Rolling onto her stomach, she pulls off her best Lolita impression and sucks on her cigarette the same way she’d suck on a guy’s dick if she were trying to impress him without meaning it. The leering eyes and pursed mouth belong to one of her tutors, and a pervert tutor at that. Thankfully, he isn’t assigned to monitor her turbulent progress on the course, no, that accolade goes to an American woman with perfect white teeth who is never anything but charming and flirtatious but not in a queer way, just in a friendly way. At least, that’s what she thinks. Gretchen likes her immensely because whenever she’s feeling like shit, she can’t help but feel lighter when she’s in her company. The American isn’t in the studios today. If she were, she would’ve stuck her head in and told Gretchen it would be more productive to apply paint to canvas than to sit around smoking her cancer sticks. On the occasion when Gretchen finds herself hard up, the American gives her money. She isn’t supposed to, and could easily lose her job if it were to become common knowledge, but, she sees something in Gretchen that reminds her of herself when she was Gretchen’s age, and, she believes firmly that she has it in her to go far with her art, and if that means giving her money for paint and alcohol to achieve these ends, then so be it. The tutor spying on her through the curtains is a different kettle of fish entirely. A damp squib, as you might say.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

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