Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Studio Time: Seven

South Beach Metro Area, Northwest: Viridis - 10:08 PM

Dani made her way up the stairs to the mezzanine level and her favorite and always reserved table near the window overlooking the city. The piano where Alex used to sit and play was still there. She trailed one hand across the polished top as she passed, and, when she heard his voice, for a moment she thought she imagined it. Dark and rich and charming, it was definitely Alex. "I was thinking, I'd like to get away for a long weekend, maybe after the RMA's, maybe somewhere you could wear that green dress. The one that matches this...right under there."

It wasn't her imagination. He was seated not ten feet away, leaning back, long legs tangled under the table and his attention focused on a woman she had never met but she recognized. Cooper Stanfield's wife, the woman some people considered Cooper's biggest problem, the major mistake in his life. Dani took a step back, considered leaving, she didn't want to make an awkward scene for Alex, and then paused to take another look at her. Perhaps there was some slight resemblance to Alex's first and last wives, perhaps, but Alex had never had a type and this woman really did not look like any of them. Any of us, she corrected herself silently.

Beth Stanfield laughed and leaned into Alex, the motion slow and flirtatious and sensual, her arms bare and shining. Whatever she said was pitched too low to overhear but Alex responded the way Dani knew he would when he was on the chase and serious about it: he took her hands and kissed one palm before stretching back. He gave only so much while promising more to come.

Flushing slightly at the gesture, remembering what it felt like to be the center of Alex’s world, Dani decided it was best that she leave. Her emotions were still a little raw after he told her that their interludes would need to stop.

Before she was able to discreetly slip away however, Alex locked eyes with her, smiled and waved for her to come over to the table. Putting on one of her best smiles, Dani drew a quick breath and approached them.

Alex stood and kissed her lightly on the cheek before making introductions. “Beth, I’d like you to meet Danica Cole. Dani this is Beth Stanfield.”

Smiling down at her Dani laughed softly, “I’m ex number three just in case Alex hasn’t given you the blow by blow of his wives. I’m very pleased to meet you.” Beth Stanfield smiled back, keeping whatever discomfort she felt well hidden, a small shadow under the hem of that smile.

“I loved your spread in Vogue last month.” She had a soft almost childish voice, not the sexy voice Dani expected. Not the voice Alex had chosen the last time. She had too much cheek for photography, a face too full, a body at least ten and perhaps fifteen pounds past what Dani would ever dare to carry. Beth put both hands on the table, showing off lush cleavage, a move that may have been deliberate. “My little girl loved it. She thought you looked like a princess. It’s a pleasure to meet you, too.” Beth looked up out of long light eyes, watching, curious, and a little guarded.

She was friendly and gracious, unlike the last one. Alex had chosen very well. And there were children - despite her best effort Dani could not prevent her smile from slipping just a little. As she tried to come up with a graceful way to leave Alex asked her what she was doing there. Was she meeting someone? She stepped back a little and said, “I’m waiting for a friend, yes. I am doing a spread for GQ with Chase Westbrook and we’re meeting here to discuss it. You know, our - my usual table near the window.”

“Yes, I remember.” Alex’s voice was soft and low, a deep caress, and it sent chills down her spine.

“I really should go. Again, it was so nice to meet you Beth. Alex - you take care.” Alex embraced her warmly and murmured his goodbye then sat back down turning his attention back to Beth.

His scent still lingered as did the bristle of his beard against her cheek. Dani walked away, heading back toward her table and tried to manage her feelings. She had no right to be jealous and in fact she wasn’t. Drawing her lower lip between her teeth to keep it from quivering, Dani composed herself, lifted her chin and moved forward.


  1. Jealousy or not, it is what it is baby girl and I wish it didn't hurt so bad! It is beyond amazing how the two of you convey feelings down to the bone! I could imagine everyone's discomfort (except Alex maybe) and I could feel the tension. I am wondering more now, why those two ended. Is it the fact that he wouldn't have children? I get the feeling that there is "unfinished business" between them. Maybe after Beth comes to her senses and is showered with gifts that won't change a thing, she'll go back to her husband and Danica can have her Alex back. One can only hope!

    Very happy to see this! Beautiful shots, and venue!

