Episode 1: "Something About Her"
In Field Fly Sports Pub
It was the usual scene in the main room of the popular hangout In Field Fly Sports Pub. Every pool table surrounded by young, attractive adults, laughing and conversing. Pitchers overflowing with beer made their way through crowded aisles to high bar tables and stools. On the big screen TVs were highlights from ESPN's Sports Center and the road game of the Bay Area's very own Tempests minor league baseball team.
Among the commotion, Lana Whitmire sat at one of the many high tables with Jake Herrington. She first met Jake during her junior year of college at the University of North Florida and they have been close ever since. She couldn't remember the last time any man brought so much joy and relief to her life, not to mention one of the most enriching friendships she has ever had. One look at Jake and Lana instantly felt intoxicated with happiness. At an even six feet height, he stood tall above her petite 5'3" stature and a flush flew through her whenever she looked up into his face. Soft honey blond hair and enticing sapphire blue eyes contributed to his handsome features, accented best by his thousand-watt smile that sent electric shocks up Lana's spine whenever she saw it. Better than his incredible good looks was the soul beneath them. How can any man be as clever, fun, honest, noble, and good-natured as Jake? It was as if God had looked deep into her heart for inspiration to paint the perfect man.
Yet Lana could only smile back at Jake. Lana was too afraid of losing touch with him by jeopardizing their friendship with a declaration of her feelings.
"You don't know what it's like," Jake bitterly remarked, "This is the third story in two months that Donovan has snagged under me. You watch, I'm going to be unemployed if this keep up. Dammit!" He slammed his fist on the table.
"Calm down," Lana said soothingly, taking his face in her hands so his handsome face focused only on hers, "Getting so worked up over this is only going to drag down your own work. You need to relax, focus, and keep going. Channel your anger into your work instead of projecting it onto Donovan."
Jake pulled his face away, his gaze falling onto the stunning blonde bombshell who had just strut into the room. Lana followed his gaze, much to her dismay, as she recognized the beautiful woman as Kendra Blake, millionaire heir apparent to the Blake Industrial Empire of the Bay Area. Kendra found her way to the bar and joined a group of her friends. She attracted the gawking stare of every male in the room and Lana knew why. Her long golden blond hair, tossed over her right shoulder, fell in delicate layers from her left shoulder. It contrasted as highlights against her perfect bronze skin and ocean blue eyes. A fashionable designer red sleeveless blouse and white cotton pants kept every man's eyes off body parts they weren't allowed to see completely, with the exception of a strategically placed plunging neckline. It was a classy outfit for a woman too high in society to appear in the bar. "Why she even hangs out in dingy sports pubs like this one is beyond me," Lana thought out loud.
Jake was quick to Kendra's defense. "You are guilty of judging this book by its cover," Jake's eyes glazed over with a soft, wistful trance. "Who says that she can't associate herself with us commoners? After all, we are the consumers who paid for her lavish lifestyle. But no, that's not it. She isn't one to put herself on a pedestal above any other girl. She's down to earth, she's kind, she's amazing." A dreamy smile crept over Jake's face as he rested his chin on one hand.
Lana waved a hand in front of Jake's face, snapping him out of his trance. He blinked at her questionably, as if he forgot she was there. Lana frowned. Jake laughed at her and gave her an Indian rub on her head with his knuckles.
"Hey you two!" Stacia Ross, Lana's best friend, and her boyfriend Adam Grier sat down on the two empty bar stools at Lana and Jake's table. "What are you gossiping about?" Stacia kidded and winked at Jake.
"Gossip? Ha!" Jake scoffed at her remark. Lana laughed and replied, "More like Jake's drooling over Kendra, again."
Stacia made a disgusted face. "Please! Jake! I'm disappointed in you, I thought you had better taste."
Adam came to his best friend's aid. "Darling, cut the man some slack! Besides, you have to admit, Kendra Blake is one fine specimen of woman, right Lana?" Lana wrinkled her nose and gave Adam a little shove. "I'll take that as a no." He laughed. He leaned in closer to exclude the women from his remarks to Jake. "Well, I agree with you, man." He banged his fist with Jake's and laughed again.
