A Higher Form
Author’s Notes and Other
Yes, first off, this gets more than a little racy and erotic in a manner unlike my usual sort of thing, but the style was meant to be that way. It's a little more mainstream than my usual ASFR offerings, partially because it was fired off to a couple local small-circulation short-story 'zines who don't mind it being online. It's also a bit of a style-test for me. I wanted to see how far I could get without jumping into names, sticking mostly to dialogue and internalization to set place and character rather than names, just sort of as a challenge to myself. I did do it in third-person omniscient, too, which is a little of a backslide for me over my recent writing. But oh well. I'll survive. This entire thing just came to me, kind of spur of the moment, in a voyeuristic over-dramatized fantasy piece that I rattled off in two nights' work in July, edited in between other work in August and thought I’d share.
If you like it, great. Don't be shy, feel free to tell me so.
AF – August 2002
He’d asked her to the studio for the first time that night. From what she knew about him— which she’d be the first to admit, wasn’t much— the studio had been his place of retreat for some time. Months, at least; possibly years.
When he’d first met her, he’d spoken about his art and the studio glibly, mentioning the fact that painting and sculpture moved him the way it did more as an afterthought. But as weeks progressed into months, she began to realize how much he’d understated the sort of high creativity brought him. There were days she’d seen him with that faded, preoccupied gaze softening his hazel eyes, and she knew that when she saw that, he would soon disappear for hours at a time to his studio, and put pencil to sketchbook, or paint to canvas, or thoughts to paper.
He was a freelancer— a starving writer, he termed it; while he was a little modest about it, to say that he wasn’t actually half-bad was an understatement. He’d completely bullshitted a narrative essay for her English Comp class once off the top of his head. She’d gotten an A, and marveled at how he could come up with something that good without being cramped at a writing desk for a few hours, if not days. He’d just shrugged it off. As time progressed, she only wished that someday he would actually have something to show for it. He was too good to just let that talent lie dormant and unappreciated.
As far as art itself went, the few drawings she’d seen showed a genuine talent, and she’d enjoyed them. But he seemed to guard his art with his life, saying that as much as it was his passion, art would never be his forte. She didn’t think so, although it didn’t seem her words quite broke through the armor of his wariness enough for him to show her more.
That’s why this was such a surprise as he turned the key in the lock and ushered her inside the upstairs apartment. She’d never really asked about his studio, and certainly never expected him to offer to show it to her. In reality, it was a modest and somewhat crowded two-room flat, with a few pieces of yard-sale furniture and a lot more art supplies. And there, as he turned on all the lights, she really saw his art for the first time.
The saddening thing about it was that none of it seemed to be finished. Sheets of onion-skin paper and charcoals lay scattered on one table with half-finished drawings sketched onto it. A clay figure was left, unlamented, on a stand, only in the vaguest forming of a sculpture. A canvas hung idyllically on an easel, its picture depicting a red-cheeked cherub covering the nudity of a goddess with its wings and a Renaissance-style Latin banner— the cherub stopped at its belly, the goddess looked out with an unpainted face.
He took her windbreaker as he closed the door, hung it carefully on a peg on the wall beside them, then did the same to his own. The night outside had been springtime warm, but similarly wet. His dark hair was pressed to his head with rainwater everywhere except the closely shaved sides, dampness lent his cheeks a slight glow as he kicked on the thermostat and glanced at her.
“It’s not much. Get you something to drink?” His dark eyebrows lifted, he flashed a wry smile, a bit of white between the pinkish lips surrounded by his neatly-trimmed mustache and goatee. “I have Kool-Aid.”
“Wow. First time for everything,” she smiled at him, a teasing yet beautiful smile— the same sort that could jelly his legs and turn his mind to water at a glance— and brushed back her own blonde hair back. It wasn’t wet enough to be too slick, or take the natural wave from it, but it was enough to be a nuisance. The Kool-Aid was another shared crack. She constantly harped on his dependence on carbonated soft drinks. “That’d be fine. Thanks.”
Then she began to look around, notching one thumb in the pocket of her jeans as he opened a small campus fridge and pulled out a pair of plastic cups. Other than the refrigerator, a couch, and a couple stools, however, there was hardly any furniture that wasn’t covered with some kind of unfinished work. A small architect-style inclined desk stood in one corner, with a pair of half-sketched drawings taped to it. The smaller room off the main one had another pair of stands next to an unmade cot— two unfinished clay models and a bowl of water sat the stands, a box of pastels and watercolor sticks and two sheets of canvasboard lay on the cot. She shook her head and sat down on the couch, next to a lamp table that held two sketchbooks, as well as the lamp.