  2. The sets in this story never fail to stun me :)

    I'm with Qui here--maybe Beth can go back to Cooper and Dani can get back with Alex? Granted, Cooper has a lot of work to do if he ever wants to win back Beth fully (although even if he doesn't, I do think they'll still be tied up together somehow, even if they're never really together again), and I'm glad she and Alex are having fun now.

    And who knows? Maybe he'll change his mind about kids some day. Not everyone does, but some people do.

    Take care, both of you.

  3. I love, love, LOVE this set. So dark and sexy just like Alex. And Dani is kidding herself if she thinks she's not jealous. Its not that raging jealously, but that slow stab that dulls over time. The whole "we used to be and now we're not, and you're with her" kind of jealousy. It can amount to nothing or it can be dangerous, either way I know this won't be the last flash of it we see and I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

    Another fabulous update. Well done ladies.

  4. Qui, thank you from both of us.

    Alex didn't seem particularly uncomfortable, did he? The two women both were eying one another though.

    They do have unfinished business. He just cut her off from the weekly recreational visits, something that's been going on for a long time, and it says something that he did. Even if Beth and Cooper get back together, which is possible, Dani lost Alex long before he met Beth. Dani is his third wife, not his fourth and last.

    The venue, as usual, drove me crazy!

  5. Oh Van, thank you! I worked so hard on that set, which is about three times larger than what you see here. It had started to crash so I was frantically deleting everything that wouldn't show in a shot. I barely managed to keep it stable long enough to get the few shots we used.

    Maybe. Alex has had quite a while to compare and contrast women with Dani, and they're still apart. Maybe she doesn't want to go back to him unless she gets what she needs. Children area big part of why the split but probably not the whole picture. He's just a bit insensitive in my opinion. I wouldn't like it if my date got up and kissed and hugged his ex, and he could have waited until Dani was out of sight to move in on Beth. Beth's not in love with Alex, although he probably wouldn't like to admit that.

    And you take care of yourself, too. You have a lot going on.

  6. Muzegoddess, thank you thank you! You know how obsessive I get about the sets; I changed this one a dozen times. I wanted another level above this, but when the lot started to crash, I had to give up on that idea. I hope I can use some of this again with maybe a few small changes.

    Dani's jealous. She cares about Alex, and she's attracted to him, and they've continued to be intimate so it would be difficult for her not to feel hurt. You're right, not the raging stab you in the eyeball jealousy, but it's there and it's pricking her hard.

  7. Poor Dani. Maybe she needs someone new in her life as well. I know the feelings won't switch off in the blink of an eye but at least the concentration could be focused elsewhere.

    The set looks great - somewhere dark and romantic to steal someone away to. If only that could happen in real life. Or, I should say, something that could happen to me.

  8. So well done - the shots are breathtaking, as usual. The venue, just perfect.

    That little stab when we see an ex move on. It's one thing to know it, it's another to see it.

    Beth seems to be having a good time - not as conflicted as she's been, but I don't see that lasting long. Cooper, Cooper, Cooper. Even when he's not there, he is. Although he seems less so today...

    Poor Dani. Move on, sweetie. There's someone for you out there.

    Awesome update!

  9. Choco, thank you! I love dark and glittery places with romantic little side rooms and tried to recreate something like that.

    Dani is as stuck on Alex as Beth is on Cooper. One of them is trying to at least pretend she's moving on. Dani isn't quite there yet.

  10. Thank you Jillyson! I wish I was more proficient in Photoshop so I could polish up the shots a little better, but the lighting mod that I installed helped a lot.

    Dani and Alex have been Ex With Benefits for too long. It just put off that inevitable moment, and maybe she did have to see it to make it real.

    Beth's doing her own avoidance and denial. Cooper Cooper Cooper is right. He hasn't made a big move yet either. One could feel sort of sorry for Alex for being in the middle of it all, except he put himself there and did it deliberately and not simply because he liked the woman. He is a charming rogue though!

    Thank you so much from both of us. We really appreciate the time you take to read and leave us a comment.

  11. My God, this set is amazing! It barely even looks like something you could do in game at all. It's stunning, truly.

    I'm not quite sure I believe Dani when she claims to not be jealous! She seemed like was sizing Beth up, to see what she was up against, perhaps.

    Alex didn't seem fazed by any of it though, did he? An ex meeting up with a current partner would probably be a nightmare for many.

