I - NOW

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The gallery was full of beautiful women and men alike that November night. A gala was being held in honour of several Danish actors begin recognized for their respective achievements in the industry. Bendt was mostly unimpressed. Too many heavily painted faces plastered with false smiles. It was all so disingenuous, so against what artistry was, and yet here they were invading his gallery of truth, of real sincerity. Many people barely even attempted to converse with the curator as he reluctantly mingled about the gala floor. Bendt was simply there to represent the gallery; as their most knowledgeable curator, the higher-ups believed he was the best suited. This was what they told him, at least, but Bendt knew a different truth. The gala was for Denmark alone, and independent Denmark at that. It was not a large enough - or important enough - event for the board to put it on for.

At least they had put out decent enough wine.

Having given up on rubbing elbows with anyone of potential value, Bendt turned to a different kind of crowed evolution. It was during his darker observations that he spotted her, and she threw him completely off-kilter. The woman glittered as she drifted through the crowd, the wine glass in her hand catching the light of the chandelier. She was a firefly in the night, and she was beautiful. Utterly beautiful. He moved towards her before he was even aware of his actions, and was at her side while his mind was still catching up.

"May I help you?" the mystical woman asked in a voice that was breathy and light, gentle beyond comparison. 

Embarrassment washed over him, and he looked at his feet with an awkward smile. "Forgive me. It's just..." His voice trailed off as he looked at her directly. She was even more stunning this close.

"Yes?" Large hazel eyes looked up at him through long lashes. Cinnamon freckles peppered her nose and along her high cheekbones, further adding to Bendt's flustered demeanour. 

He laughed at himself and forced coherent words out from beneath the lump in his throat. "Forgive me," he repeated. "It would appear I have forgotten what I was going to say."

"Ah, so just looking for an excuse to gawk at a beautiful woman?"

Bendt smirked, an eyebrow quirked in acknowledgement of her confidence. "So it would seem."

"Lykke," she said, extending a hand. "Lykke Jacobsen."

"Bendt Holm," he replied, taking her hand and placing a classic brush of his lips to his knuckles. "Might I top up that wine for you, Miss Jacobsen?"

Lykke smirked at him, "I think not, Mr. Holm. However, you may join me on the front steps for a cigarette if you are so inclined."

"I have a far better place for that."

"Do you now?"

"Oh yes. When you essentially run a place like this, you get to know of all the little nooks and crannies in which to hide away."

#

Even in the frost air, Lykke sparkled as much as she had inside the gallery. Her mink stole draped over her shoulders as she looked to the brilliant sky, the stars reflected in her eyes. Bendt had a cigarette of his own as they stood on the rooftop terrace that overlooked the frozen garden behind the gallery, a terrace only accessible through the window of his boss's office.

"This is lovely," Lykke said in the silence before rapidly changing the topic. "So you run the gallery?"

"I curate it. I make sure everyone knows what they are looking at and make sure the flow of the paintings fits the tone of the displays."

"And slapping all the little hands that reach out to touch?"

Bendt chuckled. "Exactly. And I can only assume you are an actress?"

"You assume?" There was a fire in her eyes, a playful challenge that Bendt was already starting to enjoy.

"I was told the gala was for talent rather than crew. Not that crew is untalented, simply the wording of the memo."

She smiled and Bendt knew that he had passed her test. "Well then, you assume correctly, Mr. Holm. Despite your ill-worded memo."

"Are you being honoured tonight, Miss Jacobsen? I must confess, film is not my forte."

"No, I am not. Simply here for the free wine and lovely atmosphere," she said, gesturing around them. "My films may be independent and Danish, but they are not the type to be widely acknowledged."

"Oh?"

Lykke took a drag from her cigarette as she looked at the sky. "It has been said that my films are too 'art haus'."

"Now I am intrigued. I may need to see for myself how 'art haus' they are."

"The opinion of an art curator sounds interesting. You'll need to tell me what you think."

"I will require a wa to reach you if that is the case." Bendt was very thankful for his inability to blush in that moment. It was probably the more terrible way to ask for a woman's telephone number.

"Or we can make plans now," she smirked in that sassy, challenging way once more. "Kakeriet at eight on Saturday. Don't be late."

"I would not dream of it," he breathed, stunned by the prospect of a date with this woman as well as her candid forwardness.

"Until then, Mr. Holm."

"Enjoy the night, Miss Jacobsen."

With a wink and a wave of her fingers, Bendt watched as Lykke returned through the window into the office beyond. He turned back to the sky, only to be startled into dropping his cigarettes at Lykke's sudden reappearance at his side.

"Miss Jacobsen?" he said, trying to regain his composure.

"Could you escort me back to the gala?"

Bendt smiled, shaking his head at himself as he stomped out the cigarette. "Yes. Yes, of course."

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