Just the Way I'm Not
“G’mornin’, boss,” I said, strolling onto the set and looking around. A week had passed since that little incident at the club, and I considered myself completely recovered.
“Hey, Candi,” Ross said, nodding at me.
“What’s the plan for today?” I inquired.
“It’s still a surprise,” he laughed. I groaned, and handed him the coffee I’d gotten him.
“Oh, c’mon! I’ve been waiting almost a week to find out what the big surprise is, you jerk,” I pleaded. Ross Mako, my close friend, mentor since the age of 19, and boss was an internationally known photographer. He worked with the likes of Colcci, Victoria’s Secret, Armani, Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Rolex, Hermes, and countless other internationally recognized brands that I couldn’t be bothered to name. He was originally from Pittsburgh, and had come back to open up a small branch here. We did a lot of fashion, wedding, advertising, and other shoots that distinguished even our comparatively small studio as a prominent and successful photography business. Ross, like I said, was my mentor. Because of that I was granted the privilege of doing almost all his local work with him, and even occasionally travelled to exotic locations with him shoots there. I did my individual work, but the giant productions he was involved in were my favorite. Like today, we were obviously doing something big, but I didn’t know what.
“Calling me names isn’t anyway to go about convincing me to spill,” he laughed. “But fine, I will tell you.”
“Finally,” I giggled, sipping my coffee.
“As a Pittsburgh native, I’m naturally a big sports fan,” he started. “And you are too, I assume?” I nodded immediately.
“Well, our studio had been presented with the honor of becoming the photographers of one of our very own sports teams,” he revealed.
“Are you kidding me? Holy shoot, Ross, that’s insane!” I exclaimed excitedly. “If you’re screwing with me-”
“I’m definitely not. And since I’m busy, I’ve chosen you and Grayson to be the ones to handle the games. It’s an enormous responsibility, so naturally, I wanted two people on it-”
“I get it, Ross, and I’m flattered, but which one?” I demanded.
“Drum roll, please,” he said dramatically. I stayed stationary, and he gave me an annoyed looks. “Our very own Pittsburgh Penguins!” he finally revealed. My eyes widened, and I stumbled back like he’d slapped me.
“Woah, Candi, you good? You look pale,” he said, resting a hand on my arm.
“Fine. I’m going to go grab some air,” I breathed.
“That’s fine, but be quick, they’ll be here really soon-”
“I’m sorry,” I choked, standing and practically running from the set. I bumped into someone on my way out, but ignored them and just continued to go. I didn’t want to see him again. He’d evoked the first feelings of actual lust I’d felt in forever. That didn’t happen with me, I didn’t feel those things, I didn’t… Where was Emmy? Emmy, Emmy would know what to do. I fumbled for my phone, but my hands were shaking so bad that it clattered to the pavement with a ‘thud’.
“Candi,” a calm voice said. “Candice, babe, look at me,” it continued. “My voice, sweetie, my voice. I’m here. It’s Gray.” I looked up, eyes wide, only to find a familiar set of gray eyes staring back at me.
“Oh thank god,” I gasped, allowing him to pull me into his chest.
“What happened?” he demanded. “You’ve been doing so well, you haven’t had an attack in months,” he murmured, stroking my hair.
“I can’t do it, I can’t see him-”
“S-Sidney, Gray, I met him in a club…” I gasped, legs trembling, arms trembling, my entire body trembling.
“Did he hurt you? I’ll go kill him if he did, Candi,” he promised.
“No, he flirted with me, and I kissed him, and I don’t know why I’m acting like this because it was just a kiss, and I know I’m overreacting but I can’t help it and I don’t want to see him again-”
“Shh,” Grayson soothed, pulling me into another tight hug. “You’re not overreacting. It’s okay; you don’t want to see him again. You’re nervous. You can’t help it,” he said. He paused, looking thoughtful, before continuing.
“Have you been taking your meds?” he asked.
“The doctor said that if I didn’t have an attack for six months, I didn’t need them anymore,” I murmured, beginning to calm down. I was fine. But I still wanted to talk to Emmy.
“Then this is probably just a random thing striking out of the blue. He said that would happen, right?” Gray asked. I nodded slowly, relief washing through me. I would be fine. I was fine.
“That’s my girl. I’ll drive you home-”
“No,” I said determinedly, shaking my head. “Absolutely not.”
“I’m not going to let you in there and have to talk to the guy who caused this-”
“He didn’t cause it. My emotions just went a little haywire. And I’m supposed to face whatever stresses me out, nip it in the bud, and get over it. And this is work. This stupid problem doesn’t get in the way of my job,” I reminded him.
“This is why you’re so damn cool, Candi,” Grayson said, slinging an arm around my shoulders. “Now, let’s go get you some water and get to work. The team is here, you almost ran James Neal over when you ran out here,” he teased.
“Oh god,” I groaned, a slow smile crawling across my lips.
“Is she okay?” Ross demanded. He was standing in the doorway, watching me with concern.
“Don’t worry. I’m fine. Just a little episode,” I said, smiling. It was pretty close to not being forced.
“You good to work?” he asked cautiously.
“That’s a stupid question, Ross,” I scolded playfully. He chuckled, and handed me my camera.
“Then let’s get down to business,” he announced. It appeared as if almost the entire team had arrived, and I realized that we were doing an actual photo shoot with the hockey players.
“Hello, gentleman. My name is Ross Mako, and from now on, you’ll be seeing a lot of me and my two co-workers,” he began. Ross referred to all of us as if we were his equals, not employees. Which was cool. “Today, as you know, you’re here for headshots, and some other pictures. I’d like to introduce the two other photographers, Grayson Well,” he announced.
“Nice to see you,” Grayson said politely.
“And Candice Roland,” he said.
“Hi,” I said quietly, smiling shyly and waving a hand. I refused to look anywhere in Sidney’s general direction.
“Candi, you’ll be handling the big guys,” Ross said quietly, pulling us into a little huddle. “That means Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Neal, the lot. Show me what you got, kid, earn the Harper’s shoot,” he instructed. My eyes widened, and I nodded eagerly. Forget the jerk I was taking picture on, Ross was going to give me a Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot. That was a huge deal.
“Kick ass,” Grayson said teasingly, grinning at me. Ross handed me a scribbled out list of the people I’d be taking photos of, and I approached the group of players.
“Alright, boys!” I called, glancing up and looking over all of them. They fell silent. “If you are one of the following, you’ll be working with me. Come stand over here if I call your name, ‘kay?” There was a resonating sound of acknowledgement, so I began.
“Evgeni Malkin. Sidney Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury. Kris Letang. James Neal. Beau Bennett. Chris Kunitz. Pascal Dupuis. For now, that’s all,” I said. Turning to the group in front of me, and once again avoiding Sidney’s eyes, I said,
“Let’s go make some magic, boys.”
I know, it's short, and there's not a whole lot with sid going on, but i promise that if i can a vote or two, there will be another chapter up tonight before 10:00 (eastern time, that is). Any kind of feedback or votes are appreciated :) thank youuuu~Candi