Later that afternoon, Sharon got a call from the security office. A large package had arrived for her. Sharon went down to confirm that she knew the sender and to give her permission for the package to be searched. The Secret Service man promised to have it put in her office by the next morning, even though it was Saturday.
June, for her part, had been debating how to talk to Sharon about her own little scheme. Saturday morning, she decided it was time and called Sharon’s cell phone.
“I hate to ask you to come in on the weekend,” June began.
“I’m already here,” Sharon said. “I’m redecorating my office this weekend.”
“Oh? Great. I’ll be down in just a bit.”
June could hear Sharon’s voice as she approached the office.
“No, I’m looking at them right now,” Sharon was saying. “They’re fabulous…. Seriously, Sarah, they’re perfect. The Outre-Meuse poster and the one from the Sparrow series…. No, darling, I know you’re not going to, but you should. It’s amazing. You could make some serious money on it….”
June peeked in the open door. Sharon turned and June spotted the headset parked on her ear. The floor in front of the desk was littered with cardboard and bubble wrap. Framed art leaned against any available vertical surface. Sharon was holding a framed oil painting. June could see a lot of pink and a long black slash through the middle, but none of the details.
“You’ve totally caught her. It’s perfect, Sarah. You’ve outdone yourself, sweetie,” Sharon continued. “I’m not overdoing it. You’re great, Sarah, and you know it. Now get over yourself, already…. I mean it. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it…. Thanks. I love you, too…. Bye.”
Chuckling, Sharon switched off the headset then smiled as she saw June.
“Hi!” Sharon said.
“Hi.” June looked at the different art works and smiled. “Wow. This is one hell of a collection.”
“That was my sister Sarah,” Sharon explained, the pride oozing from her. “She’s an artist. I asked her to pick some art for my office and this is what she sent.”
June looked at the oil in Sharon’s hand. “This is incredible. Where did she get it?”
“That’s her own work,” said Sharon. “It’s one of a series she did when our other sister, Susan, had her accident. Susan is – was a dancer. It’s hard to say now.” Sharon sniffed suddenly. “It’s still hard. It was only last summer.”
June reached out and held Sharon’s shoulder. “Oh, my god. I’m so sorry.”
Sharon shrugged. “Thanks. I… It’s… Hell. I’m the last person to say where Suse should be now. But anyway, Sarah, God bless her, found a way to help us all deal with it.” Sharon lifted the painting again. “She did a whole series – Sparrow Without Wings, one for each of us. We always called Susan the Sparrow because she was always flitting all over the place. She’s kind of like my brother that way. Can’t stay still.”
“There were four of you?”
Sharon laughed. “Yeah. My older brother, then me, Susan, and Sarah. And Michael has two girls, Toby and Jodi. They live with their mom.”
“Heavens!” June looked again at the painting. “So what are you going to do with this one?”
Sharon shrugged. “Good question. I know I want to paint. I was thinking green, but then this…” She looked at the oil again.
June looked around the narrow office. “Actually, I think you’re on the right track. If you go with greens on the wall, it will not only complement the pink, but I think it will make the painting really pop. Let’s see, do I have any paint chips?”
“I have some here.” Sharon handed June the collection of small cards hooked together by a metal ring.
The two debated colors for several minutes, although Sharon ultimately went with June’s suggestion to use two shades of green, with a faux chair rail in gold and orange to divide the darker green on the bottom of the wall from the lighter green on top.
“Tell you what,” June said. “Why don’t you go get the paint while I get changed and get the walls prepped?”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Sharon said.
“I’m totally serious.” June grinned. “One of the worst parts of being the CEO, you never get to get your hands dirty. And I love painting. Seriously. I’ll call a car for you.”
June had already grabbed Sharon’s desk phone and was dialing. “Don’t worry about it. Weekend stuff comes out of personal funds and we can prove it, if necessary. And I already helped Tanks put her office together.”
Thanks to the car, Sharon got back from the paint store in record time, happy to find that her furniture order had arrived and been inspected by the Secret Service. The new credenza, chair and shelving waited outside the office. June was inside, putting the last bits of masking tape over what would be the faux chair rail.
It was mid-afternoon by the time the two finished with the walls, but the chair rail would have to wait until the walls had dried.
“Let’s go on up to my studio and kick back for a while,” June said.
“Okay,” Sharon replied, not sure what June was suggesting.
June led her into an elevator and it was pretty clear as they got off that they were now in the private residence. Sharon gulped.
“Yeah, it’s still freaking me out,” June said, heading for a nearby stairway. “And I’m living here. The Lincoln bedroom is that way. Want to know where my brother’s room is?” “No!” Sharon yelped, then regretted it.
“He’s around here, someplace.” June shook her head. “You know how he keeps going on about not keeping people at work all hours? Total hypocrite. Even money, he’s in his private office right now, working away.”
“Couldn’t he be, like, watching a basketball game or something?” Sharon asked. “Probably, but he’s still working.” June chuckled. “He hasn’t got anything else to do. Come on.”
June’s studio was a large open room with lots of windows along the long wall. There were several antique armoires in between the various windows, a drafting table at one end, curtains along the far short wall and a still life set up in one corner with an easel containing the canvas in front of it. In front of the curtains was a square riser. Three different types of sewing machines were set up along another wall, along with a pressing station and several dressmaker’s dummies. Near the door was a desk with a laptop and next to that an overstuffed couch and a couple file cabinets.
“My sanctum sanctorum,” June said, with a wave of her hand. “You know how brothers are supposed to be despised?” She shook her head. “Kinda hard to despise a brother who can put something like this together.”
“He did this?”
“Not entirely. I had most of the input. But it was his idea to make sure I had it.”
Sharon shrugged, trying to stay cool. “He’s the right kind of brother, I guess.”
“Mostly.” June waved at the couch. “Have a seat.”
“You know, it suddenly dawns on me that you came down to my office this morning because you wanted to talk to me.” Sharon flopped down.