Ali's Art Ch. 03byharding©
This episode involves Tom only. No Ali. But it does include the loss of his virgin state. For those of you who are waiting for Tom and Ali's relationship to develop, Chapter 4 will bring them back together. For now, enjoy this episode in its own right. And if you can't wait, Chapter 4 will be available almost immediately.
It was early June and the weather in Denton had settled into a long warm period with light easterly winds bringing the occasional scent of the ocean twenty miles distant. Work was still busy, and Dag had put me on a job on my own for a couple of weeks, landscaping the grounds of a smart single story house on the eastern edge of town, set back in woods just off County Park Road. Dag came out with me the first Saturday, walked the grounds, talked with the couple who owned the place and introduced me.
It seemed it was the woman who wanted to place landscaped, the man who went along with it, and would pay. He looked like he could afford it. A big man, six-four and wide, short black hair, his face the kind that always looked like it needed a shave, even after he'd just come out the bathroom. The woman was a clear foot shorter than her husband, slim and pretty with curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was gruff, answering direct questions only, she was friendly, smiling a lot and animated about the work she wanted done.
Dag explained that I would be carrying out the work on my own, and so it was going to take at least two weeks. The woman said that was fine, the man nodded, looking off into the woods, not too interested.
The weather was just clearing the first day. Rain had fallen overnight and the clouds were breaking up as we arrived, occasional shafts of sun breaking through. The man was Greg Harris and his wife Jennifer. He looked to be about forty, she maybe ten years younger, perhaps even less. I liked her, thought she was attractive and friendly. At the start of the job, Monday morning at seven a.m. I had no expectation of anything other than two weeks hard work in pleasant surroundings.
Dag dropped me off and helped unload the equipment I was going to need. There were two days of preparation, and then stone, topsoil and plants were due for delivery. Dag left me and I looked around at the flat grass, walked up the path and knocked on the front door.
Greg opened it immediately, briefcase in hand.
"Hey, Tom, early riser eh?" He hadn't appeared to be listening Saturday, and I was surprised he remembered my name.
"Always try to be. Dag doesn't let me be anything else."
Greg laughed and slapped me on the shoulder. "See you tonight, maybe. Have fun."
Yeah, I thought: digging, humping soil, stripping grass.
"Jenni, Tom's here. Give him some coffee before you leave, hon!" With that Greg used his remote to open the garage doors and a minute later drove off in a new Mercedes.
Jenni came to the door, sleepy eyed, still dressed in a housecoat, and handed me a steaming mug of coffee. She smiled and went back inside without a word. I took my coffee round the side of the house and sat on a wooden bench while I sipped it, trying not to scald my mouth. From behind me I heard a window open and then the sound of a shower running. I looked back, but any sight of Jenni was obscured behind heavily frosted glass, and I felt bad for hoping I might have copped a look.
Not too bad though, because she would have been worth looking at.
I put my empty mug down beside the front door and started work. I had to remove a large area of lawn in front of the house and then start moving earth. Dag had dropped off a mini-digger, and I started it up and began to strip the grass and pile it neatly. If we didn't re-use it, Dag would be able to sell the turf somewhere else, or use it on one of his other jobs.
Just before nine the front door opened and Jenni came out, dressed for work, neat business suit, skirt just touching the top of her knees, hair pulled back and tied high on the back of her head, no stockings, her bare legs lightly tanned and smooth.
She waved and called, "See you later, Tom," and backed her own smaller car out of the garage and disappeared on the road into town.
I swung the digger around and started removing the next strip of turf.
Just after noon I had finished with the digger and stripped my tee shirt off and went to sit at the bench round the side of the house again, opened my lunch and ate it slowly while I watched the shadows ripple under the trees behind the house. It was quiet this far out of town, the only sound wind in the tree tops and from somewhere far off a tractor working a field.
I drank a lot of the water I had brought, my bottle filled from the tap at home that morning, then walked into the trees to piss. Afterwards I wandered further into the woods. There was no fence marking them off, and it looked like the woods were part of the parcel of land the house was on. It was cooler in the shade and after a while I wished I'd brought my tee shirt with me. I didn't stay long, just looked around, saw fungi growing on wind felled trees, heard birds and insects, and the wind high up in the leaves. It felt good: peaceful and safe and kind of secret.
