Thanks for comment, person who commented. Comments are welcome and encouraging. In somewhat inebriated state I attempt to sort out cut tags properly and all that so I can bring you...
Julia had acquired a rather dashing boyfriend who was called Darren. He was tall, muscular and tanned. He was somewhat lacking in personality but lucky to be one of those precious people of whom it can be said that they are far too beautiful to need one. If conversation was ever lacking, Julia could run her fingers over his broad forearms and contemplate her sheer luck.
The sex was good, for he had energy and she had creativity. He very soon declared himself in love. Julia thought it wise to declare herself in love as well, thus ensuring the supply of good sex continued, and that she could carry on being seen with him. He would do until something more interesting turned up. He also did a fair share of housework. There was something about him standing at the sink doing the washing up, wearing her apron and pink rubber gloves; if only entertainment while the washing up disappeared.
Darren proved useful for carrying bags of clay around the house to where she needed them. She had ordered a fresh supply so that she could begin the statue of Vena DeMille. Perhaps Darren could come to their house with her and help her carry the clay? But perhaps not. Vena DeMille was dangerously beautiful and she felt sure she would be distracted from her work if her subject was flirting with her boyfriend.
Adrian Zero telephoned the day before she was due to visit to begin the statue. It had slipped her mind by then that she'd decided not to bring Darren and she mentioned that her 'assistant' would be along to help.
"My dear Miss Wassim, I'm afraid that is out of the question. Madame DeMille wishes to deal with only yourself. She is an incredibly private person. No, I'm afraid that unless you come alone we cannot possibly consider.."
Julia sighed, not sure whether to be annoyed or relieved. She glanced over at Darren who was sitting on a cupboard in the hall, reading The Sun.
"No, that's fine. If you'll collect me and help me carry the bags. Good. Good."
Looking at the contours of Darren's neck now, he was a sculpture. Imagining his naked body as she had this tedious conversation with Adrian. Then Adrian was saying 'Goodbye' and so she said the same and put down the receiver.
"Darling. About tomorrow."
Darren looked up, didn't speak but smiled.
"These people say they'd rather I went on my own tomorrow. They can come and get me so there's no need for you to drive me. I can be back for eight. Is that ok with you sweetie?"
"Ok" he grinned and gave her a bear hug. He'd do some housework while she was away, cook her up a nice steak, make things nice. Then they could go to bed.
The alarm clock had failed to go off. At 7am, the thick curtains drawn against the lightening day outside, Julia and Darren were still sleeping soundly. It was Adrian's car horn sounding outside, followed by persistent ringing of the doorbell that eventually woke them.
"Shit and fuck!" murmured Julia. The hands of the alarm clock were stuck stubbornly at 3 o'clock.
Darren raised his head and reached to stroke her cheek.
"I'm late. He's here already." she groaned.
Darren rolled out of bed, pulled on some boxers saying that he would go and answer the door, would tell the guy she wouldn't be long.
Julia washed hastily at the sink in her room and grabbed the nearest clothes, a t-shirt and jeans. When she got downstairs the front door was open and Darren and Adrian were solemnly loading the boot of the car with bags of clay. "Weird guy" whispered Darren as he kissed her goodbye.
"Mmm" said Julia, and got into the passenger seat.
As soon as she had yawned and adjusted to the fact that she was sitting comfortably in a car and had no need to do anything for a while, Julia took a look at Adrian. She immediately noticed why Darren had thought him weird. He was wearing a shiny silver chauffeur's uniform, possibly PVC and complete with chauffeur's cap. It might be rude to comment on it so she tried to make polite conversation, as much as she was capable.
"Lovely day today isn't it. It looks like the weather is really clearing up."
Adrian smirked. "Would you like me to put some music on, Miss Wassim?"
"You can call me Julia."
"Would you like me to put some music on, Julia?"
The city gave way to fields and hedges and they listened to Mozart with the volume up way high. At Adrian's suggestion Julia reclined her seat and dozed a little. She looked out of the window lazily, hedges speeding by and clouds above moving slowly against a blue sky. The car's engine was almost silent. They were speeding but it was hard to tell.
"We're here" said Adrian. Julia sat upright. The stereo was turned off and the car was still; she must've dozed right off. They were in the grounds of a large and impressive looking house. Adrian opened the passenger door for her and she stepped out onto the gravel of the driveway. He led the way to the oak front door and opened it with a key as big as his hand.
