Read an Excerpt
Chloe stood next to her latest work of art, smiling. She agreed, but thought it would be rude to tell her customer that. “I’m glad you like it, Ms. Keller. This is the final piece in the Knight Wolves collection.”
The painting was of one single wolf howling at the moon. His fur was silver in the moonlight as he stood on the edge of a cliff overlooking water below. The water glistened below with tiny ripples painted in intricate detail. It was one of Chloe’s favourites, a piece she was most proud of.
“Oh, I do hate to hear that. I love the Knight Wolves collection.” Ms. Keller tapped her husband’s shoulder to gain his attention. “Dear, I do want this painting. I want all of the paintings in Ms. Knight’s collection.”
Without another word said, her husband pulled out his cheque book. “How much?”
Chloe barely contained the bubble of thrill escalating through her body. She told him the price for all five original paintings, and he wrote her a cheque. This hefty little sum would definitely help in updating her studio that was for sure.
The art gala ended around ten with most of her fifty pieces sold to very generous customers. Chloe couldn’t believe it. What started out as a dream now became a career—her career—and it was all because she loved to doodle on canvas.
“Wow, Ms. Knight, you made a fortune this time. Isn’t this your first art show?” Dana Mercer, the owner of Broadway Gallery, asked.
Chloe took the art pieces that hadn’t sold off the wall and organised them into specific wet canvas boxes. “No. This is my second show. The first one was at the gallery on Fifth Street. They weren’t exactly interested in my wolves, choosing to accept painted blocks of different colours as art instead.”
None of it really mattered to her though. Chloe wasn’t in this for the money, even after several of her friends told her she should be.
“That’s too bad. I would love to have you come back here. Or perhaps keep some of your art on display at all times? We need talent like yours in our gallery.” Dana smiled.
Chloe looked at the pieces before her. Would it really hurt to leave them here? They would get more exposure, and people seemed to love her work. Slowly, but surely, she was making a name for herself. Maybe Dana Mercer and the Broadway Art Gallery was what she needed.
“Sure. I have probably ten pieces here that I can leave. I’ll be in the studio all this week so I can bring you new material by Saturday if you like.”
Dana beamed. “That would be fabulous. I’ll have my husband draw up the contract.”
After she signed the contract, Chloe walked out of the art gallery with a smile on her face. The Mercers were nice people, she concluded. They truly cared about their clientele, and their customers wanted Chloe’s art. Dana offered her a generous percentage of the sales, more than any of the other art galleries she’d contacted dared to consider. It was a nice business deal, one that was sure to take Chloe Knight: unknown painter from home, and make her, Chloe Knight: professional artist. She loved it.
The night air chilled her skin. The mid-May heat felt nice during the day, but the nights still held the spring coolness. She’d parked her car a block down the street, since the gallery’s space was limited.
She stopped next to the car and pulled out her keys. A pain shot through her skull, nearly blinding her with the force of it. She cried out and leaned against the car, reminding herself to breathe. She’d had bursts of pain often recently, though they never happened in the same general area of her body. The first had been in her leg about a week ago, making it impossible to walk. Her bones felt brittle, as if the slightest movement would break them. She grabbed the side of the car and inserted her key with a shaky hand.
This is what you get for eating sugary cupcakes and tea cookies instead of a real meal full of protein.
She climbed in the driver’s seat and gripped the steering wheel. Though the sharp pain eased, her head still throbbed beyond belief. Please. Just let me make it home. She stared into the darkness and blinked a couple times until her vision became clear again.
Chloe waited a few more minutes until she was satisfied she’d make it home okay before she cranked the engine of her car. A long, hot bath and a nice cosy bed called her name. She pulled out into traffic and the streetlights nearly blinded her. She stopped at a red light and grabbed her sunglasses, instantly relieving the sensitivity of her eyes. Weird.
When Chloe pulled in her driveway and parked the car, the night was anything but silent. She sat quietly listening to the leaves rustling in the wind. A wolf howled at a distance. A cat scrambled in the woods behind lining her property. That’s odd. She furrowed her brows in distaste. She hated cats.
She grabbed her purse and climbed from the car. Her legs wobbled when she tried to stand. Just make it inside. She took a step, then another. If she passed out now or fell, no one would be around to help her.
When she reached the steps to the front porch, she gripped the railing as her legs wobbled again. What’s wrong with me? Her stomach growled from lack of food, and a big fat cheeseburger sounded great.
She unlocked the door, flipped on the light, and the world spun again—only this time, there was nothing to catch her. Chloe fell to the ground as darkness surrounded her.