tagRomanceCheese and Clicks

Cheese and Clicks


Carol sniffed and sighed as the gleaming black car pulled away to the sound of rattling cans and shouts of good luck. At last she could relax following Eve's departure. Perhaps I can change into something more comfortable than this flouncy purple monstrosity of a dress. Maybe enjoy a drink, perhaps a dance or two, relax a little and then go to bed. I am that tired, that I might even have a little bit of a cry and release all this pent-up emotion - those were her simple plans for the rest of the night.

"Hold that pose!"

Carol shook herself out of her malaise to identify where the insistent voice came from, slightly ahead and to her right. Oh no! It's that damned photographer! Not the main one, no, she was a charming and chatty middle-aged woman, who had gone home hours ago. She had been professional and quite lovely. No, it was her annoyingly silent baby-faced assistant, who had accompanied the groom getting ready in the morning like an eager cub scout and then took lots of creepy, sneaky, impromptu shots at the meal and the dance afterwards. Every time she turned around he seemed to be snapping away at her, or the other bridesmaids or the groomsmen.

"Oh, you moved," he pouted as he lowered his camera. God! He's probably a poof, even though he looks about twelve, she thought, it must be the groomsmen he kept in his sights all afternoon and evening. Until this particular instant, when Carol appeared to be his singular victim of choice.

His pout, however, immediately turned into a child-like smile, quite cute actually, she thought. After all, she'd always liked kids, actually preferred them to adults every time.

"I bet the first thought that went through your head was 'oh no! It's that damned photographer!' right?" he said with his big goofy grin on his little-boy-pleased-with-himself face.

It was an infectious smile and besides he had got her absolutely bang to rights.

"Mind reader as well as budding paparazzi, huh!?" she grinned back. His smile appeared genuine and natural, despite everything else about him being annoying.

"I happen to know how great minds think -"

"You forgot to flash" she interrupted.

"Pardon?" his eyes widened, she could see the whites of his eyes, like a deer hesitant in the face of approaching headlights.

She pointed to the camera in his hand. "That last shot is spoiled, it is far too dark out here without the flash," she observed. The only camera she had experience of was her mobile phone, all you do is point and click and express general disappointment at the result. What's difficult about photography?

"No, I got the shot I wanted, this camera has been set up for low light, and I think I got a soft focus exposure that should prove to be quite beautiful. Do you want to see?"

In for a pound, in for a penny, she thought, he was quite funny. "Sure," she shrugged.

The photographer approached her and held up the back view screen of his camera to show the last but one shot. Carol looked at the photographer's smiling face first, now he was close up she could see he was actually an inch taller than her, which was unexpected, she would have sworn he looked shorter, smaller somehow. Then she looked at the tiny screen. There she was, a very clear close up of her face, in three-quarter view, her eye moist, with a single teardrop formed in the corner, frozen in that moment before the surface tension burst and launched a stream down her cheek. If it had been anyone else but herself, she conceded, it would have been ... well, beautiful. As it was, it still took her breath away, in that instant, revealing too much emotion. Too personal, that shot, way too personal.

"Beautiful ... isn't it?" he said. Carol noticed that although the "isn't it" carried the emphasis of a query, the word "beautiful" itself appeared to be a statement, however unlikely that could be.

"You're the artist," she countered, "I guess it's down to the eye of the beholder."

"Beautiful, it is then," he said emphatically.

"Not sure if it will go down well in the wedding photo album, though," she ventured. "It should be all about Eve and Adam and that shot of me is a little too ... me, just me. You'll have to relegate it to the cutting room floor,won't you?"

"Or promote it to my personal collection."

"Oh! A voyeur, huh?"

"Occupational hazard of any photographer, whether there are attractive maids of honour about or not."

"I suppose." Yes, he was quite funny, for a kid. "Is this a full time job or a hobby just for Fridays and Saturdays?"

"Well, it's a full time job for Aunt Jane. I help out from time to time when I can but I can't do Saturdays outside the summer. Or Wednesday afternoons and evenings, for that matter."

"Your night for scout troop?"

"Oh I packed up the 'dib-dib-dib' business, long before the 'say cheese' part of my curriculum vitae."

