I had always thought that painting would be my greatest passion. Then I met Rose.
I first laid eyes on her at a show in Paris. She’d come to see my paintings. She never spoke with the artist; she explained when I introduced myself to her. She wanted her critique to be pure, her opinion unvarnished. When we shook hands I held on to hers a little too long.
“Have dinner with me,” I said. “We don’t have to talk.”
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She slid her hand from mine. “I can’t.” Then she turned and walked away, looking back over her shoulder before rounding the corner and entering the main exhibit hall. The night was filled with shy smiles and furtive glances that felt like foreplay. A brief touch at the small of her back as I passed by. A slight nod from across the room that said nothing yet meant everything.
When I saw her slip on her coat, retrieve her umbrella, and walk out the door into the night, I followed. It didn’t matter that the show wasn’t over, it didn’t matter that it was cold and raining outside and I’d left without my jacket. All that mattered was her, Rose.
I caught up with her as she passed by the alley behind the gallery, the cab she was headed for just a dozen yards away. It could wait. I couldn’t. I pulled her into the shadows. She gasped, dropping her umbrella. Before she could pick it up I was on her, my mouth covering hers, my body against her, hard and ready. I laced my fingers through the tresses of her long dark hair then pulled back, breathless, before tilting her head so that I could stare into the most beautiful green eyes I’d ever seen. They were wild with an almost palpable need. Her lips were lush and full from our kiss. Drops of rain clung to her lashes and ran down her upturned face in tiny rivulets.
“I have to go,” she whispered, her voice rough with want.
Then she pushed past me and ran for the taxi. I stood there in the rain and watched her go. Now, a year later, she was here, at my apartment in New York.
I had no idea what time it was, but I knew it was late. I’d just recently returned from a summer in Paris. I’d yet to adjust to New York time. When I was working time meant nothing. Caught in the current of its endless stream, I would get swept up and taken to a place where all I saw, all that mattered, was the art.
“Rose! Come in. This is a surprise,” I said, stepping back and drinking her in. Her face looked freshly scrubbed and her long dark curls were casually piled on top of her head and clipped in place. The sophisticated black sheath and patent pumps that she’d been wearing that night in Paris had been replaced with a simple slip dress and leather sandals.
She hesitated, then stepped inside. “Are you staying here?” she asked as she looked around. The loft was more of a studio than a living space, but a man has to eat and sleep, eventually, so there was a kitchen against one wall and bed against another.
“I live here. I just got home last night,” I told her, confused. I closed the door, stepped closer, reached for her hand, then searched her eyes. “And you’re here because.”
She wet her lips and I remembered how they felt, how they tasted.
“I’m in 3B. I moved in a couple months ago. Your music, I’m on deadline and-”
I slid the remote control from the pocket of my well-worn blue jeans, aimed it at the stereo and pushed the mute button. Suddenly the room was filled with silence.
“I was disturbing you,” I finished, tossing the remote onto the pile of rags near our feet.
“Distracting you,” I added as I let my hand skim up the length of her arm.
She shivered, and not from the cold. We were in the middle of a heat wave and I’d returned to find that the central air in the loft was broken. My apartment felt like a sauna and despite the fact that the windows were open and the exhaust on, the smell of oil paint and turpentine permeated the air.
I slid my hand around her neck and then traced the outline of her mouth with my thumb.
“Blake,” she murmured, stepping back, pulling away and turning around. She reached for the doorknob, but before she could open it I was behind her. There was no place for her to go, she was between the door and me, my body molded to the back of hers.
I leaned down, and whispered, “That kiss, in the rain, in Paris, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. You never wrote that review.”
“I couldn’t. Not after-”
“Christ, can you feel how much I want you, need you, even now?” I tilted my hips up and rubbed against her. “It’s just you and me, Rose. I know you want this.”
She pushed back against me in invitation and my arms encircled her waist, one hand reaching up to palm her breast, the other reaching down to inch up the hem of her dress.
“Say it,” I demanded.
“I want this,” she gasped. “I want you.”
I snaked my hand inside her panties, my fingers separating her folds and sliding into her silken wetness. She leaned her head back so that it rested against my chest, exposing her neck to me. Before I could think about it we were on the bed, clothes strewn about the floor. My lips were on her, leaving a trail of open-mouthed kisses as I moved against her then inside of her. I spent that first night like I’ve since spent countless nights.worshiping the canvas of her skin.