“Let it slip from your shoulder my kleine bruid.”
Helene blushed. The negotiations had begun an hour ago, leaving her petticoats in a pile on the divan, her corset slung over the chair, and her red dress on the floor beneath her like a rug. Only the fur was left.
“But husband, people will see this painting. The Janssens. The Duponts. The mayor.” Her breath hung in a cloud in the chilly studio.
He tilted around the easel to peer at her. “Indeed. And when the Lady Janssens’s raven tresses have gone gray, when the mayor’s bones have turned to dust in his grave, and when the mortar has crumbled on the Dupont château, and the last stone falls, you will still be fresh as dew. You will forever be the meadow bloom of the sweetest May morning. You will be immortal.”
She let the coat fall to her waist.
Rubens spent the last ten years of his life in Belgium, where this photo of his second wife was painted. This was my attempt to decipher curious mix of wonder and triumph in her face.