Artists Shouldn't Have Too Much Free Time

(This page contains some sketches that may be NSFW. There is nothing explicit in the pictures, but make your own decisions)

Jack laughed, "I meant some of the folks up at the House on Haunted Hill there." He hooked a thumb in the general direction of the Castle. "But you do make an excellent point. Tragedy is splashy, I s'pose, and likely boosts the hell outta gallery sales." He shrugged and shook his head, "None of the cats we ran into today looked like they were suffering either." He got the red pot, and did as he was asked, exactly as he was asked. He had tried to 'help' once in the Bellagio kitchens by prepping a meal unsupervised; it was the last time he didn't follow instructions in someone else's kitchen. She wrinkled her nose again, and he grabbed his heart playfully, before laughing again at what she'd said. "I'm all for getting laid more. It's very nearly prescription in Texorami. Take two showgirls and call me in the morning." Jack leaned towards her conspiratorially, and whispered, "I don't know if you noticed but, other than this little slice of relative paradise, Amber's a bit uptight."

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She feigned wide-eyed surprise. "No! Surely you jest; Benedict is the very soul of light and joy, and I'm certain Julian makes flower chains when no one's looking." She leaned in and stage whispered. "I suspect Flora and Fi of some interesting kinks. Women like that always have them." She nodded wisely and went back to her cooking with a knowing look.

Jack grinned and chuckled, "There's enough pressure in some of their backsides to fill the Kingdom's coffers with diamonds, ifya know what I mean." He laughed, "And that Corwin guy does needlepoint to relax." He tilted his head slightly as he listened to her, and for a moment his eyes went distant as his imagination took over. "Well, see? Those are the secrets to uncover. Does Flora have a suitcase of whips, chains, and 'intimate' clips? Does Fiona? Film at Eleven." Jack chuckled, and added, "Most women have interesting kinks, some are more mild than others, but they're always interesting." He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on impulse, "What else can I help with?"

"The container of rice is in the pantry. Measure out 2 cups for when that water starts to boil." She tossed a handful of seasoning in the pot she was working on. "And bring me the shrimp. Flora's a Dom, I think. All soft and accommodating in public, but this family is not truly accommodating, is it? She has to release it somewhere; to be completely, unquestionably in charge. Fi, on the other hand, is a Sub. Always in control, scary… she has to have somewhere to just let go. Of course, you have to really trust your Dom, don't you? I don't think she gets to release that often, which is why she's so uptight. Bleys is into twins. I don't know why, I just suspect it. Twin girls and food play. Possibly body paint. Not sure about Julian. I don't think he ever really lets go. But I imagine he's a wild one in the sack." She paused to consider. "I'll bet he's into the setting… and talking dirty. Benedict's probably one of those quiet lovers - after making sure his sword is close at hand and no one can get in to attack him in a weak moment. Unless he's really into that Japanese thing and then he's a right kinky positioner. Assuming he's actually gotten laid more then twice. Corwin, I think, is a selfish lover. As long as he gets off, what does he care about anyone else? Look how he attacked Amber because he wanted the Throne. To hell with all the citizenry that died fighting his invasion; he wanted the Big Chair, by Goddess. Llewella may be into body art…" she gave him a significant look. "Hard to tell with her." Carmen grinned at him. "I won't dare touch on Random except to say I think he's enthusiastic."

Jack went to get the rice, and started to measure it out. He turned back to Carmen when she started talking about the possible proclivities of the luminaries in Amber's Royal Family. He had just measured out one cup, and had the cup poised over a bowl where it had long since poured out. "I think I love your brain." He quietly said, smiling brightly. He shook his head and measured out the second cup, "And now the next time I see either Flora, Fiona,or Llewella — I'll need furniture between us while various debauched scenes spring to mind." Jack chuckled, " 'Why Good afternoon, Fiona? Studying again. Oh don't mind me, I wouldn't want to tie you up. Be sure to get those tomes back, you wouldn't want a spanking,' " He shook his head laughing, " 'Sorry I was late, Flora. I got tied up. You know how it is, the manacles of responsibility. Sometimes I just need a whippin' to be kept on task.' " He brought the dry rice over to the counter nearest the stove, " 'This? Oh, Llewella, of course the tattoo goes much further…' "

Carmen snickered. "How do you think I get through Family gatherings? I imagine them as I think they are." She leaned towards him and lowered her voice. "I even have sketches worked up."

"Ooo, let's see those instead of the etching." Jack whispered back, grinning.

He turned back to her, "As for the fellas, I think you've about pegged it. I'm not sure how the ones that still know how to have fun stand the others."

