Altrazine Blue

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Ass

Pleasure exploded in my groin, shooting my eyes into the back of my head like balls in a pinball machine. I waited until the last faint reverberations had echoed down my legs, culminating in my toes, which stretched out as the orgasm reached its final resting place.

I stirred as her breath, scented with my own intimate juices, scuttled across my eyelids. As I opened my eyes, Guinevere appeared, fuzzy around the edges, like an inkblot dripped onto wet paper. Gradually she crispened into perfectly shaped eyebrows, eyes like dark cherries and a cupid bow mouth. She whispered, “You know, your vagina is really something. Its as beautiful and expressive as your face, my darling.”

“Aaah,” I sighed, rolling over onto my belly and sinking my cheek into the pillow, reluctant to leave the private realm of my post orgasmic state and join her. Her silky inner thigh settled across my buttocks. I willed my mind not to stir but already it had transformed her words into a ludicrous image of my shaved cunt, a fur stole wrapped around it to keep out the cold, strutting down the street. I giggled.

In one swift movement she straddled me and grabbed my shoulders. “What’s so damned funny?”

“Nothing.” She started to nibble at the back of my neck. I was dimly aware that rain was hammering against the glass as her breasts fell like warmed dough against my back.

“You haven’t forgotten that we’re due at my parents have you?”

“Urggh,” I groaned as I bit into the pillow. Meeting her parents signaled crossing that line in our relationship between casual to commitment. I wasn’t at all sure I was ready for all that. “Do we have to?’

Apparently we did. With much reluctance I got out of the warm bed and we drove the two hours from London to Ashford, then along what seemed like a mile of driveway. I gasped as I saw her family home, a white wedding cake of a mansion, glowing through the splodges of slush that clogged my windscreen.

Guinevere jumped out of the car, pulling her scarf over her head to shield herself from the elements, and shouted that she was going to try and find her mother around the back and would meet me inside.

I walked up the imposing white marble staircase, hesitating at the door. My heart hammered in my chest. I had heard much about her father, who, she had warned me, was rather unconventional. Nevertheless, I was anxious to make a good impression. I opened my compact and applied lipstick before pressing the bell.

The door opened and I was ushered into the hall. A poker straight woman in a starched apron who led me through a maze of dim corridors papered in autumnal shades. The furniture flew by me, antique faux Chinese chests with ornate gold encrusted legs, padded chairs and lamps with long purple fringes, as I struggled to keep up with the woman’s brisk pace. Finally she led me to a stifling room, in which a fire flickered in the grate. Without a word she was gone.

I sank into the chaise lounge, unbuttoned my coat and waited for Guinevere to return. Bored and exasperated I began to leaf through a book on the National Gallery, which lay on the table in front of me. Looking at the images lulled me into a doze, and I entered a state of beatific calm from which a booming voice blasted me awake.

“There’s a funny story behind that,” the voice said as a finger was thrust over my shoulder and began to stab at ‘Portrait of a Tax Inspector, by unknown German artist.’ Petrified, I stared down at the picture of a grim faced man in a stovepipe hat, posed against an ochre colored background. “Art history is littered with such instances,” the voice said.

I twisted my head and my gaze moved slowly upwards, taking in the white handkerchief that poked like a tongue from the breast pocket of bahis firmaları his dark suit and the monocle that nestled in his eye socket. He stared back at me, one eye slightly larger than the other due to the monocle’s magnification, then flicked on his lighter and lit a cigarette. He looked like the love child of Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson.

“I’m Jane Branwell,” I said, the catalogue slithering to the floor as I leapt up and proffered my hand. He eyed me warily but did not shake it. I felt exceedingly foolish.

“Where was I? Ah, yes. Deception is at the very core of art history.” He chuckled and took a deep drag on his cigarette. Where on earth was Guinevere? Despite the fact that he was clearly mad as a march hare he emanated a heady charisma that was pulling at me and making me weak. In the stuffy room my head began to pound as his eyes drilled through me. It felt incredibly incestuous to be in this situation.

He walked over and sat beside me, picked the catalogue up from the floor and turned back to the page he had pointed at. “Until recently this was thought to be a Holbein portrait of Martin Luther, if you can believe it. Some eighteenth century forger painted the background blue, as is characteristic of so many of Holbein’s backgrounds and covered most of the hat so it resembled Luther’s characteristic beret. No one spotted the fake!” He snorted. “Despite the fact that prussian blue wasn’t invented until the eighteenth century.”

