Gascon Victors and the Batty Beautician
Gascon Victors, Book 2
by Kate Hill
eBook ISBN: 06326-02033
Mia, a hardworking beautician, deserves to find Mr. Right, but her love of the unusual and her obsession with bats makes hooking up difficult. With a little magical manipulation, Gascon arranges for her to meet Harrison, an artist whose unique taste is a perfect match for Mia’s.
Gascon Victors stood in the dark tower on top of the city library. He stared across the street at the lit attic room of the old Victorian house where Harrison worked on his latest painting.
Talented and successful, Harrison was a man of unusual taste and a quiet demeanor. Despite his secret desire for someone to share his life with, he had yet to find his soulmate.
Gascon knew the woman Harrison was meant for. Smiling faintly, he waved his hand and sent his magic across the warm spring night to the unsuspecting artist whose deepest cravings were about to be fulfilled…
* * *
Harrison glanced out the window of his attic studio and gazed at the dark, cylindrical tower of the library across the street. Using the view for inspiration, he turned his attention back to his paper.
He enjoyed mixing fantasy and reality in his art and he specialized in gothic settings. A close-up of the tower was the background for his work-in-progress. Closing his eyes, he focused on the fantasy forming almost magically in his mind.
In the torch-lit tower window, a shapely woman appeared, her back to Harrison. Her hair was piled on top of her head. As her lush hips swayed to exotic music, she reached up and loosened her hair. It tumbled down her shoulders and back. She continued dancing, her body undulating in a way that made Harrison’s heart beat faster and his cock swell.
Maybe she was reminiscent of the dancers he had seen during his travels to Egypt and Morocco.
No. She was different.
His eyes still closed, he drew a slow breath and touched his pencil to the paper. Focused on the exotic, dark-haired beauty in his mind’s eye, he let his hand flow. He’d created some of his best works with his eyes closed, but no daydream had ever been quite this real. If only she would turn around and show him her face.
Her arms lifted and fluttered gracefully to her sides. Turning, she revealed the curve of her full breasts and the indentation of her waist. The slight swell of her belly made his cock tighten. Curvy women did something to Harrison.
Then she turned to him. Her face was concealed by a mask of black and white feathers. His stomach clenched and his heartbeat quickened.
The woman’s hands swept her breasts and ribs. They roamed over her hips and caressed her inner thighs. She disappeared from the tower and Harrison dropped his pencil. He stepped closer to his window, straining to see her. A hand touched his shoulder. Since he was home alone, he should have been surprised, but somehow he knew it was her.
He turned and stared into her beautiful brown eyes that gazed at him from behind the feathered mask. When he reached for it, she lightly grasped his wrists. She wasn’t strong enough to stop him if he wanted to fight her hold, but if she wished to remain anonymous that was fine with him — even if it was his fantasy.
Taking her hand, he sank to the floor, tugging her with him. All light faded. He could no longer see the woman, but he felt her. She straddled him and caressed his chest, then she kissed him. Harrison stroked her thick, satiny hair. Then she sat back and moved down his body, gently whipping her hair over his chest.
Harrison groaned. His heart pounded and his hands trembled a bit as he hurried to unfasten his pants. This was the best fantasy he’d ever had and he didn’t want it to fade. Kicking off his trousers, he reached for his cock, then spread his legs as he stroked himself, still focused on the woman in his mind.
She kissed and caressed his inner thighs. Her soft, moist lips teased him. Usually Harrison was too involved in his art to think about women. Not that he didn’t have urges, but a few quick strokes in the shower was generally enough to get his attention back on his work. From his youth he’d traveled the world, but all his experiences had focused on history and art. Somehow he’d never found a woman to fill the void in his heart — one that by now he believed would remain empty all his life.
It had been a long time since he’d had a fantasy as detailed and pleasurable as this one. If only he could see her face.
He stroked his cock while trying to imagine what she looked like. His thoughts drifted as she touched her warm lips to the base of his cock. She swirled her tongue around its length until she reached the tip. Harrison’s thumb teased the underside of his cock head, mimicking the flicks of her tongue.
Breathing heavily, his heart pounding, he knew he couldn’t wait any longer.
