TITLE: "Matchmaker Lane" (Ch. 4)
AUTHOR: Dream Catcher
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN SAILOR MOON
A.N.: Well, I finally got around to writing this chapter. I put this story on hold because of my Christmas story "Christmas Dreams" (I FINALLY posted chapter four of that story too.) I've been a little slow lately. Okay, REALLY slow. This chapter is the long awaited meeting between Serena and Darien. Hope you like it.
Raye's party had been in full swing for ten minutes. Lawn chairs and tables were scattered around the in-ground pool. Bug-off candles were placed in every corner of the back yard. Festive colors decorated the tables, chairs, even the fence. A volleyball net was even strung across the pool for later. And most importantly, at least to the men at the party, the grill was going and the smell of hamburgers was filling the area.
But Raye wasn't paying attention to any of that. She was too busy wondering where Serena was. From the time Raye had first met Serena, Raye had known she was reliable. And for some reason, she had grown attached to the blond, and this surprised Raye to no end. She had never became this attached to a friend in such a short amount of time. It was just her nature to be a little remote when it came to people.
It had taken poor Chad four months before she finally agreed to a date, but the date had turned out to be one of her fondest memories. He had been a perfect gentleman, pulling out chairs, opening doors. Why, instead of a goodnight kiss on the lips at the end of the date, he had gently lifted her hand to his lips for a kiss. It had made her stomach flutter all the more.
Needless to say, when he called her the next day, she'd been waiting by the phone.
But the night Chad had proposed to her was one night she would cherish as long as she lived.
They had been dating for a year and were madly in love. He had picked her up for a date, dressed casually. He had held her hand as he walked her to his car, and he had pecked her lips with his before he opened the car door. Once he was in the car be side her, he had slipped a bandanna out of his pocket and blindfolded her.
He drove her to a secluded cove near the beach and had carefully helped her clamber over the rocks. When he had slowly untied the bandanna for her, she had been greeted with a small romantic picnic in the sand. Her heart had swelled at the sight.
Together that ate spaghetti-chosen because he had wanted to mimic Lady and the Tramp- and watched the sun set. Together they had lain under the stars, gazing at the heavens, when he suddenly asked if she would marry him.
She had replied, "After tonight, how can I say no?"
Later they had made love for the very first time on that beach.
Now she had a perfect family, and that was why she continued to set up the singles that moved onto Juniper Lane. She only wanted them to have what she had. First it had been Amy and Greg, then Lita and Ken, only to be fallowed by Mina and Andrew.
"Hey, Raye, great party."
"Oh, hello, Serena. I was wondering were you were," Raye said smiling after being shaken out of her thoughts.
Serena looked around Raye's back yard and took in its transformation. They'd gone all out, she noted. She saw Amy and Greg sitting at a table together holding hands. Lita was trying to dunk Ken under the water in the pool, and Mina was giggling as she fed Andrew for him.
Seeing the other couples together acting like teenagers, made her wish she wasn't alone. Serena was beginning to believe she was destined to be alone.
"Sorry, I'm late, but I had to take a shower. I was finally able to cut the grass this mornin'."
Raye smiled, "That's right, Chad told me about that. So you got some gas?"
Serena didn't answer. She just grumbled and walked away leaving Raye by herself.
"What'd I say?" Raye called to Serena's back.
But Serena ignored Raye and kept walking. Maybe she would intrude on Amy and Greg. Deciding that would be her best bet, she changed her direction and headed towards their table, but she never made it. Phoebe ran into her path, causing Serena to stop to avoid a collision with the child.
Who would be irresponsible enough to allow a two-year-old run around like this? she wondered. Surely it wasn't Raye or Chad.
Bending down on her knees she spoke to the child. "Hey, sweetie. What are you doing wondering around by yourself?"
"Thank you, Miss, she got away from me and I was afraid she'd head for the pool," said a masculine voice, that for a second, Serena thought was coming from Phoebe.
Serena blinked and looked past the child. There her eyes focused on a pair of masculine legs, clad in a pair of shorts. She let her gaze climb to the man's chest, his neck, his chin, his eyes, his hair, and then back to his eyes. And what eyes they were, Serena thought.
Serena caught herself before she went into a trance staring at the man's eyes. So to cover up her brief moment of absentminded-ness, she picked up Phoebe and stood to her full height of five-three.
"You should keep a better watch on her."
Who did this woman think she was, telling me how to take care of my niece? he wondered. She was one to talk. If he was right-and he always was- then this was the woman who didn't know her lawnmower needed gasoline. She was telling him how do things. It was no wonder Raye hadn't found this woman a match yet.
