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Rachel had the tripod set up in the corner of her room at a 45 degree angle to the bed. She’d turned the lights on dim and had set the blinds so that the afternoon sunlight slanted through. That slivered bit of daylight added the extra hint of risqué to the endeavor that she felt took it to a different level, artistically speaking. It was the right kind of naughty, brave and a hint exhibitionist, and she liked the way the light danced across her skin. She knew the effect intimately. She’d perfected it over the course of the past week, experimenting with all of the variables with the same precision as she did everything else in her life. Too much light and she looked crass, like a hack amateur. Too little and the camera missed the subtle changes of expression. If the blinds were closed too far, there was a hint of shame that colored the whole thing. Too open and she came off as a slut.

This was tasteful. Erotic, in an innocent sort of way.

Normally she liked to be facing the camera directly. It was really the best way to showcase her talent, but this was a special sort of video, the kind that had to seem mysterious and unobtrusive. It was a little galling; it wasn’t as if this performance wasn’t as finely tuned as every other one she'd ever given, but Rachel had always known and sworn by a basic truth from which she never deviated – presentation was everything.

It wasn’t a video that was going to make her daily posting, of course, but that didn’t mean that she could be any less vigilant. She was a professional through and through. Besides, even if this particular performance wasn’t going to be delivered to an adoring audience in the near future, that didn’t mean it wouldn’t ever see the light of day. She was going to be famous, that much was a given, but if entertainment television and gossip magazines had taught her anything, it was the following universal certainties:

One, fame could be fleeting. It was fickle, and immense talent didn’t always ensure its constant presence. The thought of being somehow shoved out of the limelight, no doubt by some vapid and talentless starlet who didn’t deserve to even share her air space, was enough to make her physically ill. No, once she had fame, she was going to keep it.

Two, if her future fame did somehow begin to wane, there was no better way to bring it back into her grasp than to find herself caught up in a little scandal. Sexual scandals were always the best kind, of course, but they were tricky. It was hard enough finding someone worthy of her now. When fame came, the last thing she wanted to do was end up the unwitting victim of an unbearably handsome social climber. Likewise, sex tapes couldn’t be trusted. Other people brought complications with them. She needed something over which she’d had complete creative control. Otherwise, she couldn’t be assured of a quality product. And besides, there was always the possibility, no matter how slim, of somehow being upstaged.

This, then, was really the best alternative. Besides, this brought with it the added allure of a nubile underaged girl, and that, as best she could tell, was a gold mine. The taboo aspect piqued the curiosity of even those people who felt they were above such things, and it totally played to the pervs.

There were a number of things about having two gay dads that really played in her favor. The first was that a closed door meant total privacy. She never even had to justify it. The other good thing was that she’d gotten the sex talk when she was five. Her dads were completely okay with anything, so long as she didn’t destroy her chances at stardom. They answered every question she’d ever asked with a frankness and lack of embarrassment that left her remarkably hang-up free, especially for a girl so obsessed with perfection. The usual parental and societal body shaming that left most teenagers flailing about in a storm of shame and secrecy had never been an issue for her.

It made this easy.

She pressed record, took a deep breath, and shivered with the thrill and anticipation of her upcoming performance.

The tee shirt was thin, but long enough so that it fell over her hips, ending mid-buttock. When she walked into frame from the left of the camera, the lens was even with the curve of her bottom and the innocent pink cotton panties she was wearing. She’d tested them onscreen before, and liked the way the color contrasted with the tan of her skin. The tee shirt was black, loose enough on her that it left something to the imagination but not so loose that her curves were lost. It was true that the color meant that her hair didn’t stand out quite as much, but she felt the black juxtaposed against the pink said something important about her – she was the girl next door but not necessarily a good girl.

She took her time, moving toward the bed as if stalking a lover. She’d thought long and hard about the kind of mood she’d wanted to set and had settled on purposeful. Overplaying the ingénue bit could backfire. It could come off as too staged, could take any possible future viewers out of the moment, and there was no way she was going to go to all this trouble only to have her plan B path back to stardom fail on a technicality.

Once she reached the edge of the bed, there was a pause, a slow 1… 2… 3… 4…

The steps that followed were practiced and perfected. When she pulled her shirt over her head, she made sure to stretch and arch her back. It made her skin seem to ripple, made her something half serpentine and half feline. The shirt then had to drop lazily to the side. It couldn’t be tossed away carelessly. She wanted languid, not slovenly. And the panties stayed on, at least for the moment. When the time came to remove them, she would be urgent. She would slip them down over her hips and down her legs, like she couldn’t wait for even one second longer.

For now, they were a bit of mystery.

