When Vik Windsor meets Gemma Reinhardt, she is actually dating his best friend and roommate, Ken. Oddly, though, Ken isn’t so much interested in dating Gemma as he is in painting her portrait. She reluctantly agrees to sit for him, and he is expecting her to arrive when Vik comes home.
There was a knock on the door. Vik was closer, so he opened it.
“I’m sorry. I’m looking for Kendrick.”
“That’s very disappointing,” Vik replied, leaning against the doorframe. “I’m Vik. Ken’s right here, pining away for you. He wasn’t sure you’d show.”
Kendrick made an exasperated sound behind him. Vik laughed.
“I’m telling his secrets. Please, come in.”
He flashed a charming smile. Gemma smiled hesitantly in return, walking around him timidly, giving him a wide berth. She scurried past him to stand by Kendrick.
“Vik is my roommate. He’s also an artist. The other half of the two man show.”
“The less talented half,” Vik said with a smirk. “And you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” He walked closer, hands in his pockets, a cheeky grin on his face. His eyes examined her pointedly, admiringly.
Gemma wasn’t sure how to react to that. She retreated from him slightly, standing closer to Kendrick, who gave her a peck on the cheek.
“I wasn’t sure you’d come. I hoped.”
“Bernie, the maid, you met her last night. She told me I owed it to myself to discover the adventure.”
“I’m not sure I know what that means.”
“Me either,” Gemma admitted. “But I’m here. I won’t go nude,” she said hastily. “But I brought some dresses that might work. Including the red one from last night because you seemed to like it so much.”
“Thank you,” Kendrick said, giving her another kiss on the cheek.
Vik’s brown eyes watched the exchange with interest. His friend was clearly interested in Gemma, though not in the way that Vik was. Ken found her a fascinating subject for his art. Vik found her fascinating in a variety of different ways, none of which pertained to art in any discernible way. She was clearly struggling with her decision, but determined to embrace the new experience.
“Shall I change?” She held up the dresses, casting about for a place to go.
“In a little while. Why don’t we talk about what I’m looking for?”
“Okay. I thought a portrait?”
“Not exactly. I want to explore your essence.”
Vik couldn’t control a snort. Kendrick glared at him. Gemma looked up, surprised that he was still there.
“Sorry. Sorry. Don’t mind me. I’m gonna get a beer. Ken? Gemma?”
“No, thank you,” Gemma replied, tersely. Her dark eyes looked him over, categorized him and dismissed him.
Vik had never felt so innocuous before. He wasn’t sure he liked the feeling. He’d never had a woman blow him off like that. He was more than passably good looking and charming. He never lacked for female companionship, yet she wouldn’t give him the time of day, he was sure.
“No, thanks.” Ken blew him off too.
Shrugging, Vik walked into the kitchen and got himself a beer. Popping the cap off against the counter, he took a long pull on it. He’d been on the go steadily for a week, drumming up sponsors for their art show, as well as customers for a new web design business they hoped to start together. Kendrick was the major talent, but Vik was the smooth talker, the charmer. He could sell people the moon and stars if he tried hard enough. It had been a very successful venture and he felt pretty good about it. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to have a chance to talk to his friend while Gemma was there, so he went upstairs for a shower.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
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