“It’s OK to be nervous,” the makeup artist reminds me as she finishes her work.

“I feel silly being nervous about it,” I admit as I glance into the mirror at my reflection. I look especially beautiful today. “I work in the body positive space now. You’d think I would be completely OK with this.”

Since I started my podcast, I’ve done several photo shoots to encourage women to embrace their bodies, especially post-surgery or plus-size bodies. Jeb has always been hugely supportive of me. He was even the one who suggested we spice up this anniversary vacation by taking boudoir photos just for us.

“It’s still something new,” the hairstylist points out, fluffing my curls one last time.

We hired a trio of sisters for this. One handles hair, another does makeup, and the third sister is the photographer. They’ve guided us through this process, letting both of us know what to expect along the way.

It’s not the posing I’m worried about or even what we’ll be wearing—or rather won’t be wearing. I’ve heard women talk about how boudoir photographs allow you to see your body through your lover’s eyes. Jeb has always been completely supportive of mine. But I’m still hesitant to see what I look like to him.

I stand from the vanity stool and move to the full-length mirror. For our anniversary, we rented a beautiful cottage with an expansive garden outside. It’s far enough away from civilization that we could go outside to do the photo shoot. But I asked Jeb to keep it in the bedroom this time. Maybe next time I’ll feel brave enough for us to do it outdoors.

Glancing in the mirror, I take in the lacy red teddy I had altered for this shoot. It had to be taken in at the boobs and let out in the waist. I still haven’t had surgery done and I don’t wear any type of prosthesis. But I’ve slowly gotten more comfortable with my body.

There are so many lies in our heads about our bodies and what we look like. Since the success of my podcast, I’ve learned not to listen to my insecurities as much.

Instead, I focus on what I know to be true. Like the fact that Jeb worships my hips and adores my ass. He’s always touching it, no matter where we are. He’s going to flip when he sees that little red thong nestled between my cheeks. The thought has me smiling.

I apply a final coat of lipstick and give my reflection a smile. “I think we’re ready to go.”

The photographer and Jeb are in the bedroom. He’s on the bed with his head down, looking at his phone. I take a minute to enjoy the sight of my man dressed in slacks and suspenders. The sleeves of his crisp white dress shirt are rolled up, revealing his sexy forearms.

I’m faintly aware of a click in the background but I’m too focused on Jeb to pay any attention to that. All I know is he looks downright delicious today.

 He must finally sense my presence because he looks up from his phone. His breath leaves his lungs in a whoosh and the familiar appreciation sparks in his gaze. Through these years together, he’s never once looked at my body with disgust.

Just like he promised, he always goes with me to Asheville for the follow up testing. But instead of a day to be sad and anxious, he turns it into a celebration. He reserves a fancy hotel room and takes me shopping before we go to my favorite restaurant for dinner. He makes the whole day about enjoying myself and acknowledging how far I’ve come.

Being with Jeb has taught me just as much about loving my body as running my podcast has. Maybe even more. Because the way he looks at me never fails to take my breath away.

“Hi,” I whisper, suddenly feeling shy in his presence. Sexy lingerie isn’t something I do a lot, and I’m definitely not used to getting horny around him when we have an audience. Especially someone with a camera.

He plays with one of my bouncy blonde curls and presses his lips to the shell of my ear. His voice is pitched low, for me only. “Remember the first night we made love? How good it felt to be together?”

I close my eyes and moan softly. Every time I think about that night, I have to stop what I’m doing and go find Jeb. He’s the only one who can cure that ache.

He places a gentle kiss to my forehead before moving lower to press kisses to my eyelids. “That’s what I want you thinking about today. Can you do that for me?”

 “Yeah,” my voice comes out as a high, breathy sound. This man only has to look at me to set me on fire. But when he adds in those soft kisses and gentle reminders of nights long ago, I’m putty in his hands. Completely and totally his.

“Then let’s have fun together,” he whispers.

After that, my nerves fade away and I’m free to simply relax into the moment. We follow the photographer’s suggestions for poses and the rest of the afternoon passes by in a blissful blur.

When it’s over and the sisters are gone, Jeb makes love to me slowly. His eyes are filled with so much love that my heart is overflowing. Every day between us, our bond grows stronger.

“There was a moment earlier,” I say softly when I’m lying in his arms later, “during the photography session when you looked at me. It was like you’d just seen the sun for the first time in years. You looked so at peace.”

He strokes his fingers through my hair, pausing to press another kiss to the crown of my head. “You called my name then. My full name.”

“I didn’t even realize I had.” I know how precious and special his name is to him now that he knows the meaning behind it. Because of that, I never use it when I’m angry or frustrated. It’s only a word I whisper during special moments between us, like when we’re making love.

He rolls over me, positioning my body under his. “When I was waiting for you, I looked up your name. Do you know what it means?”

I shake my head. I’d never thought too much about it. Unlike Jeb, I had a childhood filled with love and affection. I’ve never questioned whether I belonged or ached for a family the way he did.

My life has been filled with so many wonderful people that have poured love over me. Maybe that’s why I was able to sense Jeb’s emptiness when he showed up that day in the lodge’s restaurant.

He swallows. “It means shining light. That’s what you are to me, Ellie. I was so lost, so wrapped up in pain and darkness. If I hadn’t found you, I don’t think I would have made it much longer. But then you were there. Like a lighthouse in the dark, you showed me the way home.” His voice cracks on the last word, filled with emotion.

I put my hand on his cheek, seeing the tears in his eyes. I can only imagine what it means to a man who grew up as an orphan to have—not just a place—but a person to call home. “All those years at the lodge, I was just waiting for you to walk through my doors. Because you’re my home too. You always have been.”

Then somehow, we’re in motion again. We’re sharing our bodies and loving each other with everything we have because we belong together.


If you loved Oliver & Anita, they’re starring in Tasty Curves, the next book in the Lake Bliss series. Read their story now for a brooding bodyguard who falls for a curvy woman in this older man, younger woman age gap romance!

Tasty Curves by Mia Brody