Carly stepped out of the changing room. Those photo studio lights were really not forgiving…
“I don’t know if this is the best idea,” she told Vito again. “I look like a whale.”
“Nonsense, you’re glowing,” Vito grinned. “The photos will look awesome, I promise!”
“I’m not too sure about that… I’m feeling so uncomfortable…”
“Do you want to sit down for a bit?” Vito asked.
“No, no, it’s fine… it’s just… I’m hardly a model. And all these beautiful people staring at me from the frames aren’t doing that much for my confidence…”
“Hey! Don’t say that, you’ve got the pregnant lady glow and the awesome Bloomer genes going for you!” Vito told her. “You’re prettier than any of them!”
Her eyes shot to the frame with the angelic boy. “Even Louis?” She giggled.
Vito hesitated for a moment. “Even Louis,” he grinned in the end. “I don’t think he could pull off growing another person inside him while looking amazing, that’s for sure.”
Carly laughed. “You’re such a schmoozer.” She hugged her brother. “But thank you.”
“Now, question is, will we get that star shot?” Vito smiled as he walked back to the tripod.
Carly chuckled. Vito hoped to capture that soft laugh, but for some reason, the radiance just wasn’t translating on film. Carly looked beautiful and vibrant right in front of him, but tired and worried in the frames.
Vito wondered which was the truthful one. Was the camera lense telling him something he couldn’t see in person? Or was it just the harsh lighting?
Either way, this wasn’t working.
“I told you Vito, I’m no model,” Carly shook her head.
“You’re just not a studio type,” shrugged. “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you go get dressed and we go for a bit of a walk? I reckon field photography is more of your thing…”
Carly rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, Mr Photographer…”
She slipped into the dress as quickly as her state allowed her and joined her brother again. He was admiring the photo of Louis, with an unusual softness in his eyes.
“He messaged me the other day, you know,” She said casually. “Looks like he was concerned about me when you mentioned my baby situation to him, so he wanted to see if I was ok.”
“He’s such a nice guy,” Vito sighed. “I’ll never deserve him.”
“He looks good in that photo,” Carly changed the subject.
“Yeah.” Vito smiled. “Forget what I said, I bet he could pull of being pregnant. Too bad he’s not in modelling anymore.”
“Is he not?”
“Well, technically he is, just not in front of the lense. He decided to get into management side,” Vito explained. “Though I’m not sure if he likes the industry all that much. He’s not vain enough for it.” He laughed.
“I’m sure he’ll find something that suits him,” Carly said.
“I should take off that picture of Alyssa.” Vito pondered. “Louis hated it.”
“It made him feel uncomfortable since he knew we messed around…” Vito blushed.
“But Vito, didn’t you hook up with a whole bunch of your models anyway?”
He shot his sister a glare. “Ok, since you and Louis are talking again, do me a favour, and don’t mention that par to him, ok?”
Carly laughed. “Of course not.”
“It’s all in the past now, you know?” Vito shook his head. “Anyway, you ready to go?”
“So what are we doing, exactly?” Carly asked.
“I figured we’d walk around Newcrest for a bit,” Vito said. “You’re an outdoorsy type, so it will suit you much better in the photos. And you can start making your legacy plans at the same time…”
“Could have been your legacy too, you know,” Carly pointed out. “How do you feel about it now?”
“It’s not really sunk in yet, to be honest with you.” Vito shrugged. “I try not to think about it too much. But what I am thinking right now is that that lighting works great for you!”
“That’s probably because you can’t see my face in that picture.” Carly laughed when she looked at the photo. “Or how massive I am…”
“I’m just getting started…”
They arrived in the Ruby Perrin Park.
“Such a beautiful day here!” Carly beamed.
“Hold that expression! That’s exactly what I’m after!”
“You’re being ridiculous!” Carly laughed. “This will look awful!”
“It’s called candid shots,” Vito lectured her. “You take loads to capture just the right moment…”
“I don’t know about that,” Carly sat down on the edge of the fountain. “I thought you didn’t even do photos outside the studio.”
“I don’t, normally.” Vito admitted. “But that’s not life, is it? I’ve been making an effort to stop obsessing over artificial things, you know?”
“Sounds like artsy mumbo jumbo,” Carly shrugged. “Sit down with me. I’m tired.”
Vito joined her on the fountain.
“So how are you and Ralph?” he asked.
“That came out of nowhere!” Carly looked at him. “We’re… well there isn’t exactly a we with us, as you know.”
“Sounds familiar,” Vito smirked. “Louis told me more or less the same thing.”
“That’s not exactly the same though, is it?” Carly attempted to lighten the mood. “You and Louis will get back together, I know it. You’re doing all you can to show him you’ve grown. That you can be there for him… I’m rooting for you!”
Vito studied his sister’s face. “That’s interesting.”
“Why are you rooting for me to win Louis back over, when you’re not willing to give Ralph another chance?”
“That’s totally different,” Carly said quickly.
“You’re right,” Vito nodded. “Louis and I don’t have a kid on the way.”
