Someone to love, p.12

Someone to Love, page 12


Someone to Love

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  A girl with a svelte red coat zips in and fills the space between us. Already, I like her for acting as a buffer between me and Miss I Will Find Love and it Will Prosper. Let’s see who’s so hot on love after a few volatile divorces and a bitter custody battle that spans states or, God forbid, countries. One day she’ll add divorcee to her personal roster of achievements and will mark my words as the only truth she’s ever known. Of course, my mother never referred to herself as a divorcee, she simply said she was “out on parole.” And the whole custody battle never materialized for her either since technically both parties would have to want the child for those evil shenanigans to ensue. My father was far too busy procreating with the candlestick maker to deal with the family he left an entire state behind.

  The girl in the crimson coat turns and gives a curt smile, so I take the initiative.

  “Kendall.” I offer her a quick handshake. Everyone at Garrison has been so nice. Back home, life was all about hard looks and keeping to yourself, but here, everyone feels like family. “Liberal arts.”

  “Blair Lancaster.” She pulls her cheeks back without a smile. “Journalism, but photography is my passion.”

  There’s something strangely familiar about her, and I just can’t seem to place it.

  A loud shuffling comes from the front as an older woman makes her way to the center of the room. She wears a long damask coat with a vomit-inspired color palate and layers and layers of beaded necklaces as though she robbed the accessories department at the mall and decided to don all the loot at once. There’s an overall bohemian appeal to her, and innately I know this is Professor Webber. Her wiry red hair sprays out in every direction, and it’s not until she turns my way do I realize she’s taken liberty with cosmetics that should be restricted exclusively to Broadway plays and Halloween. She hands out a syllabus without so much as a hello, and I gawk at the list of essential supplies.

  “I’m going to need a storage unit to house all this,” I muse. “Let alone make nine trips from the bookstore to lug everything.”

  “Tell me about it.” Blair cuts a glance my way. “But I bet a pretty girl like you has a nice strong boyfriend to help out.”

  I make a face before turning the paper around and gasp. The list goes on for another entire page.

  “This is going to cost a fortune,” I say, mostly to myself. “She is aware most of us have yet to outfit ourselves with a six-figure income.”

  Blair scoffs. “You’d think the only thing we really need, to sketch a bunch of nude models, is a number two pencil.”

  “Nude?” I swallow hard. I can’t do nude. I’ll laugh, or cry, or run out of the room screaming. I’ll have human private parts permanently seared to my inner psyche, and who knows where this will take my nightmares?

  “What did you think this was?” She tucks her chin in and gawks at me, appalled by my naïveté.

  “Um art…” I take in a quick breath. Shit. Study of the human body literally translates into drawing the human form? “I thought it was statues and stuff.”

  “Nope.” She picks up her pencil and points over to the center of the room where a middle-aged man and woman emerge without much fanfare, outfitted in thin purple robes.

  Oh crap.

  I have a feeling their bare legs and arms are all signs of overexposed things to come. They slip off their makeshift kimonos and reveal a tidal wave of flesh before neatly folding their robes as if it were perfectly sane to do remedial household chores in the freaking nude with a live audience of newly emancipated minors.

  They’re naked!


  I turn away as if I’ve just witnessed a horrible car accident complete with gallons of blood and severed limbs only it’s miles of wrinkled skin and sunspots in places where the sun should never ever shine.

  I sneak another quick peek.

  Bits and pieces!

  Bits and pieces!

  Shit! Shit! Shit! I knew I should have read the class description a little more thoroughly. I was so worried about not getting a full load that I glossed over the specifics. And the fact I was a transfer student meant I would be left with the crappy classes the rest of the student body didn’t care for if I didn’t act fast. I thought for sure I made safe choices, unlike the dicey decisions I’ve engaged in since my arrival, like asking my newfound “Professor” to tutor me in the fine art of one-night stands—and for damn sure I wasn’t gunning to stare at geriatric penises for an hour straight, three times a week, in the name of art of all things.

