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Stay with Me

Stay with Me

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Stay with Me

197 pages
2 heures
Aug 27, 2020


Chelsea Matthews is a budding jewelry artist with a simple dream—to travel the country on the art fair circuit selling her hand-crafted works. When her disapproving father refuses to release her trust fund money to support her ambitions, she takes a part-time job in a campus gallery. While counting the days until she can be free of its stuffy confines, an unexpected temptation comes in the form of a sensitive painter.


For Hayden Shaw, having his paintings displayed in the finest galleries is the true measure of an artist's success. When the pursuit of his goal puts him in contact with the free-spirited Chelsea, his world is turned upside down.


Will family interference and a gallery curator with an agenda of her own undermine both their futures and their chance at happiness, or will Hayden and Chelsea find a way to have bother their conflicting dreams and each other?


(previously published as The Art of Love. Contains new edits and updates)

Aug 27, 2020

À propos de l'auteur

Michele Shriver grew up in Texas and now lives in the Midwest, where she has a general law practice. In her free time, she enjoys bicycling, Zumba fitness and watching sports on TV. She is working on her second novel, a spin-off of After Ten.

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Aperçu du livre

Stay with Me - Michele Shriver


"Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing."—-  Marc Chagall

Chapter 1

Chelsea Matthews counted the minutes until her boss was due to leave. Working at the gallery was at least almost tolerable with Marissa gone. Almost.

Do you think you can handle things without me for a little while? Marissa asked with thinly veiled disdain. Or am I going to come back to find a complete disaster?

‘Do you think you can handle things?’ Chelsea mimicked to herself. No, I’m going to slash all the paintings while you’re gone. Good grief, the woman talked to her as if she were three, not twenty-two and about to graduate from college.

There were few things Chelsea hated more than being condescended to. She got enough of that from her father. She didn’t need it at work, too. She needed the job, though, so she forced a smile to her face. I’ll take good care of things, Chelsea promised Marissa. You can trust me.

The older woman clicked her tongue. We’ll see about that, won’t we? Marissa slung a Prada handbag over her shoulder and was gone without another word.

Thank you, Chelsea muttered as she watched the curator sashay off. Free at last. She glanced at the clock above the door. Okay, still another hour before she was officially free. Now, what could she do to pass the time? It wasn’t as if an art gallery on the campus of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design brought a lot of street traffic.

Chelsea pulled her phone out of her bag. Maybe she could ruin her Father’s Day by calling him. More likely, he’d ruin hers, but she dialed the number anyway.

And waited.

Ten minutes later, Brandt Matthews finally deigned to answer the call that Chelsea knew his assistant put through to him right away. Yes? His tone was typically abrupt.

It’s Chelsea, she said.

I know that, her father said. What do you want?

What did she want? The list was long, but with one thing clearly at the top of it. Since Chelsea doubted she’d ever get that from her father—was he even capable of loving anyone but himself? —she’d settled for the one thing he could easily give her. The money she needed to pursue her dreams.

Chelsea tightened her grip on the phone and with her other hand touched her necklace, fingering the lettered tiles that adorned it. It was once of her favorite pieces, and she had others like it that she knew could be popular with customers. That is if she ever got her work in front of customers. Unfortunately, she’d encountered one stumbling block after another in making that dream happen. Okay, make that one big stumbling block. The same thing I wanted the last time I called.

An audible sigh came over the line. No, Brandt said. We’ve been over this before. I’m sorry, but the terms of your grandmother’s trust fund are clear. I can’t release the money to you until your twenty-fifth birthday.

Twenty-five. It was three years away and seemed to Chelsea like an eternity. That’s not entirely true, Chelsea informed her father. She hated when he patronized her, as if she weren’t keenly aware of the provisions of her grandmother’s estate plan. It wasn’t as if this were the first time they’d had this conversation. No, it was becoming a regular thing, and always with the same result. You’re authorized to release the money in order to finance a worthy business venture.

Right, Brandt said. The key word being worthy. Traveling across the country peddling jewelry made from board game pieces to the yoga and granola crowd, like your mother and her friends, doesn’t qualify.

