Grand Ghoulish 2-3

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The house was little more than a modest four-bedroom home condensed into a cramped four-and-a-half thousand square feet. The Brazilian walnut flooring was several years old by now, and the wine cellar too small for even a moderate day-drinker. Sure, the view of the crystalline waters of the Pacific from the third-floor master suite was every bit as breathtaking as it was majestic. But, it could be better. In fact, Harold hardly noticed the view because he was preoccupied with the massive, intimately detailed nude oil painting of Sophia hanging over her bed.

"My father-in-law used to be one hell of an artist," Sophia smiled, strutting through the doorway in somehow less clothing than the painting.

"Your father-in-law painted this?" Harold replied, turning to Sophia, seeing she was somehow wearing less than the painting, and then immediately dropping some fifty pounds worth of photography and lighting equipment that he had still been holding for some reason.

"Yeah, but he's dead now."

Harold stood there in the bedroom of a mostly-naked married woman, among the several gym bags and rather expensive and broken light bulbs at his feet, a man at war with himself. On the one hand, he was an artist being paid to do his job. It hardly mattered that Sophia was a mature woman wearing only bits of tissue paper, floss, and a smile. The sort of haunting beauty many years removed from that painting, yet preserved by the carefree lifestyle of comically obscene wealth and the skilled hands of a well-compensated surgeon. But on the other less-skilled hand, Sophia hardly seemed to mind that Harold was gawking at her thighs and pondering aloud as to how soft they must feel, perhaps like very expensive toilet paper lightly scented in lavender.

"I thought you were a professional, Mr. Photographer?" Sophia said, seating herself on the foot of the bed.

"Yeah. Me, too."

"Harold, I'm teasing."

"I'm sorry. I think maybe this was a mistake."

"What. Why?"

"Well. You're married, for one."

"Are you still on that? Oliver's paying you to do this. He gave you a deposit, didn't he?"

"Yeah, but--"

"Harold," she groaned, rolling her eyes. "The mostly-naked woman on her bed is paying you good money to take photos of her. So quit being such a chicken shit, and whip your camera out."

Harold nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."

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