Through The Lens One-Shot Contest
Story Title: Portrait of the Artist
Summary: Edward Cullen's staid life riots out of control when his stolen camera is returned to him. He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her.
Disclaimer: I own a Canon Rebel XT DSLR, a shitload of lenses, lighting, and a crappy tripod. That Meyers woman owns Twilight… until I can go back in time and change that.
Note: This o/s has accompanying photos. Whenever you see a number in brackets, please refer to the author's note to get the link to those photos.
"Hey, Edward, what can I get you?"
The morning barista knew my name, something that didn't make me entirely comfortable. Was it pathetic when the people at my local coffee shop were on a first name basis with me? I wasn't sure, but I felt as though I'd been spending entirely too much time in this place lately, especially since my beloved camera vanished a week ago. I had just turned my back for a second to put my empty coffee cup in the bin, but my camera bag - along with three rolls of black and white film I had just shot - disappeared without a trace. I came back every morning for a latte and to check on the status of my camera. It may have been overly optimistic that anyone would find and return my $3,000 camera and $2,000 worth of lenses, but I couldn't help it.
"The usual," I answered. "No sign of my camera bag?"
The woman behind the counter shook her head, empathy painting her face. She had such lovely bone structure, her cheeks and chin crisp and defined; I'd been asking her to let me photograph her - under the right light, I could almost envision the dramatic deep shadows her features would cast. So far, though, she'd said no, although I suspected it was because I didn't even know her name, and she had no idea if I was a psychopath.
"How about something to eat? I just made a fresh batch of raspberry scones, and I have that clotted cream you like." Her usual stocking cap covered her hair; I'd actually never seen her without it and didn't have any idea what color her hair really was or how long or short it was.
"Yeah, that's sounds good. Thanks."
Most of my friends and family had posed for me by now, and I was running out of options for new subjects... well, subjects I wouldn't have to pay. I was only an amateur, so paying for a model wasn't something I'd be able to afford too often. Photography was something I was really interested in, but it couldn't even begin to pay the bills until I could expand my portfolio and get a low level professional job or two. That meant I had to keep my day job as a physical therapist. Still, my first exhibit went well - I had even sold a few photographs. It had been held right here at the coffee shop, thanks to my sister Rosalie, who harassed the owner until she caved. Not that it took much effort; the owner was Rosalie's best friend, Charlotte.
What was surprising was that a self-portrait I included sold . I hadn't intended to put it in the display, but Rosalie insisted.
"Oh, come on, Edward," she had whined. "Everyone wants to see what the artist looks like, and I love this photograph."
"Why? I was unshowered and smelly, and I look it. I was just testing the light." We stood together in my austere apartment, thumbing through photographs. Rosalie rubbed the top of her seven months pregnant stomach and cocked her head to the side.
"I don't know. There's just something about it that makes me laugh. And it's different from the other portraits... I don't know, more real."
So I included it. I wasn't about to screw with a pregnant woman, especially since she allowed me to use a photograph of my niece in the exhibit. Emily was a precocious nine year old and just gorgeous. She was going to be a heart breaker.
The barista handed the coffee and scone over the counter and wished me a good day. I headed out to catch the subway to work, debating the pros and cons of buying a new camera now or waiting another week to see if would be returned. Strangely, I was almost more upset about losing the film - one of those rolls contained my session with Rosalie. I knew she'd pose for me again if I asked, but the light had been so perfect that day, and I knew I'd never be able to replicate the conditions. It was also the closest I'd ever come to photographing anyone nude. Rosalie wanted photographs of her swollen belly, so she wore a pair of jeans and a loose-fitting, white, button down shirt that she'd unfastened enough to let her baby bump poke through.
I'd been incredibly uncomfortable with it. For one, it was my sister, and thinking I was doing something gross and inappropriate kind of ruined it for me. And secondly, while I was interested in photographing people, I had trouble even looking at nude photographs. I'd always been somewhat shy, and it's not like I was a virgin, but the sexuality usually portrayed in even tasteful nudes embarrassed me. Rosalie called me a prude often enough, and maybe it was true.
The receptionist at work greeted me loudly as I walked through the receptionist area and waved me over.
"Edward, you have a package. Someone dropped this off for you."
It was my camera case. My eyebrows rose.
