Life Imitates Art

Two days later, Sara and Twila stepped off the 747 and gazed around. New York City. Twila's aunt was waiting for them. She looked like an older version of Twila down to the flower print blouse. The two hugged and Thea surprised Sara by hugging her as well.

"Welcome to New York, ladies. I have rented you a small apartment that rents by the week. It is only 3 blocks down from the gallery. Let's get you settled, and then we will take a look at Sara's project."

With that she hustled the two young ladies out to a cab. Two hours later she was showing them the apartment. It was small with a kitchen, a full bathroom, a living room and two very small bedrooms. Sara noticed the two deadbolts, and 3 chain locks and the optional bars for the windows. The fridge was full and so were most of the cupboards.

"Here are your keys and the address of the place plus my phone number, cell and gallery. And this is the number here."

"Thank you very much for everything you've done, Thea," Sara said gratefully. "I'd better give my mother a call. She's kind of freaky about whenever I leave home." Sara gave a wry smile. "Do you know how long we're going to be here? She's going to want to know."

"Well, the show will last 2 weeks and starts next Monday. So I would say at least a month. It's $350 a week for the place. Let me look at your stuff while you call your mom."

While Sara talked with her mother, Thea poured over Sara's work. Two hours later they had come to an agreement, signed the papers and Thea had the photos tucked in her bag.

"The opening party is Monday night, 7:00 pm. Here are your invitations. You two have fun. Call if you need anything. Here are maps and some tourist guides."

"I still can't believe this is happening," Sara said as she locked the door. "I haven't even officially graduated yet and I'm already participating in a show." She shook her head in amazement. A look of panic suddenly crossed Sara's face. "What do you wear to an opening if you're an artist? I don't think I have anything appropriate!"

"Well, are you willing to put yourself in my hands?" Twila waggled her eyebrows.

"Oh, beast. How could you suggest such a thing?" Sara returned in her ingenue voice. "As long as you won't torture me with floral print blouses…" She smiled. "You're the expert among us in what to wear to these shin-digs. You'll have to advise me."

"Well, I'd better get my stuff unpacked. Is there anything you want to do tonight? Actually, I'm starved, and I have no desire to cook anything. How about we go out for dinner? What's a restaurant the tourist guides recommend?"

Laughing, the two young ladies hailed a cab and spent most of the night moving from night spot to night spot. The next two days were spent in a flurry of shopping and sight seeing.

Monday afternoon found the two in front of a full length mirror.

"Stop hitching the dress up, Sara! It is perfectly fine where it is. Tits of a bull, Sara, a man with a magnifying glass wouldn't be able to see anything. How you managed to talk me into this full length…" Twila shook her head as continued to do Sara's hair. "You have great legs, you should show them off more often."

Sara looked at her friend in the mirror and stuck her tongue out. "You know I don't even like dresses. Besides, this length is more elegant, don't you think?" Sara answered. Show off my legs. Yeah, right. Now that's an invitation for attention that I don't want. Sara looked at herself in the mirror again and felt pangs of trepidation. "Now, tell me again why the bodice needs to be so tight."

Twila rolled her eyes. "Relax. You look great. And it is not 'so tight.' It's just right. You sound just like my grandmother. No, I take that back. My grandmother would have you wearing nothing but a teddie."

She grinned at Sara's expression. "There. Perfect. Now let's get going. Maybe I can make a killing tonight."

The gallery was full of people moving from exhibit to exhibit. Each exhibit centered around the theme of "Life Imitates Art." A small group of people clustered around Sara's photographs, commenting on their artistic value.

Thea saw them and swept them up in a round of introduction. Sara was overwhelmed by the comments about her work and the number of people. Names slid by till she finally broke away to catch her breath.

"You must be Sara Mclintock," the voice was low, warm and held a very slight accent. "Your photos are very gripping. Is that all you have done?"

Sara looked up.

The man standing before her took her breath away. His wavy jet black hair was tied back with a black silk ribbon and the single emerald stud in his left ear gleamed. Sara'd swear the suit he was wearing was silk, and definitely custom made. And that face. Sara had to stop herself from wanting to reach up and caress his strong chiseled jaw, keep from losing herself in his black-brown eyes. What a photograph he'd make…

"No," Sara stammered. Get a grip, Sara. "Well, actually these photos are the first I've had shown. Most of my other work is studies and portraits for my courses. I've just graduated from University Of New London with a degree in journalism, with a specialty in photography. Obviously," Sara said with a small nervous smile. "I'm sorry. I just don't do crowds very well. This is just so… overwhelming. Do you attend this sort of thing often, mister…?"

"Blackburn, Joshua Blackburn," he smiled and held out his hand.

Sara took his hand, and electricity shot up her arm. His smile faltered a little and his eyes seemed to darken. God, he thought. What was that? Did she feel it too?

