ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF DATING

Notes: Special thank you for this chapter's beta-readers Serafina Claremond and Mitangi!

Chapter 1 -– Prologue

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"I'm sorry. I feel like a jerk telling you this after I kissed you. I mean I really liked kissing you, but I'm just not looking for a relationship right now."

Somehow the fact that we started talking to each other through a dating site and that his profile was listed that he was looking for a long-term relationship was irrelevant, I suppose. A mere two hours ago, he had been inviting me over to his house to watch movies with promises of cuddling under the covers, but that was beside the point now as well. Staring at the words on the small screen of my cell phone wasn't helping the situation become any clearer. What else was a girl to do at this point?

"Okay. I understand."

It was the only dignified answer I could text him back with. Though one could argue that there was nothing dignified about being dumped over a text message, it gave my mind some peace. But having the conviction that I'm okay with what he's saying and that I actually understand doesn't exactly reach my heart. Instead the tears rolling down my face are coming down like waterfalls and I already have the urge to divulge in a gallon of Ben & Jerry's. And this is with a guy that I actually had to push myself into liking in the first place.

I contemplated my next move. In this game, every syllable of every word could count against you at a moment's notice. "Can we still be friends?" I thought it was the civilized – modern woman – idealist reasoning that made me text him that question. Or maybe I was being desperate and clinging on to the hope that if we were friends it gave the possibility of something more. No one could really blame me. From the time we woke up until the time we went to bed, both of us texted the other endlessly for the past two weeks. Was it such a bad thing that I expected (wanted) a friendship even if we had no chemistry? I texted him the proposition about two hours ago and I'm still waiting for his response.

Sickening.

The cell phone hadn't left my sight for longer than a second since I proposed thea friendship to him. Never in our two weeks of text messaging had he taken longer than five minutes to reply back to me. And even when I accidentally fell asleep and didn't write anything back, he was the one who left countless amounts of text messages for me to read upon my awakening. Some girls would find that behavior to be obsessive and slightly disturbing. While I did find him weird in the beginning, after a while of his love drenched text messages, I began to feel somewhat flattered.

Oh holy mother of jelly beans and nacho cheese!

There has to be something wrong with me.

Of course there were the obvious things. I'm fully aware that I have never been the prettiest flower in the bunch. I know my faulty areas: my tummy rolls, my pig-in-a-blanket thighs, and my all black clothing demeanor. Yes, looking at me in a picture and having me in person were very opposite things. Although I labeled myself as 'a few pounds extra', men dismissed the idea based on the photograph I had for display. Maybe the fact that I'm showing more-than an eye full of cleavage in those pictures has something to do with it. A girl is supposed to show-off her best assets, right? But in that retrospect, was I nothing more than a set of real good-looking breasts to these men? No. I can't fully believe that. It has to be more than the physical aspect of myself that is causing these men to make a run for it. The photo provides the hook and it's my personality that has to reel these men in. I have clearly hit a snag. Talk about wasted weeks on texting away from noon to midnight and sending each other photos about five times a day. And it was all for what? Nothing.

Never did I lie or bend the truth; I made it a point to be myself from the get-go. My interests and hobbies vary in a wide enough range that it isn't possible to not have things in common. I have my own car, finished school, never been married, have no kids and have a great job. What am I missing? Isn't the common complain men have about women is that they'reir too dependent? Yet here I am, a decent looking young girl, completely independent and free from drama of being dumped left to right by dozens of guys.

Was someone at the tender age of twenty not supposed to be graduated from college and have a nice car and have a good job? Was this somehow intimating for males of the same age to deal with?

Probably.

Or am I just making excuses: trying to find logical reasons for why a man would just up and blow a woman off without so much as an explanation. Questioning this relentlessly isn't going to do me any favors. The reality dictates that sometimes there are no reasons and things just are. Having this happen for the third time in one month though, it kind-of burns a girl's self-esteem. Especially if said girl is me and lacks high self-esteem to begin with.

I'm not naïve. I know there is the possibility that all these men want is a good roll in the sack, as my Yaya would say.

So that was that then. He wasn't texting me back and though I wasn't holding my breath that he would, the hope still lingered every time I heard my phone go off. As sad and pathetic as I knew it was, I would give him a day or two for a chance to text me before I would admit defeat completely.

Having a clear consensus, however, didn't stop me from brawling like a wounded child. And it sucked. It burned. Kind of in the way my heart did after eating too much spicy food. But I was also numb too. In the same sort of way I felt numb when I got brain freeze from slurping down a slushy too fast. I let my limbs hang from the edges of the bed while I squished the side of my face against the old mattress. And that was how my mother found me when she walked into my room unannounced for the trillionth time. It was no wonder why she screeched like a banshee. The outburst sprang me into a sitting position just in time for her to take a sit on the bed next to me.

"What happened? Why are you crying?" My mother, Ophelia Tia Rassos, pulled me into her arms and stroked my back as she let me cry for a minute. But the silent minute was too much for her to stand and her mind started running off with her - as it often does – and she began to imagine the worst of the worst scenarios. The arms that once encircled me in a warm embrace now grabbed a hold of my shoulders and shook me. As if that was going to help make matters any better. "Did something happen at work? Did you get into a fight with Margaret or Leslie? Did something happen to the car? Say something, Cassandra!"

"Mother, I'm fine! Absolutely and perfectly fine!" She started mumbling a few words in Greek that I did not understand. "I said I'm fine mom, calm down."

"If you were fine then you wouldn't be sitting here crying your eyes out. Something must have happened. Now if you don't trust your mother enough to let her in on your life…well then that's something else entirely."

Ah, the guilt trip. The most powerful weapon a mother had in their hindsight and one they practiced use of way too often. It was the dirtiest trick moms had, more so because it happened to work every single time. I have to learn how to lock my door from now on. These mother-daughter bonding moments were really starting to get on my nerves. Ever since the first menstruation cycle everything just went downhill within a blink of an eye. One day it was Malibu Barbie the next day it was a trip to Victoria's Secret. To give my mother credit, she never even got the sex talk from her parents. But then again that made our conversations even more awkward. Traumatizing to say the very least, while my stupid brother (and the rest of the male species) got away on easy street. Wear condoms – that was his sex talk. No, not me. Nope. I got a PowerPoint presentation and props. PROPS! – fFor heaven's sake, it took me a month after that day before I could even look at a boy.

Biting at my wrist, I groaned into the skin. "Why do you have to be so annoying?"

"I'm your mother, it comes with the job." She said in a matter-of-fact type of tone you get from those television moms. American television has definitely taken its toll on her mannerism on occasions. As far as Ophelia was concerned she was, and I quote, a hip youngster's mama and not a stick in the bum-bum. Oh how I wanted to die when she said that to Bobbi Johnson back for my highschool prom. "You know you could talk to me about anything, right?"

"Yes ma, I know that I-"

"I won't judge you or hold anything against you," she interrupted. And then in a split second her eyes turned to saucers. "Are you pregnant? Using drugs? Are you a lesbian? Oh my, did you have one of those three-"

Her imagination was running wild with her again and I had to stop her before she finished that last sentence. For the sake of my own mental stability.

"MOTHER!" I rolled my eyes. "I was trying to-"

"Cassandra Naxos Rassos, tell me what is wrong with you right this instant!" Her arms pulled me against her with my face buried in her chest. I couldn't breathe; it was like being three all over again. Sighing loudly, I pulled away from her but cradled her hand in mine as a mute sign reassurance that I was no kink or hoodlum.

The sound of my full name rolled off the tongue as easily as tire stuck in a mud pit. I hated the sound of my full name for as long as I remember. Perhaps that was part of the whole dating dilemma. The name a person was dubbed certainly had some weight on a first impression. I've heard girls say they wouldn't date any 'Adam's' and such. Maybe guys had the same logical stance on that. And it's not like nicknames worked much better for me. Being called Cass didn't quite make the cut, at least not for me. The nickname made me think of a butch lesbian wearing a bandana and smoking a cigarette while playing poker. If this was what the name brought to mine for myself, I couldn't fathomfandom what others were coming up with in their own heads. If I had a more feminine first name then maybe I could get around the middle name and the horrid surname as well.

"Ma, it's nothing like what you're thinking okay. It's just…"

It was a hard subject for me to bring up from out of the blue like this. Never had I spoken to my mother about dating or about guys in general – not really. Throughout the years I might have mentioned a crush or two but that's as far as things went. In my mother's eyes I was an unplucked and untainted flower bud. I was not planning on telling her otherwise short of my honeymoon.

"Is this about a boy?" I rolled my eyes and she took my silence for the affirmative. "You startedsaid dating an American boy and you didn't tell me? Oh Cass, I thought we had a better relationship than that."

Que the waterworks.

"You're keeping secrets from me. What's next? Stealing! Cassandra, how could you steal?!"

"MOTHER!" I was seriously regretting not locking that damn door right about now. "A boy dumped me by text message."

"Is that all that happened?"

I nodded.

…and then she started laughing.

She didn't even try and hide it. My mother was straight out chuckling at my heartbreak and right before my eyes as well. Had she no shame? I guess the reality didn't measure up to the disastrous situations she had envisioned when she found me crying my eyes out. Still…her reaction was not quite what I had in mind.

"Thanks a lot, ma." I muttered feeling way more utterly dejected than before this enlightening conversation with my mother. "You're a real help."

"Oh honey. I didn't mean it that way." She flashed a warm smile and wiped a few stray tears from my puffed-up cheeks. "Welcome to the world of dating, m'dear." Mom patted my leg sympathetically as she rose from my bed to make her exit. "It'll get better sweetheart, I promise."

I knew it was more like a high-hope than an actual promise. It was the natural type of hope every mother had for their daughter that included finding either a doctor or a lawyer for a husband. As if the world was that simple. Though with my mother, I think she would settle for me just having a boyfriend period. No details need apply. Apparently for her, a woman being twenty something and single spells out the words desperate with a dire need for anything male. She has possibly even less of a clue then I do when it comes to this whole dating tribulation. My mother couldn't possibly have any idea what I'm going through. Her first boyfriend ever ended up being her husband – some women have all the luck. Never did she have to experience the three-day-rule or had to undergo the painful ego bruise that comes from being dumped after a first date. A first date that - in my humble opinion – went without flaw and in fact had a rather heated kissing session at the finial. Obviously the no call-back for two weeks crashed that train right into the gutter.

I sighed, "I don't suppose I could return the hormones and back out now."

Her chuckle was loud and so heavy that she snorted as she held her stomach to contain herself. When she finally gained her composureer, she dropped a kiss on my forehead and walked out of the room wishing me a goodnight and sweet dreams. Staring at the closed door for a second longer, I sighed, and threw myself back onto my bed. I really wasn't joking when I said that I wanted a refund on this hormone deal. Yes, the monastery life was looking pretty good right about now. To think, a few years ago I couldn't wait to be in my twenties and living a grown-up life. I wish I could go back in time and be a clueless twelve year-old whose knowledge about the opposite sex ended at acknowledging that Harry Potter was sort-of cute but thinking he still had the cooties.

Oh, the good ol' days indeed.