February(Calendar Girl #2)

By: Audrey Carlan

February: Calendar Girl Book 2






Dedication



Jeananna Goodall

One year ago, I released my first novel.

Since the first one, you’ve been my cheerleader,

beta reader, and number one fan.

Now, I’m honored to call you my friend.

You love my characters as if they were your own,

and keep me connected to them emotionally.

You have many gifts and talents,

I’m so grateful you share them with me.



Love and light.





Chapter 1



The twisted and rusted iron gates of the ancient elevator clanged loudly together as the driver pulled them down, locking them in place. He hadn’t uttered a word other than, “You Mia?” when I came down the escalator at Seattle -Tacoma International Airport baggage claim. I figured it was safe to follow him since he had a sign with my full name on it, and Aunt Millie told me to expect a giant lumberjack of a man to drive me to my next client. The giant part was no joke, and it wasn’t his height. The guy stood only a couple inches taller than me, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in width. Reminded me of a pro wrestler or one of those beefy body builders.

Once the elevator made it to the tenth floor, it came to a screeching, grinding halt, jolting me into Paul Bunion      ’s baby brother. He was a solid wall, didn’t even flinch when I bumped into him, just grunted like an animal. The giant doors opened and Bunion       pulled open the gates and ushered me into what seemed to be an open warehouse. The rafters and piping were visible and no less than thirty feet above the concrete floor. People were milling around everywhere, half of them naked.

What the fuck did I get myself into?

Cameras were clicking, lighting units and reflectors were being moved around on wheeled carts as I stood in the entryway attempting to take it all in. Bunion       set my bag off to a sidewall and pointed to a man crouched down, a camera glued to his face. “Mr. Dubois,” he grumbled, then abruptly turned around and entered the elevator we’d just exited leaving me to fend for myself.

“Man of few words.” I let a slow breath leave my too-full lungs. I didn’t know what to do. Should I sit off to the side and wait for someone to approach me—hopefully not the naked men and women scattered around—or should I bug the guy busily taking pictures of something I couldn’t quite see?

Instead of waiting, I decided to take better stock of my surroundings and walked around. The room was an open loft but not a home. Rickety windows lined the walls on the right, some opened from the bottom out, others were closed tight. It looked like it took a crank to open them, which I found incredibly cool and retro. Naked and half naked women passed by me, sizing me up as they moved in front of giant white canvases. They weren’t really modeling, they were just standing next to the canvases, each model loosely holding a pose while attendants, dressed in black, were perfecting the poses with subtle shifts of an elbow here or moving a foot there. Then the attendant would back up and take a single photo and start over again. Tiny movements again, then another picture. It was downright weird.

I moved over to another area where there was a naked couple lying on a huge white canvas that had to be at least ten by ten feet in size. One of the attendants climbed up a small ladder that had a platform directly over their bodies and methodically poured what looked to be bright blue paint over every inch of them. “Don’t move!” he screamed. “We’ll have to start all over, and Mr. Dubois won’t be pleased,” he added tightly. The couple stayed in a naked clinch, the female model’s hands wrapped around the male’s head as if she was about to kiss him. His arms were around her, one on her ass holding a leg over his hip, the other cupping the back of her head.

Paint dripped down their legs and fell into globs on the canvas. “Still,” the man warned. I was so fascinated by the inner workings of the odd scene in front of me that I didn’t hear a person walk up behind me until my hair was swept off my neck.

“Perfection,” I heard whispered against my ear before a soft kiss hit the bare skin at the curve where my shoulder and neck met.

I shuffled back, not looking where I was going, just trying to get away from the stranger touching me when I bumped into something behind me. Before I could turn, my boot caught the edge of the canvas, and I went toppling into the platform, which held the irritated guy with the paint. Then, utter chaos ensued. The man holding the bucket went tumbling forward, and blue, sticky paint flew out of the can into a fan of color before splashing down onto the canvas and tarp protecting the concrete.

The couple beneath must have seen the fall coming, because the man rolled the hot naked chick as if he’d been trained in combat services with the armed forces. He avoided the attendant, missed being doused with more paint, and narrowly escaped the platform that was about to fall on top of them.

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