The question startled me, jerking me out of my trance. I can slip into ‘the zone’ when I’m sketching and one inherent risk is being crept up on. I snapped out of it sharply, trying to discern the source of the floating voice. It sounded awfully close. Behind me perhaps.
“Piss off!” Jim retorted, irritated at the interruption. He was sitting on the other side of his kitchen table sketching me sketch him. I looked over my shoulder. There, behind me, just peering around the door, was the face of a girl. This girl I had never seen before but then I had never been to Jim’s house before and he’d never told me if has any brothers or sisters. Why would he? We were only the loosest of new acquaintances, paired by our teacher to do our first art assignment together, and we’re not really hitting it off.
“Hi I’m Butch” I said nervously, on best behaviour in a strangers house. The face became shoulders became a girl slipping shyly into the room for a closer look.
“You’re not very butch” she giggled. She grinned with her whole face, her little nose wrinkling and cheeks dimpling and eyes sparkling.
“My dad likes westerns” I said reddening. I was used to having to explain my unusual name. It was a good ice-breaker. She was blushing at her forwardness too.
“Oj, just fucking leave us alone Naomi!” Jim looked exasperated now. He sounded slightly aggressive, bullying even. Clearly he couldn’t stand his sister right now. Perhaps they didn’t get along generally, or perhaps it was just a recent fight? I instinctively took sides.
I tilted my pad to show her better, encouraging her to engage with us. She got really close behind me, looking intently. “That’s actually really good!” she blurted out, obviously really surprised. Then she stepped back awkwardly as though realising she had perhaps got too close. She moved around the table and peered over Jim’s shoulder too; he tried leaning over his pad to block her view but she ducked and peeked anyway. “You’re way outclassed bro” she giggled playfully, looking up at me with a bemused smile and twinkling eyes. That seemed to knock Jim hard and he looked seriously pissed and embarrassed, his jaw set stone hard in contrast to the softness of his sister. Naomi drifted over to the fridge.
I tried to get my focus back in my zone but I didn’t really want to draw Jim any more. I looked at my portrait, disillusioned suddenly with the sympathetic look. I had been drawing him too soft and kind. Now I had the urge to draw Jim as a monster. My heart wasn’t in the half-finished sketch. Naomi was far more interesting.
She was busying herself in the kitchen, taking out pots and pans and ingredients and preparing to make dinner. She started to chop an onion, hacking rat-a-tat-tat with the precision and ease of a chef.
Precision and ease. That was the essence of Naomi in the kitchen as she cooked. I found myself sucked into her world, observing her from the wings as she skilfully chopped measured and mixed.
“Will you stop showing off?!” Jim spat at her. He looked over at me “You finished already?”. He must have caught me staring. I looked at him warily, snapped from my spell watching his sister. I wondered if Naomi was showing off for my sake; Jim obviously had a massive problem with it and he was going to have a problem with me appreciating her. Was he going to kick me out?
Naomi didn’t pay him any attention; she seemed in a trance cooking zone of her own. Now the kitchen was filled with the heady aroma and noisy sizzle of bacon. I tried to turn back to Jim and finish my sketch. Naomi’s captivating magic kept beckoning like a siren in the corner of my eye.
“Hello dears” a cheerful lady came around the corner behind me. I turned. She took in the sight and, realising there was a stranger in her kitchen, came to an abrupt halt in front of me. I was powerfully reminded of Naomi’s blend of shyness and confidence.
“Hi, I’m Butch” I announced.
“I’ve already told him he’s not” Naomi giggled from the worktop behind me. Her mum looked at her quizzically.
“Are you staying for dinner, dear?” her mum looked back at me and asked kindly.
“Butch and I were just finishing our art homework” Jim interjected.
“Oh, are you Jim’s friend? I thought...” their mum tailed off. “So will you stay for dinner? I’m sure there’s enough and it does smell delicious” she recovered cheerfully.
I tried to read Naomi’s panicked expression: was she worried I’d accept, or worried I decline, or nervous I wouldn’t like it? It was hard to read. Even while she looked wide eyed and panicky there was a cute playfulness to her expression. “I’ve made plenty” Naomi squeaked. I took that as subtle encouragement so I accepted.
