James walks every morning. Religiously. The same route, at the same time, rain, hail or shine.
From his house in the village, he skirts around the green where they play cricket in summer, then up a slope to a rough path through the edge of the woods next to the Village Green, then to the steep laneway between moss-encrusted, free-stone walls to the church on the hill and down the other side to the village and back home again. It’s just over 3 miles and it takes him exactly an hour. Every day, regular as clockwork.
He is alone with his thoughts as he walks, immersing himself in the environment. He loves the welcome splash of colour of bluebells and daffodils in early spring with new buds bursting open, the scurry of squirrels in summer dancing in the dappled light, the crunch of acorns in autumn with the rich smell of leaves decaying underfoot, and the crunchy slurp of icy mud on bitter winter days. He welcomes the changes from season to season, and even day to day.
He works from his home office, so this daily excursion gets him out. He says it makes him more productive and more creative. He wouldn’t admit to being addicted to the daily walk but his wife, Clare, says he’s not good to be with on the days he can’t go for some reason. Even starting or finishing his walk late makes him testy and out-of-sorts.
One day, James stops abruptly when he gets to the edge of the wood near the Green. There’s a new fence alongside the path for about two hundred yards; the sort of temporary, robust fence you see around building sites. Workmen are there, on the inside, with white pegs, flagging tape, tape measures and dumpy levels.
He doesn’t stop for long for fear of losing time, but he’s straight on to the Council’s web site as soon as he’s back, checking for recent development applications. Sure enough, a new build has been approved. It’s to be a small cluster of exclusive, two-storey apartments. ‘Sympathetically placed among the oaks,’ it says. ‘The design will enable a meaningful dialogue between the interior of each apartment and its sylvan surroundings.’ He scoffs at the hype.
Truth be told though, he’s a bit attracted to the new development despite the marketing hyperbole. He particularly likes the way it overlooks the Village Green through the trees. He thinks he could enjoy living in one of these apartments. Not that there was any chance of that, on his unpredictable income.
He’s a writer. He has a flair for it and has had a couple of novels and a book of poetry published; nothing world-shattering or profitable and he’s always had to take on other work to make ends meet. For years he’s been living off boring work such as drafting Annual Reports for big companies, turning dry statistics into engaging prose for shareholder newsletters, editing turgid scientific writing about no-doubt interesting discoveries to make them comprehensible to readers of The Guardian Weekly, and editing economic and political gobbledygook into something informative and interesting for readers of The Spectator. He finds it stultifying, but it allows him to indulge his real love: creative writing.
Day by day he watches the erection of the building. He modifies his walk a little to accommodate a daily pause to be able to scrutinise progress because, in his mind, he still has to be back home exactly on time. He compensates for the daily delay by speeding up on the steep uphill stretch to the church, and he’s getting a little fitter as a result!
He’s surprised at how quickly the apartments go up, convinced that construction at this rate would never happen in England – surely that’s only possible in Dubai! Now the shell and core is finished, his walk becomes a bit like a reality TV show with daily, five-minute episodes. He’s looking in from outside on other people’s lives. One episode after another, he sees workmen erecting glass balconies, laying paving, painting the concrete whits, and landscaping the grounds around the complex. Then he watches people moving furniture in, arranging ornaments, hanging pictures on walls, and planting shrubs in pots on balconies.
One apartment in particular catches his eye. The downstairs garden is being beautifully landscaped and, in one five-minute ‘episode’, he watches a sculpture being installed. A very arresting sculpture it is too. In white marble, abstract but also realistic, it’s of a naked woman in a pose looking up wistfully at something on the upstairs balcony. He follows her gaze, but the apartment still seems empty.
He is instantly aroused by the sculpture and several fantasies keep distracting him on his walk home. Her breasts are large and rounded, the nipples are obvious and her legs are seductively arranged to slightly show off her sex. She wears a hint of a smile, like the Mona Lisa. Unlike the demure Da Vinci masterpiece, however, her sculpted expression says “look at me; look at all of me”.
He imagines himself as the sculptor. The model he’s employed is distracting him; she strips off and poses provocatively, beckoning him to her. Then she reaches under his artist’s smock to release and stroke his cock. His own cock reacts immediately to the fantasy; he can feel it swelling and moistening as he walks. As he nears home, that fantasy gives way to another one in his own garden. He’s frolicking on the lawn with the woman in the sculpture, but she’s real… and she’s naked. He chases her round the garden, getting tantalisingly close but she’s always just out of reach. Laughing, she encourages him to try harder to catch her. He pauses to strip off too, before resuming his pursuit. He delights in the feeling of the air on his naked body and the prospect of what they’ll be doing when he finally catches her.
He can hardly contain his erection by the time he arrives home. He cheekily suggests to Clare that they might try being nudists in their own back garden when the summer comes. She has no idea what to make of this, and sends him packing up to his study, suggesting that he should stop acting like a teenager and get back to work.
About three episodes of the ‘reality TV show’ later, James sees a woman in the apartment, when he follows the gaze of the naked woman sculpture. He watches as she moves around from one room to another, carrying boxes and hanging pictures. She’s alone. A bit ghostlike through the reflections in the sliding door, she appears to be dressed in a Japanese kimono. She stops to look out through the trees, standing with one hand on her hip and coffee cup in the other. He hurries on, worried about losing time and uncomfortable with the feeling that he’s spying or intruding.
She is a sculptor, Chloë Harpley. For months she’d been searching for the perfect apartment before settling on this one, which she thinks is wonderful. She’s furnishing one of the two upstairs bedrooms as her studio: a studio with a view through the trees that is perfect for inspiration… and distraction.
She can’t wait to get to work but the move has disrupted her – psychologically. Inspiration has deserted her. She has a good commission that she should be making a start on and the income it generates is needed to help pay for the apartment, but the project isn’t grabbing her. It’s pedestrian, unchallenging and uninteresting. Instead, she wants her first creative work in her new home to be something special and to be hers alone, from conception to completion.
