Rounding the corner, she found him sunbathing, his magnificent gilded body moist and gleaming. She could smell a strong but not unpleasant odour coming off him, and saw an uncapped, unlabeled bottle on the tartan rug at his side, containing a fluid that looked thin and rather milky. She supposed it was a sun lotion of some kind.
He was still completely naked, and his glasses lay abandoned by the bottle.
"Good morning, Flora," said a deep American voice that went well with the solid, God-like body.
Completely thrown, Flora dithered. How on earth did he know who she was? He hadn't even looked up at her yet, much less been introduced.
"I ... I..." she stammered, her eyes locked on Declan McKenna's firm, hard buttocks, "Hello, Mr McKenna--" She froze again. He was turning over ... "I'm sorry ... but how the devil do you know who I am?"
"Word travels fast in Marwick Magna," said the nude man before her, stretching luxuriantly, his musculature flexing and rippling, "I didn't think it'd be all that long before we met ... Would you like some coffee?" He nodded towards his empty mug, "I've got a potful on the hob inside."
"N ... No, thank you."
It would choke her, she was sure. She couldn't think about drinking; she wasn't even sure she remembered why she'd come here; she could only stare at Declan McKenna's naked body. And the beautiful penis that nestled between his thighs.
He wasn't erect, but he wasn't completely flaccid either, and even as she watched his flesh twitched and seemed to thicken.
"Does my nakedness bother you?" he enquired with a grin. "I can get dressed if you prefer ... but it seems a shame on a glorious day like this."
"No, it's fine. Stay as you are," replied Flora, managing to claw back a little of her composure despite an awareness of her own body's responses, "It's just that where I used to live, people don't go in much for nude sunbathing ... The gardens aren't as secluded as yours."
"I can imagine," he murmured, shifting to one side of his rug, "You're a city girl, aren't you? Come to the country to escape all the madness ... Why don't you sit down--" He patted the tartan cloth a couple of feet from where he lay, "--and tell me all about yourself and why you're in Marwick."
Trying not to look at Declan McKenna's cock, Flora sat down at the extreme edge of the rug and folded her skirt protectively around her legs.
What could she tell him that would make sense? Her reasons for being here would sound crazy enough as it was, without her ability to describe them being fuddled by his splendid naked presence.
Plucking absently at the grass, she began:
"Well, as you already seem to know, my name's Flora Swain, and up until a month ago I worked in a bank. I was a small investments advisor, quite a good job, really, but not exciting ... Not very fulfilling to the real me ... Do you understand?"
Declan nodded, smiling slightly. Of course he understood, he was an artist. Bank work would stifle a man like him. And he'd have to wear his clothes all the time, she thought, managing an amused little smile of her own.
"I was fed up. In a rut. Bored to death," she glanced across at his drawing pad, and saw that he'd been sketching a woman's shapely torso, the curves rich, the breasts and pubic triangle wildly exaggerated. "Then, out of the blue, I was left some money. Quite a lot of money, actually. And I decided I'd do what I wanted with it, not what everyone at the bank said I should so with it. Investments and suchlike." She looked up, feeling stronger, and somehow pleased with herself. "I packed in my job, gave notice on my flat, and started looking for somewhere entirely new to live ... Somewhere in the country. And I found this place--" She nodded over her shoulder towards Pennyroyal Cottage, "in one of the Sunday supplements. It said "beautiful idyllic surroundings", "carefully renovated property" and stuff like that. And I just knew in my heart it was for me!"
"But what are you going to do here in the country?" enquired Declan softly, his brown eyes intense and challenging. "Tend your garden ... Make preserves ... Press wild flowers?"
A thrilling shiver shot down Flora's spine and seemed to coil itself like a serpent in her sex. His question had been casual, off the cuff, almost mocking, but did she detect an emphasis on those final two words?
"I might do all of those," she replied airily, "But what I really want to do..."
It petered out again. Her aspirations would sound puerile to a man who could do, effortlessly, what she only dreamed of.
"What is it you want to do, Flora?" he prompted, regarding her steadily, his hand resting--she noticed--on his thigh, just a couple of inches from his semi-erect cock.
"Well, ever since I was a kid, I've love to draw and sketch and paint ... So I've decided that now I've got a bit of money to tide me over, I'm going to take art seriously and see if I'm any good. That's why I came here, to Marwick Magna. The literature about the cottage said the village is a bit of an artist's community. A haven of creativity and all that ... I thought this was a good place to settle. I hoped that with all that artistic talent flying around, some of it might settle on me."
It'd come out in an ill-considered tumble of words, and pulling up more grass stalks, Flora waited for the inevitable laughter.
