"Cezanne is so sensual," a deep voice murmured beside her. Chastity turned to see a tall young man with mocha skin of velvety softness that made her at once long to touch his cheek. His warm smile matched well with his deep brown eyes. He wore a green linen shirt that looked casually elegant under his grey jacket.
"Or else, he just liked to paint naked women," Chastity responded, guessing this was her contact, more was the pity. He was definitely a fine looking guy. She would definitely like to explore that torso for an afternoon or evening.
"Oh, look at the way he shapes those bottoms," he insisted, chuckling at her remark. "He's caressing them with the colors."
"I prefer Van Gogh's bold ambition," Chastity said, hoping to bring the conversation to a close rather than prolong her sense of disappointment. Contacts, after all, were off limits. But he failed to respond to the contact script.
"Van Gogh is wonderful, but you shouldn't overlook the nuances of Cezanne's brush. Look at the flow of the blue skies. He wants you to fall into the scene and share the warmth." He gestured to the sky, the smile still on his face, and Chastity realized he was not the contact. So it was all right to enjoy him. Well, well, the day was improving.
Chastity considered the painting more seriously. "I can see the warmth, all right. A bunch of girls talking about their lovers, complaining about or praising them."
"The sacred female space," her companion said with another warm chuckle. "The safety of that privacy, the comfort of that familiarity."
"I envy them," Chastity said simply.
"You need more female friends." It wasn't a question.
"My job keeps me moving." She shrugged.
"It's good to stay connected." He looked at her with frank interest, judging her receptiveness. Apparently he liked what he saw.
"I like connecting," Chastity said, looking him in the eye. "What do you do?"
"I'm an historian. Damien Michelet." He stuck out his hand.
Chastity took his hand in hers and enjoyed its warmth. Definite possibilities here, she thought. But before she could offer him one of her many pseudonyms, another hand reached for her arm.
"There you are!" The contact was a pale bureaucrat with damp hands and an adenoidal whine.
You've got to see the Gaugins, they're quite exciting."
"I prefer Van Gogh's bold ambition," Chastity said dryly, feeling her irritation rise swiftly.
"Gaugin is really the master of bold color, though," the contact remarked with a flat tone of irritation. He looked like a man with a lot of errands to run, impatient that she was slowing him down. She could almost hear the list being ticked off in his thoughts. His head inclined toward the exit, as if to push her along.
"Excuse me a moment," Chastity said to Damien, who was looking a bit nonplussed by the abrupt exchange. She steered the contact toward the stairwell, continuing their stilted conversation with the remark, "Gaugin knew when to fuck off when he wasn’t needed, too."
"You have a job to do," the contact hissed as quietly as he could as they climbed down the white marbled stairs. "Monitor is concerned. There's been a breach of some documents on-line and we need to know how extensive the leak has been." They moved along toward the ArtStart room, blending into the gaggle of chatting espresso drinkers. He handed her a business card, palming a compact syringe along with it. "This one needs correcting, but we need to know how much he knows, where he is in the chain, before you do so."
Chastity nodded. Her mind, however, still lingered on Damien Michelet and whether he might like to get some espresso or, better yet, a drink. The job was old hat. Damien was something new and interesting.
"Top priority," the contact reminded her, as if he sensed her drifting thoughts.
"Yes, I see," she snapped and turned on her heel. Officious little prick! She climbed back up the stairs. Looking around the room at the top, she didn't immediately see the dishy Damien. Damn it! She looked at the card in her palm, tucked it and the syringe into her pocket, waited a tick and then walked through to the next room. Only a few minutes and then I'll give it up, Chastity thought. It's not a big deal.
She found him by a Degas. He was leaning in as if to catch a scent of the paint itself. Chastity couldn't help a smile and not just because the posture showed off his great ass.