Home > Scandalous 1 (Scandalous #1)(6)

Scandalous 1 (Scandalous #1)(6)
Author: H.M. Ward

“Yes, they are,” I looked back at Jack. The model had disrobed and was sitting in the buff on a stool. Her curves were perfect, her skin was smooth, and her hair hung in long curls that had been clipped to the back of her head. Jack’s brush was gliding over her neck in slow thick strokes, his eyes focused. “May I ask why you’re leaving?” I tore my gaze away from Jack and the model. I felt like a voyeur, even though they weren’t doing anything bad.

“The husband wants to escape the rough winters and go further south, so we’re moving. I heard you were from the south, is that right?” she asked kindly, her hands folded properly in her lap. I nodded. Emily gazed at Jack and the model. “It’s important to keep him in your line of sight at all times. The model can move around, but it’s Jack you want to follow.” Emily’s dark eyes remained on Jack as he smoothed the brush over the girl’s skin.

“Why’s that,” I asked, turning to Jack, my throat growing tighter.

“Well, most people will tell you to watch for the offender. In this case, the model is the one that would cause the problem. If she decides to sell her story of the time Jonathan Gray molested her, everyone will ask what Jack did, where he was, what he said. He’s more important than the girl. Always follow his movements. And if he needs you, you’re the one that touches the model.”

I nearly choked. Jerking my head toward her, I asked, “What? Why would he need that?”

She laughed at me, “You’re a bigger prude than me!” Jack turned to look at us, and I blushed. Great. Emily began speaking again and Jack turned his back on us, allowing us to continue our conversation. “You’re a sweet girl. A girl who can blush is a girl who can protect Jack. Now, see how he’s painting that girl?” I nodded. Jack’s brush was working its way down her onto her chest. He dipped the brush in more paint and smoothed a line down her breast. His eyes were narrow, fixated as if he was focusing intensely. It wasn’t the gaze of a man in the throes of passion. Not that I’d seen that too often. Or at all. “When he needs to paint her hair, you’ll need to help. Otherwise, paint will bleed together and ruin his creation.”

Turning, I looked back at Jack. One breast was covered and he was working on the second. Long lines of pale colors covered the girl’s body. Jack worked quickly. “So, he paints the girl’s body, then her face? Then her hair?”

Emily nodded, “Usually…. unless he’s doing a piece limited to the face, which is rare these days. Most of his works have the woman’s curves through the hips. Every inch of the model gets painted with organic paint. It doesn’t stain her skin and it won’t make her hair disgusting. It washes out with that solvent over there.” She pointed to a large jug near all the cans of paint spread out around Jack. “It’s mostly hand soap, but Jack said there is something else in it, too. The shower is in the back. You stay with Jack when she cleans up. Never leave him alone.” I watched Jack as she spoke. The way he held the brush, the curve of his strong arms made it hard for me to look away. He pushed his hair out of his face, accidentally running paint through it.

“How long does this take,” I asked, and then flushed when Jack’s brush painted over the model’s nipple, and dropped below her br**sts.

Emily wasn’t watching me. Her gaze stayed on Jack. “About twenty minutes for the paint application, depending on what he does with the hair. Then he does the initial stamp, and shoots her with the camera. Total time is usually an hour or two.”

“Wow, that’s it?” Emily glanced at me out of the corner of her eyes.

“Yup. Pays good for a couple of hours a night. Jack usually works in spurts too. He’ll take in several models over a few weeks, painting nearly every night. Then he only uses the one from that lot that he likes the most. The rest get tossed.” Her gaze was back on Jack, her eyes tracing the movement of his arm. “Never comment to reporters. Always make sure the shades are dropped when he’s painting. And make sure you remain beyond reproach.” She smiled, “Shouldn’t be hard for a preacher, since that’s part of that job, too. So,” she changed the direction of the conversation, “Your congregation doesn’t have a problem with this?”

“They haven’t said so,” I replied. It was a lie, but it didn’t have the acidic taste I expected. I was mad at them. And there was no way I was telling them that I was doing this. They said survive. This was surviving. Emily didn’t press the matter. She stopped talking and we both watched Jack cover the nak*d woman in paint, until he called me over. My heartbeat doubled, blood rushing through me like a rocket. I shouldn’t be doing this.

Jack’s blue eyes were on me, grinning. “I need to paint her hair, but we have to make sure it doesn’t touch her skin.” The model was covered in paint, front and back. The only part that Jack hadn’t painted was her eyes.

“What do you need me to do?” I asked, unsure if I was going to do it or not.

Jack shook his head, trying to get a wisp of hair out of his face. “Unclip her hair and after I apply the paint, hold it away from her body. No drips. This is the last step before applying her to the canvas.” A large roll of canvas was laid out on the floor. It was bigger than my bed, but smaller than the massive painting behind the curtain. “Don’t worry,” he added glancing at me, “I’ll tell you what to do so it doesn’t get messed up.” His words lured me to him. Apparently I was doing this.

