A/N: Hello there! Welcome to my little brain doodle! I anticipate lots of fun, fluff and good times, with minimal angst. I'm the type of person who reads the newspaper funnies first thing. I mean, why not start the day with a chuckle, when you've got the rest of the day to deal with real-life crap? Just sayin'.
Shelle87 deserves a huge frickin' kiss for agreeing to re-beta this chappie specifically so I could have it accepted by The Twilight Awards' Under The Radar Fic post. Whoo-hoo! And she thinks that comma usage is not her strongest skill? Pfft. Could have fooled me!
Other thanks go to the fantastic ladies at Project Team Beta. Seriously, check them out. Your writing will get so much gooder. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and the characters therein. No copyright infringement is intended. The intellectual property including, but not limited to, all characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details belong to mylittlebakersdozen. No copying or reproduction of this work in any language is permitted without express written authorization of the author. Thank you!
Model Student, Chapter One: Proposals
Oh man, why on earth did I ever sign up for this class?
My blushing had become so frequent lately that everyone probably thought I had some rare skin disorder. Last semester, I bravely thought I should branch out of my normal comfort zone of literature courses and try an introductory art class. Much to my surprise, not only did I love it, but I also had a tiny bit of talent. Or at least I didn't embarrass myself too badly during class critiques. I would never be a great artist, but I took my time and I was pleased with the results. So this term I decided to take a figure drawing class.
I knew that we would be drawing nudes, but there is a huge difference between knowing and knowing. I mean, the first day when the model walked in and shrugged off her bathrobe I didn't know where to look first. While she was getting into her first pose I kept myself busy by arranging my supplies: compressed charcoal, vine charcoal, conte crayons and pastels. After executing a few deep breaths to keep my nervousness to a minimum, I looked up at the model.
She was beautiful – long blonde hair, legs a mile long and a face that could be on magazine covers. And those were just her G-rated parts.
I remember glancing down at my t-shirt and dirty jeans and immediately feeling inadequate. Weren't the models supposed to be average college kids like me? How did I end up in the one class with a "glamazon"? She was so confident and self-possessed. I wished I could feel like that.
Instead, I was all knobby knees and elbows, and I seemed to routinely ricochet off walls when I walked. My friends often told me that my best feature was my hair, but I never saw what was so special about it. It was long, thick and dark brown - pretty average to me.
Since that first class we had had several different models, all women, and all with very different body types. I couldn't help but nickname them: Twiggy was the skinny one, Wookie was the one who didn't shave, and Pleasantly Plump sported an impressive pot belly. I was fascinated that even though none were as classically beautiful as Glamazon, each woman was equally comfortable with her body. How did they do that? Especially when twelve pairs of eyes were scrutinizing every inch of their skin. None of the other students ever seemed bothered by the nakedness on display, but I always felt downright rude staring at the models.
I never knew their real names as our instructor didn't bother with that detail. Then again, maybe that was the point. Maybe I would have had a harder time sketching nude models if I thought of them as real people instead of nameless mannequins. What an odd thought. After a lifetime of mixed messages from the media regarding how I, as a woman, should both look and be looked at, here I was actively objectifying these women. For within the confines of my class, the models were merely elements of a still life and did not have boyfriends or medical issues or term papers due. I wondered whether they felt liberated from the weight of daily life during their modeling, or if it gave them a sanctuary to reflect upon the minutiae of life.
Had it really been five minutes already? Today's model quickly moved into a different pose. With my concentration broken, I started to blush furiously again. Naively, I had assumed that because all of our previous models had been women, all future models would be as well. Holy moly, was I wrong. Today's model was all male, and I was more self-conscious than ever.
Growing up, boys had kept their distance from me. Now, I can sort of understand why. I knew I wasn't ugly, but I was introverted and shy. It probably didn't help that my dad was the Chief of police of Forks, my hometown. This alone probably discouraged most guys from asking me out; except for Mike Newton. Ugh. He was nice enough, I guess, but really wasn't my type. I learned that I had zero interest in discussing Star Trek or Transformers, his preferred conversation topics, during our one and only date. I may have enjoyed the idea of having a boyfriend, but I certainly wasn't desperate enough for one to suffer seeing Mike, for any reason, outside of school.
Needless to say, I didn't have much experience with boys, and I had certainly never seen one naked before - until today. Luckily, today's model was only average-looking, nothing like the Glamazon. Still, I had a hard time looking at him without blushing. I mean, this guy was just so comfortable with his, um, private parts hanging out for everyone to see.