She picked up the sketchbooks and idly flipped through them. The first was almost completely filled— pages of sensuous faces with haunting eyes, bodies in motion, and landscapes greeted her, charcoal and pencil sketches that stopped just short of being complete. One particular page caught her, too. A pair of charcoal-drawn eyes met her own blues like an uncolored mirror, above a quirked smile she was sure was her own, and she found heat rising to her cheeks. She set the first book down with a small, private smile, and opened the second.
The second was heavier, but more of the pages were blank. Halfway through, she found the reason for its weight, too. Inserted between the pages was a silver chain necklace, with a fairly large, triangular metal pendant on its end. She picked up the pendant, letting the chain trail delicately between her fingers, and looked at it. There were symbols cut into the face of it, sharp-reliefed interconnecting lines that almost looked runic.
She blinked at it, surprised. It was a gaudy-looking trinket. Maybe the kind of jewelry Mr. T or somebody in a seventies’ leisure suit would wear, but she knew he didn’t wear chains, anyway. What’s more, it had the look of something from a New Age bookstore that belonged next to the crystals or medallions, rather than in an artists’ loft. She knew he was about as in tune with New Age as he was on speaking terms with Buddha, God and Allah. As in, not at all. Was it his? Maybe a family heirloom? It didn’t look all that old, except for the odd script on it.
He was there beside her as she looked at it, and handed her a blue cup, almost in a shy manner. But he'd glanced at the open sketchbook first, not noticing the pendant, and his hazel eyes bowed beneath his lashes and lent him a look that was all at once boyishly expressive and at the same time reserved. She’d seen the look on occasion— it added an air of something she couldn’t quite explain to his not-quite-square-jawed face. He wasn’t strikingly handsome, but he was a far cry from homely.
She smiled at him coyly after taking a sip of her drink. She wasn't shy about letting on about her favorite drink, it was almost a running gag between them. “Cherry. Okay, you definitely cheated.”
“Knowing what you like is cheating?” He made a small laugh. “Okay, then. I cheat. What do you think?”
His eyes had found the sketchbook again. When her eyes settled on his, she could see the way the question really did eat at him. Almost as though he was asking if she approved. Again her cheeks warmed as she thought of the sketch of the eyes, the quirked smile. “Kind of sad, actually.”
“Sad?” His face fell. It was almost comical, as if he’d spent all night working on a dinner of veal parmesan and pasta from scratch and then found out she was allergic to tomato sauce.
“Not the work itself, silly. The fact that they’re not finished. They’re all really good,” she confessed, blue eyes alight with humor, sweet smile in place, and took another sip to hide the flush of her cheeks. Then she set the cup down next to the lamp and held up the necklace. “They’d just be better if they were finished. So, what’s this?”
It was his cheeks’ turn to go pink; but his smile remained, nonetheless. “It’s the reason you’re here.”
“It is?” She touched her lips, gave him a look of mock offense. “Get out. You mean to say that you asking me to come here and my saying yes was all just some really memorable dream? I need to stay awake more often.”
He chuckled at the joke, then plucked the pendant from her hand. Their fingers touched, warm on warm for a short moment, and she noticed that after the touch, he removed the pendant far more hesitantly, as though not wanting to draw away. He immediately took a drink, forcing himself to pry his eyes from her. “No, I mean... I got it downtown from a dealer. He swears by it, says it’s some charm. It promises the owner fulfillment in art.”
“A dealer.” She said, and then raised a skeptical blonde eyebrow. “What, a crack dealer?”
“An art dealer.” He grinned sheepishly, and then rubbed at the back of his head, suddenly looking even moreso. “Uhm. Derek. At Soho Heights.”
“Derek...” The name came to her slowly, and her jaw dropped when it did. “Derek Calveras? I thought you couldn’t stand him, Todd.”
“I can’t, really.” He said, looking away momentarily in embarrassment. “He’s a wise-ass holier-than-thou snotty bastard, and he sucks up hard to the critics to get by.”
She placed the sketchbook on top of its twin on the table, hearing the unspoken trail of his voice. She cocked her head at him. “But?”
