DGRFA</TD><TD ROWSPAN=1 COLSPAN=2 WIDTH=822 HEIGHT=7><IMG SRC=
DGRFA
DGRFA
DGRFA
DGRFA
DGRFA


By CeReS
[ Reviews - 10]

Printer

Prologue


“Yet another Friday night spent with a complete and utter moron,” Serena Paige sighed, discarding all her accessories on her kitchen counter and falling face down into the plush, warmth of her bed.

“Why can’t one friends actually hook me up with Mr. Perfect, instead of Mr.  Runner-Up?” Serena spoke into her pillow, trying to drown out the unbearable buzzing sound she received from the speakers of the night club.

“I guess that would make me Ms. Runner-Up,” she groaned at her remark.  All her life, Serena had searched for the perfect man. A guy that could at least, produce an interesting conversation, instead of spewing some drivel about how great he was or how “purtty” she was. In her 26 years of life, Serena was pretty close to believing that Mr. Perfect simply, didn’t exist.

The phone rang violently, jerking Serena out of her calming sleep. “Hello?” she moaned into the receiver limply holding the phone at ear’s distance.   

“Well?” a voice she knew too well blared out the other end.

“Well what Mina?” Serena asked, apparently ticked off. 

“Did you have fun with Jared?” Mina blurted out not all that discreetly.

Serena responded with a low, but noticeable, growl. 

“I’ll take that as a no,” Mina shied down to a normal tone. 

“You best take that as a no,” Serena snapped through clenched teeth, “You know what he talked about the whole time? His car, and how he hoped it wouldn’t get jacked when he left it all by itself in the parking lot! In my opinion I wouldn’t count that as a ground breaking date!”

“But Jared had a good time,” Mina squeaked through the receiver.

“Well good for Jared,” Serena retorted back.

“Okay,” Mina spoke soothingly, trying to calm her friend down, “So you didn’t have a good time with Jared, but I have this friend and...”

“NO!” Serena bellowed, interrupting her friend.      

“But...” Mina whined

“No!” Serena said insistently        

“BUT...” Mina continued

“Mina...” Serena warned, “I have to go to work tomorrow. So... if you don’t let me off this phone I will personally come down to your house and show you how the really, incredibly bad dates turn out!” With that, Serena was comforted with the melodious sound of the dial tone, lulling her to sleep.


“I had a really great time,” the woman fluttered her eyes at the dark, muscular figure in front of her.

“Yeah,” Darien Collins replied, running a frustrated hand through his light hair, trying to hide his sarcasm as much as possible. 

“So...this is my place,” the woman spoke sheepishly staring back at him, “I’ll...um...I’ll see ya around.”

“Y’ Sure” Darien spoke, hastily trying to relieve himself of this awkward moment as quick as possible.

“Well...bye,” the confident woman turned around for a kiss but her bewildered, green eyes found the hallway deserted and the only thing that could be heard was the chime of the elevator door. 

“Andrew, a little advice, no more blind dates,” Darien declared from his cell phone as he sped through the crowded streets. 

“Aw...ya didn’t like Ivy?” Andrew spoke sympathetically to his worn out friend.

“Let me put it this way,” Darien spoke bluntly, “she left handprints.”

“Sorry,” Andrew struggled to hold back a chuckle, “I thought Ivy was your type.” 

“Andrew,” Darien breathed out with a sigh, “When you find out what my ‘type’ is tell me. ‘Cause I don’t got a clue.” An uncontrollable yawn escaped his lips, “Listen I got to get some r&r before I have to go to work. Chao.”

Darien snapped the phone shut before his friend could hustle him into another date, if that’s what you’d call it.

If anything, Darien was looking for Ms. Right. Just once he would like to met his equal. Someone who wouldn’t cling to him like a toy, treat him like a piece of meat, or boss him around like a slave. An independent woman who could take care of herself, but needed him here and there. A woman who he could see himself with for about a year.  Except that in his search of the whole city, not one woman fit that description, and Darien was beginning to accept the fact that maybe Ms.  Right was just a figment of his imagination.


