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Hello.

 

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl and a boy and a girl. And there was another boy and another girl, but they don't come in until later. And there was a cashier at a mini-mart, but she doesn't come in until later either. There were a couple dates, and that's a big part of the story, actually. The first boys' name was Elijah, and the first girl was his close personal friend, Jordan. The second boys' name was Orlando, but we're just going to call him "Orli." The second girl was named Sarah. And nice name it is. Just in case you were wondering, the cashier's name is Hilda. We're still not going to tell you the name of the third boy and girl. (respectively.)


"Hey, you're back! Where were you again?" asked Sarah, hearing the door to the apartment shut.

"I was just at the movies with Elijah, and some friends," said Jordan. "You should have come, I want you to meet Elijah."

"I told you," said Sarah, "Orli's cat just died, and he was having a really hard time. We actually had a funeral." She tried to hold back the laughter. "I never knew Muffin in life, and in death, I know him even less." This set the girls laughing uncontrollably.

"Where'd you bury him?" Jordan asked between gales of laughter.

"The park. He actually got special permission from the mayor to bury Muffin and put up a headstone." The girls laughed even harder. When their laughter finally subsided, Jordan sighed and said, "He sounds really sweet!"

"Yeah, he's a great guy. You should have come to the funeral!" Sarah smiled just thinking about it.

"Maybe you, me, Elijah and Orli could go visit the grave together," Jordan suggested jokingly.

"Hey, I'm always up for meeting guys. Why don't we go out for real?"

"Are you sure your friend's up to dating yet? I think he's still supposed to be in mourning."

Sarah laughed. "Nah, I bet I can get him to go."

"Ok, awesome!"


Later that night as the girls were watching their favorite soap, "Till Death Do Us Part," they did some serious thinking. (And discussing, of course, because they were girls, and that's what girls do.)

"Jordan . . . I've been thinking," Sarah said during the commercial break.

"Did it hurt?" Jordan asked concernedly.

"Only a little," Sarah replied. "I don't know if we should double-date. I mean, it'd be kinda like I was going out with Orli and you were going out with Lij."

"Yeah, you're right!" Jordan answered. "I see your point. It would be really, really weird."

"Um . . . and another thing . . . what if I'm a really bad kisser and I don't even know it? I mean, I've never ever kissed anyone before."

"Gosh, that was random. I hoped you'd like Lij, but honey. . . ." Sarah smiled at Jordan's teasing.

"Seriously, though, I mean . . . do you have any tips?"

And so, Jordan proceeded to explain to Sarah the grand and glorious art of kissing. Little did they know that Jordan's aforementioned friend, Elijah, had let himself into their apartment, and was being very entertained by the conversation.

"Like this?" he heard the girl that was not his friend Jordan ask. He laughed to himself. If she was demonstrating something, he wanted to see it. He tiptoed to the doorway . . . but was too late. They had stopped for something much more important -- their soap had come back on.

"Darn," he said out loud. Both girls screamed and jumped up.

"Oh my gosh Elijah, what are you doing in our apartment?" Jordan yelled from atop the couch. Sarah put a hand to her heart.

"My whole life flashed before my eyes," she muttered.

"You left this!" he stammered, holding up a pink camo backpack. "In my car! The door was unlocked, so I let myself in. I was going to say hello when I heard voices. . . ." Sarah and Jordan looked at each other. What had he heard?

"You heard voices?" Sarah asked shakily. "Maybe you should see somebody about that. I heard of a kid who heard dead people, once."

"Oh!" Jordan exclaimed. "You two haven't been introduced yet. Sarah, this is Elijah, Elijah, this is my very best friend Sarah."

"Hi . . ." they both murmured.

"Oh, we're missing the show! I think Jason is coming out of his coma!" Sarah said excitedly.

"Well, I better go," Elijah said. "I don't want you two to miss Jason."

"You can stay if you want," Jordan told him.

"No, I have to work tomorrow, so I better run. I'll call you sometime this week, ok?"

"Okay. . . . Let me walk with you out to your car, I want to talk to you."

"Bye, Elijah," Sarah called.

"Goodnight!" he replied. As they walked out the door, Jordan grabbed a pair of flip-flops. "I hate these toe-wedgies."

"So, what did you want to talk about?" he asked.

"How much did you hear back there?" she asked him. "Be honest."

"Just about all of it," he answered sheepishly. "I was getting all excited 'cause I thought I was going to see her practicing but you stopped."

"Oh, you," she said. "What was the first thing you heard us say?"

"Um . . . I heard Sarah say, 'What if I'm not a good kisser?'" Jordan groaned inwardly. Just what she was afraid of.

"Did you like her?" she asked abruptly. "I was hoping you two could go out, like, on a date."

"Oh . . . alright . . ." he replied hesitantly. "Hey, can I get a kiss goodnight?" he asked.

"You're crazy!" she laughed, and went back inside. "Goodnight Elijah!"

It never occurred to her that he might not be teasing.


"So?" Sarah asked urgently when Jordan came back in. "Did he hear me proclaim myself VL?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Jordan responded. "But I told him our idea and I think he really wants to go out with you."

"Really? He was pretty hot. I mean, he was really, really hot."

"Ooooh," Jordan teased, "So I was right!" Just then, the phone rang. Sarah grabbed it off the receiver.

"Hello?" she asked in her Nicole Kidman voice. "Oh, hey baby, it's you!" she laughed. "How're you doing? Oh, yeah? Sure, you can come over. No, it's okay, the show's over. It was sweet of you to wait. Ok, see you, bye."

"Was that Orli?" Jordan asked.

"Yep, and he's coming over. I'm so glad that he called instead of coming right in!"

The doorbell rang. "I guess he was on his cell phone," Sarah mused. "You get it, and I'll stand over here. After you see him, turn around and wink if you think he's really hot, smile if he's okay, and frown if you hate him." The doorbell rang again while they talked. "Ok, hurry!" she said. Jordan giggled while she opened the door.

"Hi," she greeted.

"Hello," he said. Whoa, baby, what a sexy voice! she thought. "I'm Orlando." He offered his hand.

"I'm Jordan," she said, trying to act cool. She turned around quickly and winked seven times. "Sarah told me about you, but she never said anything about you being British," she remarked.

"Oh, she didn't?" he said, stepping inside.

"Oh! Sorry! Please come in!"

"Thanks. . . . Hello, Sarah."

"Hey," she said, giving him a hug. Jordan thought it was a very, very long hug. It seemed to go on forever. When they finally let go, there were tears in his eyes.

"Aw, honey, it's okay," Sarah said soothingly. "You'll see Muffin again."

"I know," he said, his voice cracking. "It's just hard." Sarah hugged him again, much to the astonishment of her friend, who had to leave to keep from laughing. She was buried laughing hysterically into her pillow when Sarah came in the bedroom to get her coat.

"We're going to visit the grave," Sarah said. "You wanna come?"

"No, it's probably safer if I stay here," Jordan replied.

"I'll be back in a few."


That night as they stood at the grave site Orli slipped his arm around Sarah.

"Thanks for always being there for me," he said. "I really appreciate all you've done."

"You're welcome," she said. "Would you be willing to do me a favor?"

"Anything," he said.

"Did you like my friend Jordan?" she asked.

"She was a knockout," he replied. "Drop dead gorgeous." His accent made his last word sound really romantic.

"So . . . would you ask her out?"

"Sure," he said. "The three of us could all go somewhere together!"

"That's not what I meant," she said.

"I know," he replied. "I'll take her out." As they talked they had been walking back to his car, and Sarah slipped into the front seat.

