He watched as her graceful movements took her around the room. She smiled and nodded, stopping to chat here and there as she passed out canapés. Her long silk dress clung to her hips and fell in soft folds at her feet. He felt his heart quicken. She was a work of art all of her own and knew that he had to add her to his collection, no matter what.
He’d been watching her on and off for several weeks now. She may seem out of reach, but he wasn’t going to let that put him off.
“Hello,” he said as she passed him by. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Lennart Hives.” He held a hand out to her and smiled.
She looked around her for somewhere to place her tray down and walked over to him. “Hello.” She grasped his hand and shook it. “I’m afraid I don’t know everyone that comes to these do’s at the gallery. I’m Arabella Restharrow, but everyone calls me Bella.”
He noticed how her amber hair tumbled down her bare back in gentle waves. How her nipples were just discernible under the silk that caressed her shapely form.
“You work here?” He already knew the answer. He’d been vigilant in his study of her.
“Yes. I helped curate this show. You’re interested in art then?”
“I’m a collector of sorts and I’m always interested in adding to my collection. Perhaps you’d like to show me a few of your favourites in the show.”
“Of course. I’d be delighted.”
“Lead the way.”
He stood close to her as she explained in great detail what moved her about certain pictures. He joined in with his own impressions of the works she showed him. He’d done his homework and could speak with some authority on the tone and the composition of each piece.
“It’s such a pleasure,” she turned to face him, “to speak with someone who truly enjoys how the brushstrokes are applied and what the artist is trying to convey.”
“Don’t all you customers look further than the picture?”
“No. Not all. Most just treat them as acquisitions to be displayed, trophies, if you like of their wealth.”
“Ah,” he nodded his understanding and for a brief moment captured her eyes with his own.
“Would you like another drink?” she said.
He stepped aside to allow her to lead to way to the bar. As he followed on behind his eyes drifted over the outline of her pert derriere and he imagined himself running his hands over her smooth skin. She turned and handed him a glass of champagne and gestured over to the soft armchairs that were scattered in pairs around the gallery.
They sipped their drinks and chatted amiably together. All the while he felt he was getting a few steps closer to his goal. He knew she was from a rich family, but he thought he’d done a good job of disguising where he hailed from.
“Can I get you another drink before I carry on with my duties here? I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting them a little too long.” She smiled and stood up.
“No, thank you. But can I ask you a question?” He stood and straightened his tie.
“Have you eaten yet? That is besides nibbling those canapés, delicious as they are.”
A frown appeared across her brow. “Actually, no. Why do you ask?”
“I wondered if you would let me take you to supper when this showing is over.”
She pressed her lips together and for a moment she was silent as she considered whether she should or not. I hardly know this man, she thought. Should I trust him? There’s something about him I can’t quite put my finger on.
“That’s very kind of you, but really it’s been a busy night and all I’ll want to do is go home and kick off my shoes.”
“That’s a shame.” He kept a smile fixed upon his lips but inside he was angry. She was supposed to say yes. Now I’ll have to rethink. “Maybe a rain check in a day or two?”
“I won’t have any days free for a while, but thank you anyway. Enjoy the artwork.” She turned walked towards a group of people and joined in the conversation with them.
Damn her, he thought, clenching his teeth together. As he walked towards the door he took one last long glance at her. “Maybe not to night,” he murmured to himself as he opened the door and stepped into the cool night air. But soon my collection will be complete.