Their mum was earnestly studying my sketch now. “That’s really rather good I must say” she complimented sweetly. She was alternating looking at the sketchpad and at Naomi standing over the stove. “Although her hair is a tad longer” she added critically, pointing towards Naomi’s back in my drawing.
“It looks a bit shorter when she leans over the chopping board” I replied quietly, feeling the heat surge to my face. Naomi, who must have been listening intently, froze. She had just worked out that I’d been sketching her. No wonder her mum thought at first I was her friend.
Their mum moved around to look at Jim’s sketch and offer words of encouragement there too.
I helped clear the table for dinner. Jim went to his room as I made myself useful; I didn’t even notice him disappear. I kept asking Naomi where plates, cutlery and all the rest were but was only getting short answers back. Her voice was sweet but quiet. Her mum was pottering about tidying the living room on the other side of the breakfast bar. I ducked off to use the bathroom, taking the opportunity to text my mum explaining where I was and saying I didn’t know when I’d be home. It took some scrubbing to clean the dusty smudges and smears from the pencils from my hands properly. I wished I’d dressed a bit more trendily. When I got back the kitchen table was all laid for four. I wondered if there was a dad around; I began to suspect not.
The food was an absolutely fantastic pasta with bacon sauce. Nothing difficult, but perfectly done and seasoned and the sauce wasn’t from a packet either. I’d watched Naomi blend it herself.
Jim was morose. Naomi was shy. Their mum, Jean, did her best to keep conversation going and asked all about our art assignment and whether we were enjoying our first classes at college.
Naomi and Jean were drinking a red wine and Jean poured me some too but skipped Jim. I wasn’t sure if this was because Jim didn’t like wine, or because she thought me older, or because she thought me more mature. A suddenly dawning realisation spread across her face and I expected her to pluck it away but she just asked “You’re not driving are you, Butch?”. I smiled; I wouldn’t be allowed to drive until next year. I explained that I didn’t live far and was walking, and then I grabbed the glass possessively least Jean try and take it away. Feeling excited, I raised the glass in a toast to the chef. Naomi beamed and Jean giggled and Jim frowned into the distance.
“Ms Ruth is a bitch” Naomi whispered softly as I finished describing an funny - at least a little funny - anecdote from my new maths class. Jean looked shocked by her language and Naomi reddened. “Sorry, but she is” she added meekly, her face beetroot.
“Do you go to college too?” I asked surprised. I had assumed that Naomi was younger than us, if not by much.
“Second year” she replied. So she was a year older than me? Okay. I felt a pang of worry; its far harder to impress an older girl.
“So, do I get to see your picture?” Naomi asked excitedly. The wine seemed to be breaking down her reserve slightly.
“Oh dear its lovely” Jean gushed. Perhaps the wine was getting to her too. The wine was definitely getting to me. I reached over and pulled my pad out of my bag.
Naomi held the pad still for a moment, shocked. As she had suspected, I had sketched her as she prepared the food. The strokes played with her profile as she bent slightly over the bench chopping onion. The sketch captured so much in so few faint lines, enhanced by what was left out rather than what was put in. The hands were drawn in exquisite detail as the knife blurred.
Naomi composed herself silently, saying nothing. Then she turned the page back to look at my previous sketch, the incomplete portrait of Jim. “Oh, you never finished?” she asked surprised. Jean lent across to take the pad and examine this other sketch. “Sorry if I interrupted you” Naomi said quietly, perhaps feeling guilty. Then she cheered up suddenly, struck but a fun thought: “does this mean you have to come back to finish it?” she giggled. I nodded. Under his breath Jim sighed.
Jim disappeared as soon as he finished eating, slipping away quietly. At first I thought he had gone to the bathroom, but he didn’t come back. I was a bit startled when I first noticed his absence; the rest of us hadn’t finished, being too caught up chatting.
“So have you been Jim’s friend long?” Jean asked kindly. At this point I wanted to put as much distance between myself and Jim as possible so I explained, truthfully, that I hardly knew him and that this was the first assignment together. Naomi seemed unsurprised; “You aren’t his style” she asserted thoughtfully “its kinda funny him getting into college and all; he can’t draw for shi-”.
