The Romantic & The Cynic

Sky Benson is a romantic. She believes in the happily ever after and Prince Charming on a white horse, mostly. And as a wedding photographer, she gets to live it everyday. She could use a few more adventures but who couldn't.

But her life changes with a phone call. Her friend, another photographer, calls to ask her for a favor. He needs someone to cover a job for him and he wants her to do it. She decides to, thinking of it as a romantic adventure she can tell her grandkids.

Then she meets Zayn, the mysterious boy who doesn't think the world has room for romance. Will she be able to convince him otherwise? Or will she become a cynic as well.


2. Chapter 2: Leaving On A Jet Plane

Sky had spent the next few days ironing out the details with Jake.  He still refused to tell her just who she would be shooting but the amount of money she was going to be paid made it very difficult for her to say no.  She did insist on some money up front, needing to make sure that the whole situation was legitimate, and the money came quickly and with no question.

She also had to sign a confidentiality agreement, something she had never done before.  Thankfully, one of her recent clients was a lawyer so she was able to get somebody look it over as a favor.  And even better, free of charge.

Eventually all of the details were arranged including her flights from L.A. to Austin and back for her weddings and her living arrangements.  The reason that Jake had to back out was that unlike her, he worked for an agency and they had changed his assignment and booked him a job that took him out of town.  That meant that he needed someone to watch his place and so the perfect solution was for Sky to stay there while she did the job he was supposed to do.  He would have already left by the time she got there so he couriered a key to her in Atlanta and even said she could use his car if she wanted to.

Finally, the day came for her to leave.  As she finished packing her clothes and cameras, she did a quick check to make sure she hadn't missed anything.  What did you pack when you would be leaving for two months?  With Sky, as long as she had her cameras and phone, she had all that she needed.  She was just checking to make sure that her cameras were resting protected in their bag when she heard a knock at the door.  A knock and then the door opening.  It had to be Jessica.

"Hey Sky," she heard as she zipped up the bag and added it to the small pile at the end of the bed.  "You almost ready to go?"

Jessica was her downstairs neighbor and the person who would be watching her place while she was in L.A..  They had met when Sky had moved into the building a year ago and had become good friends since.  She was bright and bubbly and someone that had to have been the head cheerleader in high school.  She was a senior at the local college and while you would think that the fact that her and Sky had lived such different lives would have made them unlikely to bond, it was what had made them so interesting to each other.

"Yep," Sky called as she slung a bag over her shoulder.  "Come help me grab these bags from my bedroom."  She heard Jessica walk down the hall towards her, her head popping around the corner a second later.

"Holy crap," she said as she stepped into the room.  "How many cameras are you taking?"

Sky laughed as she passed Jessica a bag.  This was one obvious area where the two women did not quite agree.  Where Jessica would have crammed all of the bags with cute clothes and accessories, Sky had packed just enough to get her through with her cameras taking priority.

"It's my job and why I'm going there."  Sky finished dividing up the bags between the two of them and started to nudge Jessica out of her room.  "As for my clothes, I need to be comfortable when I'm shooting so that was what I packed."

Jessica allowed herself to be guided out of the apartment but she looked very sternly at Sky over her shoulder.

"You are going to L.A., the land of hot and sexy men," she said with a glint in her green eyes.  "You are going to be shooting someone famous.  You need to look cute and dateable."

Sky sighed as she locked up her apartment, sliding the spare key into the inside of Jessica's purse.  "I don't even know just who I'm shooting."  Sky had told Jessica only that she was going to L.A. for a job and had left out the detail that it would be a band.  In her mind, she had already built it up to be someone like Aerosmith or the Rolling Stones.  Or in her wildest dreams, her icons of rock Bon Jovi.  She may be a romantic and love the sappy ballads but her favorite music was the bands she had listened to with her parents.  The ones they had grown up with.  The contract she had signed had only had the management company's name on it and not the band so her mind had been free to wander.  "And if you don't get me to the airport, I won't be shooting anybody.  Let's go."

Sky and Jessica made their way to Jessica's car, Jessica continuing her advice as they went.  Sky smiled and nodded but tuned it out.  She was beginning to get nervous as the time for her to leave grew closer.  She still didn't really know just what she was going to find when she arrived and Jake would already be gone when she got there.  He had assured her that the job would be easy and that she would have a blast for the two months she was gone but had been very vague when she had pressed him for any further details that might let the cat out of the bag.

The drive to the airport took about half an hour and during it, Jessica began to switch her focus from the contents of Sky's suitcase to the fabulous life she was about to embark on.  The amazing men, the fancy cars, the hot clubs and restaurants.  By the time that they arrived at the departure area for Jessica to help unload her bags, Sky was engaged to a rich producer who had given her a Mercedes convertible and was planning a celebrity-filled wedding at the beach in Malibu.  Sky merely nodded as Jessica's voice floated through the car, trying instead to focus on just what she needed to do once she got to L.A..

