Somewhere More Familiar

Chapter One

Mystery Woman

by: andee

Disclaimer: This story is fictional. Any resemblance to a real life situation is unintentional. In addition, any trademarks or brand names are property of their respectful owners and I am neither affiliated with them nor renumerated for their use.

"My life has officially just begun," Noah Andrews sang out at the top of his lungs, tossing his briefcase onto the couch in his small living room and running over to his roommate, Penelope McNeil, who was standing on a kitchen chair painting tiny fruits on the wall.

She nodded. "Uh huh. So, do you think these bananas are too yellow?" She asked, tilting her head to the right and chewing on her black painted fingernail.

"How can you even talk about bananas right now, P? I just met the love of my life!" Noah picked her up by her waist and pulled her from the chair, twirling her around in his arms. She smeared yellow paint from her brush onto his suit jacket.

Penelope rolled her eyes. "Sorry Gucci, I tagged you." Noah set her down, glanced down at his arm, and shrugged.

"Are you hard of hearing today? I just told you the biggest news of my life and all you can think about is your creepy Willy Wonka fantasy kitchen. What's with the baby fruit anyway?"

She looked at him crossly. "First of all, it's not creepy and it's not Willy Wonka. It's art and I like it. And what's wrong with baby fruit? I think it's cute." She smiled, secretly pleased that she had ignored Noah's "big news" up until this point. She knew it was inevitable for her to draw it out much longer. Still, it wasn't a rare occurrence for Noah to come home babbling about his dream girl. She was sure this time was no different. He'd get the girl and in the end, decide there was something wrong with her and ditch her at the first possible opportunity.

"Why are you ignoring me, P?" Noah asked, getting more and more aggravated by the second.

She grinned and shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe I know you too well to be excited, Noah."

Penelope and Noah had been friends since the beginning of time. Well. Since the beginning of their time. They were born three days apart at the same hospital and their mothers had met at a doctor's appointment two months later. After they became friends, Noah and Penelope followed suit. It was like that from then on, neither one of them too far from the other. Even as they grew up, they remained the best of friends. When Penelope's mom died when she was 19, Noah brought her to live at his newly purchased apartment and she hadn't left since.

Noah was a big time advertising executive at a firm downtown. Penelope was...well, Penelope was a little of everything. Never one to settle on one thing for too long, she'd jumped around from career to career and was currently a clown at children's birthday parties on the weekends. They were complete opposites in a million ways, but the same in every way that mattered. She assumed that was why their friendship had always gone so smoothly.

Of course, they'd had their fair share of fights and minor arguments. Still, they couldn't stay mad at each other for long. Now, Noah was smiling at her again, despite his annoyance.

"Please, Penny. You have to believe me. This story...this is a story of epic proportions. I mean, it's that good. She has to be the one. I just know she is," he said breathlessly, waving his arms in the air for emphasis. "I wouldn't say this about just anyone, you know!" He threw his hands up and breathed heavily.

"Right. You mean you wouldn't say this about Tina, Jessica, Marlene, Laurie, Rebecca..."

"Alright, fine." He cut her off in the middle of her list. "Sometimes I guess I get a little carried away. But P, I swear to you! She is the real deal!" He grabbed her arm. "The real deal. The one."

Penelope grinned. "Okay, lover boy. Does she know this yet?"

Noah's shoulders slumped. "Well that's the problem. I don't...Actually I don't even know her name."

It was all she could do to keep from bursting out in laughter. She grumbled something under her breath about him being an idiot. "So, you're telling me that today you met a fantastic woman of epic proportions and you're convinced she's the one, but you didn't catch her name."

He nodded. "And well...I didn't exactly meet her. I mean, I saw her at Juliana's this afternoon on my lunch break and...P, she was absolutely beautiful. Breathtaking. And she ordered her sandwich with no pickles and no mayo. That's gotta be a sign right there. I haven't been able to think about anything else. I had this huge meeting and I totally blew it off so I could daydream about her. I bet her name is something...exotic. Like Angela. Or something."

Penelope choked on her sip of Diet Coke. "Wait. Wait just a minute, Noah Ray Andrews. You are telling me that you saw, not met, this beautiful girl at a sub shop today...and she ordered the same sandwich as you so that means you're her soul mate? And you actually think the name Angela is exotic? God, I swear, you come from another planet."

Noah shrugged and squinted his eyes defensively. "At least I have a love interest, Miss I'm Going to Lock Myself in the Apartment All Day and Paint Tiny Fruits on the Wall. God forbid you meet someone that's actually normal."

She laughed and rested her hand on his shoulder. "We can't all be Casanova, I guess." She tightened her lips to keep from laughing in his face and nodded. "Then again, maybe I could learn some moves from you. Seeing as how you saw this perfect woman today and didn't even manage to get her to tell you her name."

Noah sat down. "Hey! There was a really long line! It was crowded! I could barely breathe let alone ask her what her name was. You know how I get in confined spaces," he said.

"I'm not judging you, Noah. I'm just saying..." She stifled a laugh.

"Just saying what? That I'm an idiot? I don't know shit about women? What? What are you saying?" He asked, standing up to face her.

Penelope smiled. "Okay, Don Juan. Why don't you chill. I didn't say you didn't know shit about women. I just said that...well you'd think you could have at least gotten her name."

Noah punched her in the arm lightly. "Whatever. You'll see. I'll see her again. I bet she'll be at Juliana's tomorrow. Just wait. I'll get her name. And I guarantee you I'll get her right along with it."

Penelope tightened her lips and nodded. "Alrighty then. It's a bet."

