Park Avenue Prince(3)

By: Louise Bay



“My life is very comfortable.” Was she serious? “This is Park Avenue, for Christ’s sake.”

“Okay, what about when you bring women back? You can’t fuck them on a mattress you threw on the floor,” she said as she hopped up onto the counter.

“I’ve never brought a woman back to my place. Why would that change now?”

“That’s because you’ve always lived in a hovel,” Angie said, staring up at the ceiling as if she were checking for cracks. “Now you don’t have to be ashamed of where you live.”

“Hey, I’ve never been ashamed of where I live. I’ve always paid my rent—that’s nothing to be ashamed of. And I don’t bring women back to my place because it means I can get up and leave any time I want. There’s no way that’s going to change.”

“Just think about it. Please,” she said.

I would, but only because I trusted Angie. Still, I wasn’t planning on changing my mind anytime soon. I didn’t need things to make my life better.

The more you had, the more you had to lose.





Chapter Two

Grace





Glancing around the gallery, I couldn’t help but grin. There was a lot of preparation still to be done before guests started arriving tonight, but things were shaping up and I was so proud and excited that my gallery was holding its first exhibition.

I whipped my head around at the tinkle of the bell that sounded every time anyone came into the gallery. My best friend walked through the door, ignoring the people buzzing about everywhere, and came straight over to me.

“You know you’re not the painter, right?” Harper asked, looking me up and down.

“I’m touching up the walls where they’re scuffed,” I said, holding a can of white paint and a paintbrush. “And I don’t want you resting on your laurels.” I nodded toward a broom in the corner. “We don’t have long. Get busy.”

I needed the first exhibition in my newly opened gallery to go well. I was prepared, but the adrenaline racing through my veins had me jumpy. I glanced around the large white space. The catering staff were in the process of setting up and two pictures still rested against the walls.

“I need to decide where to hang those,” I said, putting down the paint by the door and pointing at the two paintings. “But I can’t decide where they should go.” Yesterday, the order had seemed so obvious. Today I kept changing my mind—I wanted everything to be perfect.

“Does it matter?” Harper asked, her face totally blank. “We don’t want his shitty work to sell anyway, do we?”

I chuckled and a layer of stress lifted from my body. Harper was right, part of me wanted this exhibition to bomb. The artist I was featuring this evening had been my boyfriend up until about four weeks ago, when I’d returned to the gallery to find him fucking his assistant. In my office. He was no longer my boyfriend. Unfortunately, I was still going to have to spend the evening telling everyone how special his art was.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been disappointed by a boyfriend. I liked men with talent. Painters, musicians, writers. At school, I’d always done work for extra credit, and as an adult dating struggling artists was the same. Being a girlfriend came with additional responsibility—encourage and support your man until he makes it big. The upside was supposed to be I’d be there when he did. Except they never made it big. Until Steve. He was the first guy who, when I told him how talented and amazing he was, there was no voice at the back of my head saying, “Really? Is he good or do you just like banging him?” Steve was going to have a glittering career.

I hated that his exhibition at my gallery would be the start of it.

Unfortunately, opening Grace Astor Fine Art had taken more money than I’d expected and I couldn’t afford to take a craft knife to his canvases and kick his cheating ass out of my life.

The bell tinkled again and Harper’s sister-in-law, Scarlett, stepped into the gallery. “This is so exciting,” she said as she hugged me and then Harper. “Shame about the artist.”

“Hey,” I said. “You can’t say that. I need the place to be a sellout. I have this quarter’s rent to pay next week.”

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