A week before
This is the last box of wine in here, I made sure to order four boxes and somehow, we’re out of wine. We are in the middle of the opening, we can’t run out of wine. The pamphlets said it was an Art & Wine night, we have the art and very little wine. Now. I walk out of the back store, the gallery is full of people, hopefully some of them are investors. I eye Paulina, she’s talking to a tall men and looking at a painting. She makes eye contact with me and gives me a grin, that’s a good sign.
I disappear for five minutes and arrive with a boy from the market from the next street carrying two boxes of the best wine I found in there. When I’m placing the bottles on the table, and placing more crackers as well, I feel a hand on my shoulder.
“All good, love?” I hear, close to my ear.
“You came.” I turn around, a smile instantly appears on my face.
He hugs me, that kind of hugs that you don’t want to let go of.
“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it.” He says to me, separating our bodies. “You look stressed. Do you need help?”
“No, I have it covered now.” I look at him, I’m still getting used to his short hair so I move my hand to touch it. “It suits you.”
“Thank you.” He says, leaning and placing a kiss on my cheek. “You look beautiful.”
I can’t help but blush, feeling his hand on my waist securing me in front of him. Then, I hear a glass crashing on the floor somewhere. I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
“We’ll talk later, okay?” I take his hand and move it away from my waist. He nods his head let’s me go.
While I look for the broom, I take a second to think about everything that happened this week.
Jack is here in Barcelona, he came for me. I was confused at first, I didn’t know what to do. That night when he was right in front of my door, I was so shocked I didn’t manage to do anything. He disappeared for two weeks and out of nowhere he was in front of me.
I told him to come inside. I don’t even remember saying anything, he just talked and explained everything he did in those two weeks after I left Edinburgh. Jack told me that he needed time to settle some things first after making the big decision of going after me, of leaving England. He left his band and he needed to focus on closing that chapter first after beginning another. Then, he told me how he found me. Somehow, he found Michael on Facebook and with that he found his number so he called him, that’s how he knew where I lived. I still can’t believe Michael didn’t say anything to me.
But, even when I was waiting for his call, even when I missed him, I just couldn’t give in easily. I told him that I needed time to think, he left that night to his hotel a few streets from my apartment and I guess that’s how it all began.
I finally leave the back store with thoughts still in my mind and go clean the mess in front of the all-blue painting. While I clean, I glance at Jack, who is talking to someone in his fluent Spanish voice, he has an accent but he can speak it perfectly. I go back on cleaning, having a little smile to myself.
This week, we only met up twice, I have been really busy with the gallery. The first was on Monday night. We had dinner, it was only to catch up. That dinner was mostly to catch up. That night he told me that he also needed somewhere to go to just disconnect from everything and he thought that Barcelona was a nice place to start, that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next but that he is not rushed to find it. I told him about me, about my week with Michael, about my first week here and that I got a job at the gallery, that I was thinking of maybe teaching on my free time or to start surfing again. It was a nice dinner, like two old friends.
The second time, was on Thursday night. We went for a drink. This time was a little different. I was stressed and I needed to not think for a while, planning an opening by myself was not easy. I was having a good time with him, he always finds a way to make me laugh. We were on the third bar of the bar hopping we randomly did, I had a beer in my hand and I remember he stopped drinking after his third drink, when suddenly we heard a girl shout his name across the bar. He told me it was the first time he got recognized since he arrived to Barcelona.
We left and somehow, we ended up in hist hotel room while I drank from the bottles of his mini bar. I kissed him that night but he stopped me, I was far too drunk. I woke up the next morning on his bed while he slept on the couch. That somehow reassured me that I could trust him again, so since that morning - when I saw him wrapped in a blanket on the couch - I started to like the idea of him being around.
After cleaning the mess of wine, I went and talk to Pauline. Apparently, there are three investors in here that are interested in the work and she told me that ‘my boyfriend’ was talking to one of them. The word made me laugh and I corrected her, but I focus on the investors instead.
“Do you want me to go talk to him and see what he said?” I ask her but I’m already eyeing Jack from here.
“Please. And if he has to, make him talk to him again, and tell him to make sure he’s interested.” She says, suddenly smiling to someone next to me and she goes to greet them.
