The knock on the door startled her. With a slight frown Prue put down the paintbrush on the table next to her easel and started for the front door down the hall, wiping her hands on her paint stained shirt as she did so. With her mind still on the painting she opened the door.
Rax was standing there with his hands in his pockets, partially hunched over. His face was full of indecision, but on seeing her a smile broke across his face.
"Been painting have we?"
Prue stared at him with shock.
"I - I wasn't expecting you."
The smile rapidly faded.
"I probably should've called…"
"It's okay," she grinned, "I just would've changed out of this. Would you like a coffee or something?"
It was lovely seeing his face light up again and he stepped inside. She closed the door behind her and glanced in the mirror. Oh crumbs! Her hair was in total disarray and she had a blue paint smudge on one cheek!
"Erk!" she exclaimed.
Rax laughed. "Really. You look fine. I like this look."
Prue felt herself blush.
"The – the kitchen is through here." She stepped into the room and turned on the kettle, getting down two cups.
"Sorry?" she asked, realising Rax had said something that she hadn't heard over the whistling and banging.
"Could I see your studio?"
"Sure, third door on the left. Tea or Coffee?"
"Coffee please," he stated and left the room.
A few moments later Prue joined him in the studio carrying the two mugs. The studio was a light, airy room with a pale wood floor, skylight and a couch against one wall. There were a couple of bookcases next to the couch and a special storage box she kept her old sketchbooks and finished paintings in. The walls were lined with works created by her favourite artists and the odd plant stood in a corner. Most importantly, of course, her easel stood in the centre of the room with a small table next to it holding all her brushes.
Rax was standing behind it examining the picture she'd been creating before being interrupted.
"Here," she handed him the mug and bit her lip, not wanting to meet his eyes. It hadn't registered that by letting him see her studio she'd be letting him see the unfinished painting. "What do you think?" she whispered finally, unable to stand the silence any longer.
Rax had clearly been off in a trance. "Hmmm?" he looked at her then down at the coffee in his hand in surprise. "Oh! Thank you." He looked back at the painting. "Sorry I was somewhere else."
"I asked what you thought of it," she repeated nervously.
Rax lifted her chin so she was looking him in the eye and gave her a dazzling smile.
"It's beautiful," he whispered and let her go. "I love the underlying message."
The subject of the conversation was a sketch of two people holding each other while the world continued around them. There were people rushing all over the place in a blur, and in the centre stood the two characters, detached from everything else. Around the edges some characters were standing still with looks of disgust or horror on their faces, pointing at the two lovers in the centre, jeering…but they didn't care. Their faces were serene and calm, ignoring those around them.
Prue blushed lightly…to be honest it was supposed to be her and Rax…but she wasn't going to tell him that.
"I love how you've decorated," he told her, sipping the coffee and gazing around the studio. "Very you. The art is in good taste."
Prue laughed lightly and gestured to the couch, "You're just saying that because you have similar tastes. Would you like to sit down?"
Rax took her up on her offer and perched on the edge of the cushioned seat. Prudence plonked herself down next to him, folding one leg underneath her and gulping down her drink. Rax was studying her books and she couldn't help but smirk as she watched him.
"What?" he asked suddenly, catching her looking.
She merely grinned and gestured at his mug. "You gonna drink that or sit and be nosy?"
Rax raised his eyebrows snootily. "It's called taking an interest." He sipped the drink almost regally then turned back to Prudence with his best stuck up look. Unable to control herself Prue burst into peals of laughter, soon joined by Rax's, who's haughty demean quickly crumbled.
"What's this?" he asked eventually having stopped laughing and having finished his drink. He was gesturing towards her storage.
"Oh, just some finished paintings…"
"Mind if I take a look," he asked, eyes fixated on the box.
"I guess," she shrugged, "I can tell you want to."
Rax gave her a boyish grin and headed for it.
