Authors: Tim O'Rourke
The Adoring Artist
(Kiera Hudson Series Three)
First Edition Published by Ravenwoodgreys
Copyright 2015 by Tim O’Rourke
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organisations is entirely coincidental.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Book cover designed by:
Carolyn M. Pinard
More books by Tim O’Rourke
Kiera Hudson Series One
Vampire Shift (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 1
Vampire Wake (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 2
Vampire Hunt (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 3
Vampire Breed (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 4
Wolf House (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 5
Vampire Hollows (Kiera Hudson Series 1) Book 6
Kiera Hudson Series Two
Dead Flesh (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 1
Dead Night (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 2
Dead Angels (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 3
Dead Statues (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 4
Dead Seth (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 5
Dead Wolf (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 6
Dead Water (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 7
Dead Push (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 8
Dead Lost (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 9
Dead End (Kiera Hudson Series 2) Book 10
Kiera Hudson Series Three
The Creeping Men (Kiera Hudson Series Three) Book 1
The Lethal Infected (Kiera Hudson Series Three) Book 2
The Jack Seth Novellas
Hollow Pit (Book One)
Seeking Cara (Book Two) Coming Soon!
Black Hill Farm (Books 1 & 2)
Black Hill Farm (Book 1)
Black Hill Farm: Andy’s Diary (Book 2)
Sydney Hart Novels
Witch (A Sydney Hart Novel) Book 1
Yellow (A Sydney Hart Novel) Book 2
Raven (A Sydney Hart Novel) Book 3 Coming Soon!
The Doorways Trilogy
Doorways (Doorways Trilogy Book 1)
The League of Doorways (Doorways Trilogy Book 2)
The Queen of Doorways (Doorways Trilogy Book 3) Coming Soon!
Moonlight (Moon Trilogy) Book 1
Moonbeam (Moon Trilogy) Book 2
Moonshine (Moon Trilogy) Book 3
Samantha Carter – Vampire Seeker Series
Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter Series) Book 1
Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter Series) Novella
The Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter) Book 2
The Tessa Dark Trilogy
Stilts (Book 1)
Zip (Book 2)
Werewolves of Shade
Werewolves of Shade (Part One)
Werewolves of Shade (Part Two)
Werewolves of Shade (Part Three)
Written by Tim O’Rourke & C.J. Pinard
You can contact Tim O’Rourke at
Kiera Hudson & The Adoring Artist
“Stop,” I whispered, easing myself away from Nev.
He let his arms slide from around my shoulders and took one slow step backward. Nev looked at me and I hated the confusion and sadness I could see in his light blue eyes. I hated it because I knew I had put that look of sorrow in them.
“I can’t,” I said, looking away back down at the painting of the Ragged Cove that looked more how I remembered it to be than how it was now in this
“It’s because of
, isn’t it,” Nev said more a statement of fact than a question. He didn’t sound angry – just hurt and confused. And could I blame him for feeling so? He had taken me out to dinner for my birthday – a birthday that I had walked out on the moment Potter had put in an appearance. Nev had made me a card which I had left standing on the table before him. He had made me a necklace decorated with seashells that I had returned to him broken. I’d showed back up at his makeshift studio – let him kiss me and now pulled away. I’d feel pretty hurt too if I’d been treated so badly by someone. I knew how much being let down by the person you loved hurt. I forced images of Potter kissing – turning – Sophie from my mind. To see those images was unbearable. They tore my very core to shreds. But was that the true reason I’d come in search of Nev? The true reason I’d let him kiss me? Was I hoping that by being in the arms of another I might be able to rid my mind of those pictures of Potter and Sophie kissing – of him sinking his fangs into her soft neck and feeding…
“I’m right, aren’t I?” Nev said, turning away and covering the picture of the naked statue that looked so much like me.
I looked at him and said nothing. What could I say?
“You told me that you had just recently broken up with some guy,” Nev said, rolling up the sleeves of his paint-flecked denim shirt. “You told me that it was you who pushed him away but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the truth…”
“I didn’t lie about that…”
“But you have lied or at least kept something back about your past,” Nev said.
What did he know? I couldn’t help but wonder. “Like what?”
“That guy who showed up the other night at the restaurant – your boss – he’s the ex-boyfriend.”
I shook my head. “No…”
“Kiera, I saw the way he looked at you,” Nev cut in. “I saw the way you looked at him.”
“How did I look at him?” I asked, not wanting to lie to Nev any longer but knowing that I could never really tell him the truth either. How could I ever tell him about what Potter and I had once shared? How would Nev understand?
“Like how I wished you looked at me,” Nev said, sounding like he’d had the wind knocked from him. “I would’ve had to be blind not to see how you two were looking at each other.”
Knowing that there was no point in lying, I lowered my head, unable to look into Nev’s eyes. I hated what I saw in them. I hated myself for what I could see in them. “What I once shared with Potter is over now.”
“I’m not sure,” Nev said.
“It is over,” I said, turning my back on him. I didn’t have the nerve to stand and cry about the heartache I felt for another man in front of him. I had more respect for Nev than to do that. How had my life ever become such a mess? How was it that with every step I took I never really found true happiness – it always seemed just out of reach. However much I tried to do the right thing I always managed to hurt someone – someone that I cared about and who cared about me.
With my shoulders hitching up and down as I tried to stifle the tears that now cruised down the length of my face, I felt a hand on my arm.
