A Picture Worth a Thousand Words
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This is the first in a planned multipart series. There is no sex in this chapter only teasing of a sexual nature, but there will be sex in later chapters. Please be patient, it’ll be worth the wait. I owe a great deal of thanks to Eldridgein00 for inspiring me with the Conflicted series and for his words of encouragement. Thanks also to AsylumSeeker for his incredible editing skills.
All characters in this story are over 18.
I took another sip of my cola, my iPod humming in my ears. It was a fantastic summer and I’d decided to read in the hammock that was strung up in his back yard. I was a senior in high school and had my whole life ahead of me. My grades were high enough that I’d be able to get into the ivy school of my choice, and I could start relaxing as all my applications were sent off and I could just breeze through the next couple of months without worrying about ACTs or SAT prep.
“Hey asshole, are you done with the hammock?”
I looked up from the book and saw that it was my bratty little sister Tess. She had her hands on her hips. She was only ten months younger than me, but it gave me a little bit of seniority. She was wearing a glittery blue bikini that didn’t leave much to the imagination – she had certainly filled out since middle school.
Now that she had become a cheerleader, my sister seemed to be showing more skin than not these days. She seemed like such a stereotypical cheerleader that she could have easily been in a Bring It On sequel. She had her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and her bright blue eyes sparkled – albeit with wry menace, not warmth. What was usually a stunning smile that helped win cheerleader competitions was now curled in a sneer.
“Get your own damn hammock, Tess,” I said with a mocking smile.
It was a mystery why they’d never put up two hammocks in the huge garden, but then again, there only being one made it all the sweeter for whoever was using it. It was a frequent little game they played, a common battlefield in their childhood and adolescence. Tess was about a foot shorter than me, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t a threat. With an angry huff she bore down on my hammock and rolled me out onto the grass, my drink and book going flying in the process. I was a little surprised she even bothered to tell me to get out.
“It serves you right, it’s not like you need to tan anyway – nobody is going to care how pale you are in New England.” She was talking about me moving to the East Coast at the end of summer for college.
My next move had happened as often as I’d been flipped out the hammock. I rolled up and tackled Tess in her midsection, easily bringing the petite blonde to the ground. I managed to pin her to the there before she could squirm away.
“Aaaah, get off!” Tess mewled almost incoherently as she kicked her legs to no avail.
Satisfied with my victory, I got up. “If you want the hammock so much, just ask nicer,” I said as I pulled my shirt over my head.
I walked towards the pool shooting her a glance over my shoulder. I could have sworn she winked at me as she flashed me a predatory grin. I shook the thought from my head, dived in, and started doing some laps, letting the water cool me off.
I pulled myself out of the water and looked towards where the hammock was strung up. Tess was captivated by one of her fashion magazines and listening to my iPod. As much as they had seemed to grow apart over the last few years, they still had similar tastes in music. It was only a few months ago when they used to read the same books. Nowadays it was more about Tess keeping ahead of the trends so she could maintain her status as one of the queen bees of the senior class.
They used to be a lot closer than they were now but in sophomore year things slowly began to change. I realized that I wanted to make something out of myself and relentlessly hit the books, only really leaving the library to run track or take photographs for the yearbook. Tess had realized how much she could get away with being a tiny flirty blonde who went up two cup sizes in Tenth grade. Giving up on the AP classes that allowed her to skip a year, something I was still bitter about, she was easily able to be a senior despite really being in the age group for Eleventh grade.
She was also a cheerleader, one of those stereotypical little blonde princesses that everyone loved or hated. I was a little put off by the transformation, most days I’d admit that Tess was just as smart as me, and on rare days I’d grudgingly acknowledge that her math skills made me feel remedial despite me being on track to become valedictorian.
When Tess decided to just take basic classes so, as she said, she could focus on her social life and cheerleading, I had been incredibly disappointed. She still quietly got As in all her classes, but I always felt she could be doing more. Especially after seeing her potential in the few classes they’d had together before she switched out of the advanced courses. istanbul escort Their parents didn’t seem to mind, their father played college football at USC where he met their mother, a typical blonde so-cal girl at the time. If anything, my dreams of going to an Ivy League school marked me as the black sheep of the family.
