Warning and disclaimer in Chapter 1


        The waiter smiled when he saw Darien entering, but it faded slightly when he saw his hand tightly clasped in Bobby's. He covered it well, acting professional. "Welcome to Zig's. I'm Roberto, your waiter. Are we ready to order?"

        Darien smiled and ordered a regular spaghetti and meatballs, while Hobbes ordered a fettucini Alfredo with a green bean casserole. As Roberto hurried off, Bobby leaned forward. "What's his problem?"

        "He, uh... he has a little crush on me."

        Hobbes smiled. "I don't blame him." They kissed softly and quickly over the candle in the center of the table.


        Claire and Alex necked as they waited for a table in the crowded restaurant. The waiter approached and cleared his throat. Alex smiled over at him. "Table ready?"

        "Yes, ma'am. My name is Roberto, I will be your waiter this evening. Would you like smoking or non-smoking?"

        Alex sheepishly said, "Smoking."

        Claire looked at her lover. "You don't smoke."

        "I used to... it's just... the smell is like heaven to me. We don't have to sit there..."

        "It's okay, Alex," Claire smiled. "Smoking, then."

        Roberto led them through the restaurant, turning into the smoking section just before they would have crossed Darien and Hobbes.


        Halfway through the meal, Darien dabbed his lips with his napkin and said, "I'm goin' to the little boys room, okay?"

        Hobbes pointed a faux-suspicious finger at his lover. "You're anorexic. That's how you keep so thin."

        Darien smirked. "I think what you're thinking of is bulimia, and I don't have either of 'em. Now, pardon me." He ran his hand over Bobby's bald head as he passed.


        Claire checked her watch, then leaned across the table. "Do I have something in my eye?"

        As Alex peered into Claire's eye, they both turned away from the bathroom. Had they looked, they would've spotted Darien going inside.

        Alex said, "There's something in there..."

        Claire said, "I'll be right back. I'll go flush it with water." She stood, lightly brushing Alex's lips with her own. She disappeared into the bathroom.


        Darien exited the bathroom, rubbing his hands with a paper towel. At that exact moment, Claire exited the women's room. They froze, looking at each other. Finally, Darien broke the silence. "Uh... hi, Keeper.Claire." He glanced nervously at Bobby, who was seated with his back to them.

        "Hello, Darien. Um... are you here alone?"

        "No," he answered, before he could think. "I'm here with..." He scanned the room for an alibi, then spotted salvation. "Alex!"

        Claire frowned. "Alex?"

        "Uh, yeah... we agreed to... talk about stuff. It's not really a, a DATE."

        "I see," Claire said.

        "So? Who're you with?"

        Claire panicked and scanned the room as Darien had a minute earlier. "Um... Bobby," she said, hoping the bald man seated just outside of the smoking area was Bobby. If not... she had some explaining to do.

        Hell, either way she had some explaining to do.

        "Bobby? Oh... okay. Well, uh... have a nice dinner."

        "You too."

        They broke off and went to their respective wrong tables. As Darien sat, he said, "You are a LIFE saver. I'll explain everything later, but right now just pretend to be on a date with me."

        Alex looked confused, glancing over at the bathrooms.

        Claire dropped into the seat and said, "Thank God it's you Bobby. Pretend we're on a date together."

        Bobby frowned, glancing back at the bathrooms. He rubbed his face and muttered, "Aw, crap."



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