“Stop it” Jean cut off sharply. I guess she had to police her kids and their sniping and rowing all the time.
We’d finished the dinner and Jean poured more wine. I complimented the cooking again. Naomi glanced shyly down at her hand gently poised on the stem of her wineglass and smiled warmly. I got up and took the plates to the sink despite their protests. I was about to wash them when Jean got up and made me, explaining that they had a dishwasher.
I sat back at the table. Conversation was dwindling with Jean having to do all the talking but it was extremely comfortable. And then Jean excused herself to check on Jim.
We didn’t speak. Naomi was still smiling absently at her hand stroking her glass stem. I drank in her appearance; her dark brown hair tucked behind her ears except for a couple of wisps that twirled down framing her face; her deep brown eyes glistening and mischievous; the dimples on her cheeks as she smiled.
Suddenly Naomi jumped up and hunted in a fridge, bringing back some cheese. She hurried around the kitchen picking down small plates and some salt biscuits. We settled down to eat cheese on biscuits, which worked well with the wine. We kept snacking and sipping to cover up the silence.
Soon Jim came back through the kitchen followed by Jean. “I’m going out” he huffed and left, banging the front door a bit on the way out. Jean sighed, no explanation necessary, and settled back down at the table and took a biscuit.
“So you’ll have to finish that sketch then? When is it due?” Naomi asked quietly, a twinkle in her eye again.
“Oh its done, you can keep it if you like” I replied gallantly, knowing she meant the other sketch.
“Oh yes, can we?” Jean asked excitedly.
“Mum! Its just a sketch” Naomi reddened again. She seemed be blushing all the time now.
“Its a very good sketch dear! We don’t take nearly enough photos, and a sketch is far nicer!” Jean responded encouragingly. “Do you paint too?”
“A bit” I replied nervously- “I’ve only just started college, I’m not very good yet”
“I’m sure you are really!” Jean retorted, snorting; “I bet you get asked to paint all the time. I could commission one!”
Naomi was beetroot now. I wondered how much of her flush was wine, how much was embarrassment and how much might be excitement. I think the wine was multiplying those other blushes. The wine was beating back my reservations too. Before I could stop myself I offered to paint Naomi for free! Nobody had ever wanted me to paint before.
I figured I was intruding on their evening and started to make my excuses. They offered me to stay longer but didn’t labour it. As I got up I tore the top sketch from the pad and handed it to Naomi, now permanently blushed, who handed it straight to Jean. Jean looked delighted. “Are you home Thursday?” I asked Naomi politely. I wanted to come back tomorrow, but I was trying to play it cool. Didn’t want to seem too eager. We set a date.
I saw Jim again during art class on Wednesday. We hardly spoke two words. Now that I was constantly crowd-watching for Naomi around college I begun to notice Jim in the corridors too, often hanging out with two other boys. I didn’t glimpse his sister.
I had surprised myself at how suave I’d been around Naomi; normally, I got all awkward and quiet around girls, but with Naomi I’d been confident. And I had the distinct impression that Naomi was unusually confident around me too. It was hard to put my finger on it, but I could somehow read that in Jean’s suppressed startled looks and pleased encouraging glances whenever Naomi joined in the conversation.
After last lecture on Thursday I hurried home and showered before walking around to their house. I was wearingly carefully casual artistic clothes, or at least I hoped I was. Jim opened the door, surprised to see me.
“Hi Jim, is Naomi home?”
Naomi pushed past him. “Hi not-Butch, you’re late!” she chimed happily. “Well don’t just stand there, come in!”
Jim stood back, trying to assess the situation. He obviously didn’t know about my invite.
I sat myself down on the living room sofa where Naomi gestured. Naomi jumped onto the other end, tucking her legs under her. She seemed bubbly. “Jim, sit down too! Butch has to finish drawing you” she instructed, pointing to an armchair.
Jim glared at me. He looked fed-up. I waved him off “Don’t worry, I finished it yesterday”. “From memory” I added.
“So why are you here?” Jim asked me. He looked at Naomi and back at me. “Are you too together?”
