For those who are just joining me, #SampleSunday started on 12 December with an excerpt from my collection of short ghost/horror fiction Contribution to Mankind and other stories of the Dark. Torc of Moonlight SE began on 19th December, so you might want to thread back to read from the Prologue, as the history and the contemporary are beginning to mesh.
The second part of Chapter 2 is where the storyline starts to take on more sinister undertones as a new main character is introduced but not, at this point, named. Enjoy. If that's the right word.
‘You’re sure about this?’
‘Yes. Yes, I am.’
‘The crucifixion is not exactly original, you know.’
He raised his gaze from the paper, ostensibly to stare into the middle distance while he considered alternatives. Instead, he let it flicker down her profile. Her nose was too prominent, but the line and height of her cheekbones compensated. She turned to face him, her brow creasing in a frown, and he shifted his gaze to the shelving beyond her head crowded with boxes and paint canisters and artists’ utensils.
‘Will that influence the marking?’
Drawing his gaze back to her face, he offered a protective smile. ‘Not necessarily. The nuances of interpretation count for much.’
He watched her expression relax, her dark eyes return to the sketch on the bench. She was perspiring slightly, the coffee’d silk of her skin sheening on her throat. Choutelan, she’d said her name was, though he was not certain that he’d heard correctly. But Choutelan weighed well on the tongue, a whisper of the erotic that suited her natural grace.
‘And you feel that the subject matter would not arouse censure?’
‘This is Britain,’ he said.
He wondered how she would feel about becoming the subject of a painting. It was far too long since he’d held a brush. The rangy limbs, the beguiling elegance of movement, he could capture in oils, tie down on canvas. Not in that absurd Shetland sweater, though. Maybe she was feeling the chill of the English damp; not acclimatised yet. He mused on her likely background. Her colouring, and the texture of her skin, didn’t sit too well with the impeccable Surrey accent.
‘You said you had reservations about the materials.’
She was uncomfortable, didn’t like the silences. He relished that.
‘I think the concept is unbalanced.’
He took the pencil from her hand, brushing the length of her fingers with his own. She was very, very warm.
‘You have everything made from natural materials: the wood of the cross, the crown of thorned twigs, the Christ figure himself... And the scale is all wrong for the statement you wish to make. You should consider life-size—’
‘It wouldn’t be much more work.’
‘I was not thinking of the work involved, but the storage.’
He lifted his eyes from the sketch to let his gaze, and his smile, wash over her. So young. The physical maturity of womanhood. The naïvety of the child.
‘You could store it here, build it here, in the studio. Where better?’
‘But... if all the students—’
‘Not all,’ he countered. ‘Only those with vision.’
He watched her smile down at the sketch. He could envisage that smile transferred to a brush stroke, to the touch of his fingertips. To him.
‘And the materials?’
‘To return to the unadorned basics, Christ was God’s only son. God made the land, the flora and fauna.’
‘So, the materials for the Christ figure should be pure and natural.’
‘Exactly.’ The urge to touch her was building.
‘And the instruments of his torture, his death, were all man-made.’
He wondered how she would react if he placed his hand on hers, how she would react if he reached across and drew his tongue along her throat.
‘Nature subjugated by technology!’
‘The vision,’ he murmured. ‘I could see it straight away. It doesn’t come often, but it makes teaching so worthwhile.’
He angled his body closer to hers. For a moment they touched, clothing to clothing, then she moved away. He smiled. Games of cat and mouse made these entanglements so much more fulfilling, and it was far too long since he’d indulged himself.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this #SampleSunday excerpt please leave a comment and Tweet the posting. Chapter 2 continues next Sunday. If you want to find out how this progresses, check out: