Chapter 9

Despite Dametra's attempts at socialization her shyness got in the way of meeting new people. Not to mention Mimi wasn't around to help her out. During the last week Mimi had been distant and the very few calls she managed to make to Dametra were quick and vague. Of course Dametra was concerned; it wasn't like Mimi to leave her out in the blue like that. But when Dametra did try to question Mimi, she'd always have to go or simply say that she was more busy than usual.

Disheartened, Dametra put her quest for social acceptance on a hold as she continued on her usual work-based course of action. She began to work out more to keep her mind off of things and talked to Seth more to lessen the occasional loneliness she felt. It was during this seemingly long week Dametra realized how reliant she was on Mimi. How Mimi basically was the center of her social life.

Not knowing what else to do, Dametra began to float about the common areas of the SNCE building; mingling amongst the other hunters. The common areas consisted of two main rooms, both full of couches, loveseats, and other furniture. Also both areas had various means of entertainment, including TVs, game systems, games, books, magazines, and newspapers. It was a good spot to go to if there wasn't anything else to do, because usually someone was there.

Even though the hunters all had the same occupation, the conversations between them were usually dull and worked based. They all had different backgrounds which sometimes made it harder to relate to the other, especially when Dametra knew them very little. She could recognize them by faces and by names; but she knew little else about them. Many of the hunters she had grown close to while growing up on the base had left or been transferred to another base. The very few left were all higher ranking at that point and were rarely seen by the others, usually engulfed within their work. Still she tried her best to engage in the conversations that she overheard, tried to become friends with them. It was always hard to form relationships with the other hunters mostly because of the conflicting schedules they held, there was no set time for a hunt to happen so schedules were always destroyed and reformed constantly. Most hunters had their own cliques formed with their partners and the others that they would frequently work with.

As the days drug on, Dametra found herself more frequently in the common areas, just looking for an excuse to talk to someone and feel involved again. Being locked in her room just wasn't for her anymore, and she wasn't going to reduce herself to waiting on Mimi to call. So Dametra took her social life, or lack thereof, into her own hands and tried hard to do something about it. She fought back her timidity and the red that flourished on her cheeks as she attempted to converse with other hunters she recognized, and tried her best to get to know them better. Within just a couple days she began to feel quite comfortable with a couple of hunters she had reacquainted herself with after meeting in the common room during one of her regular dull days.

It was on one of these days that Dametra entered the common area to find a singular person there, reading a newspaper quietly. She was nearly to the center of the room before she caught sight of his face.

As if by instinct, Tanner looked up from the newspaper and had Dametra locked in his gaze, causing her heart to skip a beat. She hadn't talked to Tanner since their slight misunderstanding about the paperwork. This was a truly awkward situation for her, but she felt rude not saying anything, especially considering she had been caught looking at him like that.

"Oh, hello, Tanner." The words nearly caught in her throat but she managed to push them through.

"Hello," Tanner replied as he turned his attention back to his newspaper.

Dametra barely had time to plan an escape route from the room before Tanner's deep blue eyes were focused on her once more. "I don't see you here often." He placed the paper onto his lap, most likely indicating he expected to hold a conversation with her.

"Yeah, I just started hanging out more in here lately." She made her reply simple and very vague. Tanner was the last person she expected to find here as well.

"I assumed you usually hang out with your buddies, Seth and Mimi."

"Usually I do, but I have a life too." It was a lie. She had no life and she knew it. The small amount she did have was centered on work, Seth, and Mimi. But she wasn't going to openly admit that to anyone let alone Tanner.

"I see that. So you spend it in here?"

Automatically Dametra took the question negatively. Her first impulse was to throw thoroughbred teenage attitude towards him, but she quickly extinguished the idea. She didn't want to have her name permanently engraved on his hit list; especially since she seemed to be on his good side at the moment despite their past differences.

"Well, I come here often enough to know that you're not usually hovering around." It was the safest reply she could come up with, considering her temper was saying much worse things.

"I only stop by for the paper." He didn't seem to notice the vague hostility in her voice. Either that or he simply ignored it.

"I see. Makes sense I suppose."

She made another attempt to leave, only to be once again interrupted by Tanner's smooth voice. "But you are rather close to Seth and Mimi, aren't you? I was under the impression that you all were the best of friends."

"Not so much. We're close, but not that close." Dametra had no doubt that they were her best friends, but she knew better than to think that she was theirs. Seth and Mimi had far more friends than Dametra could compete with, and she accepted that fully and always had.

"You fooled me. It seems like every other mission Mimi is excitedly prancing her way back to her place to have you over for a sleepover or something like that."

"Honestly, Tanner, it's none of your business who my friends are and how close I am to them." The words came out before she could stop them. There were worst things she could have said but just that sentence alone had potential to set off the temper she had seen in him before. But to her surprise and downright joy, he showed no reaction to the hint of aggression in her statement.

"I see. Excuse my concern then."