Morning started out like clock work as usual. You struggle to get up out of your bed after a severe night. Afterwards you’re subjected to hour upon hour of continuous mind numbing traffic, and when you finally do get to work you wish were still stuck in traffic. 

“... Dr. Paige please report to surgery...”

“... Dr. Collins report to room 367...”        

“... Dr. Collins...”           

“... Dr. Paige...”

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP*BUMP*

“Sorry,” Serena apologized rashly, and continued her decent down the hall, passing the fine man who she chaotically bumped into. 

“Yeah sorry,” Darien answered back, ignoring the elegant creature that he had abruptly collided with, and returning down the path to his office.  So close, yet so far.


Chapter One


“SURPRISE!”

The loud burst of cheers made Serena stumble back in shock and bewilderment.

“Happy Birthday girl!” a willowy brunet pulled the perplexed Serena into her near capacity apartment.

“Lita...” Serena struggled through a counterfeit smile, “What is this?”

“It’s a birthday party Serena,” an extremely nervous Lita lead her friend into the buzzing living room.

“WHAT!?!” Serena howled, breaking her false face. 

“Hey ba...by,” a lanky figure stalked towards the exhausted doctor interrupting her shock, “wa...ho... Lita does you no justice when she talks about you baby.” Lifting her delicate hand, the grotesque man brushed his skin damaging lips across the softness of her hand. “I’d watch out if I were you hon, ‘cause Tony the tiger has just found his new target, you.”

“That’s so nice,” Serena clung to the smile that kept her from screaming. “Could you excuse us for just a moment,” Serena inched away ever so slowly, dragging Lita along with bruising fingers digging into the bunet’s elegant arm.

At a very safe distance, Serena released her friend from the steel trap grip, “Have you gone completely insane! Of all the people to let me met, you know I would never go out with some nauseating man like him, much less a sugar rushed cartoon jungle cat.”

Lita let out one of the most obviously fake scoffs in the world. 

“Don’t look at me,” the tense woman paused for a long second, “he’s...  he’s... he’s Mina’s friend.”

Releasing a much needed growl, Serena turned around in the opposite direction of her friend and retreated to the living room, disappearing into the crowd of mind blowing music and out of control people.


‘Three in the morning!?!’ Darien thought wildly as he frantically scrambled to the wall the separated him from the apartment next door.  He had just gotten back from a grueling day of work and the least he could ask was for a serene night’s sleep.

Practically beating the wall into a solid mush, he screamed with an empowering rage, “It’s three in the freakin’ morning!”


A muffled shriek was heard through the outcry of music and people that Serena knew all too well. Striding up to the vibrating wall, Serena hammered the plaster with both fists happily dancing across the surface.

‘At least I’ll have some fun out of this party’ she though triumphantly as she wail through the thin wall, “It’s my freakin’ birthday ya moron!” suddenly noticing the room had become eerily silent. Gradually spinning on her heels, Serena was met by thousands of eyes gazing her down with those stares that could make someone feel two feet tall.

Managing a uneasy chuckle, Serena glided to the safety of her room, and closing the door behind her once again to hearing the clattering sounds of the numerous people.


“Let me guess. You didn’t have a good time,” the weary Mina sat next to her demobilized friend.

“No Mina,” Serena retorted sarcastically, holding a cold compress to her forehead, “All hostess hide in their rooms until the people are chased off by the police.” A realization finally hit Serena. Jerking her head in the up right position she glared at her close friends, “Why did you guys even do this anyway?’

“We want you to be happy,” Lita replied with a frustrated sigh, “We want you to fall in love, have kids, get a life!”

“I have a life,” Serena spoke back to her friend matter-of-factly.

“You know what we mean,” Mina spoke gently with a slight hint of worry.

“What are you really looking for in a man Serena? Please, give us some hint, because we are drawing one big blank,” Lita gestured, motioning towards her friend.

