AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hi everyone! Well, this is new territory for me: writing POTO in a contemporary setting! I've read so many wonderful modern-day POTO stories, that I just wanted to try my hand at one, so here it is! Erik, the "Date Phantom". I know the title sounds corny, but the idea came to me when I was watching the film "Hitch" (I do recommend this movie if you haven't seen it) and I thought "wow! This could work with POTO characters!" so here I am, once again combining two stories to create something unique and original. I do hope you enjoy, and have no fear, "Tapestry" will be continuing on as well. Thanks and please let me know what you think!

Story Summery: Despite his hideously scarred face, Erik uses his knowledge on romance to help other men win the hearts of the ladies they love. Little does Erik realize that he's about to get a shot at romance himself, when he meets Christine Davis, a magazine writer who believes romance is dead. POTO meets "Hitch", set in modern day New York City. EC (of course) plus MOC. Also, in this story, Erik wears a full just seemed to fit his character better.

Disclaimers: I DO NOT OWN either Erik, Christine, Meg, or anything that relates to the "Phantom" universe. Nor do I own anything related to the film "Hitch"; this is purely innocent fan fiction.

Rated T-M for language and adult content. Rating will be upgraded to an M for later chapters due to sexual content. If you are not of the age that you should be reading such things, then please, do not proceed.

Erik, the "Date Phantom"

Basic Principles

My name is Erik Henri…and apparently, I am the perfect man.

Alright, first, let me make this clear: those aren't my words. I don't think of myself as perfect, in fact, I'm the furtherest thing from "perfect", trust me on this. Those words actually come from my clients, and before you start thinking dirty thoughts, let me tell you right now, I don't mean clients in that sense.

I help people, men specifically. I help men who are suffering from a disease which many claim to be incurable: love. And the men who I help are men who lack confidence, understanding, and who basically don't know a thing about women.

Now let me make this clear: the men who I help are in LOVE with a specific woman. I don't help random strangers with learning all the right the things to say and do, just to get a woman in bed with them; heck, there are websites for that sort of thing. No, I help men who are in love, get the attention of the women they love, and keep it. I help men who want to sweep a woman off her feet, men who want a woman to remember them long after they whisper goodnight, men who want to give a woman something to look forward to as she's getting ready for her date. Basically, I help men become everything a woman would want; I help create the perfect man.

I have seven basic principles: seven things that men need to do, in order to become that perfect man. Now of course, there are more than seven things that make a man perfect in the eyes of women, after all, every woman is unique, beautiful, and different, therefore the principles vary from woman to woman. But I have discovered, over the years in my work, that these basic principles overlap with nearly all women.

Principle #1—LISTEN! I can not emphasize how important this is. No one likes to think that the person they are talking to isn't listening, especially when you're on the first date. Some people babble when they're nervous, and they'll do this especially if YOU aren't contributing to the conversation. So I always tell my clients to LISTEN to what the lady is saying; you may discover something you have in common, you may find a great conversation topic, but most especially, when you respond to what she's saying, you'll show her that you DO care about what she's thinking.

Principle #2—SPACE. Don't ever crowd a woman, especially on your first date. Many women today view themselves as independent, and that's a good thing. When you're out on a date, be sure to provide her with that comfortable space, allowing her to move in, if she so chooses. By doing this, it shows her that you care about her comfort and that you understand she's independent and now and then, needs to keep her space, her own space.

Principle #3—BODY LANGUAGE. This principle coincides with #2, which basically says, "Pay attention!" Sometimes the invitation to come into her space is subtle; if you're at the movie theater, and she slowly leans in on your armrest, or cocks her head close to your shoulder, she is probably trying to tell you to put your arm around her. My advice? Begin with laying your arm on the back of her chair; right away, there will be a physical connection. If she continues to lean closer to you, then that is definitely a sign that she wants your arm around her, but DON'T squeeze her to you; rest your arm lightly on her shoulder at first, letting her become used to your touch. Trust me, from that point on, you'll know how much pressure she wants you to apply. Same goes for holding hands; if you're walking side by and side, and she's pushing her hair back over the ear closest to you, and begins walking closer, then that is a sign that she wants you to touch her. Allow your hand to slowly brush against hers, as if by accident at first, and then do it again, only this time, more slowly. If her fingers begin to linger near yours, then that is a sign she wants you to hold her hand, so gently…allow your fingers to entwine with hers, and go from there. As I said before, from that point on, trust your instincts.

