5.Ready, Steady...SHOOT!

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Elle tore down the last of the sun-bleached newspaper covering the shop window. It was a warm day, the sun already high above the streets. She looked at her watch. Eight-thirty. With hands on hips, she glanced up at the signboard: Grace Studio, Wedding Specialist. Here goes nothing, she thought and with a deep breath, marched to the door and flipped the 'Open' sign.

Perfect! The entry bell was working. She looked around the sparse front waiting room and reception. A dark walnut desk stood solid and piles of sample albums sat upon it. A little vase sat on the coffee table and white lilies proudly bloomed from it.

She could smell the fresh coat of paint. She took her shoes off and stood barefoot on the fluffy cream carpet. She had managed to turn a dreary looking space into a compartmentalized photo and planning studio.

The door opened and in walked Chloe with Maya trailing behind. "I brought us coffee."

Elle grabbed a cup and took a gulp. "What do you think?"

Chloe scrutinized the place in silence.

"You think I went over the top?" Elle asked.

Chloe pulled a grim face and then laughed. "Are you kidding? It looks fantastic. It's bright, inviting and pleasant."

"I hope it works."

"Of course it will. We've just got to advertise you, the professional, award-winning photographer to this dreary town." Chloe sipped her coffee and watched Maya plunk herself on the sofa with her hot chocolate. "But, honestly speaking, Elle, I don't understand why you gave up your studio back home in the first place. You'd have already been ready to shift it to the city."

"I needed space."

"Loads of it," said Chloe and drained her coffee, sat the cup on the table and clapped her hands. "Now, for advertising."

"I was thinking of throwing an opening party. Invite everyone I know, along with businesses down the strip. Then take snaps, print them and post them on that community board with my details and all the functions I can cover. What you think?"

"That should do for starters."

Elle stared. "What if no one comes?"

Chloe stared out the window at the near-empty street. "You've got me."

"For the moment. Then what? I'm going to be in this space I can't afford, staring out at that." Her arm flailed towards the window. "I hope I've made the right decision."

"You can't waitress all your life," Chloe walked over, standing next to Elle. "You've got to get on with life and feel your pulse quicken. I'll help you out."

"You're going back to your life in two days. I can do this party thing by myself. I'll be fine." Elle dropped her head in her hands.

Maya looked up alarmed and turned to Elle. "Are you crying?"

Elle didn't say a word.

"Mum's just nervous," chirped Chloe. She looked at Elle. "I'll tell Peter I'll be another week."

Elle felt guilty, but she needed Chloe's help to plan and host the opening party. "Do you mind?"

"Thought we'd celebrate," Elle brought over a glass of Chardonnay when Chloe got off the phone with Peter. "It's from a local vineyard."

Chloe eagerly took the wine. "Isn't it too early for this kind of juice?"

Elle laughed. "What did Peter say?"

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