"Guys look so hot while they're driving," she said.

"Oh, so you think I look hot?" he asked.

"Dang, I love that accent," was all she said.

That night as he walked her up to her door (Who said chivalry is dead?) he thanked her again for being so supportive.

"I don't have any family here," he said, "and having you to talk to has really helped me." He leaned in like he was going to kiss her goodnight. She drew back, but just as she did Jordan opened the front door.

"Hello!" she said cheerfully. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"I'm just coming in," Sarah replied quickly, "Goodnight Orli!"

"Did he just . . .?" Jordan's question trailed off.

"No . . ." Sarah said, voice shaking. "Nothing happened. Sorry, your lessons weren't needed!"

"Pity. . . ."


The very next day when Sarah got home from work, Orli was waiting on the steps leading up to the apartment.

"I thought you got off work at three," he explained.

"Have you been here since then?" she asked. "I'm so sorry! But Jordan should be home. . . ." She unlocked the front door with her key, and beckoned him inside. Jordan was pouring a bowl of cereal.

"I just woke up," she explained. She was still in her pajamas.

"Why didn't you let Orli in?"

"Did you knock?" At his nod she apologized profusely. "I am so, so, so, sorry!"

"She sleeps in late," Sarah explained. "And like a log. Hold on, let me put these bags down." She gave him a meaningful look.

"So, are you busy this Friday?" he asked Jordan immediately.

"Me?" Jordan said with a mouthful. "No, not at all."

"Oh, I love Crispix," Orli said. "Can I have a bowl?"

"Of course." They both reached for a bowl in the dish drain, and their hands touched.

"Sorry," Jordan said without pulling her hand away, and he kept his hand on top of hers. They set it on top of the table together.

"Thanks," he said, smiling. They talked until Sarah came into the kitchen, clutching her head and complaining of a headache.

"We're all out of everything," she moaned, looking into the refrigerator. "I feel to sick to go shopping!"

"I'll go," Orli offered.

"Really?" Sarah asked. "Can Jordan go too?"

"Alright . . . she'll tell me what you need."


And so, they left the apartment. "I love your car," Jordan said, climbing into his Volvo S40.

"Thanks," he said. "Yours is great, too." Jordan laughed.

"I got it for thirty dollars," she explained. "Plus the cost of repairs, of course."


"So what are we getting again?" he asked as they walked into the store. She gave him the long list of items to buy, and then paused.

"Will it embarrass you if I buy tampons?" she asked. He blushed.

"No."


They went through the store, putting items into the cart, talking and having a good time. They got up to the checkout and Jordan whipped out her credit card.

"It's my month to pay for groceries," she explained. "Which would be why I didn't get them any sooner."

They loaded everything into his trunk, and went back home. Jordan was having a really good time, and he looked like he was having fun, too. She had changed into real clothes before they left the house, and they got to talk about the Monkees, one of her favorite bands. (She was wearing a Monkees t-shirt.)

"Yeah, I think they're great," he was saying. At this moment, he endeared himself to her forever.


When they came back into the apartment, Sarah was standing in the kitchen, cooking pasta.

"I guess I found something to eat," she said. Orli slipped his arms around her waist.

"Hello," she said, turning around.

"Hey," he said. They stood there for a moment, and then she turned back to her pasta. He let go slowly.

"I'm taking Jordan out on Friday," he said. "If you'll go out with me on Saturday it'll be two girls in one weekend."

"Yeah, we'll go somewhere," she laughed.

"Alright then, I'm off. Bye Jordan," he said. She had just come into the apartment.

"Ok, bye then," she replied happily. Not happy that he was leaving, just happy to be talking to him.

"Hey, Jordan," he said, "Let's go somewhere really nice, okay?"

"Sounds good to me!"


If one telephone could ring with more suddenness than another, then at this time and on this day, the telephone rang very suddenly. Sarah, the only one at home, jumped at the noise. She looked up from the (extremely dry) textbook she'd been reading and at the jangling contraption. The Caller ID wasn't registering -- probably because the girls didn't subscribe to the service -- so Sarah just picked it up. "Hello?" she said.

"Hello. . . . Is this Sarah?"

"Yes," she said slowly.

"Hey, this is Lij."

"Oh, hi! Jordan's not home right now."

"I thought she might be working," Elijah said with a twinge of disappointment.

"Is everything alright?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah. . . . No! I can't find my keys or my name tag and I can't go to work without them and I can't call out sick and by the way my cell is gone and I can't get a hold of any of my friends." He didn't add that Jordan was the first one he'd tried.

"Oh, Lij, hon, I'm sorry," she said with genuine sympathy. "Where all have you looked for your keys and name tag?"

"Everywhere!"

"Well, did you check all the pockets of everything you wore to work yesterday?"

"Yes."

"Pants?"

"Yes."

"Shirt?"

"Checked it."

"Apron?"

"I don't wear an apron."

"Shoes."

"Uh . . . hm. . . . No, I don't think they're there."

"Jacket?"

"Um . . . not yet. . . . Hold on a minute."

"Okay." There was a click as Elijah set the phone down. He returned a few seconds later. "Thanks so much, Sarah," he said in a rush.

"Were they there?"

"Yeah -- keys, name tag, cell."

"That's good to hear."

"Thanks again. Listen, I have to go to work now, but are you free Saturday night?"

"Um, actually, I'm doing something Saturday."

"How about Friday?

"Friday's free."

"Would you like to go out?"

"Yeah, that sounds like fun," she said brightly.

"Great. I'll see you then."

"Okay."

"Thanks again, Sarah."

"Any time."

"Bye."

"Bye." Sarah replaced the telephone in its cradle and broke out into a huge smile. She looked down at her textbook, which now seemed boring beyond all belief, and decided that now would be a perfect time to . . . not study. Rising from her desk, she just about floated down the hall and into the kitchen, where the ringing phone greeted her.

"Hello?" she asked in a dreamy tone. She was pleased to hear a now-familiar answer her. "Sarah?"

"Lij?"

"Yeah, hi, listen, we didn't say a time -- is seven-thirty good for you?"

"Seven-thirty is great!"

"Okay. I might be a little late, so I'm apologizing in advance; I'm sorry."

"I'll forgive you in advance; it's okay."

"Okay, I see a cop car, so I have to put the phone down. Back in a sec."

"All right." She could hear the normal sounds of a car -- and then a police siren.

"Don't worry!" Elijah called without picking up the phone. "I don't think that's for me. But I'm not going to pick up my cell right this second."

"Okay!" Sarah tried to make herself heard from the phone.

The police siren did not go away. It did not get quieter. In fact, it got louder. The normal car sounds began to get lower, as if he were slowing down.

"Darn it!" Elijah shouted. "This just doesn't seem to be my day. Sorry, but I think have to go, unless you want to listen to me talk to the cop."

"Uh, no, I'll let you go!"

"See you Friday," Elijah said as he reached over to switch off the phone.

"See ya!" she replied. But the phone was not off, and Sarah could still hear as Elijah rolled down his window.

"Afternoon, Officer," he said cheerily.

"Son," the officer began, even though he was clearly around the same age as Elijah, "do you have any idea how fast you were going?"

Sarah gasped. She knew that voice almost as well as her own - GABE! And he sounded as though he'd been at the donuts again.

"Actually, Officer, no, I don't."

The policeman pulled a donut from his pocket and began to munch on it. "You were doing 10 in a 35," he said, spraying powdered sugar all over Elijah.

"Wow, that's really bad," Elijah replied. He sounded somewhat patronizing, at least as Sarah could hear it.

