In the Amber Light

"Quick! The sun is setting!" I shouted, turning the aperture on my beloved Kiev 88. I kept my eye on the viewfinder (waist level, for optimum vintage appeal) as my models glared at me. "Don't give me those looks. I have two days to develop all the prints."

"You shouldn't have procrastinated, Lucy."

"Shut up, Elijah." I lifted my face to glare at him. Elijah just laughed. I scowled, and waved my hand. "Christy, just move a bit closer to him, put your hand on his chest and gaze up at him like he was Cillian Murphy."

Christy nodded and did as she was told. It wasn't all that hard, either. Elijah was fine, if I did say so myself. It was mostly the reason why I bullied him into modeling for me in the first place. He had vivid blue eyes which were striking even in black and white, and his long hair was a rich mahogany color. The color women usually had to get from a salon. Christy was his perfect counterpart, with soft doe brown colored eyes and all this long blonde hair. They were so good together it kind of made me wonder why they'd never found each other on campus before I brought them together. People that gorgeous tended to magnetize towards one another, right?

"Okay, Elijah, look straight at the camera, no, actually-" I cut myself off and looked down in the viewfinder again. "Look right here." Thankful for the tripod holding my camera steady, I pointed at the top of my head. Elijah did so, his expression one of mocking instead of the intensity I'd told him he needed to have.

Our staring contests in the most boring English class of our lives were more intense.

"Stop screwing around!" I cried. "I don't want to fail!"

Elijah rolled his eyes, but did as I asked. I snapped a few pictures, and then I stepped back from the tripod to look at my models. We'd raided the theater department's costume shop under the furtive cover of late afternoon, and Elijah was dressed in a Romeo-esque costume with a silly frilly shirt that I couldn't believe I'd manage to wrestle him into, tight trousers that made Christy look twice, and shiny boots a size too small. Christy was wearing a Juliet-esque dress in jewel tones and her long hair braided with a rhinestone circlet. They looked as if they'd stepped out of a staging of the famous play, which was exactly my intent. I'd driven the two models to Forest Park, were we'd set up shop at the Great Basin. It was a gorgeous set up, and I couldn't wait to get into the dark room and see the shots. I was already thinking about how I could filter the exposures to get a more contrasty quality. My mind always worked that way. I was thinking of the entire process from the very beginning.

After three years in the photography lab at my college, it was all old hat, and I was always looking for new, interesting ways to develop.

"Okay, great." I looked into the view finder. "Now, kiss." Christy took to the task with great enthusiasm. Elijah didn't seem too upset either. He bent down, taking Christy's face in his hands, and kissed her gently on the lips.

I felt my scowl deepen as I got the shots. They just had to go and look so gorgeous, didn't they? "Hold on," I said. They broke apart, and I reset the aperture to account for the sun setting behind the couple. "All right, kiss again. Close your eyes this time, Elijah." He did so, and I got a few more shots, my scowl growing fiercer with each one. The stupid sun was setting way too fast for my comfort. At least, that's what I told myself. "Okaaaaaay, now Christy, pull away, Elijah keep a hold of her hand."

My models did as I asked. Christy pulled away, her expression heartbreaking. Despite my misgivings, I had to admit asking an actress from the theater department to model for me was a good idea. Elijah was no slouch either. I guess it was all his psychology training, but he managed to tap into the doomed romance I was looking for. He gripped Christy's hand, the other reaching for her with yearning.

It was disgusting. And awesome. But mostly exactly what I needed. I snapped the pictures.

"That's it, the light is going to be too dim any minute now. And besides I finished the roll." I started winding the film back, and Christy relaxed. Elijah let go of her, and said something to her in a low tone that I couldn't make out. She giggled.

"Where did you find this guy, Lucy?" she asked as they headed towards me. I rolled my eyes at the question. Flirtation was dripping out of her. Not that I blamed her, or anything.

"Actually, he was dating my roommate freshman year." I stuck my light meter into my camera bag, and unscrewed the Kiev 88 from my tripod. There might have been a moment of stroking the square beast lovingly before it too was zipped into my bag. Hey, if guys could drool over cars, I could drool over my Russian camera. "She would always be late from her chem lab so he'd hang out with me and we'd watch Red vs. Blue or whatever." I started folding up my tripod, and Elijah took over the story.