Chelsea bit down on her lower lip. It never failed. Her father couldn’t just say no and leave it at that. Instead, he had to mock her dreams and reduce her work to something frivolous and find a way to put down her mother in the process. It’s not all made of game pieces. That’s just my most recent line. Already, she regretted telling him about it. Yes, she thought it was trendy and cool, but hardly the type of thing that would impress a man like Brandt Matthews. Then again, what did? I have other collections, which you would realize if you ever took any interest in my art.

If you say so, her father answered, his tone bored. It still doesn’t qualify as an exception to the trust.

So you keep saying. And naturally, he considered his word to be the final authority. The whole argument got so frustrating that Chelsea considered hiring an attorney to try to force the issue. Except that would mean spending money she didn’t have, and she didn’t doubt Daddy dearest would fight her every step of the way. Was it worth the gamble that the case would land in front of a judge who appreciated art and had a fondness for eclectic jewelry? I think Grandma would disagree. She always encouraged my creativity.

As a hobby, not as a career, and she’s no longer with us, Brandt reminded Chelsea needlessly. Her will appointed me as trustee.

And you’re acting like it appointed you God. If you’d just take a look at my work, I think you’d change your mind. It was a futile argument. Even if he did look at it, Chelsea knew there was no way her father would ever appreciate the merits of her art.

The door to the gallery chimed and a young man walked in. Chelsea held up a hand, gesturing that she wouldn’t be much longer. Mom loves my work, she said into the phone, as if that might somehow convince her father of her talents. She encourages my dreams.

Brandt’s response was a laugh, followed by a sarcastic, Which tells me everything I need to know.

HAYDEN SHAW STOPPED and took a deep breath. Whittier Gallery. The name was etched on the door, and underneath that, in smaller letters, Marissa Kincaid, Curator. Was she the woman who would change his life?

A chime sounded as Hayden pulled the door open and walked inside, a portfolio of his work tucked under his arm. He had a pitch prepared as to why this gallery should feature his art. That same pitch hadn’t gone over well at the last gallery he visited, but he was undeterred.

A woman sat behind the desk talking on the phone and she gestured in his direction that she was almost finished. Not wanting to eavesdrop, Hayden nodded and wandered in the direction of one of the displays. It featured oil painted scenes of the Boston Harbor, and he couldn’t deny the skill of the artist. Did Hayden’s own work belong here? Was he good enough?

No negative thoughts, Shaw, he chastised himself. Hayden remembered the pep talk his roommate had given him before he left. He had to be bold and confident.

Sorry to keep you waiting. Can I help you?

Hayden turned around to face the woman as she stepped out from behind the desk. I hope so. Are you Ms. Kincaid? As he studied her face, though, Hayden doubted it. The woman facing him didn’t appear much older than his own twenty years. He doubted she was old enough to oversee a prestigious art gallery.

She shook her head and tucked a wayward strand of light brown hair behind her ear. No. I’m Chelsea Matthews. I just work here.

Hayden Shaw. He extended his hand. It’s nice to meet you.

What can I do for you?

I’m a student here at MassArt, Hayden said. I understand you display student work, and I have a portfolio with some pictures of my paintings—

Pictures? Chelsea interrupted, or paintings?

Hadn’t he made that clear? Hayden tried again. I’m painter and I’m interested in having my paintings displayed here. I do photorealism, so they’re paintings based on photographs. I didn’t want to lug the originals all the way across campus, so I brought pictures of them.

So, pictures of paintings of pictures is what you’re saying. Chelsea’s face carried an amused expression, and Hayden wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she making fun of him, or rather his style? Not everyone understood or appreciated photorealism. Maybe this gallery wasn’t the right place after all. Or was she simply trying to joke around? He didn’t always get people with quirky senses of humor.

I guess you could say that. He set the portfolio on the desk. Would you like to see them?

I could look at them, but it’s not up to me whether the gallery will showcase your work, Chelsea said. Can you leave this so I can show Marissa?

Sure. I can do that.

Good. She should be back in a little later, she said. Can I ask you something, though?

Hayden nodded. Fire away.

