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The Hot Shot

By:Kristen Callihan

The Hot Shot
Kristen Callihan

       Chapter One





Chess



* * *



When the promise of spending hours in the presence of hot, fit, and  famous naked men fails to excite me, it's time to concede that I've hit a  new level of apathy.

Last year, I'd been in a similar situation-all the naked men, so much  hotness to immortalize on film- and I'd been practically jumping out of  my skin with anticipation. Much like my friend James is right now.

"I think you're going to have to give me a ‘bitch, be cool' lecture,"  James says, as he slowly blows a tendril of smoke into the air.

Curled up on a rattan love seat on the opposite side of my balcony so I  don't get a face full of his cigarette smoke, I can't help but laugh.  "And why is that?"

James, resplendent in a lime green suit, complete with acid yellow bow  tie, rolls his eyes. "Don't be coy, Chess. It isn't a good look on you."

I'm mildly interested in knowing what ‘coy' looks like on me, but I  don't bite; I know perfectly well why James is freaking out. It's cute,  though he'd hate it if I told him so.

Instead, I shrug and flick a dead fern leaf off the seat cushion.  "You're seriously this excited because we're going to photograph a bunch  of naked football players?" I shake my head, as if I'm completely  clueless. "We work with some of the most beautiful people in the world.  The body is nothing more than shapes and shadows to me at this point."

Not that this will matter to James. The moment I'd told him we were  doing a calendar shoot for New Orleans's NFL team, that all the top  players would be participating not only a photoshoot, but a nude one,  James had gone into fanboy hissy fit mode. For him, that usually means  chain smoking and talking non-stop.

At this point, James is so worked up, he doesn't seem to notice that I'm  leading him along. He snorts as he takes another drag, squinting at me  through the smoke. "Naked I can handle. Shit, I kept it together quite  nicely when I had to stick rhinestones on Gianna's breasts, with her  nipples all but staring at me while I worked."

"They were fantastic breasts," I admit, remembering the stunning model  and how James had turned beet red up to the roots of his auburn hair.

James is in charge of makeup, misting, and sometimes touching up our  models. He's a consummate professional, but he's not immune. Some of our  models, be they women or men, turn him on.

Unlike me; I've been so apathetic this past year, I'm fairly certain a  guy could wave his dick in my face during a shoot and I wouldn't  respond. Professionalism aside, it's not exactly a good thing. In truth,  it's a little worrisome.

Years of shitty dating experiences and not one glimmer of commitment  have left me feeling defective and brittle. On the bright side, I have a  job I love and a loft condo in my favorite city, New Orleans. My life  is fulfilling and, frankly, just getting warmed up. Still, I can't seem  to escape these bouts of lethargy.

James, unaware of my inner turmoil, nods as if remembering Gianna, but  then sighs. "Tits are nothing compared to this torment, Chess. We're  talking NFL players here. My home team," he adds with emphasis, then  fans himself. "Jesus, I might actually blush, or fucking stammer, or  something equally mortifying."

"Ah, right." As if I'd forgotten what an extreme football fan James is.  During the season, he goes on about team records and playoff chances and  who fucked up what play or who is his complete hero because of one win,  until I'm ready to tear my arm off just to hit him with it. "The  struggle is real, eh?"

Something in my expression clearly gives me away because his mouth snaps shut and he gives me a long glare. "Bitch."

I laugh then. "You'll be fine, James. One week of naked football players  parading in front of you and then it will all be a faint memory."

"Who says I want it to be a memory?" He wrinkles his nose. "I'm going to enjoy this. And so should you."

I didn't want to do this shoot. James and I are overworked at the  moment, and I'm feeling the tell-tale dull pressure behind my eyes that  signifies a cluster of migraines are headed my way.

I shouldn't complain. Success has fallen into my lap these past few  years. I'm a design major. Cyn, my college roommate, who now lives in  New York, is a fashion major. I started doing photos for her fledgling  collection, and people liked both of our work. Things took off from  there, and I'm not looking back.

