Bad Girl Gone GoodBy: N. Franko
“Oh, I see her,” he said and went over to say hi. They both let out a shriek of excitement in greeting. I laughed as my friends excitedly browsed through the gallery.
“You’re a hit,” a voice said from behind me. It was Guy Genville, owner of La Gallerie. He seemed to sneer at my friends as they laughed and pointed at my artwork on the walls, but I wasn’t offended. I had come to learn that the sneer was a permanent fixture on his face.
“Like she could be anything other than a hit.” Nolan had appeared from behind him and proudly wrapped an arm around my waist and gave me a quick kiss as John and Cindy joined our little group.
“Congratulations, Abby,” Cindy said. “I’m so impressed with your work.”
“Me, too,” John said, nodding in agreement. “You’re very talented.”
I smiled a sheepish smile. “Thanks guys. I’m glad you like it.” I really was glad. After everything that happened between Nolan and I, it took a lot of effort on my part before John and Cindy warmed up to me again. They reluctantly let Nolan and I babysit their kids one night after their usual babysitter canceled and that had been the tipping point. Nina and the rest of their kids and I had bonded. I loved hanging out with them and they finally decided to give me a chance.
I had moved into Nolan’s penthouse only a few weeks ago and it was weird to not have to worry about how I was going to pay the bills and it wasn’t just because he paid for everything. I felt totally out of my element, probably because Nolan treated me like a real-life princess.
I didn’t want to just be one of those girls though. I wanted to contribute something, so I stayed at my job at Patty Cake’s for a while and paid Nolan rent—which he reluctantly took—and after helping Colin with his college tuition (he’s studying tech), I used the rest of the money for something I had always wanted—art classes. It was only a few nights a week, and I loved every minute of it. When I felt like I was good enough, I found the card that Guy Genville had given me all those months ago and called him.
Guy gave me my first gallery showing. Bad Girls was a series of paintings depicting scantily clad women doing good deeds; picking up trash, feeding the homeless, helping old people across the street. It was opening night and the crowd in La Gallerie was overwhelming. Even Nolan’s boss, Angelina made an appearance. She left after a few minutes, but it’s the thought that counted.
“Everybody!” Guy yelled into the room. “Everybody gather ‘round the amazing artist, Abby.” The crowd applauded at the sound of my name. It was strange and invigorating to hear cheers while fully clothed for once. “She is our star tonight, but we have another artist making his debut.” He pointed to the wall behind me where a large painting covered in a black cloak hung. So that’s what that was for. “I’m very excited for this unveiling. Is everybody ready?”
The crowd gave a collective nod as he pulled the large cloak off the painting. Under it was the cutest picture of a bride and groom as stick figures. It looked like a child had drawn it. The kids probably helped, but I recognized that style anywhere. I didn’t need to see the words written in squiggly ink underneath because I knew what it was right away. Still, I glanced at the words that flowed off the canvas in rickety lettering: Marry Me, Abby.
Nolan was on his knees in front of me, holding out a small, blue box with a sparkling ring inside. Tears tickled the corner of my eyes as I smiled and nodded yes.