My knuckles turned white as I gripped the armrest. I closed my eyes tight, as the very world around me felt as though it was being obliterated. It was thundering and shaking uncontrollably. The noise was unbearable. My heart was racing, and I was in danger of having a panic attack. Finally, mercifully, everything suddenly went blissfully smooth, as the huge airliner’s wheels touched down safely on the tarmac.
Worst landing ever, I thought to myself, what an end to a thirteen-hour flight. And it wasn’t over yet. Touching down at London Heathrow only got me across the Atlantic. I still had another hour and thirty minutes on one more smaller plane before I get to Aberdeen, and from there it was a further forty-five mile drive to my final destination, somewhere in the barren wilds of Scotland.
“I don’t know,” my father had said to me on the phone. “I’m not exactly crazy about you being this far away at college. How will your poor old man feel about you flying to the other side of the world?”
“Dad, it’s like a two hour ride on a South West plane from San Antonio to Kansas City. That’s hardly ‘so far away’, is it?” I’d tried to soothe him.
“It’s too far for me.”
“Please? I just need two weeks of practical work experience to finish my degree with honors,” I continued. I wasn’t going to quit until he gave in and we both knew it. This was just a dance we had to do. “And if I have Warren Freemantle’s name on my résumé, I can pretty much choose any agency to work for,” I reminded him.
“Okay, princess,” I heard him exhale, long and slow as he gave in, just to gently remind me how much anguish I was putting him through. “I’ll give Clive a call. I’m sure Warren still owes him a few favors.”
And that was it. I was on my way. Two weeks of working with the world-renowned photographer Warren Freemantle at his lonely Scottish retreat in the heart of Speyside. A longtime friend of my father’s brother, my Uncle Clive, Warren had carved out a career from traveling the world to become very rich and famous, taking scandalously sexy and daring pictures of celebrity women that would often go on to become as well-known as the subjects in them. His photographs could produce just the right amount of notoriety to seal a young movie or music star’s status as an A-lister, or revitalize the flagging reputation of a fading legend, if she still had the body and the self-confidence to pose for him.
He’d been present at my fifth birthday party, seventeen years ago, around about the time he and my Uncle Clive were beginning to make waves in the print and publishing world, as well as my sweet sixteenth, my high school graduation, and a few other family affairs and occasions.
The last time I saw him, I was an impressionable, hormonal seventeen-year-old ditz and I thought he was just so sexy. Rugged, charismatic, and a million miles from the juvenile walking hard-ons I was forced to go to school with. Thinking back, he may have been the reason behind my lack of experience with boys. High school and college guys always seemed to be dirty and loud mouth-breathers that smelled bad, especially after hanging out with Warren’s cool charm and sophistication.
It was tough, especially in college. I naturally matured into a tall, slender figure that seemed to want to stay with me, no matter what I ate. I had curves in all the right places, and long blonde hair that I took good care of. They framed my sapphire blue eyes. To my dad, I was still a teenager, incapable of making my own decisions but always one who he was always ready to spoil. To boys my own age, I was like catnip, and they were determined to keep sniffing around me.
I’d let a few of them get to third base, but their eager groping and drunken dry-humping just turned me off. So, I threw myself into my studies and was about to graduate unsullied. Pure. A virgin. I didn’t see it as a big deal. I figured I just had fewer bad or regrettable memories than the rest of my class.
That all feels like a lifetime ago, now, I remembered, before college. Before I’d blossomed into a young woman. I can’t wait to see if I’m as attractive to him now as I was to the boys at school.
The whole plane ride, I’d been trying to picture the look on his face when he saw me after all this time. I still imagined him as he was the last time I saw him. It didn’t matter that he was so much older than me – in his early thirties – back then. He was handsome and fit, and had become the stuff of dreams to that awkward, horny teenager. Of course, he’d been wonderful to me as well, which only helped strengthen my crush, even though I was this gawky kid with pimples and spectacles.
Most importantly, to me, this trip was an investment for my future. A catalyst for the career I saw myself embarking on as soon as I left school, and an opportunity to learn what I could from a master while ensuring I got the best grade I was able to. It was purely professional. However, there was a tiny part of me that was excited at the idea of seeing Warren again. My inner teen couldn’t help but wonder how good he looked now. There was a chance he’d given over to middle-aged spread. I could concede, but I thought it unlikely. Also, as the plane to Aberdeen airport began its final descent, I found it hard not to be excited to see the look on his face when he came face-to-face with sexy, stunning, grown-up Mary-Jane Parker.