"Oh, great! Did you see who left it?" I dug through the case to see if everything was there or if anything was broken. Everything was in perfect order, to my utter surprise. Not a scratch on anything, and everything accounted for. Four rolls of film, my F/1.8 lens... wait? Four rolls? I'd only had three rolls when my bag disappeared. Did someone give me an extra roll of film? Maybe I had miscounted? With some disappointment, I realized one thing was missing: an old, brass skeleton key I had found in my apartment when I moved in. It hadn't fit any lock in the place, but I had kept it in my camera bag since I found it... sort of a good luck charm.
"Nope. It was propped up against the door in a bag, and the bag had your name on it. I grabbed it on the way in, and as far as I know, there wasn't anyone around."
How... I didn't think there was anything in my camera case with my work address on it, but I must have left my business card in there. Odd.
I pulled the door of the laundry room shut. It was still my laundry room, but I'd purchased one of the tiniest stackable washer and dryers I could find in order to have space for a makeshift darkroom. I had my wet side set up on the counter next to the sink, and the dry side on a small table that split the room in half. There wasn't a ton of room to maneuver, but it was functional. Before I turned out the light, I positioned all the film in front of me and lined each roll up against a lip so I could easily find it. The light clicked off, and I removed the film from the cassettes and loaded it all onto reels. As soon as I had the reels in the tank and tightly covered with the light trap, I flicked the safe light on and set in the developer. The anticipation of seeing what I'd managed to capture on film always made my blood rush through my veins. It was a little over twenty minutes until I washed the film, and I was dying to see the images. I hung the negatives to dry and forced myself to grab something to eat and check my email. Finally I had the contact sheets finished, and I sat down on my couch with a loupe to take a look.
As I had hoped, the photos of Rosalie turned out perfectly. I'd definitely make prints of almost all of the shots for her. The contact sheet for the extra roll of film was next, and I didn't recognize the dark trees pictured, nor the door with the sign that read The Dominion. And the next shot made my eyes widen; surely the film had to have been put in my bag my mistake . I hastily repositioned the loupe after getting a glimpse of shadowed breasts and nipples. The next photo was another nude - this time a woman's bottom coupled with a dark tangle of hair down her back. My eyes were drawn to the lines of her body for just a moment before I berated myself and went to the next: a photograph of a newspaper with an ad for a photo exhibit circled in heavy marker. Next was another nude, and judging by the hair, it might have been the same woman. The light played off her skin, making her slim thighs and the outline of her breast seem to glow. The photo was beautiful, a thought that shocked me considering how erotic photography usually made me feel... and these shots were erotic. Even the photographs that didn't involve this woman had a raw, vulnerable quality to them that made my dick stir. If the photos before made me feel conflicted, the next stopped my heart. It was a photo of a piece of lined notebook paper, the edges ragged. Written on it were three words, the cursive handwriting feminine and even: Edward. Find me.
Stunned, I sat back on my couch. What the hell? Was... was the woman in the photos actually wanting me to track her down? Was it someone just trying to screw with me? Was Rosalie just playing a joke?
My cock was now fully standing at attention, the head of it digging painfully into the zipper of my jeans. I adjusted myself and leaned forward with the loupe to look at the rest of the photos. The next couple were the dark trees again, and then a photo of me standing outside the coffee shop.
I rubbed my hand over my mouth, trying to decide if I was creeped out or turned on or both. She had been following me. The mystery woman... she knew... well, not me, but she knew my routine. She obviously knew I was at the coffee shop often enough. She obviously took my camera case, but how long had she been watching me before then? The hair on the back of my neck stood up and goosebumps popped up on my arms. Did I have a stalker?
Well, of course, I had a stalker. That was obvious. But was she dangerous? Was she crazy? If I found her, as she encouraged, would she chop me up into tiny pieces and throw them into the sewer?
I moved the loupe to the next photo on the contact sheet. Her face stared back at me. Not her whole face, but one of her eyes and the side of her face, her long, dark hair spilling over her shoulders. Under the lens in miniature, she looked... I didn't know, but her eye burned into me. I vaulted off the couch toward the darkroom - I need to enlarge the negatives and make prints. I needed to see... her. Something about her touched a part of me I never knew existed, something primal and wild. I was shaking, every inch of my skin overly sensitive and throbbing.
What was wrong with me? This entire thing was insane; it was obvious, and yet I couldn't stop myself from flicking on the safe light in my darkroom and getting to work on enlarging the negatives. I worked with a fervor I'd never felt before, and before I knew it I was scrutinizing 16 x 20" prints of every photo on the extra roll of film, even the dark photos of trees, which all turned out to be nothing more - I suspected they were taken just to use up the film. There was nothing remarkable about those photos, no clue to reveal where the trees were, nothing out of the ordinary. The other photos, though, were a different story. I saved the nude shots for last, focusing on the others.
