The cries of calling gulls joined the music in her mind as she sang about an eagle in the sky dancing solo. The distant cliffs fell off into the white foam edges of the English Channel. She became completely lost in her canvas, and she had calmed down by the time she was ready to sign it.
“Mind if I see what you’re working on?” asked a man’s voice. Caroline looked around in her surprise.
“Down here,” the voice guided her. She looked over the edge of the curly ironwork to see a young man looking up at her with amusement.
“Well—sure.” Caroline put down the brush she was using to sign her name, glad she’d finished the painting before showing it to anyone. She unfastened it from the easel and turned the artwork toward the young man on the street below.
“I’ve never thought of the cliffs that way—smashing! Is it for sale?” asked the man. Caroline managed to say that it was, and recovered her surprise enough to remember to smile at him and introduce herself by her first name.
“Caroline,” he repeated. “Is that how you signed the painting? I can’t read it from here.” The young man tossed his head to shake away the longer side of his straight dark hair. The other side was buzzed short over his ear, where a single silver earring flashed in the fading light.
“Well, almost. I add my middle initial and last name on all of my work.” She shrugged. “It’s a long story.”
The young man’s grin was instantaneous. “I’d like to hear that story. Can we talk over coffee or tea, and maybe some local dessert you haven’t tried yet? My grandmother and uncle run this inn, and you’re stayin’ in the room that once belonged to my parents. I arrived this afternoon to visit.” He gestured down the street toward a sign over a bicycle leaning on a stone wall. “There’s a little café we can go to. I’ll wait for you in the foyer.”
“Well—sure,” Caroline agreed haltingly. “Give me five minutes to clear my things away. And I’ll have to let someone know where I’ll be.”
“O’ course!” he replied, heading toward the jade front door. Caroline quickly pulled in the easel and table, then washed her brushes. She looked in the mirror and asked herself if she had gone crazy. Then she decided that if she had, she was going in style. She put on the coordinating necklace and bracelet that matched her new earrings, then picked up the painting and rushed downstairs for just what she needed tonight—an unexpected adventure.
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