tagRomanceNikos and Pietra

Nikos and Pietra

bySmileyPappas©

When he was small, his father would take him to see the gods. Hand in hand, they climbed the steps until Nikos's legs ached and he begged his father to carry him.

"No, son," his father said. "It is a privilege to see the gods, and what is a little pain, next to all that they do for us?"

So young Nikos gritted his teeth and climbed as Athens receded behind him. At the zenith, they entered the temple, and Nikos, his fatigue forgotten, ran his hand against the columns, the marble cool and smooth beneath his fingers.

Nikos and his father tiptoed further into the temple. His father pointed and explained how Zeus, king of the gods, was suffering from pounding headaches. Hephaestus, the smith, took up hammer and chisel and split open Zeus's skull, freeing Athena, who burst out, radiant in her armor. Nikos stared open-mouthed at the marble scene as his father thanked Hephaestus for his work, as Athena would go on to become protector and namesake of Athens, their home.

Before they left, they stopped at the temple of Nike, spirit of victory and companion of Athena. "I named you after her, Nikos," his father said, nodding at the winged figure. "May success follow you always." They paid their last respects and began down the countless stairs, out of the realm of the gods and back into the city of men.

Nikos shook himself. He was back in his dim and dusty workshop. Before him was his latest piece, a monument to that noble Roman magnate, Scipio Fastosus. Resplendent in his raiment, composed and dignified, clutching a scroll to his chest, his other hand proffered, he smiled sagely atop his pedestal.

Except, no. The eyebrows were uneven. Again. Nikos sighed and picked up his tools.

When he was very young, he had believed that the gods on the Acropolis were the gods themselves. When his father told him that they were simply statues, carved centuries ago by humble men, Nikos was not disappointed. He declared then and there that he wanted to be a sculptor. What could be a truer calling, he thought, than to take a block of stone and carve out of it something beautiful and magnificent, to strike awe and reverence into all who beheld it? When he was old enough, he boarded a galley and sailed to Rome to apprentice himself to the masters. He wandered about the Palazzo and the Presidio and spend hours among the bronze and marble monuments.

The nudes captured his fascination. It was not erotic, he told himself, but reverent. The curves of the human body, from the angular muscles of the athletes to the graceful tapers of the nymphs, captivated him. He envied Praxiteles and Lysippos, whose labors of love had generated such vivid figures.

But his romanticism had ebbed. The masters worked his fingers and his spirit to the nub. Nikos had learned of the commission and of the patron. The masters—and he—did not labor for love, but for coin, and those with the coin...

There was a sharp knock at the door, then another. Shaken, Nikos climbed off the stepladder and hurried to the door, which crashed open from the other side, nearly toppling him.

Dominating the threshold stood Scipio Fastosus, in flesh abundant. His belly strained against his silks and his piggy eyes were twisted in malignant disgust. A pinch-faced attendant cowered in his wake.

"Nikos!" he barked, as the hapless sculptor regained his footing. "Where in Jupiter's name is my statue?"

"The Honorable Lord Scipio Fastosus," intoned the attendant, rather unnecessarily.

"He knows who I am, you buffoon!" growled Lord Scipio. "He's carving my likeness! That is, if he remembers our contract."

"Of course, my lord," mumbled Nikos.

Lord Scipio strode mightily into the workshop, sending Nikos stumbling back before his girth. The patron squinted at the statue and Nikos shivered as he took note of the innumerable rough, unfinished patches.

"Damned to infernum!" bellowed Lord Scipio, rounding on Nikos. "It's not nearly finished! And the eyebrows!"

"I apologize, my lord. I—"

Lord Scipio laughed, a caustic sound, and he looked so absurd next to the placid statue that Nikos could not help chuckling to himself.

"Do you find this is funny?" Lord Scipio's countenance darkened gruesomely.

"No, my lord."

"You're worthless," Lord Scipio spat. "You have one day to finish it."