"Yes, son, it is. . . . Care for a donut?"

"No, no thank you."

"Is that a cell phone?"

"Uh . . . yes?"

"Were you talking on it?"

"Yes?"

"To who?"

"My friend Sarah."

"Sarah?" Gabe repeated the word as if it were sacred.

"Gabe?" Sarah called from the phone.

"I'm here!" he shouted, nearly jumping through the car window and over Elijah to get to the phone. Instead, Elijah hastily handed Gabe the phone.

"Uh huh . . . okay," said the police officer. "No, no, I'm good. You? . . . That's great. . . . He is? . . . Oh, okay. Yes, yes, I will. . . . Sarah? Sarah, are you there? Hello?" Gabe pulled the phone away from his ear to look at it. "Your cell phone is dead, Son," he informed Elijah gravely, returning the phone to him. Elijah tried to look appropriately grief-stricken. "You can go on now."

"Thank you, Officer."

Gabe nodded solemnly as he turned to walk back to his squad car. He needed another donut. Maybe a dozen. Creme filled. Or maybe even jelly. . . .

Elijah, on the other hand, immediately called Sarah back. "Man, you're saving my life left and right today," he said as soon as she answered.

"You'll just have to make it up to me Friday."

"Believe me, I'll try. What did you say to the cop?"

"Oh, he's just an old friend. Once he said he'd let you off, I 'got disconnected.'"

"Ah, I see," Elijah said. "Well, I'd really better get to work. I'll see you Friday night, okay?"

"Okay. Have fun at work."

"I'll try. Thanks again.

"Sure."

"G'bye."

"Bye."


The big night came. Jordan dressed very formally, and then she got nervous.

"Call Orli and ask what he's wearing," she told Sarah.

"He says he's wearing a tux," she called from the living room. "You're lucky, all we ever did was visit Muffin." Just then, the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it," Jordan called. She ran to open it, and she wasn't disappointed.

"You look lovely," Orli greeted.

"So do you . . . look nice, I mean," Jordan teased.

"Shall we go now?" Orli offered Jordan his arm, and when they got to the car, he jumped to open the door for her.

"I feel like a princess," Jordan said.

"That's the idea." He smiled at her, and then shut the door. "I made reservations at The Garden," he said.

"Wow." Jordan was stunned -- that was a really, really nice restaurant. Suddenly she didn't feel overdressed at all.

"It's kind of a drive though, sorry."

"Don't apologize!" she said quickly, "It's fine. We can just talk the whole way."

"So . . . where do you work?"

"At The Gap, with Sarah. We both applied at the same time, but we don't work any of the same hours. I guess management was afraid that we would just talk to each other all day."

"Well, would you?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"Listen, can I ask a favor?"

"Sure," she replied.

"See, my cat died last week, and I. . . ."

"I know, Sarah told me. I'm so sorry." She had practiced saying this seriously all week.

Ring, ring. The sound of Jordan's cell phone echoed through the car.

"I'm sorry," she said again, and answered it. "Hello?"

"Hey, this is Gabe, I tried the apartment a million times, but no one answered. I really need to get a hold of Sarah, do you know where she is?"

"She's out on a date. Why do you need to talk to her?"

"It's personal. . . . Well . . . my grandmother is in town again, and she just liked Sarah so much that she wants to see her again while she's here. Listen, Jordan, if it wasn't important, I wouldn't ask." The last sentence sounded like he was talking with a mouthful of food.

"Gabe, didn't someone tell you to stop eating all those donuts?" Jordan asked. "Ok, I'll give you the number, but please don't bug her."

"Donuts are not bad for you," he replied. "Thanks Jordan," he said after she had given him Lij's cell-phone number. "I owe you one," he said, but it came out as "I'll hordthedown," because he had (obviously) picked up another donut.

"I am so sorry about that," she said, hanging up. "That was Sarah's ex-boyfriend," she explained. "He said it was imperative that he speak to her immediately."

"Sounds like a real jerk," Orli replied seriously.

"Gabe's not a jerk . . . he's just really immature . . ." Jordan replied. "He was too scared to kiss her, and she got really mad, and they just . . . broke up. . . . It wasn't just about the kissing, y'know, but it was just one more thing. She hated the fact that he was a police officer, she hated his donut addiction, she hated the fact that his socks never matched. . . . I'm sorry, I'm going on and on."

"It's alright," Orli said, "I enjoy listening to you. So was there anything she liked about him?"

"Well, he wore her favorite cologne, Clinique Happy for men. She loved that scent. I was going to get her a bottle for her birthday, so she could spray it on her teddy bear or something."

"She sleeps with a teddy bear?" Orli asked.

"A teddy bear, a duck, and a bunny," Jordan told him. "Don't worry, she doesn't care if anyone knows." Then, she decided to change the subject. Enough talking about Sarah.

"So, where do you work?" she asked.

"Well, I'm a set manager," he said. "I get to boss everyone around. . . . I worked on 'Millionaire Mansion.'"

"I love that movie! It's starring Tad Clawden -- the star of 'Till Death Do Us Part!"

"Yeah, he's a loser though."

"You know him?" Jordan asked excitedly.

"I worked with him every day for four months. He whined about everything."

"Really? He seems like such a nice guy on the show."

"Aw, I'm sorry to crash in on your dreams," he said. He is so sweet, Jordan thought. "Well, we're here!"

"Alright, don't get out yet," Orlando told her. He jumped out of the car to open the door for her. As she stepped out, they heard someone yelling.

"I HATE YOU!" came the voice, and with it a handful of mud. Unfortunately, (Or maybe it was fortunate for Orlando, and his car) she had stepped out from the car, with nothing to block the mud from splattering all over her beautiful dress.

"AHHHHHH!" she screamed. Orli ran towards the car that was now driving away, brakes squealing, but there was no way he could stop it. Jordan had begun crying.

"I am so, so sorry," Orli said, taking her into his arms . . . and getting mud all over his tuxedo.

"It's all ruined," she sobbed. "We can't go in looking like this."

"Everything is going to be alright, love," he said. "It's okay. My house is near here, let's just go back there."

"Okay," Jordan sniffed. As they drove, Jordan began crying again, agonizing over the seemingly ruined evening. Orli became saddened as they drove by the park where Muffin was buried, so by the time they got to his house, both were wiping away tears.

"We're a sorry pair," Orli said, unlocking the house.

"You live in a nice neighborhood," Jordan said.

"Thanks . . . but I rent, and I'm getting kicked out next month."

"That's terrible! Where are you going to live?"

"I don't know yet. Why don't you sit down?" he offered. "I'm going to change." But before he did, he brought her a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. "I don't know if these will fit . . . you can change in the bathroom if you like."

"Thanks," she said. A few minutes later, (okay, longer in her case) they were back in the living room.

"Well, the jeans are a little big, but they'll do," she said. "Thanks again."

"So do you have any idea who that girl was?" he asked.

"Actually, I do. There was this girl in high school, named Mimi . . . she was sort of my rival . . . that voice sounded like her."

"Why would she do such a thing?" he asked, looking angry. (Not at Jordan.)

"I have no idea," she said.

"Well, let's go to the mall, okay?" he said, changing the subject after putting an arm around Jordan. "I think I know what we can do."

"Oh . . . you want to call Sarah? She's out with my friend Elijah. . . . Could they have our reservations at The Garden?"

"Oh, sure," he said, "Why not?"


And so they went, and as they drove to the mall the spirits of the party were much brightened by so much good company. And Jordan called Elijah who sounded thrilled to talk to her.