His hips thrust while he stroked himself faster and harder, all the while imagining the mysterious woman sucking and licking him.
Harrison groaned as he came, writhing on his studio floor, his eyes closed and his mind reeling.
If only this woman were real…
* * *
Mia’s salon had an unusual clientele. Most of her customers fell into two categories — elderly ladies and the emo-goth type. Mia was neither old nor did she categorize herself with any particular group, but she had a lot of elderly relatives with friends and she loved the classic “vampire” look.
She also loved bats. Mia wore bat jewelry and bat T-shirts. She decorated her home with pictures of bats and any batty knickknacks she could find. An adorably goofy stuffed animal bat rested on her station at her salon.
Her love of bats had both assisted and plagued her throughout her life. At fourteen she’d gotten into trouble when, unbeknownst to her mother, she had taken home an injured baby bat she’d found while returning from the library one night. Yet bats had always been a great conversation piece for her and a fun way to break the ice and even make friends. In her free time she kept a rather popular blog about bats.
Neither her friends nor her family understood her fascination with the furry flying creatures. She doubted anyone ever would.
It was a Friday afternoon in summertime when an unfamiliar man walked into her shop for a haircut. Of average height with thick sable hair and brown eyes, he was polite and pleasant, but not particularly memorable, except for his name. Gascon Victors stepped out of her salon after a wash and cut, leaving behind a twenty percent tip and a flyer advertising an art show. Mia glanced through the attractive black and red brochure, intending to toss it into the trash, but a painting of bats in a cave caught her attention. It was so lifelike that Mia couldn’t bring herself to throw the flyer away. She noticed the artist’s name was Harrison. He didn’t use a last name. His exhibit started tonight at a gallery just blocks away from her salon.
With no plans for the evening other than to get in some dance practice, curl up on the couch and work on her blog, she decided to attend the exhibit. It would probably be far more interesting than the evening she had planned.
That night, after closing her shop, Mia went home and changed into a pair of black pants and a fluffy black sweater with a V-neck that was perfect for her silver bat pendant. She applied makeup and fixed her hair, wearing it piled on top of her head.
Her stomach grumbled a bit, but she’d stop for something to eat after visiting the exhibit.
When she arrived, she parked her car in the back lot and made her way into the well-lit gallery. Inside, people mingled, talking and looking at the paintings, sketches and sculptures.
According to the flyer, Harrison’s theme for the exhibit was “expect the unexpected.”
Although she’d never heard of Harrison, she immediately fell in love with his style. His work depicted everyday settings with a twist — a werewolf riding a city bus, a riverside picnic scene featuring a faerie family and a series of paintings of strange doorknockers, including skulls, ogres and vampires.
When Mia finally saw the painting of bats in a cave that had caught her interest in the flyer, it practically took her breath away. The painting was enormous and so intricate that she lost track of how long she stood in front of it, examining every detail.
Finally she became aware of someone standing beside her.
“You like this one, huh?”
“It’s amazing,” she replied, not taking her gaze from the painting. “He’s a fantastic artist. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Mia’s gaze pivoted from the painting to the tall, lean man standing beside her. A pleased little smile tugged at his lips. He wore black pants, boots and a black jacket with a silky white shirt underneath. A pearl gray scarf hung loosely around his neck. Though pale, he wasn’t pasty and his skin was a strangely sexy contrast to his trimmed black goatee, dark hair and eyes the color of dark chocolate.
“You’re the artist?”
He nodded and offered her his hand. “Harrison.”
She shook his hand, noting the square black cameo ring on his pinky finger. For some reason she had expected his hand to be cold, but it was warm, his grip firm though not too tight. Looking into his eyes, she felt things she’d never experienced before — an almost giddy sensation. She was way too young for hot flashes, so the heat buzzing through her body must be from the powerful attraction she felt for this guy.
She hadn’t come here to flirt, but now that she’d met Harrison, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to resist. Not that anything would come of it. After all, he was here for business and she had no interest in —
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“You like art, Mia?”
“Actually one of my clients left a flyer in my salon this afternoon and your work caught my interest. I’m sort of a bat buff.”
He raised an eyebrow and she sensed that he was holding back a chuckle.
“I know. That sounds a little strange,” she said.