"Turns out, the reason she was late was because she was making out with Dr. Lemm," he said, rather non-chalantly. He took the tripod from me once I was done folding it up and zipped it into the bag for me. He slung it over his shoulder. "The relationship, not-so-sadly, ended as did the sharing of the room between the two. However, Lucy just couldn't get enough of me."

"Oh?" I slung my camera bag over my own shoulder. "I seem to recall you being the one to show up at my new dorm the next fall, after breaking into the school computer system to find out where I'd been placed instead of actually asking me, with a Kodak Tourist you found in your grandmother's attic."

"It's like the Gospels," Elijah said to Christy. "Different perspectives on the same story."

Christy obviously didn't get the reference, but she smiled anyway. "It's hard to find good friends like that. Is a Kodak Tourist a camera like the one you used?"

I shook my head and started walking back to my car. Christy and Elijah followed. "Nope. It's one of those that has bellows. It's pretty nifty, but it takes a type of film that is pretty expensive unfortunately, so I can't use it often unless I feel like dropping twenty bucks for an eight exposure roll of film."

Christy nodded as if she knew what I was talking about. The only reason Elijah had any idea about cameras was because he made the dreadful mistake of asking me about my vintage camera collection I'd mentioned casually in conversation.

The light was quickly dimming, and I was happy I managed to finish the shoot before I'd lost all hope of natural light. It was a Tuesday evening, and therefore it was quiet in Forest Park. There were a few walkers here and there, but most everyone had left when the sun started sinking. Christy kept up a lively chatter with Eiljah about the shoot as I lead them towards my car. I was already thinking of how I was going to develop the prints, and tuned her voice out. Elijah must have noticed, because he kept poking me in the back as we walked.

I glared at him every time, until we reached the car. We stashed the gear in the trunk of my grandma's Century Buick she'd given to me when my dad wouldn't let her drive any more for fear of running over innocent pedestrians. The drive back to campus was filled with Christy's continuing chatter. She twisted around in the passenger seat to face Elijah. She was talking about the summer shows she was going to be in at the university, and how she had been cast as the lead in Oklahoma. If I had known the girl was going to be so chatty, I might have found someone else to model. But it wasn't because Elijah was listening to her with rapt attention. Strictly because I found endless chatter annoying. Unless it was Elijah's (or my own).

Plus, I just wanted to get my project done and turned in. Finals were a week away, and I was so not ready. All my gen eds had been taken care of, but my two non-art related electives were kicking my butt. I still had to study before I utterly failed. Elijah promised to coach me, but his idea of studying involved opening the books on my bed, opening Pandora on my computer, and having an impromptu dance party complete with re-enacting Thriller for my roommate and her boyfriend. Thanks to Elijah, I now knew the entire dance to Thriller, and every last word. I didn't know if this was frightening or awesome.

Before too long we got back to campus. I dropped Christy off at her dorm. Elijah hopped out along with her, to change out of the costumes so she could return them to the costume shop. He was back in five minutes, dressed in a holey pair of jeans and a Van Halen t-shirt. "She was nice," Elijah said when he settled back in the passenger seat. "Kinda weird kissing a stranger, though."

I gave him a sidelong glance, but didn't say anything as I pulled into my dorm's lot.

"I suffer for the sake of your art." He poked me in the arm.

"Stop that, I'm making a very delicate maneuver."

"Yeah, parking in a near empty lot." Elijah snickered, and I sent him a mock glare. I parked, and popped the trunk. Before I could even get off my seat belt, Elijah had bounded out of the car to grab my things. "Hey, careful. I'm going straight to the photo lab."

"I'm going to go grab dinner, you want anything?"

I nodded, and took my camera bag from the trunk. I didn't bother with the tripod, as I was lazy and that's where I normally kept it. Elijah saluted me and raced off towards the main building to grab some sort of edible food. Well, possibly edible. After three years we weren't quite sure.

I trudged along towards the art building, wondering how the pictures were going to turn out. The campus was pretty dead, as most students were studying like crazy for finals, packing, and doing those wonderful last minute things. I planned to bribe Elijah in helping me move with promises of chocolates and as many viewings of Mystery Science Theater as he wanted. It worked the year before, and I greatly anticipated it working again this year. Elijah was so easy.

I had a key to the photolab, as my professor liked me and knew I wouldn't flood the darkroom like a certain other sophomore had the year before. When you have the whirlpool sink on, you kind of have to be careful not to knock a roll of paper towels in it. Bad things happen, and you get banned from printing in the darkroom alone for the rest of your college career.

