A/N Stephenie Meyer's owns all Twilight characters
Ripped canvas lay in haphazard piles all over the floor of my studio. "Get out. All of you. Just get out," I shouted at the six models I hired. I specifically asked the agency for a petite brunette; not glamazon blonds. The models strutted like wounded peacocks out of the studio, muttering under their breath as they went.
A tin cup of assorted paint brushes sat on the work bench in front of me, taunting me. I hit the cup and the brushes went flying. The cup soared across the room and hit the dainty brunette standing in the doorway, on the head.
"Ouch," she yelped.
I glared over my shoulder, about to bite her head off, but I stopped short. She was exactly what I was looking for.
"What do you want?" I snarled at her.
"The, uh, the agency sent me. You are Jacob Black, the painter, correct?"
I nodded, "Yeah, and you are?"
She walked delicately across the room, "Bella Swan." She stuck her hand out. I glanced at it and bent down to puck up my mistreated brushes.
"Okay," she mumbled. She stood up straight, "So do you still need a subject or not?" she asked a bit more aggressively.
"I do. Need a subject." I studied her face; it was decent. Oh be serious, the cynical voice in my head chided, she is gorgeous. Shut up, I thought.
"You may have to pose nude," I informed her, setting the handful of brushes on the table top, "is that an issue?"
Bella's face flushed tomato red, "Um, no?"
"Good," I replied. Normally that was always the deal breaker for a lot of them. These girls would have sex with random strangers in disgusting club bathrooms, but they refused to have their nude bodies preserved on canvas for all eternity.
"Let's get started then." I walked across the paint splattered pine floor and drug a red velvet chaise into the late afternoon sunlight.
"Okay, disrobe; put that," I pointed to a length of sheer black silk," around you. Drape it, wind it, whatever, I don't give a fuck as long as it's erotically covering your goods. But make it suggestive. Can you do that?"
She nodded and stepped behind the silk screen divider, plucking the silk off the hanger. Five minutes later when she stepped out, my heart almost stopped. I groaned; she'd wound the silk around her neck and crisscrossed her breast. The silk snaked down her snow white skin and swished around her hips.
"Will this work?" she asked. I cleared my throat, and my mind, and then nodded.
"Have a seat." I patted the back of the chaise. Bella sat, leaning against the arm, and then she stretched her legs out. I nodded and we spent a few minutes getting the angles exactly right.
The setting sun played at the red highlights in her hair, made her brown eyes sparkle. I grabbed my camera and took a few reference shots from a few different angles. I couldn't wait to develop these pictures.
If they looked half as gorgeous as she did lounged on that chaise, I'd give up painting and wrap Bella Swan in strands of silk and photograph her all day long.
I snapped off a few more shots and set the camera down. I pushed my shaggy hair out of my face and looked around for a useable canvas. I found one wedged between a half finished painting and the wall. I grabbed it and strode back across the studio. Once I'd set up my supplies I started working.
"So, tell me about yourself Bella."
She shifted ever so slightly, the silk shifted, falling away to reveal the delicate curves she possessed. "I'm originally from Phoenix."
"Really? What brought you to Seattle?"
"My dad. He lives in Forks. I moved in with him my junior year of high school, right after my mom remarried. I moved to Seattle a year ago with my boyfriend."
I nodded, "why Seattle? Why not Olympia?"
"I missed the city. Living in a small town is great, but nothing beats the city. That, and there aren't as many opportunities like this in the smaller cities."
I nodded, "I can totally relate. As soon as I was old enough I moved here. I never would have had the success that I've had if I had stayed in the town I grew up in." I set my brush down and glanced at the clock. The light was gone now, and it was getting late.
"Well," I said wiping my hands on my stained jeans as I stood, "That's all for today. Can you come back tomorrow?"
On the chaise, Bella relaxed, "Yes. What time?"
I glanced at the clock again, "How about 4:30? I'll have more light, and we'll finish up faster."
Bella nodded, "Okay. I'll be here tomorrow." She slipped behind the divider and came out a few minutes later dressed in her clothes, holding the silk in her hand.
"Oh, I'll take that," I said and took the delicate silk from her. She collected her belongings and I thanked her as she left the studio.
I grabbed my cell phone out of the pocket it occupied in my purse. As I walked down the street I dialed Alice's cell phone. She answered on the first ring.
"Hey," I said, "Are you busy?"
"No," Alice said, "I'm just finishing up, why what's up."
"Oh my god Al, you should have seen this guy. He was gorgeous." I sighed, thinking back to Jacob Black's strong face and beautiful russet colored skin. He made me tingly in places Edward hadn't in a long time.
"What guy?" Alice demanded, "Oh wait. The painter?!"
"Yea, the painter. I swear to god Alice, he looked like he should have had a fuck me now sign around his neck."
"Where are you?"
I looked up at the street corner, "I'm on the corner of Lex and Seventh. There's a Starbucks across the street. Can you meet me?"
"Yea, I'll be there in like, ten minutes." I hung up and crossed the street. The coffee shop was all but deserted. The wanna-be writers were hogging all the tables; their MacBooks open in front of them. I rolled my eyes at them and all their egotism, and then stepped up to the counter.
"Hi welcome to Starbucks, what can I get for you tonight?" an overenthusiastic teenaged girl asked me.
