Sandy had dressed me in a black strapless Chantilly lace romper. The sections that spread across my breasts and below my navel were backed with satin, leaving only my stomach and hips to be seen. Ballerina slippers made of the same colored material covered my toes and the bottoms of my feet, the ties crossing around my ankles several times and looping into a bow in the front. My lids had been decorated with a sparkly pink shadow; so had my fingers and toes. There was even a pink crystal decal that had been glued a few inches in from my bikini line. And my hair had been chalked with bold hues of pink, purple and blue dusting the ends of each curl. I looked like a human baby doll, or a Japanese anime: entirelytoo perfect, too provocative, and too well-endowed for her age. But I liked the costume, and Jay had asked that I play a more vulnerable role for the evening. I didn’t know if he’d requested this ensemble because he wanted to be a daddy figure, or if he had more nefarious fantasies in mind: dreams of domination, breaking, and deeply punishing me in the most sexual manner until a surrender was made. I never surrendered, though I made him and my other clients believe my screams and moans were doing just that.
What these men never knew was that sex healed me.
Pleasing a man was simple; I listened and gave them what they thought they wanted. When I took them in my mouth, humming a tune of seduction, playing a ballad with my groans while their eyes rolled into the back of their skulls—that was power. While they pumped thrust after aching thrust, I devised my new direction. I reveled in the growing financial freedom. The sex was a definite release for me—a release from the past I felt I was stuck in—but I felt something of a release after each credit card payment I made, too.
I lay on the bed, feet crossed, fingers drumming the nightstand. I hated the pause between Sandy finishing early and the arrival of the client, the quietness in my room before the music turned on. The loneliness of a king-size bed. I usually tried to busy my brain by plotting a scene, an outline we could follow that would work well with the costume, one that would occupy most of the hours. The client would leave exhausted and satisfied. If enough of the men praised me to Victoria, I would receive another raise; I’d already gotten two. But tonight, I had nothing—no scenes, no fantasies, no plans. My mind was focused on the paintings I needed to create for the exhibit.
I had only a few weeks before the show. After Cameron had viewed my seven pieces, he sent his thoughts to Professor Freeman. The Professor requested that I come to his office. He set up the pieces the way Cameron had suggested, studying each canvas individually and the collection as a whole. He agreed with everything Cameron had said: I had a story, a gritty one, and it was exquisite. But he also believed that a piece was missing in the sequence…a piece that needed to come after Kerrianna.
Unlike some of my other works, the idea for it hadn’t come to me in a dream; I hadn’t had an epiphany while I was in class or while resting against the backseat of the limo. It derived from a feeling, an emotion that sat in my chest. I’d filled my palette with shades of red and purple and, without any planning orsketching, I’d composed the image. In the bottom right corner, shoulders and a neck were formed, the head tilting back enough for the face to extend to the middle of the canvas. In the top left corner, there was another face, disembodied. The two figures met in the middle, lids closed, lips parted, colors dripping from both of their cheeks. The faces were hairless; they lacked distinguishing characteristics. Their sex was ambiguous, but something drove them toward the center…toward each other. Was it commonalities, or comfort, or a sensuality they shared? Maybe it was their darkness and their scars. I didn’t know at that moment. I hoped I would figure it out soon.
“Stand on the bed,” Jay said from the doorway. “Hold on to the front left poster.”
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