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Nina Black Emerges

Category: Mature
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Driving a little too fast Nina Black spotted the radar trap up ahead.

Too late.

She slowed her pickup to within the speed limit. The cop got out of his car.

Oh shoot. Another nail in her hide from her mom?

The cop tipped his hat back as he reached her open window and said, “Hi Nina.’

“Hi Jerry,” she said in surprise. “How are Cindy and baby?”

“Fine. You were a responsible chick at high school Nina. Keep your speed down and consider this a warning. Off you go.”

Nina produced her million-dollar smile and said with feeling, “Thanks Jerry.”

Well a driving citation would have been enough to send her mom through the roof. Her mom was pick-pick-picking at her these days, rarely saying anything nice about her.

Nina knew what it was. She’d come home with a law degree but instead of moving into law she was teaching art at the Seniors at the Boswell Community Center and had turned her bedroom into a studio and was back to painting again. Her mom had wanted her married and doing well in law. Her father, an attorney, reckoned Nina should do what she wanted and he certainly didn’t want his daughter marrying just any jerk she fell into bed with.

“Our son married a bitch and look how unhappy he is?”

Of course that began a row that lasted two and a half days until Nina stepped in and said, “Listen you guys. Cut it out or divorce. You are both acting like spoilt kids.”

Her shocked parents took her out to Sunday lunch and were still apologizing when they returned home.

Raymond her father said he’d buy her two tickets to the ballet and she’d said only if he also brought two more tickets and took his wife who loved ballet.

“You take your mother.”

“No be romantic even if it’s a pain dad. Be kind and more attentive and you’ll get much better sex and it will get mom off my back.”

He’d grinned and said the office required an attorney who cut ice as a negotiator.

“Up yours dad.”

He went off whistling.

Her mother came into her bedroom and said, “Again I’m so sorry for behaving like a brat with your father and you having to listen to the shouting. Let me buy you a car to replace that clapped-out truck.”

“No it was granddad’s and he had it for almost thirty years and always told me he’d never quit it. There’s something about the red pickup and I think it engenders love.”

“You are difficult to understand. And why are you always rejecting me?”

“Mom you have had years and years of learning that you don’t buy love through money. Buy me a nice bunch of flowers.”

“Damn you. Why can’t you be like other daughters?”

“What do you really know about other daughters and their true relationships with their moms?”

Jessie walked out and slammed the door muttering, “Bitch and your room’s a mess.”

Nina grinned, knowing to expect a bunch of unnecessarily expensive flowers. She took a call. It was Cindy asking her over for a drink and to see the baby.

“You don’t drink.”

Cindy sighed and said not for three more months but Jerry would have a Bourdon with Nina. “He said he saw you today and said you were looking great. Stay for dinner.”


Nina worked from 10:00 to 2:00 at the center Tuesday thru Friday each week and received a small salary paid by the center trust. She also sold creative landscapes she churned out as a sideline to paintings to some of her senior students and her friends for very good money. Women who really wanted to learn to paint or draw or to sharpen up on what they already did and who were sixty years plus, often very plus, were rarely short of money.

Nina locked the door and from her wardrobe took out a painting, a portrait of her mother. She’d been working on it for eight months and it was almost finished and she was on schedule to enter it in the Cameron City’s annual art competition. The city was some three hours’ drive to the east and the event was highly regarded.

Jessie hadn’t a clue what her daughter was up to because she never went poking in Nina’s space. Nina often took photos of her mom and Jessie would say, “You’re wasting film”, not having a clue about digital photography. She’d also catch Nina looking at her in certain light and would say, “Why are your staring at me like that?”

Nina would say, “Because your face is a picture mom,” and her mom would sigh and say not that bullshit again. That exchange had almost become a ritual. Those ‘stares’ would embed little pieces of the jigsaw that Nina was building into something called portrait art of which her mom had little or no interest. When they were on vacation and doing things as a family Jessie would act as if she were ready to go to sleep as soon as she entered a gallery.

It was a pity her mother was wealthy but had wasted her education on a law degree. She only played at law sufficiently to keep registered to remain chairman of the law firm established by her father, Nina’s rich grandfather and a real bastard. Not like her father’s father who’d so adored Nina who had been a widower before she was born and had barely scratched a living off his small ranch. She’d always spent more of her school breaks staying with him than being anywhere else and continued that through her second-year of college when he died.

