Girls and Boys

Chapter One: Of New, Cute Neighbors and Annoying Friends

In which…Ami Mizuno gets a cute neighbor and her friends team up to "fix" her non-existent love life by setting her up with the new neighbor.


TO: Lita Kino

CC: Mina Archer, Raye Westwood

FROM: Serena Shields

SUBJECT: Ami's new (and VERY CUTE) neighbor

Hey girls! As it happens, Ami has a new neighbor who happens to be very cute!! (!!!)

I was at Ami's to borrow some weird book for Darien, when someone rang the doorbell. Turned out it was a delivery boy from some Thai restaurant, which was strange because we didn't order takeout and Ami never eats Thai. But Ami wasn't frazzled at all. She explained to the delivery boy that sometimes they got 15A and 15B mixed up so she went to check if the takeout was her neighbor's.

So she knocks on the door, and out comes this blonde, slim man with bright green eyes. And get this—Ami was actually shocked into stammering at the sight of him.

(after a very awkward pause)

Ami: (bewildered) Uh…You're not Mrs. Chase.

Zach (which was his name, by the way, only he didn't tell us until later): (smiles pleasantly) No, I'm not. Mrs. Chase moved out and I live here now.

Ami: Oh.

(another awkward pause)

Ami: (regains her wits) Did you order Thai? They sent this [she holds up the package to my apartment, but I didn't order takeout so I was wondering if this happened to be yours. They sometimes get 15A and 15B mixed up.

Zach[takes package As a matter of fact, it is. [sticks out hand I'm Zach, pleased to meet you.

At this, our dear darling Ami blushed like an over-ripe tomato. Aww… Anywho, she shook hands with him and they exchanged pleasantries for a little while before Ami and I retreated back to her apartment.

The coolest thing is she was totally blushing the entire time! Girls, me thinks we may have a super-ultra match-making opportunity! And it's like the perfect time for a little bit of meddling—Ami got out of her relationship with Greg a few months ago and now her love-life is once again pretty non-existent. What better time to do a little bit of meddling and match-making? Besides, I'm already four months along with Ermintrude, and I need something to do. I need a good scheme.

Oh, and the fact that the neighbor is totally drool-worthy helps things quite a lot. He's about six feet (so no height problem), slightly long blonde hair, bright green eyes, and quite slim. (Do you think it would be rude if I took a picture of him with my cell phone next time I'm at Ami's?) And I think he likes Ami. Or at least he thought she was pretty cool because he was smiling at her the entire time.

What do you think girls?

Much love, Serena

PS- I want one of those cool signatures that you guys have. I mean, practically all of you have got titles of some sort. Mina's is "Fashion Model, IMG Model Agency" and Lita's is "Head Chef, Firesque" and Ami and Raye have both got cool signatures about their positions at The NY Journal. It's not fair that only I don't have one. Any suggestions for what my signature should be? –Sere.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Mina Archer

SUBJECT: Re: Ami's new (and VERY CUTE) neighbor

Hallo darling!

I must say, I like this new scheme of yours. A lot. You're so right—Ami needs a little love in her life right now. Can you believe she's actually wearing that "I Have No Date for Saturday Night and I Don't Care" T-shirt? Beryl gave that to her as a joke, not for her to actually wear. Anywho, I have lots of time to do some good meddling these few days. I'll probably be in New York for a few weeks. There will be a few photo shoots, but after that I'm free—free to meddle. –laughs maniacally- This will be so fun! Ami's never going to know what hit her.

It would be nice to get to see a photo of him, but that's probably not necessary. I'll just drop by Ami's myself and get a look.

But hey, important things first—what's the plan? Are the girls all getting together someday, or do we just open a chat room? Oh and Raye will probably want to run a background check on him to make sure he's not some "serial killer, pervert, playboy, spoiled rich brat, or psychotic jackass", so do you know his last name? If not, one of us will probably have to get it out of Ami somehow.

Xoxo, Mina

Mina Archer

Fashion Model

IMG Models

PS- Darling, you got my signature wrong! I'm hurt. Just kidding. :) But I really have no idea about your signature. I'm sure the other girls will come up with something though. -Mina.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Raye Westwood

SUBJECT: NO WAY

No freaking way are we going to set up our nice, talented, pretty friend Ami with some new neighbor of hers! So what if he's cute? He could be some raving lunatic, serial killer, psychotic jackass, pervert, player or spoiled rich brat. Seriously, what do you know about him besides the fact that he's cute? Zach even may not be his real name. He could have given a false name. And what kind of person doesn't give his last name when he introduces himself? Humph!

Dear, kind Serena, Ami and I are single, independent, modern-day women living in the Big Apple. Why on earth would we need men to feel good about ourselves? You, Lita and Mina may have found Mr. Right, but who's to say that there's going to be a Mr. Right for us too? And besides, Ami and I have more than enough to worry about what with our jobs at The NY Journal—especially Ami, what with her holding two positions and all.

