#35: Business Travel
Krysta did not often travel for business, but when she did she dressed for the occasion. Aiming for comfort and class, she wore a purple jersey dress with knee-high black socks, black boots, and a checkered flannel shawl for warmth and modesty. It being an early flight, she wore minimal makeup to hide the circles under her eyes and add color to her cheeks. She rolled her suitcase stuffed half-full with bikinis and lingerie, as well as a few outfits and some sleepwear to get her by before she could shop for more. Her carry-on included her laptop, tablet, stylus, various chargers, toiletries, noise-canceling earbuds, a water bottle, a Ziploc bag of almonds, and three mini-bottles of Don Julio.
At her gate, Krysta read a chapter of her eBook (Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy) in the fifteen minutes before boarding. On the plane, she reviewed her outfit and makeup inventory on her tablet. Having requested a guest membership to DreamGirls, she had tailored her wardrobe to their style (bold color, big hair, boobage). On her calendar, she penciled in a hotel room webcam show for Thursday (DreamGirls agreed to cover her for high-speed internet). Her clerical tasks complete, she used up the next couple hours watching pirated episodes of Westworld followed by a twenty-minute power nap.
We will begin our descent shortly. Please ensure your tray tables are in their upright and locked position and your seatback is adjusted all the way forward. Thank you!
Krysta took her time exiting the plane. She checked Instagram and saw Alicia's post from Julie's condo. It was clear Alicia planned to cash in on a favor to recruit Julie as a photographer for Whitley. Convincing Julie would not be difficult. Whitley herself might be a trickier sell. Whatever bargain those two were working out, Krysta was happy to be away focusing on something else. She scrolled down further to see Alexis had posted a shot outside the airport.
I have a friend in town today!
Entering the LAX terminal, Krysta texted Alexis that she'd arrived, and promptly received a blonde smiley face emoji. She also texted Marla Gowther, photographer and part-owner of DreamGirls with whom much of her dealings had been done. A former DreamGirls model now in her mid-thirties, Marla had transitioned (mostly) to serving photographer and creative consultant. Krysta had looked to Marla as a role-model early in her career, and having Marla as the photographer for her shoots was Dreamgirls' final bargaining chip to sell Krysta on the project.
Krysta stopped by the bathroom to double-check her appearance. With the warm Southern California heat, she did not need the shawl but kept herself covered anyways. You are a star among busty pinup models. You have no one to impress. She straightened her posture, putting on an air of maturity and confidence. Exiting the restroom, Krysta popped in her earbuds and queued up Diamonds and Pearls on her phone. Feeling more relaxed, she took time to peer at the clear skies through the large terminal windows. As she approached the security area, she double-checked her posture and scanned for her ride.
Confidence, confidence, confi-
Even among the throngs of tall, thin, tanned bodies sprinkled throughout the airport, Alexis Cheer stood out. Alexis' hips poured into trendy dark blue jeans, curves flaring out to the sides and from behind. Her bare midriff showed off her tapered waist which lay beneath the shadow of otherworldly 32H breasts, highlighted magnificently by her form-fitting light blue knitted crop top. She had the face of a movie star and the energy of, well, a cheerleader.
Alexis dashed up to Krysta and hugged her like old friends meeting for their ten-year high school reunion. "Welcome to Los Angeles!"
Trapped in Alexis' constricting embrace, Krysta dropped her bag, and her earbuds popped out of her ears. "Um…thank you, Alexis."
"We know each other now. Call me Lexie. God, it's so cool to finally meet you."
Kryta expected an awkward silence, but Alexis' grin widened until she laughed like Krysta had made a joke. "God, I'm a doofus. I'm sorry, I'm just such a big fan. Wow, you are just gorgeous in person.
"Um...sure. Thank you, again."
"Let's get your bags!" Alexis said, grabbing Krysta by the hand and dragging her towards baggage claim.
Krysta adjusted her glasses, clumsily following along. "Wait, are we not shooting this evening?"
"Nah, Marla just wants us to hang out today and spend some time together before the shoot tomorrow. I'll take you to your hotel first. Later on, take-out Hawaiian is on me. Then, maybe we head downtown for some shopping before hittin' the beach for a couple hours. How's that sound?"
"I...yes. That will be...sounds fun."
"Oh, you're so cool! This week is gonna be awesome."
From security to baggage claim to the car to the hotel, Alexis talked. When prompted, an overwhelmed Krysta found herself grasping for words or simply nodding. Alexis happily shouldered the load of the conversation, jumping rapid-fire from topic to topic. By the time they reached the Holiday Inn, Krysta was sorely in need of an escape. She told Alexis she needed a nap and assured her she would be fine checking in by herself. After triple-verifying the afternoon pickup time Krysta nearly ran to the front desk to check in. Entering her room, Krysta leaned against the closed door knocking her head against it several times. She took off her boots, climbed onto the bed, and stared at the ceiling.
"What have I gotten myself into?"
After taking a few minutes to decompress, Krysta unpacked her laptop and connected to the hotel wireless. She immediately checked her site analytics, which showed an uptick in searches for her name as well as traffic from social media sources, which she attributed to speculation over the upcoming photo shoot. Opening her email, she confirmed with Marla she had arrived and would see her tomorrow. Another message had come via her site contact form.
I know you don't want to, but please meet me for lunch or dinner. Your call on when and where. I'll make it work. My treat. -Kiana
"You called it, Whitley," Krysta said as she typed her reply.
I'm going to LACMA on Sunday. We can meet for dinner afterward. Pick somewhere nice.
