"Chiarettaaaaa!" a voice sings from the front door of my studio.
I continue my work, not even flinching. "I told you to stop letting yourself in Aubrey!"
She walks into the studio. "New painting, Aubrey likey." She points.
"Yeah, that one's going to a client next week, thought I'd hang it up though, I was quite proud of it. Goes with the vibe of place." I say, placing my paintbrush in the sink and gesturing around.
The studio has taken me years to get right. Every piece of furniture, every painting, and every decoration has been painstakingly placed. The urban chic decor took forever to scout out. "Haven't been round in a while Aubrey, I'll have to give you the tour, I've changed up quite a few things."
"Okay!" she says excitedly, "I brought you some fresh strawberries, you've been locked up in here for ages."
"I've been craving strawberries, actually." I say as I plop one into my mouth from the container she's carrying. "Here, follow me."
She follows me back to the main entrance of the studio. "So the main hallway hasn't really changed." I say, letting her take a look. The exposed brick gives off a very urban feel, and a few very expensive pieces of art are displayed here.
"My favorite is still the Willing." Aubrey comments, looking at the small charcoal sketch done by my favorite artist, Edward Willing.
I smile. "Come see the rest of the place."
The next part of the studio is where I actually do art. It's covered completely in white, paint splattered tarp. A window off to the side overlooks Central Park and the gorgeous city of Manhattan. Empty canvases lay forlornly across the ground and painting utensils are strewn everywhere.
"Might want to try straightening up in here." Aubrey smirks, looking at my mess, the painting I'm working on catching her eye. "Chiaretta, what is it?" She asks with caution.
My art is usually straightforward. I'm not an impressionist and I like art that is supposed to be something. I paint Central Park a lot, having a view of it so close. I paint the mountains of my birthplace, Colorado. I paint the New York skyline. I paint people. I paint objects. I paint things. But this one was different, and I wasn't sure I liked it. It was very black and abstract.
"I...I don't know. I was thinking of...well you know who and it just...happened."
To sum it up, ex boyfriends suck.
"Ohhhh," she says, quickly changing the subject "I like this one." She hoists up a giant canvas with a painting of a piazza in Italy.
"I do too." I reply, smile returning to my face. I pick up a small paintbrush and hastily dunk it in container of red paint, quickly adding a few red splatters to the giant mess of a painting in front of me. "It's one of the ones being auctioned off tomorrow. Along with this one."
She looks again at the painting I just splattered. "It's really not that bad Chi. I mean, it's different, but not bad."
I sigh. "I had the art appraised this morning to see how much they think it'll auction off for tomorrow. The appraiser said $3000 for the one of Italy and at the most, $300 for this garbage. It doesn't pay the bills, Aubrey."
Her face falls and I fiddle with the paintbrush. "C'mon, I want to more of your beautiful studio." She says warmly and I follow her into my kitchen area.
Aubrey is gorgeous. Her long, deep red hair hangs down to her waist and her pale complexion makes her green eyes pop. I met her through her father, an art enthusiast who was the first person to ever buy my art. From there, I started to be regarded in the art community as someone to watch. My art was placed in high end hotels and in fancy auctions. Chiaretta Abellò; the little Italian artist. When I was 17, I dropped out of school and moved to New York to pursue my art career. Aubrey followed for moral support and she lives a luxurious life here off of her father's money. I am not so lucky, with poor Italian immigrants for parents.
"Your kitchen is gorgeous!" Aubrey exclaims, running her hand over my marble countertops. There's more exposed brick and all the appliances are futuristic and chic.
"Okay last but not least, the loft." I grab her hand and pull her up the small spiral staircase that leads to my bedroom. With a little bit of budgeting I was able to afford all new furniture and paintings for the room.
"I'm really proud of you, Chiaretta." Aubrey mumbles, taking in my work. "You really are good at these artsy type things." Her eyes flicker to my long, dark blonde hair. It hangs in effortless waves down my back. Contrary to popular belief, many Italians like myself are blonde haired and blue eyed. "It never ceases to amaze me that you refuse to tie all this hair back when you work. It's covered in paint!" She huffs at me as she makes her way back down the stairs.
"So Chiaretta," she says once we're back in the kitchen, "it's nearly your big 20th birthday!"
"Don't remind me." I moan. I wrap a strand of hair around my finger before starting to make myself a cup of coffee. "You want any?" I offer.
We Italians love our coffee.
She shakes her head before pushing the topic. "It's your 20th birthday!! It's such a big birthday! We need to do something."
I snort. "Like what? We can't drink."
I watch her roll her eyes defeatedly. "Whatever, just blow it off like all your other birthdays. Chiaretta, I have to get going, but your place is beautiful and I will see you at the auction tomorrow, who knows, I might even want to buy that beautiful Italy painting! Would go well in my apartment!" She calls to me as she walks out the door, leaving me standing in the kitchen alone.
