Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Romance, mystery, and an impossible relationship.
Meet David: Sculptor. Wealthy. Introvert. Suffering from the loss of his wife. The last thing he needs is to discover that his newly purchased mansion is haunted.
Meet Sarrinah: Born 1882, died 1903. She was smart, well read, fun. Too bad she can’t rest in peace.
Sarrinah and David are both flawed, but just so lovely – if only they can get over the tragedies of their past that are weighing them down… and the fact that one of them is a ghost.
“Have you lost your mind?”
David chuckled in response as he pushed crumpled packing paper into the top of the box in front of him, then laughed aloud when he raised his head and saw Simon’s expression and posture: mouth gaping, chin thrust forward, slumped shoulders, and hands – palm-up, held out as if supplicating.
Simon held the posture through David’s laughter, then continued, “No? What is it then? You have three months to live and have decided to live them in peace? Or you’re not the real David Cartell, but an alien posing as David? What?”
David stretched tape across the top of the box he’d finished packing, pulled an empty box forward and gestured toward Simon. “Can you hand me those books?”READ MORE
Simon’s expression changed to one of exasperation. He straightened to the regal posture he normally maintained, slid a book off the table, and swept it behind his back. “I will not. Not until you explain yourself.”
David pulled his glasses off, cleaned the lenses on the front of his T-shirt, replaced them, and held a hand out for the book. “I meant exactly what I said. I quit.” The thrill of excitement flashed through him again, as it had when he first said the words aloud in the solitude of his Manhattan loft apartment months ago, as it had just minutes ago when he repeated them to Simon – the only other person he’d told of his decision.
Simon exhaled deeply, returned the book to the stack he’d taken it from and slid one hand into his front pants pocket. “That’s not an explanation. If I promise not to yell again, would you do a favor for your agent – and long-time friend, or so I’d like to think – and explain yourself?”
A brief wash of guilt dimmed David’s enjoyment of the moment. He had never applied the word “friend” to Simon in his mind, not explicitly. Never my friend, Simon. Always, my agent, Simon. But in truth, Simon had been his agent from the beginning, swearing, even through the thin times when there were barely any sales, that David had that “something” which would elevate him to fame and fortune. It had been Simon’s enthusiasm for David’s sculpture that had led to those first sales – assisted, no doubt, by the man’s model-perfect good looks and easy charm. But now, through the lens of Simon’s casual comment, David realized that Simon was indeed a friend. Probably his only friend. No, they had never met for purely social reasons, but David would find his company enjoyable. He vowed to make the effort in the future.
And to give Simon the explanation he deserved now.
David dropped his outstretched arm, and said, “How about a glass of wine?”
Simon recognized the capitulation. “Hell yes. Yes, please.”
Bringing two glasses and a bottle of his favorite Cab Sauv, David settled expansively on one side of a low table that connected the two wings of an enormous U-shaped couch. Simon settled on the other side, immediately sipping from the glass of ruby liquid David offered. Then leaning toward David, Simon said, “Tell me this isn’t about Kacey.”
“It’s not about Kacey.” It was the truth. Mostly. His wife, Kacey, had been the catalyst, without question. After much searching, he had found her – or the detective had – living in LA. With another man. From the pictures the detective had forwarded along with other details of her life, she seemed happy.
It was then that David had realized he was too late. He had labored like a man possessed for five years, driven to become worthy of her. But she had moved on. Not that he could blame her. Five years! The hope he had held out because she had never filed for divorce flickered and died an inglorious death. And so he had decided to quit.
As he mused, David’s eyes were directed toward the floor-to-ceiling windows of the penthouse loft, but he saw nothing of the view. He only broke from his thoughts of Kacey when Simon cleared his throat.
“I’ve made enough money,” David continued. Another man might have snorted but Simon only sniffed indignantly. “I’ve been doing it by the numbers for the last two years, without really feeling the joy of it… and I’ve made enough money. I’m quitting.”
“But–” Simon began.
David held up a hand to silence him. “I’ve bought a house in the country–”
“What?” Simon jerked forward in his seat and put his wine down with such force that David expected the thin stem of the glass to snap. Defying expectations, the glass remained whole.
