A/N: This is the original one-shot written for the Tattward and Inkella contest, where it placed 5th. The story was always intended to be so much more than just a one-shot, and we are pleased to say that we are nearly ready to begin publishing the chapters! We have a nice backlog and plan to update on Sunday mornings for the most part.
We hope to publish the first chapter on Sunday, October 25. In the meantime, please enjoy the one-shot and get ready to enter the world of the Markedboys! We hope you all will love them as much as we do – because, quite frankly, they own us.
The cheese bubbled in the skillet, browning around the edges as I waited for the rest of it to melt. Just as it reached perfection, I folded the tortilla in half and let it cook for a little longer before I turned off the stove and slid the quesadilla onto the platter with the others. Using a pizza cutter, I sliced them into triangles, glancing at the clock hanging on my kitchen wall.
I frowned and ran my fingers through my hair, taking a deep breath as I realized I still had about fifteen minutes before he would arrive. I didn't know why I was so nervous. He was just a guy I met at the tattoo parlor. Just a guy with a few tattoos and piercings. Just a guy I was going to take some pictures of for my book.
Just a fucking beautiful man whose perfect lips and intense sky blue eyes had been haunting my mind for the past two weeks.
Impossible, I reminded myself.
I picked up the platter, slipping it into the warming drawer before I leaned back against the counter and crossed my arms over my chest, thinking back to that Friday night a couple of weeks ago when I'd first caught sight of him.
I was just telling Billy good-bye, thanking him for letting me ask some of his customers about posing for the book I was writing. Billy's smile revealed his even white teeth, brilliant against his russet skin. A leather band held a ponytail at the base of his neck, and the ink covering his body matched the matte black of his hair.
"I really appreciate it, man," I said, reaching out to shake his hand.
"Sure, sure," he agreed easily. "Least I can do since you keep coming back for more." He grinned and winked. I barely heard him, though, as a tiny bell rang, drawing my eyes to the front of the shop. Through the glass door walked a tall, trim man dressed in a blue button down shirt with a tie over charcoal dress pants. It was a common enough outfit, but I never could resist a handsome man who dressed well, and I found myself studying him thoughtfully. He looked like some sort of businessman, clean-cut and likely boring, but his wavy blond hair was too long to fit that image, some of it falling forward to frame a face made gorgeous by chiseled cheekbones and pouty lips. My own lips pursed as I took in his light blue eyes, and I let my gaze wander, trying to see if this straight-laced man had a more daring side he kept hidden. Unfortunately, he was largely covered, and I found nothing to reveal why he might be in a tattoo parlor.
"Jasper!" Billy's gruff voice prompted the newcomer's lips to curve into a half-smile as he walked right over to us, granting my wish for a closer look.
"Hey Billy," he drawled with a faint Southern accent. "Hope I'm not interrupting…" His eyes flashed to me as Billy assured him he'd been expecting him and then introduced the two of us before disappearing into the back to get Jasper's design.
Left alone, we shook hands, holding on a bit too long as we appraised each other. His grip was strong, and I smirked as we finally let go, saying, "So what sort of work are you having done, Jasper?"
His lips twitched when I said his name, making me realize just how perfect they were.
I shook my head, muttering as I tried to shake away the memories as well. Without a conscious decision, I walked to the parlor grand piano in my sitting room, where I lifted the cover and ran my fingers over the keys, the sounds already working to soothe my nerves. Releasing a small sigh, I sat and closed my eyes, humming softly as I began playing a piece I'd been toying with for awhile. I tried to concentrate as I moved into the bridge, but those damn lips kept smirking at me, and my thoughts lingered stubbornly on the night I met Jasper.
"Just having a knot done on my inner bicep…" he shrugged as he unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt. The thought of this man who dressed so conservatively harboring hidden ink was undoubtedly appealing, and it just fed into my secret-dark-side fantasies. Always had a fucking weakness for those. "You have any?"
"Hmm?" I asked as he caught me off-guard.
"Tattoos." Jasper grinned. "Do you have any?"
I smirked and gestured toward the one stretching to my elbow. "Yeah, six…is this your first?"
Jasper's cheeks were lightly flushed as he chuckled and began loosening his tie, and I thought about reaching out to help him with that. Instead, I sat back on top of the half-wall, resting my hands beside my hips and enjoying the view as I idly played with my tongue ring. He told me he had one tattoo on his chest and another on his back. When I asked what they were, he laughed outright and said, "Wait just a minute, and you can see for yourself."
I watched impassively as he unbuttoned his shirt, but when he tossed it to the wall beside me, a delicious fragrance wafted over – slightly sweet, just a little tangy with a hint of citrus, and…something…some undertone I couldn't place but that smelled very familiar. The mystery ingredient was forgotten when I glanced back at Jasper and caught sight of the dark shadow of a tattoo across his chest as well as the outline of nipple rings through his thin undershirt.
My fingers faltered on the keys, and the discordant sound brought the room into focus again, helping to drive away the memories of how I'd suddenly felt the tightening of my loose jeans. I met a lot of good-looking men, but there was something about Jasper…something that struck me even then. I stopped playing for a moment, flexing my fingers before I tried again. I knew it was useless – my thoughts were going to go straight back to where they had been stubbornly drifting the past two weeks. I gave up, remembering as I played.
The black ink of the tattoo was dark, a moonless midnight against the fairer skin of his chest. I looked closer, catching that tantalizing scent again. The design was abstract, a mix of thick curves and angles. The only parts I could be sure of were a wing and what must be a head. "So what is it?"
"A phoenix." His reticent voice was completely at odds with the relaxed, almost playful manner he'd shown until then.
It piqued my curiosity, but I wasn't about to push this man I'd just met on something as personal as his ink. I knew all of mine had meaning. I straightened, taking a step back as he turned around to let me see the tattoo on his back. At first, I thought it was a pair of unusual wings spread across his shoulder blades, but then I realized that the design was more abstract - a series of chaotic swirls that somehow blended together into a perfect, ordered image.