She looks out over the Green, warmed by the beauty of the view. There’s a man walking on the path below; mature, nice looking, athletic. She thinks she might have seen him before, as she was moving in. “I could fancy him,” she muses. “I wonder if he lives in the village and if he has a partner.” She thinks he might be a successful businessman retired early. That would be boring. Then she brightens up, deciding that he must be a ‘professional’ voyeur. “Yes,” she tells herself, “he’s inherited lots of money, is bored with his own life, and amuses himself by looking in on other people’s. Well, I can give him something to look at!”
She sees him again the next day. She’s pretty sure it’s at about the same time, just after 9.15. She decides that this walk must be a regular morning constitutional, titillated by what he sees through people’s windows. “I wonder if he has the constitution to enjoy what I have planned for him,” she thinks to herself, smiling.
Looking up he sees her, gazing out, coffee in hand, just like the day before. Surely she sees him too, despite the tint on the sliding doors and the height of the balcony. Subconsciously he draws himself up taller, tensing his tummy muscles before turning away, feeling as if he’s been caught doing something sexily naughty.
Just as he turns, he sees a movement in the window out of the corner of his eye. He resists turning to look directly, but he’s almost sure it’s the wafting of her kimono slipping off her shoulder onto the floor.
A little disappointed that he turned away a split second too soon to see her disrobing, Chloë chides herself: “Damn! You’re too timid Chlo… too slow.” She consoles herself with the thought that he’ll be there again the next day. “I reckon he’s a creature of habit,” she whispers. After a pause, she adds: “And so am I!”
She’s up early the next day, padding round her apartment in her kimono. She loves the feel of the weightless fabric moving against her naked skin. Cool, caressing, sensual, it makes her nipples stand up. It flows out behind her as she moves, exposing her belly and thighs. Morning coffee in hand, she thinks: “He’ll soon be here.” She shrugs the kimono to the edge of her shoulders and delights in the feeling of the silk slipping over her arms, nipples and bum as it drops to the floor.
Moving towards the door she assumes her usual pose – this time stark naked. She lets her peripheral vision scan for the walker. He isn’t there. She slips her kimono back on, slides open the door, and steps out to the edge of the balcony. She sees him already disappearing behind the trees along the path up to the lane. “Damn!” she exclaims aloud. “He was early. That’ll teach me to make assumptions!”
James is indeed early that day. After yesterday’s glimpse of the falling gown, he eagerly looks to see if she’s there again. She’s not. Checking his watch as he turns to walk on, he curses out loud. “Bugger! 9:10. I’m early.” He is seriously upset with himself. In his enthusiasm to see her again he must have started his walk a bit soon or perhaps he’s walked faster. He resolves to try again the next morning and make sure he’s on time.
Chloë pushes her annoyance to the back of her mind and sits down on her favourite chair to mull over ideas for her next sculpture: not the commission, her new masterpiece. She’s come to a decision overnight; it’s to be a partner for the sculpture that now has pride-of-place in her garden and won her the Hepworth Prize the previous year. As a result, she’d been exhibited in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. That has put her on the map as a sculptor and resulted in several commissions, so she feels a strong connection with the sculpture.
Pacing himself better the next morning, despite a chill wind and misting rain, James shivers and buttons his jacket up to his neck. He’s convinced himself that she hadn’t slipped off her kimono after all and she’d not be there when he passes by today, so his heart skips a beat when he catches sight of a movement behind the glass door, through the trails of water running down it and the glass balustrade. She’s naked!
“She thinks she can’t be seen,” he says to himself, but the possibility that she might be doing this deliberately is captured by his subconscious and he feels his cock stirring as if to say: “I’m here Lady… look at me!” He looks down to see if the bulge he’s feeling in his pants is noticeable, and he glances around furtively lest someone may be watching.
For Chloë, of course, it is all quite deliberate: the pose, the nakedness, the assiduous ignoring of his presence. Peripheral vision is a wonderful thing! Trained as an artist, she picks up details that most people miss, so the bulge in his pants does not escape her attention. Her daring gives her a sexual thrill, and she finds his reaction both satisfying and arousing. She’s confident that they’re starting to develop a form of unspoken, erotic communication.
Energised, she goes back to her drawing table, and starts to work on sketches of the ideas that have been forming in her head. She works through lunchtime, the sketches piling up as she uses them to solidify and organise her ideas, and to help her decide which of them might work in three dimensions and which should be discarded.
The next day dawns bright, sunny, and warm. It’s a classic English late-spring day. She opens the big sliding door out to the balcony and breathes in deeply, thinking how good it would be if there were a cricket game on the Green that afternoon. She’d be able to work in her studio with the sound of willow on leather as bat hit ball, insects chirping and buzzing, birds calling, and people politely applauding. How civilised!
She’s so immersed in this reverie that she almost forgets the time. 9:15 already! She slips her kimono from her shoulders, picks up her coffee cup, and moves to the middle of the room, just a bit back from the sliding door, where she can be seen only by someone on the path right in front of her apartment.
There’s a spring in James’ step, as well as the air, as he makes his way around the Green. Warmth and sunshine makes a person feel positive, and he’s no exception. He’s sure he’ll see her. As he nears her apartment, he notices that there are no reflections in the middle door. It must be open, he concludes, intrigued. As he draws nearer, she comes into his line of sight. With no reflections and no raindrops today, her naked body is fully exposed. In the same pose as before, holding a cup and looking out over the green, she seems to be oblivious of him. He swallows, and wonders how long he can pause here looking, without being too obvious.
Still looking outwards rather than down, Chloë moves her free hand from her hip and trails it over her breast and down her belly. Again she feels a warm thrill of arousal, stimulated by the brazenness of her exhibitionism. She strokes again, concentrating on the touch of her fingers.
James stands transfixed; the left side of his brain trying to work out how long he can stay and watch, while the right side connects directly to his groin. He can feel his erection growing and pressing against the inside of his pants.
Once again, she notices these signals of his arousal, and it gives her even more of a thrill. She shuts her eyes and lets herself respond to the tickle of her fingers as they trail across her naked body, mixed in with the wafts of warm air coming in through the open door.
