Perfect Couple

Page 54


"Sorry," he said, looking around from the stove. "Your mom said it was okay. Have a seat." He slid a plate in front of me at the table: the best kind of cinnamon toast, with a buttery, sugary glaze baked to a crisp on top. Eggs. Bacon. Sliced banana. He put another plate with twice as much food down at Mom's place and dug in.
I tasted the toast. Heaven, but I didn't want to admit this. I asked coldly, "Is this a postgame phenomenon, or do you always eat this much for breakfast?"
He said between bites, "I already had breakfast."
"This is lunch, then?"
We ate in silence for a while. When his plate was clean and mine was still half-full, he said, "Tonight some of us are going to a movie and then the Crab Lab. Will and Tia, and Kaye and Aidan, and Noah and Quinn. Would you go with me?"
I took a bite of bacon.
"You're still mad at me." He sighed. "I don't know what else to do, Harper."
"Maybe there isn't anything else to do," I said. "Maybe, as you so eloquently put it last week, the school is on crack. They never should have paired us up."
He cocked his head to one side and considered me. "If you believe that, I'll leave you alone from now on. But I don't think you believe that. I sure don't."
I took a bite of egg. This boy could cook an egg, that was for sure.
"When we go back to school on Monday and everybody hears we've broken up," he said, "fourteen guys are going to ask you out, and probably two or three girls. But I'm thinking you don't have anything else on the horizon for tonight. And I'm better looking than Kennedy. I'm less weird than Quinn, and probably eighty percent less gay than Noah."
I laughed. "When you get all romantic on me, how can I refuse?"
"Good. What are you doing until then?"
I gazed toward the front windows. "Has it stopped raining?"
He nodded.
"I'll walk around town and take photos. The light's great and the colors are bright after a rain. When I had to stay up Thursday night, I thought I'd never want to take another photo again, but I've gotten over it."
"I'll come with," he said.
"No, that's okay."
"I want to," he insisted.
"I'm not just playing around, Brody. I had something specific in mind. Sites online post photos from freelance photographers for people to use in their newsletters and websites. I thought I might try to get in on that gig, but I need a bigger portfolio first."
"I can help you," he said.
"I don't want your help." When his face fell, I said quickly, "It's nothing against you . I prefer to work alone."
"How do you know?"
He had me there.
"Ah-ha," he said. "See? You don't know. You think you prefer to work alone because you've never had a good-looking guy to carry your camera equipment."
"It's a tripod and one small bag," I said. "You just want to grovel to me all afternoon and talk me out of being mad."
He lifted his chin. "I want to spend time with you," he said self-righteously. "And I could help you. I could model for you."
"Now there's an idea," I admitted, mind suddenly racing. "I would pay you if I sold any of those shots, of course. But you wouldn't have any control over who bought your picture and what it was used for. Your face could end up as an advertisement for a porn site."
"That could make me very popular next year, in college." When I just blinked at him, he hurried on, "No, I'm kidding. You're right. You can't use shots that show my face. My mom makes me keep my online accounts super private, even though my picture has been in all the newspapers. She thinks I'm going to get kidnapped."
"If people tried to kidnap you, wouldn't you just break their heads?"
"My mom still thinks I'm twelve," he said, "but I try not to argue with her. My dad wasn't very nice to her. My stepdad wasn't either. Her new boyfriend is okay so far, but I don't know. I feel bad for her. If I can, I do what she wants."
I was taken aback. I hadn't realized Brody was this mature.
"I mean," he went on, "for a case like this, where she'd find out."
Never mind about the maturity.
"So we can't use my face," he said, "but that doesn't mean you couldn't use the rest of me. Have you seen this?"
Afraid of what he was about to show me, I glanced toward the door, sure Mom would choose that moment to appear. But he only pulled back the sleeve of his T-shirt to show me his biceps.
"That's a great idea," I said. "You can flex your arm with the ocean in the background. I'll type 'The View from Florida' across the photo and have it printed as a postcard to sell in the gift shops around town. Every lady over sixty will want to mail one to her friends back home."
"Only ladies over sixty?"
"Well . . ." Jumping up from the table, I slid the TV remote to him. "Here, you can watch whatever game is on. I'll be ready in a sec."
I dashed back to my room to change clothes and brush my hair, excited about this new project. Afterward, I would need to update my website to read HARPER DAVIS, PORTRAITS, EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY, GRATUITOUS BICEPS.

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