"Let me tell the story honey," Miranda said to her husband, placing a hand on his knee. Nineteen years of marriage had done little to dim the passionate love that existed between the two.

The story that Miranda spoke of was one that everyone present knew by heart. To the loving couple's seventeen-year-old daughter it had become clichéd a long time ago.

Despite this fact, it was told at every family and friend gathering. It had become tradition, as Miranda would explain to her grumbling daughter after each event. This end-of-the-summer barbecue was no exception.

"During my first pregnancy Mike went out of his mind with worry when my water broke. You'd think that he was the one about to have a baby. He rushed me to the hospital at about ninety miles an hour," she said with a narrowing glance towards her husband, "We knew at the time that I was going to have a little girl and had discussed naming her Emile after Mike's grandmother. Even though the birth came and went without complications, Mike was still a nervous mess."

"When the nurse handed him the birth certificate to fill out, all recollection of first names flew out of his mind. He hastily wrote Blank in the spot instead. Remembering that we'd chosen Lee for a middle name he was able to fill out the rest of the certificate without any problems. Mike figured he could ask me about the name when I woke up from the rest I'd been taking. Handing the nurse back the certificate he forgot to mention to her that he wasn't sure about the first name. It was only after she'd disappeared around a corner when he realized the mistake he had made. You should have seen him when he confronted me with the problem, he was sweating like a pig!" Everyone laughed, including Mike. "I was enchanted with the name and decided that we should leave it the way it was. It was our little joke from God."

Or a curse from Satan thought Blank bitterly. What kind of parents named their child Blank? Blank Lee Kaski. Blank Lee? Forget the Lee part. Blank? It made it sound like she lacked a soul!

Amidst the roar of laughter her grandma noticed the disgusted looked that was planted upon her pretty face. So did her younger brother.

"If you keep it up you're face is gonna get stuck like that!" he teased.

Blank could only roll her eyes.

"It's true!" he defended, "Mom and Dad told me so."

"Ashley, haven't you learned after your pitiful thirteen years of life that most of what Mom and Dad tell you isn't true?" said Blank.

That's right, her brother's name was Ashley. That fact only further convinced her that her parents hadn't "accidentally" named her Blank; they were just weird. What was they're excuse for Ashley-his package was so small that they'd mistaken him for a girl? That was, in fact, what Blank had once told her brother. She was still convinced that she hadn't deserved the month of grounding with no phone, T.V. or radio.

"Now sweetie, don't be telling your brother that," came her grandmother's crinkly voice. It reminded Blank of warm apple cider and chocolate pop-tarts, her favorite snack as a child.

"Hi, Grandmay," greeted Blank. That nickname was what all the grandchildren called her. It fit well since her first name was May.

"How are you?" Grandmay asked her seriously.

Blank offered her a half-grin and a shrug of her shoulders.

"It's only family and friends, darling."

"I know, but..." Blank's voice cracked.

"Shhh…" whispered her grandmother, while simultaneously pulling her into a comforting hug.

It wasn't the story that got to Blank. It was all the merciless teasing she'd received because of her name. "Are you named Blank because you have no personality?" asked one girl in reference to her shyness. But mainly it was the boys. During the age where most girls became young ladies, Blank had stayed awkwardly the same. It wasn't until she was fourteen that any sign of change came her way. Because of that she'd suffered the cruel question in the school halls, "When are you gonna fill in the Blank!" Even today she still got, "Blank you!" as if they were censoring some vulgar word. By now she was immune to their comments. But every time that story was told, every time, all her childhood memories came flooding through the dam in the back of her mind. How could she explain this to her mother though? Her grandmother was the only one she'd ever confessed it to.

"Hey Blay," as she preferred to be called, "will you put Tyra down for her N-A-P?" asked Miranda of her daughter. Rule number one: never say the word nap around the three-year-old Tyra. In all sincerity she was literally the spawn of Satan. Her devils work included drawing on the freshly painted walls, peeing on Blank's carpet purposely, throwing her dinner on the difficult to reach ceilings and vomiting on the only boy that had ever asked Blank out—right before their date. Needless to say, he took it as a sign that the relationship was doomed before it even really began. But most of all, she would not take her afternoon naps. She'd kick, scream, pull out your hair, curse you in ways a three-year-old shouldn't and leave you bloody before she'd ever lie down to rest, which explains why Miranda gave Blank the task.

"I'll do it," offered Grandmay. Blank thanked her with a grateful smile, and then fell into a heap on a nearby lawn chair.

School was only days away, three to be exact. She thought of all the things that senior year meant: college applications, scholarships, a job, graduation, parting friendships and the beginning of a new life away from her parents and siblings. Then she thought of all the things senior year didn't mean: namely a boyfriend. After the one attempt at a romantic relationship Blank had decided that she was tainted and therefore should never date while living under her parents' roof. "Overkill" was how her friends described the notion, but none of their remarks swayed her from doing her best to put guys off. To her bitter surprise she found that she didn't have to work too hard at that.

Deciding that this deep reflection was getting her nowhere, Blank opted to take her Jack Russell terrier, Bob, for a walk or more like a drag-then-run-then-drag around the neighborhood. Leashing him up and walking the bouncing animal to the door she paused at the sight of her brother peeping through a front window.

"Gotcha!" she yelled while squeezing his sides.

Ashley screamed then glared murderously at his sister.

"If only looks could kill, right?" she laughed.

"You'd be dead a long time ago," he finished. This only made Blank laugh harder.

"So who are you spying on, Tom?" Blank asked, switching topics.


"You know, Peeping Tom?" she explained.

Slowly comprehension filled his eyes and flowed over the features of his face. "Oh," came softly from his lips, followed by a more forceful, shocked "Oh!" Shoving Blank slightly he exclaimed, "That's disgusting Blank!"

