This is part 2 of a 2-part story, but the first part isn't necessary in order to enjoy this one.

"I can't believe this is really happening," said Daye Novak as she buckled into her airplane seat. "The Young Artists Exhibition. It's really happening."

"It's really happening," said Alden from his seat next to her.

Daye looked at him and placed her hand against his arm. "Thank you, Mr. Gardner," she said. "I know I wouldn't have gotten a spot in this exhibit if it wasn't for you. I know you had to pull a few strings to make this happen."

"It was nothing," he lied, smiling to himself as he recalled exactly what went into getting Daye into this coveted show.

"I'm not sure I believe you," she said as she adjusted the seatbelt, "but I'm excited...and a little nervous."

"Don't be too nervous," said Alden. "It was your artwork that got you into this show."

"If it shows up," Daye worried.

"We talked about this already," Alden said. "It's taken care of."

He tried to sound as confident as he could. He knew that anything could happen to her artwork as it was being shipped to Florida. A long career in the field of art had been a thorough teacher. Alden was the teacher now, an instructor that Daye's mother had hired. She was counting on the success of this exhibit as she neared the end of school and as she anticipated her future in college and beyond. The last thing Daye needed was to be worried about whether or not her artwork would make it on time for the show. She would be looking to him for reassurance that everything would work out fine. At least, he guessed she would. It had been a long time since he was her age. It had bee 29 years since then to be exact. That thought made him suddenly feel old.

"So, where are we staying in Daytona, Mr. Gardner?" Daye asked.

The "Mr. Gardner" wasn't helping, Alden thought. "Oh, you'll love it," he said aloud. "It's right on the beach."

Daye's face strained and she made a quiet "Eeee" sound that Alden took as excitement. She confirmed it. "That's so cool. What's it like? Does it have a pool?"

Alden laughed. "You're too excited about the place. Don't get me wrong, it's great, but you're not going to be there a lot. All the exhibitors and their sponsors are staying in the same place, too, so you don't have it all to yourself."

"You're sure there won't be some time for some fun on the beach?" she asked.

"Maybe," he replied, "if we're lucky. Just remember why you're there."

"To be an art robot," she joked.

"Remember, they aren't going to love the art if they hate the artist," said Alden.

"Yick," she sneered. "I just hate all that smarmy, fakey, hand-shakey stuff."

"It's part of the job," said Alden. "No one's asking you to be fake. Be yourself. You'll win them over. Everybody likes you anyway."

"Including you?" asked Daye.

"Meh. You're alright," Alden teased.

"What if I'm totally blowing it, Mr. Gardner?" said Daye. "Will you step in and do all the schmoozing for me if I need you to?"

Alden laughed. "Sure," he said. "Anything."

- - -

"Anything?" said a mustached waiter, as Alden stood by himself, bewildered among the exhibit's guests. "Sir, do you want anything to drink?"

Alden's mind must have wandered. The set up and preparations for shows like these always seemed to take forever. By the time guests arrived, it often felt like he had been on his feet too long already. "Oh, no thanks," he replied.

He looked around the exhibit hall. The work was, as usual, strong, but he proudly concluded that Daye's artwork was the best work there. He watched guests mingle and look at the art. They were definitely taking great interest in Daye's collection.

Where was she?

He adjusted his tie to make sure it was on straight and began to wander the room. He got a flute of champagne from the same mustached waiter he had just rebuffed, and then began to glad-hand some familiar faces. He even bumped into Kalinda Sandusky-Caligino, who had organized the event, and whom Alden had uniquely convinced to select Daye for the remaining open spot in the exhibit. It was a short exchange this time, as the busy job of playing host stole her away quickly.

Over the next three hours, Alden made sure to visit each artist to ask them about their pieces. The youngest of the 9 exhibitors was a 16-year-old named Martin, whose work stood the greatest chance of stacking up against Daye's. The boy's mother introduced herself, an attractive woman named Annamaria Elizondo. She kept talking to Alden, presumably to keep him near her son's collection in hopes that his stature as an artist among the other guests would draw a crowd. He certainly didn't mind her attention, but, by now, the ambient volume of the exhibit hall was fairly loud, so he only really heard about half of what Ms. Elizondo was saying.

