Archive for April, 2012
Read Chapter 6 before you continue…
It began with only the softest brush of his lips against hers before he raised his head to see her reaction. Her eyes were closed and her face turned up towards his. But then she sighed and relaxed against him and he lost control as jolts of pleasure shot through his body. He crushed his mouth against hers and nibbled at her sweet lips. He let his tongue dart out and flick the corners of her mouth until she relented and allowed him access to her honeyed depth. He angled his mouth so he could swirl and capture as much of this honey that she offered him. And still it was not enough.
Groaning with frustration and need, he moved his hand from her cheek into her hair until he had it pressed against the back of her head to deepen the kiss. His other hand moved from her waist to her derriere until he could prove to her the extent of his arousal. He kneaded and plodded and roved her body as much as their position would allow. And still it was not enough.
He did not understand it. This hunger and craving. For her. Desire for a woman he was familiar with. Even desire for a stranger he had occasionally indulged in. He had an active sexual life that most men only boasted about without any basis. But this was different. Even this early in their relationship, he knew this feeling was new and unique and maybe even a once in a life kind of feeling. It scared him to the core but he could not turn away. He only knew her for a couple of days but he felt as frenzied as an animal with his need to touch her – and touch her everywhere he must. But more so, he wanted her to touch him. And then she did.
He felt rather than heard her moan against his mouth as her hands brushed against his collar before they snaked into his hair. Her arms raised, he could feel her breasts press against his chest and thought the heat radiating from his body would ignite their clothes and disintegrate them to soot despite their wet state. But they did not and suddenly it seemed that they had too many clothes on. Again he felt like an animal, but having her breasts pressed against him through their clothes was no longer enough and he needed to touch them naked with his palms. He needed to see what they looked and felt like and if they looked and felt as good as his imagine was currently promising them to be. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 5 before you continue…
Elaina stretched her arms up towards the heavens, which was pretty justified given that it was a Sunday and she had begun the day by attending mass. Not that she was feeling particularly pious. On the contrary, her mother had, as per usual, plied her with guilt in order to get her to church. It was not as if she had a bone to pick with God or anything. She just preferred to send up her prayers in private when she deemed prayers as necessary. But she refused to wear a dress for these weekly events – that was where she drew the line.
She had yawned her way through the entire service, guiltily averting her eyes whenever she caught Reverend Joseph’s. The problem was not that the priest frowned upon her lack of concentration in his sermons. The problem was that he preferred to send secretive smiles her way that spoke volumes of his tolerance for her indiscretions. In the three years since he had joined the community, she had learned that one thing was more absolute than any other about the young clergyman – Reverend Joseph was a patient man who was willing to allow his flock to turn to the faith at their own individual paces. Frankly, Elaina did not think she could live up to his faith in her. And it was harder to disappoint a man who showed so much patience in her than one who did not.
That is not to say that Elaina now had her arms raised above her head in penance. No, she was stretching to get the kinks out of her body. It had been an exhausting day and that was why she had chosen to come to her favorite spot in Lainie’s Creek – that is, Lainie’s Creek. First, she had to sit through a whole hour of sermon about how man’s independence is a privilege as much as it is a responsibility, no doubt sparked by the upcoming celebrations planned for the Fourth of July. Then, as if that was not enough to deplete a body of its verve, she had to accompany Ahyoka for another wedding shopping spree.
Elaina groaned to herself as she placed her hands on her hips and bent slightly backward, enjoying the sound relief her body was receiving from the stretch. The first fitting of the tailored maid of honor’s dress was today, so despite all her objections about never occasioning to wear a dress on Sundays, she had found herself in one before noon. She had stood there before one of the many elaborately framed life size mirrors in Madam Roberta’s Trousseaux in the dress she was destined to exhibit in a few months, while Madam Roberta’s seamstresses tucked in the swaths of slippery material at the matron’s instruction with pins that had very ominous points.
Elaina sighed again, trying to remind herself that at least the dress was not a complete loss. The color was a sunny gold and the material a very fine satin that, combined, complemented her hair and complexion beautifully. Even she, a person who had little sense or patience for fashion, had seen it reflected in the mirror. The dress was sleeveless and had a boat neckline, smoothly hugging her bodice, with the gentlest pleats at the small of her back before sweeping down to her calves into a high-low hem. Ahyoka had claimed that, contrary to popular practices, she wanted her maid of honor to look elegant to fit the taste and theme of the wedding, not act as a stark contrast to highlight the bride’s beauty.
Unfortunately, this meant that in the bride’s quest to turn Elaina into the perfect maid of honor, Elaina had all her Sundays booked with activities least preferable by her. Only today, after seeing how the dress had enhanced her natural colorings, Ahyoka had announced that once the final fitting was over she wanted to take Elaina for a hair and makeup rehearsal to decide how she must wear them at the wedding. Elaina was not an expert at wedding preparations, but it now seemed that Ahyoka was taking advantage of her lofty position as the bride to play doll on Elaina rather than coordinating more pressing components of the event.
