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Fair Trade

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At the time she’d called it a fair trade, even though it never really had been. The last five minutes of a concert wasn’t worth her camera, even if it gave Jenny a chance to talk to that boy—Zane? Lola couldn’t remember his name, he was such a non-entity—but she’d done it anyway. She had just wanted to see Jenny happy and smiling after that chaotic night they’d had. Maybe that’s what Lola had really traded her camera for, though she regretted it the moment the camera was out of her hands. Seeing Jenny after the makeover left her fingers itching to take another photo and record that happiness for posterity.

It was too late for that now. Her camera was long gone, just like the concert. The internship had gone pretty well; Leon Vasquez had liked her work enough that he’d recommended her for a position at a different studio and Lola had landed the job. She was doing well enough to not only pay off all her parking tickets, but also had enough money after paying her bills she could replace her camera. That camera was old enough she could find a cheap replacement on eBay or buy a better model for the same price. She did neither.

It wasn’t that Lola wanted another camera—though to be fair, she always wanted another camera—it was that she wanted her camera back. Especially since she hadn’t talked to Jenny in months. They lost contact right after she sent out those photos of their adventure, which she suspected was the impetus of their break. Mrs. Anderson had contacted her to say that neither she nor Jenny was ever babysitting for them again because she had seen the photos. Jenny was totally high strung enough to cut ties with someone who had “ruined her future” by costing her babysitting customers and a letter of recommendation.

Lola tried not to think about the loss of contact because it hurt. She thought they were friends. Instead, she focused on her work, been successful, and six months had flown by since her foray into babysitting. Honestly, this was the best solution for all, since she’d gotten the internship, didn’t have to deal with Jenny or the kids again, and was finally advancing in her chosen career. Life was perfect, except she wished she had her old camera back.

Even now she mused about that camera as she sat at her fancy new age desk waiting out the last minutes of the workday. This studio believed in more set work shifts than Vasquez’s studio ever did, but overall she liked it better. Jenny had taught her that in certain circumstances, stability was a good thing. Mostly however, the set shifts meant Lola spent the last ten minutes of every day shifting photos around her desktop, trying to look busy, until she could go home.

She looked up when she head a thunk on her desk. There was a black and silver camera that looked just like the one she had been pining for the last six months. Straightening, she picked it up and twisted the camera around so that she could look through the viewfinder. Through it she spotted Jenny.

“Woah!” Lola yelped, quickly pulling the camera away from her face. Even without the viewfinder Jenny was still standing there, smiling nervously.

“Hi,” Jenny said.

“Hey.” As she ran her fingers over the camera, her fingers caught on something along the bottom of the body. Flipping it over, she was pleasantly surprised to find a small smiley face scratched into a corner. It was just a half circle and two dots, but Lola remembered scratching that into the casing of her camera to always remind herself to enjoy photography. “This is my camera.”

“Yes.”

“No, you don’t understand. This is my camera, not the same model, but mine.”

“The one you traded for me,” Jenny finished for her. “I know. I tracked the security guard down and got it back.”

“…Wow.”

“I made a mistake letting you trade your camera away for me.”

“But what about Zane?”

“Zac’s nice,” Jenny said lamely, making a face.

“But…”

“But I realized the relationship I made that night that I wanted to pursue wasn’t with him.” Jenny bit her lip. “Since meeting up with him cost you your camera, I didn’t want to show up without it.”

“This is the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” Lola rubbed her face to fend off any potential blushing. She stowed the camera in her purse. It went straight into its old carrying case, which she’d held onto out of sentimentality. “Seriously, thank you. I’d have been happy to see you even without the camera, but this means the world to me.”

“No problem,” Jenny said. She seemed even more embarrassed than Lola was. “So what have you been up to? How is your police officer?”

“Cop? What cop?” Lola asked, ignoring her phone and the text messages from Officer James stowed in her purse. She stood up, stuffed the photos on her desk into a drawer, and locked it. Screw the last five minutes of her shift, this was more important. Wrapping an arm around Jenny’s shoulders, she steered her toward the door. “I don’t have a cop, I have you. And what I want, more than anything else in the world right now, is to take you to dinner and hear exactly how you tracked down my camera.”

“Really?” Jenny laughed.

“Yes! Give me the blow by blow!” Lola leaned in and quietly added, “Then we’ll come up with a suitable reward for recovering my camera.”

“You don’t have to do that!”

“But I want to.”

The blush that blazed across Jenny’s face and down her neck left Lola grinning. Yeah, okay, she hadn’t really wanted to give up her camera for a boy, but since she eventually got it back—and the girl—it was a more than fair trade. She’d do it again.