“What do I want in a man? Let’s see...I want a guy that goes to a gym seventeen hours a day, but doesn’t hug me when he gets home. And he has to call me baby, but only when people aren’t around. He has to be fine, but not nasty muscular, and he has to be sensitive but not girly sensitive,” she continued to joke, but stopped short when both her friends glared at her with that look that could kill. Serena sighed, “What does any woman want in a man? Someone that can make them laugh, feel special, but treats them like a person. Is that too much to ask?”

"Maybe...” Lita whispered to herself more than to her friends.  “Hey how about that guy next door. You seem to be very cozy with him,” Mina jabbed Serena with her elbow.

“How desperate do I look?” Serena jumped out of the bed glaring at her friend in utter disbelief, “I don’t even know if the guy is some kind of psychotic computer nerd or something.”

“You’re saying that of all you five years of living here, you have never even met your own neighbor?,” Lita inquired with a dazed expression.

“What reason do I have to met him?” Serena answered back incredulously, “I mean right in the comforts of my very own living room I can tell that he is a self-centered, egotistical brainiac, who has nothing to do but complain, complain, complain about everything that happens wrong in his so called life!” Unexpectedly, a high pitched vibrating of a cell phone could be heard in the sudden pin drop silent room.

“Hello?” Lita questioned through the miniature phone staring at the two blondes before her. “HONEY!” she said more than just over excitedly. Quickly covering her phone, she motioned towards Mina to move, “Serena we really have to go, but that doesn’t mean your off the hook. I’ll be back to discuss this with you.”

“Me too!” Mina waved as she was forcefully pushed out the door into the echoing hallway.

“Ahhh,” Serena collapsed once again onto the reassuring bed, “Peace and quiet at last.”


“Hey Dari...oh you don’t look so good man,” Andrew glared up at his droopy friend, and the larger than life bags that crept under his eyes.

“Don’t you ever wish that you could just place all the psychotic people on one huge island where they all just live on top of one another. If we were ever that lucky, my neighbor would be the grand hooha of them all and would live at the very top,” Darien’s breath was irregular from all the pent up frustration.

“Uh,” Andrew sighed uneasily, and was about to continue when he caught a glimmer of something out of the corner of his eye. “Well, this will brighten your day,” taking his fatigued companion by the shoulders, he twisted Darien around, “The angel has entered the building.”

“What?” Darien asked not very enthusiastic.

“Where have you been?” Andrew interrogated his clueless friend incredulously, “The angel of the day shift?”

“That’s a really dumb name,” Darien sigh out, struggling to hold his head up right.

Andrew sighed in anger, and roughly directed Darien’s facing in the direction of the door.

Droopy eyes stared towards the opening of the hospital cafeteria.

Ever so gracefully, an elegant figure flowed through the double doors.

Her long, sweeping strands following her to the line of people.  However, as Darien stared at this “angel” he got this odd feeling that he was not the only one checking her out. Looking around he knew he was right. Every guy that wasn’t looking at his lunch was staring her down, which gave Darien the oddest sensation of jealousy. 

“Earth to Darien...” a voice broke through Darien’s very cloudy thoughts.

“Yeah...uh...work...I’ll see ya Andrew,” Darien stuttered as he stiffly stumbled off the stool and blindly exited the cafeteria. 

“Man has got it bad,” Andrew spoke lamely as he took another sip of his drink.


“What a day!” Serena sigh, collapsing head on into her couch.

Today was one of the worst days that she could possibly go through.  After being ogled by all the guys in hospital yet again, she drove home only to be stuck behind one of the sluggish, most irritating drivers she could ever get stuck behind.
What she really needed was a...

”A shower,” Serena jerked off the warmth of her living room couch, and head towards the gently lavish tiled room, “That’s what I need, a pleasant, relaxing, shower.” Tired, Serena twisted the knob to the glass stall and prepared for a greatly desired shower.


“Isn’t life suppose to get easier when you grow up?” Darien asked to himself as he buried his head into the wintry refrigerator to dull his pounding headache.

Today, to put it lightly, was hell. Everything went down hill after lunch, not mentioning the loads of paper work he had waiting for him at his office. Then, just when he believed he was off the hook, and was driving home, this insane woman was honking at him from behind.  What a day to be in traffic. Afterwards, much to his despair, he was greeted by a total onslaught of messages from Ivy. 