I examined the photo of the club first. The sign with the name of the club listed a website. I powered up my laptop and typed in the URL, shocked to discover it was a fetish club. I immediately clicked out of the site and deleted my browser history. What kind of a woman was this? Who did she think I was? The second photo was the ad for the photo exhibit... the photographer was not unknown to me: Cooper Banner. He had garnered a reputation for nude photography, just the kind of thing that made me uncomfortable. The time and date for the show was five days away. Given my mystery woman's clues - a fetish club and an erotic photography exhibit - I decided pursuing this... thing... wasn't a good idea.
But then I started to study the nude photos, and that feeling came back to me... that powerful rush of desire, coupled with an almost manic need to find her. I couldn't explain the reaction. They were just photos... photos that would normally leave me feeling awkward and disturbed. Maybe it had just been too long since I'd had a girlfriend; maybe it was just my libido talking. As I traced the contours of the woman's body with my fingers, my dick hardened to the point where I thought I might injure myself if I didn't unzip my jeans. I felt like a degenerate sitting on my couch with my fly undone, my erection tenting my underwear ridiculously while I obsessed over a possible stalker's nipples. My guilt was only compounded by the sound of my elderly neighbor limping down the hallway. All I needed was my mother to call to completely make me feel like an uncontrollable perv.
I sat back on the couch, my hand lingering over my stomach. Her face, what of it I could see in the photo, gazed at me, and I found myself forgetting to be ashamed of how my body was reacting to her. My fingers pushed under the waistband of my briefs, sliding over the wiry hair and smoothing my palm against the base of my cock. Her eyes - or at least the eye in the photo - was on me, and I imagined a look of longing there. I glided my thumb up along my dick and sighed as it passed over the thick ridge and across the head, sweeping moisture along to ease the slip of my hand.
My eyes closed for a moment as I relished the sensation of electricity that shot through me as I gripped myself, but I wanted to see her. I wanted to touch her, make her sit for a session for me and worship her. The tension built as my fist tightened around my dick, and I groaned, imagining my tongue on the curve of her ass. I couldn't understand where these thoughts were coming from. Yes, I was a man and thought about women sexually, but never like this. I wanted her in ways I couldn't even vocalize. I couldn't even allow myself to intentionally think them, although my body was certainly acting on its own, my brain wildly out of control as the idea of fucking this woman whose name I didn't even know kept playing out. I wanted her bent over my couch or sandwiched against the wall of my hallway.
I knew I should feel badly about even thinking it. I lived a life of restraint and order. The guilt and shame should have been all over me, but all I felt was a tingle in my balls that shot up my dick, my thighs shaking, as I came over my fist. I threw my head back and muttered, "Shit."
There was something seriously wrong with me.
The days that followed were torturous. I forced myself to put the photos in a drawer and told myself I wouldn't look at them. Every night, though, I dug the photos out and jerked off... in my shower... in my bed... in the darkroom. I couldn't help myself. Something about her called to me. The damp-looking skin begged me to touch it. The small of her back seemed made for my cheek. It was madness. My dick was actually sore from how often I was masturbating. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I took out the other photos to see if I could figure out how to find her. I had to, if for no other reason than to see her and realize I was making this into something insane. She was probably ordinary, nothing special. Perhaps she didn't really exist at all.
I spread the photos over my coffee table and booted up my computer, going back to the website for the fetish club. Everything was by appointment except for tonight. There was a monthly open house that started in two hours. I had no idea what going to an open house at a fetish club entailed, but it was only $10 to get in, and the FAQ on the website said it encouraged visitors to watch. Watch what, exactly, I didn't know. If people are playing and you want to ask something, then wait until they are finished, the website explained. What the hell did that even mean? Playing what? Dominoes? Poker? If the photo on the front page of the website was any indication, it involved whips, which worried me a bit and made me squirm uncomfortably.
The address was across town, so I made quick work of a shower and getting dressed, opting for something casual and nondescript - dark jeans, black boots, and a black button down shirt. I didn't want to be noticed, but I wanted to be free to look for the woman in those photos. I wasn't even sure I would recognize her, but I knew after spending so much time pouring over the images that she had a birthmark on her right hip that resembled Texas and an inch-long jagged scar on her shoulder. I knew her eyes and hair were dark, although I didn't know what color. Her skin looked creamy and pale, but I had no idea if that was real or a trick of lighting.
