tagNovels and NovellasThe Manor House Ch. 12

The Manor House Ch. 12


Shandi started her first class the next Monday. She chose to do a large class, renting easels from the art supply store and each person was given a beginner's set of brushes, a small canvas and their own smock and she started by showing everyone the paintings that she had completed in the last ten days. Her scenes were all bucolic, spreading oaks with a pair of napping horses, kittens playing with each other and Hannah hanging a bridle in the tack room. A sufficient amount of oohs and ahhs floated into the air and Shandi beamed at the praise.

"This is what you can accomplish in 12 weeks." She set the canvas aside and turned another set of three canvases around, their large, rectangular faces covered with cloths. "This is what you can accomplish if you truly believe."

A shiver of anticipation stormed through Rob's body as she watched the woman unveil three separate paintings. The first was of Hannah and Overlord but the strokes were finer than the one from the first group. The horse looked wonderfully imperious and Hannah looked to the manor born. The second was of Milo in a way that few of the girls ever saw him: crying during a graduation ceremony. Rob recognized this as the ceremony from three days earlier, when two of the women left the facility to begin their lives anew.

The last was the one that took Rob's breath away. She was the subject of this portrait and she was leaning over a young woman, holding her hand and talking with her. The depth of the painting spoke to Rob's passion to aid women who were victims of domestic violence and an awed hush filled the room. It was such an accurate depiction of Rob that Milo began to applaud and the other women stood, adding their applause.

"Let's get started."

Rob stayed to watch the class and found herself gazing at the nuances in the portrait when George rang the door bell and came in. "Hey, Rob."

"Hi, George."

"Is Shandi around?"

"Yeah, I'll go get her."

He joined her in her perusal and shoved his glasses up on the end of his nose to better discern the fine details. "Wow, this is nice! Who's the artist?"

Rob smiled. "I'll go get her."

* * * * *

Shandi stood on the outside porch, her eyes searching the skies and mapping the beauty of the starts. She knew it was late and that she should be in bed but the day's activities had kept her awake. The painting class had been a huge success and it had been gratifying to see some of the women really take to it. The first class for the second half of the women was scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and she knew a couple of the girls from today's class that planned to attend again. It made her feel good to be able to paint but to see someone else enjoy it was just unbelievably filling.

And the look on Rob's face when she saw the painting. While the class was working on an exercise that she had given them on learning what the various brushes did, she fitted the canvas into a prepared frame and presented it to Rob. She was touched when the older woman's eyes filled with tears.

"This is the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever given me."

Rob had taken the painting and had gone up to her room with it. She hadn't come down for dinner nor had she come by to give Shandi her customary good night kiss. Shandi wondered what had happened. Maybe the painting had touched something in Rob that she was unprepared to acknowledge. Maybe she was upset about George's news. Donnie was willing to give her $20 million as long as she signed a paper that exonerated him. She had told George that she might be willing to entertain his offer and Rob had simply turned away.

Enough was enough. It was time, time for many things. Time for Rob to answer some questions. Time for Shandi to speak her heart. Time for both to listen. She knocked on Rob's door, relieved to hear movement from inside. When Rob answered, she immediately reached out and took her in her arms, holding her close. It was obvious that the woman had been crying and her puffy cheeks were still wet.

"What is it, love?"

Shandi's soft words made Rob's heart swell again and she started to softly sob, clinging to the black woman and sighing when her arms tightened around her. She wanted to speak but the pain welled up fresh and sharp and prevented her from expressing herself. She felt Shandi guide her backward, setting her gently on the bed and laying her down.

Shandi grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom and wetted it, washing the tear tracks from Rob's face, then took her hand in hers, linking their fingers together.

"Tell me. Please."

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