Don’t be such a kid, I told myself, holding on tight again as this new plane began its death-defying bounce on and off the runway.
I’d done my customs and immigration dance back in London. All I had to do in Aberdeen was pick up my luggage at baggage claim and, if everything had gone to plan, Warren would be there to meet me in arrivals. I had a clear picture in my head of what Warren should’ve looked like when I found him – I remembered his lean and strong body, as well as the brown hair he normally kept pretty shaggy, and the sexy layer of dark stubble he always had growing along his well-defined jawline – but that was nothing like what awaited me, waving and holding a sign with my name on it.
“I’m Mary-Jane Parker,” I told the girl trying to attract my attention.
“Mary-Jane, hi,” she replied in a perfect English accent, holding out an elegant and beautifully manicured hand for me to shake. “I’m Vanessa, Warren’s assistant. He sends his apologies, but I’ll have to drive you back to the estate. He’s waiting for you there.”
I was a little disappointed that my surprise reveal would have to wait. And Warren’s probably not going to be even remotely interested in me now, anyways, I thought to myself, looking at this Vanessa. She was in her mid-twenties, I guessed; tall, blonde, and absolutely stunning. With shining skin and a body to die for, Michelangelo could have sculpted her cheekbones. Her lips seemed to naturally rest in the most alluring pout. She even had the black designer glasses on, to indicate she was as bright as she was beautiful. There’s no way Warren’s not banging this girl, I decided, as I followed her out of the terminal to the pick-up spot. Even I was having trouble not staring at her amazing ass as it led me away, swinging provocatively in its short, tight pencil skirt.
“How was the flight?” Vanessa asked, as she used a remote to unlock her car. It was a very smart-looking Jaguar; dark green with four doors.
“Long,” I responded wearily, “and tiring.” I wasn’t trying to be rude, but the excitement of my anticipated reunion had vanished, leaving me suddenly and incredibly drained. I popped my case into the trunk and walked around to slide into the passenger seat beside my supermodel escort.
“Well, I’m amazed. I wish I could travel twenty hours and still look as stunning as you do right now,” she smiled, as she started the engine.
“You’re kidding,” I almost felt myself blush. I pulled down the sun visor and checked my reflection in its vanity mirror. “I must look a total mess.”
“I’m serious,” she replied, getting us underway. “You know what Warren’s like. I asked, ‘how will I know her?’ He just grunted and told me to wave my sign at anyone that looked like me. Only you’re far more beautiful.”
Come on, I said to myself, she’s just flattering me. There’s no way Warren, or this goddess, think I look anything like her, let alone more beautiful? Give me a break. “That’s so nice of you to say,” I smiled back. “I think we might just become best friends.”
“I do hope so. Those jeans are amazing and we must be about the same size.” Vanessa chuckled.
“Cheeky!” I laughed, trying a new expression I’d heard an Englishman use at Heathrow Airport.
We laughed together and quickly fell into gossip mode, mostly talking about Warren, as we left the city behind for the panoramic country-scape of Scotland. It opened up as a stunningly wide, lush oaky and verdant vista, with low gray skies and a stark beauty that left me breathless. Stubby stone walls lined the fields and road, which meandered like a stream between mountains and hillsides, sometimes leaving sheer drops on one side of the car. I can see why Warren keeps a home out here. You could never grow tired of shooting pictures among this fantastic scenery.
Vanessa negotiated the winding road like a pro while talking constantly as she swung the big car swiftly and smoothly around each bend, adding a strong and silent squirt of power every time the road straightened out. Try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to ask if she and Warren’s relationship did actually extend beyond ‘professional’, as I suspected it did.
Even at the determined progress we were making with Vanessa at the wheel, it still took nearly an hour to reach the tiny hamlet where Warren kept his house. We hurtled along some tiny, nondescript road, before I suddenly gasped as I felt like my driver had gone crazy. Venessa braked hard, then steered the big Jaguar at what looked to be nothing but a sudden drop, straight off the side of the road. It wasn’t until we crested the rise that I realized there was an even smaller dirt road that plunged straight down towards a farm.
