If the photographer had only been taking pictures of the crowd, it wouldn’t have worried me.
Instead, he’d aimed his camera in Gifford’s direction. Gifford was dancing with a girl I didn’t recognize. Hunter, Courtney, Keon and Camille were dancing nearby. Keith and Zoey were closer to us, but we weren’t that far from Gifford either.
Besides, no one who saw her could confuse the glow of Zoey’s skin with anything but superpowers.
The place’s “this isn’t a business, we happened to set up a dance in this factory,” aethetic practically demanded that the lighting be inconsistent. The spotlights crossed the crowd unpredictably, and Zoey glowed even when they weren’t anywhere near her.
Back when the club was actually a factory, the lighting would have left the room brightly lit. As a club, they’d taken out two thirds of the lights and put in colored bulbs–not to mention hanging more lights on the other side of the second floor’s railing.
Most of those were pointed at the stage–which was empty except for the workers cleaning up after Vincent Sucks’ performance.
We were in the middle of the dance floor–nowhere near the stage, so Zoey was quite visible.
The photographer turned the camera toward her and Keith.
Haley leaned in toward me, still dancing, allowing her to speak over the music without shouting. “Your heart rate just spiked. What’s wrong?”
“Photographer.” I pointed in his direction.
Her eyes narrowed. “You put the powder on?”
I blanked for a second, but then realized what she meant. “Of course. I even analyzed a bit of it. It’d be a lot of work to reproduce–”
“Nick.” Her voice cut through my train of thought.
“But anyway, I did,” I said, leaning downward toward her ear, not thinking about how unnecessary it was, “I don’t know who else did.”
I thought for a moment, and added, “I wish Daniel were here. He’d be able to find out why the guy’s here–whether it’s because of us or something else.”
Haley glanced toward the photographer. With all the dancing people, and the way she was nearly a foot shorter than I was, I couldn’t be sure she’d seen him.
“Let’s move past him. I might be able to figure out something.”
“We could tell everybody and go.” I checked on the photographer myself. He was still taking pictures of Keith and Zoey.
Haley shook her head. “No. I think they’re still having a good time. You’re still having a good time. Why leave if you don’t have to?”
She wasn’t all wrong. Even though it felt awkward, I was still more enjoying myself than not.
We danced into position. Staying within the natural movements of the crowd, Haley steered us toward him, bringing us within a few feet.
I don’t know how I would have gotten us there if it had been completely left up to me. I probably would have walked past him. The restrooms were on that side of the building, so we would at least have had that excuse.
She somehow anticipated the movements of people on the floor, and kept putting us into positions where people would invade our space, forcing us to move toward him.
I made a mental note to ask her about it later–hoping it wouldn’t be one of those things that made her uncomfortable.
Now that we were near him though, I could see that he was a professional. I might have been pre-judging that, but he carried a big, black bag that was large enough to carry lenses, flashes, and maybe even a monopod.
He had no idea we were there, or if he did, he didn’t register us as anything other than another couple of dancers.
He kept his camera pointed at Keith and Zoey–until I bumped into him.
In all honesty, I dance that badly, but in this instance, it wasn’t my fault.
I was pushed.
Haley whispered “Go with it.” Then she tripped, falling into me. I fell backward. She was heavier than she looked–by about fifty pounds.
My back hit his side, but he didn’t fall over. He wasn’t a small guy. About five inches taller than I was, bearded, and distinctly solid, he seemed even bigger as I stumbled into him, trying to find a good place to put my foot.
I stepped on his boot, of course, and he muttered, “Fuck!”
Face red, and teeth barred, I thought for a second that he might hit me with his camera.
I twisted around, taking only two steps, but moving to stand in front of him in a position that I could easily convert into a fighting stance if I had to.
Meanwhile, Haley said, “I’m so, so sorry. It was all my fault. I tripped, and knocked him over.”
Looking at Haley instead of me, he took a breath, and his face cooled. “It’s alright.”
He pointed his camera toward the floor, pressed a few buttons, and brought it up again before letting it hang on his chest.
“My camera’s fine. No harm done.”
“Good,” Haley said, taking a breath. “I would have felt horrible if I’d broken anything.”
The man said. “Me too. Usually only celebrities break my cameras.”