Granddad Ritchie had left the ranch to her and her mom had purchased the adjoining small ranch and given it to Nina and she now had a semi-retired guy managing the enlarged property. She went out there most Saturdays and worked with Ted on fencing, clearing drains, spraying weeds, drenching cattle or just sitting around jawing with Ted and his wife.

Tucked away in the wardrobe, already packed for taking to Cameron, was the painting of Granddad Ritchie painted in acrylics and using only two photos plus her great memories. It had been painted with so much love that Nina couldn’t believe just how good it was, at least in her opinion. That painting was for her father for Christmas and the painting ‘Jessica’ would be given to her mom at Christmas.

Jessica had never liked Granddad Ritchie because he used words like ‘shit’, ‘Jesus’ and expressions like ‘what a bastard’ and his favorite used when really surprised, ‘fuck me dead’ as everyday language.

And yet, rather strangely, in church when the eulogies were delivered about Richard James Black, the only time Nina bawled was when her mother stood and talked about the remarkable and enduring relationship between her father-in-law and her daughter that began the first time Richard saw Nina in her cradle. She remembered how her mom had finished, ‘The affection and respect between those two were a joy to behold’.

Her mother had said that? Yes in front of an almost filled church of mourners. Jessie had a habit of surprising Nina at times but that time she’d blown Nina away. However Nina remained unsure whether Jessie would allow Raymond to hang his father’s picture in the house or even at the law offices.

She went to her mother. “Cindy Mason has invited me over to see little Carla and stay for dinner.”

“That’s fine. I’ve yet to start thinking about dinner.”

“Take dad out for dinner. You know he likes doing that.”

“Well I suppose so.”

“Mom he also likes you when you’re lively and interested.”

“Well I’ll have to say you’re not wrong about that. Do you think your father and I still have sex?”

“Of course I do.”

“You girls today know everything. I grew up thinking my parents stopped having it when I was born.”

Nina had to grope with that. “Oh how sweet.”

“Oh yeah? I know dad was still having an affair a year before he died.”

“Oh mom, you have that behavior to look forward to; it will be in the genes.”

“Funny girl,” her mother smiled.

“Kiss me mom.”

“What are you going now?”

“No but you don’t have to have a reason to kiss.”

They hugged and kissed. Just like normal mothers and daughters, Nina thought.

She returned to her bedroom-studio and spent the next hour working on intricate detailing on the painting of her mother and was feeling good enough about Jessie to change her expression a little, especially by softening the eyes. Her mom was not a truly unhappy person; just soul-sad. Jessie was still plenty young enough to have a ripping good affair that would put sparkle into those gray eyes of hers. Nina then wondered when her own sex life would re-start. She was in a trough.


Three Friday’s later Nina drove to Cameron City, inviting her mom to accompany her.

“No but thanks for asking. I have the flower show all day tomorrow.”

“Oh yes of course. I hope it goes well for you.”

Jessica asked hopefully, “Are you going there to see a guy?”

“No guy worth capturing my attention exists.”

“In that case you’ll be flabbergasted when it happens.”

Nina laughed and said did people still use the word flabbergasted and her mom said she did.

Driving off with her two entries Nina though had her mom been flabbergasted when young attorney Raymond Black arrived to began work at the law firm, newly graduated. She bet that’s what had happened. So where had the fire between them gone? Raymond’s father had loved his wife beyond her death. Ah it would have been that other bastard of a grandfather William Oaks souring his daughter’s life and her respect of men, watching her mother feeling so much unloved. Men could be so indifferent, some of them so cruel.

The Cameron City Art Gallery was housed in the former City Hall, now completely modernized. Nina’s identity was confirmed and she was taken to the assistant gallery director with her two works on a rubber-wheeled trolley with high sides and the paintings firmly fastened. Nina had been given an appointment time after first registering her two entries three months ago.

Victoria Dawson greeted her, smiling.

“Welcome Miss Black. This is the first time you have entered our competition I believe?”

“Yes I completed my bachelor degree in visual arts and then went on to complete a law degree, so only returned to painting nine months ago.”

“Well welcome. Please lift you first entry on to this table and unpack it for me and then join me to examine the work for any blemishes received in transportation. It will be accepted and photographed should I consider it to be of the minimum standard required for entry.”

“That’s fine, The entry conditions make that process quite clear and that my works are to remain in possession of the gallery for four months from entry closing day which is next Friday.”

