Decision made, Ciara unfastened her seatbelt as Daniel exited the car, his door closing with a soft, determined thump, one that she did not even note. Instead she heard the thunder of her thoughts. Just because her decision was made did not mean that her heart and mind were at rest. Still so many questions, so many issues. And the tide of her muse had begun to rise again.

She should get out of the car. That thought rose from the chaos in her brain and she lifted her hand, reaching for the latch only to have it pulled out of reach as the door opened. Her eyes widened and a soft gasp slipped from her at the surprise. At least it hadn't been a squeal. Her gaze lifted and she saw that blasted amusement lurking on Daniel's face, that expression that was more mask than honest expression. Inspiration swamped her in that moment, the burning need to draw and paint, to use that drive to dig beneath this surface that the man before her presented.

When she painted she seemed to have so much more insight than she ever had without a brush, pen or pencil in her hand. A tangential thought bubbled up, a momentary question of whether she would be more capable of being socially adept if she simply kept a notebook and pencil with her when she had to pretend to be a normal human being. At least then she could hopefully sketch something out. Then again, it might just suck her under entirely. The thought slipped away, irrelevant, and she awkwardly took the hand Daniel held out for her, allowing him to help her out of the car. A brief flash of an uncomfortable half-smile, and she turned from him, tugging her hand away, and sucking in a breath to try to pull herself together, hold it all off for just a few more minutes.

"Well, come on. Let's get inside. I want to get out of these heels." Ciara flashed a quick smile at him, something a little more genuine than her previous attempt. She stepped forward, yanking keys out of the little purse she'd taken with her. The jingle seemed loud in the night, despite all the background city noises. Tiny things caught her eye, everything else blurring into the background. She knew the signs, was all too familiar with the coming obsession.

It took her a moment to fumble around and get the key in the lock and she was trying to hurry, trying to keep ahead of the rising tide. Not to mention she had an affluent and socially-influential man waiting behind her.

Finally. The lock turned and she tried to wrestle the door open, then felt the resistance disappear as Daniel wrapped his hand around the edge, pulling it open with a strength that surprised her. Yet another facet that added to the tiny bits she was learning about him, all the things she would paint.

Her breath caught, and she stepped inside, not pausing to thank him, simply wriggling through the door the moment there was enough space, then up the stairs, her heels making more noise than she would normally find acceptable, but she had no urge to slow down or remove the shoes in the interest of consideration for others. No, right now she had to get to her studio area, get a pencil into her hand, start getting lines on paper.

The sounds of Daniel following her helped, gave her something to focus on aside from how many more steps, how many lines it would take where to detail his face.

"Have you lived here long?" His voice broke through her careful focus and she stumbled, nearly falling in in her heels on the stairs. A brief pause, and she started climbing again. Only  a few more steps, then down the hall. A deep breath, let it out, feel it hiss over her lips.

"Yeah. I've been here for about 4 years." She sounded breathless even to her own ears, and her heartbeat echoed to her senses. Faster. Need to get there faster.

She let the silence settle, not worrying about being rude, simply pushing on ahead, tripping her way down the hallway, fighting the lock on her door, slipping inside, and leaving the door open. A moment, she flicked on the lights on the second swipe with her hand.

Deep breath.


She kicked off her heels as she hurried across the space, leaving them scattered and forgotten. It was a large area, clearly a space that was intended as a warehouse, or possibly it had been an office building, somewhere in the past, now gutted into an open plan.  The kitchen was open to the right, a couch and chair straight ahead. Beyond them, the area to which Ciara was lurching towards as she finally got out of the second heel, her hands reaching back for the zipper that rested over her spine.

By the time Daniel stepped inside, his eyebrows lifted in a mix of confusion and suspicion. His lips parted, about to make some comment, but he halted in surprise at the growing V of skin on her back that Ciara was revealing. After a second he turned, closing the door and flicking the deadbolt, clicking the chain into place. Whether he turned for her benefit, his own, or simply to close the door was not clear, not that Ciara noticed.