Printing photos is a lot of hurry up and wait. I loved taking the photos, and I loved printing the photos, and I loved altering them on Photoshop should the occasion call for it. The one thing I didn't enjoy was developing the film. You have to stick everything into a bag with elasticized armholes, open the film canister, put the film on a reel by touch (without touching the actual emulsion side of the film), stick it in a developing tank canister and hope you didn't scratch your negatives as you fought viciously with a reel. And after that, you had to toss chemicals inside in a certain order for a certain amount of time. Great fun.

Not exactly the high and exciting life of action photography over here. No wonder so many people have switched to digital. They were probably bored out of their minds just waiting to see what turned up on the film! In any case, I popped in my earbuds, turned on my iPod, and went to work.

I forgot all about Elijah as I agitated my tank. I concentrated on Regina Spektor singing away as I kept my eye on the clock. I didn't like using the timer, I'd trained my eye to automatically figure out the time increments on the analog clock.

Finally, I put my film in the drier and nearly shrieked when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I yanked out my headphones and whirled around to see Elijah holding up a bag. He'd gone to the subway in the cafeteria.

"Sorry," he said in apology. "There was a huge line and you had your music up so loud you didn't hear me come in. I just rolled my eyes, but grabbed at the bag. Elijah let me have it, and we sat down on the tarp in the studio corner. "How's it going?"

"Good," I said. I tore into the bag and pulled out my meatball sandwich, my favorite. Elijah gently took the bag from me and pulled out his own sandwich. "The photos look like they'll turn out really well. The negatives are excellent."

He nodded, and we soon lost ourselves in eating. Elijah and I could always carry on a lively conversation, but I was still thinking about how Christy had dominated on the way home. I had felt a bit left out, even though I would never say so. It seemed like she only had eyes for Elijah, and even though it had been my project, I felt like a third wheel.

We finished eating right as the drier's timed cycle ended. Elijah threw the trash away from me, and I retrieved my negatives. I held them up to the light. Three years of training let me reverse the black and white in my mind. They were really excellent. I felt a twinge of happiness, but it was overrun when Elijah grabbed the other end of the long strip and looked.

"Oh man, these do look good, if your other negatives are any indication!" I smiled at him, and quickly cut them up into manageable strips. Elijah followed me into the darkroom, helping me carry the fixer, stop bath, and developer to put in the trays. I flipped on the amber light and started setting up.

"I'm going to miss you this summer," he said as I turned on the whirlpool sink. "June, July, and August without my photography obsessed best friend."

"I know. I'm just that awesome." I flashed a smile, though it was hard to make out expressions in the dim amber colored light. I stuck my photo paper in the drawer of the enlarger table, and began setting that up. "I suppose I'll miss you feeding me." I snapped on the enlarger light, and could see the negative clear as day, blown up on the table's surface. Of course, it was one of the one's where Elijah and Christy were kissing.

"Ha ha, you only love me because I give you food."

I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. For once I didn't have a sarcastic reply. "Yeah." I prepared my test strip, not feeling so enthused with getting the project done anymore. Elijah, who had long since heard me lecture about every step of the developing process, wasn't even paying attention to what I was doing as I bustled about, putting the strip in developer and watching it carefully.

"Who will I have midnight Thriller dance parties with?"

"Your brother?"

"Oh, right, the guy so scared of turning gay he won't even look at a pop music video."

I had to smile at that. I determined what filter and how long I'd need to expose the paper for, and fell into my comfortable, steady routine. It was like a safety net. Developing was what I knew how to do, and it was what I did well. Even if the pictures bothered me on some visceral level, and with Elijah's inane blathering, I could always develop and find comfort in it. I ran the enlarger, and immediately put the paper in the developing tray. Elijah hurried over to watch the image slowly appear. I busied myself with putting another negative in the tray of the enlarger, not wanting to see him kissing Christy.

"Whoa," he said. "Your Kiev takes the best pictures."

"Yeah." I ran another test strip, wishing he would just go away.

"I found this awesome old camera at a thrift store when I went with Jeremy to find some shoes to wear camping this summer. Argo-something? Anyway, I bought it, and I'll have to show it to you."

"Sounds great, Elijah." I moved the first photo into the stop bath, and put the second one I'd just exposed into the developing tray. Instead of hurrying over to put another negative in, I watched with Elijah as the picture appeared.

It was like a kick in the gut. It was the one where Christy was pulling away, and Elijah was holding onto her hand, pleading with her to stay. It was so real, so lifelike, I couldn't handle it.