Naomi reddened instantly “No no, mum just asked Butch to paint me”.
Jim looked like he was going to choke. Then he composed himself, smirked, said “Yeah right” and went to his room.
I looked at Naomi as she watched the disappearing Jim. Her hair was gathered in a bun at the nape of her neck pinned by a couple of ebony chopsticks, with just some untamed wisps hanging down the sides of her face framing it. She was wearing a dark blue tight tank top with spaghetti arms showing black bra straps, and baggy matt black lantern trousers. She looked like a hippy art chick. She looked around at me. Our hearts seemed to stop and we sat holding each other’s stare for a few seconds. She reddened. I smiled. I traced the outline of her lips, her dark gloss lipstick, the subtle eye-shadow, the expertly applied make-up. She smiled. “What...” “So...” we both started talking at the same time.
“Ladies first” I laughed.
“What would you like to drink?” she asked, suddenly serious as though she had just remembered her duties as hostess.
“Well, eh, if you’re having something. What do you have?” I stalled.
Naomi jumped up and started rustling in the kitchen. “There’s half a bottle of red wine from last night” she offered, “ ... if you’re not driving” she added playfully and grinned.
“Sounds great!” I replied excitedly. This was an exciting turn of events. I was hopeful that we’d talk more easily, and re-establish some of Monday’s comfortableness.
I heard the pop of the cork and the soft glugging as she poured. Naomi came back over with two glasses for us and resumed her place sitting with her legs tucked under her on the far end of the sofa.
“Cheers” she pushed her glass out to meet mine and they chinked together and then we supped, our eyes fixed on each other like we were sharing a naughty secret.
“So would you like me to pose for the painting?” she asked coyly as she put the glass down. She looked down at my bag “Don’t you need an easel or something?”. I was sure she was flirting with me now, although it seemed out of character and she seemed inexperienced.
“I think we should do a few sketches, focusing on different details like your face or hair or hands or, well, ... and then we plan the scene, and then do some preparatory sketches of that, and then I paint it” I said finally “It takes a long time I’m afraid”. I had been brainstorming all week how to prolong this project.
“Gosh” she giggled, “that does sound involved! Just a few sketches?”
Her encouragement gave me courage and I went for broke: “Well, that depends ... on the pose. I mean, it depends on what the scene is. It will take more preparation if you’re going to be nude...”
Naomi choked on her wine, hurriedly pushing the glass out away from her while her lips were still attached. She put the glass down gingerly and giggled “Nude?”
“If you like...”
“My mum would kill me. And kill you too!”
“We don’t have to show anyone. We can do two paintings, if you like...”
“Oh my god you’re serious! I can’t believe you!”
I shrugged, trying to appear unexcited. I waited for her to say something. I could tell she was seriously considering it.
“You wouldn’t show anyone?”
“No” I promised.
She sat still for a long time, looking obliquely at me from the corner of her eyes, assessing me.
“Okay” she said quietly, grinning broadly and blushing, her eyelids flicking alluringly.
I held out my glass towards her again, and she picked up her glass and clinked it with mine; “To the secret painting” I toasted and Naomi burst into a giggling fit and had to put the glass down for safety again. As soon as she was calm enough she repeated the toast “secret painting!” and took a sip. As she did I reached into my bag and picked out my sketchpad. Naomi almost spat out the wine again “Oh no! Not here!”
She jumped up and led me away; “follow me” she whispered excitedly. I grabbed my satchel and wine and hurried to catch up. We tiptoed past Jim’s room and hid ourselves in her bedroom. She slid the bolt on the door behind us. I looked around.
I didn’t know what to expect really. Naomi’s mix of shyness and forwardness was giving few clues into her tastes and style. What I saw was a large square room with a large bed – queen size I guess – with purple quilt to match the deep purple padded headboard. Dark mahogany bedside cupboards both sides. Shiny silver wallpaper with purple and black stencilled flowers flowing and twining all over. A white shabby-chic make-up table covered in tiny bottles and boxes and jewellery with a large oval tilting mirror behind. Two large bookcases behind the door, overflowing with worn and tattered novels. A large dormer window in the sloping roof with velvet purple curtains. The room was carefully and recently decorated, and not a hint of a teenage girl anywhere; no horse posters, no boy bands, no silly signs. And there, in the far corner, was an electric keyboard on a stand and beside it, majestic, a glowing white cello leaning into the corner. The deep polished glow of the cello in the low light of the room drew the eye into its depths. I could see movement in the cello. It was the reflection of Naomi, peeling off her clothes!
