Chapter 5

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The gallery's reopening gala took place on a Thursday night in late June, serving as a festive start to the summer. Carol had signed several up-and-coming artists to exhibit their work, which drew the attention of a certain circle from Seattle. The local press sent a photographer and reporter, and one of the art journals from Seattle had sent a stringer. A jazz ensemble provided live music and the finest restaurant on the island catered the event.

"Aunt Carol, how do you know all these people?"

"I've been in the art world for a long time, and I have a great many contacts," she answered, smiling and waving this way and that. Pam's aunt had shed her casual island persona and in her place stood a radiant, sophisticated woman. With her new hairstyle and make-up, it was hard to believe she was the same woman. If Pam hadn't helped her get ready she might not have recognized her.

Carol caught Pam by the elbow as a tall young man in an expensive gray suit walked up to them. His poised bearing would have put him more at home in Los Angeles or New York than a small Pacific Northwest island.

"Carol, it's a triumph," he said and leaned down to kiss her cheek.

"Len, thanks for coming. Let me introduce my niece, Pam. Pam, I'm sure you know who Len is."

Pam tried not to gawk. He was one of the hottest properties in Hollywood at the moment with three movies released that year. The latest golden boy had all the women swooning over him, and in person he was even more handsome and charismatic. He was taller than she had realized, slender but well-built with the chiseled features of a model and curly black hair. His eyes seemed to shift from gray to light blue, depending on the turn of his head. He held out his hand to Pam with a smile.

"What an unexpected thrill to meet you," she said, trying to stay calm.

"I could say the same." He took her hand and kissed it. "What brings you to the great Northwest?"

"I'm staying with Aunt Carol for a bit, between jobs."

"I've slept on her couch once or twice myself," he said with a straight face.

She caught the teasing tone in his voice, that deep, mellow voice she found so sexy. He was relaxed and genial while Pam tried to hide her nervousness. She was determined not to be a giggling fan girl. Even with all the time she'd spent in Los Angeles she'd seldom come face-to-face with a celebrity, and Lennox was the celebrity of the moment.

"Really, isn't that interesting?" She shot her aunt a look that said she had some explaining to do later. Aunt Carol smiled, then turned as someone called her name and she moved off to meet the newcomer. "So what brings you up here?"

"Oh you know, the same: between jobs." He smiled and Pam thought her knees would buckle. "Seriously, I was in Vancouver and just got done shooting when Carol called and invited me to come by for the opening." He sipped his champagne as if to keep from laughing out loud at the look on her face.

"Aunt Carol has your phone number, does she? My, she's just full of surprises." Pam felt herself flushing and fanned herself with her little evening clutch.

"Okay, okay, I grew up here. I've known your aunt most of my life," he confessed.

"You're from the island?"

"Everyone has to come from somewhere, right?"

"I guess I should have visited more often."

He laughed. "I think you need some champagne."

Lennox beckoned a waiter with a trayful of champagne glasses over, took one and handed it to Pam. "To new friends," he said, and clinked his glass with hers. "I'd invite you to go outside on the balcony and we could talk but Carol's probably expecting me to hang out and mingle for a while," he said. "And the newspaper might have us engaged by the morning."

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