BONUS SCENE: THE GROUND BENEATH OUR FEET: RYAN AND AMELIA
“So I kinda maybe did something.”
I’d burst into the beach house after work in my navy skirt suit, trying to control my excitement. I couldn’t wait to see his response—but I had to tease him first.
At the same time, I was nervous, even after all I’d gone through with him. Over the past year, he’d cracked open the shell I’d put around myself from getting hurt in the past, and in the process he’d made me whole again. I’d come so far.
Nevertheless, taking boudoir pictures with a professional photographer was definitely outside my comfort zone.
He was the only one who ever saw me scantily clad. I didn’t have a perfect body. I sported a pouch on my belly and extra curves on my thighs and upper arms. Shedding my clothes for that first pose made me feel as awkward as a fourteen-year-old boy at his first dance. But as the photographer’s soothing words transformed me into believing I could be glamorous, I soon got into it.
Standing here now, my heart fluttered erratically.
“Yeah?” Ryan looked up from the comfortable linen couch, his golden curls a little longer and extra-wild than they were when I first met him. He needed a haircut, but I didn’t want him to cut it—I loved running my hands through his locks. Barefoot, in dark jeans and a plaid shirt, he looked like the human equivalent of a cozy cabin in the woods.
He’d kicked up his feet to watch a rerun of Endless Summer—the original 1960s surfer movie. But he clearly hadn’t been too lazy—the house smelled delicious with whatever we were having for dinner. My stomach rumbled, but I ignored it. Time for lingerie, not time for food. “What kind of something?” he asked, giving me a chin lift.
“I took some pictures.” I set my purse on the counter and held the photo album behind my back.
“Of you?” He cocked his head to the side, the smile lighting up his green eyes.
He muted the TV and scrambled off the couch, heading my direction. “All ears, Movie Star.”
“You mean ‘all eyes.’”
Approaching me at double-speed, he wrapped one muscled arm low around my waist, then the other, pulling me to him. His warm lips met mine, and he said against my pout, “That’s exactly what I meant.”
I pulled back, avoiding his eyes, and gazed down at my work pumps. “I’m scared, actually.”
I couldn’t help saying it. “Because what if you don’t like the way I look in them? What if I don’t look good in them?”
I could tell: he stopped himself from rolling his eyes. I knew as soon as I’d voiced my insecurities that he’d talk me out of them.
The thing was, while no one made me feel more beautiful than Ryan, there was still a part of me that questioned it. That compared myself to the beauties who used to throw themselves at him.
My self-doubt ran deep, and while I’d come so far, believing in myself was a journey, not a destination. I didn’t all of a sudden always feel good about myself.
Thus, I felt compelled to tell him the truth.
“I’m no Victoria’s Secret model.”
“Let me see those pictures, Amelia,” he said gently. I handed them to him.
The simple, elegant cover of the bound book hid the naughtiness inside—just a plain black cover with the year embossed. But when he opened it up, the first portrait featured me wearing skimpy black lace La Perla lingerie and stockings with garters. I blew a kiss to the camera, my dark hair cascading in Veronica Lake waves and my lips a dark red.
“Fuck me,” he whispered.
“What does that mean?” I asked in a rush, panicking. “Are they okay?”
He didn’t say anything, he just turned the page. In that shot, I lay on my back on a bed with a wrought iron headboard, my hair splayed out, my feet daintily crossed at the ankle and off to the side. With my thumb, I pulled down my lower lip.
He started shaking his head.
My stomach dropped. He didn’t like them? How could he not like them?
He flipped to the other shots in the book, similarly tasteful, but naughty pictures of me.
“These are smoking,” he whispered. “I always knew you were a movie star.”
Goosebumps ran up and down my arms. He liked them. I knew I shouldn’t be overly concerned with what he thought, that I should be confident in my own body, that I knew they were beautiful even if I wasn’t a professional model.
But still, I made this for him.
And he liked them.
“I don’t think this is a present for me,” he continued.
“No. I think they were for you to prove to yourself that you could do it. And that’s the gift.”
I went to shake my head, to argue with him. But I paused.
As always, my enlightened sage was right. When I thought of it, I’d told myself that they were for him. That I was posing for him, turning him on. I loved doing that. But while they were for him, they were really also a dare for me, which I’d accepted.
I smiled at him, then hugged him hard. “I did it.”
“You did.” He flipped through the book again slowly. “You still got those undies?”
“Come. You’re gonna recreate for me every one of these poses. Starting now.” And with a tug, he pulled me into our bedroom.
Copyright 2016 Leslie McAdam. All rights reserved.
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