After unloading and setting up her equipment, Nora found herself a nice spot along the shore. She was glad she'd chosen to come out to the beach a little earlier today. Her clients weren't going to be here for a little bit. There was something just so peaceful about watching the waves crash onto the shore. Even just listening was enough to calm her down, and right now it was definitely something she needed. Nora rolled back the sleeves of her starchy white button-up and dug her fingers into the sand. But before she knew it, it was time for her appointment with the Simmons-Saunders couple.

A small hybrid pulled up into the parking lot next to the beach, and the tall lanky man and his skinny blond fiancée stepped out. They were both relatively attractive without any huge flaws, so Nora figured that would make her day much easier. Unlike wedding shoots, everyone wasn't always all smiles for engagement photo shoots, and most times it required a good amount of effort on both the photographer's part as well as the couple's to create that romantic atmosphere.

"Normally couples like picking one of their engagement photos to use in their Save the Date cards, but I'm guessing that you've already mailed those out." Nora looked to Ms. Saunders for confirmation. She nodded slightly, so Nora continued on. "So if that's the case, I'd like to know what you'd like to do with your photos. If you were just planning to put them into an album, here's what I was thinking. I thought it would be fun to tell a photostory of sorts. We could take some pictures here to represent the present and then head to the college campus where you two went to school, and we can take pictures of the different phases of your relationship."

Liam nodded, "I like that idea. It would make a nice album, right Brooke?"

Brooke seemed less thrilled, "We can do that, but at the same time can we have more pictures at the beach? I'd like to have a more traditional engagement album, but some pictures at the college would be nice too.

"I can do that." Nora grabbed her camera, "Alright then let's get started." Nora found that the most important thing in these kinds of photo sessions was to quickly gauge the amount of direction that the couple needed, if any, to make the photos look natural, but still show that romantic bond between the two individuals. "If the two of you could walk along the beach where the sand meets the waves, that would be perfect."

The two of them nodded. They stepped out of their shoes, and Brooke grabbed Liam's wrist and pulled him towards the water. The two of them walked silently, an artificial smile on Brooke's face and a blank expression on Liam's.

"Pretend I'm not here," Nora told them, "Talk to each other about the first day you met."

That seemed to work a little better. Brooke's face brightened up as she began quietly talking with Liam. "Do you remember? I was a freshman and my roommates had dragged me to my first water polo game. I'd never seen a game before so I didn't know the rules, but I couldn't keep my eyes off you. And if I remember correctly neither could you; which your coach wasn't too happy about. But then after the game was over you came up to me. You took off your swim cap and shook out your hair. I couldn't stop laughing. You looked ridiculous with your long hair. But that didn't stop you. You walked me to classes, you sat with me and my friends during lunches, and eventually I told you that I'd go out with you if you cut your hair. I didn't believe that you would."

The two of them laughed.

Nora quietly stepped around to the other side so she could capture the couple's expressions on camera. After a few snapshots she zoomed into their hands. They were barely holding on to each other, a gentle, loose grip that looked like their hands could separate in a moment.

"I was so sure then," Liam said almost wistfully, "That you were exactly what I needed."

Brooke blushed slightly and ran her fingers through her hair, "I guess it took me a little longer huh?"

"Who knew that we'd end up here," Liam muttered, seeming more like he was talking to himself than Brooke.

Nora didn't like invading their private moment, but she could only take so many pictures of one pose. "Mr. Simmons can you get behind Ms. Saunders and wrap your arms around her waist?"

Brooke flinched a little, as if she'd forgotten that it hadn't been just her and Liam. Liam just let go of her hand and stood behind her, doing exactly what Nora had told him to, but he looked stiff and awkward. Nora waited a few seconds hoping that he'd relax into it, but it just looked artificial and posed. Brooke looked comfortable, a warm smile on her face, but for some reason Liam looked harsh and stoic.

"Ok, well that isn't working," Nora admitted, "Would you two give me a kiss for the camera?"

"Wait why isn't it working?" Brooke's forehead wrinkled. She turned and looked at Liam, whose hands were now resting at his sides, and then looked back at Nora.

Nora shrugged, "It just didn't look very natural. Sometimes that happens. Let's try a kiss?"

Brooke stood on her toes and curled a hand around Liam's neck, pulling him down for a kiss. He kissed her lightly on the lips before straightening up again. Not even long enough for Nora to get a snapshot of it. An irritated expression settled on Brooke's face.

"Hold on," he said, turning slightly to the right and cupping his hands over his mouth. He let out an explosive sneeze that made Nora jump.

"Ok I'm good now," Liam said, wiping his damp fingers off on his jeans. Nora cringed a little.

He turned back towards his fiancee and pressed his lips against hers. And he just held them there. Almost like a bad actor in a film. Nora sighed softly, but took a few pictures anyway. She really needed this guy to be more comfortable in front of the camera or she wasn't going to get any good shots today at all. So she decided to be straight with them.

