The Set: True ColorsbyEHawkins©
"The Set" is a writing challenge where the object is to create a story around the words Charity, Harmony, Lavender, Painting, Remote, Skulk, Sky, Solace and Transform.
This was a fun little challenge, and my thanks to only_more_so for organizing it.
The setting sun streaked the sky with pale oranges and gentle lavenders. It was just as lavender as the ribbon he held in his hand—Tatiana's ribbon.
For weeks, Erik skulked around the huge expanse of his uncle's manor, Covington Cross. He couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. All he saw was Tatiana and the beautiful lavender ribbon she'd wear around her pale neck or in her soft, auburn hair. Erik moved away from the large picture window of the sitting room. In the corner, there was the tall, majestic harp that she played sometimes in the evening, while his uncle and her father sipped brandy and smoked cigars. There was also a painting with a white sheet thrown over it.
You mustn't look, Erik! He heard her voice chide in his head. It's not done!
Can I see it when it's finished?
Tatiana would only look at him with sparkling green eyes; eyes that meant to ward him off, but could never look hard enough to be stern.
No… She'd say.
Then Tatiana would smile, a secret, almost embarrassed, smile and shoo him away. Erik looked fondly at the sheet-covered canvas and idly wondered what she'd been working on so late at night sometimes. Was it even finished?
Erik sighed. It was tempting to peek at the painting, to reestablish that connection with Tatiana that he longed for. His fingers grazed the sheet with one hand while held the lavender ribbon in the other. He closed his eyes for a moment and remembered the soft, chaste kiss on his cheek when they'd said their good-byes. It was sweet charity, deepened when she had surreptitiously pressed her ribbon into his hand out of sight of his uncle and her father.
"Tatiana…" Erik murmured, as he touched his cheek and remembered the sweet brush of her lips.
I wanted you—wanted to sweep you away, to taste your delicate mouth with my lips, to feel the warmth of your skin under my hands…
Her kiss had been as much sweet poison as it had been nepenthe, then. She had run in his veins since and there was no hope for solace unless he found it in her arms.
Erik was abruptly brought out of his reverie and he carefully folded the ribbon up and put it in his vest pocket. He turned to see the house steward there, waiting patiently with something in his white-gloved hand.
"A letter, young sir." The steward said. "From Miss Tatiana, I believe."
Erik's heart suddenly jumped. He took the letter from the steward's white gloved hand and gave him a nod.
The steward left, and Erik quickly opened the letter, his mind racing with all the possibilities that Tatiana's words could hold.
Dearest Erik, he read. I hope this finds you well. Father and I have made it safely back to Sussrey, just before the snow. Are you staying warm in Covington? I pray winter has not come to pass too quickly there.
Erik smiled at the letter as he read it. He could almost hear the soft, gentle warmth of Tatiana's voice with him in the sitting room again.
I wanted to thank you and your uncle for your hospitality this past fall. It was such a pleasure to stay at Covington Cross. My father so misses your uncle and I can see why he admires him so; he is a kind, educated man with an easy way about him. It's no wonder they became such good friends while they still taught at the university.
It was also my pleasure to have met you, Erik. You were very kind, and I have many fond memories to keep me warm in Sussrey until we meet again. Father says that we'll come again next fall and it is my hope that your uncle will be gracious enough to have us.
Tatiana would come to Covington again next fall! Erik could hardly believe what he read, and he read it over again. To have her here again, to have her beautiful smile light up the halls, or the soothing sound of the harp in the evening would be divine. To be able to gaze at her again while she painted and perhaps steal a kiss sent a shiver through him.
He read on, and his brow suddenly furrowed a bit.
In parting, I have but a small request, Erik. I am embarrassed to say that I may have left one of my paintings in the sitting room. Forgive me for being such a terrible guest and not removing it before I left. If you could kindly dispose of it for me, I would deeply appreciate it.
I hope that we will see each other again next fall—it would be most delightful!
Thank you again, Erik. It is my fondest wish that we meet again.
Yours in faith,
Erik folded up the letter and put it safely in his breast pocket of his vest with Tatiana's lavender ribbon as he looked at the covered painting. He couldn't fathom why she might want it destroyed and not kept until her next visit.
