Chapter 1:

"You will find a new life born out of your dreams." Sasha read Maggie Ainsley's fortune aloud that evening at the generic Chinese restaurant on the corner. The women burst into laughter, half fueled by Sake and old stories from their younger years. Maggie was feeling her age as she laughed. Not old, she was beginning to understand why older people preferred the phrase "howevermany years young."

Thirty five years, it was about time she began dreading her birthday. The women had spent the evening reminiscing, while occasionally going over the details of Sasha's engagement. Sasha Ainsley would soon be Sasha Barnes, after a two year engagement quickly coming to a close. Maggie felt a twinge of jealously as she helped her sister plan, but was grateful for this bit of excitement in her life. She had just about lost hope in herself as far as her prospects for marriage, and was grateful for her sister's fortune to find a good husband. Richard Barnes, a hematologist at Charity General, was a good man, and would take care of Maggie's 'baby sister.'

"What do you think that means?" Sasha asked.

"Vague and cryptic as any fortune, who knows? 'Born out of your dreams...' It's just some crap someone spewed onto a slip of paper. It's all just for fun." Maggie rolled her eyes, picked up the tiny slip of paper and put it in her wallet.

"Maybe you'll dream up some total prince charming to whisk you off your feet," teased Sasha. "It would be about time too."

"Hey, you have your happy ending, don't go poking at my condition." Maggie had resigned herself to being 'relationship impaired,' and was perfectly content with the diagnosis. Just then, the waitress placed the check on the table, and was almost suddenly out of sight. Sasha, destroying the peaceful grace left by the waitress, clumsily snatched and grabbed at the check. She raised her arms in victory, waving the bill in the air like a trophy.

"It's your birthday, you can't pay! I win!" Sasha chanted. People began to stare as she did a victory dance in her seat.

"Would you calm down? People are staring, and I'm not arguing. You've had too much to drink." Maggie laughed at her sister's antics. Oh to be young. Sasha settled and opened the little check book. She took out her platinum card, courtesy of Richard, and slipped it in the pocket. Almost as soon as she put it on the table, the waitress reappeared and glided off with the check and card, and just as suddenly returned with the receipts. Sasha and Maggie left the tip, and departed the restaurant.

Perhaps Maggie was mistaken, but it seemed that Sasha was tripping over her own feet every five steps. Halfway to the car, she realized that Sasha was at least slightly incapable of operating a motor vehicle, and demanded her sister's keys. They returned to Richard's three story house, were Sasha was now comfortably installed.

"Fun night?" Richard stood at the front door while Sasha climbed her way up the front porch steps. Under the porch light, he wrapped his arms around Sasha and supported her, while her head happily lilted to his shoulder.

"She seemed to take full advantage of the occasion, as she should," Maggie smiled at her very happy sister. "I think, though, that she's quite ready for some sleep."

"You need a ride home," Richard stated, more than asked. This had become a custom over the past two years, and Richard was used to the sisters' celebrations. "Let me tuck drunken beauty into bed and I'll take you home." He invited Maggie in while he carried Sasha with ease up the three flights. Maggie had wondered why a man previously single, or even two unmarried people would need so much space, but she often cast the reasoning to Richard's doctorate. The wealthy could afford such a lavish lifestyle, and she was happy for the fortune, for her sister.

She examined the elaborate paintings and portraits on the walls. Richard was an artist in his spare time, and decorated his home with his work. He was not professional, and the works demonstrated attempts at various forms. Some were admittedly better than others, but all of them showed potential, at the very least. It was clear that he improved further down the hallway.

"All set?" His voice startled her. Maggie whirled on Richard, who chuckled. "I do that a lot, don't I?"

"I'm just jumpy. I'm used to being alone, so that lends itself to being easily startled."

"Ah. Well, ready when you are." Maggie nodded and passed him to the doorway. The two chatted idly during the short drive to Maggie's one-bedroom house. They had grown to be good friends, but Richard gave an air of uneasiness around Maggie, as though she might suddenly decide that he was an improper choice for her sister. Maggie had tried to alleviate this worry, but Richard never gave way. There was a wall there, one Maggie hoped would be taken down over time.

"Thanks for the ride, again," Maggie said as she climbed out of Richards Audi Q7. "See you over the weekend?"

"Sure you will," Richard flashed a kind smile and revved the engine. "Time to go take care of the princess." Maggie closed the passenger door and hurried up her front steps. She waved once more to Richard, to give the signal she'd gotten in okay. She watched him drive off, and sleepily closed the front door, setting the deadbolt.

"Thirty five years young," Maggie Ainsley sighed, and headed up the stairs to bed.