"Take advantage of this model, people," barked Garrett, our instructor. "You don't often find one who knows so many dynamic poses."
Garrett could be gruff, but he knew how to get our best efforts on paper. He didn't say much, so when he did, everyone paid attention. His critiques of our work were thoughtful and constructive without being patronizing. I liked him and his forthright manner. Even his appearance was straightforward: neat short brown hair, jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. Nothing about him screamed artist but I had seen an exhibit of his in one of the campus galleries last semester, and I was blown away by his passionate use of color. I guess you really can't judge a book by its cover.
I grabbed another sheet of newsprint and quickly started to sketch the new pose.
"Okay, people, enough with the warm-up sketches," Garrett finally announced. "Get out your good paper, some vine charcoal, and let's do a long pose."
"Wish we had the blonde bombshell today," the guy next to me muttered.
The model must have overheard him because I saw him smirk in our direction. Huh. Wonder if they know each other? Gah, wouldn't that be awkward?
While Garrett positioned the model into a new, more comfortable stance, I set up my materials. I put a fresh piece of paper on my masonite sketch board and grabbed a few sticks of vine charcoal, a white conte crayon and my kneaded eraser. Then, eschewing the regular easel, I sat down on the floor and prepared to draw. The model was turned in such a way that I could get a really interesting side view, without feeling like his penis was staring at me.
Over an hour later, Garrett directed the model to robe himself and dismissed him for the day. I stretched and stood at my easel, putting some final touches on my drawing.
Having a male model wasn't as mortifying as I thought it might have been. At least I didn't trip and fall onto him, which would necessitate my dropping the class out of sheer humiliation. Instead, I was proud of myself. I was an adult, and I could look at the male form in an objective, mature way, and even my blushing had stopped after awhile.
Silently congratulating myself on my maturity, I turned to leave the studio and slammed squarely into someone.
"Oof," I heard my victim groan.
My portfolio dropped and sketches of the naked man scattered onto the floor.
"Shit," I mumbled as I quickly bent down to gather up my drawings. Then, turning my head to whoever I bumped into, I apologized to their knees. "Sorry! I'm a terminal klutz. I'm thinking of installing one of those flashing hazard lights onto my head."
"No harm done," replied an oily voice.
Of all the people I could have bumped into, it had to be James. This guy seriously gave me the creeps. At first glance, he didn't seem too threatening; he was of medium height and build and kept his dark blonde hair pulled into a low ponytail at the base of his neck. But, he had beady little eyes which I felt were often watching me, much like a hawk might observe its prey. He also stood much closer to me than I was comfortable with. While there was nothing overtly sinister about him, my hair stood on end whenever he was near, and I certainly would not want to run into him in a dark alleyway.
"Let me help you pick these up," he offered, crouching down next to me. Coming from anyone else's mouth, those words might have sounded sincere. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that if he was a child molester, he'd use the same tone of voice to offer candy to a little girl.
"Oh, that's okay. Thanks anyways. I got it." I tried, unsuccessfully, to refuse his help.
He started to go through my sketches from today's class, making little appreciative hmm noises. "So Bell-a," he began slowly, "you seem to have quite an eye. I wonder if you have ever been a model yourself."
And I'm not likely to be, either.
"Why not? You have a fantastic figure. In fact, I'm working on a special project and I would love to have you model for me."
What? Did I just hear that correctly?
"I'll pay you for your time and I can work around your schedule," he cajoled seductively. "C'mon, what do you say? I think you'd be… perfect."
I gave an involuntary shudder as his eyes raked over my body, mentally undressing me.
"Um, thanks, James, I'm flattered, but I'm really not comfortable doing that. Maybe someone else in class can help you out." I finished putting my portfolio back together and hurried out the door, hoping fervently that he would not follow me.
I quickly left the building and headed for my favorite spot by the pond, trying to shake the disquieting encounter from my bones.
God, I love to watch people. So many different agendas, so many expressions. So confident that they are all unseen and anonymous.
I pulled out the sketchpad from my messenger bag and grabbed a soft pencil. Faces appeared beneath my hand, just a few lines to show their basic features: two girls laughing, another chatting on her cell phone. I watched a jock check out the ass on some girl.
Yeah, I'd tap that.
I let my gaze expand further out to a couple kissing down by the pond.
Eh, get a room.
Then, a young mother and her toddler stopped to feed the ducks. I quietly sketched them for a few minutes, smirking as the kid screeched when a duck got too close.
And then, I saw her.