“Correct. You will find this a very competitive contest because standards have become so high and we attract the work of artists from many states. The experience will be very good for you and may assist you to see where your development is at when compared with the work of contemporaries.”

“Yes indeed. I look forward to that.”

“Ah ‘Jessica’. It’s beautifully composed and painted. I have no hesitation in accepting this. Is Jessica someone you know?”

“Yes, my mother. She doesn’t know I have done this but when the entry exhibition is open to the public I shall bring her here and surprise her.”

“She ought to be greatly impressed.”

Nina unwrapped her late grandfather’s portrait.

Victoria looked at the work closely and said nothing until, “Could you please excuse me for a moment.”

“Yes of course.”

Victoria returned with a lean guy, rather good-looking, who wasn’t much older than Nina was. She was twenty-eight.

“Victoria this is Rhys Wallace, our gallery director. I’ve invited him to inspect your amazing acrylic.”

Nina said a little shyly, “I think it’s good Victoria but use of the word amazing sounds a little over the top.”

Rhys asked, “Are you a fulltime professional artist Miss Black?”

“I wish I were. Please call me Nina. I tutor senior citizens four days a week from 10:00 to 2:00 and then spend much of my free time painting. Some of my senior students buy my paintings.”

“Then Nina you qualify to be in the amateur section.”

“I would prefer to contest the open class, portraits.”

“You would have a great chance of winning the amateur class, portraits with this acrylic and do very well with you oil painting.”

“Open class please. Competing in the open section is being as competitive as I can possibly be. I have this feeling that this painting of my late paternal grandfather will take me through to final judging in the open section.”

“You are very confident.”

“Rhys I’m trying to prove to my mother that my career should be that of an artist.”

Victoria asked was her mother against Nina teaching art and painting in her free time.

“My mother aspires for me to practice law in the firm founded by her grandfather. I’ve decided I prefer painting and get a great kick out of lifting the skills of elderly people who dab although some are really quite good.”

As Nina was leaving Rhys followed her out and waved before turning in the opposite direction but a few seconds later he called, “Oh Nina!”

She turn and he walked to her. “Look I’m off to have a late lunch, a sandwich and a glass of wine. Would you join me?”

“Yes, I’d like that. I am hungry. My vehicle is on a metered parking space, I must put more money in the meter.”

“Look I’ll come with you. You can drive to the restaurant. It has some free parking behind it.”

Rhys blinked when Nina said, “This is it,” pointed to the Ford pickup painted Candy Apple Red.

“It’s a 1980s two-door F100.”

“Yes, 1980 actually, a 3-speed manual with a rebuilt 4-litre V8. I also upgraded the radio, had air conditioning and electric window winders installed and it has power steering and upgraded power brakes. I inherited it from my grandfather whose portrait you have viewed. He was a small rancher all his life. I’ll tell you about him over lunch.”

Rhys enjoyed her story and said her granddad had sounded a very nice man.

“Providing no big name painter enters you could win the open portrait section with that painting. It projects real vitality and character and I know why now… it was painted to preserve a memory.”

Nina looked into his green eyes and almost whimpered, “I spent three if not four times as long on the portrait of my mother.”

“I accept that and it’s not fair is it? Sometimes it happens with an artist with a painting and this is just one of those times. I guess it’s not for sale.”

“Correct. I’ll give it to my father and it may come back to me one day.”

“A dealer could get you several thousand bucks for it.”

“I guess I know that but I didn’t paint it to sell. I painted it for my father as a token for him putting my through college and not trying to stop me when I took my art degree before doing law.”

“For an artist it is important to have a backstop.”

Nina who knew her mom would be her backstop if her mom accepted Nina had real talent as an artist. She smiled and said she only completed law to please her parents.

“You have good values.”

“And you are a very nice man. Pity we live so far apart. I must be going.”

Nina drove Rhys back to the gallery. Before he got out he said almost apprehensively, “Am I permitted to kiss you?”

“I don’t see why not.”

They leaned to the middle of the seat and kissed, gently.

“Kiss me again when we next meet,” she smiled.

“I’ll think about that, a lot. Love your vehicle; it has character.”

She waved as she drove off to her hotel. She would stay the night and have a good look round the city.

* * *

Jessica heard the pickup arriving on Sunday evening and went out to greet her daughter.

