"Girls! Girls!" Jack Tripper shouted, racing into the apartment he shared with his two best friends, Janet Wood and Terri Alden. His two roommates appeared from their bedroom just as the oval-topped door slammed shut behind him.
"Jack, what's wrong? What's the matter?" Janet asked with concern as Jack attempted to catch his breath.
"Girls, you will never believe who is coming to visit me!" Jack exclaimed, his eyes gleaming in excitement.
"Who?" Terri asked.
"My sister, Stephanie!"
"Your sister? That's wonderful, Jack!" Janet replied.
"Yeah. It is." Jack said, pulling a letter from his pocket. "This letter from Mom came in the mail this morning. She says Stephanie wanted the visit to be a surprise but Mom couldn't help worrying about her getting off the bus by herself. I'm going to go down to meet her at the bus station at 4:00 p.m."
"Oh, I can't blame your Mom, Jack. Santa Monica isn't exactly a safe place for a little girl to be out by herself." Janet pointed out.
"Little? She isn't exactly little anymore, Janet. She's nineteen years old."
"Nineteen?" Janet and Terri exclaimed in unity.
"Yeah. I just hope I recognize her myself. I mean, I've seen her off and on through the years when I've went home to visit but my last trip was about three years ago."
"Well listen, Jack. If you're going to be at the bus station in time, you'd better get moving. It's already 3:45!" Terri pointed out holding her watch up for Jack to see.
"Three fourty-f…..oh no the time change! I forgot all about it." Jack exclaimed jumping up from the couch. He flung open the door and raced down the stairs, leaving his bewildered roommates staring at the empty doorway.
About an hour later, Jack opened the door of apartment 201 with a suitcase in hand and led Stephanie inside. The slender brown haired, blue-eyed girl's laughter was shared by her brother. "Oh, Jack, I never knew that about you!"
"I have a feeling that there's a lot we're going to be learning about each other over the next few weeks." Jack summarized as Janet and Terri entered from the kitchen.
"Hi Stephanie." Janet said. "I know you probably don't remember me but….."
"Janet! How are you? It's so good to see you again." Stephanie exclaimed, giving Janet a hug.
"Hey Jack, I like her." Janet laughed, remembering that it had been about 5 years since Stephanie's only short visit to the apartment. She pointed to Terri. "This is our new roommate, Terri Alden."
"Well, not so new, about six months now." Terri clarified, extending her hand to shake Stephanie's.
"It's nice to meet you , Terri. Jack tells me you're a nurse."
"Yes." Terri replied.
"I plan to go into nursing, too. Oh, but I'm sure Jack told you."
"I like her too Jack!" Terri laughed, being joined by the group.
"Listen, Stephanie. What would you like to do tonight?" Jack asked.
"I'm afraid I don't know much about Santa Monica. What do you guys do for fun?"
"Well, we usually unwind at the Regal Beagle, but it's our pub. Since you aren't old enough to drink I don't suppose that would be much fun for you." Terri mused.
"Actually, after that bus trip I think I would just like to stay here, unwind, and see if the rumors I've heard about Jack's gourmet cooking are true." Stephanie announced.
"Cooking? Oh no, the Bistro!" Jack exclaimed. "I was so excited about Stephanie coming to visit that I've forgotten my responsibilities. I'm going to be late opening up tonight!" He began running about the apartment gathering belongings to take to the restaurant.
"Jack, what can we do to help?" Janet asked.
"Let me think. The tablecloths are still in the dryer….Terri if you could come over and iron them and put them on the table that would be a tremendous help. And Janet, if you could go by your flower shop and make some simple centerpieces….Mr. Angelino is bringing in some important clients tonight and we have to dress the tables up a bit more."
"No problem Jack." Janet replied.
"Of course." Terri added.
"What about me? What can I do?" Stephanie asked.
Jack went to the table and began jotting a note on a piece of paper. "You my dear can take a hot, relaxing shower and change clothes. I know what those bus rides are like. When you've had some time to rest, come to my Bistro and you will have a wonderful gourmet meal prepared by your handsome, talented brother." He laughed smugly as Janet and Terri rolled their eyes. "Here's the address." He handed the paper to Stephanie, pecked her on the cheek, and headed out the door with Janet and Terri close behind, shouting 'Bye.'
An hour later, Stephanie was showered, dressed, and made up. She grabbed a purse and headed toward the door when the doorbell chimed. Shrugging her shoulders, she opened the door.
"Well, hi there." The stranger said. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure." He said, picking up Stephanie's hand and kissing the back of it.
Stephanie smiled at his charm. "I'm Stephanie Tripper, Jack's sister."
"Oh, I should have noticed the resemblance." The stranger continued. He peered over her shoulder and glanced around the apartment. "Speaking of Jacko, is he around?"
"No." Stephanie replied. "He's down at the Bistro opening up. I'm on my way to meet him there."
"Alone?" The stranger asked.
"Oh, I'll be okay. Jack gave me the address."
"No that's not what I meant. I meant that it's not right for a gorgeous young girl like yourself to spend a Saturday night without a date."
Stephanie blushed. "I hadn't really thought about it. It's my first night in town and I haven't met anyone yet."
"Oh yes you have, you just met me." He said, offering Stephanie his arm. "It would be my pleasure to escort you to Jack's Bistro this evening."
Stephanie smiled and looped her arm through his. She looked in his face and saw a certain twinkle in his eye. Their short exchange somehow told her that he considered himself a ladies man, yet he seemed very charming. Although he was quite a bit older than her, she felt a slight spark in his company.
The charming stranger also felt a spark for her. He dated a lot of girls but there was something very special about this young lady. "I think…." Stephanie began as they descended the stairs. "….. I at least have a right to know who my escort is this evening.
"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't give you my name, did I?" The stranger said.
"It's Larry. Larry Dallas."