Paint It, Black by J.D. Walker is now available!
Engelbert Trentworthy — dear God, call him Trent — is a bit of a slut. Most people don’t take him seriously, and really, neither does he. Trent keeps things simple and doesn’t allow others to get close for reasons he never shares with anyone. Then he meets photographer Elias Lane at the customer service desk where he works.
Elias is captivated by Trent’s appearance and asks him to be part of a photo shoot. Unfortunately, Trent’s image ends up in a shop window near his job and causes all kinds of havoc. To make it up to him, Elias buys Trent dinner. But when Elias tries to push for more, Trent backs away.
Somehow, between the coworker who’s harassing Trent for sex and the specter of Trent’s black past, Elias is determined to get Trent to give him a chance, in every possible way.
It took two weeks, but I finally turned up on a Sunday afternoon at Elias’s studio for a visit. We’d been talking via email and text since our last encounter, and he’d shared some of his old drawings with me. They were spectacular. I, in turn, sent him a link to my work online. He’d been impressed, amazed, and strangely turned on, he’d confessed in an email. He’d particularly enjoyed one of my depictions of vegetables humping each other. He’d never known an onion and a bell pepper could get down like that.
I rang the doorbell at his studio, a similar sign to the last time I’d been there stuck in the window. The door opened almost immediately. “Hi, Trent,” Elias said, grinning at me as I passed him by. “You look fantastic!” He should talk, dressed as he was in a white shirt and pants, sleeves rolled up, a firm chest and his nipples — and nipple rings — visible through the semi-sheer cotton. Mother mercy.
I cleared my throat. “Thank you.” Today, I wore dark purple skinny jeans with a tight-fitting black T-shirt and black Converse sneakers. I had a wide leather band on one arm, with black and silver rings on my thumbs. My hair had temporary purple and black streaks in it, and I’d worn heavy eyeliner and purple lipstick. I’d freaked out a lot of people on my way here, which made me happy. I had a sketchpad in one hand and a messenger bag over my shoulder.
“Come on,” Elias urged, enthusiastic as ever, and I followed him into his work area. The theme this time around was shoes. “There’s a new store opening in this complex soon and they wanted to have some photos of their stock.”
There were male and female models in various outfits to meant to draw attention to the footwear. I also saw … dogs and cats. This should be interesting. I took a seat and set the sketchpad on my lap. A model smiled at me as she walked by in what looked to be six-inch heels. Dear Lord.
“Want some water?” Elias asked from where he did some last minute adjustments to his equipment.
“I’m fine, thanks.” I pulled a bottle from my bag and set it on the floor. “Don’t mind me, I’m just enjoying the view.”
“So am I,” he replied, and I rolled my eyes. It was easier to take his teasing and flirting when I knew it didn’t mean anything. We were friends, and that was all. I needed to remember that, especially as I watched him in his element, so sexy in his focus and movements.
A guy like Elias could have anyone he wanted. And he’d likely get that, too, someday. Me? I was overused goods. I kept my attention on what was happening in the room, making sketches of the models, and then narrowing it down to Elias himself. It was easy to be captivated by him, his joy and confidence.
Before I knew it, three hours had passed, and Elias called it a day. I watched as he thanked the models and his assistants before ushering them out the door. “So did you like it?” he asked when he returned.
“Sure. I found lots to sketch. The dogs were so cute wearing the shoes. And the kittens! Here.” I opened my pad to the page where I’d caught a cat sleeping in a boot.
“Oh that’s just gorgeous, Trent! You are gifted, my friend,” he said, seemingly awed by what he saw. He looked through the drawings and stopped at one of him in action as he moved around taking pictures and adjusting poses.
“Is this what I look like when I’m working?” he mused, moving from one page to the next.
“To my eye, I guess so. You have a restless energy that’s fun to capture on paper.”
“Amazing,” he muttered, going back and forth between pages.
“I’m glad you like them. I don’t think about it much, what I can do with a pen or pencil. It’s just something I’ve always done since I was a kid waiting around for my sister to pick me up at school.”
Elias looked at me expectantly, but I wasn’t ready to share much else. “The drawings are yours.”
He was surprised by that. “Really?”
I nodded. “Yup. I have lots of pads at home and this was just for kicks. Do whatever you want with ‘em. I don’t care.”
“Thanks, that’s really nice of you.” And the look he gave me, happy, friendly, with a hint of more made me almost want to … well. That wouldn’t be a good idea. Best to keep things the way they were.