“Don’t cry,” I heard Nev whisper. “I can’t bear to see you unhappy, Kiera.”
“Why don’t you hate me?” I croaked. “Why aren’t you kicking me out of the door?”
He gently turned me to face him. “Because I adore you, Kiera Hudson,” he smiled faintly.
“Adore me,” I said, as he gently thumbed the tears from my face. “You don’t even know me.”
“I know that you’re a beautiful person and I’m not just talking about your captivating smile and mesmerizing eyes,” he said, gently taking my hands in his. “Your beauty goes way beyond that. It’s deeper than that. But your beauty is masked by your sadness and if I could, I’d love to take some of that sadness away, but I just don’t know how. I hoped that by taking you out for your birthday, drawing you that card, making you the necklace, I might be able to take away some of that unhappiness I see haunting you. For a brief time I thought I had. But then the other guy – your boss showed up and you left with him.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, still unable to look into his eyes. “I know you care.”
“And I’m sorry too,” Nev said. “Not because you stood me up at the restaurant, but because you came back with that brief look of happiness missing from your smile and your eyes.”
“How can you be so understanding, so kind?” I said. “I’m sure that I don’t deserve it.”
Slowly, Nev let go of my hands and walked away, back toward the easel where the picture of the naked statue was covered by a piece of cloth. “You thought you recognised yourself in the painting,” Nev said. “But I’m not so sure I recognise myself any longer. It’s like you have woken something deep inside of me. If a woman had treated me like this before, I would have just walked away – shrugged my shoulders and said so what. Put it down to just another bad experience – and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of them. But with you, Kiera, it’s different. You make me feel different. From the moment I saw you in the Ragged Cove – from the moment I saw you peeking over my easel at the picture I was painting I knew it was you.”
“Who?” I asked, now daring to glance up and meet his stare.
“The woman – the statue,” he said.
“I’m not sure I understand,” I said. Was he trying to say that there was a statue of me in the town of Snake Weed? And as I looked across the barn – studio – at Nev I couldn’t help but remember what my brother Jack had told me in the dream I’d shared with him. Jack had said that in the
that he was living, there was a statue of me. But Jack had also said that Potter and I were going to have a daughter. How wrong had Jack been about that? It was Potter and Sophie who were going to be having a daughter they were going to name Abbie.
“How can I explain,” Nev said rubbing his stubble-covered chin. “The reason I wanted to be an artist was because as a kid, when I looked at some paintings, I often wished that I could step into them – meet those people captured for all time on canvas. I got to thinking that when I turned my back they would move – blink even. As I stood in galleries staring at all the paintings, I would long to step into them and go and explore all the wonderful places that the artist had painted. And it was the same when I first saw that statue of the young woman in Snake Weed. I was a lot older than just a kid, but I still couldn’t help but wonder what that woman would be like if she stepped down from the concrete plinth – if she came alive – if she could tell me all about herself. There is a spot just on the outskirts of Snake Weed were I like to go and camp sometimes – it’s near to a stream. In the evenings, I wander down into the town and stare up at the statue of the young woman. I turn my back on her and glance over my shoulder in the hope that she has moved – even just blinked. But she never has. So you can imagine then how stunned I was the day I saw you in the Ragged Cove – the moment I saw you peering over the edge of my easel at me. It was like the statue had finally come alive – like she had stepped down from that concrete plinth and followed me all the way to the Ragged Cove.”
“But I’m not her,” I said.
“I know, because that would be impossible, right?” Nev said, looking at me. “But you do look like her.”
“Does this statue have a name?” I asked, more than intrigued by what he was telling me. “Isn’t there some kind of plaque stating who this young woman once was?”
“There is, but the writing has long since faded,” Nev said.
“Isn’t there some kind of tourist information centre in town where you can ask about the history of the statue?”
“Ever been to Snake Weed?” Nev asked me.
Not in this
, I wanted to say. I shook my head instead.
“It’s not a town – barely big enough to be called a village and the community there seem very tightknit. They don’t appear to be very welcoming to strangers,” Nev explained. “I just wander down from the hills where I like to set up camp, spend some quiet time looking up at the statue, then leave again. Besides, I’m not sure if I really want to know the real story behind the statue of the young woman.”
“Why not?” I asked him, cuffing away the last of the tears that stained my face.
“Because she might not be anything like the woman I imagined her to be,” he said, looking right back at me. “I might be disappointed.”
“Do I disappoint you?” I asked. Then shaking my head, I quickly added, “I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that. What does it matter anyway? I should go. I shouldn’t have come. I’m sorry I’ve been a disappointment.”
I crossed the barn and pulled opened the door. Nev took hold of my arm stopping me from going any further. “I didn’t mean what I said.”
“Yes you did,” I said softly. “And you’re right. I have been a disappointment. I’ve let you down and treated you very badly.”
“Can we still be friends?” Nev asked.
“You don’t want to be just friends with me,” I said, looking at him, our faces just an inch apart. “And I really am sorry I can’t offer you any more than that. In another
… in another time or place maybe things could’ve been different between us. I think I would’ve liked that.”
“So would have I,” Nev said, letting his hand fall from my arm.
Without looking back, I made my way around the side of the barn, past Mavis Bateman’s small cottage, and toward my beat up old Mini that was parked on the road.