man and woman kissing

“Artistic License” by Olivia Bartholomew

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Gabriella discusses the painted canvases with an attractive young Frenchman, feeling a frisson of attraction between them. After he leaves, she receives a note to come to his studio, and discovers he is the artist. He has a piece of art he wishes to share with her, and she feels unable to resist.

About the Author
Olivia Bartholomew believes that romance should appeal to the mind and the body, but it should also be sexy, adventurous, daring and above all honest. She has no trouble writing about herself in the third person as she does it for her fictional characters and she is no more real than they are. One day she hopes to live in a pink palace by the sea.
Artistic License

Gabriella Brierly smiled coyly at the dashing young man who stood just a little too close for propriety. He was dressed in the finest charcoal pinstripe pants and teal velvet frockcoat; his spats glistened in the lamplight. Like her he seemed enthralled by the exhibition of lush canvases depicting nudes intertwined with industrialized cities, infernos raging in boilers and steam filled air.

“Mankind exploited by the very mechanization they developed to serve them.” She murmured. The powerful imagery sent a tingle down her spine.

“It is said Monsieur Belmont hand picks his models, only choosing those who inspire and devote themselves to him unconditionally.” The young gentleman added, his accent French, his green eyes sparkling with invitation.

“Perhaps he’s searching for someone willing to sacrifice themselves to his mechanical muse?” Gabriella stole a glance at the man.

“Do you find the idea appealing?” he asked, stepping closer until the fabric of his pants brushed her skirt. Gabriella hoped no one would notice his effrontery.

“Rumor also has it he is simply a cad out to corrupt society.” the young man continued.

“Corrupt?” Gabriella chortled. “His work is a social statement. We are becoming enslaved by our cravings for steam locomotives and factory production. We are willfully limiting out freedom, submitting to mechanization. But…” she paused, breathless, as if her corset had suddenly been cinched in a little more, “…Though there is tension, I feel there is a lack of tangible passion in these canvases.”

“How so?” The young man’s appraisal made her heart thunder.

“The size is formidable, but I am unable to embrace the heat of the steam or the rhythmic pumping of pistons and the grinding of cogs I could in his earlier work. The human form is flat,” she gestured to the canvas before them, “There is none of the rapture at exploitation of mankind by machine. Why, I think the medium is all wrong.”

“Do you really?”

“Yes. Sculpture would be better, don’t you think?”

The young man’s eyes widened.

“Gosh! Am I being terribly blunt? I do apologize.”

“It is I who must apologize. I am afraid it is time for me to take my leave.” He placed a lingering kiss on Gabriella’s gloved hand, his eyes never leaving hers.

“Adieu, until we meet again.”

With that he was gone. Gabriella shivered in the icy void that enveloped the space he’d vacated. Plumping down on a velvet circular banquette, she scrutinized the paintings once more. Had she been too harsh? The Frenchman obviously thought so.


“Yes?” Gabriella turned hoping to see him again. Instead there was a cabby.

“A gentleman asked me to give you this.”

Gabriella took the missive.

“He asks that you read it now, miss. I am to wait.”

She unfolded the velum.


Please do not berate yourself on my account. Your observations are accurate and your suggestions refreshingly invigorating. Indeed, I believe you will truly appreciate something new I have been working on. I would like to give you a private showing. Are you daring enough to visit my studio now? The cab will bring you to me.

Pascal Belmont

Gabriella flushed crimson. Had that young gentleman been Belmont? She had insulted his art and now he was inviting her to his studio?


The door was ajar,

“Hello? Monsieur Belmont, I should like to apologize…”

Paint smeared linen draped the picture window of Belmont’s studio which housed an eclectic mix of furniture and machine parts.

Gabriella proceeded towards a pedestal where a corset the likes of which she had never seen was displayed in the manner of an antiquarian bust. It was constructed from stiff leather rather than coutil with the lacing replaced by an intricate cog and ratchet strap arrangement along the spine of the garment to the nape of the neck. There was a second leather construction attached to this that was obviously supposed to encircle the neck. Gabriella reached out to caress the artwork but then withdrew her hand as if burned.