It can't be that terrible. Erik thought. She's done some fine, smaller paintings…
At his uncle's insistence, some of those smaller paintings remained and they hung in the sitting room to brighten it a bit. Tatiana did, indeed, have an uncanny talent for the arts…
It would be a shame to destroy it, but if that's what she wants…
Erik went to tie up the canvas in its sheet. He left the sitting room, intent on taking it out to where rubbish was disposed of and breaking it up. He remembered the many nights that he'd spied on Tatiana while she painted. Her beautiful face was so intense as she poured herself into her work. He remembered the sound of her brush sweeping along the canvas and the flush of excitement he felt as he watched her feverishly paint what she wouldn't allow him to see.
Next fall. Erik mused to himself. Such a long time until I see Tatiana again...
He clutched the painting a little tighter as he walked down the elegant halls of Covington. The closer he came to going out, the more he couldn't bring himself to destroy it. Instead, Erik made for the staircase, took it up to his room and closed the door behind him. He set the painting up on the edge of the windowsill in front of drawn, dark curtains.
For a long time, he debated on whether he should open it. At last, his curiosity got the better of him. Erik undid the ties of the white sheet and it slid away. He stared at the painting with mixed shock and disbelief.
This… Tatiana seems so innocent, Erik thought. But this is no work of an innocent mind!
He brushed the painting with shaky fingers, felt the texture and ripple of paint under them. Erik's shock at what Tatiana's hand had painted all those late nights, started to turn to arousal. His cock was suddenly, almost painfully hard…
"Tatiana," Erik gasped as he stroked himself faster and faster to the erotic painting before him. "So beautiful!"
Erik's eyes fluttered closed and a soft moan escaped him as he pitched forward and grasped the windowsill with his free hand. The soft delicate, breast that his fingers had grazed in the painting became Tatiana's.
"Want you," he uttered as he pumped his cock faster in his hand. "Sweet Tatiana…"
Erik gritted his teeth and grunted softly as he came. His eyes slowly opened to gaze at the painting that had brought him such pleasure.
Why didn't you tell me?
He went to the wash basin, poured water into the cool, white porcelain bowl and washed off. He wrapped up the painting in its white sheet and carefully stowed it in his closet, safe from prying eyes. With Tatiana's beautiful painting, next fall didn't seem so far away now.
The summer landscape was slowly transformed by fall's fiery color as August gave way to September. Erik held one of Tatiana's letters in his hand:
I hope this finds you well. Father and I are leaving Sussrey and we hope to be at Covington Cross within two weeks. It was very generous of your uncle to have us again, and father and I are grateful.
I'm looking forward to spending evenings in the sitting room, playing the harp again, and painting in the gardens. Covington is so beautiful in the fall and I long to capture its beauty again on the canvas.
Though I miss the peace and harmony of Covington, I miss you more. Do you still have my ribbon—the lavender one that I gave before? As remote as Sussrey seems from Covington, I feel it binds us together.
I'm so looking forward to seeing you again, Erik.
Yours in Faith,
Erik looked out the window of the sitting room and saw a carriage coming down the lane in the distance. It had been so long since he'd seen her, and there was no mention of the painting…
She misses me, Erik thought, but…
The carriage drew closer to Covington and Erik sighed as he went downstairs to await Tatiana's return.
From the carriage's window, Tatiana saw the bold fall landscape stretch before them, and Covington Cross was just on the hill. Her father was going on about something, and every once in a while, she nodded and said "Yes, father" so the conversation wasn't so terribly one-sided.
Oh Erik, Tatiana thought. I hope you got rid of that dreadful painting…
She anxiously clasped her hands in her lap, and her father seemed not to notice as he rambled on.
What if he…
Tatiana couldn't even bear the thought of what Erik might've done if he had looked at it. She pushed the thought away abruptly, embarrassed, as the carriage pulled up to Covington. The huge manor was as impressive as Tatiana remembered, and there at the carriage's door, was Erik. Her eyes were wide for a moment and then the curtain she held open fell across the carriage's window again.
The footman opened the door, and Erik was there, waiting patiently. He smiled and held out his hand to her.
