The reflection from the satin brass light reflected in her aqua blue eyes. She gazed at the fourteen by twenty-eight inch painting of only her crossed legs extending from a cloud. Over the Las Cruises Mountain range, she floated wearing a pair of black Stilettos with one red sole turned up.
Tonight, her long blond hair, like waves of satin, wrapped to one side, flowed across her left breast like a soft bubbling stream of gold. Are those my legs? She thought, as she reminisced of the day she’d sat while Tommy lay on his stomach, as he sketched. She giggled to herself. Remembering how she’d surprised him with her Sharon Stone leg crossing stunt. No panties, of course.
“Excuse me madam, are you alone?” Tommy said with a coy smile, handing her a glass of champagne.
“Not any longer. Thank you, sir.” She whispered and turned to face him.
He stepped in close and pulled her to him. Her low cut red sequined dress, exposing the tops of her breasts, scraping against his shirt. He put two fingers to her lips and leaned into her. “Can you believe, it’s on display at the New Mexico Museum of Contemporary Art? I mean, this is Santa Fe, Georgia O’Keeffe country.” He gushed.
The new extension of the museum opened in the railway district of Santa Fe four months ago. Only it’s second exhibition: Invented Realities. The perfect setting for Tommy Ground’s most fervent painting of his fledgling career. At thirty-four, tall, thin, with black wavy hair, a well-kept stubble, and emerald eyes. He was now on his way to stardom as an aspiring artist. A single, metro-sexual man enjoying the profuse harvest of his artistic talents.
He met Skyler, a late thirty-something, stunning natural beauty, at a coffee shop on the square in Santa Fe. Tommy on a sojourn in New Mexico. An overdue escape from Houston to spur his creative subconscious. Skyler, an associate professor of archeology on break from the University of New Mexico. She wanted some time to enjoy art and culture away from rocks and sediment. The moment their eyes met, the world froze around them. As if they were in another dimension. One without boundaries where they were the only inhabitants. Like in a slow motion aerial ballet, he was propelled to her table. She looked up and smiled.
“Hi, I’m Tommy. May I join you.” He said, taking the liberty to pull out the chair across from her and slide down.
“Sure.” She whispered, looking down at the table then back at him. To his surprise, she said. “I really want to get out of here.”
Disappointed. “Of course.” He swallowed and stood to walk away.
“No, I mean with you.”
Strolling along the square, neither speaking, she motioned to cross into the plaza. A crew was assembling a stage for the evening performance. She wore khaki shorts and a white cotton blouse with two open buttons. Her thick blond hair clipped up and off her neck. He motioned toward a shaded park bench. Time evaporated as they talked. So much more in common than either expected. When she laughed and her eyes reflected the sky, he felt a tingle on the back of his neck. The sun began to seep behind the clouds as the band started tuning their instruments.
“Dinner?” Tommy asked, turning toward the Plaza café. Red umbrellas and hundreds of fragrant flowers surrounded the outside dining area.
“Sure.” When they stood, she took his hand. Tommy felt a tickle across his loins the moment they touched. He flashed an infectious smile at her as they wandered across the plaza to the restaurant.
The waiter broke their trance.“Hey folks. We’re closing.” She cupped her hands over his, “I’m not ready to call it a night. Are you?” Their eyes met, and she rendered him a tender smile. Then she led him to her hotel room.
The yellow hue of the sun streaked across the bed. She laid on her side, clutching the sheet to her at her breasts, admiring his profile before he woke. When he did, he turned toward her and kissed her innocent smile. Then rolled onto his back. Staring at the ceiling, he said. “I have an idea for a painting.” He grinned. “Have you ever seen the Las Cruses Mountain range where the Jemez Springs stream comes down?”
“No.” She said with a winsome smile.
“I want to do a painting of you with that in the background. Think of it as sexy meets the landscape.”
“Okay. Sounds like fun.”
Along the way, he stopped at the mall and parked in front of the Macy’s department store entrance. Just through the door was the shoe section. He rushed to the sales clerk. “Excuse me, would you happen to have a pair of black Stilettos that would fit her?” He said, throwing his arm around Skyler.
“What size, dear?”
Skyler, puzzled, glanced at Tommy then the sales clerk. “Size seven”.
Tommy asked the clerk to hold them. “Now to the dress department.” Tommy said, pulling Skyler by the arm.
“What are we doing?” She asked with a confused look.
“It’s for the painting. Black shoes and a white dress.”
“How do I look?” She asked, stepping out of the dressing room wearing a slinky ruched sleeveless white dress. At five foot five inches, and perfect figure. She turned slowly with her hand on her hip for him to observe.
“Awesome!” Tommy threw back his head, laughed and clapped. “Just fucking awesome.”
They arrived at the spot he’d found a few of days before. The sun high in the sky. Some fluffy, soft white clouds had gathered near the mountain range just over the view of the stream. While he pulled his sketch pad, a blanket and a folding camping stool from the back of the car. She looked over her shoulder, twisted back her hair and snapped on a hairband. Then she reached up under her dress and wiggled her butt to slip off her panties.
She stepped out of the car in the dress, holding the black Stilettos by the heels over her left shoulder. The grass tickled her toes as she tipped toed to spot where Tommy stood gazing at the view. “ That’s astounding.” She said, looking toward the mountain range and stream. “Where do you want me?”
Tommy, mesmerized by her, stood awed by her breathtaking beauty. Her beautiful blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. “Here, right here.” He said, popping open the camping stool and setting it down. Then he took her by the shoulders and turned her around. Looking over her shoulder, he said. “Here’s perfect.” Without saying a word, she threw her arms around him, kissed him passionately and slowly bent her left knee.