Were I not exhausted, I might be okay with reining in a bunch of  overgrown, muscle-bound boys-because that's how the male athletes I've  worked with before usually behave. But now I don't want to deal with any  of it. I want to crawl into bed and sleep for a week.                       
       
           


///
       

Unfortunately, James, who also acts as my booking agent, insisted I take  this job. It was for a good cause, rebuilding housing for flood victims  not only in the area, but also in the greater US. And, because it would  feature our city's football heroes in the buff, it was guaranteed to be  a big hit.

"Besides," he had said over the phone last week, "they want you. Your naked fisherman calendar impressed them."

I'm fairly certain the fact that the buff fishermen images went viral is  what impressed them. But I found myself saying yes. Damn it all.

"It's just a job, James," I tell him now. Because, honestly, I don't  want to get excited over men I can't have. Famous football players  definitely fall into that category. I just want an honest working Joe  with a clever mind and a talented tongue. A cute smile wouldn't hurt  either. Is that too much to ask?

Right," James drawls. "And gelato is just another word for ice cream."

I gasp. "You hush your mouth, mister."

A faint pounding noise catches my attention. James lurches up as if he's been pinched. "Shit biscuits, they're here!"

He stands there, flapping his hands for a minute, before stomping on his cigarette and giving me a panicked look.

I smile, though I feel the strain on my cheeks. "Bitch, be cool."

"Huh. That was actually depressingly unhelpful." A small pout pulls at his full beard.

"If it will make you feel better, I can oil them up."

Outraged horror has his eyes going wide. "Take that from me and I'll salt your coffee for a week."

"That's just cruel!"

"Fair warning," he says with a sniff.

"All right, all right." I snicker and then get up. "I'll get it. If you  go, we might never get started with all of your fawning."

"Har." He rolls his eyes, but then straightens his suit. "I'll make some  espresso. Do you think they drink espresso?" James is addicted. The  upside of this being that he makes killer coffee drinks. Every morning,  I'm graced with a creamy café au lait. Every evening, bittersweet  macchiatos.

"I honestly have no idea." My knowledge of football players' likes and dislikes is nil. "Maybe stick with water for now."

"Chess, we can do better than that." He pulls a tray of charcuterie from the fridge.

"Jesus, it's a photoshoot, not a party."

"Those two are not necessarily mutually exclusive."

"If you say so." I leave him to fiddle with his tray. The stairwell to  my loft is a vast echo chamber, and thus, before I'm halfway to the  door, I can hear the guys clear as a bell.

"Maybe he's on the can or something," says a deep, snide voice.

"Great," drawls another. "We've gotta wait for a shit? That could be half an hour at least."

I slow my steps, fighting a laugh, and I hear a long-suffering sigh.

"Lord," says a guy with a Southern drawl, "these boys keep leaving themselves wide open for a smack down. It's almost too easy."

I agree, but nearly jump out of my skin when someone starts pounding on  the door hard enough that I fear it might fall from the hinges. Really,  that's just going too far.

"Dude!" Shouts an irate male. "Nip it off and open up!"

Someone mutters about having some class, but I'm annoyed now and stride  to the door, ready to remind my impatient guests of their manners.

I whip open the door and find four enormous guys staring back at me.  Aside from their impressive size, they couldn't be more different in  appearance. The man-mountain directly in front of me, with his full  beard, man-bun and tattoo sleeves, looks as if he'd be at home in the  clubs I like to frequent. He also appears to be completely chagrined,  which makes me think he was the one who'd been begging for the others to  have some class.

Next to him is a good-looking, lean guy with an amused smile. Short  dreads spike up around his head like a crown of thorns. He's shaking  that head and giving the golden boy at his side a dry look. Golden boy  is unrepentant in his glee, his light brown eyes shining with mischief.

They're all handsome in their own way; excellent subjects for what we're about to do.

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