"So make sure you call me as soon as you know exactly who you will be shooting," Jessica said as she closed the trunk of her air after the bags were emptied on to the luggage cart beside her.  "I am sure that it will be someone amazing!"

Sky laughed as she piled the last of her bags on to the luggage cart, making sure her camera bags were on top and secure.  "I will call you as soon as I know but it still may not be for a couple of days."  Today was Saturday and she didn't actually start the job until Tuesday so she had a few more days to ponder just who the job was for.  That and enjoy the sun and beaches of L.A..

She gave Jessica a final hug goodbye and waved as she pushed her cart to the check-in counter.  The ticket had been paid for by the same company that had been on the contract.  She quickly made her way through check-in, holding her camera bags tight, and then security and off to the gate.  As she arrived at the gate for her 1:00 flight, she still had half an hour before she boarded so she picked up a gossip magazine and settled herself into one of the uncomfortable vinyl chairs that were lined up in front of the gate.

Sky smirked because the cover story of the magazine she had picked up was about the boyband wonders One Direction and their various love lives.  While she was a romantic, she considered herself a real life romantic which meant that she didn't have dreams about falling head over heels with a celebrity the minute she landed.  She believed in falling in love with the guy across the street and growing old together on the porch as they watched their grandkids play in the yard.  Real life romance was what she called it.

She was just about to read about Zayn's recent breakup with his girlfriend of four years and the various cheating allegations involved when her phone began to ring.  She dug it out of her purse and read Jake's name on the screen.  She slid the accept button and put the phone to her ear.

"Hi Jake," she said as she continued skimming the article.  "How is London?"  

London was where his agency had sent him, a job to cover the Royal Family with the rumors of a new spare heir abundant.  

"It's good.  A definite culture shock but I think it will be great."  Their were sounds of traffic coming through the speaker and his voice was muffled so he must have been outside as he spoke to her.  "Are you in L.A. yet?"

"No, still in Austin.  I'm at the airport getting ready to leave.  You gonna tell me just who this job is about yet?"

Jake chuckled.  "You'll find out when you get there.  Don't worry.  You'll have ..."

Sky cut him off, giggling herself as she spoke.  "... a great time.  I know.  That's what you keep on telling me."  She stopped when she heard her flight being called.  "I gotta go.  They're boarding the flight.  I'll talk to you in a couple of days."

Jake said his own goodbye and hung up.  Sky tucked her phone back in her purse, slung it and her camera bags over her shoulder and headed on for her adventure.

The flight from Austin to L.A. lasted two and a half hours but with the two hour backwards time change, it was 1:30 in L.A. when she landed.  Thankfully, the climate change was negligible so the tank top, jean skirt and wedges she wore was appropriate for either place.  She grabbed her bags and wheeled her luggage cart to the taxi area where she grabbed the first one in the line and gave the driver the address of Jake's apartment.  She had stayed there both times that she had visited so when he pulled up in front of the building, she knew where to go to get to his particular apartment.  The building was a basic concrete tower, the same style that was dotted all over the landscape of the city.  She knew that Jake made good money but she also knew that to live in this city was not cheap so she didn't dare ask Jake just how much he was paying for his simple two bedroom apartment.  She was just happy that for her it was free.

She lugged her bags up the three flights of stairs to Jake's apartment, cursing the unhelpful driver and broken elevator the entire way.  When she finally reached her home for the next two months, she eagerly put them down and took in her home for the next two months.

The apartment hadn't changed and you could definitely tell that it was a single guy who lived there.  The furniture was large, leather and basically arranged around a big, flat television.  There were basic posters thumbtacked to the wall and there were no plants to speak of.  She did see that he had left a note for her on the formica table and she went to read it, smiling as she did.

Hey Sky,

Thank you so much for doing this favor for me.  Don't worry about not doing a good job because I know that you will amaze them.

The address of the studio where the group is recording is listed below and they are expecting you there on Tuesday at 9 a.m..  I went to the store and picked up some healthy, girly food for you.  I also have a drawer full of takeout menus if you still struggle with the whole cooking thing.

Have a blast and enjoy L.A.. I will see you in a couple of months.


Sky put the letter down and took one more look around.  She remembered that there was a balcony and decided it would be the perfect spot to spend her first sun-kissed hours in L.A..  As she grabbed a bottle of water and an apple as a snack, she headed out and grabbed a seat.  The air around her smelled like beach and sand, or maybe she just wished it to, but as she sat in peace, she could feel it building in her bones.  There was going to have a great adventure.  And she couldn't wait to be a part of it.

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