This is an excerpt from a short story published on The Page Girls: The Secrets We Keep.
The first time she saw him, he was covered in paint, standing in the center of his large studio beneath an oddly shaped skylight. Jane had already knocked on the door four times before realizing it was already open.
“Hello?!” she called, waiting for some form of acknowledgement. He just stood there with his back to her in front of a large, painted canvas. The expanse of his large back was menacing, as was his stillness.
“Did…did you order bearclaws…sir?”
He turned to her then, regarding her with a scowl. His face was beautiful—his features sharp and angular, his eyes honey brown, and the shadow of a beard surfacing over his chin.
“Who are you?” he asked darkly.
“I work at Le Chat Noir Bakery…I have an order of bearclaws…”
“Where is Francis?”
“He….he broke his leg.”
When he didn’t move or speak, Jane continued…
“He’s on crutches…so, he can’t come here…for a while.”
“I don’t like strangers in my house. Francis knows that. He should have told me.”
“What is your name?”
“How old are you?” he asked, cocking his head sideways.
“Old enough to deliver bear claws.”
His eyes narrowed then. He turned to the canvas then and grabbed it roughly with his hand. Jane found the painting beautiful: a woman looking out from the window of a train. He tossed it carelessly into a pile of other canvases…all painted. He walked towards her, his gait quick and purposeful. Jane backed away until he reached out for the box and flipped the lid open. He studied the bear claws, inspecting their size, their delicate curves, and the pattern of almond slices on top.
“Did you make these?”
Jane shook her head.
“They are all different sizes. Unacceptable. When you come back tomorrow, make sure they are symmetrical in every aspect. Take these back.”
He turned back to his easel dismissively as Jane spun around to leave.
“What is the weather like outside?” he asked her just as she reached the door.
“High 50’s with a 3% chance of rain.”
When he didn’t turn around, Jane turned the knob and exited, shutting the door softly so as not to disturb him.