Chapter 1 – Boy meets Girl

Usually, when a person is walking down the busy roads of the City, one hardly notices that down that dimly lit alleyway, there lies an old world forgotten. A world of one-way streets, not paved with asphalt but cobblestone; with ancient townhouses and old dime shops – and every now and then a good old tavern. This story begins down an old cobbled street, lit with dimly glowing street lanterns, and inside an old Irish pub called The Horse and Carriage. Though the pub isn't found by many tourists or passers-by, locals know it well for it's fine fish 'n' chips or it's smooth mug of imported Irish Ale. Word of mouth about the Horse and Carriage had spread to a guy by the named of Chris Jones.

Chris stood at five foot five inches tall, yet weighed 170 pounds and had a neck as thick as a horse's. He worked as a bouncer at a club called the Flamingo, but preferred an old fashioned pub to the strobe lights and heavy-beat music that he endured during work. He heard from a friend that there was a quaint old pub down on Kline Street, so he went to check it out, and he fell in love with two things – the pub, and a girl.

The girl's name was Cecelia Deacons, but everyone who knew her called her Celia. She had light blonde, almost platinum hair, which was cut in such a way that wisps framed her face beautifully. She had big, blue eyes, and dark lashes. Her mouth was small, but her smile was big; she had pretty pink lips which only required sheer gloss to look stunning, and straight, white teeth. Her build was average, and to look at her she could've been described as 'classically pretty'. Chris thought she was simply gorgeous, and thus went to the pub as often as possible.

He became friendly with most of the staff. The employees of the Horse and Carriage were not many in numbers, but were friendly and nice, warm and welcoming. All but one. There was the owner of the place, Tom O'Keefe; his best friend, and head bartender, Kristof Manning; the second of the three barmaids, the 'obviously pretty' one, Dani McKenzie; and lastly, the cold, unfriendly, 'sort of pretty, I guess' barmaid, Francine 'Frankie' Blott.

Tom inherited the bar from his father, who had inherited it from his father, who inherited it from his father, who's father had opened it's doors in 1895. In other words, it had been the family for a while. Tom was a genuinely nice guy. He was protective of his barmaids, and his bar, but welcomed any schmoe in from the street for a pint or two. The Horse and Carriage had always been known for it's pretty barmaids, and Tom kept the tradition alive – in-avertedly. He hired the girls for different reasons, and then would realize their beauty afterwards. Tom, in short, could be summed up to being an all around nice guy, with a temper, constant biting sarcasm, and an overprotective nature towards his friends.

Kristof is almost Tom's polar opposite. Touchy and moody, Kristof can be happy as a clam one minute, and throwing people out the next. Though he's usually laid back and quiet, at times he can be uptight and loud. He always seems to have just stepped out when a customer decides to grope a girl, and comes back shrugging his shoulders at the situation. While Tom is not a bad looking guy, Kristof pretty much has his own fan club. Standing around six foot three, with striking good features and long lashes, Kristof brings round a fair share of women to the pub, while Dani rakes in the men.

Dani is quite famous for her long, glossy light brown hair. She rarely has it trimmed, and some nights there will be a jar passed around in which people put a couple of dollars, and at the end of the night whoever guesses closest to the length of her hair wins the jar. It once measured in at three feet eight inches. Dani had a shapely figure, which she enjoyed showing off, pretty green eyes and a pouty mouth. She loved to laugh and make the customers laugh. She was warm and welcoming to most everyone, though she had her snobby moments, too. She wasn't particularly keen on the newest addition to the bar, Frankie Blott.

Why Tom hired dear old Frankie was a mystery to most people. When she was hired, Frankie was far from the usual standard of Horse and Carriage girls. She was slightly chubby, with shoulder length straight-cut hair. She wasn't at all very friendly, and seemed to take offence to anything anyone said. Over time, she lost weight, a lot of weight, and became a shadow of the girl she had once been. Frankie was tall, measuring in at about five ten, and when she lost the weight, many people commented that with her unobvious prettiness, she could almost be a fashion model. One drunken night she allowed Celia and Dani to cut her hair – though 'hack' would be a much more appropriate term. She showed up for work the next day with much shorter, shaggier, multi-layered hair. She received so many compliments on it that she decided it was actually ugly and people were simply lying to her to make her feel better. Once some length had returned, she got it cut properly, and kept the longer, yet still shaggy and chopped hair cut for a long time. Tom and Frankie, for whatever reason, almost instantly became such good friends that a lot of people speculated they were secretly a couple. However if you knew the two, you would know they were more like older brother and younger sister. Tom became extremely overprotective of her, and would knock a guy out for saying anything remotely insulting about her.

