The Wrong Type of Seduction

28 Matt’s Image Consultant


28: Matt’s Image Consultant

Matt listened to the music they finished recording, frowned down at his sound tech, and shook his head unhappy.

Aaron laughed and turned back to the window of the sound booth where the band was chatting. He waved for their attention. They all looked at his tech and then visibly groaned when Aaron made a cutting motion across his throat. Matt didn’t make it his goal in life to be a pain in their ass, but when he composed music he heard it in his head. And if the real thing didn’t come close enough to his ideal it made him cranky aka an asshole.

The band got back on their instruments and began to play again.

“How’s school?” Matt asked as he watched the band perform.

“Good.” Aaron answered adjusting the controls. The guy was studying to be an official audio engineer. Matt told him he didn’t have to study because he was already good, but Aaron wanted the papers and everything so that he felt legit. Such a cool guy. They’d been recording together since Matt started creating albums in high school. Aaron had an ear like nothing Matt had ever seen. He could pick up on the subtlest of changes. He could tell Matt immediately if a new song on the radio was going to be a hit or not. And Aaron was always right. No way was Matt passing that talent up. Matt wasn’t much of a friend to the few people he gave that title because he was too absorbed in music to be much of a friend himself, but Aaron was as close as he got to one besides Cody. So he wasn’t surprised when the guy finally asked, “So Val?”


“She’s hot.”




Aaron nodded. “She’s out of your league. You’re hamburger and she’s caviar.”

Matt agreed. “Can’t hurt to try.”

“Maybe. But I like her. She doesn’t look down on me and she appreciates the music.”

Matt frowned. “Why would she look down on you?”

Aaron laughed. “Dude, I’m young and broke. Most rich types like her don’t even want to sit in the same room and breath the same air unless you’re bringing them coffee or some shit.”

“Val’s not like that. She volunteers and stuff.”



“I like her more and more.”

“And what do you mean you’re broke? I pay you well.”

The guy snorted. “Let’s be real, Matt. She’s high money. You and me, no money compared to her.”

Matt slumped agreeing. She sat like a queen with that perfect posture and that leg crossed over one knee as if everyone should bow and kiss her foot.

“What’s her day job, anyway? Or does she need to work?”

Matt chuckled. He didn’t have a clue. He never asked because he wanted her to tell him freely. But nothing came easy with his fantasy.

“Can I get a hint?” Aaron asked curiously.

Even Matt would love one. He thought of everything she knew about the woman. She was smart, worked four days out of the week. She knew how to organize like a pro. According to the foundation where she volunteered, everything for the gala was ready to go and they still had two weeks to spare. “She’s in management.”

“Dude, careful. Women managers have a tendency to manage everything in their lives. You might end up being controlled.”

“That’s bullshit. Cody is a manager and she could care less about managing her personal life.”

“Because your brother’s girl is the fucking shiznit.” Aaron grinned. “Tell her I’m next in line for her after she dumps your brother.”

When the studio door opened, Matt frowned and turned to glare at the intruder then paused in shock. There stood DJ Cold Rage with an entourage of people. In his recording studio. Holy shit.

“Bro… Bro…” Aaron stood up blindly pushing buttons on the sound board as he gawked. “Aw man…”

“Rage!” Matt stepped forward to greet him. “It’s nice to see you… Sir? Sorry, I didn’t expect-“

The guy chuckled. “I called your manager to ask when the best time to meet you would be. He told me now, that you wouldn’t mind.”

Dammit, Pete! “Sure, come in. Let me introduce you to everyone.” He waved for the band to come out. Aaron tried to shake the man’s hand to decay, clearly a fan. After a quick meet and greet, Rage asked to speak to Matt privately.

Other than the sound booth, control room, and the kitchen/breakroom, Matt’s studio held a lounge where he let guests sit while he recorded. He didn’t conduct administrative business, so he didn’t have an office for that. Instead, they sat around in the big plush seats of the lounge.

