coating of foundation.
"Places people. We're back in 10, 9..."
She leaned back against the pole and raised her arms above her head again, forcing herself back into character. Shawna mirrored her position on the opposite side of the stage. The cleared extras sat at the tables closest to the stage, the less lucky at the tables ringing the outside of the club set. She started to sway as the music came up and the smoke machines began pulsing atmosphere back in.
The club owner gripped the microphone and continued to interview audience members. "How about you? What are you willing to bare for National Nude Day? Would you like to dance with our beautiful girls and show us your holiday spirit?" After two more embarrassed patrons, he made his way to the table just in front of Summer.
"I'm willing to bare it all!"
"We have a winner! Go ahead man. Get up there and show us what you've got!"
Shawna spun around the pole just in time to see the man stand and pull his shirt off. He put a foot up on the stage and placed a hand alongside to push himself up. Shawna froze at the déjà vu. The pose was exactly like the first picture, the altered version. She instinctively put the pole between them, giving herself a moment to see him, to judge him.
He approached cautiously, kicking his shoes off behind him. His eyes never left hers as he walked behind her, covering her raised hands with one hand and placing the other on the back of her waist. She hugged the pole and spun to the opposite side, her back now to the audience.
"It's you, isn't it."
He reached around her waist and pulled her close into him, with the cold pole between them.
Boris barked through her earpiece, "What are you doing Summer? That's not the way this goes."
He reached up and pulled her earpiece, tossing it off the stage with his discarded shoes. "Yes, it's me. And I'm the only one you need to hear."
She heard them scrambling to move cameras and tried to feel guilty for not following the script. But she couldn't feel anything but anticipation.
"Did you like my presents?"
"The pictures? They were exquisite. But how did you?"
"That's not important. Foreplay's always more exciting when you don't know exactly what's happening or what's coming next, don't you think?."
He turned her so that her back was to him, reaching around to squeeze her breast. He spun her back to face him, untying the top and pushing it off her shoulders to the floor as he forced another firm kiss. She pulled away enough to slide down his body, pausing to unzip his pants so that she could pull them off as she slipped further to the floor. After pushing his pants off the stage, she tossed a seductive smile back up to him and spun on her heels to face the audience. She slid slowly back up his body, his hard cock leaving a sticky wet trail along her spine. As she pushed back into his chest, he ripped off the skimpy bra leaving her breasts exposed to the audience. He pushed her into the pole, reaching around and tugging her nipples forward, then cupping her breasts to surround the pole.
She leaned back to whisper in his ear. "There's something much more exciting to put between those you know."
He nuzzled against her neck, his whisper buzzing through her throat. "Not this time. This time is for you."
He worked his way down her back this time, nipping and licking as he went. He paused just momentarily to tickle the band of her flimsy skirt with his tongue, hooking his fingers as he continued down, leaving her in only the tiny g-string. Kneeling at her feet he spun her back around and began the journey back up her body, his hands leading the way. As he nibbled inside her thigh, his fingers went under the g-string, probing and stroking. He inched his way upward to revel in her taste. He was careful to turn her away from the camera, knowing they would stop them if the audience could see what he was really doing. He moved onward only as her knees threatened to buckle.
As he straightened to meet her, he stole a hungry kiss then pulled her hair backwards to suck and lick her neck as he forced his fingers back into her, his thumb massaging her outside. As Boris called "cut", she ground harder against his hand, their eyes locked together. The crowd froze silently as she whimpered and twisted under his grasp, until she shuddered at the welcome release. She struggled to catch her breath as she collapsed against his bare chest.
He lifted her chin to kiss her softly, promising "Next time is for me."
Her assistant handed her an 8x10 manila envelope.
"I found this on your chair after you left. I figured it might be important."
Summer turned the envelope over, no writing or marks on either side.
Boris's after-party speech was really starting to ramble. "This is by far the most successful pay-per-view event in the history of this network. So much so that we've decided to end the season the same way, in New Orleans!" The crowd applauded their approval, the cast murmuring excitedly.
Summer turned her back to the crowd, peeling the envelope open. She peeked inside and inched the photo up, careful to block anyone's view. It was exquisite. The two of them dancing naked except for elaborate masks, amidst a crowd of dancers dressed in old-fashioned ballroom dresses and suits.
She turned back to the front as Boris unveiled the matching poster, identical except for the promo wording and their two bodies comfortably garbed in the same flowing clothes as the other dancers. "And here it is, the first promotional photo for the season finale, Masquerade Ball!"
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