"I've never seen anything like this…" I murmured.
His shoulders shook as he chuckled. "It's a fractal."
"Look closer…" he invited, and I stepped toward him and lowered my head, my face inches from the smooth, fragrant skin of his back. "The image keeps repeating itself…see? With a real fractal, you can never reach the end…it just keeps going."
I studied the design and saw what he meant, vaguely listening as he talked about math and computer science, about equations generating fractals and how they were found in nature. He found them fascinating…and I was finding my first exposure to a fractal fucking arousing as the sight and smell and sound of him surrounded me.
"Plus, they can look pretty badass," he finished with a smirk in his voice.
I reached out, touching the dark ink lightly as I breathed, "Beautiful." Instantly, I wasn't sure if I meant the design…or Jasper. He shivered and turned slowly around, our eyes meeting.
Billy returned then, breaking our gaze as he apologized. "Sorry about that. Jake moved my shit again…boy should know better than to touch my stuff." He kept up a running stream of complaints about his son as he began to work on Jasper, moving in between us with apparently no awareness that he'd just interrupted…something. I was frustrated – I wanted to know what would've happened.
"You watching this one, Edward?" Billy said abruptly, and I realized I hadn't asked yet.
I felt an unfamiliar heat on my cheeks as my eyes met Jasper's again. "Do you mind?"
He shrugged with a grin, his eyes guarded now. "Nah, doesn't bother me."
I realized I'd stopped playing and was staring ahead, lost in thought. I ran my fingers through my hair irritably, pulling lightly as I tried to remind myself that Jasper out of reach. I'd been imagining shit. Had to be. The phone call at the end of the night had assured me of that.
I sighed and took a deep breath, closing my eyes as I forced my fingers to move along the keyboard. The song was darker than intended, angry, as I remembered the way we'd talked and laughed throughout Jasper's tattoo – flirting, I'd thought. We'd discussed so many things from favorite movie quotes to the book I was writing. He'd asked countless questions about it and even agreed to pose for me, and I'd been encouraged by the way his eyes roamed my body as he listened with interest to everything I had to say. I enjoyed it – he was intriguing, and I found that I wanted to know him better, so I decided to ask him out when we were alone again. Then that one little phone call changed everything.
I stood a few feet away as Jasper paid for his tattoo and said goodnight to Billy, who waved to me and disappeared into the back to finish up for the night. We were the last two left in the shop, and the windows shone with neon signs and headlights from passing cars. We walked to the door together as I was working up my courage, but his phone rang before I got the chance.
He muttered, "Sorry…" and glanced at the caller ID before answering it with a grin. I tried not to listen, standing a few feet away as I waited to give him my information so he could contact me about the pictures – and hopefully get his number in return.
Instead, I listened as Jasper said, "Yeah, man, we're all going out tonight…" There was a pause and then, "No, you have to come! It's the last chance for us all to get together before the baby!" My eyes snapped to him at that, and I saw the proud grin on his face. "Yup, she's due this weekend – can you believe it?"
He continued as my hopes fell, and I realized I must've been mistaken. He was practically glowing as he talked, and he was so fucking beautiful that I ached.
I shrugged and scowled, rolling my eyes at myself. Nothing to get so upset about. He was just a guy I barely knew.
Jasper hung up the phone then and turned to me with a bright smile. I couldn't stop the small smile I gave in return as I handed him my card in silence. He glanced down at it and then up at me, his eyes wide. "Beacon Hill?"
I nodded, telling him to call me when his tattoo healed if he was still interested. I meant to leave it at that, but when he caught my eye, I murmured, "I'd really like to hear from you…" and realized what I'd said. I quickly added, "I think that fractal would make a great addition." I wanted to kick myself for sounding like a total tool.
He frowned slightly and was about to speak when his phone rang again, and he checked the caller ID with an exasperated look before a smile formed. I told him I'd see him later, and he answered, "Yeah…later. Hey, it was nice to meet you, man!" His attention was already far from the tattoo shop as he waved and walked away, his phone at his ear. I watched his back for a moment before I went to my car.
The doorbell jarred me out of my reverie, and my hands fell hard on the keys. I stood and lowered the cover, taking a deep breath as I tried to combat my nerves. I'd been both excited and annoyed when Jasper had called. I wasn't quite sure why I was setting myself up for an afternoon of torment with an unavailable man.
Muttering about my masochistic tendencies, I ran my fingers through my hair as I went to answer the door. Despite the warm weather, the hardwood floors were cool on my bare feet, a fact I absently noticed as I tried not to focus on Jasper's silhouette through the thick, ornamental glass. I opened the first set of glass doors and walked the few extra feet necessary to get to the outer door.
As the door swung inward, I got my first glimpse of Jasper standing on my stoop, all fucking pouty lips and smoldering eyes and sexy, messy hair to his chin. He was wearing blue jeans and a black leather jacket with a thin white stripe across the chest and down the arms. I didn't understand the jacket in August until I saw the matching helmet in his gloved hand and nearly groaned.
Fuck me. Mr. Impossible rides a motorcycle.
I stepped back, managing not to stare as he passed by me and we exchanged hellos. He pulled off his gloves, stuffing them into the pockets of his jacket before he unzipped it. He shrugged out of his coat, his chest sticking out as his arms arched backwards, and I could clearly see his nipple rings through the thin white t-shirt he was wearing. The dark shadow of his tattoo spread out in the place over his heart, and a braided leather necklace rested against his throat, an ornate silver slide just over the hollow I wanted to lick.
I realized I'd stopped speaking mid-sentence and cleared my throat, not even sure what I'd been saying. "Here, I'll take that," I offered instead, reaching for his jacket. His fingers brushed mine, and I scolded myself for letting something like that matter enough for me to notice. I reached behind him to hang up his coat and helmet just as he shifted, and I thought I heard him sigh as his shoulder bumped into my chest.