“You’re stepping into new territory with main stream music.” Rage began speaking sitting across from Matt. “That means new challenges. While I know you got your man Walthour watching your back, he ain’t entertainment. He’s other shit. He doesn’t know the entertainment world like we do. So you’re going to need a little…extra. Usually music companies handle the behind the scenes stuff. But sometimes when you have your own team of experts, it gives you more negotiation power. Let me introduce you to…” The first person was a woman dressed in a business suit. She was nice and professional as she explained what she did in the industry. She was a trend analysis. She kept an eye on what was popular and what was quickly fading. Interesting. “If you want to stay pop, you have to think pop.” Rage added after the intro.

The second person was a guy that represented one of the biggest tour promotion companies in the world. “You’ve played small venues, but you haven’t played large scale auditoriums and stadiums yet. This guy can hook you up when you’re ready to be larger than life.” He padded the man on the back. “Sometimes when you go straight to the source instead of going through the companies, you get a better deal. More money in your pocket, get it?”

Matt nodded, thinking the guy sounded a lot like Mr. Walthour.

“And with larger than life, come a little something else. You’ll need an image, and the knowledge associated with those you want to interact with. Think of it as you going into another country, you want to make sure you know all the cultural pitfalls before you fuck up. The next person you need to know is an international image consultant. I wanted her to be here now, but she had another appointment and said she’d meet up with us later.”

“Image consultant? I already have my manager and my publicist,” Matt said, thinking of how Pete molded his image and Sandra told him how to act during certain situations.

“She’s not just an image consultant. She knows people and can get you in contact with just about anyone in the entertainment world and beyond. Say for instance you want to move from audio and break into visual. You want to contact a certain director, she’s your woman. You want to set up a meeting with a TV producer? She can tell you how to dress for success to match that person’s taste if you want to impress. As well as the topics of conversations that any given person leans to so you don’t have to waste your time on small talk. Or maybe you pissed off a music exec that could destroy your career, she can navigate you off that shit list.”

“Nice,” Matt said understanding that he could use the woman to get his music into TV and more movies.

“Exactly.” Rage nodded. “Wanna go to dinner? She might meet us there,” Rage said standing up. Matt was about to turn it down, wanting to finish his recording when he remembered who he’d be turning down. Sucking it up, he nodded.

They went to a nearby Italian spot that was one of Matt’s favorites. Matt listened as they chatted, absorbing in their different personalities to learn how to navigate among them.

“So, Matt, do you have a strategy on how to push your sales once you release your album?” The tour promoter asked.

Matt was about to answer when his fantasy walked through the door. His heart skipped a beat seeing her in that pencil skirt just above the knees, and a suit jacket hugging her trim middle. And that ass was outlined perfectly, not too tight, just right.

When Matt didn’t answer the group turned to look at what he was staring at.

“Ah!” Rage stood. “That’s her.” He walked to Val who was talking to the greeter.

Val was the international image consultant? Matt’s whole body tensed in anticipation of meeting her professionally. He couldn’t drool over her in front of all these people, even as the tour promoter was checking her out. Matt wanted to gouge his eyes out with a spoon.

Rage walked up to Val and she smiled politely. He pointed back to their table. Val visually stiffened when their eyes locked.

She began walking toward them, just as cool and calm as if they hadn’t fucked a million times. As if she’d never met him.

Matt could play this game, so he told himself, but his cock wanted to play another game. He’d call it fuck her ’til she submits.

“Good evening.” She smiled and shook the hands of everyone at the table. “I’m sorry I am late,” she said as she moved around the table. “I had business overseas that I could not reschedule.” She shook Matt’s hand last. It was curt and impersonal, just like all the others.

Rage pulled out a chair for her. She smiled, thanking him. Matt wanted to hate the guy.

“This is Val Braun, head of Image Connection International, the image consultant firm I told you so much about.”

Val laughed a playful sound. “I hope nothing bad.”

Rage sat down beside her and glowed, clearly enjoying her presence. “Not at all. I couldn’t think of anything bad if I tried.”