But he reminded himself that he was a gentleman and shouldn't snap at the woman in front of him, no matter how much he wanted to. So he would pretend to be nice.
"Yes, well, Miss, I would like to see you take care of these two with out losing one." Okay, he wasn't one hundred percent nice, but it was better that what he wanted to say. He never expected her to challenge him.
"I bet you I can keep up with them 'til the party's over. Or are you to chicken because you know you'll lose?" She sneered at the man in front of her. Why would Raye let a man like this watch her kids? Sure he was handsome, but he was chauvinistic pig. She would teach him a lesson.
Keeping Phoebe balanced on one hip, she took Damian from the man's arms and balanced him on her other hip. She walked off with the two, leaving the pig to stare after her.
She did it. How, he did not know, but somehow that petite woman had been able to look after Damian and Phoebe without either one of them wondering off for the past hour. But, he kept reminding himself that the party had a ways to go.
As he watched the woman in the pool playing with his niece and nephew, he had a feeling he was going to lose. Phoebe and Damian were both floating in kiddy floats, slashing, kicking, and smiling.
But for some reason, Darien found himself watching Serena instead of his niece and nephew. He admitted, even if he didn't want to, that she had a way with kids. He watched as Damian splashed Serena in the face and Serena pretended to be mad. When he saw Raye walk over to Serena he decided he would find something to drink before they started the volleyball game.
"Hey, Serena. You don't have to spend the whole party watching my children. I'm afraid they might start callin' you mama."
"Don't worry, I'm not taking your children from you. I'm just proving some jerk wrong. He said I wouldn't be able to watch these tykes without one of them running off."
"Really? What does this jerk look like?" Raye was curious as to who the "jerk" was. In the time Raye had known Serena, she had never heard her speak a bad thing about anyone. That was Raye's job.
"Like him," Serena said pointing to the dark haired man talking to Andrew.
Raye almost laughed. Serena had no idea she was pointing to her brother. Oh, how ironic, Raye thought. She could almost see the fire in Serena eyes as she glared at her brother. They'd make a cute couple- look wise. Personality was another story. It was too bad they ended up mad at each other on their first meeting.
Their first meeting... First impressions never really count. Maybe...
Raye left Serena to seek out the other girls.
Odd, Serena thought as she watched Raye leave. Raye seemed surprised when Serena had pointed out the man. Does Raye know the man really well? she wondered. Why hadn't Raye said anything about the man? She had just left her standing there in the pool.
Serena tuned back to the kids and they continued their game of splashing. She glanced over her shoulder to take one last look at Raye. She found her with the rest of the girls. What scared Serena was the way they were looking at her. They had that look in their eyes; the one they had in their eyes before they decided to set her up on a blind date.
Uh oh, was all Serena could think before she was splashed in the face by one of the kids. Her mind switched its focus as she pretended to chase after Damian.
Darien watched Serena in the pool. Sure she had tongue that spit fire, but she had the body of a goddess. He wouldn't be a man if he hadn't noticed how she looked, especially in her two-piece bathing suit that clung to her and left nothing to the imagination. She had the hourglass figure that all women wanted and men loved to look at.
But Darien was a practical man. Looks were not important to him. Serena may have been beautiful on the outside, but she sure as hell didn't seem to be that way on the inside. She was too pushy for his likes.
He kept telling himself that she was nothing but trouble, but he couldn't help but to remember that brief second he had looked into her large innocent, blue eyes. What if that innocence he had seen in those orbs was the real her?
He didn't want to think about the blond anymore; so, he decided to focus his attention on what Andrew was saying.
"So what to you think, Darien?" Andrew asked.
"Huh? Oh, it's cool." Darien stammered, pretending he had been listening the whole time.
Andrew grinned; he had Darien caught. He had known that Darien wasn't paying attention, but it was all the sweeter to let Darien think he hadn't been caught. Andrew also knew what had diverted Darien's attention, a certain blond in a skimpy bathing suit.
"Really? You think I should buy Mina the Hoover vacuum cleaner for our anniversary?" Andrew asked Darien.
"Yeah. Sure." Darien already had Andrew tuned out again.
With bubbles up to her elbows, Serena washed her dishes while staring out the window over the sink. It wasn't even lunchtime, but the sun was high in the sky and the temperature was blistering. Inside Serena's house it was nice and cool.