"Miss Tatiana," he smiled, "Welcome, again, to Covington Cross."
Tatiana suddenly, desperately wished she had her fan to hide the blush that warmed her cheeks just now. She shyly reached out for Erik's hand and he helped her down the carriage's small steps. His hand was so warm, so gentle in hers, but she couldn't bring herself to look up at him. All she could think of was the painting and whether or not it had been disposed of.
How do I… How can I even ask of it now? She thought. It's one thing to ask in a letter, but in person?
Tatiana felt her arm lifted and she looked up to see Erik thread hers in his.
"Is everything alright, Tatiana?" he asked, as he led her away from her father and his uncle who'd just come out to greet them.
Her breath suddenly caught in her chest. She'd forgotten how handsome Erik was up close. His short, dark hair was playfully tousled by the autumn wind as he walked her into the manor; his brown eyes were soft and warm. Tatiana swallowed, and suddenly looked away as they entered the manor's foyer.
Erik's brow furrowed. He stopped and gently took Tatiana's face in his hands.
"Are you certain everything's alright?"
"Erik… The painting—did you--"
Erik went to answer her, but he was interrupted by his uncle's boisterous voice.
"Ah!" he bellowed good-naturedly. "There you two are—catching up already, I see. Let's all get reacquainted again over dinner, then, shall we?"
Tatiana gave a polite nod and Erik sighed softly.
The painting… he thought as he followed Tatiana, Tatiana's father and his uncle to the dining room. Of course she wants to know about it. I kept it… How do I tell her that I kept it? Should I even?
He didn't know, and helped Tatiana with her chair as they sat down for dinner.
Meet me in my room when everyone's retired for the night; we can talk then…
Tatiana closed her hand over Erik's note. A servant had discreetly slipped it to her in between the sets she played on the harp after dinner. Erik had watched her all evening, anxious to talk with her beyond polite conversation without the interference of her father or his uncle, but neither of them could find an opening to break away.
She made her way down the dim, yet extravagant wood-paneled halls of the manor to Erik's room. The door was closed, and she knocked, but there was no answer. Tatiana tried the door knob. It was unlocked and she let herself in.
"Erik?" Tatiana called out softly.
She blew out her candle and set it next to the oil lamp that flickered softly on a small table next to his bed.
Where is h—
"Oh," Tatiana managed, barely audible, when she caught sight of the sheet, covered canvas on the easel. "No…"
Tatiana's hand shook as she reached out for the sheet. It slid off and her hand fluttered to her mouth.
"Erik," she barely managed. "How could you?"
Tatiana stared at her own painting, mortified that it hadn't been destroyed. She tried to cover it up but her fingers felt so clumsy as she struggled with the sheet.
Tatiana turned abruptly and saw Erik standing in the doorway of his room. Her mouth trembled as tears of humiliation rolled down her cheeks.
"Tatiana," Erik said quietly as he closed the door behind him, "I can explain… Let me--"
All Tatiana could do was shake her head and she darted towards the door. Erik caught her around the waist and held her to him.
"Erik," Tatiana wept as tears streamed down her face, "Let me go…"
Erik held Tatiana tighter.
"Let me explain!"
"How could you, Erik!" she cried. "I asked you to destroy that painting, and here it is, in your very room, no less!"
"I admit I couldn't bring myself to do it." Erik said. "But when I saw what was on that canvas, I…"
Erik reached out for the sheet that partially obscured Tatiana's painting and snatched it away.
"Look at it, Tatiana." he said softly.
Tatiana shook her head against Erik's chest. He gently slid a hand into her auburn curls and turned her face towards it.
Tatiana slowly raised her eyes and she was confronted with her own painting and her own desires once again. She and Erik were there on the canvas, entwined. Her hands were high above her head and his hands were lace in hers as the made love in front of the fireplace in the sitting room.
"It's such a beautiful, sensuous painting." Erik said softly as he nuzzled Tatiana's cheek. "Of us. Together."
"When you left, all I could think of was you. Your face filled my waking and my dreams… All I hand was your gentle kiss, your ribbon, and the memory of the soft, sweet scent of roses and lavender in your hair."
"Erik…" Tatiana uttered as a shiver ran through her at his soft, yet strong voice.
