I woke up, groggy and tired as usual. I could not stop thinking about the night before, after I'd asked about Miranda.

"You really want to know?" He asked. I had nodded furiously, "Well then, you will have to go on a date with me." I just looked at him.

"Are you kidding?" I mean I was happy, but wasn't this considered blackmail or something. It didn't seem legal.

"Elizabeth," Here it comes, "Would I ever kid about something like this?"

"Probably." Then he laughed, and drove me home.

It had kept me up at night, thinking about it, one of the reasons I was tired. I certainly hadn't gotten my beauty sleep. Though, I am not sure what the difference between beauty sleep and regular sleep is. I mean, no matter what you do you are going to wake up butt ugly, with drool on the side of your face and your hair sticking up. You can't win, even if the sleep is beautiful. Which it wasn't, curtsy of Ryan liking to screw with me. Sometimes I wonder why I put up with him, but then I remember; It's Ryan.

"DAVID! Can't you do anything right!? God, I am surprised your roommates lasted as long as they did with you! It's been what a week now, and you have already caused mass confusion, and uncomfortableness," I had been so distracted by this whole Miranda thing, that I wasn't paying much attention when I went to use the bathroom. Of course the one time I don't check my idiot brother leaves the seat up. Awesome. I was so mad, all I could see was David. I walked closer to him. He looked frightened. His fear gave me a warm fuzzy coating on the inside of my stomach, "I fell into the depths of the toilet because you didn't put the seat up! It's not that hard, really. And another thing-" Then I looked around me. My rage had lessened exposing my peripheral vision. The Davis's were all standing in a the entry way. Mom and dad were greeting them, and David was about to, before I yelled at him. Ryan was the tallest of the Davis's, and stood behind his vegan mother and Daisy. He had the biggest stupidest grin on his face and I knew it was at my expense. My face turned as red as a stop sign, and I was sure that didn't help my frizzy hair, and shocked expression. Beauty sleep my ass.

"Hi Lizzy!!!!" Daisy called, waving frantically.

"Uh yeah, Good morning. I am..uh.. gonna go change now. I will uh...be down in a sec." And with that, I speed walked up the stairs as fast as I could. I am sure it looked more ridiculous than if I had just ran, but once I chose a pace, I stick with it. I am not fickle when it comes to walking, no sir. Cruise control turns on in my brain. So I basically quickly shuffled up the stairs and back to my room. I still had to shower. It would have been freakin' fantastic if my parents had just told me that they were inviting the Davis's for breakfast. I blame them. Ha. Screw self reliance I want to blame someone else. There is no denying it boosts the self esteem.

Though I had said that I would be back in a second, I actually meant a little less than forty five minutes. What! I had to shower, brush my teeth, and find a good outfit (jean shorts and a nicely fitting tank top, innovative, I know). And when I came downstairs they had already started eating! Ryan had waited though, because he was a good person, unlike the rest of those assholes I call my family. I didn't mind that his parents and Daisy had started eating though, because I mean they were guests, and I am guessing mom and dad gave them the O.K on the topic. But, the most sinister thing of all is that there was only one piece of bacon left. And it was burnt.

"Look, Honey, we saved you a piece!" Great, like a burnt piece of bacon would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I gnawed on my bacon, obviously disgruntled by my family's rudeness. And the God damn thing wasn't even hot! They also saved me cold scrambled eggs (oh boy) and a pumpernickle bagel, which Ryan's mom had been eating, due to the whole vegan thing. So instead of just taking this like a lady and sitting down, apologizing for my tardiness, I made a big ordeal over me getting my cereal. Being obnoxious to people who deserve it is fun. I heard my mother start speaking to Ryan's mom. Perfect.

"Hey, mom? Do we have any cereal left, or did you guys eat that too. Maybe I should just lick the crumbs off the bottom of the toaster oven, at least I would be getting some nutrition, and if its charred all the better; it'll be just like my bacon!" My mother rolled her eyes and went to start talking again, but I cut her off. Oh how sweet it felt, "Oh, Ryan, I see you waited for me, are you hungry? I will share my toaster crumbs with you if you would like."

"Oh, Elizabeth, that would be splendid. Let me give you a hand," He said in a fake snobby accent. I smiled, as he walked over into the kitchen area to help me. He spoke normally again, "Why don't we just go out for breakfast, at an IHOP or something?"

"I don't know, our parents might get mad."

