(WP) Paint It Black

(WP) Paint It Black

               It seemed that her associate’s degree in Art History would finally come in handy.

               One of the best artists in the country had chosen her to be her assistant, and Camille could not be happier. To celebrate, she and her friends had gone out to a bar, just for a quick drink. She couldn’t be out until the wee morning hours as usual; she started in the morning.

               “I can’t believe it!” Cammie’s best friend, Liz, wrapped an arm around her waist. “I cannot believe that The Yolanda Jimenez chose you to be her assistant. Talk about being born under a lucky star.” She grinned and pressed a quick kiss to Cammie’s temple before ordering her a dirty martini, extra olives.

               Truthfully, Cammie couldn’t believe it either. She’d spent her whole life in pursuit of a career in the arts, painting in particular. Yolanda was a titan in their industry, one dominated by men. To be chosen by her was to be given a leg up into their hushed, exclusive inner circle. She hadn’t been able to believe it when she received the call announcing that she’d won the position. But for now, she chose to bask in the glow of her victory, accepting the drink from Liz.

               “To new beginnings,” Liz said, holding up her own glass of wine in salute. Cammie grinned and clinked her glass against it, then took a large sip.

               Their friends were out on the dance floor, promises of an early night all but forgotten in the haze of alcohol and old 90s tracks on the old jukebox at the front of the room.

               But she didn’t mind the distraction; it made it easier to face the fact that she’d be meeting one of her idols tomorrow. Even if she was tired, it wouldn’t calm her nerves.

               “After this drink, Liz, I need you to take me home, please. I have to get up early and I don’t want to get lost.”

               “Okay, fair enough,” Liz said, smiling ruefully at her mostly untouched glass of wine.

               **

               The next morning dawned bright and clear, and Camille dressed nicely in a pair of black trousers and a gray tunic top. Something to look professional in, but comfortable to work in also. She had to be at Yolanda’s house by nine, and she was still feeling a bit tired, even after her usual yoga session.

               Cammie grabbed a giant iced coffee on the way out of town and made the unfamiliar forty-five-minute drive out to the house.

                She pulled up a long dirt drive and found Yolanda in the yard, nursing a cigarette, standing under a lemon tree. Her long, dark hair was piled up on top of her head, and eyes keen and sharp met Cammie’s as she got out of the car.

               “Camille Masterson, I presume?” The words were accented and came out like music.

               “Yes, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.”

               She was rewarded with a warm, soft laugh. “None of that ma’am business. I’m only a few years older than you. Come on inside.”

               **

               Camille decided that she loved the farmhouse immediately; it was airy and clean and colorful, exactly what she’d imagined. Yolanda’s art adorned the walls, from her most famous painting to her more obscure works.

               Yolanda kept up a steady, calm flow of commentary as they walked through the house. “Your duties will be simple: making appointments, getting coffee and supplies as needed, running errands. Think you can handle all that?”

               “Yes, ma’am,” Cammie replied before she could stop herself, and she saw her new boss smiling back a smile.

               “And I know this is an internship, but I insist on paying you. I don’t believe in that ‘soak in my greatness’ bull. You’re giving me your time, and I can afford to pay you.”

               Cammie nodded.

               Her eyes were drawn to a painting on the wall. It was a self-portrait of Yolanda, and when she looked at her, she noticed that compared to the painting, the rich, dark tone of her skin was paler, even wan.

               She didn’t know why, but that painting gave her a bad feeling, a yawning pit of dread opening in her stomach.

**