This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Is he aware? Does he know about my obsession? These cravings within me are out of my reach, nothing seems to suppress them. Wanting something so badly and so often, that there's never complete satisfaction. Like an out of control addiction.
That's it! "I'm addicted." I whisper as if shocked. Considering my behavior has been out of character every time my mind wanders about him, I should't be shocked. Aware, maybe. Aware that I have a problem. I don't like this feeling of something dark that I have to hide from society. Why haven't I noticed this before? Wait. Is it wrong? Why would I automatically assume it to be corrupt? Sure, there are addictions that need to be treated, not all of them are bad . . . right? I let out a big sigh of frustration, "I really need to get a grip." I say sternly to myself.
As I pull in the driveway, I double check myself in the mirror to be sure my hair isn't a wreck from the drive to work this morning. I fix the tousled curls of my long dark brown hair, making sure the caramel brown and blonde highlights are lying just right. Presentation is important in my career. I pull out my nude lip-gloss to add a touch of shine to my lips.
My friends and family have always complimented my features. That I have pretty, full lips, and big emerald colored eyes that could melt the heart of anyone. I've even heard the term "bedroom eyes". I see myself as natural, wearing just enough makeup to showcase my best qualities. I keep my nails manicured, and wear a small amount of jewelry that I cherish. My favorite part of me is that I have my dad's dimples.
Growing up, my father owned a classic nineteen sixty-six Ford Mustang Convertible, Tahoe Turquoise and Pearl in color. So many memories were made in that car. He traveled a lot with his job, mom and I would ride along and turn the commute into family road trips. We've seen many places that most aren't fortunate enough to see. Dad made a good living. He did estimates for architecture work all over the nation, they paid him well to do the dirty work the company didn't want to do themselves. I still remember seeing his short, jet black hair blowing around in the wind. My dad was Italian, through and through. My mother, half Caucasian and half African American. Yes, I'm quite the mix, but I love every morsel of my background.
Though I had everything that I could have ever needed as a child, I was never spoiled. I was taught how to earn money and appreciate everything in life, even the little things. After dad's passing from cancer when I was twenty five, mom had the car restored and gave it to me as a gift. I miss him often. Dad was my mentor, everything he taught me I've carried with me and is what made me the successful woman I am today.
I own an art gallery, which features my personal collection of paintings that I have gained establishment from. I also alternate new pieces from close friends, whom are also well-known artists, into the gallery every few months to keep things fresh. I spend more time in my studio, office, and gallery, all in one huge fancy white building, than I do at home. I practically live at work. My house is of modern build and decor; two story, five bedrooms, four bathrooms, open kitchen, two full living rooms, den, rec room, fully furnished basement, four car garage, pool, deck. It's a shame that I can hardly enjoy it.
I'm a workaholic; anyone who knows me will tell it to be true. Being taught to earn what I want in life stuck with me, to say the least. With my mother moving to Paris after dad's passing, I haven't had anyone to make me slow down or break from my work. Mom was always the one trying to get dad to rest, she was the same with me when she was around. Now she tells me on the phone and over Skype, but it doesn't have the same effect. I'm just glad she is happy living out her dreams of being in France. I'm perfectly content here in Dallas, utilizing my passion for art to make others happy while earning my way in life.
My best friend, Jenna, on the other hand believes in 'Work Hard, Play Hard', with emphasis on play. I tease her with nicknames, 'Playmate' is my favorite. She is a replica of what I envision of the playmates, living in those oversized mansions getting money handed to them on a silver platter just for being flawlessly beautiful. Plus, she likes to play around. It's fitting. Regardless, her looks are what she uses to get what she wants, she even admits it.
"You're running late this morning, Ronni." Jenna points out the obvious with a smirk on her face, showing she is proud to beat the boss to work, one day out of . . . ever. Jenna is known for never being on time, for anything. Hey, her look takes time, I understand. I may look that gorgeous if I was able to invest as much effort, energy, and my every waking moment to perfecting it, too. However, my time devoted to my career is more valuable than my looks. On the other hand; it explains why I'm lonely every night while Jen can have any man she desires, at the wink of her eye, to jump in bed with her. Ronni is her nickname for me, she says it's too much work to say my full name, Veronica. Hah! It's too much work for Jenna to spell work.
"Good morning to you too, Playmate." I chuckle as I close the front door of the gallery behind me. "I see you have a head start on filing those . . . nails?" I roll my eyes playfully. Jenna and I have always been straight-forward and open with one another. We joke around a lot, she tends to be an easy target. We've been best friends since high school, we have the sort of relationship that's tight but can be slightly distant at times. I'm always working, she's always begging me to go out. I couldn't imagine not having her though, she's there for me in ways none of my other friends are. We talk about everything, usually at work, but she's the one I can confide in and vice versa. I think if we could ask one another of anything, she'd want me to party more and I'd want her to work harder. It's a simple personality difference and we don't let it in between our friendship.
