Knock, knock...
across the canvas. The picture stopped at the chin line. His own preference. He wanted to do a full body with her beautiful facial features but so far had resisted. Something had stopped him. He didn't know what or why. While the pictures remained only of her form, then he could fool himself to believe she was only his model.
     
    If he did break down and add her face – something he knew he couldn't do yet – he'd be telling the world who she was…and how important she was to him. By creating her full image for all eternity, he would be acknowledging Shay was his muse.
     
    And that would change things.
     
    His muse was a living, breathing thing to him. A relationship he lived with daily.
     
    And if he acknowledged she was his muse, he'd be acknowledging that she was not only necessary in his world but she was his passion.
     
    He swallowed hard. Could that be?
     
    And if she was his passion...it was a short hop to considering...acknowledging he wanted her to become his partner, his other half...his one true love.
     
    Still that was a step he hadn’t taken. Yet.
     
    ***
     
    The next morning on the other side of town…
     
    Why was his neighbor coming down his walk? David Cummings lowered the gas can nozzle into the small tank of his lawnmower when Melanie Sergeant called out his name. She tugged her poodle toward him.
     
    David swore under his breath. His wife often teased him that he mowed his lawn every Sunday morning from April to October, like clockwork, as particular about his lawn as the teeth of the patients in his dental practice.
     
    And that meant his neighbors knew where and when to find him. Most of the time that was fine.
     
    Just not today. Today was special. And he didn't have time to chitchat. He hoped Melanie wasn’t selling more chocolate bars for the school she taught at. He just didn't have time today.
     
    He planned to take  Diane to brunch and surprise her with a cruise to Scotland. Five kids and she deserved it. Hell, he deserved it, too. She'd likely cry when she found out. Hell, he might too. Thirty-five years together and still going strong. Damn he was a lucky man
     
    And he could survive a chat with his neighbor for a few minutes.
     
    "’Morning, Melanie. How are you doing this beautiful weekend?"
     
    As Melanie walked closer, he realized there was something different about her. She looked normal, but… His throat tightened and instinctively he wanted to back away from her. He swallowed hard and resisted. That was foolish. He pasted a smile on his face.
     
    "I'm doing great. It's a lovely day, isn't it?" She gave him a bright smile then a frown appeared on her forehead, and her eyes darkened.
     
    Like really dark.
     
    “Are you okay?” He stepped toward her, and as he did, her eyes sharpened, and went almost black. That was wrong.
     
    He forced himself closer, if she needed help… He wasn’t a physician, but he knew enough to give basic CPR. Though his skin was creeping, and his head...
     
    What was wrong with his head?
     
    He blinked. Then blinked again. What was wrong with her eyes?
     
    The light was off. Surely that must be this sudden headache. And the pain stabbing through his chest. Stabbing and stabbing. He could hardly breathe. He opened his mouth to speak, but the only sound that came out of his mouth was a name.
     
    “Angela.”
     
    His wife. The love of his life. Angela. He held onto the thought and the image of her as the pain accelerated. He dropped to his knees, then slid sideways to the grass. Damn. Please let this not be a heart attack. The doctors had warned him, but…
     
    Melanie was leaning over him, a look of horror on her face. And her eyes, wide, brown… normal again. How? What?
     
    Then she was screaming and running with her dog to the house, and he was staring at the sky. The pain lower now. In his chest. And he knew he was going to die and would not make it to Scotland.
     
    Suddenly Angela was bending over him, tears running down her

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