Chapter 1

"Zack!" Mikki Bradner called loudly up the stairs of her two-story flat.

"What is it, Mik? I'm busy," Zack Churchill's reply came back, muffled by the closed wooden door and probably a pillow too.

"Sleeping in does not count as being busy, Zackary! Come and help me get breakfast. Plus, you've got some mail here."

She heard a bit of shuffling and then heard the door to his room open. Zack's unkempt curly hair and surprised eyes appeared around the corner at the top of the stairs a moment later. "Mail? Really? For Me?"

Zack and Mikki had met three years ago where they both worked at a small but international airport. Neither one of them was on the flight crew; Mikki worked in ticket sales and Zack ran the luggage checks. He sometimes wished he worked on the flight crew as he was more than a little bit obsessed with aeroplanes, but he was also terrified of flying. Zack and Mikki had become friends and then had moved in together shortly after because Zack had been kicked out of his own flat when the landlords decided to sell the place. Mikki had said he could stay on her living room sofa for a month while he looked for somewhere else, but the two had become close, in a rather dysfunctional family type-way, and he'd just never left. At some point she'd gotten tired of tripping over all his stuff in the middle of the living room so she'd turned her office upstairs into a bedroom for him and he stopped pretending that he was still looking for other accommodations and started paying rent to her. In the past three years of living in the place he had never once received a piece of mail.

"You're the only Zack that lives here, aren't you? Hurry up."

Zack came sleepily down the stairs a few moments later, still in the boxers and undershirt that he'd been sleeping in. "Where's my mail, Mikki? Who's it from?"

Mikki shrugged and slid the black envelope across the table to him along with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. "Guess you'll have to open it and find out."

Zack stared at the envelope suspiciously, "Not too many people know I live here now, do they? Black is a strange colour for an envelope. What if it's a threat? There's no return address."

"There's no address at all," Mikki answered, always more matter-of-fact than her flatmate, "It just says "Zack" on it. Someone left it right on the doorstep rather than sending it through the post." She didn't answer his comments about it being a threat, because Zack was always overly dramatic like that.

"Why didn't they just email me? Or phone me? Or ring the bell?"

Mikki sighed, running her fingers through her blonde ponytail. Mikki always wore her hair in a ponytail because she said didn't like it her eyes and was too busy to do anything else with it. "I don't know. Would you just hurry up and open it and then help me in the kitchen?"

Not many people knew, like Mikki did, that Zack was actually a brilliant chef. He hated doing anything that resembled work or chores, but she usually pulled the 'I'm-letting-you-live-here,-you-have-to-cook-for-me,' card out of her pocket because she'd much prefer to eat Zack's cooking than his own. He didn't complain about it, but she still had to nag him every meal to get him to actually pitch in.

Zack finally tore into the envelope, his eyes widening as he read it, and then suddenly he grinned. "Mikki! Look! I've got a secret admirer!"

"Lemme see that."

"No way, it's my mail and it's private."

Mikki reached to snatch the letter from him, but Zack held it out of her reach. "Who do you think it is, Mik?"

"How would I know if you don't let me read it?"

Zack rescanned the letter himself, still holding it high as he ignored her attempts to read his letter. He knew he'd let her soon, they both knew it, but he liked to tease her. It wasn't often that he had a one-up on her. Suddenly he frowned. "What if it's Aiya?"

Aiya was Zack's ex-girlfriend. They'd had a messy relationship a couple of years ago and she'd almost come between Zack and Mikki. Mikki couldn't stand the girl, who was always trying to tell her how to 'do things a better way'. In fact, Aiya seemed to be an expert on every subject from laundry to home decoration to Mikki's wardrobe. She even tried to tell Mikki how to do her job, and Mikki was fairly certain that the woman had never once worked at an airport. Mikki was never happy when she'd come home and find Aiya at their place and there'd been a lot of arguments between her and Zack over whether Aiya should be allowed in her flat. When Zack finally started being honest with himself, he realised that he didn't really like Aiya himself. He had been dating Aiya because, simply put, Aiya had asked him out and that had never happened before. Zack had always been the smart one, the nerdy one some might say, and while he'd thrown himself into his studies in high school and university, his social life had suffered immensely. Zack wanted to prove to himself, and to Mikki, that he could be dating material too. He'd dumped Aiya on their six month anniversary, but to be fair he hadn't known that people could have a six-month anniversary, seeing as the root of the word itself suggested it had to be a yearly thing. Aiya had not only known, but she'd been planning on celebrating it with a big surprise for him. He never found out what that was and she'd thrown lukewarm cup of tea all over him. When he'd gotten home, Mikki had scolded him for his timing but he'd seen the laughter in her eyes and he'd known that she was thrilled to have Aiya out of their lives.

Now Mikki frowned too. "Why would it be Aiya?"

He sighed. "I ran into her the other day at the grocery store and she apologized for throwing the tea. She said that I was hardly her dream catch after what I did, but that she did miss me and she'd done a lot of thinking since that time. Apologized for always 'showing off' as she put it and said that she hoped maybe we could give it another try one day as she really had liked me. She would know where I live. Do you think it's her?"

Mikki shuddered at the thought of having Aiya back in their lives but answered, "Yeah, I guess that's a possibility then. Would you just let me take a look?"


"Well, what you going to do if it's Aiya?"

Zack shrugged, "Ignore it, I guess. I mean, it feels nice to be admired and all, but I don't think Patsy liked her much. Can't bring a girl back here that Patsy doesn't like, yeah?" Patsy was their golden retriever. Zack had found her in a park only a couple of days before he'd first met Aiya. The dog had barked and growled every time Aiya had come over, therefore winning over Mikki's affection so Zack had been allowed to keep his new pet.

"Didn't fancy her much myself." Mikki responded pointedly.

Zack grimaced. "Yeah, sorry, Mik. I promise if it's not Aiya I'll listen to your judgement this time."

"Guess I can't judge someone if we don't know who it is though, can I?" she responded, not letting him know how much she appreciated his statement. They both knew it wasn't up to Mikki to dictate who Zack went out with, but his consideration of her feelings meant that he put her friendship above anything else.

"Maybe you can help me figure that out."

"Maybe, but you'd have to let me read it, wouldn't you?"

"I'll think about it."

"Fine," Mikki grumbled as she stood to leave the room, "I'm gonna go get dressed whilst you think. Have breakfast ready for me when I'm back, would ya?"

Zack nodded and then turned back to his letter and grinned. A secret admirer! Who'd have thought? He dreaded the thought that it might be Aiya, but the idea that maybe it was someone else was rather exciting, more so than he'd admit to Mikki just now because if she knew she'd be constantly teasing him about it. He didn't think he'd actually act on it even if it didn't turn out to be Aiya. He'd ages ago fallen head over heels in love with his spunky roommate and co-worker. When they'd first met he'd asked her out on an almost daily basis, but Mikki had always turned him down and called him her 'pal', so he'd given up long before he'd even met Aiya. He was pretty sure that Mikki had no idea his feelings for her had not only remained, but grown stronger with time.

Still, whether he planned on acting on the letters or not, it was nice to feel wanted and he couldn't help but to wonder who sent it. He scanned the letter for clues, but couldn't find anything so he put it in his pocket to analyse more later.