Author Note: This chapter contains adult content, including potential sexual exploitation, though I try to be tasteful with pictures as always. If this would be disturbing or upsetting to you, consider not reading this chapter.
“Whew! Is it hot out here or what?”
Billy was walking me home from the art gallery fiasco. I patted the side of my face feeling the sweat beads dotting my skin. I giggled oddly as I stared at my hands and stumbled forward. Billy put his hand out.
“Whoa, Kass, are you okay?” he asked, his voice sounding strange and hollow.
I tapped my ears. “Am I the only one hearing the buzzing?”
Billy chuckled, placing his arm around me. “When you said you wanted to take the edge off, I didn’t realize you wanted this much off.”
I wobbled forward onto the grass and smirked. “It’s easier to waaaaalk on grasssss than it is on…. ssssand…” I hiccuped. “Teehee… I ssssound like a sssssnake.”
Billy smiled oddly. “You sound like you’re drunk.”
“Iiiiiiii… knoooooowwww thatttttt…” I remarked, tapping his nose with my index finger. “Ssssay… you like to watch ssstarsss…” I waved my hands up in the air. “That thing in the air up there beyond the planet that has light and things… wow… it’sssss hard to think up wordsssss without ssss’s.”
“Maybe you should sit down,” Billy suggested.
“Good idea,” I bobbed my head a little too hard and winced.
I bent over and touched my knees to stable myself before walking forward to the patch of picnic benches in the park. I collapsed on the wood and giggled some more.
“Thisssss was fun,” I said.
“Yes, it was,” he replied.
“How are you?” I waved a finger at him and thought maybe I saw two or three fingers. “How are you…how are yooooouuuu not wasssssssted…” I whispered.
“I stopped at two, remember?” he said. “You wanted three, Red.”
“Red,” I wailed. “Sssseriously, Billy, call me Kassss….” I enunciated horribly.
“Fine, Kass,” he frowned. “Let me get you home.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” I stood up and ran sideways and then away. “I want to go… up there…” I pointed to the large concrete stair structure on the far side of the park.
Miraculously, I managed to run up the stairs without falling or tripping. We found ourselves on a second lighted platform with a white wooden folding chair staring out at the expanse of the Palms desert. Since it was after midnight, the area was quiet, except for my occasional snorts and giggles.
“Hey you know what?” I clapped my hand and shook my head down at the floor. “My voice echossssss.”
Billy laughed. “Okay, Kass, let’s climb down from here.”
“Nooo, where’s your ssssense of adventure? Billy…” I expanded my arms and spun around. “It’s fun to live on the edge, don’t you think?”
“Sure, but I think you’ve gone off the edge,” he remarked.
I laughed. “Hey I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you paint me?”
“Yeah why not? You wanted to and I made you leave the event and all and you wanted to… paint and sssstuff,” I lowered my voice and cupped a hand over the side of my mouth. “I just didn’t want to be naked in front of sssstrangersssss.”
“But I’m not a stranger, babe,” he laughed.
“No, no, no… you’re not,” I felt a little dizzy and reached out to steady myself on his arm. “You’re not… you’re my… you’re my… my… what are you? my….” I swung toward him and leaned my head out to the side with a stupid smirk on my face.
Billy kissed me. “I’m your man, Red.”
“Red… why do you always call me Red?” I asked, my voice cracking.
“Because, you are a Red,” he replied.
“But I don’t call you… what?…um… brownie…”
He burst out laughing. “Kass, you’re cute when you’re drunk.”
“Okaaay…” I smiled, though I wasn’t sure it was a compliment. “Ssssoooo paint me.”
“In the morning when you’re rested…” he replied.
“No…. now!” I kicked the chair off the side of the platform. “Oppsss….” I covered my mouth and giggled. “Now… we can do it now.”
I placed my arm over my head and grabbed the midarm with my other hand and stuck my hip out to the side. Billy smiled.
“Really, Kass,” he hesitated.
“Come on, Billy… you can…” I tried to stab him in the chest with my finger. “You’re an art guru or something. You can paint me tonight. You still have your stuff?”
“Yeah in my car… will you be okay if I go back to get it?”
“Sssurree…” I sat down hard. “I’ll wait right here.”
He returned within minutes. Even if I was sloshed, he seemed to return with super speed. Well, we do run together regularly, I reminded myself. I giggled and pointed to the sky.
“Shooting star… wheeeee!”
“Red, dear, please put your arms down. You should act naturally,” he said, slightly annoyed.
I lowered my arms and Billy walked toward me. “Alright, Kass,I’m going to help you feel more comfortable.”
“Any more comfortable and I’ll be ssssssssssleeping.”
