AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, I'm so glad you guys like this. Here's another installment!

Chapter 3

"Well?" Deanna asked excitedly as Patrick walked into the office the next morning. "Did you make any progress with Mr. Craigslist Ad, or should I just send myself a DHL package?"

"You think I can have a minute to put my things down?" Patrick shot back. "Or is it too much to ask to expect you to hold off until Friday … like you originally said you would?"

Deanna pursed her perfectly glossed pick lips together and twirled her hair around her finger, as was her habit, while she watched him place his Starbucks coffee cup down, store his messenger bag beside his desk and power up his computer. When he logged on she grunted and pounced on his desk, unable to take it anymore.

"Tell … me … what happened!"

"What happened when?" he asked, opening his silver eyes wide and feigning surprise.

"Did you see him this morning? What did you say? What did he say? When are you going out?"

Ah, the machine gun approach, he snorted. Deanna was nothing if not consistent. He let her bounce up and down for another minute without answering her questions, choosing instead to log into his work email account. The marketing exec of the client company he was working with replied to his request for specs. Good. That would make his morning a little easier. Still haven't heard from the client's VP of branding, though, and he was supposed to get Patrick the color pallet they wanted him to use to create the ad. Hopefully he'd get that by lunchtime. He'd hate to have to call the ass again. He had quite the attitude problem.

"Are you listening to me?" Deanna fumed from her perch.

"I was trying to get started on my workday … boss."

Her responding frown only made him sigh, though. She wasn't having any of it right now. Patrick looked around the small office, relieved to note that the two other staff members weren't in yet. They tended to come in later, anyway, Deanna being a very casual kind of boss. Though, at this point, he wasn't sure if he was lucky or not that they weren't in. He looked up at his boss, who scowled expectantly down at him and heaved another side. She had carte blanche until anyone showed up.

"Fine," he grumbled, holding up a hand to count off. "First, he wasn't there. Second, since he wasn't there, I didn't say anything. Third, since he wasn't there and I didn't say anything, he didn't say anything. And, lastly, I don't know yet when, or if, we'll be going out since he hasn't responded to my email."

"He hasn't?"

"Well, maybe he did sometime last night. I was in class and then completely crashed out when I got home, so I haven't checked yet."

"Well, what are waiting for?" she exploded. "I order you to log onto whatever email account you need to right now and check!"

"Right now?" he asked in mortification. "With you standing right over me? What the hell ever happened to privacy?"

"I thought I was one of your best friends," she whined.

"You are, but you're still my boss!" he pointed out. "People can get fired for what they write in their personal emails."

"Oh, please!" she chuckled. "We both know I'll never fire you!" When Patrick's skeptical look didn't leave his face, Deanna sighed and shook her head. "Fine! I'll keep my back to the screen until after you log in and check if there is, in fact, an email reply. That work for you?"

"I guess."

"Then get moving!"

Deanna turned her head away to nonchalantly study the wall, and after a few seconds to be sure she'd stay that way, Patrick logged into his private account to see what had accumulated. When he saw 26 replies in it, he grunted in exasperation.

"What's the matter?" Deanna asked, sneaking a peek down at him.

"You said you wouldn't look!" he griped.

"At the screen!" she hissed. "Not at you! Now, is it safe for me to look at the screen?"

"I guess."

She turned around to the screen and whistled at all the unread emails in his Inbox referencing the Craigslist ad.

"Either this guy likes to write, or you met a whole lot of people at Starbucks yesterday!"

"Very funny," he muttered, clicking on the first message. He was rewarded with a phone number and a thumbnail picture of a man's nipple.

"Well, what the hell can you tell from THAT one?" Deanna asked.

"Not much, but I doubt it's him."

"Yeah, me too."

"How do you know?" he quipped while he closed out the phone message and clicked on the next one.

"The ad he posted made him sound more interested in getting to know you first, before tearing his clothes off and showing you his nips."

"You got that from one short ad?"

"I'm good with gut feelings," she grinned.

He raised an eyebrow and shrugged, then turned his attention back to the screen … only to be assaulted with the image of an extremely hairy groin area featuring a vein-y and bulbous penis.

"Eww!" they said in unison, and he clicked it right off.

A half-hour later, they'd gone through almost 20 messages with varying body parts photographs. There was also the odd pic of full-frontal nudity. Some of the parts and the guys weren't bad looking at all … just not the one he'd met in the coffee shop.

"I think I want a sex change!" Deanna announced.

"Why?"

"Some of these guys are really hot!" She crossed her arms. "I never meet straight ones that look like that!"

"I think that has more to do with your workaholic lifestyle than your ability to attract men, sweetie," he replied.

"You think?"

"I think," he nodded, looking up at her briefly. "Kind of makes me want to issue you my own Pietro challenge."

"Hey, you can't do that!" she shook a finger at him. "I'm the boss!"

"Mm hmm …"

When Patrick clicked on the next one, he almost exhaled in relief. This one looked more like it was from the guy. For one thing, there was a dearth of naked body parts. For another, there was the flirty tone instead of just a phone number.

Dearest P,

How many fakers did U get? I had about 50 or so. Never saw so many hairy body parts! Gah!

Anyway, would tomorrow be too soon? We could meet at the same Starbucks to make it easier and public. I figure it shouldn't be too busy after work, as most people will be going to the bars instead of grabbing coffee.

Hit me back and let know!

Most sincerely,

C(ameron)

"Is that him?" Deanna squealed and clapped. "It is, isn't it?"

Patrick's mouth went dry as he nodded and stared at the screen. Tomorrow? That means tonight! The email had been sent yesterday evening. Oh hell!

"His name's Cameron!" Deanna sang. "Patrick's got a date! Patrick's got a date!"

"Shh!"

The elevator pinged, signaling someone's arrival. The delivery guy stepped out and Patrick put a hand to his forehead as he noted the familiar red and yellow jacket.

"Why, hello there, Pietro!" Deanna laughed as she bounced off the desk to greet him, giving Patrick a departing wink.

Patrick shook his head as he hit the reply button.

Cameron found himself checking his email every 10 to 15 minutes, nervously waiting to see if the mysterious P answered John's email to him. He wished he could say he'd written at least some of it, but his friend came up with the whole thing. He wished he had the same confidence John did. Speaking of …

"Anything yet?" the blonde asked as he slid into the office and shut the door behind him.

"I'm checking now …"

He clicked the Send/Receive button and was rewarded with a little bell noise informing him that he had mail. He glanced at the sender's name to see if it began with a P, and it did.

"Mail from a Patrick someone," he said as calmly as he could.

"Sounds promising," John clapped. "So …"

"So?"

"So, open it, chucklehead!"

Cameron shot him a reproving glance then clicked on the unread message to open it. He suddenly was a little sorry he'd let John push him into placing the ad now. He'd been watching this Patrick guy for a few weeks now, and had wanted to get to meet him, but what if he came off like a desperate idiot? Tonight might be too soon. The message opened and he scanned it quickly, smiling despite his nerves.

Hi Cameron,

Great name!

I only got 26 replies. One of them was yours, so only 25 naked parts. No fair! What's your secret?

Tonight sounds great to me. I'll meet you at six, okay? Reply back so I know.

Later,

Patrick

"Dude, that's awesome!" John exclaimed.

"Yeah." Cameron murmured softly. "Awesome."

Then why were the inner butterflies attacking him?