He plunges his hands deep into his pockets in the hopes that it would distract attention from the bulge, should anyone be watching, but the feeling of his erection against his fingers only excites it more. He turns to walk on, somewhat stiffly. “This is deliberate,” he mutters out loud. “She knows I’m here; she must. What is she up to?”
As he walks on up the hill, she turns back to her studio desk, the interaction seemingly forgotten. Charcoal in hand, she sketches in a frenzy of activity. Nude body parts flow from her imagination onto the paper and are fleshed out, presented in detail from every angle.
It goes on like this over the next few days; her standing in front of the sliding door, open or closed depending on the weather, playing with herself in various ways. Each day, he pauses in his walk to look up, engaged and obviously aroused. Each day he extends his viewing by a little longer, greedily consuming the sight of her lazy, teasing caresses over her whole body before moving on.
She turns back to work as soon as he walks on. The morning’s ritual is always followed by a flurry of activity in her studio; it’s as if she needs this existential experience as a trigger to get her creative juices flowing.
He seems changed by the daily encounter too. Clare is aware that his return times are more erratic but, strangely, he doesn’t seem at all concerned. And he’s more cheerful. He comes straight in after his walk, says a cheery ‘hello’, and disappears upstairs to his study with a mug of coffee. He can work for hours in this mood, ignoring lunch and occasionally even dinner.
He is also noticing Clare more. He even comments on what she wears, her perfume, how he likes the way she moves. He’s somehow less inhibited and more easygoing and talkative, even flirting with her in public. He has been sharing some fantasies and expressing sexual needs and desires, which turns her on and leads to some great sex. Even in the daytime. And sometimes immediately he gets back from his walk – unheard of!
Clare’s pleased and excited by the unexpected change in direction of their sex life, and surprised he appears so comfortable with novelty and experiment. The changes are bringing out a daring, uninhibited side of her; one that she didn’t even know was there. If you’d told her, years ago, some of the things she’d be doing now, she’d have scoffed, blushed and dismissed it out of hand. Yet here they were, behaving beyond her imagination.
An interesting and welcome response to the change is a renewed desire for lingerie shopping; something she’s not done for years. She loves it, especially the choosing of black lacy G-strings, a half cup black-and-red bra and a black silk cami, not to mention the sexy red corset and suspenders to hold up black seamed stockings. She has even dug out her stilettos, which she hardly used to wear. Looking at herself in the mirror, she concludes that she still looks pretty good, and dressing up turns her on.
One day he calls out to her to come into the bedroom. She finds him naked on the bed. “Do a striptease for me,” he asks. Not pleading, not ordering, just matter-of-fact. “I love the way your body moves. Tantalise me. Play with yourself.” And she’s doing it. Not just doing it, but getting into it, enjoying it, immersing herself in the experience, pleasuring herself. She unclips her suspenders and slowly, oh so slowly, rolls down her silk stockings, playing her with breasts then her nipples through the sheer black fabric before kicking off her stilettos and using one to tease his cock with the sharp heel.
Another day he comes in to the kitchen with a length of satin rope and ties her wrists together, blindfolding her and leading her by the tether in to the living room. He strips her on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire, stroking her with his fingers and tongue, and with his erection, leaving snail-trails of moisture across her skin. He places the taut, swollen, smooth tip of his dick on her lips, and she tastes the salty, sticky secretion. “Suck me!” he demands. And she does more than just suck him. She discovers that her tongue can make him moan and abandon control, and she’s driven to find out how much of his throbbing cock she can take into her mouth. She makes him come… and swallows!
Sometime later he invites her into his study – he rarely does that. She finds him sitting in his chair, trousers open and erection exposed, fondling it. “Come over here,” he says. She knows what he’s thinking and starts by kneeling in front of him and unbuckling his belt as if to go down on him. But then she surprises him by pulling his belt off and ordering him onto all fours, bare bum in the air. She slaps him gently with the belt and is surprised by the arousal that this seems to create. She slaps him harder, and is now surprised that she’s getting wet and excited herself, stimulated by the dominatrix role.
Although she welcomes the change in their lives, deep down a tinge of concern is starting to catch hold of her. She’s read in magazines that it’s a warning sign if your man, reaching early middle age, suddenly starts going to the gym, because that means he’s probably having it off with a younger woman. Another warning sign is an interest in more adventurous sex, because that means he’s seeing a sex worker for sure. A woman well practiced in being creative with her body and with his, could be widening his horizons and whetting an appetite she can only guess at. Could that be what’s happening? She ponders all this and worries but then she has no idea when he would have fitted this in to his daily schedule.
The suspicion that his morning constitutional may not be a walk at all eats at her, day after day. “Maybe that’s when he sees her,” she thinks. So the next day she follows him, at a discrete distance. But there’s nothing untoward. He’s just out on a walk, as he’s said, and on the exact route he’s described. From a safe distance she does see him pause to look for a while at the new flats, and then walk on up the lane. Relieved, she turns back to the village. As for his new-found appetite for sex? She resolves to lie back and enjoy it, and not try to work it out.
One day, as James approaches the apartment, Chloë’s figure isn’t in the doorway. Frowning, he slows down to look more closely. He sees a slight movement, near the pot plants on the balcony. There she is, reclining naked on a chaise longue, with the dappled sunlight playing over her skin. Her eyes are closed, her legs slightly parted with one foot on the ground and the other stretched out on the chair. One hand is moving slowly, delicately, deliberately between her legs.
He stands rooted to the spot. His eyes are fixed on the movement of her fingers. Her hips start moving in time with the rhythm of her hand as it increases in speed. He sees her muscles tensing, and her toes curling. He’s holding his breath; not a sound. His cock is straining, demanding attention, clamouring to be released from the constraint of his pants. He does his best to ignore it, hard though that is, his eyes glued to her tense, naked body as tremors flow though it.
