I printed out all of the Romanian ritual pictures for her. She didn't want to because of the ink but I quickly shut her up. For the others, I printed out her favorites and then put them all on a USB drive for her. When we walked back out into the studio, Luther was whistling and sweeping. I narrowed my eyes at him but he just grinned.
"Which ones did you print out?" he asked and we showed him. "Okay. Now we head over to my friend at Hobby Lobby for frames."
"I don't have the money for Hobby Lobby," Mirela said.
Luther rolled his eyes and grabbed her hand, pulling her to the elevator.
"You don't understand how gifts work, do you?"
"She doesn't understand dates, either," I laughed, locking up.
"Shut up," she grumbled, blushing a little. "It's just.... Hobby Lobby frames are pricey and you guys-"
I put my hand over her mouth and she glared. I grinned then she licked my hand.
"Oh gross!" I cried, wiping it on my jeans as we walked to the store.
"That'll teach ya," she joked.
When we got to the store, we heard a squeal that made Mirela and I cringe.
"Luther!" a girl screeched, running out from behind the framing section and hugging him tightly. "It's so great to see you again!"
"It's good to see you, too, Jenny," he said happily. "These are my friends Caleb and Mirela." Jenny shook our hands. She looked to be about 18. "So, Mirela is a special client of ours and I need to get her a few frames for these pictures ASAP."
I passed her the stack and she gasped as she sifted through them.
"Did you take these, Luther?"
"Not exactly. I did the poses and the lighting. Caleb here took the pictures."
"Great angles," she complimented.
"Jenny is going to go to college for photography this fall."
"Awesome," I said. "Maybe you can intern at the studio."
She beamed and turned a little red.
"So, we have 35 pictures here," she said. "Do you want to frame all of them?"
"Yes, please," Luther said.
"So expensive," Mirela groaned.
"Let's look around," I said. "Come find us when you've got everything figured out."
"Will do," Luther said.
"But-" Mirela tried to argue.
I took her hand and dragged her away.
"Turd," she grumbled and I laughed.
"So, other than websites and hiding yourself from the world, what do you like to do?"
"I don't hide myself from the world," she said defensively. "I just don't go out very often."
"Do you like crafts?"
"I've never done any to be honest," she said as we wandered down the embroidery aisles. "My father enjoyed... goodness. I can't remember the name of it."
"What did it look like?"
"It was a kind of stitching," she answered and I noticed she was holding my hand, too. "He did little x's with the thread."
"Oh! That's cross stitching," I said, pulling her to the right aisle. "My mom likes doing that."
"Do you see your mom often?"
"Yeah," I answered. "In fact, I'm having lunch with her and Luther on Sunday after she gets out of church." I looked away, my face pink, pretending to browse the thread. "Do you wanna come?"
She didn't answer right away and I knew she was probably blushing, too.
"Sure," she whispered. "I'm always up for a free lunch."
"Oh," I teased, "I see how it is. You'll take food from my mom but not me?" She just laughed. "Okay, here's the cross stitch aisle. What do you like?"
"Cat's," she answered. "Mom's allergic or I'd have ten."
I smiled and looked around some. "Here. This is perfect for beginners." She came over and looked. "It's small and not complicated. Do you want to try?"
"Sure," she said. "It's an orange tabby and those are the best."
I looked for something for my mom. She was big on horses and I found a nice complicated one for her.
"That's beautiful," Mirela breathed. "She's going to stitch all of that?"
"I hope so," I said. "She loves horses and she's retired so this will give her something to do. She's always complaining about having too much time on her hands."
"What did she do?" she asked as we went to the checkout counter.
"I can't tell you," I said and she shoved me playfully. "That will kill any kind of small talk!"
"Oh all right," she pouted.
"See? You can pout!"
She laughed and slapped my hand away when I tried to pay for her cat project.
"Don't you dare," she said and I laughed as she got her card out. "I'm buying this."
"Fine," I said.
When we were done, Luther found us by the mirrors. "Come on to the back," he said.
She frowned. "They're framed already? Doesn't it usually take a while?"
He winked. "Not when you have the right contacts," he said as we walked. "The right contacts and experience in framing photographs."
"Are you going to put up any of the ones you took of me?" she asked.
"Only with your permission."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course you have my permission! You're not letting me pay for any of them."
We were holding hands again. I wasn't sure if she realized it or not. If she did, she didn't seem to mind.
There were five stacks on the framing table, all with seven pictures on them.
"Good Lord," she said. "I don't even know what I'm going to do with all of these!"
"Your house is big enough," I said.
Jenny finished writing things down. "That'll be-"
I clamped my hands over Mirela's ears and she glared at me. When Luther was done paying, I let her ears go. Jenny put the pictures in a large cardboard box for us and I carried them to the car.
"So, we'll drop you off then I'll pick you up tomorrow around noon," I said. "Is that okay?"
"Yeah," she said. "My mom doesn't come home until Wednesday and it gets kind of boring there."
"What's the trip for?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Tupperware," she said and I coughed. She laughed. "Go ahead and laugh. It's ridiculous. I didn't even know they did Tupperware business sales like that anymore.
"So I guess you have a lot of Tupperware?" Luther asked.
"More than I care to have."
We pulled up to her house and I took her box of pictures into the house. Luther waited outside and I gave her some ideas about where to hang the pictures.
"Can I make a personal recommendation?" I asked and she nodded.
I burrowed around in the box until I found the one of her standing with her hands pointing down.
"I saw a picture on your dresser with you and your dad," I said quietly. "Put this next to it."
She looked at me for a second then put her arms around me. I closed my eyes and hugged her back.
"Thank you so much," she said in a choked voice and I knew she was crying. "You don't know how much this means to me."
"You're welcome," I whispered. "It was Luther's idea, though."
"I'll hug him tomorrow. Hopefully then I won't cry."
"It's okay to cry, you know."
She sighed and put her head on my chest. "I know. I just- I don't like crying."
I chuckled. "I don't know anyone who does."
She didn't say anything and I leaned back into the counter, putting my head on hers. I could stand there forever and be perfectly happy. Outside, though, Luther honked the horn and I rolled my eyes.
"I guess he's ready to get home," I sighed. "I'll send you a text when I'm on my way here tomorrow."
"Okay," she said and looked up at me.
I was going to kiss her but she beat me to it, holding my shoulders and standing on her toes.
"Now get your butt out of my house."
I smirked. "Been admiring it, huh?"
"You wish," she scoffed. "See you tomorrow."