“I wonder if they let you off on vacation for date related stress,” Darien pondered as he staggered into his bathroom to arranged to for a long nights sleep, tossing away the superintendent’s note about a problem with the pipes.


Serena was in heaven as she allowed the intoxicating water drown away her stress and problems. Only one thing could make this moment any better...music.

Carefully Serena reached over to the radio inches away from her resting area in the shower, and cautiously switched the device on. 

“I love this song,” Serena sighed as she listen intently ever so slowly feeling her eyes become quite heavy.

Oh.....
I just want you to know...
It doesn’t matter ‘cause
you’re stealing my heart

Stealing my heart...

 


“What the...” Darien stared towards the walls as he heard the melodious sound of the radio on the other end, plus the pattering sound of a shower running.

Gradually, his perplexed look turned into a mischievous grin, as his mind hatched a prankish plan.

“This outta be good,” he chuckled playfully as he strode to the glass stall found in the corner of the slippery room. Casually, he turned the knob to the shower, and seconds later was greeted with a glorious shriek from the other side.

Darien happily stepped into the running water and leisurely hummed above the music coming from the bathroom adjacent to his.


COLD

VERY EXTREMELY COLD

Serena jerked out of her peaceful slumber as the first drop of severely icy water contacted with her skin. She released an instinctive howl while she push her way out of the glacial trap. She finally got her bearings, when a pleasingly hummed tune found its way to her burning ears.

“That guy is gonna get it now,” her eyes scorched with rage. At the same time, Serena beated towards her porcelain toilet. With a triumphant satisfaction, she pushed the gleaming, silver lever down.  Moments later, Serena was soothed with the harmonious wail of her ever so “friendly” neighbor.

Breathing heavily, Serena pulled on her fluffy, cotton bath rob and stalked out of her apartment a few feet to the next door.  Infuriated, she hammered on the smoothness of the slightly reflective door.

“Apparently you heard me taking a bath! The neighborly thing to do would be to wait until I finished,” Serena fumed through the door, and with that stormed back into her apartment.


“HA! If I waited for you to finish taking a bath I’d be celebrating Christmas by then!” Darien yelled back out the hallway, rubbing the burn from the searing water, then ducking his head back into his apartment.


“That’s a mature thing to say!” Serena roared sarcastically from her living room as she turned on her fireplace.

“Oh shut up!” a loud response seeped through the wall that divided their two apartments.

“Why don’t you!?!” Serena retorted harshly, as she cranked up the radio speakers to drown out the rather migrating sound of her less than polite neighbor.


“What an irritating woman,” Darien snarled angrily, when he remembered he had work tomorrow and let the matter rest, falling asleep with a picture of a tortured neighbor dancing in his head.


‘Someday I’m gonna find out who that guy is and rip his hair out,’ Serena thought lamely while she changed into her snug pajamas.  Abruptly, the phone rang with an urgent jerk. Serena stared at it for a while wishing she could toss it out the window, but thought better of it and picked up the blaring receiver.

“Hello?” Serena uttered rather aggravated.

“Sis?” a chipper voice flowed out the other end. 

“Sammy?” Serena altered her less than cherry deposition to sound somewhat friendly, “Hey little bro, how things going in the real world, now that you got a job?”

“Well...uh...I got some news for you,” Sammy’s voice wavered slightly with uneasiness, “Are you sitting down?”


Chapter Two


“And I always thought that I’d be the first to get married,” Serena said smiling sadly as she hugged Sammy goodbye and watched him speed away with his new wife.

‘This isn’t fair,’ she thought lamely.  It was only a few months ago when Sammy had called her, dropping the bombshell of his engagement like any annoying little brother would.  The whole day of the wedding, Serena watched in pride and just a hint of envy as she observed the incredible bliss reflected in her brother’s eyes.

‘Someday I’ll find that kind of love, and it’ll be my turn to be that happy,” Serena thought grinning at the image of her embarrassingly drunk brother sped away in the limo.