"I'm sorry, I just not able to capture the chemistry between you two in these pictures. I need you guys to be more open and more comfortable with me," Nora said gently, "Is there anything I can do to make this easier?"

"What are we doing wrong?" Brooke asked.

"You're fine, Ms. Saunders," Nora said a bit reluctantly, "Mr. Simmons just seems a little withdrawn." She let her camera hang around her neck by the strap and wrung her hands.

Brooke looked over at Liam, "What's wrong with you today? You kiss like a dead fish or something. You're quiet and distant and you seem lost in some other world."

Liam was quiet. "I'm just tired Brooke. It's been a long week and in all honesty, I wanted to spend this weekend with just you. " Liam turned to Nora, "Could you give us a minute?"

Nora nodded and walked down the beach a little ways. Putting enough distance between them that she shouldn't have been able to hear their conversation. But the conversation quickly escalated into a loud argument.

"I'm busy, Liam." Brooke snapped, "We talked about this when I joined the law firm. Being partner is important to me and I really need to be at the office whenever I can to make that happen."

Liam muttered something that Nora didn't catch. She knew it was in bad taste to eavesdrop on other people's conversations, but it wasn't really eavesdropping if they were speaking loudly in a public area where anyone could hear, was it?

"The wedding takes a lot of effort. I'm sorry if I give up a little us time for something that we'll remember forever. We have the rest of our lives to spend together. I only have once chance at my wedding. I don't care if you don't help out with the rest of the wedding planning. At least do the things that you're required to do."

Liam threw his hands up in exasperation and seemed to be telling her to quiet down.

"You know what? Fine, I have things to do anyway. I'm going home. Do whatever you want to do." Brooke grabbed the car keys out of Liam's pocket and took quick steps towards the car.

"Brooke!" Liam called after her, but Brooke wasn't having any of it. She climbed in the car and drove off. Liam looked defeated. He looked down the beach in the direction of where Nora was sitting and locked eyes with her.

Nora immediately looked away and turned bright red. How embarrassing. Being caught witnessing something so private. Nora gritted her teeth and headed over to speak to Liam. "I'm sorry about that. Things were just getting kind of loud over here and I wanted to see how it was going. I didn't mean to intrude or anything."

Liam nodded and sat down on big piece of driftwood. Nora sat down on the sand next to him. "You know its normal for things to get a little crazy around wedding times, especially for those girls who have always dreamed of having this perfect dream wedding."

He looked at her and opened his mouth, as if I wanted to say something, but then seemed to decide against it. His jaw clamped shut.

"We can always do this another day after you've worked things out?" Nora offered. She felt almost like this was her fault; if she'd just been smart enough to keep her mouth shut when Brooke had asked.

"I didn't want to marry her," Liam blurted out.

Nora bit her lip; warning bells were going off left and right. She knew that she should just keep quiet, but you couldn't repress her need to fix things, "You don't mean that. One argument can't make you doubt years of being with her."

Liam sighed and shook his head, "You misunderstand. I didn't want to marry her. I wasn't the one who wanted to propose to her."

At this point Nora was just at a loss for words. He wasn't making any sense.

"We'd been going out for eight years. My best friend Josh got married to his girlfriend of six months, and her best friend was getting married with her boyfriend of two years, and. She was the maid of honor and she'd been helping plan the wedding for months. Brooke kept hinting at it every chance she got. Kept asking what I thought our future would look like. And then she caught the wedding bouquet at her best friend's wedding. Now it wasn't just her who was pushing me to propose. Everyone else was too. And at the time I thought they were right. It wasn't fair to Brooke to keep her waiting when I could easily give her what I wanted. I thought I was just scared."

Liam couldn't even stop the words from spilling out even if he tried at this point, all that he'd kept locked up inside was just all coming out at once. "My parents got married for social status and they've never really been happy. It wasn't something we talked about ever, but they sleep in separate rooms and they argue in private. They're acquaintances at best, but they pretend to be completely in love when we have company. Ever since I was young, I knew I didn't want to become that. And now part of me is scared that that's the path I'm heading down."

"All relationships have bumps along the way," Nora tried to diffuse the situation a little, but Liam couldn't be stopped.

"The reason I didn't propose for so long is that I didn't feel sure about it. I love Brooke, I really do, but how do you know for sure that you're meant to be forever? When I try to envision my future, I don't know if she's in it or not. And after all this wedding insanity, it just feels like she's slowly pushing me further and further away."

"Well I'm probably not the person you want to talk about all of this to," Nora said gently, "I'd suggest that you go find your fiancée and talk to her about all of this. Probably try to word it a little nicer, but she's who you really need to talk to all of this about."

Liam looked up at the parking lot, a wry smile on his face, "That would have been an option if I had a car to find her with."

"I can drop you off," Nora offered.

"That's alright, I don't really want to deal with an angry Brooke right now."