"My lord!" Nikos palled. "I need more time—"

"One day!" Lord Scipio menaced toward Nikos, who flattened himself against the wall. "Or you will never find work in this city again!"

Nikos's tongue flopped soundlessly. Lord Scipio heaved himself around and stalked out of the workshop, rattling the tools on their hooks. The pinch-faced attendant gave Nikos one last scowl and slammed the door shut behind them.

The silence weighed on Nikos, crushing him even more than Lord Scipio's tirade. His legs faltered and he collapsed against the workshop wall and buried his head in his hands. One day? Impossible. But sculpting was his life, his livelihood, and Lord Scipio did not make empty threats. Images passed through his mind: his father, the birth of Athena, the nudes in the Palazzo. Now his father was gone and Nikos was far from home, prostituting himself to the sneering patrons.

His hopelessness warped to anger. In blind fury he rose, grasped his heaviest chisel, and drove it wildly into Scipio's blocky jaw.

The marble cracked and split and a large wedge of stone fell away, thudding dully against the floorboards.

Nikos stared, aghast. Scipio's left jowl, from ear to chin, was gone.

A thousand thoughts crashed about in his skull. Gods, what had he done? Scipio would exile him. Maybe kill him. Certainly he would never sculpt again. He ran a shaking hand over the rough embrasure where the jaw fragment used to be. He could improvise an armature to patch the jowl back in place. He could cover it with a thick patina. But patching would leave a seam and the patina would be the wrong coloring. Surely Scipio would notice. And then...

Nikos stared into the empty eyes beneath the unfinished brow. He followed the line of the face: the rectangular right side, the diagonal left. Something seemed amiss, different, hidden. He scrutinized the uneven jawline again. He took a few paces back and gawked.

There was a woman, a beautiful woman, trapped beneath the marble. The jowl was simply the first cut. He could envision the rest of her outline now—the cuts he would make, the edges he would follow—just as he could when he looked at a rough slab. Her body, her limbs, her face, all of her, stood on that pedestal, just beneath the surface of the statue of Lord Scipio. He shook himself and looked again and there she still was. And he swore he heard her calling to him from within the marble.

Doubts flooded his mind, doubts of his reason, of his sanity, but they evaporated before the image of Hephaestus freeing Athena from Zeus's skull. His fingers tightened around the heavy chisel and mallet and he began to work.

He did not bother with a bozzetto—he barely noticed what his hands were doing—but he did not hesitate, working solely from intuition. The masters would have criticized him as reckless, but each chisel strike seemed to bring her closer. The marble raiment shattered under his blows and the chips rose in heaps around the pedestal.

Unfatigued, Nikos worked until the day turned to dusk and the workshop grew dark. Pausing his fervor, he heaved at a thick rope dangling from the ceiling and the skylight yawned open, bathing the dim workshop in ethereal ivory moonlight. By its glow he labored like a lunatic. The figure was emerging: a classical nude, contrapposto, one hand covering her inguina, the other proffered. Nikos took up the lighter chisels and again his hands seemed guided and infallible as he eked out her features and musculature. He took great care to carve delicately around her breasts and buttocks, leaving them smooth, rounded, full-figured. His trousers felt uncomfortable and as he worked he often cast his eyes up at hers, as if expecting her to look down and scold him.

He finished on her face as the moonlight gave way to dawn. Her countenance was radiant, alert, the eyes penetrating and unfathomable. At least her brow is even, he thought. He gently brushed away the dust and then stood back to behold her. In the eos, she shimmered, and his heart skipped. Suddenly overcome with exhaustion, he laid at her feet against the pedestal and closed his eyes.

He was in the Palazzo, among the nudes. He meandered across the cobblestones and the athletes and nymphs and deities and heroes each seemed to wink or nod or wave as he passed. They crowded him as he strode toward the end of the Palazzo, where, waiting for him, stood—

A hand was on his shoulder and he stirred awake, then turned around, and there she was, bending down to rouse him. Nikos yelped, leapt to his feet, and staggered back.

