Private Internship

By: Kitsy Clare

An Art of Love Novel


To The amazing Domino Sugar Factory,

Williamsburg, NY, the inspiration for Caz's Sugar Castle


I’m already a jangle of nerves when the ping of an incoming text startles me. One of my heels catches in the crack of the gritty Brooklyn sidewalk and I pitch forward—very unladylike—latching onto a stop sign for dear life. Shaken, I right myself, wipe off my dented cell, and flip it open to a text.

Sienna, he’s a freaking monster!

My friend, Harper. Who’s the monster? Has she gotten into a fight with her boyfriend, Dave Hightower, over who should load the dishwasher? Or in a snitfest over whose turn it is to drive their new fire-engine red BMW? They fight a lot—for sport. Harper is kind, but hot-blooded, and Dave is well bred, but arrogant, generous with laughs but stingy as an addict with one bag of dope left when it comes to money.

Or, is Harper referring to her new-ish boss? The very one about to interview me about a private internship.

No, not her boss. Please.

I reach down, brush off my scuffed stilettos, and then ping her back.

Who’s a monster?

Caz! He fired me!

My stomach feels like it’s splatted into the glass-strewn gutter and is pooling around the shards. I stare ahead at the glitzy Schneitryn Sugar Factory turned art castle where the art king lives and breathes. Where I’m headed. Where I’m dreading to go. Its towers and spires, gothic barred windows glow against the city’s purple-twinkled dusk. Casper Mason lives and plays there. The Casper Mason: mythical he-man from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, who trekked up north ten years ago to make his fortune. Last year’s feature in ArtNews made him seem like some fairy tale lumberjack in rawhide boots, hauling everything he owned in one bulging pack during his trudge up the coast and right onto the mean streets of Manhattan.

Supposedly, he even slept on a park bench in Central Park those first few nights, braving the thugs and nuts who shambled through its meadows sniffing out folks to rob or even murder. Only stupid or desperate people stayed there all night. Caz was, apparently, desperate. The story, as I vaguely recall, skipped magically after that to when Caz hit it big, way, way out of the park, with his wacko, over-the-top art pieces and installations, mostly about sugar.

Sugar? No shit.

I’ve seen the photos of his installations in magazines. Recently, I went with Harper to see his work at the Museum of Modern Art. His show featured three dead snakes in a translucent vat of pink sugar-water and five-hundred-pound bags of sugar hung at all angles in the gallery for we, the clueless art aficionados, to wonder what the bloody hell Casper Mason is possibly thinking when he conjures up such things.

I ping Harper back.

Why did he fire u?

Not that I really want to know. In fact, I do not want to know. Caz has a terrible reputation for sacking his staff. Harper told me he’s already booted three girls this season. And if polite, beautiful Harper can’t please him, there’s no way in hell that I, Sienna Karr, ornery, slightly rebellious, and definitely flawed potential employee, will last a hot minute.

Because I wandered into the wrong room, she texts back.

Wha? Come again?

She spits out a full rant this time. I went into his back storage room and he effing freaked on me. He yelled and threw a bag of sugar at one of his art installations. It broke all over everywhere and he made me clean it up before he fired me. He’s a horrible person and he’s truly scary. I don’t care how famous he is or how rich. Sienna, I’m sorry I recommended you for the internship. Don’t work for him! He’ll ruin your life.

I take deep breaths and stare harder at the Sugar Factory, its smokestacks rising into the skyline like gothic, warlock-y skyscrapers of doom. Three more blocks and I’ll reach the outer door of the villain’s art castle. What should I do? If I thought I was a mess of nerves before, well, that was just a twinge of nothing compared to the jingle-jangle-Jello in my stomach.

Sorry to hear about this, Harper. I’ll stop by later. Off to an appointment.

Not to interview with Caz. Sienna?

I snap my cell closed. I’m not into lying, but I won’t be giving her the answer she wants.

I can’t turn back, can’t afford to listen to my best friend. I need this internship, this stamp of approval. Need it on my work résumé. I want to see how the experts do things—how they create, who they party with, and who their clients are. I want to have a living example of how to do it. A road map.

Connections are everything—Harper’s boyfriend, Dave, heir to Studio Hightower, the super-glitzy gallery in Chelsea, taught me that. Dave knows about the art business. He talked me into this as much as she did. Plus, Harper and I both thought it would be big fun to intern together. Now, that won’t happen. Why do all of the fun things fall through? The world is hard enough.

Suck it up, Sienna. Quit your whining. Harper got fired, not you!

I’m never one to turn away from a challenge. In fact, I love a challenge, whether it was undertaking my very first sloppy oil painting last spring or trying out some bitching, hard new art software like Creative Suite or QFX. I mean, how bad can this internship be? Being this close, I have to admit, I’m eager to see this guy, eyeball-to-eyeball. I’ll do my own little glad-handing of the royalty of the world I so fervently want entrée into. Harper is exaggerating. She’s got to be. Sometimes her frothy topping of sweetness doesn’t gel with people. They think she’s fake and superficial. They just haven’t dug down to the heart of Harper, where she’s as hardheaded as the most ambitious of us.