Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Explorations" by David Russell (Contemporary Romance)

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Summary:  Newly divorced and looking for interesting new experiences, Janice takes an art class with live models and the star makes her want more than a coincidental meeting. Art model, Cedric, thinks he knows the lady from somewhere when he sees her again at the pool. Body language says a lot and chance meetings lead to a desire for more. Will Janice ask Cedric over for a private modeling job and will he accept?


She lived in an area, which had been somewhat rundown, but which was now undergoing a great trendy facelift. Fashion boutiques, especially proliferated — something new sprung up in every street one missed walking along for a few weeks or so. There was a kaleidoscope of styles, including retro. The windows positively smooched and glittered with the samples, poster-sized photos of lovely svelte models, none of them over clad, beamed down everywhere as if to sayd’you wannabe like me? She had always sustained executive smartness, crisp black suits and stockings, starched cream blouses. But now she needed a spark. Those young things she passed on the street—they weren’t really all that special.

Janice was determined to make full use of the fitting room—a complete outfit from white silk underwear to a dark-green two-piece suit and a range of items in between.The changing room was spacious, and had a thick navy blue curtain. She had just got into the underwear and was putting on a cream blouse. As her fingers closed on the first button, a gust of wind rushed into the boutique. It swept up the curtain so that, for a few seconds, she was in full view.

The young sales assistant, slim, smooth, a bit Latin-looking, dressed in black, lost his composure in a split second. His face registered a cocktail of embarrassment and delight. But he instantly recovered his cool, turned his eyes to the correct angle, slanting away from her, and restored the curtain to a decorous drape. The open door, or whatever had admitted that gust of wind, had obviously been dealt with. Elated, Janice made her purchases—all was well, she was safely within her credit limit. But the changing room experience aroused thoughts of being an eye-catching, crowd-stopping image. When she saw Halle Berry coming out of the sea, she ached for that to be her. But how to become what she wanted to be?

In some way it would have been nice to have an affair at work, but she was oh so proud of her detached efficiency, as well as suffering from being under surveillance, in spite of her relative seniority in the firm—those CCTVs could be far more benignly employed!

* * * *

So speculation and reverie took over ever more of their disparate lives, in their respective ways, they felt like ghosts, wispy shades, their real selves were somehow exterior to them, belonging to an intangible sphere. Their routine realities switched off feelings adequately for day-to-day living, but each needed to be revisited by an external force. They both avoided the pitfalls of comfort eating, while their composites of stress patterns and their nervous metabolisms unfailingly burned away the flab.

* * * *

With and without her textbooks to guide and prompt herself, Janice set herself a schedule for the body and mind. While going through the divorce traumas, she had engineered her freelance work enough to control a great deal of her own time. Janice tried dance, aerobics and roller-skating so she got nice and toned. One of her closest friends, Debbie, managed a Retro fashion boutique, which bought and sold allmanner of period gear as well as hiring items out for theatrical productions. She liked visiting there and rummaging around with the stock. That sense of history, of invigorating recycling excited her soul, gave her a heightened sense of her own glamorous potential. She could ethereally float,become some time-free being, flounce through history all over the world, alight on key times,exotic places and radiate her full charismatic glory. With it she would have generated the power to fly, borne aloft by the fabric rocket of her magic carpet, her enchantress’s cloak—looping back and forth, circumventing the secret corners of history, probing into prehistory, making forays into the future, stealing chips and snippets from the future to re-enlighten and restructure the past.

After her swim, gym workout, game of Badminton, Janice liked to go to the cafeteria balcony of the Sports Centre and look down over the pool, regaling her eyes on the movements of those there. Being of a shy disposition, when not in her self-assured executive power sphere, she never introduced herself to anyone, never chatted anyone up. In some way this was an advantage — she could see all those nice physiques in abstract, with all the annoying human aspects excluded — so she could savour a carefully-edited illusion of perfection. After a while, she started taking her sketchpad with her and did quick-fire studies of physiques in motion.

* * * *

Cedric savoured the sight of graceful forms in the pool. He felt an affinity between the water and his pencil and brush strokes at the art class. As he went on watching and his reverie expanded, he felt that he was absorbed into the water, had indeed become the water, holding all of those forms in his all-enveloping embrace. He plunged down to the pool bottom. In his reverie he touched the ocean bed, chilly, tranquil in the depths, but on the surface drawn by the moon’s magic to surging horizontal floods, to leaping breakers aching to reach the moon, embrace the moon, draw it down to lighten, warm the icy depths.

