Faded Love

It was late evening when Ashley stumbled into his apartment and dropped his bags next to the door. The California shoot had gone well, but the flight back had been a nightmare. Delay after delay had thrown the departure time off. To make matters worse, he had a shoot scheduled for tonight. Ashley lurched to the bedroom and glared at the clock next to the bed.

"Shit. I should call Will." Ashley scrubbed at his face. "Ah, man. Later—I'll do it later. I've got to get some sleep."

The screech of the alarm startled Ashley awake. Prying his eyes open, he checked the time and threw an arm over his eyes, groaning. Only three hours before the photo shoot was scheduled to start. Mobly, the crazy ass photographer who was doing the shoot, wanted it done at night so the moonlight could caress his skin while he held this stupid little bottle of cologne.

"Of all the dumb ass things I've heard of. Jesus, just because the cologne is called Moonlight doesn't mean there has to be real moonlight." Ashley rolled out of bed and stumbled to the shower. His directions were not to shave so he had a nice five o'clock shadow.

Glancing in the mirror, he frowned. "Well, I certainly have that, now don't I? Along with some very nice bags under the eyes. Dammit. Hope they hired a good make-up artist. I'm gonna need it."

Thanks to his heritage, he had the deeply tanned skin people paid ungodly amounts of money for. The same heritage gifted him with straight, coal black hair, high cheek bones, and a strong jaw.

The photo shoot in California had been very long and tiring, but very profitable. Now, he had another one. And he had to deal with the ultimatum Will gave him right before he left. He still had no idea what he wanted or what he was going to say to Will.

With a sigh, he pushed his hair out of his eyes. "If they weren't paying through the nose for my face to sell this crap, I would've turned them down. God, I'm exhausted."

He showered quickly. Throwing on a pair of old ripped jeans and a blue T-shirt, he crammed his feet into biker-style boots. The drive alone would take close to an hour; the shoot was located in a field out in the middle of nowhere. A field, for God's sake. There would be nothing out there but a whole lot of nothing. The icing on the cake was the photographer, Mobly. He was an ass who hated the very air he breathed. Probably because he came on to Ashley and got turned down. The guy was a sleaze. Rumor was the photographer had a fetish—for black-haired, blue-eyed male models. Ashley was one of the few men who wasn't a notch on the guy's bedpost, and he was damn proud of the fact. He hadn't needed to sleep his way to the top, his looks got him there.

Dressed, he glanced at his watch. "Time to get a move on."

"Sexy eyes, come on, give me sexy—smoldering, bedroom eyes. Turn your chin more this way. Now up a little more. No! That's too much. Back down a bit. No, no, no! Now you look like you have no neck. Fuck." Mobly threw his hands up in the air. "Come on, Ashley, get your head out of your ass and listen to what I say."

A fan was set up nearby to blow Ashley's hair. His shirt was unbuttoned and hanging open, showing his tanned, hairless, and muscular chest. Leaned against a tree, bathed in moonlight, he held the stupid little bottle while being told to point his chin this way and that.

"Maybe if what you said made any kind of sense..." Ashley shrugged, which maddened Mobly more. Striding closer, he got in Ashley's face.

"Maybe if you weren't such a fucking little diva we could get this—"

"Now, now. If you upset me I'll never manage to get those sexy bedroom eyes you want so badly." Ashley smothered a laugh as Mobly's own eyes bulged. Whenever Mobly came on to him, he talked about Ashley's sexy, smoldering bedroom eyes. That was a crock; Ashley's eyes were such a light blue they were more icy than smoldering. Granted, paired with his midnight black hair, it was an interesting contrast.

"Why the hell you were picked is beyond me!"

"Why?" Ashley flashed his million dollar smile as he lowered his voice. "I'll tell you why, you little prick .The award-winning actress selling this wants my face to represent her product. Mine. She didn't care who did the shots, but she wanted me. Got that? Now, can we get on with this?"

Mobly stared at Ashley for several seconds, hate burning in his eyes, before he turned away. "You ready?"

Ashley shrugged. He won that round, so he could be gracious. "Sure."

"Fine." Mobly lifted his camera and moved around Ashley, clicking away. "Yes, like that. Now, hold the bottom down a bit toward your waist."

An hour later, they were done. Tired and hungry, Ashley couldn't wait to leave. It was early morning; hopefully he could find something open so he could grab a bite to eat. Then, he had to decide what to tell Will. Then, he wanted to sleep for the next twelve hours. He didn't have another shoot planned for several days. Just as he was driving away, his cell rang.

"Ah, jeez."

Seeing the name, he debated answering. Was he ready to settle down? Okay yeah, he did what any man afraid of commitment would do—ran for his life. Or rather, he ran to California. It was the excuse he needed not to deal with the situation. And now the situation was calling him.

Finally, the cell stopped ringing. Maybe it was just as well. Ashley chewed his bottom lip as he entered New York. The streets weren't completely empty; they called this the town that never sleeps for a reason. Tapping his phone against his leg, he thought about returning Will's call. Was he ready to commit? Could he commit? Hell, with his lifestyle and traveling how would they work a relationship?

Then again, maybe Will was calling for another reason. Was he was being vain assuming Will had called to ask about his commitment? Cruising through a green light, he ran his finger across the screen to unlock his cell. There was only one way to find out if this thing could work between them and he wanted to try.

He caught a flicker of headlights from the corner of his eye... bearing down on him.