“How did it go?”

“Fine mom.”

They kissed.

“I’ve met a man, but nothings happened.”

Jessica became quite excited. “Is he married?”

“How would I know?”

Jessica’s face deflated a little. “Well what do you know about him?”

“Very little. He bought me lunch and I guess he’s thirty or perhaps a year or two older.”

“What does he do?”

“He’s the director of Cameron City Art Gallery.”

Jessica looked impressed and said that was very young to be the director and added, “Then that must interest you?”

“It does. Am I too late for dinner?”

“No dear. We waited for you. I made a big effort and your father and I got on very well while you were away. I think we were both surprised.”

“Oooh, some quality bed time eh mother?”

“Nina please.”

“Oh I’m to pretend you don’t do it? Okay.”

“No I don’t mean that. Just don’t talk so loud on such a personal thing. Your father might hear us.”

“Oh god mother. How on earth do you summons the horsepower to govern a large law firm?”

“I suppose it’s because I’m comfortable about law.”

“Ah and therein lies the answer, given me by my sex-shy mother.”

Jessica sighed and said her daughter was sometimes so embarrassing.

“Oh how did the flower show go?”

Jessica said, “We are on a roll. We had record entries and a record attendance and raised $1180 in donations at the door and another $202 with the three raffles. That support was so gratifying.”

Nina sighed thinking her mom so easily lost touch with reality. Those two amounts would be about what her mom would earn in 3½ billable hours as a small city attorney.

“You may be interested to know that at the executive’s debriefing meeting immediately after we finished clearing away after the show I was elected to fill the upcoming vacancy of chief judge,” Jessica said proudly.

“Oh mom,” Nina said hugging her. “You have worked so hard for that honor.”

“Thank you dear but oh no, I have worked hard for the society, not for glory.”

Nina thought where were her mother’s values? The two-bit society held its shows in a clapped-out hall because the hire fees were so low and a few wealthier flower-mad members like her mother were always bailing the society out of debt because half the members were overdue with their membership fees or more likely had no intention of ever paying them. However Nina had to admit rough justice was achieved because most of those freeloader members were delegated to do the society’s voluntary work of maintaining flowers in the city’s three main hospitals 24/7.

Two nights later Nina was on her bed readying a steamy romance novel that had her jerking her hand away from touching herself. Well the bedroom door was wide open.

Her phone rang and she jumped. She answered, “Nina Black.”

A guy asked, “Are you painting?”

Nina sat up in excitement. God it was him. Oh no, what was his name? It wasn’t Ross. Then her mind clicked into gear.

“Oh hi Rhys. No I’m not painting, just sitting quietly reading a magazine, ah, a women’s magazine.”

“With photos of cute women in sexy underwear?”

Nina’s heart raced. “Yes, quite a few. Do you think those models shave down low?”

She thought she heard Rhys swallow. “Um I would think so.”

Now what? She had no intention of pushing that topic.

“Do you?”

Nina hit the bedding with her free hand in triumph. She blushed and felt hot.

“Do I what?”

“Shave down below?”

Oh good boy, the response she wanted. “Rhys before I answer that, are you married or dating seriously?”

“No and no to both questions.”

“I shave about 80% of that real estate and clip the remainder.”

“What shape is the clipped area?”

Yeah! “Rhys if you are that interested you’ll have to find out for yourself.”

Rhys laughed. “That is the most unusual come-on I’ve ever received.”

“No doubt you’ll experience other ones before you put yourself out to graze.”


“That’s one of those comments that doesn’t require elaboration. Would you like to come for dinner Saturday night? I don’t do it on first dates so you have nothing to gain in that direction. Arrive here at 6:00, leave at 10:00 and you’d be home about an hour after midnight. Am I worth it?”

“Before answering that question, would you do it on the second date?”

“With you, yes.”

“Then please give me directions for Saturday night and I’ll remember not to divulge actual details of your entries. I find you a very attractive person and it would appear you have been sent to me… my girlfriend and I split only five days before I met you.”

Frowning Nina said, “Anything longer than a fling is unlikely to work because of the road miles between us.”

“It would work Nina if we set our minds to it. Alternatively you could live with me and share my studio. I live on the upper floor of a warehouse so there’s plenty of room.”

“A studio, so you paint?”

“Yes I potter, mainly commission portraits. Some people think I’m very good.”