I walk to Jack, he is staring at a painting, this one arrived this week and I haven’t got time to appreciate it yet. He has a glass of wine in his hand but I notice it’s untouched.
“Can I take this from you?” I say, stealing the glass from his hand and taking a sip. He chuckles.
“I don’t know why I knew that was going to happen.” He smiles glancing at me for a brief second. “I like this one, it’s not the same artist as the others.”
“You’re right.” I say, finally moving my eyes to the painting. This artist mixes the painting with a collage creating a very interesting piece. “I like the fact that you can barely notice he’s using newspaper.”
“How much is it?” He asks me, moving his hand to my waist again. I can’t lie, I kind of like his touch.
“This is the most expensive one. Five hundred euros, the artist said it took him three years to complete it.” I tell him, moving my eyes to the bottom of the painting and coming closer to read the tiny letters in there.
He stays quiet for a minute, letting me appreciate the piece. You can clearly perceive that he is trying to criticize how the media controls the information shown to the world, but it’s very subtle. The use of red gives it a very strong and bold look, but the whites and blacks somehow give it that sense of conceptual art.
“I want it.” He suddenly says. That makes me turn to look at him.
“What?” I gasp.
“I do. I was talking to that old guy that wanted it as well. Not a chance.” He says in a laugh, then he turns to look at me. “How can I pay?”
I stare at him in confusion, narrowing an eyebrow at him. My mouth is a big O.
“You do know that I invited you here to support me, right? Not to buy a five thousand euros painting.” I chuckle, this is somehow funny to me. “Oh my god. He’s an investor, Jack. You scared him away. Paulina is going to kill me.”
“I think she’s going to be very happy if she sees a tag with the word ‘sold’ next to that piece.” He moves me closer to him. “Where do you have them? Can I put the tag myself?”
“No way, I’m not letting you buy this.” I laugh, biting on my bottom lip.
“You’re very stubborn, Frances.” He whispers moving his face closer to mine. “And stop biting your lip in front of me. You little tease.”
I smirk at him, wanting so bad to just kiss him right here in front of everyone, but instead, I turn around and go look for the tags. I grab one that says reserved. When I go back to him I give him the privilege to put it himself.
“Reserved. Really?” He chuckles, shaking his head but he still takes it. “I’ll take it.”
“We don’t have your money yet.” I joke, looking at his hands placing the tag next to the title of the painting.
“Fair enough.” He says to me, a smile plastered on his face.
“I didn’t know you were an art collector.” Paulina comes to us, she stands next to me. “I had the chance to meet Franco, your opponent. He wasn’t happy to have lost the piece to you.”
“I’m very persistent.” Jack says moving his shoulders up.
“He is.” I confirm to her.
“Well, can you come with me, to finish the deal?” Paulina says, then she turns to me. “You have to bring him around more often, I already like him.”
Last night was a total success. We ended the night with four reserved pieces and one sold. Yes, that was Jack’s. Everyone left by ten but I had to stay to clean everything, gladly Jack stayed with me the whole time to help me; we ended up leaving by midnight. I was tired but in need of a drink, so I told him to come to my place for one.
After the two bottles of wine that I stole from the gallery, he ended up staying the night. This time, sleeping right next to me since I don’t have a couch.
So, when I woke up minutes ago and felt a pair of arms around me, I didn’t move away. Just because I don’t want to wake him up.
His face is right in front of mine, he looks so peaceful while sleeping. I can’t help but move my hand and move the tiny piece of hair falling in his forehead.
I never thought I would be here with him, in my apartment, sharing a bed.
After a minute of caressing his hair, I feel his muscles move, telling me he is waking up.
“Hi, babe.” He says with a raspy morning voice, he opens one eye and closes it again. “Good morning.”
“Hi, you.” I smile, never stopping my hand going through his hair. “How did you sleep?”
“The best I’ve had in years.” He says, looking at me with those lovely green eyes.
“Good to hear that.” I say, without noticing I bite my bottom lip right after. I see his smirk form in front of me.
“Oh, no, don’t do that.” He bites his own lip as well.
The next thing I know is him moving one hand to the small of my back and the other to hold my face, pushing me closer to him. He manages to bring his body on top of me, it makes me laugh and he does as well.
“Are you trying to tease me, Frances?” He looks deeply at me, he has a beautiful smirk on his face.
