Seven weeks after his first assignment with RGF, Carver stood fifty feet away from the Petřín Lookout Tower in Prague. Forty-eight hours ago, the farthest place he’d traveled had been Disneyland, when he was twelve years old. With his camera bag in hand, and as two assistants he’d hired gathered the rest of the equipment from the car, he walked along the grassy area in search of just the right lighting and angle to start the photo shoot.
His gut clenched at the sound of her voice. He’d heard it a few times since leaving New York, as they’d both tried sticking to their vow to keep in touch. He couldn’t hide his smile when he turned and saw Lina standing just a few feet away. She wore black pants with matching boots laced halfway up her calves. A burnt-orange hipster leather jacket was zipped up the front, and her curly hair was pulled into a top bun.
“What’s perfect?” he asked, his heart already thumping at how beautiful she was amid this gorgeous scenery. “The city or this particular location? Because I heard the sales executive in charge of this region was a bit fixated with her specifications for this shoot.”
He wasn’t kidding about what he’d heard, and he’d had no idea this was her account until just now. Why else would she be here?
“It’s a gorgeous location, and yes, I selected it specifically because of how I envisioned the elegant gowns would look against this backdrop.” She stepped closer to him. “But that’s not what I think is perfect.”
The last time he’d spoken to her had been two weeks ago, the day after the wedding of Major and Nina Gold. She’d sounded different that day, excited to tell him about how lovely the wedding was, but a little subdued when he asked her about work and her plans for the upcoming holidays.
“So what’s on your mind, Ms. Brennan?”
“You are, Mr. Milligan. At least you have been for the past month.”
Hope blossomed in the pit of his gut, but Carver knew better. He knew Lina had suggested him for this job. She’d called to tell him she was pitching him specifically for this assignment, and before he could tell her that wasn’t necessary, she’d explained her strategy to put his name in the same pool as other top fashion photographers and to ultimately direct clients to him in Temptation. It would’ve been foolish for him to argue the logic and counterproductive for him to turn down the opportunity.
“Thanks again for recommending me for this job. I’m looking forward to seeing how the shots turn out.” He moved until they were only inches apart now, because staying away from her was also something he considered foolish at the moment.
Their emails and FaceTime calls had rekindled the friendship they’d both relied on throughout their childhood, only now he could feel a difference. The adult connection between them simmered as they stood facing each other, sunlight and the majestic tower behind them.
She was shaking her head now, extending a hand to reach for his. He let her clasp his fingers, felt the warmth in her palm seep into his. She glanced down at their hands and then up to him again. “I think it’s the perfect time for us to give this a try.”
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