tagSci-Fi & FantasyPortrait Of A Lady Ch. 01

Portrait Of A Lady Ch. 01

byvelvetpie©

It was still there.

Rik stared at the painting and moved closer, his breath dislodging dust in tiny puffs as he moved closer, his fingers gently resting on its gilt-gold frame. God, she was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. One would think that she would become as ordinary as the sun after having seen her every day for the last two years but she hadn’t. To him, she was the sun, a brilliant orb that hung in the changeable sky, lighting his ordinary life and giving him a reason to go to work every day and to spend his lunch hour gazing upon her handsome countenance.

The first time, he’d visited the tiny shop, he’d been looking for some authentic bric-a-brac for his apartment and he was tired of seeing the usual wicker baskets and marble-filled vases. He wanted items that someone else had owned, that someone had taken time to preserve and care for. And that’s when he’d found her.

The painting was in the back right corner of the shop, hung just out of reach to safeguard its oils and highlighted by a cool, but bright artist lamp. He’d thrown a fleeting glance at the work of art but something had made him turn back around. Her face.

By the look of her dress, she was from the Regency era, the time of Jane Austen. The underdress was striped with cream and tan, playing a perfect counterpart to the slightly off-white shell. Her skin was alabaster, veined with tiny blue lines and rosy with the blush of good health and her robin’s-egg blue eyes warmed him with a mischievous twinkle. She sat at a pianoforte, one slender hand resting on the keys while the other nestled in the silk of her dress.

He knew it was stupid but he was in love.

But there was a major problem. The cost of the portrait was $1,000 dollars and Rik Kershaw didn’t have the money to spare. So every day, he came to pay homage to his love, standing and quietly gazing, hoping that she could see the sincere love in his heart and secretly dreading the day when someone would buy her.

“Hi, Rik.”

Marlena Compton, owner of The Hearthstone Shop, stepped up beside him, looking up at the painting. He gave her a quick glance. “Hi, Mrs. Compton.”

“Still admiring her?”

“Can’t seem to stop.” He answered truthfully. “She’s so beautiful.”

“Her name is Angelica, only daughter of Duke and Duchess Hawthorn. She was about twenty-two when she sat for this portrait.”

“I didn’t know you knew who she was.”

Marlena laughed. “You never asked.”

Rik stared into thalo-blue paled eyes, warm even on cool, creamy canvas. “Angelica.” He whispered reverently.

“She died not long after this portrait was finished. It was said that she was poisoned by a suitor whom she was being forced to marry.”

“Forced?”

“Yes. She was already past what was considered the marriageable age and her father was desperate to ensure that his line would be continued. Angelica was a modern girl. She didn’t want to get married without love and she turned down the proposal, embarrassing the Marquess of Ravenstone.”

“And he obviously didn’t take it well.”

“Not at all! He called the Duke of Hawthorn out and when the duke refused to answer, he poisoned Angelica and later killed himself.”

“Tragic.”

“Very.” Marlena sighed. “She was quite a lovely girl.”

“Yes, she is.”

Marlena heard his change of tense and shrugged. Maybe he was crazy. “So when are you going to buy her?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Can’t afford it.”

“Well, what can you afford?” Rik’s mouth suddenly dried up and he coughed. Marlena raised an eyebrow, laughing. “That much, eh?”

“Sorry. I can afford $300 now.” He gazed up at Angelica. “But I can make payments.”

“Weekly?”

“Bi-weekly. That’s when I get paid.”

Marlena nodded. “Well, Rik, you’ve been coming here for so long that I think I can take a risk on you.” She extended her hand with a smile. “She’s yours.”

A shudder went through him and his breath caught as he shook her hand. “Are you sure? I’m not dreaming, am I?”

“No, you’re not dreaming. Come with me and I’ll draw up the paperwork.” She touched his arm and turned towards the cash register. “Then you can take your fair Angelica home on Friday.”

****** Rik was practically floating on air.

Today was the day that he got to take Angelica home. After making the deal, Marlena had promised that he could take delivery on Friday, his payday, for the allotted $300 he’d promised for the initial payment. He’d gone home and promptly made a place for the painting in his bedroom. He felt that she would be most comfortable there and he could gaze upon her beautiful face as soon as he awoke and before he dropped off to sleep.

