“Frankie, my face is hurting!” Mallory complains, massaging her cheeks. The bridal party whines in agreement. Frankie has spent the last two hours ushering the tipsy brides, Mallory and Sam, to every beautiful location around the golf course, making sure they take advantage of the cotton candy sky above them.
Beads of sweat trickle down Frankie’s face as she double-checks the last few shots. “Looks great, everyone! Just a couple more on the bridge, and then you can drink!” Frankie shouts.
The few golfers sitting outside the clubhouse must have heard because they erupt in cheers. All the bridesmaids suddenly get a second wind knowing athletic men are watching. They were boy motivated in high school too.
Somethings never change, Frankie thought.
Frankie spent most of her time locked in the dark room during their freshman year of high school. One day she found Mallory hiding in the art hall bathrooms, so she invited her to watch her work. Every lunch after that, Mallory would show up, ham sandwich in hand and a gushing story about the beautiful blonde senior cheer captain, her now wife. Frankie remembers being envious of how fondly Mallory talked about Sam. She still hopes to find a man who raves about her like that.
Frankie knows she is average and mostly forgettable. So she wasn’t surprised when they lost touch after high school. But one thing unforgettable about Frankie was her name.
Pronounced like it’s a French word for male genitalia.
When Mallory saw Frankie’s name on a list of the best wedding photographers in Virginia, she said it was fate. Mallory begged her to shoot their wedding. Frankie hesitated in accepting, knowing there would be a hand full of people from her high school who referred to her as ‘Boner’ for four years. But with her small photography business gaining traction, she decided she could handle one night of being called Boner.
Thankfully, most of the girls haven’t acknowledged her existence except for Brenda— the one with the permanent scowl. Frankie had hoped time would have made her less superficial, but she is more of a Bridezilla than the brides.
“Boner! Make sure you get my good side. Oh wait, all my sides are good,” Brenda snickered.
Frankie fights back an eye roll. An apologetic look washes over Mallory’s face. “I’m sorry,” she mouths.
Just a few more hours… She thought to herself.
“Perfect, ladies! We are done!” They drop their bouquets in unison and the pedals scatter at their feet.
“Oh, thank god. I’m starting to see the appeal of a courthouse wedding now,” Sam says, aggressively rubbing her cheeks.
Mallory glares at her wife. “I TOLD YOU! But no, you wanted all of this! We could have taken a month-long vacation!”
A giggle slips out of Frankie as the brides bicker back and forth over the wedding that is already halfway done. She has never admitted it out loud, but weddings are overrated. Every wedding she covers makes her want to run to Vegas. Frankie needs to find a man first though.
She watches Mallory and Sam argue over their could-have-been trip to Paris as they walk down the cobblestone pathway to their bridal suite. Lifting her camera, capturing one last shot.
Soft laughs escape her as she thumbs over the last photo. The brides were yelling at each other, but at the same time couldn’t look happier.
A raspy cough behind her startles her. A tall man in a navy suit stands there, arms folded across his chest, smiling at her. He cocks his eyebrow toward the brides.
“So you find joy in couples arguing?” He asks in an accusatory tone.
Why does he look familiar?
Panic flashes over her face. “What? No. I just—”
“I’m kidding, Frankie, just giving you a hard time. I would be worried if the happy couple was happy all the time. Plus, I’m sure that photo,” He points to her camera. “Will be the one they frame on their mantel for all the grandkids to see.”
Her cheeks go from ghost white to light pink in seconds. “Wait, do we know each other?”
He slaps his hand over his heart, clutching his coat. “Ouch, Frankie. You wound me.” She scours over the mental images she does have of the guys from her high school, filtering for tall, dark, overly attractive, semi-athletic, and major prince charming vibes.
Frankie finds it hard to believe she’d forget someone with a face like his. At the very least, she would recognize those piercing blue eyes. Even ten feet away, they could draw blood. If Frankie had her studio lighting, she wouldn’t waste another second without capturing them.
“I’m guessing we went to high school together?” Frankie says.
He sucks his teeth, taking another step closer to her. Frankie can’t tell by his thin smile whether he is mildly disappointed or relieved she doesn’t remember his name. He crosses the golf cart path, removing the only barrier between them.
“It hurts knowing I haven’t been able to forget you, and you have no recollection of me.” The air thickens as he shortens the distance between them. He clears his throat before continuing. “How about you ask me five questions, but—“ He places his finger in front of her mouth before she can interrupt him. “There are rules. Rule #1, you can’t ask other people who I am.”
I don’t have time for this, she thinks. She must focus on the reception, not figuring out this guy’s name. No matter how badly she wants to know it. His finger glides under her chin, pulling her focus back to his lips.
He continues, “Rule #2: This is less of a rule and more of a recommendation, but you can’t ask obvious questions. Like ‘What year did you graduate?’ or ‘How old are you?’ those won’t help you remember my name if you don’t recognize me now.”
