"She's a natural," Luther said as Mirela had the couple continue to do poses.
"Where did you propose?" she asked.
"A restaurant," he answered, turning red.
She tilted her head. "Are you shy?"
"No," he said but the woman, Tania, laughed.
"Yes, he is. Very shy."
"Okay. Tania, stand with your body facing George but look at Caleb. George, stand facing Tania. Turn your head so you're looking at Caleb but then I want you to put your hand in your pocket. Give us that nervous smile. Tania, look like you're curious about something happening in a restaurant like someone walked in. Perfect." She turned to Luther. "What do you think?"
He nodded enthusiastically and she stepped to the side so I could snap pictures from different angles.
"Can we do some candid shots?" Mirela asked. "Like how we did with me? I think that would be adorable with proposal pictures."
"I agree," Luther nodded.
"So, George is shy. What about you, Tania?" she asked. "Do you have any fun quirks or stories?"
"I don't think so," she said.
"Not true," George said with a smirk.
"No! No way!"
"What?" Mirela asked eagerly.
"Little Tania here was a ballerina when she was a little girl." I looked at them curiously. Why was that embarrassing? "But she wasn't exactly a prima ballerina."
She groaned and covered her face. I snapped a few pictures.
"I knocked over the backdrop and it fell on my fellow ballerinas," she said in a small voice and the couple laughed.
I got a few pictures of the loving look on George's face as she told the story. He had his arm around her waist, his hand resting casually on her lower back. Mirela nodded surreptitiously at me.
"Did any of them get hurt?" she asked and Tania looked down sheepishly.
"A girl may or may not have broken her leg," she said and George threw his head back and laughed.
"I hope you didn't say MacBeth before you went on!" Mirela cried and she laughed.
"You're doing great. Keep it up," I whispered in her ear.
"Have you known each other that long?" Mirela asked.
Tania put her arm around his waist, too, and leaned into him. They clearly thought the shoot was over. George kissed her forehead and I clicked away. Tania put her left hand on his chest and I focused in on the ring.
"Yeah," George said. "We didn't start dating until high school, though."
"High school sweethearts," Mirela simpered. "That's adorable."
This time, they both smiled lovingly at each other. Perfect! The door to the studio opened. Our final appointment had arrived and we shook hands with Tania and George. I told them what I told Jenny's family about Mirela helping me and we both went to the computer booth so I could clear the memory card.
"I can't wait to see these," she said happily.
"Go ahead and mess with them while I'm snapping these," I suggested but she looked nervous.
"What if I accidentally delete them?" she asked and I smiled.
I made another folder and copied them all. I labeled the first one Caleb and the second one Mirela.
"There you go," I said. "Have fun."
She grinned and took the mouse, moving closer to the computer screen eagerly.
I walked out and froze. A baby. They had a baby! Oh shit.
"This is Caleb," Luther said and I forced a smile on my face. "He'll be the snapper while I'm the bossy one." The parents laughed. "Caleb, this little one is Joey. He's two."
"Hello, Joey," I said to the already crying baby.
At least it wasn't screaming yet.
The mother sighed. "We've been trying to get him to calm down but he's been stubborn. If you want us to reschedule we can."
"Nah," I said and dug through my bag, putting my normal camera on the floor carefully. I found the bunny and approached Joey. "Tell me something, Joey: do you like bunnies?" His big blue eyes widened when I held up the bunny. I laughed. "Here's the thing, you've got to smile for the bunny or he'll be sad."
"Sad?" the baby repeated and I nodded.
He nodded back and Luther had the family sit down. Like normal kids, he started screaming as soon as we did the solo shots. I couldn't help but snap some of those as the parents groaned on the side.
"Smile Joey!" his mother said. "Smile and we'll get you ice cream!"
It didn't work so I held the bunny up. His eyes got wide again.
"You have to smile to make the bunny smile!" I said.
I made it dance a little and Joey giggled. I quickly got the pictures before he started crying again. He clapped a few times as I made it prance around.
Luther brought out our large '2' and I realized these were birthday pictures. And, as expected, the '2' freaked Joey out. Not even the bunny was working. I took my shoes off so I wouldn't get the white screen dirty and knelt next to him.
"Hey Joey," I whispered. "That's really big, huh?"
"Big," he repeated with a whimper.
"Do you like dogs?"
I nodded to Luther and he dug through my bag.
"Do you have a dog at home?" He nodded quickly and Luther handed me a picture. "This is my dog from when I was a kid." I put a piece of tape on it and put it on the side of the '2' that people couldn't see. "Do you like him?"
"That's right, Joey. Now, you do what Mr. Luther says and imagine that you're playing with the dog, okay?"
I backed off the white screen and lifted my camera, letting out a sigh of relief. It worked. The dog picture was my last resort. I got more pictures, even one of Joey hugging the large number '2' and kissing the picture. When the shoot was over I turned and frowned. My camera was missing. I started to panic until I saw Mirela leaning against the wall to the right of the screen, the camera around her neck and a smirk on her face.
"Bad with kids, huh?" she asked.
I stared. "Were you taking pictures this whole time!?"
"Yep," she said. "And I'm taking them home with me."
I narrowed my eyes at her. "No you're not."
"Oh but I am," she said and her work phone rang. "Mirela Garrett," she said, walking back to the computer booth.
"Thank you for helping us with Joey," the mom said in relief, holding out her hand.
"It was my pleasure," I said, shaking it. "Bye Joey!"
The little boy giggled, waving back, and his dad carried him out. When they were gone, Luther and I packed up. I told him what Mirela had done.
He laughed. "Perfect! Every time you work with kids I've wanted to do that but I never can because I'm helping."
I wrinkled my nose. "I hate having my picture taken."
Luther shook his head with an amused smile. "You're weird."
"Like you're one to talk."