Page 23 of Corrupted

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My body quakes in remembrance. I always wanted Cason, wanted him to be my first in fact. Somehow, I knew sex with him would be wild, wicked, devastatingly delicious and so deeply satisfying. Never in my life has a man pushed me against the wall, or bent me over a counter. I’ll never be able to go back to vanilla sex after that. The man is corrupting me. Maybe that’s his plan. Ruin me for any other guy, and then leave me cold. But I’m not currently cold. No, my body is warm, flushing as I think about how skilled he is with his hands, his mouth. Heck, while I’m here I’m just going to go for it. Live out every fantasy that’s ever crossed my mind. Give myself to him in a way I’ve never given myself to another. I’m so lost in my thoughts that I almost don’t hear the woman behind the counter asking for my order.

“Oh, sorry. Everything looks so good,” I say, pretending I was debating on what to choose. “I can’t make up my mind.”

She smiles at me, and I check the display, finally deciding on a six-pack of croissants and a cappuccino to go. A few minutes later, I’m back strolling the streets. I sip my delicious coffee and take a bite of the croissant. Holy God delicious. Cason wasn’t kidding. I put the remainder of them into my big purse and walk aimlessly, wasting time as I glance into clothing shops, looking for something suitable for the boat, but not really in the mood to shop. I browse, and because I’m not looking where I’m going, I come to an abrupt halt when I bump into a man with a camera, nearly knocking it from his hands.

“I’m sorry,” I say and check the camera to make sure it’s okay.

Before he can answer, a girl in her early twenties, dressed in jeans, an oversize thrift store sweater and a stylish black beret, takes hold of my arm. Her nostrils flare as she glares at me. Heck, if looks could kill.

“You’re not supposed to be behind him,” she says, impatience lacing her voice. She points to a crowd gathered around a gazebo. “Over there.” After a good hard eye roll that would leave me with a headache, she throws her hands up and says, “Extras. They’ll be the death of me yet.”


tras? What the heck is going on?

I walk to the gazebo, and slide in next to some elderly gentleman. He has kind blue eyes and a nice smile. “Hi,” I say, and he puts his fingers to his lips to hush me.

I wince, and try to see over the heads of the people in front of me. I shift, and spot a man dressed as Santa, children on his lap. Cameras are zeroed in on him as he laughs joyously with the little wiggling boy. Ohmigod, they’re filming a movie here. The girl with the beret circles the gazebo, and when Santa stands, his suit gets caught on the chair and rips.

“Cut,” Beret Girl says, and the crowd around me relaxes and starts talking. “Where is Bethany?” she calls out. “Bethany, where the heck are you?” We all glance around for Bethany, not that I have any clue what she looks like.

“She’s not well. She had to leave,” one of the cameramen shouts.

Beret girl throws her hands up. “Great. How are we going to fix this costume?”

I push through the crowd, and tentatively walk up to her. “I can help.”

Beret Girl eyes me for a moment. “What do you know about costume design?”

“A lot actually.”

She studies me for a moment, and gives me that big eye roll again. “There’s no budget. We’re a small production. I can’t pay you.”

I don’t even care about the pay. I’m excited to do something beneficial, and put myself to better use while I’m here. “It’s fine. I’d be happy to help.” I turn to Santa, and examine the clothing on the other actors and actresses. “Come on, Santa. Let’s get you fixed up.”

Santa pulls his beard down, and I see the young man beneath the costume as he exchanges words I can’t hear with Beret Girl. A moment later he’s leading me to a small space in the back of a fruit-and-vegetable market, the doors open to the rear of the building. I glance around and examine the antiquated equipment.

“Can you work with this?” Santa asks with a big frown. “It’s sort of all we had the budget for.”

I laugh, a new lightness inside of me. “I don’t think I have a choice,” I say, and he grins and holds his hand out.

“I’m Raphael by the way,” he says. “The director is Marci. She’s a bit of a tyrant.” He scrunches up his face, like he’s just eaten something distasteful, but it’s clear how much he admires and respects Marci. “Being a perfectionist and all.”

“I understand.” I run my hand over a sewing machine and check the thread. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself.”

“We really appreciate you doing this.” His gaze strays, and I spot a pile of clothes, all in need of fixing, in one way or another. These kids really are on a tight budget.

I jump to help. “I can work on all these.”

His shoulders relax. “Really? It’s not too much to ask?”

“Not at all.”

“Bethany has been a bit of a flake and we need this done right if we want to enter it into the film festival next year. We’re all film students from UCLA, if you haven’t figured that out by now. This project is for our six-week program here in Cannes.”

My heart leaps. I’m elated to be a part of something important like this. “That’s fantastic.”

He exhales and scratches at his face, little white fluff from the beard is stuck to his skin. “It will be, if we can get it done.”