By the way, you're not actually going to name your daughter Ermintrude, are you? As her Aunt Raye, I have a duty to tell you that Ermintrude is a horrible name and that she will undoubtedly be teased by the other children if you name her that. If you want her to have a weird name, at least make sure that the weird name sounds good.

Get those bad ideas out of your head, girl!

Love, Raye

Rayena Westwood

Style Editor

The New York Journal

PS- I was under the impression that you would actually need a job to get one of those stupid signatures. And besides, most people don't even use those signatures. Insanely-organized people like Ami (who actually managed to get a VIP e-mail account at the Journal, which is totally unfair!) only use them for work. I for one am just too lazy to un-check the "Insert Signature" box. Anyways, I guess you could put "Serena Shields, Wife of Darien Shields, Mother of Rini and to-be (whatever you're going to call your new child—just not Ermintrude, please.) –R.

TO: Mina Archer

FROM: Serena Shields

SUBJECT: Raye hates the idea!

Mina, what are we going to do? Raye won't even consider the idea! She completely, flat-out rejected it and even gave me a lecture about single women in New York. Raye does a lot of the planning and gets the reservations! Can we do this without her? We can't do this without her! If she's not on our side, then she'll encourage Ami to focus on her career and keep her love-life non-existent. Plus, we can't do a background check without her!

He didn't say what his last name was so I don't know his last name. (Raye will probably freak even more over this.) Anyways, it's good to hear that you'll be back in the city for a few weeks. You've been jetting all over the place for fashion stuff that we barely get to see you! I think that for the first time in months the girls will all be here in New York. I'm so excited! We'll all be able to see each other and catch up. And besides, we have Lita and Nate's engagement party to go to. Yay!

Please tell me you have a plan to get Raye on our side though.

Much love, Serena

Serena Shields

Wife of Darien Shields

Mother of Rini and to-be Natasha Shields

PS- Do you like my new signature? I think it's pretty cool. It was actually Rei's idea. This way I can keep you guys up to date on the baby's name. Oh, and I've decided to change the new baby's name to Natasha, mostly because Raye gave me yet another lecture on baby names. Besides, I kind of like the name Natasha; do you? I wonder what Darien will think… -Sere.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Mina Archer

SUBJECT: Of course I have a plan!

Don't worry darling—of course I have a plan. I actually suspected that this was going to happen.

About the single women lecture… Did she tell you that she's been dating this guy Jared for a few weeks now? My sources say they're going pretty steady. I think Raye really likes this one. Go on, ask her about it. I'm sure she'll jump on board to make sure we don't sabotage her dates. Ah, sweet manipulation! Thou makest me feel all tingly inside. This is what friends are for, eh?

Anywho, you should be glad that Raye hasn't over-reacted that much. She's highly protective of Ami, having sort of grown up with her and all. I hear that in college, when some guy (apparently a rich, good-for-nothing playboy, in Raye's words) wanted to date Ami, Raye actually gave him a 10-page questionnaire on his intentions with Ami and ordered him to fill it out. The poor guy was, of course, scared away.

Xoxo, Mina

Mina Archer

Fashion Model

IMG Models

PS- Lovely signature, m'dear! I told you the other girls would think up of something. And Natasha really does sound much better than Ermintrude, but I don't think that it's the name for your new baby. –Mina.

TO: Raye Westwood

FROM: Serena Shields

SUBJECT: Are you sure about the single women theory?

Because I just heard from Mina who said that you, Rayena Westwood, have going out with a guy named Jared for a few weeks now. So, do you still believe in your single women's theory when you yourself are no longer part of it? I think it's best if you join in on the planning—just so, you know, the other girls and I don't happen to sabotage your dates with Jared.

Seriously though, do you like him? Mina said you two are going steady. I really do hope that it works out for the two of you. You deserve it, hon. Do you think you could take him to Lita and Nate's engagement party so that we can all meet him?

About the match-making, you should drop by Ami's and take a look for yourself. I really don't think he could possibly be any one of the things you mentioned. He looks like he's a nice person and he probably just forgot to mention his last name or something. Anywho, just drop by and take a look yourself and see how your killer instinct reacts.

Mina's going to be in New York for a few weeks (yay!) so the girls are finally all in New York. Get together sometime?

Much love, Serena

Serena Shields

Wife of Darien Shields

Mother of Rini and to-be Natasha Shields

PS- Thanks a ton for your suggestion about this signature. It's so cool! So how do you like the name Natasha? Is it up to your (enormously high) standards? –Sere.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Raye Westwood

SUBJECT: Fine!

I'll do it, okay? But don't mess with my dates. And yes, I really like him. I like him so much that I'm willing to forgive the fact that he's into politics. Satisfied? Maybe I will bring him to the engagement party. Maybe. I do, of course, expect that you guys will be on your best behavior in the meantime.

And about this meddling-with-Ami's-perfectly-fine-love-life project, get me his last name so I can do a background check on him. Plus, we totally have to ask Ami's opinion about him. I don't care if she blushed or not, we have got to hear it from her that she's really into him. I can pester her a little at work tomorrow, but she probably won't open up to me. Oh, and we need to get together and talk about this, because e-mail correspondence is just too messy.