“Excuse me,” a polite, yet mesmerizing voice rang from behind her. Serena spun around only to collide with another figure. 

“Sorry,” she apologized quickly, mentally hit herself for acting like such a klutz.

“It’s okay. I guess it was my fault” looking up, Serena relaxed at the amusement on the guys good looking face.

“Um...I’m Greg Taylor,” he extended his strong arm and briefly shook her hand.  “Serena Paige,” her mouth aching from smiling so hard. 

“Yeah,” Greg said as if he had made a break through, “Your Sammy’s sister. I’m one of the bride’s relatives. I saw you up there at the alter. You were really... breathtaking,” Greg admitted much to Serena’s delight as she blushed a bright crimson, “Thanks.”

The rest of the night flew by like a shot; Serena had spent her time listening intently to Greg as he talked about the many things they had in common. At the end, or rather the beginning, of the day when everyone had left drunk, passed out, or sore, Greg finally asked Serena for a date. And of course Serena accepted, to her this guy seemed like the most normal person she had ever encountered for a long time.


With a sigh of contentment, Darien leaned back in his chair. It was Friday night and this was the first time in a while that he didn’t have to go on any date.

“Andrew must have run out of women,” Darien spoke thankfully, but all too soon.  Andrew suddenly burst through the doors of Darien’s office with a very unsettling grin plastered on his face, “Darien, great news!”

“No,” Darien snapped bluntly looking down at a stack of papers he was working on.          

“But you didn’t even wait to hear what I was gonna say!” Andrew began to whine like a little kid who didn’t get his candy. 

“Every time that there’s ‘good news’ it probably means you have another date for me,” Darien replied still working as Andrew continued to complain, “So the answer is no.” 

“But she’s really nice, and...”

“No,” Darien interrupted his friends rambling sharply, but Andrew persisted.

“She recently became free, and she’s pretty...”      

“No,” Darien retorted intently.

ndrew continued, pretending not to hear Darien, “And she’s really funny, and she’s perfect for you. You’ll have a great time.”

“Listen Andrew. I...I don’t want to go on a date k? I just want to go home and maybe, for once, get a good night’s...” Darien started to say, but before he could finish his sentence Andrew cut into his sentence, still pretending not to hear what Darien was saying. 

“Good, I’ll set it up,” Andrew announced cheerfully as he jetted out of the office before Darien could get out another word. 

After Darien had time to let the information hit his brain, he let out a low, tortured groan, and repeatedly banged his head against his desk, hoping to knock himself unconscious before the date.


“So... who’s you’re next victim gonna be after this one Sere?”

Mina inquired as Serena put her hair up in its usual meatballs.  “How can you be so confident as to think that this is only gonna be a one date relationship, huh, Mina?” Serena asked impatiently while tapping her foot on the hardwood.

“Well...uh...Serena, Lita and I have witnessed the ‘flawed’ date before. I mean with the past dates, you stop going out with the dude because he had a ‘slight’ flaw. That’s how I know this one’s gonna bomb,” Mina replied matter-of-factly.

“Well this one is gonna be different,” Serena snapped defensively. ‘At least I hope so.’

The chime of Serena’s doorbell interrupted her stare-down with Lita and Mina. Immediately, she made her way to the door, but gave her friends one last warning glare before she went on. 

“Hi Greg, won’t you come in?” Serena greeted the casually dressed man into her lavish apartment.

“Wow! This is quite a place Serena...,” Greg stopped mid-thought as he collided with two sets of eyes, examining him up and down. 

“Down girls,” Serena intercepted the gazes that Greg was receiving from Mina and Lita.

“Um...Why don’t you sit down Greg? I’ll be right back, and then we can go,” Serena lead an uneasy Greg to the living room, leaving him in between a skeptical Lita and a scowling Mina. 

“Okay, I’m ready to go,” Serena step out of her room a few long minutes later in a nonchalant boatneck tanktop and black slacks outfit.  But before she utter another word, Greg burst from the couch and zipped out of the apartment, dragging Serena along with him. 