Why here?

He had the speech prepared as to why he felt this gallery was a good fit, but truthfully it wasn’t much different than the one he gave at the previous gallery. Besides, he didn’t think that was what she wanted to hear. I’m not sure what you mean?

I mean what’s the appeal here? What’s so special about galleries?

Was she serious? She worked in a gallery, and she wanted him to tell her what was special about them? I want people to see my work.

Then why not display it around campus? In the classroom buildings, stairwells, wherever. People do.

He knew that. It was impossible to walk anywhere on the MassArt campus without seeing student artwork on display. While it made for an interesting environment, seeing paintings in stairwells, sculptures on the grass and metal works hanging from a tree, Hayden didn’t quite understand why it was such a popular thing to do. I want people to be able to appreciate my work.

Who’s to say that the folks walking down Huntington Avenue can’t appreciate it?

She had a point, and Hayden was left unsure how to respond. It’s not the same.

You mean you want someone to appreciate it by buying it. Her lips curled up in a smile. Am I right, Hayden Shaw?

She was, and Hayden hated how materialistic she made him sound. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and averted his gaze to the floor.

Oh please, don’t be embarrassed. Chelsea laughed. Making money is a noble goal. I certainly want to make money from my art.

You’re an artist too? Hayden regarded her with curiosity. What kind? Are you a student here?

Yes. Jewelry and metalsmithing major. She reached up and touched the necklace she wore, holding it out for him to see. I made this.

For the first time, Hayden examined it. It looked to be made out of Scrabble tiles, spelling out the letters F-R-E-E. Art was definitely in the eye of the beholder, but he found the necklace oddly appealing, much like the woman who wore it. It’s very unique, he said. Are you? Free, that is?

Mischief danced in her hazel eyes. Pretty eyes, he decided. Not unlike the rest of her. It depends on the context in which you’re asking.

A woman of mystery. I like that, Hayden said, then wished he could take the words back. The conversation had veered dangerously close to flirting, which probably wasn’t wise given that he hoped to have a business relationship with this gallery. Is your work on display here? His eyes scanned the gallery showroom for any cases that might house jewelry.

She shook her head. No. Galleries aren’t my thing, and my work’s not Marissa’s thing. She shrugged. I’m hoping to go on the art fair circuit this summer, after graduation.

Art fairs? Hayden frowned.

Yeah. You know, like Ann Arbor. Des Moines. Kansas City.

Why would anyone pass on a prestigious gallery in Boston in favor of the capital of Iowa or a city most famous for barbecue? Are you from the Midwest? Hayden asked.

No. New Hampshire.

Then I don’t see a connection, Hayden said.

The cities I just mentioned host some of the best art fairs in the country, Chelsea said. Surely you’ve heard of them. She said it as if she expected everyone had.

Hayden shook his head. Sorry to disappoint you, but no. Art fairs aren’t really my thing. He didn’t get the appeal of traveling to cities in the middle of nowhere, peddling art on the street. No offense, but have you considered aiming a little higher? Okay, so the Scrabble necklace was kind of strange. Some people liked strange.

The amusement that once reflected in her eyes faded, and Hayden knew at once that his words had offended her. No offense, but have you? She retorted before turning away from him. I’ll show Marissa your pictures when she gets back.

MARISSA LET OUT AN exasperated sigh and removed her reading glasses. You mean to tell me that the artist left without leaving his contact information, and you neglected to get it from him?

Yes. It sounded ridiculous to Chelsea, too, except for the fact that it was true. He left in a hurry. She didn’t add that he left because she’d gotten in a huff and rudely dismissed him. She knew she’d acted immaturely, but after the frustrating telephone conversation with her father, Chelsea couldn’t listen to anyone else dismiss her dream as unworthy.

I didn’t realize until he was gone that he didn’t leave a card. I’m sorry. She cringed inwardly as she said it. She spent way too much time apologizing to Marissa, even when she didn’t feel as if she’d done anything wrong, simply because she needed the job. Thanks for nothing, Dad.

I can’t exactly contact him to discuss his portfolio then, can I? Marissa rolled

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