Creating a Mood
Yuki Eiri scowled at his phone, then sighed and picked it up. He stabbed in the number on the business card that he'd taped to his monitor and hit “send.”
“Viewfinder Photography Studio,” answered a cheerful woman's voice. “How can we be of service?”
“Hello. This is Yuki Eiri, the author. I was told to make an appointment by my editor, Onodera Ritsu of Marukawa Publishing.”
“One moment, please...Oh yes, of course, Yuki-sensei. You are on our priority list. Could you hold one moment? Takaba will want to speak with you.” Yuki's mind flashed up an image of a very pretty-faced guy about his own age. Oh right, the author party, and that day on the film set. So he's the owner, huh?
“Yes, fine.” Yuki was squirming in his desk chair. He did not like publicity, most especially formal interviews or photo sessions. Grr, I should have told Onodera to stuff it, or dug out some awful middle school picture of myself-
“Yuki-sensei? Sorry to keep you waiting. This is Takaba Akihito, proprietor of Viewfinder.”
“Hey. So I have to get a new author photo, and Onodera said to get it done by this week. I'll tell you right now, I hate this sort of thing.”
Takaba laughed. “Many authors do, I've found. Still, if it has to be done, let's get it over with, okay? What day and time would be best for your schedule?”
“Doesn't matter. I set my own schedule.”
“Can I ask what your new book is about? No details – just a general idea. And where do you feel most comfortable? At home or outdoors somewhere?”
“It's a murder mystery with some dark humor. And I'm a fucking hermit, so at home. Why? Don't I have to sit in some damn studio?”
“No studio. Those end up looking stiff and awful. I'd like to try and capture a tone that matches your book. How about this evening? And if Shindo is around, that would be good.”
“What? You want the little shit in the picture, too?”
“Nope. Just you. But if he's there, you'll be more relaxed.”
“I'll be demented, and you'll be sorry. But fine – we'll try it your way. 8:00 pm. I'll send you my address.”
“Great! See you then.” They hung up.
Yuki sighed and glanced around his office. It was a mess, with reference books scattered around, crumpled paper everywhere but in the trash can he'd aimed for, ashtray filled with cigarette butts, three – no, four – half-empty mugs of coffee. “Slob” was probably not the image he should go with. Better clean up, then I'll take a nap.
This should be interesting, Takaba thought as he pressed the doorbell. The man must be capable of smiling, even if it's just a smirk. He'd searched for images of Yuki online, and every one showed the author scowling, frowning, or stone-faced as a statue. If his new book had humor in it, Takaba wanted to reflect that in the photo.
The door was flung open and Takaba blinked. Shindo grabbed his hand and tugged him into the entryway, making the “shh” signal. Takaba toed off his shoes while Shindo whispered, “Can you get your camera ready right now?”
“Well, I can, but I have to adjust for the lighting and...” He sat his bag of gear down.
“Just wing it! It's kind of dark in the room, but the balcony light is pretty good. Anyway, this one is just for me, okay? Full length, please?” Shindo made the most pathetically adorable puppy dog eyes Takaba had ever seen. There's no resisting that! Takaba got out his camera, fiddled with the settings then nodded to Shindo.
“The balcony is off to the right. Don't come around the corner until I make him laugh.” Shindo grinned and Takaba could only smile back at him. With his pink hair tied up in a tuft at the top of his head, Shindo looked like a rugrat in need of a spanking. This is either going to get me an epic picture, or tossed out on my ass.
“One sec. This won't make any noise.” Takaba stuck his hand with the camera out and clicked one picture in the general direction. Then he glanced at the tiny screen. It was blurred and dark, Yuki just a blob, but now he knew what he was aiming for. He changed a few settings. “Okay, go for it.”
Shindo moved out and Takaba hovered at the end of the entryway, listening for his cue.
“Where's Takaba?” Yuki asked.
“He had to go back down for the rest of his stuff. He'll be right back.”
“What did you say to him, brat? I'm sure you have some crazy plan.” Yuki's tone was amused and gentle. So, he can be sweet...to Shindo anyway.
“Me?” The phony innocence in Shindo's voice was so over-the-top Takaba wanted to smack his own face for going along with this.
But...Yuki laughed. Takaba zipped around the corner and slid to his knees just to the side of Shindo, snapping several photos. As long as the settings were fine, he should end up with a gorgeous picture. Yuki was leaning back against the balcony railing, wineglass in hand. Casually barefoot in jeans and a white dress shirt, the light glinted off his golden hair and the city night sparkled behind him. The smile was more of a smirk, but those bird-of-prey eyes were soft.
Well. They had been soft. Now, they were pinning Takaba with an accusatory glare. Takaba just shrugged as he stood up. “Sorry, I couldn't resist the puppy dog eyes.”
Yuki opened his mouth to rant...then closed it again and sighed. “That look of his should be classified as a weapon. That will not be my official picture!”
“No. I wanted one just for me. Don't be mad,” Shindo wheedled.
“I'm not mad, little shit. Takaba, you want a drink?”
“Sure, whatever.” Whew! That was close! Takaba kept his laugh to himself. He took a glass of wine and joined Yuki on the balcony. “I have an idea, if you'll humor me,” he said to Yuki.
“Didn't I already? What is it? Sitting at the desk? I cleaned it.”
“No, the desk setting is tired. I was thinking of you sitting somewhere – the couch or even your bed? A simple background. And there's a bunch of weapons spread out and you're trying to choose one. Maybe a laptop nearby. Beyond cliché into the absurd.”
“Ha! That would fit the book, for certain. I like the way you think, Takaba. I don't have a bunch of weapons though, aside from kitchen knives.”
“I brought some props.”
“Shuichi,” Yuki called. “Go make the bed. And make sure there's nothing weird sitting out near it.”
“You got it, boss!” Shindo giggled and skipped off.