“Sorry about that,” Serena apologized readily when they reached his car, “My friends are overprotective during occasions like this.”

“No prob,” Greg replied in between gasp of air. 

“So...um...where are we going?” Serena asked meekly, hoping that Mina and Lita’s little cross examination didn’t ruin her one chance for a normal date.

“Oh, I thought that it would be nice if we went to The Rain Lotus to eat. They’ve been booked for weeks, and I finally got reservations.  So I wanted to make a good impression in there and come with an exquisite woman at my side,” Greg grinned smoothly after he had caught his breath.  

“Oh,” was all Serena could say, as she lowered her head to hide her burning cheeks.


Darien grimly pulled up in front of the towering apartment that Andrew had given him the address to.

“Here we go again,” he spoke lamely to himself as he waited exhaustedly for his newest torturer to appear.  Just as he turned off the engine of the roaring car, a lithe figure stepped out from the glass doors of the building. Slowly, Darien staggered out of his car to the other side and opened the door. 

“Hi,” he greeted, not even trying to hide his bordom. 

“Darien right?” a delicate hand stretched out cordially, forcing Darien to shoot his head up.

There, right in front of him was a fair woman with ocean blue eyes and the same color hair that gently tickled the side of her face, “Hi I’m Ami Robertson.”

Darien’s face ever so slowly lit up as he held her hand in a loose handshake. 

“I’m sorry to say, but I really hate doing this ‘blind date’ routine. My friend forced me into this,” Ami confessed truthfully, which made Darien like her all that more.

“To tell you the truth I feel the same way,” he curled his soft lips into an irresistible grin and helped the composed woman into the car. 

“Is it alright for me ask where it is we’re going to?” Ami asked calmly as Darien glided down the street in his car. 

“Well I hope The Rain Lotus is alright,” Darien pretended to speak reluctantly, but he knew that every date he took down there loved the place.    

“That would be superb,” Ami voiced politely, as Darien continued to drive pass the luminous lights of the city.


“It’s so beautiful,” Serena stared in awe as her senses were bombarded with the charm of the restaurant.

“It’s so beautiful,” Serena stared in awe as her senses were bombarded with the charm of the restaurant.

“I knew you’d like it,” Greg smiled warmly as he stepped up to the host booth, “Taylor, reservation for two.”

Immediately, the host skimmed through the book propped open before him, “ah yes. Right this way sir.” The duo watched as the formally tailored man stepped from behind the platform. They were about to follow him when a refined and elegant voice called out to Serena’s date. 

“Greg?”


“Here we are,” Darien announced proudly as he placed his hand out to help the blue-haired woman out of his luxurious car. 

“Enchanting,” Ami sighed staring at the restaurant to its full content. 

“Shall we?” Darien extended his arm out for her to take and walked along side her through the glass doors.  As they emerged from the entrance, a gasp escaped his companion.

“Greg?” was all she said as she looked ahead in disbelief.  Darien gawked in the direction Ami was looking in and met with the sight of a moderately rigid man side by side with a breathtaking woman who seem awfully familiar.


“Ami?” Greg turned on his heels as he rushed to the amazingly beautiful woman with a dumbfounded Serena following steadily. “It’s been so long!!”

“Yes, it has been,” the elegant female threw herself into a more than friendly embrace with the other man.

“Oh Ami I want you to meet someone,” Greg interrupted the reunion and gestured towards Serena, “Ami Robertson, I would like to introduce you to Serena Paige, my date.”

Serena, pushed out of her trance by the sound of her name, gave a warm smile to Greg’s ‘old friend’. 

“Hello,” Serena nodded lightly.

“How rude of me,” Ami grinned graciously and waved in Darien’s general direction, “This is Darien Collins.”

Darien, on the other hand, was too busy staring at the radiant blond with Greg’s arm wrapped around her to even respond. Suddenly, the realization hit him like being sideswiped by a rock.

‘It’s that woman from the hospital, the angel,’ Darien gasped inwardly , but on the outside his face was as indifferent as a glacier. 