With my heart pounding in my chest, I approached the door of The Dominion twenty minutes after the listed start of their open house and handed money to a large, dark-skinned man at the door. He nodded to me as I entered, and my eyes adjusted to the dim light of the hallway inside, the sound of loud techno music blasting through hidden speakers. The walls were painted something dark, perhaps brown, and I followed a few people who were in front of me, both wearing leather. I wasn't the only person dressed in what I considered normal clothes, but most of the people I passed in the hallway were dressed... I didn't know what they were dressed as, but there was a lot of leather and what looked like rubber. A few people smiled at me, which made me feel marginally better, but I was intimidated and unsure of what to do or how to act. I started at the bar, ordering a beer and shifting uncomfortably.
"First time?" The words came from a tiny redheaded woman in a too-tight nurse's uniform, her hair a curly mane around her head. I studied her, wondering if this could be the woman from the photos, but her eyes didn't seem the right shape and her breasts were much too large.
I nodded, averting my eyes from her ample cleavage. "Yes."
"Edward," I replied.
"Mmmm. Well, I can show you around, if you like."
I wanted to tell her to leave me alone, but I didn't know how else I would figure out how to see everything... and I needed to. I needed a clue. I needed to find the woman from the photo, and I didn't have the slightest idea how to start in a place like this.
"Uh, yeah. Okay."
She laughed. "Don't worry, I won't bite unless you ask."
It was clearly supposed to be a joke, but I didn't understand why that was so funny. I took a gulp of my drink and listened as she explained. "Obviously, this is the main dance floor. Nudity is not an option here, but that's not the case elsewhere in the club." She led me away from the bar and down a hallway with her hand on my arm. "This hallway has rooms for couples. Never open a closed door unless someone has invited you. These are private play areas."
I didn't want to appear stupid, so I didn't say anything at all. I studied the face of every woman who passed, but none of them really looked like the woman in the photo. In the next hallway, Victoria paused at a room with no door, a crowd of people standing inside.
"There's no set theme to each room usually. If a door is open or there is no door, you're welcome to watch."
The smell of something burnt was heavy in the air as I stepped inside, my eyes going wide to see a naked and blindfolded woman lying prone on a table. A man in leather stood over her, dragging ice across her skin while she moaned. A few moments later, he swiped a cotton ball over her thigh and lit a match, a flame moving swiftly across her leg, followed by the man's hand as he extinguished the fire. What the fuck was that?
"Temperature play," Victoria explained, probably in answer to what I'm sure was the confusion on my face. I looked over each woman in the room, trying to ignore what else was going on. The entire thing left me bored, which was shocking in itself. I should have been appalled or embarrassed, but I was neither - I was simply impatient, ready to move on to another room so I could continue to look for the woman in the photo. None of this seemed sexy or exotic... it just seemed empty. It was the woman in the photos I wanted, and this... club... was just a means to an end.
The next room was, Victoria said, a pony exhibit, which just seemed silly to me - what was the thrill of pretending to ride a fat man in a tiny leather thong and ball gag and reins? At least I could be sure the woman with the whip wasn't her... she was jowly and covered in varicose veins. And the room after that featured a tall, rail thin blonde woman suspended from the ceiling as a Native American woman in thigh high boots and hardly anything more tapped a cane over the blonde's body. I left when the dildo came out. No one stood out, and I continued to surprise myself by barely paying attention to the blatant sexual activity around me. Nothing mattered but finding that woman.
Victoria had eventually wandered off when it was clear I wasn't interested in her or joining in any of the scenes, as she called them. In the last room, a nude woman was bound, kneeling on a wheeled, metal surgical table with her hands strapped behind her back and her feet clamped to a straight bar. Her dark, curly hair spread over the table, and my heart stopped. Was it her? She looked to be the right body type, although I couldn't see her breasts very well. A dark-skinned man, completely naked except for a cock ring, guided her mouth to his dick, and she sucked him off as I watched. My eyes burned over her, looking for her scar or some other thing that seemed familiar but there was nothing, and I was glad there was nothing recognizable about her when the man spun the table and eased himself into her as she squirmed. And yet the woman looked enough like the photos in my house for my dick to respond.
I left the club, agitated by my reaction. It wasn't her, but I was hard as a rock. I couldn't honestly say I enjoyed watching the man fuck the woman on the table, but the thought of having her that way appealed to me on some strange level. I wanted her at my mercy, and if I was being honest with myself, I wanted to punish her for doing this to me, for making me crazy and turning my world upside down. I wanted to bury myself in her and forget my confusion, see her lips wrapped around my cock. I was turned on, but I wasn't. Every thought was jumbled and mixed up, and I couldn't think logically. Everything was wrong. My skin felt tight and uncomfortable, and by the time I made it back to my apartment, nothing was right again until I had her photos spread out all around me.