She took a moment to arrange the pillows so that she’d be supported in a half recline. She could have already placed them in the proper position, but it looked more natural this way, more spontaneous. It had taken her a few days to get the transition from standing to horizontal to look natural. Climbing up on the bed her with butt to the camera didn’t quite have the sense of class she wanted, and the half roll into position she’d experimented with looked too much like a military maneuver. After a great deal of deliberation she’d settled on turning to face the camera. It gave her momentary eye contact with the lens, a sort of shocking breach of the fourth wall that was a little bit risky but a little bit thrilling, too. She held that pose as well, hands at her sides as she stared unselfconsciously into the camera for another slow four count, before sitting down and using her hands to push herself back onto the bed.

She made an uncharacteristic split second decision, something about the electric charge that came along with the act of performance prompting her to change her orientation so that instead of having only a side view, she was turned partially toward the camera. The part of her that had scripted everything until it was a seamless, perfect scene rebelled, but it felt more natural. She wasn’t used to hiding herself from the camera, and this kept a hint of modesty but was less of a tease.

It was a decision that came from the gut, and her gut was rarely wrong.

Everything from that point forward had to be action. No more pauses, or else that inauthentic feel she was worried about would start to permeate the encounter. And so her hand pressed flat against her belly and trailed up until she was cupping her breast. She bit her lower lip as her fingers squeezed, half to stifle a moan and half because of the way she knew it looked. Her eyes fluttered shut and scenes from the rehearsal video she’d done the day before flooded her mind. She tilted her chin forward and felt her hair tumble down over her shoulder on the side opposite the camera. And, yes, she liked the way that looked, natural and free. Her fingers closed over her nipple and pinched, her excitement growing as the pictures in her mind and the actions of her body converged, and she moaned.

Her calculations had indicated that no more than two minutes of foreplay was necessary to build the appropriate amount of anticipation. Longer than that and she ran the risk of things growing a hint tedious. It was the curse of the cinema. No matter how amazing the film, even the slightest lull in the action and the viewer disengaged. Of course, too short and things seemed perfunctory.

By the time she’d brought both of her hands to her chest, her inner alarm was blaring. It was time to shimmy out of her panties, first by pushing them slowly over her lifted hips and then by sliding them down over her legs. This part, she knew, was crucial. She was desperate to touch herself, yes, but she couldn’t rush things. She couldn’t linger either, or else the sense of urgency was lost. It was a balancing act, all of it, but one she had mastered.

Leaning back against the pillows, her thoughts flashed again to the video she’d made the day before. Her legs were parted just far enough to allow her hand to slip comfortably between her legs. It was all petting at first, the teasing stroke of her hand with no penetration. Her middle finger traced over wetness she couldn’t explore. Not yet, not until the teasing had pushed her to the point where she was beginning to shift restlessly on the bed. This was maybe her favorite part, with soft hair and even softer skin sliding against sensitive fingertips. There was a certain self-discipline to it, in the refusal to let her fingers dip into the wetness that grew and grew until everything was slick and slippery and it was almost an accident, the way she slipped inside.

Or maybe that was her favorite part, she decided, with her forefinger and middle finger practically engulfed in liquid heat. She called the picture of it to mind. If past performance was a guide, her head would have tilted back ever so slightly and her lips would have parted around a soundless gasp, and it would have turned into a visible shiver as her fingers finally brushed over the hardness of her clit.

This part was straightforward. There was no room for kink and no room for unnecessary showmanship. The focus was on the on the subtleties – the soft roll of her hips, the shadow of her hand moving between her haphazardly spread legs, the muscles of her forearm shifting, the way her breathing quickened and her chest began to heave ever so slightly. It was on the breathless whimpers she was making and the way the muscles in her abdomen clenched and tightened. And then it would shift, would turn to the frantic violence of impending climax. There was the need to hold onto something that couldn’t be satisfied, though the fingers of her free hand moved first to pull hard at her own hair before reaching behind her blindly until they found her headboard. And that moment, with her bicep flexing as she pulled hard against the headboard, so hard that her body seemed to levitate off of the bed, forcing her to plant her feet on the mattress – that moment would be beautiful. She could see the intensity of it on her face, a beautiful mix of yearning and concentration.

It would be… no, it was perfect.

The dénouement was always hardest to control. It verged into messy, with her hand a blur between her legs and her body straining upward. She had to remember to keep her vocalizations restrained, especially when the pleasure started to break over her like a glorious rebirth.

The collapse was graceful. It was tasteful dishabille, a natural pose of contentment that no amount of practice could teach.

She would edit out the later parts, the ungraceful lurch to her feet as she crossed the room to shut off the recording. It would end with that, with her surrounded by now mussed sheets, skin glistening with a hint of sweat.

It would go on the shelf alongside the rest of her masterpieces, carefully labeled. She’d pull it out and watch it from time to time, always critical and always looking for ways to improve. No doubt she’d have to make another, or perhaps even a series, but that kind of diligence was the price to be paid for greatness.

And she would be great. Of that, there was no doubt.