"Whoa, that's amazing," Elijah said. "I mean, I think these are the best shots I've ever seen you do."

"They suck," I said, my voice way too snappish for my usual cheerful demeanor. "They're cheesy, cliché and I'll be lucky if I scrape a C."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, what's the matter, Lucy?"

"Just get out. I'm under enough stress without you bugging me every second when I'm trying to work."

Even in the dim amber light, I could see that Elijah was hurt by my stinging command. I didn't care at that moment. I just wanted to get these stupid photos developed. He nodded, and left the darkroom without a word.

I stared at the photos in the trays, clenched my hands into my fists, and vowed I wasn't going to break down. Stress is a killer, and I had it in spades.

Of course, I had been lying when I told Elijah my photos sucked. My professor loved them, gave me an A, and told me to start looking for photography internships. I'd have to buy a digital SLR for any job I got, which I was greatly averse to. My love was in old fashioned photography, and I even wanted to learn how to make glass plate negatives sometime. But I wasn't going to earn a living making artsy photos, so I started looking up prices for Nikons.

I made it through the rest of my finals without too much struggle, and I hadn't spoken to Elijah since I kicked him out of the dark room almost a week earlier. That's longer than eternity when it came to the two of us. We couldn't go very long in summer vacation without texting each other. Absolute silence reigned.

I was sitting in the darkroom, printing the last photos I could before they dumped the chemicals and I had to go home for the break. They weren't anything particularly special, mostly events around campus that I wanted to memorialize in a photo album.

I heard the revolving darkroom door move and looked up to see Elijah.

"Hey," he said. He was holding an old fashioned Argoflex in his hands. "I thought you might like this. For your collection if nothing else."

I put the last photo I'd exposed into the fixer, and smiled. He was trying to be nice, even if he didn't know why I was angry with him. Heck, I didn't know why I was angry with him. I wiped off my fingers on the towel tucked into my belt, and took the camera. It was beat up a bit, and in the dark I couldn't make much out about the model. I turned on the enlarger light, sans negative, and put the camera underneath it. I didn't feel like leaving the darkroom. The dim amber light made me feel safe. Standing in the harsh florescence having a strained conversation with my best friend wasn't my idea of a fun time.

"Hey, Elijah..." I trailed off. I grabbed the camera, and motioned for Elijah to follow me out of the darkroom. Once we were in the light, blinking back against the harshness, I pointed at the exposure counter. "Look, it says 9."

"What does that mean?"

"It means there's still a roll of film in here." I smiled. "What do you say, should we take our photo with possibly sixty year old film?"

Elijah smiled, happy I wasn't snapping at him. "Are you serious asking me this question?" His smile turned into a grin. We scurried towards my professors office, and in no time, we had her pose us in the studio lights. Elijah stood behind me, with his arm around my waist and resting his chin on top of my head. It was a position he'd taken before, like when I dragged him to a dance club once, or at his brother's wedding when we danced ironically to the "couple's only" song. Tracy, my professor, was enthralled with the camera itself, and nearly messed up the framing as she tried to figure out the workings of the shutter. It wasn't a difficult machine, but she was as enamored with vintage cameras as I was.

"There, that should work," she said. She handed me the camera. She eyed Elijah, having gotten quite used to him hanging around the photolab. "Let me see the pictures if they turn out. All of them." She smirked.

Elijah rubbed the back of his neck as he watched her walk out, almost like he was trying to figure out what she had meant. I knew better than to question Tracy. She could be quite cryptic if she wanted to be. It went with making surrealistic art, I always thought.

"I'm really excited to see if these photos turn out," he said as I gently worked the ancient film onto a 120 reel in the changing bag. I was very intent, trying to make sure the old film wouldn't break as I worked. I nodded in agreement. "It's like seeing history for the first time. I wonder who owned this camera before I found it? The guy at the shop said the camera had been there as long as he could remember, and his parents built the place."

"Well, we'll find out what they look like, at least," I said, and laughed in triumph. The paper backing managed to not stick to the film, which was rare from what I knew. I'd once read about a guy who did that very thing, bought vintage cameras with film still inside and developed the photos. Once I had the film in the canister, I got on one of the lab's Macs and looked up developing times for the film. "I hope I don't mess up. That'd be really sad."

"You won't," Elijah said, confident in my abilities as always.

"You always say that."

