The gala was a complete success–at least that’s what I was told. I don’t remember much of the evening. I remember shaking hands, hearing over two dozen names I won’t remember, and explaining my pieces, over and over and over again.
I drag my aching feet into the kitchen; the steam rising from the coffee pot. I listen for the dripping to stop before pouring it haphazardly into my mug. The Arabica hazelnut scent waffle in and out of my senses, gently tapping my brain to say good morning.
“Oh my poor feet,” I say, admonishing myself for wearing heels. What was I thinking? A whole night of walking around, standing still, perching in corners. There was no sitting–not once the entire night. I should have known that going in. My feet will protest wearing heels for at least a week.
Coffee in hand, I splay myself on the couch.
“I may not move all day,” I whisper into my elbow that is draped across my face. No sooner do I finish the sentence, the phone rings.
“Uh ha. Nope. I am not answering that. They can leave a message.” I am not dealing with the gallery today.
“Evian. It’s Dean. Last night was a raving success. I’m very proud of you young lady. We have orders for your work, and our three masterpieces were sold by the end of the night. We are shipping them out today, so I need you to come in. Call me. Evian, I mean it. We will need you here this afternoon.”
Click. Dial tone. Done.
“Aggg. You have got to be kidding.” What I should feel is slight annoyance, but what I most certainly feel is agitated, angry. Why? Yes, I’m tired, but that’s no reason to feel so bothered by his request.
I drag myself to the shower, hoping the hot water will soothe whatever ails me. But as I stand under the waterfall, hot water coursing down my back, I flash back to the gala. I was bothered by the whole evening, and superbly bothered by the mystery man who bought my paintings. Whomever it was paid a high price. Too high. They offered more than what we were asking. I never met the man, but was told he did not give a name, just an address to deliver the paintings too. He was met by Marleen, bought all three within five minutes, and left. She said he didn’t even offer a handshake or a hello. Yes, I’m definitely bothered–irritated actually.
I dress quickly in jeans, blouse and wrap sweater. Since I have no energy, I have no desire to contend with my long tedious locks. I twist the chestnut hair into a ponytail, and find my favorite blue suede flats.
I make a mad dash through the entrance of the gallery and head up to Dean’s office, where I know I’ll be met by Marleen.
“Hmmm. I wonder why she didn’t call me? Dean never makes the calls, although I did just make him a lot of money.” I sigh, and am met with a combative gaze from my reflection in the elevator glass doors.
“I know. I should be grateful. I am grateful. I just don’t want to deal with this today. Ok–ok, I am grateful. There, happy?” I tell my inner self as she pushes back on me hard.
Elevators open, and I pace my steps to Dean’s office. I lightly rap on the door. Instead of Marleen’s jovial face, it’s Dean’s enigmatic one that greets me. I frown just slightly.
“Why get in here young lady. You did amazing last night. Truly amazing kiddo. People loved your pieces. And, Ms. Burkchock from Galleries 101 wants to write a feature article on your latest creation!”
“Evian, have you heard a word I’ve just said?”
“Yes I have Dean. I thought I was here to help ship the three portraits from last night?”
“Well yes, that too.”
“Evian, sweetheart, are you alright?” Marleen asks, walking around Dean to touch my shoulder. Her blonde silky hair lay perfectly over her shoulders in barrel curls, and she is wearing a couture Erdem suit, making me look utterly dowdy.
“Yeah I’m fine. Just out of sorts today.” I face Dean again, realizing what he has just said to me. “Dean, I have not started another piece yet.”
“Well get started. This is huge. This is a big fat plug for both you and this gallery young lady.” I really hate that he calls me that, but it’s better than kiddo.
“Does she want anything in particular?” Marleen jumps in to answer, although I can see in Dean’s face that he is all to happy to tell me what to do.
“No, no. You are the artist. She just wants to get some photos of your latest and greatest. Find out what inspires you, and explain some of your past pieces. Like the ones from last night.”
My stomach lurches; swinging like a run away pendulum. I can’t explain those pieces! I barely remember painting them. How am I to explain that.
Marleen interrupts my inner monologue.
“Um, and the gentleman from last night wants you to deliver the paintings to him in person. Hence the reason we asked you here.”
“What!” She knew I’d say no if they told me that over the phone. NOW I get why Dean called instead of Marleen.
“No. No way. Part of our agreement was that I remain separate from the buyers. Remember? I’m supposed to be “a mystery“, somewhat detached from the clients. That was your checkmate not mine.”
