Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 8 (v.4) - Chapter 8

Submitted: January 25, 2018

Reads: 179

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Submitted: January 25, 2018

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Maggie stood outside Richards flat greeting anyone that passed by with a cheery good morning, as he locked the door. Less than twenty-four hours ago this scene would have been played out a lot differently. The less confident Richard would have conducted Maggie’s exit from his flat like a covert black ops manuvoue. First, he would have performed a reconnaissance on the hallway checking that no-one was about. Then when confident the coast was clear, she would have been unceremoniously dragged Maggie downstairs faster than an Olympic sprinter through the front door and onto the street.

However, wining and dining of Maggie Harris last night plus telling her he loved her; OK she was unconscious at the time when he told her, but still it was a massive step forward for Richard.
“Seeing you here this morning will start tongues wagging tonight at the residence meeting.” He said.
“Well, let’s give them something to really talk about.” With that she linked her arm around his and they both walked bold as brass along the corridor and out the front door.

It was going to be another warm day in South-West London and the walk to their shop was not going to be hurried. Maggie was still hugging Richards arm as they both walked along the avenue. Today he was not caring who knew about him and Maggie, he was in love and he knew she was too, even if those three little words were still yet to be formed on either of their lips.

The avenue was lined with cherry trees and the air was full of their cascading petals. Maggie looked up; pink and white blossom fell upon her face like confetti. This was her wedding day; right here right now arm in arm with the man she loved.

Soon they reached the end of the avenue, their church aisle and turned on to the busy Kings Road.

Richard was normally first in, in the morning to get their coffees from the deli. Today, however they went in together. They both liked to start the day with one decent cup before using the jar stuff back at the shop.

Mike the barista did a double-take when he saw Maggie walk in with Richard. He was used to seeing her later in the day when she came by to collect their pre-ordered sandwiches.
“Hi Maggie, what did you do shit the bed again?”
She looked mortified as she turned towards Richard, “Did you tell him about the chocolate buttons?” Richard looked away staring at the floor. Mike just laughed.

“If you must know why I’m here early.” Maggie said to Mike with her hands on her hips, “It’s because my water burst.” Mike with his back towards her now swung his head around, looked Maggie straight in the face then at her stomach.
“No, not that type of water. The washing machine blew up and flooded my flat. I’m staying with Richard until the landlord clears up the mess.”
Mike listened with a smile then he handed Maggie her coffee.
“Sure, Maggie whatever you say.”
Before she could retaliate Mike was taking orders from the next customer.

ooOoo

Maggie held the coffees while Richard opened the shop and turned off the alarm. She handed him back his coffee and went straight over to her desk. Taking off the plastic lid she saw the disappearing heart that Mike had stencilled in the froth of her latte. Nice touch Mike she thought.

Sipping her coffee, Maggie turned on her computer and fetched the phone from her bag. It was just after nine in the morning UK time which would be ten in the morning in Italy.

She opened yesterday’s email from Signore Giovanni Rossi and scrolled down for his phone number. Sitting back in her chair she punched in the number on her phone and listened waiting for Signore Rossi’s phone to ring.

After what seemed like only seconds Signore Rossi answered,
“Buongiorno Signore Rossi.
Come posso aiutarti?”
“Hello, Signore Rossi, It’s Maggie Harris from London.”

On hearing her voice Signore Rossi switched to perfect English. “Ah! Signorina Harris how are you, found anymore forged Bibles?”

Maggie gave a chuckle, “No, only the one thank goodness. Sorry for not getting back to you I had to leave the office early yesterday to attend to a private matter.”
“Nessum problema, I was wondering if I could use your expertise again.”
Maggie was flatted that this renown Italian
bibliophile classed her as an expert.
“Sure, how can I help you Signore Rossi?”
“Please, Giovanni
Signorina Harris.”
“Then you must call me Maggie”
“Grazie. I’m still grateful that you prevented me from buying that forged Bible in January. Even my so-called experts failed to spot what was glaringly obvious.”
Maggie was blushing at such a compliment, “Please don’t be too hard on your team, the forgery was really good. I’m just glad I spotted that the wove of the paper was synthetic and not the original rag linen cotton.”

“Si, Si, that is why I would like you to come to the book festival in Firenze. I would like you to be my guest speaker on the topic of how you spotted that fake and maybe give us all some clues on what to look for in the future. The festival is prepared to pay for you and a partner to stay in Firenze during the festival week, plus whatever commission you charge for your service. Is that OK with you?”

The phone slipped from Maggie’s hand as she stared into open space placing her other hand over her open mouth.
“Hello Maggie, Signorina Harris are you still there?”
Hearing the faint voice of
Giovanni Rossi, she returned the phone to her ear. “Yes, sorry Giovanni just slightly taken aback by your generous offer. My I have time to consult my business partner and I’ll get back to you within the hour?”

Giovanni agreed, “Si, Si, it is of course short notice. If you agree to my proposal I will arrange your flight and accommodation.”

Maggie thanked him and ended the call. “YES, YES, YES!” she jumped out of her chair and ran over to Richard all excited and giggling like a schoolgirl. She rushed at him planting a big kiss on his cheek. “I’ve been invited to Florence!” she said running on the spot and waving her hands.

It took Richard a few minutes to claim her down before her got the full story out of her. It was difficult to keep up with what she was saying due to the speed she was talking.
“He said I’ll have to let him know within the hour and I can take you if I wish. What do say?”

Richard got out from behind his desk and paced the shop with a look of concern,
“Well, I don’t know, you see we now have a dilemma.”
The euphoria quickly receded within Maggie, “Oh! Come on, it’ll be good for both of us to get away. It’ll only be a week and Janet’s more than capable of running the shop...”
Richard held up his hand, “No, you don’t understand. The dilemma we have is which hotel do we stay at. I just got off the phone to the Uffizi. Remember the buyer who bought me the van Gogh? Well he is lending the Uffizi his entire collection of Dutch Paintings and he wants me to organise the hanging. It’s an all expenses trip for me and a partner. We’re off the Florence Mags!”

Both were now dancing around the shop arm in arm attempting to sing ‘Nessun Dorma’. Maggie was the first to start thinking rationally, “OK, OK.” She said brushing the hair out of her eyes. “I phone Giovanni back and accept his offer. You phone the gallery and tell them what we are doing.” Maggie reached for her phone and pressed, ‘Last Call Redial.’

Giovanni was delighted and saw the funny side of the predicament they were in. He knew the curator of the Uffizi gallery and said he would speak to him on their behalf.

Giovanni then told Maggie the e-tickets for their flights and hotel reservation would be through within the hour and looked forward to meeting her and Richard in June.


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