One of the hardest decisions of my life was choosing which of my photographs to put on display. I only had room for twelve, and they had to be amazing. I had printed out and framed twenty-three of my favorites, but now I needed to decide which ones. "Well, obviously the one of Daisy from Sunday is going up," I said out loud. For some reason, whenever I was setting up an exhibit, I ended up talking to myself. "And the one of Adrina on the beach."
I spent the next hour talking to myself until there was only room for one more photograph. I stood deliberating until finally, I decided to twirl around with my eyes closed and when I stopped and opened my eyes, that would be the photo I put up. I put out my finger and twirled, and when I opened my eyes, I was pointing at a picture of Cole. Sighing, I picked it up. I wasn't happy about it, but it was the rules of the game.
Another two hours later, and I had finished stringing the strands of Christmas lights around each photograph, and I only had a half an hour until the gallery opened. "S h i t!" I exclaimed, checking my Blackberry. "I don't even have time to get back to the dorm and change!"
Quickly, I texted Daisy, but she didn't text back. I texted Aiden, but he didn't respond, either. After exhausting my list of emergency contacts, I realized that unless I wanted to talk to Max again, the only option I had was Cole. Deciding not to text him, I found his number and called him. "`Lo?" he said, and I could hear the strumming of a guitar in the background.
"Hi, Cole, it's Eli. I know this is wicked short notice and all, but I'm running out of time."
"What's up?" The strumming stopped, and you could hear anxiety in his voice.
"Don't worry, it's nothing bad." He let out a breath. "Could you run over to my dorm, there's a key under the mat, and grab the stuff that's laid out over the couch?"
"Sure, I guess. Why?"
"It's my outfit for tonight. I need it, I don't have time to run back and get it. There's also going to be a make-up bag on the bathroom counter, I need you to grab that as well."
"Be there in ten." Cole hung up, and I let out a breath I had no idea I was holding.
True to his word, he was at the gallery in ten minutes. I could hear one of the professors giving him a hard time. "Mr. Vonner, the gallery doesn't open for another twenty minutes. You're just going to have to wait like the rest of your friends."
"But, sir, I've got something for Eli Black," he protested.
"I'm sure any good luck kisses can be kept until the gallery opens."
I quickly ran to the doors. "It's okay, he's with me. He's got my clothes."
The professor took one look at me, still in my paint splattered sweats and grey t-shirt and ushered Cole in.
"Thank you so much," I gushed, unzipping the garment bag. "I would've been dead."
"Nah. You definitely would've given people something to talk about, though," Cole laughed.
I rushed into the bathroom and pulled the dress on, and immediately found that I couldn't zipper the thing myself. "Coole," I yelled.
"What? What's wrong?" Again, with the anxiety.
"I need your help zipping me up."
"I'm not coming into the girls bathroom," he said, and I could practically hear him shaking his head. "No way, no how."
"Fine." I stomped out into the open, barefeet and all. "Here."
I felt Cole's hands zip the dress, and I turned around to face him. "What do you think?"
"You're wearing the dress I picked out," he murmured, then cleared his throat. "You look good. Now go put some shoes on."
I rushed back into the bathroom, slipping my feet into the Jimmy Choo sandals he'd brought and putting a few touch-ups on my make-up. When I was finally ready, the gallery had been open for five minutes already. I ran out, and found Cole conducting people around the shots, and doing quite well at it, as well.
"Well, whodathunk you knew anything about photography?" I teased.
"My older sister's really into it," he shrugged. "Plus, it's not hard to talk about your photos. They're pretty amazing."
I blushed. "Well, thanks."
"No problem," Cole nodded, then kissed my cheek. "You're pretty amazing, yourself, you know."
I blushed again, even more embarrassed. "Thanks again."
"No problem. First one's free." And with that, he walked off, leaving me in such a mess I couldn't speak straight for at least fifteen minutes.