"Okay, so here's my idea," Orli said when they got there. "Let's go into the dollar store, buy like a million water guns, then have a fight."

"Sounds fun!" Jordan said, meaning it. The people in the store must have thought they were crazy, buying $20 worth of guns. Also, although they were dressed casually, Jordan's hair was still up, and (she thought to herself), very nice looking.

"Are you ready?" Orli asked after they had filled the guns, hidden them on their (rsptv.) bodies, and gone out into the parking lot. Jordan shot him in the eye as an answer.

"NO FAIR!" he yelled, shooting her in the leg. The guns didn't bang when the trigger was pulled, but the pair made enough noise to compensate. Finally, soaking wet, Orli admitted defeat.

"Ha!" Jordan called, "I still have one gun left!" She reached to pull it out of her back pocket, but Orli had already darted around and pulled it out.

"I take it back!" he shouted. She could only do one thing. She ran.

He chased her, and chased her . . . until they ran into a security guard that was giving them very suspicious looks.

"Let's go back to the car now," Orli suggested.

"I interrupted you, earlier, when you were talking about Muffin," Jordan said. "What were you going to say?"

"Oh, I was going to ask. . . . Do you mind if we stop by the grave?"

"Not at all," Jordan answered, "In fact, not to be morbid, but I'd like to see it."

"I just need to stop at this store, alright?" She nodded. "Wait here."

He came out to the car holding something behind his back. "For you," he said proudly.

"Thank you!" she said earnestly. "What is it?" He pulled a bouquet of daisies from behind his back. "I had the hardest time deciding whether you were a roses girl, or a daisies girl."

"Good choice," she replied, "as I'm allergic to roses."

"Well, I got a rose for Muffin, are you going to be ok?"

"Maybe we could put it in the back . . ."

"That's fine," he said, laying it down. "Oh, I almost forgot!" He turned on his car CD player, and The Monkees came through . . . well, their music did anyway.

"I went out and got this CD, because I remembered that you liked them."

"That was really nice of you," Jordan said.

"Well, I like them too, so I can have something to listen to on the drive to work. Oh, we're here." They walked to the grave silently, Orli starting to "tear up" again. Jordan also started to cry, because she had been too close to the rose for too long.

"Wow, this is really something," she said through tears, observing the headstone, which read: Here lies Muffin, beloved in life and remembered in death. Orli just nodded.

"Did you ever have a cat?" he asked as they walked back to the car.

"Just one," she replied. "Parker. Now, there was a cat." For the remainder of the drive home, they shared cat stories.

"Let me get the door," Orli said. "Wait, don't forget your dress!" They had stashed it in the trunk. He walked her up to the apartment, and she let him in.

"Thank you for a wonderful evening," he said. "Again, I'm really sorry about what happened." He bent down and kissed her on the cheek.

"Oh, um, it was fine," she stammered. "I had the best time." They said goodnight, and after she shut the door, Jordan ran into the bathroom. No, she thought, looking at where he had kissed her, it doesn't look any different. Her stomach rumbled. I never did get any food, she remembered. She pulled some Ritz crackers out of the cupboard and flipped on the TV. Her favorite game show, "Let's Make A Deal," was on.

"I hope Sarah gets home soon, she loves this show," Jordan said out loud. "Why don't they make shows like this anymore? All we have now is 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' WHO DOESN'T?" She laughed at her own joke.


Incidentally, although he thought he might be late, Elijah arrived early. Twenty minutes early.

"Hi," Sarah greeted him cheerily. She was glad her hair and makeup were done, but she still didn't have on her dress. "Come on in, I'm almost ready."

"Thanks," he said, stepping inside.

As Sarah left to go put on her dress, Elijah expected Jordan to come ambling out of her room, dressed in pajamas. She hardly ever went out on weekends, other than with Elijah and their other friends. But Jordan didn't show. Good, Elijah told himself, she'd probably tease me about my suit. Thinking once more of how he was dressed, Elijah looked down at his suit and smiled proudly -- he sure did like wearing suits.

The clicking of Sarah's shoes alerted Elijah to her presence as she entered the room. "Wow," he said before he could stop himself.

"Thanks," Sarah said, smiling sheepishly. "You look good yourself."

"Thank you."

"Where are we going?"

"To Le Mont Dégoûtant."

"What does it mean?"

"I think it means 'the disguised mountain.' It's a French restaurant; I heard they were really nice." (Sadly, it means 'the disgusting mountain.')

"Sounds great," Sarah said. She didn't really care where they went, although French food seemed a little . . . sketchy. . . . Elijah offered her his arm (alrighty, you've watched Euro-boy do his thang, now it's time for a little Chivalry, American Style -- for clarity's sake, we'll call it gallantry), which she accepted with a smile, and he escorted her to the car.

"I hope you don't mind listening to 'N Sync," Elijah said as he opened the car door for her.

"You . . . like 'N Sync?" she asked in amazement.

"You're not a fan, then?"

"No, no, I love 'N Sync! I'm just surprised that you like them."

"I work for their record company, but I love their music! I mean, I like the guys and all, but . . . I'm a guy. . . . " They laughed as she got in the car.

Sarah sang along with every song on the CD Player during the ride. Of course, she didn't find it at all embarrassing, especially since she doubted that Elijah could hear her over his own singing. After a couple tracks, Elijah's cell phone rang -- it played a line from "Gone." Sarah reached over to turn down the radio for him as he answered phone.

"Hello? I'm here, are you there?"

Sarah stifled a laugh.

"Hey Jord, what's up? Where are you? . . . A date?! With who? . . . Oh, right, I'm on a date, too. . . . Really? That's really nice of you both! He must have made reservations like . . . weeks in advance. . . . Oh, just one week? . . . Who? . . . I'll tell her. . . . Yeah, you have fun, too. . . . Okay, bye."

"So, that was Jordan?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah. She's on a date with some Orlando kid," he said the final two words disdainfully.

"Um, actually, he's one of my best friends."

"Oh, sorry, no offense."

"None taken. . . . What else did she say?"

"She said we could have their reservations at The Garden -- if we hurry a little, we can make it. . . . Oh, and some guy named Gabe called her cell phone looking for you. Said his gramma was in town."

"Gabe? Elijah, that's the policeman that pulled you over this week!"

Elijah laughed. "Well, he'll be calling us tonight.

Sarah groaned inwardly. She didn't need ex-boyfriends resurfacing tonight. In fact, she really didn't need to talk about Jordan any more, either. "So, what's your favorite movie?"

"I have a bunch, but I guess my very favorites are the Star Wars Trilogy."

"Really? I love those movies! 'The Empire Strikes Back' is my favorite of the three."

"Mine too," Elijah paused to beam at her. "Who's your favorite character?"

"I'm kinda partial to Officer M'kae." She made a reference to a tiny, uncredited bit part.

"Uh . . . oh. I like Han," he said somewhat lamely. He didn't want to admit that he didn't know who she was talking about.

"I'm kidding -- Luke is my favorite."

"Oh, good." He was relieved to be on more familiar turf.

Over the course of the next forty-five minutes, they thoroughly traversed the topics of movies, books, television shows, music, actors, actresses, movies again, cars, schooling, work, and even favorite colors before Elijah finally made a startling admission.

"Um, Sarah, we're kind of . . . lost, in a way." He spoke slowly, as if afraid of her reply.

"In a way?"

"Well . . . I know where we are, I just don't know how to get to The Garden, or Le Mont Dégoûtant. . . . And I think we lost our reservations already."

Sarah tried not to let her disappointment show. "Well, what are we going to do then?"