"What do they care? You just got here anyway." I still didn't look sold, "I'll tell you about Miranda." He smirked. Ass. He just HAD to dangle that in front of my face. I felt like a cat chasing a laser; even after I'd caught it I would never be satisfied.

"Fine, I'll go with you to stupid IHOP so you can tell me about stupid Miranda." I stuck my tongue out at him.

"I find that offensive."

"I find you offensive."

"Touche." We then asked to 'please be excused from brunch and go to IHOP'. Ryan was right, our parents didn't care. Where's the maternal love in that? So Ryan drove us to IHOP, which I discovered stood for International House Of Pancakes. I think it is a very impressive title. I mean if someone told me that they'd just eaten breakfast at the international house of pancakes, I know I would be blown away and ask where that was and how to get a meal there.

There weren't a lot of people at IHOP, and we were seated right as we walked in. I was disappointed in the menu, only one of the headings actually had the word pancake in it. The international house of pancakes sold things other than pancakes. Why bother going then. The waitress came over to get our orders. She was on the older side, with really saggy earlobes. She had big earrings and it seemed as though her ear lobe piercing was inches long. She reminded me of one of my elementary school lunch ladies.

"Hi," I said in a very friendly way, she just looked at me, "um, I would like the uh blueberry pancakes." She scribbled on her notepad.

"And you?" Her voice was raspy and she pointed to Ryan. She was a prime example for why kids shouldn't smoke.

"Ah yes, I would like the french toast please."

"French toast!? What's wrong with you!?" I interfered. I was shocked and outraged. The waitress lady had the same dull expression on her face.

"What! Do you have a problem with french toast, Liz?" he inquired.

"Only when you are in the international house of pancakes." They shouldn't even sell that other junk.

"But I don't like their pancakes." Sigh, men.

"But its a Pancake house!"

"Look, are you getting the french toast or not! I don't have all day here, people." Crotchety old woman, you had to wonder why she chose a job where she had to work with people, of all things.

"Yes, I am getting the french toast, thank you." The lady walked away shaking her head.

"Loser. French toast in a pancake house. You, sir, sicken me."

"Fine, I won't tell you about Miranda." I shut up.

"So I see you've resorted to blackmail. That's low Ryan."

"Hey, worked didn't it." He smirked. It was really cute, he has nice lips.

"Fine, say what you gotta say." I sighed, and tried to pretend I was uninterested, even though I was the one to ask him in the first place.

"Hey, you are the one who asked me in the first place." Damn he remembered! I suppose I should have expected that. I mean it was only yesterday, "Well, since you did ask, I will tell you. She is my cousin. We're best buds." What? That's it? Not a we-were-so-in-love-but-then-I-had-to-move story. No it was a we're-cousins-and-great-buds story. That's not even a story! My mouth must have been dragging on the unclean IHOP floor. All those late worrying nights, wasted hours of thoughts and they are just cousins.

"Co-cousins!?" I managed to stutter.

"Yep. Why were you expecting, long time girlfriend, weekend mistress or something else crazy?" Possibly I thought, "Indulge me, if I had said girlfriend, what would you have done." Bastard had me cornered and knew it. If he wasn't so pretty I'd have gotten violent.

"Well, I...I would have been really upset because you would have," A girlfriend, and that girlfriend wouldn't be me, "not told me about a very important person in your life, and I would like to think that we are open with each other." Ha! Look at that, I came up with something that wasn't stupid all by myself.

"Likely story."

"I would like to believe so" I stuck my tongue out at him, he chuckled and then took a sip of his lemonade. It was so deluded by ice cubes you could barely tell it was lemonade.

"So where did you find out about Miranda anyway? Break into my house and sneak around? I knew I should have closed my windows." He winked at me, but it didn't make me feel any better. And besides I had every right to be in his room! The first time I had gone in, he showed me the gross mealworms, the second time I had brought my toaster tongs, and the third he put me in there. Even so I still felt dirty.

"Well I did take care of your stupid gecko who lives in your stupid room, remember?" I crossed my arms on the table. My elbow landed in something sticky and gross. I made a face, and then attempted to clean it off with a paper napkin I had dunked in my water glass. Apparently, crotchety old lady couldn't clean well either. Why was she even here?

