Chapter 4

It had been several years since Adam had a live model in the house so he made sure the place was picked up and comfortable and that the room he'd use for Ms. Perkins' pose had furniture and other comfort features in it, although he wouldn't be surprised if the school teacher changed her mind – she wouldn't be the first model to get cold feet when it came time to get naked. However, Ms. Perkins showed up at 1:00 on Saturday wearing a summer dress and sandals, her hair noticeably styled and clean. She was friendly but Adam could tell that she was nervous and perhaps even shy.

"It's okay not to do this if you're having second thoughts," Adam said gently.

"No, no, no," Ms. Perkins insisted as she stepped into the house. "This is something I want to do. It's just that I've never done it before."

"I understand," Adam replied, leading her into the room he decided to use – the one with the best natural light in the afternoon at this time of year. He gestured to a screen he set up in the corner of the room. "You can undress behind that," he said.

"Okay," she said, heading for the screen. "You know," she said, once she was protected from his view. "It's weird undressing so clinically for non-clinical reasons. At least at the doctor's office, they give you a gown."

"A gown would defeat the purpose," Adam reminded her.

"I guess," she sighed, slowly and cautiously stepping out from behind the screen.

Only she still had her underwear on and she was covering her bare breasts with her arms. She had a sheepish look on her face.

"That's not going to do it either," Adam let her know, smiling with reassurance and waiting patiently. "Take as much time as you need. Why don't you try singing or humming to me?" He suggested. "Perhaps that will relax you."

"Maybe I should have gone to a woman artist," Ms. Perkins realized.

"Yes," Adam agreed.

"Oh well," she shrugged as she started to hum aloud. "Too late now."

So, tentatively and perhaps awkwardly, off came her panties and Ms. Perkins spent the next several minutes trying (unsuccessfully) to cover every part of herself with her hands, legs and arms, bunching herself into a pretzel while trying to remained dignified. It didn't work!

Adam waited patiently with his camera while Ms. Perkins adjusted to her new naked reality.

"Just relax, Valerie," Adam encouraged her. "Where's the free independent woman in search of her femininity who was here the other day?"

"She wasn't naked then," Ms. Perkins remarked.

Adam was amused by her cute apprehension and shyness. "Just relax and go with it," he suggested. "Sing to me. Perform for me!"

"Okay," she agreed, sucking in her breath and finally giving up on trying to protect her privacy in front of him as she started singing a song from familiar musicals.

Adam calmly and gently suggested various poses and he took her picture several times, directing her to turn a certain way as he searched for the right look and the right light from the window and his own lightning.

"I don't think full frontal is the best pose," Ms. Perkins decided between lyrics after trying a variety of poses.

"Okay," Adam said easily.

They finally agreed on a position that revealed her back, backside, and legs. Adam began the outline with a pencil at the easel while Ms. Perkins gazed happily out the window in a surprisingly restful and peaceful silence. Adam allowed her to take a break and stretch a couple of times and he didn't mind showing her the work in progress which Ms. Perkins found breathtakingly beautiful. She continued to sing and hum at various times throughout the process.

"Finished," Adam revealed after a few hours.

Ms. Perkins was so excited that she ran to the easel naked without even remembering that she was nude. "Wow," she said with amazement. "That's certainly…..life-affirming," she decided.

"Is it what you were thinking?" Adam asked cautiously.

"It's a truthful image that doesn't hide any faults and is very much me," Ms. Perkins announced.

"I'll have it framed and then it will be ready to be given as a gift," Adam said.

"The gift is for you," Ms. Perkins said with a blush, suddenly realizing she was standing naked in front of him.

"For me!?" Adam asked with surprise.

"I wanted you to remember me," she said quietly. "And my audacity to strip in front of you," she mumbled.

"I'm touched," Adam said with sincerity. "Honestly flattered."

"I'm glad," she smiled.

"Let me paint a second one," Adam requested.

"Now?" Ms. Perkins asked with surprise.

"Now," Adam insisted.

He dragged a table out of the far corner and put a mattress on top of it.

"Find a comfortable position on this," he said.

Ms. Perkins lay on her stomach and crossed her arms underneath her head.

"That's great," Adam said.

He used masking tape to mark her elbows, head, hips and feet, as well as the edge of the pillow she was holding.

"What are you doing?" Ms. Perkins asked.

"So when you take a break we can get the same pose again," he explained.

Ms. Perkins found that she was so comfortable in her pose, position and situation that she actually dozed as Adam painted her. When she awoke, she watched him paint with a focused look of concentration on his face. She noticed how often he looked at her – and made her feel special.

"The human skin and flesh is made up of every color, really," Adam told her. "The trick is to make every color fit."

But they didn't talk too much as he painted her. She didn't mind being naked in front of him – in fact, she was enjoying it, knowing she was becoming art.

"Finished!"

It was nearly seven o'clock when Adam finally made the announcement. Once again, Ms. Perkins moved naked to the easel.

"Oh," she said with true appreciation when she saw the work. "You captured me perfectly," she said. "Not just physically, but my mood as well. It's like you saw my soul."

"This is for you," Adam told her. "My present to you."

"What am I supposed to do with it?" She asked.

"Hang it in your bathroom," Adam suggested. "Or your bedroom."

"Wouldn't that be kind of narcissistic and egotistical of me?" She worried.

"To be alive in the moment?" Adam challenged. "I don't think so."

"Jesus, I'm naked," Ms. Perkins realized as she stood before him at the easel. "How is it that I am intensely aware of myself while at the same time completely forgetting myself?" She wanted to know.

"You are never more real than you are at this moment," Adam said. "Forget about your mortality, your humility, your modesty. When you are unaware of your nakedness, life is perfect."

"I planned all this, you know,' she confessed.

"I know."

"To be with you," she explained. "Intimately."

"Are you going to stay?" Adam asked.

"Do you want me to?" She asked hopefully.

"You sing as beautifully as you look," he told her.

She looked at him for a long moment and then impulsively she stepped into him and pressed her lips against his. She feared he might reject her but she sighed with relief when he wrapped his arms around her naked waist and prolonged the passion by returning the kiss.

"Was it a foolish plan?" Ms. Perkins worried, breaking from the kiss.

"Not at all," he assured her, pulling her closer.

Ms. Perkins stared into his eyes and she realized she was breathing heavily with passion as she pressed her body into his. Adam moved his kisses from her lips to her jaw to her neck and finally to her breasts.

"I wouldn't mind seeing the upstairs now," she said.

They ended up showering together so Adam could get the paint off his hands and from there they went to his bed where they made love for hours.

Later, they lay together cuddled under the sheets.

"Your tattoo," Adam whispered.

"What?" Ms. Perkins purred.

"I was fascinated by your tattoo from the start."

"It was for my mother," Ms. Perkins revealed. "Her name was Rose. She died when I was in college."

"I'm twenty years older than you," Adam worried.

"So?" She giggled.

"I gave up this part of my life a long time ago," he sighed.

"Now you have it back," Ms. Perkins smiled.

"Because I painted you?" He wondered.

"Because I wanted you," she replied. "We have gifts for each other. My voice. Your art. You can paint me anytime, Murph."