Two nights later I found myself standing in the corner of a pretentious art gallery in Old City. The blonde wood floors gleamed under my feet, and the white walls held a series of photographs in which I had no interest. The show contained mostly tattooed women standing sullenly before the camera and a series of super close up vaginal shots that made me roll my eyes. Something had happened to me - the woman in the photos, the fetish club, my constant hard-on. Whatever it was, the exhibit photos didn't embarrass me, but I was annoyed. These women were reduced to nothing more than unappealing body parts. There was no mystery, no emotion to the photos. I found myself comparing the work to her photos. Even though there was no way for me to know for sure, they felt like self-portraits to me. They were personal, forcefully emotional. The photos on the wall were cold and lifeless.
It wasn't art. There just wasn't anything there.
I sipped at a glass of mediocre wine, keeping to the corners and avoiding conversations. I searched for her. Any glimpse of long brown hair had me scrutinizing every detail on a woman until I was sure it wasn't the person I was looking for. My frustration grew with each passing second until I was irrationally angry for being forced to be here, for being coerced into going to a sex club, for this woman forcing herself into my life and making everything in my life so fucked up.
A woman in an elegant, sleeveless black dress squeezed past me, the scent of her perfume lingering. It was something sweet but earthy, like vanilla mixed with the pungency of wet earth. I watched her as she walked away, noting the delicate curve of her neck and her dark hair long and loose, the end of it tickling between her shoulder blades. She turned, her hair hiding her face, and I saw a scar on her shoulder. My heart galloped in my chest. Was it her? She swiveled on her stilettos and headed in the opposite direction, moving swiftly toward the back of the gallery. I followed, studying her skin, the curve of her spine, the swell of her breast. It was her; I was sure of it. The line of her calf was as familiar as my own at this point. I knew her. My body urged me to go to her, to touch her. Nothing made sense. Everything made sense.
She ducked around a corner, and I rounded it in time to see her disappear behind a door. I slipped in behind her a moment later to find myself in some sort of large, dimly-lit supply closet filled with shelves.
"Where are you?" I murmured. "I found you."
"You found nothing." Her voice was a soprano, high and breathy yet oddly familiar.
"I found you," I repeated, my eyes looking in the direction of her voice.
The lights flickered, and I was plunged into a blackness so complete I couldn't see a single thing. I heard the click of heels to my left, and her scent assaulted me before I felt her fingertips on my cheekbone.
"Who are you?"
She didn't answer, but I sensed her draw closer, could feel the heat of her on my skin, the taste of her in the air around me. Seconds before her lips touched mine, a tingle prickled in my spine. A warning sign of danger or an omen of good fortune? I didn't know. I only knew the ache in my chest felt somehow less painful and more intense. My cock was hard, and I almost yelped with relief when I felt her fingers fumbling with the button and zipper of my pants.
I should have been horrified. I should have felt humiliated, and yet I only felt angry justification. I wanted her on her knees, and I should have felt guilty about it, but I didn't; I felt powerful. She didn't answer me, and I asked again, but she cut me off with her hot breath huffing against my skin as she kneeled in front of me and yanked my pants down my legs. The cool air puckered my skin, creating a delicious contrast against her scorching hot mouth sucking on the skin of my thigh as she closed her hand over my dick. I moaned and grabbed her hair, wrapping it around my fist. There was nothing except her and moist heat of her mouth, her blunt nails scratching over my bare ass.
"Tell me your name," I demanded, roughly backing her away from me with a jerk of her hair.
She sinuously slithered up my body until her lips were at my earlobe. "No. Fuck me."
"No." I clamped my arm around her back and ground my hips against her, the fabric of her dress rubbing against my damp and overheated cock. She sucked in a breath of air, a small whine escaping as she pushed it out heavily. I ruched up the hem of her dress with my free hand while I dug in her cleavage with my teeth and tongue, nudging a silver chain into view. Hanging it from it was the key I'd had in my camera bag. She squirmed as I palmed her inner thigh, brushing my fingertips over the wet slinkiness of her panties.
"Why did you take my camera bag." I pushed her legs apart, guiding her so her knee bent and her foot rested on a shelf so she was open to me. I shoved the crotch of her underwear aside and ran my finger along the outside of her bare lips.