“But... I guess... maybe I’m a little envious, too.” He admitted with a small shrug. “I mean, I’ll give him this much: his realism pieces are outstanding. He does fantasy oils that make Caldwell and Elmore look amateur; his paintings are almost Vallejo and Bell quality. He’s had three exhibitions of his own— sure, they were small, but they were still well-received. And the smug little bastard doesn’t seem to have any shortcomings. His last showing, he had sculptures. Unreal stuff, too. Almost Renaissance work. Fuckin’ no one does sculpture anymore, let alone realism-style sculpture, but there it was, plain as day.”
He turned to her. “Remember the angel figurines on display at Herron?”
She nodded, spilling her blonde hair over one shoulder. He’d taken her to Herron once, the campus art school with the presentations on the main level, bracketing the entryway. Mostly, the displays were photographs and paintings and ink drawings, and that’s what had drawn her eyes, quite naturally, to the trio of sculpted angels alone in one glass case. The piece was a thing of beauty, a two foot tall glazed porcelain sculpture depicting three angels with their wings unfurled— two draping a third in linen vestments. She’d remarked that even the linen looked as though it was a step away from really flowing.
“That was his.” He told her.
She let out a low whistle. He nodded again. “So I saw him a few nights ago, after his last exhibition, and... well, I asked him how he did it. The sculpture, the realism in oils, the whole works. I think he was buzzing; he probably doesn’t like me much more than I like him, but it was like we were old buddies, and he spun this wild story for me about this ‘lucky charm’ of his, how it gave the owner fulfillment in art... I almost started laughing at him, but he swore up and down it’s the truth.”
She found herself wincing, despite herself. “And so you beat him up and took it?”
His eyes all but glowed. “No, no, get this. He gives it to me. Tells me to try it out with a couple pieces. He says all I have to do is have it in my studio in plain sight, and I’ll see for myself, then get it back to him afterward. Get this, all he asked for was twenty bucks in exchange.”
“Well, at least he only swindled you for twenty dollars,” she smirked.
“It’s not a swindle if it works. And if it does work, it’s worth that and more.” He insisted, raising a finger. “For all I know, it could be a mental thing, you know, and I just need something to push me past my blocks and help me finish a piece. Kickstart me.”
A mental block? She could see that. She knew how people had superstitions; Todd had mentioned once that he had trouble writing if he didn’t have a lit cigarette, an open bottle of Mountain Dew and some background music. She nodded. “I guess that could be it.”
“So that’s why you’re here... I mean, if you’ll do me just one favor.”
Her blue eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat for a moment at his sudden change of subject. “Uhm. Okay. Do you a favor? What?”
“I want my first finished piece to be special.” He reached over her, picked up a discarded pencil, and looked her deep in the eyes, his own as bright as his smile. “So, please... let me paint you, Heather.”
* * *
“You’re sure about this?” She asked, pink still highlighting her cheeks. At first, she’d been inclined to tell him that he was off his rocker and just leave it at that. It wasn’t until he’d theatrically gotten onto his knees and begged her that she’d actually relented. She gestured at her midriff-baring tee and jeans, and then looked back up at him. “I mean, this isn’t exactly courtly attire or anything, if you’re looking for a Renaissance look, if that’s what you’re going for.”
“You’re fine. You’re beautiful.” He assured her, with a smile, as he set up a new canvas on his easel. His oils and brushes were out, but he told her that they weren’t even necessary yet. He could just take a few pictures with a camera to get a pose, and as far as her modern clothing, he could just rough the clothing in the preliminary sketches, for the most part, just like he would the furniture. And then he smiled. “Or you could just pose in the buff, and I’ll add everything.”
“My ass.” She smirked as she got comfortable on the couch in a reclining position at first. He snapped off a couple shots with a digital camera.
“Hey, if you want to show it, I’ll...” He thankfully trailed off with a smile and took another shot of her. He moved around her, adjusting the light level of the lamp by taking the shade off. The silvery good luck charm resting on the sketchbooks seemed to catch the light and glint. It seemed like a good sign; his inspiration was certainly percolating, although something just wasn’t right.
She raised an eyebrow impishly. “Ooo, promises, promises,” she jibed. “So what are you going for, here? Da Vinci, Raphael, Monet? Oh, there we go. Pointillism. Impressionist Heather. That I could see.”
