AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, okay! I know, I know! I have a kabillion unfinished stories already, and here I am posting a new one! The unmitigated gall! Well, this idea popped into my head, and I just HAD to! And I'm posting it, so THERE! (Even though FP is being a bitch and not letting anyone post things. A fellow author told me that to post, I just need to export a chanpter from one of my other stories, overwrite it then save it so nthat I can get the Document Manager to accept it. A HUGE shout out/thank you to her!)

Here's the new story, and, yes, I will be updating the others as well. Let me know what you think!

Chapter 1

Patrick blinked a couple of times in surprise as he stared at his computer screen. He ran a hand through his short black hair, then took off his glasses and rubbed his bloodshot silver eyes. He couldn't have read that right, could he? That must have been a mistake. He didn't think it could really be about him. Inhaling a great gulp of hair, he let it out slowly before returning his glasses to their perch on the bridge of his nose and reading the message again. And it said the same thing he'd read but a few moments before. Under the Missed Connections section on Craigslist, in the m4m area (which he looked at during slow times at work for entertainment purposes only, mind you), he read:

Starbucks - Chelsea, 22nd & 6th

Never posted on this before, but what the hell? Saw U this morning in line ahead of me. U ordered a Venti vanilla latte. I saw your rainbow bracelet and asked U for the time. U gave it to me, then we checked each other out. Would love to get together for coffee ... again. U, hot black haired guy in all black clothing. Me, hot (if I do say so myself - and I do!) bi-curious, brown haired guy. C'mon. No strings if U decide U don't like me.

Holy shit! That hot guy this morning was checking him out? No fucking way! Deanna was going to freak when he told her. Hell, he was freaking! What should he do? What should he do? The ad said bi-curious. What the fuck? Should he even answer it? The guy could be a 'phobe looking for gay guys to bash. Call him paranoid, but he'd heard many a story where that had happened. One poor guy even died recently. And who even really answered these ads anyway? He didn't think it was a good idea. He tapped his fingers on his desk while he mentally debated. The guy had been hot. Really, really hot. And when they met, he was wearing a business suit, so that was a good sign. But still ... this was how horror stories usually started. And the gay dude was usually the first to die. Call him paranoid, but that's the way he approached life. And he's still alive to talk about it. A hand slammed down on his desk, startling him out of his reverie. Speaking of the devil wearing Prada ... okay, speaking of the devil wearing Donna Karan ... there stood Deanna, grinning down at him like a cheshire cat.

"What's got you in the clouds this time, sunshine," she asked, twirling a tress of bleached blonde hair around one finger, her brown eyes sparkling with unconcealed mirth.

Good thing I'm best friends with the boss, Patrick laughed to himself before straightening in his chair to address her.

"Um ... just a new Missed Connection," he shrugged.

"Jealous?" she teased.

"I don't have to be," he snorted. "This one's looking for me?"

"Serious?" her smirk faded and she zipped around his desk to check out what was on his computer screen. Her pink-tinted lips moved rapidly as she read the words then she squealed in delight and jumped up and down. "Oh, he sounds FAB! You HAVE to answer this ad, Patrick! You just HAVE to!"

"Oh, really?" he squealed in an impersonation of her. "Do I?" She nodded enthusiastically. "No, I don't," he added gruffly, clicking the red X at the top of the screen to close out the page.

"But why?" Deanna whined. "He sounds so hot!"

"He was hot."

"See? There you go!"

"No, there I don't go!" he shot back. "He could be an ax murderer!"

"He could be ... the one!"

Patrick raised a sardonic eyebrow and glared up at her. "I'm not looking for 'the one' and I'm also not looking to get conked over the head a few hundred times so that I end up on a real life version of CSI:NY. No thanks!"

"You're so cynical!" she complained. "And you don't seem to have a romantic bone in your lithe body!"

"Stop checking my body out!" he rolled his eyes. "I keep telling you, I'm never going to be interested."

"Mm hmm," she nodded. "And I keep telling you that as long as I've known you, you haven't had one date. Not one!"

"I'm shy!"

"I don't buy it anymore!" she laughed. "You're a closet hetero, aren't you?"

"I am not!" he cried in mortification. "I've dated men before. Many a man, in fact!"

"Not in the two and a half years I've known you," she shot back.

"I've been busy!" he glared at her again, this time pointedly. "Making you rich and successful, might I add!"

"No, you may not," she laughed again. "I made myself rich and successful, peon! Now ... either you produce a date and soon, or I set you up." Her petite features took on a decidedly maniacal air. "I'm thinking ... Pietro."

"The DHL guy?" he shrieked. "No way!"

"Tick tock, Patrick sweet. You have until ..." she glanced at her watch. "This time Friday to provide proof of a date."

"And if I don't?"

"Then you can say, "Ciao, Pietro! Come sta?" She grinned as she walked off, waggling her fingers at him daintily.

Patrick dropped his forehead onto his desk and thunked it up and down a few times. He had no illusions that she wasn't serious. Deanna always followed through on her threats, and he knew she was just itching to take a turn at gay man matchmaking ( author laughs her fool head off ). What to do? What to do? He could ask his roommate if he had any friends that would be willing to pose as his date, maybe, just to get him past Deanna's threat. But knowing Tony, the only guys he would come up with wouldn't fool a blind and deaf person, let alone Deanna, a very savvy entrepreneur. No, he had to find a real date. Sighing, he reloaded the Internet and went back onto Craigslist, reading the ad again. The guy had been cute, and Patrick was checking him out. Plus, he had to do whatever it took to keep from getting set up with one of Deanna's Hampton friends. Patrick shuddered theatrically. Then he opened his word processing program and spent the better part of the ensuing half hour coming up with a response. Damn you, fate, anyway! he grunted when he posted the reply.