“No, not like that. More comfortable with your own skin. Maybe it’d help if we took it slow. What if you just pull the strap from behind your neck and lower it?”
He placed his arms around my lower back and hugged me. I returned the embrace.
“Kass?” his voice sounded low and soft in my ear.
“Oh riiiight…” I reached up and fumbled with my straps.
“Here, let me help you,” he said, untying the knot that held my shirt in place, but only the top one.
I laid the straps in front, tucking them into my cleavage. “How’s that?”
“Doesn’t that feel better?” he asked.
“Maybe a little,” I winced. “It is hot.”
“Yes, you’re hot,” he grinned devilishly.
“Sssssstop it,” I frowned, but I started giggling again. I was beginning to relax. “What if sssssssomeone sssssseesssss us?”
“No one will see us way up here and it’s late anyway,” he assured, setting up his easel. “And you’re the one who wanted to be painted tonight up here remember?”
“Yeah,” I nodded, feeling slightly parched. “What about the painting? What if ssssssomeone ssssees it?” I asked worriedly.
“Someone will see it,” he explained. “It’s art, remember, babe? It’s meant to be seen, but no one will know it’s you. I won’t sketch your face. We can have you turn around and…” he lifted up his artist stool. “Here… you can sit on it over there.” He put his hand on the small of my back.
He set it down in the corner.
“Now are you ready to take it all off?”
“Uh…” I covered myself self consciously. “How about just the top?”
“Here, let me help you,” he said, standing up and walking over to me.
Somehow I thought the “taking-my-top-off-for-a-guy” thing would be more romantic. It wasn’t. In two seconds, he had my strings were untied and he tossed the top of my dress to the side. He adjusted me so the moonlight caught my skin at the right angle, his fingertips brushing over the edge of my left breast. I shivered. His touch felt electric, but this wasn’t chemistry. It was work. I was a commission. Bare Nature, I recalled.
I felt awkward and cold. Somehow it didn’t seem fair that I was half-naked and he was fully clothed. But my brain was too fuzzy to put thoughts together coherently.
“Say something,” I said, feeling weird.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked, frowning, without looking up.
“I don’t know. I feel like a loon just standing here,” I shrugged.
“You’ve got gorgeous curves. Glory Ann was so wrong. You should show off more often,” he teased.
“What? No, seriously,” I narrowed my eyes and laughed awkwardly.
“Kass, relax, I know what I’m doing,” he looked up at me. “Relax, babe. You’re so tense. Why don’t you try a silly pose again?”
“Shouldn’t you kiss me or something?” I asked.
“Why?” he replied, again, without looking up.
“Because I’m standing here half-naked, that’s why.”
“Oh as a thank you?”
“I don’t know.”
“How about this?”
He stood up, walked over, and yanked me to himself. He placed his hand on the back of my head and tugged on my breast with his other, thumbing my nipple. My skin tingling. He lowered his mouth to mine and kissed me hard. My head was spinning. I couldn’t think clearly as he tugged on the lower edge of my skirt. His hand slipped through the back edge, sliding farther onto my bum, his fingers tearing into my soft flesh, caressing my skin with furious passion. I wanted to pull away since it was all happening so fast. I couldn’t. I couldn’t will my body and my brain to communicate properly. We were kissing harder, faster. I was breathing heavily, my thoughts whirling and my emotions steaming.
Then as quickly as he started, he stopped. He returned to his easel, ripped off a sheet, and grumbled about starting over. He walked over to me, forcing me down into the seat, facing away from him, and told me to stare up and count stars. It would help me relax, he said. He posed my arms interlocking my fingers and hands behind my hair and had me tilt my head to the side slightly. Then he returned to the easel.
“I don’t know about this,” I said, swallowing hard, leaning forward as I felt slightly embarrassed.
“You’ll be fine,” he reassured me. “Remember it’s for twelve hundred Simos.”
At the mention of the money, I paled. This wasn’t romantic. It was a job. My throat felt dry.
“Billy, maybe we ssssshould gooooooooooo home,” I whined.
“Hush,” he waved his paintbrush around in the air. “You’re gorgeous.”
“I guesssssss,” I sighed, and turned away from him, resuming my pose.
“That’s my girl,” he said, grinning over at me.
Something in his smile made me shiver.
Author Note: Um… never let friends paint you when you’re drunk. No, in all seriousness, dubious consent is never okay. Although nothing physically happened, Kass was pressured to do something intimate, even if it was artistic. I double checked and dubcon expands beyond sexual intercourse and can include reluctant intimate cuddling so the above scene seems to fit into this category. Always be smart when drinking, and have a trusted friend or family member on speed dial. If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, you have every right to leave.