He turned his head to see how it was going near Daye's collection, and didn't see her there at first, but as a group of people moved out of his line of sight, he saw her, talking with an older couple and smiling, laughing with them as she adjusted a couple strands of her long, brown hair. She wore a small, gold-sequined dress that was tasteful enough for the event but flattering enough to draw attention.

Mid-laugh, Daye turned and noticed Alden. The smiling glance she gave him couldn't have lasted more than a couple of seconds, but, in that time-defying moment, even the incessant talking of the lovely Ms. Elizondo went silent. It was difficult to explain, and even more difficult to process. As they looked at each other, a litany of complex messages passed between them.

At first, the feeling it induced seemed like pride to Alden. He was proud of Daye, not just for the art and the hard work she had put into it, but also for the way she stepped out of her comfort zone to speak to the guests. Daye admired him for his teaching, but the look on her face was more than that, and Alden could see that what passed between them in that moment wasn't the mutual appreciation between a student and her mentor. This was more personal; a sentiment, a curiosity, a spark, a hint at something that had been building, something that he had either never noticed or had denied was there.

It took Annamaria Elizondo's hand on his arm to break the moment. She clearly didn't like not being the center of his attention, and it was likely she hadn't stopped talking at him the entire time. Alden interrupted her mid-sentence and excused himself. He wandered through the crowd toward the side door, nearly running into the mustached waiter as he did so.

"Sir is there something you need?" asked the waiter.

Alden stared blankly, he looked back briefly toward Daye's collection and then stepped past the waiter without answering.

- - -

He reached for the door and pulled it open. The cool air of the nearly empty refrigerator hit his face and he grabbed a bottle of water from inside it. The quiet of the beach house common area was a nice change after hours in a noisy gallery, as was the relative comfort of a pair of loose flannel pants and a t-shirt compared to his suit and tie. The second floor was an open kitchen and living room with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the beach. It was 5:30 in the morning, so what he could see of the sand and surf were only what was illuminated by moonlight. His bare feet stepped quietly to the living room area and he sat on the couch, looking to his right toward the beach. He had given up on trying to get any more sleep by this point, so he resolved to relax and watch the sun rise.

Behind him, he could hear the creaking of the stairs, and he looked in the reflections on the window to see who it was. "Daye?" he said, "What are you doing up this early?"

"Couldn't sleep," she said. "Still too keyed up." She opened the fridge to grab a water bottle of her own and walked into the living room area.

Alden turned his head to the left to see her as she approached. She wore an oversized t-shirt. Her legs and feet were bare, and her hair hung free, slightly disturbed from her attempt to sleep. "Keyed up from the show?" he asked.

Daye sat next to him on the couch, her legs extended onto an ottoman. "Yeah," she answered, taking a sip from her water. "I'm not used to being social for that long."

"But you did it," said Alden, holding up his water bottle.

Daye held up her own water battle and tapped it against his. "We did it," she said.

"Yeah," said Alden, "but I'm used to it. You had to do what you haven't ever done before, and that took courage. You seized the moment. Well done."

"Why are you awake so early?" Daye asked.

"Keyed up. Couldn't sleep," he answered.

"So, you don't get used to it?"

"I didn't. Doesn't mean you won't."

"Well, I'm surprised to see you up here anyway," Daye commented.

"Why's that?" Alden inquired.

"I don't know. I was getting a bit of a vibe that Martin Elizondo's mom was into you," said Daye

"Annamaria? You think?"

"She seemed interested."

"So, you thought I'd be—"

"Seizing the moment," Daye laughed.

"No," smiled Alden. "No. Not likely."

"You don't think she's attractive?" asked Daye.

"Well—"

"She's pretty and she's into you. Is there someone else that you're—"

"Talk to me about the show. What were people asking you tonight?"

"You're changing the subject."

"Yes."

Daye smiled, running her fingers through her hair, and began to recount some of the highlights of her discussions with guests at the show. Alden listened intently, genuinely interested in how she had navigated the social aspects of the exhibit. He was impressed that she managed to answer some real oddball questions from guests and had even managed to secure a small commission project. She was looking at the tips of her hair between her fingers as she spoke, so she didn't notice as Alden's eyes drifted toward her, following how her oversized t-shirt rested against her body and seeing where it met the smooth light skin of her legs.

