A/N:: This is it. This is the last of the story! All I ask is that you please please give me a final review of what you think. Please go in depth, I actually honestly truly read my reviews over and use them when I do revisions!!! Alrighty, read, review, enjoy!

Love,
RLB

My meeting was a large order website, one involving lots of Flash (animations), Java (a type of script, not coffee), image design (they wanted several logo options), and of course a bazillion pages to design and write. As soon as I logged out of the chat, I began emailing my designers (the whole plan was reminiscent of Joan Lui, so I wanted no procrastination).

"Taya, sweetie, there's a call for you on line three," Damien sang (literally, in a kinda low but still operatic voice, a bit of a Phantom of the Opera tune).

I pressed the blinking three button and picked up, "UIC, this is Taya."

"Oh hey!" I didn't recognize the voice. It was familiar, but I couldn't place it. I waited, but the female voice didn't speak again.

"Um. Hi?"

"This is Sammie." Sammie, Sammie... Where did I know that from? Ah! The six-foot-tall Viking!

"Yeah, hi, Sammie. How're you?" My voice was tight and controlled.

"Oh, I'm doing alright. As well as work can be." She paused, "Listen, Taya, I wanted to apologize for just showing up at your apartment yesterday. I didn't mean to cause any problems, but Adrien thinks it was probably a bad idea and I know sometimes I can seem imposing or intimidating."

Intimidating! Most certainly! "It's fine. It wasn't just you, it was a combination of things." That was true, I wasn't lying! "It was a little ackward and-- hey!"

"Hey?"

"You're Adrien's girlfriend."

She was silent a minute, "Er, yeah. I told you that. So?"

"So you're a girl. Somehow I've always thought he and Damien were gay." I lowered my voice on the last part for my dear secretary couldn't hear.

She laughed, "Good heavens, no. He's as attracted to women as ever a guy was. Whatever made you think they were gay?"

Gee, I can't figure that one out. I stayed silent hoping I wouldn't sound like an idiot.

"Ah." I could hear the nodding in her voice, "The clothes. Right. Sorry, I've known them so long it doesn't even phase me anymore. Let me ask you something. How many types of lower body wear can you think of for men?"

This was a little strange but, "Pants and shorts. Why?"

"Alright, women?"

"Pants and shorts and miniskirts?"

She named off a few more, "Capris, sarongs, plus dresses."

I shrugged even though she couldn't see, "So?"

"And then there's the expansive collection of upper body wear. So why wear men's clothes when there's so much more style and selection with womens'? You don't have to be gay to like a wider selection."

"Wow," I spun the swivel chair around, "I never thought of it like that."

"Of course not, darling. Now I've got some work to get back to. Sorry for dropping in on you yesterday."

"It's really okay. Sorry for assuming your boyfriend was gay."

"No problem. I'm used to it."

We said our goodbyes and I hung up. Almost immediately, Damien called in, "Tay. You got another call! Line seven."

"I guess I'm popular today," I laughed as I picked up. "UIC, this--" It was a dial tone.

"Damie?" I called.

"Tay" There was a pause as he realized my name can't be diminutivized (Tay-ie just doesn't work). "Yeah, what?"

"Did you say line seven?" There were blinky lights by one, five, eight, and eleven, all of which could be in use by someone else on my floor.

"Sorry! Lysdexic moment. Try eleven!"

I picked up. It was Mike. Like Sammie, he apologized for upsetting me on my birthday, and then hurried to his reason for calling, "Taya, can you meet me for lunch, please? Lindseigh can't make it on Saturday, so we rescheduled for tonight. I'm so worried I'm going to screw this up. Can we meet and go over things one more time?"

I was tempted to laugh at his urgency and anxiety, but he was totally serious. "Alright. That's fine. Where do you want to go?"

"Whatever is easiest for you."

I rattled off the name of a Mexican food place nearby and agreed to meet there around noon-thirty. After hanging up, I asked Damien to hold all call unless it was Jarrid and I set to work on the new project. As scheduled (I love it when things go according to plan), Mike and I met for lunch at noon-thirty.

We reiterated everything from our first meeting. It was kinda freaky in a deja vu sense because I could swear we said some of the same exact things, word for word. It made for easy conversation though because I didn't have to come up with anything new.

"You'll do fine, Mike, really you will." I watched him ritualistically salt the chips and dip the in the salsa.

He nodded. He didn't seem convinced.

"Mike, look at me." He did. "Now repeat after me: I will do fine."

"I will do fine."

"This date will be spiffilly stellar."

