Matthews has a simple dream—travel the country on the art fair circuit selling
her hand-crafted jewelry. When her disapproving father refuses to release her
trust fund money to support her ambitions, she takes a part-time job in a campus
gallery. While counting the days until she can be free of its stuffy confines,
an unexpected temptation comes in the form of a sensitive painter.
Hayden Shaw, having his paintings displayed in the finest galleries is the true
measure of an artist’s success. When the pursuit of his goal puts him in
contact with the free-spirited Chelsea, his world is turned upside down.
two seemingly opposite artists find middle ground and discover the art of love,
or will a gallery curator with an agenda of her own undermine both their
Shaw stopped and took a deep breath. Whittier Gallery. The name was etched on
the door, and underneath that, in smaller letters, Marissa Kincaid, Curator. Was she the woman who would change his life?
open and walked inside, a portfolio of his work tucked under his arm. He had a
pitch prepared as to why this particular gallery should feature his art. That
same pitch hadn’t gone over well at the last gallery he visited, but he was
phone and she gestured in his direction that she was almost finished. Not
wanting to eavesdrop, Hayden nodded and wandered in the direction of one of the
displays. It featured oil painted scenes of the Boston Harbor, and he couldn’t
deny the skill of the artist. Did Hayden’s own work belong here? Was he good
he chastised himself. Hayden remembered the pep talk his roommate had given him
before he left. He had to be bold and confident.
she stepped out from behind the desk. “I hope so. Are you Ms. Kincaid?” As he
studied her face, though, Hayden doubted it. The woman facing him didn’t appear
much older than his own twenty years. He doubted she was old enough to be in
charge of a prestigious art gallery.
strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “No. I’m Chelsea Matthews. I just
nice to meet you.”
said. “I understand you display student work, and I have a portfolio with some
pictures of my paintings—”
again. “I’m painter and I’m interested in having my paintings displayed here. I
do photorealism, so they’re paintings based on photographs. I didn’t want to
lug the originals all the way across campus, so I brought pictures of them.”
what you’re saying.” Chelsea’s face carried an amused expression, and Hayden
wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she making fun of him, or rather his style? Not
everyone understood or appreciated photorealism. Maybe this gallery wasn’t the
right place after all. Or was she simply trying to joke around? He didn’t
always get people with quirky senses of humor.
portfolio on the desk. “Would you like to see them?”
me whether the gallery will showcase your work,” Chelsea said. “Can you leave
this so I can show Marissa?”
she said. “Can I ask you something, though?”
felt this gallery was a good fit, but truthfully it wasn’t much different than
the one he gave at the previous gallery. Besides, he didn’t think that was what
she wanted to hear. “I’m not sure what you mean?”
special about galleries?”
and she wanted him to tell her what was special about them? “I want people to
see my work.”
the classroom buildings, stairwells, wherever. People do.”
anywhere on the MassArt campus without seeing student artwork on display. While
it made for an interesting environment, seeing paintings in stairwells,
sculptures on the grass and metal works hanging from a tree, Hayden didn’t
quite understand why it was such a popular thing to do. “I want people to be
able to appreciate my work.”
Huntington Avenue can’t appreciate it?”
how to respond. “It’s not the same.”
by buying it.” Her lips curled up in a smile. “Am I right, Hayden Shaw?”
she made him sound. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and
averted his gaze to the floor.
laughed. “Making money is a noble goal. I certainly want to make money from my
with curiosity. “What kind? Are you a student here?”
reached up and touched the necklace she wore, holding it out for him to see. “I
looked to be made out of Scrabble tiles, spelling out the letters F-R-E-E. Art
was definitely in the eye of the beholder, but he found the necklace oddly
appealing, much like the woman who wore it. “It’s very unique,” he said. “Are
you? Free, that is?”
eyes, he decided. Not unlike the rest of her. “It depends on the context in
which you’re asking.”
said, then wished he could take the words back. The conversation had veered
dangerously close to flirting, which probably wasn’t wise given that he hoped
to have a business relationship with this gallery. “Is your work on display
here?” His eyes scanned the gallery showroom for any cases that might house
my thing, and my work’s not Marissa’s thing.” She shrugged. “I’m hoping to go
on the art fair circuit this summer, after graduation.”
Moines. Kansas City.”
gallery in Boston in favor of the capital of Iowa or a city most famous for barbecue?
“Are you from the Midwest?” Hayden asked.
the best art fairs in the country,” Chelsea said. “Surely you’ve heard of
them.” She said it as if she expected everyone had.
you, but no. Art fairs aren’t really my thing.” He didn’t get the appeal of
traveling to cities in the middle of nowhere, peddling art on the street. “No
offense, but have you considered aiming a little higher?” Okay, so the Scrabble
necklace was kind of strange. Some people liked strange.
eyes faded, and Hayden knew at once that his words had offended her. “No
offense, but have you?” She retorted before turning away from him. “I’ll show
Marissa your pictures when she gets back.”
Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature
flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break
the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. In her free time,
Michele enjoys football, hockey and reading a good book written by someone