Any hopes of an Indian summer had been dashed. October bumped into November, handing the autumn over clumsily, with sultry weather one day and drizzle the next. I hoped the weather wasn’t a metaphor for my life, which had suddenly been shaken by a girl and her painting. Elizabeth had crashed into my life like a whirlwind. One minute everything was predictable or as predictable as it could be, the next minute I was having amazing sex and planning a life-changing trip to Europe. I was making plans, not knowing where it might lead with people I had never met, all over a fourteen inch piece of canvas and a load of old paint. Yet in that painting I saw something – something ineffable, yet tangible. Suddenly I had a lot to do. I had all manner of arrangements to make, not to mention an appointment with the bank. By my reckoning, I was ten thousand pounds short of where I needed to be, to put my plans into action. I wasn’t worried about securing the loan, but paying it back would be tricky. I had any number of questions and concerns that hung over the project – any one of these going wrong I knew might be fatal. One obvious question was, ‘What if the painting went for a lot over the estimate?’ It occurred to me that any dealer with a bit of ‘savvy’, might see something in the painting, even without an attribution. That could put the painting out of reach. If I was suddenly faced with finding twenty thousand, I wasn’t so sure about raising that kind of money. I tried not to think about this, but contacted my cousin Paul, explaining the situation. He was happy to be my surrogate bidder. Fortunately we were close from childhood, so I had no problem securing his help and for nothing more than a bottle of his favourite drink at Christmas. The next task was to contact the various agencies and laboratories in Italy. I wanted to get my foot in the door and book a slot. Once I started bandying about the name Michelangelo, I began to generate interest and I was pleasantly surprised by the response. Where was the painting from? Why do you think it is a Michelangelo? Can you send a photo? I was wary of sending a photograph, as this would possibly leak back to Craig, via the trade. I would wait for the sale, which was just four days away. After that, I would be free to do as I wished. I went to work that morning and placed a white envelope on Craig’s desk. “What’s this?” “I’m giving notice.” Craig was genuinely surprised. “Really? I thought you were happy here!” “No, I am. I just need a change of direction.” “If it’s about your salary, I could have a look. We might be able to do something.” “I’m grateful for that. But it’s not Escort Erenköy the salary. Sorry, I’ve made up my mind.” My boss stared into his coffee and shook his head. “Well I’ll be sorry to lose you. Can I ask who poached you?” “No! it’s nothing like that,” I said, shocked that he would even think that. “No?” “I’m going to see the world. I always wanted to travel.” “Oh.” “If someone had approached me, I would have seen you first. I can assure you.” “Well, I’m pleased to hear that. But I’ll still miss you. You’ll be hard to replace.” I truly enjoyed working where I worked and it pained me to leave, but I saw no alternative. After work, I went to tie up one of the loose ends that was connected with the painting and then phoned Elizabeth with the outcome. “Hiya!” “Hey, I’ve got some news.” “Oh… tell me, tell me!” “It’s not that exciting. I’m not sure. It’s the letter.” “The letter? Oh the letter!” “Yes, I went to see my friend George, who owns the Italian restaurant I frequent.” “Oh, well it is in Italian.” “Well I did think of Google but I didn’t want to take anything for granted and I couldn’t make out every word.” “No, good thinking, Cindy. So what’s it say?” “Okay, are you ready… ‘Dear Mr Lawrence, I am indebted to you for your assistance and I hope this will suffice as a token of my gratitude. It was in the sale at Via Azzo Gardino on May 1. Knowing your love of this style.’ It’s signed Vincenzo and dated July 1934.” “Oh, that’s interesting. But what does it mean?” “Yes, I’m not sure, but I think it will be important, cos it’s part of the history of the painting.” “I’ll leave it in your capable hands, Cindy.” “Thank you. Talking of capable hands…” “Hmmm…” “Do you want to come round tomorrow?” “Really! I’d love to.” “I’ll make us something. Is lasagne okay?” “Is it ever!” “It’s my special recipe.” “I’ll bring a bottle.” “Okay then. It’s a date.” I hung up with a tingle of anticipation and excitement, just from the thought of seeing Elizabeth again. We had not been texting to and fro and in some respects that was good. I didn’t know where I was from one minute to the next, conscious of my responsibilities and all the uncertainty that lay ahead. Elizabeth was proving to be a wonderful distraction and an outlet for my desires. I wasn’t shy when it came to guys but being quite independent and assertive I think I scared them off. I demanded exceptionally high standards in my partners. Men rarely met the criteria. I avoided bitchy or frivolous women. I was acutely aware of how demanding my own sex could be and I wasn’t prepared for any sort of commitment. içerenköy escort Elizabeth ticked every box. In fact she had created some new boxes for me to tick. She was so sexy with