Meanwhile, Ciara had managed to shed her dress, leaving it in a puddle of scarlet and black on the floor. The last few steps were taken in her strapless bra, black lace underwear, and thigh-high stockings. It was only a momentary sight, a tantalizing glimpse of a woman utterly unaware, then she was hopping into a set of overalls of some indeterminate original colour. Whatever they had originally been, they were now so coated in paint that they resembled a Jackson Pollock painting more than anything else. They had been hanging on the edge of an easel which was surrounded by a variety of canvases in a range of stages of completion. The wall of windows beside them, most likely the reason she had chosen the place, were plastered with sketches. A second more scrambling, and she turned with a fistfull of pencils and a sketchbook.

She bit her lip, looking back at Daniel where he stood at the door, appearing rather off-balance. "Umm. Sit? Sorry. I just... I really want to get to work." A lame explanation for her behaviour, but it was all she really had to give him. Would he understand if she tried to explain the overwhelming sensation of her muse rising within her, riding her until she complied?

A little wince as she looked at her sofa, then a little shrug as she padded back across the space. After a moment, Daniel closed the distance from the other direction. He noted the clear evidence that painting was not always kept separated from the rest of her apartment. Splotches marred the surface, but they were most likely old enough they were dry. Likely. But in the end he removed his jacket, loosening his tie, and settled gracefully down onto the couch. If she had felt more rational she might have been surprised and impressed. She might have found something to cover the sofa to protect his clothing.

Instead she had flipped open her sketchbook, paging through to a blank sheet of paper, sticking all but one pencil into her hair, twisting it around to hold them. Then she looked at him.

There was nothing in her gaze to suggest she saw a man. Not even anything to show she saw a human being. Her expression was intent, eyes just slightly narrowed, a tiny line of concentration between her brows. Reaching up she yanked one of the pencils out of her hair and held it between her teeth. The one in her hand began to scratch over the paper.

Daniel looked at her, tilting his head a little, obviously feeling a little discomfort. "Did you want-," and he broke off at her abrupt shake of her head, a clear negative. So he settled back into silence.

The scratching on the page paused, and she pulled out a smudge-stick, and she rubbed the end across the page, blurring the existing lines. A face began to take shape, although it was not necessarily clear how she was coming up with the image on the page. The lines matched, the angles of the face, and yet the shadows were more intense than could come from what she was seeing. The eyes were haunted, the hair wilder. Something about that face suggested she was only marginally seeing what was in front of her. Somehow she saw much more, or something else, something beyond.

The man she drew was perhaps human, but it was rather doubtful. Too wild, too untamed. Too haunted. Something around the eyes suggested he had seen many more changes of the seasons than one would ever suspect looking at the Daniel Alverston who was touted as an ideal host of socialite parties.

The movements of the pencil continued. Ciara switched between different ones, shoving the others back into her hair, some lines darkening, others blurring more. The face became more and more solid, much more quickly than might be expected. Daniel shifted curiously, realizing that she had no need for him to hold still. She would look back at his face, tilt her head, occasionally reach up and grab his chin, change the angle. A few smudges marred his jaw as proof.

And then she stopped. A deep breath lifted her chest, the top of her bra peeking over the top panel of the overalls, a flash of black against pale skin. Tension seemed to melt from her, the passion, the drive pouring out of her, leaving a just a woman with smudges on her face and hands. Then she looked down at the paper. A frown marred her face and she studied the drawing she had done.

Her gaze rose, and collided with his face. She met his eyes and slowly one brow lifted. "So." Then she turned the book, holding it up for him and watching his face very closely and very carefully. This was one of those times when she knew her drawing was accurate, more accurate than realism could produce. What she had drawn was Daniel Alverston, or whoever was claiming that name. Whatever was claiming that name.


The End

15 comments about this story Feed