Slightly behind him, Twila suddenly appeared and slipped her arm through that of a young man who was approaching the two. Engaging him in conversation, she spun him around. Looking back she grinned at Sara.

Joshua raised an eyebrow and turned slightly. Seeing nothing that might have been responsible for the woman's wide eyed stare, he turned back and smiled again. When he had seen the picture and read the artist's name he hadn't expected the beauty that was standing in front of him.

"Would you like to join a group of us after the party? We are going to Fellows. It's just down the street."

"No," Sara blurted out. "I mean, I don't know. I'm here with some people, and I don't know what their plans are." Sara's stomach felt as if a million butterflies had taken up residence. Why the hell am I acting this way? Stop it! She nervously took her hand out of Joshua's, and tried very hard not to fidget.

"So," Sara said, trying to hide how uncomfortable she felt. "Are you one of the artists?"

"No, " he rubbed his hand against his pants in an unconscious motion, "I'm studying how to do this sort of thing. All art fascinates me. The artists, too."

He looked away quickly, glad that his heritage made it difficult to tell he was blushing. I'm nervous, the shocking realization flashed through him. I wonder what color her eyes are? He realized he was staring at her now, and cleared his throat.

"God, she's so beautiful…" It came out as a whisper, barely audible.

Sara choked back a cry of panic. "I… I think I see one of the people I came with wants to talk to me. If you'll excuse me, Mr. Blackburn?" Sara practically ran from where she was standing over to where she last saw Twila. Failing to find her quickly, Sara fled into the well-appointed ladies' room. She collapsed weakly into one of the chairs in the outer room and sat there silently, trying to calm her nerves — and her rapidly beating heart.

What the heck is going on, Sara Mclintock? Calm yourself down. He was just being nice. He didn't mean anything by what he said. Then why do I feel so scared?

Through the rest of the evening, Sara spotted him a few times each time she quickly lost herself in the crowd. She finally found Thea and excused herself. Back in the apartment, she paced.

There was a knock at the door and a quick glance showed her Twila. Quickly, Sara undid the locks and let her roommate in.

"Well!" Twila closed and the locked the door. She then plopped down on the sofa and leaned forward, her green eyes sparkling.

"Well what?" Sara continued to pace, then waked over to the coffee table and gathered up the twisted and torn sheets of paper. She was still nervous and upset from her encounter with Joshua Blackburn. "I'm surprised you're back so early. Wasn't there a party going on afterwards?"

"Arrrrh. Sometimes I could cheerfully strangle you. What, she says. You had the most dreamy guy staring at you all night, asking questions about you. And all you can say is what."

"Well, let me tell you a few things. His name is Joshua Blackburn. Here's his address and phone number in case you didn't manage to get it. He is the third child of four. Has only one sister, her name is Ophelia. His father is Spanish. He was born there, Josh that is. He's been 5 years in America. His favorite color is white. It's a good thing we chose that color for your dress. Umm. He likes baseball, and touch football hubba hubba. He wears boxers, and 9 times out of ten doesn't wear any underwear when he is wearing jogging pants."

"I don't care if he wears underwear or not." Sara whirled to face Twila. "What did you tell him about me? What was he asking?" She demanded. Twila had never seen Sara so freaked out about anyone before.

What is making me freak out like this? I haven't been this scared of a situation since the attack. He doesn't look anything like Aron. What the hell is going on with me?

"Whoa! Calm down, Sara. I didn't even talk to him." Twila frowned, puzzled. "What's the matter, love? I've never seen you this way before."

Suddenly anger flared in her eyes. "Did he say something? Do something? I'll rip him a new asshole!" Twila surged to her feet and picked up the paper with his address on it, then grabbed a coat and headed for the door.

"No, Twila, wait!" Sara started to chase after her roommate, and took the slip of paper from her. "It's okay. He didn't do anything, and he was extremely polite." Sara sighed and sits down in one of the wingback chairs. She leaned forward and rested her head in her hands, covering her face. "It's just that there were so many people there, and you know how I dislike being the centre of attention. He just caught me at a bad time, when I was trying to get away from the crush before I started to scream." Sara looked up at Twila with a tentative look on her face.

"He was kind of cute, wasn't he? I wish I had my camera with me. There were so many people there I'd loved to have photographed."

"Kinda cute? Sara, he is knock down gorgeous." Twila studied Sara for a few moments. "What do you say we go for a walk, maybe get something to eat. I am starving."

What has her jumping so much? Ah. She's attracted to him. Twila laughed and grabbed Sara by the arm, "Come on roomie. I think you need some fresh air."

Sara rolled her eyes. "There's no such thing as fresh air in New York, Twila." Sara gave a laugh, relieved the topic of conversation had changed. "Where do you want to go?" A thoughtful look crossed Sara's face. "Why don't we go to one of those really expensive five-star restaurants that the guide lists. I feel like celebrating my first show. My American Express is screaming to be used."