When neither of us spoke again, I finally said simply, "This way…" and led him through the house. His boots sounded heavy against the wooden floors, muffling his low whistle.
"This is a really nice place…you live here alone?" When he spoke, his accent made me smile as I explained that the house was inherited. Thankfully, he didn't press for details I wasn't prepared to share as we walked through the sitting room and past my piano.
Being in the kitchen helped me feel more in my element, and I glanced over my shoulder to smile at Jasper as I told him to have a seat wherever. He sat at the bar where I'd left my portfolio open, but he didn't look at it, instead watching me as I grabbed a pot holder and took the platter out of the warming oven. It slipped as I was putting it down on the bar, burning my hand and clattering on the granite. "Damn it!" I muttered, sucking on the pad of my thumb briefly. I shook my hand and asked, "Can I get you something to drink?"
He asked what I had, and we settled on a Sam Adams each. Jasper took the first bite of my chicken quesadillas as I was opening his bottle. "Damn, this is good!"
I smirked, walking over to hand him his beer as I said, "Glad you like it…I don't do anything if I can't do it well." It sounded cocky, but it was true. I motioned to the portfolio with my bottle. "I thought you'd like to take a look at those."
"These are the ones you've already done?" he asked. I nodded, and we talked about my project for a bit. We'd talked at the parlor about what I was doing, so I focused more on the why, explaining the fascination I had with the way people marked things, giving them meaning and making them their own. The book was a collection of body art and graffiti, a mixture of those creations that people were all too eager to dismiss or regard as disfiguring, a waste. It was in the middle of this conversation that I remembered I didn't have Jasper's number for when the pictures were ready, so I had him program it into my cell phone. As I was putting my phone back in my jeans pocket, he said, "So what do you do, anyway?"
I arched an eyebrow in amusement. "What do you mean?"
He grinned. "You know…a job? Work? Making a living?"
I shrugged. "I'm a social anthropologist."
"What the fuck does that mean?" His dirty mouth appealed to me. So different from Alistair, my last boyfriend. And so very like me.
The thought had me grinning as I explained that I really didn't do anything with it. I didn't have to work. My family had been wealthy, and I invested well, ensuring that I could live pretty much how I wanted – so I did. "I like to study social customs…try to figure out why people do the shit they do. That's why I'm working on the book."
He frowned slightly as he took another bite and then looked up at me. "So how do you become a social anthropologist anyway?"
"Well…" I chuckled. "Apparently you start out with a degree in history and a minor in photography…fuck around with philosophy for awhile, and end up with a Ph.D. in anthropology when you pull your head out of your ass and realize what you enjoy. At least that was my route." I shrugged.
He chuckled, shaking his head as he sipped his beer. "Fucking Doctor Masen," he muttered under his breath, and I felt a small jolt when he said my last name until I realized it was on my card. Raising his voice, he said, "So you don't work?"
"Not for money." I heard the playfulness in my voice and wondered why the hell I was flirting with this lost cause. Instead of stopping and saving myself a lot of trouble, I stepped closer. "I just indulge myself with taking pictures of body art and graffiti – so many of my passions together." I winked.
We started flipping through the portfolio slowly together as I explained some of the shots. Jasper paused on a picture of a woman lying face down on a divan with sunlight streaming in through a window, illuminating the huge dragon tattooed on her back. She was stunning with ebony hair and red lips, her ivory skin bare except for the sheet draped across her hips, but what always drew my eye were the rod piercings that made up the tips of the dragon's wings. "Those must've hurt like hell."
Jasper glanced at me thoughtfully, not answering, before he looked back down. He studied the woman and then turned the page. In silence, we looked through a few more before he came to an image of a bald man with the entire back of his head tattooed to look like M.C. Escher's self-portrait in the mirror ball.
"That's seriously disturbing…" he said. "Fucking awesome, though." I agreed as I thought about why I'd included that particular tattoo in the ones to show Jasper.
As Jasper was settling into the chair, Billy showed me the design he'd chosen. Huh. "Escher?" I asked.
Jasper turned to look at me. "You recognized that?" I nodded, and his eyes widened. "I'm impressed."
"I love his work – I have one based on his 'Reptiles' drawing."
"Cool. Show me," he demanded. I paused. "Come on now. I showed you mine – let me see your lizard."
"Lizards," I corrected, chuckling at his confidence as I tried to ignore the unintentional innuendo. "Ehh…it's not exactly in a place most people see." He arched an eyebrow questioningly, and I said it was on my thigh.
"Thighs have never bothered me."
My voice was cocky as I crossed my arms, an image of Jasper on his knees to inspect my tattoo implanting itself in my mind. "Might not bother you, but given the circumstances, it would probably bother Billy here." I nodded to the tattoo artist who was studiously ignoring our conversation as he gathered his supplies. When Jasper looked at me curiously, I smirked and mouthed, "Commando." He looked taken aback for a moment, but then his lips curved into a wicked little half-smile.
The expectant silence in my kitchen made me realize Jasper was waiting on a response from me. Unfortunately, I had no idea what he'd asked. "Hmm?"
He pointed to the portfolio, open to a picture of a man lying on a messy bed. He was extremely well-built - a model actually, and a damn good-looking one - and he was on his side with his arm stretched over his head to show off the Latin phrase tattooed along his ribs.
"Do you know what it means?" Jasper asked again.
I leaned in to look closer as I murmured, "Alea iacta est…" I glanced at Jasper, straightening back up as I raised my voice. "The die is cast." He frowned, confusion on his face, so I continued, "Caesar said it when he invaded northern Italy – means you've reached a point of no return." He raised an eyebrow at me and sat in silence. I grinned crookedly, shrugging. "I asked him." For some reason, his frown returned.
Before I could ask, he turned the page. When he reached the end, he closed the portfolio and sat with his elbows on the bar, sipping his beer. I suddenly realized how close I was standing, having inched forward slowly as we looked at the pictures together. Deciding I needed some space, I walked around the bar and sat across from him.
