“I want to go back to the studio,” Declan murmured as he pushed his food around his plate.
“The one that burnt down?” I asked. “Why?”
“I think it would be interesting to paint it, if it had never happened I would have never met you,” he replies looking up at me and giving me a weak smile.
He continued to push the food around his plate.
It had been two months since he kissed me and told me I wasn’t a rat and well he enjoyed my company I think he missed having his own studio.
“You’re not going to eat that, are you?” I ask.
I wasn’t mad at him for not eating, when Declan wanted to paint, nothing stopped him and I think his brain forgot hunger was a part of life. But his paintings were beautiful. Occasionally, when Declan was too busy painting at home people would come into the garden shop and ask how he was doing.
After the portrait, he did of me in front of my stained-glass windows sold people became much more interested in my little plant store and our relationship, which had not been made public. I was pretty sure Madison was the only person who actually knew because she frequented our home so much to pick up Declan’s work.
My popularity had brought new prying eyes to Declan’s work, a lot of people wanted a copy of my portrait but one thing I learned about Declan was, he only painted things once unless it was for me. There was one single copy of the portrait in our living room that I had to sit and pose for another six hours for him to paint.
Madison was even surprised to see the duplicate of it. I think Declan’s work was more valuable that way, having only one copy of everything.
Many little sketches of me were littered around the penthouse. Ideas he had in the moment but didn’t have time to put into paint, yet.
“Huh?” Declan said looking up from his plate.
I just took the plate from him and put it in the fridge for later.
“Let’s go,” I reply.
We rode the elevator down to the underground where Declan’s car was parked with all his supplies in hand. We put them in the back and Declan got in the driver’s seat. I rolled the window down and let the wind blow my curly hair every which way. He drove us through the city to a dead-end street where there was a half burnt-out building.
The second floor was practically gone and the roof of the first floor had caved in and everything was concrete and charcoal.
Declan stared at it briefly and looked sad for a moment before digging his supplies out and setting up on the edge of the road in front of the studio. I kind of wanted to venture into the burnt-out building but Declan would probably tell me it was too dangerous and he was probably right.
I walked up to the building to study the interior from a short but safe distance. This place used to be Declan’s life and it was gone, it felt like I was missing part of the story. Like someone had taken a book and burned a hole through its center.
Declan started to work on the first floor. Which was mainly brick and still standing. The flooring inside must have mainly been wood though as well as the walls because most of it was gone.
“Declan, do you miss it? This place?” I question.
He looks up from his palette and over at me.
“Who wouldn’t miss their old home?” he asks smiling weakly again.
I stepped closer to a window to look inside when I spotted a rolled up scroll just inside. I reached in and quickly pulled it out afraid I would cause damage and the rest of the building would become more of a pile of rubble then it already was.
I uncapped the scroll and looked inside. Some rolled-up paintings were inside.
I noticed words on the scroll’s exterior. Nightmares.
It was definitely Declan’s handwriting.
I turned back in his direction.
“Declan,” I called slightly intrigued by the scroll.
He looked up and froze at the sight of the scroll.
He got up almost knocking his stole over in the process. He walked towards me and gently removed the scroll from my hands and looked inside at the undamaged paintings.
He seemed unsure what to do with the scroll.
He had salvaged some paintings from the building before coming to live with me but these seemed to strike something in him. Fear or disgust maybe?
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Put them back,” he replies capping the scroll and handing it back to me.
I thought he would be happy to salvage more from the fire but he didn’t seem to want to be anywhere near the scroll.
“Why?” I ask.
“No one should see those. And they will never be sold,” he replies waking back to his easel.
I stared down at the scroll scared and mystified.
“Can I look?” I ask still holding the scroll.
He looks up at me scared and unsure. He bites his lip.
“I warned you,” he mumbled.
I uncap the scroll again and pull out the first painting.