She first noticed him on a slow afternoon at the pool where she was life-guarding for the summer. She'd just finished her first year of college and the Kinsmen Park pool was only a five minute walk from her grandparents' home in Brandon, where she'd grown up.
It was a cool, cloudy day, and there weren't many people. He was sitting against the fence, in the shade of an overhanging tree, sketching. She realized she'd seen him there before, but since her attention was always on the swimmers in and around the water, he really hadn't registered until now.
He seemed to be studying a young boy and girl—probably brother and sister—splashing in the shallow end of the pool. She had a sudden start of recognition; she remembered seeing his slight figure and brooding expression in the halls of Brandon University on her way past the Fine Arts studios.
A squall of windblown rain drove everyone to shelter. She huddled under the shelter of her sunshade, arms cuddled around her knees. The young man retreated to a bench on the lee side of the bathroom pavilion. His occasional glances in her direction told her that she was now the subject of his drawing.
The rain lasted about twenty minutes; by then they were the only ones left inside the fence. She checked in the change rooms and bathrooms and found them deserted, even though the pool didn't close for another two hours. The young man was still sitting on the bench when she came out.
She sat down beside him, and glanced at his open sketch book. It gave her a strange turn to recognize herself, sitting in her tower, knees drawn up to her chest.
"That's me!" she blurted without meaning to.
His eyes flicked to her face, and then away, slightly embarrassed. "Do you mind?" he asked.
"No!" For some strange reason she felt she had to reassure him. "No, it's okay." She held out her hand. "I'm Beth."
"Aaron," he muttered. His hand briefly touched and released hers.
"You're an arts student," she offered. "I think I've seen you at the college."
"You're here almost every day," she persisted. "Drawing the people here."
Aaron looked apologetic. "Is that okay? I'm not breaking any rules?"
She suppressed an urge to laugh. He's sweet. "Yes, it's okay. You're not breaking any rules. And no one's complained." The relief on his face fired a surge of sympathy through her heart.
"At university they have models for us to draw," he volunteered. "But there aren't any classes now, and I can't afford to hire someone to pose for me. So I come here."
An embarrassed blush colored his face. "At school the models don't have clothes on, so we can draw their body structure—their muscles and tendons and bones. And the skin texture. The people here at the pool—in their bathing suits—they're almost as good as the models."
"Why do you need to see their muscles and stuff? Most paintings I see, people are wearing clothes."
Aaron sighed. "You need to know what's under the clothes to make them look right. If you paint a blacksmith, you have to show that under his shirt he has big muscly arms."
Beth nodded. "That makes sense." She looked at the drawing of her again and noticed that although her face was very recognizable, and her arms and legs, the rest of her—the parts covered by her one-piece bathing suit—was quite indistinct. She was surprised at the amount of muscle definition he had drawn in her calves and thighs. "Do my legs really look like that?"
Aaron nodded. "Uh-huh. I guess you must swim a lot."
Beth felt a warm flush on her face. "Yeah. After I close the pool at six, I stay for an hour and swim laps. I love the water, and it's great exercise."
"Even on a day like this? It must be cold."
"It's warmer in the water. And swimming laps, my body gets pretty heated. I work up quite a sweat."
"Are you going to swim today?"
Aaron hesitated. "Would it be okay if I stay while you swim? I'd like to draw you."
Beth's eyes widened in surprise. "You want to draw me? Swimming?" It was her turn to hesitate. "I'm really not supposed to let anyone in here after I close. But you're not going to be in the water. Just—if anyone comes—you have to hide."
"Okay." Aaron nodded eagerly, a slight smile curving his mouth.
It was the first time Beth had seen him smile. He's actually quite cute.
Aaron's appearance was not immediately attractive. He was small and slight, with light brown hair and darker eyebrows that almost joined over his prominent nose. When he was deep in thought, or concentrating on something, which was most of the time, his face took on a somber, brooding expression
Beth didn't consider herself attractive, either. She was small, just under five feet tall. She had strong, shapely swimmer's legs and butt, and hips to match. In contrast her narrow waist and thin, small-breasted torso seemed to belong to a much younger girl The brown skin, dark eyes, and long black hair she'd inherited from her Thai mother did even more to set her apart from most Canadian girls her age.
