"The Most Eligible Bachelor"

Disclaimer: I'd like to stake a claim on Adam Brody's dimples, but really, I don't own any of the O.C. characters or story lines.

Summary: Summer and Seth are leading separate lives now, but what happens when Summer's story for a leading magazine forces them together?

The sun rose and illuminated her room through the blinds. As it hit her face, she stirred. After nearly ten minutes of squeezing her eyes shut for as long as possible and pretending that the next day had not yet come, Summer's alarm clock went off, and she quickly rose and crossed the room to kill the shrill beeps.

She padded down the hall way and into the guest room, also known as Blanche the puppy's room. The small poodle, named for Summer's favorite Golden Girl, jumped up and down, furiously panting and running in circles to greet her master.

"How's my little girl this morning?" Summer said mid-yawn, as she bent down and scooped the dog up like a football. After putting on a fleece jacket over her silk pajamas, she retrieved Blanche's pink leash and stepped out onto 5th Avenue for her morning walk.

After walking for about an hour and downing her usual Quad Venti Soy Latte from Starbucks, Summer headed back towards her flat to prepare for her day. When she returned home, she noticed her answering machine blinking, so she pressed the play button as she walked into the bathroom.

"Good morning, my favorite little reporter. It's Charlotte. I have a huge piece for our All About Men issue, and I need you to come into my office this morning immediately when you get here. It's going to be huge, sweetie, HUGE! Kisses! Ciao!" Summer smirked to herself as she listened to her very dramatic, very insane editor's message end.

Never in a million years did Summer Roberts think that her bible as a young adult, also known as Cosmopolitan magazine, would one day be her place of work. But after interning during her four years at the NYU School of Journalism, and being the offered a job for after graduation during her junior year, she knew that her dreams were coming true.

Well, most of them anyway. She wasn't married to the only boy she had ever loved in her life, or even speaking to him for that matter, but all things considered, her life at 25 was almost everything she hoped it would be.

After rummaging through her closet for 20 minutes and finally deciding on a pin-striped skirt, a classic white blouse, and her favorite black Manolo stiletto boots, she grabbed her leather briefcase, her sunglasses, and was off to meet with Charlotte Henderson, editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan magazine.

"Summer, Summer, love of my life," Charlotte proclaimed while showering Summer with kisses and affection as she walked through the door.

"Good morning to you, too, my suddenly VERY loving boss," Summer laughed. "So, Charley, what was so pressing that you called me into your office an hour earlier than usual? You sounded so excited on the phone, that I pushed my normal 45 minutes of primping time up to 30."

"Well, dear, as you know, the All About Men issue is coming up in the next month, which is one of our biggest issues of the year. We, meaning the other editors and I, decided at our meeting that we want you, Summer Roberts, to write profiles on three of the youngest and hottest eligible bachelors on the West Coast!"

"Wow," Summer began. "I honestly don't know what to say. I mean, should I be nervous? How big of a story are we talking? And who are these lovely bachelors? Or do I pick them, because that could be a lot of work?"

"Oh, Summer. The list has been made. These are men that are pretty famous, or successful in a variety of industries that are also young and single. The editors and I have had some clerks on this story for awhile, and they have compiled the list, but when it came to writing it, we all agreed that you were the person for the job," Charlotte paused, allowing Summer to absorb what she just said. "Now, unless you have any objections or conflicts, we have booked a plane ticket for you to LA for tomorrow, where you will stay for about 4 days, and meet with 3 of the bachelors."

"So, you're sending me back home, huh?" Summer smiled giddily. She couldn't believe that she was being assigned to this story. She'd only officially worked as a reporter for about 5 months, but the editors were quickly taken with what Seth had once called her "vim and vigor" and had her covering some pretty large spreads.

"Well, we want you to come back—with a very polished and interesting story for our readers in tow. But, you know, if it works out with you and one of the bachelors-"

"Stop that right there. You know that I am not dating right now, because I am too busy writing amazing stories for your ass!" The two laughed. "So, who are these guys anyway? Would I know any of them?"

"Well, maybe. All three of them are actually from Orange County where you grew up. Let's see," Charlotte scanned down the sheet. "There's Ryan Atwood, a young architect, who has already established his own architectural firm and real estate company at age 25 building homes for-"

"For the underprivileged," Summer finished for her boss. As Charlotte raised her eyebrows Summer continued. "We went to high school together, he dated my best friend, I dated his best friend, you know. Who else do you have for me?"

"Well, there's Zach Stevens. He's the-" Summer once again cut off her boss.

"The youngest member of Congress in California history. Spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Expected to be a big up and comer for the Republican Party. You know, I really hope that this other guy is not someone I know, because I'm running out of close guy friends and people I dated from high school," Summer joked.

Charlotte, taking a moment to recover from Summer's rant opened her mouth to finish. "Well, this last guy, he's an artist and a businessman. He actually started a comic book business in high school, and it is now-"

"The fastest growing comic book business in history, with the most popular comic book of all time, Atomic County, as its leading seller? I know, and Charlotte, I don't know if doing this story will be possible for me anymore," an obviously frazzled Summer rambled while letting her head rest in her hands.

Charlotte walked around her desk and sat in the chair next to Summer, laying a hand on her shoulder. "Well, Summer, I know these are people from your past, and it's never fun to go back to high school, but we really don't want anyone else to do this story. We want you. This could be big for you. Stories like this are what you need to be doing if you ever want to work your way up to sit in my chair."

"Charley, believe me when I say that I do want this. SO bad," Summer stopped and bit her lip. "It's just so complicated."

"Well, what is it? I mean, is he an old boyfriend? Did he break your heart? Did he do something awful to you Summer! Because I am in charge, and I can take this publicity away from him and his stupid 'graphic novel' company just as quickly as I can hand it out!"

"Charlotte, it's not that I hate him or that he did something awful."

"Well, what is it then, sweetie?"

"It's the fact that I followed him across country to go to college. It's the fact that he's the only boy that I've ever loved. And last but not least, it is the fact that I broke his heart beyond repair and pushed him away from me, which ultimately resulted in this," she motioned to her self in a very depressed state.

"Summer, if you can't do this I understand," Charlotte said softly as she rubbed a crying Summer's back. "We can put Jones or Crawford on it just as easily. Don't worry about it, honey."

After taking the next 10 minutes to cry to her boss, Summer excused herself to go to the bathroom. She splashed her face with cold water, blotted it dry with paper towels, and reapplied her foundation and mascara. She stood staring deeply at herself in the mirror for several seconds. Finally, she took a deep breath, gave herself one final glance, knowing what she had to do, and headed back towards Charlotte's office.

Leaning into the doorway, she stated dryly, "I hope you got me a first class ticket. At least the booze are free," and headed back to her apartment to pack for what would be a very long trip.