She stuck out her tongue at him.

"If you'll excuse me I'm going to take Bob for a little exercise." Opening the door she saw what her brother had been so fascinated with—the new neighbors. A Mayflower moving van stuck halfway into the street from their driveway. It wasn't the fact that there were new neighbors that had caught Ashley's attention, Blank noted; it was the girl with champagne colored spirals that hung lightly to her elbows, a stark contrast to her bronze skin. She sat idly on a patch of yellow grass, twirling a string of gum that protruded from her mouth lazily around a finger.

Blank laughed, biting her tongue to muffle the sound. Popping her head into the house she called out to Ashley, "Dude, grab one of the bazillion casseroles that the family brought over and come with me to meet the newbies." She received a grunt in response. "Well come on!" Blank urged. Her brother immerged with the macaroni salad. "Perfect, adults love that dish," and Blank wasn't disappointed to see it go.

Walking over to the new neighbors, Bob led and Ashley cowered in Blank's shadow.

"You know, Ashley, I'm sure they don't bite," teased Blank.

"I'm sure they don't bite," he mimicked.

By now they had crossed the street, and the girl had risen in acknowledgment of their presence.

"Hi, I'm Blay," she said, reaching out a hand.

The girl shook it, responding, "I'm Bella." She looked over Blank's shoulder, "And you are?"

"A-Ash," he stuttered while shoving the food offering into the girl's hands. Blank had to stifle a laugh. He wouldn't give Bella his real name, but then again Blank didn't give her real name either.

Bella smiled beautifully towards Ashley. Blank twisted around to see him flush a lovely crimson. Darting her eyes between the pair, she could not deny the connection between the two. She grinned at the possibility of playing cupid.

"So do you want to see around the house and meet the rest of my family?" asked Bella.

"That'd be great," answered Blank. She realized with the thudding against her calf that she still had Bob, ready for a walk. "Let me just put my dog back in the house, okay?"

"Oh don't worry about it; he can come in. We have a dog too, a golden retriever," said Bella.


Blank already knew the design of the house. The prior inhabitants, an elderly couple, had often asked her to housesit while they vacationed.

"So Bella, do you have any siblings?" inquired Blank.

"Only one, an older brother," she answered. "And speak of the devil," Bella nodded her head in the direction of an advancing figure. Blank's breath caught—of course he would be gorgeous, look how beautiful his sister was. She observed that he shared the same pale yellow hair as Bella. It curled only slightly because of the short length he kept it at. His skin was fairer than his sibling's, which led Blank to believe he spent fewer hours lollygagging outside.

"Hey Korbin, come meet the neighbors."

He looked in their direction and offered an adorable lopsided smiled. Walking up to them he offered a hand to shake. Ashley took it first, introducing himself as "Ash" once again. Then Korbin looked at Blank, making eye contact. She took a step back and hit her heel against a cardboard box.

He reached out impulsively to keep Blank from stumbling. "You, okay?" he whispered, his breath tickling her neck. His eyes danced with amusement, the very eyes that had got her into this situation in the first place. They were a light azure; the closest she had ever seen to purple eyes before.

Suddenly she felt very self-conscience with his hand on her elbow. A moment later it was gone, but a tingling sensitive lingered in her arm. She thought it delightfully painful.

No boys, Blank reminded herself. That didn't keep her from wondering what he thought of her plain Jane appearance.

Three pairs of eyes, four if you included Bob, focused on her face.

"Your name?" said Ashley, a bit maliciously.

"Blay," she croaked.

"Well it's a pleasure to meet you Blay." His smile looked so sincere that she felt a smidgen of hope that perhaps her spectacle hadn't totally driven him away.

"You too."

"I probably should be getting back to unpacking, but I'll see you around," he explained, pointing a thumb over his shoulder.

"Yeah," spoke Blank softly. It was a relief for her that he was leaving. Maybe she could get her body back to functioning at normal.

When he had left, Bella jumped in front of Blank with a smirk plastered upon her delicate lips. "You so have it bad for my brother," she accused.

"No I don't," denied Blank with a bitten lip and a look that gave the truth away.

Placing a hand on her hip, Bella only laughed, soon to be joined by Ashley.

"Blay doesn't date guys, Bella."

"Oh," Bella's face fell. "You like girls?" she asked, curious.

Ashley howled with laughter, while Blank responded somewhat amused herself, "No, I don't like girls. Not like that." She then glared at her brother and spat out, "Shut up ASHLEY!" His chuckling came to an abrupt halt.

"Ashley?" Bella's amber eyes looked surprised.

"Yeah, that's his name. Ashley." Her brother's mouth hung in an O, and his brows were scrunched in anger.

"Do you prefer to be called Ash?" Bella inquired.

"Whatever," Ashley mumbled. Bella grabbed his hand, momentarily stunning him.

"Ashley was originally a guy's name, you know that?" she offered. God love her.

"That's what my mom told me," Ashley replied.

Maybe Blank didn't even need to play Cupid. Things seemed to be falling in place nicely. Quiet as a mouse, she snuck out the front door with Bob in tow. They didn't even notice her leave.

"You know what Bob, suddenly I'm too exhausted to go on a walk," she apologized to her dog. He wagged at his tail at her lovingly. "Sweet boy, you're all the man I need," she cooed at him. At least dogs didn't break your heart-not that Blank would know much about injured hearts, but she'd had her share of teary, mucus filled friends.

Taking the steps two at a time, Blank headed off to her room to replay this day's events. Flopping on her bed she couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, senior year could mean a boyfriend too.

A/N: ANOTHER NEW STORY! Yay. I said that I wouldn't post this until I had it all written but I changed my mind. Hehe, I'm such a girl!