“Hi.”

“That was…” a shy smile appears on her face, and she blushes, hiding her face in my chest.

I laugh. “I don’t know if you get to blush after I just fucked you in the ass.”

“I know,” she says, but she’s still hiding.

I pull her further onto my chest so that her face is level with mine, and I’m very aware of the fact that this position presses her breasts up against my skin. “I want to sculpt you.”

Anna’s face goes slack with shock. “What?”

“I want to sculpt you,” I say, tucking my hand behind her neck so that she can’t hide or look away. “You can help me pick out the wood, and then you’ll pose while I recreate you.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“Why not?” She looks uncomfortable, and she tries to look away. I don’t let her. “Anna?”

There’s a little shake of her head before she responds. “I’m not worth that.”

A flare of anger rises in my chest at her reaction. But after everything she’s lost, I can understand why she might feel that way. “I disagree,” I say, pulling her face closer to mine. “You’re beautiful, and you stuck around here when I thought you’d give up the first day. I think you’re going to make an absolutely stunning sculpture. And of course,” I grin, “there’s the added benefit that I get to look at you during the process.”

She stiffens. “What do you mean?”

“I want to sculpt you in nothing but these curves.” I draw my fingers up her hips for emphasis.

She turns bright red. “But you’re R. L. Mackenzie. Any sculpture you do…people are going to see it.”

I shrug. “Maybe I won’t sell it. But I think once you see what I’m imagining, you’ll be happy enough for the world to see it.”

Anna senses the challenge in my words—I’ve learned that she likes challenges—and she smiles. “In that case, you’re on.”

It’s rare for me to find a birch tree large enough for one of my sculptures, but a few weeks ago I found one that’s perfect. And I think it’s ideal for my sculpture of Anna. I’m out of the house before she’s even awake, chopping off the smaller limbs and making it more manageable. I’m not even sure how much time has passed when she wanders out of the house in one of her new flannel shirts, looking tousled and cute as hell. “Morning,” I call.

“Morning,” she says through a yawn. “You didn’t wake me.”

“I thought you’d earned your rest,” I say, grinning. She doesn’t respond, just smiles a little shyly as she comes over. “This is your tree.”

“Oh?”

I hold out my hand. “Do you want to help me finish it?”

“What do I do?”

She lets me pull her in so her back is against my chest. I hand her the axe and put my hands over hers. “Just need to chop it down to size. Swing with me.”

I guide our arms back and up and together we swing down, burying the axe into the wood. Again and again I guide her hands, and I can feel the force that she’s adding to the axe—it’s not nothing. And as she pushes down on the axe, her ass presses back into my cock in a way that’s distracting. But I’d chop wood all day if I could have Anna up against me.

One final swing, and the log splits in two, falling to either side. Anna immediately jumps away and turns, fire her in her eyes. “That was fun.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” she says. “I felt powerful. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like that. Like the last time I was in a courtroom and arguing a case. I’d forgotten what that felt like.”

“Good,” I say, pressing a kiss to her lips. “It’s time for the next step.”

She’s bouncing on her toes. “And what’s that?”

“Posing.”

Anna freezes. “Oh.”

“You’re going to be great.”

I see her swallow, and I hope she can hold onto that feeling of power that she just had. “What do you need me to do?”

“Just meet me in the studio. Naked.”

As she turns and walks towards the house, I can’t help but watch her ass swing in those jeans. What happened last night—we’ll be doing that again soon.

13

Anna

Robert has now seen me naked almost as much as he’s seen me clothed. But still, standing in the workshop naked while he looks at me like that feels entirely different. The giant piece of pale wood is set up on his carving station, and I can’t comprehend how that’s going to look like me, but he swears it will. I’ve been standing in the corner, bathed in sunlight for a fun five minutes while he stares at me, and he hasn’t said a thing.

It feels like forever before he moves. But then he does, coming to me with purpose. He arranges my hair around my shoulders, and then my arms. One draped across my chest, almost hiding my breasts, but not quite. The other across my stomach. Then he bends one of my knees slightly. He smiles then, and kisses me softly. “That’s it.” My body follows him a little as he pulls away, and he chuckles. “Keep your eyes on me. We’ll just get the shape today.”

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