This wasn’t to say I was some dork. I stayed in good shape by doing laps in the pool and running on the track team. I was an athletic six feet and two inches, my dad always pushed me towards playing football but I didn’t really like team sports, as they tended to take up too much time.
I picked up my SLR and flicked on the view screen. I scrolled through the photos I’d taken at the recent football game. I’d only gone for the second half so the pictures started out with the cheerleader’s halftime dance routine.
I sighed, most of the girls were drop dead gorgeous and a few of them had been over at my house in tiny bikinis while hanging out with Tess. I’d barely said a word to any of the sexy cheerleaders as Tess seemed extremely territorial when anyone came over, and barely said a word to me. Hell, I was lucky if she even made eye contact. I tended to stay in my room or leave the house rather than to be made to feel uncomfortable.
The school’s football team was so terrible that I couldn’t really find any pictures of any successful plays, so I just attached a few pictures of the cheerleaders making a pyramid to an email for the school paper’s editor. Tess happened to be at the top flashing that stunning smile of hers. The tiny uniform seemed way too inappropriate for wearing outside, let alone to a high school football game. God bless America I guess.
I looked around my room. It was pretty neat as I’d finally thrown out all my SAT and ACT prep books now that I had the scores to get into wherever I wanted. My eyes caught a picture frame on one of my shelves that had fallen forward onto its face. It was a picture of Tess sticking her tongue out; her blue eyes were dancing with laughter. I smiled.
It was one of the first pictures I’d taken with my camera about two years ago, when we were still pretty close. I really missed how we were back then, she was my best friend. Tess was set on going to USC like our parents, so they’d be on opposite coasts. It was hard to think about not seeing her regularly – at least it won’t be as hard to say goodbye now, seeing as we were already drifting apart.
I thought about surfing the net but it was the start of the weekend and I’d have plenty of time for that later. I grabbed my keys and headed downstairs to my car. I was going to indulge in one of my guilty pleasures – going to the camera store in town to handle the professional photography gear.
I got into my car and pulled out the drive and was parking outside the camera store about twenty minutes later. It was located in a pretty quiet area, just a few stores and small restaurants around. It was much nicer than going to a strip of big box stores or one of the malls in the area.
It never failed to impress me when I walked inside to see row upon row of thousand dollar lenses and camera bodies arrayed in glass cases. I was a little surprised when I first found out about this incredibly well stocked store close to where I lived. When I asked about this odd discrepancy the clerk grinned and told me that most of the porn in the US was shot a few miles away and apparently porn shooters were very demanding of their camera gear.
“What’s up, Steve?” I was pretty well known to the staff. I came in regularly to get stuff printed and pick up a memory card or something else small. I’d shoot the shit with the staff, and they’d usually be cool enough to let me handle some of the seriously expensive gear that they knew I was never going to buy.
Dave was letting me handle the newest Canon lens when I heard the door open. I looked up and saw the most stunning redhead. Her hair cascaded down in waves. She had a lithe, athletic body that she moved like she knew how to use it. She took off her aviator sunglasses, revealing gleaming emerald eyes. She was dressed like she knew she didn’t need to make an effort with how she looked: just a pair of flip-flops, tiny shorts, and a shirt that had a rival high school’s logo on it. I’d never really thought about love at first sight but I was definitely becoming a believer. I sheepishly realized I was staring at her and returned my focus to the camera I was holding. Anyway, she was probably a ditz looking for a point and shoot camera to take pictures of her friends at house parties. I tended to rationalize why I should ask seemingly unattainable girls out to minimize my chance of failure – of course this also minimized any chance of success.
“Hey Jess, what can I do for you?” Dave asked the goddess.
“Oh my god, Dave,” she replied with a hint of a southern accent, “You won’t believe it – Jason was coming back avcılar escort from Japan and they lost all his gear. He has a shoot tomorrow and needs nearly all his gear replaced.”
I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation. It was hard to believe that anything could distract me when I had the latest Canon in my hands.
“Is he buying or renting?” Dave asked Jess.
“He wrote up a list, he’s buying. He’ll claim it back from insurance later.” She pulled a list out of her handbag. “And could you put it on the account?” she asked Dave.
