artist on a mend
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Just some chapter I wrote...

Revelations (Chapter 3)

A group of kind-hearted people, mostly artists scattered around the globe, had asked me to participate in a story book project. The idea was to make a surprise gift for a fellow artist (who had encountered some misfortune) in the form of a multi-author, printed and illustrated story book. I was not personally acquainted with this person, but readily agreed to contribute a chapter (about 1000 words) and an illustration for the project. In all, there were around 15-20 participants, each writing a chapter and/or making an illustration for the book, which was supposed to be a romantic thriller. Mine was the third chapter, and I have no idea how the story has ended. Being a private project, my part is all I can share, now that the gift has been delivered.

This, in brief, was what I had to work with (I'm much indebted to the previous contributors for setting up the storyline) -

Bethany (no description of her was given to me) and Brad (I knew he had 'dark, wavy hair'), both probably in their 30s, had met in a holiday spot and gotten closer. But before their relationship could deepen, she had to rush back home on account of a storm. She had a rich collection of art, and owned a successful travel business. She was worried about an audacious cat-burgler who had robbed a number of homes in the area. On the night of the storm, someone had tried to break into her apartment, discouraged only by Bethany's alertness. The police was called, and a rope - dangling into her terrace garden from the roof, was discovered. Next day, Brad had called as promised, and Bethany had invited him for tea. Chapter 2 includes a description of her attire, and ends with Brad at Bethany's door, with her welcoming him in.

What follows is 'my' chapter, and the illustration I have already posted above...

............... Revelations (Chapter 3) .................

Bethany, face lit up with happiness, took Brad by the hand. Together, they walked into her spacious living room. The sun was yet to set, casting orange rectangles into the room. The French windows were open, and the white curtains gently billowed. As the sun filtered in through the lace, it created moving filigree on the walls and ceiling.

Brad watched her from behind, her tall, lithe form hurrying along in front. He felt the warmth in her grasp, the warmth in her voice. When Brad made some inane joke, she swung around and laughed heartily. Her flowing, blonde hair swirled about her face. And the sparkle in her tiny, rhinestone earrings matched the sparkle in her eyes.

Bethany could tell that Brad was impressed by how she looked. And the ‘connection’ that stirred between them gave her a heady feeling. She cursed herself for behaving like some ebullient teenager. Outwardly, she couldn’t help showing how she felt. The strain of the last twenty-four hours was gone, as if it had never happened. And he wasn’t even here for more than five minutes! She wondered who the trap was for, and who was getting caught.

After gratefully acknowledging the gifts, Bethany proceeded to put the long-stemmed rose in a crystal vase. As she poured some water, Brad was exploring her huge collection of travel-related books. He was telling her about his adventures in Mongolia. How he had trekked across the Gobi desert, all by himself, dragging a cart of supplies behind him.

‘Wow, that was you?’ Bethany exclaimed. She had read about it somewhere, a number of years ago. But she couldn’t remember seeing any pictures.
‘Well, I wasn’t the only person to have done that. So it could’ve been anyone.’ He narrated about the incredible generosity of a nomadic family, who had given him shelter when he was in trouble. He now considered them his adoptive family, and wished to return there some day.

Bethany was watching him, as if mesmerized, as he stood next to the ceiling-high bookcase and turned the pages of a large, fat book. He was silhouetted by the sun, with a glowing fringe in his dark, wavy hair, and his rugged profile. He was casually dressed in a navy jacket, off-white button-down and khaki trousers. A slim leather belt, and tan, top-sider shoes completed his look. His shirt was open at the neck, accentuating his jaw-line and strong neck muscles.

When Brad turned to look at her, she quickly averted her gaze, as if caught in some guilty act. Strong vibrations emanated from this very living, expressive being. And she was already feeling a bit overwhelmed, which was very unlike her. She was this tough, go-getting entrepreneur, who could negotiate the toughest of deals with major, international carriers, wrest the most convenient rates for her clients. Brad wasn’t the first attractive man she had met, and she had met them from all around the world. Yet, there was something very intimate, very warm in this obviously intelligent man, mixed with an inexplicable sense of unpredictability, and a raw, feral energy.

She had already noticed the other day that Brad was unusually strong. Not in the bulked-up, body-building manner she thoroughly despised. He had muscles which had organically grown out of the necessities of his trade, whatever that was. Like some urbane Tarzan who had swung from tree-tops all his life, perhaps a rock-climber who had conquered the remotest peaks. He was an athlete of some sort; there was no doubt about it. But he was also a scholar.

‘Hello?’ Brad was standing right in front of her, peering at her face with a half-amused expression. Bethany quickly snapped out of her reverie and laughed.

‘Do you want me to take your jacket?’ She attempted to become objective. It was a pleasant 65 degrees, and perhaps Brad wanted to be more comfortable.

‘Yes please, thank you!’ He smiled gratefully. It was as he was taking off his jacket, and slightly tilted his head towards Bethany, that she noticed the ghastly bruise on the side of his skull, near the hairline.

‘Oh my, what is THAT?’ She gasped, and instinctively reached out. Brad flinched a little, and she quickly withdrew. It obviously still hurt him.

‘Ah… that!’ He had this sheepish look on his face.

‘Err… that was from something which didn’t go as expected’ he grinned.

Bethany took the jacket and proceeded to hang it in the foyer closet. She dusted off a few droplets of water. It must’ve drizzled a bit when he was in the car park.

She expected him to say more, although she didn’t want to press it.

‘Well, blame it on my daughter,’ he obliged, still grinning. ‘And the ice-bucket challenge - I slipped on the garden path!’ He roared.

He had a DAUGHTER! Bethany’s eyes darted to his ring finger. She knew he didn’t wear a ring, but she couldn’t detect the tell-tale signs of a ring tan either.

‘We divorced five years back’ Brad said, as if reading her mind. Bethany cursed herself again, what was she thinking! Was she that transparent? But Brad didn’t seem to mind in the least, and went on to explain –

‘Natalie, my daughter, is this sweetest eleven-year old. She lives in Florence with her mother. Her school starts next week and she’s leaving tomorrow. So I just had to give in to her demands, and look what happened afterwards! He laughed, lightly rubbing his temple.

‘Aww, you poor dear’ Bethany stepped in and gave him a hug. It was a most natural reaction, and Brad responded by putting his arms around her. They lingered in that embrace, a pleasing warmth surging through her veins. She placed her head on his chest, cascades of hair flowing down his muscled arms. She grasped him tightly, her soft femininity melding into the fortress of his embrace. She felt cocooned, and secure.

She gave out an involuntary sigh. Nothing else mattered, it seemed.

Just then, the bell from the building’s security rang.

Bethany groaned, and slowly disengaged. She flipped the speakerphone switch. It was Joe, one of the security guys – a seventy-year old, overtly polite grandfather of seven.

‘Sorry to bother you Ma’m. A police officer… Senora Sanchez, requests permission to visit you.’ Bethany rolled her eyes.

 

.................. Ends Chapter 3 .................



Sorry, but that's all I have :D

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