Also on the nightstand were items less intimate than the jewelry, yet somehow more private. A flat, narrow box with one end torn open and several discarded foil packets beside it caught his attention. The well-used contents of the packets rested in the little wicker wastebasket beneath the stand. It was a small chance, but his semen could infect Laurent the way his blood could, and Laurent wasn’t ready yet. He wanted two more days. Next to the box was a short, ergonomic white bottle, the flip cap still open. Black words were printed on the bottle that he couldn’t make out in the dark, but he knew it said ‘personal lubricant.’ The stuff inside the bottle was clear and slick, thick like jelly but very slippery. Half the bottle was gone now, and Alexander would have done a commercial for the stuff if they asked him, he liked it that much. No odor, no stickiness, it didn’t dry up like some lubricants did. He could almost hear himself extolling its virtues on television, the home viewers stuttering in horror at the flash of his fangs. Vampires used lube too. He wondered vaguely if his kind were a profitable market.
Of course there was always a mess, and a white terrycloth hotel towel lying on the floor next to the stand attested to that. It was probably still damp and sticky in places. The hotel’s crest had been monogrammed on one corner, indistinct in the darkness.
Now came the centerpiece of the painting, the object that would tell the observer exactly what had happened here, if they hadn’t already guessed. Most likely they had, but were wondering with who, and why. The ‘who’ was simple enough, the ‘why’ a bit more complicated, and had been, for nearly two decades.
The sheets on the bed were white cotton. They were soft and had smelled of industrial detergent. They’d been wound around Alexander’s bare legs earlier, before he’d gotten up and pulled his pajama bottoms out of his suitcase. Atop the sheets was a cream-colored blanket, then a green and white comforter with pink flowers printed on it. Both were tangled, twisted. Pillows were scattered at the top of the bed, one on the right propped against the headboard and slumped toward the edge of the mattress. The smell of detergent had been replaced by the scent of sweat and sex, skin and musk, and just a little blood, that sweet, coppery odor. Alexander fancied he could smell it still, even over the damp air and lingering cigarette smoke.
On the left side of the bed, the fire behind his inspiration lie tangled up in the sheet. He was on his stomach, his bare shoulder blades angular and sleek, his arms sprawled out to either side and his right hand lost amongst the mounds of pillows. The left dangled off the bed, fingers curled against the box springs, swaying slightly with his breath. The comforter was draped over one leg and the other rested atop the blanket, long and muscled and bare, the light picking out downy hair on the back of his calf. Across the white pillow beneath his head, sable curls were flung scattered and wild, a few clinging to the back of his neck. One tumbled onto the smooth, pale skin of his back, a dark, tempting ringlet on a bed of creamy velvet. Alexander felt the urge to go over and pluck it up between his fingers, curl it around his knuckles, press it to his lips.
Beneath the sheet, the shape of his lover’s body was exquisite, long and slender, a sloping back and narrow hips, jutting hipbones and slim thighs. The swell of his ass was subtle, the sheet so far up his bare leg Alexander could just see the soft round beauty of one cheek peeking out.
How could anyone capture such glorious beauty on canvas? Michelangelo would have thrown his brushes into the Tiber upon seeing him, knowing he could never replicate such a thing in pigments and oils.
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