“Realism, if I can manage it. Whistler. Ingres. Rockwell, if I have to. Probably something a little less homey, though. Maybe Renoir.” He leaned close to her, gently moved her hand to her hair, so golden waves fell over her fingertips. He touched her chin to shade part of her face from the harsh light: her skin was impossibly warm, he felt the light brush of her breath. Her eyes, this close, were like reflective blue pools. He broke away with effort, snapped off another shot. She was beautiful, even if she played off that she wasn’t. But the look of the pose still didn’t feel right, though. Something was off.
He looked at her closely, so closely that she raised an eyebrow. “What is it?”
An interior scene just wasn’t fitting. No, she needed to be outside in this painting. His hazel eyes widened a bit more. A pool, a reflective pool; a pond, a pastoral scene with lots of reeds shading her, a field of yellow-green with dogwoods and perhaps willows in the background. More details suddenly began to spring to mind, unabashedly. She was little more than ankle deep in the pool, maybe in a summer dress, stepping from the water, glorious, like the goddess from the clamshell in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Looking toward the viewer with a slightly cocked head, a picture of innocence and sensuality all in one perfect vision. His hands nearly trembled with the camera, the vision was so crystalline, so beautiful.
He nearly stumbled forward, took her hand, a look of awe on his face. “I got it. God, I got it. Will you stand up for me?”
“Sure,” she said, pulling herself off the couch and standing, smirking slightly as he fussed over positioning her, never once pressing her but gently guiding her with his hands. They weren’t blue-collar hands, she noticed as he cocked her head; the fingertips were smooth and uncalloused, the fingers deceptively strong but smooth. He brought her hand up so one finger delicately touched the side of her lips, giving her a look of quiet surprise or subdued awe when she didn’t smile. The other slender arm he let trail down her side, and curled her fingers around an imaginary dress.
“Are we having fun grabbing me?” She asked with a broad smile as he critically surveyed her.
“We’re inspired,” he said, returning the smile as he stepped back and looked through the eyepiece, then snapped off a couple pictures. And then, he gazed at her for a long, drawn out moment before he moved back in and adjusted the light again. “God, this is going to be awesome.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” she smirked.
He touched her cheek again to subtly change the incline of her neck, his hazel eyes warm as they met her blues. “You’re beautiful, Heather. How could it be anything else?”
The words came to him so quickly he never had a chance to stutter over them until they were out of his mouth, and then his fingers didn’t move from her cheek for a long time, and he just watched her eyes, the soft curve of her lips, the way her hair seemed to shine with a luster that made gold look like old brass. The scent of her, an unfamiliar but alluring mixture of light perfume and shampoo, touched his nose.
“Todd?” She asked, confusion starting to register both in her expression and her voice. He was looking at her more attentively than she’d seen him gaze at... well, at anything. Sparks almost seemed to flare in his hazel eyes. “What’s up? You okay?”
“Will be,” he murmured, and then, quite before he knew what was happening, his mouth was on hers and the hands that were gently guiding her pose curled around her and drew her close.
Shock at first nearly caused her jaw to drop and her eyes to widen. He’d always been one of the sweetest guys she knew, and they’d even gone out once or twice on occasion, although actually calling them dates was overstating it a bit... it was sort of like calling a mud puddle a body of water. Yes, they’d even thrown cute words like ‘honey’ and ‘beautiful’ around at one another, to the point that sometimes she wondered whether he was egging it on or actually meant it. And they played the coy game with one another, promising sex to one another without ever really meaning it. But to have him— without pretense, just on a sudden whim— dip to her and kiss her, especially like this, was almost surreal.
And yet as the moment drew out, she began to find her mind spiraling less and less, and rather than just standing stock still and being surprised at the motion, she began to find herself enjoying it. His mouth tasted like cherry Kool-aid with a hint of cigarette smoke spicing the edges. His scent was a little bit of musky cologne and rainwater, a bit more of oil paints. He consistently joked that he’d never be Mr. Universe, but his wiry arms were strong and his hold on her wasn’t at all wavering. The thin brush of his facial hair tickled her chin. She found herself actually sinking into his embrace, rising to her toes to press her chest to his, and bringing her arms over his shoulders to press her fingers tightly to the shaved backside of his neck and keep him close.