He slowly exhales, on the edge of coming himself, and then catches his breath when she opens her eyes and looks straight at him. He notices the deep flush in her cheeks. She blinks with the light and smiles. It’s a disconnected smile of one still enveloped in post-orgasmic warmth, pleasure, relaxation and satisfaction. He’s petrified, stunned like a rabbit caught in the beam of a spotlight, opening and closing his mouth as if he’s trying to say something. She keeps smiling and doesn’t speak. Instead she silently mouths three words to him. Slowly and deliberately. He is sure they were: “Your… turn… tomorrow.”
Her exhibitionism is driven in part by a fixation she has on sexual stimulation and creativity. It’s an idea that’s been long debated in the art world. Several famous artists and novelists are known to have attributed their creativity to sex. Toulouse-Lautrec turned his sexuality into his classic portrayal of Parisian nightlife and writer John Cheever was convinced that sex improved his writing as well as his eyesight – by all accounts he must have had incredible eyesight!
Chloe’s especially intrigued with the French writer Balzac. He would masturbate to the very edge of orgasm, but not over it, and he called that state — "aroused, agitated, excited to the point of near-madness". It was his ‘sweet spot’, in terms of creative writing. But the story she likes best is the sculptor Rodin, who immortalised Balzac’s oft tested belief that masturbation stimulated his creativity in a famous sculpture erected at the crossing of Montparnasse and Raspail. She’d made many trips to see it when she was studying sculpture in Paris. In fact, it was a big contributor to her desire to become a professional sculptor.
After varied experiments with Balzac’s idea, she’s convinced that it works for her too, though she definitely does not agree that stopping just before the precipice of orgasm is the key to creativity. Her ‘sweet spot’ is immediately after orgasm, while her brain is heady with the full orgasmic flush of blood, hormones, receding fantasies and sexual energy.
She’s discovering that many forms of sexual excitation work for her; and her daily exhibitionism and the tactile tracings of her fingers over her body in full view of a voyeur is testament to that. Now she wants to see if she can achieve the same creative stimulus with a reverse sort of voyeurism; watching him pleasure himself.
Unaware of all this, and still unable to process what’s just happened or form any coherent response, James turns abruptly and strides quickly up the hill towards the lane, almost running. “My turn tomorrow?” he mutters to himself. He has no idea what it means. Or rather, many ideas about what she might have meant by it are forming, circling and colliding in his mind. He explores them, mantra-like, in time with his steps:
Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… she’ll fuck me?” Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… expose myself? Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… masturbate her? Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… she’ll toss me off?” Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… I’ll masturbate?” Step, step, step…
“To-mor-row… she’ll be watching?” Step, step, step…
Some mixed up lyrics of a trashy song intrude as he ponders. “Where do they come from?” he thinks. They’re by a lewd Liverpudlian singer-comedian he’s heard once, Chubby Brown. The memory of the concert, over a decade before, had been well buried; he didn’t even enjoy it at the time. He found Chubby Brown crude, rude and uncouth. And without talent. Nevertheless, the words have been stored somewhere, and he starts reciting as he strides up the lane towards the church, a line with each step:
“It’s Saturday night
And I ain’t got a light,
But I don’t give a shite,
Coz I’m off to a dis-co-theque.
“It’s a Saturday dance,
I’ve a bulge in me pants,
And I’m in with a chance,
When I get to the dis-co-theque.
“Kiss me dick,
Me Hampton Wick,
Or just toss off me stick,
On the way to the dis-co-theque.
“It’s just my luck,
I won’t get a fuck,
Or even a suck,
When I’m there at the dis-co-theque.”
The words are a bit wrong and his memory’s made a few up to fill in some gaps. And what the hell is ‘Hampton Wick’ anyway? Rhyming slang, he thinks. Anyway, the words time pretty well with his steps and the sentiment captures his confusion about what she might have meant by “Your turn next”. By the time he gets home, he’s decided that she wants him to expose himself to her and masturbate… while she watches.
He quickly decides he can’t possibly do it. Not out in the open. He wants to, but he’s pretty sure it’s illegal, exposing oneself in public. What if it’s a ruse, to trap him? What if she’s pissed off that he’s a Peeping Tom or suspects that he’s a pervert and is planning to call the police so as to catch him ‘red handed’? What would that do to his reputation… his career, his marriage?
Despite himself, he starts visualising the area around her apartment; using his mind’s eye to recall the layout of the trees, shrubs and bushes. Though he tries to resist, his mind is working out that there’s a spot that would be hidden from the green and the path, yet exposed to her. “No… no! It’s crazy!” he tells himself, “It’s definitely a trap.
Yet the next day he prepares himself. He puts on baggy trousers with no underwear and sets off. His heart’s thumping, and he’s already a bit aroused, feeling the rub of his pants against the slight swelling of his dick. He glances round furtively, lest anyone might be watching him too closely.
As he approaches her apartment, he checks out the shrubs and bushes, hoping they will provide some screen for his upcoming act of public indecency. She’s there, on the balcony, watching him approach. Smiling. She’s in her silk kimono, open at the front revealing the cleavage between her breasts. Very alluring.
He turns off the path, heart thumping even more, and deliberately breathes in deeply to calm himself. He stops behind a wall of tall, dense shrubs and looks around to be sure he can’t easily be seen. He looks up.
She’s there on the edge of the balcony, smiling at him. She mouths at him: “You came!” and claps her hands silently. He nods. His erection is starting to make itself felt, pressing hard against the inside of his fly and creating an impressive bulge. He moves to unbuckle his belt, looking up at her again as he does so. She shakes her head. He stops, feeling awkward; at a loss as to what he should do with his hands. She picks up a clipboard and charcoal and starts sketching, apparently unaware that her kimono is slipping even more sensuously open, revealing the curve of her breast and a hint of nipple. Below the clipboard that’s pressed into her waist, he can see her navel and soft triangle of pubic hair.
She’s drawing feverishly while he watches, still feeling awkward. She stops and looks at him again, with a smile of satisfaction at her work, and nods. Then she makes a circling gesture with her drawing hand, still holding the charcoal pencil.