Finally slowing, we followed the dirt track as it skirted around a barn and a parked John Deere tractor, trundled past some low houses, and carried on out into a field. Then, in the distance, in the fast fading light, I could finally see my destination. I wasn’t sure what I’d imagined when I’d visualized Warren’s home. Maybe a gothic castle, like somewhere Dracula might have felt at home? But, in its place, I got something that I imagined Dickens might have pictured when he was writing Bleak House. It was so tall, despite being two, not more than three, stories high, with what looked like dozens of slanted tile roofs, all pointing in various directions, and garnished with many, many chimneystacks. It was painted a yellowy-beige and, instead of being grand and austere, it appeared cute, charming and homey.
“Here we are,” Vanessa announced. “Chez Warren.”
“That’s not what it's called, is it?” I asked, a sly smile creeping onto my lips.
“God, no. It doesn’t have a name. It’s not really even an estate. These two fields belong to it, but it’s all public walking routes. We’re not even allowed to fence it off, not that Warren cares about that.”
“And whose are those sheep?” I pointed at the flock of white wooly creatures that bounded away across a field from us, as we stood up and got out of the car.
“Never been entirely sure,” she grinned in reply. “We think they belong to the farmer, but we never see him with them.”
Acting as though that was perfectly normal, Vanessa headed over to a small door in the house. As I looked at the place, I couldn’t tell which was supposed to be the front, the sides or the back of the house. It was as if each wall of the building had its own door – a low, cramped entryway of black wood – with windows rising up the walls above it. It made me smile. And, looming off to the right of the side we were now facing, was an ancient and dark oak tree, with a thick trunk. Its branches rose up beyond the roof of the house. It grew so close, I was sure it must tap menacingly and relentlessly on the windows near to it, especially during windy nights.
Then it hit me. I thought I recognized it from somewhere and quickly realized it was from one of Warren’s most famous shoots, done back in the early-nineties, just as his career was taking off. It was the ten-year anniversary of Madonna releasing her explicit book Sex and, as a homage, it featured a selection of the world's most beautiful models and the most daring actresses posing nude, up against and on that century-old tree. It made a name for Warren and ensured he was, from then on, almost always surrounded by famous and sexy women, both in front of and behind the camera, for the rest of his life.
The door of the house opened, spilling the inside light out onto the darkness that was creeping up the driveway, just as I retrieved my bag from the trunk of the car. I looked over to the doorway and saw a man’s silhouette in the opening. He stepped out toward me, as I hefted the case onto the ground, and, as he got closer, my heart nearly skipped a beat. It was Warren. I’d have recognized him anywhere and I’d had no need to worry about what age might have done to him. He looked better than I remembered, better than I could have ever imagined.
He stopped in front of me, towering at least five inches over my five-feet-six in sneakers. The strong profile of his face was wonderful to behold, and the light, rough stubble coating his neck and jawline, right up to his cheekbones, gave him a tough, rebellious look. His torso seemed firm and beautifully sculpted, as he disappeared into his jeans, taking with it the tight, fitted t-shirt that covered him, leaving only his muscled arms on show.
“Mary-Jane,” he said, his voice warm and welcoming, like honey poured over waffles on a cold and hungry morning. His mid-west accent was still there, despite him being gone from the States for years. A small yelp escaped my lips, as he suddenly wrapped his arms around me, almost crushing my slim frame against his rippling chest. “I’m so pleased you’re finally here.”
His intoxicating scent filled my senses. I closed my eyes and visions of him from my past flashed through my head. A saw him smiling at me, laughing with my family, offering me a gift he’d bought for my birthday. Then, I pictured him naked from the waist up, relaxing by the pool we had in the backyard of one of our houses. I felt a deep and unexpected pull inside me and, totally beyond my control, the soft lips of my pussy were suddenly slick with my own juices.
My ears filled with a soft sigh, as I let his warmth surround me, until I quickly realized the sound was coming from me. I opened my eyes, a little startled, just in time for him to release me and look deep into my eyes, a full and genuine smile on his lips.
He leaned in and took my case from me without asking, before turning back toward the house. “You must be exhausted,” he continued. “I’ve got something on the stove for you, if you need to refuel.” He spoke as he walked, forcing me to chase after him if I wanted to hear what he was saying. I followed him inside, trying to ignore the sly smirk on Vanessa’s face as I passed her while she waited by the door.