Read an Excerpt
Sophie Hawkins typed furiously on her keyboard. She had to have the presentation sent before her boss arrived at his office in ten minutes. Once again, she waited too long to finish her work. She didn't know what was wrong lately. She felt scattered. Frazzled. Unhappy. Sophie pushed the thoughts away and kept typing. She was doing what she always wanted. She had a great job in interior design. What else was there?
The thought stopped her cold. Her fingers paused above the keyboard. What did she want? Good question. She resumed typing. And one she would answer when she had time. But not right now.
Sophie ran the spell check and waited. She made the corrections and sent the document. There. All done. Her heart still raced. At least the adrenaline was a perk. Recently, there were days she had to force herself out of bed. But today was her day off, by God, and she would make the most of it.
She yawned and blinked slowly. The Gallery. Of course. They recently received a new collection of artwork and opened a new wing. It would be magnificent.
Sophie dressed hurriedly and yanked a brush through her hair. She twisted it tightly into a knot and grabbed her purse. A day to herself. Lovely.
James, the security guard, nodded to Sophie and grinned. "Thought you might be in pretty soon. Haven't seen the new wing, have you?"
"Nope." She grinned back. "But I'm on my way. Is it busy today?"
"You're in luck." He gestured. "Not many people like to be out on days like these."
Sophie looked at the overcast sky and felt the drizzle on her face. She beamed at James. "Today's perfect."
He held the door openfor her, and she thanked him. The Grant Gallery was her favorite haunt. She had been coming here since she was a child. Her daddy, God bless him, brought her almost every Saturday and let her experience art up close. He influenced her in so many ways.
She looked around wistfully, letting her eyes take in the familiar marble floor and track lights. Beauty framed for the spectator. Moments frozen in time to savor. Sophie walked over to the elevator and pushed the up arrow.
The new wing was on the third floor. She knew the Gallery like the back of her hand, and she couldn't wait to take in another beautiful sight.
The elevator doors opened, and she stepped out. She bypassed the paintings she studied so many times before. A large, ivory sign pointed to a room several feet in front of her. Sophie grinned and followed the path to the new wing.
When she reached the doorway, she stopped. Her breath hitched in her throat. My God. It was glorious. She walked into the center of the vaulted room and looked up. The ceiling was made of glass. Even through the clouds, it seemed as if there were light in the room.
She stood there, reveling in the beauty. When she heard someone clear their throat, she glanced around. An old man with a cane shuffled closer to her. She smiled and walked forward to meet him.
"Young lady. I see my wing has impressed you."
Sophie's eyes widened. "This is yours, sir?"
"Yes." He extended his hand. "Charles Marshall, at your service."
She felt her hand enclosed in his, and he gave hers a little squeeze.
"I hope I'm not interrupting, Miss."
"Sophie. Sophie Hawkins." She let her gaze dance around the room again. "It's my first time here. And it's breathtaking."
The old man looked pleased. Sophie smiled at him, and it turned into a yawn.
"Pardon me." She smiled, putting her hand over her mouth. "I'm a little tired. I've come to enjoy my day off."
"Please do, Miss Hawkins. I must be running anyway." He touched her arm and guided her to the large portrait on the far wall. "But I would like your opinion of something."
Sophie nodded and then looked up. Her jaw dropped, and she turned to the older man. "Who is he?" she whispered.
The portrait was magnificent. A long white beach stretched as far as the eye could see. A cottage surrounded by flowers trailed up the side of the hill. A beautiful golden sun shone down on the sand. And a stunning man looked down at her.
His grin was cocky and knowing. His dark brown eyes pierced hers. With his hands on his hips, he looked as if he owned the world. The shirt and shorts he wore were tan. The shirt stretched across his shoulders, and the sleeves had been ripped off. The shorts were cutoffs and showed muscular thighs and strong calves.
The old man studied her. "Pretty, isn't he?"
"Yes," she said honestly. "But a little too arrogant."
The old man threw back his head and laughed. The laugh echoed in the room, and Sophie found herself joining him. He wiped his eyes and nodded.