Ciara Fitzpatrick is an artist with a rare talent (or curse). Every so often she is muse-ridden, able to paint or sketch the truth of a person; not the face they show to the world, but the way they are inside. She has gained a new patron in Daniel Alverston, a mysterious socialite, but what happens when she captures him on paper and discovers who he really is?
Ciara liked that the lights were dim. It helped her pretend that the people in the expensive penthouse wearing expensive clothing and drinking expensive champagne were more interesting than they seemed for the most part. It was at times like this that she wondered why she bothered with all this BS, why exactly she worked so hard to network, to convince people that she was talented. Why she cared.
Of course, then she remembered that she liked to eat. She liked good paint and brushes. She enjoyed paying her rent. She did not enjoy working an office job and wearing a suit. More, she had no intention of working at a fast food joint, a gas station, or some pretentious coffee house. Ah yes, that was why she did this, why it mattered what other people thought: She wanted to be able to do what she loved - which was paint and draw - and earn her living at it.
So she stood by a window, looking into the night; her reflection in the glass was there, looking back at her. The dress was black, the skirt flared out above her knees, and bright crimson flowers were splashed on it like blood. Her lipstick was red too, hair black and tucked behind her ears, eyeshadow silver, and eyeliner thick. She had an impression to make.
Because Ciara was an artist. Not one of those posers who splashed paint on a canvas or painted stripes and went on about how symbolic it all was, how deep and meaningful. She didn't sell ideas, she sold art. She got covered in paint, smelled like turpentine, and had a bad habit of forgetting she wasn't staring at a bowl of fruit even when a live person stood in front of her. There was no doubt that she had talent. She had a dealer, afterall, someone who represented her and was willing to try to get her work displayed in galleries or sold to individuals. She'd done some commission work also, although some of those clients came away feeling a little unsettled. It could have been the simple fact that the way she looked at them made them feel like she had forgotten they could talk. It could have been.
Or it could also be the fact that her paintings, at times, were a little too accurate. Forget the Mona Lisa's smile, that secret preserved forever. Ciara had an unnatural ability to see someone's true self, their "soul" if you will, and immortalize it on canvas. Through a series of sketches, through conversations and straight out observation, she seemed to have a knack for seeing the core of a person's being, of understanding just who they truly were. "Uncanny" was a good word for it.
It wasn't always like that, of course. She had done paintings that had little enough to do with reality, simply images she found beautiful or powerful. But every so often she looked at someone and had to sketch them, had to draw and paint until she captured them. The reaction of clients to those paintings was, to put it mildly, not always pleased. Some people found the images too accurate for comfort. Some felt betrayed that they had not gotten what they expected. All of them payed, however, in the end.
She had been invited to this party, this upper-class society parade, but so had all too many others. The host seemed to collect people who could be famous, who might just make it. It was a positive sign for her career, or so her dealer had told her. Then again, it guaranteed nothing. Merely potential. The host never made anyone's name, never pushed or nudged anyone to succeed. Most of those who attended didn't. Most of those collected never truly made anything of themselves and remained merely potential or a flash in the pan. Something about that bothered her a little. Why go to the trouble to collect such people if it mattered so little whether the potential was realized?
Finally, she turned, plastering a pleasant smile on her face, wading back into the crowd. Smiling here and there, offering polite greetings, slight touches. Wondering if there was a single conversation she'd want to join. She felt like a curiosity surrounded by the wealthy and important. Look, dear, a trained artist. I wonder if it can speak? I hope it does not have fleas. Ciara tried to shake off the feeling, needing to behave and play this game.