Author Note: This chapter contains adult content, and I try to be tasteful with pictures.
“Have you ever done any modeling?”
We were cuddling on the bed like we did most evenings. I laid my head against his shoulder, absently tracing arbitrary patterns on his chest. His question caught me off guard. I smirked.
“What, like the kiddie Spooky Day pageant?”
Billy twirled one of my hairs around his finger. The gesture was soothing.
“Like modeling,” he repeated mysteriously.
I pulled back so I could see his face and realized he was serious. “Uh… no… not like teen or adult or anything. Not really my scene.”
Billy’s face was unreadable. “What if you could make some Simos?”
“What? You know of a job or something?” I laughed awkwardly and waved my arms dramatically. “Seeing as I’m recently unemployed, maybe I should give modeling a try.”
“I’m serious. There’s a charity Spooky Day event at the Sunshine Art Gallery in two days. Artists will come and pay to paint in order to support breast cancer awareness month. I signed up,” Billy said. “I thought maybe you’d like to come.”
“Ah… that’s cool,” I shrugged, failing to see where he was going.
“They need live models, a sort-of empower-women kind-of thing. ,” Billy said, thumbing along the edge of my face and chin. “And you, Red, would be the perfect model for me.”
I flushed and dropped my gaze. I was flattered, but embarrassed by the attention. I didn’t know what to say to Billy’s proposal.
“It’s four hundred Simos an hour and it’s a two to three hour event so you could make upwards of twelve hundred Simos in one night,” Billy explained.
I whistled. That was almost three times what I had made per hour at the Sandy Place. After I was fired, I still managed to keep my tutoring gig since Ethan had somehow convinced Romon that I was doing my job, even if I wasn’t. I told him I owed him big time and appreciated the gesture. He just grinned. I made two hundred and fifty Simos for an hour tutoring session three times a week, but that still didn’t make up for my loss of nine hundred Simos a day for my six-hour shifts at the restaurant and bar. With taxes, I wasn’t making enough to contribute to my father’s medical bills since he still couldn’t work full time.
“Okay, what would I need to do?” I asked quickly.
Billy grinned. “Just show up at the gallery on Spooky Day around six-thirty. The event starts at seven-thirty. The gallery is providing all the clothes. I’ll put your name on the list and you can make some savvy Simos.”
I smiled and melted back into Billy’s embrace. “I’m game with that.”
When I arrived at the Sunshine Art Gallery, I noticed several patrons of the art already wandering around the small downstairs displays. Most people were gathered around the back, admiring a large painting and sipping their champagne. Turning sharply to the right, I decided to avoid Romon Tanner, my former boss. My heart was beating quickly. I hoped he left his family at home, and his teenage son was no where to be found. I examined a caramel marbled vase with feathers before turning my attention to a familiar painting with an Asimian woman, head tilted down in respect, eyes closed, surrounded by bold and bright flowers.
“What do you think?” Billy whispered in my ear as he walked up behind me.
I jumped, the feel of Billy’s breath on my exposed neck exciting the blood in my veins. Feeling warm, I rubbed my neck awkwardly as I turned to him. “Oh, Billy, it’s wonderful! The gallery is displaying your artwork.”
“Yes,” he smiled. “They are paying a commission for an entire series called Bare Nature.”
“That’s cool,” I bobbed my head, enthusiastically, even if I didn’t know what that meant.
“You look lovely tonight,” he admired, reaching up to touch my hair I had so painstakingly fixed into a bun.
“Thank you,” I said quietly, as he smelled my hair and nuzzled my neck.
I was glad I had taken a shower before arriving, and Dad had finally fixed the hot water. I smelled like strawberries instead of sweat since I had gone for a run earlier.
“Who is this?”
The shrill voice of another woman resonated as she shoved past Billy, separating the two of us by force and nearly knocking him over. The woman had short cropped red hair and was wearing a Simultan desert wrap dress with an exposed midriff, nylons, and high heels. She shook her head, her gold hoop earrings dancing passionately.
“I can’t believe they booked another redhaired model,” she said with disgust.
“Excuse me,” I took a step back to regain my balance.
“And so colorful and sweet too,” the woman said in a patronizing tone, her mulberry lips pulled into a half-smirk as she eyed me up and down disdainfully.