"Tell me, what so fascinates you about Saturdays and Wednesdays that you have to hang up your lenses temporarily?"

"Oh, I still use the cameras, I follow the Rovers during the football season for the Herald & Echo; I take the photos, write the report, interview the manager as well as one or two players afterwards. I've even been known to collect up the corner flags."

"It's good to feel useful I suppose. So, what exotic location are you going to tomorrow?"

"Home county cup semi-final against Winslow Town, should be a sell-out. I could get you a place in the press box with my press ticket, if you're interested."

"Wow! I don't get such temptations put my way every day of the week, even when I'm maid of honour. Even in mid-April it's going to be chilly, so no, I don't think so. I better go. I'm going up to get changed into something more comfortable, certainly warmer, anyway, it's quite chilly here."

"If you'd reconsider, I can supply a cushion, warm car blanket and an unlimited supply of hot chocolate," he offered hoping something would change her mind. He didn't actually offer the added incentive of his own company for the afternoon, perhaps he didn't consider an insight into how he lived and worked was much encouragement for an attractive girl.

"Does every young woman come in for this charm offensive or just desperate-looking bridesmaids?"

"Oh you are up there as the first, number one and only but as an attractive woman, not a bridesmaid and certainly not desperate-looking at all."

She smiled, you've got to admit he's a trier, and charmingly ernest. Perhaps he's Aunt Jane's youngest sister's son. She shook her head in answer, meaning no, nice try son, but sorry.

"Anyway, that's my last exposure of the night ..." he said brightly, trying to hide his disappointment and barely succeeding. He hesitated for a moment and added, "I need to lock all this stuff away in my truck ..."

He was encumbered, she noticed, by at least three cameras, flash charger and camera bag, he had more straps crisscrossing his chest than the average Mexican bandit.

"Perhaps once you've changed your dress you would do me the honour of joining me for a drink or a dance ... that is if your card has any dances free?"

"My card is pretty well empty, but I'm suddenly feeling very tired and thinking of calling it a night." Oh dear, Carol thought, he looks as though I've slapped him in the face again. She relented, "Perhaps we could have just one dance, after I get changed, I feel really frumpy in this dress, now that the bride has left."

"That'll be great," he grinned, making him look even younger. How old was he? She wondered if he was still at school? Was she so desperate for nice polite male company that she would even consider cradle snatching? She always seem to attract the arseholes like Barry, not nice men, or boys for that matter.

Carol recalled that she had gone on two blind dates with Barry in company with Eve and Adam. She had told Eve after the first one, "never ask me to see that creep again!" Even after that she was still so weak she was persuaded to join in a foursome with them again a year or so later. That was two years ago and from today's evidence Barry hadn't improved any. Most of the dances Carol had taken part in this evening had mainly been group ones, in lines like the hokey cokey or the conger. She did have one nice slow one with Eve's father Alan, a couple with Adam and one god awful one with Barry, who kept trying to feel her up and had almost reduced her to tears.

"You any good at dancing, then?" Carol asked, innocently, better to get this out of the way first, he might have had lessons, or he might just want to get his hands about her person, she thought gloomily.

He smiled that little boy smile again as they began to walk away from the driveway in front of the hotel, towards the cars parked by the side.

"Frankly, no," he offered his answer with disturbing honesty. "I was born with two left feet. It's an hereditary thing, I inherited it from my father, actually it is the only thing I got from him. My grandfather is exactly the same. In fact, having studied my family's genealogy, I can trace this defect back to my multiple-great grandfather who lost one of his left feet at Trafalgar."

"With Nelson and the fleet, was he?"

"No, I think it was a coach trip. They were supposed to meet up in Trafalgar Square at the end of the evening and he fell off one of the lions."

"Clumsy sod, was he?" she giggled.

"I told you, left feet run in our family," he laughed. "Actually, when the ambulance came and the Doctor said 'we need to cut off his left foot', they cut off the wrong left foot. They managed to save the bad foot, fortunately, but he always had a terrible limp."

"I bet he was a terrible liar, too!" Carol commented, cheekily adding "It's not just left feet that run in your family, huh?"

"He did tell tall tales, apparently, but he was funny with it. They wouldn't let him jig or dance the hornpipe on board, as he would damage the deck, so he has to be good at something. But I promise I will shuffle my feet when we dance, in fact I am legally obliged to keep my feet in continuous contact with a dance floor by a Health & Safety Directive."

