11. Cupid at the Picnic

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Elle sat on the sofa with her heels off and toes dug into the shag carpet. It was a bright day, the sun high in the early afternoon sky, music blaring out of Bonnie's small stereo, causing Elle's feet to twitch to the music.

While Elle's computer exported the countless photos into a hard drive the two of them lazed about the office that Friday afternoon since neither had recovered fully from the Van Belt trip. Elle had arrived in Armidale late morning, gone home, showered and changed, and then picked up Bonnie on her way back to the studio. They both hadn't wanted to work but being the boss meant she had to pretend she was responsible.

Elle absent-mindedly twirled the wrinkled but dry business card in her hand. Dean's writing smudged now.

"You gonna ring him?" Bonnie asked casually, startling Elle from her thoughts.

"Thought you were sleeping."

Bonnie shrugged. "I think you should."

Elle stared at the card. "And say what?"

"Say you'd like to take him up on the offer. I mean, that's what you want to say, isn't it?"

Elle nodded. And that you're a gorgeous man whose mere sight sends my brain scrambled, she thought. "Yep, that's all."

"You want me to dial for you?"

Elle shook her head, took a deep breath, rose to her feet and marched up to Bonnie's desk with all the conviction she could muster. Any minute now it was going to falter, her false bravado. Before it could, she picked up the phone, ready to punch the number in, and then stopped. "You really think we can this job?"

Bonnie gave her an incredulous look. "Don't make me smack some sense into you, Ellenor Grace!" she grabbed the weathered card from Elle's small hand and punched the numbers into the phone with furious speed and determination. "Now speak!"

Elle nervously listened to the ringing tone. One, two...

"Dean Stewart," he answered on the third ring sounding as if he'd been in the middle of something. Elle opened her mouth to speak but not a peep came out. "Hello?"

Bonnie waited anxiously, elbows propped up on the table, hands linked as if in silent prayer.

"Are you going to speak, Ellenor?" he demanded.

"How did you know?" she stammered.

The sound became muffled for a moment before he came back on the line. "I've had your studio's number saved since our first meeting. Did you forget?"

Elle nervously laughed in utter embarrassment. She groped for the edge of the table and tried to casually lean against it as if it would make a difference.

"So what can I do for you?"

"I called to."

"Say yes?" he interrupted eagerly. "I had a feeling you'd call soon."

"You did?"

"So is that a yes, Ellenor?" he asked. "I need to know. I've delayed making a decision since I was hoping to hear back from you, but I can't wait any longer." Elle nodded. "I need to hear you say it, Elle... Ellenor."

She took a deep breath and let go off the desk. "Yes, Bonnie and I would like the opportunity very much."

"Excellent," she could hear the smile in his voice. "What say we meet for lunch tomorrow? How does one o'clock sound?"

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