He felt her breath grow fast, and his matched it, and his pulse beat a rapid tattoo as their tongues touched, and they exchanged soft, ardent moans. He’d never been so forward with anyone the way he was finding himself becoming now. It was as if with each pressing moment, the kiss itself wasn’t enough, and a hunger was growing within him that refused to be sated with just the passion of the kiss. One hand snaked down behind her and pressed tight to the denim covering her rear. The other trailed around from her back, roving upward lightly over the curve of her breast and down again, to caress her bare side. A part of him subconsciously kept expecting her to pull away from him, break it off, but the hunger, the desire for her was overwhelming, and rational thought was lost before its voice ever took hold.
Breaking away was the last thing on her mind. In truth, if she could have choreographed his hands to move more perfectly, she wasn’t sure how. And with each moment, she felt herself slipping deeper into the growing need that seemed to overcome her from everywhere. It was if he’d taken complete control of her senses, somehow, and she was not only drowning in the sensation, but doing so happily. As she felt his hand meet bare skin, she could feel her nipples harden to match the sensation he couldn’t hide beneath his own jeans, and she couldn’t stop the soft, breathy whimper that trickled from her mouth to his, imploring him without words not to stop. A small voice in her head chastised her, told her she should have been more in control than this, but she resolutely told it to shut up, and it listened. And then her mouth was free, the heat was gone, and her voice curled into the fresh, cool air freely, as though he hadn’t heard her unspoken entreaty.
But he had. Her scent, her feel, her call to him was an aphrodisiac all her own, more potent than anything he had ever known, and he couldn’t have broken away from her if he’d tried. His lips only left hers to find her ear, drawing her soft whimper out to a more ardent moan as he tugged on it slightly with his teeth, drew the tongue along its edge. Her breath— slightly louder now, sharper to his own ears— spurred him along eagerly. Soon his fingers made their way up between them, beneath the hem of her shirt, and the soft warmth of her body intoxicated him, just as the fact she did not pull away made him bolder. His kisses dipped to her slender throat. His hand strayed upward, fingertips tracing over silken skin until they came to the sleek cup of her bra, feeling the nipple stand out against the fabric in sharp relief.
For a moment, her subconscious wanted to rail again. This was all wrong, wasn’t it? She and he had never kissed, let alone gone further. But every moment common sense tried to make headway, it was like trying to hold back the waves of the ocean by standing in front of them. It was as though someone or something else— maybe some other emotion— had taken control of her, and rather than fighting it, she was finding it impossibly easy to surrender to its hold. Logic was quickly washed away and forgotten by the reality of the moist heat of his breath on her throat, the touch of his fingers dancing over her skin beneath her shirt. She let her head fall to the side to free her neck to him, and exhaled another soft moan as he thanked her, his teeth lightly grazing her skin.
Her fingers found the buttons of his short-sleeve shirt and tore at them as quickly as she could with her eyes half-slitted— her instincts were right on; she fumbled only at the bottom one. She spread the shirt open with her hands, feeling the firmness and contour of his muscles beneath her slender fingers, the light dusting of his dark hair. He was fit, but not so heavily muscled that he rippled or had a six-pack. And yet, at that moment, it didn’t matter at all. The scent of him seemed to become more intoxicating as his chest was laid bare to her, and she found herself with the single overwhelming thought that the scent would be far stronger when there was nothing left hidden. Her hands roamed freely on their own accord, interrupted only when he matched her actions and broke from her neck to pull the belly tee over her head. His own shirt joined it on the floor, forgotten.
Firelight seemed to flare in his hazel eyes as he gazed at her, a gaze so evenly matched in heat and intensity by her own that it seemed the blue pools of her eyes could evaporate to steam. And even that moment seemed too long to be apart. He pressed back to her hungrily, and again their lips crushed to one another, their tongues sought one another’s comfort amid a flurry of soft growls. It was apparent then that neither had any intention of stopping, even if they could. They kicked their shoes off without breaking from one another, and his jeans were halfway down his thighs even as his fingers plied at the buttons of her fly. Whether it was merely the sudden rise of dormant feelings or the sudden loss of inhibitions that had taken hold of them, it seemed to impart an odd mix of surreal grace and animal passion.
Todd had once told her that he was more inclined to be sensual— to worship a woman without rush— but she could sense the need growing in him, overwhelming any thoughts of being slow and methodical, bulging the fly of his flannel boxers. Likewise, Heather wasn’t one to skip to the main event without exploring all the facets of the sexual act, but something primal had been stirred in her, as well, and as the air of the studio kissed her bare thighs, the growing dampness between them pleaded to be bared as well, and then quickly filled. Had they been in anything approaching a proper frame of mind, they likely would have stopped short just noticing how odd this was for them both. In fact, as he stepped back, yanking his jeans off along with his socks with frenetic motion, he seemed to be on the edge of saying something.