"Wow is everything stupid today? First IHOP, then Miranda, then my gecko, then my room. I think these attacks are getting more and more personal as we go along!" The crotchety old lady came over unannounced and slammed our meals in front of us. The pancakes were good, as expected from the title, and though Ryan offered me some of his french toast I refused to let it pass my lips. I was loyal to the pancake house. Ryan paid, which was great considering I was broke. What a good guy. He then drove me home, where my entire family was watching the Simpsons.

"Well, look who's back! Hey honey, how was IHOP?" Asked mom. She was the only one who had turned to look at me. David and dad mumbled their hellos, their eyes still fixated on the television.

"It was good, better than the bacon you saved for me." I smiled to let her know I was joking, though I really wasn't. It was more of a self esteem booster really.

"Oh sorry about that darling!! We invited them early that morning, and didn't want to wake you. It was another get-to-know-you event, and I figured you already knew them well enough anyway. Especially Ryan." She smiled at me. Not just a regular smile though, one of those smiles. Like a I-know-your-secret-smile.

"I can't believe he waited for you. I never would've." David said, taking a sip of beer. Dad was drinking one too.

"Yes, we know David. And we also know that this is the same reason why you have not yet gotten a girlfriend, and why you were kicked out of your apartment." He was quiet for a second.

"That's none of your business." He replied.

"It is too! You live here, in the same place I do. And it's not exactly a picnic." He rolled his eyes and retreated to his man cave. My mother sighed.

"Can't we have just ONE moment of peace for once. For gods sake Liz, cut him a little slack! Everything was fine until you showed up!" That was a slap in the face. Until you showed up, the phrase just kept repeating and repeating itself in my head. I swallowed hard, and for some reason felt like crying. It was like I had been blamed for my families problems. Not the fact that she and my dad were never home. Not that David was a pig, no that I bothered showing my face. It may have seemed like an innocent enough comment but it weighed on my shoulders like heavy boulders on either side of my body.

"Until I showed up.." I muttered to myself, "Well if that's the case I'll see you guys later. Enjoy your time without me. Bye bye." And I walked out the door. I stood on the stoop for a second, a bit stunned by what had happened and by how I had reacted. I started to cry, not just because of what my mother had said, but because that was the one time I had come home with family together. It had been just what I wanted and I managed to screw it up. I needed to call Ellen but my phone was inside, and before I knew it I was at Ryan's doorstep ringing the doorbell. I furiously whipped my tears away, but knew my face and eyes were still red. Sure enough, Ryan answered the door. He was always there, like a safe-haven that would protect me through anything.

"Liz? Elizabeth, are you O.K?" Ryan asked, obviously concerned.

"Yeah," I lied," Yes, I'm fine. I just need to borrow your phone." He dug it out of his deep pocket and handed it to me. I dialed Ellen up.

"Hello?" She said. I heard another voice ask 'who is it', "I think it's Ryan..." She giggled, "Tom! Stop that! I am on the phone." But she sounded giddy.

"Uh, hey, its Liz. Were you guys um... you know..." I asked awkwardly, my face filling with blood from embarrassment.

"Liz! You know I wouldn't have picked up the phone if that was the case."

"You check the expiration date of condoms while you..almost were. Anything can happen."

"Oh shut up. Anyway, what did you want?" She asked, impatiently.

"Er, well, I wanted to know if I could come over but...."

"Well I guess if you HAVE to. But get your own ride." Then she hung up. Some friend.

"Ryan," I looked up at my ride, and flashed my eyelashes, "Could you, maybe, drive me to Ellen's?"

"Only if I can hang out for a bit with you guys." He smiled.

"Oh great, now we can have a foursome."


"Erm, nothing. Nothing at all." And with that, I climbed into his car, running away from my problems, as I seem to do every time. Denial and hiding seemed to be my specialty, but little did I know, the worst was yet to come.

Authors Note: This is a very Ryan heavy chapter, I must say. I was thinking this as I wrote. But oh well. I like writing with him, he is a cool kid. It's funny, I was rereading one of the chapters and Ryan tells Liz "Sweet Dreams" And I was like thats funny my boyfriend always tells me that! And it was before I had met him that I wrote the chapter. So that was fun. Anyway, I have almost 15000 hits. Impressed? I know I am :). Oh yeah I almost forgot. When I had planned this chapter I hadn't incorporated IHOP. In fact, I hadn't even incorporated The Miranda Mystery til later. Oh well. I like it anyway :) I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Please Review! Love you guys

-Catrina Moore