Glancing down at her watch, she frowned. She didn't have time to come up with something different.
Haley took a deep breath to calm her jittery nerves and carefully picked up her paintings. She hoped Ms. Keaton liked them...
Ian groaned, "Mom, I'm not a kid anymore. I know how to act," he protested.
Eva and Nathaniel shared a speaking glance above his head.
Duanne grimaced. "Yeah. At least she's your sister, so you have to be here."
Ian chuckled. "How long do you think we have to stay?"
Groaning as he looked around at all the milling people, Duanne said, "5 minutes is too long!"
"Tell me about it," Ian complained. "I had to break a date with Keely! I'm hoping I can still get over there tonight to surprise her! Our one-year anniversary is coming up!" he boasted.
Johnny nodded, appearing bored as he looked around the room.
Haley glanced over and saw what had caught Johnny's interest.
Johnny shrugged. "It's not what I thought you would paint," he answered, staring at the painting.
Haley flinched, as though he'd slapped her. "I'm sorry?" she asked with a tremor in her voice. What did he mean by that?
Johnny glanced down at Haley, who was now frowning fiercely. "No, I just mean, I guess I always imagined you painting unicorns and bubble-gum cupcakes." He glanced back at the painting. "So who is he?" he asked, strangely annoyed by the idea that Haley could have guys posing for her.
Johnny turned and stared at her intently for a moment. "You're hiding something." He wasn't sure what she could be hiding, but she always got flustered when she had to lie.
Haley forced a laugh, "Ha! That's so silly!" she said, trying to channel Rachel's confidence. "Well, I need to go mingle. You should, too. Mingle!" she demanded. "Go, go!" she said, shooing him away.
Johnny chuckled as he let Haley shoo him back towards Rachel. He glanced back at the painting. He wasn't sure why, but there was something about it...
Maritza Patel smiled as she shook Haley's hand. "I never knew you were so talented!" she said. "I might be good at math and science, but I'm awful with anything creative like painting or writing!"
Haley chatted for a moment or two before heading to meet the other guests at her exhibit.
Haley smiled. "Thank you, Armando. I'm glad you've enjoyed the exhibit."
"Enjoy it?!" he asked. "I never dreamed you were so talented! You know, I'm a little bit of an art buff. I knew when we ran into each other while looking at the picture that there was something connecting us!"
Haley smiled, trying to catch Rachel's eye across the room.
Rachel's mouth dropped open when she saw Armando hovering near her and she hurried over to rescue Haley.
"Where are we going?" Haley whispered.
Rachel shrugged. "I dunno. Let's just go to bathroom and fix our make-up. He should be preoccupied with something else by then!" The girls giggled as they hurried off.
By the time Haley made it back, the exhibit showing was winding down. Many people had already left, leaving their compliments.
What struck Haley was that her picture was gone.
"Oh no, dear, we sold it!" Ms. Keaton told her with a large smile, winking at Haley. "It sounds like you might have an admirer, my dear!"
"Sold?" Haley gasped. "But, Ms. Keaton, I didn't know they could be sold!" She never should have put such a personal piece in her exhibit!
Ms. Keaton frowned, "Oh I'm so sorry, dear. Yes, we make all the art work here available for a price. Don't worry, dear. You'll be receiving a portion of the proceeds!"
Haley felt like crying. "I just really, really want my painting back," she told Ms. Keaton meekly. "Could you tell me who bought it? Maybe I can get it back?"
But Ms. Keaton was already shaking her head. "Oh no, dear. We don't release our patrons names. It's all down on a private basis."
Misunderstanding her cause of worry, Ms. Keaton added, "Don't worry, dear. I'm sure your young beau will be sure to tell you of his regard soon! How very exciting! You were sensational tonight!"
Her heart fluttered when she thought of Johnny staring so intently at it...