"That's a great idea, Flora," he said, surprising her. When she looked up, his dark eyes were warm, but quite serious. The mockery of a few moments ago was gone. "You'll do okay here. There're plenty of people in the village who'd be willing to advise you ... Even I could, at a pinch." He grinned, but it was an honest, boyish grin. "But I warn you, I don't pull my punches. If your work is crap, you can be sure that I'll tell you!"
"That's what I want! An honest opinion..." Flora caught her breath, stunned for a moment, when Declan's fingertips drifted across his penis, the action natural and entirely unselfconscious.
"And is that one of your drawings?" he said, apparently unperturbed by her scrutiny, and the fact she was blushing as red as carnation.
Flora was puzzled for a moment, then looked down and saw the corner of the envelope protruding from her skirt pocket.
For the past minute, while describing her high hopes and her dreams, she'd almost forgotten about her lewd, exotic letter, but now she drew it out and turned over in her fingers.
"No. No, it isn't." She hesitated, knowing that to show the letter would bring a whole new set of parameters to their barely nascent relationship. Change it from a flickering, delicate flirtation into an erotic torch that might be difficult to govern.
"It's something someone posted through my letterbox this morning," she said, taking out the single sheet of paper and unfolding it, "I ... I wondered if you knew anything about it."
"What is it?"
"It's a letter, of course?" Was he teasing her again? She held out the cream-white paper towards him, and waited for him to take it.
But he didn't...
"It's your letter, Flora. You read it to me."
"I ... I can't!" It was obvious to her now, that he'd written it.
"Then neither can I," he replied, his voice sounding a little odd and tense, "Words aren't my thing, Flora. I express myself in other ways..." He nodded towards the rough but powerful drawing, then shrugged his shoulders and looked vaguely resigned.
For a moment, Flora felt confused. Not only by Declan's nakedness, but by the letter, its contents, and his strange refusal to look at it. Suddenly a hideous idea occurred to her, something more embarrassing, in a different way, than anything that had happened so far.
He can't read, she thought, feeling a peculiar mix of astonishment, pity and tenderness. He's intelligent, obviously, and artistically gifted beyond measure, but for some reason, he can't decipher the written word. Feeling a profound urge to reach out and hug him, she withdrew the problematical letter.
"I ... All right then," she said, looking down and blushing again at the rawness of the language.
"Welcome Flora," she began. "Or perhaps I should say Wild Flower? It's obvious..."
It was only one page, just a paragraph or two, but it seemed to take her a century to read. She stumbled over some words, and had others dry up inside her mouth, but eventually she whispered, "And it's just signed "The Scribe"...'
"So, do you have any idea who might have sent it?" asked Declan, quite calmly, as pornographic letters were read out to him every day.
"I thought--" She stopped short and looked at him in alarm, horrified at the thought of facing his illiteracy head-on.
Declan said nothing, but just flashed her that peculiar half-regretful smile again.
"I've no idea at all," she continued, relieved by his tact, "I don't know anyone here yet. I've spoken to Morwenna Carfax on the phone, but I haven't actually met her ... This could be from anybody..." She looked down at the letter, seeking answers but getting none, "Anybody who's passed across that meadow since yesterday," she nodded towards the field at the back of their two properties, "All they'd need is a good pair of binoculars."
"Most country people have field glasses, Flora," replied Declan, "For bird-watching, for observing wild life--" He grinned again, "I have some myself ... And I'm sure there's a pair somewhere in your cottage too, if you look for them. So I wouldn't say that owning a pair of binoculars necessarily makes anyone a suspect."
"I suppose not,' said Flora doubtfully, "But who'd write such a thing? It's ... It's..."
"Sensual? Flattering? A turn on?" suggested Declan, his eyes glittering, "You've got to admit that he--or she--thinks very highly of you ... If I'd received that--" He nodded at the letter, "I'd be making every effort to reach out to the person who'd written it."
Flora fell silent. She felt at a loss, out of control, strangely vulnerable. She did want to meet her 'admirer', but she didn't have the slightest idea how to find them.
"Morwenna will help you," said Declan, breaking her fugue, "Morwenna knows everything and everybody. The whole of village life here seems to revolve around the lovely Mrs Carfax."
"Yes," said Flora, preparing to get up, but feeling distinctly reluctant to abandon the glorious sight of Declan, "I think I'll go and see her. Show her the letter..."
"That's great, Flora," said Declan, darting out to grip her wrist with a big, strong hand, "But before you do go. Will you do me a favour?"
"Yes. Yes, of course..." Flora felt something flutter in her mid-section, and her heart begin to race. When she looked downwards, she saw Declan was now erect...
"Oil my back for me," he said, his eyes dancing and his mouth totally wicked. He'd seen her ogling his cock, that was obvious.