You had to look somewhere, after all. She let her gaze fall on his hands. His fingers curled around the charcoal, long and tapered; sensitive hands. Of course he’d be sensitive. What artist wasn’t? No wedding ring. His forearms were surprisingly muscular.

A clock somewhere was ticking. Her legs were starting to numb. She couldn’t see much of his face without tilting her head.

When the pose was set up, he’d been behind the easel. Now all she saw was his profile: a crooked nose, lips in a loose O. He seemed to be losing himself in looking at her body. She pulled in her stomach, bit by tiny bit, so he couldn’t tell.

You had to distract yourself, especially if there was no radio to listen to. She let herself imagine instead of sketching her, he was stroking her. Instead of tracing the contours of her body with charcoal on paper, he was trailing a finger cross her skin.  No.  Better yet, his tongue. In spite of the heater, she felt a line of goose bumps break out across her stomach.

When he stepped around the easel she finally saw him properly. He stared intensely at her. As he rubbed at the paper representing her skin, she felt a flush grow across her chest. She felt beautiful.

At the break, he left before she could ease herself out of the pose. She pulled her robe around her. A stick of charcoal had fallen to the floor by his easel and as she bent to pick it up, she looked.  She couldn’t help herself. How had he seen her?

The charcoal snapped in two, then crunched under the heel of her furious foot.


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