“Are you?”


“And me?”

“You have the potential to be far better than me Nina. We must continue your development. You are likely to win our open class for portraiture with your mother’s portrait. Just enter your grandfather’s portrait in the unrestricted open section. That way you might win two awards and that should attract interest within the art community including fine art-focused media even if your award in the open section is placed third.”

“I’ll accept your advice and will request that change in writing to Victoria.”


Between 5:30 and 5:50 on Saturday with Rhys’ arrival imminent, Nina changed three times. She could believe how nervous she was. Usually she was slightly off-handed with guys to indicate who was boss at running the date.

Between the second and third change she had a cold shower and that calmed her a bit. She finally chose to wear a dark blue sleeveless cocktail dress with a boat neckline, a cinched beaded waist and tuxedo back. When about to walk out the door she returned and took off the stockings and pulled on black leggings and suddenly she was approving her dress sense, just wishing to look reasonable elegant but not to smash him between the eyes by looking a raving beauty or at least as close as she could get. That would come later for a special event such as meeting his parents or more likely the art awards presentation.

When in the hall Nina had another mind change and returned to her bedroom. She pulled off her leggings and pulled on dark blue thigh-hi stockings with while lacy tops. She knew he wouldn’t see the tops but she knew she’d feel good about her sexy look hidden from him.

When Nina arrived in the living room Raymond and Jessica eyed her, whispered and left without saying anything. When they returned, Raymond long before Jessica, both were more formally dressed.

“This guy is something eh?”

“I really have no idea daddy. I only met him the once and couldn’t even tell you the color of his eyes.”

“What is the color of his eyes?”

“Jade… daddy don’t! You’re making me nervous.”

He grinned and handed his daughter a small martini and told her to get that down quickly to relax her. “I have not seen you so tense about a new guy arriving. He must be top shelf.”

“Correct daddy.”

“Your mom was top shelf; I couldn’t believe she chose me.”

That was news to Nina. “Are you telling me mom was a babe when she was at college?”

“It’s the truth darling.”

“B-but what happened?”

“I’m not sure except your grandma seemed to be at her more and more as time went by. She was also upset at how unhappy her father had become and became ashamed at his drunkenness and womanizing.”

“I think grandma drove him to drink and into the arms of other women.”

“I think so too but Christ don’t let your mother know you think that.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. Do you have other women daddy?”

“Keep your voice down. I’m not going to answer that.”

“I didn’t think you would.”

Raymond looked at the doorway to the bedrooms and whispered, “There have been a couple.”

“Or perhaps more. Be careful daddy.”

Jessica swept into the room and said, “It’s quiet in here. Have you two had a row?” And then noticing Nina’s drink said, “Where’s my drink?”

There were sitting quietly sipping their martinis when the doorbell rang and startled them.

“Let your daddy go.”

“Oh mom.”

“It’s only proper dear one. I’m hoping this is the start of something big for you. It’s time you left home.”

That left Nina feeling crushed so she swallowed all of her second drink, choking and had a red face and tears in her eyes when her father said, “Look who I found at the front door?”

Rhys was in a shiny Italian blue suit and looked wonderful.

“I-I just choked,” Nina whimpered.

“Oh my poor darling,” Rhys said, and strode over and hugged and kissed her and still hugging Nina turned and said, “Good evening Mrs Black. I’m Rhys Wallace, your dinner guest.”

Just before 10:00 Nina and Rhys were standing on the front porch with the light on. They had a long kiss goodbye. Reese went down the three steps and then turned back and said, “Lift up your dress. I wish to go home thinking about your legs.”

“How far up?”

“You decide.”

Well she wanted him and so she had to do it at the risk of turning him off by thinking she was a slut. Nina lifted her skirt above her hips and stood motionless, wondering whether he’d like her blue high cut panties.

“Jesus,” Rhys purred. “You have fabulous legs and you have courage. You’ve capped a great night with an amazing preview. Good night. I’ll be in touch.”

Nina’s phone awoke her. She noticed it was 1:15 by her beside clock. She dropped the phone and retrieved it.

“Hi,” she said sleepily, knowing it would be him.

“Hi, I had a great night.”

“Me too. Sorry about that appalling bad-taste panty show at the end. You are likely to think I’m a slut.”

“Slut? You were embarrassed but decided to exhibit generously, knowing it was what I requested. Am I correct?”

