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Male needed for amateur figure study. I promise not to fall in love with you.

I.

He stands, naked, behind her studio’s privacy curtain. He shifts from one foot to another on the cold floor.

“Would you like me to turn up the heat?” she calls.

“No, I’m fine.”

“You can do this. Don’t get hard,” he mutters.

He peeks around the hung velvet and realizes how easy maintaining himself will be.

Brown and round is hardly his thing.

“Pardon me?”

“Nothing..sorry.”

She smiles.

He wonders if she has heard.

II.

Her shoulder burns with his heat as he leans too close to look at her drying portrait of him.

Oblivious of his effect on her, he lets out a slow whistle and asks, “Wow. That’s how you see me?”

She nods her head unable to speak.

“I’ve never…you’re really talented.”

He thinks about putting his hand on her arm and brushing his mouth against her neck.

He thinks about being worshiped.

He thinks about worshiping her.

He shakes off the Pygmalion seduction and finds himself behind the curtain again.

He gets dressed in a hurry, and again peeks around the hung velvet. He appears to be alone, and he notices the promised money on the table.

In her absence, he feels a pain he has never felt.

He takes the money and leaves the studio– shaking.

III.

Months later, he returns arms open and scarred.

She looks up from her work and says, “It’s you.”

“I think it was always you,” he whispers no longer confused.

She envelopes him in darkness.

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