His chest rose and fell; his breathing was stuttered with passion as he looked at her. He wore nothing but his pair of plaid flannel boxers. No, he wasn’t Charles Atlas or Hercules, she thought. He wasn’t some sort of fantasy ideal, and never would be. He was a bit more lean than most women’s ideal boy-toy, and the slightly lighter shade of his skin proved that he was one to get out and work in the sun, rather than worship it. He was still somewhat handsome, though, at least in a traditional sense: he was generally lean, and fit for an admitted smoker, with strong legs and square shoulders; he had a firm jaw below the thin and beguiling eyes that were alight now with undisguised adoration and hunger. His dark hair, a bit longer on the top and cut short on the undersides, seemed to frame his face nicely. The more she looked at him, the fewer shortcomings she could find.
As far as he was concerned, she and shortcomings didn’t belong within miles of one another. From the golden waves of her hair that cascaded over her rounded shoulders, to the sun-kissed shade of her skin, to the tone and play of muscles in her legs, he would have been willing to bet that she had a small army of boyfriends if she hadn’t told him otherwise. Her eyes were a shade of blue that no paint would ever capture accurately. Her lips were soft and warm and eager, and she had a body that was in every way flawless in his mind— slender, toned, shapely without being excessively so. That was fine with him; he’d never had a thing for huge breasts or Rubenesque figures, as it was, so in his eyes she couldn’t have been more exquisite. Her perfect breasts heaved with ardent breaths beneath her sheer lavender bra, her hand trailed down over the waist of her matching panties, and her blue eyes found his and simmered. There they remained for a short moment, seeming to question to one another, asking without words what was going on. He tried to give it voice, to tell her that something about this just didn’t seem like themselves.
“God, I need you...” his mouth murmured instead, heatedly, seemingly on its own accord. He could feel his voice tremble with desire.
“I know,” she whispered, the light shimmering in her eyes where her golden hair didn’t shade it. Her fingers toyed with the clasp at the front of her bra. “It’s like there’s this feeling...”
He took a hesitant step closer, unable to tear his gaze from her face. “Like nothing I’ve ever needed, nothing I’ve ever wanted.”
“...inside me. God, I want you there,” she murmured, her voice growing husky. The fabric parted between her breasts, a hint of flesh showing beneath her fingers. She closed her eyes, opened them slowly, as though the admission was a terrible one. “I can’t help it.”
“Neither can I.” His hands slid beneath the waistband of his boxers, began to draw them downward, over the surest sign of his yearning for her. Whatever thoughts he might have had about holding back were gone now, he was embracing the desire for all he was worth. “I don’t want to help it.”
The boxers fell past his thighs, to the floor, his rigidness revealed itself beneath a mass of dark curls as he stepped from them; she shrugged her bra from her, baring herself to him, pert nipples firming as they were freed. It was answer enough. The moment of indecision and hesitation was over before it really even started. He knelt before her, fingers already drawing her panties down her legs as he eagerly kissed the newly-bared flesh.
She let her head loll backward now, whimpering despite herself, her thighs parting slightly at his touch. He was no expert; they’d had that talk before. And yet, not only did he not seem inexperienced as he trailed down her— finding nothing but placid smooth skin above her damp treasure— but at this point, she didn’t need him to be terribly experienced. Even the most unskilled of touches would have driven her insane with feeling; his passionate ones were causing infernos to alight within her.
Somehow, he seemed to understand that, and he relished her taste like a starving man at a banquet. But there was a calling that had taken hold of him, a calling that wouldn’t be denied, and he spent less time delving between her thighs than he would have liked to. But, even through her moans, when her eyes fell toward his and held them with steamy resolve, he could sense she felt it, too. He rose to her, arched his back and let her hold tightly onto his shoulders, allowing him lift her. Her breath was hot on his neck, as husky with emotion as his own; her breasts pressed hard to his chest, and she lifted her legs and tucked them around him.
And then, as he stood, one of her arms left its tight hold around his neck, and he felt her touch and then grasp his hardness with warm slim fingers, and he couldn’t withhold a moan of utter pleasure as she guided him. She closed her eyes, inhaled a small gasp as she lowered herself slightly. And then he felt her part, felt himself hastened into her, and he moaned anew. Nothing felt as perfect at that moment as the feeling of her grasping him and holding him within her, covetously. She was hot and liquid where they joined, and for a moment, the call was forgotten, and he was once again in awe of her.
