She woke with her cheek pressed against concrete. Paint tubes littered the floor. Gwynneth pushed herself up, but the floor tilted and she slumped down again. Daytime was always more difficult. The filtered gray light burned her eyes, and the sounds from the other artists hurt her ears. Gwynneth dragged one of the canvases toward her. It had been painted on, but it didn’t matter. She would cover it with another layer. She picked up a paintbrush and waited for the darkness to assail her senses once again. Her world slowly collapsed in on itself, and her hand shook…waiting. The tip of her paintbrush touched the canvas, and black tendrils sprang up, capturing it.
“Gwynneth Reese, open the door.”
She was jerked from her trance and dropped the paintbrush. So close.
“I know you’re in there. Open the goddamn door!”
“Go away, Fenten.”
“Don’t you tell me to go away.”
The tendrils that had been lending her power sank back into the canvas. “Go away. I’m busy!”
“You got two choices, girlfriend. You can unlock the door, or I’ll break it down.”
She heard the anger in Fenten’s voice. It took a lot to make him angry, and she reluctantly got up. She braced herself against the wall and opened the door.
“You need to open the windows in here.” Fenten stalked past her to the window and ripped the newspaper from it.
Light flooded into the dark corners, and she squinted. “That hurts my head.”
“You hurt my head,” Fenten replied, hands on hips. “What the fuck, Gwennie? You haven’t showed up at work for over a week, and Seth is boo-hooing in his apartment right now because he thinks he took advantage of his best friend. One that he’s completely in love with, I might add. You didn’t tell me that, did you? It took me two bottles of wine to get Seth to spill that bit of information. And you’re locked in here doing God knows what! You’re messed up, Gwennie. You know that?” He looked down at her, blue eyes blazing.
She tried to make sense of what he had said.
“I’ve taken about all I can from you. I’ve got a good mind to take you across my knee.”
“Leave me alone.” Wandering over to her easel, she collapsed in front of it.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Gwynneth picked up her paintbrush. Her hand shook, and she tightened her hold. “Nothing’s going on.”
“Nothing’s going on. I need to get these done.”
Fenten squatted in front of her so they were eye-to-eye. “I’m going to only say this once. You can ignore or mouth off to me all you want to, Gwynneth Reese, because I’m your friend and I don’t give a shit. But Seth is another story altogether, and if you keep up with this, I’m going to disown you.”
She took in the fact that he was flushed red with anger…and returned her attention to the canvas.
Fenten grabbed her chin. “There’s only one time in our lives that our soulmate comes along, and if we don’t grab the opportunity and treat them like gold, they will slip away forever.”
Soulmate. A wave of emotion bubbled up from inside her, sucking the air from her lungs. What’s happening? Heat surged throughout her body, and she cried out. Bright, flashing lights filled her vision.
“Shit,” Fenten murmured.
She felt Fenten’s hands on the back of her head as he eased her to the floor. She heard him talking, and she shut her eyes tightly. The heat ripped through her again. Bright, flashing lights flickered under her eyelids. She fought against something that threatened to pull her away. Suddenly, it all came in a rush, the feelings she had been fighting the past few weeks. Pain ripped throughout her core. She bit her tongue, tasting blood in her mouth. Seth. A light went on in her soul and scattered the darkness that had been in there moments before. It was a moment of clarity, and she seized it.