A reply arrived within a minute.
6:00 PM. Morton's Steakhouse in Burbank. I can pay for your transportation if you need it. Thank you for this.
With that taken care of, Krysta set to choosing an outfit for the evening. She laid several bathing suits on the bed, narrowing her choices down to her black one-piece with front lacing and a green suit with a plunging neckline. Her eyes then fell on a metallic two-piece bikini she had long considered too tacky for public. This afternoon, however, she was officially out of fucks to give. She folded the other suits, packing them neatly into the dresser.
Krysta disrobed, pausing to inspect her bare body in the mirror. She lifted and massaged her breasts, twisting from side to side. With the way Alexis made her feel, she half-expected to find cellulite, wrinkles, a gray hair or two. She found none of those things but also had difficulty finding the "magic" in her figure. Despite her magnificent chest and swooping curves, she felt plain. Eventually, she grabbed her phone and took several mirror selfies that would never see the light of day.
Her swimsuit on, Krysta added a skirt and a baggy, wide-necked gray shirt. She was done trying to impress. With her poise already shaken, she was ready to think less and relax more before work began tomorrow. Right now, she was more in the mood for food than she was the beach.
Krysta’s phone chimed. She read the message.
i'm out front. ordered hawaiian takeout so we can head straight to the beach!
Krysta sighed, snagging her bag and heading out the door.
At the beach, they met up with Alexis' boyfriend and apparent bodyguard Ben, who hoisted a full load of beach supplies in his long arms. Like Whitley, he was a former NCAA standout athlete who stood at least a head taller than most people. Like Alicia he was a blonde with muscles on top of muscles and, like Alexis, he was attractive, friendly, and as dim as a glow worm's armpit. He led them to a secluded inland spot obscured by ferns. Krysta and Alexis talked shop as they unrolled their towels on the sand.
"So you never look at analytics?" Krysta said.
"I think Marla does. She doesn't talk to me about it, though. Why would I?"
"It gives you user data like viewing habits, traffic flow patterns, even age and location breakdowns. You can tailor your show to your target demographics and maximize your numbers. For example, I emphasize my Vietnamese accent more on the West coast shows. East coast, I talk less and use a little more attitude." Alexis stared back, her face blank as if she had not heard a word. "Does that make sense?" Krysta said.
Alexis chomped down on a Spam musubi and leaned back in her chair. "I guess it does, a little. I've just never really thought about that stuff. Marla tells me where to be and what to wear, and I just have fun and be myself." Alexis paused before a wide grin spread across her face. "I do like to pretend I see my fans behind the camera and try to entertain them."
Krysta nibbled at her poke tuna. "But you must have days where you do not feel like entertaining people, right?"
"Sure, but once I'm in front of the camera, everything just kind of works for me. I only have problems if I'm not being myself."
"How do you know when you are not being yourself?"
"Because I'm thinking too much."
Krysta shook her head in disbelief. The idea of such a devil-may-care attitude regarding photoshoots confounded her. While not surprised by Alexis' carefree approach, she wondered how it would translate once they were both in front of the camera. She hoped Marla would be more receptive to talking strategy. Having finished the last of her tuna, Krysta discarded the empty box and laid back on her towel, peeling off her t-shirt.
"Wow, your boobs are unreal!" Alexis exclaimed.
"I—thank you, Lex—"
"Can I touch them?"
Krysta frowned. The request did not particularly trouble Krysta—they'd likely be touching each other's bodies and chests plenty during the week—but she was instinctively wary of spectators. Glancing around, she found their only audience would be Ben who appeared more preoccupied with figuring out the beach umbrella. Apparently, years of dating Alexis had made him immune to large-breasted women groping each other.
"Sure, I guess. I am not going to go topless here."
"No problem!" Alexis said, clapping her hands and dropping to her knees in front of Krysta. Expecting the worst, Krysta winced, but Alexis gingerly applied her hands to either side of Krysta's chest. Her face lit up as she pressed Krysta's breasts together, moving them up and down.
"Wow, they're soooo amazing! Your bikini is rockin' too. Have you posted a beach selfie yet?"
"I'll take one for you!" With one hand still on Krysta's breast, she gestured for Krysta's phone with the other.
"Um, thank you, but—"
"I've totally got this. Your followers will love it."
A dazed Krysta unlocked her phone, opened Instagram, and handed it over. Removing her other hand from Krysta's breast, Alexis jumped to her feet and stepped back, aiming the phone at Krysta. She kicked a volleyball into the frame as a prop and adjusted the shot to include a little color from nearby foliage. Krysta stared blankly at the camera.
"Come on, you goof," Alexis said. "You have to smile. It's for the fans!"
Feeling nothing, Krysta tried to force a pleasant expression. Alexis snapped a picture, and Krysta relaxed, drained from the effort. Cocking her head to the side, Alexis assessed the image. "Yeah, that'll do," she said, returning Krysta's phone. "I'll let you do the caption. You're good at that. Half the time I don't even use one."
Krysta winced as she studied the image of herself. Her breasts, grotesquely large, looked like deflating weather balloons and she'd seen more relaxed expressions in hostage situations. She did her best to inject some life into the image through the caption and hoped her followers did not read as much into it as she did. With a heavy sigh, she posted the picture and dropped her phone into her bag.
"Still feeling that jet lag, huh? Better get some rest tonight. We've got a BIG day tomorrow, and a looooong week ahead of us!"
Krysta laid back on her beach towel and stared up at the purple sky. "We certainly do."