"I have an idea," Elijah said, suddenly very excited. "But you'll just have to trust me. A lot."

She considered the situation very seriously. Still very nicely dressed, she wanted a nice evening out -- especially with Elijah. Elijah seemed very enthused about his plan, though . . . and if it didn't work out, Sarah was sure Jordan would murder Elijah for her later. "I guess we can go to The Garden or Le Monte Dégoûtant some other time," she agreed, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

"Great! Now, this has to be a surprise," he said as he reached over to cover her eyes, "so you have to keep your eyes closed."

"Um . . . alright." Sarah could feel her spirits rising -- either Elijah's enthusiasm was highly contagious, or his touch was electrifying.

He kept his hand over her eyes until the car came to a stop. "Okay, wait here," he said, "and no peeking!"

Sarah obediently waiting in the car with her eyes shut. As much as she wanted to know what was going on, she didn't want to ruin Elijah's surprise. She heard the trunk open and shut, then Elijah got back in the car.

"Okay, don't look," he said. "We have one more stop before we're through. The cashier lady in there was really weird. I was waiting to check out and she was like, 'No loitering!' I was like, 'I'd like to check out. . . .' She gives me this really funny look and then rings me up."

"What was her name?"

"Hilda, I think. . . . Why, do you know her, too?"

"No, I was just curious. . . . I think I'm going to peek!" Sarah threatened to open one eye, and Elijah quickly placed his hand over her eyes again.

"No you don't!" he said through his laughter.

The second stop took a little longer than the first. When Elijah got back in the car, he automatically reached over to cover her eyes. Sarah did not object.

"Alright, we're there. But I'm not finished yet -- you have to wait here."

"Okay." Sarah was very nervous as she sat alone in the front seat for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, her car door was opened. Elijah reached in and placed his hand on her chin.

"I hope you like this," he said softly, then turned her chin away. "But first I have to blindfold you."

"Um, okay. . . ." She consented to him tying what she thought was a handkerchief over her eyes. He took her hand and led her from the car to the . . . building.

"Alright, through this door," he directed as he guided her by the hand, "and this one. . . . And to your left. No, my left, your right. A little more. Careful, careful -- watch the step."

Sarah thought she could smell fast food. What kind of surprise was this?

"Okay, one more door," Elijah said. "Almost there."

They stepped outside once more, and Elijah took both of her hands to lead her onward.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"I think so," she said. She hoped he didn't notice the nervous tremor in her voice. He let go of her hands and stepped behind her to untie her blindfold.

"Surprise," he said in a soft, singsong voice.

Sarah gasped slightly. Before her laid a beautifully set table -- well, okay, so it wasn't his finest china, but it was his finest Chinet. And there was a table cloth, and hamburgers, and fries, and drinks, and forks, and knives, and cups -- and candles! And flowers!

"Elijah, it's beautiful!"

"I'm glad you like it," he said. "And after we're finished --" He turned and ran and jumped and sailed through the air and . . . landed in a ball pit? "We can play in the ball pit!"

Sarah looked around at their surroundings -- a McDonald's Playplace. There was no way in heck she was playing in a ball pit in a dress. Still . . . she began to laugh. She laughed through dinner -- at his jokes and in between them. She found the fortitude to laugh when he took her to the mini-mart to buy a corsage for her and meet Hilda -- who requested that they not loiter. She laughed as she bowled in a dress, wearing a corsage on her wrist and Elijah's suit coat on her shoulders, complete with the boutonniere she'd bought him. Her giggling was so contagious that Elijah had trouble bowling because he was nearly doubled over laughing. As Sarah wiped away the tears from her laughter, she wondered in a far-off corner of her mind if Jordan and Orli were having even half this much fun.


Their laughter had finally subsided as they walked down the hall to her apartment.

"I had a lot of fun tonight," Elijah said.

"So did I! I'm kind of glad we didn't end up at The Garden or anything."

"Kind of?" Elijah exclaimed with mock incredulity. "What do you mean kind of?"

"Okay, so I'm really glad we didn't end up at Le Mont Dégoûtant."

Elijah laughed as he threw his arms around her, then pulled back and held her at arm's length. He had a look on his face that Sarah didn't have a chance to even begin to react to because Elijah's phone suddenly rang.

"Hello?" he answered it. "Uh, yeah, just a minute." He looked up at Sarah. "It's for you."

Surprised, Sarah took the phone cautiously. "Hello?"

"Sarah, I've been trying to get up with you all night, but nobody's answered the phone!"

"Gabe?"

"Yeah, listen, please, please, please come over now. I need you."

"What?"

"Please. It's my gramma -- she's really sick."

"I'm sorry to hear that, but right now I'm kind of in the middle of something."

"Please, Sarah?"

"Not tonight."

"Tomorrow?"

"No."

"When?"

"I don't know, Gabe. Look, I think I'm free --" She interrupted herself by switching off the phone. "Sorry about that," she said to Elijah.

"It's alright."

"Would you like to come in for some . . . water?"

"Sure." He vaguely wondered if Jordan were home from her date yet. The television's noise answered his question as the door opened. They walked to the kitchen and Sarah poured him some water. They laughed, sounding like they were having a good time. Elijah wandered into the TV room to talk to Jordan.

"Well, I'll just be going now," he said after talking to her for a minute. While they were talking, "Till Death Do Us Part," had come on.

"No, wait a sec. Stay for the next break, I need you."

"Need me for what?"

"SH!" Sarah and Jordan exclaimed in unison. Elijah pretended to cower in submission, then threw himself down on the couch between the two girls. As he slumped forward to join in the viewing of "Till Death Do Us Part," Sarah and Jordan exchanged a furtive look above his back. On the television, Jason faded back into his coma and the show faded to commercial.

"Okay, Lij," Jordan began, "I have a favor to ask you. Sarah here wants some kissing tips --" Jordan stopped short, realizing that she was going about this all wrong. Sarah was staring daggers at her and Elijah was giving her an uneasy look. "I told her I'd help her out by demonstrating. I mean . . . I know this must cause you great sadness, Elijah, but this is actually for someone else Sarah's dating." Jordan didn't dare look at Sarah's expression then. She didn't know if she were climbing out of the hole or digging herself deeper.

"What are you asking me to do?" Elijah asked.

"Help me demonstrate how to kiss."

Elijah looked as though he didn't understand, which was appropriate, because he didn't. "By . . . kissing . . . which one of you?"

"Well, actually, um, both of us," Jordan stammered. The plan was beginning to sound more and more stupid. "Me first, while I show her, and then Sarah, while she . . . practices."

Kill me now, Sarah and Jordan thought in unison.

"So I'll get that goodnight kiss after all?" Elijah said.

Jordan tried to laugh lightly. "Yeah, I guess so -- double!" Elijah gave her a look she wouldn't begin to interpret. "Uh, let's stand," she suggested, jumping to her feet. Elijah and Sarah rose less quickly. Jordan placed her hands on Elijah's shoulders, turning him to face her. "Sarah, stand here," she said, motioning for Sarah to stand beside them in the best position to observe.

"Alright," Jordan said, trying to clamp down on the fluttery feeling suddenly rising in her stomach. She decided that looking at Sarah would be decidedly safer than looking at Elijah. "Now, the fifth rule --"

"Wait," Elijah said, "what are the first four?"

Jordan winced. "Okay, rule one is close your eyes, rule two is keep them closed, rule three is to tilt your head and rule four is to tilt your head in the opposite direction of the person you're kissing so you don't hit noses."

"I think I can handle that," Elijah said.