“I wasn’t but...” I move my hand to his face, moving my thumb over his bottom lip. “Now I am.”
“You’re killing me.” With that, he moves closer and connects our lips together.
It was brief, just a peck. I feel the smile in our kiss, the butterflies in my stomach taking me somewhere else. When he moves away, I want to move him to me again, but he moves and sits on the bed.
“Are you hungry?” He turns to look at me. “Because I make the best scrambled eggs of the world.”
“Huh, do you?” I sit up as well, still feeling the trace of his lips on mine. “Sounds delicious.”
“Then, let’s make some eggs.” He winks at me and stands up, taking the five steps that separate my bed to my tiny kitchen.
While he cooks, I take my clothes with me to take a shower. I was still wearing the same dress as last night and I smell like wine. When I walk out of the shower, he has two plates on the table with scrambled eggs and toasts. He has a cup of tea in his hand while he looks outside of the window.
I actually feel so lucky to have him here.
“It smells so good.” I say to catch his attention. He turns around with a smile and comes towards me, he looks a different kind of happy.
“You may think I’m insane but I just got the craziest idea.” He stands in front of me, something hiding behind his smile. “Let’s go on a little holiday.”
“What?” I look at him confused. “Like, on vacations?”
“Yes! I know it sounds crazy because, I mean, you just moved here.” He tries to explain but I’m still very confused. “But I was looking at the sun right now and it reminded me of a trip I did two years ago with some friends on a yacht. The inspiration I felt being in the middle of the sea was... Something I can’t explain.”
“You want to go on a holiday? On a boat? Really.” My eyebrows go up, this is crazy. He is crazy.
“Yes! We can go to a few islands and just spend some time togetger, the two of us alone.” He comes closer to me. “I think we need a little getaway.”
I shake my head, this is crazy. I walk to the table and sit down.
“You do realize that I just got here, right? Literally two weeks ago. To settle down, to start the a new chapter of my life here.” I say while he sits in front of me. “I just started at the gallery.”
“And I support you but...” He sighs, giving me a smile. “Don’t you like the idea? We need to figure out what this is. I’m sure Paulina will understand.”
“I just started working for her. And I’m asking for time off already?” I chuckle. “I love traveling, I do. Did you forget that I spent eight months of my life traveling? Now it’s time to settle here.”
“And you will, it’s just two weeks off.” He holds my hand over the table. His eyes are clear and convincing.
“Two weeks!?” I gasp, he is definitely crazy. “Jack, no. I can’t disappear for two weeks.”
“Babe, look at me.” He pleads and I do. “I know you want to start here, because you feel like you belong here. I support you, I really do. I love this city. But, right now, after being close to you these past few days, it makes me confused. I want to know what this is.”
“Jack...” I move my mouth to a side. I do remember him telling me he always wanted to go sailing but... Right now?
“I know right now you are thinking about your life, I’m just asking for you to think of us, just for a second.” He says and it makes me think, because the thought never crossed my mind.
“The past few days have been amazing but I feel like we’re both on our own ways.” He knows me, even in this short time of knowing each other, he knows me. “We need some time alone, again, to figure this out. I care about you, that’s why I’m here but I don’t want to ruin it this time.”
I stay silent for a minute, he is right. The thought of being with him in a relationship has not crossed my mind right now. The whole week I have been busy on the opening, on getting everything perfect. And I’m sure next week I’m going to be focused on the new collection of the new artist. Or later I will not have time because I want to teach art. I’m not putting him in my life.
And I want to.
“I care about you, too.” I say, looking directly at his green clear eyes. “And you’re right. I haven’t put you in my plans because I never expected that you were going to come after me. And... Now that you did...”
“Let’s figure this together, okay? Let’s go slow. I would love nothing more.” He smiles at me, I can’t help but smile in response. “It’s just two weeks, the two of us alone to not have any distractions. What do you say?”
I sigh, closing my eyes for a brief second. He really is persistent but I hate to accept that he is often right. I give in, nodding my head.
“I need to talk to Paulina first.” I say to him, he is standing up already, moving closer to me. “Okay?”
“Let me make you a cup of tea to celebrate.” He places a kiss on my cheek. “I’m sure she’s going to say yes, I have my ways.”