"Very rarely together, are they?" she pointed out. Carmen dumped water into the pot and then put the lid on it and the rice. She moved to start cleaning up the work area. "But - between you and me - I wouldn't be adverse to bedding a few of them to see if I'm right."

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"Good luck in your delightfully naughty quest." Jack quipped, "But surely one at a time is best for them, unless you paint an Amber-shaped Risk map on yourself, and ask 'How would you conquer me?'." He grinned, "I don't think their Mommas ever taught them to share."

"Dufus!" she laughed truly. "I didn't mean all at once! We already know they don't always play well with others, and by others I mean each other. Maybe I'll start flirting with Julian first and then laugh at him pretending to not get it. I'd actually be shocked if any of them took me up on it. Most likely they'll call me a silly girl and to go play with someone my own age."

"Their loss. The assumption that the young are lacking in wisdom is the fallacy of age." Jack replied, "But, it does mean that your time is more open for other pursuits."

She looked over at the clock and then checked the fires under the cooking pots. "We have about fifteen minutes." Carmen gave him a playful leer. "Wanna see my naughty sketches?"

"Hell, Yes." Jack replied with an equally leering expression. "You're going to spoil me for other women." He smiled, "Not that I'll stop trying, but Shrimp Creole, naughty talk, and naughty art? If I was the sort to keep a journal you would get at least three pages." Jack chuckled, "You'll have to settle for an erotic song."

"I can live with that," she chuckled. She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and then led him through a door that opened on another spiral staircase that led down to the studio. It was one large open room; pale walls, and pale wood floors. There was a large dark wood dining table at one end that easily sat twelve, along with a buffet and china cabinet that held good china and silver pieces. Long dried out flower arrangements dropped curled petals and leaves around on the wooden surfaces on which they sat. Easels and art supplies scattered the room. There was a chair by the window near which sat familiar looking tools to Jack. There was a table on which lay sheets of colored glass and wicked looking implements to work it.

But Carmen was heading for a book case against the wall by the stairs and running her fingers over the spines of over fifty leather bound sketch pads of varying sizes. "Ah, here we are…."

Jack smiled and followed Carmen through her home. His fingertips ran over surfaces as he passed them, whether table, counter, wall or banister. When he stepped into the studio, he whistled in appreciation. "Very nice." He was only a moment or two behind her, arriving at the bookcase just before she pulled out the right book. "That's impressive, Carmen. Are they all full?" Jack stepped up behind her, perhaps only an inch or so taller, he slipped his arms around her to look over her shoulder. "Let's see what cannot be unseen."

"More or less," she answered then grinned back at him. "You might want to sit down for this. With a drink. I have a very vivid imagination. Let's go back up to the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the food while you see things that will make you blush the next time you see our stuffy elders."

Jack's expressive eyebrows rose, and his own imagination seemed to be running just behind his bright eyes. "Well, tequila and art always goes well together." He smiled, and the brushed his lips along the side of her neck with the patience of a man that had been waiting to do just that since he'd seen her. He kissed her skin just where her shoulder began, and breathed deeply, before he half-sighed, half-groaned with the smallest hint of a purr. Jack spoke softly by her ear, "A promising kiss, naughty pictures and tasty liquor, and then lunch. If I were a suspicious man, I'd think you were trying to drive me crazy." He smiled brightly, and stepped back to let her lead the way. "If you can make me blush, my Sister will be so annoyed she missed it."

She hummed lowly then turned to pat his cheek. "I am trying to drive you crazy." Then she laughed and grabbed the banister, swinging herself around to the stairs, skirt swirling around her bare legs. She took the steps at a brisk pace with the book held in one hand. The spicy aroma of creole cooking wafted to them as the neared the kitchen. Once back in the Mediterranean style room, Carmen opened the balcony doors that looked out over the back garden and offered a view of Kolvir's heights.

Jack groaned, and went up after her, taking the steps two at a time. "Black Magic Woman." He chuckled, and paused to enjoy the scent coming out of the kitchen and the gorgeous view from within the city.

She tossed the book onto the table and ducked into the ice box again, this time for a chilled bottle of tequila and two tall shot glasses. Then she joined him at the table and poured drinks while Jack started flipping through the sketchbook.