The pool was still empty at five o'clock, and Beth took a chance on starting her cleaning early—mopping the pool deck area, then the floors of the change stalls, showers, and toilets. By ten minutes to six she had finished. She locked the gate and turned the 'Open' sign to 'Closed'.
She swam for an hour, counting laps, working on her swim strokes, doing the occasional sprint lap, enjoying the freedom of being the only one in the pool, and the sensation of the water against her skin, buoying her up.
As she pulled herself up out of the water, she was briefly startled at Aaron's presence. She'd been so focused on her swim that she'd completely put him out of her mind.
"I have to shower and change," she told him. "I'll let you out."
"Can I stay until you leave?" he asked. "Some of these sketches are not quite finished, and I need to work on them while the images are still fresh in my mind."
The thought of letting him stay while she showered and dressed brought a brief thrill of danger, but she shrugged her assent. "Okay. I'll be about twenty minutes."
It turned out that their paths home shared the same route; he lived just a block away from her grandparents' house. As they walked together she learned that he, too, had been raised by his grandparents, and had his own living space in their basement, complete with his own entrance, allowing him to come and go without disturbing them.
The following day Aaron was back in his usual place. As Beth watched throughout the afternoon, she realized that no one else was paying attention to him. It was almost as though they didn't see him. Just before six, when the last family left, Beth locked the gate and turned the sign to 'Closed'. It hardly surprised her at all when she saw Aaron still sitting in his spot.
As she got out her cleaning supplies he moved to the bench under the eaves of the bathroom pavilion, and started sketching. Several times while she was mopping the pool deck he asked her to hold a certain position.
"You have beautiful leg muscles," he commented. "I love drawing them."
It was past eight o'clock when she finished showering and dressing after her swim. Aaron waited to walk home with her, and she felt a little sorry when they had to part.
As the days melted into weeks and July became August, their acquaintance grew into friendship. Beth noticed that her lap times were getting faster—or at least she was getting in more laps during the hour She attributed the improvement to Aaron watching her, trying to capture her on paper as she moved through the clear water. His attention made her more keenly aware of her body, more attentive to the position of her arms and legs as she propelled herself forward. Similarly, focusing on the movements of her body as she cleaned the deck area and the bathrooms made those chores almost pleasurable.
On a Friday evening late in August a torrent of rain pelted from the sky just as Beth was finishing her laps. She reached the far wall, climbed out of the pool, and ran into the ladies' side of the pavilion. To her surprise Aaron was inside, sitting on a bench in the changing area.
"Aaron!" she protested. "You can't be in here! I have to change out of my suit and take a shower."
"I know. I'm sorry," he apologized. "But it was really starting to pour, and this was the closest door. I didn't want my sketchbook to get all wet."
The rain on the metal roof of the pavilion drummed maniacally, and Beth knew she couldn't send him outside. Let him stay here while I shower? She looked at the empty shower room beyond Aaron. The three open shower stalls were in plain sight. He'll want to draw me. And I can't really stop him.
She tried to picture herself taking off her bathing suit while he sat there, sketching. It was a scary thought. Raised by her very conservative grandparents, she'd been taught that good girls didn't allow men who weren't their husbands to see them naked. Even though intellectually she knew that belief was outmoded, emotionally it still held a powerful grip on her.
She considered her options. I could just put my clothes on over my suit, and not shower until I get home But from the sound of the rain on the roof, that would be quite a while. I don't want to wait that long in a wet bathing suit. And I hate the smell of chlorine in my hair ...
She almost stamped her foot in frustration. Why am I making such a big deal about him seeing me naked? He's drawn nude models in school. I'm sure lots of them were women. Probably much prettier than me.
A compromise came to her. What if I kept my back to him? She pictured herself again, naked in the shower, Aaron sitting on the bench behind her, sketching. I think I could do that. I need a shower and I don't care if he sees my butt.
"Alright," she said. "From the sound of that rain, we're going to be here awhile. I'm going to take a shower. With my back turned. You can sketch me if you want., but don't you dare move from here."
