Written for babypups because she is simply lovely. Prompt used: Early winter by Keane

Rated M for extreme nudity.

Chapter One

Esme sat in front of the oval vanity mirror, and ran her hands through her wet hair. The tresses tangled between each finger, leaving moisture on her skin. She continued to pull through till she reached the curling ends, which fell to just above her nipples. Her damp fingers carried on travelling down, leaving her hair behind, finding skin instead.

The water on her hands was cool, causing a puckering across her flesh; her nipple tightened as her palm gently hovered above it.

Her green eyes remained glued to her reflection. Silently, she studied herself. Her long, wavy, caramel coloured hair; the caramel was partly thanks to the regularly purchased box from the drug store to hide the few grey strands which kept sneaking through. Her skin was pale, milky, and soft; too soft for her liking.

Esme wanted a tan and toned body, nice and firm.

Her hands fell to her sides, brushing her rounded hips. She disliked her shape, her fullness. She hadn't always been so...soft. It was the only word to describe what she saw; soft. Recalling her youth, Esme remembered with her mind's eye the firm, slimmer figure of a young, attractive and athletic girl. Her legs had been smooth, with not an ounce of cellulite in sight. Her buttocks had been taut, ready to be pinched, and it often was. Now, her legs remained out of sight in slacks or in dark, thick tights. She figured there really was no need to shave them more than once a week, nor have them on show in knee-length skirts.

Esme dropped her eyes down to her stomach and gently followed the lines of faded, silvery stretch marks peppered across her tummy.

She felt...old. She knew she looked it, too, because her husband of twenty years had walked out, telling her the fire that used to be 'Esme' had died. There was no excitement anymore, hadn't been in a long time. And even though she didn't agree with him, she hadn't found the energy to argue. Charles had always excited her, and it hurt to hear him say it wasn't reciprocated.

Esme recalled some other words he'd used to describe their sex life, and feeling the sickness and humiliation grip hold of her again, Esme closed her eyes to the woman staring back at her. The woman she no longer recognised but had to see every damn day.


She could hear Alice banging around downstairs, slamming cupboard doors and muttering to herself. She was no doubt complaining because Esme was not already down in the kitchen, making breakfast and seeing her daughter off to school, just as she did every morning.

Just as she had always done.

Same old shit, just a different day, Esme thought.

She'd heard the phrase on one of those brain dead, teenage drama shows and had taken an instant liking to it. Those words summed up Esme's life perfectly.

Grabbing a band, Esme tied back her still-damp hair and stood, pulling on her clothes which had been laid out on the bed since before her shower. She didn't bother with make-up.

Walking into the kitchen, Esme watched Alice pour cereal into a bowl, spilling most of it onto the counter top before adding milk into the mix. That, too, missed the bowl. Picking up her breakfast, and a spoon, Alice stormed past, knocking Esme gently with her shoulder.

"Thanks a lot, Mom. Now I'm running late."

Esme decided not to chastise her daughter for her rudeness, or her mess, and just reluctantly accepted the blame. She'd learnt the hard way that it didn't really matter what she said to Alice, there was no point in defending herself, or asking her daughter to grow up and accept her responsibilities.

When Esme talked, all Alice heard was babble. She wondered if Alice heard dolphin squeaks when she talked, or a high-pitched whistle, because nothing she said sunk in. Therefore, Esme had given up talking, squeaking, or whistling, and simply kept quiet, nodding along in agreement with her high maintenance daughter and her selfish demands.

Esme wondered when she had stopped liking Alice, and had resorted to loving her just for the sake of her paternal duty. That sounded harsh, even to Esme, but in reality, Alice was hard work, spoilt and oblivious to those around her and their needs. Alice thought of no-one but herself.

It had been an overnight change from sweet, angelic little girl to self-obsessed, materialistic, selfish young madam. Esme had never seen it coming, could never believe her booboo could turn into a monster. Charles had never noticed, of course. His angel would forever remain his angel. He was blind to her flaws, but fixated on Esme's; or so it seemed to Esme.

And when he'd left, taking Esme' dignity as well as her heart along with him, Alice had ignored her mother's pain and blamed her for his departure; just like Charles had.

It was always Esme's fault.

"You're not listening to me, again!" Alice actually stamped her foot, causing Esme to forget her musings and focus her attention on her daughter.

"What did you need, dear?"

"I need you to drop off this portfolio," Alice explained, slowing her words as if Esme was stupid and didn't understand. "It's very important. There's a modelling job I want, and they need to see my work before they make their decision. I have an exam so can't do it." Alice thrust the folder towards Esme, and waited for her to take it.

