Exclusive Excerpt from Strokes on a Canvas
by H. Lewis-Foster
“It’s true I was keeping an eye out for Haynes, but you weren’t mistaken. I was looking at you.”
“You were? Why would you be doing that?”
“It’s quite simple, really. I was…”
Milo opened his mouth to continue, but he seemed to have lost the words he’d planned.
“Let me start from the beginning. My name is Milo Halstead, but I imagine you know that after standing so close to myself and Haynes in the pub.” Milo smiled at Evan with no trace of accusation. “What I doubt you’ll know, as not many people do, is that I’m an artist. Or at least I teach art at St. Swithun’s College. I enjoy my work very much, but when I saw you last night, you rekindled my dream of being a professional artist.”
Evan’s eyes widened in confusion, and Milo chuckled.
“I’m not explaining myself very well, am I? The fact is the Royal Academy is running a competition. It’s open to all and I’d love to enter, but I’ve been at a loss for inspiration. Then I saw you last night, and you have such a fascinating, beautiful face, I knew I’d found the subject for my painting. I didn’t dare approach you in the pub, but when I saw you here in the museum, I thought perhaps fate had intervened and it was meant to be.”
Evan knew he should reply, but he was still reeling from Milo’s compliment. He could believe he might find his face fascinating, with its dodgy nose and dimpled chin, but no one had ever called him beautiful before, not even his own mother. In the absence of any reaction from Evan, Milo hesitantly concluded his speech.
“So I was wondering if you might like to sit for me.”
“Sit for you?”
“I mean model for me. Let me paint you. I’d pay you, of course.”
To say Evan was shocked was an understatement.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Halstead, but I couldn’t do that. I’m afraid I’m not the kind of man who takes off his clothes for money. Not even for an artist such as yourself.”
“My dear man, I do apologize.” It was Milo who now looked taken aback. “That’s not what I was suggesting at all. It wouldn’t be that sort of painting. I may ask you to undo your shirt collar, but that’s as much flesh as I would wish you to show.”
Evan was relieved, but he was still astonished by Milo’s proposal.
“Are you sure you want to paint me?”