After breakfast the next morning, Ward and Avery both came to Currie’s art class.
“Could I do something different today?” Avery asked. “Would you sit for me so that I can sketch you?”
“If someone needs help, I’ll have to go to them,” Currie protested.
“I understand, but I’d still like to try it.”
Currie couldn’t think of any reason to say no, so she got the others started on their projects and sat across from Avery. He quickly began to sketch.
“You remind me a lot of my ex-wife,” he said, drawing Currie’s heart-shaped face, her slightly slanted eyes, and high cheekbones. “Amanda had thick, brown hair too. She wasn’t as beautiful as you are, but she was attractive.”
“How long were you married?” Currie asked. Avery was so lonely, so needy, that he must not have wanted the divorce. Would he have stayed in a bad marriage just to HAVE a marriage?
“Twenty-two years, until both kids were in college and I lost my job.”
“Did money problems cause too much stress?”
“It was money, all right, but not stress. I got a good severance package, and I’d made good investments. But we didn’t have the money that Amanda was used to. And we didn’t have the status that she liked even more.”
“How long have you been divorced?
“Three years. I should be over it, right?”
“Some things hurt more than others and take longer to heal.”
“Yeah, like realizing that you didn’t have a clue.” He stopped abruptly, and Currie didn’t force the issue.
“Your kids?” she asked.
“They’ve graduated and have great careers. We keep in touch. We even take a vacation together every year.”
“Are they close to their mother?” If she could get to the heart of the problem, she could help him more, but she didn’t want to push it and close him off.
“They love their mother.”
He sidestepped the question, so she said, “Was the divorce amicable?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Bitterness tinged his voice. “I gave Amanda the house and the lake cottage. I wanted a clean break, then I wouldn’t have to have anything to do with her.”
“That doesn’t sound friendly to me.”
He pressed harder on his charcoal than he meant to and snapped it in half. A dark smudge needed to be shaded to blend the curve of her jaw line. “If I never see her again, it will be too soon.”
“Can she afford the house and lake cottage without your income?” Currie asked.
“Her sixty-five-year-old boyfriend can. He’s a mover and a shaker. Since he dumped his wife for Amanda, she’s invited to everything again, and he gets a woman twenty years younger than he is to wear on his sleeve. They deserve each other.”
“Sorry.” She didn’t know what else to say.
He sighed. “I miss having someone to do things with. I don’t need much, just someone to listen to music with, to read with in the evenings. And I want it to be real this time.”
“Did you and your wife talk very much?”
“We talked, but only about what we needed to do, what the kids were doing. We weren’t on the same page, and I didn’t know it.”
Currie frowned. “Have you gone to the sewing room to listen to Brie play the piano after supper?”
“Yes, she plays beautifully.”
“Some guests do needlework or knit while she plays. It relaxes them. It helps center them.”
“I could sketch while I listened.”
“Brie would like that.”
“Brie’s a remarkable woman.”
“Yes, she is.”
He stopped sketching and stared at her. “Your coloring reminds me so much of my wife’s.”
“You loved her, didn’t you?”
“You’ll find someone,” Currie said. “And this time, choose someone who enjoys the same things you do.”
“Do you like concerts?”
She shook her head. “I like modern music better.”
“Some country, some pop rock, alternative rock. . .”
He raised his eyebrows. “I wouldn’t have guessed. You’d probably never be interested in me, would you? Not someone so beautiful.”
“You’re a guest here. The staff doesn’t believe in mixing with our clients. It would be unprofessional.”
His heavy shoulders sagged. “That’s the nicest rejection I’ve ever had.”
“It won’t work,” Currie said.
He nodded and picked up his sketch. “I think I’ll go to the library and do some research.”
Once he left, Currie looked up and saw Ward frowning at her. Surely, he sat too far away to hear what she and Avery were talking about. But then, he probably didn’t need to. Avery was fairly obvious. Before she could fret, Ward looked away and returned his attention to the fireplace mantel he was working on. Had he heard her tell Avery that staff and clients don’t mix? Would he ever bend forward on a moonlight stroll and kiss her? No, last night was a fluke. A lonely, odd moment for both of them. Each of them felt vulnerable now. That’s all. Better to keep busy and heal. Currie realized that this time, SHE was healing too.
She went to check on Trisha and Mandy and see how their still life sketches were coming. Diversion. She needed plenty of that, and she intended to keep so busy that no one or nothing could snag her attention for long.