Read Exposure Online

Authors: Kelly Moran

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Exposure

BOOK: Exposure
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Exposure

 

Kelly Moran

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or
locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

© COPYRIGHT 2016 by Kelly Moran

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

Content Warning: Not intended for persons
under the age of 18.

This eBook contains graphic love scenes
between two consenting people, mild language and some instances of
violence.

ISBN: 9781310660030

Cover Art by: Kelly Moran

Photo Credit: Dollar Photo Club

Smashwords eBook Edition

Published in the United States of America

 

I wholeheartedly dedicate
this book to the two best critique partners in the world:
AJ Nuest
and
Mackenzie
Crowne
. Fabulous authors who I
could not have done this without. Love you guys! xo

 

Acknowledgements:

Writing is a solitary
profession, but authors can't do this crazy gig without help. I'd
like to thank authors Alison Bliss and Theresa DaLayne, along with
readers Kathy Branfield and Annita Harton, who gave me the inside
peek at Alaska and helped so much with making the setting accurate.
You were such a big help! Any errors are my own. And I'd like to
give a big shout out to my street team,
Moran's Moxies
, who
tirelessly listen to me, offer advice, help promote, and support me
without bounds. You guys are the best!

Sign up for Kelly Moran's newsletter and get
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Check out these other great romances by
Kelly Moran!

Covington Cove
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Me

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Me

Phantoms
Trilogy

Ghost of a
Promise

Give Up the
Ghost

Ghost of
You

Single Titles

The
Dysfunctional Test

Chapter One

 

To Want

 

February 14th:

I have never been anyone of great
significance. I was raised in an Anchorage shack of a house to a
woman who collected more men than things, and through the years her
heart had been broken so many times I had to wonder why she
bothered. To her, love was an eternal hope, a way to make this
bitter life shine like the many little trinkets she collected. To
me, love was something a person gave up a piece of themselves for
and never walked away from.

I quickly learned that if I wanted anything,
I had to work for it. Where my mother fruitlessly dreamed, I
preferred reality. That's not to say my mother doesn't love me. She
does, with every fiber of her flighty, spirited being. Our family
dynamic left me more the parental figure than her, but I never
lacked for anything and my need for control didn't mind.

I worked my ass off to get a scholarship to
college and earned a Fine Arts degree so I could move us out of
nowhere to somewhere. And I did. In a beautiful location pocketed
between Anchorage and Prince William Sound, I bought my own gallery
in a postage stamp of a town called Tartok Crest. Not for my own
art. I have no artistic talent other than being able to recognize
it. I showcase brilliant Alaskan photographs and once a year
publish those pictures in a book collection. The tourists eat it
up. It was a step up from the little girl who got picked on
constantly by classmates or ignored throughout high school as if
nothing more than dandelion fluff caught on a breeze.

Since opening the gallery six years ago, my
clientele has soared from local artists to some international while
still maintaining the intimate charm. Showings at Elements Gallery
are in high demand. And though all this seems well and good--a rise
from poor upbringings--I remain someone of little consequence. I
linger in the shadows, letting the artists shine. That is their
place, not mine. I merely give them the means. I much prefer it
this way, for reasons I dare not pull from memory or I'll sink back
into the dark.

So when my assistant strolled into my office
on the second floor of Elements and set her palms flat on my desk
one idle Tuesday morning, I had no way of knowing this would be the
moment everything changed. A series of dominoes tipping with a
clack, all leading to an unexpected and crazy end. One I fear I
won't ever recover from.

 

R
aven Crowne took
in her assistant's strawberry blonde hair, loosely flowing over her
shoulders in soft waves, and sat back in her office chair. Nicole's
green eyes were a mix of excitement and shock, framed by the
palest, longest eyelashes known to mankind. Her willowy body had
caught the attention of more than one artist they'd showcased, and
was now wearing an emerald green wrap-around dress that would make
Raven look frumpy.

Because Nicole was one of the closest things
Raven had to a friend, she never minded her interruptions during
the workday, often and pointless as they were sometimes. Besides,
Nicole was a work horse and Raven could appreciate that. A smile
tugged at her mouth. "Yes?"