Frankie catches herself nodding even though she can’t do this. His eyes have cast a spell on her, and she’s hanging on every word. Blue over here needs to release her before she’s fired.
Blue, that name suits him, she thinks to herself.
“And Rule #3.” He whispers, his breath tickling her neck. “If you don’t guess my name by midnight… I get to take you on a date.”
As he pulls back, the spell is broken, and laughter spews out of Frankie.
Is this a joke? No guy looks at her when girls like Brenda are twenty feet away, especially when their faces look like they are out of a museum.
His eyebrows pinch. “Does that mean we have a deal?”
Ignoring him, she spins on her heel and reaches for her now-wet camera bag on the edge of the fairway, retrieving her extra battery and lens. Frankie waits to hear his dress shoes clank across the cobblestone pathway, but all her ears are met by loud silence.
Without looking back at him, she walks toward the clubhouse. His footsteps fall in sync with hers. “You know, asking five questions is just a regular conversation. If you don’t want to do it tonight, maybe we could—”
“You’re serious?” She cuts him off right in front of the double doors.
Who does this guy think he is? Has he never been told no before?
He flashes his bright teeth. “Is that your first question?”
She examines his face, unable to find the insincerity she expected behind his eyes. No guy has challenged her like this. Usually, they’re interested just long enough to get her to bed and then ghost her, but Blue isn’t backing down.
“What do I get if I do remember your name?”
His large shoulders bob. “Anything. Everything. Whatever you want.”
“I want a photo of your eyes.” She blurts out. Regretting how creepy her words sounded out loud, she continued. “That didn’t come out right. A close-up of them would be great for my portfolio, Blue.”
“Blue, huh?” He says, questioning the nickname she gave him.
She shrugs, sticking out her hand. “Do we have a deal?”
Without hesitation, he takes her hand. Maybe this night won’t be as dreadful as she expected.
Grand entrance, check. Cake cutting, check. The first dance, check. Now all that is left is the sparkler exit. Every time Frankie had a free second to glance over to Blue, she was met with his intense gaze already glued to her. She was ready to learn more about this mystery man.
Two hours till midnight, leaving plenty of time to add to the information she has already gathered about him. She’s noticed he keeps his social interactions brief. Taking photos with different groups, but not spending more than five minutes with them. He’s also not just good-looking; he has a brain too. He caught her trying to peak at his place card but destroyed it before she could read the name. And apparently, his type isn’t boobie brunettes. He shrugged Brenda off at every advance she had made. Frankie couldn’t help but feel good knowing Brenda wasn’t every beautiful man’s type.
His muscles flex through his white dress shirt as he pulls the seat next to him out, motioning for her to sit. Goosebumps flare against her leg as her knee brushes his.
“I’ve been waiting all night for my first question. I’m beginning to think you want to forget the photo and just go out with me.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” She teases.
His fingers tap against his cold glass, waiting for her first question.
Frankie clears her throat. “I’m going to start with the most important question. What’s your favorite Disney movie?”
“High School Musical 2. Hands down. Troy Bolton dancing on a golf course is the best choreography ever to grace our screens.” He says with confidence.
“The sequel? Wow, I’m—”
A high-pitched squeal cuts Frankie off. Gina, her old chemistry partner, struts towards them. “I thought that was you, but I wasn’t sure without your glasses! Sorry I interrupted you guys. I don’t think we’ve met.” Gina turns to Blue. Her eyes roam up and down his body, confirming Frankie’s suspicion that she only walked over to talk to him.
“Hi, I’m—“He snaps his mouth shut, wincing when he realizes he almost defeated himself. He clears his throat and looks at Frankie. “I’m her dance partner,” His chair squeaks across the floor. “You ready?” He smiles down at her, waiting for her to accept his hand.
At other weddings, Frankie stands behind the dessert table, watching everyone else trip over themselves, but tonight, she was happy for any distraction to take her mind off of the mean girl school reunion happening around her. His grip on her waist has been the best distraction yet.
They fall into a comfortable sway, never breaking eye contact. The Motown band starts a slow song and his hands drift from her waist to the small of her back.
“So, what sports did you play growing up?” She whispers.
He raises his eyebrows. “So you’re assuming I was an athlete?”
She shrugs. “No musical or art nerd has nice arms like yours.”
“I have nice arms?” A few beats pass, allowing the redness returns to her before he continues. “I played baseball and golfed a little.”
A stampede of heels clobbered against the dance floor behind her. The tipsy bride’s motion everyone into a circle around the dance floor.
“I need to--”
“You need to make sure the grandkids also have a photo of their grandma’s pre-wedding night bliss.” He says, finishing her sentence.
She smiles at him before brushing her lips to his cheek, leaving a hint of red lipstick. Frankie gets her camera ready in time for Mallory to rip off Sam’s garter and fling it across the room, landing on an old lady’s lap. Out of the corner of her eye she notices Blue disappear behind double doors leading to the porch.
