Problem was she thought dragging herself out of her bed and surveying the damage from the nights pre-launch party was not that her loft apartment was a mess, but that there was nobody else but her to clean it. Resolutely she searched the kitchen to find the last of the bin bags and began throwing things in at random. Cringing as she picked up unidentifiable items Sarah vowed as she always did that next time He wanted to party she would point blank refuse to let Him bring everyone back here.
She sighed and stretched, her oversized t-shirt riding up to reveal more of her bare legs that according to some went all the way up to her armpits. The lanky too thin teenager had matured into a curvaceous, stunning woman and at 27 years of age Sarah had a natural grace and lithe beauty that other women paid lots of money to try and emulate.
Her hand itched and as she stood looking out of the large windows across the old quarter of the city she scratched the silvery scar that ran across her palm. 3 months since she had accidentally dropped into the labyrinth and had brought back a wash of memories and sadness. 3 months since she had seen the only other man in her life after 12 years of fleeting dreams.
"Don't kid yourself Sarah." She muttered turning away from the autumn sunshine to carry on cleaning.
An hour later the surfaces were clean and tidy, furniture had been put back in its rightful place and the last evidence of the previous night was being thoroughly washed by her overworked dishwasher. She sat flopped and exhausted on the sofa by the windows staring into nothingness as her headache kicked in with a vengeance worthy of the goblin king. She mentally chided herself again for bringing him to mind when the main door banged open and like a whirlwind of chaos Toby came in and scattered the calm, and his belongings over the dining table.
"Wotcha Tobe. Why so early?" Sarah asked picking up her cold cup of tea and walking into the kitchen to watch him raiding the left-over's in the fridge.
"Dads being a pain." He said retreating to the table with half a cold pizza. "What we doing today?" He asked through a mouthful as Sarah wrinkled her nose as his bad manners. In the typical fashion Toby had the ability to grow 3 inches a day and consume junk food in an inhuman capacity that only boys can achieve. She slumped on the table opposite him and watched her brother stuff pizza in his mouth.
"I have to drop by the gallery. Whys dad being a pain?"
"He's locked himself in the den again. I dunno. Do we have to go to the gallery?"
"Have you spoken to Karen about it, and yes we do. I need to make sure everything is ok with the sales we got last night. It shouldn't take long."
"Will Olly be there?" Toby looked up at his sister with a shuttered look, ignoring the query about his mother.
"I doubt it." Sarah got up and walked back into her bedroom and closed the door leaving Toby to ponder the shortness of her reply as he ate second breakfast.
She reappeared 15 minutes later looking like a supermodel with tousled waist long, damp hair from a quick shower wearing tailored trousers in cream and a soft green top that showed off her curves. Toby wished for a millionth time he had his sisters dark hair as he got up and turned the TV off; glowering as she reached over and scrubbed at his mid brown scruffy cut as he passed her at the door.
"Can Petey and Nick come over this afternoon?" He asked as they drove into the city center and the gallery.
"Only if you finish your homework first."
"Aww Sarah it's the weekend!"
"All the more reason to get it out the way first." She replied not budging on the argument they had every weekend.
"I need new trainers." Toby mused picking at his shoes as they waited at a set of traffic lights.
"Whats wrong with those?"
"They are 6 months old and the sole is falling off." Toby stated shifting his foot so she could see the hole.
"You'll have to ask Karen."
"But she'll just get me another cheap pair. Why can't you get me some? You do know if she gets me a pair I'll be the laughing stock at school. Least you know the designer stores." Toby groused removing his foot from her view and pouting out the window. "Its not like you don't have the money."
"I won't if you keep spending it."
"I'll sell my share of the gallery then." He stated matter-of-factly, crossing his arms and glaring at her.
"You will not Toby Williams. You can't. Daddy and I wouldn't buy it and you're not 18 yet."
"Dad doesn't care. He doesn't care about anything any more."
"He's not well Tobe. Please don't be difficult."
"Why can't I just come and live with you? He doesn't even notice when I'm in the house and I hate living with mum."
"You know why. I'm not your legal guardian Tobe." Sarah sighed parking the car in the underground parking lot and walking slowly over to the stairs as Toby followed her sulking.
