Key of Light (Key 1) - Page 129

“Get back,” Flynn ordered.

“You’re all right?” Dana gripped her arm. “Are you hurt?”

“No. I was home, Dana. Puttering around the kitchen with the radio on. Wondering what to fix for dinner. My God, how long? How long were we separated? How long has she been up there alone?”

Chapter Twenty

SHE was afraid. It helped to admit it, accept it. To know that she was more afraid than she’d ever been in her life, and to realize she was determined not to give in.

The warmth was already being eaten away as the light took on that harsh blue hue. Fingers of mist crawled along the exposed beams on the ceiling, down the unfinished walls, along the dusty floor.

Through it, she could see the pale white vapor of her own breath.

Real, she reminded herself. That was real, a sign of life. Proof of her own humanity.

The attic was a long, wide room with two stingy windows at either end and the ceiling rising to a narrow pitch. But she recognized it. In her dream there had been skylights and generous windows. Her paintings had been stacked against walls done in soft cream. The floor had been clean of dust, and speckled with a cheerful rainbow of paint drops and splatters.

The air had carried a summer warmth and the scent of turpentine.

It was dank now, and cold. Rather than canvases, cardboard boxes were stacked against the walls. Old chairs and lamps and the debris of other lives were stored there. But she could see—oh, so clearly see—how it could have been.

As she imagined it, it began to form.

Warm, washed with light, alive with color. There, on her worktable with her brushes and palette knives, was the little white vase filled with the pink snapdragons she’d picked from her own garden that morning.

She remembered going out after Flynn had left for work, remembered picking those sweet and tender flowers to keep her company while she worked.

Worked in her studio, she thought dreamily, where the blank canvas waited. And she knew, oh, yes, she knew how to fill it.

She walked to the canvas waiting on an easel, picked up her palette, and began to mix her paints.

Sun streamed through her windows. Several were open for the practical purpose of cross-ventilation, and for the simple pleasure of feeling the breeze. Music pumped passionately out of the stereo. What she intended to paint today required passion.

She could already see it in her mind, feel the power of it gathering in her like a storm.

She raised her brush, swirled it in color for the first stroke.

Her heart lifted. The magnitude of the joy was almost unbearable. She might burst from it if she didn’t transfer it onto canvas.

The image was burned in her mind, like a scene etched on glass. With stroke after stroke, color blended on color, she began to bring it to life.

“You know this was always my deepest dream.” She spoke conversationally as she worked. “For as long as I can remember I wanted to paint. To have the talent, the vision, the skill to be an important artist.”

“Now you have it.”

She switched brushes, glancing at Kane before she faced the canvas again. “Yes, I do.”

“You were wise, making the right choice in the end. A shopkeeper?” He laughed, dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand. “Where is the power in that? Where is the glory in selling what others have created when you can create yourself? You can be and have whatever you choose here.”

“Yes, I understand. You’ve shown me the way.” She slid him a coy look. “What else can I have?”

“You want the man?” Kane shrugged elegantly. “He’s bound to you here, a slave to love.”

“And if I’d chosen otherwise?”

“Men are capricious creatures. How could you ever be sure of him? Now, you paint your world as you do that canvas. As you wish.”

“Fame? Fortune?”

Tags: Nora Roberts Key Fantasy
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