Matt wanted to get up and leave as she sat seducing everyone at the table with her charm and wit. Everyone but him. Even the other woman seemed to be enjoying Val’s professional flirting, if there was such a thing.

When his food came, he ate it absently, pretending he cared about the conversation, but all he wanted to do was spread her over the table and be a complete depraved asshole to the restaurant while he ate her out for all to see.

Matt felt something dark rise up inside of him with each question the men asked about her personally. If it wasn’t for her steering the conversation away from herself to her work, he’d have lost it — gone completely insane and fucked some shit up.

Hell, he didn’t know why he felt that primal urge. He’d never felt it before in his life, except when he wanted to protect his family. Then again, he knew why. In his mind, she was his and he was determined to make her realize it. First, he had to keep calm and composed and not act like a bratty deranged teenager who wanted all the attention at the table…or just Val’s.

“Matt, you’ve been awfully quiet,” Rage said, “Did you have any questions for Ms. Braun?”

Matt smiled, letting his appeal speak for him instead of his cock. “I’m afraid I’d only make myself look stupid if I spoke. I am completely…blown away by these women. I mean, Rage, sir, you make me feel out of my depth, and yet these beautiful women make me feel like a babbling nineteen-year-old kid.” He sighed. “Nothing good will come out of it. I might end up stuttering or something.”

The analyst chuckled, clearly won over. Rage nodded approval. But even as Val smiled, he saw that she didn’t buy a minute of it. She only ate a small portion of her food and had the waitress wrap up the rest to go.

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Matt. Lady. Gentlemen.” Val bowed her head slightly to each of them, leaning forward to place her money on the table. “Dinner is on me. I had a rather long flight, so forgive me if I skip out.” She stood handing each of them a business card. “Do not hesitate to call if you need anything. Professionally, of course.” She winked at Rage who just laughed.

When she sauntered off, Matt nearly yelled at the men in the restaurant to stop checking out his ass. Hell, she did that hip swinging thing on purpose. Had to be.

“Where did you find her?” The tour promoter asked more than a little too curious. Fucking bastard.

“One of my friends needed to clean up his image, and so an exec came to me with Val’s info. She knows her stuff.” He nodded.

“I noticed you two flirting. Are you two…?” Matt asked as the promoter nodded eagerly wanting to know the same.

Rage grunted. “She’s about work. As friendly as she is, you’re not getting more than that from her.” He grunted again as if he understood defeat.

“She’s a working professional. As a woman, you have to take your business seriously or no one else will,” The analyst said. “Unfortunately, in many cases women who lose respect aren’t allowed the same forgiveness as men in business. I respect her for that.”

While the woman was probably right, Matt didn’t see business as masculine or feminine. He saw it as a means to an end. And Val? He saw her beyond business, beyond anything with money attached. And if she said she wouldn’t work with him because of their history, he was fine with that. As long as she didn’t distance herself more than she already had.

The three of them talked a while before Rage said, “Let’s call this a night. Matt, we’ll talk later, got a project in mind if you’re interested.”

Matt shook the guy’s hand. “Thank you, Rage. I appreciate this. And when it comes to music, I’m always interested.”

“Smart boy.”

Matt walked back, stewing. If he didn’t have more recording to do and his schedule hadn’t been derailed by the DJ, he’d try to hunt Val down… He was really tempted to call Mr. Walthour and get his people to trace her number. 

As soon as he was back at his studio, he found Val with Aaron in the kitchen area. They were enjoying the leftover pasta she hadn’t finished for dinner. When Aaron saw him, noticed the “get lost” expression on Matt’s face, he grabbed his food, thanked, Val and disappeared past Matt in a flash.

Val continued eating while Matt watched her quietly, his hip leaned against the door frame. She didn’t owe him an explanation. She owed him nothing. And yet here she was in his studio, still in her work clothes. Waiting. For him. Hell, if he felt anymore for this woman he’d be worthless.

Thinking over the exchange he saw between Rage and Val, he got a pretty good idea what was going on, so he made the first move. “So you’ve done work for Cold Rage.”

