CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Lucy wasn't sure how she was going to explain the black fishnet stockings, the stilettos and the lacy undergarments if her husband discovered them.
"I had to sneak them out of the house and I thought, 'If he finds these, he's going to think I'm a hooker. It's not going to be good,' " she said.
Lucy, a mom of two young children, doesn't have a lot of fancy undies tucked in her dresser, let alone occasion to wear fishnets and stilettos.
Her husband, an avid outdoorsman, has even joked he knows he's getting hunting supplies for Valentine's Day.
Instead, Lucy has pulled out all the stops to surprise her husband with his very own album of boudoir photos, all featuring Lucy. The style of photography has been around for years but is gaining popularity locally, evidenced by the number of photographers that list it as a specialty.
Lucy believes her husband will be thrilled and surprised, which is why we're not revealing her real name here. Hubbo gets his gift on Thursday.
"This is not something I'd normally do," Lucy said, even though her sweet husband tells her she's so hot she should make a calendar.
"I'm like, 'Are you crazy? I'm not model-ready,' " she said. She finally mustered up the courage when she learned a friend of her sister's is a photographer who does boudoir photos. Her sister came along for the photo shoot at a hotel, booked for the afternoon by photographer Rachel Jeffers.
"I was very comfortable with her," Lucy said. "I still went up there a nervous wreck."
Jeffers and her sister helped break the ice, cracking jokes and putting her through the boudoir paces.
"My sister was hilarious. She'd say, 'Just put your sexy face on,' and I'd say, 'What's my sexy face?' " Lucy said.
Lucy was worried about not having a model-perfect body. What about stretch marks? But by the time she finished the session, Lucy said she had relaxed and felt, well, pretty sexy after all.
"At the end, I was so excited, I left there feeling like I could be in Victoria's Secret," she said. "I was prancing around the rest of the day."
Jeffers, who just started her photography business this past fall, said she decided to add boudoir photos to her repertoire of portraiture because she knew they were fairly popular. They're also a special challenge for a photographer.
"Everybody's really nervous," Jeffers said. "The first thing they say is, 'I have stretch marks. I have some cellulite.' My goal is to highlight the things they like. I do minor editing of blemishes or stretch marks, but I haven't done any slimming or any major editing - I don't think you should do that."
"By the end of it, they're comfortable. And when they finally see the pictures, they say, 'Wow. I really look good,' " Jeffers said. "And there's never a bad reaction from husbands."
Charleston photographer Mike Winland first started offering boudoir photos 15 years ago and usually runs a Valentine's special he dubs, "For His Eyes Only."
"I generally don't sell large wall photos; it's usually a book," he said.
As a veteran photographer, Winland said he's comfortable shooting all kinds of photos - and perhaps that helps put the women at ease, too.
"Sometimes a glass of wine helps," he said.
Logan photographer Betsy Murphy has been encouraging women to explore their glamorous side for about six years, and she can't figure out why more women don't have boudoir photos taken.
Murphy said boudoir photos are about sensuality and romance. While some women are comfortable showing quite a lot of skin, nudity usually isn't the goal.
"People have a lot of misconceptions about it - they think it means porn," Murphy said. "Now they see that it's very classy."
One of her models for shoots to advertise her photo work is Marnie Riddell, a 44-year-old redhead who did some modeling when she was younger but took a long break to raise her daughter.
Riddell has modeled for charity projects that Murphy has organized, including calendars whose proceeds benefit veterans organizations.