His eyes turned to Carmen, and he took a deep breath before moving over to where she'd put the sketchbook. He hefted it in his hand for a moment, and then began to leaf through it slowly. He slid closer to her, accepting the tall shot with a smile. He downed about half of it, before he continued with an, "Oh my…"

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It was everything Carmen had said it was-and then some. She had obviously let her mind wander more then a few times on the subject of their elders needing to loosen up and get laid. There was Flora resplendent in black leather; beautiful and unforgiving. Fiona bound and glorious in her submissive splendor. Perhaps the image of Bleys and a pair of raven haired twins involving whipped cream and caramel sauce was a little more then he ever wanted to see of his remaining red-headed uncle. But the pagoda setting for Benedict's tryst was beautiful and elegant, and the forest setting of the Warder taking a suspiciously familiar looking female against the trunk of an ancient tree was incredibly detailed. Llewella piercing some poor sod tied spread eagle between two underwater stalagmites while sea fronds caressed the bound lower legs was terribly erotic. There was Corwin, lying on his back and smoking a cigarette with a disgruntled blonde beside him. Gerard backed by a glorious sunset at sea and a burning pirate ship while Amber's Admiral subjugated the female pirate Captain bent over the rail of the aft deck and left wearing nothing but her thigh high boots and Captain's hat. She didn't look especially upset at that turn of events either. There was, he discovered, one of Random surrounded by a bevy of willing beauties. While there were more then one of most all of them in various poses and costumes and settings that fit the profiles Carmen had come up with, there were a few that were completely off from Carmen's original assessments; Julian as a glowering Dom, riding crop in hand; Benedict kneeling and submissive; Flora on her knees in a linen closet with the Captain of the Castle Guard; Fiona directing the magical torment of a lover - there was only one other of Random, this time with Vialle in a loving embrace with the faint image of the Unicorn behind them.

There were all done in the rich detail he had noted earlier in Carmen's work. So much so that he was sure if he stared at them long enough, they would come to life in his hands.

Jack was smiling as he turned the pages, his eyebrows rising and falling as they perused the sketches together. Flora's sketch actually got him to take a drink, and he chuckled as he intoned, "Yes, Mistress", before turning the page. He contemplated the Fiona image for a little bit longer than Flora's, taking another drink. "That's just—lovely." He took a breath, and almost laughed as he thought it was a shame there was no scent of perfume and leather to go with the image. He turned the page, and uttered an, "Ack!" Before he could stop himself. The Bleys image would be forever burned into his brain, "The women are gorgeous. Huh. I'd have gone with chocolate syrup."

"Nah," Carmen responded. "Bleys is definitely a caramel guy. Chocolate is so last decade."

Jack turned the page, not quite in a hurry to get away from Bleys, but not wasting a lot of time on the subject either. Benedict's managed the trick of being, sexy and serene, and he said as much. He chuckled at the Julian image with the woman against the tree, "Must have been a fun dream." He stopped at the one with Llewella, considering it from a couple of angles before he said anything. "You know, I don't think the piercing concerns me as much as the fact that its happening in saltwater…" He shivered, "I mean, I can take a lot of pain. A lot, but salt in a wound is not a sexy feeling." Jack chuckled and turned the page, he laughed at the sketch of Corwin, and shook his head. He tapped the image of the disgruntled blond, "We should give her a call, help her out. Y'know? A public service?" He grinned and went on. Jack whistled at Gerard's buxom female Pirate Captain, and laughed as he said, "Thar she blows! With a hump like a — like a ton of bricks!" Jack got them refiles, before continuing on through the book. He smiled at the Random one, "That's about right."

Jack went, "Yeesh!" At Dom Julian, chuckled at the Benedict one, and almost lost his tequila at the one of Flora on her knees. "Hmm. I look good in uniform. A shame I'm not much for following orders." He chuckled, "I like the other Fi better." And at the later image of Random, he smiled. "Vialle is a nice lady."

He turned to Carmen, "These are fantastic, as utterly distracting as the subjects are, the work is just beautiful." Jack smiled, "I think these would be perfect in those naughty little underground dime novels or magazines. It'd be the equivalent of the Kama Sutra, read in back rooms and blushed over at women's tea parties when the men are away."

She laughed as she pushed herself up to go to the stove and start dishing up food. "And then if they ever found out, Bleys would be the only one amused, I can almost promise you. Well, maybe Gerard. Although that last one of Random and Vialle might get me forgiven by the Crown. My personal favorite is probably the one with Julian wearing the wolf pelt while stalking a not so Little Red Riding Hood through the woods."

Jack grinned and laughed and got up to follow her, "Oh, C'mon, what could they possibly do once the book was out there. Sure they wouldn't be amused, but I bet they'd be a lot more popular after it was done. They couldn't ban the book, they'd look bad, and they'd create a bigger market." He coughed, "Not that I've ever seen anything of the sort happen." He smiled, "You might want to give them that sketch, it really is lovely. Oh, yes, any fairy tale turned on its ear is always a fun subject. There's a song or two that do just that. Wolf-Julian is very much the stalker, but the woman in the red hood is particularly eye-catching."