“Jesus,” he whispered. “Heather...”
“Nnn, God, Todd,” she said, her own voice slurred and choked, as if something similar had overcome her as well. But the moment passed, and as though somehow made for one another, they seemed to instinctually find a rhythm. Her perfect breasts bobbed in time with every stroke. He exhaled onto her warm skin and inhaled her sweet scent. Her golden hair fell onto his shoulder, and then she arched her back and it fell behind her in waves.
Despite the fact that neither wanted to stop, the calling that had touched them became more burning as they started to find their rhythm, as though it was not enough to just enjoy the moment. Soon they began finding their tempo quickening and becoming more urgent, their resolve to draw the experience out weakening and then drifting away altogether. Soon their moans of pleasure became flurries of gasps, and another calling, this one more physical, took the fore.
He felt it first, and damned himself for having no self-control, until his half-slit eyes saw the furrow of her own brow, the gleam of perspiration on both their bodies.
“Heather,” he moaned, husky-voiced as he felt himself ascending, almost skyward. Like he was preparing to leap off a cliff and freefall. His words exploded from him. “Oh, God, yes... I’m...”
She leaned back into him, her own eyes half-lidded and searching for his as she gasped again. “Oh yes! Yes! Todd—”
He thrust once more, and she received him eagerly, and their words turned into wordless cries from lips not quite an inch apart as they gave in to bliss together. As if their physical bodies couldn’t contain the feeling anymore, they held there, poised, perfect, surrendering their inner selves to a world of pleasure, to the sensations of rising, falling and feeling everything all at once. Time seemed to just hang there, eternally, as they lost themselves in one another and in the miasma of perfect feeling.
And on the lamp table, behind them, the silvery medallion seemed once again to flash in the light of the studio, as though winking at them.
* * *
Rain pelted down on the street, glistening through the streetlights and rippling in the puddles by the curb. Thunder grumbled, far in the distance; the storm had died as quickly as it had come. It was Friday, the eighth of June, and this passing storm was probably the last frustrated growl of spring before it gave way to summer in earnest. He looked to the evening sky for a moment, and dropped his gaze after a short while to the middle age women in the faux Chanel ensemble with the gaudy fur-lined evening jacket. Her face was chiseled like a Rodin sculpture, and she wore enough makeup to look like Da Vinci’s palette. In fact, it was entirely possible she’d used a palette knife to apply it all.
But he smiled cheerily, nonetheless. “I do hope you enjoyed yourself.”
“Oh, simply wonderful, mon digne ami, as always. A genuine pleasure to see your newest work. At points vibrantly scandalistic, to be sure. But your pieces are always so poignant, so flowing, with such vigor and unchecked emotion; oh, simply another wonderful exhibition.” The older woman said with a pinched smile and brought her hand up to his. A thick gold ring with a few diamonds sparkled on her gaunt fingers as he took them lightly. “I shall look forward to the next.”
He kissed the proffered hand gracefully, bowing somewhat. “Ms. Adamsley-Whitfield, if you were to say that in the Tribune, I could faithfully promise you an RSVP,” he returned, beaming.
Ms. Elaine Adamsley-Whitfield tittered like a schoolgirl and nearly went weak-kneed as he held the door open for her exit. He smiled up until she made her way to her Mercedes, and he turned the lock on the glass door. He felt a little dirty; courting reviewers for hours at a time and listening to them go on about the grand masters was a little like telemarketing, or worse, door-to-door sales. You sold yourself every bit as much as you did your work, and that in itself forced you to smile and nod and listen to the supposed genius of dilettantes you would ordinarily roll your eyes at. Still, it was worth it. He was fairly sure he would be reading another flattering review in Ms. Adamsley-Whitfield’s weekly art column in the morning paper.
He shut off the lamp in the foyer and walked toward the back of the storefront he’d leased out for the exhibition. The entryway gave way to a wall of partitions that had been set up to make the experience more labyrinthine than the single large room would have ordinarily allowed. He followed the walkway, and shut off the lamps along the way, smiling to himself. It— no, he— would receive glowing reviews; he was growing more and more reassured of it. As with many exhibitions, he’d rotated out a dozen of his older works and in a few of his newer ones, and he’d heard some of the praise for his new pieces.
