Authors: Alice Gaines
A.O.E.M.: Sea God’s Pleasure
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Copyright ©2005 Alice Gaines
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The painting had grown a phallus. DeLande’s
The Sea God’s Pleasure
sported a hard-on that hadn’t been there the day before. A really big one. In all her years running the Hollowel Museum of Art, Gloria VanSant had never seen anything like it. Damage from shipping, forgeries, even intentional destruction by delusional art “lovers,” yes. Paintings growing body parts, never. After earning a bachelor’s degree in art history, an MFA, and almost a decade at the Hollowel, Gloria could spot a fake. If she was any judge -- and she sure as hell was -- DeLande had painted this huge cock with loving strokes of his brush over one hundred years before. So, why hadn’t it been there yesterday?
“Gloria?” said a female voice. Tiffany, the latest upstart the agency had sent over with glowing recommendations.
With a huge show coming up and one of the most important pieces still missing, she didn’t have time for crap today. “What?”
Tiff gave her the usual
? look. “I talked to Overnight Express. They’re bogged down at O’Hare and can’t get Samuel’s
to us today.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake. I’m surrounded by morons. Call them back and tell them to get it here, or I’ll sue their asses.”
“There’s a blizzard covering half of the Midwest. No one’s flying in or out of Chicago.”
“I didn’t ask for a weather report. I want my damned painting.”
Tiff crossed her arms over her chest. “When did you get to sleep last night?”
Great. Tiff had gone from upstart to nosey upstart. “I don’t report to you.”
“You didn’t get to sleep, did you? When did you last eat?”
“Gloria, you’re going to kill yourself.”
“Is that any of your damned business?”
Tiff held her hands up in surrender. “Sorry for breathing.”
“Find a messenger service and have them send a truck for
“To Chicago in the middle of a blizzard? That’d take a week.”
Add snippy to nosey and upstart. “Get a military plane to go for it.”
“Really, Gloria, listen to yourself.”
Gloria glowered at her. That glower had been known to send employees scurrying under their desks. Tiff just stared back at her. “All right,” Tiff said finally. “Who should I call? The Department of Defense or the Air Force?”
“I don’t care. Just call someone.”
“Right. I’ll come back when you’re feeling a bit more rational.”
Tiff turned to go, but Gloria yanked her back. “Look at this painting.”
Tiff pointed at the
. “This one?”
Of all the… “Yes, this one.”
Tiff stared at it for a while and then shrugged. “It’s a good example of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, if you like that style.”
“Do you see anything odd about it?”
Shrugging, Tiff gave it a closer look for several seconds. “Nope. Do you?”
“You saw it when it got here yesterday. Did it have a phallus?”
“It’s a nude. The guy would look pretty deformed without one.”
“But was it that… um… big yesterday?”
Tiff gave her an odd look before staring so hard at the god in the painting her nose almost pressed against his erection. “You call that big?”
Tiff shrugged again. “It’s bigger than when most guys come out of the water, I guess.”
“You have to be kidding. It’s enormous.”
Tiff snorted. “If you think
enormous, you need to get laid more often.”
“You’re the one who brought up erections.”
“You really don’t see a huge cock?”
“Gloria, do yourself a favor and reacquaint yourself with a real penis.”
Tiff turned and walked away. Gloria really ought to fire the little twerp, but she’d been through six administrative assistants in four months, and the hiring process wreaked havoc with everyone’s schedule. Instead, she’d file that away in the “needs improvement” section of Tiffany’s next performance review.
She turned back to the painting. She’d admired this work in the catalogue for years. Most people in her profession didn’t think much of the Pre-Raphaelites, but Gloria had always been a sucker for the lush colors and dynamic use of light. Realism had fallen out of style long ago, but in the hands of a master like DeLande, the almost excessive use of detail transcended mere reality.
The subject of this painting had always held great appeal for her, too. As a lifetime city-dweller, she’d only dreamed of lush, tropical seascapes. The beach where the god emerged was pure white sand, surrounded by jungles full of flowers and birds of paradise. Behind him lay a sun-washed sky and an ocean so clear as to be transparent.
