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The Replacement

Rating: PG-13

Stacy was stuck. When she had arrived at the filming location she'd been so shocked she'd pretended everything was okay. And of course there was the little matter of the contract. It was, after all, her signature, and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. If she had bolted as she'd been tempted to do, she knew she would never get hired again for shoots. Independent film, that's what she'd been told.

The 'actress' broke into Stacy's thoughts,

"Hon, not too much lip gloss, the first scene is just a head scene." For a moment Stacy's hand faltered, but ever the professional she replied,

"Don't worry, Amber. I'll go light." Using the lip brush she worked in from the corners and made Amber's unnaturally large lips look positively luminous. When she finished, Stacy handed Amber a mirror. Smiling at her reflection, Amber tossed her hair in a way that Stacy knew was practiced. Groaning inwardly, Stacy reminded herself about the money she'd be making at this gig. One day's work on this film and she'd pocket more money than she'd make in a week at the make-up counter. Even if she was making it off a porno flick. Not exactly what she'd had in mind when she was offered one day's work as a replacement make-up artist. She wouldn't include this job on her resume.

Amber brought the mirror up close and examined her face from every angle. Finally she put the mirror down and announced,

"The last make-up artist they sent over was so awful, we sent her home. You should stick around. You've got a gift."

"Thanks," Stacy answered graciously as she shuddered inside. No way. She smiled at Amber just the same. It was true, Stacy knew she was talented. She could make any woman look beautiful. Her regular clientele loved what she did. They were suburban housewives who drove into the city for lunch and a show. Even some of the socialites came to her at Benthoff's Department Store. In fact, it was those women who had encouraged her to sign with the Blue Agency for shoots. If they could see her now.

In the last few months she'd worked several local commercials and thought she was on her way to the big time. Well, as least as big as you could get in San Francisco. She knew Los Angeles was where the real money was, but she wasn't ready to leave the Bay Area. Not yet, anyway. After all, she had just met Alex. And she'd be seeing him tonight.

Absentmindedly, Stacy unsnapped Amber's smock and watched as she slowly rose from the chair and dropped her silk robe to the floor. Stretching, a nearly naked Amber raised her arms to the ceiling. Unable to take her eyes off Amber, Stacy stared at the perfectly round breasts that almost burst out of the purple lace demi-bra. Her belly was concave, a diamond sparkling from the navel. Amber wore a tiny matching lace thong and Stacy could see no discernable hairline. How come when she shaved, she always wound up with tiny red bumps? Amber must get professionally waxed. Amber's body was perfect: tanned and taut. Stacy cursed herself for pigging out on Mexican last night. She'd always considered herself to be on the thin side, but she felt positively obese right now. No more guacamole and chips. Stacy glanced around. The lighting guys were setting up. Cameramen were racing around. The action appeared to be taking place in one of the bedrooms. Stacy tried not to look interested, but she wondered where all the 'actors' were. Was she expected to do their make-up, too?

Right near Stacy was a rolling wardrobe. Hanging inside were costumes and plenty of lingerie. Stacy tried not to stare at the peek-a-boo garments, flimsy things and crotchless panties on display. Frederick's of Hollywood, no doubt. There were plenty of shoes to choose from as well. None that looked too comfortable, as they all seemed to be six-inch stilettos. There were even props laying on a chair: whips, chains, handcuffs and ropes. And a stethoscope?

Stacy saw Amber's manager Bruno sitting at a table in the dining room talking to some big, beefy guy. Was he a bodyguard? Why would these people need bodyguards? Stacy continued looking around the room and wondered who actually lived here and if they knew what their home was being used for. Probably not.

In the far corner of the living room there were more 'actresses' waiting for her. A gorgeous brunette, wearing a blue robe, sat in a flowered loveseat, chatting with an amazing looking redhead in a green kimono. As Stacy's eyes darted from Amber to the other women, she realized they all looked the same. It was as if they had all taken a Barbie doll to the plastic surgeon and said, 'I want to look like this. They hadn't come out with X-rated Barbie yet, but of course anything was possible.