"Yeah, her rules didn't exactly help a lot," Sarah joked.

"Anyway, the fifth rule is that you have to wait for the right time, otherwise, it's all --" Jordan stopped abruptly as Elijah, who had learned the lesson all too well apparently, placed his hand under her chin, turning and tilting her face toward him. He leaned in and kissed her gently.

"Okay," Sarah said sooner than she meant to. Elijah had not pulled away yet but at the sound of her friend's voice, Jordan pulled back.

"I think I can do that," Sarah said.

Elijah turned to face her, but stopped short. "Wait a minute," he said, "I have a corollary to rule five -- it's rule five and a half."

"You can't add to my rules," Jordan began. "They are my --"

"Jordan," he said softly, taking a step towards her and placing his hands on her waist. Before she could react, he leaned forward and kissed her. For far too long, as it seemed to Sarah.

"Um, okay," she said uneasily. "I think I got it."

Elijah's only response was to slip his arms around Jordan's waist to pull her closer. Surely, Sarah thought, she's going to pull away any second now. Instead, Jordan placed her arms around his neck. And they were still kissing. . . .

"Stop!" Sarah suddenly shouted.

Jordan took a step back, staring at Elijah in complete astonishment. "Wha-what was that?" she managed in a voice just above a whisper. Before he could come up with an answer, Sarah stalked from the room.

"Sarah!" Jordan called as she followed her, running. Elijah, in turn, ran after Jordan.

Sarah reached the front door of the apartment and threw it open, revealing Orli standing in the hallway.

"Sarah, what's wrong?" he asked in a concerned voice as she pushed past him. She didn't answer. He looked back at the door in time to step out of Jordan's way. "Jordan," he tried again, "what's going on?" Jordan glanced back at him, but didn't say anything. Elijah, last out of the apartment, ran right into Orli, though not with enough force to knock either one of them down. "Who are you?" Orli asked in surprise.

"I'm . . . a friend of Jordan's," Elijah said slowly, watching the two girls standing in the hallway. "You?"

"One of --" Before Orli could finish telling him that he was Sarah's friend, Sarah interrupted him.

"Are you wearing Happy?" she asked.

"Yes. . . ." Orli said a little sheepishly. "I'm just here to pick up my clothes. . . ." His voice trailed off.

"You know that's my favorite cologne." Sarah suddenly stepped forward and without a word of explanation pulled Orli down to kiss her. Elijah's eyes widened in amazement and surprise, Jordan's in anger and terror. After what seemed like a very, very long time to Jordan, Sarah finally stopped kissing Orli.

"I'm not sure what's happening," Orli said, "but I can't say I don't like it."

"Excuse us," Jordan said through clenched teeth, taking her friend by the arm and starting down the hallway. "I'm not exactly happy with you right this second."

"Pardon me," Sarah said, "but I have every right to be angry with you -- no, more!"

"Well, I was doing it as a favor to you -"

"It looked to me like you were doing yourself a favor!"

The girls had disappeared around a corner by then, and although Orli and Elijah wanted to check on their friends, they held back. The shouting, although it was dying down, did not seem like an invitation for the guys to join in the argument.

"Oh, I'm Elijah," he said, offering the other man his hand.

"Orlando -- Sarah's . . . friend, I suppose." They shook hands, then turned back to look down the hall after their friends. "Do you think we should . . . wait inside?" Orli asked after a silent minute.

"Uh, yeah, I guess so."

The two men slowly walked into the empty apartment. "You betrayed me!" shouted a female voice from the living room. Both men jumped.

"Veronica, you deserved it," replied a male voice.

"I wish you'd never come out of your coma, Jason," replied the shrill woman's voice. "In fact --"

"No, Veronica, put the gun down! Veronica, Veronica, no!"

Elijah laughed nervously as a gunshot rang out. "The television," he said. After switching off the television, the two men sat in the kitchen. After an uncomfortable silence, they finally struck up a conversation. The chat ended abruptly when the front door opened and was slammed shut. Sarah walked into the kitchen, her face not revealing the tears she'd shed.

"Hi Orli," she said lightly, pointedly avoiding Elijah. "Do you still need an apartment?"

"Hello Sarah," he said. "I do . . . why do you ask?"

"Take mine -- especially my roommate!" With that, she stalked from the kitchen to her bedroom.

"What?" Orli asked, following her as far as the hallway. "What's going on?"

The front door slammed a second time and Jordan marched into the kitchen. "Elijah?" she called. She found him in the living room. "Elijah," she said, "I want you to buy out my contract here."

"You what?"

"I can't live with Sarah any more. She's always using people -- like poor Orli just now -- and I don't want to be a part of it."

"Is this my fault?" he asked softly.

"I have to pack," she replied, avoiding the question. She started toward her bedroom but stopped. "I really messed up," she said softly without turning around, then disappeared into the hallway.

"I guess you're not the only one," Elijah murmured once he was alone.


"So, we're going to the movies?" Elijah asked when he picked Jordan on Saturday.

"Sounds great," Jordan replied without much enthusiasm. "Thanks for trading apartments with me."

"Yeah, just until things get worked out," he reminded her. "You won't stay mad forever."

"Whatever," she replied. "I really don't want to talk about it." He shrugged in compliance.

"What's the posted speed limit?" Jordan asked after a long space of silence.

"Forty-five, I think," he answered.

"You're going fifty," she informed him.

"Uh, yeah, I guess I am." He didn't slow down.

"The cops are behind us," she said.

"Oh." Now he slowed the car down. "Hey, I know this guy! This is the second time he's pulled me over this week!" Officer Gabe (Jordan gasped), walked over to the car and shined a flashlight in, nearly blinding them.

"Son, haven't I seen you before?" he asked.

"Yes," Elijah replied, "Once on Tuesday, and we talked on the phone last night when you called my . . . date." All of a sudden he had remembered that Sarah was not a good topic right now.

"Oh, you -- you're the guy." All of a sudden, Gabe looked really scary. "Did you know that your phone has a serious problem? Last night was the second time I've been disconnected while using it."

"I'm so sorry, Officer." Elijah tried to look properly remorseful.

"Gabriel? Gabriel Asher, is that you?" came the voice of an elderly woman, who was getting out of the squad car and walking towards them.

"Just a darn minute, Grandma, I'm giving someone a ticket," Gabe yelled back. "That's my Grandma," he explained.

"I see," Elijah replied. Jordan just laid her head back on the seat, shutting her eyes.

"Now, I let you off on Tuesday, but don't think you're going to get away with breaking the law again, son." He searched for something in his pocket. "Grandma, could you bring me a donut?" he yelled. He pulled out his ticket book and began writing.

"Name," he asked.

"Elijah Wood."

"Let me see your driver's license." After glaring at it suspiciously while shining the light on it, he said, "Son, this doesn't look a thing like you. I'm gonna have to take you in."

Jordan made a strangled sound.

"Officer, I promise that's me, I have my car registration here, and here's my utility bill." Elijah handed him a stack of papers he had pulled from the glove box.

"You must be taking long showers, son, this water bill is outrageous. Now, listen, how do I know that this is really yours? What if you stole all this stuff from the real Elijah Wood?"

"It's really me! Jordan can vouch for me."

"Jordan?" He must have missed her the first time he shined the light in, but the second time he was able to identify her.

"Yes, Gabe, it's me," she said, shielding her eyes.

"I have to talk to you," he said, but whatever he was going to say was interrupted by his grandmother's shouting.

"I've finished off the donuts. We're gonna have to pick some up from the store."