She gasped but didn't say a word, and I pulled her closer to me, crushing her breasts and that damn key into my chest. "Tell me!" I hissed at her, my mouth a centimeter from hers.
"To show you," she rasped out. My fingertip pushed her lips, and I rubbed lazily just inside, her wetness coating my skin.
"Show me what?" She bucked her hips against my hand, and I pulled away from her slightly. "To show me what?"
"Your passion." Her voice was huskier now, almost gravelly. "There's so much raw passion in your photos and in you," I slipped a finger into her, following the curve of her walls, "but you don't even know it."
I angled my head down, dragging my lips across her cheekbone, my tongue tasting salt on her skin. "So you're torturing me and turning my life upside down to prove a point?" I slammed another finger into her, sliding in and out of her roughly. She arched her back, but I held her firmly, restricting her movement.
"What is your name?" I enunciated each word, punctuating them with my thumb circling her clit. I could feel her tensing, feel the surge shaking her muscles. I smirked in the darkness and removed my hand, pushing her away from me.
She sputtered her outrage, and I reached out to grasp her necklace with my key, tearing it over her head and getting it caught in her hair, stowing it in my shirt pocket. Her hands scratched at me in an attempt to get the necklace back, but I kept her at arm's length. She stopped struggling, our breath both ragged and loud.
"Tell... me... your... name."
"Show me your fire!"
Her words broke something in me, that little bit of control I had left. I tore at the tie over her hip that held her dress together in the front, and I could feel it fall open, exposing the heat of her bare skin to my hands. I ran my hand up the curve of her hip, lingering where I knew her birthmark lay, skimming my palm over her ribs to pinch her nipple. The lace of her bra felt prickly under my touch, and her fingers were back on me, cupping my balls and clawing at my ass.
"You burn me," I barked at her, knocking her hands away and spinning her around wildly before advancing on her and pushing her against a shelf with my body. "What are you doing to me?"
"God, Edward, just fuck me," she whined. "I need you."
I should have been thinking about condoms and disease and pregnancy, but the white hot pounding in my brain exploded behind my eyes, and all I could think about was being inside her. I bent over her, forcing my forehead hard into her shoulder blades and clenching my teeth while I dragged my blunt nails along the skin of her outer thigh, hooked my thumbs in her panties, and tugged them down. The scent of her intensified - vanilla and dirt - and I trailed the point of my chin down her spine, fitting my cheek into the small of her back, just as I'd been fantasizing about. It was a perfect fit, which pissed me off and drove me to grab the base of my dick in a frenzy and plow into her, the two of us groaning so loudly I was sure everyone in the gallery could hear us.
It was maddening. This wasn't me, but I didn't feel wrong. I felt vindicated and I felt whole and I felt... as though everything in my life had fallen into place in such a way that the raw lust was pouring out of me, soaking through what few clothes we both still had on and making me drunk from desire. I still didn't know her name, and I was desperate to know, but at the same time it ceased to matter. Nothing else mattered - not my job, not my family, not anything. The only thing that was important was the way she was so warm and wet, and the way she was murmuring my name, the way my hands fit perfectly on the curve of her hip.
My muscles started to tense and my balls started to ache, every nerve ending screaming at me to go faster, to use her, to love her, to mark her in some way as mine. She squeezed around me as she came, and I had the presence of mind to pull out of her moments later just before I did, my jizz pooling on the skin of her lower back. I couldn't see what she wiped herself off with or even if she did, but before I could react, she flung the door open. I could see that she was holding her dress closed, a smirk on her face, although her hair obscured most of her features.
"You're beautiful," she whispered before slamming the door shut.
I cursed and pulled my pants up, swearing louder as I realized the door seemed to be stuck. As I felt along the wall, my fingers found a light switch, and I flicked it on, assessing the damage, which admittedly wasn't much - just a few knocked over bottles of something and her discarded underwear on the floor, which I promptly shoved into my pocket, willing myself to calm the hell down as the handle of the door jiggled. Several seconds later, the door pushed open, the cautious face of a tall, thin man filling the doorway. "Someone told me they heard weird noises... the door was locked from the outside. Are you okay?"
I grumbled and pushed past the man, stalking around the room and looking for her. She was nowhere, and I angrily left the gallery, garnering more than a few bewildered stares, but I couldn't bring myself to care about how I must have looked. On the drive home, I berated myself for being so pissed off, sure that this psycho stranger had passed on a disease or somehow set me up. And yet I wasn't upset with her anymore... the need to see her, to touch her was wilder and more exaggerated now than ever before. On some level I felt ashamed I hadn't been gentler with her, but the larger part of me was stunned. I wasn't the type of man to treat a woman so roughly.
