*Special thanks to my main beta, Susie, who has patiently been with me, and has also been my friend through the entire process! LY!
*Posted updates to occur every 3 weeks, but chapters 2 and 3 will be one week updates. Expect chapter 2 this Friday.
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Covering my bases on sensitive issues:
WARNING: PORTIONS OF THIS CHAPTER AND/OR STORY CONTAIN INSTANCES OF FLASHBACKS THAT CONTAIN THE SUGGESTED THEME OF NEAR SEXUAL ASSAULT. THIS IS INAPPROPRIATE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE YOUNGER THAN 16, OR WHO MAY BE TRIGGERED BY SUCH REFERENCES. YOU READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
The chalk scratched roughly across the surface as I rubbed it furiously in frustration.
"Could you please stop moving? I can't sketch you if you're going to move," I told the young, attractive woman who was seated on a white chair in my upscale Washington studio.
"Sorry," she said, stilling as I glared at her. "Continue."
I sighed, and then returned the chalk to the parchment. I skimmed a thin, black line to outline her graceful, curly hair, stopping only to glance up at her and repeat her elegant features through the chalk. I outlined her deep blue eyes and her small, eloquent nose before looking at the clock.
"We can continue again tomorrow, Tanya," I said, pulling the top sheet of parchment over the newly outlined sketch and turning away from the easel.
"Oh. Right." She smiled brightly at me, stood and headed for the studio's glass doors. "See you, tomorrow," she said, before fluttering out the doors and disappearing.
"Yes, I so look forward to it," I muttered sarcastically, walking over to the sink and putting my chalky hands under the automatic faucet. "Emmett, I am so going to kick your ass for making me do this," I added under my breath.
My art studio stood in the heart of downtown Forks, Washington. The small, punctuated gallery opened a few months ago to good reviews from critics and patrons of my previous arts. My sketches hung in the local museums before I decided to try my hand at my own business. Now, three months later, Luck of The Draw was successful, having recently earned a prestigious art award from one of the state's most respected art galleries. One that just happened to also be one of the largest owned by the Swans.
I removed my hands from under the faucet and reached for the towel to dry them off with. I walked slowly back over to the easel and shut the case of my chalks. I looked up just as I was moving the easel back out of the way to see Emmett stroll in, food-in-hand.
"Hey, Picasso, you have to do with the Sour Pork, man," Emmett snickered, throwing the brown, greasy bag onto the counter. "You finish up with Tanya?"
"For today, yeah. Remind me to kick your fucking ass for sending all your pieces of ass to my studio," I stated, opening the bag and taking out a carton of Sour Pork.
Emmett, mouth stuffed full of egg roll, laughed. "They are not my pieces of ass! Well, not all of them, at least," he said, popping the rest of the roll in his mouth and chewing.
"You're such a pig, Emmett. It's amazing you can even get a girl to talk to you."
"Speaking of girls, I kind of…" He trailed off, not meeting my eyes as I glared at him.
"Please tell me you didn't refer another girl to my studio? Emmett! Jesus Christ, I am too busy for any more clients!" I groaned, slamming my container of Chinese food onto the counter and leaning against the counter's edge. "Plus, I have to start doing my piece for the annual gallery show at the art center!" I ran my hand through my thick, course brown hair and sighed.
"Edward, my man, you want to take this one, trust me," he said, pointing the chopsticks he now held at me.
"What makes you say that?"
"It's that gallery owner's daughter. Um . . . Swenson? No . . . Swinger? No…" He screwed his face up in concentration.
"You look like you need to take a shit, Emmett. You mean Swan?"
"Yeah, that. Her dad called yesterday. His daughter wants her portrait done to send to her mom in like . . . Florida or something," Emmett explained.
"Damn it, Emmett. And you're telling me this now?" I huffed, lowering my hand from my hair and crossing my arms.
"Dude, calm down. The largest, wealthiest gallery owner asked you to do a portrait of his daughter, and you get upset? Please tell me you aren't gay?" Emmett replied, clearly amused.