Prue rolled her eyes and picked up his abandoned cup. She quickly deposited both in the Kitchen sink and returned to the studio, anxious about her work.
When she re-entered she found Rax lying back on the couch and flicking through an old sketchbook that she remembered using in high school…probably the one she had been using when she'd met him.
"Anything incriminating?" she questioned, walking further into the room…and stopping dead. Lying next to him on the floor was her painting of him. A portrait she'd done soon after she'd left him forever, so she'd never forget…except it wasn't forever…and he had seen it. Damn! Her stomach lurched and she felt her lips go dry.
Rax looked up, focusing his attention onto her…and he smiled.
"It's good," he commented, lying her sketchpad back down and picking up the portrait to examine it further. "Considering how young you were, it's very good." He placed it back down carefully and took the book back up. "I can see you poured your heart into it."
She gave him a pained look. 'Far more than you possibly know' she thought.
"These are decent too," he pointed at the pastel pictures and sketches.
"Only decent?" she bristled slightly and went to sit next to him on the couch…half leaning over his shoulder. Was she flirting? Oh definitely.
"Yeah…they have promise…and the ideas are spectacular."
She punched him lightly on the arm with an 'I'm not impressed' look. "You told us to draw them."
Did he sound slightly out of breath or was she just imagining it?
She was driving him crazy.
He could feel her leaning over him, a strand of her hair tickling his face. It would be so easy just to turn and kiss her. So easy…
Her hand settled lightly on his shoulder and he took a shuddering breath, forcing the impulse away. He wasn't going to ruin this but he did wonder if she had any idea that was having this effect on him, whether she was doing it deliberately.
To distract his mind Keith looked at the rest of the sketchbook.
She'd drawn a portrait of him…and she'd kept it. What did that mean exactly? He'd kept the sketches he'd made of her because he never wanted to forget her, which was strange considering how painful it was to remember.
Rax flipped through some more pages of fruit and portraits before he started to get into the more imaginative stuff. These were the drawings Prue hadn't done at school. They were the ones that were reflecting how she had truly felt. They were mostly fantasy, some cheerful and others dark and they all fascinated him. What was she thinking when she drew this picture or that picture?
Keith turned to the next page and froze, staring.
Rax paused, his face suddenly becoming grim. Prue glanced over at him and saw what his eyes rested on. With a gasp she sprang forward and slammed the book shut on the picture of Marianne, Harry and Lilly falling out of an aeroplane with no parachute while she and Rax flew off hand in hand with heart-shaped jet packs.
"I was a child Rax," she said pleadingly. "Please understand that."
He gave a slight nod. "You do realise that I still love my family."
Prue felt a lump in her throat and tears burn behind her eyes.
"Then what are you doing here with me," she spat and bolted for the front door. She was running out of her own house but she didn't care. She couldn't think rationally. He was breaking her heart all over again and she couldn't bear it. Desperately Prudence reached the door, grabbed the handle and tugged blindly, feeling it open a little before slamming shut again. She pulled and wrenched at it, but it refused to budge. Finally she took in Rax's arm holding the door shut.
"Let me go," she rasped.
"Not yet," he replied softly. "Not in the state you're in."
"I told you to let me! Let me leave and continue my life, dying slowly."
"Oh Prudence!" He took her gently by the shoulders and turned her to face him. She hung her head, desperately fighting off tears. "What am I going to do with you?"
She rubbed one hand across her face, "Let me leave."
"I have a better alternative," he whispered huskily.
To her surprise Rax took her gently and kissed her on the lips.
"I might still love my family but not in the way I love you."
Her mouth formed a small o shape, her brain not properly processing the information.
"I divorced Marianne four years ago. It wasn't fair when I still loved you and your memory more."
Prue stared at him longer.
"Speak to me Prue!" he begged.
"Kiss me again," she whispered.
With a smile Rax obeyed.
Urg! Soppy, I don't think I written soemthing this soppy in ages. Ah well.