Read The Unveiling (Work of Art #2) Online
Authors: Ruth Clampett
Work of Art Book 2~The Unveiling
Copyright © 2014 by Ruth Clampett All Rights Reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author or publisher.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Cover Photography: David Johnston
Cover Design: Jada d’Lee
Cover Models: Michael Senich
Editors: Angela Borda, Janine Savage of Write Divas and Janell Parque
Interior formatting: Robert Reid at
For my mom…
She married an artist, gave him her heart
and stayed by his side as they painted
all the colors of their life together.
As I finished this book
She joined my dad in the world beyond
No doubt their great romance lives on
And now the universe is their canvas to paint
What they taught me about love
is woven through every page of this story.
Chapter One / Thank God for Girlfriends
Chapter Two / The Squeaky Wheel
Chapter Three / Fallen Soldier
Chapter Four / The Bright Light
Chapter Five / On the Road to Ojai
Chapter Seven / It Must Be Magic
Chapter Eight / The Other Woman
Chapter Eleven / Dodging the Speeding Train
Chapter Twelve / The Masterpiece
Chapter Thirteen / My Brilliant Mess
Chapter Fourteen / With Georgia’s Blessings
Chapter Fifteen / My Fucking Faux Pas
Chapter Sixteen / The Enchanted Land
Chapter Seventeen / I am His Queen
Chapter Eighteen / The Writing on the Wall
Chapter Nineteen / Delete Contact?
Chapter Twenty / Grand Master M
Chapter Twenty-One / This is the Hunger
A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.
~ Paul Cezanne
roll the window down and lean my head out into the ocean breeze, taking a deep breath as my hair whips around my face.
“Earth to Ava…what are you thinking about, girl?” Jess glances at me before refocusing on the road.
“That I’m done with crazy artists.”
“So you think,” she states cryptically.
I shrug. “I mean it.”
“Well, let’s find him first, and then you can decide.”
Jess’s phone chirps. “It’s a text from Laura. Can you read it?”
I grab her phone from the car console. “She’s already at the cafe and has a table.”
Jess’s grip on the steering wheel loosens as she takes a deep breath. “Okay, good.”
We’re silent the rest of the drive down PCH. The beautiful weather belies our somber moods, but I’m hopeful we’ll figure out what we can do about Max’s disappearance.
There’s nothing countryish about Malibu Country Mart, with its collection of chic boutiques that surround a lush lawn and little playground in Malibu.
Luckily, Jess and Laura know the maître d` at the Italian café, so Laura gets us a choice table outside, facing the playground.
After we settle into our seats, my gaze wanders. There are certainly interesting people here to watch. Nannies gently push babies on the bucket swings, while the beautiful mothers chat and text on their phones from nearby benches.
I imagine the cool dads with their worn designer jeans and aviator sunglasses are talking about their cars and the price of private schools. Small children in whimsical designer clothes chase each other around the playground. It’s another world in Malibu. Despite all the money and hipness, it’s more relaxed here than the vibe in West Hollywood or Beverly Hills.
Must be the sea air,
It feels ridiculous, being here when we’re all sick with worry over Max. The panoramic view of the beautiful people versus our dark, worried moods is a lot to take. I’ve never felt so out of place, and I can’t tell if Jess and Laura are feeling the same, or just too shell-shocked to know how they feel.
After glancing at the menu, I wrap my arms around my waist and curl forward. “I don’t know if I can eat.”
Laura sets her menu on the table. “I know, me too.”
Jess gives Laura a stern look. “We’ve got to eat, baby. You don’t want your blood sugar to crash again. Get some protein, or you’ll just feel worse.”
Laura sighs and opens her menu again.
Jess picks up the wine list. “Wine anyone? I know I could use some.”
“Sounds good. I could use some brain numbing about now,” I say.
The waiter brings us a basket of freshly-baked bread with a little dish of chopped olives and garlic in olive oil for dipping. I take a piece and pull off a bit to chew on.
Jess slaps her hands on the table. “So, about Max…”
“Did he really trash his house?” Laura asks.
Jess sighs. “He sure did.”
I tip my head to the side. “I’m trying to understand this obsessive side of Max that lead to his meltdowns. You mentioned his old college girlfriend had a big impact on that side of his personality.”
Jess gets a sour look on her face. “Yeah, that bitch, Chloe.”