"Well I can't really leave you here on the beach by yourself. For all I know you could throw yourself in the ocean on account of the depressing turn your life has taken," Nora said lightly, trying to lighten the mood.

Liam raised his eyebrows, "You're pretty awful at reading people aren't you? You've spent at least a couple hours with me by this point and anyone can tell you that I'm the least likely to commit suicide."

"It'll make me feel better."

He shrugged. Liam stood up, brushed the sand off his pants, and climbed into the passenger seat of her car. Liam sat awkwardly in the passenger seat, back straight and arms stiffly at his sides. After a few seconds he leaned forward to fiddle with the radio a little. "So where are we going exactly?" He asked her.

"Where I go when I'm having a bad day," she told him, the corners of her lips curling up into a smile, "I'm sure it'll help."

Liam nodded and continued to flip through channels. Rap wasn't his thing and neither was country. He finally settled on a channel that was playing a rendition of the Doors. It was a bit bland for Nora's tastes but she kept quiet.

Not long after, Nora pulled up in front of her studio. "We're here. Liam, you can get out now." Liam looked up at her, his eyebrows raised, and Nora smiled back in response. It just didn't feel right calling him Mr. Simmons anymore; he'd shared so many personal details at this point that he didn't feel like just another client anymore.

"Isn't this your office?" Liam asked.

Nora nodded, fishing through her bag for her keys. "Office, studio, workspace," she said gesturing to the ground floor, "and I live up there on the third floor." Nora unlocked the door to her studio and ushered him in. She loved this place, probably more than she loved her apartment even. At the front was the small desk that she used to meet with clients, but in the back was her real studio. The ratty burgundy couch that had been sitting in her parents garage for years, had now found its new home in a corner of the studio, and the walls of the studio were painted a nice warm coffee color.

"This is a nice place you've got here," Liam said, dragging his fingers along the surface of the old velvety couch. Nora felt a little embarrassed, the couch wasn't something she could afford to replace right now. He took a few steps towards the back of the studio. There were a couple smaller rooms that branched off, one Nora planned on using as a portrait studio, and the other as a dark room. "It's all actually bigger than I thought it was."

"It's big enough for what I need it for," Nora said, feeling a little defensive. He was probably just trying to be nice, but his neatly pressed Armani button up, and his well shined leather shoes, made it feel like he was rubbing his money in her face.

"And so what are we doing here exactly?"

"I thought that you might want to see some photos." She sat down at her desk and dragged out her keyboard. "See, this isn't the first photo shoot I've done that hasn't gone well," Nora said, clicking through neatly organized computer folders, "A lot of times with photo shoots, things don't go exactly as planned, and sometimes things actually get humorous. Ah, here we go." Nora pulled up a photo of a young woman sneezing, droplets of saliva suspended in the air, and her head thrown forward, jaw open wide as if she was going to take a bite out of her arm. Nora looked up at Liam, hoping to see some kind of response. She saw the beginnings of a smile on his face, not a huge one, but a smile nonetheless she decided.

"Pretty much the entire session's photos ended up looking like that," Nora laughed, "We found out later that she'd been allergic to the cleaning solutions we use to clean the studio."

Liam's smile got wider. There was something about Nora's passion for her work that made him smile. It wasn't this all-consuming drive to keep climbing the ladder of power, like it seemed to be with Brooke, but it was an honest passion for what she did in life. Nora clicked through the photos, pointing out all of the small ridiculous details, and all the while making Liam's smile bigger and bigger. "How do you have this much free time when you have that many clients?" Liam asked curiously.

Nora sighed and smoothed back her hair a little. "Had that many clients," she corrected, " I was working as an assistant photographer under someone when most, I mean all of these photos were taking. I have since started my own studio, of which you and your fiancée are my first and sole clients. So I can afford to dedicate all of my time to you at the present."

Liam seemed to consider her words for a few seconds, and then he nodded.

"So you better make up with her, or I might not be here next month." Nora forced out a laugh to make it seem like she was joking around.

"Nah, you look like a tough one," Liam commented, looking around the studio again, "I'm sure you'll get on fine with or without me and Brooke. But I'll still make sure to mention you to many of my friends who are looking for photographers."

"Thanks."

Liam stood up and smoothed out the barely visible wrinkles in his shirt. "Well I should probably be getting back home to my fiery tempered fiancée before she decided to start throwing my clothes out the window."

Nora leaned over to grab her keys, but Liam shook his head. "Don't worry about it, I'm sure I can call a cab from around here."

Nora nodded and extended herhand to shake his.

Liam grasped it in both of his hands; his large palms exuded warmth. "Thanks for listening. I just really needed to get all of that off my chest." His eyes locked onto hers, the intense green catching Nora by surprise. "I mean it."

"Anytime," Nora managed to get out. She watched as he walked out of the door and out of her sight.

0o0oo0o0o

Hope you guys enjoyed it! I know its been a little while since I posted my last chapter, and I'll try post more regularly. In exchange I'd love your comments and opinions on the chapter ;).