Chris met her when she had become waifish and had her shaggy hair. He tried to be friendly to her but she would have nothing to do with him. Dani and Celia tried to apologize for her rudeness, explaining that Frankie wasn't very keen on people, especially men, and it had taken them three years to befriend her as well as they had. And so, for the most part, Chris avoided Frankie as much as possible, and slowly fell for Celia.

One cold night in late January, Chris decided he wanted a second opinion on the fair haired beauty. He called his friend, Wes Harrison, and asked him to accompany him. "I dunno," Wes said, shivering in the cold. "I think Heather wanted me to go home to feed her cat tonight."

"The cat will live a few hours without food. Please, Wes? We're already halfway there…"

"But my car is broken down, so we'd have to walk, and it's really cold out," he said, hopping around on the spot. The two boys were standing in front of the college Wes attended, with the blistering winds kicking up snow and throwing it in their faces.

"Wes, you know I'd do it for you. I did do it for you, when you wanted to know what I thought of Heather."

"Fine," he said wrapping his arms around himself. "But walk quickly."

Back at the Horse and Carriage, Frankie was manning the bar with Kristof. It was a Friday night, and so it was full of the usual rush. College students, regulars, and the random strays that had somehow heard of the pub and wanted to check it out. Dani spent most of her time flirting for tips, and Celia spent a lot of time behind the register. Tom spent most of his evenings in his back office, but every now and then would amble out to lend a helping hand. Frankie caught Celia's attention when she walked up to her with her left ear pressed firmly against her shoulder. "What's with the posture?" Celia asked, ringing up an order.

"Well, I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but my earring has somehow become entangled with my shirt."

"With your shirt," she repeated. "How on earth did you manage that? It's a polo shirt! It's not like it's wool or cashmere or something."

"Like I said," she repeated slowly, "I'm not sure how it happened. Kristof said he'd pass out drinks while you helped me."

"All right," she said, leaning over to look at the earring. "What happens if I do this?" she asked, tugging at a dangly part.

"I shriek with pain!" Frankie said, stumbling backwards. The two girls fought pointlessly for several minutes, only managing to make Frankie's ear bleed and twist the earring deeper into the fabric. Suddenly Tom appeared.

"What are you two doing?" he asked.

"She got her earring caught, I'm really not aiding the situation at all here."

"Let me see," he said, grabbing Frankie by the shoulders and spinning her around. "Yep, okay hold perfectly still."

"What're you going to do?" she asked, slightly concerned. Tom reached around to his back pocket, took something out, and suddenly revealed it was a switchblade when the blade itself popped open inches from Frankie's face.

"Don't cut her!" breathed Celia.

"Yes, don't cut me! Please!"

"Relax," he said, jerking the knife around the earring. Suddenly, Frankie's head felt free. She lifted it back into it's normal position, and watched helplessly as the polo shirt Tom had so kindly slashed fell apart on one side. "Figure out a way to cover yourself up," he said, gesturing to her exposure. The bar erupted in a sea of hooting and hollering as she desperately tried to keep the frayed fabric together. It was mostly her shoulder that was showing, but the fabric had ripped far enough that the top of the cup on her bra was clearly visible.

"Pink lace?" Celia said in surprise. "I pegged you as more of a white cotton girl."

"Do you have a safety pin or something?" she asked desperately.

"Can't say as I do, sorry." Celia turned back to the register and Kristof motioned frantically for Frankie to get back and help him.

"Take these," he said, shoving a pile of orders at her, complete with his chicken scratch scrawled across the paper. "And I must say, pink lace? Very nice."

"Oh shut up," she grumbled.

"All right, seriously Chris, how much farther is this place? You said we were halfway there when we were at school, but we so could've been home by now."

"It's not much farther," Chris said through chattering teeth.

"I think I'll call a cab to take me home…" Wes said while shivering. Chris had always been a little jealous of Wes. The two had known each other since they were in public school. Wes had always been the good looking guy. He wasn't conventionally rugged, or square shouldered, or full of muscles. He was lanky yet strong, with curly sandy brown hair and a long nose. His eyes were blue some days and grey the next, and held so much emotion that girls couldn't resist them. Though he wasn't very tall, standing at only about five eleven, he clearly towered over Chris. Chris was also jealous of the women Wes had dated. Heather was no exception.