Chuckling to herself, Stacy went over to the banquet table and poured herself a glass of Perrier. As she was perusing the food, she bumped into someone. "Oh, excuse me," she said as she looked up into deep-blue eyes and the handsomest man she'd ever seen.

He grinned, showing off perfect white teeth.

"My fault." He put his hand out and grasped hers. "Todd Johnson."

Stacy blinked, but couldn't speak. She tried to smile, and failed. She wanted to pull back her hand. All she could do was stare. It took all her might not to look 'down there'. Oh, she knew who he was, she knew exactly who he was. The big star. The man who'd had sex with countless women. Was it only women? Yes, he had to be straight. Damn, she hadn't expected it, but he was so gorgeous.

Somehow she managed to squeak, "I'm Stacy. The make-up artist."

Todd eyed her up and down while still holding onto her hand.

"Oh, Stacy, you're a big improvement over the last one. Yes, you are fine." Stacy felt chills, but couldn't believe it. This man, this huge porno star who was paid to fuck women was actually turning her on. And she could see he was aroused. Blushing nervously, she pulled her hand away.

"Sweet, too," Todd said with a laugh. "You can do me later. My scene's at two."

Stacy nearly choked as she pretended to sip her Perrier. Setting the green bottle aside, she headed straight for the bathroom. She shut the door behind her and sat down on one of the velvet lounge chairs. Closing her eyes, she did yoga deep-breathing exercises to try to center herself. When she was feeling calmer, her eyes drifted open and she glanced around. The bathroom was larger than her whole studio apartment. The walls were sponge-painted in a soft peach and looked gorgeous against the white crown molding. All the chairs were Queen Anne. There were hanging plants and potted plants in beautiful ceramic bowls. The fixtures were gold, the floor was a cream tile with gold flecks. It was ostentatious, yet very elegant. Stacy felt better, almost ready to go out and face the rest of her day.

She stood up and washed her hands, drying them on one of the softest hand towels. Unable to resist, Stacy opened the vanity. Boxes of condoms stared at her. Large and extra large. Ribbed, neon and edible. Edible? She needed to breathe again. Surely Todd used the extra large. No, no, she shouldn't think about him. Maybe she should think about Alex. She began to breathe normally again. Alex. Her type of guy. Tall, but not over six feet. Brown eyes. Great smile. Seemed really into her. Not into porno. Well, not that she knew of, but she hoped not. Oh, god, what would she say to him tonight? They hadn't even slept together, had barely kissed. Breathe, breathe. Stacy got up to leave, but turned back around and slipped a condom in her jeans pocket. What the hell.

No sooner had she closed the door behind her than Bruno came over and draped an arm over her shoulder.

"Wanted to let you know you did a good job on Amber," he whispered into her ear.

Wincing inside, Stacy forced a smile.

"Thanks. It wasn't difficult. Amber's a beautiful woman."

"No, really, you made her look...classy." Bruno laughed. "Amber really likes you. And she never likes anyone. She's the star, you know. You could get permanent work with her.

Stacy lifted Bruno's arm off her shoulder.

"I'm really busy with my clientele at Benthoff's, you know. I'm not ready to switch jobs just yet. Thanks for the offer, I better get back to work." Stacy pointed at the brunette reading a magazine already seated in the designated make-up chair.

"Looks like she's ready for me."

What a pig, Stacy thought. She couldn't imagine how Amber put up with him. Bruno seemed like a caricature of everything she'd ever expected. Maybe not a pig, more like a pimp. She wondered if Amber ever slept with him. Maybe she had to. Shivering, Stacy introduced herself to the next actress.

"I'm Crystal. And whatever you did to Amber, make me look better." Her brown eyes burned into Stacy.

Stacy was taken aback. Better? How could she make her look better? This woman was serious. But, Stacy treated her as she would any other client. She put her hands on Crystal's face, turned it right and left, nodding her head as she did so.

"Sure, a much different look for you. I'd say you're more of the jewel tones, you can take brighter colors." Crystal sat back, mollified.