“Hey Ames why don’t you and your date join us. You and I have a lot to catch up on,” Greg grinned stupidly.

“Great,” Serena mumbled sarcastically under her breath. 

 “Did you say something Serena?” Greg asked not really paying any attention to her.

“I said that’s great!” Serena quickly outburst, “The more the merrier.”

‘Boy that sounded lame’ she thought regretfully. 

As soon as they were seated, things went from miserable to the way beyond miserable for Darien and Serena. For the next three hours, the two were subject to mind-numbing conversation after conversation which consisted mostly of Ami and Greg talking to each other. Serena, who was use to this sort of thing, just sat by and watched Greg and Ami giggle up a storm, every once in a while catching a glimpse of Ami’s date who Serena couldn’t deny was pretty hot.

Darien, on the other hand, was pissed off beyond words. No one had ever treated him like this. Usually, his blind dates would be all over him. Not that he could complain, this was a lot better than having a human ornament draped around him like he was a big Christmas Tree. The best part for him was being able to see the so called ‘angel’ again.

Ami gradually leaned over and whisper a faint message into Greg’s ear. 

“Um...!” Greg jumped up abruptly, “um...Ami and I are going to check out the ...um... fish pond! ...um... we’ll be right back!” In an instant Greg madly grabbed Ami’s hand and rushed away from the table, leaving Darien and Serena all by themselves.

Silence stretched between the two. Serena began to play idly with her glass, but Darien sat there still and uneasy. Seconds ticked away like minutes. The murmurs of conversations suffocated the room, and the sound of clinking ice against the blonde’s glass, finally sent Darien over the edge.

“So I guess we have to wait for those two to come back before we eat,” Darien broke the silence much to his delight. 

“I doubt that,” Serena uttered continuing to tease her cup. 

“What do you mean?” Darien asked, slightly confused, giving his full attention to golden-haired beauty.

“I mean,” she responded placidly, “the fish pond is that way.”

Serena pointed in the opposite direction that Ami and Greg had charged off to. 

“Oh yeah,” Darien dumbly stated, the realization that he had been stood up finally hitting him.

Once again the familiar muteness extended between the two. That is, until Serena let out an involuntary sigh, “Ya know what the weird thing about this is?”

Darien stared at her, deeply immersed in her voice.  “I’m not surprised this happen,” Serena said smoothly, “like every date this one turned out to be a disaster.”

“Tell me about it,” Darien mumbled, instantly receiving Serena’s attention.  “I doubt you can even imagine the kind of dates I’ve been on,” Serena announced incredulously.

“Try me,” Darien challenged, a grin playing his face as he spoke. 

“Okay...” Serena paused and thought for a while, “I have gone out on over thirty dates so far this year, each with different guys, and all of whom have shown the typical male trait of self adoration, no offense.”

“None taken,” Darien responded. “But I can top that,” he smiled as he saw Serena give him a skeptical look. “For the past four and a half months I have had three different dates every week thanks to my friend, Andrew, who seems to be a bottomless pit of blind dates.  Furthermore, all those women I went out with clung to me the whole time. By the end of the date, I’d have handprints all over me.”

“Oh my gosh,” Serena flashed Darien a sympathetic look, “I am so sorry for you. But, hey, at least your friend actually warns you first.  My friends threw me a surprise party for my birthday. Of course, they had to go ahead and turn it into a dating service by inviting every single guy they came across. The whole night I was hit on by these dudes with the lamest pick-up lines I have ever heard. One them was even name ‘Tony the Tiger’!”

“Wow,” was all Darien could utter after he heard her story. 

“But by far,” Serena continued to talk, “By far the worst thing about this whole dating business is when you get stuck with that kind of person that...ya know...that kind of person that obsesses over their car...”

“Or their make-up” Darien added playfully.  

“or...”

“Their hair!” the two spoke in unison, afterwards bursting into laughter at their conversation.

“I don’t think we were introduced very well. Especially with those two fawning over each other like they were,” Serena extended a slender hand, “Serena Paige.”