"I'm sorry little bro. I wish things were better. I'll try speaking to him tomorrow." She said hugging him to her and noting once again that he was almost her height now as he grunted and pulled away before she could kiss him.
Martin flashed a casual salute to them both as he held open the big glass doors into the gallery. Sarah breathed deeply; she loved this place; a constant haven of peace, imagination and creativity, each piece of artwork on the pale walls beckoning her eyes to explore their hidden meanings. Toby immediately stopped to talk to Martin who enjoyed spending time with the youngest member of the Williams family as Sarah headed up the broad white staircase towards the offices, waving at Chris as he appeared from one of the other gallery sections, a duster in his hand.
"Any messages?" She queried Anita as she reached the second floor and the office manager who looked up from a pile of papers scattered across her desk and grinned.
"Nope. Calm before the storm; 14 pieces last night and 3 queries on private commissions. Dave will be chuffed." The pretty blonde said handing a sheaf of receipts to Sarah as she passed the desk.
"More than I expected, that's brilliant!" She smiled flicking through the receipts and making a mental tally of the sales as she sat down at her own equally cluttered desk.
"There was a query about one of your paintings too…" Anita said quietly following her boss into the room with a cup of tea.
"They aren't for sale." Sarah replied inhaling tea and figures.
"You could make a fortune if you sold even a couple of them."
"Not for sale. Why would I need more money? The gallery makes me more than enough." Sarah shrugged looking up at her friend and smiling. "I should take them down, that space could be used for another client."
"Its your gallery… you're allowed to show off your own art you know." Anita sighed walking back to her own desk to answer the phone as Chris replaced her, glaring at her from behind his designer glasses and floppy hair.
"Darling you simply MUST sell your artwork." He sighed examining a sketch pad of a hopeful artist wanting gallery space.
"Not for sale." Sarah repeated turning away from her desk to get a folder from the filing cabinets behind her.
"It's a disgrace. I could have sold your sexy goblin king 100 times over. I wouldn't mind him myself…"
"Don't you have work to be doing?"
"No darling. Everything is spick and span and Dinah isn't due till 11. What's this about Olly taking on another hopeless case?"
"You'd have to ask him. Apparently she's got talent but it remains to be seen."
"Talent in what? Taking her knickers off?" Chris mused walking over to the large table and sitting down to look through an art catalogue. He ignored the blank stare Sarah gave him as she sat down opposite him and handed him a big portfolio.
"Tell me what you think of those." She said flicking hair out of her face.
"You have been a busy girl. You are wasted. Utterly wasted." Chris muttered as he greedily flicked though her sketches. "He's so dishy. One day you must introduce me." He stopped to admire a pencil sketch of the handsome and rakish Goblin King surrounded by his goblin court. At the back of the sketchbook he noticed a small rough of a girl in a beautiful dress staring off into the distant view of a castle and a maze.
"This one." He nodded pointing to it with a manicured finger. "This one you must finish." He stated adamantly drawing her attention to the sketch.
"I don't think I can." Sarah whispered closing her eyes. "I can't see it any more. Its changed." She said unhappily remembering the dark twisted plants and heavy forbidding clouds like his angry eyes as her scar itched again.
"What's changed?" Toby asked walking in with a cookie.
"Nothing." Sarah said quickly removing the portfolio from her brother's sight and putting it away as Chris narrowed his eyes at her.
"You did well last night, 9 sales. Pretty damn impressive, we should be able to manoeuvre everything about and look for a new artist for you next week." Sarah said all business.
"You mean we'll be able to move everything so that Olly can get a new client." Chris stated.
"No. He had the last slot, it's your turn, not only that you've been doing twice as many sales as he has for your clients."
"He won't like it."
"He doesn't have to like it. Start looking through the submissions and see what takes your fancy. The installation space is free too from next week."
"Are we taking on another wacky one or something a bit more user friendly that won't poke your eyes out if you get too close?" Chris asked referring to the spiky affair currently occupying the space as he followed Sarah from her office with Toby in tow.
"Definitely something more user friendly, I'd like to try and get that young guy in from the university who's doing those beautiful classical sculptures…" Sarah mused as she paused at the top of the stairs.
"Finish that drawing." Chris muttered at her as she passed him.