“She wants me to turn around,” he thinks. He turns slowly around, as if displaying himself to an audience. For her it’s about power as much as anything; about testing to see if he’ll do as she bids.
Facing her once again, his hands go once again to his belt buckle. She shakes her head almost imperceptibly and purses her lips. He can almost hear a disapproving ‘tut tut’ sound. He stops. Then she makes a gesture like pulling down a zipper. He reaches for his fly. Warming to the occasion, he starts pulling the zip down slowly; tantalisingly slowly; as if it’s a ziptease! It is barely half way down when his erection springs out, unconstrained by any underwear.
She already has a new sheet of paper and charcoal in hand by the time he’s drawn the zip all the way down and wriggled to release his balls as well as his straining erection. She holds her hand up, palm facing him. “Stop right there,” the motion says. “Hold that pose.” He does as instructed, but he can feel the tightness of his erection starting to relax a bit. He can also feel a drop of moisture starting to ooze out.
“Funny,” he thinks to himself. “You’d imagine it would keep me fully aroused, being invited – no, instructed – to expose myself to a near-naked woman I’ve never actually met. Instead I’m starting to droop.” He’s starting to feel embarrassed, willing his cock to stiffen up again, when she gestures again, this time indicating the undoing of his belt.
His cock instantly rises when he pulls on his belt and undoes the waist button, letting his pants drop to the ground. He feels very exposed and vulnerable now, and excited. He wonders what he should do next and, especially, what he should do with his hands. He just stands awkwardly… on display.
She smiles. Then gives the ‘turn around’ gesture again. It’s a bit more difficult this time, with his pants round his ankles so he steps out of his shoes and trousers. Naked from the bottom of his t-shirt, his heart is pounding with sexual excitement and the knowledge that there’s no hope of recovery if it’s a trap. His fate is sealed. He rotates, his muscular bum revealed beneath his t-shirt; not to mention his straining erection! He stands sideways so she can see the angle and profile of his erection. She signals to hold that pose while she works. He is both embarrassed and excited for what seems like a long time before a dismissive wave of her hand tells him she’s finished.
She pauses in her drawing when he’s facing her once again. She holds up the fat charcoal pencil in one hand, and forms a fist around it with her other hand around, sliding the fist up and down the pencil, which coats her palm and fingers in black dust. There’s no mistaking the meaning of this and he complies. In fact, by now he’s desperate to touch himself; to play with his cock, which has been oscillating between extreme stimulation – tantalisingly close to the edge of coming – and slight relaxation for so long now that his touch is a feeling of release. He squeezes his fist tight around the base of his cock and moves it up towards the tip, capturing his foreskin and rolling it up over the swelling head, shivering with the spreading pleasure of the sensation.
Then he slides his fist slowly back down again, eyes closed to block out other sensory inputs, especially the sight of her sketching, so he can focus completely on the waves of pleasure flowing from his cock and spreading through his body, causing his nipples to harden, his scrotum to contract, and the hairs on his back to stand up.
With his eyes still closed and his body enveloped in the feelings flowing from his fist tightly grasping the base of his cock, stretching the skin around the head and causing it to swell even more, he hears a single word, the only word that has been said between them: “Stop!”
He freezes, and hears the unmistakable clicking of a camera shutter, set on ‘continuous’. His eyes fly open, blinking a bit with the light. Her face is part hidden behind the camera, with her eye to the viewfinder and finger on the shutter. Her other hand is twisting the zoom ring on the lens. The clicking continues.
As she snaps images, Chloë’s mind goes back to the Rodin sculptures she was so taken with, particularly the studies he did in preparation for his Monument to Balzac. She recalls the dancer Isadora Duncan’s telling of her experience with Rodin in his studio:
“By and by, he took a small quantity of clay and pressed it in his hands. Breathing hard, in a few moments Rodin had made a woman's breast that palpitated beneath his fingers.” Convinced to go to his house afterwards, she demonstrated a new dance wearing her customary Grecian tunic. She reports that, at this point, Rodin… “seemed to lose sight of the distinction between statue and woman and soon I was given the same treatment as his works of art.”
She closes her eyes and imagines herself as Rodin, moulding a man’s erection palpitating beneath her fingers. She’s sure she’d readily lose sight of the distinction between man and statue! She imagines the feeling of the cock she’ll be moulding later. It starts to swell as she slides her fingers along the slippery, squelchy surface, trickles of warm muddy clay squeezing up between her fingers. As she moulds, it comes to life under her touch, straining and pulsating.
James is finding it very difficult to remain still, as the stretched skin around the swollen head of his dick is causing a twitching feeling, emanating from somewhere deep in his bum. He desperately wants to come; to slide his fist back up his cock. But he manages to hold on – literally!
She emerges from behind the camera, silently mouthing “Go on.” He notices the flush in her cheeks; the brightness in her eyes, and correctly interprets it as sexual arousal.
He doesn’t need to be asked twice, and his hand moves without bidding. It doesn’t take more than a couple of strong strokes until he feels the contractions in his bum and a warm flooding sensation spreading up behind his balls and into his dick. He holds his fist tight around the base of his cock, watching the tip bouncing a couple of times before ejecting several spurts of cream out into the air, splotting onto the dead leaves below.
Only then does he register that his orgasm has had a sound track; the clattering of the camera shutter. He looks up to see her turning her back to him as she collects together her many sheets of drawing paper and walks in to her apartment.
He feels that he’s been dismissed or discarded, but at the same time he’s strangely pleased with himself: pleased he’s been able to do something so far outside his comfort zone, and actively enjoy it; pleased that he’ll be late back from his walk and not care about it; pleased that someone’s wanting to draw and photograph him… naked; even pleased with the slight ache in his balls as he pulls up his pants. He walks back to the path and walks up towards the church, feeling elated.