She was a perfect incarnation of his statue, but the clouded marble had given way to ivory skin and onyx hair, ruby lips and bright amethyst eyes. She was breathing, beautiful, buxom. She righted herself, stepped off the pedestal, and stood, appraising him concernedly. Nikos gaped, soundless.

"Don't you recognize me, Nikos?" she asked. Her voice was lyrical.

"I—you—" Nikos spluttered. "This is—what have the gods—"

She laughed musically. "I am the work of your hands, Nikos," she said, "and the gods see your passion, and applaud it. Thus," she shrugged, sheepishly, "here I am."

His mind was still racing but he forced his breath to steady. "Who are you?" he asked.

A wave of annoyance crossed her face. "You just carved—" she began, then she grinned. "You may call me Pietra."

Her arms hung at her sides and he beheld her fully. Beauty radiated from her, as did essence of life, of vivaciousness, of virility. Her eyes blinked, her hair lay in ringlets, her ample breasts rose and fell with her breath, and her anatomy was undoubtedly complete. He felt a rush of blood in his groin.

She followed his eyes. "Your, ah, ophidian is showing."

Nikos glanced fretfully at the bulge in his trousers.

"You created what you admired," Pietra said playfully. "I appreciate your posing me so modestly, but now..."

She crossed to him and draped her arm around his neck, pressing her lithe body into his. He felt how warm she was, felt each muscle and tendon pulse against her skin, felt her hair tickle his shoulders. She placed his hand on her waist and his fingers gripped into her, unbidden, desirous.

She raised her lips to his ear. "The gods don't have to see everything."

He lifted his hand to her cheek and guided their lips together. Her mouth was warm too, and moist, her lips full and quivering. Her tongue flicked into his mouth and she pushed him against the workshop wall with surprising force.

He broke away long enough to ask, "Am I Pygmalion? Is this a curse?"

She pursed her lips in a little moue and Nikos felt a spasm of exhilaration. "Pygmalion fell in love with a lifeless rock," she said. "Am I a lifeless rock? And does this—" she reached down and groped him beneath his trousers "—does this feel like a curse?"

"Fair point," he murmured, and grasped her close again. Divine animation aside, Nikos was enjoying his masterpiece. She stroked his rigid manhood, her fingers supple and adventurous, and their tongues roved against gums and teeth. Without the hassle of garments, his hands soon found her breasts and he caressed around her areolae. She nibbled at his nose and then his ears as her hands undid his trousers and tunic. Casting the clothes aside, they hobbled back to the pedestal, still strewn with dust and marble chips. They broke away and admired each other's naked bodies.

"Your sculptor endowed you well," Pietra grinned, nodding at his manhood.

"I suppose I have Prometheus to thank for that," shrugged Nikos.

Pietra said nothing; her tongue was between her teeth and her hand was between her long, tapered legs. She shoved Nikos back, sitting him on the pedestal. He eyed her hungrily. She straddled him, gave him a long, tonguing kiss, and pressed his manhood against her narrow slit. That part of her was warm, wet, and very real. He put his chin on her collarbone, his lips against the curve of her jaw, where he had made the first chisel strike. Slowly, she slid him inside her and he felt her tightened folds envelop him with a shiver of pleasure.

Her hips rose and fell slowly, deliberately, like the ocean tides, pressing him in deeper. His hands were in her onyx hair and his face was in her bosom. She nuzzled against his forehead and murmured contentedly. His fingers traced down her back and around her waist, roving. She arched her spine, palms on his thighs, and her hips redoubled their rhythm. He squeezed her buttocks, the muscles tautening, and felt the tremor run through her. Words were unnecessary, he thought, and he put all his concentration into their presence together, and into squeezing out every drop of sensation.