The man captured her attention, though, despite the beauty of the surroundings. The Sea God didn’t appear young but rather a male in his prime. This was a man who’d lived long enough to dominate everything and everyone around him with his mere physical presence. His longish hair had some gray in it, but every aspect of his body possessed an easy kind of power. Broad shoulders, massive chest narrowing to slim hips, and muscled legs. Most impressive of all, right in the center stood that amazing rod. Gloria had had a few men in her day, but she’d never experienced a cock like that inside her.
Well, shit, maybe Tiff was right and she’d just gotten horny from a lack of a good fucking. No matter where she looked in Manhattan, she wasn’t likely to find a partner like the Sea God, so she might as well forget about it. A painting needed rescuing from O’Hare, and she might as well get to it.
* * *
Back in her office, Gloria sank into the chair behind her desk and rifled through the drawers, looking for the catalogue with the reproduction of the Sea God painting. Memos, faxes, bills of lading, various drafts of the contributors’ letter, pens without tops, yellow-lined pads with scrawling all over them, loose paperclips, and bottles of dried up correction fluid. Even the spike-heeled shoes she slipped into during visits from corporate bigwigs. Everything but the catalogue she wanted. In the bottom drawer, she found a box of over-the-counter pep pills. She popped two into her mouth then swallowed them without water.
Her chair squeaked when she swiveled to the credenza behind her. Plenty of art books and catalogues there, but not the one she wanted.
“Richard!” she bellowed.
In a moment, her chief assistant showed up at the open door of the office. “What do you need, love?”
“Where’s my goddamn catalogue?”
“We’re doing a Pre-Raphaelite show, and I need the Pre-Raphaelite catalogue. Isn’t that obvious?”
He lounged against the doorjamb. “
in a bad mood, I see.”
“I’ve told you guys not to lose my things. How’m I supposed to run a museum if you two come into my office and lose my things?”
“No one’s been in your office, Gloria. You need to calm down.”
Easy for him to say. He hadn’t gone to the endless fundraising dinner the night before and choked down two swallows of rubber chicken before giving up and finding an unguarded bottle of champagne -- bad champagne at that. He hadn’t come back here at midnight to check the inventory for the show that was supposed to start in two days, only to discover that
was AWOL. He hadn’t fallen asleep with his head on his desk, woken up with a wicked kink in his neck, and then gone out onto the floor to find a huge erection on one of the most important paintings in the show.
She put her face into her hands and rubbed her eyes. What would the stuffy contingent among the patrons say when they got a load of the god’s boner? Oh gawd, Mrs. Franklin Homersby would have a cow. Gloria had only recently convinced the old bat that penises were acceptable in paintings as long as they were flaccid. The woman would have a coronary when she saw the DeLande painting. There went twenty grand out of next year’s budget.
“Get me a cigarette, would you?” she said.
“You gave them up last month, remember?”
“I changed my mind.”
“Oh, no. This time I’m holding you to it.”
Richard walked to the chair across the desk and sat down. “Rough night, huh?”
She lifted her head and looked at him. “I don’t know why I put up with this crap.”
“Honey, you create crap. You thrive on it.”
“I’m getting too old.”
“Tell Auntie Richard what’s wrong.”
“The DeLande painting. I’ve wanted to get my hands on it for years.”
“Have you looked at it yet?”
“Haven’t had time.”
“Make time. It isn’t just the central figure of the god. It’s the world he lives in. The ocean, the sand, the jungle. The whole place is magic.” Like the stories her parents had told her of Hawaii but hadn’t been able to show her for real. “I know it’s passé to love realism in this day and age, but I swear, I can feel the breeze on my skin when I look at that painting. I can smell the flowers and hear the surf.”
Richard’s brows went up in concern. “Is there anything wrong with the painting?”
“It’s grown a phallus.”
His eyes got wide. “Do tell.”
“A great, big, erect cock. The thing’s almost pornographic.”
“Ooooh. I need to look at that.”
“This isn’t a joke.”
“Believe me, honey, I don’t take great, big, erect cocks lightly.”
“Damn it. I can’t have pornography in my show,” she wailed.
