Stupor

Leach Botanical Garden 
#1
Outfit! No bra because.... ouch.


Claire had no real reason to be here other than the fact that she (and her feline) was addicted to the scent of plants. Any plant, it didn’t matter. Well, she did like cat nip in particular, but a garden such as this wouldn’t have a plant like that. If they did, they would be in big trouble. The one time the born shifter bought catnip from the store she got naked, rolled around her apartment floor and ate all of the mean in her fridge. She then proceeded to shift, destroy her apartment, and yowl loudly at 9:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night.

It was not her finest moment and the damage control was extensive. She was fined for having the TV “too loud” during quiet time AND having a “party on site.” To say that Claire couldn’t walk through her halls without furiously blushing was an understand the entire. Did she regret it? Not particularly. Even now she could feel her chest well up as the large feline purred beside her at the memory. She just had to find another way to satisfy her need of plants.

This was safe. The description of the garden was said to have plenty of mile-long trails, plenty of plants and plenty of “Oh, I really should be off the path” hiding spots. Plus... who visited a garden?

Claire had been there for the better half of an hour, walking down paths, pausing to look at small descriptions of plants and smelling flowers when a particular one drew her in. She bend down, breathing in deeply and feeling her body instantly relax. Her eyes shuttered closed as she took another breath. When she opened them, they were a pale pink, nearly the shade of the flowery herb itself. Valerian ( Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) it said. She read the brief description, wondering if this was something she could buy in stores and if it was hard to kill.

Claire glanced back and forth, noticing no one was around her before sitting down gingerly on a rock right next to the patch of Valerian. “Mmm... it definitely smells good,” she thought, leaning back against the bench and tilting her head toward a stretched out flower. It practically yelled at her to smell it. And she did. She took in another deep breath, folding her arms on her crossed legs.

She didn’t know how much time had passed when the loud noise of a group of children knocked her out of her stupor, nearly falling off the rock. She blinked, gathering herself just as a group of children and their day care teacher passed by. Oh right... it was summer. She had to remember that. Still, the feline purred, having situated itself directly on top of the patch of flowers. To say Claire was jealous of the large feline was an understatement. She wished she could do just that without people judging her or fining her for some sort of indecency.
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#2
Stress from dealing with some minor repairs that could become major ones if left unattended made the day seem endless. And it wasn't even noon. The serviceman hadn't been helpful, refusing to even give an estimate on how long it would take. In the usual way of extortion, the serviceman had not-so-gently reminded Bennet that if he wasn't hired now, then he might be too busy later.

Then a couple of deliveries were late and one of the new gallery staff emailed him to say they decided to go touring with the boyfriend. Yes, the day was promising to be miserable.

Which was why he was at the botanical gardens. Art takes many forms and someone had a deft hand here. He wandered, looking for some scene, some angle that felt right. He slowed as he regarded the woman that looked, for all intent and purposes, dosing on a rock. At the least, she paid not a whit for the people passing by her.

He slid onto a bench and set his portable case on his lap. The flowers were delicate, so charcoal wasn't going to work. And he didn't have the time to work with oils...so, pastels it was. He worked swiftly. The woman seemed perfectly content but that could change in a minute.

He had made a really decent inroad, focusing more on capturing her image, with the immediate flowers around her, rather than the surroundings. After all, she could leave. The rest he could do at his leisure. Which was good thinking when he saw her rouse.

With a sigh, he shrugged to himself. It'd been a long while since he tried for an original piece. Looking at it, perhaps overly critically, he thought it was decent enough. He debated thanking the woman, but then she might think he was a bit stalkerish since he hadn't done so much as an attempt to ask for her permission. Besides, she seemed peaceful and he didn't want to shatter that.
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#3
Claire blinked the sleep from her eyes, focusing again on her surroundings. She heard the laughter of children as they ran through the maze of the garden, the breeze make it's way through the flowers and leaves - music to hear ears. It was peaceful and it was something she desperately needed since she moved there. "Moved" was just a relative term when she had no job and barely a place to live. Still, she was intent on finding peace and having things return to as close as normal as could be.

It was then she noticed a man on a bench looking in her direction. He set up an easel and canvas, a case of pastels next to him. Brows creased as he heard rate increase, the feline automatically lifting her head in speculations. She looked around, her curls bouncing off her flushed cheeks as she did so. There was no one else there he could be looking at. Surely, the killer of her old pride had not followed them to Portland to finish the job? Certainly not in a public location in broad daylight...

But wait? Was he drawing her?

Suddenly she stood, her lion standing beside her, a low growl sounding deep within its throat. She walked over to the man, reaching up to hook a few curls behind her ear. "Excuse me, sir. But are you drawing me? If so, I'm going to have to ask that I have it," she said, her voice shaky and not at all how she wanted it to come out. Thankfully, her posture told a different story. She stood straight, her chin raised though her eyes were wide with distrust and fear. She couldn't have that picture going anywhere, not when people might still be hunting them. Not when members of her pride were killed.
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#4
People have various reactions when someone used them as a model. Many were flattered or secretly pleased, some were embarassed or worried about how they'd look. He never before encountered such aniety.

She wasn't the only one. He sat very, very still, eyes centered on the lion. It couldn't hurt him, but clearly the woman could. If she wanted to. He really, really didn't want her to want to. Her voice said she was afraid, her posture said she'd do what needed to be done. Fear could make people unpredictable and he wasn't certain the crowds around him would be a deterrent.

Carefully, he set the pastels down, wiping his hands on a bit of cloth. He took the canvas and handed it over to her. "I'm sorry. I, ah, wasn't drawing both of you. See?"
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