I stood, mesmerized, staring at the cello. I saw her pause. I looked around to her, standing just in front of me, frozen as though scared to continue. Her lantern trousers were already discarded, draped over the small stool at the make-up table. She was holding the hem of her tank top, poised to lift it up. “I’ve never done anything like this before!” she whispered urgently, nervously, looking to me for permission.
I jerked my eyes up towards safety, leaving her midriff and frilly black panties and focusing on her eyes boring into mine. “Me neither” I confided.
Naomi giggled and whispered “What is it you do to me?”
“This is our secret” I whispered back conspiratorially. Naomi steeled herself and pulled the tank top up over her head.
That moment the tank top was covering her face my eyes feasted on her pert little breasts pushing out from her chest held tight by a frilly black bra. The moment lasted only a short time as she struggled to get the top over her hair bun without displacing the chopsticks but the image will stay with me forever. She dropped the top on top of her trousers on the stool and looked at me nervously, expectantly. I smiled. I couldn’t help but grin. She grinned back, her cheeks blushed.
She didn’t move to remove her underwear and I didn’t want to push her. Suddenly I was scared this was all going too fast and that I could scare her. I nodded towards the cello “you play?”
“No never” she rolled her eyes “You’re so silly, why do you think its there?”
“That is sooooo cool!” I exclaimed excitedly. In my mind I was already imagining Naomi caressing the long neck and plucking the strings, naked. The perfect pose! I looked at the cello again enthralled, and caught the reflection of Naomi unhooking her bra. The clasp was at the front. The breasts fell slightly and swung gently as they were freed. On her short frame they fitted perfectly.
Naomi giggled again, her fingers tucked into the waist of her knickers “I’m giving you a striptease and all you can do is stare at my cello!”
I snapped around to her, startled, scared, realisation dawning on just where we were and what we were doing. How was I going to turn this into sex? This was the closest I had ever been to a girl, the first girl I had ever seen naked in the flesh, the first chance I’d ever gotten. Naomi’s grin spread “You’re as nervous as I am!”
“You are so beautiful” I blurted out stupidly. Now I had completely lost my calm professional artist exterior. I was an artist, a watcher, an outsider, because I dared not and could not get close to people. And I had a feeling, a deep certainty, that Naomi was normally the same. Somehow we were affecting each other, peeling away her inhibitions as quickly as we peeled away her clothes. Her pale white skin contrasted with her beetroot face, the pink leaking into and down her neck towards her chest. My eyes dragged down and locked onto to the black triangle of fabric covering her most secret place. Slowly, her arms straightened to her sides, pushing and sliding her knickers down, revealing slowly the dark brown curly hair. Then the knickers cleared her hips and floated down like a feather, billowing as they hit the floor like a parachute. My eye followed the long shapely legs back up, returning to her glistening hairy pussy. The first real pussy I’d ever seen! The most beautiful pussy in the whole world.
“So are you going to draw it from memory later?” she asked, intrigued. She knew where my gaze was locked. I looked up, startled, the feeling of being sucked out of my zone again. I met her eyes briefly but felt her breasts dragging my eyes down again. Naomi snorted derisively.
I took a step towards her, closing the gap, standing right in front of her, our hands at our sides. Then, instinctively I moved my head, turning in to gently kiss her. Just as I brushed past her nose I got a sudden fear braking me, causing me to stop short. I was scared. What was I doing? What if Naomi didn’t want this? Naomi pushed forward the last little way and our lips touched. My first ever kiss. Our first kiss.
