Chapter Fourteen


Two months later

I’m having lunch with my agent, and so far, I’ve managed not to stab her with my salad fork. The odds on my willpower lasting all the way to dessert are not good, because she’s trying to let me down gently, and I see her doing it a mile away.

“It’s a good exhibit,” Isabelle says in a way that clearly translates to it’s a difficult idea, really. “But your expectation for the perfect space is a problem.”

My expectation. Ha. This is just one show. I have expectations for perfection that make this simple request pale in comparison.

Or I’m in a terrible, prolonged bad mood that’s coloring everything else. That’s possible.

I haven’t heard from Brianne in six weeks.

She’s busy. She’s working a lot, and having fun with the other guides. I darkly imagine her having a slow-build flirtation with someone just like her. Young, sexy, single. This dark figure doesn’t have a gender in my jealous fantasies. I don’t know if it would be worse if he’s a man or a woman, and I try not to let the jealousy take hold either way.

You’ve done it again. Fallen for someone who doesn’t want what you want. That’s not true, but it’s what my brain tells me just before I fall asleep at night.

I scowl at my salad, then lift my chin and give my agent a firm but polite smile. This is all I can control right now. This exhibit, which is possible. She needs to understand that. “I can see it. That’s how the photographs need to be displayed. I don’t want them on four walls with a champagne reception in between. It needs to be a climb. Perhaps we can find one of the larger museums who can schedule it further out. I’m not in a rush.”

“This is no longer the age of name your price, Astrid.” She sighs and lifts one shoulder in a helpless, what-can-you-do gesture that irritates the fuck out of me. Why do I have an agent if she seems to think her job is to break bad news to me? Her job should be to find me good news. “Unless you want to build your own spiral staircase gallery.”

My hand stops a few inches above my plate. “What?”

“I mean, that would be—” Her eyes go wide. “No.”

“Yes.” I nod as I put the fork down. “Yep, that’s what I want.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“It’s too expensive. You know better than to bear the cost of an exhibit yourself. Why expose yourself to that kind of risk?”

Because what is life without risk? I stand up and drop my napkin on the table. “I have no desire to die a rich woman. I’ll spend the money now, thank you very much. Do you think that’s a bad idea?”

“I think you’ve been distracted lately.”

“That’s a yes. You know what, Isabelle? I think the time for us to work together has come to an end. All the best.” I stalk away from the table before she can say anything. I’m sure there will be slick email waiting for me when I get home, accepting in advance an apology for my outburst over lunch.

That was no artistic tantrum, though. That was a breakthrough.

I call Marcus as I reach the carpark where I’ve left my truck. 

“I’m calling in that favor,” I tell him when he answers.

“We have five feet of snow right now. Pretty boring canvas for pictures.”

“Different request, actually.” I take a deep breath. “I need space in New York City. A lot of space. Five stories in a building where I could do some significant renovations.”

“I’ll be in New York next week for Thanksgiving. My friend Jake is getting married. I can scout a location. What are you up to?”

“I want to bring the mountains to the city,” I say in a rush. “One particular mountain. Can you help me?”

“How long do you need the space?”

“How does forever sound?”


Keep reading in chapter 15

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