“Strange? I painted this, remember.” He jerked his head toward the bigger-than-life bat picture.
“This is just… really beautiful,” she said, once again focused on the painting. “If I had the money, this would be hanging right over my bed.” Mia closed her eyes for a moment, wishing she hadn’t said the last part of that sentence.
Thankfully he didn’t pick up on a perfect chance to make a sleazy comment — or come-on. Instead, he replied, “Thanks. No one had ever called this particular piece beautiful. I’ve heard weird, lifelike, even disgusting, but never beautiful.”
“Well it is.” Again she met his gaze. This time he smiled, those rich brown eyes warming even more.
“Would you like to see the rest of the exhibit? I’ll be glad to escort you.” He offered her his arm, an old-fashioned gesture that somehow fit his personality.
“Thank you.” She smiled and placed her hand on his arm. Despite his slimness, his body was hard, the muscles beneath his elegant jacket sculpted.
The exhibit filled three spacious rooms in the gallery. Although he spoke graciously to many other guests, Harrison never left Mia’s side. She enjoyed the attention. He was soft spoken, polite, and apparently well traveled. Much of his artwork included historical buildings and sites throughout the world, most of which he had visited firsthand. Everything from Grand Canyon to the pyramids of Egypt were recreated in perfect detail by his brushes and pencils, but in his work, every natural and manmade wonder received a paranormal twist.
Toward the end of the evening, Harrison asked, “Would you join me for dinner at the restaurant across the street?”
Mia probably shouldn’t have been surprised. He had practically given her his undivided attention all night, even though she had made it clear she couldn’t afford his paintings and wasn’t an art connoisseur. He had nothing to gain from mingling with her, so what did he want? By the prices on his work and the fact that several pieces had sold that night she knew he must be successful. The man was obviously a rich, intellectual world traveler, certainly not a typical starving artist. Why did he want to go out with her?
Not that Mia suffered from low self-esteem, but she was, despite her obsession with furry flying creatures, realistic.
“I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” he said — probably because she was taking so long to answer. “You can say no. I just… I’ve really enjoyed your company and I thought –”
“No, I’d like to go,” Mia replied.
He smiled. “Good. I thought maybe you were bored. When I start talking about my work I tend to zone out. I didn’t mean the whole night to be all about me.”
Mia chuckled. “It’s your exhibit. Besides, you’re very interesting and I’m starved, so dinner sounds great.”
“Excellent. There are a few people I need to say goodnight to.”
“I’ll meet you by the front door.”
“About fifteen minutes?”
“I’ll be there.”
Harrison nodded and walked off. Being so tall and lean, he was visible, even among the crowd. With his back to her, she noticed how long his ponytail was. It reached the center of his back. She wondered how he would look with his long, dark hair hanging free. Even more, she imagined how his hard, lean body would look naked.
Stepping out of the room, he glanced over his shoulder at her and smiled.
Mia smiled back and drew a deep breath. She tingled all over. Although she dated casually, it had been ages since someone had turned her on this much. Actually, no one had ever aroused her like this. When Harrison looked at her, she felt as if she knew him, though they had only just met.
Mia wasn’t a clingy, love-at-first-sight kind of woman. At best she’d enjoy dinner and more conversation with Harrison, then they’d probably never see each other again. Still, this was better than spending the night alone, like she’d planned.
She walked back through the exhibit and spent a few moments more admiring the bat painting. Then she walked to the gallery entrance and found Harrison already waiting there.
Seeing him again, even after a few minutes of separation, made her feel giddy. Despite her attraction to him, she remained outwardly calm as she approached.
On their way across the street, Harrison took her hand. Mia’s fingers entwined with his.
They glanced at each other. Though he was basically a stranger, she felt as if she knew him. She’d never been so comfortable with a person she’d just met.
At the restaurant, the host recognized Harrison and showed him to an intimate corner table. The lighting was dim enough to be soothing but bright enough to easily see the menu. Reading it was another case.
“What do you suggest? I don’t speak Portuguese,” Mia said.
“Do you like fish?”
“I don’t eat it often, mostly because I don’t know how to cook it.”
“The cod here is amazing. Want to try it or would you prefer something else?” He studied the menu, then he lifted his gaze to her.