When I came out I pulled my tee back on and went around the front just as Jenni pulled up and drove into the garage. She came out, her dark jacket slung over an arm, the top three buttons of her white blouse undone. She had nice breasts, pushed high by her bra. They were the kind that sat high anyway, pushed up and together, deep cleavage between their white orbs, and they jiggled when she walked, shivering like jello. I made myself look up and meet her eyes, hoping she hadn't caught me staring.
"How's it going, Tom?" She stopped and looked at the results of my morning's work.
"It's going good, Mrs. Harris," I said.
"Call me Jenni, Tom, please."
I nodded. "It's going to look a mess for a couple of days, I'm afraid, but this is all preparation. Come Wednesday, Thursday at the latest, I'll start putting things back together and it's going to look better then."
She touched me on the arm. "I trust you, Tom. And Dag. He's worked for us before, and we're always pleased with the results." She fanned her face with her hand and blew her cheeks out. "Getting warm out here."
I nodded. My tee was soaked through front and back.
"I'm going to get something to eat," she said. "You want a cold drink, Tom?"
"I'd love one," I said, "But I need to get this finished for you."
"Just a few minutes. It would be nice to have some company over lunch. I usually eat alone."
"Sure," I said.
She turned towards the house. "If you don't mind though, take your boots off."
"I need to change first. I'll call you when its ready."
I went back to work, moving and tidying the piles of turf, then started to dig soil out and move it to where Dag wanted higher patches for the landscaping. They wanted a big water feature off to the side of the front drive, and some larger trees were being brought in next week.
It was probably a half hour before I heard Jenni calling. I shut down the digger and pulled my heavy work boots off, left them on the path in front of the door. I knocked and peered inside.
"Straight through to the kitchen," Jenni called.
I went down along a wide hallway floored with real oak, turned a half corner and entered a large kitchen. Jenni was standing at the central work island. She had changed into shorts and a cream blouse with high cut arms showing her shoulders. Her smooth legs led down to bare feet. She pointed to a large glass of home made lemonade heavy with ice cubes.
"Grab a chair. Sit and talk to me, Tom." She pulled a stool up to the counter and tucked her legs underneath, began to pick at an avocado salad, sipping at her own drink.
"Good lemonade," I said, taking a deep swig.
"Thanks. I think it's better when you make it yourself, don't you?"
"Sure seems that way."
"So how long've you been working for Dag, Tom? I don't think I've seen you around on the other jobs he's done for us."
"Since last summer," I said. "I'm only with him a year before I go to college."
"College," she said, raising her eyebrows. "So this isn't a full time job?"
I laughed. "No way. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I wouldn't want to make it a career."
"Good for you," she said. "Education is never wasted. What is it you're going to study?"
"Art. Drawing," I said. "History of Art."
She nodded and looked at me over her glass. "Interesting."
"I think so," I said.
"Where are you going?"
"New York. My cousin's already there, and we'll have a chance to see each other. She's finishing her degree this year, but staying on."
"Great. And are you any good, Tom? I'd love to see some of your work."
I laughed again. "It's OK Jenni, you don't have to be polite."
She smiled back at me. "No, I mean it. I love painting, drawings, good photography. I always try to get Greg something each year for his birthday. Maybe I could buy something off you, Tom!"
"I don't know I've got anything good enough for that," I said.
"Modest, too. I tell you what, bring some of your work over tomorrow and let me see. If I think there's anything there, I might make you an offer."
"You don't need to do that, Jenni," I said. "I'm getting well paid for this job."
She reached over and briefly touched my arm, her hand pale against my sun browned skin. "I mean it, Tom. I want to see some of your stuff. I'm going to be upset if you don't bring me anything to look at now."
I shrugged. "OK. But you can be honest. And I don't expect you to buy anything, Jenni, OK?"
She nodded. "OK."
I finished my lemonade and stood up. "Better get back to it."
"I'm going to be around all afternoon," Jenni said. "I'll bring you another drink later."
I walked out and pulled my boots back on, threw myself into the hard labor of landscaping.
