The small French café along the Thames was a beautiful place to spend a quiet afternoon. Vivian spent her time observing the London skyline at the opposite bank, before sketching it in her diary. Her brown-green eyes stole quick glances at the closely spaced structures every now and then – studying every slope, every curve – absorbing every detail.
Her observation skills were something that Vivian took pride in. Many would call it a gift. But to her, it was a necessity – especially in her line of work.
Her pastime was interrupted by the sound of a throat clearing.
“Please.” She motioned to the chair opposing her’s.
“Pardon me for my tardiness. You will not believe the traffic at this time of the day. Anyway, how are you Miss Frost?” The man started with a heavy French accent.
“I’m good. But I do hope you have a valid reason for setting up this meeting, Antonio. I had to take an overnight flight from Florence.”
“Oh, mon cheri! You will love it.” Antonio took out a brochure from the inner pocket of his tailored suit – Westwood, Vivian noticed.It was regarding an art exhibition at the National Gallery.
“The National Gallery is hosting a Botticelli exhibition – six major paintings.” Antonio continued in a very excited tone.
“What are you getting at, Antonio?” Vivian sighed.
“D’accord! I will come straight to the point. Out of the six, I have a client interested in this one – The Last Communion of Saint Jerome, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. He is willing to pay huge. Are you in?”
“Hmm. Depends. What exactly do you mean by huge?”
“Eight Million Dollars.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Not bad. Not bad at all, actually. So, what’s my share?”
“The usual – twenty percent.”
“Sorry Antonio. Not going to happen.”
“Allons! Vivian. I thought it’ll be right up your sleeve.”
“The risk is huge Antonio. That painting is priceless. It says here that it is being exhibited for only a week. The window is too small. And don’t even get me started on the security.”
“Alright! Okay, name your price.”
“Es-tu sérieux?” You serious?
“Very. Fifty percent or deal’s off the table.”
Antonio sighed, giving up. He knew Vivian well enough to know how stubborn she could be when she wanted to. It was part of the reason he liked her. The woman always got what she wanted.
“Okay. I agree. Fifty percent.” He held out his hand.
She took it. “I’ll call you in a few days.” Antonio nodded. She stood up to leave.
“It was nice to see you Vivian.”
“You too, Antonio.” She smiled.
Antonio looked on as Vivian walked down the bank of Thames, her red hair fluttering in the wind.