The Fake
CHAPTER
27
In a Mellow Tone
The paintings were placed, each with its own set of spotlights calibrated to display its best qualities. Five people stood in the center of the gallery—Dad, Cynthia, Cynthia’s assistant Anthony, Sydney and me. The back room clanked with serving trays and clinking wine glasses.
My eyes darted between the paintings and my father.
Cynthia patted the sides of her hair, concerned a strand might have escaped the cement strength hairspray that kept everything back in a perfect French twist. “Did you set out the guest book?” She asked Anthony.
“Yes,” he said.
“Did you let the servers know to bring out the champagne precisely at 8:23?”
“Of course,” he said, looking very smug.
“Did you get those last minute invites to the Miriam Cardwell and Gilbert Townsend?
“I…um.”
Cynthia glared.
“There was so much to do! I can call them now. Of course they’ll still come. Of course they wouldn’t miss it.”
Cynthia made a very angry grunting noise and Anthony skittered off to the back room. “And make sure the caterer has brought Camembert, not brie!” she shouted after he’d already shut the door.
She gave us all a look that said, ”It’s so hard to find good help these days,” and then turned on her five-inch heels and tapped her way back to the kitchen.
Dad smiled at Sydney. “Sorry about that. We’re so happy you could come tonight and keep Claire company.“
“I wouldn’t have missed it!” Sydney said. “I’ve been to a few of these with Mom and Dad, but never on opening night! And never with the artist himself.“
Sydney asked about some of the paintings and Dad explained how he chose the subjects and decided on how the object would rest and how he composed the light and shadow.
I hung back, taking in our accomplishment. The collection was beautiful.
Unique.
Priceless.
And fake.
The pain at the pit of my stomach returned. Painting this collection was so wrong and yet I’d do it again and again if it would help Dad get better—if it would keep that look of loss and hurt from his face.
I just hoped no one would notice. I hoped Dad’s tremors would stay under control and the moments I hadn’t been able to match my father’s style exactly would all be covered up by moments when I had.
Cynthia burst from the kitchen with frustration showing in her jawline and determination in her eyes. “It’s show time!” She called, beckoning Dad to the door so she and he could greet collectors as they entered.
Then, with a perfect artificial smile she unlocked the doors and opened them wide.
About a hundred invited guests flowed in. Dad was mobbed within seconds and “ooh”s and “ahh”s filled the air as the crowd took in the paintings.
I let out an enormous breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding and Sydney grabbed my hand. “Can you imagine how amazing would it be if this was your opening night?”
I grimaced.
Sydney bumped her pointy elbow into my arm and grinned. “You’re going to have to get used to the idea. I couldn’t take your ridiculous humility one more minute. I made an appointment for you and me at Fairchild’s tomorrow at ten.”
My eyes grew wide and my heart flapped angrily like a bird trying to break free. “But I only have the one painting. I’m not ready.”
“Don’t worry,” Sydney said. “I told Mr. Fairchild who you are and he assured me one painting would be more than enough to see if you have your father’s gift.”
I sighed. Naturally he’d only agreed to see me because I was George Foster’s daughter.
“Listen,” Sydney said. “I know you don’t like the idea of starting in your father’s shadow, but the truth is I never could have gotten him to see you otherwise. Some artists try for years to have a gallery see their work. You have an amazing connection to the art world and you have to use it! Someday you’ll be known for being Claire Foster, world famous impressionist, but for now don’t you think it’s okay to be “Claire Foster, daughter of the world famous George? You are an amazing artist and you deserve this, even if you have to use a little connection to get in.”
I smiled. Her heart had been in the right place. “Thanks, Sydney. Of course I’ll come. You really are a good friend.”
Sydney’s eyes widened as she stared toward the gallery door. “You didn’t tell me you’d invited Grayson.”
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