Perky, fun, nice, and always pretty, Wes had dated a small spectrum of girls. All were around five six, usually blonde, sorority girls with killer bodies and great personalities to boot. It was clear that Wes had a way with women – or at least a certain type. Heather was five six, blue eyed and blonde haired, smart and cute, and a ball of fun. She took her studies seriously but knew how to kick back with the boys. Chris had liked her for a while, but had clearly moved on to better things, by secretly falling in love with Celia.

"I'll call a cab right now," Wes said, spotting a payphone, "if you can't guarantee that we will be there in the next five minutes."

"I promise, in the next five minutes you will be standing in the warmth of the Horse and Carriage."

"Excuse me!" a college aged boy called to Frankie. Sometimes, when Frankie thought back to her short time at college, she wished she hadn't dropped out. However when she saw the halfwits who flocked to the bar from her former place of schooling, she was more than glad she had left.

"Yeah?" she said, walking up to him. "What can I get for you?" It was then she noticed that the boy was supporting a very drunk friend on his shoulder.

"A glass of water would be really cool."

"All right," she said, filling a glass.

"James, I don't feel so good…" the drunk one slurred.

"I know, I'm getting you some water." The moment Frankie handed the glass to James, something erupted inside the drunk one. At first he burped, but that quickly spawned into full fledged, exorcist-style vomit, spewing forth and drenching Frankie from the waist up. Frankie heard Celia gag and run into the back, while Kristof began to laugh.

"Tom!" Kristof called, "You'd better get out here!" It took every fibre of Frankie's being not to burst into tears, and/or throw up at that very moment. She knew when Tom had come out of the back, because he, too, erupted in laughter.

"It's okay," he reassured through his laughter, guiding her to the sink.

"I'm covered in puke…" she said, trying to control her gag reflex. The bar had turned pretty silent, most people watching the now vomit-covered girl. They all craned their necks to see her being laughed at by her male co-workers, and sprayed with the hose in the tap.

"I'll sterilize you," Tom said while patting her back. "Lean over the sink." She did as she was told, and he did their best to wash her hair and face with alcohol and hot water. "There you are," he said, standing her back up. "Right as rain." Kristof had already escorted the drunk boy and James outside by the time Frankie was 'clean'. Most people had returned to their conversations and the bar was it's usual ruckus again. Frankie's hair stuck out at strange angles, and she was drenched pretty much from head to toe. Her ripped shirt made her feel that much better about the evening, and she swore to herself that nothing worse could happen.

It was then that Wes and Chris entered the bar. It was full, and loud, and hard to see the back where Celia was. "What does she look like again?" Wes asked, brushing the snow off his jacket.

"Hello boys," Dani said, swooping in before Chris had a chance to answer. "Hello Chris! Who's your friend?"

"Dani, this is Wes."

"Well hello there, Wes!" Dani said, outstretching a hand and grinning ear to ear. "Very pleased to meet you! I think a table just freed up over that way… I'll go clear it up for you and then you guys can have a seat, okay?" She turned and her long hair swished across both of their faces, catching Wes in the eye.

"That stung," he complained, holding his eye as it watered. "Was that her?"

"No, that was Dani. We're here to see Celia. Come with me, we'll go get some drinks at the bar." The two fought their way through the brouhaha to get to the bar, where a very disgruntled Frankie stood doling out fish 'n' chips and ale. "That's her," Chris said, pointing to the dainty blonde behind the cash. However, Wes neglected to see where Chris was pointing, as he had become completely mesmerized by the auburn headed mess that was Francine Blott.

"That's her?" he asked, slightly confused.

"What?" Chris said, turned to see where Wes was looking. "Oh, no, not at all. Never. That's Frankie. I don't talk to her. Mainly because she doesn't talk to me. But whatever, she's not who we're here to see."

"Hello Chris," smiled Celia, appearing seemingly out of no where. "Is this handsome man your friend?"

"No, but this ugly one is," said Chris, pointing his thumb at Wes.

"Wes Harrison," he said, outstretching his hand.

"Celia Deacons," she smiled. "What can I get Frankie to get for you boys?"

"Two beers, please," Chris smiled.

"You heard the man, Frank. Fill 'er up."