As I nodded, trying to look intelligent, I noticed that his hand was hovering over my knee. I tensed, thinking he would touch me, but instead it landed on the shiny pages of the book.

“In the eighteenth century, when Lutheranism was all the rage, no doubt the forger had no problem offloading this doctored painting as an original Holbein.” I shifted uncomfortably, trying desperately to think of something clever to say. “When the experts removed the blue surface, they came upon what you see now.” He shuddered with laughter.

“You mean it wasn’t a portrait of Luther at all?” I mumbled, relieved that Guinevere had just come in.

“Just so! A portrait of a non entity by a non entity.”

“It’s all absolutely true, you know,” she said. “He knows everything there is to know about art. Self taught, but he does tend to go on rather,” she said, wiggling her backside as she went over to the drinks trolley and reached for the crystal whisky decanter. “Good lord, daddy, you could at least have offered her a drink.”

But he was already heading for the door muttering, “Lies and deceptions, lies and deceptions …”

I walked over, took a gulp of whisky and kissed Guinevere hard. “I’ve never,” I said rapidly, “I’ve never met anyone like him before. He scares me a little.” As we kissed I remembered the black and white Dracula films I’d devoured as a teenager, which had left a cold spot at the base of my spine and a tingling in my pussy. That was the way Daniel made me feel.

“My poor baby,” said Guinevere. “Daniel’s bark’s worse than his bite. In any case, once we’ve had dinner we can push off.”

We walked over to the window and I drew aside the heavy gold brocade curtains. It was almost dark and the slush had turned to snow.

“Can’t we just leave, now?” I said anxiously, gripping her hand. “We don’t want to get snowed in now, do we?”

“Just relax. In any case, there’s a divine four-poster we can spend the night in.”

She led me to the dining room, which was illuminated by candlelight and dominated by a huge portrait of a woman in a blue ball gown. Daniel’s shadow fell across me as he sat down opposite. Guinevere’s mother, Mary, a homely woman with graying hair in a bun was handing out plates of food.

“It is a Bertelsmann, if that’s what kaçak iddaa your wondering,” said Daniel, glancing at me.

“Oh, I thought it was,” I said, although I wouldn’t know a Bertelsmann from a Gainsborough. But the name rang a bell. In the dim recesses of my mind I recalled a mini series I’d seen on cable about Bertelsmann. The painter had been portrayed as something of a turn of the century casanova and, if memory served me correctly there had been much pushing up of petticoats and grappling about with buxom models on the floor of his studio.

“My great grandmother, Maeve, God rest her soul.” He chewed thoughtfully on a piece of potato before continuing, “Notice the gown. Painted in altrazine blue.”

Mary turned towards him. “Oh, here we go again. Not everyone’s interested in oil pigments you know,” she said, as if talking to a remedial child. “I’m sure Jane would much rather talk about something else.”

“No, I don’t mind, really. What’s so special about altrazine blue?”

“Well, it fades, over time. That’s why we keep this portrait in here, away from daylight.”

I gasped as I felt a foot caress my ankle and trace its way up my calf. I glanced at Guinevere, who was busily picking slivers of quail from a bone. She seemed to find her father’s behavior perfectly normal. Suddenly I was afraid, afraid that Guinevere, although on the surface perfectly well adjusted, held a kernel of her father’s twisted genes within her that would, in time, grow monstrously large. I looked into Daniel’s eyes, two amber colored pools flickering in the shadow from the candles. He drew me in.

Mary rolled her eyes heavenwards and whispered conspiratorially to me. “I suppose you should be honored. My guess is this is a just a prelude to showing you his collection.” She turned towards Daniel and said in a stern voice laced with suppressed laughter, “And do stop playing footsie with your daughter’s girlfriend.” She giggled and poured everyone more red wine. I glanced at Guinevere but she was licking the last traces of flavor from her fingers. The foot moved away.

The evening rolled onwards, fuelled by much wine and copious amounts of gamey, greasy food. By the time the clock chimed midnight I was drunk enough to collapse in a heap on the floor. Mary got up, stretched and said she was going up to bed.

My eyes kept being dragged back to the portrait of the haughty looking brunette. She had the same come hither look I often saw in Guinevere’s eyes before I ravished her. It was on the tip of my tongue to ask whether Maeve had been one of Bertelsmann’s conquests.

