Behind His Lens


by R.S. Grey

CHAPTER ONE

Jude

“Bulliet neat, please.”

I offer a half smile to the young bartender glancing up at me. A rosy tinge dots her cheeks as her eyes scour down my body like I’m a brand new Maserati with a cherry-red bow. The girl looks like she’s been on her feet for the past ten hours; she’s probably nearing the end of her shift. I notice this, not out empathy, but for a more self-serving purpose. After all, I’ve never been with a bartender who wasn’t more than willing to display her keen talents for me in the bedroom.

“Anything else, sir?” she drawls seductively, looking back over her shoulder as she reaches up on her toes to grab the bottle of bourbon. Her brown eyes linger on me a beat too long, as if she’s hoping I’ll ask for her number instead of another drink. I let my dimpled smile spread an inch wider, and just like that, I know I could take her home if I wanted. Girls are easy and that’s the way I like it.

“That’ll be it.” I toss down a hefty tip as waves of laughter overtake the guy next to me at the bar. Bennett, my best friend and lifelong wingman, is taking a swig of his IPA, apparently entertained by the spectacle.

Pulling my glass of bourbon toward my mouth, I lean back against the bar, waiting for the bartender to walk out of earshot.

“Sorry, man, I guess some guys just have all the luck,” I mock before tipping back a sip of the dry, smoky liquor. It warms my stomach like sunshine.

“Yeah right, ass**le. She’ll come back around and I bet she’ll only have eyes for me,” he goads.

This is exactly how our friendship works. Bennett and I each have our own style. He’s uptown; I’m downtown. He’s a fancy accounting exec and always wears a suit to the bars right after work. His dark blond hair is always slicked back with pretentious hair gel, but women eat it up. I, on the other hand, prefer brown leather boots to loafers, and I always have an afternoon’s worth of stubble to run my hand across. Nevertheless, women usually go for one or the other, which is why our setup is flawless. We never leave a bar alone.

“Is that girl you met the other night meeting you here?” Bennett asks, scanning the dark club for any prospects.

Natasha. I should be excited to see her again, but it is what it is. She’s hot and wanted to meet up; I didn’t feel like saying no. It’ll make tonight a lot easier, and after a long day, that’s exactly what I need. Don’t get me wrong, she knows exactly what the score is. My M.O. has been the same for four years. I meet women that want exactly what I can offer: sex with no strings attached and no hope of any kind of relationship—

Ever. Seeing Natasha for a second time is pushing it, but she made it clear that she knew what the arrangement is.

As if my thoughts have conjured her on the spot, I peer over just in time to see Natasha saunter through the club’s front door. In the smoky room, it takes her a second to find me by the bar, but once she does, her seductive smile amplifies tenfold. I ignore the emptiness in my stomach. I don’t feel a thing for her, but she’s hot and one part of my body doesn’t seem to mind watching her head over. She’s wearing a skintight, red dress and heels. Her brown hair falls straight to the top of her shoulders and her dark brown eyes gleam with excitement as she steps closer.

“Hey, Sexy,” she coos once she’s standing in front of me. Her gaze drifts down my body and I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes. Any concern I had about meeting up with her again is completely vaporized. We both only care about one thing.

I arrogantly drag my gaze down her body, not bothering with any pleasantries as I rub a finger across my jaw.

“This is my friend, Bennett,” I finally offer, trying to feign politeness as I gesture toward him.

She flits her eyes in his direction for the briefest moment. “Nice to meet you.”

Bennett lifts his beer in greeting, but by then, Natasha is already turned away, locked onto her prey: me. She looks like she’s about to straddle me on the bar, and I can’t help but let those images take root.

“Are you ready?” she asks, leaning forward to whisper in my ear. I bristle as her cheap perfume overwhelms my senses, but I ignore the sensation.

My dick doesn’t care how she smells. With a sturdy hand I brush her curvy figure aside.

“Let me finish my drink first. Do you want something?”

This is as close as I get to dating. I’ll buy her one drink and then we’ll leave so we can finish the night off. I have to get up early for a shoot and I don’t want her thinking she can sleep over.

She pushes her arms under her pronounced cle**age, making sure it’s visible to everyone at the bar, and leans closer.

“A beer would be great,” she sighs, running her fingers down the buttons of my shirt. The act feels much too intimate and I instinctively pull her hand away with a laugh. Easy tiger.

As the bartender approaches I order Natasha an import and watch as she brings the bottle slowly to her lips. She really is hot. She has exotic features and dark, sultry eyes. Too bad I’m not interested in getting to know the person behind them.

As the club’s music grows louder, her free hand shifts to my thigh and Bennett clears his throat as she runs her hands up and down suggestively. I have to fight back a laugh. We could probably just head to the restroom here and make it a lot quicker. I brush the hair away from her shoulder and lean in to whisper those exact words. I know she’s game, and honestly, it’s easier. I don’t even have to worry about getting her to leave my apartment afterward.

God, I’m an ass**le. I chug the rest of my bourbon in a silent toast to that thought and slam it on the bar, making eye contact with the cute bartender and flashing her one more languid grin. Natasha giggles like a slutty school girl behind me, drawing my attention away. I nod a goodbye to Bennett. He knows exactly what I’m planning, but he’s not one to judge.

Putting my hand on the small of Natasha’s back, I lead her through the crowd, trying to decide if I want to take her in a dark corner or in one of the bathrooms. I pat the back of my jeans to confirm that my wallet and condoms are still tucked away safely. Check— I’d never f**k around without one.