I almost didn't bring my portfolio the next morning. I had sat up into night the worrying about what to put in and what to leave out. There was for sure a pile of work I had done with Ali that I wasn't going to show Jenni, but I wanted to show her my best work, and much of that was the new stuff that wasn't suitable.
In the end, I included the first portrait I had done of Ali, the head and shoulders, and also a full length nude of her. I had changed the features, and it was impossible to tell it was the same woman - at least I hoped so. The nude was fairly tasteful compared to many I had done. Also included were some older landscapes, more recent drawings I had done since coming home of people around town, faces of men and women, farmers working in a cornfield, a man sitting in his pickup smoking a cigarette. In all, maybe twenty pieces.
Dag dropped me off just before seven and I put the folder down on top of the old canvas bag containing my lunch and started work. Before long Greg came out, walked over to chat about what I was going to be doing, slapped me on the shoulder again and drove off. I thought, if the chance came up, I'd ask Jenni what her husband did. Her too, maybe.
Just before nine she came out, walked over to me as well. I was sweating heavily now, the air warmer today.
"Did you bring me something to see?" she asked, arms folded over her chest.
I nodded at the folder on top of my bag. "Over there."
She grinned. "Good. I'll look at them over lunch. You'll have lunch with me, Tom, won't you?"
"I've brought something," I said.
"I'm sure you can manage another lunch. Eat yours early. You must burn off the calories doing this job."
"Surely true," I said.
"See you later then."
I continued to work and by one o'clock the shape of the pool was formed. I stopped and called Dag on my cellphone, told him I would be ready for the sand and lining in the morning.
I glanced at my bag. My lunch was still wrapped inside, and I was hungry now, but decided to wait.
Jenni arrived at half-one, jacket over her shoulder again, top three buttons showing off her mobile cleavage.
"Give me thirty minutes, Tom, then come on in."
I spent the time smoothing out the sides of the pool, using a shovel to work the edges into the shape I wanted.
Jenni called and I pulled off my boots and went inside, aware of how sweaty and dirty I probably looked.
She was in the kitchen, different pair of shorts, this time wearing a pale blue tank top in what looked like it could be silk. From the way her breasts moved inside it, she seemed to have dispensed with a bra.
"I've made chicken salad. Hope that's OK, Tom?"
"Sounds good," I said, meaning it.
She held her hand out. I passed the folder over and sat on the stool, pulling myself up to the counter. I reached for the knife and fork and noticed my hands.
"D'you mind if I wash up first?"
Jenni looked up from studying my drawings. "Sure. Use the kitchen sink, there's soap on the side."
While I cleaned my hands Jenni continued looking through my work. She lay the drawings side by side, four at a time on the counter top, studied each one for a long time, then moved on, gathering them up and replacing them with another four.
I sat back on my stool and started to eat, trying not to look too interested in her reaction.
She had her head cocked to one side, a fork in one hand, and every now and then she picked at some chicken or lettuce.
My stomach gave a little flip when I saw her tip out the portrait of Ali and then the nude. She turned them towards her and looked down, pursing her lips.
"I wasn't sure about that one," I said.
She glanced across at me. "Why not? It's really good." She touched the portrait. "Who's this?"
"That's Ali, my cousin."
"She's very beautiful."
"And this one?" She moved the nude with her finger.
"Just some model."
Jenni raised an eyebrow. "Just some model? She's got one hell of a figure, for just some model."
"I guess." I went back to my salad, trying to hide my unease at being questioned. I wasn't quite sure why I was so uncomfortable - after all, everyone painted nudes, it was part of the job.
Jenni gathered the sheets together and slipped them back into the folder.
"I don't want to buy any of these," she said.
I nodded, but I was a little disappointed. Maybe I had hoped she would think I was a genius. "That's fine, Jenni. I didn't really expect-"
"But I do want to commission you," she said, interrupting me.
"That is the right word, isn't it?"
"Uh, yeah, I guess."
"I want you to draw me - like you have your cousin. Head and shoulders. But larger. About-" she held her hands out about eighteen inches apart, "About this big, and so high?"
I closed my mouth. "You do?"