"Because you're better than you think you are, Luce."

I made a face, but went back to concentrating on agitating the tank properly. After an eternity, I was able to open the canister and take apart the reel. I held the negatives up to the light, and shrieked.

"What's wrong?" Elijah, who'd been watching me diligently, hadn't expected my outburst. "Did you cut yourself or something?"

"These are completely amazing!" I cried. I dumped them in the water bath. "I can't wait twenty minutes. Oh god." I swirled the strip around in the water, then clipped them into the drying cabinet. I set the timer, and watched in anticipation. "This film has to be at least half a century old and there is some destruction, but they are remarkably good!"

Elijah smiled and hugged me quickly. "Told you so, you worry wart."

I smiled back at him. I started dancing around the lab, antsy and impatient to see the negatives come to life on paper.

"Hey, why were you so upset the other day?"

I stopped dancing and turned to look at Elijah. His good humor was still there, but concern tempered his eyes. He had his hands stuck in the pockets of his ratty jeans, and his blue plaid shirt unbuttoned just enough to show off the cross necklace I'd given to him for his birthday one year.

"I don't know." Immediately I went on the defensive. "Finals stress me out, and I didn't like the photos."

"You still don't?"

I shook my head. I turned away from him to watch my drying strip of film. "They bug me. Too cliché. Though Tracy loved them. She thinks you're hot."

"I'd be weirded out except Tracy is only what, eight years older than us?" Elijah chuckled. "But why else do they bug you? You've done cliché before."

"Ironically." I played with the ends of my hair, twisting them and twirling the strands between my fingers. "I just think I could have done a better job, that's all. Maybe I shouldn't have had two completely gorgeous models. Maybe I should have found two normal people to make it more relatable."

"I'm not relatable? But I'm awesome!"

I smiled in spite of myself. "Yes, but your awesomeness intimidates the rest of normal people. I can only withstand it because I'm as awesome as you are."

"As much as I love discussions about our mutual awesome-tasticness, Lucy, you're changing the subject."

I cringed. Elijah had gotten so good at figuring out when I was uncomfortable and trying to shift the conversation. He just had to know me that well. "I told you."

"You've never acted like that before. Frustrated, yes, but never to the point of kicking me out of the darkroom."

I dropped my hands from my hair and shook my head. "Well, I have a lot on my mind. Tracy wants me to find an internship with a professional studio. I'd be shooting weddings all dang summer long, and if there's one thing that annoys me, it's Bridezillas who don't understand that people make it their living to make their one day perfect."

"Somebody's jealous!" Elijah taunted in a sing-song manner. "Don't deny it, you wanna be a Bridezilla some day."

The only answer I deigned necessary was a disapproving glare. Elijah burst out into laughter. He did have a nice laugh, and I always had a rush of pleasure when I managed to pull one out of him.

Before he had time to taunt me further, the dryer cabinet timed out. I retrieved the film, cut it into smaller strips and rushed into the darkroom. Elijah was at my heels.

"Do them in order," he said. "Let me be surprised when they show up in the tray.

I nodded, and I set to work with my single-minded intensity. The photos were amazingly well preserved. No light leaks, very little damage to the edges of the negatives, things like that. I cropped most of the damage out of the photos as I printed. The first photo was of a woman and a little boy of about three, in 40's style clothing, standing in front of an old car. Well, old to my viewpoint. It was probably almost new at the time the photo was taken.

The woman was grinning ear to ear, and the little boy was glaring at the camera in typical cranky toddler fashion. Some things just never changed. I had to smile. I stuck the paper in the developer and began preparing the next photo, and let Elijah watch the picture appear. He was old hat at moving the photos to the next tray for me, as he'd spent many an hour killing time between classes bugging me as I worked.

"Whoa," he said, almost reverently. "You were right, these are like sixty years old!"

The next photo was taken at a train station. The woman from the first photo was standing with the little boy, with what looked like dozens or even hundreds of other women and children at the station behind them. They all had similar expressions of joy.

"Do you think this is when the soldiers came home?" Elijah asked. I didn't answer. I was too charmed by the fact that I was developing photos taken by someone over sixty years earlier.

The next four photos were so underexposed I couldn't get out a decent print. Which meant four photos were left, three of this interesting little family.

The next photo was back in the driveway of the first one. A man in an army uniform stood behind the woman, his happiness so infectious it gripped me through a photograph taken sixy years ago. His arm was around her waist, eerily similar to how Elijah and I had posed, except that the woman was proportionally taller than I was. The little boy was holding his mother's hand and standing in front of the man. He looked unsure.