I glanced at her name tag, Nicole, "Hi, Nicole, can I please have a Venti caramel frappachino and two of those chocolate chip cookies."
She rang up my coffee and I handed her my AmEx card. Edward could foot the bill for this one, I thought as I collected my frappachino and cookies. I looked around for an empty table, and found two burnt orange arm chairs instead. I sat down in one and put my hand bag in the other and munched on my cookies as I waited for Alice.
I thought about the painter as I chewed on the warm cookie. He was gorgeous, there was no denying that. I couldn't understand the aluminum cup flying at my head when I first arrived, but assumed it had to do with the gaggle of blonds fleeing the building as I arrived. Alice arrived then, waving at me as she came in out of the rain and approached the counter. A few minutes later she joined me with a steaming caramel macchiato in hand.
"Hey," she said, flopping down in the arm chair opposite mine, "How was your day?"
"Good. I had a cup thrown at my head," Alice made a 'what the hell' face, "Was asked to wrap myself in some scrap of slinky, black fabric. It was interesting."
"Wait a minute; he threw a cup at you?" Alice asked incredulously.
"Not at me. More like he threw it and then I walked in," I said, taking a sip of my frappachino, "But honestly Alice, he could throw cups at me all day long. The man was gorgeous."
"Are you going back?" Alice asked, stealing a chunk of my cookie.
"Yes. Tomorrow afternoon. I did say he was gorgeous right?"
"Yes, you did. I should tell my brother your eye fucking the painter," she said laughing.
I sobered immediately at the mention of Edward, "Tell him, please. I've been looking for a way out of that. He's been a total cold fish lately. And I think he's cheating on me with that blond bimbo, Rosalie."
"Oh no, Bella," Alice sighed sympathetically, "Really?"
I nodded and played with my straw, "Yea, all of a sudden he has to 'work late.' Just seems real convenient that as soon as Grace retires he hires this new girl and starts working late. I mean come on, that's the oldest excuse in the book."
My eyes teamed with tears at the thought. I might be unhappy with Edward but that doesn't mean I want to be cheated on. Being cheated on strips a woman of a certain kind of dignity; it's like being told you're not good enough, or pretty or smart enough. Not good in bed anymore, or any number of things from the long list of things women are insecure about.
Alice handed me a Kleenex from her purse, "Don't cry, sweetie, I'm sure he's not cheating on you."
"Screw him if he is," I said wiping my eyes.
"Come on, we'll go rent chick flicks and pick up some popcorn and have a girls night." Alice reached for my hand and we walked out of the Starbucks. She unlocked her yellow Porsche and got behind the wheel. I got in and shoved the crumpled tissue into my bag. Alice zipped in and out of traffic and even ran a few red lights.
"How do you still have a driver's license?" I asked after I got out of the car in the parking lot of the Blockbuster's around the corner from my apartment.
"Bella, please," Alice retorted, "Look at me. What cop would even think of giving me a ticket?"
I shook my head at her ego; she was definitely full of herself.
We chose a couple of movies, all of which I was sure were going to be stupid, but whatever, Alice didn't have to throw me a pity party but she did so I kept my mouth shut and just went with it.
Two hours later and one bad remake of The Women, Edward came home. Three hours late. He opened the door to the apartment and walked right by the two of us. He didn't say a word, didn't acknowledge the fact that his sister and girlfriend were sitting on the couch in his living room; nothing. I heard the bedroom door close and the shower start.
"See," I said looking at Alice, "He saw us sitting here, probably saw your car in the visitor's space downstairs, and yet he says nothing and immediately jumps in the shower."
"You should go sniff his underwear," Alice said matter-of-fact.
I could only imagine the disgust on my face, "Why the hell would I want to do that. That's just nasty Alice."
"I read it in a book once. The female character suspected her boyfriend or husband was cheating on her, and her friend suggested she sniff his underpants for coochie juice. She did and he was cheating on her. I think she beat his ass with a baseball bat." Alice looked down at her nails, "Or something. I don't remember."
I shook my head at my nearest and dearest friend, "Alice, sweetheart, I think you have truly lost your mind."
Alice looked at her watch, "Oh jeez. I hate to cut and run, but it's late and I told Jasper I would try to come by after work."
"Ok. Thanks for everything, you're an angel." I helped her gather her stuff and then locked the door after she left. Edward had come out of the shower and was digging through the fridge.
"What'd you make for dinner?" he asked coldly.
"Not a damn thing. Who was I going to cook for? My absentee boyfriend?" I picked up my almost empty wineglass and swallowed the last of it.
"Damn it Bella, will you please knock it off. I just asked a simple question." Edward shut the refrigerator door and walked out of the kitchen, "I'm going to bed."
"Good riddance," I muttered, pouring more wine into the glass.
He stopped at the bedroom door, "What?"
"Nothing," I said, "Sleep well."
He shut the bedroom door and a few minutes later the light clicked off.
How was your day? I thought angrily to myself, Fine dear, I got naked for a strange man today, and he liked it. I smirked at the thought, imagining the anger that would have evoked in Edward if I'd actually said it out loud. Jacob had liked it. When I walked out with that sheer fabric wrapped around me, his eyes had damn near popped out of his head. The rush of power that look gave me was intoxicating, and I definitely couldn't wait to go back tomorrow.
Reviews are better than pity parties by Alice :)