The Portrait by Judith B. Glad

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Even in the Regency, marketing plans were useful, especially when parents were seeking to marry a daughter advantageously. Lord and Lady Curran expect their daughter's portrait to convince potential suitors of her beauty, her worth and her desirability. Of course, it must also show her as a perfect, obedient, demure lady.

Kermit Sutherland is a popular portraitist, so of course he is engaged to produce the portrait. What Chastity's parents don't understand is that Sutherland paints more than the surface. He has a knack for seeing into a woman's heart and soul.

Under her obedient façade, Chastity harbors a rebellious heart, and Sutherland sees it and encourages it. When her portrait is finished, it might show more than her parents--or she--have bargained for.


"Are you as innocent as you appear, I wonder?"

I started, not having heard him approach. His breath was warm on my nape. I could feel the heat of his body just behind me--not touching, but so close that he might as well have been. I fought the urge to lean into his warmth, to relax against him. How I hungered for the gentle touch of a hand, for the comfort of another body against mine.

His hands cupped my shoulders lightly, not really clasping. Barely turning my head, I looked down to the left. His fingers were long, his nails cut square. Black charcoal marked thumb and forefinger, as if he'd used the tips to smudge the lines he had drawn.

"Come," he said in a near-whisper. "You must move. You've been sitting still too long."

His hands slid lightly down to grasp my wrists and he lifted them upwards, until my arms were stretched out at shoulder height. "Stretch," he said, and I felt the curls over my ears flutter.

"Bend." One arm went around my waist and the other hand pushed between my shoulder blades. My spine stretched as he bent me forward.

For an instant my bottom brushed his body.

I leapt forward, colliding with the wall. "How dare you!" I gasped as I turned to face him.

His mobile lips were spread in a wide grin. "I got you moving, didn't I? No, don't stop. Walk the perimeter of this room, twice. Swing your arms as you do."

I obeyed, but it did not satisfy him. "Swing, girl! You mince like a puppet on a too-short string. Big steps. Wide swings. Lift your chin. One. Two. One. Two."

I marched as commanded.

  • Published by: Uncial Press

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