Noah slinked into Juliana's at the same time he did the day before. The line was shorter today, which he was thankful for, but Mystery Woman was nowhere to be found. Noah felt his stomach drop to his knees and he sighed loudly. He felt like an idiot for not talking to her yesterday. Something had stopped him from saying hello to her, even as she sat not five feet away from him while he stood in line. All he could do was stare at her.

He groaned as he remembered her pretty blond hair and the way the layers of it softly framed her face. He had caught her eyes for a brief moment, just long enough to see they were green, almost like Penelope's, but lighter. The gauzy material of her yellow top had made him want to reach out and grab her to him. He sat down at one of the tables and closed his eyes. He was so mad at himself for being such a loser.

Since he'd lost his appetite, he decided to spend his lunch break waiting to see if she would show up. He sat quietly at his table, watching each woman as she came in the door. None of them were her. He ordered an iced tea and sipped it thoughtfully, still staring at the door. As 1:30 approached and his time to leave grew closer, he felt himself clinging to the hope that she was around the corner at Macy's, buying shoes, and would walk through the door at any moment.

She didn't.

He took the last drink of his tea and slammed the glass on the table. He looked around sheepishly afterwards, embarrassed at himself for acting out. He should have known she wouldn't show up there two days in a row.

He stood and walked towards the door, taking one last look to be sure he hadn't missed her. With a deep breath, he reached up to push the door open while still looking behind him. When the door got caught and wouldn't push open anymore, he looked at it.

To his horror, there stood Mystery Woman, her mouth wide open and coffee spilled down the front of her off-white silk blouse. He was still pushing the door like an idiot, and it kept smashing into her as he did so.

"Hey, could you stop for a second?" She asked irritatedly, tossing her soaking wet newspaper into the trash can beside her. "What are you, incapable of opening a door?"

She stood there as he tried to speak to her. "I uh..."

"You what? You lost all traces of your common sense and your stupidity took over? Don't you usually look where you're going?"

He shook his head. "I...I'm really sorry. I wasn't paying attention and I...I mean...Let me help you. Do you need some napkins? Can I get you another coffee? Maybe another uh...shirt?" He cringed. This was not going well. "I can't believe this," he muttered under his breath. This was definitely not going the way he wanted. And he definitely thought she would be nicer.

Her face softened and she looked down at her feet. "Look, I'm sorry for yelling at you. I know you didn't do it on purpose. I've just had the shittiest day you can imagine and it keeps getting better," she said, gesturing to the coffee stains on her shirt.

He blushed. "I'm really sorry about that. Please, let me at least get you another coffee. You look like you need it."

She smiled and nodded. "That would be nice. You know, I think I saw you in here yesterday. You ordered the same sandwich I did."

Noah looked up at her, eyes wide. "You remember that?"

She laughed. "I know, it's kind of creepy. I guess I just have a thing for recognizing faces. Don't flip out or anything."

He shook his head and looked into her eyes. "I can't believe it," he said.

"What?" She looked at him curiously.

"Well it's just that ever since I saw you yesterday, I've been thinking about what I would say to you if I ever got the chance to see you again. And obviously it's not going as planned." He smiled and looked down at his feet. "I guess I just can't believe my luck is all."

She smiled at him and her cheeks flushed. "That's really sweet, you know," she said, turning to look down the street. "How about we go for that coffee?"

Penelope was laying on the couch, cutting pictures of shirtless men out of the Cosmo spread out on the table in front of her. She'd just started clipping a particularly delicious picture of Brad Pitt from one of the pages when a deliriously happy looking Noah walked through the door.

"It happened!!" He screamed, throwing his jacket across the room and jumping onto the couch next to Penny. She cringed as she chopped Brad's tiny ear from his head.

"What happened? And could you please be a little less rambunctious? I'm creating meticulous art, here." She pointed to the collage of half-naked men on the butcher paper on the floor next to the coffee table.

Noah shook his head. "Don't you have anything better to do with your time then create beefcake wallpaper?" He asked, shrugging his shoulders in disbelief. "And I talked to her. I talked to Abbie."

"So that's Miss Mysterious' name, huh? Abbie? Not very exotic, is it?"

Noah shrugged. "Abbie Wells. She's so amazing, Penny. She's like...she's my dream girl. I mean it this time. I really do. We spent the whole day together. I didn't even go back to work! We sat at the coffee shop all afternoon, just talking. She's amazing. She's...I'm in love." He grinned goofily and made a heart symbol with his fingers over his chest. Penelope rolled her eyes.

"Congratulations," she said, secretly hoping Abbie would turn out to be like all the others. It wasn't that she didn't want Noah to be happy. She just...well frankly, she needed somewhere to live. The idea of another woman coming into Noah's life pretty much shattered that idea. What girl would be happy with another woman living with their boyfriend? And how in the world would a weekend clown girl make enough money to afford her own apartment in this city?

Noah nodded. "There's little thing," he said, looking at Penelope with the biggest puppy dog eyes she had ever seen.

Penelope groaned. She knew she wasn't going to like this. "What, Noah? What is it?"

"Well, P..." he said, "How do you feel about California?"

Author's Note: Thanks for reading! I haven't written much in a few years, so I figured I would start with this and see where it takes me. The title comes from a Sister Hazel song by the same name. It's a good song, you should check it out. Anyways, I'm the worst updater in the world, but stay tuned for a new chapter soon if it struck your fancy. :-) I'd appreciate any feedback/constructive criticism/comments from you guys! I'd love to meet some other authors on this site and read your stuff. -Andee