He came to one, Variations Upon a Deluge, a dark-themed oil on canvas depicting a man and woman in rags, clinging to one another on a hilly rise while around them the brackish skies unleashed their torrents and the rising flood waters washed away their former lives. Despite Alistair Wheaton’s snub of it as “an overused mythological theme”— the cretin— it had been remarkably well-received. As had two other oils, The Faery Queen, and one of his lesser works, Orangewood Fields in February. The former had been among the ones Elaine had referred to as scandalous; the title character was touching herself in a plainly sexual manner with an expression that conveyed a mix of childish innocence and womanly bliss. Scandalous. Untamed. Shocking. He’d heard those words all evening from his critics.
But The Faery Queen wasn’t the one they’d spoken of most with those words. That was reserved for the central piece of the exhibition, the one he came to now as he extinguished the lamps in the maze of paintings. He gazed on it fondly. Of all the works, this one had elicited the most praise, drawn the most glances of undisguised awe, been the subject of whispers and gasps of approval.
The sculpture was entitled, very simply, Primalcy. It depicted a man and a woman in the most intimate of acts, giving in to the passions of the moment with the entirety of their beings, captured in the instant of release in an alabaster medium. It was at once stunning, shocking, and—very truly— scandalous. No one missed the open display of the male sculpture’s manhood, embedded to very nearly its hilt within her own sculpted depths. Of course, that merely added to the effect. Half the reason for the title was the pure sexual intensity in the sculpture.
The woman’s toned, stony legs were wrapped tightly around the man’s waist and showed the tension of her muscles; her hand, tight around the back of his neck, almost seemed to claw at him with the urgency that obviously coursed through her body. Her breasts were pressed tight against him, the wavy curls of hair fell along the slender curve of her neck like a waterfall stopped in time. His alabaster hands were supporting her rear, and his arm muscles stood out in almost Renaissance relief, despite the fact his hips and thighs bore the lion’s share of her weight as he pressed into her in that timeless thrust. Their faces wore sculpted expressions of perfectly-captured passion: their lips were barely touching, yet far enough apart that it was easy to see they were open in the most primal and desperate of cries. Their stony eyes were half-lidded, entranced in bliss and in one another. It was a masterwork.
It was very nearly too much of a masterwork. He’d had to quirk a modest smile and nod knowledgably when those in his audience told him that every feature of the sculpture had been so perfectly captured, as if from life itself. He’d told one person he’d created two separate sculptures and molded them together and then told another he’d sculpted a single image from a single block before he could catch himself. He’d laughed politely and said only that it was a ‘trade secret’ when he was asked how he’d managed the level of detail he did in such an unforgiving medium as stone: her bare pubis enfolding perfectly around his manhood, his light mat of chest hair, her gossamer eyelashes.
If the truth had in fact been known, it likely wouldn’t have been believed.
He stared at the two, caught in their moment of bliss, and smiled slightly as he extracted an object from his slacks pocket after stroking his thumb across it. He glanced at it, then them. “I didn’t lie, I hope you understand. Chin up, though. I know that you’re not complaining.”
They couldn’t hear him, he knew. From what he’d been told, time was stretched out for the two of them— they were living out that last moment of untold bliss endlessly, and would continue to do so until he’d used the counter-spell he’d found in a musty, worn tome. For all they would know, it would be like one second to the next, and only later would they find out that so much time had passed. Let alone guess how.
“It’s sort of like the gift that keeps on giving. Not that it matters. I’m not a murderer, or some cad you would find in a Vincent Price serial; I would never keep you like that forever. Just for one more exhibition, until you’re cycled out.”
He looked at his watch, and then tapped his cheek. “In other words, another two weeks or so. And by that time, you can tell your friends that you’re the first couple ever to experience what is going to be right about a three-week orgasm.”
He smirked and set the object down on the sculpture’s pedestal momentarily as he made his way to the wall and flipped the switches to the illuminating spotlight. The triangular medallion glinted in the light until he shut off the lamp, and picked it up again, leaving the two to enjoy their endless state of bliss in the darkness of the room.
And then, whistling softly to himself, Derek Calveras headed back to the front of the exhibition, unlocked the door, and locked it behind him as he left. He wondered offhand if there were any other starving artists that would like to have such fulfillment as his good luck charm would offer.
~ End ~