He became suddenly aware that he was only wearing a loose-fitting pair of flannel pants, so he looked away from her in hopes of preventing an embarrassing situation. Such hopes were thwarted when he felt Daye's hand rest on his thigh.

"I want to tell you," she said, "it means a lot to me that you got me into this show and that you've been so encouraging. Not everyone would do all that you've done."

"You got yourself into this show," said Alden.

"You always do what it takes to see me succeed," Daye commented.

"Anything," Alden said. He had placed his hand on her thigh, almost as a reflex, and immediately realized how inappropriate it was. He turned his head toward Daye. They were eye to eye, their faces mere inches apart. He was frozen in time again, realizing that he still hadn't removed his hand from her thigh.

It was becoming more and more obvious that his loose-fitting pants had been a bad idea. Daye looked down for a moment and then locked eyes with Alden once more. Her lips moved. "It's okay," she said quietly.

Alden's fingers drifted against the smooth skin of Daye's thigh. "It's okay," she whispered again as her eyes slowly lowered to Alden's lips. He could feel her breath on him as she whispered a third time "It's okay."

Their heads seemed to be pulled toward each other as if by gravity. In the diminishing space between them, Daye mouthed the words "It's okay it's okay it's okay," until their lips met, a tender display of hidden longing. His hands did their own bidding, reaching around her waist to pull her closer. Her entire body rolled toward him effortlessly until her left leg had moved over his lap and she straddled him. She could feel now what Alden's loose pants had done such a poor job concealing. Her hands framed his face as their lips embraced, lost in the newness of the moment.

The feeling of her lips on his and the sensation of their bodies softly pressed together were the forbidden result of their hidden affections, the unexpected connection of two people who shouldn't be connected at all. It was a captivating and inescapable formula. She, the loveliness of youth, at the precipice of her future, and he, the stability of age, responsible for imparting his experience upon her. Their lives were at a point of intersection, and it drew them together in a way that neither knew was possible, beyond mentorship, beyond admiration or simple attraction to sexual chemistry.

They were giving in to the allure of having crossed a line together. Alden's hands moved upward against her skin, catching the bottom of her oversized t-shirt and gathering it, revealing the soft, thin fabric of her panties. His hands continued, roaming her back and discovering what his chest had already learned, that she wore no bra. His stiff cock was becoming even stiffer as he felt the grove of Daye's pussy slowly drift back and forth over it through the fabric barrier of his pants and her underwear.

He spent a long while alternating between kissing her lips, her cheek, her chin and her neck, giving Daye time to come to her senses while also giving her a reason not to. Alden knew that a line had been crossed, but there were lines and there were other lines. It would be a mistake to rush across the next one. Daye had given him license to kiss her, hold her and touch her when she said, "it's okay." But now, he knew that his engorged dick locked between her thighs could act as no more than a petition, an enticement to proceed.

Is that what he really wanted? Could he live with himself if this trusting girl committed to an act from which neither of them could return? It would change the nature of their relationship. Although their current posture had already forever changed it, the implications grew if they went further.

He ran out of time to ponder his next step. Daye rose from his lap and Alden took it to mean she had decided they had gone too far. But then her thumbs pushed fabric of her panties downward and signaled the contrary. The moonlight lit her pearly skin, and he could see her exposed pussy, beautiful to his eyes. She let her panties drop to the ground and off her feet.

His eyes moved upward again and looked into hers, blue and clear and serene. Her eyes then motioned to his lap in a manner that told Alden what she wanted. He raised his hips and pushed down his loose-fitting pants until they naturally fell from his knees to the floor. His cock stood high and Daye smiled at the sight of it. Placing one hand on his shoulder and the other on his stiff member, she once again straddled his lap, placing the tip of his erection at the entry to her slit.

Slowly, deliberately, Daye lowered herself, letting them both savor each inch of entry until at last she rested on him, his manhood fully inside her. They kissed again, this time more eagerly, knowing that from now on this wasn't a chance look, attraction, flirtation or even sexual playfulness. From this point on, they were having sex with each other, beautiful, delicate, and taboo.