Chloë’s really energised by this experience, and very aroused. She thinks about what excited her most. Was it his compliance despite discomfort? Was it the sight of his erection and his muscular bum as he pirouetted? Was it his fist clenched around the base of his cock while she made him wait? Or was it the moment of orgasm as he surrendered to sensation, muscles taught, scrotum contracted, eyes tight shut, head tilted back? Just recalling it like this really gets her own juices flowing.
She feels the tug of creativity beckoning her back to work, but she hasn’t felt this stimulated in a long time and the urge to satisfy herself is irresistible. She sees no reason to resist, knowing how, Balzac-like, it helps her work. And this creative burst may need to last a while, as there’s no telling whether he’ll be back for more exhibitionism and stimulation.
Soon she's creating fantasies for herself, imagining him posing for a private art session in her studio while she orders him to undress and sit this way and that. She’s wearing another silk outfit; her black shoe-string-strap negligee, which feels slinky, sensuous and soft against her warming skin. It clings to her hardened nipples and swishes against him as she leans over to place an arm here and a leg there until she has the perfect pose. As she moves around him, she notes his growing and fading erections, registering which of her movements, touches, looks, whispers and glimpses turn him on the most. She organizes his cock and balls to suit herself and loves the sense of power that gives her.
She brings herself to her peak of arousal by vividly imagining herself, having finished the drawings, ordering him to stand up and follow her to the window. She gazes out at the scene she has witnessed many times now, but this time he is standing behind her, not out there looking up. His arms are around her, stroking her breasts and she pushes her rounded cheeks into his groin in a circular motion, rhythmically matching the movements of his hands around her breasts.
She can stand it only so long before she lifts up her negligee to her waist to feels his hot erection in all it’s nakedness between her legs, pressing against her vulva. It is strong, hard and straining. She’s been wet for a long time and she can feel his cock slipping deliciously between her lips from behind, lubricated by her juices. She bends forward slightly. He gratefully yet delicately finds the right place, moving in and out almost imperceptibly at first, getting deeper as she groans and encourages him with soft noises. He ups the pace of thrusting, one hand on her hip, pulling her onto his cock while his other hand moves round the other hip, probing between her legs, and finding her clitoris, rubbing it around and around until she can contain herself no longer and she comes and comes, crying out loud and enveloping herself in the best orgasmic fantasy she’s had in years.
She’s in her creative sweet spot now alright… and there’s work to be done
Day by day, she works on developing her masterpiece. Starting by moulding clay, she develops a three-part sculpture; three naked male torsos that appear to be emerging from a single block of stone. The first is clothed in pants but a swelling is obvious alongside the fly beneath the belt buckle – clearly an erection; the second has the fly open but belt buckle still fastened, a stiff cock exposed and pointing outwards; the third is naked, with a lifelike, muscular bum and a beautifully detailed hand constricting the base of the erection and apparently causing greater engorgement of the head.
Each day she works a bit with the clay, relishing the feel of it squeezing between her fingers, arousing herself as she moulds the erection, checking with her sketches and photographs as she works on the detail of swellings and veins. The hands are always the hardest to mould especially this one… so delicately positioned!
After his intense sexual experience, James is unsure about what to do. For a while he takes a different path for his morning walk. In one way he’s relieved that he won’t have to perform but in another way he’s disappointed. The experience of indulging a part of him he didn’t know existed – the show-off, the exhibitionist – had been amazingly energising and had let to some unusually creative writing, laden with sexual innuendo. It’s as if his silent interactions with her have released him from the clutches of whatever has been holding him back. But now he’s well and truly immersed in his own new writing project, something completely different, and the freedom is exhilarating.
Eventually, he returns to the original route of his walk, keen to see her again. There she is, smiling at him from above through the sliding door. She’s wearing a short red dress with a black over-shirt, which she slowly, tantalisingly unbuttons, turning all the way round before letting it slip to the ground. The red dress is next, one sleeve at a time until it falls down over her breasts and off her hips. Underneath she’s wearing garters and stockings and a corset. His bulge returns instantly. Mesmerized and turned on, he moves to unzip his trousers but she waves a no-no finger at him and retreats back from the window.
Thwarted, he is so turned on that he returns home in a rush and sets the table for an early lunch with wine, cheese, paté and fresh bread. When Clare returns for lunch, he’s ready, more than ready. Surprised but pleased, she responds to his flirting, touching and kissing, willingly following him to the bedroom for a post-prandial quickie.
He’s back to walking past the apartment every day. Sometimes she is there and sometimes not. Sometimes she’s dressed to titillate and other times she strips. And on a couple of warm days she’s out on her balcony pleasuring herself with a vibrator.
His response is like Clare’s had been: shop for underwear. But not the type you get at Marks and Spencers! He finds an online shop, Homme Exposere, specializing in pouches, G-strings and cock teasers. The very day they’re delivered, he dons a black shiny G-string and sets off. Standing outside her apartment, he performs his own strip tease and display for her.
Before long, they are in a pattern of showing off to each other; Chloë one day and him the next. He gets bolder and decides to try the new cock ring. He’s never experimented with one of these and it takes some practice before he’s ready to show it off to her. His erection is so huge and so red that Chloë can’t resist reaching for her camera. Realising that she’s taking close-ups of his cock, he uses his finger tip to spread the sticky honey around the rim so she can fully capture the new look: purple, shiny, swollen, ridged, and ready to shoot.
Staring right down the lens of the camera, he slowly moves his hand around the base of his rigid, tumescent cock and all the way up the shaft. Then up and down, up and down, feeling every swelling and ridge moving under his fist until he closes his eyes in ecstasy and jerks a stream of jism up and out over his G-string. He zips himself up and moves away, determined that he will make her wait a few days before demonstrating his next sex-toy buy.
As the days pass, Chloë continues chiselling, tapping, rasping, riffling, sanding, and measuring and remeasuring the dimensions of her marble work against the clay model. The cold, immovable marble magically comes to life under her skilled hands and the tools she wields. It’s as if her caressing of the stone is sufficient to cause the erection she’s working on to swell into life and be released from a marble prison.