"DONUTS?" Gabe yelled back. "Alright son," he said in a rush, "You're off for now, but don't let me catch you again. I'm coming, Grandma!"

"WAIT! My registration . . . my bill!" Elijah shouted, getting out of the car. Gabe ran back and threw them in a pile at his feet. Elijah picked them up and walked back slowly.

"Is he the only cop on the beat?" he asked.

"No, but he has no life -- except chasing after Sarah, so he's on duty pretty much twenty-four seven."

"Alright, I bet we can still make it to the movie," he said, but they were still a few minutes late, because he drove the speed limit all the way there. Being late annoyed Jordan a lot.

"We've missed all the trailers," she complained.

"I'm sorry," he said, not sounding like he really was. They both sat back in their chairs. Half way through the movie, (Which was okay, but not wonderful) Elijah slipped an arm around Jordan, and a few minutes later, kissed her. She didn't do anything, just sat there with her eyes opened (breaking all the rules of kissing), watching the movie. His attempts foiled, 'Lijah sat back in his chair, folding his arms in his lap.

"You want to get some ice cream?" he asked after the movie, while they were standing in the parking lot.

"Alright," she replied. "Actually . . . I have a lot of work to do, setting up things in the apartment and such. . . ."

"So . . . you just want me to drop you off there?"

"Yeah."


"I'm sorry I haven't been very good company tonight," she said as they pulled up to the apartment. "I'm kinda upset and. . . ." Her voice trailed off. "Goodnight Elijah." She kissed him on the cheek and ran in.


It wasn't the garden, but it sure was the disgusting mountain -- er, Le Mont Dégoûtant. Orli stared at Sarah sitting across the table from him. She had taken one of the rolls from the basket on the table and was viciously tearing off a piece at a time. It had been fifteen minutes since they'd last sighted their waiter, and they were beginning to get rather annoyed -- with the waiter, with the service, with the restaurant, and almost with each other.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Orli asked for the third time since they'd come in.

"Fine," Sarah said curtly. She didn't look up at him.

Finally, the food came -- of course, this being high quality French cuisine, the portions weren't even big enough to feed poor Muffin (yes, even a dead cat would be hungry after this meal).

"Why are you eating that way?" Sarah asked loudly. A couple other diners turned to look at the strange manner in which Orli ate.

"I've always eaten this way."

"You're making a mess. Don't push your food all around with your bread!"

"Oh, pardon me, Madame Etiquette, but this is how we eat everywhere outside of the States."

"Whatever, Euro-boy!"

Orli pursed his lips but said nothing, instead reaching for another roll and ripping it into pieces with perhaps a little too much vigor. He silently wished it were Jordan sitting across the table from him. He would have been glad to see her even if she held him at water-gunpoint.

Sarah noisily cut her very, very small chicken portion, wishing that Orli were Elijah. Elijah making up for the reservations they'd lost last night.

"Why did you kiss me?" Orli asked abruptly. The other diners who'd been interested in Orli's strange table manners (even though they had proven rather unstrange) turned around again to look at the pair.

"I just . . . because I did."

Orli picked up his salad bowl and let it clatter on top of his empty dinner plate. He stabbed a mite bit savagely at the leaves and quickly downed both bites. "Are you done yet?"

"What's your problem?"

"Well, let's see. The girl who I thought was one of my best friends kissed me completely out of the blue, but now she won't tell me why. She's having a fight with her best friend and is moving out of their apartment, but she won't tell me what the fight is about. I try to help her out, but instead she bites my head off and then hops on my case. Other than that, I'm having a fabulous evening. CHECK!" he shouted at the top of his voice for the waiter. The diners nearby visibly jumped. One stood up and approached the table.

"Hallo!" said the woman. "I am Mufti Spinach!"

Orli and Sarah glared at her. Sarah thought she looked vaguely familiar, and Orli thought she would have sounded familiar if she weren't using that obviously fake accent. At the identical looks of anger on their faces, the Mufti-woman backed off as the waiter dropped off their check. Orli looked at the check and tried to keep himself from shouting. Oh well, that's what they made credit cards for.

When they reached the car, Orli didn't even open the door for Sarah. Slightly miffed at that affront, she got in the car and folded her arms.

"Sarah," Orli began after a few minutes of silent driving, "I'm sorry."

"What for?"

"For yelling at you in the middle of The Disgusting Mountain."

"The Disgusting Mountain?"

"Yeah. That's what Le Mont Dégoûtant means."

Sarah's jaw dropped. "You're kidding! Lij thought it meant The Disguised Mountain."

Orli laughed. "Um, not quite." For the rest of the ride home, Sarah was able to pretend that she wasn't upset over knowing the situation with Jordan, Elijah and herself, and Orli was able to pretend he wasn't upset over not knowing the situation with Jordan, Elijah and Sarah.


A few days later, Elijah was sitting around his (new) apartment, watching television. The atmosphere of the living room seemed to be conducive to sitting around and watching soaps.

"This show really is great," he said to Orlando, who was also watching TV. (In his pajamas, like the previous occupants.) They were watching (what else?) "Till Death Do Us Part." This particular episode was very exciting.

"I think she'll go to jail for killing Jason," Orli said. "But I wonder if she'll ever find out that he was really her brother."

"Shhh, it's back on." The story was this: Michelle, Veronica (murderer)'s daughter was seeing Chris, who was really her cousin who is cheating on her with Laura (not related to any of the aforementioned characters.)

"Laura, we have to tell Michelle," said Chris. "I can't keep lying to her." Laura looked away. "What is it?" he asked.

"I . . . I was seeing Jason. Before he . . . died."

"Hello," Sarah called, coming in. "I knocked, but no one ever came." The boys waved at her, still watching the show intently.

"Oh, what happened." Elijah explained it to her quickly.

"So she was the one who was having an affair with Jason!" Sarah sat down to watch it with them. (In between them, because she still wasn't sure who was mad at her and who wasn't.)

"Tim [don't worry about who this character is], I have an admission. I thought I loved you, but I'm really in love with Michael. I just couldn't work up the courage to tell you until now." Sarah, Orli, and Elijah all gave each other discreet looks. Well, Orli and Elijah didn't look at each other, but. . . .

"I'm here to get my stuff," Sarah told them at the commercial. "This is the first chance I've gotten to come by."

"It's still in there," Elijah told her, getting up and walking with her into her old room. "I put everything in a pile. . . ." He helped her carry everything out to her car. As soon as he realized what they were doing, Orlando jumped up and helped too.

"Thanks, guys," Sarah said, shutting the trunk to her car. "Has . . . Jordan been by?"

"She stayed on Saturday afternoon and took everything out," Orli explained. "Well, I'm going to wait for the show to come back on, see you later Sarah." He hugged her. It was a nice, comforting hug.

"Where are you living?" Elijah asked.

"With my parents," Sarah said, not sounding very happy. "It's really, really hard."

"I'm sorry. . . . You have something in your hair," he said, reaching a hand out and pulling a piece of string off of her head. He pulled his hand back quickly. When she looked at him, did he see . . . ?

"Well, I'm off to work," she said. "They've switched my schedule."

"Have fun," he told her seriously.

"Okay . . . no loitering!" They laughed, and he hugged her. Probably just because Orli did, she thought. On her drive to work she wondered if Jordan was going to be there. It was her day to work . . . Then again, they had just switched everyone around, maybe she wouldn't be.

Never mind, she thought, seeing Jordan's car in the parking lot. She went in, and Jordan was behind the register.

"Hello," Sarah said stiffly, stepping behind the counter. Jordan nodded at her.