“I’ve been thinking about this all day,” Natasha oozes sensually as we wind through the club with my hand gripping her ass.

I bite my tongue instead of commenting because to be honest, I hadn’t thought of her until Bennett brought her up. She’s a means to an end, and I thought we were clear about that fact.

I brush her words aside and am about to lean in to whisper some bullshit about f**king her against the wall, but the sentiment stalls on the tip of my tongue when I see her.

She’s across the dim room on the dance floor. The crowd has parted so that she’s barely visible between a thin gap of dancing bodies. A few seconds later, the dancers move and she’s hidden away again like a distant mirage. When the thump of the dubstep song fades into a pop remix, the crowd dwindles and I’m left with a perfect vantage. My jaw hits the floor as I watch her persuade the world around her to bend toward her presence. My eyes scan up and down her body, caught in her allure. She’s wearing a white, flowy dress, and I can’t tell if it’s that or her long, light blonde hair spilling down her back that makes me think she’s a f**king angel.

There are bodies all around her, shuffling and dancing. Every guy that spies her tries to get closer, but her friend doesn’t seem to allow it. She’s like a queen among peasants.

Would her friend let me get close?

I doubt it.

The two girls dance together, smiling and getting lost in the moment, oblivious to the club goers around them. Her friend is pretty too, exactly the type of girl Bennett would lose it over, with dark hair and a dark complexion. Has he seen her yet? This could work out perfectly.

No, it wouldn’t.

I’ve already found a girl for the night. I’m not in the habit of exerting unnecessary effort, especially when girls are just so compliant.

I become vaguely aware of Natasha rubbing my thigh and whispering in my ear, but it’s nothing more than a faint buzzing. I would rather watch the Angel move on the dance floor. She’s completely unaware that she has the attention of every single person around her. She lifts her arms in the air, as if reaching for the wild hues strobing above her head. Then she runs the fingers of her right arm down to her left elbow, swaying to the beat of the song. I’ve never seen someone move so erotically, and I can feel my dick stir in my pants just from watching the innocent act. What the f**k? What the f**k am I doing?

I shake the thoughts from my head, but I can’t tear my concentration away from her. I don’t want this hazy dream to end.

“Baby, kiss me.” Natasha shoves her pink, glossy lips directly in front of me, forcing the rest of the club into hazy submission behind her. With a gruff sigh, I reluctantly oblige. This is who I am.

Wrapping my hands around her neck, I lean back against the wall and drag her in front of me. She sidles between my legs, skimming the top of my jeans with her fingers and pushing her greedy tongue into my mouth. I kiss her hard, willing every other thought out of my mind, but it doesn’t help. Her mouth feels wrong.

I pull away harshly, breaking our kiss, but Natasha takes it as an invitation to string kisses down my neck. Good. It means I can gaze over her head toward the dance floor. The Angel is still there, laughing with her friend and drawing me in further. Somehow the club’s spotlights only seem to cast their gentle glow around her, and I can’t help but want to bust the bulbs out so that no one else can see her.

The thought makes me clench my eyes closed as I remind myself of what reality is. I don’t want a girl like that. She doesn’t look like the fast and easy type, and I have no business thinking about her. Get it together.

Natasha’s prying finger dips between the buttons of my shirt and it hits me like a semi truck— I have a gorgeous girl ready to let me f**k her in the back of a club and I couldn’t care less. Since when?

I’ve got to leave. I don’t want Natasha anymore and I don’t trust myself to move closer to the blonde angel. She doesn’t belong to me and it’s better if I leave now.

“I’ve leaving,” I bark, grabbing my wallet and pulling out a fifty for Natasha’s cab fare. It’s the least I can do considering I’m leaving her hanging.

“Jude! What the hell?” I shove the bill into her hand, ignoring her confused expression. Not my problem.

“I’ll see you around,” I mutter flatly over my shoulder as I push through the crowd toward the front door, never once looking back.

“Jude!” Natasha calls behind me, but I keep walking.

I’ll text Bennett later. He’s probably already found a girl anyway. He doesn’t need to know about the blonde. I plan on forgetting her myself just as soon as I get home. I usually run in the mornings, but tonight I’ll take on the city’s abandoned asphalt until I can’t f**king move if it means I’ll go back to the way I felt thirty minutes ago— before I saw her.

As I stumble out onto the curb, I inhale a mouthful of crisp night air, trying to cleanse my senses. After a few more clarifying breaths, I realize that seeing that girl, that Angel, was probably the closest I’ll ever come to finding love at first sight. A twisting sensation pierces my gut at the thought.

Good thing I lost my heart four years ago or I’d be a fool for leaving without getting her name and number.

CHAPTER TWO

Charley

“How’s it going my sweet, hung-over friend?” I sing into the phone, knowing Naomi will kill me for calling her before her alarm. It serves her right for dragging me to the club last night. I’ll admit it was fun, but I would be much more rested for the photo shoot I’m heading to if I hadn’t agreed to go dancing with her.

She’s so convincing though. Naomi is like a little minx that can get anyone around her to do exactly as she asks. The worst part is she isn’t even obnoxious about it. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s exactly what I need. If we were living in a sitcom, she would be the sassy, g*y best friend. At every moment she tries her damnedest to get me out of my shell even though I put up a tough fight most of the time.