Principle #4—MANNERS. Don't fall for that bullshit that feminists don't appreciate chivalry. ALL WOMEN ENJOY GOOD MANNERS! And what exactly do I mean by chivalry? Open the door for the lady, be it the cab door, or the restaurant door, always open the door for her, UNLESS she's doing it first! When she opens the door before you, don't try to wrestle it out of her hands; by doing that, you're really sending a message that you don't think she's capable of even tying her own shoes. Be courteous; take her coat, pull out her chair, when leaving, offer to help her with her coat, etc. Being courteous doesn't mean doing everything for her, it simply means offering. Always offer, always ask for permission, don't simply grab her coat off her shoulders; by asking her for her permission, it shows that you do respect her.

Principle #5—ATTITUDE. How you behave on your date is going to determine whether you have a second date. You show up flustered, acting nervous, stumbling over your words, she's going to walk away and try to avoid you like the plague. Confidence is key here. Go in with a relaxed attitude! Be attentive, but don't be obsessive. Be charming, but don't be unbelievable. Confident…not arrogant. Confused yet? Trust me, I understand, perhaps better than anyone, how confusing this can be, but if you follow all the other principles, and go in relaxed, ready to have a good time with the woman you admire, the other stuff will just come naturally.

Principle #6—EYES. You know that saying, that the eyes are the window into a person's soul? They're not wrong, and a man's eyes can tell a woman EVERYTHING she needs to know about you, in other words, whether she's going to trust herself to be alone in a room with you, ever again. When she's talking, don't look at her mouth, don't look at her body and imagine what she looks like naked...keep eye contact! You're showing her that you're listening, that you care about what she thinks and says. But don't ever stare; staring is just plain creepy. When she looks away, you can gaze at her, softly, admiringly, and when she turns her attention back to you, look away briefly, as if you didn't want her to catch you gazing at her…when in truth, you do. A gaze is so different from a stare; stares are intense, aggressive, and as I said before, downright creepy. A gaze can be soft, and when added with the hint of a smile, it can cause a woman to shiver in a GOOD way. By listening to her, respecting her space, being polite and courteous, paying attention to her body language, and having the right attitude…a gaze will confirm for her, if she hasn't figured it out yet, that you care about her, and that this isn't about sex. She'll feel admired, beautiful, and with any luck, you will be receiving gazes too.

Principle #7—ROMANCE. I save this one for last, because in my opinion, it's the most important. It's also the "umbrella" principle to all other principles. Everything feeds into romance, and romance feeds into everything. Let me ask you this question: do you honestly think a woman wakes up and says, "I hope I never meet Prince Charming"? Women want to be romanced, wooed, seduced, and ultimately, be swept off their feet. I find that the smallest gestures can be the most romantic; learning what her favorite flower is, and having a bouquet delivered to her workplace the day after your date, thanking her for the joy of her company. Or cooking her favorite food, or playing her favorite song on a stereo, and asking her to dance. Once you learn what she loves, what makes her smile…then all it takes is a little creative thinking on your part, to become the most romantic person in the world to her.

These are my basic principles, and this is what I teach; three dates is all I need to help you get to what I call the "gold medal round"…that special moment that leads to that first kiss, which many women believe is the one true moment, when they know for certain…that this is love.

My clients call me the "perfect man" because they say I know everything there is to know about women; I know the right things to say, I know the right way to listen, I know the right way to romance her; the thing is though, I'm no different from you. Any man, with the proper training, can become the perfect man…and for those men that aren't sure how to begin? Well, that's where I come in.

My name is Erik Henri…otherwise known as, "the Date Phantom".