Picture Perfect

Paul kept Lexi hopping with requests for information on the house, its layout, its history, its owner and more. Eventually she put her foot down and organised a conference between him, Simon and the three architects in order to lay out both the history and the possible futures of the house. She decided not to attend.

Simon leaned back in his chair at the bistro Lexi had booked a table at for the meeting and looked over at Paul, who was chatting about effective lighting techniques with one of the other designers.

Waiting for a lull, he posed the question that had been bugging him all afternoon, “How in Hades did you manage to annoy Lexi Gresham to the point she won’t be in the same room as you but still have her acting as some sort of high end PA?”

Chris leaned in, “She’s on the phone to Ally every second day with some new atrocity you’ve managed to commit and yet here we are and you’ve got her to agree to stand in front of a camera, again. Not only that, she’s talked Ally into it as well and she loathes that kind of attention.”

Paul shrugged, “I think she’s a lot more committed to her family than she likes to let on, and Lady Louisa’s part of that. She’ll put up with a lot to keep her and her Grandmother happy.”

Chris and Simon looked at each other, silently disagreeing but also deciding to drop the subject. This was not their area, they’d asked the question, could report the answer and leave it to their respective experts.

The following day, said experts conferred. No conclusion was reached beyond being in solid agreement about dying with curiosity.

Simon huffed when this was reported back by Cesca, “Aren’t we all. I was hoping the two of you would at least have some sort of game plan for the photo shoot day. It’s not like I know Lexi well but even I can see the two of them are like prickled up hedgehogs that for some reason can’t stop poking at each other.”

Cesca sputtered with laughter, “Nice description, I’m passing it on.”

Simon looked alarmed, “To who?”

“To Ally, relax, there’s no way I’m going to add to the poke-fest, I’m just going to sit back and watch with smug amusement.”

“Amusement I get, but why smug?”

“Because she’s done exactly the same thing to me.”

“When?”

“When was your party and our introduction to Acrewood?”

“About a month ago.”

“Well then.”

Simon eyed her with suspicion, “I have no idea what you just meant and I’m really not sure I want to.”

Cesca smiled, “You’re probably right, but I am still going to be smug.”

The morning of the photo shoot dawned, grey and dreary to Lexi’s delight. She was considerably less delighted several hours later when the clouds softened and the light lifted to a pearly glow that Paul, grinning, told her was perfect for photography.

She had spent the previous night with Ally and was still smarting over a couple of painful extractions. Admitting her interest in the aggravating photographer had been reluctant and she was not prepared to explain why she was fighting it so hard.

Ally was a sympathetic ear, but she was ruthless when digging into anything bothering her cousin and that aspect has been in full ascendency from the minute Lexi had hopped in the car at the station.

She’d let the subject slide during the morning drive to Acrewood. Lexi wasn’t sure if it was to give her breathing room or for Chris but she knew it would start up again, with backup this time, as soon as they had time and space.

As backup, Cesca was every bit as tenacious as Ally and only the knowledge they were doing it with her best interests in mind kept her from completely blanking them for the foreseeable future.

They arrived in good time, and followed Simon’s car up the driveway.

Paul was already there, his lighting and other paraphernalia stacked in a corner of the entrance hall.

They found the man himself drinking tea with Lady Louisa in the library and listening to a story of her younger days.

Simon stopped the group and motioned them to silence before their presence was noticed. He moved into the doorway only once the tale was done.

Under the cover of general greetings, he explained his actions to Cesca.

“She never talks about herself or life here in the past. I don’t know what magic Paul’s woven to open up her memories to him but she would have stopped the minute we walked in.”

Once the group was settled, Paul began to explain his vision for the shoot.

“Too often, people want to rush into the future and bury or block the past with no regard to its value or the fact it got them to where they are now. With this shoot, I want to show how echoes and shadows of the past are vital to the core of this place as a home and how its past enables the expression of its possible futures.”

He looked to Lady Louisa, “Ideally, I’d like to do a second shoot once the renovations are done, that show the best parts of this building’s history repeating themselves, but that’s a discussion for another day.”

Lady Louisa smiled, it was clearly something they’d already touched on that morning and had her approval. Simon eyed him with misgiving.

Paul chuckled, “Nothing hideous I swear. This shoot is going to be of the rooms, essentially shots superimposed on each other so the ones with you in are filtered by ones of the empty room. It’ll have you showing up as shadows. The ghosts of the past if you will, portraying scenes from key stories in the Hall’s past. The future one would show the same scenes, but with the people more clearly defined and in current clothing styles.”

Ally nodded in comprehension, “You asked us for long skirts so we could give you silhouettes from an earlier time.”

“Exactly, and thank you for cooperating. I’m not good at explaining why I need certain items until I have it all together.”

Cesca looked down at her outfit, a very current, full length, flamboyant maxi dress, “Are you sure this is going to work?”

“Yes. The silhouette description is pretty much spot on. I’m going to have you back-lit to emphasise that, while muting the colour and detail of your outfits. It’s about suggestion rather than deep historical detail. Besides, the sleeves on that dress will be brilliant for movement.”

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