It was at once better and worse. His scent was no longer dominating my senses, but now I could see him clearly, and I found that my gaze was drawn to his lips…the angle of his cheekbone…the furrowing of his brow. I brought my tongue ring between my teeth, playing with it as I wondered if I'd be able to concentrate once his shirt was off.
To distract myself, I explained that we'd be taking pictures in two rooms, giving us a variety of settings. I opened the portfolio again, showing him the spread of the man with the rib tattoo. I pointed out how the shots of him in the bedroom were vastly different from those on the porch, and he nodded as he listened. He asked no questions as I told him that we'd try different poses to get the best angle for each tattoo and that he should do whatever he felt comfortable with. While I'd give him some instruction, I wanted the shots to be as natural as possible.
"So we'll start with some of you fully dressed in the den, just to help you relax a bit and get used to me taking pictures of you." I tried a smile, hoping it didn't look too much like a smirk. "Then we'll take your shirt off so we can see those tattoos and piercings."
He smirked at that but didn't comment.
He asked only one question. "Which other room are we using?"
We locked gazes for a moment, and the blue of his eyes seemed a shade darker before he glanced away, nodding as he drank his beer. I watched the way his lips met the bottle and swallowed, resisting the urge to adjust myself before I took a sip of my own beer. I cleared my throat. "So umm…think that's it. Any other questions?"
Silence reigned in the kitchen as he thought things over, his eyes on the portfolio still open to the same picture. His lips were pursed, and he was holding the neck of his empty bottle in his fingertips, spinning it as it balanced on edge. I watched the movement until my eyes traveled up his arm to his lips, where they lingered until he spoke. "No…no questions."
I nodded as we looked at each other again and then took a small sip of my beer before I set the half-full bottle on the bar. Picking up my camera, I turned it on and said, "Alright then…" as I glanced down at the screen.
273 pictures left. Perfect.
I'd taken about fifty pictures of each of my other models, so I had plenty of room. I led Jasper back through the house, and I was sure I heard him mutter something under his breath. The noise from his boots muffled the sound, though, and I didn't ask.
As we walked into the den, I took in the dark leather furniture and fireplace, trying to picture the best places for Jasper to pose. I'd thought about it several times since I'd gotten his call – hell, even before that, if I was being honest – but it was different now that he was here.
"Hey, is this your family?" his voice interrupted, and I glanced over to the portrait hanging over the mantle. I nodded absently, frowning as I looked around again, trying to figure out where he'd look most natural – where he would sit if this were his home. I paused then, realizing that…for some reason…I liked that idea. I liked the thought of Jasper making himself at home here.
I rolled my eyes at myself, muttering as I fidgeted with the camera, and made a snap decision to start with Jasper standing at the fireplace. I checked the light meter and made a few adjustments with the lamps, ensuring the lighting was perfect, and then cleared my throat and looked up to see him watching me. I gave a small smile, explaining that we were going to start with him right there, and I reminded him again to do whatever felt natural. When he nodded, I took a step back, raising the camera to look through the viewfinder rather than using the screen.
As I watched through the little square opening that seemed to box in my world, Jasper took a deep breath and stepped closer to the fireplace. He rested his arm along the mantle and turned to look at me, the expression in his eyes causing me to take a deep breath in turn. "That's great," I said as I took a couple of pictures and then had him glance the other way. The line of his jaw was perfect, but his hair was in the way, blocking his eyes from that angle.
"Don't move…" I said quietly, walking to him. I reached out to brush his hair back away from his face. Moving just his eyes, he gazed into mine, and I swallowed hard as I imagined closing the distance and tasting those beautiful lips for myself. I saw my fingers knotting in his messy hair as I pulled him close, and I carefully took a step back, my eyes never leaving his. I was hit again by that fragrance that surrounded him, and I was embarrassed when my mouth actually watered. Without a word, his eyes shifted away, and I saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed.
I puffed out my cheeks as I exhaled, mentally shaking away the yearning I felt for him. Once I was again behind the camera, I was able to focus and fall into a relaxed, professional rhythm as I directed Jasper. I had him move to a chair and lean forward with his elbows on his knees. After adjusting the lighting again, I took several pictures of Jasper with different expressions and in varying positions – leaning forward, resting casually against the arm, placing his chin in his palm. When he seemed comfortable, I paused and looked down at the screen, flipping through some of the images. I smiled reflexively when I saw Jasper smiling up at me, but when I came to a picture of him staring intently into the camera, I muttered, "Fucking perfect…"
Rather than showing my embarrassment, I gave Jasper a crooked grin. "These are looking great – you're a natural."
He smirked. "Yeah, I get that a lot."
I laughed quietly, appreciating his arrogance as I teased, "Well, I guess it's time to make you just a little more natural then…" When his eyes widened, I winked. "Take off your shirt. Let's see those tattoos."
I looked away, trying to ignore it when he reached back and grabbed his shirt to pull it over his head, but I couldn't resist. I watched as his face disappeared briefly and his trim torso was revealed. He wasn't beefy, not overly muscular, but he was defined, the dark phoenix on his chest and the silver through his nipples prominently displayed. After allowing myself a moment to fully appreciate the sight, I lifted my camera again, looking through the viewfinder as I saw Jasper toss his shirt to the floor.
Wouldn't mind seeing him do that shit some other time. As soon as the thought entered my mind, I chastised myself. Act like a fucking professional, man. Besides…he's Mr. Impossible, remember?
He went to sit down, and I took a few shots of him in action as I said, "Good…now lean back in the chair…there you go. Remember, do whatever feels right…" My voice was low as Jasper shifted, slumping down in the chair and resting his head against the back. He raised both his arms, letting them fall casually overhead, and the sight of his toned abs stretched out on display was too much. I envisioned going to him, covering his body with mine and kissing that tempting place just under his jaw. I could nearly feel Jasper's hands running along my sides and down my back before they cupped my ass, squeezing roughly as he thrust his hips into mine and kissed me passionately.
