The Sculptor's Muse
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by Emily Veinglory
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica
Description: Karl, a young painter, is struck blind almost over night by a merciless virus. Clarius, a jaded muse, is sent to watch over him. Muses are meant to remain an invisible, divine presence--but from the very beginning Clarius knows that this case will be different. Karl does not need abstract inspiration; he needs to be loved, and touched. But a vindictive female muse and Karl's insane ex-boyfriend are hunting Clarius down--and the penalty for any muse revealing themselves to a mortal man is death! Clarius must leave the man he loves and the loss may tear them both apart.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: October 2010
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [133 KB]
Reading time: 82-115 min.
The room was full of twisted lumps of clay, grotesques with misshapen limbs, and lopsided shapes with no side straight or deliberate and pleasing in its curves.
Karl was beginning to find his way about his own house without depending on vision, though it wasn't an easy process. His feet were bruised from kicking into the furniture, but he was learning, and his steps were starting to reach out in front of him again rather than crowd together like an old man always in fear of his balance. He was also progressing with the touch-typing software and was starting to find his way around the web again. Tara was even pushing him to go out of the house a bit more, but he still baulked at that.
At least she was leaving him alone during the day now, confident he wouldn't burn down the house or fall down the stairs in her absence. Clarius liked it better when they were alone. Karl settled back inside himself and found somewhere he could stand steadily and look around--even if it was still at the bottom of a hole.
Karl reached out for the grimy towel, missing by half a foot. Clarius reached forward and made himself flesh enough to push the damp cloth close to Karl's hand. Karl felt the edge of it and reached over.
Clarius stayed in flesh a while, gliding with absolute silence over the traitorous floorboards of the old house. He looked back to Karl, who sat oblivious to the darkening dusk, toiling over another lump of clay, but rendering it little more than a shapeless mass of sodden slime.
With a sigh, Clarius turned back to the window. His own reflection regarded him with mournful eyes, a long face with deep-set eyes beneath a straight and serious brow line. His hair was ragged and short, in defiance of the usual way of muses with their glorious tresses. With hair, skin, and eyes all a moderate shade of brown, Clarius didn't imagine he met any artist's image of inspiration incarnate. The only obvious sign he was not an ordinary man was the traditional dress--a scarlet-trimmed toga with a hem that brushed the floor.
A clank made him turn. Karl had dropped the blunt wooden tool Benji had lent him. It flipped and rolled halfway across the room. Karl was trying in his exhaustingly thorough way to create basic forms from the clay, trying to render geometric shapes with this simple wooden edge.
It was rather bending the rules, but Clarius gave in to temptation again. He walked over cautiously, bent, and nudged the tool across the floor. He pushed it within a few inches of Karl's sweeping fingertips.
Suddenly Karl lunged forward, grabbing Clarius's thumb near the base and gripping it hard. Clarius froze in shock.
"Ah-ha! I knew it!" Karl crowed. "I knew there was someone here." His other hand snapped forward and grabbed Clarius's wrist.
Clarius couldn't just fade; Karl would feel him go intangible and know he was not human. But he was forbidden to reveal his nature to a mortal. He was torn.
"Who is it? Not a woman's hand, I think..."
Karl tried to shift his hand and reach further up Clarius's arm, but he flinched back, prepared to push Karl away but frightened of hurting him.
"Okay," Karl said in a voice people use to calm crazies and animals. "I'll settle for the hand." Most people might be afraid in a situation like this, but Karl seemed amused.
His left hand held Clarius firmly by the wrist, and his right ran over it, pressing into the flesh.
"And quite a nice hand, at that. So if you aren't going to say anything...?"
Clarius shook his head before realizing the futility of the gesture, but Karl seemed to get the message anyway.
"Well, then you can't protest if I borrow this hand a while. I need a model."
Karl straightened and tried to take a step backwards towards the table. Clarius resisted. Karl pulled harder.
"Come now," Karl said. "You sneak about a man's house, moving his things around, and then refuse to even give a name. I think the least you might do is lend me this hand for a few minutes. Then you can get on with stealing the silverware or whatever you were doing. I will even tell you where I keep my few valuables. But first things first."
This spark of humor and adventurous proposition marked a dramatic change in Karl. It might be against every regulation, but this was the very thing Clarius had been hoping for, and he couldn't turn aside. He relented and followed Karl to the table and didn't break away even when Karl used his right hand to fumble over the tabletop and locate his chair.
"Sit down. Sit down," Karl said. "Where is that..."
By stooping, Clarius could reach the sculpting knife. He then pulled out and sat upon one of the other chairs. He tapped the tool on the back of Karl's hand.
"Ah, yes." Karl batted it aside. "I don't think I'll be needing that. Now, first let us look at the subject."
He pored over Clarius's hand, gradually loosening his grip on the wrist, running up the arm as far as an inch or so before Clarius's tension became clear.
"Not on the first date, huh?" Karl joked, mainly to himself, it seemed.
His touch was deft and firm. He turned Clarius's hand palm up and ran his finger very slowly down the crease that ran above the mound of the thumb.
The sensation was surprisingly intense; it seemed to shiver down wires that snaked up Clarius's arm and all through his body. With all four fingertips Karl brushed over the whole flat of Clarius's hand, and then with his index finger investigated the slightly webbed nook between each finger.
"Hold your hand loosely," he commanded as if working with any model. "There. Don't move."
He pressed Clarius's hand down on the table, and with his other hand he grabbed a fresh lump of clay. The spark of inspiration that had guttered so low in him seemed to steady and take hold. Clarius smiled. It was worth a small risk; after all, Karl need never know he was a muse. Just touching a hand gave nothing away.
He left his hand lax and waited patiently as Karl bent to work. Karl's firm fingertips danced like a pianist's, as if he no longer needed to think about each movement he made. He ran them over his model's hand, sometimes soft and sometimes pushing hard to trace the lines of muscle and bone. It was fortunate that when made flesh, Clarius's form was as conventionally human as anyone's.
The clay faltered as Karl kneaded and shaped it into slabs and then began to form it into subtle, organic curves. It was not a fully sincere replication. Clarius could see how some of the lines were accentuated; the palm became a sharp valley, the finger slender but richly detailed with the subtle bulges and creases that marked each digit.
Karl's damp, cool hands seemed to linger most where Clarius's flesh was more sensitive than he had ever realized--creases, fingertips, and the taut tendons that reached up to each knuckle. And when Karl returned again to the curve of the lifeline as it wended from the web of the thumb to the delicate underside of the wrist, where veins showed blue beneath the skin, Clarius bit his lip to suppress a gasp.
Karl did not linger. He moved on to pore over the nails, flipping both real hand and simulacrum over and over, patting the clay dry to get it to hold its shape firm and not flop all around. He was beginning to know his material and see its potential. He was clearly not anywhere near done an hour or so later when the front door was flung open and rebounded noisily off the wall.
Clarius jumped back and faded to his intangible form. Just managing, he fancied, to escape the sweeping gaze of Tara as she stormed in.