It was a precarious role she played as the maid of honor to Ahyoka – especially when the bride had the sly disposition to feign willful sensitivity whenever the mood suited her needs most quickly. Elaina shook her head resignedly at the situation.
What was that?
From the corner of her eyes, it seemed that there was someone behind the nearest beech tree, watching her. It was hardly discernible but Elaina had definitely seen a brief movement and heard the rustles of clothes. And then she heard the snap of a twig to confirm her suspicions. “Who’s there? Come out!”
For a second, it seemed that the offender would not come forward. But then he slowly emerged from behind the tree – with a camera.
“You?” exclaimed Elaina, spinning around and promptly taking a dunk in the water. In her haste to confront the offender, she had forgotten that she was not standing at the bank of the stream but calf deep in the rivulet, her denim pants rolled up to her knees to keep them from getting wet. She had always found the smooth stones of the water beneath her feet a therapeutic source of respite when she felt tightly wound. It seemed ironic that she had slipped on those very same stones while trying to maneuver herself to face her adversary. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 4 before you continue…
There was a prolonged second of that soft familiar ‘ka-chk’ sound like a knife grazing the ridge of a coin, signaling that the desired photograph was captured. Matthew unlatched the camera from its tripod, switched on the play button to display the finished product on the screen, and beckoned Jonny to step forward and examine the results with him. “Now that is a slow shutter photo with a small aperture setting,” explained he.
“And aperture is the size of the opening in the shutter that adjusts the amount of light you let reach the image sensor,” recited Jonny, testing his memory.
“Right. Good,” Matthew nodded approvingly at his student’s progress. “Since we’re working in broad daylight nearing noon, we can afford to set the aperture at a narrower diameter. But the aperture can also decide our depth of field, referred to also as DOF, which is basically how much of the image is in focus. This is where the tricky technical stuff comes in. The smaller the aperture setting we want, the larger the number, which we call the F-stop or the focal stop, we set it to.”
“I don’t get it,” frowned Jonny.
“You will. This screen is not large enough for a proper study but still have a look. Notice how, in this image, our depth of field is larger? Almost everything is in focus. That was possible because we set our aperture to a smaller opening. It allowed for a broader more sweeping landscape to be reflected to our image sensor. And the F-stop decides the distance and range at which our focus ends. Hence, larger the DOF means larger the F-stop, which means smaller the aperture – ergo, larger the DOF, smaller the aperture. Got it?”
“Yeah… Yeah, that makes sense,” beamed Jonny, pleased by how less complicated it now seemed.
Matthew grinned at the boy’s undisguised pleasure. “Great. In landscape photography, you’ll soon learn, that increasing your DOF is the best way to go. A broader range of focus ultimately means you’re allowing your viewers a sharper sense of the entire panorama, a chance to step into the picture, sort of speak.”
“Now, see how there’s plenty of light being captured from all these parts of the image,” Matthew continued, pointing to the different parts of the image on the screen. “How do you suppose we managed to do that with such a small aperture? Smaller aperture means less light going in, right?”
Jonny nodded, looking confused but meditative, and Matthew waited patiently to allow the boy an opportunity to add in the next part of the equation by himself. A patience that was soon rewarded. “Is this where the slow shutter part comes in?”
“Excellent, Jonny! That is exactly correct. The slow shutter speed increases the time the shutter remains open, thereby allowing more light to reach your image sensor. It gives the sensor time to capture light and project tones from various parts of your panorama. While in case of objects in motion, a slow shutter speed can create blur, but with a relatively still landscape, combined with smaller aperture setting, it can create sharp broadly focused imagery. But in such cases, tripods come in handy because with slow shutter, the camera needs to be very steady to avoid blur. It is the reason we can see the sharp plays of light and shadow even in these distant houses of the town.” Matthew pointed to the miniscule houses on the horizon of the screen.
“Sure is neat,” exclaimed Jonny, almost left breathless by his newfound knowledge.
“Want to try?” Matthew attached the camera on to the tripod and Jonny jumped at the opportunity, leveling his eye with the viewfinder. “You want to start by selecting a precise focal point and then slowly increase your DOF to your liking,” he instructed before looking up at the horizon to inspect the view for himself.
They were standing near the edge of a small woody hill that rolled down to the winding creek after which the town was named, flowing from north to south-west. Behind them they had left acres of private lands owned by local ranchers, of which, it appeared a significant amount belonged to the Coreys. Ahead of them was a road that led down to the creek and a bridge which connected to the main town sprawled over the lower terrain, and continued on until it cut off at the horizon to meet the interstate highway, declaring the south-east boundary of this private close-knit community. As far as a subject went, the geology of Lainie’s Creek was the perfect embodiment of the lifestyle of the people who lived in it.
It was serene in its wild abandon, just as the lifestyle of the majority of its populace, engaged in the most ancient occupation nature had to offer with an unperturbed attitude towards the world changing around them, opting for the slower pace of rustication. Confident to remain unadorned by artifice, charming in its easy self-acceptance.