David continued, “In New Jersey–”
“New Jersey, for Pete’s sake?”
David laughed and took a sip of his own wine before speaking again. “Simon, you asked me to explain and now you’re not letting me get a word in.”
Simon sighed. “You’re right.” He sat back, lifted his glass and finished his wine in a single draft. “House. New Jersey. Go on.”
David spoke as he refilled Simon’s glass. “It’s a big old house built in the late 1800’s, honestly not what I thought I’d end up with, but walking through, I just had a feeling about it. It’s been partially remodeled along the way, once quite recently – modern kitchen and all that. It’s even partially furnished from when they used to give tours. In fact…” David rose and left the room, coming back with a file folder. He pulled a picture from the file and held it out to Simon before continuing. “It’s fantastic. Built on the top of a high hill, secluded, lots of acreage.”
Simon took the large photo from David. Before looking at it, he smiled indulgently and said, “David, I’m glad you’re excited about the house, but what I want to know is why.” Then he lowered his gaze and said, “Whoa. That’s not a house, it’s a hotel! Not at all what I would have expected you to choose. Ever.” He looked more closely at the photo, then glanced up at David. “Must have cost you tens of millions.”
“Only five, actually. For the price, I expected rotting floor boards and all that, but it’s in good shape over all. I’ve sent in a cleaning crew and there’s a troop of gardeners still working on the gardens and reflecting pool. I have a couple of ideas for changes to the house, but I want to get a feel for it first. There’s a top floor atrium that…” David trailed off as Simon rolled his eyes and handed the picture back. “Yeah, okay, I’m excited about the house.”
“I’m sure it’s great, David. You’re moving to this ancient thing in the boonies, and–”
David spoke through a chuckle. “It’s only an hour and a half from here. And I’m keeping this loft.”
“Okay, I like the sound of that. So, you meant, ‘I’ll be commuting.’ You did not in fact mean… that obscene four-letter word that I cannot bring myself to say.”
“Yes, that one.”
David sighed. “I’m quitting, Simon. Really. I’ve achieved more than I hoped, and I’m not having fun anymore. The creation isn’t the magic it once was. If anybody was paying attention, they’d realize that my older stuff was the good stuff. Instead of creating, I’m just constructing. All so that somebody can say they have a David Cartell.” He delivered the last words with a phony accent meant to sound snooty.
“David, you’ve singlehandedly redefined modern art metal sculpture. You’ve…” Simon stood, strode to the large framed photos of various of David’s sculptures, and pointed to one after another. A five-story intertwined tower twisting up the inside of an immense hotel inner atrium. A mirrored half-dome centered amidst a downtown metropolis, reflecting curved images of the skyscrapers surrounding it. A thirty-foot kinetic sculpture rising from the middle of a round pool in some faraway park. “Are you really telling me you don’t love creating these amazing things?”
“Those? Yes. They’re some of my favorites. As you know, not one of them was made in the last two years.”
Simon dropped his pointing arm to his side, lowered his gaze and brushed an invisible piece of dust from the lapel of his sport coat. He returned to his seat, his steps slowed with resignation. He put his head in his hands, then raised his gaze to David. “So, you’re saying the juice has run out.”
“Maybe. Or, I’ll take some time for myself, and then start something new.” When Simon straightened up and opened his mouth, David spoke over whatever he meant to say. “No, Simon. I’m not just taking a break. I’m done with metal sculpture. Forever. I might – might – try something new. Later. A year from now. Or a decade from now. Or never.”
Right now, I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Oh, Kacey.
Simon sighed, then pressed a sad smile to his lips. “You know I consider you one of humankind’s greatest living artists. Rather than being heartbroken, is it all right if I remain hopeful? If I cling to ‘maybe,’ and ‘later,’ and ‘something new?’”
“Definitely. If any of that comes about, I’ll want an agent who is hopeful.” David stood and pressed his hand to Simon’s shoulder before stepping away.
“An agent?” Simon said as he sprang to his feet. “I’d better be the only agent who gets a call!”
David laughed at Simon’s mock outrage. “Who else could I possibly mean besides humankind’s greatest living agent?” He threw an arm around Simon’s shoulder and said, “I need a break from packing. How about dinner?”COLLAPSE