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CLEVERLY placed floodlights silhouetted the girl's slim body through the filmy robe draped in graceful folds about her. Without the ultra modern bathroom background, she might have been some shy nymph poised beside a pool in a hidden forest glade.

"Hold it, now!" Reece said with quiet urgency from where he stood beside the big camera. He watched her tensely, conscious that the shutter release bulb was dangerously slippery in his hand. It was stiflingly hot in the studio, and Reece had already taken three shots of the girl, rearranging the lights and setting each time in the effort to be certain that he got one picture which would be exactly right.

Leila Nesbitt held the pose, though with an evidence of strain, fortunately concealed by the shadows, which showed that she had still to gain the statue-like immobility necessary in a professional photographers model. Reece hesitated a moment in the act of squeezing the shutter release bulb, looking at her. He felt the strange feeling of aching tightness well up into his throat. He'd taken pictures of scores of beautiful women, but be couldn't recall having felt this way before. This was the first time any girl had ever been more than a common object of photographic composition, a mere problem in lights and shadows, and he was afraid. Afraid because what he felt was so new and rare he could not bear the thought of disappointment.

Reece swallowed hard and pressed the bulb. "That's all," he told Leila.

The girl slipped at once into the comparative darkness to one side of the softly floodlighted bathroom scene and began quickly to pull on a more substantial robe. Reece was careful not to watch her. He busied himself with the camera, sharply aware of the small rustling sounds she made.

He liked her shyness, her natural unspoiled modesty. It was this, even more than her refreshing vivacious beauty, which had attracted him, for it had set her apart from the women he knew. Photographer's models usually become quite unconcerned and base after a time about displaying their physical charms, and in this respect Reece found Leila different. She was a newcomer to the modelling game. He had met her a little over a month before, a short time after she had arrived in the city, looking for work. Fascinated at once by the novelty of her reserve, Reece had hired her. And all too soon he had found himself thinking in terms of wedding rings and apartments for two.

"Do you think the pictures will turn out all right, Floyd?" Leila asked anxiously as Reece turned off the flood-lights. She was barefooted, looking almost childlike in the long green robe. Her chestnut hair, the hue of polished mahogany, had been piled atop her small head for the picture, and now she began deftly to rearrange it, searching Reece's face questioningly.

Reece flashed her a grin of reassurance. "Don't worry, Leila. With you in them, the pictures are certain to be perfect."

"I didn't mean that," Leila said quickly, her delicate features reddening. "I was thinking about Mr. Kendall. You know how important these pictures are to him."

REECE glanced at the girl sharply, feeling a sudden wrench of dismay. He wondered why she should be so concerned about Jerry Kendall. Could it be that she was interested in him? Reece went cold at the thought. He had not considered Kendall as a rival, but now the possibility came to him with the shock of an electric current.

He said slowly, "The pictures are important to me, too, Leila. Jerry Kendall and I are running this advertising agency on a partnership basis, with Jerry taking care of the business end while I handle the art work. We're both in the same boat. Naturally, I'm hoping the pictures turn out well. Getting that contract from the Dahlia Cosmetic Company would establish us among the big firms and bring in more business."

Leila smiled ruefully. "You look too much like an artist, Floyd. I keep forgetting that you're a businessman, too."

Unintentionally, the girl had touche...

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