From the Sky - Part XVII

Uncle Gio's voice from the office: "Zia!"

"Yes, Uncle!"

"Come here! We have to talk about the wedding cakes!"

Zia went to the office, leaving her sisters at the counter.

"Oh, it's so quiet here today! Where is everyone?" Rae sighed.

"It's too hot. People are staying inside. Papa and Uncle should buy an air conditioner instead of relying on these old fans to keep the shop cool. They don't help; they just push all the hot air around."

"Look," said Rae, pointing to the far end of the counter.

"Zia's cake book?"

"No, underneath: her sketch book. She never lets that out of her sight. I was starting to think it was welded to her hand."

The two sisters exchanged mischievous smiles.

Sal leaned closer to Rae and whispered: "Do we dare?"

"Oh, Sal! That would be such an invasion of Zia's privacy! To look at all her sketches of flowers, landscapes, bowls of fruit, and perhaps, just perhaps, a certain woman in a certain hotel."

"So it's yes, we dare?" Sal whispered excitedly

"Not until you hush and go get it!"

A few seconds later they were thumbing through the pages, flipping past dozens of sketches that held no interest to them until they found what they were looking for.

"Oh, it's her! She's beautiful!" cried Sal.

The mystery woman was sketched in charcoal. She sat in a chair wearing a long dress, her legs crossed and her right hand under her chin.

"Keep turning, hurry!" Rae whispered.

There were nearly twenty pages of sketches. Nearly half of them were of the woman in different poses: standing, sitting, lying on a couch. After those came page after page of close-up sketches of the woman's head and shoulders. With each, the level of detail increased and the sketches took on a sense of depth. The woman's eyes softened with each sketch as well.

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