He wound the woolen scarf tighter around his neck. The temperature must be messing with his mind. He had to be hallucinating. It was her. But it couldn’t be her, could it?
Blinking snowflakes from his dark lashes, he looked again. Yes, it was her. His Kalena. His love. The painting was beautifully exotic, capturing the essence of her serene nature. The wild green eyes followed his movements, beckoning him to her bosom and her bed.
“Oh, my Kalena,” he whispered to the wind. “Why did you flee?”
Breathing warmth onto his frigid fingers he longed to caress the dark paint that formed her flowing locks. He pressed his nose to the glass separating him from the mysterious woman.
“Exquisite,” a masculine voice announced. “Simply exquisite.”
“Each brush stroke is divine,” a woman agreed. “The man is a genius.”
He turned on his heel to find an older couple emerging from the art gallery. “Excuse me, might you know who painted this masterpiece?”
“My good man,” the elder gentleman scoffed, “do you not know the works of Master Kenley Allington?”
His companion covered her lips with a gloved hand and tittered.
“I’m afraid I do not,” he replied.
“He is inside.” The gentleman upturned his coat collar. “The exhibit closes promptly at six. If you wish to meet him and admire more works you must enter straight away. Cheerio.”
And then he and the woman were gone.
Opening the gallery door, Henrik Lymsey stepped into another world. Abstract paintings, still life sketches and gorgeous landscapes soothed his bloodshot eyes. “The man is a bloody genius.”
The splashes of reds, blues and greens were lovely but none as lovely as the sweet Kalena in the display window. He sought more of her. Perhaps she was here? Perhaps she was searching for him too? Perhaps her departure had been a mistake, a terrible, horrible mistake.
“Might I help you with something, sir?” A small man with a greying goatee asked.
“Actually, yes,” Henrik brightened. “I would like to speak to the painter if at all possible.”
“I am the artist.” The compact man extended his hand. “Kenley Allington. Speak to me.”
Henrik’s brow furrowed. How did this individual, so frail of stature know his Kalena? How could he have persuaded her to sit for him? What else had he persuaded her to do?
“Your painting in the window,” Henrik explained, “how do you know the girl?”
“Ahh, the appealing Kalena,” Kenley Allington stroked his whiskers. “She is my wife. She is not for sale.” He hesitated for a short moment and then giggled. “The painting, I mean.”
Wife? She had a husband? Sweet memories tarnished quickly.
“Here is the report of yesterday’s sales, Ken.” A beautiful woman, hips swaying, sauntered into the room.
“Here is the glamorous Kalena now.” The artist puffed out his chest.
Kalena nodded her head. “How do you do?”
Henrik’s mouth fell open. There was no recognition in her eyes, those wild, jungle eyes. Nothing. None at all.
“He is interested in your portrait in the window, darling,” Kenley Allington said. “I am sorry, your name, sir?”
“We are closing now,” Kalena smiled. “A good evening to you.”
Back on the sidewalk, Henrik stared at the painted green eyes until the gallery lights were extinguished. How could she not remember? How would he ever find another woman to love, to possess his every thought, hope and dream?
“I’m sorry to be an intrusion but could you be of assistance?” A young woman with sea blue eyes brought Henrik from his trance. “My vehicle has broken down along the corner.”
“Do you know anything about art?”
“No reason. No reason at all.” He smiled and followed the petite blonde down the walk.