* * * *
He had constantly suffered his wife Magda’s all-too-frequent taunts about being an indecisive wimp, effeminate to boot. For a long time, this was like water off a duck’s back, still offset by his partner’s charismatic magnetism. But finally, one dreary autumnal morning, he did react. “For God’s sake, go and find yourself a heavy macho hunk, if that’s what you really want!” Magda duly stormed off.

He set off to work that day, having been fully primed to face the ghostliness of the empty flat to which he would have to return. But did part of him secretly want to be one of those heavy hunks, suitably mud-spattered at the point of supreme attraction? Not really. He cherished delicacy, softness too much—something of an aesthete. But surely one could get the right blend of hard and soft if one really worked at it. Yes, he had been turned on by the Nick Kamen advert, wanted to look like that, be like that, and it could be done. Cedric was becoming conscious of his own body.

Correspondingly, he became conscious of the bodies of others he saw swanning gracefully along the street, shapes, form, physiques took hold of his attention. The physical relationship with his wife had long ago petered out, domesticity was just business. Thus far, he confined the possibility of an affair to the realm of reverie and fantasy, but he was desperate to get a stronger sense of others’ bodies, and his own.

He started mentally undressing the women passersby, and then took the step, daring for him, of going to life-drawing classes. He relished the shapes of most of the models and got a good vibe from the meditative calm they radiated as they sustained their poses. Slowly, inexorably, an urge to model grew on him. He hoped for a chance to pose, when the appointed model somehow didn’t make the session. Disliking the idea of appearing nude straight away, he longed to show himself off in his swimming trunks, which set off his slender body.

The opportunity came, the booked model didn’t turn up, the class started getting restive. The tutor started looking round the group and was on the point of saying “Can anyone help out?” Cedric took the initiative, he saved the day for the class. As he was changing behind the partition, he mused about two women in the class whom he found quite attractive. He was caught between his general reverie and the immediate situation. He wanted his dream girl to go breathless and gaga at the sight of his body, then the tides of passion would surge…but while thinking about the storm, he had to concentrate on the calm.

Being quite a nervous type, he wondered whether he could sustain a pose. But the reflective magnetism, and self-magnetism, sustained his stance in a way he had never been able to manage at Yoga or Meditation classes. Cedric got the tactile sense of the pencils, crayons, charcoals and pastels capturing, caressing his contours as he longed his dream girl to, transforming him into Adonis, sweeping him off one a time-travelling tour, worldwide, to meet all those legendary priestesses and princesses.

There were really lovely thoughts — as contingent, everyday life was so humdrum, so dominated by fractious irritation. He did spend a certain amount of time browsing the contacts in the interim — realised that this must be a great boon for the insecure and isolated—the faces were pretty, but the electronicised messages somehow failed to goad him to the next step. The people he met at the classes were friendly enough, but Cedric felt that they had secure, enclosed, comfortable domestic situations—boats like that should not really be rocked. As this stage, he was still very unsure of himself and a rejection at that point would have reinforced his general reticence. The one or two singles bars he went to seemed appreciably less communicative than the classes, but soon the combination would be formed, the connection made.

* * * *

He looked good in the mirror, and relished his image. This feeling had to be extended, externalised. He decided to have some undressed photos taken, Magda had never done that for him, only staid family album shots. First of all he looked in several newsagents’ ads, the sort of ones at which he had hitherto only glanced briefly, intermittently and disdainfully and then at one of those top shelf magazines hitherto shunned because of his would-be refined literary tastes.

There he found an appropriate advert for a photographer — she looked quite gracious and smooth so Cedric was put at his ease. There were some days of suspense before the reply arrived. Yes, he did harbour some fantasies about being a male stripper, have all those lovely girls screaming for him as he disrobed. Lorette was a very charming, obviously experienced photographer — said she’d had to be a glamour model in years past, but was now rather please to be at the other end, in control. That was fine, Cedric had only ever been very sparsely photographed. He chose most of the pose — his ideas of alluring angles, Lorette instantly empathized with them. He hadn’t been cultivating photographers’ galleries, year-in, year-out, for nothing. With the expanses of unhappiness and emptiness in his life, he was becoming increasingly drawn to a virtual world, a world of shaded, elusive images. At time of extreme stress, he longed for his physical being to turn two-dimensional, dissolve, be only discernible through a microscope.

* * * *

There was no getting away from it, Janice got a thrill from going to life-drawing classes. Some of the models there had really gorgeous figures. As her drawing gradually came to do justice to those forms, she felt more and more that she was like the shapelier girls and match the shapelier men. And why not? Her figure was stunning, kept it trim by workouts, badminton and swimming. She felt a secret urge to model.

Buy this book on Devine Destinies.  Also stop by David Russell's Goodreads page to see more of his work.

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