He reached across the desk and patted her hand. “Okay, what do you want me to do?”
“Find that catalogue. If the god has a huge boner in that, I’ll brazen out the criticism.”
“And what if it doesn’t?”
“Then we have a case of vandalism and not only can’t I use the painting in the show, I have to get the insurance company to pay for some expensive repairs.”
“I see the problem.”
Tiffany appeared at the doorway with a bunch of papers in her hand. “Mail.”
“I thought nothing was getting through,” Gloria said.
“Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night,” Tiff recited.
“Great, now she’s a poet.”
Tiff held out the mail. “You need to look at this.”
“Not now. I have other things to worry about.”
Tiff walked to the desk and plunked one piece of paper down in the middle. “Read this. Now.”
Gloria tried glowering at her again, but again, it had no effect. If anything, Tiff glowered back. So, Gloria picked up the paper, tilted back in her swivel chair, and read.
“Congratulations, Gloria VanSant. You’ve won an all-expenses-paid week on beautiful Chimera Island.”
Gloria looked up at Tiff. “What in hell is this?”
Located in the geographical center of the Bermuda Triangle, Chimera Island offers both mystery and natural beauty beyond compare. Only the most adventurous traveler is welcome on Chimera, and we’ve determined that’s you, Gloria VanSant. Absolutely no obligation, but you must book now. Call 1-800-555-4AEM or visit www.margaretriley.com/aoem.html today, to book your fantasy trip of a lifetime!
“Why are you bothering me with this? It’s a goddamn time-share.”
“No, it isn’t. I called. It’s totally on the level.”
“Come on. How gullible can you be?”
“They told me it was an exclusive resort -- by invitation only. An anonymous sponsor has arranged for you to spend a whole week there.”
Gloria set the letter back on her desk. “Thanks. I’ll think about it.”
“No, you won’t. You’re leaving tomorrow. I’ve arranged it all.”
“You did what?”
“Your plane leaves in the morning.”
“What in hell is wrong with you? Call them back and cancel.”
“I’ve cleared your calendar for the next week. Everyone sends their best wishes for your aunt’s complete recovery.”
“I don’t have an aunt!”
“Easy, love,” Richard said. “Maybe Tiff’s on to something here.”
“She’s on drugs if she thinks I’m leaving town before a huge show.”
“I can take care of the show,” Richard said. “You’ve done almost everything. I’ll check into the problem with the DeLande painting and hang
when he gets here. Everything else will take care of itself.”
“I’ll pitch in and work the whole show, no overtime,” Tiff said. “You need to do this, Gloria.”
“No. The two of you are nuts.”
Richard crossed his arms over his chest, giving her his best schoolmarm look. “I didn’t want to do this, but if I have to, I will. Either take that vacation, or I quit.”
Her jaw dropped as she stared at her chief assistant. “You wouldn’t.”
“You love the Hollowel,” she said. “You wouldn’t leave.”
“I love you more, Gloria. I’m not going to stick around and watch you kill yourself.”
“I don’t believe this.”
“You were just telling me about the magic in that picture. Go and find your own magic, honey. Everything will be here when you get back.”
What could she do? She couldn’t operate this museum without Richard. Hell, she didn’t
to operate it without him. He’d been with her since the beginning. Then, too, maybe -- just maybe -- she could find the island she’d always dreamed of on this Chimera.
“Okay,” she said finally. “But there’ll be hell to pay if everything isn’t perfect when I get back.”
The two of them grinned at her.
* * *
The minute Gloria got through the door into her cabin, she found the telephone and punched the “0.”
“Front desk, how may I help you?” a male voice said.
“This is Gloria VanSant in…” She checked her room key. “Cabin six.”
“Ah yes,” the man at the other end said. “I hope it’s to your liking.”
“There must be some mistake. I don’t belong here.”
“Your reservation starts today.”
“I know, but I don’t belong here, out in the middle of nowhere.” She’d wanted a tropical island, sure, but something like Hawaii where she could wallow in nature for a while before going out for drinks. As far as she could tell from the helicopter, the only building on the whole place was the tiny cabin she stood in right now.