Matt Liked Chris immediately. He was punctual and anticipated every possible need. He was dedicated and genuinely interested. Egypt had picked her man well.
Chris looked at Matt. “Where do we start?”
Matt smiled. “Let’s go scope out the storage area picked by Ty. You wanna drive? Or do you want me to? I have to warn you, I haven’t driven for a few years, so am a bit rusty.”
Chris winced. “What do you mean by a few years and a bit rusty?”
Matt chuckled. “I haven’t been out of the house for ten years or more. Not since the lady who painted those pictures died.” He gestured to the stack of painting sitting in the corner. “She was my heart and soul.”
Chris nodded. “I can imagine. We were going to buy a few of her paintings from a guy named Tim a while back until we saw her name on them. He was trying to pass them off as his own. When we asked to see his studio, he backed out. It was shortly before he ended up dead.” He shook his head in wonder. “Exquisite work. I have never seen such detail. Makes the masters look like school children.”
Matt looked over at him. “If there are too many for the gallery, would you like to have first dibs at some of the pieces left over?”
Chris shook his head. “Dibs, no. The privilege to open a ‘loaned’ exhibit, yes. These should remain in the possession of family, not sold. I could arrange for the University to host the opening gala for the gallery with a small exhibit that is on loan. Hell. I would even be willing to arrange the traveling exhibit. We would, however, be interested in a small permanent exhibit of Tariq’s works. Possibly four to ten pieces. I am sure we could compensate him well for any uncommissioned works he has ready.”
Matt smiled. “You can arrange that when we return. Ty is waiting.”
Chris nodded and followed him out of the office. The students and interns followed in suit. Matt turned to him. “Be right with you. I need to let the women know they’ll be on their own for a while.” Chris nodded and led his students on out to the van they’d arrived in.
Matt looked into the living room. “Chris and I are headed to the warehouse to check out the storage space Ty cleared for the art. be back in an hour unless we decide to start at Max’s or George’s first. Then, it’ll be anyone’s guess.” He winked at Amanda.
She hurried to where he was standing. “Be careful, Handsome.” She kissed him. “And hurry back. I’m going to miss you every minute you’re gone.”
“I’ll be missing you too, Baby.” He kissed her back, then turned to leave. “There’s leftovers in the fridge, if you all get hungry.”
She smiled. “OK. Egypt will probably fix something. Or I will. Not sure yet. Now, go! they’re waiting for you.”
He snuck one more kiss, then left. She watched him go. Once he had gone out the door, she turned to the group and gave them the high-sign. Darlene began unfolding all her swatch books.
She looked up from what she was doing. “Come on, girls, let’s get this ball a-rolling!”
Howls went up from everyone, as if a pack of she-wolves had just been released. Laughter followed afterward. The women gathered around Darlene and the planning began in earnest. Fingers began pointing to color swatches. Heads shook in disagreement.
Darlene raised her hand. “All we want to do, right now, is to decide basic color, not final hue. We have plenty of time to find just the right hue for our combined tastes.”
Sam appeared, having just arrived. “I’ll be in as soon as I deliver something to the kitchen. Don’t get too far without me. After all, you need a man’s touch. Even if he does happen to be gay.”
Marnie went to him. “Oh, Sammy, we could never leave you out. You are so open about everything.”
He smirked. “And level headed. Don’t forget that.” He turned to Amanda. “I brought lunch. And before you ask, yes. I did cook it. I made a casserole. It is Matt’s favorite, so don’t tell him. Oh. And I made bananas Napoleon for dessert.”
Egypt gave a surprised, but eager look. “Oh, Uncle Sammy, you’re going to spoil us all!”
He winked. “I want y’all to get fat and sassy, like me.” He placed his hands on his hips and sashayed around the doorway pretending to be a model.
Marnie gave him an incredulous look. “Sam, you are not, nor have you ever been, fat. I don’t know how you eat so well and keep it all off.”
He smiled. “I have my secrets.” He vanished down the hall.
The women watched him go. All activity halted until he returned. When he returned, he looked at them. “Well? What are we waiting for?”
There was a scurry of activity. Sam’s arrival brought a fresh perspective to the mix. Sandra looked at the swatch that had a bit of lace and cream taffeta. “What about that one?”
Sam smiled. “Traditional, yet contemporary. And all the men could get tuxes about the same color. Good.”
Amanda nodded. “I like it. Are we all in agreement?” She looked around the room. All nodded. “Good. Can we eat now? I’m starving.”
Giggles started to fill the room. Darlene marked the swatch then closed her book. She looked up and smiled. “Next, we debate chairs.”
Sam led the procession into the dining room. He had already set the places, so there was less to be done. The casserole sat in the center of the table. The ladies took their seats, placing Sam at the head of the table as master of ceremonies.
He spread his hands. “Dig in! I’m not as formal as my brother, so I don’t care if we follow etiquette. It’s only a meal. The only thing I will dish is the Cherries Jubilee.”
The ladies took turns fixing their plates. Sam was last. He made sure there was a little left for Matt as well. He didn’t want his brother to not enjoy the meal. After all, it was his favorite.