Authors: Vanessa Grant
The Colors of Love
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Thanks to Ann Avery—again—for the medical details.
Thanks also to Ann Rath, Carol Dunford, Edna Sheedy, Susan Horton, and Zorro—
you all helped with research.
Jamie Ferguson grasped the glass in her hand more tightly. "Say that again. How many?"
"We sold eight of your paintings tonight." Liz Havers adjusted the silk scarf that accessorized her gold suit so perfectly, "It's an incredible opening night for an unknown artist."
Behind Liz, a big sign displayed the words:
A Strong Young Northwestern Talent
It was Liz who had suggested she sign her paintings with her exotic given name instead of the more common
she normally used, and no surname. Mystery sells paintings, said Liz, and it would do no harm to surround Jamie's image with a tinge of mystery.
The gallery was empty now, but an hour ago it had been swarming with people. One, an art critic for a national newspaper, had told Jamie he expected to see a lot more of her work in the years to come.
"You're off duty now," said Liz gently, taking the glass from Jamie's hands. "Stop nursing this glass—you've been carrying this same glass of champagne around all evening. Go home and get some sleep. When you wake up, start painting. I need twenty-five canvases for your autumn showing."
"My autumn—oh, Liz! I was so scared tonight, it took me three tries to get my lipstick on straight. You're really going to do an autumn showing of my work?"
"At least twenty-five paintings, and I don't want them all at the last minute."
"I'll start tonight," she promised, laughter bubbling. "I can't believe it's really true. When I was a child, I used to walk through your gallery staring at paintings by
artists, telling myself it must be the most wonderful thing in the world to have painted them."
"And now you have."
"It's you who encouraged me," Jamie said. "Thank you for telling me my paintings weren't ready the first time I brought them to the gallery, for making me work harder."
Behind Liz, Jamie could see the painted outline of a young woman standing on a wooden float, waving to a departing fishing boat.
was only one of the canvases that now sported a small red tag in one corner. She felt a sharp pain at the knowledge that she might never see the painting again.
"I'll get a check ready for you," said Liz. "Come in Monday and pick it up."
"I'm working Monday."
Liz shook her head sharply. "Not here, you're not. You'll need all your time to get ready for the autumn showing. You're a professional painter now, Jamie. You won't need to work in the gallery to make ends meet."
* * *
Jamie welcomed the rain on her face and the smell of wet pavement in her nostrils as she stepped onto the sidewalk outside Northern Images. Faintly, she could hear music from a nearby nightclub. Across the street, a man hurried past a darkened bookstore, hat pulled down, shoulders hunched protectively while Second Avenue threw back broken reflections from the streetlamp.
she thought. She'd wash the canvas with pale gray, then build up the dark pavement, shades of gray sidewalk and buildings, tones of rain picked up in the creases of the man's trench coat. No face, only a gray shape moving through the wet night. She'd prep the canvas tonight and do a preliminary sketch, something for her muse to work on while she slept.