"Fuck you, Emmett," I replied. "Did he at least leave a number where I can reach her?" I asked, reaching over to pick my food container back up. "The shit you get me into." I shook my head in disapproval.
"It's all in your handy-dandy notebook, Ed." He hesitated a minute; then added, "Not all women are like Angie, Edward."
I grunted, but said nothing.
It wasn't until I was about to close up the studio an hour later, and head to my apartment which rested above it, that I took a look in the notebook in which, Alice, my sister and appointment taker, wrote down the names and numbers of clients.
I sifted my fingertip over the letters that divided each section until I reached the S's. I scanned the names written in Alice's neat script, and found the very last entry to be the one I was in search of:
ISABELLA M. SWAN
I took a pen from the desk and grabbed a Post-It, jotting it down hurriedly as I reached over to shut the desk lamp off. I would call her first thing tomorrow, before Tanya (I shuddered at just the thought of her coming back) came in to start on her chalk portrait again.
So Isabella's mother lived in Florida. That, for some reason, wasn't something I was expecting. My thoughts wandered as I made my way up to the small, clean apartment.
Mr. Swan never really spoke of Isabella's mother much when he delivered his religiously long speeches—usually when he had some reason to gather people at his large galleries. He spoke only briefly of his daughter, and I had never seen her before.
Tomorrow, I would call her and see what I could do for her. I needed to make Mr. Swan happy. And if that meant sketching his snotty, rich, spoiled daughter in achromatic detail, then I would do that. He could make or break my future. And that had me nervous.
"Fucking Emmett!" I grumbled as I turned out the light and let sleep take my thoughts with it.
I stared at the phone for a second, wondering if eight in the morning was too soon to call someone, before I finally picked up the receiver and dialed Isabella Swan's telephone number. I sighed into the receiver as it rang. On the third ring, a soft, low voice came on the line.
"Hello?" the soft voice said into the mouthpiece.
"Uh . . . hi, my name is Edward Masen. I own Luck of The Draw. Your father said you are interested in a portrait?" I asked stoically to the softness on the other end of the line.
"Oh. Yes, I am. For my mother in Florida," she explained, clearing her throat. "I'm sorry I didn't call you on my own, but I have been very busy, you see," she went on to say.
"Not a problem, Ms. Swan. Did you want to set an appointment to look at my portfolio? I could get you in this afternoon…"
"Oh. The portfolio will not be necessary. I've seen your work, Mr. Masen. Especially with Charcoal and Conte Crayon pieces," she replied instantly.
She knew of Charcoal Conte Crayons? Was she an art major herself?
"Excuse me? Mr. Masen? Are you still there?" She said in reply to my sudden silence.
"Yes. Yes, I'm here. I could fit you in-," I reached for the notebook and flipped to today's schedule, "—this afternoon, about two?"
"I could do that, yes. That sounds fine. I would need to be gone by three-fifteen, though."
"That's fine. I can get your structure down. Maybe the outline as well," I told her.
"Great. See you then, Mr. Masen," she replied softly before hanging up.
I moved the phone from my ear and stared at it. I was still shocked that she knew what Conte Crayons were. Then I smiled to myself. Of course! Her father was a gallery owner and a well-known artist himself. She would know of these rarely used art tools.
"What are you smiling at?" Alice asked as she made her graceful entry into the room, holding a box of donuts. "Here, breakfast."
I hung the phone up and shrugged.
"Nothing," I told her, grabbing a jelly doughnut from the box and chewing on it.
"Tanya is here," Alice smirked. "Go get her, tiger."
"Bitch," I retorted, ruffling Alice's pixie-ish hair as I passed her.
"Watch the hair, Edward!"
I walked into the studio and grabbed the easel, bringing it forward and lifting the sheet covering the sketch. I dragged the stool over to the easel and opened my Conte Crayons. I smiled as I peered down at them. She knew what they were, and that was good enough for me. Perhaps she had an interest in art as her father, and I, did.