He arched an eyebrow at me through the viewfinder, and I realized I was motionless, rooted to the floor as I forced my fantasy away. I quickly snapped a few pictures to try to capture that playful, amused expression on his face as I said quietly, "Looking good, Jasper…" I continued giving instructions, trying to cover my embarrassment. More than being mortified, I was frustrated with myself – never had I had such a hard time controlling my thoughts and resisting my urges. I forced my attraction for this unattainable man aside and was finally able to slip into my role – professional photographer, nothing more.
We spent awhile in the den, Jasper shifting positions as I instructed him in the best ways to show off his body art. I was absorbed in colors and lighting and contrast, becoming lost in my work. It was a welcome break for my beleaguered mind, and I felt much more myself when I had Jasper stand.
"Alright, now take off your pants," I deadpanned. I couldn't help but chuckle at the shocked look on his face. "Kidding…I just need you to turn around so I can get a few pictures of your back."
Instead, his hands went to his waist, drawing my attention to his unusual belt buckle as he moved to unfasten it with a challenging look. My eyes widened, and he smirked, turning around with a snicker. I shook my head at myself, grinning. At least he had a sense of humor.
Not needing any instruction, he put his hands on his hips, slipping his thumbs into his belt loops. The added weight pulled his jeans down slightly, and I forced my eyes upward, focusing on the tattoo. Usually looking through my camera gave me a certain distance from my subject, turning it into art rather than reality, but the perfection of Jasper's back was all too tangible, and looking at it through that little window just highlighted it.
Without my permission, my imagination conjured a vision of me closing the distance to stand just behind Jasper, kissing along his strong, smooth shoulders as my hands slid down the contoured muscles of his abdomen. As I licked at the black ink on his shoulder blades, my fingers found the waist of his jeans, and I watched my phantom self unfasten his belt as he pressed back against me, his head falling onto my shoulder as his hand came up to tangle in my hair. I gave in to the fantasy, looking over my illusory lover's shoulder as I watched the progress of my hands, one rubbing his hardened cock through his jeans as the other slipped in between to lower his zipper.
I was just wrapping my hand around his rigid length when the real Jasper shifted lightly on his feet. I jumped into action, taking a picture as I thanked every god I knew that he hadn't turned around to catch me in the midst of my wholly inappropriate imaginings. He must have had some idea, though, because he turned his head slowly, cutting his eyes around to look at me over his shoulder, that intense gaze going straight to my cock.
Unable to take it anymore, I cleared my throat and told him to turn around. He obeyed, bending one knee as he rested a hand on his hip and the other lingered on his thigh. I appreciated the position of his hands, and they drew my gaze to that strange belt buckle again, but I couldn't allow my eyes to linger in that particular area too long. I took a couple of quick pictures and then asked Jasper to scratch the back of his neck with his right hand, putting his Escher knot on display as the action stretched his torso and flexed his bicep.
Satisfied, I told him we had enough in the den and gave him a reassuring smile, realizing that this was probably even weirder for him. The thought sobered me, and I found myself trying to keep even my walk professional – and then wondering what the hell a professional walk was.
As we moved down the hallway, I tried to figure out what the fuck I was thinking when I decided to bring this irresistible man into my bedroom – since there was clearly no chance of doing what I really wanted to do with him here.
Still, I wouldn't change it, so I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. I shook my head at myself as I stood by, encouraging Jasper to look around and make himself at home. I went to move a couple of lamps – extras I'd brought in to help with the lighting – and then turned to look at him. When I realized he was still shirtless, I was struck with a sudden inspiration and spoke without thinking about it. "Hey, would it be alright if I gave you one of my shirts to start with in here? I think a dress shirt would be perfect – give us a different look."
He looked mildly amused as he nodded his agreement. I gave him a small smile and walked into my closet. Muttering to myself, I searched for the perfect shirt and found it – a simple tailored white button down. I tried very hard to keep my mind off the fact that Jasper was about to be wearing my clothes, but I'm fairly sure there was a smirk on my lips as I came out and handed it to him. I went to check the light meter on my camera, watching surreptitiously as he slipped his arms into the shirt and buttoned it up before tucking it into his pants.
I just shook my head.
Apparently comfortable, he took a seat on the bench at the foot of my bed, and I wondered how he could be so calm when I was goddamn squirming at having him in my room. Jasper was by far the most attractive man I'd met in quite awhile, and having him so close to my bed made me want to just push him back and find out if he tasted nearly as good as he smelled. Beyond that, I really enjoyed being around him – he had a great sense of humor, he just rolled with things, and his intelligence was a definite turn on. I sighed.
Mr. Fucking Impossible.
He was moving completely without instruction now, giving different poses and expressions that made it easy for me to get what I needed. As I worked, I began to realize that he was looking more and more directly at the camera.
These will by far be the hottest fucking pictures in my book.
Assuming I actually have any of his tattoos.
He was still fully clothed, which was completely useless as far as the book was concerned. My voice was shamefully husky as I lowered my camera and said, "Time to take off your shirt again…"
We shared a look across the room before he stood, keeping his sky blue eyes on mine as he began leisurely unbuttoning the shirt – my shirt. I had to break his gaze, so I lifted the camera and got a few pictures of him in motion. He pulled the tail of the shirt from his pants and turned to me, the center of his chest visible through the opening. "Alright, take it off slowly so I can get a few pictures…" I trailed off, my voice still low. I didn't think I could control it anymore, and the look on Jasper's face made me wonder if he even wanted me to.
His gaze was piercing, his eyes never looking anywhere but directly at me as he let the shirt fall gradually off his shoulders. I began to feel warm as I worked the camera, my pants constricting in a familiar, uncomfortable way. He tossed the shirt to my bed as we worked, the occasional banter of the afternoon vanishing as a charged silence took its place.