Tommy wanted to take her. He started fumbling to unfasten his shorts when the moment was shattered by a crackle in the woods.
She said, “Is there someone there?” They both looked. Only to see a mule deer stare back at them. He darted off down the hill. A man, out of view, stood holding a pair of binoculars with his back to a tree.
She sat and slipped on the black Stilettos. Tommy tossed the blanket out in front of her and stooped down. He rolled onto his stomach and flipped open his sketch pad. He looked up at her. She crossed her legs. “The view’s even better from here.” He moaned. She gave him an irresistible smile.
“I’m going to call it Stiletto Sky” he said as he began to sketch. She threw back her head, held on to the stool and watched the clouds drift across an indigo blue New Mexico sky.
He sketched for a little while before holding it up. “What do you think?”
She gazed at him, then the sketch. His emerald eyes glistened in the now setting sun.
“Beautiful.” She said, sliding off the stool onto her knees and twisting him over onto his back. She kissed him as she reached to unfasten his shorts.
Tommy was discouraged as the apartment manager bent down to unlock the door of loft number ten in the Winston building. He had seen almost every available loft in Santa Fe. As the door swung opened, his spirits lifted immediately. His eyes widened, and a radiant smile broke out across his face. Nearly a two-story ceiling to floor window with multiple large panes greeted him. Open pipes overhead with exposed brick walls. Gray polished concrete floors and a spiral staircase to the open balcony bedroom and bath above.
“What do you think?” She said.
He darted up the spiral staircase, glanced around and bent over the railing. “It’s perfect!” He shouted. “I’ll take it.”
“Six month lease with the first two months up front.”
Tommy spent the next two weeks turning the loft into a home and work studio. With the window to his back and his easel on a make shift work table of saw horses and plywood. He was set to create one of kind masterpieces.
Tommy swung open the door and Skyler was awed. She turned in a circle, looking around, admiring the place.
“This is the perfect for you to unleash your artistic genius.”
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. He took her by the hand. His eyes, glistened with a devilish smile, as he led her up the spiral staircase to the bedroom.
Tommy, naked, jumped up from the bed and pulled on his jeans. “Come on, you’ve got to see it.” he said as he quickly dashed down the stairs. When Skyler reached the final step, she tied the belt of her robe. Tommy threw off the tarp covering the painting. “It’s nearly done.” Tommy said with an innocent smile.
“Tommy, it’s incredible.” She slowly stepped closer to admire it.
He didn’t care that Skyler was only able to break away from her commitments at the University in Albuquerque sporadically. Likewise, he found it odd, but accepted that she wouldn’t take his calls or would sometimes answer and quickly snap “Not now.” He just assumed her job must be demanding.
When she did get away and come to Santa Fe, they cherished every moment together. Tommy had undoubtedly fallen in love with Skyler.
“Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we’d like to introduce our featured artists this evening.” The curator at the New Mexico Museum of art said, standing on a small stage near the entrance of the museum.
Once the applause subsided for the artist preceding him. “And, next, Tommy Ground, proudly exhibits his Invented Reality: Stiletto Sky.” A burst of applause broke out. Tommy stepped forward and onto stage. He took a slight bow, then blew a kiss. His eyes and Skyler’s connected. The crowd applauded as he stepped down and walked back. They turned toward him as made his way to Skyler. She clapped slowly and flashed him an encouraging smile as he stepped closer and kissed her.
Several of the museum visitors stood admiring Tommy’s masterpiece. Others chatted with him about the setting. Some inquired about the location, others mentioned the unique idea of merging a sexy image with a landscape.
Skyler squeezed his arm and spun around to face him. Her eyes wide with trepidation and nervousness. “Are you okay?” Tommy shuddered.
“I’m fine.” She whispered before scampering off to the ladies room.
Tommy looked in the direction where she had. He only saw museum goers mulling around and sipping champagne.
Skyler was not back until the exhibit was closing down for the evening. Only the museum workers and some artist remained. She was shaking when she took his arm from behind.
“Where have you been?”
“I was in the ladies room.” She breathed.
“All that time?”
“Yes, I’m not feeling well. Are you ready to go? Can we leave?”
“That was a great opening night.” The curator said, reaching to put his hand on Tommy’s shoulder and shake his hand. “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more you and your work around here in the future.”
Skyler, with her arm locked in his, leaned her head onto Tommy’s shoulder.
“I’m so proud of you.” She trailed off, looking up at him.
He kissed her head and pulled her close. “Come on, let's get you home.” He said with a quiet smile.
She sighed. “You’re so good to me.”
Bending down to unlock the door to his loft apartment. “It’s time you get to bed.” He smiled mischievously.
“Who are you?” Tommy said, glaring at a middle-aged bald man with a dark goatee. He wore wire rimmed glasses, a black shirt and slacks, with a pork pie hat on his lap.
“Aren't you going to introduce me?” He stood and put on the hat. Under it was a gun with a suppressor.
“Tommy, this is my husband, Walter, Walter White. He is ––or was, a high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque.”
“Yeah, well, I've come a long way from that.” He snapped. “So this is the big attraction in Santa Fe. Looks like more of an infatuation with an artist than the arts to me.”
Tommy, in total disbelieve, stood with a blank stare at the man who held a gun pointed at him. “Your husband?” He panted.
“Yes. She's my wife, Skyler White.” He stepped closer to Tommy. “And you know what?” Tommy felt Walter’s breath on his face. He whispered, “My operation is big enough, I could have had you erased months ago.”
“Walter, please.” Skyler begged.
“I wanted her to see this.” Walter pointed the gun at Tommy’s crotch and fired three shots. Tommy crumpled and fell forward. Walter stepped back, stood over him, and shot him twice in the head. “An artist is only famous after he dies. Now get your stuff. We’re going home!”