It was just a peck, just the most fleeting touch, but it was on the lips. It was electrifying. As I felt her head moving slightly apart again I pulled back too and opened my eyes to take her in. She grinned, giggling yet again. I put my hands on her shoulders, which felt cold, exposed in her room. Then we leaned into each other again, harder this time, her hands snaking around up under my shoulder blades and my hands gripping tightly around her back, our fronts pressed together completely. I felt her lips part slightly and instinctively I searched and traced her lips with my tongue. We broke the kiss after a while and both laughed, our bodies shaking, still embracing.
“Are artists supposed to seduce their muse?” Naomi enquired; her whisper was so light and kind and inviting.
“Its a bit of a tradition” I replied as suavely as possible.
After another lingering kiss we parted and Naomi stood back, smiling. “Where do you want me?”
“You mean, for the sketches?” I had to clarify.
Her eyes bugged wide, realising the innuendo. “Of course! What did you think I meant?” she squeaked.
In the end she tugged back the duvet and sat on the edge of the bed and played the cello. She didn’t want to sit naked on her piano stool, she explained. The subtle low smooth tones of the cello wafted around and filled the whole room, enveloping me in a soothing musical balm. I focused her still calm soft face, her closed eyes, the arch of her neck, the rhythmic swaying of her shoulders, the perky profile of her breasts lifting and falling, the soft smooth tummy, the braced muscles in her legs pushing down rooted in the floor. And then I became ever lost in my zone and Naomi drifted into her own zone, two young new lovers lost in their own trances, sharing the same music but separately. I was a watcher, outside, again. I sketched.
A gentle rapping knuckle on the door brought us sharply back to reality. Naomi jumped off the bed, alarmed, shocked, fearful. She quickly put the cello back in the corner, shouting “Just a minute!” She rushed me and tugged her clothes from the stool under me as she pecked me quickly on my startled lips before wiping the lipstick from them with a cotton pad she plucked from the desk behind me. “Quick!” she whispered urgently, deftly folding my sketchpad as she wrestled to get a leg down her trousers. Within seconds she had her tank top back on and was checking in the make-up mirror behind me to ensure she was presentable. She pushed me into my chair, forcing my sketchpad down onto my lap; “Don’t move! I’ve got this!”
Naomi crossed to the door and gingerly unlocked it, trying to keep the bolt quiet. Then she slowly swung open the door, keeping most of her body shielded out of sight behind it. Outside, in the hall, stood Jean, smiling. She looked from Naomi’s flushed face to mine, enquiry in her eyes. “I was just playing my cello for Butch” Naomi flustered.
“Oh, have you been sketching?” Jean asked me, eyeing my pad. I stared down at my pad as worry filled me head. Naomi had said Jean would kill us if she found out.
“Naomi says we should surprise you when its finished” I croaked, my throat dry.
There was a silence. Naomi was looking at me relieved, impressed at my quick wits.
“Ah that’s something nice to look forward to” smiled Jean. “Would you like to stay for dinner again, Butch?”
I looked up at Naomi, trying to read her expression. I started to get up “Thank you but I really ought to be going...”
Naomi leapt instantly forward and pushed me back down into the chair “Wait, I haven’t finished my practice and you really ought to finish that sketch, its coming along so well!”
Jean turned, smiling sweetly. “That’s a shame, you really are welcome to stay for dinner. Oh, Naomi, please keep the door open, I like listening to you play while I cook” she instructed us over her shoulder.
Naomi sank back into the bed and pulled her cello to her. I glanced nervously out into the hall “that was close!” I whispered, relieved.
“You are sitting on my knickers and bra” Naomi mouthed and then burst into a fit of suppressed giggles “and you have the most massive erection!”
With the lightened mood washing over us after the near miss, Naomi settled back into her cello practice and I drew another sketch of her, drawing her naked again, this time from my vivid memory.
A while later Naomi finished up and looked up warmly. Putting her cello back in its corner she stood up and swished and swayed towards me alluringly. She bent over me, her hands resting on my shoulder, and looked at my pad. I flicked back a page to show both sketches. “You always focus on my hands.” She glanced up at the door to ensure we were unobserved and then quickly pecked me on the lips. “Same time tomorrow?”
“Eh, that’s a Friday. You’re not going out? With friends, I mean?”
“I’d much rather be locked in my bedroom with my new boyfriend” Her eyes smiled and twinkled.
