Provenance - Carla Laureano Page 0,1

terrible ‘update’ in the 1980s, but the Thomases want to take it back to its original details.” She pulled up her gallery and started swiping through the photos of the house, taken from every angle. No matter what else Sophie might be, she was definitely thorough.

“Wow. Diagonal walnut floors. You don’t see those often.” Kendall swiped back and expanded the photo to see detailing of the home’s cement fireplace, which had been covered with a horrible faux brick. “At least it’s just a veneer. That shouldn’t be too difficult to remove, though it will have to be skim-coated when it’s done.” Excitement began to build in her. Her style ran more toward European antiques and elaborate finishes, anything with the weight of tradition behind it—French provincial, Spanish, Tudor—but it could be fun to work on something so streamlined and modern, especially since their clients were beginning to demand more eclectic spaces with a mix of origins and styles. “When do we get started?”

Sophie didn’t answer immediately, and Kendall raised her eyes to her friend’s face. “What?”

“It’s just that . . . they asked for me specifically. Not you.”

“Oh.” Kendall licked her lips and shoved down the pang of hurt. “Of course. I just . . . No, that’s great.”

“Are you sure? The style is right in my wheelhouse, and after you let me take the lead on the Najarian project—”

“No, absolutely. It makes total sense. You’ll do a great job. It’s high time you start doing some projects without me, and if we’re working independently, that gives us more income.”

“That’s what I was thinking.” Sophie exhaled in relief; then her expression shadowed. “I was going to wait until you were settled in to tell you . . .”

Kendall froze. “You’re not quitting and going out on your own, are you?”

“No! Of course not.” Sophie laughed, then sobered quickly. “We got the notice from the landlord.”

If she’d been feeling hurt before, now all Kendall felt was panic. “How bad is it?”

“Not great. Eight thousand.”

“A month?”

“Well, it’s not per year, that’s for sure.”

Kendall closed her eyes and tried to calm the sudden frantic thump of her heart. Eight thousand dollars a month didn’t sound like so much compared to renting commercial space, but since they lived there, only part of that amount could be written off on their business taxes. The rest came out of their salaries, which were fairly paltry considering how much money they always had tied up in inventory and receivables.

“It’s a good thing you’re taking on your own clients then,” Kendall said finally, straightening her spine. “With two of us working independently, we can make it work. And in that case, it’s probably time that we list you on the website as a designer.” She forced a smile. “Let me drop my things in my room and change, and you can show me what you’re thinking.”

Sophie returned the smile, and Kendall pushed herself to standing, her steps more subdued now as she pulled the roller case down the bumpy clay-tiled floor to her bedroom. The Spanish-style house had dual masters—large rooms each with their own en suite—so she and Sophie didn’t have to share a bathroom, though it wouldn’t have bothered Kendall if they did. She felt lucky enough to be living in a multimillion-dollar house in one of the nicest parts of Pasadena, a luxury she hadn’t dared imagine as a kid. Until now, their work relationship had always been divided along certain lines: Kendall had the designer skills and the experience; Sophie picked up the slack on administrative duties and acted as a design assistant. It was only within the last few months that Kendall had let her take the lead on projects, and that was simply because Kendall’s schedule had become untenable. She hadn’t expected to come back from one of her sourcing trips to find that her assistant had been taking on clients of her own.

“Don’t be silly,” she whispered to herself, pushing down a sudden bubble of what felt suspiciously like jealousy. Kendall might be young for this business at only twenty-nine, but she’d made a name for herself with both her impeccable taste and her ability to find unique furnishings with interesting—and fully documented—stories. Everyone from movie stars to TV producers to socialites wanted to own a cabinet that was passed down from Catherine of Aragon’s great-great-great-granddaughter or a Hans Wegner Danish modern prototype that never made it into production. It was her reputation for doing whatever it took to source the