“Glory Ann,” Billy said, petulance lacing his tone. “This is Kassiopeia.”
The redhead laughed hysterically. “What a wild name!”
“Well, Glory Ann isn’t one I hear every day either,” I chuckled weakly.
The woman put her hands on her hips and puffed out her chest, accentuating the fact that she had cleavage popping out of the bottom of her top. “She’s a little flat for your usual taste, Billy.”
Billy coughed. “Girls are getting dressed upstairs. Better go.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Glory Ann patted Billy’s five o’clock shadow. “You still have my number if you care for a little taste…” she licked her lips and then threw a glare in my direction. “…of blood.”
She bounced off, her heels clanking up the spiral staircase in the back of the gallery. I shivered, recalling the first time Billy and I made out and how he bit me. He said it was a fetish of his. He hadn’t done it since then, though I often wondered if he would. I also wondered why he restrained himself. Sometimes I could have sworn he looked at me like a hungry wolf. I doubted it never crossed his mind either. I swallowed hard before turning back to look at Billy. I also wasn’t particularly comfortable with his history with women, not that I knew much, but I knew he wasn’t a monk before dating me.
“She’s a kick,” Billy laughed, awkwardly.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t use that word to describe her,” I narrowed my eyes. “I take it you two dated?”
“For like two seconds,” he said, patting my shoulder as if I were a child. “Glory Ann is a handful. Models and everything, you know.”
“I can imagine,” I said, less than pleased.
“Okay, well, your costumes are upstairs,” Billy explained. “There’s a woman up there coordinating everything. Ask for Bianca.”
“Bianca?” I repeated. “Where will you be?”
“Oh, I’ll be upstairs after I make the rounds,” he kissed me on the cheek. “You’ll be great.”
“Okay…” I said, trying to appear confident.
I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, and I didn’t like to prospect of running into Glory Ann… or Romon Tanner. When I reached the top of the stairs, I didn’t even need to look for Bianca. She found me and quickly handed me a plastic covered costume and half-pushed, half-walked me to dressing rooms. I stared at the costume nervously as she assured me the only people upstairs would be the advanced artists who paid, the models, and herself. I relaxed a little, remembering Romon once told me he appreciated art, but he couldn’t even draw a stick figure with a crayon.
Thank God for that, I thought as I slipped out of my dress and sweater, and unclasped my necklace. I stepped into the Simultan dress, grateful the style was different from Glory Ann’s. Even so, exposing this much skin felt like wandering into unknown territory for me. I swallowed hard, adjusted my costume to perfection, and stepped out of the small curtained area. I was ushered to what seemed almost like a wooden dance floor in the far corner of the room by Bianca. The woman positioned me in the center, making me feel even more exposed, before returning to the stairwell and clipping up the velvet ribbon.
I swallowed hard and tried to smile, hoping no one would accidentally wander up the stairs and see me. Billy took his place at the far right canvas in the front and winked at me. I waved back like an idiot. Glory Ann snickered behind me. I tried to ignore her.
“So have you done this before?” I asked the long blonde-haired model next to me.
“Plenty, the pay is too good to pass up,” she replied.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Um… so what… what are we supposed to be doing?”
I could almost feel Glory Ann’s eyes boring a hole in my back.
“Just stand here and make yourself comfortable,” the blonde answered. “It helps if you don’t think about the artists or look at them.”
“Oh,” I turned my gaze away from Billy who was discussing something with another man in a white suit.
“Focus on your breathing or something,” the blonde suggested.
“Okay, I’ll try that,” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
Bianca stood up with a microphone and thanked the artists for donating to the gallery. She also turned and thanked the models, though she didn’t give our names. I wasn’t sure if that was a privacy thing. I could feel my heart beating faster as she continued talking about the gallery. Despite the blonde’s warning, I couldn’t help but look at Billy. I was feeling like a fish out of water and I wanted reassurance. He wasn’t paying attention to me, rather he was organizing his paints and brushes.
“Alright ladies,” Bianca turned to us, lowering her voice. “You can take your tops off now.”
All the blood drained from my face. Suddenly, I felt as though the walls were very far away and I had become smaller like Alice in Wonderland. I blinked rapidly. Had I just heard her correctly? I looked over and saw Glory Ann slide off her top proudly displaying her nude breasts. The woman next to me did the same. I swallowed hard.