  “You can stop freaking out,” Blair whispers. “He’s completely turned the other way.”

  I peer over and confirm her theory. He’s older with a hairy back and a furry ass to match. I don’t really mind all the fur, seeing that it creates a simian effect, and that sort of takes the edge off the whole naked human thing. To his left sits an equally garmentless woman, woefully seasoned by time. Her heavily puckered face boasts a thousand wrinkles that wink in and out as she frowns. Her copper hair is in need of a touch-up at the roots as evidenced by the four inches of silver sprouting from her scalp. And I’m betting she’s had enough experience with the Unhappy Hair and Nail Salon to know to stay the hell away from that place. Her skin is dutifully leathered, leaving her unusually smooth and perky breasts to glow like lanterns in contrast to the rest of her.

  “God, it’s like her boobs never aged,” I whisper to Blair.

  “I bet half the boys in the class are hitting DEFON five with their erections right about now,” she sneers, and we share a laugh.

  “They should’ve mentioned the arousal factor as a disclaimer for the class. Not that I’m even slightly aroused.”

  “Not with that beefcake you’ve got lying around.” She glides her pencil across her paper with a marked aggression.

  Beefcake? She probably has me confused with someone else. Technically, I’m not with Cruise, although he does more than qualify for the beefcake category.

  Professor Webber scuttles over. “Start with the model closest to you.” She leans in over my shoulder, inspiring me to pick up my pencil and quickly sketch out something that loosely resembles a cat. “I’d like the models to rotate positions.” She booms over at the two human skin sacs, and they shift in their seats.

  I wait until she scissors on by before leaning into Blair.

  “Let’s hope he doesn’t offer us the full frontal,” I say, attempting to sketch out his form. He’s hunched over and his head is tilted to the side. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he were coming to the conclusion this was an egregious error in judgment.

  “You act like you’ve never seen it before.” She gives a disbelieving look.

  My mouth opens to say something, but a shy smile cinches up my lips, instead.

  I suppose it’s odd to find a virgin in the masses, so I don’t volunteer the fact I’m one of the defamed mythological creatures. Instead, I happily trace out the half-moon spread in front of me and try not to dwell on the fact he’s slightly adjusted himself and now I can see his belly. I simply won’t look below the fold and safely avert all trauma.

  “You know they pay a fortune for these models,” she purrs.

  “Oh, I’m sure they’re volunteers.” I’m quick to shoot down her fiscally unsound theory. “There are probably miles of perverts willing to ingrain their junk into our delicate grey matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the nudists on display are having some heightened sexual experience on our behalf. I once watched this special about people who got off looking at feet all day long. Swear to God, every time I see a man glance at my stilettos, I run the other way.”

  “You’re funny.” She says it dry like she doesn’t really mean it. “But I happen to know for a fact that the art department at Garrison pays two hundred bucks a pop to anyone who wants to strut their stuff.” She shrugs. “It beats flipping burgers. The catch is, you’re only allowed once a semester.”

  “Are you going to do it?” I’m completely intrigued, and for a brief moment, I imagine
her perched on one of those cold steely chairs sans the paper-thin robe.

  “Maybe.” She looks to the ceiling a moment. “How about you? I bet it’d more than cover the cost of the art supplies. You’d practically make money on the deal.”

  Two hundred dollars? Forget the art supplies, I could pay Cruise for room and board. Take him to dinner for a change.

  “Well, I was sort of thinking of getting a job at Starbucks.” True story. Plus that way I could hang out with Ally and sip lattes for a few hours each day, and it wouldn’t feel like work at all.

  “At minimum wage?” She balks. “This is practically a semester’s worth of paychecks in one short hour. It almost seems too good to pass up. She probably doesn’t have any spaces left, though.”

  The elderly gentleman shifts just enough to expose us to more of his goodies, then I see it.