"It made me so happy, Tatiana, to know you desired me. Sussrey is so remote, but with your painting, you were always near. I always felt you…"
There was silence for a moment, as Erik swept away some of Tatiana's curls and kissed her temple. One hand glided down her neck until his fingers barely touched the lacey bodice of her night gown. Erik smiled at how Tatiana's breath hitched in her chest at his touch.
"Do you still feel the same as when you painted this?"
Tatiana stared at the canvas, at them, and fiercely blushed. As much as she tried to deny herself, she couldn't suppress the sudden rush of arousal she felt.
"I…" Tatiana stared. "I couldn't get you from my head. I couldn't tell you—I was too…"
She sighed and gripped at Erik's arm that was still around her waist.
"…I tried to distract myself with the harp, with painting, but you always seemed to find your way through. Late one night, I couldn't sleep, and the canvas became my lover. I painted us, but I could never tell you. I thought… I thought you'd be angry."
Erik turned Tatiana towards him and brushed the tears from her eyes.
"Angry about what?" he said softly. "Doing the painting, or … wanting me to make love to you?"
Tatiana smiled weakly, sadly.
"The painting," she managed. "I thought you'd be upset about it. It was stupid of me to forget it, to have even done it. I should've gotten rid of it myself. I was… afraid that if I told you how I felt that you wouldn't… that you wouldn't hear of it."
Suddenly, Erik picked up Tatiana and carried her to his bed. He gently laid her down and she stared up at him, wide-eyed.
"Erik, what… what are you doing?"
"I'm not angry, Tatiana. There's no shame in your painting or wanting me."
Erik crawled on the bed and lay on his side next to her; he kissed her softly on the mouth.
"I love you, Tatiana." He whispered, "I've loved you since the first I've known you."
Erik took Tatiana's small slender hand and pressed it to the bulge in his pants. He gasped at her tentative touch and wide eyes as she discovered him for the first time.
"Ask me, Tatiana." He husked against her lips as he pressed his aching cock against her hand. "Ask me to make love to you…"
Erik felt Tatiana's lips tremble against his. Her breath was warm as he teased her lips with gentled kisses.
"Ask me…" he chanted softly over and over as he kissed her neck and her pale, delicate jaw. "Ask me…"
The feel of Erik's cock gently thrusting in her hand, even through his breeches, and his kisses made Tatiana so very wet.
"Erik," Tatiana moaned softly. "Please—make love to me…"
Erik suddenly crushed his mouth to Tatiana's. He kissed her with all the pent up longing and passion that he'd nursed in her absence. It had become so great that not even gazing upon the painting could satisfy him. The only thing that could bring solace to his need was Tatiana.
Tatiana's hands grasped at his vest, while Erik's jerked at the soft, white cotton of her night gown. Pearl buttons popped off as he devoured her and he hauled her upright. Tatiana's night gown was over her head and her panties were off before she could say anything. Erik was already throwing off his own clothes...
In the dim flicker of the oil lamps, Tatiana descended to the soft pillows and feathered down of the bed again, with Erik above her. She felt him try to part her legs, but she held them shut. Erik's warm, silky cock brushed against the top of her thigh and there was a flicker of fear in her green eyes.
"I've never..." Tatiana whispered.
"Sweet Tatiana…" Erik soothed as he stroked auburn curls away from her face. "We'll go slow, I promise you."
Tatiana felt one of Erik's hands move down her thigh and gently part her legs. She felt him stroke through her silky curls to her swollen lips, and she gasped.
"That's it…" he smiled as he kissed a breast, and nuzzled the soft valley between.
Erik slipped a finger inside her and Tatiana cried out. He kissed her deeply, delving into her mouth as he tasted her first cries of pleasure.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" He whispered as he gently slid his finger between her soft, swollen lips.
She managed to nod through the pleasurable haze as her hips started to slowly, shyly rock against Erik's hand.
"I want to be inside you…" he whispered and kissed Tatiana on the forehead.
Erik withdrew his finger and Tatiana whimpered even as she blushed at his words. He settled between her legs; the tip of his cock poised against her soft, swollen lips. Erik laced one of his hands in with hers while the other wound itself in her hair.