The Obsession Page 80

When Lelo started to rise, she motioned him down. “I’ll get it.”

Dave turned to Xander when she went out. “What the hell have you gotten us into?”

“I have no idea.”

“She’s hot.” Lelo lifted his shoulders. “Just saying. If you hadn’t seen her first, Xan, I’d make some major moves.”

“I just bought this shirt.” Trilby looked down at the tears. “I only washed it once.”

“Let her do what she does,” Ky suggested. “Xander’s bound to get lucky and owe us.”

“He already got lucky,” Naomi said. “You had two.” She arranged the hubcaps, stepped back. “Tag! Those aren’t yours.”

He’d nearly reached the discarded shoes, and now slunk back again.

“For now, everybody look straight at the camera. Badasses, give me some badass. Come on, let’s see you steam up the lens.”

She should’ve gotten a few beers in them first, she thought.

Still, it worked. The light, the setup, the arrangement worked.

She stepped to the side. “See me?”

“You’re right there,” Xander pointed out.

“So everybody sees me. Hold that thought.” She went behind the camera, looked through the lens. “Imagine me naked.”

And there we go.

“Again. Don’t lose it. Imagine me imagining you naked. Yeah, that’s got you thinking.”

She came out again, picked up one of the hubcaps, handed it to Dave. Went back.

“Ky, wrap one of the loose ends of chain around your fist. Go with the music, play.”

“I’ve got a hubcap,” Dave pointed out.

“And drumsticks. Play the hubcap. Play the tools, play the instrument, whatever strikes. Play. You’re onstage, you know how to interact onstage.”

She took them from play to war—instruments and tools as weapons. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the dog slinking back, caught him in the frame.

“Tag!” she called out just as he grabbed one of the shoes.

Lelo just laughed, hooked an arm around Tag. “Hey, he can be in the band.”

She took the shot, took two more while the mood held. Then stepped back.

“That’s a wrap, gentlemen.”

“That’s it?” Dave blinked at her.

“It takes her twice as long—more,” Xander corrected, “to set things up than to take the pictures.”

“You can see if it was worth it. I’ll set the laptop on slideshow. If you like the group shots, I’ve got time to take individuals—you’d want to change again.”

“It’s nice of you to offer,” Dave began, “but I should probably . . . Hey, that’s a nice shot.”

She’d started with the basic band shot. “Yeah, it’s not bad.”

“No, these are really good. Tons better than what we have now. You see this, Trilby?”

“Sweet.” In his ruined shirt, he braced a hand on Dave’s shoulder, leaned in to study. “You got some individuals right here.”

“Nice.” Ky unwrapped the chain. “We can really use these.”

“Aces, but the others are going to be better.” Still barefoot, Lelo squeezed in. “Are they coming up?”

“These are with the Nikon. I’ll switch cards when they run through.”

“Can you email these to me?” Dave asked her.

“You’re not going to want all of them, and the files from the Hassie are huge. I’ll send you a sample of the best of them once I go through.”

She switched cards, waited to see if she’d gone wrong.

“Told ya!” Lelo punched Dave’s shoulder when the shots began to slide on-screen.

“These are— We look—”

“Super cool!” Lelo punched Dave again.

“I thought it was crazy, even stupid.” Dave glanced up at Naomi. “Big apologies.”

“Not necessary. Worth the shirt?” she asked Trilby.

“And then some. These are great. Really great.”

“That’s talent, and that’s vision.” Ky nodded at the screen. “Shouldn’t have doubted you. Xander’s got a knack for spotting talent and vision.”

“That one! Gotta have that one, the one with the dog.” Lelo scrubbed at Tag, who still had the shoe in his mouth. “Band mascot.”

“How about that wine now?” Xander asked her when the slideshow started again.

“I could have a glass—one—before I set up for individuals.”

He took her hand, drew her outside the bay. “And after that, stay.”

“Oh, I really should get back, take a better look at these, start to weed through them.”

He leaned down, kissed her, warm and long in the quieting spring evening. “Stay anyway.”

“I . . . I don’t have my things, or Tag’s food, or . . .” She should take a breath, take some room. Then he kissed her again. “Come home with me,” she said. “When we’re done, come home with me.”

He went home with her, and late into the night when whatever dream chasing her made her whimper and stir, he did what he never did. He wrapped her close, and held her.

While Xander shielded Naomi from the nightmare, Marla lived one.

She didn’t know where she was, how long she’d been in the dark.

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