"OK, Tanya. Look at me," I said as I once again started to outline her.
The session seemed to drag on. After numerous times telling her not to move, and her babbling on about bullshit in her life that I didn't give a fuck about, it was finally over. After telling her she could not see the portrait until I had a chance to varnish it, she left me to clean up. I was just happy to be rid of her. I washed my hands and was just drying them when Alice skipped in.
"Your two is here," she said brightly. "She's quite the pretty one."
"Send her in, Alice," I replied, throwing the towel onto the counter and walking over to get a new canvas.
Alice disappeared back into the small lobby area as I finished getting the canvas onto the easel and peeled back the wax protector.
A moment later, I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to greet her and was rendered speechless.
"Mr. Masen," she held out her hand. I shook it firmly.
She was fucking incredible. Her long, wavy chestnut brown hair fell across her shoulders in a cascade; her eyes were chocolate brown and deep. Her mouth, pouty and small, had an enlarged bottom lip. She wore dark denim jeans and a white V-neck shirt. She had a tiny frame and was quite pale.
"Edward Masen," I finally managed to get out. "Please, have a seat on the stool, there," I told her, pointing to the stool in the middle of the room.
She did so while looking around the studio. I watched her eyes dart to the paintings and cibachromes and lithographical pieces. Her eyes surveyed the prints with an eye that clearly knew exactly what mediums were used in each and every one of them.
"You do amazing offsets," she complimented. "Are they all using the conte?"
"No. Some use contour drawings. Excuse me, but are you an art major or something? You seem to know quite a bit about art tools and mediums," I asked her. I was fascinated. Nobody I knew understood what any of those things were.
"Yes, I go to Forks Art School," she explained, "majoring in Painting and Offset Printing."
I was impressed. It was hard to impress me, but she had done it. I picked up a black chalk and laughed out loud.
"Stay still, please," I told her. "No. It's just . . . it's odd to have someone sitting in your art studio who knows exactly what the hell you're using. You just don't get that often," I mused.
"I suppose not," she said, giggling, "but Dad pretty much taught me from an early age what all those things were and what they did . . . what they do."
"Your dad taught you? So you knew all of this before you started the art school?" I asked her in honest curiosity.
"My dad has standards, you could say. He wanted me to follow him in the arts, so he would do whatever it took to take my interests in that direction."
I nodded as I outlined her neck. The curve of it was graceful and beautiful as I smudged the black chalk a little to add depth and shadow. She was perfectly still, even throughout my questions. I glanced at her often. Not because I needed to for the portrait, but because she was stunning, and my eyes could not pry from her features for too long. She was like a living Mona Lisa.
"What about you?" she asked softly. "Are your parents connected to the arts?"
I shook my head slightly. "No."
"Care to elaborate on that 'no'?"
"My father, Carlisle, is a doctor, as luck would have it. My mother, Esme, is an interior designer. No artistry, I'm afraid."
"But interior decor is a form of artistry. It takes a keen eye to reinvent a room, or to make it something totally unique," she returned, her voice filled with what I believed to be complete truth.
"Yes, I suppose so. Alice, who escorted you in here, is my sister. The only art she knows is make-up and fashion. And, if you can believe this, she can use lipstick like I can use this chalk," I chuckled, taking my thumb and rubbing the lines as to provide definition.
"Then she must be one hell of a lipstick artist," she said.
I turned to her and smiled. She was witty, intellectual and very cordial. I turned back to the outline, which was nearly complete, and put the chalk down on the easel.
"The outline is nearly completed," I told her, turning and smiling once again. "Later, I will go back and define the lines better and give your neckline some character."
"Great. Should I come back tomorrow, then?" she inquired, standing up and reaching into her jeans pocket.
"Sure. When are you free?" For her, I would make time.
She held the cell phone that she had just pulled from her jeans open and looked through it quickly.
"Is six alright?" she asked, looking up at me.