We compared diaries. We made arrangements. We couldn’t wait so long. We agreed to meet for lunch at college.
“My mum asked me if you had a girlfriend...” Naomi confided, her head so close as almost resting on my shoulder as we ate in the cafeteria. Her hair smelled fresh and minty. I noticed every small detail, every feeling, as Naomi curled into me. I was no longer on the outside; now I was a watcher on the inside as our bodies and lives and minds merged into one.
“What did you say?” I asked, curious and nervous.
“I told her she’d better ask you...” Naomi teased.
“Oh my god, what am I supposed to say?” I asked shocked and scared.
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” Naomi changed the subject.
“I didn’t, until I met you” I replied quietly. I meant it. Naomi’s face broke into the biggest smile in the world.
“Hello Butch, Sis” the loud rasping voice interrupted, prying itself between us. How much had they heard? We looked up alarmed.
Jim and his two friends were settling down on the table facing us. The friend on the end looked sorry and apologetic, as though sensing they were intruding and wanting none of it. The other friend was looking cold stony daggers at me, the look of a competitor cheated. Jim was bemused, gloating in the opportunity to embarrass us.
“Not now Jim” Naomi said warily.
“Fuck you move fast Butch! Respect!” Jim laughed and held out his fist for a bump. I sat still, defensive.
We ate lunch in awkward conversation with the friend on the end, who was trying to keep things civil. Naomi and I appreciated his effort and tried to help him. Jim kept trying to bring the subject back to us, the couple, and the silent friend in the middle stayed silent and angry. And, as quickly as we could, Naomi and I ate up.
When we’d hurried to a finish we stood up and said goodbye. Then we walked off, in silence, Naomi clinging to my arm. As we reached the threshold Naomi tugged on me to stop us and turned in to face me. “There’s just one thing we have to do” she said quietly, her voice of steel. Then she leaned in and kissed me passionately on the lips. I felt the eyes of the whole room on us. There was a wolf whistle and some whoops from the crowd. Then Naomi turned us around and forced me through the doorway. The message was sent. I was going to have to tell Jean that we were a couple.
“You’re quite good for a first time kisser” Naomi encouraged. We were having the ‘have you ever had a boyfriend girlfriend’ heart-opening discussion on her bed. Naomi was laying half on me, her head on my chest, her hands playing with the buttons on my shirt.
“I’ve never kissed a boy before” she added quietly.
I tried to work that out. It wasn’t her first kiss. She’d never kissed a boy before. That meant...
“I practised with a few girls at school” she admitted, her voice so soft that I could hardly hear.
“Did you practice anything else?” I asked, intrigued.
She batted my chest playfully. “No!” she hissed.
After a pause she pushed herself up and started to undress. “What is it you do to me?” Her eyes twinkled. “You make me feel so alive!”
I tried to pull her back to my side, naked, but she artfully dodged and wriggled around my seeking hands and grasped her cello. And so we sketched again. This time she sat on the piano stool, sitting on a towel she fished from her bedside cabinet. She had prepared. I sat on the bed so close our feet almost touched, facing her as she played. I tried to glimpse her pussy, imaging it gaping wide as she sat with her legs apart, but the cello blocked the view. I focused on her hands again.
It was agreed I would stay for dinner so we finished fairly quickly and then Naomi led the way, clothed, into the kitchen where she started to prepare dinner. I sat at the kitchen table sketching her again, careful to ensure the pad gave no glimpse of the illicit drawings captured in her bedroom.
It was a Friday evening, her boyfriend was staying for dinner, and Naomi was an excellent cook. She deftly prepared a delicate rack of lamb with Hasselback potatoes, asparagus and a fresh spinach salad with radishes in. It was perfection. Jean opened yet another bottle of wine – did the girls drink wine to every evening meal? - and we chatted amicably. Jean steered the conversation. Naomi and I couldn’t keep our eyes off one another. Jim sat morosely on the corner, excluding himself despite Jean’s efforts.
“So, do you have a girlfriend?” Jean asked softly after a comfortable breath in the conversation. I straightened and looked carefully at Naomi. She’d warned me at lunchtime that this question was coming. And Jim had seen us kiss at lunchtime. There was no hiding it now. I choked slightly tried to steel myself.