“Wow, I’ll need to go to the back room to put all of this together.” He looked up at the two teenagers. “Will you two be okay while I root around for this?”
“Sure,” I stammered nervously, while Jess just smiled.
“Oh, I’d better introduce you two, knowing Steve he’s so engrossed in that camera he’ll ignore a lovely young lady such as yourself,” Dave grinned.
“Jess this is Steve, and Steve this is Jess. I’ll see you two in a bit – it’s going to take some time to put this together.”
With that Dave trotted to the back room.
“Uhh” I started, desperately trying to think of something to say.
Jess flashed me a friendly smile. “So I see you’ve got the 5DmkII there, thinking of buying it?” She had a sweet voice; the hint of a southern accent gave her a cute cadence that seemed exotic for the area.
I finally remembered how to speak. I laughed, “I’m just dreaming. I have a 40D right now. I mainly just shoot stuff for the school paper. What about you, it seems like you’re ordering some serious gear?”
“Oh, my brother is a professional photographer, and he’s panicking about a last minute shoot tomorrow so I offered to pick his replacement gear up.” She twirled her hair with her finger and continued: “We’ve been coming to this store since we moved from Austin.” With a shy smile she added, “I shoot a little for my school’s paper too, but I prefer doing my own stuff.” She hesitated, leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, “Aren’t high schoolers just so boring?”
“I know what you mean, I can’t wait to graduate. Freedom!” I grinned. I was starting to get a little more confident talking to this gorgeous girl. A tiny voice in my head was screaming GET HER NUMBER, but one step at a time.
“So, where do you go to school?” Jess asked.
“Just up at McKinley.” But before I could finish, Jess playfully punched my arm.
“You guys destroyed us last month!” she said teasingly, only pretending to be angry.
“Ouch,” I said while rubbing my arm mockingly. “What are you talking about? Our football team hasn’t won a game all season?”
“I photographed the cheerleading competition, your school’s team is really good.” It didn’t seem like she particularly cared, but was just bantering playfully.
I vaguely remembered Tess talking with our parents about some tournament. It stung me a little that she didn’t tell me they did well. Pushing the thought from my head I grinned wryly.
“I wouldn’t know about that, I didn’t make the team. Not enough pep.”
Jess burst into giggles. “You’re funny, I like that.”
Before she could say anything else, Dave came back into the room pushing a trolley loaded with boxes. From the labels I could tell that they contained some expensive gear.
“Need any help carrying all that to your car?” I asked chivalrously. Although I was just trying to prolong our conversation, it was a treat to be able to handle such high tech gear.
“How gentlemanly of you,” Jess replied with a flirty smile. This was getting better and better.
Dave split up the gear between several thick plastic bags. It’d be pretty embarrassing if I dropped them, so I carefully picked them up, making sure there was no chance that anything would slip out. After Jess signed some paperwork we left, she waved goodbye to Dave as she held open the door for me.
“Now who’s the gentleman?” I teasingly quipped, and again she giggled. With jokes as lame as I was making she had to be a little into me, or she was just plain dumb. I had a hunch it was the former.
“I’m driving the blue mini across the street,” Jess said as she pointed out the metallic blue car.
I whistled appreciatively. “Nice ride, not sure if all this stuff is going to fit though.”
“If it fit all the shoes I bought at the mall last weekend it’ll fit this stuff, trust me,” she told me as we crossed the street.
I was frantically trying to think of a way to ask her for a number or some way to contact her. Fortunately I didn’t have to. As Jess opened the trunk and I began loading the gear into the back, she put her hand on my arm.
“Hey, would you be interested in helping out tomorrow on the shoot?” Her eyes were looking up at me imploringly, “My brother is a pretty great photographer so you’d learn a lot and it’s usually pretty fun.” She then grinned mischievously, “You’re over eighteen right?”
“Yeah, şirinevler escort I just turned 18,” I said to the odd question, “I’d love to help out, it sounds like a great opportunity.” It would have been a fantastic offer even if it weren’t Jess making it.
Jess produced a business card “Don’t worry, I’m not pretentious or anything – my brother just printed up a bunch for me as his assistant to look professional when I help him out or go out scouting.”