Kind of like his Elaina.
The reminder of her stole some of the contentment he had allowed to seep into him while visually exploring the surrounding topography. That he was disappointed by her resounding rejection of his proposal to make her a subject in his portfolio was an understatement. He had not quite expected her to jump with joy at his attention. No, even in the twenty-four hours that he had come to know her, he could be sure that Elaina was much too unflappable to ever allow any adulation bestowed upon her to turn her head. Hell, he had expected that he will need to coax her into an agreement – an initial resistance was guaranteed. But her refusal was simply that – an irrevocable refusal.
He knew she would not be swayed. There was something in her air when she had told him she could not comply. That last moment before she had all but fled the parlor, there had been some kind of resignation to her voice threaded with an unexplainable resentment. It was that flitting show of emotion that had told him she would not submit to any persuasion he might send her way. And it had taken his breath away. His throat had been literally made dry by the knowledge that she could turn him down – no, that she could turn away from him.
He did not understand why she should be able to affect him in such a way. He knew her for but a mere day. There was no reason to lend her so much consequence over him. Another central topic for his country portfolio he could easily find. But not one as her. There was something about Elaina – something that went beyond the mixture of quiet reserve and satiric playfulness he had come to recognize in her. There was a mystery, the hint of a deep-set principle upon which she seemed to base all her actions and opinions, but one which she rarely allowed to surface enough to be perceptible by other than the most watchful eye. And he liked to watch her. She was like a curiously contradictory motion picture.
“Wha-” replied Matthew, startled to half a syllable.
Jonny was standing with a worried expression on his face. “Are you okay? You seem a bit… lost.”
Clearly he had been so lost in his thoughts that he had not heard Jonny’s initial calls. “Just woolgathering,” answered he, trying to inject the nonchalance in his voice that he did not feel. “Did you take the pictures already?”
Jonny nodded in response, apparently not convinced by Matthew’s dismissive tones towards his musings.
“Great. Let’s see what you’ve got.” Matthew unlatched the camera from the tripod again and this time took it to the back of the pickup truck he had borrowed from Brooke’s father, where he had his laptop set up. He used a cable to connect to his camera and after a couple of keyed instructions, the image Jonny took popped up on the large screen. Matthew whistled. “Not bad, Jonny. You obviously have a natural knack for photography.”
Jonny smiled shyly at the compliment. “It’s alright.”
“It’s more than alright. Especially, it being your first time.” Matthew paused reflectively. “This is your first time with landscapes, isn’t it?”
Jonny nodded. “It’s my first time with this kind of camera. We have a small film camera at home that we use on special occasions. And a Polaroid. I used those a couple of times.”
“Well, I still say you’re a natural. SLR is a completely different ballgame.”
“It helps that there aren’t any distractions.”
Matthew cocked his head curiously. “What kind of distractions?”
“I’m glad Brooke decided not to come with us,” replied Jonny, trying to be bold but ruining the effect by turning crimson in the face and neck.
Matthew chuckled. “Find her distracting, do you?”
“She is a supermodel.”
“That she is.” Of course Jonny would have a crush on Brooke. Grown men have been noted to be felled by her beauty. He himself once was enslaved to her biddings before they dated and he had gotten her out of his system. Thankfully, they had remained friends. Despite her unpredictable personality and self-centric tendencies, Brooke McKenna was pretty fun to be around.
“I don’t mean to offend,” Jonny added quickly.
“I won’t tell her,” promised Matthew but with a continued tease to his smile.
“Lucky she chose not to accompany us after all, huh?” Jonny continued absently, gazing with pride at the laptop screen where his photograph was still displayed.
Matthew limited his response to a vague “Hmmm”. He suspected that there had been more than luck which led Brooke to change her mind about joining them. He had been surprised earlier that morning when his friend had announced over breakfast that she would like to join him on his outing with Jonny to shoot landscape pictures. He had known Brooke for over three years now, during which time, they had initially been exclusively involved in a romantic alliance for six months, but never had she deemed to accompany him on one of his project excursions. She had always claimed that she found it boring to have to wait around while he prepared his camera to get the perfect angle or lighting for a picture. So when she had suddenly decided to find photography interesting, especially where she was not the focus of the endeavor, he had thought it profoundly uncharacteristic of her, which he had been polite enough to refrain from pointing out.
However, after their meeting with Elaina later that morning, when Brooke had suddenly feigned an errand that she had forgotten about and had to rush off to attend, Matthew had not been surprised. There had been enough underlying current between Brooke and Elaina in that parlor to light up a village circus. Though both the girls had quickly recovered, probably for the benefit of his presence, and kept their silent knife hurling competition within the limits of half a minute, Matthew had not missed the animosity they shared. It had made him curious about their past, indeed.
“You must’ve been very young when Brooke left,” Matthew now enquired, trying not to sound overtly prying. Read the rest of this entry »