"We close at five, actually," I regretted saying. "But, for you, I can make an exception, Ms. Swan."
Holy shit! Was I actually staying past closing for the first time since opening for her? Fuck yeah, I was.
"I have classes until then. Are you sure you don't mind?"
"Not at all." I was fucking beaming inside.
"Please, call me Isabella, or just Bella, from now on."
"Isabella," I repeated. More for my own benefit then hers, just to hear it on the tip of my tongue.
"Right. So, I will see you at six then!"
"You have . . . you have a bit of chalk on your face," she said, walking to me and licking her finger.
She brought her wet finger to my cheek and wiped softly, her face inches from my own. She lowered her hand and stepped back.
"There. Gone," she smiled. "Tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," I repeated, watching her walk from my studio.
After hours . . . alone…
Do the fucking happy dance…
"Isabella? Are you paying attention?" My art instructor, Phil, asked me the next morning as I sat in his small art room at Forks Art School.
I looked up through my long lashes at him and smiled. "Of course I am."
I twirled my paintbrush in my hand and looked at the work I had been doing for the past two weeks. The attention to the watercolor balance needed work. Phil agreed.
"Bella, you only have a week and a half to improve on this," he said, pointing to the inconsistency in shades of colors that littered the tan canvas. "I honestly don't know if you're even ready to take the finals."
"Explain that to my dad, Phil," I sighed noisily. "Look, I know my skills aren't exactly the best, but they aren't exactly bad, either," I tried to reason.
"You're not your father's daughter in the art department, that's for sure," Phil said, moving to my other side to examine the painting more thoroughly. "You have one week, Isabella." He moved on to another student, and I frowned, setting the brush down and groaning.
One week until the Arts finals that determines if we graduate. Graduating with a major in art was unmatchable when trying to open a shop or even get a job, for that matter. My skills were lackluster, even to me. Not that I was a bad artist. I just needed some guidance.
Yesterday, when I had visited Luck of The Draw for my portrait, I had scanned the many canvases and papers in which the owner and artist, Edward, had beautified. His attention to simple details was loquacious and certainly impressionable. His color shadings were even-toned and balanced. And what he could do with the chalk crayon was masterful. He was an amazing artist, and my father often praised his ability to capture emotions and feelings within his workings; to envelope simple embodiments into each subject he sketched. I longed to be that good.
I scowled as I stood to close my paints and washed out my brush. I turned the tap on hot, and slid the coarse horse-hair brush under it, stroking the hairs with my fingers to loosen the paint.
To top it all off, my father was opening another gallery in Port Angeles at the end of the week. He planned to announce my graduation at the widely-publicized opening. Wouldn't it be embarrassing to have to tell him I failed? That the daughter of a prestigious artist failed her art finals?
I watched the colored water swirl down the drain as I turned the faucet off and stuck the brush in the drying holder. I was screwed unless I could find someone who could help me . . . give me guidance. I turned, sighed, and headed for Phil's office as the bell rang for dismissal.
There was no way in hell I was going to fail. There was no way I could.
"Phil," I approached him, wringing my hands in nervousness.
"Hmm, yes, Bella? What can I do for you?" he asked, looking up at me from the papers he was sifting through on his desk.
"I was wondering if you could give me extra lessons. Like, after school. It would help me so much…" I trailed off at the shaking of his head.
"I can't, Bella," he said, still shaking his head.
"As your instructor, it is against policy to do that, Bella. If this was not about the finals, and I was not your instructor, I would do it in a heartbeat. But, as it stands, I can't help you, I'm sorry." He turned his attention back to his papers. "Couldn't someone else give you some lessons?"
"Is that permitted?"
"Of course. Just not by anyone in your art classes or me. The policies are very strict about it, Bella. And you could be dismissed if you were caught," he warned, looking at me again.
"I get it," I told him. "I think I know someone."
I walked out of Phil's office a few seconds later, a war waging in my head the whole time.