Guinevere went to the window. She pulled back the thick curtains and moonlight penetrated the room, accompanied by a flurry of snow.

“This window’s come open,” she said, as the wind whirled icily into the room, making the candles flicker and casting dancing shadows over Daniel’s face. She jammed the window shut. Daniel’s monocle flashed as the candles quivered and went out. “I guess we’d better stay the night,” she said wearily, reaching for my hand in the darkness. With our arms wrapped around each other she led me to her chamber. We cuddled up tight and I fell into a dreamless sleep.

When I woke it was still night and I was nauseous. Even though I tried to curl myself around her warm body it did not provide enough comfort to still my fevered imagination. I’d been shaken by something indefinable, by him, the way he’d looked at me and his strange ramblings. I thought I heard him walking about. The house creaked. My head was hot and achy from too much wine. I drifted off, then awoke with a start, convinced there was someone in the room. I got up and staggered down the hallway, looking for the toilet. Once I had heaved into the toilet bowl I started back kaçak bahis to the room, and soon realized I was lost. I spent the next quarter of an hour creeping through the almost pitch-dark corridors, my teeth felt loose in my mouth with the fear … of what? I didn’t know what I was afraid of until I slammed into a body and screamed.

“Be still, child,” he whispered. It was Daniel, in a dark red dressing gown, without the monocle. He was breathing hard and his breath smelt of whisky and a dark animal smell. I pushed away the perverse desire to be enfolded in his arms. “What are you doing in the East wing?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said, my voice sounding very small. “I got lost. I couldn’t sleep.”

He clasped my hand in his. “Come.” In a feverish dream I followed him. Up two flights of stairs to the attic. He pulled out a set of keys and pushed one into the lock. I wanted to cry out for Guinevere but the place was so big I knew she wouldn’t hear. I was utterly lost and on the verge of crying.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I really need to get back to Guinevere.”

“Yes of course,” he said matter of factly. “I just wanted to show you my collection.”

I started to cry. “I’d much rather go back to bed.”

“Of course, of course. I don’t know why I thought you would be interested in the Bertelsmann’s.”

“I am. Maybe some other time.”

He let the keys drop, disappointment clouding his face. Whatever sexual attraction I’d felt for him was dissipating and my hangover was kicking in. Suddenly I felt sorry for him. “Alright then. Show me,” I said and his face brightened.

He hesitated. “These aren’t regular Bertelsmann’s, they’re unique. Maeve was one of very few people who knew the secret behind these paintings. Bertelsmann even left them to her in his will, much to the consternation of their owners. You mustn’t breathe a word about this, not to anyone.”

“Why?” I gasped.

“It would ruin Bertelsmann’s reputation.” He rattled the key in the lock and the door opened a crack.

“Guinevere knows?”

“Yes, Guinevere and my wife have seen them, but no one outside the family.”

Was this his way of telling me that he approved of me being Guinevere’s girlfriend? It was oddly touching.

“Do you promise?”

“Yes,” I gulped, anxious to get it over with. I pushed against the door. He flicked a switch and the room was flooded with light. “He got a kick out of knowing their husbands looked at these portraits of their wives, not knowing what he had hidden beneath their trademark blue dresses. What Bertelsmann didn’t know, what no one knew at the time, is that altrazine blue is a pigment that fades at quite an alarming rate.” He walked across to one of the portraits and reached out to touch the canvas. “I got these just in time. Now I wait, watching their transformation.”

Here was a blonde, lying sprawled on a bed, there a redhead, leaning over a balcony with her head turned to the viewer and a lascivious smile playing on her lips. There were ten portraits of women, their once dark blue gowns faded to revel another image beneath. The extraordinarily detailed rendering of their vaginas shimmered starkly through the pale blue tones like bones in an x-ray.

I looked over at Daniel. He was staring at a portrait of a dark haired woman, sitting astride a stool, one hand lifted up to hold her chignon in place.

“I don’t understand.”

“Before the final layer of blue paint was added Bertelsmann painted them nude,” he said, tracing his finger along the thigh of the dark haired woman.

I walked from painting to painting, in a trance. It was one of the strangest and most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

Suddenly I knew two things. That Guinevere was right, that each vagina has a character of its own, as individual and expressive as a woman’s face. The other thing I knew, with a blinding certainty, was that I was in love with Guinevere. I had just been welcomed into a very unusual family.

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