He doesn’t know why he’s here. Well, he does. Kaz had dragged him and Arthur had been no help at all in assisting his escape through her second story window. She’d made him sign up for an entire summer of art classes and pay in advance so he wouldn’t skip out on them.
She’s quite brilliantly evil like that.
But she and Arthur are actually good at this creative, artsy thing. They doodle masterpieces on napkins in diners and then wipe their mouths with them after like it’s nothing. Matt prefers the guitar – he can’t even draw a straight line without erasing to correct it a couple of times.
That was at the start of the summer, anyway. It’s going into the third month of lessons now, and he likes to think he has improved somewhat. Even their instructor praised him a couple of weeks ago when they were working on still life pieces – his sketch of his grandfather’s pipe had been rather good, if he says so himself.
In any case, Matt is looking forward to the end of this month and the end of art classes – though he is grateful he’ll come away with the knowledge of the proper way to draw fruit in a bowl.
Surely that’s a life skill somewhere.
“So who do you think it’ll be today?”
Matt glances to his right, where Karen sits, tapping her pencil against the oversized sketchpad set up in front of her. “I dunno. Darvill’s missing today, maybe it’s him.”
She makes a face that says she’s about to be violently ill. “Oh god, could you not give me that visual, please? Especially after last week.”
He grins. This month has been all about drawing nude models and last week, their model had been a man in his seventies wearing nothing but his reading glasses. Karen had spent the entire class with her nose wrinkled, and afterward, claimed to be scarred for life.
“Don’t try to deny it, Gillan,” he says. “We all know you fancied the old man.”
“Shut up,” she says, tossing a piece of graphite at him. “It was terrifying. I still see him every time I blink.”
“In your dreams too, I bet.”
They both turn to see Arthur flinging himself into his seat and tossing his bag onto the floor. He wiggles his eyebrows at Karen and she sticks out her tongue childishly.
“Nightmares, actually,” she says. “He’s been appearing alongside you.”
Matt sighs. “Do you want me to move so you two can continue this lively bit of flirting without me in the middle?”
“Ew!” Karen looks horrified. “Would you stop trying to give me mental scars?”
“Seriously, mate,” Arthur says, nose wrinkled. “Too far.”
Matt rolls his eyes. “So do you think we’ll get an old woman this week, just to balance things out a bit?”
Arthur turns a bit green. “God, I hope not. I don’t need to know what my Nan looks like under those knitted sweaters.”
Before Matt can think of a suitably scarring reply, their instructor walks in looking harried and carrying a stack of papers and a laptop in his arms. He likes to work on his in-progress television script in classes, leaving them to their own devices and occasionally glancing up from his work to either praise someone or say something scathing – usually to Matt.
As he dumps all his papers on his desk and turns to the class, Matt digs his glasses from his bag and puts them on, only half-listening to the instructions for the day as he readies his supplies. The only reason he looks up is because Arthur breathes out a sigh of relief and mutters, “Oh thank God.”
Curious, Matt glances toward the front of the room and nearly stops breathing, his hand frozen mid-way up to adjust his glasses, his heart hammering madly against his ribcage and his mouth dry. Around him, he can hear everyone else going about setting up their things and rustling through the pages of their sketchpads, but for Matt, the whole world stops, shifts, rearranges itself and begins to orbit around a new sun – the vision standing in front of the class, dressed in nothing but a silk robe with her hair tied back.
She’s…she’s everything. He doesn’t know how or why but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that his whole world has narrowed down to her, and the way he is inexplicably and wholly drawn to her. Matt has never felt anything like it before but it scares the hell out of him and comforts him all at once. His heart is racing but the most wonderful peace comes over him, flooding his veins like a drug.
Licking his lips, he forces himself to blink and when he does, his mind clears enough to allow him to look away from the woman. He adjusts his glasses and stares hard at the blank white sheet in front of him. His sketchbook has never looked so daunting. How is he supposed to draw her? It would be like a toddler trying to replicate the bloody Mona Lisa. It would be insulting.
And then he notices that everyone around him as already starting drawing. Next to him, Karen is sketching out the outline of a chest and the indent of a tiny waist. He gulps and turns his eyes slowly back to the front of the class, where the woman is draped over a stool, her robe gone and her hair untied. If Matt wasn’t a goner before, he certainly he is now because oh, she is beautiful.
She’s nothing but flawless curves and long legs, this absolutely magnificent hair the likes of which he has never seen and probably never will again. It spirals every which way and frames her face like a lion’s mane, golden and untamable. She shifts in her seat and curls fall across her face and into her eyes. Matt swallows audibly and once again finds himself incapable of nothing but staring.