The second to last of the original photos struck me, and it was harder than anything I had felt when I saw the photos of Elijah and Christy kissing. The man stood by himself, a crutch under one arm. He hadn't just been holding his wife out of affection. He'd been holding her to balance himself. The left pant leg was pinned up, revealing an amputation. His joy was tangible, even now. He didn't care that he only had one leg. He was home, with his family.

Elijah didn't say anything when he saw the photograph develop. He didn't look over to me, or anything. He just dutifully moved the paper over to the next trays when he was supposed to.

The last photo of the old family was perhaps the most real. It wasn't posted. The man was sitting on a porch swing, his little boy on his good knee playing with his uniform hat. The woman was sitting next to him, kissing him on the cheek. It was like something out of a movie. The family was together, happy, after such a horrible, uncertain time. No one cared that he only had one leg. I wondered who the photographer was. A parent of one of the couple? A sibling?

It didn't matter. What mattered was I was seeing a happy ending for a family who lived in another time. And no one else had seen these pictures, except Elijah.

I started printing the final photo, the one of Elijah and me.


I looked up as the light timer ran. "What is it?"

"Haven't you realized yet that I always agree to model for you, hang around when you develop photos, dance to Thriller in your dorm, and brought you this camera because I'm in love with you?"

The light snapped off and I stared down at the piece of paper I'd just exposed. "What?"

"It killed you to see me kiss Christy, didn't it?"

"I- I..."

"Man, Lucy, you're such a dork."

I whirled around. Elijah was watching me, his grin as infectious as the long-lost one legged soldier. "Did you just-"

He interrupted me. "Do you even know that the entire photography department thinks I hang around the darkroom because we're up to illicit, married people shenanigans?"

I blinked a few times, the amber light making this conversation all the more surreal. "But, I don't even..."

Elijah laughed. "I guess I figured if some soldier could lose his leg to protect his country and still be happy and loved when he came home, I could tell you the truth, what you wanted to hear but didn't even realize you wanted to hear it."

I turned around, not knowing what to say. I grabbed the sheet of paper, and stuck it in the developer on top of the last photo. I rocked the tray slightly, letting the developer work its magic.

There's something to be said about film photography. You don't know immediately what the photo is going to look like. And in this case, I couldn't scroll through the photos to see that when Tracy had taken the picture of the two of us, Elijah hadn't been looking at the camera. He had been looking down at me. His expression was so much like that of the soldier that it was almost too much to take.

I fell back, collapsing on the stool I used to sit on when I was too tired of standing as I worked. Now that I knew how Elijah felt for me, I didn't have to be in denial anymore. Of course I had been crazy jealous of Christy. Who wouldn't fall in love with handsome, lovable Elijah?

"So, I'm getting kind of nervous here," Elijah said. He retrieved the photos that were swirling around in the whirlpool sink, and hung them up on the line. There was a print dryer, but after the thing mangled some portraits I'd spent hours working on, I tended to eschew it in favor of the old fashioned method. "I mean, I kind of throw all this out to you and you still haven't even really reacted. Throw me a little hint here."

"Elijah, you are the strangest person I've ever had the pleasure to meet."

"Why, thank you!" Of course, that was a genuine compliment to him.

"You do realize that when we get married, we're making the entire wedding party dance to Thriller for the guests."

Even in the dim amber light, Elijah's expression completely transformed. He'd been good-natured and cheerful before, but now, he seemed to just shine. Even in the darkness. "Well, duh. It wouldn't be us if we didn't."

"Good." I was shaking as I stood up and started taking the negatives out of the enlarger. I was still processing everything that had just transpired. And let me tell you, such an emotional rush left me completely shaken.

"Hey, Lucy." Elijah sidled up to me, and took my trembling hand. He kissed my fingertips. "Wanna go pretend we had sex to Tracy?"

My trembles were forgotten. If anyone knew the two of us really well, the would know we would be the last people on the planet to engage in illicit, married people shenanigans. "Oh, heck yes!"

Without all the other reasons to love Elijah, without his gentle soul, his crazy personality, and his unwavering loyalty, I knew I had to love him. I mean, what other guy would ever dance to Thriller for me, bring me meatball sandwiches, buy me vintage cameras, and pretend he had sex with me for a joke?

I mean, come on.

It was totally true love.