Val frowned, narrowing those pretty green/gold eyes. “Is that what he told you?” She shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

“Does it matter?”

She tilted her head slightly to look at him as if calculating her next move. Hoho, this woman was cunning. His dick twitched wondering if she’d lie to him or carefully avoid the question. Would she spin it or run away all together? Or would she offer the truth?

He wanted the truth desperately. But more than anything he wanted to know who this woman was. So if he had to make her squirm a bit, so be it. “How was work today? Overseas right? Any new clients that are…worthy of your time? And the truth?”

Val sat her fork down and placed her hands in her lap. With one leg crossed over the other, he got a nice view of her professional persona – her posture was pristine, her chin high, and her face as emotionless as stone. Then she said something that shocked him. “It’s not about truth, Matt. I kept it from you to keep you from me. But if you must know about my work, ask.”

Ask? Ask what exactly? Everything? Could he asked about anything? The possibilities ran through his mind as he just stared at her hopeful. But he needed to be careful. Very careful. With Val, anything could be a trigger and she would run. “So you’re the founder?”

“I guess you can call me a founder, I’m one of two. I’m more like the chief consultant. And each one of my consultants specializes in etiquette, fashion, and certain cultural customs. The company’s only four years old.”

“And yet you have some big name clients.”

“I do. I also know how to make connections. I find talent who know people and hook them up with others who want to impress. I’m kind of like a matchmaker.”

“And you… only help rich people?”

“No. Depends. I help politicians, musicians, actors, clients who work in highly visible professions who want to be a cut above the competition. Not all are rich, but their connections make them invaluable.”

Matt nodded. “You clearly know fashion and proper etiquette. You move like royalty. Did you go to finishing school or something?”

“Let’s skip that,” she said looking tired.

That was one of her triggers. Matt went to another topic. “So you travel a lot.”

“I travel to help manage our consultants on the ground. I only have about ten globally, but they have their own under them who manage their workload. I travel to each branch to make sure they stick to the principals of the company. While my people mostly work independently, they have certain criteria they must follow. And I like to keep my eye on things. I don’t like crossing lines. So if you plan to operate here and need a consultant, please let me know. I am still working on setting up in New York, so I don’t have a solid base yet. But I can’t be your consultant.”

“Why not?” Matt asked. He stepped into the kitchen nook and stood over her. A blush crept over her honey skin. She looked at him, breaths coming quicker.

“Let’s keep business separate from… personal.” Her voiced held a slight husk.

“Are we personal, Val?” he asked running his hands through her soft hair. She closed her eyes and parted her lips to say something, but all she did was lean into the caress of his hands. “Tell me, Val, can we be personal?”

“No promises,” she murmured barely audible. Her eyes opened to look up into his. They stared, drowning in each other.

“I want to know more, Val. Can I know more?”

“It boring.” Her voice whispered.

“Nothing about you is boring.”

“You’re hard.” She expertly changed the subject licking her lips and staring at his pants inches from her face.

“That obvious? You make me this way. I’m so fucking turned on right now, if I move, I’ll bust.”

She hummed approval as she leaned closer to his aching dick. “We can clean you up later.” Her hands reached, creeping up his thigh. She breathed hot air over the fabric of his crotch and he came, body trembling. “I like how you respond to me.” Val rose and kissed his jawline, hands working on his zipper.

He lifted her up on the tiny table and hoovered over her. “This damn table won’t hold.” Because he was going to go at her hard.

“Where do you want me?” she asked kissing his neck.

“Upstairs.” He ordered.

She moved to squeeze that lush body past him as he watched her hungrily.

When she sashayed to the door like she had all the time in the world, he smacked her ass. She sucked in a breath, body trembling. Then she looked back at him over her shoulder, shocked.

“Faster.” He ordered. “Or I fuck you for my band to see.”

Val took off and he was hot on her heels.

That night, as he took what was his, it occurred to him that Val shouldn’t have been so successful in four years without help…like Walthour helped Matt. So who helped her? And why couldn’t Ada find any information about this woman if her company was so high profile? 

Val, you intrigue me…


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