But…but that’s tragic! To go through life without color? Unable to appreciate art, or beauty?”
He laughed. “Now, sweet-hold your brush before you paint me a martyr’s halo. It’s not as though I’m blind. I have a great appreciation for art, as I believe we’ve discussed. And as for beauty…I don’t need to know whether your eyes are blue or green or lavender to know that they’re uncommonly lovely.”
“No one has lavender eyes.”
“Don’t they?” His gaze caught hers and refused to let go. Leaning forward, he continued, “Did that tutor of yours ever tell you this? That your eyes are ringed with a perfect circle a few shades darker than the rest of the…don’t they call it the iris?”
“The iris.” He propped his elbow on the table and leaned forward, his gaze searching hers intently. “An apt term it is, too. There are these lighter rays that fan out from the center, like petals. And when your pupils widen-like that, right there-your eyes are like two flowers just coming into bloom. Fresh. Innocent.”
She bowed her head, mixing a touch of lead white into the sea-green paint on her palette. He leaned closer still, his voice a hypnotic whisper. “But when you take delight in teasing me, looking up through those thick lashes, so saucy and self-satisfied…” She gave him a sharp look.
He snapped his fingers. “There! Just like that. Oh, sweet-then those eyes are like two opera dancers smiling from behind big, feathered fans. Coy. Beckoning.”
Sophia felt a hot blush spreading from her bosom to her throat.
He smiled and reclined in his chair. “I don’t need to know the color of your hair to see that it’s smooth and shiny as silk. I don’t need to know whether it’s yellow or orange or red to spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how it would feel brushing against my bare skin.”
Opening his book to the marked page, he continued, “And don’t get me started on your lips, sweet. If I endeavored to discover the precise shade of red or pink or violet they are, I might never muster the concentration for anything else.”
He turned a leaf of his book, then fell silent.
Sophia stared at her canvas. Her pulse pounded in her ears. A bead of sweat trickled down the back of her neck, channeling down between her shoulder blades, and a hot, itchy longing pooled at the cleft of her legs.
Drat him. He’d known she was taunting him with her stories. And now he sat there in an attitude of near-boredom, making love to her with his teasing, colorless words in a blatant attempt to fluster her. It was as though they were playing a game of cards, and he’d just raised the stakes.
Sophia smiled. She always won at cards.
“Balderdash,” she said calmly.
He looked up at her, eyebrow raised.
“No one has violet lips.”
She laid aside her palette and crossed her arms on the table. “The slope of your nose is quite distinctive.”
His lips quirked in a lopsided grin. “Really.”
“Yes.” She leaned forward, allowing her bosom to spill against her stacked arms. His gaze dipped, but quickly returned to hers. “The way you have that little bump at the ridge…It’s proving quite a challenge.”
“Is that so?” He bent his head and studied his book. Sophie stared at him, waiting one…two…three beats before he raised his hand to rub the bridge of his nose. Quite satisfactory progress, that. Definite beginnings of fluster.