Although now she came to look, his hands were quite small and dainty. Darren's hands were much bigger.
From the moment she stepped through the door, Julia was preparing to relate an account of the house to her friend, Valerie. The downstairs hall was carpeted in red, deep pile, luxuriant. There was a staircase to the left, of polished wood. A chandelier hung from the ceiling upstairs, another in the hall. Julia stole a glance into each of the rooms they passed on their way to the studio - chandeliers in each one. Madame DeMille obviously had a thing for them.
There were framed oil paintings along the walls and up the stairs. Julia paused at one of them, a portrait of some naked woman, Countess Sophia of somewhere. Countess Sophia's eyes regarded her coldly from the painting as if to say "You're looking at me naked, so what?"
"Shall we?" asked Adrian, indicating the studio.
The room where she would be beginning was smaller than the others she'd glimpsed, but still large. There was a velvet cushion arrangement, presumably for Madame DeMille to arrange herself on. Opposite this there was a stool for herself. The floor was bare boards and the walls plain white.
"Would you like to eat, Miss Wassim?" offered Adrian, seeming to forget that he had addressed her as 'Julia' half an hour ago in the car.
"Oh, no thank you. I'm not hungry just yet."
"Then we can start, and perhaps you'll join us for supper when we're done for today." he smiled, "I'll call Madame DeMille then, shall I?"
Julia gathered up her paper pad and pencils, which she had hurriedly thrown into a sports bag at home, hardly professional but at least she had them with her. A few preliminary sketches with Madame DeMille sitting and then she could get started on the basics with the clay in peace.
She had been sitting with everything ready for a good five minutes before Vena DeMille arrived. She swept into the room in a long black cloak, and from what Julia could see, nothing underneath. She appeared to be much more strikingly beautiful than she had done the first time they'd met. Her hair was swept up behind her head with strands falling at her neck. The sunlight through the window drew attention to a few freckles on her nose, which made her appear more human and approachable - an impression that was done away with entirely the moment she spoke.
"Zero, why have you not got this girl any food?"
"She didn't want any, Madame. I did offer."
"Well, leave us. I wish to have a little talk to Miss Wassim in private. I'll call you when I need you."
"It's rather good of you to agree to come and have me sit here rather than.. where you are" these last three words Vena appeared to say with slight disgust, "It's not that I don't adore travelling, but you know."
Julia didn't know and wasn't too keen to ask either. "What do you think of my house?" asked Vena.
"It's er, lovely," offered Julia, "How long have you lived here?"
Vena smiled and dismissed Julia's question with an arched eyebrow and a sneer as she took a seat somewhat cautiously on the cushions. "You heard me tell Mr Zero that I wished to talk with you before we commenced. This is because I have an offer to make you, which you are at liberty to refuse, but which I am hoping you will accept. I would like to offer you an additional ten thousand pounds for an amendment to our agreement."
Julia started in disbelief, only just stopped herself from saying "WHAT?!". Ten thousand extra? She steadied herself into what she hoped looked like professional composure and said in a voice that was far too high pitched "I see."
Vena smiled at Julia's reaction. "Our original agreement was that you would travel here to work on the statue. I would find it much more convenient if you could stay here as our guest until the work is completed. The extra ten thousand will, I hope, reimburse you for any little inconveniences there might be as a result of you being away from home for a while."
Sheer surprise did away with Julia's tempering of her own reactions. "Madame DeMille, I earn that amount in a year if I'm lucky and I'm certainly tempted. But the work may take at least three weeks, and there are other places I'm supposed to be. People I'm supposed to see." She thought of Darren and his muscular arms. Three weeks without having sex with him? But then if it was for ten thousand pounds that made it different.
"You can tell people you've gone on a little holiday." smiled Vena.
"I'll need to go back home for clothes and other things"
"Absolutely not! I mean you won't have to do that. We can provide you with everything you need."
Julia regarded Vena suspiciously. She had seemed a bit abrupt in insisting that Julia should not return home. Vena, observing Julia's worry, changed her tone.
She stood again, as though it took great effort, and walked over to the window.
"Do you like adventures and games, Miss Wassim? You could think of this as an adventure, the opportunity for which may never arise again in your lifetime. You'll be somewhere new, in entirely different clothes, for almost a month. Why, we could even call you by a different name if you choose. There's plenty in this house to amuse you, and anything you require or have a whim for could be bought for you. And after less than a month, you get your life back as it was. Plus ten thousand pounds. What do you say?"