LOST ART OF STEELE (PART II) Rated mature for sexual situations.
by Lauryn Poynor
As soon as Laura shut the door behind her resolve left her. Why had she been so damned impulsive? What was she trying to prove? She stared at her reflection in the glass. It was startled and frozen, as if she'd just seen a ghost. She shivered and breathed in air, trying to calm herself.
Out there he was waiting, expecting her. Hoping that she would emerge from the bathroom like Venus rising from the sea. Not that a few strategically placed shells would hurt. Would she measure up to his image of her? Did it matter? Wasn't the real Laura the one he wanted? Never mind that he had tried to make that clear. She still feared the reality would disappoint him. A shiver ran through her as she sat down on the cold edge of the bathtub.
How did he expect her to feel? It was too much. What did he want from her anyway? That was hardly fair, she thought. He hadn't asked for this. She had been the one who intruded. Forced him to reveal something. Backed him into a corner. Now she was the one who was boxed in.
She knew, even before, that he had wanted her from the beginning. She hadn't quite realized how much. Yet, no matter what he felt then or was feeling now, he hadn't really been waiting for her, not physically, anyway. There had always been other women, and still were, although lately she saw less and less of them. Unlike the old days when they drifted in annoying waves in and out of the office. Whatever his occasional needs, he was keeping them to himself. She thought about what she knew of his past. Anna and Felicia. Did their portraits exist, too, hidden away on a shelf somewhere? Had they posed for him? Angry with herself she pushed the thought from her mind.
He had tried to be honest with her, that much she believed. She had pressed him and he had let his guard slip. It hadn't been an idle comment. The revelation had cost him, had meant something. He wanted them to be closer. So did she, but the past was so full of miscues and hesitations. Maybe her charcoal image was all he would ever have of her.
It wasn't that she didn't want him, but she knew that was treacherous ground. There was safer ground elsewhere. She hadn't been waiting for him, either. She had her own needs, during four years. None of her other relationships had led anywhere outside of the bedroom, even though she convinced herself she had tried. Sometimes, with someone else she had imagined it was Steele but it worked out quite badly. It was a distraction she couldn't handle.
When she was alone it was easy for him to come clearly into her mind. She couldn't deny the effect he had on her. The blue of his eyes. The feel of his thick black hair under her fingers. The way he moved, the fluid drape of his suits across his lean frame. Wondering always what was underneath, what his body was like. What he would feel like. Why didn't she find out? Why couldn't she let it just happen?
Laura knew he was tiring of the game. Stop and go, out of rhythm. Always having to push against that mysterious barrier that he couldn't break and couldn't understand. He couldn't understand her fear. Her fear that her body under his touch would betray her, undermine all of her hard won defenses. She would have to admit it to him then, how she really felt.
She couldn't go through with it. Her self laid bare under his gaze. She hadn't the strength to give him what she thought he wanted. Laura stood up, pulled her sweater on and squared her shoulders. How long had she been sitting there? She would have to face him. Willing her feet to move she stepped out of the room.
She found him standing at the bar, pouring Bushmills into a glass. He looked her up and down, assessing the situation. "Care to join me?, he said, pouring another one. He clanked them together in salute and quickly downed one, reserving the other. "There's a bit of white wine in the fridge if you'd prefer." Laura declined. "Need something to calm the nerves?," she asked. He gave her a rueful smile.
"Absolutely." The thought struck her that maybe he'd been as nervous as she was.
"I know you were expecting something more or should I say , um less " she trailed off. I guess I'm just not ready for that yet. She searched his face. He didn't seem disappointed. "I have to confess it's a bit of a relief, really", he began. The thought of you before me in the flesh so to speak was a bit daunting artistically. I have excellent powers of concentration but I'm only human." They both had to laugh at that. Some of the tension left the air.
"Laura, you don't have to give me something you're not ready for. You don't have to prove anything to me." "We can do something else. We can go out for tennis or stay here, do whatever you like. It's sort of like that tri-athalon. We'll work up to it gradually, until we can cross that finish."
"Are we talking about art, sports or something else here?", she shot back. She saw a flash of anger in his eyes. "Don't you think the same
principle applies?" he answered. "We know what the process will require. Us on the same page. Sticking to a goal. Staying focused. No outside distractions. No, um, extra curricular activities." "I'm game if you are." It was clear what he meant. A mutual agreement. The ground rules to put everything into play, win or lose. She decided.
"Where do you want me?" she asked. He stared at her in utter confusion. "To pose," she explained. She was heartened by the hope she then saw in his eyes. "You'll have to take me as I am right now. I'm not ready for the big finish just yet."
His gentle smile was full of meaning.
"As you are will be just fine, love."