She wiped a forearm across her face to try and get a tendril that had escaped her bun without getting any suds from her yellow gloves on her face. She rinsed the last dish and placed it on a drying rack. She snapped the yellow gloves off her hands and placed them beside the sink.
Now that she was finished with the dishes, she decided to prune the roses. She put on an old bathing suit that she didn't care about and put on some shorts over it. Grabbing a pair gardening gloves and the basket of gardening tools, she set out to work in the sun.
The roses needed some serious tending to. They were beginning to wilt, which saddened Serena. Serena removed any weeds and cut off any dieing leaves. While she did this, her thoughts drifted to the pervious day.
Raye's party had been really fun, except for the jerk. It had been a shock for her to learn he was Raye's brother. She could see a resemblance. They both had dark hair, tanned skin, and both were as headstrong as they come.
Darien was handsome, and that was the only thing Serena could find he had going for him. But Serena knew looks weren't everything. A person's personality was the key. A guy could be butt ugly, but as long as he had a good personality, Serena figured that was all that counted. But Serena wouldn't pass up a chance for a guy that had the perfect personality and was a hunk. However, Serena had yet to find such a guy that was single, and she figured she never would.
Everyone around her seemed to have a special someone. Her new friends, her parents, even her little brother. Why was fate so cruel to her? Was she destined to be the old woman with all the cats that all the neighborhood children ran from? Was that the future she was meant to live? Would she be forever alone?
She was interrupted from her thoughts by the sound of a lawnmower. She glanced around, looking for the culprit who had disturbed her peace. She wasn't surprised when she saw Darien pouring gasoline into the tank of a running lawnmower. He looked up as though he had felt her gaze, and they made eye contact.
The moment was ruined, however, when Darien stood up and lifted the gas tank up in the air in a mock salute.
Serena, blood boiling, threw her gloves onto the ground and stomped inside like a teenager mad at her parents. The nerve of that man! She flopped on the couch in the living room and grabbed the remote to the TV.
After an hour of Judge Judy, she was calm and collected, but the monotonous sound of a lawnmower still penetrated the calmness of the humid summer afternoon.
Serena peeked out the living room window at Raye's front yard, and her esophagus closed up. Through the window, Serena had the perfect view of Darien, bare-chested, muscles straining, and sweat gleaming under the sun. He wouldn't have been so torturing if he hadn't taken off the muscle shirt he had had on before.
He looks so damn sexy it should be illegal, she thought.
She continued to stare, wishing he wasn't such a jerk. When Darien turned, Serena jumped back behind the curtains, afraid she would get caught starring.
Outside, Darien was cutting the grass, still thinking about what he had done to infuriate Serena.
Raye, the tyrant, had put him to work, even though he was the guest. But there was a bright side; he wasn't cleaning out the garage like Chad. When Raye had started giving out orders, he had groaned at the prospect of cutting grass, but things had started looking up when he had walked outside and seen Serena on her knees and her butt in the air.
And when Darien had caught her gaze, he couldn't help but tease her. He may not be able to control his niece and nephew, but at least he could use a lawnmower.
He had one more patch of grass to cut before he was finished, and once he was through, he'd find some ice cream to eat.
Ten minutes later, he was putting the lawnmower up. He was finally through with the horrendous job. It was one of the few things he didn't miss about the South. In New York, grass was something he didn't have to worry about.
But his missed the South a lot. More so, he realized, now that he was back for a visit. He missed the fishing trips in which you sat on the bank, fishing rod in one hand and a beer in another. Fishing was one of the few sports you could never be too drunk to do.
He also missed rising at dawn to go hunting in the woods. The solitude was always comforting while you sat up in a tree stand, gun poised and ready. At the slightest sound you'd be on alert, looking for a glimpse of your prey. Of course, Darien had never really been an expert hunter because he would always fall asleep.
Then on the Fourth of July and on New Years, families would gather in their front yards to shoot of fireworks. The fireworks were never as extravagant as the ones that were shot off in New York, but it was fun nonetheless. He couldn't wait until Friday when it would be July Fourth.
The fair would be in town for three days starting Wednesday, and everyone was sure to go. Every year there were many contests and giveaways on the last day, July Fourth. When he was a kid, he'd sign up for a contest. It wasn't the pie-eating contest he entered, or the shooting contest. He would always enter the dirtiest of them all: the pig catching contest.
He just didn't do things like that anymore. It would seem so out of character for him to do it now. But, who knows he though taking a glance at Serena's house, I might switch roles by Friday.
TO BE CONTINUED
A.N.: Well that's it. Stay tuned for the next chapter.