He made a snap decision to visit her at lunch time, one last lunch visit and through the shop’s window, was stunned to see Marlena having a vicious verbal argument with a stranger. He was much larger than Rik himself, tall and broad in his black suit. He towered over the red-headed shop owner, his florid features thrust into her face, his thick fingers and brawny arms gesticulating madly. Rik entered the shop and Marlena turned instantly, hearing the bell ring.

“Rik!”

“What’s wrong, Mrs. Compton? Is this man bothering you? Should I call the cops?”

The stranger drew himself upright, bristling with indignity and trained his dark eyes on the young man. “We were merely having a discussion … “

“About your painting, Rik. Mr. Russell wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Rik gulped down his fear and stepped between them, shielding Marlena with his slender body. “What do you want with my painting?”

“I want to buy it.”

“It’s not for sale.”

“Are you sure about that?”

The menace in the gentleman’s voice was hard to mistake and a streak of adrenalin tightened Rik’s chest. “Who do you think you are, Suge Knight? Yes, I’m sure.” He turned to Marlena with a tight smile. “In fact, I’ve come to pick her up as we agreed, Marlena. Would you give her a good wrapping?”

“Absolutely.” She flicked an angry glare at the stranger and used a small stepladder to climb up and remove the portrait from the wall. Rik watched as she carefully stepped down and brushed between them, heading for the counter.

“I want that painting.”

“You can’t have it. She’s mine.”

Rik wasn’t sure but he thought he saw something flare in the stranger’s eyes at his words. The man stared at him for a long minute, then shoved him aside as he moved past, heading for the door. Russell snarled a few words to Marlena, words that made the blood drain from her face, then stomped out, leaving them in bell-ringing silence. Rik ran to the door, watching as the man became a speck on the street, then went to the counter, quietly watching as Marlena tied the last bit of twine around the paper-wrapped parcel.

“Here she is, Rik. She’s all yours.”

He handed her the money and tucked the receipt into his pocket, accepting the bulky package. “Thanks, Mrs. Compton.”

When he turned to leave, her voice stopped him. “Rik.” Marlena weaved her fingers together in an effort to keep them from shaking. “Be careful, will you?”

“Why do you say that? What did that man say to you?”

An uncharacteristic trembling colored her voice with apprehension. “He told me that I’d made a huge mistake in not selling the painting to him and that I’d pay for it.”

Rik choked out a laugh, even though he felt a grain of dread in her words. “He has no reason to bother you any further, Mrs. Compton. Angelica is mine.”

Marlena watched him leave, unable to shake the scare that the stranger had laid in her skin nor the trepidation she felt in her heart.

*****

“We are home, love.”

Rik pushed the door closed behind him and propped the portrait up on the side of the sofa while he went to get scissors to cut the twine. His fingers ached from carrying the heavy item up six flights of stairs and he was hungry from foregoing lunch but those pains were minimal compared to his joy. Sliced twine dropped to the floor and brown packaging fluttered beside it. Angelica was home.

He sprayed a little Pledge on the end of his feather duster and gave the canvas a light sweeping, then used a damp cloth to clean the frame. Once he was satisfied that everything was clean, he attached two screws and a length of wire to the back of the frame, twisting the ends together to make sure that they were tight.

“Ouch!”

An unbent portion of wire tunneled into his thumb and he yanked his hand back, momentarily gazing at the angry hole that quickly filled with ruby red blood. Before he could arrest its progress, dark drops dripped on the top edge of the frame with a few falling on Angelica’s dainty white dress. Rik set the painting down and rushed into the kitchen, cleaning the wound and bringing a cloth back to wipe his drips. With that accomplished, he hung his precious portrait and sat on the edge of the bed, staring at her.

“Hello, my love. Welcome to my home.”

“Hello, Rik.”

The voice was soft and female, velvety in depth and vibrant in nature. He blinked a few times, swearing that he was hearing things but her throaty laugh convinced him otherwise. Rik stood up, his injured digit in his mouth, his eyes fastened to the woman who lived in the confines of the golden frame.