Sitting on what I assumed to be her favorite bench, the brown-haired girl, whom I had first noticed a week ago, grabbed a book from her bag and tucked her feet up under her. She was obviously an art student, for she had the ubiquitous masonite board and portfolio with her. But I never saw her drawing - only reading. That little bit of mystery intrigued me.
Today, she seemed distracted and unable to focus on her book. She eventually got up and headed over to the Student Center, so I was able to get a fantastic view of her ass the whole way.
I loved watching the gentle sway of a woman's hips.
Just as she reached the steps of the Student Center, she tripped. One of the guys hanging around wolf-whistled at her and she reacted as if she'd scurry into a mouse hole if she could. Poor thing. Looks like she doesn't like people paying attention to her. Too bad she's both gorgeous and clumsy. I'd bet she gets lots of unwanted attention.
I looked down at my sketchbook and saw easily a dozen thumbnail sketches of this girl. Some were head shots, featuring her beautiful mahogany hair curled over one shoulder. One was just of her feet, in a cute little wonky pose. I had captured other little mannerisms as well: the way her fingers twirled a lock of hair, and how she gently chewed her full bottom lip. Her image just seemed to appear so effortlessly for me on paper.
I had a meeting with Professor Aro, my advisor, next week to present my proposal for my BFA exhibit. He had been hounding me recently to stop procrastinating. I wonder…
I walked into the Student Center and headed straight for the coffee shop. Three bucks lighter in the wallet, I walked back out with some fresh caffeine. Where might the girl have gone? I wanted to find out if she would model for me.
Although I wasn't averse to giving Professor Aro a complete line of bullshit, I was starting to get excited that I might actually have a real theme to present. That girl just did something for me. Really got my creative juices flowing.
Heh, those aren't the only juices flowing, I smirked.
I'd love to see that body in all of its glory, whether as a model or not.
I strolled through the undergrad lounge and spied her curled up on one of the overstuffed chairs. She had her laptop out and was typing something. I found a seat behind her, so she couldn't see me. I figured I could watch her for a while longer before I walked over to her.
A few minutes later she looked up and waved to a friend. Another dark-haired girl strolled over, seemingly pleased to see her. This new girl was pretty, but wore prominent dark glasses that overpowered her delicate features.
"Hey, Bella, how ya doin'?" she said with a smile.
So my muse's name is Bella. I like the sound of that. It suits her. Bella. Bella.
I could almost imagine myself whispering her name into that beautiful mane of hair.
"Hey, Angela," she sighed, interrupting my reverie. "I'm okay, although I had another awkward moment with that creep in my art class."
My ears perked up – she had a lovely voice. It was soft, warm and sensual, yet seemed to transmit an undercurrent of vulnerability. I didn't usually eavesdrop on people, but I suddenly felt very protective of this girl.
"James? Ugh. What did that slime ball do now?" Angela asked.
"Nothing major, but he caught me off guard. He actually had the nerve to ask me to model for him. As if!" Bella snorted. "Yeah, I have a pretty good idea what his "special project" would entail. No thank you!"
Well that little disclosure just shot my idea to hell. I'll have to think of a Plan B.
"But class wasn't a total downer." Bella lowered her voice and smiled. I could detect a sense of excitement coming from her, so I held my breath to hear what she had to say next.
"We had our first male model today," she giggled shyly.
I smiled. She seems so innocent with that giggle. It's kinda sweet. But surely she's seen guys naked before...
"Now we're talking! Spill!" Angela certainly seemed to be the less inhibited of the two. She sat up straighter in her chair and focused all of her attention on Bella, eagerly anticipating whatever morsel of information was headed her way.
"Well, I was definitely embarrassed at first," Bella continued, "but I've kinda gotten used to the female models we've had, how to look at them objectively, I mean. So I just had to remind myself that he was no different…"
Angela snorted derisively and rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, yeah, cut me some slack!" Bella fired back with a grin. "But the worst part was when I actually looked at him there, I thought he was, um, deformed."
What the hell?
"Wha-?" Angela looked at her as though she had just grown three heads.
Well, at least I wasn't the only one who was confused.
"He wasn't circumcised," Bella said softly, growing redder by the moment. "By the time I realized I had been staring, I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at him again for a good ten minutes."
I tried to stifle a laugh, but it came out sounding like a strangled cough. Both girls looked up and caught me eavesdropping. With nowhere to hide, I merely grinned at them. They both flushed red and erupted into giggles, burrowing further down into their chairs to hide from view. Their conversation continued in whispers, effectively cutting off my entertainment, so I turned my attention back to my coffee and to general people-watching.