The dark horizon over the ocean was lightening with each moment now, the promise of morning.

Daye moved above Alden even as they kissed, and he worked in her from underneath. It was so wonderfully calm and slow, like a moment without time, and they soaked in the feeling of it. Her lips parted from his and she lifted the oversized t-shirt up until she was free of it, a naked delight for Alden's eyes. Her skin was smooth and light, her small breasts capped by the pink of her nipples. He kissed her body, tasting the natural essence of it, the flavor of her chest. He could feel his own t-shirt move as Daye tugged at the bottom. Alden obliged, removing his shirt and casting it aside.

Her beautiful eyes stared through him and they kissed again, their hands free to prospect each other's naked forms. She began to move on him again and he pushed into her in turn. This time they were moving faster, ensnared by the sexual rhythm of their pleasure. As his cock glided inside her, the reality of their actions, the inevitable destination, excited them to even more passionate and rapid sex. He could feel her, already, bucking with pleasure, being brought to orgasmic levels. He kept moving in her, holding her tightly in his arms and allowing their bodies to drift backward onto the ottoman, so that her back met the couch cushions and he lied atop her.

The pale blue of the moonlit beach began to pick up touches of orange. The sky was transforming as the sun flirted with the edge of the ocean. Rays of light touched their naked forms. The soft pink of Daye's skin exposed to the morning.

Alden kissed her neck as Daye took his thrusts. "I can't believe this is really happening," she breathed.

Her beautiful, youthful body moved with each push, tensing again in orgasmic bliss. She bit her lip to control herself so she wouldn't cry out in her ecstasy. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes. I want you, Mr. Gardner." Her hands pulled his body as close as she could bring it to hers and their eyes met once more. He could feel the end nearing, the moment of his release. He slowed his motion again, feeling the gentle glide as he sunk again and again into the sweet pussy of his much younger lover.

It was too much to contain. He slid forward one last time as the heat of his arousal overflowed into her. He stifled the moan of his orgasm so that no one would hear him cum. Only the sound of their breathing remained, punctuated with the wet touches of their lips. They remained, locked in coital embrace, now unwilling to part now that they had given into their forbidden attraction.

They didn't speak. They couldn't. Their expressions were physical, beyond language. Had Alden spoken at that moment, his words would have ruined it. There were no words because Alden didn't know how to reconcile his emotions. It was likely that Daye faced the same challenge. It had not been mere lust, nor was this a taboo that would have been as powerful with anyone similar. Had it been love? Certainly not in any sense that felt familiar, although the intensity of it bore some resemblance. He could feel the air catch in Daye's chest, as though she wanted to say something but didn't know what to say.

Instead, she wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight and still in the early rays of dawn.

- - -

"You can really see the light in this one," said Professor McNeil. She gestured to one of Daye's paintings as it leant against the wall of the studio. It was an abstract interplay of glass and the colors of a beach. "It's strong work."

"Thank you, Professor," said Daye. "I had a good teacher."

"Well," said the silver-haired Professor, "I do hope you consider attending here. I think we'd be a good fit for your talents."

"It's high on my list," Daye replied.

"You know," said the Professor. "This isn't the first time I've seen your work. Months ago, I attended the Young Artists Expedition. I'm good friends with Kalinda Sandusky-Caligino. She tells me you trained under Alden Gardner."

"Yes," Daye acknowledged, fondly.

Professor McNeil paced the room. "Kalinda said he went to great lengths on your behalf to get you into that show. I'm glad he did. In fact, I curate a collection and have an exhibit coming up, sort of a Masters and Protégés show."

"And you'd like Mr. Gardner and I to be a part of it?" asked Daye.

"Understand that it won't affect this College's decision either way, so don't take it as an obligation. Consider it my own desire to see you occupy the same space."

"That's an intriguing offer," said Daye.

"And do consider studying here," said the Professor.

As soon as Daye left the building, she pulled out her phone, found Alden's number and called him. "Hello?"

"How did it go?" asked Alden.

"Well, I wonder if I can ask you a favor," said Daye.

Alden laughed. "Anything," he said.

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