I yawned, trying not to fall asleep as Caleb drove to the airport.
"Didn't you sleep last night?" he asked with a laugh.
"I was too excited," I said.
"She kept me up all night, too," my mother grumbled.
"Shut up," I sniffed.
Luther groaned. "Please don't be like Maggie Yen."
I frowned at him. "Who?"
"We had the craziest pregnant lady at the studio yesterday," Caleb sighed, shaking his head. "Good Lord. I thought she was going to throw us out the window." Then he laughed. "Although, she was better than the family after them; wouldn't you agree, Lu?"
"Actually, I would," he nodded. "Family Christmas card," he explained. "The kids were so stubborn I was sure we wouldn't get anywhere. It explains why they booked five hours. We needed every second. The daughter threw a tantrum because she had to wear a skirt and pigtails."
"The son complained the whole time about the sweater," Caleb said. "To be fair, it did look itchy and, if it didn't win an ugly Christmas sweater first place, it would definitely have been runner up."
We all laughed and he pulled me into the parking garage. My mom would drive the car back.
"Now," Luther said as we walked, "don't forget to take plenty of pictures."
Caleb rolled his eyes. "We're on vacation, Luther."
"I know but this is the perfect opportunity for you to work on some travel pieces!"
Caleb snorted, opening the door for my mom and I. We went to the security line and I hugged my mom tightly.
"I'll see you in one week," I said, hugging Luther, too. "And thank you, Ma," I added with a significant look.
She winked at me. "Remember: fancy souvenir."
"The best I can find," I promised and she laughed, hugging Caleb.
"Easy at those casinos," Luther said. "Oh! Shit, I almost forgot. This will give you permission to take pictures while you're in the casino."
He passed us two ID badges and I looked at mine. It had my picture and name with Banks and Parrish Photography on the bottom. On the back were the contact info and a long number.
"The number is your certification number," Luther explained. "If anyone doubts the badge, give them the number and they can look you up. You two have fun."
"Bye!" I said as we got in line. "Stay sane while we're gone, Luther."
He shuddered. "Just as long as I don't get any more crazy ladies."
I giggled and passed my ticket to the security guard. I put my suitcase up and, as I expected, I got pulled to the side. I gave them the code to the strong box and the security guard stared at me.
"Are you insane?" he whispered.
I winked at him. “That’s why it’s my carry on. Have a good day,” I said cheerfully and slipped my shoes back on.
Caleb looked at me curiously but I just smiled, holding his hand.
“So, we’re two hours early,” he said. “Let’s get smoothies.”
“Ooh, just as long as they have wild berry,” I said. “Those are delicious.”
He laughed and we stopped at a Hagen Daaz and he got a strawberry banana smoothie.
“Why strawberry banana?” I asked. “It doesn’t sound like it would be good.”
He passed it over. “Take a sip. I haven’t had wild berry so it’ll be an experience for both of us.”
I laughed and did as he said. We took a sip at the same time. We both nodded and he reached for his smoothie.
“Nope,” I said, snatching mine. “They’re both mine now.”
“Gimme,” he whined and I giggled, passing it back over. “What do you want to do while we wait?”
I looked around. “This place is kind of boring. Let’s just sit at our gate and snuggle.”
He kissed my cheek. “I like that idea.”
I giggled again. I was feeling extremely giddy. I had always wanted to go to Vegas and here I finally was.
“I feel like a celebrity,” I said, looking at the badge.
We sat over by the window and used his duffle bag as something to put our feet up on. He put his left arm around me and I cuddled up.
“It is pretty awesome,” he agreed.
“How did Luther get these?” I asked. “What did he do before you guys started working together?”
“He had another photography business,” he answered. “He did a lot of travel pieces which is why he has so many points with Marriott and he helped us get priority boarding. After traveling so much for five years, he’s burnt out so he’s not losing out. The only condition was I take the pictures while we’re here. I’ve got plenty of memory for the week so prepare for poses. Well, the best I can do….”
“That’s why you have me,” I said.
“Lu absolutely loves the poses you come up with,” he said.
“I really like working there,” I said.
“So why don’t you do it full time?” he whispered.
I sighed and put my head on his chest. “Because, even though I told my tată that I would do what I wanted, I want to make him proud. Besides, I enjoy building websites. It’s the people that wear me out sometimes.”
He frowned. “What does tată mean?”
I giggled at his mispronunciation but let it slide. “Sorry. I forgot. It’s Romanian for father.”
“Do you speak a lot of Romanian?”
“Not as much as I’d like,” I said. “I know a few things.”
“Give me your favorites,” he said and I thought.
“Well, there’s frumoasa which means beautiful. My father would call me that all the time. He’d also call me cel mic which means little one. And you can’t forget mulțumesc which is thank you.” I cleared my throat. “One of my ultimate favorites, though, is te iubesc.”
“Which means?” he prompted.
“I love you,” I said, sipping the smoothie and pretending to be interested in one of the little kids walking by.
“Do you like kids?” he asked quickly.
I nodded with a smile. “I want a little girl but I’m fine if I never have any. For a while, I wasn’t too sure.”
“Why not?” he asked.
I made a face. “They cry and poop,” I said and he threw his head back to laugh but he hit the window.
“Shit!” he said, rubbing his head and I bent over laughing. “Oh, shut up,” he pouted. “Damn, that hurt.”
“Do you want Mirela to kiss it and make it better?” I asked in a baby voice.
“Yes,” he said with a pout.
I giggled but kissed his lips.
“You two are adorable!” a woman gushed and we jumped. “Sorry! I’ve just been watching you for a while and- Oh, can I take a picture?”
She got her phone out and I put my head on Caleb’s shoulder and the woman giggled, taking a picture.
“Look,” she said happily and I smacked Caleb.
He was sticking his tongue out at me.
“Are you two going to Vegas also?” she asked enthusiastically and we nodded. “My hubby and I are going, too!” She looked over her shoulder and shook her head with a smile. An older man about her age was sleeping. “We’ve been doing a lot of flying.”
“Really?” he asked, picking up his camera. “Go sit by your hubby.”
She giggled and did as he said. He took a couple pictures and she covered her mouth with her hand. Finally she nudged her husband awake.
“He’s a professional photographer,” she said, pointing at our badges. “He’s taking our picture! Wake up, frumpy!”
“Oh,” he yawned. “I’m so sorry. We’ve been here since 3 am because of a lay-over.”
“Let’s see a little love,” Caleb said and I smiled, still sitting as he snapped some more pictures. “If you’ll give me your contact information, I’d love to send you the pictures once that beautiful young woman is done editing them.”
The woman giggled once again and wrote everything down.
“Where are you two sitting?” she asked as Caleb slid the paper into his pocket.
“38A and 38B.”
She clapped her hands. “We’re right across the aisle from you! I’m Margaret and this is John.”
I struggled to my feet. “A little help would be nice,” I mumbled and Caleb laughed, helping me up.
“My name is Caleb and this is Mirela.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” I said kindly and jumped when our flight was called. I shook Caleb. “It’s time!”
He laughed and picked up my suitcase. He frowned. “Shit girl. What do you have in here?”
“I’ll tell you later,” I said, dragging him to the line. “Come on!”