Body Shot

By: Kelly Jamieson

Chapter 1

“We need to have more fun.”

Hayden peered at her friend Carrie through bleary, work-tired eyes. Sun flooded in the big windows of the restaurant on Miramar Road in San Diego where they’d met for lunch, gleaming off stainless steel tables and chairs and dark wood floors, another gorgeous day in Southern California. “I have lots of fun.”

“Phht.” Carrie eyed her. “You really look like it.”

Hayden smoothed her ponytail back. “The last couple of weeks have been a little stressful.”

“I know. But you work way too much.”

“My work is fun.”

Carrie snorted. “You spend half your life in a lab looking through a microscope and the other half in your office.” Her face softened. “I know you love your work, Hayden, and you’re amazing at what you do, but seriously, I’m worried about you.”

“Ha. I knew this was really about me.” Hayden sighed and rubbed her eyes. “You sound just like Aunt Gina and Uncle Colin. They keep telling me I need to get out more. Before Aunt Gina had her fall, they were trying to fix me up with some guy—a friend’s son or grandson, or something.”

“Do it! You do need to get out more.”

“I’m not going on a date with a man I don’t even know.” Hayden shuddered. “Can you imagine anything more excruciating? Trying to make small talk and be on your best behavior to impress someone?”

“That’s what a date is, yes,” Carrie said dryly. “I can imagine because I’ve done it occasionally.”

Hayden grinned. “You go out all the time. Which proves my point—when you said we need to have more fun, you meant I need to have more fun.”

“Okay, true.” Carrie shrugged. “Look, I know you better than anyone, and I like my quiet alone time too. But it’s not healthy for anyone to work so much.”

“You work a lot too. And when you’re not working, you’re out taking pictures.”

“That’s my passion, like you have yours. I have to be ‘on’ all the time when I’m in front of the camera, and it’s exhausting. So taking pictures is my relaxation. I just think you need some time away from the lab, some time just for yourself, to have fun.”

“I’m too tired to argue with you.” Yes, fourteen-hour days, seven days a week were taking their toll. She’d been working so hard on the proposal for this large funding grant that would finance the important research they did. It was a lengthy process she’d been toiling on for some time. The granting agency wanted information not only about her background but also about the background of her research team, their facilities, the equipment they needed, the time involved, and the overall potential of their scientific outcome. Plus, she’d been looking after her aunt and uncle. “But I’m not going out on dates.” She was serious, introverted, passionate about science and health and her business, and most men in her experience weren’t interested in proteomics, metabolomics, and signaling pathways.

“Fine, then at least come out with me a little more often. We can go out just the two of us and have some fun. Honestly, Hayden…I miss you.”

Carrie batted her big gray-blue eyes at Hayden and smiled wistfully.

“You’re good.” Hayden pursed her lips. “Although I know how well you can act, you’re tugging at my heartstrings.”

“At least you admit you have a heart.”

“Of course I have a heart.” Hayden frowned. There weren’t many people she let herself care about in her life, but Carrie was definitely one of them. She loved her aunt and uncle, who had looked after her when her parents died, and she cared about the people who worked for her—in a businesslike, practical kind of way—but she did love Carrie.

They’d been best friends since middle school, the two misfits in their grade—Hayden, with her nose always buried in a book or busy trying to clone a cat, Carrie taller than everyone including the boys, skinny and gangly with heavy-duty braces on her teeth. They’d both been objects of ridicule and rejection—awkward, definitely not into sports, and smarter than most of their classmates. Neither of them had been interested in boys (actually, it would be more truthful to say they wouldn’t admit to being interested in boys, which made the boys’ utter lack of interest in them less humiliating), parties, gel manicures, the latest fashions, or complicated hairstyles. They’d bonded over thrift store clothes, Harry Potter, and volunteering at an animal shelter.

Ironically, Carrie had been spotted by a scout for the Swank Modeling agency at age sixteen and now pretty much had to be interested in manicures and hairstyles and the latest fashions. Even so, when she wasn’t working, she dressed in her own eclectic style and seldom wore makeup.

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