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“Not to mention she bats for your team” Aaron added with a stupid smirk.
Eric chuckled along, pointing a finger at him and sloshing the contents of his glass onto the back of his hand. He sneered as his icy blue eyes met hers, the ice clinking softly as he raised his glass to lick the back of his hand.
“Jesus” she said, as she was forced to look away. She pushed her hair back roughly, “This is…so fucking inappropriate.”
“Please, Tina” Aaron said, shaking his head in disapproval, “I never took you for a fucking prude.”
Tina clenched her fist. She was getting angry, and even angrier knowing that James had a front row seat to this dressing down. “Do you have anything else to talk to me about, Eric? Aaron said you weren’t happy with the shots for the press kit”
“I’m not. But, you guys can handle that. Make it sexier. Christ, we are paying top dollar for some of the best bodies in the business. More loin cloths and fig leaves, less robes” he said casually.
“Is that all?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes and no” he paused. “Look Tina, I think you should make yourself available to Helena. Let her see what you can do. Learn from her let her learn from you. And for God’s sake wear something that says you’re fuckable when you meet with her. Maybe she’ll like some of your ideas. And if not…You know, hey, there’s nothing wrong with being the prettiest girl in the room. It’s an asset. And you’ve still got a good few years of marketability left. You should work it. Give her a little taste if you know what I mean.”
“Un-fucking-believable” she squeaked out.
“He’s joking, Tina. God, take a joke” said Aaron. But she could see the evidence of his excitement and it was revolting. His legs were tightly crossed now, both hands squeezed between his thighs. His eyes flicked from hers to Eric’s and back again.
She closed her eyes and shook her head, a small sound coming from the back of her throat, the bitter taste of bile rising. For a moment she thought to restrain herself, that this wasn’t the right moment, that the circumstances of the day made it unsafe for her to speak up. But then the reality of it hit her. That she had never felt safe in this environment. For too long she had felt the weight of the decisions she made on how to present herself each day. How to be sexy but not too sexy to invite unwanted attention. How to play dumb when the attention came anyway. How to swallow past the pit in her stomach and laugh off the blatant advances. She shut herself down, downplaying her femininity, her vulnerability, her softness, even her wit. All to stay well within what was expected of her, to show her fealty to the boys club. And all of it, all of it had chiseled away at her creativity, making her unsure of herself and her value, dulling her work.