Beach Winds

Free Beach Winds by Grace Greene

Book: Beach Winds by Grace Greene Read Free Book Online
Authors: Grace Greene
it in the gallery.” She picked up the wrapped canvas. “This should do it. It’s not going far, right?”
    “ Right.”
    “ She hasn’t had a lot of time to paint, what with Danny, plus her husband’s been traveling a lot lately. Maybe this will encourage her to get back to her easel.”
    ****
    When Frannie returned to Captain’s Walk , she carried the groceries up the stairs, a bag in each arm, and over one forearm hung the handles of a fancier bag from a department store that contained sheets with a much better thread count, along with a few other creature comforts. She put the bags on the counter and then headed back down again for the painting. Brian’s bike was parked to the side. She could’ve asked him to help with carrying the purchases, but he’d signed on to paint the house. Anything else would be a favor, and she didn’t like to ask for those.
    She propped the painting against the dining room wall. Still no sight or sound of Brian.
    He was in the smallest bedroom. Will had used it for storage. Brian stood on the stepladder removing a ceiling fixture.
    “Hello, how’s it going?”
    He gave her a brief glance and grunted something that sounded like ‘okay’.
    “ I didn’t realize Maia was your sister.” She said the words in a level voice. Non-judgmental, non-committal.
    Brian didn ’t turn around. “Yeah.”
    She walked closer to where he was perched and accepted the screwdriver he handed her. “I mean, it would seem a natural thing for you to have mentioned.”
    “ Why?” He removed the last bolt and then eased the glass fixture down. “It’s dusty.”
    He said it like an indictment— it’s dusty —as he handed it to her. He stepped down, but then paused on the last rung.
    “ Is something bothering you?”
    “ Well, no. It’s just that there’s no reason to hide the relationship.” She kept her eyes fixed on the dirty glass and held it away from her clothing. “Is there?”
    Brian came close. She didn ’t think to move. She did stop breathing.
    He paused a couple of feet away. Softly, he said, “Did Maia say something to upset you?”
    “ No.” She shook her head briskly. “I thought she looked a little sad at times.”
    “ Sad? Maybe. I can’t help that.” Without moving, still looking at her, he added, “If you’re worried about me talking about your business, you can forget it. I wouldn’t anyway, but the truth is, Maia and I don’t talk much anymore.”
    H e folded the ladder and carried it out of the room.
    Frannie followed. “I met a friend of Maia’s. I bought her painting.” She was still holding the fixture and looking for a safe place to set it down.
    Brian took it from her hands and laid it in the kitchen sink.
    She continued, “I bought it, but not because I met her. I was already intending to purchase the painting.”
    “ Is that it? Propped against the wall?”
    “ Yes.”
    He nodded. “Tell me where and I’ll hang it.”
    “ Brian.” Funny, she felt a little tingly saying his name out loud. “I want to thank you for all that you’re doing here.”
    “ Not a big deal.” He gave her a look. “Anyway, it’s a job. A paying job,” he added.
    “ Please send the bill whenever it’s ready.”
    “ Sure.” He continued to look at her, as if waiting.
    “ I know you have obligations in the afternoon. I hope this job hasn’t interfered.”
    “ Personal obligations.” He smiled as he said it, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. He walked away.
    She followed him back to the small bedroom. She hadn’t meant to pry. Or maybe she had. But she knew when to back off, so she dropped the subject.
    He turned abruptly. “Did you choose the color for the room?”
    “ As a matter of fact, yes.”
    “ Do you have the paint chip?”
    A few boxes were stored in this room. The vacuum and unused curtain rods were against the far wall. Brian picked up a box testing the weight.
    “ I’ll move these out of here.”
    “ I’ll give you a hand.” She

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