20 hours earlier
Vito’s heart skipped a beat when he got into the studio that morning. He’d returned! Granted, he looked all sorts of disgruntled and uncomfortable, but that didn’t change the fact Louis was sitting on his couch.
“You’ve come back!” Vito blurted out as soon as he walked through the door.
Louis didn’t acknowledge him at first. He was staring at one of the photos on the wall.
“I remember her,” he said. “She went to Magnolia High, didn’t she? She was one of Sera’s friends, right?”
“Uh, yeah, she might have been,” Vito was thrown off guard. “One of the preppy chicks Sera used to hang out with before she became all emo, yeah.”
“What was her name again?” Louis asked.
“I dunno, does it matter?” Vito was starting to look shifty.
“Oh, I remember. Alyssa, her name was Alyssa.” Louis continued, his eyes piercing through Vito. “And you hooked up with her like a day after we broke up.”
“Is this why you came back Louis?” Vito’s cheeks were burning. “To scold me for things that happened years ago?”
“You didn’t exactly give me space for my input when they did happen,” Louis shrugged. “But no. I came back because my agent told me I had to go through with this plum job.”
“Well I’m glad you did come back,” Vito smiled sincerely. “It is really good to see you.”
“Speak for yourself,” Louis flipped. “Look, I’m not here for a trip down the memory lane or anything. I booked a few jobs here in Newcrest, so I thought it would be a good idea to come for a few weeks, that’s all.
But clearly I was being stupid. Everywhere I go there are reminders of the time you dropped me like a hot potato! So sorry I’m not above and beyond the past as much as you are!”
“I’m sorry,” Vito choked. “I wish I could change the way things happened. But I can’t. Can’t we just try to make the best of this? Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we’ve met again, you know.”
Louis rolled his eyes. “Let’s just get this thing over with, so I can go back home to Windenburg… I’m gonna go get changed.”
Vito’s eyes followed Louis towards the changing room and rested on the door. He tried to not think about the fact his former lover was just about to undress in the room right next to him.
Focus, Vito, he told himself. They had a long and awkward shoot ahead of them.
He was right. It was virtually impossible to get a decent shot of Louis, definitely not one on brief.
Unless the client was going for the ‘pouty in denim’ vibe, they were going to be stuck in the studio for a very long time…
“Let’s try the second look and move back to this one later,” Vito said desperately. “Playful and, uh, sexy.”
Perhaps that would break the ice…
Then again, perhaps not.
This was going to be a long day…
Several hours later, they managed to work through the awkwardness somehow. Perhaps it was the exhaustion and desire to get on with it, but the tension between them practically disappeared. They even cracked a few jokes, prompting the occasional familiar smile on Louis’ face.
Vito understood exactly why the client wanted to book Louis. He oozed confidence, looked desirable but not cheap. Seeing him in the campaign would make both men and women either want to be with him, or be him… or both.
“If your butt doesn’t sell those jeans, nothing will,” Vito joked. Half-joked. It was one nice butt…
“Let’s hope so,” Louis chuckled. “Too bad I don’t get royalties…”
“You should! They should hire you as the brand’s spokesperson. Or rather, spokesbuttocks.”
Louis couldn’t help but laugh. “Only you could come up with something like that!”
“Either way, I think that’s a wrap,” Vito told him. “We’ve got plenty great ones to choose from. They’re gonna love it!” He paused. “Hey… I’ve got some juice in the cooler if you want. You know, to celebrate.”
“I guess one can’t hurt,” Louis said with a smile.
For a moment, it almost felt like the good old times. When they were the only two people that mattered. Louis told him about how he got into modelling, and Vito talked about the opening of his studio. They shared stories of working with peculiar clients and eccentric models.
Of course, one miniscule detail made it palpably obvious that it wasn’t the good old times. Vito was dying to kiss Louis, but he couldn’t. Or couldn’t he? Maybe Louis felt the same way. He moved closer…
“What are you doing?” Louis pushed him away.
“Sorry. I thought…”
“You thought what? That I was gonna fall for your plum again because of the briefest moment when things seem good?”
“No. Well, yeah, I guess.” Vito drew back. “Look I’m not saying I thought we could just jump back to normal. But I figured maybe we could give it another chance? There’s still something there, isn’t there? Don’t say you don’t feel it?” He almost pleaded.
“It doesn’t matter,” Vito cut him off. “Nothing’s changed. I’m still going back to Windenburg. Again. There’s no way I’m going through this again.”
“It wouldn’t be the same,” Vito told him. “We’re not teenagers anymore. I’m not the same…”
Louis looked away, distant. “Well neither am I.”
And with that, he stood up and headed over to the changing room, not saying another word.
He slipped into his clothes as quickly as he could and made his way out without as much as looking at Vito. He couldn’t bare to.
It wasn’t the end of the work day for Vito though. He still had one other shoot to get through, a summer dress collection modelled by a pretty girl called Bobbie.
Luckily for Vito, Bobbie was breezing through the photoshoot…
…since he could barely pay attention. His mind kept going back to Louis. When was he leaving Newcrest, he wondered? Where was he staying? Had he already gone? Seemed like he was eager to get out of there as soon as he could…
“Hello?” Bobbie interrupted. “What do you want me to do now?”
“Err, I think we got it Bobbie,” he said distractedly. “Sorry.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind staying late to get in a few extra frames. Or you know, to keep you company…” Bobbie winked at him.
“I’ve heard you’ve got a great view from that rooftop terrace,” she carried on in what she hoped was a seductive manner. “Would you like to show me?”
“Yeah, no thanks,” Vito shrugged and rushed to the door.
She looked after him quizzically.
“Just lock the door on your way out,” he called over his shoulder, already outside of the building. “Or don’t, whatever. I don’t care!”
“What the plum?”
Vito didn’t stick around to explain himself. He’d had an epiphany. It didn’t matter how long Louis was staying in Newcrest for. Because he didn’t have a chance of winning him back over in Newcrest anyway.
But if he was to tag along for Hallie’s next Windenburg trip…
“I ran straight here,” Vito concluded his explanation to Hallie. “But you weren’t home, so I kinda just wandered around all night…. Well, what do you say?”
Hallie smirked. “Does it matter?”
“You’re not seriously gonna say I can’t come with you, are you?” Vito got agitated.
“No. It’s just… Vito, you do know that this most likely won’t work, right?”
He sighed. “Yeah. But I’ve gotta try, don’t I?”