Title: Striving for Perfection
Series: Striving #2
Author: BL Mooney
Cover Design: Kari Ayasha at Cover to Cover Designs
Release Date: September 18, 2014
Perfection is a gimmick.
Itâs something they use to sell you shit you donât need. The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect marriage. Photos of that perfect life are all around us, but none of it exists.
I know better because I take those photos. Itâs all a ruse to make us think that's what we want. Behind closed doors, the house is a mess, the family is fighting, and that loving couple hates each other. I prefer a different city every week, laughing friends, and a variety of lovers.
Until Carl. Iâm not sure what I want when heâs around.
Perfection is an illusion.
Itâs something used to make you forget all the bad shit that happens in this world. Itâs an unattainable dream not worth the effort.
I had the perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect marriage. Or so I thought. That illusion died with my wife and slammed me into reality. Aside from my daughter, business deals and making money is where my heart is now.
Until Rachael. Iâm not sure what I feel when sheâs around.
Cagney buzzed that the VIP had arrived. I stood up and smoothed out my jacket and slacks. I also took a moment to make sure the girls were still at optimum cleavage. Jimmy scoffed. âHeâs married.â
I raised my eyebrows and looked at him. âSo are you, but you still look.â
He shrugged, not denying the truth, and walked to the door. I was smoothing down the last of the wrinkles in my jacket when I heard his deep voice. I froze.
âJim, thank you for meeting with me again.â I heard the door shut and heard him approach. I closed my eyes.
Carl Williamson was a man known to my family. He and my brother had fought for the same woman. Carl lost. He never stood a chance with his intimidating and aggressive tactics. He even used his daughter as a pawn to get Drew to go out with him.
I didnât know who he was when I first met him. The only thing I needed to know was he was hot and I was in need of a hot man. At that time, being hot and single were my only dating requirements and I wanted to date Carl. It didnât stop me from seeing him when I found out. A choice I later regretted.
Jimmy kept bringing him closer. âNo problem. Weâre just as excited to get started. This is the photographer you requested.â
âNo. Fucking. Way.â I spun around and met Carlâs black eyes. It only took him a second to register what was happening and his eyes widened in surprise. âIâm not working with this asshole.â I started for the door.
âRachael!â Jimmy grabbed my arm. He was surprisingly stronger than I had anticipated. âWhatâs wrong with you?â He tried to speak softly, but Carl heard him.
âI canât do this.â
I couldnât look at Carl. I already knew what he looked like. I didnât need to see the man standing off to the side to know his shoulders were broad. I didnât need to see the jet-black hair to remind me I wanted to run my fingers through it. I already knew he was the perfect height to offset my heels.
I couldâve bet money his designer suit fit his body perfectly, and was pressed as though he had just stepped off the pages of a magazine. And I didnât need to see the look on his face to know his strong, squared jaw was setâhard. No, I didnât need to see him again to remind me of all of that.
âYou have to do this.â Jimmy started to drag me away from the door.
I wrenched my arm free of his grasp and from the corner of my eye, saw Carl take a step forward when Jimmy tried to grab me again. I placed my hand up to stop him. âDonât.â
Jimmy held his hands up and backed away. âJust give us five minutes. Iâm not sure what exactly went on between the two of you, but Iâm only asking for five minutes.â I hesitated and Jimmy whispered, âJust think of the camera.â
I glanced at Carl and looked back to Jimmy. âDo I have to work with him?â
Carl answered. âYes, you do.â
I could tell by the look on Jimmyâs face it was true. âThen forget it.â I turned and walked away. âIâm not working with an asshole.â
âRachael,â Carl said my name as a command. It stopped me, but I didnât turn around. âWe can communicate through email. Iâll send you the list of prospects and you send me the photos, but you will answer directly to me.â
I turned at the sound of Jimmy whispering to see Carl silence him with the wave of his hand. âWhat arenât you telling me?â
âNothing thatâs required for this job.â
Jimmyâs brows furrowed for a brief moment before he walked to his desk, shaking his head. âI donât know whatâs going on between you two, and I donât want to know.â
âNothing is going on.â I walked past Carl to Jimmyâs desk. âWhat were you whispering?â
âI had set up a test.â I still wouldnât turn to look at Carl as he spoke. I watched Jimmy to see if Carl was being honest. âI didnât know you were their best photographer. The test is no longer needed.â
âOf course itâs needed.â I finally turned to address him. âYou donât trust anyone, so Iâll take your lousy test. What is it? Stand on my head and get an impossible shot?â
It hit me then that both Cagney and Jimmy had said he was married. His wife had died over a year ago. I looked at the wedding ring on his finger. Carl noticed and put his hand in his pocket as I lifted my eyes to his. I stood there silent, just staring. I didnât deserve an explanation, but one wouldâve been nice.
Jimmy was either unaware of the tension or chose to ignore it. âHe wanted family photos taken.â
âJim.â He finally stopped staring at me and tried to stop Jimmy, but it was too late. He didnât want me to take his family photos.
I couldnât believe it. He was still hiding me as some mistress. Iâm no oneâs whore. I didnât say a word. I just walked out. Jimmy was calling after me, but I ignored him and kept walking. I wasnât going to stick around where I wasnât wanted. Problem was I didnât know where I was wanted.
B.L. Mooney started writing when the voices and storylines in her head ran out of room. They were getting too cramped and neither B.L. nor the characters could take it anymore, so she did the only thing she could doâshe made room. She always knew she wanted to write, but vowed to make time for it later. Now that sheâs made time for writing, most everything else falls to the wayside. That seems to suit the characters that keep popping up in her head just fine.
B.L. lives in the Midwest, and her other talents include in-demand cookies, a very dry sense of humor, and stealth eavesdropping. Some mannerisms, attitudes, or twists come from random sentences picked up while passing by strangers. So speak up the next time you have something to gossip about. You never know, it may just end up on the pages of the next book you read.
She loves to hear from her readers and you can contact her via email at AuthorBLMooney@gmail.com