Before long, the girls stood up to leave. I watched as Bella stretched and then smoothed her jeans down. She was petite but had a nice little body, definitely well-proportioned. And those jeans showed off her curves very well. When I noticed that she and her friend parted ways in the hall, I quickly gathered my stuff and jogged to catch up with her.
"Hey," I said as charmingly as I could. It wasn't my best effort, considering "hey" was only one syllable, but it must have worked because she stopped and turned around to look at me.
Holy shit. It's that hot guy who overheard me and Angela talking about, um, the male model. Fuck! I hope he doesn't want to rub it in and make my public humiliation complete.
I just stared at him, not quite sure what to say.
"I'm Edward. Edward Cullen," he smiled, extending his hand. "And you're Bella?"
How the fuck did he know my name? "Uh, yeah. How did you …?"
"I overheard your friend call you that."
"Oh. Yeah, you overheard quite a bit, didn't you?" I didn't mean for it to sound as snarky as it did, but I was flustered by his good looks and retreated to my safe zone of sarcasm.
He actually looked a little embarrassed at my comment and ran his hand nervously through his hair. God, what hair! After we had noticed him listening to us, Angela and I had agreed that he had probably the best sex hair we had ever seen: reddish-bronze, tousled in all directions, and so soft-looking. He was definitely eye-candy. He was over six feet tall and easily the most handsome guy I had ever seen. Talk about chiseled cheekbones. And was that a hint of cologne? I nearly sighed out loud, but luckily caught myself in time. This guy just looked too perfect, as if he had walked straight out of my imagination.
Yeah, I wish. If only my life worked that way. He's probably a head-case or something.
"Um, I'm sorry, what?" I stammered as I realized that he had been saying something.
"I said," he smirked crookedly, "that I don't make a habit of eavesdropping. However, every now and again, I find that bending the rules a bit can be rather… enlightening."
"Mm-hmm," I murmured, wondering where he was going with this.
"Which way are you headed?"
"Porter Hall. My next class starts in about fifteen minutes so I really have to get going." I turned to walk away.
"Mind if I join you? I'm headed that way too." He looked sincere enough, and had a trace of a smile starting to turn up the corners of his mouth.
I shrugged, mystified as to why he would want to walk with me. As we neared the door I snuck a peek at him and became distracted by his strong jaw and hint of stubble. He definitely had some good jaw porn going on. I made a mental note to thank Angela for pointing that feature of his out to me.
I remembered the door just as my toe kicked it, causing me to fall forward and hit my forehead on the glass with a "thunk".
Shit. Why can't I remember basic stuff like walking? Oh yeah, because Mr. Jaw Porn Sex Hair is right next to me.
"Hey, you okay?" he said as he grabbed my arm.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Nothing a little Novocain can't fix." I was beyond embarrassed now.
"No really, that was a pretty loud thud." He leaned down to look at me and my breath caught. He had the most vivid green eyes I had ever seen, and they were only inches away from me, full of concern.
I licked my lips and tried to think of something coherent to say. "Yup. Fine," I squeaked.
Real smooth, Bells. Now he'll run away thinking that your IQ just dropped fifty points from walking into a door. Or that maybe that was the reason why you walked into it in the first place. Gah! Just kill me now.
Edward smiled. "Okay," he said, opening the door for me. "Shall we?"
I silently thanked all the gods, Fates, wood-elves and whatever else for helping me get to class without another mishap. We didn't really say too much as we only had to walk by two buildings, but I was acutely aware of him the whole time. I smiled shyly as I glanced up at him through my lashes, and was rewarded by a brilliant, infectious grin of his own.
"Well, it was nice to meet you, Edward," I said as we reached my destination.
"Oh, I have a feeling we'll meet up again soon." His voice lowered and became husky. "Bella," he nodded goodbye.
I watched him walk away, admiring his cute butt and broad, muscular back.
Now there's a body I wouldn't mind drawing!
I shook my head, wondering where that had come from. I wasn't shocked, per se, because I had certainly been attracted to guys before. They just didn't reciprocate the attraction, and so I usually found it easier to pretend that it never existed in the first place.
Hmm, maybe college will become a learning experience in more than just an academic way!
I smiled at that thought and headed inside to French class.
Well? Any thoughts? Any particularly memorable recollections of your first sighting of the Hooded Warrior?
(This fic is posted on FFnet, , and )