"Concern? What is there to be concerned about?" She was almost struck speechless, but the fact that he was questioning her life and friends kept her talking.

"Well, I was concerned for you considering that it seems that your only two close friends are Seth and Mimi. My concern is for what would happen to you if one or both of them left you out of the loop. And honestly I think that's what's happening now." Tanner's words hit it on the nail.

"Your concern is wasted. Seth, Mimi, and I are fine and close as ever. Not to mention I have more friends that just them—"

"But they are indeed your closest friends." Tanner interrupted. "And I'm just gonna apologize now before you get upset. It was just a suspicion, nothing to get offended over, especially since I was just trying to look out for you."

"Once again, I appreciate your concern but it is wasted on me." It was another lie, but as far as she could tell he believed her. Then again his face was blank, with no emotion, making it hard to know what he did and didn't believe.

The young man opened his mouth again, obviously trying to explain himself more but Dametra wouldn't hear any of it. "Goodbye, Tanner!" She nearly announced as she briskly walked out the doorway.

She heard his faint words from the room as she continued down the hall, "Dametra, don't be like that."

-

Dametra wasted no time in going back to her room. The door behind her had barely shut before she retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and began to scan through the contacts.

The phone on the other end had only ringed three times before it was answered. "Hello, darling!" Mimi's voice sang through the receiver. "What's up?"

"Hey, I just wanted to know if you were doing anything tonight. It's been awhile since we talked and I wanted to catch up. Surely there's something going on that you want to tell me about." Dametra said quickly so that Mimi wouldn't have a chance to answer until she was finished.

"Oh, I'd love to see you but actually I have a date tonight." Mimi replied, a trace of disappointment in her voice.

"I understand." Dametra hide her emotions well over the phone, if they were in person however it would have been nearly impossible so hide the sadness. "Do you have time to at least talk about the guy to me? This is rather sudden. You usually tell me all about the guys you see."

"Of course! You remember that guy from the mall?" Mimi replied with delight.

"Ah, you meet lots of guys at the mall." Dametra laughed. "Be more specific."

"You know! Greg! I met him when I went with you and Seth last. He had that emo looking friend that liked you."

"Pierce?" Dametra recalled his name without much thought at all. He had crossed her mind numerous times since their original meeting, although she wouldn't admit it to Mimi.

"Yes! That one!" Mimi nearly bellowed. "Well, I gave Greg a call that night, and since then him and I have been going out pretty regularly. Sorry I didn't tell you sooner! It just happened so fast, you see Greg is absolutely charming!"

"Oh, I see." Dametra was indeed used to Mimi getting carried away when she found a new romance. It was just unusual considering that Mimi would at least give Dametra a detailed description of a guy before she went out with him. After the gossiping about him is when Mimi would usually take off and not call for a few days afterwards. Now that Dametra knew Mimi's lack in contact was because of dating, she realized that her concern was unnecessary. "So where are you two going?"

"Just to see a movie," Mimi was about to go on to describe what movie when an idea hit her. "Why don't you come with us? It will be fun!"

Dametra automatically rejected the idea. "I couldn't. I'd be the third wheel and that would be awkward."

"I can fix that! I'll just ask Greg to invite Pierce too!" She was growing more excited by the second, and it was clear through her tone of voice. "You'd have to come then! Pierce would love to see you again!"

"No, I couldn't." Dametra continued to deny. "I'd just be a bother."

"I mean it though. Pierce would really like to see you again. According to Greg, Pierce has asked about you a couple times since your last encounter."

Mimi had a way of making everything sound scandalous. Dametra had to keep herself from rolling her eyes as she listened to the overly dramatic attempts to get her to the theatre with them all.

"You really think he wants to see me again?" Dametra found it hard to believe that someone as attractive as Pierce would even think of her again let alone want to see her again.

"Yes! That's what I've been saying for the past five minutes!" Mimi insisted once again.

"Well, when are you planning on leaving for the theatre?"

"In about two hours, Greg's picking me up at my place. Please join us! I know Pierce will say yes!"

"Okay, I will. But this isn't a double date! I'm just going because you asked me to. Make sure Pierce knows that because I don't want him expecting anything."

"Sure, sure. That's not a problem, my dear!" Mimi was once again singing. "I'm gonna call Greg now and tell him to get Pierce too! Do you want me to have them pick you up too?"

"No, I'll just drive down to your apartment and they can pick us both up there." Dametra really didn't want to have to explain the large mansion-looking-building to the teenage boys, which would be way too much of a hassle. "I'll probably get to your place in about an hour and a half at the most."

"Okay, I'll leave the door unlocked for you. I'll see you soon, doll!"

"Yeah, see you soon too. Bye."

Dametra ended the call and let out a heavy sigh. "Please don't let this be a huge mistake." She begged aloud. "I already have enough problems with regular guys let alone the pretty ones!"

With that, she began to ready herself for what she expected to be a disaster of a night.