“Darien Collins,” the handsome figure gripped her hand in a cordial handshake, “Nice to me ya.”

“Likewise,” Serena smirked brightly as she jerk Darien’s hand forward towards her until he was no more than two inches away from her face, “Why don’t we ditch this place? These formal restaurants give me claustrophobia.”   

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Darien attempted to breath steadily.

Suddenly, Serena dashed from the booth she and Darien were sitting at, dragging a dazed Darien along. Finally, the overactive blond released Darien’s hand at the park across the street, but continued to walk down the cemented path.

“Um...my car is that way,” Darien pointed back in the way of the restaurant. 

“Well actually,” Serena began, “I wanted to take a little walk through the park. Care to join me?”

Immediately, Darien sprinted to her side and meandered down the sidewalk along with her.  As the pair drifted through the crowd of roses and trees, each would listen to the other’s story of dysfunctional relationships. They continued to chatter and stroll through the park until they noticed that they had found their way back to The Rain Lotus and Darien’s car. 

“How about I take you home?” Darien offered graciously, not wanting the night to end so soon.

“Sure” Serena accepted thankful that she wouldn’t have to leave him so quickly. 

Serena gave directions from the passenger’s seat as Darien drove through the familiar streets, until they finally hit her apartment building. 

“No way you live here too!?!” Darien gazed, astounded by the coincidence.

“What? Do you live here?” Serena asked dumbfounded.

“Uh yeah,” Darien replied matter-of-factly.

“Oh my gosh,” Serena giggled, “This is so incredibly cool!”

Serena moved out of the car in one deft movement.

“Tell me about it,” Darien followed Serena to the elevator. 

Neither one of the two really noticing where the other was headed. That is until they hit their floor. The two were talking side by side when suddenly Darien stopped in front of a door and produced a key to open it.  Serena studied her surroundings. A gasp escaped her lips as she slowly backed away from Darien.

“Serena? What’s wrong?” Darien inquired, slightly confused and worried as Serena covered her face with both hands. 

“Um...Darien...my apartments over there,” the shocked woman extracted one hand from her face and pointed towards the door closest to his.  Darien inhaled a sharp breath and the two stared at each other.  In the next instant the duo was frantically pacing the halls both hyperventilating.

“Great...This is just g...r...e...a...t...!” Serena’s bellow echoed throughout the empty hall, “I finally meet a guy that’s not some self-absorbed, over-bearing weirdo, and he turns out to the jerk next door!”

“YOU!?! WHAT ABOUT ME!?!?” Darien questioned furiously, “I finally find a woman who doesn’t hang all over me like I’m a piece of meat, and she turns out to be the psyco-chick down the hall!”

Serena scoffed incredulously, “Psyco-chick!?!”

Darien mimicked Serena’s rudely, “::scoff:: Jerk!?!”

At that point Serena had had enough. Forcefully, she turned on her heels and stormed down the halls.

“Leaving so soon Meatball Head!?!”

Serena stopped dead in her tracks at Darien’s remark. However, she took a few moments to compose herself. Taking in a couple of ragged breaths, Serena turned her head towards the intolerable figure.

“Why would you care?” she responded disdainfully, and with that, strode through the hall her heels clinking behind her and a stunned Darien in her tracks. The last sound from the hall was the noise of Serena coldly slamming her door shut.


Serena leaned against her frigid door for a shear instant. In the next moment, she made a frenzied bolt to her room. Grabbing one of the feathery pillows from her bed, Serena stuffed her face into its plush softness and screamed out her anguish.

“Why do the good ones always have to be such jerks!?!” she groaned into the furry fabric and collapsed onto the warmth of her bed.


Darien, still shocked and dazed, gently closed the door to his apartment. 

“I can’t believe it,” he supported himself along the solid wall, “that woman, the angel, is that insufferable neighbor of mine!?!”

He should have been angry. He should have been pissed off beyond words. But the only thing Darien could think about at the moment was wanting to see that angel again.




Enter the security code shown below:
Note: You may submit either a rating or a review or both.
DGRFA