The sea was roiling. Pietra shook and swayed, tossing her head back like a bucking mare, as her hips bounced against him. His fingers ran over the fathoms of her skin, now slick with sweat, and her lissome muscles tensed beneath his touch. He kissed each part of her that his mouth could find, running his tongue and teeth against her curves. She pulled at his hair, his arms, his back, drawing him deeper inside her, as deep as there was to go.

The storm reached its zenith. Their bodies crashed together like a ship in the maelstrom. Pietra shuddered violently, then again, and gasped, bent double, her fingernails digging almost painfully into Nikos's shoulders. She gave a long, lilting moan of pleasure, her eyes closed, nostrils flared, each muscle taut and stiff. Heedless of the marble shards, Nikos lay back on the pedestal as the gods smiled down at him through the skylight. Her hips ground against his, quivering, then Pietra slid herself off and sprawled beside him on the pedestal.

They lay there together, wordless, naked, gulping air, as the morning doves chirped unseen beyond the skylight. Nikos felt as though he could have nestled alongside Pietra all day, but he caught her eye and felt compelled to sit up and crouch atop her. Smiling, she spread open her supple thighs and he entered her anew, her slit now soaked and even tighter, her whole pelvis throbbing. She hummed with sensation as she took him in, raking her fingers over his chest as he filled her.

Once more they took up the steady motion of the sea. She purred in symphony with his impetus, spreading her tapered legs back wide, opening herself, beckoning him in further. She reached down, grasping at his manhood, toying at her clitoris with one lively finger. His hands kneaded her breasts, more brusquely than before, pulling at her erect nipples, and as he quickened his tempo, her purrs turned to staccato plaints of pleasure.

The gods had better avert their eyes, Nikos thought. He plunged his manhood into her tight, trembling slit as rapidly and vigorously as he could muster. He wrapped his arms around Pietra and drew her torso up against his, mashing her breasts, smothering her mouth with his own. She hooked her legs around his waist, leveraging him in, as her fingernails bit into his spine. His teeth closed on her earlobe and she gave a sharp cry and he felt his manhood tauten and release in the rollicking, sousing crescendo as she held him inside her.

Drained, he collapsed atop her on the pedestal, gasping. His head was buzzing and he took heavy swallows of the cool, musty workshop air. She lay quietly, her hair mussed, her fingers tracing lazy circles on his back, and he listened to her heartbeat settle. A playful zephyr found its way into the workshop and the mild breeze prickled their exposed skin.

At last Nikos rolled off Pietra and sat up on his elbows. She nuzzled into him, her warm breasts resting against his chest. He caressed her rosy cheek and she contemplated him tenderly with her brilliant amethyst eyes.

"There is one thing I forgot to mention," she murmured.

"What is it?" he asked hazily.

She traced a finger across his chest. "Success has found you, Nikos. The gods admire your talents—sculpting talents—so much that they want you to be to...to join them."

Nikos jolted. Pietra kept her eyes locked on his. He had hundreds of questions, of hesitations, but they evaporated under her unfathomable gaze.

"No need to worry. I will go with you." She took his hand and they both rose.

Nikos and Pietra stood poised on the pedestal, naked, their bodies awash with sunlight. They embraced, lovingly, and as Nikos leaned in to kiss her, he felt his feet and then his legs stiffen, locking in place. He glanced down at his legs, which were now clouded marble. The paralysis spread up his spine, down his arms, and into his skull. He saw Pietra, immobile before him, smiling, and her eyes gently closed as the marble overtook her. His eyelids grew heavy and slipped shut and there was only darkness.

That afternoon, Lord Scipio and his attendant broke down the door to the workshop, only to find it deserted, save for an unaccounted statue of two nude figures locked in permanent embrace. After a course of inquiries and investigations, the statue was confiscated by the Roman authorities and erected at the Palazzo, and Nikos and Pietra took their timeless place among the nudes.

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by Anonymous

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by JJMemaw062307/15/17

Awesome!!

Just marvelous!!

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by rightbank07/11/17

Thought Provoking

A tad unsettling
Timeless

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