Tonight, when I arrived for my portrait appointment, I would ask Edward if he would give me private lessons to shore up my skills. Would he accept? Would he even have time to do it? He seemed so busy even before my request for him to draw me. I had no choice. This is what I would have to do to please my dad.
Please don't say no, tonight, I thought as I entered my next class. Please.
Forty-five after five, I was rushing out of the doors and into my small, compact blue Audi. I quickly pulled out my cell and thumbed through the numbers in my contacts list before I found Edward's shop number. I pressed send and waited for a response.
"Luck of The Draw," his deep, masculine voice greeted. "We are currently closed—"
"Edward? This is Isabella Swan," I interrupted calmly. "I'm running a bit late, and-"
"Not a problem, Bella. Get here when you can," he said softly.
"Ten minutes. I'm on my way," I told him. "Thanks again for accommodating me so late."
He told me not to worry about it and then hung up. I flipped the phone shut, threw it on the passenger side seat and pulled away from the curb.
He seemed . . . eager. His voice was bright and forgiving for someone who was staying past his studio hours to draw me.
I stepped to the studio doors a few minutes later. Edward was waiting for me and opened the door to let me pass. As soon as I was inside, I turned to him and smiled.
"I think I am," I told him, looking at my watch, "about three minutes early."
He chuckled. "After you," he gestured for me to walk ahead of him as he shut and locked the glass double doors.
I walked back into his studio and waited for him to tell me what to do next. He walked over to his easel and brought it back into the middle of the room, taking care to steady the canvas that occupied the spreaders on top.
"You can have a seat, Bella."
I walked over and sat once again on the wooden stool. I watched as he placed the chalk pieces in between his thumb and index finger, glanced at me, and then started his process of outline again.
"I'm loving how your features are strong; the focus of the sketch," he said after a few minutes of silence. "The graceful curve of your neck, the slope of your nose . . . you really are beautiful to profile."
"Thanks," I replied to his unexpected compliment.
He smiled, but kept on scratching at the canvas.
I scanned my eyes around his studio again as he worked away. I found the same tapestries and canvases as before, but also a new canvas that was propped against the wide, dark wooden table at the far end of his studio. The picture captured my attention, because the profile was that of a beautifully elegant, naked woman. Her hair was chestnut brown, like mine; her eyes were almond-shaped with green, liquefied irises. The curves of her breasts were soft, full. My eyes wandered down the flat, toned paint that made up her belly. The coarse pubic thatch was just visible through her bent legs.
Where did this sketch come from? Who was the lovely girl in the portrait?
"Is that a new portrait you're working on?" I asked, pointing to it with my chin.
He looked over at me to see where I was pointing, and then at the canvas of the attractive, young woman in the painting.
"Oh, that. That is for the annual art show, but that has been finished for ages," he said, breaking his chalk and cursing as he reached for another.
Something in the way he nonchalantly brushed it off made me think there was more to it than just an art show working.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry," I apologized.
He stopped sketching and placed the chalk down on the easel. He turned to me slowly and smiled.
"Don't be sorry," he told me, walking over to the stool. "It is one of my best efforts, if I may be so bold," he laughed.
I laughed and looked over at the painting again. "Who is she?"
"Angie Weber," he replied darkly.
"Angie Weber? Who is Angie Weber?" I asked.
I had no idea who she was. I had never even heard of her. Edward looked uncomfortable for a moment.
"She was an ex-girlfriend of mine," he admitted. "She is also head of the Artistry Board."
He turned away from me and walked over to the canvas of her, his fingers reaching out to touch the bare paint of her upper arm.
"And you have her profile . . . naked?" I gasped. "Isn't there some kind of unwritten code of conduct or something?"
"No. This was done before she even got the position. But if she knew I was planning to show this at the art show…" He trailed off.
I slid off the stool and joined him, getting a closer look at the painting and his face. He was unsure, torn about entering it, I figured.
"Why? What would happen if she saw it?" I asked. "If you put so much into this piece, you should show it. You shouldn't need to worry about what someone else would think about it."