"Alice, I have a busy day to-"

"You?" Alice laughed. "Well, if you could do me a favour and make time for me, for a change, in between manicures and lunching with the ladies, I'd appreciate it."

Esme took the folder and looked down at her hands. Her nails were bitten and without polish. It was quite obvious to anyone with eyes that it had been a while since her last manicure.

"Thanks," Alice shot over her shoulder as she raced out the door.

And as for lunching with the ladies, it had been a long while since they'd extended an invitation to Esme. Thinking about it hurt, remembering her youth hurt, missing her marriage hurt. Sometimes, Esme wished she could just be numb - stop feeling so much, stop needing - something.

Sighing, Esme sat down at the counter and looked around her. Alice had left the kitchen in complete disarray, assuming her mother would clear up, just as she always did.

It was always the same way.

Esme stood back up and started to clear the breakfast things. She loaded the dishwasher and washed the work surfaces with a disinfectant spray, taking her time to wipe the area clean and dry.

Walking through the house, she puttered around, tidying away, picking up laundry and filling the machine. It was a mindless task, one she did every day without thought or care anymore.

Once satisfied with the house, Esme walked back upstairs to her room and decided that because she was leaving the house, she should really apply a modest amount of make-up. Picking up Alice's portfolio, she headed towards her car. Alice had thoughtfully taped the address of the studio on the front cover, and looking at it, Esme recognised the area. Throwing the folder onto the passenger seat, she started the car and drove straight there.

It took less than ten minutes to arrive, but longer to see the photographer. Esme was told to wait for he was busy with a shoot, and would see her when he was done.

Esme sat and studied all of the magazines on offer, then standing, she walked around the room, looking at the prints framed and hanging on the plain, white walls. Each one was of a body part; the curve from a neck to shoulder, the length of a thigh, the delicate contours of a back with just a hint of the breast sloping seductively; all of them in black and white, and none of them with a face.

Esme had to admit they were exquisite, and who ever the woman was, she had a beauty that was so apparent in every angle of her body the viewer would assume her face was beautiful, too.

Walking over to Alice's portfolio, Esme opened it up and looked at each print. Her daughter was attractive, slight, and extremely photogenic, but her colourful shots seemed garish in comparison to the black and whites she'd just viewed.

"Jasper will see you now," the pretty, young receptionist called over to Esme. She nodded towards the studio door, confirming Esme was allowed to walk straight inside.

Picking up the folder, Esme pushed at the door and stepped into the studio, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the shadows.

In the centre of the room was an area lit up like Vegas. A silver rug spread across the floor with a mattress and fur covers thrown over it. In the middle of the bed was a couple; a naked couple, simulating sex. Or at least Esme assumed they were simulating it.

Esme's mouth dropped open and she turned, about to leave as the shoot was obviously still in session, but then she paused, and watched in fascination as the sensuality of the couple stopped her in awe. She had never seen two such perfect people.

The girl, who was on all fours, threw her head back, her long blonde hair falling to her hips as she pushed her bottom back against the giant, dark haired man with dimples. He was gripping her thighs and gyrating, grinding into her.

She moaned, he groaned, and Esme blushed scarlet.

Stepping forward, eager for a closer look, she watched them run their hands over one another, turn their faces towards each other, their mouths slightly open, their tongues visible but never actually kissing. With eyes half closed, their backs arched and fingers found areas which made Esme feel hot.

She couldn't look away.

Esme's eyes fixed on the girls nipples; they were pert, perfect little nubs, and as the giant's mouth closed around one, his tongue flicking gently over it, Esme felt her nipples come alive and yearn for the warmth of his mouth over her own.

Esme flushed again, and lifted one hand to her cheek. She didn't even know this man, yet she was so incredibly aroused by him - by the girl, even - heck, by this entire scene laid out in front of her.

For the first time in a very long time, Esme felt her body react. She had always enjoyed sex with Charles, but if she was honest with herself, it had become perfunctory.

It hadn't started out that way. When she and Charles had first met, they couldn't get enough of each other. At every opportunity they had to touch one another, there was always contact, but it had filtered out and eventually died, and when Charles had said so it hurt Esme; it cut deep. But she never agreed with him, she wouldn't admit it was true, not until now.

How could she have been so blind? A few seconds of this erotica had flushed Esme's skin, heated her, and right at that very moment, she really, really missed sex.

The distant sound of a voice issuing instructions filtered through and Esme tore her eyes from the lovers, and sought out Jasper.

She had no idea what he looked like, but as there was just one other person in the room, she guessed he was the photographer crouched down low, snapping pictures and muttering enthusiastic suggestions for hand, tongue, and leg placement.

