Publish Novellas 4 January 2023
EPISODE 2 – EXPOSED
On a first date with a secret admirer, Ryan discovers she can be quite particular about details and attracting personal attention.
Did you skip prior episode?
Ryan picks up Heather at 5:45 in the evening to accompany her to an art gallery exhibit at a local college. There, she is the model featured in the exhibit.
On the drive to the museum, Ryan tries to prepare himself for the show, “What’s the theme?”
“The theme is ‘Heather Light.’”
“So it’s all about you? I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable about this venue. Everyone is going to be gawking at your body, including your date.”
“The time for me to be uncomfortable would have been when 20 students were drawing me from every angle.” Craving more admiration, she notes, “You haven’t commented on my outfit this evening.”
“Oh, you look amazing. So you will be the primary subject of the gallery?”
“I accept your belated compliment. You’ll enjoy the rare privilege of having an entire room adore your date. It’ll be like you’re walking in with Cinderella.”
“Will these be sketches or detailed renderings… upper or lower body?”
“We will find out when we get there. As a model, I am nude whether it’s a portrait or a full frontal. But the featured artists are very talented.”
“I will try not to stare too closely.”
“But that is the only way you can appreciate the art.”
“As you can see, this feels a little awkward for me. Then I will stare with appropriate duration to appreciate the artwork.”
“That’s the spirit. Just relax and enjoy yourself among an audience of artists and art lovers.”
When they arrive, the artists snap photos with Heather for the school newsletter. As Ryan grabs a few cheese bites and begins perusing, Heather catches up to him.
“These drawings are really nice,” he remarks.
“Thanks, but the artists should share some of the credit,” she replies.
“Of course, perhaps as much as 30 percent of the credit, no doubt.”
“Here, take a few of their cards. Let me snap a photo of you standing next to the showpiece…. Perfect. Now over there…. Perfection.”
“There are not many drawings here, but they are tastefully done. Speaking of taste, will the cheese bites be sufficient or would you like to eat something more substantial this evening?”
“Thanks for asking. I am starving! Can we get some fresh ramen or pho?”
“I know a place nearby in Culver City,” Ryan suggests.
“That’s not too far away at all. My curfew is midnight.”
“It shouldn’t take that long to slurp soup.”
At the restaurant, Heather examines and polishes her silverware. She straightens and aligns it several times, even reaching across the table to do the same for Ryan’s place setting. “I am somewhat particular, to put it mildly,” she admits.
“That’s okay,” Ryan replies before placing the order. He then comments on the date so far. “That was different—in a good way. Tonight you were really the focus of attention in a crowd.”
“Is that past tense?” Heather asks while rolling her eyes.
“Well, you’re still my focus of attention. I meant that at the gallery, all eyes were on you. Some extra eyes are on you here in the restaurant too.”
“Which piece of me did you you enjoy most?” Heather wants to know.
“All of the artwork was amazing—much more tasteful than I expected.”
“Sorry, I haven’t graduated to a porn model.”
“No, that’s not what I mean. Cropping was modest. Most used a minimalist technique with subdued splashes of color. My favorite is the showpiece where your facial features are most discernible.”
“You were most attracted to a large drawing of my face and bosom. Then why didn’t you buy it?”
“I beg your pardon. I didn’t realize… I mean, this is our first date. It would seem a bit forward of me to hang your nude picture on my wall the same night,” Ryan says uncomfortably as he sips some water.
“You couldn’t hang it tonight anyway. The gallery focuses on me for a full week. The curators put a red dot beneath a picture to let others know it has been sold.”
“Okay, I will go back tomorrow.”
“It’s a one-of-a-kind drawing that you absolutely love by an up-and-coming artist at the opening-night exhibit. It’s surely a good investment. What if someone else purchases it before tomorrow?”
“Now I really feel bad. Can we go back after dinner?”
“You have the card. Call the artist and ask him to hold it for you?”
“That’s good. I’ll do that now…. Hello, I was at the gallery exhibit earlier and can’t stop thinking about the showpiece. Can I come back later and purchase it?
Covering the speaker while holding his phone under the table, he tells Heather, “Todd says someone else there now is expressing interest….”
“Money talks. Make him an offer,” she suggests.
“Hello, Todd…. Can I offer you $200 more to preserve the drawing this evening for me?” Ryan mutes his phone to convey another message to Heather, “He is apparently standing right next to the other interested party, engaging in a silent auction…. Now he says the other buyer is willing to pay $800.”
“How much am I worth to you?”
“Unfair question…. but here goes. Todd, final offer, I’m sitting here with the model…. Yes, Heather… and she would like to have this very much. Can I pay you $1000 for the drawing? Oh, really? All right. Thanks though.”
While leaning over her half-eaten bowl of noodles, she asks, “What did he say?”
“Todd said that if he it was for you from the beginning, he would have discounted the price. But he will graciously accept the $1000.”
“That is so funny. I guess we learn that name dropping works. You told Todd that the model wants it. So are you buying it for my wall or yours?”
“I will happily let you take custody, with visitation rights.”
“Thanks, I want to hang it over my bed,” Heather responds with appreciation.
“If you’re done eating, then I guess, we should get back to the gallery so I can pay the artist.”
Ryan drops off Heather at her place before curfew. She says, “Thank you for the dinner and the artwork. I had a wonderful evening. Will I see you again Sunday morning?”
“Yes, at 7 o’clock—in navy blue.” He then kisses Heather on the cheek and says, “Good night.”
At home, Ryan assesses the expensive evening. Heather is not unattractive but he would not have picked her out of a crowd. Perhaps he got caught up in her unabashed behavior. By synchronizing calendars, she is dominating his gym time and limiting other dating options.
Men who fear rejection by attractive women can have a weakness for the assertiveness of homely females.
On Saturday, Ryan decides things are moving too quickly, so he phones to beg off from their Sunday rendezvous. “Hey Heather, I had a great time last night.”
“Me too. I can’t wait for you to hang my gift.”
“Listen.… Something at work has come up for tomorrow. I won’t be able to meet you at the gym but we can still catch up on Monday. Is that all right?”
“But we were going to be color coordinated and everything,” Heather protests.
“Yeah, I’ll probably only spend half as much time at a gym near me. We’ll talk or text later.” Ryan then hangs up, breathing a sigh of relief.