Stacia and Lana leaned in for their own conversation. "This drives me nuts!" Lana hissed into Stacia's ear. "Why her, of all people? She's so shallow, so selfish! I'm sure she hasn't lifted a finger in her life to help out those less fortunate than her."
"Sure," Stacia agreed, "Why should Jake choose snobbish, conceited Kendra when he can have bitter, secretive you?" Stacia raised an eyebrow and peered at her with a daring look. "You've known Jake for years, I thought you two would be together by now."
"No, it's not like that. And it's never going to be," Lana sighed sadly. "We've sunk too deep into the comfort of the 'Friend' zone. There's no turning back now. Besides, it's obvious that he doesn't feel the same way about me. I'm like one of the guys to him."
"Shhhh!" Stacia covered Lana's lips with a hand. "Don't give in! I don't know about you, but I have this feeling that you two will escape that 'Friend' zone and sink into the comfort of each other's romantic embrace."
Lana cracked a fake smile to accept Stacia's proclamation. But as she watched Jake pine for Kendra the way she longed for him, she couldn't help but surrender to doubt and sorrow.
In Field Fly Sports Pub
Across the room, standing near the Backstop Bar, Kendra Blake was the center of attention, as usual.
"I have to wait overnight for an outfit I should be able to pick up in the mall," Kendra complained, examining her perfect French-manicured nails, "Why do I have to order online? This town needs to catch up with modern times, really."
"Sweetie, not everyone shares your taste in expensive Dolce & Gabbana designer outfits," Nina Parkherst teased. "Thank goodness we have you to serve as fashion police. By the way, I love your top."
Kendra playfully stuck her tongue at Nina. "Kiss-up!" She sighed dramatically. "But really, besides that baseball team and a couple of overcrowded nightclubs, there isn't anything really exciting to do in this town. I'm tired of the same old malls, the same old shores, the same old scenes, the same old people...oh, I didn't mean you, Nina!...but you know what I mean?" She looked down, pausing for effect. "And I haven't met a decent guy in AGES! What's wrong with the men in this town? Have they lost their dictionaries? I swear they don't know the meaning of romance!"
"You have so many complaints. You want excitement, go to New York!" Nina suggested.
"Or finally go out on a date with me," Simon Pratt cut in, suavely draping an muscular arm around Kendra's shoulder. "I can take you to places you would never forget, show you the time of your life."
Kendra daintily picked up Simon's wrist and pulled his arm off her shoulders. "I'd much rather not. I prefer more refined gentlemen, men with class, fine taste, a car..."
"I have a car!" Simon said defensively, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "Taste? I also have taste...I chose you, didn't I?" He put on his best pitiful puppy dog look, but Kendra didn't take the bait.
"Granted," Kendra replied coolly. "Check back in a couple of years when you meet the other prerequisites." Simon shook his head and walked away, defeated. After he left, Kendra turned her attention back to Nina. "Goodness gracious, with rags like him, I really should just pack up and scoot from this place!"
Simon joined Mae Jernigan and Oliver Banks, who were playing pool. "I don't understand. I'm a fun guy, I'd treat her well. All I want is a chance." He hung his head sadly, before leaning it against Mae's shoulder.
"I hate to break it to you, Simon," Mae said regretfully, "But you have a better chance of winning the lottery than hearing Kendra accept a date with you."
"Well, maybe after I win the lottery, I'll finally be able to go out with her," Simon commented bitterly.
"You shouldn't go out with a girl who'll only date you if you win the lottery," Mae advised him.
Simon rolled his eyes. "Well, what can I do? I've been asking her out for months, and I've been rejected every time."
"Try barking up another tree," Oliver cut in. He examined the balls on the table before leaning forward to take a shot. "Thousands of chicks in this town who'd make your dreams come true, and then some." He firmly snapped the pool stick forward against the cue ball, which sped forward quickly to knock his target into the pocket.
"I'm too tired of barking," Simon whined. "I think I'm gonna jet. My cousin is moving into my apartment complex tomorrow and I promised I'd help him out." He turned and walked away.