Esme watched him engrossed in his work. To her, the scene was intimate and far too personal for anyone to witness. She was assuming they were a couple because what they were acting out seemed so real. As she studied the photographer, her attention became gripped, switched from the lovers to his voice.

His accent wasn't strong, but it was noticeable. His tone was low, setting the mood and almost taking part in the actions on the bed rather than interrupting it.

Looking down at the small screen on his camera, he held up his hand. "That's a wrap, guys." Standing, Jasper walked over to the table situated behind the blinds and lighting, close to where Esme was hiding in the shadows.

She waited for his attention to fix on her, but he simply ignored her, or didn't notice her, and carried on flipping through the digital screen, studying each shot. He seemed happy with what he'd captured and placed the camera down on the table. It was then he looked up at Esme.

"Howdy." He smiled, his lips parted, showing his teeth slightly. It was sort of a crooked smile, cheeky, full of suggestion. His eyes crinkled at the corners as his smile extended, waiting for her to speak.

Esme, like an idiot, raised her left hand in a mock wave. She blushed and looked down at her feet.

She heard him chuckle and peeped back up at him. She felt like she was 15 years old again.

"So?" he nodded his head towards the scene she had been watching. "What did you think?"

"Excuse me?" Esme blushed again. She was mortified that he had caught her watching them.

"Was it sexy? I needed sexy."

Esme nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, it was sexy," she spluttered.

Jasper laughed. "Cool. It's good to get an impartial point of view, you know."

Esme thought she agreed, but she felt so incredibly out of her depth in this studio, with these people, she simply stood and stared at him. She was aware the couple had dressed and left the studio, but she stayed focused on Jasper.

He smiled at her again, it was a nice smile. Despite feeling like a child, he didn't seem to be mocking her.

"Did you want to speak to me?"

Esme found her voice. "Oh, yes. My daughter, Alice, asked me to bring you her portfolio for a shoot she's auditioning for." She held out the folder, nearly dropping it as her hand had become a little sweaty.

Jasper walked over to her. Keeping his eyes on hers, he reached out and took the folder from her. He broke eye contact for just a second to watch her tongue flick out and wet her bottom lip. Her mouth felt so dry. She saw his pupils react to the sight of her tongue, and it was all Esme could do to not moan out loud. This place was disturbing her, the sexual scenario, the handsome photographer - in his tight jeans and cowboy boots - and his sexy, crooked smile; she felt too hot.

Suddenly, Esme needed to escape. She wanted to turn and run. She spun on her heel and started for the door.

She didn't expect him to reach out to capture her elbow, stopping her from leaving.

"Can you stay?" he asked.

Esme turned to look at his hand on her arm, but he didn't let go. She didn't want to stay, she wanted to leave. Well, in reality she wanted to tear her clothes off and climb him like-

Esme shook her head. She did not need to visualise that.

"I just need a quick look, and then you can take it with you. Saves Alice having to come back to pick it up again," he suggested.

Esme realised he had mistook her head shake as a decline.

"I can wait," she said.

He smiled again, and released her arm.

Esme watched him walk over to a sofa, and sit, flicking through the pages. She followed him but remained standing. He reached an image of Alice smiling. She was looking past the camera and it seemed so natural. Esme liked that photo the best.

"She's very photogenic," Esme muttered.

Jasper looked up at Esme, studying her face for the longest time. Esme felt a blush race across her cheeks again, and thought how ridiculous her reactions to him were.

"I think you have a more interesting face," he said, closing the portfolio.

"Are you serious? She's young and pretty and vibrant, and I'm-" Esme paused, unsure how to finish her sentence.

"You're what?" Jasper stood and dropped the folder. Walking up to her, he stood very close. He was so much taller than Esme. She could feel him staring down at her but she refused to look up at him. "Finish," he said.

"I'm...old," Esme said, shrugging.


"And not as vibrant," she admitted.

Jasper didn't say a word, she could feel him looking at her, and she could see him breathing. She focused her eyes on his chest and tried not to think about how toned he looked beneath the linen.

"Indulge me," he whispered, and taking her hand, he led her over to a stool. He gestured for Esme to sit. She did and watched him, curious, as he walked back to the table and grabbed his camera.

"Oh, I don't think-" Esme shook her head and made to stand, but Jasper stopped her.

"Please?" he asked. His crooked smile won her over. She nodded, and Jasper began snapping away. Each time she heard the click and the shutter respond, she blinked. Esme hated having her photo taken.

"Relax," Jasper laughed.

"I can't."

"Tell me about yourself," he coaxed.

Esme shrugged. "Not much to tell," she said. "I'm divorced, I have Alice. End of."

"There is more to you than that," Jasper pushed, still taking photos.