"This I will have to see," she smiled, "So while I'll be going quick-quick, quick-quick-slow, you'll be responding with shuffle-shuffle, shuffle-shuffle-stop?"

"I was right, you have assimilated the basics perfectly, so clearly you were destined to be my ideal dancing partner! Until now, I was simply hoping it would be too dark in there for you to notice the pedantic movements of my lowest appendages."

"I always look at the feet of my opponents, sorry, dancing partners, for self-preservation purposes. Besides, my toes are precious to me, I still have aspirations of being a ballet dancer."

"I assure you that I will make every effort to ensure that my feet will be of little danger to your delicate digits."

"And what about wandering hands?" she quizzed.

"I only have problems with uncontrollable feet, my hands stay at the end of my wrists at all times."

"Mmmm," she grimaced, "Cute answer, if you can call that an answer."

"OK, I understand your concerns, I have several incriminating ballroom snaps of Barry with the blond bridesmaid and one of his aunts. Not that I was looking particularly but ... Anyway, I can assure you that my hands are controlled by a perfect gentleman - you might have seen him, he sits in a booth at the side with a remote control."

"You can be very persuasive, and I can't believe I'm walking through this dark car park with a complete stranger towards your car."

"We are not quite complete strangers, you've seen me all afternoon and evening, and you know my Aunt runs a respectable business. You can correctly assume that she would have my guts for garters if she had any hint that my conduct would harm her reputation, or yours, for that matter."

"OK, you are funny and quite charming, in a disturbingly quirky way, but I still think I would just like to just go back to my room ... alone! ... and relax ... it's been a long day ... I might not come down again once I get to my room," she said wearily.

'Really,' she thought, 'I don't feel up to fending off some lovelorn kid, who has probably got this notion into his tiny mind that bridesmaids are a sure thing; if there's one maid who is certain to hold onto her honour, it's me.'

She could see another douche of disappointment wash over his face, 'Oh damn! she thought, he's probably as nervous and shy with the opposite sex as I am and he's pumped himself up to chat up this bloody frigid spinster with all the charm he can scrape together and I've shot him down in flames, more than once. Bugger, can't I do anything right where it comes to the men, or in this case boy, in my life?'

As she turned to head glumly back to the hotel entrance and her room, where she would almost certainly hide away in shame for the rest of the night, following this latest disaster, she spotted Barry. He was Adam's obnoxious older brother, and he was staggering rather unsteadily towards the pair of them. She turned back to the photographer and hissed,

"It's that arsehole Barry, the groom's brother, he's been hitting on me all day, help me out, please!"

"OK," the photographer replied, immediately putting his right arm round her waist and pulling her into a short lip kiss which he released with a theatrically loud lip-popping "smack!" adding loudly, "Just going to put my camera gear away darling, and then we can go and dance away to our hearts' content for the rest of the evening.

"Oh, hello, Barry," he continued, "Did you manage to see your brother off OK? Nice bit of car decoration, by the way. Got a couple of nice shots of your handiwork. They should come out well."

He grinned at Barry like they were old buddies. The cheek he's got, Barry thought, he's ... the hired help for goodness sake!

Barry stopped in his tracks regarding the couple, taking in the tableau presented to him. He could just about see what he had thought inconceivable, that pussy wimp photographer kid had one arm round the woman that Barry had considered his target conquest for the night. That, he decided was not on. Then, slowly, he saw Carol drape both her elegant bare arms around the photographer's neck, lean into him and kiss long and tenderly, extremely familiarly it seemed, on that damn photographer's cheek. What the ...?

"Hurry back then, dear," she said, "You've kept me waiting for you all day."

The maid of honour smiled lovingly at this weedy guy, went through Barry's head, the bloody jerk! Carol had never smiled at Barry like that, even when they had gone out a couple of times; she was virtually Barry's girlfriend, wasn't she? This wasn't the plan, the best man and the maid of honour, it was a bloody given, wasn't it? Tonight was supposed to be the bloody night. The photographer's script was just supposed to be "say cheese", click and exit stage left, pretty damn smartly, if he knew what was good for him.

