The Obsession Page 77

“I want you with the Austen. Can you bookmark what you’re reading?”

“I’ve read it before. I can pick it up where I left off if I want.” He felt more than a little foolish. No one would ever term him shy, but the idea of taking pictures of his hands?


“You’re serious about the hand thing.”

“Deadly. Tough man’s hand with classic novel written by a woman, one a lot of people consider a woman’s book.”

“A lot of people are stupid.”

“Either way, it should work.” She took out her light meter. “And the light’s good right here for what I want. Good, natural light through that window. Especially if you just . . . scoot your chair to the right, just a couple inches.”

Once he had, she checked the light meter again. Apparently satisfied, she went back for her laptop, set it on the postage-stamp corner of counter.

“Just hold the book open, the way you would if you were reading it. Not the first page—you’ve been reading it awhile. About a third of the way through.”

He felt ridiculous, but he did it. He’d give her five minutes to play around.

She shot over his shoulder so that sultry summer scent spilled over him.

Maybe ten, he considered, while she shifted behind him, leaned in closer.

“Turn a page—or start to, don’t turn it all the way. Just—stop, hold it. Good. It’s good. But . . .”

She straightened, frowned at the laptop image. He had to twist around to check it himself, and what he saw surprised him.

“I thought you were crazy, but it looks like an ad in a high-class magazine or something.”

“It’s good, but it’s not quite there. It needs . . . Of course.”

She pulled open his refrigerator, took out a beer. When she spotted the opener, she popped the top, then to his shock, poured a good third of it down the sink.

“What? Why?”

“Tough hands, a beer, and Pride and Prejudice.” She set the beer on the table, framed it, moved it closer to the top right edge of the book.

“You didn’t have to pour it down the sink.”

“It needs to look like you’re drinking a beer and reading Austen.”

“I have a mouth, and a throat. We could have poured it in there.”

“Sorry, didn’t think of that. Left thumb under the page, turning it, right hand on the beer. I need you to cover the label—I’m not looking for product placement. Hand on the beer like you’re about to pick it up, maybe even lift it a half inch off the table.”

Since there was no use crying over spilled beer, he followed instructions. Picking up the beer, setting it down, turning a page, not turning a page, until she lowered the camera again.

“Perfect. Just exactly right.”

He turned to see for himself, saw the beer had been inspired. It gave the shot a cheerful edge, and added balance.

“Real men read books,” Naomi said. “I’m going to offer poster size.”

He felt weird all over again. “Posters.”

“Brick-and-mortar bookstores, adult learning centers, college dorms, even some libraries. You’ve given me some damn good work today, Xander. I’m going to tell Kevin it’s a go on the steam shower.”

“You’re putting in a steam shower.”

“I am now.” Nodding, nodding, she scrolled through the shots on her computer. “Yes, I am now. I’d talked myself out of it, but when I get this much good work on a Sunday? I’m steaming.”

He pointed at her. “I earned time in that.”

“You definitely did.”

She didn’t resist when he pulled her onto his lap, but did hesitate when he started to take the camera.

“I’m not going to bounce it off the floor. It’s got weight,” he commented.

“Just over nine pounds. I’m mostly going to use the tripod with it, and it’s worth the weight. It’s tough and reliable, and you can see just how sharp.”

“And this deal on the back makes it shoot digital?”

Nodding, she removed it. “Excellent system—no pins to catch on anything, and it has its own integrated software. It’s not something I’m going to take on a hike, but for what I wanted here, and for what you want with the band, it’s the machine.”

He had to admit he’d like to play with it himself, just to see how the mechanics worked. But he didn’t see that happening, any more than he’d let her under the hood of his GTO.

“I use my phone if I take a picture.”

“Very decent cameras on phones today. I’ve taken some nice shots I’ve been able to manipulate and sell. And now, I wouldn’t mind a half a glass of that wine while I break this down and we set up in the garage.”

“I can take care of that. I’ve already got most of a beer.”

“Thanks.” She hesitated again, then kissed him. “Thanks,” she repeated.

“No problem.”

She rose, went over to carefully replace her camera in its case. And as he rose to get her wine, he saw her gaze shift back to the books.

“So, it’s a classic therefore a clichéd question, but have you read all of these?”

“Everything out here, yeah. There’s some in my office, in the bedroom I haven’t gotten to yet.”

She pulled off casual, he thought, compacting her tripod, sliding it into its soft case.

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