Wes turned his attention back to the impossibly thin and sulky looking female. "Hello there," he smiled at her.

"Hi…" she said cautiously while filling their mugs.

"I'm Wes."

"I heard. Here, pay at the till." She handed them their mugs and tried to keep her shirt together all at the same time. It didn't turn out as successfully as she had hoped.

"What happened to your shirt?" he asked.

"It got ripped…"

"How so?"

"Why do you care?"

He was taken slightly aback. "Just wondering."

"Well don't bother."

"Do you need something to hold it together?"

She hesitated. She was an awfully proud person sometimes. Right then she didn't exactly feel like accepting charity. "It would be nice."

"Here," he said, removing three of the button-pins from his jacket, which was covered in them. "You can have these. I've got doubles of them." She picked them up off the counter and fastened her shirt together. She then turned and went to the opposite end of the bar to help Kristof.

"She's not very polite," Celia winced. "Sorry about that."

"No, that's fine," he said, watching her. "What happened to her?"

"You mean tonight or in the grand scheme of things?" Celia sighed.

"Tonight," he smiled.

"Shirt got ripped open due to an earring malfunction, and then she was vomited on. Oh, even remembering it makes me feel a might queasy."

"Vomited on?"

"Projectile vomit, at that. I thought she was going to cry."

"I would have."

"I think I would have passed out," she laughed.

"Okay," said Chris, feeling completely invisible. "Let's go sit down before someone nabs our table."

"Right," said Wes, his eyes never leaving Frankie until he turned around. When they sat down he made sure he could still see her. "She's a little strange, eh?"

"More than strange. There's something wrong with her. Honestly tonight she was pleasant. Which is odd, considering the weighing factors."

"She's sort of pretty, isn't she?"

"What?" Chris asked, as if Wes had just asked him something incredibly ludicrous.

"Well, I mean, yeah. She's pretty," Wes said lamely. Chris craned around and looked at her, with her ripped shirt, now somewhat fixed with random buttons, her hair, which was more than just askew, and her sullen, sad face.

"Sorry, I don't really see it."

"Well look past the mess. I mean, she doesn't always have a torn up shirt and I'm sure she isn't always drenched in vomit. She's actually quite pretty."

Chris suddenly caught a certain gleam in Wes' eye, one he had seen before. "You have a girlfriend, remember? Heather? That blonde you live with?"

"I'm not saying that I'm interested in Frankie like that. I'm just saying that she's pretty. And really interesting."

"Interesting?!" he exclaimed, nearly choking on his beer. "If you consider cold, malicious, rude and unfriendly to be interesting, then yeah, I guess she is."

"She just seems like she's got a bunch more layers."

"How can you read people like that?"

"Like what?" he asked, his attention finally diverting from her.

"I would've never pegged that girl to be more than a snob with severe attitude problems, and that's from knowing her for several months. You walk in here, know her for mere minutes, and can tell all sorts of things about her. You do it with everyone. You did it with Heather. Everyone thought that she was some sorority bimbo, but clearly she's a lot more than a sorority. You knew pretty much from the get-go."

Wes shrugged, looking back at Frankie. "I can't explain it. She just seems fascinating."

"I take it you'll be coming back with me again?"

"Definitely," he agreed, sipping his beer.

The rush had slowed, so Frankie stood in front of the mirror behind the bar attempting to fix her hair. What she did know was that it was going to take a lot of shampoo to get the stench of vomit and alcohol out. What she didn't know then was that being vomited on was not the worst thing that had happened to her that night. The worst thing had been that she had met Wesley Harrison.

Author's Notes: Blarg! I think I'm getting the hang of this thing... I think... this is the third time I've uploaded this stupid thing so if it doesn't work this time, then forget it! Bah! Anyway. I am a comment/review whore. So please make me a happy girl and do so.

Know this! Sadly I write my chapters out of order. So this means the gaps between updating might be great. However, one of my friends has taken it upon herself to be my "editor" and yells things at me like "I need chapter 8 on my desk by Monday! OR ELSE!" Except the "or else" isn't that I'll be fired, it's that she'll beat me with a plank of wood with a nail in the end. So this means that I might be churning out chapters quicker than usual, thus the gaps won't be as hugormous as normal. Hopefully.

And so ends my notes. I really hope you enjoyed chapter one. I love these characters a ton a lot a bunch. :) Have a super wonderful day! 3