Stacy began with foundation and smoothed it over Crystal's beautiful skin. She could model, Stacy thought, as she brushed powder all over Crystal's face. All these women were so beautiful, what were they doing here? Why had they chosen this life? She'd heard that the women who chose this line of work were into drugs, had been abused. Was there more than that? Could it be they were just into sex? Maybe they thought it was glamorous, the dressing up, the playacting. She wanted to ask Crystal, but couldn't.

Stacy worked quietly, enjoying Crystal's natural beauty. Arch the eyebrows. A little spray to keep them in place.

"Look up, Crystal." Stacy always used three coats of mascara, waiting for each one to dry in between. It helped any woman look as if she had long, full lashes. And now the lipstick.

"We really should use a true red, it will look great with your hair and eyes."

"Sure, " Crystal agreed.

Suddenly, Stacy heard loud moaning and banging, followed by 'Oh, yes, yes, yes!'

Startled, Stacy looked at Crystal.

Crystal smirked, "That's just Amber doing her 'come scene.'"

Stacy wanted to put her hands over her ears.

Rolling her eyes, Crystal said, "She's so fake. At least when she's with men."

Stacy begged silently, please don't tell me anymore. Just let me do my job, collect my money and get on with the rest of my life. Back to the bored housewives. Back to Alex.

It was hard, but Stacy tuned out the noises and focused her attention back on Crystal. After outlining her lips, Stacy applied the red lipstick. Satisfied with the result, Stacy handed Crystal the mirror. Just as Amber had done, Crystal checked her face carefully.

"Do you think the blush is a little dark for me?" she asked petulantly.

Stacy felt like screaming. As if anyone looks at your face anyway.

Dutifully, Stacy applied some sheer white powder to soften the blush and then dusted on a lighter blush. She handed Crystal the mirror again.

"Oh, much better." She smiled at her reflection and squinted her eyes. "Thanks, Stacy. Good job."

"My pleasure," Stacy replied, immediately regretting her choice of words.

"It would be my pleasure, too." Crystal smiled and winked as she got up from the chair. Just then Stacy heard Bruno call out, "Crystal, on set. Amber, see Stacy for a touch up."

Loosely pulling on a robe, Amber sat down in the chair. Her skin was damp, her make-up smudged. Lipstick gone. Stacy felt like spraying her with disinfectant. Instead, she got out some cotton squares to blot Amber's face and began again. Amber grabbed Stacy's arm.

"Just so you know, Stacy, Todd is still my man. I know how he always goes after the virgins on the set, but, sweetheart, a word of advice, stay away."

"Virgin?" Stacy stammered as she tried to apply powder.

"You're just working on the set. Keep that in mind."

"Don't worry about me." Stacy looked down at her plain black T-shirt and worn blue jeans, her long curly hair in a ponytail.

Amber looked her straight in the eyes.

"Don't give me any of that. Get rid of those clothes and put on something sexy(you could make it with anyone here."

Oh, yeah. Stacy laughed to herself, picturing herself as a French maid. Did they carry whips, maybe handcuffs? Maybe she could request Todd? Really piss of Amber.

She finished Amber's touch-up as quickly as possible. Watched her change into a new get-up. Some kind of black dominatrix thing. Then she did one actor and two other actresses before she grabbed a bite to eat with the one of the lighting guys. He flirted with her, too. Gave her his card. Explained that he didn't always work porno sets. As if she did. She took the card, figuring she'd throw it away later. Or maybe not. Who was she to argue? Sex was in the air. The afternoon quickly sped by: make-up, touch-up, body make-up, come-ons, jokes, moans and groans. All in a day's work. She wondered where Todd was. He was the only actor not yet in a scene.

And then there he was. He'd slipped into the make-up chair. Stacy didn't know how to act. She did her best to be nonchalant and quietly said hi as she tried not to stare at his gorgeous face or anywhere else. But it was hard not to. After all he was wearing the briefest of shorts. She couldn't help but notice-definitely extra large.