His work is interrupted one day by news of Clare’s father dying. He’d emigrated to Australia decades ago, after her mother had died quite young. She and her father had never had a particularly good relationship but it went downhill quickly after her mother died. As an only child, she always felt that she had to prove or justify herself to him, even since he moved half a world away. He always put her down. Like marrying James; he’d derided her for that. She can hear his voice even now: “A poor writer? Really Clare! You couldn’t do better than that, could you? A leftie with a social conscience and no prospects… he’ll never amount to anything.”
Her father had been a successful businessman and had become very wealthy, seemingly without even trying and certainly without education or qualifications. He’d always used his money (and her and James’s relative poverty) as a way to demean her and try to control her. Perhaps he was motivated by the fact that from an early age she’d rejected his avaricious aspirations, his reverse snobbery about getting ahead without getting an education, his whole way of life really. Now she feels sadness at his passing, of course, but also a release; a feeling that she can at last be her own woman without fear of paternal judgment or criticism.
James is very supportive of Clare, taking several days out of his work to walk with her, to listen and talk, as she works through the emotions her father’s death unleashes. She’s not distraught; more relieved… and saddened by how much better life might have been had he been different.
A couple of days later, Clare finds an article in the Village Chronicle, the local paper. “There’s an interview with an artist,” she tells him. “Someone called Chloë Harpley. She lives in our village! I wonder if she’s related that famous sculptor of bronze nudes; what’s his name James?” He shrugs, and looks over her shoulder at the article.
The artist is described in the article as Britain’s foremost female sculptor, famous in her own right for sculpting in marble using traditional techniques – no power tools; hammer and chisels only! In the interview, she describes some of her more recent work as Abstract erotic sculpture and a modern-day answer to centuries of male artists depicting naked women in almost every pose they could think of. “As a result, my art is not for everybody,” the article reports her as saying. “Some may find it confronting, offensive even, so be warned! I don’t intend to offend, but I do believe we need to be confronted to make us think; to shake us out of our comfortable biases and prejudices.” The end of the article advertises an upcoming exhibition of her recent work, to be held in her home.
“She’s famous!” declares Clare, “And she lives in our village. Do let’s go, I’d love to.” Clare’s keen to see the inside of the apartment as well as the sculptures. He’s keen too, though probably for different reasons, and he agrees, with only a hint of reservation.
The photo accompanying the article is a picture of Chloë, partly obscured by the sculpture she’s working on, wearing safety glasses and a hammer and chisel in hand. All that can be seen of the sculpture is three life-sized figures viewed from behind, emerging from a single, large block of marble, like a Phoenix - or, rather, like three Phoenices (if there can ever be more than one Phoenix!). The torsos on the left and in the middle are clothed, but a smooth, muscular, naked bum is obvious on the one on the right.
It may be egotism, but somehow he’s sure that this sculpture is modelled on him. All at once he’s both very keen to see it in real life, so to speak, and also reluctant; perhaps embarrassed that his private parts might be displayed for all to see. And what if Clare were to recognise him from the sculpture. Explaining that would be more than a little awkward. He can hear his words already: “No, we didn’t do anything, love. I’ve never even spoken a word to her. I don’t know her in any sense, biblical or otherwise. She just saw me jerking myself off behind some bushes, that’s all. No, I don’t do that all the time…”
"Oh god," he thinks. "This could be a real disaster."
He keeps his reservations to himself, of course. There’s nothing else for it. They walk over to the exhibition, round the Green, following his now familiar, well-trodden route. There are many people there already; everyone who’s anyone in the village has turned up. There’s champagne and canapés as they arrive and the sculptor is working the room. Seeing them enter, she comes over to introduce herself: “I’m Chloë,” she says, with no hint of recognition.
He stammers a response: “Oh hello. I’m James… and this is my wife, Clare. Thank you for inviting us in. We’ve watched these apartments being built but never imagined that someone famous would be moving in.”
He kicks himself for babbling on and saying something so dumb. Chloë rescues him by laughing, and turning to Clare to engage her in conversation, which quickly turns to her latest work; the one featured in The Village Chronicle. “Oh, come over and see it,” Chloë is saying, with an amused twinkle in her eyes.
Backing off, he mumbles that he’ll catch up after he’s found another drink. “This is it,” he says to himself, feeling anxious and depressed. “How am I going to get out of this?”
Chloë’s certain from Clare’s demeanour and questions that he can’t have shared anything about the daily interactions; that Clare doesn’t suspect that he’s been her stimulus, her inspiration, her model. She’s circumspect in responding to questions about these aspects of her work but finds Clare a great conversationalist and enjoys talking with her. She wonders what Clare’s reaction will be when she sees the sculpture as a full frontal.
“This sort of sculpture isn’t for everyone, Clare,” she warns. Clare laughs and says she understands, that this was explained in the interview in the paper, and she’s broadminded. More than that, she says she can really relate to Chloë’s desire to push back against centuries of objectification of women by male artists. She says she hopes that the women here will take an obvious interest and some of the men will feel uncomfortable!
She hears a small gasp when Clare catches sight of the front side of sculpture, the two erections, one just exposed and the other clearly depicting masturbation in action. She holds her breath, awaiting a reaction; awaiting any sign of recognition.
After a long pause, Clare finally responds, with gushing enthusiasm: “I love it, Chloë! It is fantastic. Really it is. OK, I do appreciate the subject matter and the statement you’re making, but you are also an amazing sculptor! The combination of the abstract and realism is incredible. The smoothness of the skin on that bum – it’s pure Michelangelo. And the detail on the hand… that’s Bernini. And how did you get such fine detail on the zip? Each tooth is just perfect. Just as Bernini would have done it, if he’d ever seen a zip!”
She continues with her analysis: “ And how refreshing it is to see a modern erection, a large one, being caressed by a Baroque Bernini hand, all on a classical Hellenistic Roman torso. A real fusion of styles. By the way, why do you think it is that sculpted penises are almost always tiny, right from ancient Greek times nearly to the modern day? They are, aren’t they? By the way, who was your model? Is he here? I’d love to meet him!”