Carly frowned. “Are you saying I’m wrong?”
“I’m just saying you shouldn’t have double standards like that,” Vito said. “Either you believe in second chances or you don’t. So if you’re rooting for me, you should root for Ralph too. And more importantly, you should root for you. You were so happy with Ralph. And now you’ll have a baby with him. Wouldn’t it make sense to give it another go?”
Carly looked away.
“Look, I know I’m no relationship expert.” Vito added. “But I do know a thing or two about how people photograph. And I’m positive it would be a lot easier to take a good picture of you if you were happy about your decision.”
From then on, the chances of getting a decent shot got even slimmer. Carly became rather mopey, even though she adamantly claimed it wasn’t what Vito said. She said she was just feeling a little uncomfortable.
Vito tried to get another picture or two, but the moment of her rejoicing over the promise her legacy held was gone.
The boy on the playground didn’t care for the petty drama of the Bloomer siblings. His ship was sinking, so he needed to abandon it, even though his pirate treasure was stored on it.
“Until another day, and another adventure!” he yelled out and jumped on the slide.
“Woooaaah!” He may have pounced on it just with a tad too much vigour. It was so much fun though…
…even though it made it practically impossible to stop the motion once he reached the end of the slide, catapulting him straight into Vito.
“Oh no, it’s a sea monster,” the boy yelled out when he saw Vito’s irritated face.
“Hey, watch where you’re going, kid!” Vito was annoyed.
“Oh come on Vito, it was an accident,” Carly jumped to the rescue. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to run into you like that…”
“Aslan! What are you doing!?” A woman’s voice got closer to them.
“We’ve talked about this Aslan, you need you need to be mindful of other people when you’re playing!” The boy’s mother scolded him.
“HE was in MY way,” the boy said defensively.
“Alyssa?” Vito wished he hadn’t been so mean to the kid seeing who his mother was. Bad conscience was already kicking in…
“Hi there, Vito… Carly.” Alyssa waved at them awkwardly. “Sorry about this…”
“Not at all,” Vito said quickly. “I was probably in the way…”
“Why are you so fat in your belly but not fat everywhere else?” The boy inquired, eyeing Carly up and down.
Alyssa growled. As if this couldn’t get any more awkward…
“Aslan! You can’t say things like that to people!”
“I was curious,” Aslan shrugged.
“The lady has a baby in her tummy,” she tried to explain it.
“Did she eat it?” The boy looked concerned.
“No, of course not!” Alyssa laughed nervously. “That’s just where babies come from. You were in my tummy once.”
“Do you want to feel the baby?” Carly smiled. “It’s been a bit fidgety today, so you’ll be able to tell that it’s moving in there.”
“Super cool,” the boy exclaimed.
“So uh, good seeing you, Alyssa,” Vito muttered awkwardly. “Your kid is… inquisitive…”
“I’m sorry my child inconveniences you so much,” Alyssa’s eyes narrowed.
“Not at all!” Vito said quickly. “He’s great! Really great! You and the Mr have got yourself a good one!”
“His father’s not in the picture.”
Brilliant. Come on Alyssa, give me something, Vito thought.
“Well with you for his mom, he doesn’t really need one, am I right?” he laughed nervously. “He mainly takes after you anyway. I mean, he looks just like you…”
Carly’s eyes widened.
“No he doesn’t,” She blurted out. “You know who he looks like?”
“Like who?” Vito smiled non-committedly, ignoring Alyssa’s frantic expression.
“He looks just like you when you were his age,” Carly said quietly.
The smile slowly evaporated from Vito’s face.
“Wait… you can’t be saying that he… no…” He stumbled across his words. “He couldn’t… I mean, it’s been so long… Alyssa?”
“Why don’t you go get mommy a bit of that pirate treasure?” Alyssa turned to Aslan.
“It’s been so long? Do you think woohoo cancels itself out once it’s been a certain amount of time?” Alyssa hissed once Aslan was out of earshot.
“Oh plumbob,” Carly’s expression grew worried.
“Well newsflash Vito, it doesn’t work that way – the evidence is right there!” Alyssa continued.
“How do you get to be the hurt party here?” Vito said angrily. “Don’t you think you should have mentioned this to me? What the plum, Alyssa!?”
“Um, guys?” Carly interrupted. “I think I’m in labour.”
“Oh plum and llama horns,” Vito froze. “Plum plum plum…”
“Mommy says you shouldn’t say plum.” Aslan, who had just returned, informed Vito.
“Aslan, language!” Alyssa scolded her son.
“Plum! I mean, oranges,” Vito corrected himself, catching a glimpse of the boys curious look. “What do you want me to do, Carly?”
“Pull yourself together, for starters,” Carly yelled at him. “And get Ralph!”
“Right. Ralph.” Vito nodded. “But… who’ll take you to the hospital?”
“I’ll do it,” Alyssa sighed. “Let’s go Aslan. We’ve got a field trip ahead, the baby is leaving the lady’s tummy.”
“Cool!” The boy beamed.