"So, Stacy, what can you do with this ugly mug?"

Sure. As if he didn't know he was incredibly hot. "Well, you don't need much." She touched his face with her hand and felt the electricity. Had he felt it too?

Pulling out a fresh sponge, she blotted his face with a tinted moisturizer to even out his tan. Running the sponge over Todd's skin felt to Stacy as if she were caressing him. She wanted to kiss his lips. Instead, she blushed again, sure he could read her thoughts. Finished, she dusted him with powder. His eyes bore straight into hers as she handed him the mirror. He didn't look into it and kept staring at Stacy until she spoke.

"Something wrong?"

"I was just thinking about you." Again he eyed her body. He leaned forward and said, "You're as pretty as any of these others. Why not give it a try?"

"Me?" Stacy stuttered.

"Sure. Why not? These girls, Amber, Crystal, they're just in it for the drugs and the money. I can tell with you, it would be different. You'd do it for the I do."

It would be different, too different. Out of her league. However tempting it might be with him, bottom line(he was a porn star. He'd fucked hundreds, maybe a thousand women. Why would she want to be one of them?

Stacy smiled weakly. "I have a boyfriend," she lied. Oh, that was so lame.

"That's okay." Todd grinned. "I'm not the jealous type."

Alex is, she wanted to tell him. Truth is she wasn't sure. They'd only been out a few times. She didn't know him all that well, but she hoped he'd be jealous. Why was she letting Todd get to her? She preferred a man like Alex. Maybe she should call him. Todd was done anyway. And the others could wait.

"Excuse me," Stacy said, "I've got to make a call." She picked up her purse and walked over to the bathroom for more privacy. A few of the actresses were siting around between scenes. Stacy heard them talking as she walked by.

"You know Todd, he's always looking to find a new girl. Same tired lines." Crystal laughed. " 'It would be different,'" she mimicked his husky voice.

"Yeah," a blonde agreed. "That's what he told me when I met him at The X Bar. It was different, all right."

The others laughed and Stacy walked by, smiling. Just make it to the bathroom. Then you can die.

Once again, Stacy found herself in the beautiful bathroom. She looked at herself in the mirror. How could she have taken him seriously? He didn't want her because of her, he just wanted to fuck her, the virgin on the set. How could she have thought it could be anything else? Stacy pulled her cell phone out of her purse and dialled Alex. Four rings and a recording. Stacy hung up without leaving a message. She'd just meet him at the restaurant. She had to finish the job. No one else would make a fool of her.

The day wore on and so did the actors. What had once seemed tempting seemed tawdry. Every time they came back for a touch up, they looked tired, used and older. Especially Amber. She didn't even bother with a robe anymore. Once, Stacy had picked it up to hand to her and she'd seen the label: 100% polyester, not even real silk. Nothing was real and nothing was glamorous. She didn't care how much money they made, this was not her thing. Stacy wondered how they could do it, again and again. They didn't seem into it any more. Just a job. Even their sexuality was diminished. She didn't know what could be left for them at the end of the day except more drugs or booze. Stacy ignored Todd. The spark was gone, whatever had been there. Stacy accepted her payment in cash from Bruno and brushed off any offers of more work. She was grateful she'd only been a one-day replacement. She had her money. What a day. She just wanted to get out of here and meet Alex. Packing up her make-up, she ignored everyone.

Once outside, she drank in the foggy July air. Fresh air. Her legs ached and she pulled her jacket tighter. She spotted a trash can and pulled the condom out from her pocket. Tossed it in. She threw out the card too. Didn't care.

Stacy saw her car down the block and almost started to run. Safe inside her car, Stacy sat for a few minutes watching the windshield wipers do their job. Calm enough, she started the car and headed to the Marina. To see Alex.

She couldn't deal with parking and used the valet. Through the double doors and there he was waiting at the bar, already sipping a margarita. He spied her immediately and stood up. Crushing her in his arms, Alex planted a salty tequila flavored kiss on her lips. Offering her his seat at the crowded bar, he asked, "How was your day?"