her long, shiny dark hair; her figure, which was slim and voluptuous at the same time. Like me, she hadn’t indicated that she expected anything substantial from our relationship. I think she appreciated the intensity of our physical involvement as much as me – it was as if it was a momentary diversion away from the reality of life. I was concerned that we would get deep, only for me to disappear to Italy for goodness knows how long. I wanted to be there to be on hand for every development. If the time table I had crudely scratched out, came to fruition, we would be well on the way by Christmas. On the other hand, I was told by my contact in Rome to be patient. When art met science things went at their own pace. I hadn’t been to Rome, nor anywhere in Italy for that matter, so I would have plenty to keep me occupied. There were three days to go before the sale. At work, Craig revealed some information that might prove to be crucial. “Cindy, just to let you know, I’ve changed the listing on the painting.” “Oh?” “Yes, I’m listing it as ‘putative sixteenth century of Madonna and baby.’” “Oh right.” “It’s just that I think, putting it in definitively as an Old Master, is too bold.” “Hmmm…” “I know you really rate the painting, but we have to be realistic.” “It’s fine.” “Really?” “Yes, I understand.” “I had a guy from London look at it.” “Ah. What did he say?” “While he agrees that it looks like the real deal, it is almost certainly an eighteenth century copy. I think we’ve done the right thing.” This intelligence was received with a mixture of enthusiasm and dismay. Enthusiasm because Craig’s downgrading inevitably would knock down the estimate. Dismay because I knew there was a good chance he was right. I began to doubt my original impressions, but deep down I couldn’t reconcile all the professional appraisals with my raw, academic gut reaction. I decided not to reveal this latest development with Elizabeth but just let it go with the flow. In some respects the value was now almost immaterial. I just wanted to get it sold, get Elizabeth her money and go to Italy with the painting. I continued the day to day functions of my job with my usual diligence, but the painting was beginning to absorb me. I went into the art room at lunch and looked at it again. If it was a copy, it was an amazingly good one. It simply had that renaissance feel to it, at least to my naïve young eyes. Had I become so Tuzla escort bayan rolled up in the romance of finding a rare painting, that I had somehow fooled myself? Or was it really a Michelangelo, incredible though that would be. Only time would tell. For now, I had to try and keep at least some perspective before I got completely embroiled in a self-made drama. The autumn had come with a vengeance. Going for my midday sandwich was no fun. I drew up my hood and battled against the drizzle, which seemed to envelop me, along with the chilly breeze. The wind had all but knocked off the golds and browns of the leaves, leaving a few dangling memories of what once was. In my present state of mind, it was totally dispiriting. I drove home on auto-pilot, my body tense and in need of the relaxation of a hot shower. I had just opened the bath and shower set that my Mum had bought me for Christmas. I had only got as far as unwrapping the little tablet of soap. The scent of lavender – it evoked warm summer evenings, of buzzing bees and girls’ voices, and drinking wine at dusk. There’s something so rewarding, so beautiful in the stroke of a virgin bar of soap, as all its fine, sweet aromas are released; anointing the skin. The hot water sprinkled over my body, soaking my hair, running in my ears and over my breasts. The burden of the day ran away with the water, as I unwound in the steamy confines of the shower. I emerged, fluffy and fragrant. I put on my best scarlet underwear, complete with black stockings and suspenders. I was ready to entertain my sexy guest. They say blondes have more fun. I was determined to make sure that my delectable, brunette friend was going to get her share. Elizabeth arrived as the night was falling on the streets, and a blanket of fog was hanging over the rooftops. The cold air had adhered to her coat, but was instantly replaced by the heat of her body as I slipped it off her shoulders. I wrapped my arms around her waist and hugged her, as her coat slipped to her feet. She had put on a black basque with equally alluring lace panties with a red trim. Our bodies squashed together in a mutual exchange of warmth and passion. Our lips met and our tongues united in sheer wantonness. “You’re like my lasagne,” I whispered. “How so?” “Soft layers of pure goodness, with tasty naughtiness in between.” Elizabeth giggled. “You’re funny.” “I was ages making that up,” I said, smirking, “Upstairs?” I added. “Hmmm… lead the way,” she said, her eyes sparkling. Elizabeth sighed as she followed me up to my bedroom. She said I had the best bum she had ever seen. My lingerie was specially picked for the purpose. I flicked on the light and led Elizabeth to my bed. Running my hands through her hair, I could feel the residual dampness from her shower at the roots. I kissed the top of her head, the scent of her scalp and shampoo infusing to form a sexy combination, which heightened my lustful feelings.