Title Perfect Little Flaws
Author Jennifer Ann Shore
Genre Young Adult Romance
It’s impossible to ignore Vince Novak.
He’s all anyone can talk about—speculating on the reason for his transfer to our school, celebrating his future career as a soccer star, or gushing over how tall, dark, and handsome he is. Even my parents mention him in hushed, angry whispers, fearful he’s going to shatter my brother’s records and destroy the legacy left behind when he died. However, I avoid Vince Novak at all costs, hiding from him and the rest of the world behind my camera lens. But my best laid plans—and photos—are nearly ruined when my tangible disinterest in his existence intrigues him. The more time we spend together, the more his little flaws peek out beneath the layers of perfection and break down the walls I’ve built around my heart.
“Are you almost done?” I ask, pointedly looking at the clock on the wall as if I have somewhere else to be.
Amber rolls her eyes. “Are you going to keep interrupting?”
“Maybe,” I bite out.
“Maren,” she seethes.
Vince’s eyes lock on mine, and I don’t think he realizes he does it, but he mouths my name like he’s testing the feel of it on his tongue.
Amber exhales in annoyance.
“If you don’t let us finish, I’m going to have no choice but to tell Mrs. Smith.”
“And tell her what?” I counter. “That it’s my fault you’re totally unprepared for this interview and don’t even know what the hell ‘zone defense’ means?”
She huffs. “God, it’s the Greene Gazette, not The New York Times.”
“I could use a break,” Vince says, smoothing things over. “What if we take some pictures, and you can ask me anything you want between takes? Or after?”
“Sounds good,” Amber agrees, eager to appease him.
I nod, refusing outright to show my appreciation, and gesture for him to come over.
“I need to test some lighting, if you don’t mind standing on the mark,” I point to the little X I marked in duct tape on the linoleum.
He steps over, eyeing the setup as I move one of the lighting rigs to accommodate his stature—I don’t recall him being this tall in our exchange in the darkroom.
“No film today, then?” Vince asks quietly.
I chew on my bottom lip while I shake my head.
Objectively speaking, he’d be one hell of a model to test out some of my more artsy shots on, but I’m not about to say that, so I’ll have to settle for Andy or whatever inanimate objects I stumble upon in the park.
“Can you close your eyes for a second?” I ask.
He obliges without hesitation, like he already trusts me even though I’ve known him for one second and made it clear that I’m not his biggest fan.
I turn off the overhead lights and flip on the temporary rigs. “Okay, it’s going to take your eyes a minute to adjust, so don’t rush to open them. I’m just going to do some test shots for shadows and levels, so don’t worry about posing.”
I pick up my digital camera and click a few random shots, ensuring that everything is flashing when I want it to, then double-check the screen, wishing I had a proper external monitor setup instead of having to zoom in.
“You ready?” I ask.
“Sure,” he says. “Smiling or no smiling?”
“Smiling,” Amber pipes up.
Vince looks to me to confirm.
“Smiling’s fine,” I say.
He nods and grins, looking comfortable enough.
I grip the camera in my hands, moving around to capture him at different angles.
But my eye is repeatedly drawn to that one little imperfect tooth on the top row.
It’s the focal point of my mind, and I need to break that fixation.
The few photos I take aren’t good enough to even be considered for publication—at least for as long as my name is attached to them.
“No more smiling,” I declare in frustration at my own fascination.
That makes him laugh. “That bad, huh?”
I click a few shots, noting the way his genuine laugh differs from his forced smile, but eventually, it falls off completely, and I’m met with a stare that’s somehow intense and bored at the same time.
After snapping him from different viewpoints, I flip through the shots, then I glance around, trying to see if it’s a lighting change that needs to happen or a different photographer.
When my eyes land on the soccer ball that Amber had the forethought to bring, inspiration strikes.
“You down to try something?” I ask, tossing him the ball with one hand.
He catches it easily and nods.
I place my camera on the tripod and quickly change some of the settings, so the exposure and focus don’t change.
“There’s a technique called sequence photography, which is kind of like a human version of stop motion, or a photo version of a timelapse,” I explain in layman’s terms. “I’m going to set the shutter to at repeated intervals, and it’s going to snap every fraction of a second, then stitch the images together to show the motion.”
I stop, ensuring that he’s keeping up.
“Sounds cool,” he admits.
“Do you think you can curve the ball right here from that short of a distance?” I hold my hand about a foot above the tripod.
“Not even a challenge,” he says confidently.
“Are you sure you don’t want to take more poses?” Amber asks, likely hating my suggestion because it’s not typical for feature photos. “Maybe a few headshots?”
“I’m sure,” I say.
Vince cues the ball up at the perfect angle on the floor, then backs up a few steps.
I’m glad I cleared out the additional space, or this wouldn’t have worked.
“Ready?” he asks me.
I hope he’s as good as everyone says, and not about to send a speeding soccer ball right through the lens of my camera.
“Go,” I say, pressing the button, then putting my hands in place to catch the ball.
It’s almost beautiful how easy it is for him to pull off the kick as the lights flash, and after I safely grip the ball in both hands, I pounce, eager to see the result on the screen.
“Oh, damn,” I breathe.
“What?” Amber asks as she and Vince both come around to look.
“That looks awesome,” Vince gushes. “I love it.”
“Oh, yes, me too!” Amber agrees.
I smile, unable to hold back my enthusiasm. “It’d look even more awesome with a bicycle kick, but I don’t want you to risk injury.”
“I’ve got some ideas,” Vince says with a grin.
We spend the next hour getting better and better photos with a variety of trick shots, and I swear it’s the most fun I’ve had in years.
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Jennifer Ann Shore is the award-winning and bestselling author of several fiction books, including "Metallic Red," "The Stillness Before the Start," and "The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy."
In her decade of working in journalism, marketing, and book publishing, she has gained recognition for her work from companies such as Hearst and SIIA.
Be sure to visit her website (https://www.jenniferannshore.com) and follow her on Twitter (@JenniferAShore), Instagram (@shorely), or your preferred social media channel to stay in touch.
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