"Jen, you're supposed to be filing the new clients' requests so I can catch up by this afternoon, not filing your nails. Do I need to make you another manicure appointment so you can have that done out of the office? I really need you focused while you're here, I've got a big month coming up." I tell her this with sincerity, but still playing it off as though I'm nudging a joke her way. It's not as fun as it sounds to have friends working for you. It can be at times; but when you really need the work done, you risk hurting feelings by being stern, and it becomes difficult.
She pushes her short blonde hair back from her face. "Ronni, are you okay?" Oh no, I think to myself. She can sense the fact that I'm not too satisfied with her work, or lack thereof. I hate feeling like I'm being too demanding, but I am the boss and I need things done in a timely matter. Is that too much to ask? "I mean, you're never late. Is everything alright?" She asks and I quickly realize she's genuinely concerned for me, which makes me feel awful.
I shrug my shoulders, "I'm good. Just had a rough time getting to sleep last night and I ended up sleeping past my alarm this morning. I've had a lot on my mind lately with all the client meetings and the triple R's hitting all at once, it's that time of year again." She squints a bit, like it pinched her to hear it.
The triple R's are a dreaded time for me. Reveals, Reviews, Releases. All of my biggest clients that have yearly projects done for their major events, come together to see the reveal of the finished products and review them, to judge if they'll use them or not. This entails the release of a piece of my art to the public through the form of their high-end businesses and companies. Unless they decide against it, that's where the anxiety of it all kicks in. I can't afford to lose any of these clients, they are a big deal to the keeping of my gallery in good standing – as far as reputation goes. I prefer to keep them returning year after year. It's top-of-the-line marketing for my sake if they are pleased and use what I create for them. They are quite specific of what they want. My nerves kick in hardcore just thinking about it.
"Ronni, you'll do awesome, you always do!" Jenna smiles, comforting me, "I know you'll nail it, don't worry so much. Is there anything I can do to ease your stress?"
"It's okay Jen, you know how I get overwhelmed. Sorry if I took it out on you when I came in this morning. I think I need to grab a glass of wine, turn my music up in the studio, and just do what I do best – paint." I sigh, letting out built up anxiousness.
"I know, sweetie, I don't blame you for being tense about everything, I would be too. But you definitely need to let out that tension before it takes over you. Go get some masterpieces started, I'll hold it down out here." She insists.
Jenna running the front desk, helping those that come in to browse, taking calls, setting up meetings, and making appointments has been a huge help. How dare I think of her as if she doesn't do enough. She's here to handle the extra things that would drive me insane if I had to take care of them on top of everything I already do. I'm too hard on her, and myself. Damn I need to relax.
Without hesitation, I gather my duffle bag full of supplies and head down the hall. "Thanks babe, you're the best. If anyone calls, just take a message, I'll get to them when I'm done playing in my paint!" I shout as I near the back of the gallery, where my art studio is located.
This is where I can let go and be myself. I have complete control and unrestricted freedom within these four walls, it's my escape. I pull out the paints from my bag and begin lining them up on the tall black stand next to the easel that holds a canvas, waiting to feel the strokes of my paint brushes. The piece I need to start working on is for a client that wants a portrait of his family to display in the foyer of his office. Mind you, his office foyer looks like gold vomited over every item in the room. He displays fancy pieces that he's collected over the years, all done in gold. It's a bit overdone, in my opinion, but some rich people have nothing better to do with their money I suppose. He wants a painting that represents his family; to scale of him and his wife and children, sitting properly in perfection. It'll be framed in gold. Go figure. I do what my clients request though, no matter their reason for wanting what they want.
Jenna knows that when I'm in my studio no interruptions are allowed. I lose focus rather easily and sometimes it's hard for me to get back into my flow if I'm disrupted. It's best that I just work my way through a project until it's completed. I hate to start something and not finish it. Luck be it, in the middle of getting set up to begin Mr. Ross' project, there's a knock at my door. A knock loud enough to splice through my bass-boosted speaker system. I like my music loud in the studio – surrounding me, enveloping me in melodies, beats, and lyrics. 'You Earned It' by The Weeknd is playing when the knock cuts through again. Flustered, I throw my smock to the floor. Right when I was getting set up and in the mode to begin, really? Muttering profane insults to the unknown person behind the knock, I fling open the door and shout, "Seriously?!"
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