Bianca walked up to me. “What’s wrong?”
“Um… I don’t… I mean…” I rubbed my forehead.
Glory Ann laughed, shaking her breasts as she placed her hands on her hips.
I averted my eyes. “I wasn’t aware that this was nude modeling,” I whispered.
“Only tops,” Bianca frowned. “That’s what we’re paying you for.”
I glanced over at Billy in a panic but he was focused on his canvas.
“Seriously?” I whispered. “Are we always nude? I mean… the models…”
“We pay you and you pose how we want. It’s called artistic license,” Bianca shrugged, nodding toward the artists behind their easels. “All the proceeds for tonight go to charity if that helps.”
It doesn’t. Thanks.
“Breast cancer awareness,” Bianca added, as if that made it feel any less awkward.
“What are you a prude?” Glory Ann said loudly, as she strutted forward. “Fellas… we’ve got a noob on her hands here… who can’t be nude…” she giggled.
“Off it goes,” Bianca reached toward me and I shirked back in fear.
“No!” I burst out.
The other ladies gave me a weird look, already complying. I stood dumbly and stared straight ahead. Panic seized my heart. This wasn’t happening.
“I… I… I…” I stammered.
“Prude!” Glory Ann shrieked with laughter. “Here. I’m not afraid. I’ll take all my clothes off.”
She removed her skirt and panties and even chucked her nylons at one of the artists. This was met with a whistle or two, though most of the seasoned artists stayed focused on their canvases.
“Don’t be shy,” Bianca reassured me. “We’re all friends here.”
But friends don’t embarrass one another like this or ask each other to strip! I thought miserably.
“Baby, you knew this was happening,” Billy said as if it were my fault, as if I somehow had complete and total knowledge that I’d be flashing my ta-tas at an art class.
I grimaced and tried hard not to cry. My pride wouldn’t let me do this. I felt tears sting my eyelids. I bolted for the stairwell. I grabbed my clothes, and raced downstairs as fast as I could in heels. Spotting the Tanners, I was mortified. I raced out the back door, hoping they hadn’t seen me. I found myself in a back parking lot, and I leaned against the wall and cried. Maybe I was being a prude. Maybe I was being silly. But the first time I exposed myself to Billy was not going to be in a classroom at a gallery for a supposed charity event.
The door opened and I gasped and instinctively jumped back to cover my chest. To my horror, it was Ethan.
“Kass, are you okay?” he asked.
“Um… yeah… yeah… I’m fine,” I said, wishing I had grabbed my teal bolero to cover my shoulders and top. I settled for folding my arms over my upper body. “What are you doing here?”
“Are you cold?” Ethan asked, unzipping his leather jacket and offering it to me.
“No,” I shook my head. “No. I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound fine,” he said, disbelievingly.
I leaned forward half-expecting more people to come through the door. “Did your parents see me?”
“No,” Ethan shook his head. “Only me. Mom was looking at that red eye painting in there. Dad was turned the other way…” he eyed me up and down. “Are you at some sort of costume party?”
“Yeah,” I agreed to the half-truth. “Private party. Upstairs… just…” I gasped for breath. “Needed air.”
“Oh,” he said. “You sure you don’t want my jacket.”
“No,” I replied, trying to grin. “I’m…”
“…fine…” he interjected. “Hey about the other night?”
“Yeah, yeah, we’re fine. Sorry I blew a gasket.”
“Hey, I came onto you. I should’ve waited or asked or something. I didn’t mean to rush you. I’m sorry,” he scratched his head awkwardly.
“Thanks,” I smiled genuinely.
“Yeah, rushing in like that… I was a fool… I mean you aren’t ready,” Ethan replied.
I frowned. “Ready?” I repeated.
“For me… I know that now and I’m prepared to wait.”
I tried not to roll my eyes as I dropped my arms. “Ethan…”
“No, Kass, I thought about it. I’ve got two years left in high school, a year and a half if I really apply myself,” Ethan explained. “…and you taught me that. You…” he stepped forward and took my hand. “…you showed me that. You’re smart and beautiful and…”
I felt incredibly uncomfortable as I got the once-over as he was talking. Of all nights to run into my pupil with a crush on me!