He’s used to nudity by now but this woman…it’s different. She is different. And it doesn’t really have anything to do with her lack of clothes – though he’s certainly not complaining about that because she is gorgeous – but it’s something else entirely, some inner aura that has him utterly captivated.
He is lost and he doesn’t even know her name.
He isn’t sure how long he spends staring at her but suddenly, Karen elbows him and startles him half to death. He yelps, jumps about a foot in the air and drops his pencil.
Kaz rolls her eyes, hissing, “Stop staring and draw, stupid!”
He glares at her and ducks to pick up his pencil where it had rolled under his easel. He snatches it from the floor and lifts his head, only to smack the back of it on the edge of his easel with an audible crack. He swears, bringing a hand to the back of his head and rubbing at it, grumbling while Karen and Arthur snicker and go back to their sketches.
Still nursing his dignity and his injury, Matt pushes his glasses back up his nose and sighs, glancing at the woman again to begin drawing, only to find her looking at him. She’s smiling and while he’s aware that she must have witnessed his rather ungraceful moment just now, her smile is so breathtaking that he can’t find it in himself to care. He’ll injure himself over and over if it’ll get her to grin at him like that – pearly white teeth, full lips, green eyes twinkling and the apples of her cheeks flushed with amusement.
Without thinking, he smiles back at her tentatively. The woman winks at him and looks away.
Hurriedly, Matt glances back down at his still blank sketchpad. She may not be looking at him anymore but her smile is burned behind his eyes and it’s all the inspiration he needs.
He puts his pencil to paper and suddenly, drawing is as easy as breathing. His pencil flies across the page, his hand moving before his brain has time to catch up. He quickly loses himself in the sketch of her, studying her features – the bright eyes that sparkle with mischief, the shape of her nose and the little bump in the middle he can’t help but wonder how she got, the structure of her cheekbones and the natural flush to the apples of her cheeks. He falls a bit in love with her eyelashes – so fine and delicate, framing blue-green eyes the color of the sea.
She’s older than him by several years, he thinks, as he draws the fine lines around her eyes. But so, so exquisite. Her stomach is flat and taut, her thighs and arse remarkably firm. Her arms have definition but remain distinctly feminine rather than muscular. Her wrists are delicate and fine-boned.
She’s a work of art all on her own, and as he draws, Matt begins to imagine his hands touching everything he sketches. He imagines cupping those generous, perfect breasts in his palms and feeling the weight of them there, his thumbs brushing against dusky nipples and feeling them harden. He thinks of tracing his tongue over her body to taste her skin, delving insides her belly button to hear her giggle, pressing kisses against her inner thighs and feeling her writhe against him. He hasn’t heard her speak yet, but he just knows her voice would drive him as absolutely mad as the rest of her does.
He’s drawing her outer beauty but her inner beauty shines through, like this glow that seeps out of her skin and through those shining green eyes. She’s radiant and he falls a bit more in love with her with every stroke of his pencil on the page.
He adores her figure; all those curves are a delight to draw. He likes how tiny her waist is, how her hips flare out. He bites his lip hard as his pencil whispers over the page, sketching the wiry curls between her thighs. Shifting a bit in his chair, Matt clears his throat and tries to be unaffected.
Forcing his mind elsewhere, he focuses on her knees – rather adorable – and the shape of her thighs and calves – muscled and strong. This, of course, leads to him thinking of those strong legs wrapped tightly around his waist and swallows back a whimper.
Her ankles are next, wonderfully delicate, and he finds himself wanting to kiss them. Her feet are cute and small, and he thinks of her wiggling her toes against his amongst the sheets of his bed.
He saves her hair for last, and it’s a bit of a nightmare to replicate. It seems completely unmanageable, and he can’t help but wonder if this woman resembles her hair in any way. It seems to have a life of its own, so he draws it like that – a wild halo for the new sun.
It comes as a surprise when their instructor stands and tells them their time has run out. In a bit of a hurry, he promises to evaluate their sketches next week. Usually, Matt spends the class with one eye on the clock, tapping his fingers impatiently, waiting for it all to be over. Where had the time gone?
Their instructor gathers his papers again quickly, muttering to himself in a thick Scottish brogue that Matt barely understands. He thanks everyone for coming as he rushes out the door, and then they’re all standing and stretching, gathering their things to leave.