“Yes” I croaked. Jean looked a bit shocked, worried almost.
“Naomi” I added quietly, nodding towards her. Jean broke into a wide grin.
Jim suddenly looked interested at the new topic. “You should have seen them snogging in front of the whole refectory!” he shouted in excitement, keen to embarrass us in front of his mum.
“Oh grow up” Naomi growled irritably.
Jean just looked from Naomi to me and back again. “Well that’s a relief, I was scared you were already taken” she confided and we all broke into giggly laughter except Jim who just seemed pissed off. It was crystal clear where Naomi got her shy playful giggly streak from.
After the main course came some dessert, a trifle that Naomi had prepared in glasses in the fridge earlier. Jean put on some classical instrumental music in the background. Then Jim left again without thanking and Naomi and I sat at the table chatting some more over some coffee, listening intently to Jean’s reminisces of Naomi’s cello recitals and orchestra.
Naomi got up to go to the bathroom leaving Jean and I alone. Jean leaned in towards me conspiratorially “She really likes you, you know?”. I nodded. “Don’t hurt her,” Jean added “and don’t go too fast”. It wasn’t a threat, more a plea. Jean straightened up. I was unsure how to continue things, with the sudden change in tone; how would Jean react if she knew just how breakneck fast we were already going?
I was saved by Naomi returning. And so Jean finished her last story of the conductor who dropped his baton and then Naomi guided me into the living room. Jean started to tidy up in the kitchen. I was going to go help her, suddenly guilty that I hadn’t thought to offer before, but Naomi restrained me and pulled me down onto the sofa with her. Then she rearranged us so she was sitting on my lap, her arms around me, our faces on the same level.
“Mum likes you” Naomi whispered excitedly into my ear. “She approves!”
“Is that important? Does she know I’m from the wrong side of the tracks?” I asked back.
“Its really important. She’s my best friend” Naomi looked dead serious.
It just felt the right time to talk about family. I was sure that Jean wasn’t listening; in fact, she seemed to be trying to give us privacy to talk despite being just the other side of the breakfast bar island. And then Jean, finished, announced loudly that she had some work to do and went up the corridor towards a bedroom that was used as a home office.
We took the chance to snog - that means to passionately kiss - quite a bit, but between the petting we talked about family. I described my home life, an only child with a mum and dad who both worked too much for too little in crap jobs, giving me a lot of independence but a feeling of a missing home life and comfort. Naomi’s dad had left when she was young. Her mum, hurt, had never had much interesting in finding a boyfriend since. Jim’s awful mood swings were a recent thing, since puberty - only another couple of years to go, Naomi cheerfully counted. It was best to surrender to it and let Jim be out with his friends at all hours, disturbing others and not them. It drove Jean crazy.
Naomi confided that I made her do things she would never dream of doing, or dream of letting anyone know about. I smiled, thinking of those naughty nude sketches in my pad. We’d already plotted the scene for the final painting. Perhaps Naomi would be sitting with her back, the hint of her breasts bulging to the sides and the gentle cushions of her bottom spreading on the seat, f-holes and strings drawn on her back as she played her cello.
Naomi was dead set on being a professional concert cellist, and was well on her way, playing in the regional youth orchestra and studying music at college, with applications to the London College of Music being prepared for. She was less sure what Jim was doing with his life, studying Art mostly as a stopgap to avoid unemployment. She was shocked, awed even, when she learned that my Art was just a side subject and I was taking a full set of maths and science courses, aiming to go study some kind of engineering at university. “So the sketches I keep aren’t going to be worth a fortune one day?” she mocked; then she whispered “To me they’re already priceless” and we melted into another deep full body kiss.
It was Monday. I had been at college exactly one week now and already I had a girlfriend, a serious girlfriend, and life was the best ever. Naomi had been busy both days on the weekend, at orchestra rehearsals, but my happiness couldn’t be knocked. We met for lunch on Monday, and then it was just to make it to Monday afternoon after college.
And then when the school day was over we went straight home to Naomi’s. We held hands all the way home and chatted and giggled excitedly.