  Gah! I close my eyes tight and slowly peer from around the side of the easel. I was half-hoping he’d be cleverly holding a book or a magazine or, hell, even a cigar to cover up his spare appendage, but dear God almighty, he is loud and proud. Well, actually…not so loud, more like a whisper. It’s sort of a nub—dehydrated at that, and no bigger than a fun-sized candy bar. Are they really that tiny? Dear God, it’s almost invisible. Lauren said it was like a banana, so I’m actually sort of disappointed. And for sure the Storm Trooper theory just went out the window. Maybe he needed the money to get one of those prosthetic jobs? Or maybe he had it hacked? You hear about all kinds of pissed off wives who go after their cheating husbands with a hatchet. Or maybe it was just your run-of-the-mill not-so-fictitious motorcycle accident.

  The visual assault goes on for an hour solid, and to my horror both the male and female models stand around afterwards speaking to the students like it was some twisted social mixer with an optional dress code.

  “So, are you going to talk to the professor?” Blair incites the two-hundred-dollar question once again.

  “Doubtful. I don’t have the guts to do something like that.”

  She pumps her shoulders. “Two hundred dollars can make someone pretty brave. Besides, it’s easy cash.”

  “Are you going to do it?” I fully examine her for the first time. She’s pretty in general. Her mid-length hair is perfectly curled and sprayed into position, making it impervious to the constant windstorms that reside outside these walls. She wears a simple strand of pearls and perhaps a little too much foundation in a shade that gives her an unnatural orange glow.

  “I will if you will,” she offers.

  “Maybe I will,” I say.

  Blair escorts us over to Professor Webber and fills her in on the fact we’re willing to expose our youthful flesh in exchange for two hundred hard ones. She’s quick to pull out her planner at the prospect of two potentially nude co-eds.

  “Only a couple more female slots left. I’ve got next Monday and the following Friday wide open.” She looks up at us impressed by our decision to bare it all in the name of artistic enlightenment. For a stunt like this I should be guaranteed a B in the class for Baring it all. But I’m gunning for the A, so it really doesn’t matter.

  Blair looks over at me nervously. “I’ll take the following Friday.”

  “So I guess it’s Monday for me.” That gives me almost a week to chicken out of the idea. “Wait, Monday the nineteenth?”

  “That’s right. Is that a problem?” Webber’s fuchsia lips pull into a line.

  “No, it’s not a problem.” It’s my birthday.

  I’ll simply be wearing the same outfit that I did twenty-one years ago on that very day—my birthday suit.

  I come home to find Cruise still in his suit jacket, his wire-rimmed glasses. God its as if he was a total fake these past few weeks and now his real self has emerged as some perverted academic.

  “Professor Elton,” I say as I walk past him and pull a bottle of water from the fridge. “Oh, I’m sorry. Am I to call you master? I can’t remember. I haven’t quite memorized the syllabus yet.”

  “So you’re upset?” He bleeds a nefarious grin as if this pleased him on some level. His eyes secure themselves over me with that get in my bed seductive stare.

  “Why would I be upset? I’m always pleasantly surprised to learn the person guiding me in the fine art of physical debauchery is also employed as faculty at the school in which I’m attending. I guess that makes you legit.” I don’t smile, laugh, or leave any room for doubt concerning my slightly ticked disposition.

  God. It just occurred to me he’s probably been using me for his thesis this entire time. No wonder he offered to document my journey. I’ve unwittingly become exhibit K for “Kenny.”

  “So did I score a place on your thesis?” I ask point-blank. “If an expose on my soon-to-be departed virginity is going to be made available for publication, I should probably be alerted to the fact. Unless, of course, you’re aware of some legal loophole that will exempt you from any litigious endeavors I might throw your way.” As if I would ever sue Cruise. Well, maybe for being too damn sexy.

  “I’ve yet to document your ‘soon-to-be-departed-virginity.’” His lids close halfway, letting me know he can make my virginity depart a whole hell of a lot sooner than I bargained for. And the way he’s leering at me, I might be open to the idea. “I wasn’t planning on mentioning you in my thesis, Kenny.” He presses out a dry smile. “And, as much as I like to consider my foray in fornication as field study on some level, I’ve collected more than my fair share of data. I’m turning in the keys to the carnal kingdom.”