"You'll never believe who's downstairs."
Nicole's words came out in a rush, as if keeping them inside would
cause a rupture.

Raven's gaze darted over Nicole's shoulder
to the gallery below. She'd designed her office with a glass wall
facing the show floor, partly to be able to see the comings and
goings, and mostly to not feel closed in. Standing just outside
Nicole's small office was a man in a gray suit. She didn't
recognize him, but she'd dealt with a lot of people through the
years. Still, she was good with faces, and his she didn't know. He
was lean and tall, with dark hair cut too short to compliment his
face and hands deep in the pockets of his pants.

"Who is he?" She didn't have any
appointments today. They'd just finished a week-long showing for a
Washington artist who liked working with black and white. They were
two weeks from another show.

"He says he's Hoan Dwell's agent." Nicole
squealed and slapped a hand over her mouth.

Raven sucked in a shallow breath, hiding her
own excitement. Hoan Dwell, originally rumored to be from the San
Diego area, was a photographer unlike anyone they'd ever worked
with. He captured women, in various stages of undress, in nature
settings. He wasn't particular with his models either. Some were
full figured, others thin as a rail. He made them all beautiful.
Desired.

She owned one of his photographs from very
early in his career, of a blonde in a white sheet, laying over a
boulder near a waterfall in Argentina. What was he doing in
Alaska?

"What does he want?"

Because, in honesty, Hoan Dwell was out of
her league. Though they did work with established artists, none
were of his caliber. He'd had shows in New York, Milan and Paris.
Most of Elements' bookings were new, upcoming artists and very
small market. They'd launched quite a few careers, but…wow.

"He wants to see you." Nicole bounced on her
toes.

Raven closed the program she was working on
and put her PC into sleep mode. "All right. Send him in."

As Nicole sashayed away, Raven blew out a
calming breath and steeled her face to pleasantly neutral. He
nodded once to Nicole and ate the distance over the bamboo floors
to the open staircase. Smoothing her hands down her plain black
dress, she rose when he reached the doorway.

"I'm Raven Crowne, and you are?"

He accepted her handshake with a firm, brief
grasp and sat in one of the brown leather chairs across from her
desk. "Michael Hawthorn. Agent for Hoan Dwell."

She nodded, as if this were an everyday
occurrence. "What can I do for you today, Mr. Hawthorn?"

His eyes were a cold gray, but his smile was
assuredly amused. "My client would like to discuss having an
exhibit at your gallery."

She leveled him with a stare, raising her
brows. "No offense, Mr. Hawthorn, but why would Mr. Dwell be
interested in such a small gallery in Tartok Crest?"

"Can you not handle a showing for him?"

Her hackles rose, but she didn't take his
bait. "Of course, we can. Elements has every means to accommodate
his work. My question is why would he want to?"

"Mr. Dwell's quite enamored with your
gallery."

He looked around her office, taking in the
burnt sienna-colored walls and small prints she'd collected from
new artists. Her tastes ran wide from surrealism to impressionist.
If it struck a chord with her, it stayed. She designed the gallery
below her second floor loft with clean, simple lines and naturist
elements. Glass and wood. Wide open floor plans. Beams carved from
indigenous birch. A frosted glass ceiling made to look like
branches weaving out, as if standing on a forest floor with
sunlight spilling down. She knew what she'd created was a work of
art in itself, utilizing both the vast region that surrounded the
location and new touches.

It had taken five years, but she'd paid off
the investors. The gallery was hers now, and she was so damn proud.
He seemed satisfied with what he saw, nodding his head.

And then she realized what he'd said.

She leaned forward and rested her forearms
on the black walnut desk. "Mr. Dwell has been here before?" Surely
not. She wouldn't have missed that. Then again, Hoan Dwell was an
elusive mystery of a man. He didn't have his own portrait taken and
he avoided media. Aside from his models, who supposedly signed a
confidentiality agreement before posing, no one had laid eyes on
him.

BOOK: Exposure
7.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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