A/N: Something new that just popped into my head! I really hope you like it, and whether or not you DO, it'd be great if you'd leave a review!


Chapter 1

You could classify this as awkward. The man I was on a 'date' with was trying very hard to pick a booger without me noticing, and I had run out of things for him to agree with me on. Definitively awkward. Not to mention the way my eyes kept wandering to the man over at table fourteen…as I'm sure every woman's eyes were. He was a triple threat: tall, dark, and handsome. Very handsome. I was completely astounded that he was even here—generally speaking, attractive men did not grace the speed-dating rooms of Massachusetts.

The bell rang, and I stood, pointedly not shaking hands with booger-man as I headed to the next table. The woman who sat down at table fourteen was easily mid-fifties, and I smirked. She had no chance. In fact, most of these women were far too old for table fourteen. In fact, I probably had this one in the bag, if I managed not to geek out on him, as I so often did when faced with attractive men. "See something you like?" the man at my table inquired, and I jumped slightly. I had totally forgotten to pay attention and not drool.

He was also fairly tall, fairly dark, and fairly handsome. He'd probably be a lot more appealing if it weren't for all the scars all over his face—and arms, I noticed—but there was something sarcastic and biting in his half-smile that I didn't care for. "Someone, actually," I corrected him, deciding that I wasn't worried about hurting his feelings. "I've been dying to get to table fourteen all night."

He chuckled darkly and smiled even wider. I caught a glance of table fourteen making the cougar-woman laugh, and made a face. "What," the man at my table asked, "worried she's going to steal him away from you before you get a stab at it?"

I turned my disgusted expression on him. "Did you see who you're talking about?" Idly, I shoved a fistful of hair away from my face and stated, "There's no way he'd go for her. She's old enough to be his mother."

Having caught my complete attention, the man at my table leapt at the debating point. "Ahh, yes, but you know, some guys are into that sort of thing." And he wriggled his eyebrows at me, which gave me cause to scoot my chair a few inches away from his. "Well, not me, that's for sure," he added on, realizing my concern. "I mean, I'm thrilled to finally be talking to you," he said unabashedly, that somewhat scorning smile reappearing.

I blinked, my interest in table fourteen abruptly forgotten. "What do you mean?"

The smile grew wider on his scarred face. "You've been waiting for table fourteen all night, while table twelve has been waiting for you." He held his hand out across the table toward me. "I'm Jasper Connely, by the way." Timidly, I shook with him. "So can we have our date, now?"

"Adrina Scarpelli," I replied, slightly dumbfounded. "What caught your eye about me?" I asked out of mere curiosity.

He shook his head and took a sip of his water. "No, no," he said, setting the glass down on the maroon tablecloth. "That's suicide, telling a girl she's attractive right away. 'Cause then she has you in the palm of her hand, and she can squish you anytime she hears something she doesn't like." He shook his head again, and then waved his finger back and forth. "No, no, let's not start there. Let's start here: how old are you, Adrina?" He caught a glimpse of my expression and held both his hands up in a surrender gesture, "I just want to know; I don't want to start liking you and then end up all creeped out by myself."

Eyebrows raised, I replied, "I'm twenty-seven." I took a sip from my own water glass, thoroughly confounded by this introduction sequence. He was truly a peculiar man. Jasper. What a weird name.

He breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief. "You know, I'm never gonna understand why women have such a hard time talking about their age. I'm thirty. You're twenty-seven. Boo hoo," he said, rolling his eyes. "Ever hear the song 'Vienna,' by Billy Joel?"

Once again struck by the random scheme of his thoughts, I replied, "Uh…no?"

He rolled his eyes again. "It's a classic; you should invest some time in it. It's about how aging is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a person." He paused to give me room to reply, but I couldn't think of anything to say to that, so I kept my mouth shut. "What do you do for work, Adrina?"

"I'm a temp," I said, shrugging noncommittally. "Right now I'm working at a bank, but bank-telling has been one of the most tedious experiences of my life. I've been looking for something new for a few months now, actually." I sighed. "I don't think I was built to work in an office."

"What were you built for, then?" Jasper prompted, appearing interested.

I released a gust of air and shrugged again. "I don't know. I hated fast food, I hated waitressing, I hated cashiering, I hated dog-walking, and babysitting sucked. Being a librarian was okay for a little while, but…" I shook my head distractedly, "Too quiet." My eyes began to stray once more toward table fourteen, and I wondered if they had forgotten to ring the bell again.

Well, I'm sure they were about to ring it when it happened.

The doors to the place burst open noisily, startling some of the older men and women, and causing me to just about jump out of my skin. Jasper looked like he was going to laugh at me when the source of this disturbance appeared at my side. "Miss, could you please keep your eyes on your own date," he slurred drunkenly, pointing at Jasper, who now looked mildly surprised and slightly disdainful. The plastered man grasped at my shoulder for support, almost missed and fell, regained himself, and burped loudly. I wondered how long it would take for someone to remove the two of us from the premises. "That's rudehic—you know," he declared with a self-righteous nod.

People were staring. That was, perhaps, the worst part. Table fourteen's expression was clearly composed of one part disgust and one part sympathy.

"Miss," a gentleman in business attire said, appearing beside the intruder, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

I nodded and started gathering my things. "Simon, go wait outside," I said, gently shaking his hand from my shoulder. The suited man escorted Simon from the room, and I stood. "Sorry, Jasper, I—"

"Save it," he said nonchalantly, looking up at me with an impish, intelligent glint in his eye. "I get it; all you divorcee's are the same." He smirked cruelly, not giving me a chance to respond before he continued, "The man at table fourteen is gay, just so you know. He's the one that talked me into coming out here tonight. I was the best man at his wedding. So it looks like you've missed the boat." His haughty smirk deepened nastily. "I asked how old you were because you dress like a slutty seventeen-year-old; maybe you should act your age when you're going out on these big girl dates." My jaw dropped. "And saying you're a temp is just another way of saying you're indecisive and you don't know what you want to do with your life. Especially now that you've left your husband." He winked at me, as if we were sharing some terribly enchanting secret.

I gaped at him, spluttering, not knowing how to respond to each harsh statement. "What makes you think I'm a divorcee?" I asked, my mouth wide open at his abrasiveness.

He scoffed. "Do I strike you as a stupid man? Simon's still wearing his wedding ring, and you're not." He rolled his eyes—a gesture that really suited him and his sarcastic appearance—and added, "He probably got sloshed before he left the kids at home, unsupervised."

The man in the suit returned from removing Simon from the place, and I hastily scrambled for a response. "Simon," I said firmly, "is my brother-in-law. My sister just left him, and I'm trying to help him get back on his feet; he's staying at my house. I guess it slipped my mind to lock up the booze." I watched with satisfaction as Jasper's face conveyed genuine surprise before the suited man gently took my arm. "I've got it, I'll leave," I snapped, pulling from his grip and stalking from the place swiftly.

I heard mild applause as the door was shut behind me, and I smiled as the image of Jasper's stupid face swam across my mind. Boy, did I make him feel like an ass.

Speaking of asses, I thought, catching a glimpse of Simon stumbling down the sidewalk. "Hey!" I called after him, and he spun to look at me.

"Drina!" he exclaimed, wildly spreading his arms and almost losing his balance. "You look beautiful," he told me earnestly when I caught up with him, and I sighed.

"Thanks, Simon."