Going, Going, Gone
As each lot passed, Ben’s confidence grew. This was fun!
DAVID was the last person Rachel had expected to see at the auction rooms. “What are you doing here?” she cried.
“I saw the painting online. It brought back memories of our time together. I was coming over on business so I thought . . .” He looked in her eyes. “Can we talk?” Rachel was still shocked. “Not now.” She looked round for Martin, but he wasn’t there. “I’m meeting someone for lunch.” David frowned.
“Can you put them off? I’ve come all this way.”
Rachel knew Martin wouldn’t mind if they took a raincheck. They weren’t doing anything special. “I’ll see what I can do.” She went to Carol. “Have you seen Martin? He was supposed to meet me here at one o’clock.”
“He’s had to go out. He didn’t say where. Sorry.”
“Oh.” Rachel wondered why he hadn’t texted her. She returned to David. “It seems I’m free. There’s a coffee shop round the corner. We can talk there.”
“You look exactly the same,” David said as they walked down the street.
“I doubt that, but thanks. So, this is a surprise! It’s been years.”
“Like I said, I was coming over on business. But before I left I was browsing auctions online – it’s a bit of a hobby now. I saw the painting I gave you. It was a shock, you know. I thought you’d keep it for ever.” “I did, too,” she said. “How are things at home? Is your dad any better?”
“He died soon after you left. And I lost Mum last year, too.”
Rachel nodded. “Thanks. It was hard, but it’s true what people say – time really does make a difference.”
“How’s your sister – Julia? Still in Chicago?”
“It’s Julie,” she corrected him. “She’s fine.”
At the café, David found a table for them.
“I’ve missed you, Rachel,” he said.
She wasn’t sure how to answer. At first, she’d missed him so much it hurt. She’d almost changed her mind and gone after him, but her love for her parents had kept her at home.
As weeks turned into months, her broken heart gradually mended. Now, she rarely thought about him at all. Not even when she looked at the painting.
“I did miss you,” she said, “but I’ve moved on. In fact, I’ve met someone.” She told him about Martin. David wasn’t impressed. “If he works for a place like that, he can’t be making much money. It’s hardly Sotheby’s, is it?”
Rachel bristled. David had always been a snob.
“Martin says the same, but he loves working there. To him, being happy in your work is more important than a big salary.” David frowned. “When I gave you that painting I didn’t expect you to sell it to the highest bidder five minutes later.”
His tone was teasing, but Rachel knew that underneath he was serious.
“Hardly five minutes, David,” she snapped.
“Well, I hope I can make the buyer an offer and get it back. It would mean such a lot to me.” He reached for her hand. “As you still do.” Rachel pulled away. “It’s too late.” She stood up. “This was a bad idea.”
“Ben, I need a favour. A man’s asking about the Pelham puppets. Can you