“…sexy…” he said, almost innocently, because he blushed.
I tried to relax my arms.
“…and I will wait for you, Kass. I’ll wait for you to be mine,” Ethan continued.
“Kiddo, you can’t wait for me. I won’t be in the Palms forever,” I sighed.
“I will wait,” he said. “You’re worth it.”
Something about his emphatic tone was almost charming. I sighed. He’s just a boy with a crush. He’ll grow out of it. I tried to reassure myself.
“Thank you,” I looked up at the windows on the second floor, almost hoping and wishing Billy would come downstairs.
I wished he would say sweet things to me like that. One minute he was wonderful and the next…
“There you are,” the door opened and Billy stepped outside. “What’s he doing here?” he glared at Ethan.
“Um… he’s here with his parents,” I shrugged stiffly.
“Kass, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that you didn’t know what was happening tonight,” he pulled me up off the steps and set me on the lawn, wrapping me in a big hug.
I melted into his embrace, even though I was still hurt and annoyed because Ethan was still watching us. “Yeah, you left out a detail or two,” I said cryptically.
Ethan stared at me, the hurt evident in his eyes. I waved him by, hoping he’d take the hint and leave. When he didn’t, I dropped my arms from around Billy’s neck and turned to the teen.
“Thanks Ethan, I’ll be fine from here.”
“You sure?” he eyed me skeptically.
“Yes,” I bobbed my head. “See you later.”
The boy shuffled inside reluctantly. I punched Billy in the shoulder.
“Ow!” he said, rubbing his arm.
“Seriously? You couldn’t have told me it was nude modeling?” I said incredulously.
“I’m sorry, babe, it slipped my mind. I thought you knew,” he winced.
“No,” I grunted. “And I’m mad at you.”
“Yes, for this! I’m not ready for this…” I waved my arms to emphasize my hurt and frustration. “I’m not… I don’t want… I… this can’t be the first time you see me naked.”
“Red, I thought you knew,” he said gently, taking my hand. “I’m so sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable doesn’t even begin to describe it,” I bit my lower lip. “How can… how can you… he… ask me… to…” I shook my head rapidly. “No, I can’t… I can’t do this.” I took a step back.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Billy said. “We’re all right. You don’t have to go back up there and do that. I’m not asking you to.”
“Yes, really. I’ll even get you a drink to make it up to you.”
“No, let’s just go home.”
“I paid for the event.”
“Okay, well, walk me home first then…” I sighed annoyed, placing my hands on my hip.
“No, I can leave. Just let me get my stuff first and a drink. It comes with a complimentary drink. Do you want anything?”
“How about a martini? Or a gin and tonic?”
“Billy…” I sighed. “I’m fine.”
“But the least I can do is get you a drink,” he offered. “Vodka lemonade slushie?”
“I’ve never had vodka,” I replied. “Is it any good?”
His eyes widened. “Any good? Oh girl,” he tucked his arm around my shoulder. “Yes… very.”
“Okay, but maybe with some grenadine or something, like cherry to sweeten it up,” I agreed.
“I can do that. I’ll go ask the bartender for a cherry lemonade vodka slushie,” Billy smiled and kissed my hair. “You just wait right here.”
Author Note: Okay, so I know “Glory Ann” is actually Pansy Northrop in the Sims game. I accidentally assumed she was a townie and gave her this name, but she’s not. So I wildly changed her personality. When I looked at who Billy’s friends were prior to him dating Kass, I noticed Pansy’s face in there. I know I’m playing into the whole “has a type” thing, and maybe for Billy, it’s redheads. I decided to make her his ex-girlfriend from days past. Instead of trying to be an astronaut, in this story, she’s trying to be a model.
The Tanners showing up for the exclusive art/modeling/charity event thing was weird. Thankfully, the littlest, for now, Tanner stayed home, but I decided to include it in my story because I’m trying to stay truer to the game. I accidentally deleted Bianca so you didn’t get to see her, but she is the art gallery events coordinator. She had a Spanish complexion and short bobbed curly brown hair with reddish highlights and she was wearing a zebra print dress at the event. Maybe I’ll recreate her.
Just for the record, Simultan is my Simworld version of Egyptian, so northeastern Africa. I think I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating.