Patricia looks up when he snaps the picture, frowns as he winds the film advance. "Do you have to do that?"
He grins at her. "You look good naked." Frames the mussed sheets, the way her hair falls on the pillow. Snaps. "Don't tell me you're embarrassed."
"I don't want your assistant finding that in a roll of snaps."
He shakes his head. "Don't worry. I'll develop them myself." The light makes streaks on the wall. Snap. "This is personal."
Bill frowns when he takes the first photo of him painting. "What are you doing?"
"Documenting," he replies. "The artist at work."
Bill scowls. "I can't work with you doing that."
He can't explain, that things are only real when--or they're only not so real that they hurt when--he's behind the camera.
He stashes the camera beneath Bill and Patricia's huge king-sized bed, not thinking about it. Until they're all naked in that bed, tumbled together in a too-real tangle of limbs and colors and flesh, and he can't--he can't.
Thomas pushes himself back to the edge of the bed, disengaging from their reality, leaving them running fingers and palms and lips over each other's necks and shoulders and flanks. He pushes against her, confluence of male and female and angles and shadows, and without thinking about it Thomas reaches beneath the mattress and pulls out the camera.
Patricia notices the first shutter snap, but it takes two or three before Bill looks up. "If this is some kind of joke," he growls.
"No, it--" his hands are shaking, ruining any chance of a decent exposure in this light. "It's too close."
"You have to document everything before you believe it?" Bill accuses him, and maybe that's true enough that he scrambles to get his clothes on in the suddenly-cold room.
Verushka is a savior.
She lights up under the strobes, in front of the glass. She is the angel of his viewfinder, reflected in perfection a million ways, developing into the perfect woman. He finds himself entangled with her, camera focused on the electrifying intensity in her eyes, her body arching and hair flying as he snaps, snaps, snaps. Her hands reach out for his lens, perfect fingertips pushing through the focal plane into his reality, tangling in his hair as he breathes hot and heavy with her, sweating and twisting and trying to find the one perfect frame.
He shoots four rolls straight and rocks back on his heels, gasping.
Verushka lies on the floor, hands playing with her hair idly. "That was wonderful."
"You were wonderful, darling," he says.
She looks around. They are alone; he doesn't need crew for anything beyond setup. Not for her. "You are such a considerate man," she says, then lifts her foot and places it over his dick--and he notices, belatedly, that he's harder than he's been in weeks. "Perhaps you can put down the camera and we can relax?"
That sounds like a wonderful idea. He lays the camera aside and climbs forward to straddle her.
It's wonderful--sort of. She's beautiful, and talented, and flexible. And she just isn't--he can't see her, can't focus. It's too real, or not enough, and.
She leaves him on the floor of the studio, shrugging into her clothes again. "Well, I had fun," she says as she leaves. "Send my agent the photos."
He pulls his trousers back on and snaps up his camera.
"Please," he says, and Bill looks at him like he's insane.
"Here, I don't even--" he flips open the back of the camera, showing the empty film spool.
"I don't understand," Bill says. "But--" he holds up a hand when Thomas is about to protest again, "I'll try."
He sets down his paintbrush, and Thomas reflexively raises the camera and snaps--artist in workshirt, paint-spattered. Bill gives him a strange look, then peels the shirt off his back. Snap, and he can imagine the perfect print developing, line of shadow perfectly cleaving the curve of Bill's spine.
Bill steps forward, frowns at the camera, and Thomas sits down where he is, tilting the frame back up for perspective. Snap, and Bill is smiling now, at his actions or some internal logic of his own. Snap.
And every frame can be perfect, as he leans back and Bill crawls forward, hands running up his legs, reaching for his fly, unbuttoning and pulling down the fabric. He's already--god, he's hard, and Bill's hand is perfectly framed around his cock, and he's taking every perfect picture as Bill's mouth comes down, it's the one perfect frame he snaps--
Like a million flashbulbs, blinding, the reality and the fantasy snap together.