"I can take you, ma'am," Jordan said super-cheerfully to the woman waiting in line.

"Or I can take you," Sarah said. "You are in front of my register." The woman laid her things in front of Sarah, who flashed Jordan a triumphant look. The next girl in line stepped up to where Jordan was.

"I have a question," she said. "I want to buy something for my friend, but I don't know if she'll like it. Can this perfume be returned?"

"Actually, if it's opened, it can't be returned. But I can give you a free sample to take to her, just to see if she likes it." Sarah looked at the perfume.

"That's way too expensive for a friend," she said. "What if she steals your boyfriend or something?"

"I don't think we need to tell customers that our merchandise is overpriced," Jordan said through her teeth.

"Well, you never know what's going to happen. This customer might want to save her money so that she can get an apartment on her own, not spend it all on someone who will be the number one cause of heartache!" If looks could kill, the one that Sarah directed at Jordan at this moment would probably have broken her leg.

"Don't worry about it," the girl said weakly, "I'll just go somewhere else."

"Look what you did!" Jordan yelled. "You just scared that customer off!"

"Look what you just did! You scared away the rest of them!" Indeed, the rest of the people in line, and browsing around the store were giving them funny looks and walking out.

"Is there a problem here?" asked James, the manager.

"I can't work this schedule," Sarah said. "It's not convenient for me."

"I asked you if the new schedule was alright with you, and you said it was. If there was a problem, you should have told me. In fact, maybe you should call me from home. I think you should leave tonight." Jordan's eyes widened. She hadn't meant to get Sarah fired.

"And I think you should leave, too," he told Jordan. Her eyes narrowed. She stormed out of the store, Sarah not far behind.

"I never want to talk to you again!" Jordan yelled at Sarah.

"Well, that makes two of us. And y'know what, Orli likes me so much more than Elijah likes you."

"Is that so?" Jordan asked, spinning around to face Sarah. They were standing outside the mall entrance. "Is that why we made out on Saturday?" Her voice lowered on the two middle words.

"Oh, I see," said Sarah, "so he made out with you and he was just all over me tonight."

"Wait a second, what happened?" Jordan demanded.

"Why don't you ask him?" Sarah yelled, instantly regretting it. What if she really did?

"I don't need to ask him, because I trust him implicitly!" Jordan replied. Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Wait, this was probably all a show. Without saying a word, Sarah got in the car and dialed her old number on her cell phone. (Wondering why Gabe didn't just call this number and save everyone else the trouble? She didn't give him the number, that's why.)

"Elijah, this is Sarah. Jordan and I had another fight, and I sort of . . . told her that something happened . . . something that didn't."

"Between you and me?" he asked. It was a good thing that he had been the one to answer the phone, because she hadn't checked to make sure it was him before she started talking.

"Yeah," she said. Just then the phone started breaking up, because she was driving through a tunnel. (While she had been talking, she had also been driving.) "Elijah, I can't hear you anymore, I'm breaking up."

He sat in the kitchen, wondering what had just happened. Wondering what Sarah had told Jordan had happened. Wondering if he would have liked it if it had really happened.


"Grab that for me," Orlando yelled across the stage. "We've got extras coming in five minutes." Today, work had been very stressful, and now they had to shoot extras for the dream sequence of this new romantic comedy. In the dream, there were couples everywhere, kissing. All of the girls were wearing clothes from the 80's, and all of the guys just got to look normal. The set was a whole other thing, which he was frantically trying to put together.

"Okay, send the extras in. In pairs, the way they should have been arranged out there by Janine." To his relief, they did come in pairs. Finally, someone else was doing their job.

"Jordan?" he said in disbelief.

"Orli?" she said back.

"What are you doing here?"

"I was cast as an extra in this movie," she explained. "But they don't have a partner for me."

Now, as you might have been able to tell, Orlando Bloom was a smart man, and he did some quick thinking. "Hold this," he said, shoving his clipboard into the arms of an intern.

"Where are you going?" someone asked.

"Make-up," he replied. "This young lady needs a partner. You can call this scene."

He came back a short while later, all made up and ready to go.

"I had no idea you looked so good in these funky clothes," he whispered.

"Thanks!" she said. "By the way, I got fired."

"What?" he asked. They were moved by the director. [Can we have the director say something here like: "Well, Orlando, I thought you preferred working off camera." or something to a similar effect?]

"Sarah and I got into a fight at work," she explained. "So we were both fired."

"That's awful," he said, leaning his head close to hers. "I'm supposed to whisper sweet nothings into your ear."

"Action!" someone called.

"I also got into a fight with Elijah," she whispered.

"Yeah, he told me."

"Everything?" she asked. (She just likes asking that, I guess.)

"Pretty much, I think." He leaned in closer and pretended to kiss her. She turned her head a little and . . . .

"Ow," she said. "My nose!"

"Sorry," he whispered. He kissed her nose. They stood there, pretending to kiss, whispering, for what seemed like endless hours. In fact, Jordan's whole body began to ache.

"I have to sit down," she complained.

"I think we're almost done with this take," he said, trying to hold her up by putting an arm around her waist.

"Thanks," she said, leaning on him. "This is harder than it looks like."

"How does making out with Elijah compare with making out with me?"

"Excuse me?" Jordan asked.

"That's the story I heard," he said.

"From who?" she asked.

"Well, I heard that's what you're telling people."

"Oh. I wouldn't say that I was telling people."

"Alright," he replied.

"Is that what Elijah told you?" she asked. Orli shrugged.

"Cut! Okay, we're done here," called the director.

"I have to finish up some work," was all that he said . "I'll see you later."

"Um, okay," Jordan replied. "Good-bye."


Well a week had gone by, and most of the characters in this story were watching "To Death Do Us Part" on a Friday. (Hilda was at work and couldn't watch it.) It was a very touching reunion scene.

"Michelle," said Veronica, "There's something you need to know. I'm not really your mother."

"Ahhh! Then you've been lying to me all these years? Am I adopted?"

"No. I'm your sister."

"Oh, Veronica!" Michelle cried. The two women ran to one another and hugged.

As Jordan was reaching for a tissue, her telephone rang.

"Jordan? This is Sarah. Can we meet somewhere?" She sounded as if she had been crying.

"Alright," Jordan said, wiping away tears. "Why don't you come over right now?"

"Okay."

About thirty minutes later (giving Sarah enough time to finish the show and drive over), she arrived at Elijah's old apartment. She'd never been there before, and she hoped she had the right number while she waited for someone to open the door. Jordan leaned out into the hallway from the door across the hall from the one Sarah waited at. "Psst! Sarah! Over here!" (She motioned for her to come in.)

"Were you just watching the show?" Sarah asked. At Jordan's nod she said, "Wasn't that the best episode?"

"The best ever," Jordan said, managing to keep the lump in her throat from interfering with her speech.

"Jordan I. . . ." Sarah didn't finish. Instead, she threw her arms around Jordan. "I am so, so sorry!" she declared.

"I'm sorry, too!"

"I know now that no man is worth our friendship." This all came out with a flood of tears. Jordan thought very long and very hard before agreeing with that statement.

"You're so right!" she finally cried out.

"But . . . how are we going to tell them?" Sarah asked. "And, do you think we could move back in to our apartment? I hate living at home again."

"I have no clue how to tell them, and I don't think we can ask them to move for our sakes' again. But you can move in with me -- I can't afford Elijah's rent!"

"Sounds good to me!" Sarah said. Thus, everything was back to normal. Well, okay, so it wasn't, but things were getting there. Little did they know how strange things would soon become.