Something new was unleashed in me. It was more than just this obsession with that woman. It was bigger, and the second I got home, I was driven to make some new self-portraits... my own nudes . I set up my tripod, programmed my remote shutter, and set up the backdrop, intent on creating something so she could see how she made me feel. And the work was good - I felt vulnerable and strong, powerful and exposed. The anger and irritation at the raw feelings she stirred up in me morphed into determination. If she wanted me to find her, I would. If she wanted me to show her the passion she stirred in me, I would. I would find her... again.
I had run out of clues, though, and short of begging someone in law enforcement to fingerprint the key, I had no idea how I'd find her. Ask around the coffee shop? Stake out The Dominion? Frequent photography exhibits? Whatever it took, I would do it. I would find her. I needed her like air. My body craved her more than I could possibly articulate. Without her everything seemed bland.
The next morning I woke up naked on my couch and called in sick to work. Without even giving a thought to my neighbors, I walked around my apartment bare-assed and fixed myself a pot of coffee. As I drank my breakfast and studied my new portraits, I kicked at my clothes from last night, the key clunking loudly out of my shirt. I crouched down and studied the chain. It wasn't anything special, just small silver links . Her panties were still in my pants' pocket, and I pulled them out, getting my first good look at them. They were pale pink and sheer lace, I ran my fingertips over the elastic at the waist and brought them to my nose. I should have felt like a perv, but I didn't. I breathed in her vanilla earth scent and wished I had my hands on her, instantly sparking my dick to twitch.
I couldn't sit in my apartment any longer - every moment spent silently obsessing over where to find her was making me crazier and more agitated. Finally I decided to head to the coffee shop. Maybe getting out in public would help me gain some clarity or inspire some new ideas about how to find her. I didn't even get a shower; I threw my clothes on from the night before with my new self-portraits and her portraits in an envelope, the key in my front pocket. The photographs felt like a good luck charm of sorts, and I needed them with me.
The usual barista was behind the counter, but today her smile seemed forced. I would have at least asked her how her day was going if I hadn't been so flustered and worked up.
"The usual, Edward?"
"Yeah, thanks." I paid her and took my cup to a table in the corner to brood and think. Maybe someone at the gallery would recognize the woman if I showed around the photo of her face. Perhaps Charlotte, the owner of the coffee shop, would know her.
I must have sat there for an hour, staring gloomily out the front window of the coffee shop without seeing anything. Charlotte came in and asked the barista to run an errand - go to the bank, pick up a package at the post office. The distraction made me realize I'd finished my coffee. I was about to order another when I noticed the girl from behind the counter take her beanie off and shake her hair out - long, dark, curly hair that reached just between her shoulder blades. Her back was to the window as she shrugged out of her hoodie, exposing her shoulders... one of which carried a scar. Her scar.
Everything stopped around me as I stared openly. At no time in my life had ogling a woman in public or hooking up with a stranger ever been acceptable, but it was all different now. I was different. She had seen to it, torn open my world and turned everything upside down. Last night I had been angry, but today I was seeing the order in the determined chaos she created. The sunlight outside made her hair shine, and I wanted to rush out into the street and grab her, shake her... yell at her. I had found her, and I had found my passion. She brought out every exposed wound, every unmet desire, every secret craving I'd ever harbored.
I couldn't even breathe as she ducked into a car and drove off. The hard-on in my pants argued I should go after her, and the obsession that gripped me agreed. The very small rational part of my brain told me to stay put; she'd be back. Every muscle in my body was tensed, still debating whether I should run or stay. I wanted her - it occurred to me that I could ask Charlotte what her name was, but it would somehow cheapen our game, so I stayed put, scheming about how to handle the situation.
Thirty minutes later she had returned, her stocking cap and hoodie in place. I approached the counter, my face carefully neutral, although it took all my willpower not to launch myself at her and run my tongue down the column of her neck. Without a word, I slapped her portrait down and then my own, glaring at her. I was suddenly furious again but turned on at the same time. I didn't understand my reactions at all. The smile froze on her face, her eyes wide. Silently, I reached across the counter and ripped her hat off, her long, dark hair tumbling down her shoulders.
My index finger grazed her hand as she took the hat back from me, and she shivered. I slid my hand out of my pocket and placed the key on her necklace down on the counter before quietly murmuring, "Find me."
