Caroline shrugged off her robe and stood naked before Eden in the little studio.
“Comme ca?” she asked, tilting a foot and raising an arm slightly.
“Oh—” Eden hoped she wasn’t blushing. She had worked with nude models before of course, but never alone in her own studio. She took a careful breath and stepped to the girl, gently moving her arm and touching her chin to tilt her head slightly. “Like you’re dancing…voila,” she said in what she hoped was a business-like voice.
She returned to the canvas to begin her sketch, and found that her hand was shaking faintly. But after several minutes of work, she forgot her embarrassment, lost in the picture.
An hour later, she took Caroline for a drink at the café on the corner. Eden wasn’t sure what to say to the girl. They had barely exchanged a word while she had worked. At length, she began, “You are a good model. Do you like it?”
“Like?” the girl asked.
“Tu l’aime? Modeling?”
“Modeling is honest work. Many girls do not such honest work.” The girl stretched her arms over her head as if to relieve an hour’s stiffness. “Modeling is better.”
“Oh.” Eden colored. Sometimes her friends at the Beaux Arts would get drunk enough to forget that she wasn’t a man and tell stories about models they had known. Eden was sure at least half of this talk was boasting, but now that she had seen Caroline’s vulnerability in her own studio, a sense of protectiveness rose in her. How hard it must be for models to keep on the “honest” side of the thin social line that divided them from the girls men could purchase in the alleys of Paris at night.
But Eden didn’t have long to ponder Caroline’s flirtations with social propriety. The girl had turned to her wineglass and was smiling at Eden over its rim.
“Vous avez une cigarette?” she asked.
Eden reached into her breast pocket and drew out her cigarette case. “Only one left.” She lit it. “You have it,” she said, handing it to the girl.
Eden leaned in to take the cigarette back.
Their faces were inches apart. “Vous est une femme,” Caroline said. Her voice was low, but Eden looked around quickly anyway before nodding faintly. She was a woman.
“Pourquoi ceci?” the girl asked, brushing the lapel of Eden’s jacket.
“Vous est un homme…a l’interieur.” She smiled again.
Eden had never quite thought of it as being a man on the inside, but perhaps… “Je ne sais pas,” she said. She removed her hat, ran a hand through her hair and leaned back in her chair.
Caroline’s eyes narrowed, catlike and a grin crept over her lips. “C’est bon,” she said. “I like it.”