Matt doesn’t move, watching the woman in front of him pull her robe back on with silent, graceful movements. She doesn’t tie her hair back again and he’s grateful, drinking in the sight of her before she’s gone.
“Hey, not bad,” Arthur says, and he jerks his attention away from the woman to face him. He’s looking at Matt’s sketch, eyebrows raised. “Your best one yet, I think.”
Karen leans over and eyes the drawing, her expression surprised. “Oi, not fair! You’re rubbish at drawing – why is yours better than mine?”
Matt shrugs evasively. “Just…felt inspired today.”
Arthur hums thoughtfully and glances at the woman. “Maybe you’ve found your muse.”
“You know, your muse. The source of all your inspiration?” Arthur looks pointedly at the woman. “The Yoko Ono to your John Lennon.”
Arthur nods. “Go talk to her before she scarpers. Maybe she’ll let you take a picture of her so you can draw like that all the time.” He looks between the woman and Matt suggestively. “Of course, most men have to shag their muses to be properly inspired. Just think what you could do with a decent orgasm, mate.”
“Shove off, Darvill,” he laughs, taking off his glasses and tucking them back into his bag.
Even so, the woman is still there when Matt and his friends are leaving, rummaging through her bag and looking for clothes. He hesitates only a moment before biting his lip and waving his friends on. They give him annoying grins, making kissy faces and appallingly suggestive gestures until they disappear through the door.
Matt takes a deep breath, turning to the only other person left in the room. She hasn’t noticed him yet, padding about in that robe and her bare feet. He stands there and watches her for a long moment, feeling that same inexplicable tug whenever he looks at her – like something is drawing him to her. He has a feeling that if he tried to walk away now, it would be like a physical ache.
He feels like he knows her, considering he spent the last hour drawing every inch of her naked skin, but he doesn’t. Not really.
He wants to, though. He wants to know her, and that has to count for something.
Clearing his throat nervously, he takes a step toward her and the woman turns around, startled. “Oh, hello.”
His breath catches in his throat – it’s the first time he’s heard her voice and it’s better than he’d imagined, throaty and perfect. She’d only said ‘hello’ but it had sounded like the most naughty innuendo murmured into his ear.
“Hello,” he says, quieter than he’d meant to. “I just wanted to…”
What? Just wanted to what? Why is he doing this – he has nothing to say but ‘I think you might be my Yoko Ono and I don’t want to let you out of my sight’.
She raises an eyebrow at him, the smallest of smiles curling her mouth.
Fumbling for words and outright staring, he says, “I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the class today. I usually can’t wait to get out of here but…” If anything, her eyebrow climbs higher, and he trips over his words. “Er, not because you were naked or anything but I mean, that certainly helped.” He winces and her grin is blinding. “I just mean it was enjoyable. Drawing you.” He swallows. “You’re lovely.”
She laughs, and it’s like a song he wants stuck in his head forever. Gesturing to his sketchpad, she asks, “Can I see?”
“Oh.” He flushes, handing it over and hoping she won’t be insulted by his lack of skill.
She rustles through the pages, flipping to the back. When she finds it, she breathes out quietly and stares, unblinking. “It’s quite good.” She runs her fingers over the sketch gently, tracing the wildness of her curls, the indent of her waist. When she looks up again, there is something new in her eyes, something that hadn’t been there before when she looked at him.
It feels alarmingly like insight. As if she knows exactly what he’d been thinking as he drew the lines of her body. It floods him with heat all over as she stares at him, her gaze thoughtful.
“Thank you,” he stutters out, rubbing his chin nervously. “I’m normally rubbish at the whole thing…except my grandfather’s pipe. And fruit.”
She laughs and he falters, listening.
“And you,” he says quietly. “You, especially. I think you were a bit of an inspiration.”
She bites down on her lip and he can’t help but watch, entranced. “Like a muse?”
Brightening, he nods. “Yes. Quite like that, actually.”
She beams. “I’ve always wanted to be someone’s muse.”
He can’t imagine how she isn’t everyone’s.
“Well,” he meets her eyes with a soft smile. “Now you’re mine.”
“I like that,” she murmurs, tilting her head and gazing at him. “Coffee?”
His first instinct is to say yes.
And then he remembers.
“I don’t even know your name.”
She flushes and he wants to press his hand to the apple of her cheek and feel the warmth there. “It’s Alex.”
“Alex.” He likes the way it sounds falling from his lips - his muse, Alex. “I’m Matt.”
“Hello, Matt.” She smiles at him, tucking curls behind her ear. “Coffee?”
“We can start with that,” he says, and takes her hand.