Turning without any rush, she eyed the man behind her. There was no badge attached to his clothing, and he didn’t look dirty like most of the men here. A buttoned-down shirt and Dockers weren’t really appropriate attire for a disaster site. But at least he looked friendly.
“Hi,” she said, her unease calming down a notch.
“Is that a Canon Mark III body?”
Warmth spread through her. A fellow photographer, maybe? “Yes, with a custom lens. You know it?”
“Ah, I admire from afar and spend my budget on paper and ink instead.” The man grinned, looking young despite his thinning hair, and held out his hand. “I’m Lance Parker, editor of the local paper.”
She met his hand for a firm shake. “Nice to meet you, Lance. I’m Sadie.”
“You must be getting some good pictures, then.”
Pulling the camera from around her neck, she clicked on the picture preview and turned the screen so they both could see.
Fifteen minutes of talking cameras and photo composition and lighting fed Sadie’s artistic soul. None of her family were interested in photography. She had few friends because of all her responsibilities, but she had managed to join an artists’ group near home that she tried to go to once a month. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not. But she tried to get her fix in when she could.
“Would it be possible for me to use a couple of these in the newspaper?” he asked. “We’d compensate you, of course. These are wonderful and my two photographers are busy with the cleanup, which keeps them from snapping away right now.”
Sadie barely had a chance to think before another voice cut in. “Hey, Lance. How’s it going?”
She looked over the newspaper editor’s shoulder to see Zach’s sister, KC, approaching them. Lance smiled as she arrived.
“As good as can be expected, I think.” He gestured to Sadie. “Just trying to convince Sadie here to share a few of her pictures with the community. They would be a great accompaniment to the recovery stories.”
KC studied Sadie for a split second, but then her lashes swept down, shielding the expression in eyes so like Zach’s. “That would be cool. So, Sadie, what do you think?”
That I don’t like being put on the spot... “Yeah, I’ll come by and we can look over them again. Tomorrow?”
“Great,” KC said, as if she’d decided the subject was closed. “Now y’all want some lunch?”
Lance agreed enthusiastically, but Sadie shook her head. “I’m still full from the breakfast spread my landlady puts out, but I’d be happy to volunteer, if you’d like?”
KC’s raised brow and hesitant “Sure” didn’t make Sadie feel better. She knew it didn’t really matter what KC thought of her, whether she approved. Sadie wouldn’t be sticking around Black Hills long enough to make real friends...or sisters-in-law. Somehow that didn’t stop her from wishing differently.
Although KC might be hesitant for completely different reasons. Had Zach told her about Sadie? How much did she really know?
* * *
Zach made his way back across the parking lot to the food tents KC and Christina had installed. He tried to keep an eye out for Sadie along the way, though he desperately wanted to curse himself for caring where she was in the first place. He could tell himself all he wanted to that it was about suppressing her plans, but deep down he was afraid there were far deeper reasons than that lame excuse.
He didn’t see her until he was closer to the tents, and that fiery red hair came into view as she scurried behind the serving line. It wasn’t entirely clear from this distance, but it looked almost as if she were in charge.
“Kind of amazing, isn’t it?”
Zach glanced to the side to see his little sister approach, her arms filled with a box. He automatically reached for her burden, taking it on himself as he nodded his head in Sadie’s direction. “What’s going on here?”
KC didn’t look at the other woman but continued to watch her brother...making him very uneasy. “She volunteered to help after saying she wasn’t hungry. I could tell she wasn’t thrilled with the setup when she joined us, but she didn’t say a word.”