"Not really," Esme told him. She looked down at her hands. "That's my story."

"Not true," he argued. "You're more than someone's ex wife and mother. What's your name?"


"Did you like what you saw, Esme?" Jasper changed the subject.

Esme laughed, "Would you think badly of me if I said yes?"

Jasper chuckled, too. "No, I'd be pleased. It is my work that you like, after all."

"Not really. I saw the couple, and the scenario, but not the images you took."

Jasper stopped clicking and looked over the lens, right at her. "You know, I do believe you're right."

Esme felt like her comment had been impolite. "I'm sure the photographs are amazing. I was admiring your work in the foyer, before I came in. They're exquisite. I have no doubt those will be, too."

"Would you like to come back and take a look at them?" he asked her, resuming his clicking.

Esme smiled broadly. "Oh, I'd love to." She watched him work, and soon forgot she was his subject, managing to relax a little. "Can I ask you a question?" She asked him.

Jasper nodded, and continued clicking.

"Do you do porn?"

Jasper choked on his laughter, and stopped photographing her. "Do I do porn?" he repeated.

"Yes." Esme nodded, and looked so innocent. She had no idea how offensive her question could've been. "Those people, that couple. They were naked, and touching...each other. It was very sensual, and I wondered if it was porn."

Jasper liked her immediately. There was a little girl in this woman's body. He had no doubt once that woman was awakened, she would blossom. He wondered why her husband had not fought to release that sensitive and potentially breathtaking woman inside of her.

He must be an idiot, Jasper decided.

"It wasn't exactly porn," he told her. "It was for a marketing campaign."

"Really?" Esme asked. "For what?"

"Lubricant." Jasper laughed. He couldn't help it, she looked so embarrassed.

Esme looked away and tried to stifle her own laughter. She was relieved it wasn't porn, otherwise she would've had to intervene should Alice had been successful in getting a job with him. Esme cringed at the word 'job' and wondered when her mind had become so dirty.

Jasper took a few more shots, and looked back up at her with a grin.

"Come here." He crooked his finger and motioned for her to follow. Esme jumped down from the stool and sat next to him on the sofa. It seemed awfully intimate, and reminded Esme how long it had been since she had sat this close to another person.

Jasper had plugged in his camera and was flipping through the screen. He stopped at Esme's images. He nodded towards the wall where a flat screen television was displaying Esme's photo.

It took her a moment to recognise herself. Her entire face filled the screen; she was smiling but looking down. Her lashes looked long and dark against her cheeks, her hair soft and wavy as it curled around her jaw. She was thankful no lines or wrinkles were visible. She had to admit, it was a lovely photograph; one of the best that had ever been taken of her.

"You say Alice is vibrant." He clicked onto the next image; Esme was now looking directly down the lens. Her mouth was open in laughter, her eyes crinkled slightly with the strength of her smile. Her teeth were pearly white and she was grateful for the braces her mother made her wear all those years ago. "Well, that woman there," he clicked onto another, and then another; all of them made Esme look so pretty, "is not just vibrant, she is luminous."

"I look so pretty," Esme spoke aloud.

Jasper laughed, causing Esme to look over at him. "You are pretty," he told her.

They shared eye contact for the longest time. Esme wondered how she could move past the moment, but she wasn't sure she wanted to, so she remained locked in his gaze.

Eventually, Esme's eyes moved away from Jasper's, and down to his lips. He smiled at her, like he knew every thought she was having about that full, bottom lip of his.

She looked quickly away, and standing, wiped her damp palms down her legs. "I have to go." Bending she picked up Alice's portfolio and walked to the door.

"Esme," Jasper called out after her.

She stopped but didn't turn.

"Can I have your address and phone number?"

Esme's stomach flipped. She considered the possibility of him calling her, and taking her out to dinner, and where the night would lead. She admitted to herself she found him incredibly sexy, but dare she fool herself into believing her found her attractive, too?

Jasper broke through her thoughts. "I'll need some way to contact Alice, should I decide to use her."

Esme, mortified at her naivety, rushed to the table, removed a pad and pen from her purse, and wrote down their details. Leaving the paper where it lay, she rushed to the door, all without turning to face him.

Jasper watched her as she hurried away, and he couldn't wipe away the smile she had placed on his face since the moment he'd seen her.

She was perfect. But she was shy.

Walking over to his kitchen situated at the back of his studio, he found his Scotch and a glass and poured a generous measure. Taking his drink back to the sofa, he flipped through the images of Esme. Setting the camera onto slideshow, he watched with fascination as each photograph filled the TV screen.

Yes, she was perfect. He had finally found the one. Now all he had to do was convince her.