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Jeff let himself into the Sussex Gallery Tuesday morning, rolling his eyes as his cell phone went off. He was going to have to change the ring tone, he hated the new one already and he'd only just downloaded it on Monday.
Of course if Jenni didn't call every two minutes, the ring tones might have longer lifespans.
He pocketed the keys and flipped open his phone. "Yes, Lord and Master?"
"How did you know it was me? Never mind. Where's my art? Have you got all the pieces yet? I've only met one of the artists. That quilter lady with the big hair. Is she for real? The gum chewing alone would make me crazy. The show's on in less than a week, babe."
He waited for her to run down as he sorted through the mail. "It's always you. Your art is either here or en route. No, we don't have all the pieces yet, but you don't have to panic until Thursday. I don't know if she's for real, but maybe the gum chewing is because she quit smoking? And I'm well aware of my deadline--have I ever let you down?"
"Well, no. But there's always a first time."
"And you'll fire my ass and I like my job, so it's not going to happen." He chuckled. "Jenni, go back to schmoozing your guest list and let me do my job, okay?"
"Hey, it's my job to tell you what to do, not vice-versa."
"All right then, what do you want me to do?"
"Do your job so I can go back to schmoozing my guest list."
Laughing, shaking his head, he hung up the phone and made sure the coffee was on.
In short order, he had the gallery swept out, the inventory list in front of him and a cup of coffee in one hand. Despite Jenni's worries, they were actually pretty much on target. Only three artists' pieceswere still missing and he had shipping numbers for two of them and assurances from FedEx that they'd be arriving first thing tomorrow.
He spent a couple of hours on the phone, making sure the artists knew how to get to the gallery, confirming they'd be at the opening, reassuring several that of course they could come in on Friday morning and make sure they were happy with the placement of their art. Jeff shook his head--there were always one or two who changed things just for the sake of changing them, often to the detriment of the pieces. Jeff was good at his job. He might not be an artist himself, but he had an eye for display and it was very rare that a change in placement from the artist improved the display.
Then he settled in to the day's work: filing paperwork, checking over the invite list to make sure everyone who was supposed to be invited to the opening was. There were a million little details to be taken care of in the last week before a showing and he enjoyed the pickiness of it, he liked knowing that things were running as they should be. Jenni would reap the praise on opening night, but Jeff knew those compliments were offered thanks to his own hard work.
By the time the late afternoon sun was shining in on his desk in the little reception area, he'd crossed nearly everything off his to do list for the day, and a few items for tomorrow were done as well.
He was congratulating himself on a day well spent when the door opened behind him, a soft clearing of throat calling his attention. "Excuse me, sir. I'm looking for a Mr. Tamrin?"
He turned, coming face-to-face with someone that looked (and sounded) like he was out of an old west novel.
He smiled, delighted by this anomaly. "You've found him." He held out his hand. "Jeff Tamrin."
"Pleased." The shake was firm and sure, eyes so blue they had to be contacts smiling at him from a leathered face. "I'm Dakin McBride. I do the leather stuff? I have a truck full of stuff coming, so I reckoned I ought introduce myself."
"My missing art! Wonderful. It's very nice to meet you." And if he held onto Mr. McBride's hand just a little too long, well maybe the man would get the idea that it was very nice to meet him.
"Not missing at all. Just waiting for a place to land." Those blue eyes looked around the gallery, taking in the chaos, the lights. "Nice place."
"Don't judge her yet, she cleans up really nicely. Would you like the tour?" Or a drink? Lord, he needed to get out more.
The cell went off again and he sighed, flipping it open. "Not now, Jenni, I'm busy." Then he closed it and gave Dakin McBride his best smile.
Dakin chuckled, took off the cowboy hat and nodded. The dark hair was caught back in a tie, the mass of curls spread over the back of the black shirt. "I'd love a look-see, if you have time. My boxes should be in town first thing in the morning."
"Excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing your stuff. It's an exciting exhibition Jenni's putting together." He took Dakin's arm to lead him into the main show area. "Oh! Do you want some coffee, Dakin? May I call you Dakin?"
"I'd love some, thanks, and Dakin's just fine." He got another warm, slow smile. "I'm around for a couple weeks, sight-seeing, so you might see a little of me."
"Well that would be all right, I like the little I see so far." He detoured back to the counter with the pot and poured out a mug. "How do you take it?"
"Black, thanks." There was a little hemp necklace resting around Dakin's throat, a single hematite bead in the middle. Yum.
"So where are you staying?" he asked casually, handing the cup over and nodding back toward the main room.
"The ... uh..." Dakin fumbled in his shirt pocket, squinting a little at a business card. "Capital Hill Suites? Seems nice enough, but not too harsh on the pocketbook."
"They're over on Albert, aren't they? Being downtown is good--you can walk pretty much everywhere." He walked into the middle of the large room. "This is the biggest room we have. It takes up most of the main floor bar the reception area, a small office, and storage in the back. Upstairs is six smaller areas. You can see the large windows and skylights offer a lot of natural lighting. And we supplement with spots."
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