"This date will be spiffilly stellar."

"Things will go--my butt!"

"Things--"

I waved my hand to cut him off and pulled out my cell phone, "Hellooo?"

"Hey, Tay." Oh my God. It was Jarrid and his greeting rhymed.

"Oh, hi, Jarrid." I covered the microphone and told Mike, "This will only be a minute."

"So I called your office and Damien said you were out and I was wondering if you wanted to have lunch with me." Aww, he was such a sweetheart.

Unfortunately, he was a late sweetheart. "Actually, Jarrid, I'm having lunch with Mike. I'm at the restaurant right now, we were just finishing up."

Silence.

"So, um, maybe some other time?"

Silence, then, "You know what, Taya? No. Not some other time. Never. I don't know if we were ever technically going out, but if we were, this is it. We're over. I can't do this anymore, Taya. I've fallen in love with you, pretty damn hard, and it kills me that you are always blowing me off for another guy. I can't take it. So goodbye, Taya, I'm sorry it had to come to this."

He hung up. My throat was in a double knot and everything was blurred as tears filled my eyes, "I never asked you to fall in love with me."

I had been pacing as I listened to Jarrid and now I found my way back to the table, "Mike, I have to go."

"Is everything alright?"

I shook my head, "Call and let me know how it goes. Good luck."

I stumbled out to my car, wiping the hot tears off my cheeks. Dialing my office, I told Damien to cancel everything for the day. Once at home, I fell into my bed crying. I went to sleep, a broken fitful sleep, filled with dreams of all the good times I'd had with Jarrid.

When I woke up, I figured I had to call him. I stared at the phone, mentally arguing with myself. Finally, I grabbed it and dialed before I could change my mind.

His machine picked up. After the beep, I took a deep breath, "Please don't stop this message or just delete it. Listen to me. I'm in love with you, or I think I am. Maybe I just like you buying me milkshakes, coming over, smelling great, keeping my spirits up, getting me little gifts, and generally making me feel like I'm a good person. I wasn't cheating on you with Mike or whatever wording you'd like to use. We decided to have a go at the friends thing and it ended up working out okay. It wasn't like a dating relationship, it was, well, more like a teacher-student relationship. He's going on a first date tonight and literally all we talked about was how to make it work. I didn't mean to hurt you." I took another deep breath, trying to hold back tears, "Look. I love you. And I know this isn't going to fix everything and set things back the way they were on those first perfect dates, but I want to try this again. Please. Okay? Give me a call. You have my number, and if you've lost or forgotten it, I'm in the book."

I hung up without saying good-bye. I didn't want this to be good-bye, just a talk to you later.

I fell back to sleep. Waking two hours later, I was curled up in the darkness of my room, my bed back to its old use of being thinkspace. It was nearly dark outside, and that disoriented me. The phone rang. I let it ring and ring until the machine picked up. From the living room, I heard an oh-so-familiar voice start to leave a message.

"Tay? It's me... I guess you out or--"

I grabbed the phone, "Hey."

"Oh, hey. Um. I got your message."

"Yeah?"

There was an awkward pause. I didn't say anything. It was his turn.

"So... you want pizza?" His voice was nervous and unsure.

"Extra cheese. And a--"

"Mango milkshake?" I could hear him smile.

"You got it. So, um, I'll see you in a little bit?"

"Yeah. See you."

I hung the phone up gently, holding on to the sound of his voice...

I woke to the smell of fresh pizza. Funny, I didn't remember falling asleep. Oh well.

I got up, my nightshirt falling to my thighs, "Jarrid?"

"Taya?"

There he was. In my kitchen. God, he's so handsome, so yummy. I faltered a second, seeing him looking at me as if he could see all my thoughts and feelings.

"God, Taya. You hair looks like shite."

I frowned. What kind of hello was that?

He pulled me into a hug and kissed my nose. He smelled like pizza and milkshakes and new car and mint and his yummy brand of cologne. He pushed a wisp of hair out of my face, "You look beautiful."

"So do you. Well, not so much beautiful as... you get my drift."

He smiled and kissed me right smack on my lips. Mmm-mmm-mmm.

"So, Jarrid? Please forgive me for not explaining things to you earlier and for hurting you like that."

"You're forgiven. And in turn, you must forgive me for not being more understanding."

"I suppose I can forgive you... though it really wasn't your fault."

He let go off me and put two slices of pizza on a paper plate and handed it to me. Along with a mango milkshake.

Pizza, a milkshake, and Jarrid... things just couldn't get any better. Unless I got fries with that.....

The End