I take a few sips of coffee before heading back to my workspace and putting the final touches on my paintings. Chiaretta Abellò I sign them. That's enough work for tonight.
"And here we have a beautiful painting called "La Piazza" by Chiaretta Abellò! Let's start the bidding at one thousand dollars!!! "
Aubry squeezed my hand as we sat at the back of the auction, the New York elite sat at the tables in front of us, snacking on caviar while bidding on expensive artwork.
Multiple hands went up at the one thousand dollar mark. I held my breath.
"How about we go to one thousand five hundred! One thousand five hundred dollars!"
There were still hands in the air.
"Two thousand! Two thousand dollars!"
Nobody put their hands down.
"Three thousand dollars!!"
A few hands went down. The bidding went up to $5500.
"Sold! For 5.5 thousand!!" The announcer shouted, passing my artwork off to the attendant on the side of the stage. I breathed a side of relief. One painting down, one to go."
I peeked at Aubrey who was focused on something across the room.
"What are you looking at?" I whispered.
She whipped her head back to me. "I think that's Harry Styles." she hisses, making me look. "Why is he in New York?"
It's not uncommon to see celebrities at these kind of shindigs but shit, Harry Styles?
"Where are his band mates?" I reply, fixing my gaze on him. "I thought they were inseparable."
"Maybe they aren't in to fine art." she smirks, patting my hand to remind me that my piece of shit painting is up next.
"And here we have an...interesting painting also by Chiaretta Abellò!! Shall we start the bidding at a measly one hundred dollars?!"
"Oh no." I moan, burying my face in my hands. When the bidding starts at anything under five hundred dollars, it's equivalent to dirt.
A few hands raised and I was surprised anyone wanted it at all.
"One hundred and fifty dollars!" the announcer shouted.
"I'll take it for one hundred thousand." a deep accented voice said, cutting through the crowd.
"Excuse me sir?" The announcer said, finding the source of the voice.
"I said, I'll take the painting for one hundred thousand dollars. Does anyone want to outbid me?"
And then, I saw who was speaking.
"Jesus fucking Christ." I mumbled, my mouth hanging open.
"Is this for real?" Aubrey whispered, barely daring to move.
"Sold! To this young man up front for one hundred thousand dollars! Miss Chiaretta, you'll want to be sure to have a chat with this gentleman." the announcer man spoke, passing the distasteful art to the side.
Aubrey grabs my arm, pulling me out of the room. "What the hell just happened?" she screams, not knowing whether to rejoice or cry.
"Does it look like I know?" I say, rubbing my temples. "Why does Harry Styles even want that piece of shit in the first place?" I anxiously twist my foot on the carpet, watching the design it makes. I had ended up calling the artwork "Leo" after the ex boyfriend who had inspired it. I had met him in Italy on holiday last year but we broke up last month and it has been rough.
I watch Aubrey's face turn to panic as she nudges me discreetly. "Harry is coming towards you, I'm leaving." she spoke through her teeth. She hitched her designer bag up on her shoulder and calmly walked towards the restrooms down the hall.
"Excuse me? Could you tell me where I could find erm, Chiaretta Abellò?" a man's voice said, horribly mispronouncing my name. I spun around with what I hoped looked like a calm smile.
"That's me, actually. Chiaretta Abellò. I honestly can't thank you enough for buying my artwork, it helps me out so much." I spit out at record speed.
Harry smiles, dimples on full display.
"Nice to meet you, Chiaretta. I was expecting some old Italian woman. I must say, I'm quite happy it's you. I'm Harry." He extends his hand to shake mine.
"Nice to meet you Harry, once again, you have no idea how grateful I am. Do you have any questions about the art or anything?" I splutter, noticing Aubrey peeking out from the bathroom door. I continue to shuffle my feet as he fixes his hair.
He's wearing a Mick Jagger t-shirt with skinny jeans and horribly beat up brown boots. His curls fall perfectly around his face and I notice his green eyes. They're the same as Aubrey's.
"I don't think I have any questions." he says, the smile never leaving his face.
"Great, so my phone number is on the paper attached to the artwork so you can contact me if the art is damaged in transport. Other than that, I think you're all set." I keep my eyes on the ground, brushing a few strands of hair from my face. It confuses me that he doesn't even seem interested in the art. Is this some big charity act? Because I didn't want any of that.
"Can I contact you even if the art isn't damaged in transport?" he flirts.
I can feel myself blushing as his smile turns to smirk.
"Yeah, I think you should actually." I reply, keeping my calm. "Bye Harry." I spin around and start on my way, leaving him to stare at my nonexistent ass. "Oh wait," I call over my shoulder, "you never did tell me why you bought my art."
He shrugs. "It fits my urban chic decor."