Without prompting, Jasper moved to my bed and reclined on the pillows, looking at the ceiling as he bent first one and then both arms over his head, showing off his tattoos and the way his abs rippled as he moved. He turned his face toward me, his eyes meeting mine through the viewfinder, and my breathing became shallow as I captured his movements on film. His hand slipped down his abdomen, moving recklessly low as he turned onto his side before he raised his arm again, resting it over his head.
When he rolled onto his stomach, one arm dangling off the side so I could take pictures of the fractal on his back from above, it was all I could do to stay where I was. In my mind, I stalked forward, intent on him as I climbed onto the bed behind him. I watched as I kissed his shoulders, working my way down his spine before I licked at the skin just above his jeans. My imaginary hands moved beneath, roaming his taut stomach and down along his zipper before I flipped him over to straddle him. So lost was I in my fantasy that I could almost feel Jasper's cock pressing against mine through the thick fabric, and my hips shifted in response. My dream lover moaned and captured my lips, kissing me feverishly as he bucked his hips.
My own soft noise of longing brought me abruptly back to the reality of Jasper lying on my bed, looking up at me evenly. His eyes were dark with what looked like desire, and for the first time since that phone call, I found myself thinking that maybe he wasn't so impossible after all. He stood slowly, his gaze never faltering, and walked a few feet away before turning back around. He casually rested his hands on his hips, and I had the presence of mind to take a couple of pictures. I kept my eye to the viewfinder, watching everywhere but his face, worried about what I might do if I saw anything resembling the lust burning within me.
My vision was unfocused, resting somewhere on Jasper's midsection when I saw his hands come into view. They went to the buckle of his belt, and I stood utterly still, lowering the camera slightly as I looked at him over the top. His eyes were on me, not the camera, as he unbuckled his belt with a tell-tale metallic clink. He unbuttoned his pants, and then his nimble fingers lowered his zipper slowly. He smirked at me and raised an eyebrow in challenge. I lifted the camera again, not even thinking as I pressed the button, recording the image before me. My eyes thirstily drank in his form as I followed the thin trail of blond hair leading from his navel, and I swallowed hard when I saw that there was no underwear to block the view.
I tried to keep my mind focused, but random images of kneeling in front of Jasper, licking along that line, and seeing what lay at the end tormented me. I clearly saw myself on the floor, his cock uncovered as I ran my tongue along the length before sucking it in between my lips. The images were disjointed, shifting erratically, and then I saw the screen on my camera flashing at me in reality. I glanced down to find that I was out of room.
273 fucking pictures?
I looked closer, sure that I was mistaken, but I had indeed taken over 200 pictures of this one man. Feeling heat on my cheeks, I told him I had enough and then said, "Thank you." I meant for the pictures, but Jasper snickered quietly as he began zipping his pants. He didn't even bother to turn away, and I wondered when he became so goddamn cocky. All the nerves from earlier were nowhere to be seen, and I found myself resenting the care I'd taken to make him feel comfortable. I felt anger burning my chest and realized I was embarrassed, wondering if he'd noticed my arousal and was fucking with me.
Frustrated, I turned on my heel and stalked out of the room, flipping through the images on the screen. "Did they come out okay?" Jasper's voice was moderated, timid even, all traces of the arrogance I'd seen on his face erased. I slowed and then stopped, my shoulders slumping as I turned around to look at him. His face was tense and worried, and I felt my annoyance fade as I empathized with his uncertainty.
"Yeah, they look amazing," I answered, my voice soft. Jasper granted me a small smile, a true one this time rather than that cocky fucking smirk from my bedroom. "Thank you," I told him again, watching as his smile became brilliant. "I really appreciate you posing for me." He blushed lightly, and it took all my control not to lean over and kiss him softly.
We watched each other in silence, a tension I'd not felt in so long building between us before I finally spoke. "So…want a drink?" My grin was crooked, a product of my relief at making it through the stressful afternoon.
Something flashed in his eyes – I humored myself in thinking it was regret – and he said, "I wish I could…I'm actually running late for dinner, though. I'm sorry." And he did look sorry as he asked if I minded if he made a call real quick.
I said, "Of course not," and moved into the den to give him some privacy.
Yet again, my hopes fell as I heard him say, "Jessica? Hey…yeah, I'm running a little late. I'll be there in about fifteen minutes…" There was a pause. "Yeah, that sounds good…I'll tell you about it when I get there." A chuckle. "Just order something for me – you know what I like." One final pause. "Yeah, thanks…see you soon." I felt odd as I listened, as if my chest were constricting, and I realized that throughout the afternoon, despite the strange highs and lows I'd experienced, I'd really begun to believe that Jasper was interested in me, too.
I tried to shake it off, physically shaking my head as I put the camera on an end table and ran my fingers through my tangled hair. I looked up just as Jasper walked in, still shirtless. There was suddenly an uncomfortable air in the room for the first time since we began taking pictures. He snatched up his shirt and shoved his arms through the holes, tugging it on and straightening it before he ran his fingers through his hair as well.
I forced myself into action – I was the professional and the host here. It was my job to make sure he was comfortable, no matter how distressed I was feeling. Summoning all the pleasant thoughts I could still find, I thanked him again for his time and said, "I hope it wasn't too bad."
Jasper's lips curved into a half-grin, and he drawled, "Not at all…I had fun actually." He gave me a small, almost nervous smile before he apologetically said he really had to go.
"Of course. No problem." My voice sounded flat in my ears. I smiled at him, though, and then led the way to the front door.
We stood there, our eyes in an awkward dance as we glanced at each other and looked away, only to be drawn back again. Jasper shuffled his feet and opened his mouth as if to speak but closed it again, furrowing his brow as he looked down and shoved his hands into his pockets. His behavior confounded me yet again, and I started to just blurt out – asking if he was into me. But I'd had enough for one day - enough of the mixed signals and the temptation of wanting what I couldn't have - so I kept my mouth shut.