She walked to her locker and took out her shampoo and conditioner, her soap, her mesh scrubber, and her towels. After a moment's thought she dropped the towels on the bench beside Aaron. "Would you pass me the big towel when I ask you?"
He looked surprised, but nodded assent. "Sure."
Now that she'd made up her mind Beth felt surprisingly confident. She walked to the central shower and turned the taps, waiting until the water reached the right temperature. Then, turning her back to Aaron, she reached behind her, pulled down the zipper, and peeled off her suit.
She was aware of his eyes on her. But just as when she was cleaning the pool deck, or swimming her laps, that awareness made her focus more on her body—its position, the sensation of her muscles stretching and contracting, the feel of the warm spray of water on her skin.
Three times he asked her to hold a position, and each time she stopped to allow him to draw her. And then she was done. She stepped toward the wall and turned off the taps.
"Aaron, my towel please?" Beth held her hand out behind her. A few seconds later, she felt the rough texture of the towel on her palm.
With the towel securely wrapped around her she turned and walked back to the bench where Aaron was still drawing.
She sat down next to him. "May I see?" she asked, coiling another towel around her long, black hair.
Aaron riffled through the pages, then stopped and held up the book for her to see. It was a simple sketch, just a few lines, but she could see the curve of her spine, the shadow between her buttocks, the outline of her thighs.
Aaron turned the page. It held more detailed drawings of her lower back, her buttocks, her left hip and leg. He turned the page again to images of her upper back, neck and head.
The next page was the first time he'd asked her to stop, in mid-action of rinsing her hair—her hair piled on top of her head, arms bent, shoulder muscles beautifully shaded. A few pages further on was the second pose—her body arched to the right, left arm raised, her right arm curling round to her left. She hadn't been aware that she'd turned slightly, revealing the curve of her right breast. If he'd asked her to show him the side of her breast she would have refused, but now that she saw how lovely and innocent it looked in the drawing, she found that she didn't mind.
The last page was her final pose—leaning forward to wash her left leg. She gasped in surprise as she saw, peeking out from below her fully detailed buttocks, the shaded contours of her labia.
"I didn't know you'd be able to see that!" Beth burst out, blushing with embarrassment. "I thought when you asked me to stop, that you were just drawing my bum."
"I was," Aaron responded, his face pinking. "You have beautiful glutes. But when I caught sight of your ... labia. I couldn't not draw them." His blush grew deeper. "I don't think you know how beautiful you are. I love drawing you."
Beth didn't know what else to say. To cover her confusion she took the sketchbook from Aaron's hands and, starting from the beginning, examined all the sketches he'd done of her.
The sketchbook was thick, with only a few blank pages left. Many pages were just studies of parts of her body—legs, feet, hands, arms. Five pages were devoted to just her face, from different angles, with varied expressions. Several more pages showed her bathing suit covered torso. There were two portraits of her—head and shoulders—one in her lifeguard tower, the other on the side of the pool after a swim. And her poses while cleaning the pool deck and the bathrooms.
When Beth looked at herself in the mirror, she saw a thin, gawky, Asian kid. The girl Aaron had drawn was slim, graceful, and athletic, with exotic features and gorgeous, long black hair.
Once again she came to the pictures of her in the shower. They had a sensuousness and beauty that she'd never dreamt she might possess. Is this really how I look?
The roar of the rain on the roof intensified. I like seeing myself the way he sees me. I want him to draw me some more. Beth handed the sketchbook back to Aaron. "It sounds like we're going to be here for awhile," she told him. "You have just enough pages left to draw me getting dressed."
Beth walked to her locker. Carefully facing away from Aaron, she loosened the towel around her body and let it drop. Taking her panties from the locker, she bent forward, lifting her left leg to step into them. She knew what Aaron would be seeing from his vantage position behind her, and wasn't surprised when he asked her to hold the pose. A warm, liquid sensation surged through her lower parts as she imagined where his eyes were focused. She felt her nipples hardening, standing erect, her areolae crinkling. I'm getting turned on.