  12. Thank you, Carla. I spent about 2 weeks building that set, maybe closer to 3, and didn't get shots of half of it! I hope I'm improving.

    Of course Dani's jealous. She was sizing up Beth, who didn't particularly like it. She doesn't understand what's going on between Dani and Alex, nor does she consider Alex a serious relationship.

    Alex was not fazed a bit, was he? Stand right up there and give the ex a kiss and a hug and flirt with the date before she's even gone out of eyesight.

    Thank you so much from both of us.

  13. Are the RMAs coming up for these guys? I think I read that right..that'll be very interesting to put together!!

    This was visually stunning indeed. And kind of emotionally jerking too..Nothing like seeing your ex making out with another woman..I don't care if you ended it badly or well..your lips have been there before theirs and it's just awkward. It's even more awkward when you point out that you're wife {insert number here}. It's almost as if she was trying to let beth know she's in for a ride and she might want to rethink this guy..
    i think beth deserves a guy who doesn't have commitment issues for once.

    great writing guys..can't wait for the next one!

  14. Ohhh...this set is beyond words! Wow, it's the right amount of intimacy for a man trying to have a woman's undivided attention.

    AWKWARD!!! To say the least! At least for Beth and Dani. Alex seemed pretty chill about the whole thing. I guess that's a guy being a guy huh? And I mean it's not like he's wanting to MARRY Beth. Just two people having fun. Nothing wrong with that.

    And I can understand Dani's jealousy. I mean, to her they were still in a relationship. I physical one but a relationship all the same and then BOOM he goes and cuts her off. I feel sad for her.

    Loved, LOVED the writing and the sets and...just everything! I always get a little giddy when I see an update from you two and then want to savory it!:)

  15. Your sets are always incredible, but something about this one just made my jaw drop. This was amazing, the lighting, shadows, colors, Danica's hair against the dark backdrop, the splash of light from her dress, combined, it all created such a beautiful, beautiful atmosphere. Such a pleasure to look at!

    Loved your use of the prompt. Beth seems content with Alex. But I'm not sure if content is the right state. I miss her "excitement" and spark with Cooper. A part of me really wants to see her and Coop work things out. I know he's put her through a lot of crazy stuff over the years, and it may be hard to forgive, but I still have hope.

    I feel Danica's heartbreak. Knowing Alex has def moved on, and seeing him in action couldn't have been easy. But good for her for handling it so well. Just cos she's hurting inside, doesn't mean she should act like a hoodrat, and all cattish. She seems classy enough, and very lady like.

    Loved the writing as always.

  16. Christina, thanks! We've got two big events coming up, the celebrity date 'auction' first and then the RMA's. They're going to be tough to put together: I've been studying BPS and other design forums but haven't seen anything that really inspired me. But the character dynamics will be a lot of fun!

    It is really hard to see your ex with another woman. All the physical memory comes into play. Dani is a lovely person, so yes, part of the 'has he explained' line was a mild warning. Alex does not stick around.

  17. Hey Phoenix! I love that set, too. I hope I can reuse it, particularly since there's a lot I didn't even show.

    Awkward is right. Not as awkward as Beth running into pregnant Gemma, but uncomfortable. It wouldn't have been quite as uncomfortable if Alex hadn't flirted with Dani (he could have just given her the standard hug and backed off). It is a guy being a guy, but more than that: Beth is still married to Cooper and neither of them has taken any legal steps to end it. The little performance with Dani was sort of a reminder that Alex has irons in the fire if he wants to use them.

    Speaking of updates...I really miss Lycan. (hint hint)

    Thank you from both of us!

  18. Val, I installed the lighting mod, which made a huge difference in the way I light the interiors and really gives me some extra pop with the spot lighting. I think that's probably what you're picking up on. The part of the set that I shot is basically a square with a hole in the middle and some (but not a lot) of furniture and decor. It's the lighting that makes it shine. I am just thrilled that you liked it! Maybe I'll post shots of the rest of the set.

    Alex is a rebound relationship. You're right, the excitement isn't there. If I were her, I would have gone running back to the other man in her life, Ryan, but then she's still in love with Cooper and trying to get something going again with Ryan would absolutely shut the door permanently on anything she might ever have with Coop again. She's always been good at denial and avoidance.

    Gayl and I both really like Dani. She's hurting but she was classy about it.


