Vincent eyed the computer screen with something that was a cross between incredulity and horror. It was Lilia’s money and she was free to do whatever she wanted with it, but he couldn’t help but think of how many windows they could replace in their new house - their new lair, as she called it - with that many zeroes.
Was it wrong that he was hoping she would be outbid at the very last instant?
“How high are you going to go?” he asked, and thankfully was able to keep his disapproval out of his voice.
“As high as it takes.”
She proved it when a warning flashed that she had been outbid: before ten seconds had passed on the time ticker, she had raised the winning bid by fifty dollars.
They could have bought a couple gallons of good paint with those fifty dollars. Their bedroom walls needed a new color, anything that wasn’t a faded pink.
“I didn’t know you liked porcelain that much,” he said, unsure whether to hope for another bid or not anymore.
“I don’t,” she replied curtly, her eyes never leaving the screen. Her entire body was tense, as though poised for an attack.
“Hush. It’s almost over.”
And indeed, the timer was trickling down. Last minute. Last seconds.
She won the auction, sitting back in her chair and sighing in relief when the message popped up.
“Are you going to tell me what’s so special about this thing?” Vincent asked, a little annoyed now, though he couldn’t have said if it was about the way she had shushed him or at the thought of all the money gone into that small piece of painted porcelain.
She clicked on the picture, zooming in on the girl’s face until it filled the screen.
“When I was fourteen,” she said slowly, “I started taking violin lessons. I was terrible at it, but Mother insisted. She even commissioned a porcelain piece about it.”
She turned her face to Vincent. He looked at her. Then at the screen. Back at her eyes, so full of that longing that only resurfaced when she talked, oh, so rarely, of her family. Back at the screen again, and at the delicately painted face of a young noble girl.
The porcelain piece was titled ‘Helen’s First Lesson’ and Vincent couldn’t believe he hadn’t made the connection right away. Pressing a kiss to her temple, he asked, choking up a little on the words, “So, where are you going to put it?”