Ch. 8 Trying to Keep Cool

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*** Beth ***

Work, as it turned out, was a relative term. Beth swallowed her disappointment and grabbed her camera equipment from the room. Not only did she still not know what her bargain with Russell was, but no one was getting tied to any beds. They took a rental car to cruise down Kalakaua Boulevard, circle Diamond Head crater and drive back through the city to the Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Gardens. Beth made Russell repeat 'Liliuokalani' four times (lee-lee-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) so she could say it correctly.

"Since this was beyond a last minute trip, I haven't been able to call ahead to anywhere. We'll have to see how it goes at the gardens and hope they don't mind if you set up shop for some pictures. If luck is on our side, some knowledgeable personnel will be on duty so I can get in some interviews on tropical plant care. If not, they'll probably kick us out. Are you all right with winging it?"

"Winging it is my motto," Beth replied. Plans never work like they are supposed to; if she could not take any pictures, she would make Russell drive them back to the beach and apologize in some way or another, like rubbing sun lotion all over her back. Admittedly, smearing each other with sun lotion was not going to save her position at the magazine, but it would be worth it.

"Great, then let's do this." They found a parking spot and Russell went to the counter to find the curator. Beth adjusted her sun hat to block the burning light from above and waited with her huge bag of photography equipment. Her phone dinged from inside her bag. There was a message from Jerry. With a worried frown, she read the latest news from the office.

Big meetings today, I won't know anything for our dept. until late. Hope your pictures so far are good. Susan asks how's the water. I want you to take great some pictures. Very, very great pictures. Susan says to have fun. But I'm not saying to have fun. I want you taking great pictures.

Jerry, your boss for as long as possible

The head honchos were discussing the magazine's and her fate today. Great. Her heart sank into her stomach.

Russell came to help her with the bag, a smile on his face. "All set up. He suggested you take a look at the orchid house, especially."

Jerry's message sucked the fun right out of the photo shoot in the lush Botanical Garden for Beth. Knowing her job depended on how well the plants were growing made her want to kick them more than take their pictures.

She saved the orchid house for last. The curator had been right to recommend the tiny hut for the end. Here, she set up her portable studio: canvas backdrop in one corner, light diffusers and tripod. She wanted portraits of these flowers. Some would be in front of the canvas and other more natural with the mold darkened walls of wood and paneling behind them.

Russell strode in with the curator, who was explaining care for the orchids. Beth's back ached from standing hunched over, and she stood straight to stretch. They shook hands and she promised they would receive a complimentary edition when the exotic articles were printed.

When he left, Beth replaced the flower she had been shooting to its spot.

"Are we done? I'm starving," Russell said.

"Just one more. This one." She picked up a yellow and dark pink orchid tagged as a Paradise Jewel 'Flame' or Cattleya genus. Its two larger petals and round inner petals tumbled downwards in an elongated form, and were heavily ruffled. Anyone looking would notice its suggestive shape. Since she was already flushed from the steamy heat, she assumed Russell wouldn't notice if she was blushing. She focused the lens of her digital camera first for some close-ups of the blooms, then moved back to capture the whole plant with the wooden walls in the background.

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