She gives me a dubious look. “I don’t know. You really want to hear the story about Max and his first love?”
I rest my cheek in my hand as I lean into the table. “Maybe we’ll get some clues about why he did this and where he is.”
Laura turns to Jess. “You know, I think I want to hear it too. I’ve only heard bits and pieces.”
Jess waits for the waiter to finish pouring our wine. “I guess it started our first week at Pratt. She was one of those girls—you know the sparkly blonde everyone was drawn to. And damn, she knew how to work it. She had her pick of men. And, of course, there was Max, gorgeous and so talented—the best in our class by far.”
“The thing is, Max had an odd personality, very antisocial. We were roommates our first year, but we didn’t even talk that much. I was always out with friends, and he preferred to be alone. I think Chloe saw him as a challenge—she did whatever it took to get under his skin.”
My fingers tighten over my napkin. Is it possible to genuinely dislike someone you’ve never met?
“It was such a gradual progression. Most of us didn’t realize until the second year how much he’d changed. It was around this time that we were working on a big project together. By that time, he was comfortable around me. He told me shit—how wild he was about her, and sometimes it was too much. I kept telling him to give her some space, not be so obsessive and smothering.”
The edges of Jess’s mouth turn down. “The hardest part was that I knew she didn’t feel the same. By the end of the first year, she was fucking around with other guys. I have no idea how she hid it from him. Maybe he was in denial and believed anything she told him.”
I simmer inwardly.
How could she do that to Max?
“As she started to pull away, he realized what was happening and panicked. Holding onto her took over his life, and everything else suffered: his work, his health, and his mind. It was painful to watch. He’d never been in love before, so he couldn’t imagine how to go on without her if she left him.
“Then, one evening, almost halfway through our second year, he came back from a long day in the studio, and all that was left was a note. She’d cleared her stuff out of their place. Just like that…done. He managed to call me that night before he went over the edge, and I rushed over. God, that was a scary time…he was so far gone.”
I press my hands to my face, hurting for Max. There’s so much about him I don’t know, and what I’m learning changes every thought I’ve ever had about him.
Jess grimaces as she continues. “The bitch had run off to Florida with one of her teachers. He had some project in Miami, and he took her with him. When Max found out, he didn’t eat or speak for three days. I finally called his mom. It was either that or have him committed, and I couldn’t do that. That would’ve killed him.”
“He’s talked about his mom with great reverence,” I say.
“His mom…God, I loved that woman. She stayed by his side, hoping he’d get a grip. But it soon became apparent he needed more time. She formally pulled him out of school and took him home for the rest of spring semester and the following summer.
“He never told me exactly what he did during that time, but I know his mom got him a lot of help. I emailed him almost every day, and he would send me little drawings. I’ve often thought that his art was all he had left, so he poured himself into his work two-hundred-percent.”
Laura gazes at her lover with a soft expression. “That was so sweet that you checked on him every day.”
Jess leans toward us. “I was really worried about him. That fall, he returned to school, and the day he moved back, I went over to make sure he was okay. I thought it would be a rough transition, but man, was I wrong. He was a completely different person: confident and cocky, aggressive and flirtatious. I was shocked.”
“Within weeks, he’d fucked half the girls in our class, and then most of the women in the art department, with little regard to preference or decorum. Whatever point he was trying to make, I thought it was gross.”
“But sometimes, I’d see the old Max, like when we hung out with Joe and some of the other guys. Otherwise, I just stayed out of the drama, and believe me, there was lots of drama. He never cared about the women he slept with and always left a path of destruction in his wake.”
The birth of Max the womanizer makes me shudder. “So, he never came close to falling in love with someone else?”
“Oh, no. He made sure that would never happen again. Once Chloe burned him, he wasn’t going to go there again.”
“Did Chloe ever come back? Did she contact him again?”
“Nope. One time, when we were drunk, Max said his new persona was all for Chloe. I still don’t know exactly what he meant, but I have my theories. She didn’t want him the way he used to be. So he turned himself into someone almost the complete opposite of who he was.”
Laura shakes her head. “That’s so awful…and sad for Max.”
“I know, baby,” Jess says, as she squeezes Laura’s hand. “That’s probably why he pushed himself so hard with his work. Maybe he thought that if he became successful, she’d want him again. But the more successful he became, the more troubled he seemed to be.”