“Uh … hello?”

Soft, high laughter trilled through the air, surrounding him in instant warmth. “Pray, what is the matter? Can you not see me?”

“See … see you?”

“Yes, dear boy! I’m sitting right in front of you.”
Rik gazed at the picture for a moment. “Oh, bother! Maybe I should stand up.” As he watched, the young woman in the portrait slowly arose, arranged her dress and curtsied to him, her blue eyes wickedly twinkling at him. “Do you see me now?”

“Yes.” The word slipped from his mouth in a sort of fog, matching his brain. Had he really seen a painted woman move? “I … I … “

“My goodness! You had plenty to say to me in the shop but your tongue is tied now?”

“No, my lady.” Rik stepped closer. “I just … “

“You don’t like my dress?”

“No!”

“No?”

Rik caught himself laughing. “Yes, my lady, I like your dress. I answered no because it wasn’t what my question was.”

“Then, dear boy, what is your question?”

He moved a bit closer. Now he could see the glints of gold in her red hair and the gentle curve of her silk-encased breasts and hips. Her eyes met hers, leaving him drowning in a pool of cool blue. “How is it that you’re alive?”

“Your blood.” Rik paused, glancing down at his now-healing finger. “You see, I had this painting commissioned and I had the artist mix a tiny amount of my blood into the pigments. I hoped that one day, the man who would win my love would awaken me. And you have.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.” She sat back down, her hands demurely placed together on her knees. “No one else could have done it.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really!” She huffed, then yawned, covering her hand with her mouth like the lady she was. “I am tired just now. Might we continue this conversation tomorrow?”

“Yes, my lady.” Rik bowed to her, smiling as he heard her girlish giggles.

“Really, dear boy, you have much to learn.”

“Such as?”

“Proper introduction. I don’t know your name.”

Rik stood as straight as he could and bowed deeply at the waist. “My name is Rikard Andreas Kershaw, my lady.”

More giggles but not so harsh this time. “And I am Lady Angelica of Hawthorn.”

“My very deep pleasure to meet you.”

“Thank you, Rikard.” Another yawn. “And good evening to you.”

“Good night, my lady.”

Rik took off his suit and hung up his clothes as he usually did, taking a shower and crawling into his bed, naked and sporting a hard-on. He couldn’t help it. From his vantage point, he could stare right at the painting and see Angelica’s bright eyes and her voluptuous figure. Just the thought of having her so near was making him hard.

“Oh, my angel.”

He reached for his stalk, shivering at the touch of his own fingers. His body arched slightly as his hand fisted around the hard meat, the warmth sinking into him and making a freshet of pre-cum start its precious dribble. He stroked slowly and gently, awakening the nerve endings and enticing them to join the chorus. A low groan escaped him as his palm circled the sensitive head, spreading the leaking juices over the dark purple skin and slicking it down the veined stalk.

Thoughts of her swirled in his head. He imagined her tiny hand on his thick, hot meat, her fingers curling around him as she learned the dimensions of his body. He could almost smell her perfume, a mysterious mixture of roses and lilacs that swept through his nostrils and fired his passion like nothing he’d ever known. God, he wanted her. He opened his eyes and gazed at her again, losing himself in the depths of her blue eyes and picturing her above him, her rosebud lips pursed and open as she stroked him to climax.

“Oh.” He moaned, letting his hand drift down over his heavy balls and giving them a gentle squeeze before reclaiming his cock and caressing it as he thought she would. Her soft, tender hands would trace the length of him, her petite fingers rubbing him, learning him, knowing him, bringing him closer and closer to that blurred edge, to the peak of the mountain. A tingle raced through him as he felt his balls draw up.

“Angelica!”

He exploded with the utterance of her name, his prick pulsing and releasing his seed in long, creamy strands that splashed against his chest, matting his thick hair. Three more times, he ejaculated, then lay still, catching his breath as delicious sensations racked his tingling body.

Sleep soon claimed him and his eyelids drifted shut, closing on the sight of his beautiful lady. If he had been a bit closer, he would have noticed the rosiness of her cheeks and the quick rise and fall of her chest as she recovered from her own silent climax.

“Good night, my dear Rikard.”

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