My emotions changed on a dime, and now I was amused. With a chuckle, I turned and left the shop, pushing out a heavy sigh of relief as I reached the sidewalk. Right now I wanted nothing more than to force her into a back room so I could tear her clothes off and make her see how crazy she made me. The further away from her I got, the heavier the feeling of desire in my gut. By the time I got home, my fists and jaw were clenched tightly. I distracted myself by jerking off and working in the darkroom.
An hour later the door flew open, ruining the prints I was enlarging and startling me. She stood in the doorway, her chest heaving, strands of hair waving wildly around her face. I rushed at her, my lips moving against hers frantically as I tore her hoodie off, immediately ducking my head to bite at the scar on her shoulder. The red safety lights were just enough to see she seemed just as agitated, just as relieved to be here with me.
"Tell me your name." I wasn't angry anymore, but the attraction I felt was no less primal than it had been the night before. I palmed her breast and squeezed her nipple roughly.
"No." Why did she have to be like this? She was meant for me, and I wanted her. I needed her. And it was more than just about the sex - there was something about her. I felt crazed when I was away from her, and I just couldn't explain. My dick was practically tearing through my jeans to get to her, and I didn't want to wait another second.
"God, I fucking want you."
"I'm yours. I've been yours from the beginning."
It should have been weird to have this woman here, this stranger, a woman I'd seen every day but who'd been torturing me, but it wasn't. It seemed completely right. I drew her tank top over head, immediately grabbing her ass and lifting her to sit on the dry side table. Her hands clawed at my clothes as her sharp teeth nipped at my jaw and lips. I yanked her pants and underwear down her legs after she lifted her hips to help. The darkroom was warm, close; sweat started beading on my forehead. Everything I'd been feeling over the last week was rushing through my head in a blur, and I couldn't get a grasp on any one emotion... I just... needed her, to be in her, for her to surround me. I pushed the cup of her bra down frantically, diving at her nipple and sucking on it roughly. Her hands tore at my hair - I didn't know if she was trying to get me closer to her or tear me away.
"Tell me your name," I muttered against her breast. I wanted to know. I wanted to whisper it to her as I teased her clit with my tongue. I wanted to say it out loud into the thick air that was now heavy with her vanilla earth smell to make her more real.
She didn't say a word, sticking to the little sighing sounds she'd been making. I pulled her nipple back into my mouth, sucking on it as I slid two fingers into her already wet pussy. She gasped my name, and I was irritated that she could say my name, but I couldn't say hers.
Her fingers traced the contours of my dick, the feel of it so vivid I could picture exactly what it would look like if I looked down at us. As I flicked my tongue out at her skin, I imagined what her face would show in this moment and how it would look on film. I wanted to see us together, the pale smooth lines of her against my body.
Why couldn't she just tell me her name? It was making my crazy. I pulled away from her, just long enough to frantically unfasten my belt and flip open the fly of my pants, and she hooked her fingers into the waistband, tearing them down my thighs. My buckle clunked loudly as it hit the floor. She slid her hands up the planes of my chest under my shirt, her palms soft and hot against my skin. I clutched at her hips, my short nails biting into the smooth flesh there. My frenzied need for her was the driving force as I grasped the base of my dick and slammed into her. Her moans and my grunts were loud in the room.
"What... is... it?" I ground out as we set a fast rhythm. God, I was hitting her so deep, so deep. Every texture, every curve; I could feel her. I threw my head back, the table wobbling as I pistoned into her, and yelled, "Tell me!"
"What does it matter?" Her words were breathy and quiet, her hands tugging at my hair as her hips met mine. Her tits swayed with every thrust, a sight I was sure would stay with me until my last breath. She looked wild and untamed.
"Sit for me," I demanded. I thrust up into her as hard as I could, pulling her onto me harder, one hand on the small of her back. "Pose with me."
She arched her back, drawing me closer with the heels of her sneakers pressing into the back of my thigh. I could feel her pants still tangled around one ankle. "You found it," she whispered. "Your passion."
"You're my passion," I gasped.
A smile lit up her face, her body moving sinuously. "I knew it. I knew it from the first time I saw you at your exhibit." She moaned and closed her eyes. "I watched you."
"I don't care. Just tell me." Oddly, I found I really didn't care. She had stalked me, stole my camera, made me insane, but none of it mattered anymore. The frenzied lust I felt for her, the manic attraction... it had turned everything upside down, and nothing would ever be upright again without her in it. "I need you."
"Bella. My name is Bella."
I screamed her name as I came, the force of it echoing through the darkroom.
A/N: As mentioned above, there are photographs that go with this fic…