She hopped in the car and gunned the engine; meeting my eyes with a flirty smile she waved cheerfully and pulled away.
I stood there for a second slightly dumbfounded. Not only did I have the number of a gorgeous redhead that seemed interesting and interested in me in my hand, it seemed I was going to help out a professional photographer tomorrow too.
Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.
I parked my car behind my mom’s SUV. Both of my parents were out of town for two weeks on a second honeymoon to Europe. It was nice to get them out of the way for a while, if only for that the house was quiet without his mom constantly entertaining friends or his dad having clients and other people over. Fortunately they trusted their kids not to be too wild.
I didn’t see much of Tess either. Her room was on another floor of the house. The only time we really spent together was when we goofed off by the pool, which seemed to be some kind of neutral ground as far as our relationship was concerned. She’d usually gotten a ride to school from her friends while I was out running in the morning, so sometimes I didn’t see her until we both got home from school.
I was shocked when Tess bounded up to me as I opened the door and planted a kiss on my cheek and hugged me tightly. She grinned up at me, I was a little taken aback to see such a warm smile directed at me. She’d thrown one of my hoodies over her bikini-clad body, and looked incredibly cute.
I suddenly had to put a stop to my thoughts; I’d almost forgotten she was my sister for a second. It was probably hanging out with Jess that had gotten me so worked up that I momentarily saw my sister as a sexy young cheerleader and not the demon that gave me hell as a kid. I blinked and cleared the thought from my head.
“Hey brother, you want Chinese tonight?” she asked. Chinese used to be our tradition whenever our parents went out and we had to fend for ourselves. We’d always order our favorite dishes, and one or two that we hadn’t tried yet and share them while watching a movie on the TV in the basement den.
“Sure,” I replied hesitantly. I was still confused by the sudden friendliness. It seemed like a good evening though, it was not like I was doing anything else and I’d missed our evenings in.
Tess smiled that knockout smile of hers that got her out of so much trouble. Her bright blue eyes were sparkling. “Cool, it’s been forever since we’ve ordered from the Happy Panda and seen a terrible movie together.”
For whatever reason, it seemed that I had my old sister back. I wasn’t really sure what to make of it yet, I suppose I’d better be grateful she was making the first move at reconciliation.
“Do you mind ordering, T? I have to make a phone call. Could you get the Mongolian beef?” I added, “Pick out the random dish too,” knowing she’d pick something I’d like.
“No problem, just get your butt down here afterwards so we can have a real movie night when the food gets here.”
Still a little confused, I made my way to my room. I pulled out Jess’s card from my pocket. I admired the sleek professional design. The embossed name read “Jessica Cameron” and had her number and email. I dialed it and she picked up on the second ring.
“Heya, who’s calling?” she asked brightly with that delightful lilt of hers.
“It’s Steve, remember from the store today? The failed cheerleader,” I quipped, hoping she’d remember the joke.
“It’s lucky for me they kicked you to the curb or I wouldn’t be able to beg favors of you,” she said with a laugh, “I was so hoping you’d call.”
I grinned, as if I wouldn’t call her. Before I could reply she continued, “Do you think you can make it? It’d be sooo helpful.” Her accent gave the drawn out request an enticing allure.
“Yeah, of course. I’m looking forward to it. When should I come?”
“Around ten would be great, I’ll text you the address. Sorry, but I gotta go, we’re making sure all the gear works.” The line went dead before I could say anything.
I grinned to myself, she seemed pretty excited about me coming and that could only be a good thing. My phone buzzed and I looked up the address on the map feature of my iPhone. It was to a beachfront house in a pretty classy area. Jess’s brother must have hired the place for the photo shoot. It wasn’t too far away, only a thirty minute drive.
I actually had no idea what the shoot was about, but I guess I’d find out tomorrow. I could only hope that it’d involve Jess in a bikini – but that’d be pretty weird if her brother was taking the pictures. My eye caught the framed picture of Tess on my shelf. I guess it wouldn’t be that weird to shoot your sister. It’s not like I’d really taken any pictures of her recently though, except of her cheerleading on the sidelines – which to be fair were pretty racy pictures what with the little skirts they all wore.
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