She nodded. "It's Greg's birthday on Saturday. If I sat for you d'you think you could finish by then?"
I thought it over. "I don't know, Jenni." I saw her face drop. "Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but I have to get your garden finished, and I imagine you don't want to sit for me when Greg's here."
"Oh," she said. "I hadn't thought of that. Greg's never home till eight, though. How about I run you back home about seven-thirty? Could you spare an hour after you finish outside?"
I thought about it, nodded. "It might be close, but I guess I could finish by Friday, if we can start today."
Jenni grinned. "OK. Oh - and how much should I pay you? I've no idea about these things."
"I'll tell you tomorrow," I said, "After I've seen how we get on this evening."
I called Dag and told him I wouldn't need picking up, grateful he didn't press too much on why, or how I was going to get home, then left a message for Mom saying I'd be late, and at just before six knocked on the front door in my socks.
Jenni opened the door, still dressed as she had been for lunch.
"How d'you want to do this, Tom? I've never sat for an artist before. What should I do?"
"Is there anywhere you want to be?" I said. "Think about Greg, where would he like to see you?"
"In the garden," she said at once, "With the woods behind."
We went outside and I sat Jenni on the bench, facing the house so she was framed behind by birch and wild oak. I turned her side on and asked her to look slightly towards me, just to my right. Then I pulled up a single chair, opened my small art pad, which I always took with me everywhere, and started to make an initial sketch.
"I'm going to do something real quick tonight," I said. "Tomorrow I'll bring over a large pad and start on the finished drawing."
Jenni nodded, and I said, "You'll have to try not to move."
I saw her start to smile and then suppress it. She almost nodded again, then stared off to one side.
I worked solidly for close to an hour, and by then I could see Jenni was struggling to hold the pose. I had pretty much finished the first rough sketch and told her to relax. She let her breath out suddenly, as though she had been holding it for the entire time and slumped back against the bench.
"That's really hard," she said.
"Next time you'll have to try and relax when you start. You ever done yoga?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "Pilates. Aerobics. Never yoga."
"Great discipline if you want to pose," I said.
She got up from the bench and stretched her arms high up above her head, easing the kinks out of her body. The blue top lifted to reveal a long expanse of flat belly, a deep navel. She shook her arms and came over to me.
"Can I see? Or is there some weird artist thing where I can't look till it's finished?"
"No, you can look," I said, and turned the pad.
She came close and perched on the wide arm of the garden chair, leaned over and studied the sketch.
"Wow, Tom, that's incredible," she finally said.
"It's only a preliminary sketch, to see if it's the kind of thing you want."
"Greg'll love it!"
"We'll start work on the full size one tomorrow, after work, yeah?"
She nodded, making no move off the chair. Her smooth leg hung down beside mine and I dragged my gaze away. I was going to have to be professional about this. A new experience. I knew well that I had hardly acted professionally when drawing Ali, but Jenni was almost a complete stranger, and I would need to rein in my eighteen year old hormones.
Thankfully she glanced at her watch and jumped up. "I'd better take you home. Greg'll be back soon and I want this to be a complete surprise."
On the way into town Jenni said, "You will be finished by Saturday? That's his birthday."
"Sure", I said, more confidently than I felt.
I directed Jenni to my street and she made a good effort at not being shocked at how modest our house was. Just before I opened my door she leaned over and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.
"Thanks, Tom. This means a lot to me."
"Oh, and Tom," I stopped, one leg out the car. "Bring me some more of your sketches to look at. I really liked them. The life drawing in particular."
It took me almost an hour going through my portfolio to pick out ten drawings that were not too raunchy to take for Jenni. I did wonder about two of them, as they were of the series I did with Ali of the two of us, but neither of them showed my cock erect and were only borderline erotic. I just hoped I was not recognizable.
I felt a small shiver of excitement as I slipped them into the folder for the next day, and told myself not to get carried away. Jenni was an employer, nothing more. She might be gorgeous and sexy, but an employer, and I was a professional.
Wednesday was even hotter and I stripped my tee shirt off early. By the time Jenni arrived home sweat was pouring down my neck and chest and my jeans were spotted with marks where I had dripped onto them.