Chapter 9. Posing
The University of Ocean Bay.
A well-known center of learning, early in the history, endowments and grants that committees created to keep the costs low enough for the talented, but struggling students to afford to attend.
First established in the early 1800’s, it began as a private school for sailors who would be hired by the ocean-going vessels straight away as officers. Later in the nineteenth century, other schools of discipline evolved and the College of Ocean Bay became the University in the same year as President Abraham Lincoln died, leaving the country mired in hatred and anger.
In the chaos of the country, the west coast school built up with donations and funding from the state. Buildings evolved with a function followed form design. The first to use natural processes to warm and cool the buildings.
It became an artist’s school in the end, starting in the years after the War to End All Wars, then war that followed after that.
By the time Korean Police Action slowed into a cease-fire, the University at Ocean Bay became renowned for the artists that it produced.
Other schools expanded on campus that now covered nearly five-hundred acres of rammed-earth construction for buildings, pioneered from nearly the beginning, the three-foot thick walls kept the buildings cool in summer heat waves and warmer in the chill winter storms coming off the ocean with winds coming out of the Gulf of Alaska.
A labyrinth of stars and vista points, balconies of open hallways, long corridors that felt like one would be walking through solid rock.
Standing even after several earthquakes, maintanence crews repaired cracks in the walls by using a high-strength epoxy under great pressure to force into the smallest of voids. It was an on going perpetual nightmare, always using the latest of technologies.
Kaylee walked up the stairs, eschewing the elevators and walked along an open air hall, alone. It was slightly eerie. There were no students around in the normally busy walk-zone, and now her steps of her beach shoes echoed off the walls like a sandpaper as she headed to the studio-classroom on the third floor.
Trying the door and finding it locked. Sighing, Professor Billings was not in. She was going to lose the opportunity to take her final art test of the study of human form. She was about to turn away when the door rattled and opened.
Professor Billings stood in the doorway.
“Come in! You are on time, excellent.” He nodded and made a sweeping motion with his hand. “I’ve been setting up.”
“Setting up?” She asked. “This is a class?”
“Oh no. I am painting. You can do your final while I work.”
“I’m…” Kaylee put it together. “I’m posing for you alone?”
“Yes, that was what we agreed.” He nodded, leading her in. “I needed a subject, you need a grade.”
“This is not proper, Professor. You can’t do this.” She had that creepy feeling in the studio alone with the professor. Alarms were going off in her soul. The kind one gets when there is danger and no escape. But she needed that grade.
“I can and you will pose naked laying on that stage while doing… things.” He said as he closed the inner door of the studio.
“What things? I believed we were having a class.”
“Well, it is your final, you missed it last week and you agreed to do a little extra credit instead of taking the supervised exam and this is it.” He stood there with his arms crossed. “If you don’t care about failing the class, you are welcome to leave. But you can’t readmitted into this class for the upcoming semester, it is already full.”
Her heart fell. Kaylee looked around, she was alone, no one expected her for hours still. A quick prayer in her heart for anything, anyone to come and help.
She would take an earthquake, even.
“Go big, or go home. I understand you lost your job last Friday, too. It would make life difficult if you had to do night class to catch up and work for a living at the same time.” The Professor shrugged. “Your studies might suffer, this is only for an hour, it would save you a great deal agony in the coming year, perhaps keep you on track for graduating on time.”
“I need a room to change.” She said in a small, resigned voice. “Is there a robe?”
“You may use the changing room the other models have used.” The Professor pointed to a door. “I will set up the stage out here.”
He began to set up an easel and his brushes.
She closed the door behind her and began to weep. If she walked out, two semesters would be wasted. Pulling off her top, she proceeded to undress. Pausing for a moment and looked at her hands, she pondered and then left her wedding ring on.
*I wonder if he notices or if it will change anything.* The concept bounced around in her head and made her feel cold.
She got fully undressed and wrapped a towel tightly around her, really it was too small, barely larger than a hand-towel. It might be better for her to just walk around naked, that is what he seemed to want.
Timidly, she stepped out of the changing room and on to the stage that had set up a couch, chair and desk…
And a bed.
“You want me to use the couch or the desk?”
“Lay on the bed with your exam paper please. Like you would at home.” The professor said. His eyes twinkling with obscene pleasure.
“Professor, I’m not comfortable with this stage and furnishing.“ She was trembling as if it were cold.
In fact, he had the temperature cold. Her skin puckered and the hair on her arms stood out.
“It’s up to you. You need the final done, this is your last chance. I need a subject to pose.”
“Okay.” She let out a long breath and turned her back, there would be no rescue, she was alone. Pausing for a moment, she began to unwrap the glorified hand-towel when she heard him move behind her.
“Professor?” A baritone voice came from the far side of the room.
Kaylee turned around in surprise and saw the Professor was standing behind her, within arms reach.
And he was naked.
Across the room at the door stood Tom and another man. A man taller than Tom, and by the accent, he was British, but of African descent.
“What is going on, Professor? Why are you nude?” The voice was like a small earthquake, and it was full of shock and growing rage.
Gathering up his clothes quickly. The Professor paused for the briefest of moments.
“Thank you for your assistance Miss Grant. This will be a beautiful work of art.”
“You were working on an art project?” Tom said. “I thought you said it was a class. Kaylee? What is going on?”
“She is a student and we are working on a… on… Wait. You know each other?” The Professor asked.
“Yes, she’s my wife.” Tom slightly puffed his chest up while looked the Professor in the eye.
“What? You’re married? When? She started this! She enticed… It was her idea!” The Professor’s voice was high and tight.
“Professor, dress yourself and please come to my office in ten minutes. I would suggest you also use that time to contact legal counsel.” The President of the University said without humor.
“You son-of-a-b…” Kaylee felt a rage creep up her spine. She was going to break something, preferably the art professor’s testicles.
“Kaylee, shh…” It was Tom, guiding her to the open dressing room so she could put on her clothes. “You should not say anything just now.”
“Tom! You don’t think?” Kaylee had a panic on how this might affect her scholastic career or her future relationship with this man who had treated her with such kindness. “I mean I did not do what it looks like. I did nothing, you don’t think I did anything?”
“No. I think that twit that put you in this position and has a lot of issues to work out.” He kissed her and whispered. “I know you are telling the truth, no one doubts you. Get dressed.”
For the first time, she did not believe him. This man, funny, smart. He who was her accidental husband, told her that he believed her.
She could see it in his eyes, something she did not want to see again.
*I hurt him.* And she was hurt that he denied it.