  Turning in the keys? Maybe Cruise Elton is boyfriend material, or maybe he just wants me to believe he is. This is all probably a ruse in the name of continuing his promiscuous blind study.

  “That’s too bad.” I strut in front of him with an air of false confidence. “Rumor has it you hold a black belt in arousing the female anatomy.” Did I just say that?

  A husky laugh escapes his throat as he makes his way over.

  My stomach cinches at the thought of Cruise using me all along as some sort of immoral barometer.

  “So,” I whisper as he warms my senses with his cologne, “I guess once I start sleeping around, I’ll be tearing down all sorts of gender barriers.” I say in a lame attempt to spice up my resume in the event he reneges and labels me Slut Number Three or something equally degrading. “I mean, women get a horrible reputation for sleeping around, and men get called a player, which basically amounts to a term of endearment. I guess you can say I’m striving for fornicating equality.” God, you’d think I was angling for a prized position in his pornographic term paper.

  “Fornicating equality.” Cruise comes in close with his eyes heavily lidded as if he had a serious boner to contend with, and he were about to recruit me in on the alleviating efforts. “I think we should advance your training.” He rasps it out low while breathing an invisible fire over my skin.

  “I suppose this is where the sexual syllabus comes in handy.” I tug him in by the collar and do my best to get him to kiss me. “Which of the many perverted points would you like to try out first? Master and servant? Professor and student?”

  His cheek pulls back, and his dimple depresses, approving of my scholarly seduction.

  “I was thinking something more along the lines of show and tell,” he whispers, stepping in until his body warms mine.

  For a second I think of telling him all about my adventures in art class, but he wraps a solid arm around my waist and the moment passes.

  Cruise Elton looks beyond gorgeous in his scholarly suit and glasses, and that embarrassing incident which took place in his classroom comes flooding back to me. I can’t believe I managed to hang myself with a noose crafted from the finer points of love of all things, in front of a jury of my peers and my scorching-hot professor, which reminds me, I’m still a little miffed at the big scholastic reveal.

  “Show, or tell?” My head rolls back involuntarily, and I snap out of the spell of seduction he’s busy casting. “Neither.” I bre
ak loose from his embrace and take off down the hall.

  “Where you going?”

  “To bed.”

  “What about me?” It comes out a plea on his behalf of his blossoming crotch.

  “You can take a cold shower.”

  The alarm clock blinks mockingly at me, two a.m.

  It’s so freaking cold I’m about ready to jump in the refrigerator to warm myself. Honest to God, I’m beginning to think this whole broken heater thing is a ruse to land me on his mattress. And God knows I’ve thought long and hard about hopping into Cruise Elton’s bed tonight, pride be dammed.

  So what if he didn’t confess to being my professor? He probably thought it was funny. I bet he had a good laugh printing up that secret syllabus rife with perversion.

  I’m sure the “Art of Whoredom” was meant to give me a good chuckle and not at all allude to the pact I entered into with Satan himself. Not that Cruise is Satan. He’s more of a sexy alien being who’s rumored to have a penis the size of a lightning rod and the superpower to make women scream with pleasure on three different occasions in a very short span of time.

  My body writhes at the prospect. I close my eyes and envision Cruise pouring those molten hot kisses all over my body, his searing hands traveling at the speed of light, then dipping down in all the right places.

  A rustling sound emits from behind the dresser.

  I freeze and cease breathing to hone in on the mystery noise.

  A loud scratching comes from the wall—and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, IT’S TRAMPLING IN THIS DIRECTION!

  I let out a muffled scream and bring my knees to my chest so fast I knock the air out of my lungs.

  Shit! Shit! Shit!

  The undeniable pitter-patter of vermin feet shuffling over the hardwood floor electrifies the room.

  I bolt for the door only to smack into it at a hundred nose-breaking miles per hour.


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