Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 54

Margo

It turns out I’m terrible at being alone. I’ve never really been alone since I started college. I was always either with my friends or Carter. When I moved to LA, I was always with Winnie and Emma. If one wasn’t home, the other was. It wasn’t often that any of us were alone.

And then I moved out here with Beck. It seemed like we spent every second together. I loved it. It felt right.

Maybe that’s why I find myself walking down a busy New York street in the middle of the day on a Monday. Typically I’d be at work, but with Beck gone, there isn’t much for me to do. I’d gotten ready this morning as if I was going to go to work. Ezra had told me when I came downstairs that Beck had already given me the week off.

I didn’t need the week, but I couldn’t argue. I’d already lost the argument the day before when I’d attempted to hail a cab to meet Winnie and Emma for lunch and Ezra popped out all angry at me. I really did figure he’d be traveling with Beck, but he’d said Beck wouldn’t have it. After Ezra had dropped Beck off at the airport, he was told to report back to our building to see what I needed.

After Ezra told me I wasn’t going into the office today, I’d told him I wanted to explore the city. I had him drop me off somewhere random so he wouldn’t catch on to what I’d been planning.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for an hour when I come to a stop in front of a building I’d never had the nerve to step foot in.

Camden Hunter’s art gallery. I can’t help but stare in awe of the building. The iridescent glass catches the eye immediately. It’s like the building itself is a piece of art. My legs shake as I stare at the building, wondering if I’m really about to do this.

I’d thought of the idea last night in my time alone. Beck had told me he’d get an interview with his friend, and I know he’d stay true to his word. But I’m being stubborn. I don’t want his help. If Camden Hunter even looks at my drawings, I’ll feel like I’ve made it. My dreams would be made if they made it into his gallery, but I won’t hold my breath.

Either way, I want to do it on my terms. Not because Beck’s calling in a favor. As much as I’d like to believe Camden wouldn’t do his best friend a solid by putting my art in his gallery, I can’t guarantee anything.

So, I’m taking matters into my own hands. It’s why I’ve pulled on a large knit beanie, one that hides half my face and have wrapped a giant scarf around my neck. I’m hoping I’m not too recognizable. I hadn’t had the chance to meet Camden at our engagement party. He’d been running late, and by the time he showed up, I was too busy with the Carter drama. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he still recognized me. Right now, I hope to be unrecognizable.

A shoulder bumps into mine. I look over to apologize but lose all normal train of thought when I lock eyes with the man I came to see.

Camden Hunter is as beautiful as the art he displays. He looks like he’s walked right off the pages of a catalog. With two artist parents, it’s like they couldn’t produce anything that wasn’t anything less than a work of art—their son included.

“What are we looking at?” he asks, his voice harsh despite the words being cordial. The hard set of his jaw plays into the ruthless picture Beck had painted of his friend. Camden comes off as rough and isolated from the world. Like engaging in conversation is a chore. I guess that’s what I should expect from someone who enjoys spending time confined between masterpieces rather than in groups of people.

“The building,” I answer honestly. My heart picks up in my chest from nerves. I thought I had time to think about how I want to pitch my art to him, but now I have no time to think it over.

Camden quirks his head, hitching his messenger bag up onto his shoulder. “What about the building?”

I have to look away from him so I don’t pass out from my nerves. This is the Camden Hunter. Everybody in the art world knows his name, his parents’ names. He’s a celebrity in this world, and here he is casually standing next to me talking about his building.

“I was thinking that it looks like a piece of art itself.”

He’s silent next to me. So quiet that if I didn’t physically feel his presence next to me, I’d be worried that he ditched me.

“I love that part of it. That even though it houses art inside of it, that it wants to steal the show itself with the sleek architecture,” I continue.

“What do you notice about the architecture?”

“It’s a mix of different styles. It’s modern with the glass, but still very classic and traditional with the lines of the building.” I smile bashfully as he remains quiet next to me. “I’m probably not making any sense. I just meant I love the fact that it’s like you can’t put the building in one category. It stands out next to everything else here in Manhattan. I love it.”

When I get the nerve to look over at Camden, I find him watching me with a quirked eyebrow. “You’re the first person to ever really get my vision for it.” He turns to look at the building in front of him. The way he stares at it so proudly warms my heart. One day I hope to look at my own art in a gallery the same way he looks at the gallery that houses all the art.

“Well, the first person to get it without me having to explain it to them first,” he adds.

I turn to face him, taking a deep breath to calm my nerves. “I’m honored. But I think it’s cool that people could also get other vibes from it. That’s the whole idea of art, right? It’s subjective. Art is in the eye of the beholder and all…”

His eyes flick to the bag on my arm. Or more specifically, the rolls of my own artwork that peek out of it. “Let me guess, you’re an artist.”

I shrug. At least it seems like he hasn’t caught on that I’m the fiancée to his best friend. Or if he had caught on, he hasn’t let it slip. “It’s the beanie that gives it away, isn’t it?”

He lets out the smallest of laughs. It’s quiet but confident. “Definitely the beanie.”

“Does your art suck?”

I’m taken aback by the bluntness of his words. I fumble with my words for a moment before I get out something coherent. “I’d like to think it doesn’t.”

He narrows his eyes at me. “What is it about you?”

“I uh…”

He talks over me, clearly not actually wanting an answer to his question. “Never do I stop and talk to anyone. Small talk gives me hives. But something about the way you looked at the building had me stopping.”

His head tilts to the side as he looks over my shoulder to the transport tube I have with one of my pieces in it. “Do you have your work with you?”

“Yes,” I rush out, maybe a little too eagerly.

Camden takes a step toward the building. “I’ve got a private client meeting in an hour. You can show me your work. If it sucks, I’ll tell you, so if you aren’t up for criticism, turn around now.”

All I do is nod.

And just like that, I have my in. I almost blow it because it takes me a few long, drawn out seconds to come up with a response.

Is this really happening?

Finally, I nod my head enthusiastically, almost tripping over my feet in the process. “I’d love that,” I say hurriedly.

“Don’t ever tell anyone about this,” he barks, heading towards the building. “The last thing I want is for people to show up and bother me.”

He doesn’t give me a chance to respond. His long legs have him already a good amount ahead of me. I scurry after him, not wanting to miss my chance.

Camden Hunter is about to look at my work.

Holy. Shit. Balls.

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