  19. Fantastic update...and your set is absolutely incredible!

    From a writing standpoint, I was wondering if you have any idea if Cooper will get back with Beth, or is this something that the characters will determine as the story unfolds? Just curious....

    I know I've told you before, but man, the writing...the pictures...THE BEST! Thanks for sharing with us.


  20. Malakaaz, thank you! You know, I was hoping to hear from you again, so extra thanks!

    I'm so pleased you liked the sets and the shots. I never know how they're going to be received and always ALWAYS compare with other writers and find inspiration and, on the down side, get a little depressed when I don't think I've gotten it right, so it is hugely appreciated to know it worked.

    We know if Cooper will get back with Beth. We've got it plotted out past the auction to the RMA's.

    It's always fascinating to hear from readers who wonder if we let gameplay or the characters change our minds. Sometimes we do. An unexpected reaction may change things, push threads in a different direction, bring different interactions into play that we didn't expect. When we started using these four new characters and the people in their pasts, how they relate, it did change some things. I think I would have changed a couple of the major plots in the past, in hindsight, based on character reaction, but you can't redo.

    Again, thank you so much!

  21. Late as always, but this set was just stunning. It made my jaw drop... the last few shots in particular.

    I love how she keeps her distance by referring to her as Beth Stanfield... all up until the last paragraph, where maybe Beth gets grouped into "us." Very interesting... very deep. :D

  22. Dani looked like a goddess in that dress. Wow, she's beautiful. I love the shot of her with her hands at her mouth.

    What a hard scene to witness. You two did a beautiful job again with the words and the pictures. Just amazing!

  23. Thank you, Christi. This was originally supposed to be only one half of the update, but for different reasons we decided not to go with the second half. It's kind of light weight as a result.

    Thank you so much from both of us!

  24. Lunar, Dani is lovely, isn't she? Gayl outdid herself.

    Thank you so much for the compliment on the shots. I wish we had been able to come up with a second half to this piece, but it didn't work out that way this time.

  25. Wow, that set is beautiful! Downloading those murals as of right now! LOL! You always continue to amaze me how gorgeous everything turns out even though you seem to have a lot of issues some of the time, just incredible patience to put something like that together.

    I loved the dynamic of this little trio. I feel for Dani, you captured her emotions so well.

    Beautiful, gorgeous update, loved everything from top to bottom!

  26. Thank you again, Emily! Those murals are wonderful, aren't they? It's a little tricky to use them but worth the trouble.

    We have a lot of problems because we have too much CC. I try to put too much in one lot, too. The only real problem I had with this one, once I deleted almost everything that didn't show in the shots in order to stabilize the lot, was with the diner booth. First it was too small. Then they couldn't sit down until I removed the OMSP's from the table. I ended up using an invisible table top I'd downloaded with a set of place settings, and it worked just fine. (I could have removed the items on the table but didn't want to do that.)

    Gayl and I both really like Dani. I wish I'd had a little more energy and could have continued to rework the second piece of this, but neither of us did so we just went with the one scene.

    Thank you so much!

  27. Oh wow, the photos are just perfect--everything is gorgeous.

    Maybe this is strange, but I like the way Alex treats Dani--he doesn't act all awkward and upset to see her, he isn't scared to hug her or anything. It's like an acknowledgment of what they once meant to each other, and if I were Beth, I think I'd be reassured by that, rather than threatened.

    Dani is too nice, really. Her assessment of Beth can seem cool at points, but she is still impressed with what she sees. She is such an interesting character!

    What a wonderful chapter!

  28. Rachel, thank you!

    You know, you have a real point about Alex. I've always liked his smoothness and his confidence, and his openness. Dani was his wife; they are still close. VERY close until he cut that off when he got involved with another woman (something else I like about him).

    Dani is wonderful. You may be right: she is probably too nice, but she's poised and generous. I hope we can work with her some more.

    Thank you so much from both of us!

  29. Poor Dani "not jealous" yeah keep telling yourself that. I feel sorrow for her :(

    Very awkward moment for her having to stand there and watch as her ex flirted with another woman.

    I love how she sat there sizing her up. I think she even called her fat :P well...from a modeling standpoint haha!

    Great chapter!

  30. Daijahv, yes Dani did call her fat LOL! And she is jealous. There's obviously a lot of affection between Dani and Blade, even though he's picked up on yet another woman.

    Thank you!!