With her camera roll now filled with plenty of awful dance moves and steamy make-out sessions of the brides and the sparkler finale, she is officially off the clock. Frankie retraces Blue’s footsteps to the porch. The cool air whooshes past her as she extends her neck around the corner. Blue is pacing the width of the building with a phone pressed to his ear. She ducks behind the post so he doesn’t catch her eavesdropping.
“Look, I will be back soon. I’m an adult. You can’t tell me what my bedtime is.”
Who’s asking him to come home? Is he even single?
Nausea bubbles in Frankie’s stomach.
“I’ll be there tomorrow smiling and ready to win.” He says before ending the call. He shoves his phone into his back pocket.
Frankie counts to five before approaching him. “Hey, there you are. I thought you left.”
His shoulders relax as a smile takes over his face. “I still have….” He checks his watch. “Thirty-three minutes until I officially get to take you on a date.”
Whoever said confidence is sexy was right, Frankie thought.
She leans against the railing across from him. “You seem stressed. Everything alright?”
“Is that your third question?”
Frankie slowly nods, hoping this won’t be a waste. Blue eliminates the space between them. “I have a big job tomorrow morning, which could be the last one. They won't ask me back if I don’t finish well.”
It was almost like Blue’s worries mimicked her own. Every photography job she took could be her last. There were no guarantees for a paycheck every two weeks, and she couldn’t leave any clients unhappy.
She instinctively rests her hand on his forearm. “What will happen if you don’t do well?”
His eyes widen, almost like he’s never thought about it before. “I’ll have a lot more free time. Maybe have a chance to find happiness that doesn’t involve my job.” His shadow casts over her face as his body towers over her. “I’d have more time to spend with you.”
Bumps spread across her arms.
“Frankie.” She zeros in on his mouth as he says her name. “You have one question left.”
Blood rushes to her head. “No, I still have two!” She replays their conversations in her head, keeping count of each question on her fingers. When her fourth finger goes up, she shouts. “You tricked me!” She playfully pushes his chest. “The last one was more of a follow-up question!”
He tenderly positions her hands back onto his chest, interlocking their fingers. Her breath hitches as she looks down at their hands.
“I’ll give you a hint.” His beard scratches her cheek when he moves his lips closer to her ear. “You’ve taken my photo before.”
How could I have a photo of you and not know who you are now?
The double door slams against the siding, startling them out of their embrace. Brenda stumbles towards them, causing her heel to catch on a loose board. Her glass tips, and wine comes flying at them. Frankie looks down at the drops of red now splattered all over her dress.
“Whoops,” Brenda mumbles, “It makes it look better, though. So you’re welcome.”
Frankie shifts her weight, stumbling back away from Brenda’s harsh words. Even after ten years, Brenda still has a grip on her. It wouldn’t have been so humiliating if Blue hadn’t witnessed the whole thing. Just like Frankie did in high school, she walked away before she was embarrassed even more.
Frankie makes it a few feet before Brenda whispers to Blue, “Now, how about you and I go find a bottle and an empty room.”
Frankie stops in her tracks, needing to see Blue’s reaction.
His eyes turn from ice to fire, leaving Brenda motionless as he catches up to Frankie.
Just as Frankie and Blue reach the staircase leading to the parking lot, Brenda shouts. “She will never be good enough for you, Riley!”
Everyone taking pictures with him.
Frankie’s knees give out, collapsing onto the top step. Meeting his gaze, she whispers, “Riley Greene?”
He drops down next to her, filling the remaining half of the step. “You were only one shade off the rainbow.”
“But, but.” She stutters. “You said you went to my high school? I’ve photographed you before. Where?”
A guilty smile takes over his face. “I technically didn’t say I went to your high school, but you have taken my picture. Let’s just say tonight wasn’t the first time I’ve crashed a wedding to see you.” She squints at his confession. “Do you remember a drunken groom who dragged you seconds before his vows to get a picture with a golfer?”
That was him?
He laughs, “I thought for sure you were going to strangle him. I took the groom up on his offer to watch the rest ceremony, but only to see if you were as beautiful away from the camera as you were behind it. I had to catch my flight for the U.S. Open and didn’t want to interrupt you to get your name, so I scoured the Internet for weeks, but shockingly, photographers don’t post many photos of themselves.”
“Bonner.” Frankie spits out.
Confused, he flickers his gaze from hers to his crotch.
“I meant, my name’s Frankie Bonner.”
“Frankie Bonner.” He repeats, making her name sound like a priceless gem. “I’m Riley Greene, but I’m thinking of changing it to Blue.”
Her head falls to his shoulder as his arm snakes around her waist. She realizes she didn’t need to know his name. He was Blue, and in a matter of hours, he made her feel things she never thought she would feel—desired, chosen, and most importantly, unforgettable.
Frankie wished she had her camera.
This was the photo she wanted. The moment her heart turned Blue.