The uncomfortable silence stretched on, and I didn't understand why he didn't just go if he was running late to meet some woman. That line of thought led me back to that first fateful call and without thinking, I said, "Oh, by the way…I wanted to tell you congratulations."
He looked thoroughly confused. "On what?" he asked with a wry grin.
"On the baby! I couldn't help but overhear your phone call at Black Ink…" I trailed off when Jasper chuckled.
"Thanks! But it's definitely not mine – it's my friend Ben's. I'm the godfather." He puffed his chest out a bit, and he was wearing such a look of pride. So fucking cute…
"Oh…sorry. It just sounded like…" I shrugged, giving him a small grin as relief flooded through me at learning the baby wasn't his. I pushed a bit further. "Do you have any kids?"
Jasper laughed outright. "No, no kids for me." His voice was definitive, but then it dropped as he muttered something under his breath that sounded like, "…day you can bear children…" but that didn't make any sense at all.
I knew he really did need to go, and to be honest, I was ready to be alone. It had been a long, tiring day, and I needed to be able to think – or drink myself into oblivion, whichever appealed to me after he left. It was an even race at the moment. I reached for his coat and helmet, handing him the jacket. As he was putting it on, the corner folded under, and I reached out, the back of my hand running up his chest as I straightened it for him.
I couldn't tell you why I did it. My eyes widened as I realized what I'd done, but once I was touching him, I couldn't stop. I ran the back of my fingers up Jasper's neck, nearly to his ear. His jaw clenched as he shivered faintly, and his eyes staring back into mine were stormy. We watched each other in silence for a moment before Jasper finally broke the spell, zipping up his jacket. I handed him the helmet and said gently, "I'll call you when the pictures are ready?
He nodded and said simply, "Good night," in the same tone.
I returned the sentiment with a small smile, and Jasper walked out without another word. I stood in the open doorway, leaning against the frame with my arms crossed as I watched him walk to his motorcycle and climb on, then take off with a roar down the street. When he was out of sight, I finally went back inside.
The noise of the lock echoed in the hallway, which seemed strangely empty without Jasper. I stood motionless by the door before I finally took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I became determined to go about this night like any other – there was nothing different, nothing special.
I pushed away from the door and walked resolutely to my bedroom to retrieve the two extra lamps I'd placed there, but when I stepped in, my eyes immediately found the white shirt tossed carelessly at the foot of the bed. I went to pick it up, meaning to return it to my closet. When I lifted it, I was met with Jasper's scent, and my eyes reflexively closed as I inhaled deeply, still trying to place that mysterious ingredient. No luck.
With a sigh, I folded it over my arm and grabbed the lamps. I returned them to their rooms and then stopped by the den to get my camera before going to my office. As I went to sit down at my computer, I realized I was still holding the shirt and rolled my eyes at myself, draping it over the back of my chair. I attached the camera and started the download, then went to clean up the kitchen while that was running.
The beer bottles on the counter brought back the memory of Jasper's lips, and I bit my bottom lip lightly as I remembered the way they moved. With a sigh, I took both bottles to the sink, emptying the rest of mine before I rinsed them out and tossed them into the recycling bin. I washed the dishes from the quesadillas, wiped down the countertops, and put a few random things away. Then I headed back to the office, half-eager and half-fearful to see how the pictures had turned out.
As I was walking, I became painfully aware that time and distance away from Jasper had done nothing to help my unfortunate situation. I was still hard. My jeans still pressed too tightly against me. But I was still determined to ignore it and get some work done tonight, so I unbuttoned my jeans, letting them fall to the floor. I walked to the computer in my boxer briefs and t-shirt, taking a seat as the download completed.
I ran my fingers through my hair and paused, pulling lightly in frustration as I wondered how to get Jasper off my mind. I opened the newly created folder on my desktop and nearly growled at the number of pictures I had to go through.
Nothing like looking at his pictures to help forget him.
Mildly embarrassed that I took so many – especially without knowing it – I was happy to realize that at least no one else knew. In this frame of mind, I began working, setting up three separate folders for the pictures I knew I wouldn't use, the ones that were possibilities, and the ones that would definitely make it in. I started scrolling through the images, dropping them where they belonged.
Everything was going fine up until I came across that same picture of him sitting in the den. His eyes were all intense, peering at me from the monitor, and I gave a small groan as I quickly dropped it into the "definitely not" folder. Those eyes stayed with me, breaking through my resolve. I was getting work done, though, so I kept up that uneasy truce with myself, appreciating the images more than I should while I sorted them.
The truce lasted only a few minutes before I saw the shots of Jasper standing in my bedroom taking off my white shirt. Light reflected off the silver through his left nipple, making it stand in stark contrast to his skin and the ebony phoenix. My hand moved of its own accord, my fingertips and thumb lightly stroking along the sides of my still-hard cock through my underwear. My eyes fluttered closed as I bit my bottom lip and let myself enjoy the sensation before I forced my hand away, shaking my head in a futile attempt to clear it.
I switched back and forth between two pictures in particular and then pulled them up side-by-side, trying to determine which was better for his phoenix tattoo. My eyes scanned his lightly muscled torso, drifting down to his jeans. Once again, I saw his belt buckle, and this time I zoomed in, taking a closer look since there was no chance of getting caught now.
After a moment of confusion, I realized that the strange shape was created by three horseshoes – two facing downward while a third was centered on top and turned upward. There seemed to be some sort of writing along the top one, so I zoomed in closer.
And then I pushed away from my desk, leaning back in my chair as I groaned at the message. "Rub for luck"? Is he a fucking tease on purpose?
I would definitely love to take Jasper up on that, and I nearly had so many times today. I stretched my neck, resting my head on the back of my chair as I looked at the ceiling. Again, I caught Jasper's scent, but it was suddenly just too much. I reached back, pulling the shirt down and putting it on. I turned my head, inhaling along the collar as my eyes closed.