Carmen smirked at him through a haze of fragrant steam. "I started to do the cousins that I know, but honestly, they're so publicly uptight that I suspect they all do it with the lights off and never vary from the core positions."

He smiled, "I told you. Diamonds." Jack regarded her with mock confusion, "Core positions? Like Reverse Cowgirl or The Wheelbarrow?" He snapped his fingers, "The Romp with a View?"

"Sit." She set his plate in front of him and then smacked him lightly on the back of the head. "Yes, Jack," she drawled. "The Wheelbarrow." She snorted and set her own plate down then went to fetch the basket of crusty bread. It was joined on the table by a bottle of chilled white wine and two glasses. "Some of their heads would explode just trying to figure out how that worked, you know. I don't know why our generation mostly insists on trying to be so very serious all the time. It's laughable, really."

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Jack sat at the table, and smiled slightly when she smacked him playfully. He smiled, when she snorted, and took a moment just to enjoy the scent of the meal. He ran his fingertip along the edge of the plate, before he took a bit of bread to add to it, and reached out for the wine when Carmen placed it on the table. "Do you really think so? That name isn't even a brain teaser. There's 'The Dragon', for example. If you don't know what that is, there's no give away in the name. But 'The Wheelbarrow'? Did no one go to a summer camp when they were kids?" He shook his head, "It's sad really. Don't we have — I don't know — centuries, before the burden of immortality weighs us down. Not that I ever expect to be burdened, mind you, but y'know what I mean?"

He glanced to Carmen to be sure it was time to do so, and poured the wine to go with the meal.

"Seriously!" she exclaimed. "I mean, your Dad didn't settle down until he married Vialle. What's the rush with everyone?" She shook her fork at him. "The problem is, they are not artist. We know how to live, to take life by the short and curlies and get the most out of it. It makes one curious if they even have any sense of wonder left in them, or if they have squished it like a bug."

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Jack chuckled, and nodded in agreement, sliding her wineglass to its place. "They do seem in a hurry to be — what? Like our Elders?" He snorted, "From what I've read, that's not worked out so well." He smiled when she shook her fork at him, "Artists and anyone with sense enough to know that tomorrow is another day, and who bloody knows what it'll bring." He picked his fork and and tried some of the meal, "Mmm. This is very good." He had a bit of wine, and gestured, "I've not gone far, Kay's better at that stuff, my gifts lie elsewhere, but I can travel — I just take my time. There's so much to see right here, so much to experience, and there's — what? — an infinity of possibilities in Shadow? How can you not have a sense of wonder about that? I want to have a party in every Shadow from here to Texorami, just to say we did it."

She shrugged. "Perhaps one day I will ask them why they are the way they are. Or maybe I'll just get them drunk and take them someplace to broaden their horizons. Then again, maybe not. I can't say I actually care why they have a stick shoved up their skirts." She waved her fork again in an all-encompassing sort of way. "Just more of the world for those that appreciate it." She gestured at him again with her utensil. "Eat up. You're going to need your strength later."

"Loosening them up would be a challenge." Jack shrugged, "I've got better things to do than try to make someone have a good time." He laughed at her stick comment, and had another forkful, savoring the taste. "Exactly. More for those that still enjoy it." He smiled slightly, "Oh believe me, I'll finish this, and likely more." He smiled, "And leftovers later." Jack continued to eat, and it was clear he was enjoying every bite, along with the wine. He lifted his glass, "My compliments to the chef."

She clinked her painted wine glass against his. "I couldn't have done it without my shrimp peeler," she declared haughtily.

Jack drank and chuckled, "He was highly motivated to get through prep and the meal. More so after spending some time looking at glorious sketches." His bright blue eyes met hers as he had another drink. "Even now he practices all kinds of restraint." He smirked and continued to eat. "You should consider your effort to drive me crazy very successful." Jack smiled, and had another drink.


The meal was eaten and after a Trump call to someone, the pecan pie from Carmen's kitchen was accompanied by vanilla ice cream and a most exceptional coffee. Leaving the dishes to soak in the sink, she offered a tour of the residence. The rooms were large, meaning there wasn't all that much to see. But in her wide hallway, Carmen's walls looked like a gallery.

Jack kept the wine flowing throughout lunch, and when the meal was done, he asked for a bit more, finishing that helping as well. He helped to clear the plates without asking or hesitating as some guests might do, and groaned at the appearance of pecan pie. "Keep this up and I'll be back tomorrow for lunch again." He ate both pie and ice cream with the same patient attention he had given the earlier meal. Jack enjoyed the pie best with the coffee, and asked for another piece before they were done. He had been about to wash the dishes, when Carmen advised him they should soak a bit, so he wound up at her side for the tour of the house. The warm look in his almost incandescent eyes whenever he met Carmen's, said he was ready to feast on much more than food, but he continued to behave, testing his own patience every time she was near.