“Yes I felt driven to exhibit fully.”

“I’m glad about that.”

She sucked in air. “Really?”

“Oh yes. I have a hand on my dick.”

“Is it a nice looking one?”

He chuckled and he’d half-expected her to ask fruitily aroused was it a big one.”

“Fruitily?” Nina giggle.

“A rich tone voiced with restrained lust.”

“Ohmigod, am I able to speak like that?”

“We’ll have to find out won’t we?”

She didn’t know what to say, almost overcome by confirmation he wanted to see her again.

“I’m jerking my dick.”

Nine felt her eyes widen.

He said huskily, “I want you to touch yourself.”

She bit her lip and took the risk. “You mean slide a finger in?” Oh shoot, what if he had meant to touch her breast?”

“Oh yes please. Can you manage two fingers?”

Ohmigod, he was going to make her get herself off.

There was a brief pause and then she said, “Yes, done that and I’m thinking of you.”

“Good. Sleep tight. Good night.”

The call was cut.

Nina could have screamed but she’d thought he might do that to show he was couth although a little naughty. She stroked away, smiling and fell asleep thinking she must draw his cock for him one day. That would require him to model for her and she would need to study it closely. Hmmm, perhaps she might draw him a flower instead.

* * *

The chairwoman of the trust of the Boswell Community Center where Nina worked four days a week and received a $12,000 salary invited, Nina to paint her portrait, head and shoulders, in pastels. Mrs Field asked for a price for the 24 by 18 unframed portrait.

Mrs Field said $2000 seemed rather on the low side because she required top quality. They settled on $3250.

Jessica came into the loft over the garage Nina used as a studio with a cool drink for her daughter and looked at the range of photos Nina was sketching from and said, “I went to school with Anna Field or Anna Shanks was called before marriage. She was a proper bitch as a girl but was tamed by her husband and is now very nice.”

“Were you tamed mother?”

“I wish I had been but your father was too weak to accomplish that.”

“Either weak or being too nice to reconstruct your character.”



Jessica snorted, “Don’t you think I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

“Stop being a bitch mother,” Nina said calmly. “Sit and tell me what you know about Anna in later years because they could help me define her character. I means things like does she coo at babies, has mood swings and does she always look so immaculately dressed and made up.”

“Well actually I know her rather well because I serve on three committees with her and we are in the same book club and lunch twice a month with Beth Wilson. We three went round together at high school.”

Nina smiled. Her mom was actually interested in something Nina was doing and had forgotten to be angry as being called a bitch.

“Are you being paid to paint Anna?”


“How much?”

“Do I even ask how much you rake in annually or have you ever volunteered that information?”

“Bitch,” said her mom idly, and then began rambling on about what she knew about Anna.

When leaving Jessica shocked her daughter. “Do you mind if I sit here each day you are working on this picture of Anna. I’d like to see it develop.”

“Yes I’d love that mom. I really would and talking won’t distract me. I’m so pleased you are taking an interest.”

“Those photos you took of me and you staring at me in a peculiar way as if I had egg on my face. You’ve painted a picture of me.”

“Yes mom, it’s called a portrait. I’ll show it to you eventually.”


“That’s what I said mother.”

“God you can be so damn frustrating at times.”

With expertise in diversion Nina alleged, “You sound as if you need sex.”

“Young girl, don’t be so disgusting.”

Jessica came and sat in the loft talking to Nina many times during the next three weeks. The day after Nina had taken her work for a three-hour sitting at Anna’s home Jessica came in and viewed progress.

“Ohmigod, that’s Anna and how she looked ten years ago.”

“About five years ago, possibly, and thinner as well.”

“It’s wonderful darling. You are so talented. I must say I have made a great mistake about you. You were right, you were meant to be a painter, not an attorney.”

“It’s fine mom.”

“And I’m glad you are more like your father than me.”


“Why do you say what every time I say something that seems to tax you.”

“Mostly it saves me from saying something I might later regret saying but this time you actually have me confused. What should I be like either of you?”

“You are our daughter.”

“Spoken like an attorney mom. I’m aware I have similar qualities of shared by at least one of you. I tend to be fairly predictable and usually unflappable like dad and I have your coloring and my insight comes from you.”

“You think I have insight?”

“Yes mother but largely choose to ignore it or misuse it. It’s like with law, you play at it whereas you may have been a judge by now had you applied yourself to imbed into law.”