"Ok, we're off, Toby and I have a date with a new pair of trainers." She said putting her coat on and waving to Anita and frowning at Chris. "I'll see."
"Bye!" Toby yelled as he bounced out the door heading in the direction of the shops as Sarah dragged her feet behind him still nursing her headache.
They hadn't mentioned last night. They never did, which under the circumstances was probably better. She knew they didn't approve of Him, knew they hated how he spoke to her and treated her like crap and flirted outrageously with other women in front of her. They didn't really know the half of it Sarah thought sadly as Toby tried on another pair of trainers happily chatting to the store staff, oblivious to his sisters inner turmoil.
"Those fit you squirt?" She asked finally as he paraded up and down the store in front of the mirrors. He nodded and took them off, handing the box to the attendant who bustled off to ring up the purchase. Sarah, only half a mind on the job and grateful that it had only taken 5 shops to find a pair he liked handed over her credit card and then as the woman at the counter handed Toby the bag and her the receipt almost choked when she saw the price. Sarah glared at Toby as he grinned impishly and bounded out the shop.
"Those are coming out your allowance for the next 10 years." She muttered as they headed back towards the parking lot when a dress shop caught Toby's eye.
"You should get that." He said pointing to the strapless moss green dress in the window.
"Why do I need another new dress? Haven't we spent enough money today?" Toby shrugged as Sarah looked closely at the dress, which was she admitted very pretty.
"You look like you need cheering up too." He said before carrying on walking. Sarah stood there in front of the shop window and caught sight of her reflection, sighing deeply before following him.
The loft felt desolate as they walked back in, something indescribable was missing, and Sarah believed she was the only one who knew what. She loved the space and openness, and the success of the gallery had allowed her to fill the open rooms with beautiful furniture and artwork, and even though it was frequently filled with people she always felt lonely. The only time it faded was when she was with Toby, when she was content that it hadn't all been for nothing. That she hadn't given up her heart and happiness for no reason because he was safe. She knew she only stayed with Olly because she was desperately afraid that if she didn't she'd fade into nothing. It was a stupid fear she chided herself as she cooked lunch for them both but admitting the fact and doing something about it were two different things, and her encounter with Jareth had only highlighted that fear.
She ate lunch in silence, watching Toby as he tried to do his homework, a chunk of crusty bread in one hand and his pen in the other, her scar itching.
The phone rang and she jumped as Toby got up to go answer it. He stood there listening in silence then held the phone out for her, displeasure written all over his face.
"Where have you been all morning? You were supposed to go and get my dry cleaning, I've just had a call from the shop. Why didn't you go?"
"I was out with Toby. It slipped my mind, don't worry you can collect it tomorrow."
"You mean you can go and collect it tomorrow. I've not got time. I'm taking Cassandra to Paris in 2 hours and won't be back till Tuesday. Once again you've fucked up my plans. You're bloody useless."
"It's a good job I'm not giving you the next space for a new client. You're never here to deal with them." Sarah said stubbornly, ignoring the hurt in her heart as he told her he was taking one of his clients to Paris. How many times had he said he would take her, and had always failed to make good on his promises.
"He can fuck off and all. I'm the senior director he can wait. I'm sick and tired of you micro managing and messing things up Sarah. Stay in your bloody office and let me deal with the new clients. I've got to go anyhow, Cassandra is here. Make sure you get my stuff for me and the champagne needs reordering for Cassandra's launch party next Friday."
The line went dead. Toby stood and looked at her and for some reason she couldn't stop the tears from falling.
"I'm going to go lay down for a bit Tobe. Don't be too noisy when you have your friends over." She said hugging him and then walking off to her own room.
Toby sat listening to the radio for 10 minutes before he dared open the portfolio she had left by the door to her studio. He sat in the afternoon sunshine and flipped though pages and pages filled to bursting with little creatures, goblins with funny faces and graceful elves and fairies, and whole pages with sketches of the Goblin King. Toby sighed as he closed the portfolio and placed it back by the door.
"She needs you. I wish you'd help her." For an instant he thought he caught a faint trace of damp grass and wild things as he turned to go back to the phone to call his friends; but the moment was gone, and he thought nothing further of his words, knowing they had been heard.