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She stopped before a large brilliantly colored photograph of a dancer, vivid red skirt swirling around her. "That's my mother. She was dancing the title roll in Carmen when she found out she was pregnant with me," she smiled over at him. "Which is why I am named what I am."

His hand rose to the small of Carmen's back as they stood together before the photograph, "She's lovely. Gorgeous legs." He smiled as he turned to her, "Carmen means 'song'. At least in one of the languages back home. I have always been fond of that name."

She turned an amused smile on him. "Is that a line? Do you have a book?" She laughed and moved down the hallway a bit and turned to face the other wall.

"Should I write one?" Jack grinned, "Not everything's a line, Sweetheart. It's true. How could I resist a woman named 'Song'? I've been with a few Carmens. There was Carmen Diaz, Carmen Villalobos, and Carmen san Diego. That last one made Dad chuckle, I don't know why."

She chuckled and hummed a snatch of a tune under her breath. "Did she wear a big red hat?"

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"And here are my etchings," she grinned. Most of them were full of light and motion; scenes from the dance company she had traveled with in her youth with her mother. Some were landscapes rich in detail and life. There were close to two dozen there in various sizes and taking most of the wall.

"Oh, wow." Jack enthused, "These are really, really good. If I get a place, I know who I'm coming to for artwork." He chuckled, "Then I'll have etchings of my own." He moved slowly through the gallery of etchings, stopping to look at each one. He smiled at the ones that clearly depicted her dance company, and then turned around to face her. Jack stepped up close, and kissed her lips, before asking in a voice that almost purred. "Do you feel like dancing?"

One arm wrapped around his middle and her other hand traced little patterns over his chest. "Mmmmaybe…," she hummed coyly. "What kind of dancing did you have in mind? I still have one room to show you, you know…"

Jack, once again, very nearly purred as her hand moved over his chest. As it was, he leaned forward slightly, clearly enjoying her touch. "Well, right now I'm leaning towards the one that only requires the beat of our hearts." He smiled as he met her eyes, "The other has to do with my shiny new drum, and I'd love to see you dance to that beat as well." Jack made a small sound at the back of his throat, and Carmen could feel it in his chest. "We wouldn't want to leave the tour unfinished." Then he kissed her, as if he couldn't resist doing so any longer. His arms went around her as he pulled her close, and kissed with a fervor whose fire she had stoked all afternoon. He pulled back for a breath, and brushed his lips along the side of her neck, "One more room then…"

"Aren't you just delightfully naughty?" she breathed, her breath hot across the curve of his neck. "Left," she added before tugging on that ear lobe and scooting towards the end of the hall.

Jack held her close, and answered with, "Mmm…" Enjoying the taste of her skin, and the warmth of her breath. He groaned quietly when she tugged at his earlobe, grinned, and then bounded after her. Jack laughed, "I was just going to say the very same thing about you." When he caught up to her, he sought to get her into his arms once again.

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Carmen laughed, dancing backward into the her bedroom. Not as large as some of the other parts of her home, it was decorated in eggshell and parchment with touches of sage and rose. The bed was a fantasy given form with luxurious fabrics and sheer curtains tied up at the corners. She smiled playfully through the dark curtain of her hair as she pulled the tie on her skirt and let it pool around her feet.

Jack gave the room a cursory glance. He was not there for the decor, as truly lovely as he would say it was later. He was there for Carmen, and when she let her skirt drop to the ground, he paused a long moment to appreciate the view, his blue eyes very nearly glowing with desire. His hand went to his chest for a moment, and then he drew his tee-shirt up and over his shoulders, tossing it aside. It revealed his tattoo which disappeared tantalizingly into the waistband of his jeans, and the hard, defined physique a lifetime of drumming had given him. Jack smiled, and stalked Carmen further into her room.

Beside the bed, her shirt came off and she tossed it in his direction. There was no attempts to play modest or coy; she was an artist and had the sensibilities of an artist. The human body was beautiful and clothes were only props. The line of her legs, her curve of her buttocks were made defined by all the walking and climbing she did; her upper body definition was feminine but not weak. There was muscular definition in her form, but Carmen was mostly the curves of a woman. She swung one armed around the bed post and he saw the flash of color at the top of her tail bone where her own body was marked. She smiled at him as she climbed on her knees to the middle of the bed. Then she crooked her finger and wrinkled her nose flirtatiously. "C'mere…"


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