“Says who?”

“Judge Arthur told me three years ago when I baby sat for the Arthur’s when they had grandchildren staying with them.”

“Sidney thinks I could have excelled as a judge?”

“He didn’t use the word excelled and it is three years ago since he said that.”

“Well that doesn’t matter. What don’t you like about me.”

“Like daddy I’m tolerant so no way will you get me to answer that. But I’ll say this. You have been visiting me here most days for three weeks and never, never have you given me this much attention and shared yourself so much with me, apart from one thing. I have found this so wonderful and appear to know you much better.”

“Well I’m pleased to hear that. Now young woman, what is the exception? And please don’t tell me I won’t wish to hear it.”

“Oh there goes insight again and yet you won’t wish to hear it. Let me sit down opposite you. Now mommy, tell me how you think your mother ended up almost ruining your life.”

Jessica turned white and stood to leave.

“No mother. Sit! This is crunch time for you. Get it out and perhaps you’ll begin to heal.”

Jessica wailed to no avail. She then began talking and finished, heaving in sobs in Nina’s arms.

“So you now readily admit grandma attempted to poison your mind, whether or not she knew she was doing it, because your father was mistreating her.”

“Yes absolutely.”

“Good girl. Physician heal thyself.”

Weeping Jessica said, “That’s a proverb from the Bible.”

“Yes and you know what it means.”

Jessica nodded and Nina said, “Come on, I help you back to the house. A good sleep will ease the pain. I have waited two or three years to do this for you mom and today the opportunity arrive. Regard it as a good omen.”

When Anna was in the loft for the third and final sitting she mentioned the trust had received a $10,000 anonymous donation, the largest anonymous donation it had ever received.

Nina gasped and thought of something. “How many days ago was that?”

“Last Friday.”

That huge release by Jessica had been two days earlier. “Mom’s bank is Allied Royal. Which bank issued the check.”

“Allied Royal. It has us mystified. Do you think it could be from your mother?”

“Perhaps. A long last my mother is taking an interest in my work and sits here with me most times I am working on your portrait and through that I’ve learned so much about you and her. Last Wednesday I seized the opportunity to force her to tell me what she really thought of her mother’s treatment of her and it all came out.”

“Ohmigod, that’s why she looked almost ill when we lunched on Friday although I must say her mood seemed lifted. Look this is fitting together like a jig-saw. Are you aware your mother paid the center a thousand dollars to try you on trial as a salaried art tutor?”

Nina’s mouth hung open.

“No I didn’t think so,” Anna laughed. “Inside her is a good mother don’t you think?”

Nina, crying, ran to Anna and was hugged. “Please,” Nina sniffed, “Don’t tell her you told me. It was her intention to do that anonymously.”

The Friday after Anna had received the completed portrait still to be framed she was at the center for her weekly meeting with the director. Mrs Mason said she’s received another big anonymous donation that morning.”

“For how much?”


“Oh very nice,” Anna said, knowing Nina had received her check for $3250. “What bank issued the check?”

“Allied Royal.”

Later at lunch when lunching with Jessica and Beth Anna said her check went off to Nina this week. What bank is she with?

“Allied Royal. Why?”

“This is very confidential Jessica. I believe Nina has donated my check for $3250 to the trust.”

“Ohmigod, after all that work and she really could do with the money.”

“Don’t worry, already two of my friends will be approaching Nina to do their portraits and more business is likely to follow,” Anna said. “I’ll suggested to Nina she charges less and finishes faster and if someone wants high quality and great detail including intricate background detail then they’ll be charged through the nose for it. You have such a sweet daughter.”

“And haven’t I been reminded of that recently.”

“Oh?” Beth said, sensing something juicy in the pipeline. “What was that?”

Anna said casually, “Yes tell us Jessica. If it goes deep it pays to keep it in the open.”

Jessica looked uncomfortable and eyed the exit.

“Ladies I think we are in for a bit of a confession,” Anna said. “Another bottle of wine?”

“Yes and I think champagne and it’s on me,” Jessica said. “This is something of a celebration. I’m coming to the conclusion my daughter may have initiated my unshackling.”

“Ohmigod, this sounds like a two-bottle session,” Beth said.

* * *

Nina said at breakfast on Sunday morning, “Guys I want you to leave here at 3:00 on Friday and take me to a cocktail party at the Cameron City Art Gallery that starts at 6:30. I think we should stay the night somewhere.”