He released her from her pose. Beth pulled up her panties and slipped her bra on over her arms. Aaron again asked her to stop, this time to repeat the motion of raising her arms to let the bra slide to her chest, then to pose with her arms behind her back fastening the hooks.
"Can you turn to face me while you're doing that?" he asked.
Beth unhooked her bra and turned to face him. He was silent for a few minutes, drawing. "Turn a bit more to your right," he directed.
Now would be a good time to 'accidentally' drop my bra. But her breasts were the one part of her anatomy Beth was most critical of. Her bra securely fastened, she sat down beside Aaron to look at the drawings he had just done. The one that really captivated her was a study of her lower body as she bent forward. Her vulva, bottom, and hips were drawn in decreasing focus, pulling the eye to her exposed labia.
I always thought I would look ugly down there, but this drawing is lovely. What if I had dropped my bra and let him draw me? How would he have made them look? Beth glanced down at herself, still just in her underwear. Good girls don't show their breasts to strange boys.
The rain had slowed to a few solitary drops on the roof. Beth pulled on her t-shirt and shorts and they walked together to her grandparents' house.
"Thank you," said Aaron.
"You're welcome," Beth replied. She surprised herself by adding, "I enjoyed it."
The following week was the final one of the swim season. On Monday Beth mopped and cleaned as usual, then swam for an hour. Aaron followed her to the door to the ladies' change room and stopped.
"Do you want to come in and draw me while I shower and change?" Beth invited.
In the shower room Beth turned her back and stripped off her suit. The feelings of excitement she'd experienced three days before returned even more strongly. She took her time showering, relishing the feel of the warm water on her skin, the almost tangible sensation of Aaron's gaze, and the deep, coiling itch of her arousal.
This wasn't a feeling she'd experienced very often. On the handful of occasions when she and her grandmother had talked about sex, most of the advice Beth had received was along the lines of 'good girls don't ...'. Beth had only ever gone out with three boys. She'd enjoyed the kissing, but not the groping that almost inevitably followed. Aaron was the first boy she genuinely enjoyed spending time with.
When Beth had turned eighteen her grandmother had shared a secret stash of 'bodice rippers'—erotic paperback romances from the seventies and eighties. "Sometimes a woman just needs to do something for herself," she'd told Beth with a mischievous wink.
Those paperback books had become Beth's guilty pleasure. Their eroticism roused in her some of the same sensations she was feeling now, under the shower, with Aaron drawing her naked body. But she still held herself back from turning and letting him see all of her.
On Saturday Beth stayed late while a crew drained the pool and stored the equipment for the winter. Aaron had no choice but to leave with everyone else. It was nine-thirty by the time the crew was finished. After locking up for the final time, Beth walked home; but instead of going inside, she continued on to Aaron's house.
The house was dark, except for a light in the basement. She knew the entrance to the basement was in the back of the house, and that she had to go down a ramp to get there. It took her a minute to find the gate to the ramp, and a moment later she was in front of Aaron's door.
Should I knock? I might wake up his grandparents. Taking a breath, she turned the handle and pushed the door open.
Aaron's room was huge, taking up most of the basement. The area in front of the door was clearly his art studio, with easels, shelves of paints and brushes, a paint-stained sink, and stacks of canvases. Large windows on two adjacent walls provided natural light during the daytime.
Beyond the studio was Aaron's living area—a comfortable couch and chair, a desk, a bed and wardrobe, a washbasin, shower and toilet. Aaron was lying on the couch reading. He looked up with surprise.
"Beth!" His surprised expression turned to joy. "What are you doing here?"
"I missed our evening together," she answered simply.
"Oh, I'm glad you came. I missed it, too."
Beth looked around. Aaron's artwork was everywhere—on the walls, on the easels, stacked on shelves and leaning against walls. A large canvas on an easel drew her eye and she walked over to it. It was only half finished—a nude girl with her back turned to the viewer. Beth thought she recognized it from a drawing of her in Aaron's sketchbook
"Is that me?" She turned towards Aaron.
Aaron sprang up from the couch, his pace pink. "Yes, it is. I'm sorry. I should have asked you first."
"No, it's okay. I just ... I'm surprised that you'd want to paint me."