The afternoon sun glinted off his ebony hair.

“Too much light.” She stepped to the window and adjusted the blinds, needing the perfect balance of light and shadow for the portrait. “Better.” Returning to her easel, she picked up the charcoal pencil and found her place. “Tilt your head slightly to the left, please.”

“I’ve moved again, haven’t I? So sorry.” The man reclining on her chaise longue did as instructed.

“I know it’s hard to be still.” She gave him an encouraging smile. “You’re doing great.”

He grasped her hand, his warm breath grazing her cheek. Her pulse quickened, but she pretended to be immune to his flirtations.

With short, heavy strokes, she finished the section of his hair. She sketched out his forehead and eyebrows, lightly at first, and then darker as she achieved just the right angles.

Now for the eyes. Her favorite part, windows to the soul. She peeped over the easel. His eyes, as dark as the charcoal, held her in a hypnotic gaze. She could get lost in their depths.

Focus. Delicately, she formed eyelids, lashes, and irises so dark they blended with the pupils.

“Is my collar straight?” he asked.

“Not quite.” Crossing to him, she adjusted the folds of the linen fabric.

“Maybe this would work better without the shirt.” He grasped her hand, his warm breath grazing her cheek.

Her pulse quickened, but she pretended to be immune to his flirtations. Pulling her hand away, she quirked an eyebrow at him. “It’s not that kind of portrait, sir.”

His mouth turned up in an impish grin. “But it could be.”

Retreating to her easel, she smoothed a hand down her smock. “I intend to display this in my art show next month, and a half-dressed man won’t make the cut.” No matter how handsome he is.

“I see.” He winked. “Guess I’d better stay clothed then.”

“Please do.”

With a few lines, she finished off his straight, perfect nose, feeling a twinge of envy. Hers was too short and turned up at the end.

Using the lightest of strokes, she sketched out his mouth. It bowed and rounded in a delicious way. Biting her own lip, she tried not to think of how his lips would feel pressed against her own.

She caught him watching her again. A teasing smile pulled up a corner of his mouth as if he had read her very thoughts. Heat flooded her cheeks.

Pulling in a steadying breath, she finished off his jaw line, appreciating the way it curved strongly to his ear with a hint of five o’clock shadow. She added darker shading where a dimple indented his chin. It smoothed out as he smiled at her from the couch.

“Try not to smile. It changes your features.”

“It’s difficult, with the beautiful view I have to enjoy.”

Such a flirt! Her view was something to enjoy as well. And equally distracting. Maybe she should’ve done this portrait from a photograph instead.

She wrangled her thoughts and sketched out the crisp, white shirt stretching over his broad shoulders. Very distracting indeed.

Finally, she stepped back and surveyed her work.

“Finished?”

“Yes. Want to see?”

She caught him watching her again….Heat flooded her cheeks.

He stepped close, and his nearness flooded her senses. Hints of sandalwood, juniper, and something sweet blended into a dizzying combination.

Nervous, she gauged his reaction. A smile bloomed across his face.

“It’s wonderful, love, even given the poor subject.” He placed a hand on his chest. “You’ve made this ordinary, old mug into something quite nice.”

He was anything but ordinary. That he didn’t see it made him all the more appealing.

“You really like it?”

He pulled her in front of him so she was facing the portrait. “It might be your best yet, sweetheart.” He reached his arms around her, hands clasping together over her abdomen.

She intertwined her hands with his. Her baby bump was starting to show the tiny life growing inside. She leaned back into her husband’s embrace.

“I hope he’s as talented as his mommy,” he whispered against her ear.

“He?” She teased. “When she gets here, I hope she has her daddy’s eyes.”

His chuckle rumbled in his chest as he rested his head against hers and held her tight.

Art imitated life, but it could never compare to the real thing.

 

For more art and romance, check out the November 2017 edition of Spark magazine.

 

Meet the Author

Hope Welborn resides in the beautiful North Georgia mountains where she works in digital content marketing. You can find her creating romantic suspense stories during her lunch hours or when she should already be in bed. She loves God, her family and friends, and anything superhero-related, in that order.

Her first manuscript was a 2016 ACFW Genesis Finalist and 2017 BRMCWC Foundations Awards Winner in Romantic Suspense. You can connect with Hope on her website, Facebook page, and Twitter.