“Go ahead.”

Her heart thundered in her chest, all too aware of Belmont’s heat behind her.

“One shouldn’t touch works of art, but this looks like it’s made to be worn.” She whispered.

“It is.” His breath was raw and hot on her neck.

Belmont reached round from behind her to loosen a button on her jacket. He paused testing her reaction. Gabriella was galvanized by a hot flush that swarmed from a place she didn’t dare think of. His fingers deftly twisted the next button loose, still Gabriella did not move. Her legs felt like jelly and she had the overwhelming desire for his lips to find hers yet she did not turn towards him, would not initiate the kiss.

Belmont worked blindly on the buttons, his biceps brushing her shoulders, sending lightning bolts straight to her sex. With the garment undone, he slipped it off her and dropped it on the floor. Her skirt followed. He then pulled at the lace securing her chemise and whisked it over her head. Gabriella’s flesh tingled with the sudden thrill of exposure, her nipples hardened, painfully taught. She should have resisted him but knew that truly she didn’t want to. There was no going back; the wheels had been set in motion.

Behind her Belmont was loosening the ribbons of her corset until he had freed her torso. Then he slid her bloomers stockings and boots off so that she stood as naked and as shameless as a Greek statue in the British museum.

She felt something cool, hard and sharp pressed along her spine and shivered as the sensation lubricated her sex. Belmont stepped in front of her now and she was only slightly surprised to see that the artist too was naked. His physique was lean but well muscled, Gabriella gasped at his cock which stood out like lever. As she reached for it he took a step back, a smile playing on his lips. On his finger, swung a small brass cog-like a key; this was what she had felt on her spine.

“Are you ready to submit to my mechanical muse?”

Oh that accent! Gabriella nodded.

“A machine only accepts direct commands.”


Belmont took the corset from the pedestal and placed it around her. It was cool and hard against the searing flesh of her waist, neck and spine. Her breasts remained exposed. She felt it tighten around her as Belmont interlinked the ratchet straps with the cogs one by one from top to bottom. Gabriella could hardly contain her ecstasy as the last ratchet pulled the corset in line with her tailbone. Belmont inserted the brass key at that point and began to turn. The corset enclosed her like a brace, straightening her spine, thrusting her exposed breasts out further, lifting her head to meet his gaze.

“Now you are truly my mechanical muse.” Belmont’s words came thick out of desire.

He leaned towards her as if to kiss her, but instead ran the cog key over her lips. The cold metal ignited a furnace in her belly.

“Please, I don’t think I can…” Gabriella gasped.

Belmont muscles tightened like coiled springs.

“I don’t think I can wait.” Her words came in a squeak.

He grasped her buttocks and pulled her towards him, she could not bend to nuzzle his neck but was at his mercy, forced to endure the divine torture of his molten tongue playing on her nipples. Not content only to inhale his mingled scent of perfume and turpentine. She raked her hands across his back, pulling his cock closer to her stoked and swollen sex, aching to be touched. But still he teased the cog key along the curve of her inner thigh, his knuckles brushing her pubic hair, his tongue flicking across her nipples, pushing her to a point where spontaneous combustion would surely happen.

Gabriella cried out in ecstasy, “Please!”

Belmont turned her round inserted the key once more and gave it another turn. She gasped; the constriction delightfully tight.

Then he plunged his cock deep inside her, his groan deep, his hands grasping at her breasts.

“Do not stop until we are spent!” Gabriella begged remembering what he had said about machines and orders. He thrust into her again and again, his cock slaking her desire, his whispers ragged in her ear.

“Now do you feel rhythmic pumping of pistons and the grinding of cogs? How do you like the rapture at exploitation of mankind by machine?”

“I think I cannot live without it.” She moaned.

He turned the key once more and Gabriella felt herself teetering on the edge of delirium. Finally, he brought his lips to hers, her neck straining deliciously in the corset’s collar, igniting climactic waves of pleasure shuddering through them both.

“As I cannot without my mechanical muse.” He rasped from exertion, his fingers tracing Gabriella’s curves, planning his next sculpture.

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