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Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect by Catherine Clark
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Order # 081582

Name: Emily Matthias

Phone: Call me anytime!

Date: I’d love one!

Print Quantity:
Um, a billion? I need pictures of everyone and everything. It’s the Outer Banks—everything is photogenic here. Especially Blake. And Spencer.

3 x 5
4 x 6
5 x 7
8 x 10

They’re tall. And handsome. Oh, you mean the photos?

B & W

Actually, yes, this summer would make an excellent movie.

Starting the vacation single. But maybe I’ll find Prints Charming!

HarperCollins; June 2009
352 pages; ISBN 9780061957406
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Picture Perfect
Author: Catherine Clark

Chapter One

"I can't wait to see all the guys."

You might have thought that was me talking, as I headed into the town of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, my destination for a two-week summer stay on the Outer Banks.

But no. It was my dad, of all people.

And it's not what you might be thinking now, either. He was talking about seeing his best friends from college.

We meet up every few years on a big reunion trip with "the guys," their wives, their kids, and other assorted members of their families—dogs, parents, random cousins, nannies, you name it. I think it's Dad's favorite vacation, because he and his buddies play golf, sit around reminiscing, and stay up late talking every night.

Even though that occasionally gets a little boring, I like going on these trips, because I've gotten to be friends with "the guys'" offspring, who have sprung off like me: Heather Olsen, Adam Thompson, and Spencer Flanagan. I couldn't wait to see all of them. It had been two years since the last vacation reunion for the four of us, which was almost, but not quite, long enough to make me forget what an idiot I'd made of myself the last time, when I was fifteen, Spencer was sixteen, and I'd told him that I thought he was really cool and that we really clicked and that I wished we lived closer because then we could . . . well, you get the gist. Embarrassing. With a capital E. Maybe three of them, in fact. Eeembarrassing. Like an extra-wide foot that I'd stuck in my mouth.

But enough about me and my slipup. I basically love these trips because we end up in cool locations like this, a place I'd never seen, or even gotten close to seeing, before now.

Living in the Midwest, we don't get to the coast much. And this was even beyond the coast—if that's possible—on a strip of land that was as far as you could get without becoming an island. Or maybe it was an island. What do I know? We live in "fly-over land." On the plus side, we don't have earthquakes, hurricanes, or tropical storms. On the minus side, we have the occasional nearby tornado and no ocean access.

"This is just beautiful," Mom said as we turned off the main four-lane road, and onto a smaller road with giant three- and four-story beach houses on each side of it. "Isn't it, Emily?"

"Those houses are gigantic. Is that where we're staying? In one of those?" I asked.

"Yup. Remember the pictures we checked out online?" Dad asked from the front seat of our rental car. We'd flown into Norfolk, Virginia, and driven south from there.

"Not really," I said. I hadn't paid all that much attention, to be honest. I was too busy finishing up my senior year, getting my college plans set, figuring out how to squeeze a two-week vacation into a summer in which I needed to make as much money as possible.

In July and August, I'd be back home working at Constant Camera full-time, saving money for textbooks and anything else I might need when I got to college. Fortunately, I'd received a few gifts for my graduation that would help out a lot—gift cards, as well as supplies for my hopefully budding career in photography. I planned to take lots of pictures while on this vacation, and turn them into something I could give everyone at the end of the two weeks—a calendar. I'd left my new Mac at home because of the hassle of traveling with it—Mom was afraid it would get I-Jacked—and I'd brought my inexpensive camera instead of my digital SLR, so I wasn't working with my usual stuff. But I was still confident I could get plenty of good pictures—after all, it's not necessarily always the equipment, it's whether you have an eye for it or not.

We were getting close to the house number we were looking for when Dad stopped the car as two college-age-looking guys stepped out to cross the street. They had beach towels slung around their necks and bare chests with nice abs, and wore low-riding surf shorts. One of them carried a Frisbee, while another had a volleyball tucked under his arm.

I sat up in the backseat, wondering if that was Adam and Spencer. But no, upon closer inspection, one of them had short, nearly platinum-blond hair, and the other's was brown, shoulder-length—not at all like Spencer and Adam.

Which wasn't a bad thing, because I was looking forward to seeing what guys might be around, too. And I didn't mean Dad's college buddies or their sons.

While we were stopped, the guy carrying the volleyball leaned down and peered into the car—I guess he'd caught me staring at him. He smiled at me, then waved with a casual salute.

I smiled and waved back to him. I wanted to take a lot of pictures, so why not start now? I buzzed the window down. "Hold on a second, okay?" I asked. I grabbed my slim, shiny green camera from my bag, and took some quick shots as they played along, grinning and flexing their muscles, showing off a couple of tattoos.

"Emily." My mother peered back at me over the front seat. "What are you doing?"

"Capturing the local flavor," I said as a car behind us honked its horn, and the guys hustled across the street so we could get moving again. "Just trying to blend in with that whole Southern hospitality thing."

"Hmph," my mother said, while my dad laughed.

I turned around and looked out the back window at the guys, wondering if we'd be staying anywhere close by, when Mom shrieked, "Look! There's the house!"

My dad slammed on the brakes, which screeched like the sound of a hundred wailing—and possibly ill—seals. Dad has this awful habit of calling Rent-a-Rustbucket in order to save money. Consequently, we end up driving broken-down automobiles whenever we go on vacation.

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