“Enough,” Eden told Caroline. “It’s no use without natural light.” The sun had long gone, but she had been desperate to keep working. The picture needed the late afternoon light from the window and the lamps had not been sufficient. She’d made no real progress for an hour. “Shall we go down to the café?”
The model picked up an emerald colored velveteen robe from a chair nearby and wrapped it around her shoulders, her loose golden hair standing out against the bright green. Then she walked to the bag she had thrown in the corner of the studio and rifled through it, bringing out a bottle of amber liquid and smiling.
“Pas ce soir.”
She held the bottle up to Eden, “tu as des verres?” she asked. Eden nodded, turned to a table behind her and produced two glasses from a jumble of brushes and tubes. Caroline took the glasses and poured the drinks. She handed one to Eden, then sat on a low prop couch in the corner of the studio, half hidden in a shadow. The robe was not fastened and as she sat, she made no attempt to prevent it from falling open.
Eden put the glass down, cleaned her brushes and put them carefully away. Then she sat back down on the stool before her canvas and drank. She looked at the picture before her. Maybe it was finished after all. She wanted to see it tomorrow in the morning light before she decided. She ran her hand through her hair and stopped at the base of her neck, squeezing hard. Her shoulders were stiff from sitting and painting for so long.
“Viens,” Caroline said in a calm voice and beckoned.
Eden stood and walked to the dim corner where the girl gestured for her to sit at her feet. She rubbed Eden’s shoulders with surprising strength and the young artist sighed involuntarily. Caroline took Eden’s empty glass and refilled it from the bottle, handing it back to her.
Eden didn’t feel the time passing as she drank two more glasses of whatever Caroline was giving her, all while the girl massaged her neck and shoulders. “Est-ce que tu y restes ce soir?” The model asked quietly.
Eden had not thought of it until Caroline asked, but maybe it was a good idea to sleep at the studio. It was late now. She wanted to be back at dawn tomorrow to see the painting. She was drunk and the rue Jacob seemed far away.
She put her face in her hands, rubbed her eyes and turned to the girl who sat behind her on the couch, half-covered by the velvet robe. Caroline smiled quietly for a long time, before she asked in a whisper, “Est ce que tu veux me baiser?
Eden looked at the girl’s beckoning eyes. The word “non” began to form on her lips, but did not leave them before Caroline leaned down and kissed her. Eden reached up into the velvet robe and touched the soft naked breast she had been painting for weeks. It was warm in the summer night. She marveled that she could have rendered it so many times on canvas without ever having felt it with the same hand that held the brush. She rose up on her knees, putting her mouth on Caroline’s and moving her hands across her body, under the robe…