“That was before we had someone come in and pay three times the asking price of those paintings.”
“Three times! You never told me that.” My head started spinning; I needed to sit down. Who would pay over asking price for anything, let alone some erratic paintings from a virtual nobody. I was about to find out. I had until 3:00pm to get them wrapped and loaded in the gallery’s van. I was to follow in my own car.
As my little car rumbled down a brick road, I quickly realize where we are heading. Handsome brick turn-of-the-century loft buildings are home to New England’s largest and most established artists’ community, along with a variety of gallery museums, restaurants and shops. The area’s emerging commercial sector and active residential community enjoy spacious loft-style living, and our uber-wealthy mystery man lives here, of all places.
We pull up to Fort Point Place on Wormwood Street, smack dab in the center of Boston’s seaport district. Just one of the most expensive places to live. I walk up to the doorman and tell him we have a delivery.
“What’s the name?”
“Well, see, now that’s a funny question. I don’t know the name. I was just given an address.”
“No name, no entry.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Look mister. Some man bought my paintings last night and specifically requested I deliver them. It’s my day off and yet here I am. I’m not leaving until–”
“I can’t help you ma’am.”
“I did not drive all the way down here to waste my time. Buzz every person on that registry if you have too, but I’m delivering these paintings.” With one finger wagging, I was ready for round three when the phone in the lobby rang.
“Yes sir. Why yes there is. She is indeed sir. Ok, thank you sir.”
“You may go up now. It is the penthouse loft, number 21.”
Of course it is. There is a delivery elevator around back; I tell the boys what floor and head up through the main entrance. I tap on the door lightly, hoping I wouldn’t be heard and could turn to leave. No such luck as the door swings wide. I take two full steps in, just as the boys were getting off the back elevator. They immediately followed me in and push past me toward the sprawling living room. The door quickly shut behind me, startling me. Well over six feet tall, he towered our delivery boy Rudy, who was already six-foot-two and not even out of high school. His broad shoulders narrowed into slender hips which melted into lean muscular legs. A smile escaped the corner of his lips as he walked up to me with some authority.
“Ms. Fairchild, my name is Ducane–Lucian Ducane,” He says, the deep chords of his voice vibrating off the cathedral ceilings. He sticks out his hand, his eyes fixed on mine.
Not that I’ve had many opportunities to leave a man hanging, but as I look down at his hand I realize I have yet to shake it. Suddenly flustered, I push my hand forward, clasping his.
“It’s Evian. Evian is fine,” I say meekly. His strikingly long and agile fingers linger for a brief moment before letting go.
“Evian it is. Please follow me,” He says as he walks in front of me. His jeans fit snuggly against his hips, and his collard shirt is just tight enough to show off the definition of his back muscles. I keep pace, and follow him to the living room, where the boys are unwrapping the last of the portraits.
“So….where should I hang these?” He demands, more than asks, in an oddly accented voice.
“Excuse me.” Perplexed, I look at him.
“Where should I hang these? Should they stay in here? Or should I display them on the stairwell?”
“You asked me all the way over here–demanded, actually, that I deliver them, just so you could ask me where to hang them?”
His eyes remained blank, his face a sea of calm. “Yes.”
“I–uh, I– Mr. Ducane, I’m not an interior decorator. I’m a painter.”
“Lucian please. And an exquisite painter at that. Your pieces Ms. Fair–Evian, are truly unique, you seem to capture two stories in one piece, each piece working together as one. Because they cannot be separated I figured you’d best know how they should be displayed.”
I stand there dumbfounded. Three pieces in one? How did he–I didn’t even realize that. I never intended to paint them to all fit together. I stand there staring at my own work as if seeing it for the first time.
“You look confused. Am I asking to much of you? I did pay a handsome price for these. I assumed a little attention from the painter would be welcomed.” He offers as politely as he can. It’s then that I realize I have yet to utter a word.
“No, no. Absolutely. It’s fine. I just-well, I never intended them to work as one. I mean–paintings are always up for interpretation. So you may do what you like with them. You bought them.” I take a pregnant pause, then ask, “Why did you pay so much for them?”
His azure eyes penetrate mine and he walks slightly closer to me. Sandalwood and lemon invade my senses as he leans down slightly to meet my height.
“Because paintings that translate Mary, Queen of Scots true life are paintings worth paying for.”