Chloë laughs long and loud, and deflects the final questions with a detailed response: “Yes, Satyrs and Priapus excepted, you’re quite right. This question’s occupied many a mind over the years, and there are just as many different theories. It’s been suggested that that small penises were more valued because large, erect penises were associated with foolishness, lust and ugliness! It seems that a small penis was the sought-after look for the alpha male. Even Aristophanes commented on it in his play The Clouds; one of the characters describes the ideal male as having a good chest, a clear complexion, broad shoulders, a moderate tongue, sturdy buttocks, and a small, genteel penis. And that was over 2,000 years ago! A theory I like better is that the sculptor, invariably male, always wanted to feel better endowed than his subjects, so he deliberately made them flaccid and small. I’m not encumbered by male hang-ups like these so I happily sculpt big erections!”
Clare falls in love with the sculpture, which she discovers is entitled ‘Release’. She loves the title too - because it works on so many levels: the release of the constrained erection through the fly, the release of pent up sexual energy with the impending orgasm so beautifully depicted on his face, and the release from conservative constraints that the subject of the sculpture represents. She looks at the price, £23,500, and gulps.
James sees Clare through the crowd and comes over to her. “What’s she like?” he asks. “Did you like the sculpture?” He holds his breath waiting for her response.
“She’s amazing, James. And that particular sculpture is amazing too. The skill in it is incredible. You’d love that aspect, I’m sure of it. It’s modern art created with the skill of the Renaissance!” Then she adds, with a laugh: “But I’m not sure you’ll like the subject as much as I do! Come and have a closer look”
She searches his face, looking for a reaction. He’s a bit defensive, but admits that he does like it too, being careful to avoid sounding too enthusiastic. That would be a bit out of character for him, and would arouse suspicion.
Linking her arm into his and squeezing she says: “I know this is crazy, James… but I want to buy it! It’s for sale, and I absolutely love it; the subject, the skill and the statements she’s making with it. I know it’s extravagant and imprudent, but with my father’s inheritance we can easily afford it. And the work’s called “Release”… so appropriate for my new relationship with my father!”
“Let’s talk about it when we get home,” he says, stalling for time. “Maybe we can call her and ask to see it again sometime.” That’s a bit daring, he tells himself, wondering how he’d manage a one-to-one conversation with her. But the prospect of it gives him a thrill too, and an accompanying swelling.
“That’s great!” Clare responds, with a smile of satisfaction. “I got her card,” she says, handing it to him.
On the way out, they see the apartment next door is on the market. The agent has cleverly timed the open house to coincide with the exhibition. Arm in arm, they divert inside to have a look, picking up the brochure and half-listening to the agent’s recitation about the quality of the building, the great location, and the “dialogue between the apartment and it’s sylvan surroundings”! James gags and manages to choke back a snide comment. “Does she really believe the marketing hype?” he asks in a whisper. “Does she even know what she’s saying?”
Nevertheless, they are both really impressed with the apartment, and enthuse about it to each other - the outlook, the clean new lines, the fittings. As they leave to head home, she whispers to him that she wants to talk about moving. Not necessarily to here, but moving out of their house in the village. She opens up about what she calls her ‘mid-life crisis’. She’s bored with traditional English houses and wants something modern. She feels that the death of her father could be a symbolic turning point. An opportunity to embark on a new life; and wouldn’t this apartment make a perfect start, she muses. “Now I’m an orphan!” she says. “And one with a good inheritance. We can afford it… and of course we’d have to buy all new furniture!”
The conversation is already making him feel anxious; a bit short of breath, and hot and bothered. He doesn’t like change or surprises, preferring routine and certainty. But he’s also quite excited, for a very complex set of reasons, including his interactions with Chloë over the past months, the stimulating, seductive, exciting new sex life with his wife, and the rediscovery of creativity and enthusiasm for his work.
He’s surprised, because as far as he’d been aware, she’s been so satisfied with the house, a house just like the one she grew up in – even down to the suspect plumbing – and she’s always seemed happy fitting in to the village. He’d never have guessed she’s been looking for something new and adventurous, and he finds it challenging.
He admits to her that he can’t explain his discomfort rationally, but knows that he finds any sort of change to be a challenge, causing him stress and trepidation. Yet, he admits he can be accepting and enthusiastic when he gets over his initial resistance. “So please give me some time to get used to the idea,” he asks. “And to the new you!”
When they get home, he says he has to go up and finish a piece of writing he’s been working on for months. “It’s a little novel; a different genre for me and it’s nearly ready to send off. If it flies, it’ll be the start of a new direction for me.” Clare expresses her delight that he’s back to writing and seems so engrossed and energised.
He works till late into the night, frantically putting the finishing touches to his novelette. It’s a story with a female sculptor as the central character and it’s his first delve into erotic fiction. Finding just the right ending had been blocking him, but the day’s developments have released that. They’ve given him his ending.
This work is also his first delve into electronic publishing. He reads it through one more time and clicks <Submit>. He breathes out deeply. “It can’t be undone now!”
He copies the URL for his author page on NovelTrove, the electronic publishing site on which his story will be published, under a pseudonym. It flags itself as hosting Erotic Stories for Well-endowed Brains! He likes the thought of a ‘well-endowed brain’. He opens his Outlook mailer, chooses the email account he’s set up for his pseudonym, adds Chloë’s email address from the card she gave Clare, and types:
Many thanks for unlocking my erotic potential as a writer. Your input has been the stimulus for my creative juices. In more ways than one! Hope you enjoy my novelette: “Nude Woman Gazing”.
Looking forward to seeing you on a walk sometime.
He clicks <send>.
With a warm, sensual feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, he goes to the bedroom, snuggles up behind his drowsy wife, traps his erection between him and the small of her back, kisses her shoulder, and whispers: “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s buy that apartment. And let’s install your new sculpture on the balcony… to give Nude Woman Gazing next door something to look up to.”
Copyright © 2018 Crystal Knight. This is an original work. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without the written permission of the author.