Her father asked would the judging results of the annual art competition be announced and presented.

“Yes and when I last visited Rhys he said in his view I ought to attend.”

“Is he on the judging panel?”

“No mom, it’s entirely independent of the gallery but he knows art of course.”

“Will I see my painting on Friday?”

“Yes mom.”

“What painting?”

“Wait and see dad.”

On Friday night Nina called ahead and Rhys came bounding down the steps to greet them. He looked dashing in his tuxedo and the look he gave Nina in her black gown and her hair now in multiple blonde shades and piled high, made his stomach churn. He kissed both women and shook hands with Raymond.

“Welcome to my working home. We’ll grab a drink and I’ll take you to two paintings of interest to you.”

“Two?” Jessica queried.

“I have two entries mom.”

Jessica gasped when she saw her portrait hanging titled ‘Jessica’. “Ohmigod, that’s so much like me, only better. I have kindness in my eyes.”

“Do you like it mom?”

“Nina darling, it’s wonderful. Why does it have a red sticker on it?”

Rhys said red sticker paintings were finalists.

“What will this get a prize?”

“I’m not privy to the judging decisions but I should think so.”

“Call me Jessica darling. May I buy it off you Nina?”

“It’s already yours mom. It’s your Christmas present and an expression of my love for you. Now I tried hard to make that my best painting ever mom and it would have been my best but sometimes one cannot control what happens in creative art. My next entry is probably the best painting I’ll ever do. That usually comes late in one’s career but mine appears to have come early. Take us too it please darling.”

Jessica said, “You now call Rhys darling?”


Rhys led them to where a large number of guests were gathered, glasses in hand and looking at a painting. Raymond who was tall enough to see the painting clearly froze and said “Jesus.”

“It’s your Christmas present daddy.”


Jessica stood on her toes, hand on Rhys shoulder and said, “Ohmigod.”

A woman standing alongside her said, “We think it’s the best portrait by far to have been entered in this competition since its inception. The silly artist ought to have entered it in the open portrait class instead of the unrestricted class which means competing against all classes. Landscapes have always won the premier award.”

“The painting is of my late father-in-law.”

“Oh you must be pleased.”

“Thank you. Yes I’m absolutely thrilled. This is the silly artist my daughter Nina.”

“Oh hi Nina, lovely, lovely work. I really meant ill-advised rather than stupid.”

“It’s okay. Although acting on advice I made a considered decision and am happy to live with it.”

“Although I’m not privy to judging results in my opinion Mrs Maxwell ‘Portrait of My Father’ will walk off with the premier award.

And that’s what happened. ‘Portrait of My Father’ took the premier award and ‘Jessica’ won the open portrait section. Nina was mobbed by well-wishers and was interviewed by a camera crew for local TV.

A big party of people went to a local restaurant booked out for late dinner. Rhys had reserved seats at a table that included Nina and her parents.

By then her mom had stopped weeping and clutching Nina had gushed, “Darling I still can’t get over it’s how you see me.” She didn’t appear to take in her daughter’s repeated reply, “It’s how you are mom; take a good look at yourself.”

During dinner a portly guy in a tuxedo and white slicked-back hair invited Nina to the bar for a quick chat. She looked at Rhys and he nodded.

“Who is it?” Jessica asked.

Rhys said Nina would tell them when she returned but the guy sitting next to Jessica whispered, Max St Laurence, an art dealer from New York.

Nina returned looking somewhat dazed.

“What did Mr St Laurence offer?” Jessica asked.

Nina looked at her mom surprised, probably wondering how her mom suddenly knew who was who in the art world.

“I turned him down. He offered me $5000 for your portrait mom and $25,000 for granddad’s portrait. He said in painting granddad I’d captured something one rarely sees in portraits produced these days. You guys better insure your Christmas presents.”

Nina stayed that night with Rhys. They managed to only just get the door closed before falling on to the floor and groping.

Coming up the stairs Rhys had been kissing Nina in her most vulnerable place, just under her right ear. She was almost ready to climax and was aware she was dripping.

As he got her dress and bra down and fixed hungrily on her boobs she gasped, “Rhys you can do that dedicated seduction later… please shove it in. I’m wet and waiting and am desperate to have you inside me.”

What man could refuse a weeping request like that?


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