"Are y-you two together than?" Barry slurred, "I thought you were just playing hard to get, Carol."

"Well," said the photographer, "I hope my fiancé was playing more than just 'hard' to get! Now that you are spoken for ... Darling."

"Er, yes, of course, Sweetie. I'm more like, 'impossible' to get ... Dearest heart."

"Well, I dunno, I haven't seen you together all day, until now" complained Barry, perhaps dawning on him that if he had known this was going to happen he could have concentrated on one of the other bridesmaids, like the young blond one, she had to be over 18, surely.

"Complete professional wedding photographer, rule number one: never get caught snogging the maid of honour on the job. But the bride and groom have gone, I have just finished work and putting my cameras in the van, so we can get that little rule out of the way in a trice," said the smiling junior photographer, still with his damn arm round the damn pretty maid of honour.

"Wha'bout the ring?" hah, hah! slurred the disappointed used-car ace salesman, there's no ring on her finger, I notice these things, so they must be playing me for a fool.

"The ring?" the photographer enquired with crinkled brow.

"Yeah, she ain't wearing one." Smart move, Barry, the maid's now yours for the taking.

Carol replied, it was after all her turn to do so in the charade, "Complete professional maid of honour, Barry. Rule number one: never outshine the bride. Not with the huge rock that ... er, my sweetheart here has given me. Right, Honey, I think I'll come with you while we get over to your van, er ... darling, so we can put the cameras away-"

"-and get our first proper snog of the evening in ... Sorry, Barry, need a bit of privacy, you know? This way, darling."

With arm around waist and shoulder, the couple smiled at the gently swaying Barry and they walked swiftly through the car park, the photographer steering them both towards his van.

"I suppose this means I'm going to 'have' to dance with you now," she whispered, just in case Barry wasn't quite out of earshot.

"Only if you want to, Carol, that choice is always yours to exercise. The alternative to dancing with me, though, is to have Barry back onto you like a rash."

"So it all boils down to a choice between two rashes?"

"Pretty much. Or if you don't fancy dancing I believe the other two options suggested, or at least hinted at, were having a drink or snogging me silly."

"I think you're quite silly enough," she laughed. Then regarded him more closely in the gloomy car park. "Are you actually old enough to drink?" she added quickly, "Sorry if that sounds patronising but you have a young-looking face and I can't afford a conviction for cradle snatching."

"I'm 27 and really no offence taken," he grinned, "I get it all the time, I carry my driver's licence with me at all times. Do you want to check it, put your ancient mind at ease?"

"No! That won't be necessary, you appear to be relatively honest. Anyway I'm 25, not yet an antique. I was worried for a while as I look after nursery children for a living. I noticed you hadn't asked how old I was when I asked you. I suppose you are either too much of a gentlemen or do you consider it cruel to quiz old maids?"

"Partly both reasons, but mainly because Alan already told me how old you were ... among other things."

"Oh, did he? I may have to have words with him, taking such liberties with any of my personal details. So, what other things did he spill?"

"That you were currently unattached as far as he was aware, secondly that he regarded you as almost a second daughter and thirdly that you needed immediate protection from the attentions of bothersome Barry."

"Mmm, anything else? I feel you might be holding out on me. No secrets between fiancés, however tenuously they may be attached."

"Of course no secrets, dearest, although I reserve the right to mutually beneficial white lies between us."

"Such as 'does my bum look big in this bloody dress?' kind of white lie?" Carol suggested, only because that very idea had been playing on her mind for weeks, ever since that first blasted fitting, in fact.

"Yes, and er, only very slightly."


"Yes, that is the sort of thing that a white lie could cover, and yes very slightly, that dress does make your bum look on the big side but I want to stress that that is down to the colour and cut, all of which are beyond your control. You mentioned getting changed into something more comfortable and definitely more flattering before anything else?" the photographer said with his increasingly cute and cheeky grin.

Carol punched him in the chest for his comment, suddenly realising that, although they had walked quite some way into the gloom of the car park, she still had one of her arms around his shoulder and his arm was comfortably enveloped around her waist. She didn't even know his name and they were walking through a relatively dark deserted car park towards his vehicle! Strangely, though, Carol felt completely safe with him.

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