The Photographer's Lover

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Lucy wandered around the gallery idly looking at all the beautiful photographs; each one perfectly framed and perfectly hung in the perfect position. Each photo depicted one of a handful of famous women demurely dressed and yet wantonly posed. She kept a slight smile on her face and nodded kindly at the people she passed but inside she was jealous. She could feel it gnawing away at her insides, filling her up with self-loathing. It seemed as if every beautiful woman in the world was clamouring for him to photograph them - every beautiful woman except her.

She'd watched him working. That's how they met. He'd been hired by the magazine she worked for to photograph the latest Hollywood starlet, and she'd been dragged along to assist the stylist. He'd charmed the entire room, but once he started clicking the shutter it felt as if she was intruding into some intimate moment between two lovers. He drew his subject's attention so entirely that even after he stopped shooting it took the stylist some effort to rouse the actress from the spell he'd woven around her. He wasn't physical with his subjects, in fact he barely spoke. There was just something about the way in which he moved around them, as if he was caressing them with his lens. And of course, his eyes never left them. The photographs he produced were astounding. He captured each woman in such a way that she looked modest but alluring; reserved but desirous. Through his lens they looked exactly the way they wanted to be seen.

After two years together she knew that he photographed women because it was what they wanted. In his spare time, he'd go out with a camera, trekking across muddy fields and clambering over fences to capture a stunning sunset or to gain the perfect angle of a dead tree. Photography was his life and she loved him for it but her jealousy was threatening to overwhelm her. The women wanted to be photographed; he wanted to take the photographs, just not of her.

She felt a hand on her waist and warm breath on her neck, "You OK sweetheart?"

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

"I'm nearly done here, just a couple of people I need to speak to then we can go." He pressed a kiss to her cheek and then moved away.

She watched him join a small group of people in front of the photograph that formed the centrepiece of the exhibition. The woman in the picture, an Oscar winning actress, had been photographed laughing. The laugh was completely natural and Lucy knew that he'd taken it while she was still getting ready for the shoot. He'd caught her in an unguarded moment where she looked at her most stunning, and yet still seductive. The actress was the guest of honour at the exhibition and was now talking to him, her hand on his arm. The jealousy swirled around Lucy's body threatening to erupt.

The drive back to the hotel was silent. Lucy stared out of the window at the lights of other cars as they sped by, trying not to show her disquiet. She trusted him implicitly; this wasn't about trust.

The silence accompanied them to the door of the hotel room when, after opening the door, he turned to her and said, "We need to talk."

She looked into his eyes for the first time that evening and her heart dropped. He looked worried and sorrowful. She started to speak, to apologise, to say anything to take away the pain she'd caused, but he gently put a finger to her lips.

Taking her hand he pulled her over to the bed. "I need to show you something before you say anything ... something I should have shown you before."

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