Coal Blackstone woke up, yawned and stretched her ivory arms towards the shafts of sunlight falling onto her bed from the balcony window.  Then she tossed off the duvet, and, lying happily naked in the golden light, stretched her endless legs in the same direction—but only one at a time.  It was her own form of lazy, supine tai-chi, and while she had few illusions about its efficacy as a set of spiritual exercises, it felt good enough for her to do it every morning—if she were alone—upon awakening.
     There was no photo session today and she was free, as far as a supermodel can ever be deemed free.
    “Linc?” she called out.  “Is there coffee?”
    “Soon,” came a masculine voice from down the hall.  “Can’t you smell it?”
     “I’m too busy yawning and stretching,” Coal answered abstractly.  “One activity at a time!”
     Linc smiled to himself as he poured espresso into two tiny cups, each bearing a silkscreened photo on its side of a Man Ray eye—with spidery eyelashes.  He was always amused by Coal’s perpetual meldings of discipline and torpor.  He loved how she made lassitude seem both graceful and purposeful. 
     Coal’s real name was Collette Blackstone, but she had renamed herself Coal when it began to seem to her, in the course of growing up, that her dark hair was steadily getting blacker and blacker—so black that it flashed vivid blue highlights in the sun. 
     And it wasn’t just the hair either.  Frankly, she had never thought of herself as the Colette type.  Certainly not the Gigi type.
By the time she had decided, at age seventeen, to permit one of her older, eager suitors to divest her of her virginity—which flowery task she felt he had accomplished clumsily and with unseemly haste—she was already quite far advanced into the careful, highly deliberate repositioning of herself that would soon make her one of the leading fashion models on two continents.    
     Linc had been with her for a year now, each of them a partner in a shape-shifting relationship that was elastic enough to accommodate their sometimes being lovers and their sometimes being just business associates.  It was usually week-on, week-off.  This week they were business associates.
     Although his last name really was Ford, Linc’s actual first name had been Gerald, and even though he knew perfectly well that nobody now remembered the brief and awkward tenure of the American president Gerald Ford, he still disliked the name sufficiently to have changed it to Linc—short for “Lincoln.  Lincoln Ford.  He liked it alright now, with the juxtaposition of the upscale “Lincoln” and the populist “Ford.”  And anyhow it was a good name for a fashion photographer.  He couldn’t imagine Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar or even Toronto Life’s Fashion commissioning a suite of photographs from anyone named Gerald Ford.
     “Linc, I need that coffee or I’m going to expire!”
    “Keep your shirt off,” laughed Linc, “I’m just bringing it now.” 
     Linc put the tiny cups on a small pink Limoges tray they kept specifically for that purpose.  Two fiercely strong expressos and four delicate McIntosh shortbreads—two apiece.  He then sat on the edge of the bed and watched Coal as she took a sip of the coffee and nibbled, dainty as a rabbit, at a biscuit.
     She glanced at him.  “You’re not actually gazing upon my maidenly nakedness, are you Linc—not after all this time?”
     “Time has nothing to do with it,” he grinned.  “And yes, I was.”