He chuckled. "Not everyone is like you, Bella."
"What do you mean?"
"If Angie saw it, she would flip out," he laughed. "And being on the Artistry Board…" He trailed off.
"If it helps, it's an amazing piece. She's pretty though, so I guess it was expected," I blurted out.
"Your portrait will be even more amazing than this, and it's just your face," he said softly, looking at me from the corner of his eye.
I smiled sheepishly.
"We didn't get much done it looks like," he said, turning back toward where my sketch rested on the easel.
"I suppose not," I chuckled. "I'm very sorry. If you can't do it, I wouldn't be offended," I offered. He seemed so swamped.
"What? And risk not seeing your beauty come to life in the final result? Nah." He smiled. "Besides, you are Charlie Swan's daughter. I doubt he would be very happy with me if I abandoned it."
The mention of my dad's name made my face fall. This afternoon's conversation with Phil reminded me that I was still not good enough. It had me worried.
"What's wrong?" Edward asked, noticing my facial expression.
His hand automatically reached out to lift my chin and bring my eyes level with his.
"Did I upset you with what I said?" he asked, clearly confused at my change of face.
His warm hand under my chin, and his intense gaze into my eyes made it impossible to speak. I just gazed into his gloriously deep, bright onyx eyes.
"No, it isn't that," I finally managed to kick my brain into talk mode again.
"What is troubling you, then?" he asked, lowering his hand from my chin, but still maintaining eye contact. "You look so crestfallen."
"I just had a rough day at school, that's all," I replied. "Art finals are in a week, and I am so swamped and so tired," I lied.
"Congrats, Bella! That is an amazing accomplishment. Before you know it, you will have your own studio and gallery, and your name in lights at the art conventions," he smiled, tapping me on the shoulder with his hands.
"Well . . . I wanted to actually ask you something about it," I said, biting my lip.
"Please don't bite your lip, sure it's sexy, until you gnaw it down to a bloody stump," Edward said, reaching up and pulling my lip free. "What is it you wanted to ask me?"
"Finals are in a week, and let's just say that I am not my dad when it comes to being natural in art. So . . . I know you're busy and all—so feel free to say no—but I was hoping you might give me some lessons on complimentary colors and the balance between symmetry?" I bit back the urge to bite my lip again.
"You want me to give you lessons on art? Watercolors, at that?" he sounded shocked.
I nodded. "Yes."
He thought a minute, his face screwed up in thought. He looked adorable.
"Okay, fine. Here's the deal: I will teach you whatever it is you need to know to pass the finals, if you accompany me to the annual art show on Friday night at the art center," Edward compromised.
"That sounds more like coercion then compromising," I teased. "Like a date?"
"We can keep it one-hundred percent professional if that is what you want, sure. In return, I will give you lessons here every night after the studio closes," he explained. "Because of, you know, your schedule," he added smoothly.
"Right. You mean it would be weird for a man who came without a date to show off a portrait of a naked ex," I laughed. "People would think you were using your hands for more than just drawing."
He cocked his head at me and squinted his eyes.
"Did-did you just make a sexual funny? A masturbation joke?" he laughed out loud. "Oh. My, god."
"Sexual funny? Kind of a proper way to say it, but yes," I laughed, too.
I looked down at my watch and realized that we had spent nearly an hour just talking.
"Oh, I really have to get going. I have to meet some friends. Thank you for the lessons, in advance."
"Yes, I have to meet my brother in an hour. And it really isn't a problem," I smiled.
"Great. See you at six then, Edward."
I walked past him and to the double doors. He reached around me to unlock the doors and see me off.
"Goodbye, Isabella. See you tomorrow."
Little did I realize, I would be seeing her sooner rather than later….
Thank you for reading. I update every 3rd Wednesday.
Charcoal Conte Crayons: Modern day chalk pencils.
Cibachromes: Photographs made from transparencies.
Achromatic: To sketch or draw without color.
©HypnoticMemories (2010). Please do not repost or edit this in any form.