There was no way I was getting anything done while Jasper was holding my mind hostage, so I gave in, opening my internet browser and pulling up my favorite porn site. I clicked through the videos, looking for any that appealed to me, but there was nothing - nothing that could compete with the eyes and lips still tempting me. I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes in indecision.
"Fuck it all," I said aloud. I closed the browser and moved the box of tissues I kept on my desk for just such occasions a little closer. I opened the folders of Jasper, muttering at how quickly I could already find my favorite pictures. I let my eyes roam hungrily over the features I craved – full lips lifted in that devilish smirk…smoldering blue eyes staring directly at me…silver metal shooting through darkened nipples…lean, toned abs just fucking begging for my tongue…hands lowering the zipper of his jeans, revealing that trail of dark blond hair…black ink contrasting with his lighter skin, emphasizing his thin, muscular form. All too soon, images of Jasper filled my screen, layered carefully so that his best features were on display. Topping them all was an image of him sitting as I looked down on him from above. His piercing blue eyes were gazing upward, and his strong jaw was visible with his lips parted in a smirk, his tongue just peeking out, perfect for licking my cock.
Once I'd given in, I took things slowly, relaxing in my chair as I palmed my dick through my underwear. I rubbed up and down, applying more pressure with each passage as I took the time to appreciate the beauty on my screen and remember that addicting energy that permeated the room whenever I was close to him. Looking at his burning gaze and parted lips sparked a fantasy, and soon I was imagining Jasper kissing me all over, licking his way to my hip. There was no teasing, no hesitation as he yanked my underwear down and licked once up my shaft before taking my head between his lips with a moan. Sitting in my chair, I lifted my hips, pushing my underwear to the floor as I spread my knees and began teasing myself with light touches, tracing my length and stroking with just my fingertips. Feeling the soft, silky velvet over my firm shaft made me bite my lip as a second fantasy entered my mind, and I saw my hand wrapped around Jasper's dick as I swirled my tongue around the head, flicking at it with my tongue ring. I swallowed at the image, finally taking myself fully in hand as I imagined Jasper's thick cock filling my mouth, creating friction along my lips as I sucked.
The two fantasies competed, images from each flashing through my mind as I worked myself over, finding a rhythm. Short, quick strokes, up and down at the base before a longer, slower stroke all the way up, thumb tracing the bottom of my head as I twisted my wrist. Back to the base as my phantom Jasper flattened his tongue and sucked hard, pulling my dick to the back of his throat before he swallowed around the head. My breathing sped up as I inhaled sharply at the thought, tensing and sitting forward a bit more.
I pictured myself moving to Jasper's sac, stroking his length with both hands as I sucked and licked at his balls. In my mind, one of my hands moved downward, cupping and tugging them lightly as my mouth moved back to his cock – absolutely perfect in my imagination – long, thick, hard…beautiful. Everything I could possibly want. Sitting in my office, my left hand mimicked what I wanted to do to my lover, grasping my sac and tugging while my right twisted and pumped along my shaft as soft moans escaped my lips.
I imagined Jasper on his knees in front of me, taking me so deeply that his lips brushed my trimmed bronze curls. In my vision, my fingers tangled in his hair as I pushed and pulled, directing him wordlessly in the best way to pleasure me. His teeth teased me, creating that perfect mix of pleasure and pain, and always – always – Jasper's blue eyes look up at me, lust and longing and pure desire in his fierce gaze.
Mixing in flawlessly among the images of him working to satisfy me were those of me exploring the perfection of Jasper as well. I teased his head with my tongue ring as I pulled away, letting saliva drip from my lips to coat his length while I stroked him before I again took him into my mouth, sucking vigorously as I felt the slight sting of him pulling my hair. I lifted my gaze, humming in appreciation at the sight of Jasper's eyes half-closed in ecstasy, his lips parted. His hips thrust in response to the vibrations as his fingers tightened in my hair. My strokes quickened as I lost myself in my fantasies, squeezing harder as my jaw clenched. I could feel my balls tightening, signaling my impending release, and I reached out blindly, pulling tissue from the box.
I gave my mind over to the imagined feeling of fucking Jasper's mouth, my hips driving into him as his head bobbed, guided by my strong, sure hand as I watched from above. My left hand rolled my balls, squeezing gently before I again pulled, my lips parting as I panted at the visions my mind conjured and the feeling of my hands driving me toward euphoria. My right hand slipped closer to the head of my cock, moving with short, quick strokes that drove me to a frenzy. I watched as Jasper's lips slid along my length, those fucking eyes still on me as he worked quickly, delivering delicious friction. Realizing I wouldn't be holding out much longer, my imaginary self pulled hard, jerking Jasper's mouth away as my hand moved to stroke my length furiously. His head held still by my hand, Jasper watched with a provocative smirk on his reddened lips as I came, the pearly liquid spilling across his chest, marking the inky black phoenix.
"Fucking mine," I growled, and I was surprised to hear my rough voice in the otherwise silent office. I coughed, opening my eyes and glancing down to see that I had, thankfully, filled the tissue rather than making a mess of my computer. I took a shaky breath and stayed where I was for a moment, letting my head fall back against my chair as I looked up at the ceiling.
After I felt somewhat recovered, I used another tissue to wipe up the rest of the mess and pulled my underwear back on. I frowned as I realized just how wrong my words were – Jasper wasn't mine.
Now that I could think more clearly, I started to realize that there just might be something there on Jasper's side. The teasing, the banter, those fucking looks…it had to add up to something. I raked my fingers through my hair, deciding I shouldn't torment myself with "what ifs" until I could find out for sure – which meant I needed to get those damn pictures finished. I didn't want to look too eager, so I decided to give it time, see if I still felt the same way. Then I'd call him, invite him to see how they'd turned out.
One week, Mr. Possible.
My lips curved into a grin as I turned back to the screen to finish sorting the rest of the pictures.
Special thanks to AHelm and kimberlycullen10 for beta'ing this for us! You ladies are the best!