Taking several containers of pale paint, Jack cracked open the lids while I unclipped the model’s hair. She sat perfectly still. I wondered what was going through her head. Jack told her to lean back. The girl arched her back, her hair reaching toward the floor, nearly falling out of my hands. The position left the model holding onto the chair with her br**sts in the air, her head tipped back as far as it would go. Jack ignored the seductive pose, but I froze. This was much more than I thought. For some reason it didn’t register until I was standing next to Jack.

He grinned, as he lifted a strand of curled hair and dipped it in the paint. “Why, Miss Tyndale, you seem to be blushing again,” he teased.

“I didn’t realize I would be this close to the model,” I said softly, feeling odd that the girl could hear me. Jack dipped another piece of hair, and I took it from him, holding it away from the girl’s nak*d body. Awkwardness consumed me. This was beyond weird. Seeing other girls nak*d in the locker room was one thing, seeing a nude woman in a painting was another—and this by comparison, well there was no comparison. It was just really strange.

“I don’t bite,” the girl said, trying not to smile and ruin her paint. Jack grinned.

“That’s not what I meant, but thank you for not biting me,” I replied, feeling like a dork.

Jack laughed, shaking his head. Continuing, he dipped each tendril in paint until her whole head was dripping. It took about five more minutes and he was done. The girl was a monochromatic rainbow of white. “Okay, this is the tricky part,” Jack said. “We need to help her move from the stool, to the canvas. She only has one chance to lay on this correctly. If she messes it up, we start over. If we drop her, we start over. Got it?”

“If we drop her?” I squealed. “Jack, what the hell? You said no touching!”

The model laughed, glancing at Jack, “Your nun cursed!”

“I think she’s allowed to say Hell, Cheri. It’s a noun and it’s in the Bible,” the corners of his mouth lifted, laughingly.

“Shut up,” I laughed back, shaking my head. I’d been around New Yorkers for less than two days and my mouth was already regressing to its former sailor-like state. “How do I help her?”

“Her right hand has no paint. If she were a lefty, it’d be her left. She’s going to put her other hand on the canvas as you lower her holding the paint-free hand. It’ll keep her from slipping or hitting the canvas too hard.”

Emily spoke up from her seat by the table, “Do you want help, Jack?”

Without looking at her, Jack answered, “Sure, but you stay there. You can tell Abby if you see her doing something wrong,” Jack answered.

While they spoke my mind replayed, I can’t believe I’m doing this over and over. There was nothing wrong with helping a nak*d woman covered in paint lay down on a canvas, but it felt really weird. I held up her hair with one hand and took her dry hand with my other. “What about her hair? I won’t be able to hold her hand and her hair once she leans back onto the canvas.”

“You don’t have to,” Emily said. “Once her hair is over the canvas, let go. It’ll fall where it’s supposed to go. Basically, you’re making a snow angel here, Abby. You’ll get a crappy one if she hits the canvas wrong.” I nodded.

Jack looked at me, a small grin on his lips. “Ready?” The model was positioned at the edge of the canvas, her bare feet next to it. Cheri nodded and took my hand in hers. Jack began to tell Cheri what he wanted her to do. “Go down on your side. I want your face to press into the canvas, and then roll back. Make sure your arm is at shoulder height, so there is a clear impression of the side of your breast. Abby will fan your hair and then we’ll do the rest.”

Swallowing hard, I did as he asked, and lowered the girl without dropping her. Cheri’s hand was about shoulder height when I finished lowering her to the floor. Her skin slid over the canvas like the paint was still totally wet.

“How long does it take for the paint to dry?” I thought it should have been tacky by now.

Jack watched Cheri closely as he answered, “A few hours. There’s something in it to keep it from drying too fast.” He said to Cheri, “Good. That’s perfect. Now roll back and Abby will fan your hair.” He looked up at me when Cheri stopped moving. This was weird. There was a nak*d girl at my feet, but he didn’t look at her the way he was looking at me. “Take off your shoes so you don’t get dirt onto the canvas.” I did as he said and padded past the nak*d woman, to her head.

Jack gave more directions, “Take each strand of hair and fan it that way, like the wind is blowing.” I nodded and moved the pieces were he told me to put them. “That looks perfect. Okay, before you come back, press her hair down with your hands to make sure it left the impression. Be careful not to leave handprints.” Her hair was filled with paint, each twisting curl left a multi-tonal impression on the canvas.

The rest of the shoot went well. Jack shot a few pictures before the model moved. He told her what to do and exactly how to position her body. The paint smeared under her, leaving impressions of her curves as she went. I stood next to Emily, watching Jack for the next hour. He knew exactly what he wanted, and didn’t stop until he got it. When Jack was done, Emily reached for Cheri and hoisted her up.

Cheri looked down at her body, smeared with paint. Then she said, “Good night, Jack. Good luck.” She smiled warmly at all of us before leaving through a side door. The water turned on in the back when Cheri jumped in the shower to wash off.

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