Staring into his rich, brown eyes she fell momentarily speechless.
“How about steak?” he asked. “Chicken?”
“What are you having?” She moistened her lips and noticed his gaze following her tongue.
It was his turn to fall silent for a bit. He drew a deep breath, making his broad chest expand beneath his jacket. For the first time she noticed the intricate black-on-black embroidery on his collar. She resisted the urge to reach across the table and touch it as well as his trimmed goatee, just to see if it was soft or wiry.
He cleared his throat and once again cast his gaze to the menu. “I like the cod.”
“I’ll have that too.”
When the waiter arrived, Harrison ordered their dinner along with white wine. He and Harrison spoke briefly, then the waiter left.
“You speak fluent Portuguese,” she said.
“My mother is Portuguese. I have relatives in Cascais and spent a lot of summers there when I was younger. It’s a beautiful country. I still have dozens of sketchbooks –” He stopped and grinned. “Sorry. By now you must be tired of hearing about art. I’m a little obsessed.”
“If I had your talent I’d be obsessed too.”
He leaned forward. “You haven’t said much about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?”
“I’m a hairdresser. Actually I do skin, manicures and massage too. My shop is just a few blocks from here.”
“Yeah. I took the plunge and opened it about three years ago. I’m doing okay and I love being the boss.”
He smiled. “I can see you liking the dominant position.”
Mia raised an eyebrow.
Closing his eyes briefly, Harrison shook his head. “Don’t take that the wrong way.”
She didn’t reply, but took a sip from her water glass. Despite his attempt to deflect his insinuation, Mia knew he’d most likely intended a double entendre. She’d have to watch him and even more important, she’d have to watch herself because at this moment she felt like climbing across the table, tearing off his clothes and fucking him into oblivion.
Mia sipped more water and noticed that Harrison did the same. He also loosened his scarf.
Despite her earlier hunger, Mia wondered if she’d be able to eat when the food arrived. Her stomach was so tight from lust and anticipation.
Still when the food came it looked and smelled so delicious that her appetite returned in a rush. While eating, she and Harrison talked about music, art, books and movies. Considering their radically different backgrounds — he was a college-educated world traveler from a well-off family while she had grown up in a lower-middle class neighborhood and worked her way through cosmetology school — they had similar taste. They shared a love of old horror movies and just about anything gothic.
After dinner, they walked to the parking lot behind the gallery. It was empty except for Mia’s little white economy vehicle and Harrison’s sleek, blood-red classic car.
For the first time that night, Mia felt a bit uncomfortable — not with Harrison personally, but with the situation she’d allowed herself into. She was in a secluded parking lot at midnight with a guy she scarcely knew. Not so smart.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Harrison said as they strolled toward her car. “But I don’t want to say goodnight.”
She tried not to sound as nervous as she felt. “How many ways can I take that?”
“I mean I had a great time with you, Mia. Thanks for coming to the exhibit.”
They paused near her car and she tilted her gaze up to his. “I’m glad that customer left the flyer.”
She wasn’t sure who reached for the other first, but she found herself wrapped snugly in Harrison’s arms, his warm, firm mouth pressed to hers.
There was nothing demanding in that kiss, nothing forceful, yet it was somehow the deepest, most powerful kiss she’d ever felt. Her eyes closed, she slid her arms around his neck. His ponytail felt silky against her hands and she noticed that his beard was rather soft too.
His tongue gently traced the shape of her lips and she opened her mouth to allow him full exploration. Mia’s tongue danced with his. Tightening his arms around her, Harrison groaned softly. He caressed her back, then he tenderly stroked her neck and face.
When the kiss broke, Mia’s legs were weak. Thankfully Harrison was still near. Her hands braced against his chest, she leaned into him for a moment.
“Whoa,” she breathed, smiling faintly. “I think I’d better say goodnight. Not that I want to –”
“I understand,” he murmured and kissed her forehead. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Mia.”
“Same here.” She stepped back, but before she got into the car, she kissed him quickly on the mouth again.
Harrison stood in the parking lot and watched her drive away. She glanced at his tall form in the rearview mirror. He blew her a kiss and she smiled.
They hadn’t made a second date and Mia wondered if — and hoped that — she would see Harrison again.