"Hey, Simon!" Mae hurried to catch up with him in the parking lot. Batting her long eyelashes, she asked "Could you give me a ride home?" She beckoned silently to him with her large, searching blue eyes as if hinting at other possible intentions. At first, Simon suspiciously examined her face, both surprised and uncertain about Mae's request. The skepticism melted away when she brushed her soft, full pink lips against his cheek and whispered flirtatiously into his ear "I'd be eternally grateful." That said, Simon acted the gentlemanly way, opened the passenger door to his car, and helped Mae inside.
Lana's Place, El Patio Apartments
Later that night, Jake and Lana headed back to her apartment for a cup of coffee and the usual reflection of the day. Jake sat himself down at her kitchen table as Lana prepared the coffee.
"I still don't understand why you're so obsessed with Kendra," Lana said, plugging the coffee maker into the wall socket. "I have so many friends and co-workers, beautiful with great personalities, who would love to go out with you." Not to mention, I want to be with you, she silently added.
"Lana, please don't kill the dream," Jake pleaded. "Besides, you don't really know her."
"And you do?" Lana skeptically replied. "I would think you'd be extremely lucky even she even knew you existed."
"Well, I know more things about her than you do," Jake told her. "You just don't understand...there's something about her." He paused as if to recall that something. "She helped me out at the mall once. I needed a mother's day gift, but I had no idea what to buy. Kendra happened to be in the Hallmark store and she suggested the flat stained glass ornament that my mom actually loved. Kendra was so helpful that day, you should have seen her..." The now familiar dreamy look crossed his face as he trailed off.
"So what, she helps you out once with a tiny task and now you're in love with her? I can't wait to see what happens to someone who does something major, like donating pints of blood for a transfusion to keep you alive."
"I'm not in love with her," Jake corrected her. After hearing himself say that, he quickly added "But I could want to love her forever." Again, he rested his chin on his hand. "A woman like Kendra doesn't come along every day. I mean, she has so much going for her. She's one step away from CEO of her father's company. She's traveled all over the world, she's met so many people. I'd kill for a moment of the excitement she experiences every single day."
"What you're really doing is idealizing Kendra, and her life ... a life you and I obviously know little about. You care so much about her, want to love her. But do you think that there really is something there?" Lana placed two mugs of coffee on the table.
"What are you getting at, exactly?" Jake demanded to know.
"Jake, I just don't want you to get hurt. I should know, I've been there before when you've been hurt. You've done the same for me, more times than I can count, thank you very much. I've been in the position you are in right now and I just don't want you to paint this picture of perfection, only to be disappointed when Kendra doesn't actually resemble that painting." Lana poured fresh coffee into their mugs, replaced the pot, and sat down at the table.
"Yeah, yeah, I know who you're really talking about. What's his name, you won't even tell me anything about him, the one who really broke your heart in college." Jake sipped his coffee black as Lana poured sugar and cream into her mug.
Lana cringed at the memory to which Jake was referring. She kept her composure and continued. "I'm just speaking from experience, that's all. Once you really do fall hard, well, it's such a gut-wrenching feeling, but in a good way." Lana dreamily gazed off into space, trying to recall feelings so far left behind. "You look forward to tomorrow with such anticipation, because tomorrow means another chance to see your special someone again. The chance to hear their every comment on life and trivial things, hanging on their every word as if their significance were second to none. Looking at any other person and finding yourself confident that no one else comes close to your desire as much as him..." Lana trailed off as her eyes rose in an attempt to meet Jake's stare. She had wrapped all her hope in her description, her own way of trying to tell Jake how she truly felt about him. But without a direct reference to him, Jake never understood the underlying message in any speech similar to this one.
"...Or her," Jake added before sipping the rest of his coffee. He rose from the table, washed his mug quickly, and placed it on the dish rack to dry. He walked back to the table, rested one hand on Lana's shoulder, and said "I'm open to the possibility that I could feel that way with Kendra. I wish you could be too." With that, Jake bid Lana good night and went home.
Lana drank the last of her coffee but didn't rise to wash her mug. She placed it slowly on the table top, and rested her chin in her hands. She felt deep within her heart that Jake really could feel that way.
With Lana herself.
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