Love, Raye

Rayena Westwood

Style Editor

The New York Journal

PS- Natasha is somewhat better than Ermintrude, (how did you come up with that name anyways?) but it sounds so… I don't know—Scandinavian? Slavic? I just don't think that it's the right name—but it's definitely much better than the god-awful Ermintrude. –R.

TO: Mina Archer

FROM: Serena Shields

SUBJECT: Raye's on-board with the plan! (!!!)

Thanks eons, Mina! You're the best!

How did you know about this Jared guy though? Plus, I think Raye really, really likes him! Rayena Westwood really likes a guy and is going steady with him. Her exact words were actually, "Yes, I really like him. I like him so much that I'm willing to forgive the fact that he's into politics." Raye actually likes the guy so much that she's willing to tolerate his interest in politics, when she swore off guys who went anywhere near politics when she was ten! I think this one just may be a keeper. Oh, and we might be able to meet him at Lita's engagement party!

When should we meet to start hatching those plans?

Much love, Serena

Serena Shields

Wife of Darien Shields

Mother of Rini and to-be Natasha Shields

PS- Hmm, I feel that way about the new name too, but I can't think of anything better so I'll stick with it for now. –Sere.

TO: Mina Archer

FROM: Raye Westwood

SUBJECT: Humph

I would appreciate it if you kept your cute little nose out of my private life. There's a reason as to why it's called a private life, you know. Nonetheless, I'm glad that you're in New York. Get together with all the girls sometime?

Love, Raye

Rayena Westwood

Style Editor

The New York Journal

TO: Serena Shields
FROM: Lita Kino
SUBJECT: Love the plan!

Sorry for having replied so late! My engagement party's driving me crazy. I just don't trust those caterers. Nate's constantly trying to placate me, but I'm still having doubts about the catering. They put parsley in the orchietta sauce! Parsley! And then I had to go over the specials at Firesque one last time and just ARGH. I've just been really busy.

But I am so up for a bit of match-making! If things go well, she could even bring him to the engagement party. I'll be sure to save him a seat in case. And if he hurts her, I'll kick his ass. Kidding. Actually, not so much. Hmmm, maybe not kidding at all. Anywho, tell me the details of the plan and what you want me to do. A photo would be nice too. I probably won't have time to stop by Ami's.

-Lita

PS- Who needs a signature? I barely ever use mine. –L.

TO: Lita Kino

CC: Mina Archer, Raye Westwood , Ami Mizuno

FROM: Serena Shields
SUBJECT: Get together sometime?

What do you guys say to a little get-together sometime soon? Mina's going to be in town for a few weeks so we're all here. How does next Saturday at my penthouse sound? Darien's catching up with some of his friends from college, so it'll just be us girls. And we can go somewhere if we like (and if the traffic's not too bad).

Much love, Serena

Serena Shields

Wife of Darien Shields

Mother of Rini and to-be Natasha Shields

PS- What better a time to ask Raye all about Jared Landon, whom she's been going steady with for a few weeks, and who she likes enough to forgive the fact that he's into politics. Our resident feminist has officially gotten herself a man! We might even meet him at Lita's engagement party! –Sere.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Ami Mizuno
SUBJECT: The Get-Together

I'd love to get together with the girls and catch up! Saturday at your penthouse sounds fine to me.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Ami

PS- I like your signature! The baby's going to be named Natasha now? I like it! It's a charming name.

PPS- I don't mean to be gossipy, but is Raye really this serious about the guy? –Ami.

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Lita Kino
SUBJECT: Cool with me.

The get-together sounds absolutely fantastic! The place and time both work for me, so I'm looking forward to seeing you guys there!

-Lita

PS- I'm glad to see Raye has got herself a man! Are you sure his name is Jared Landon though, because Jared is apparently one of Nate's old friends from college or boarding school or something. They go way back (according to Nate) and he is actually already on the guest list. Raye's going to freak. –L.

TO: Serena Shields
FROM: Raye Westwood
SUBJECT: What the…?!

SERENA!! Did you have to mention Jared in your e-mail to all of the girls? And how did you get his last name anyways? If you guys keep prying, I am not inviting him to the engagement party.

Anyways, the get-together sounds great. We have a lot to catch up on, eh? It's been too long. I'll be there—I really can't wait actually.

Love, Raye

TO: Raye Westwood
FROM: Serena Shields
SUBJECT: I know something you don't!

For your information, I got his last name from one of Mina's sources. Or rather, Mina got his last name from one of her sources and told me. But did you know that Jared Landon is actually one of Nate's oldest and best friends, and is already on the guest list for the engagement party? I guess the girls will be able to see him whether you bring him as your date or not. I'm feeling very smug right now.

Glad to hear you like the get-together!

Much love, Serena

TO: Serena Shields

FROM: Mina Archer
SUBJECT: Great!

I'm free at that time, so I'll totally be there.

Oh, I start posing for the shoot in ten. Got to run! Bye!

Xoxo, Mina

TO: Lita Kino

CC: Mina Archer , Raye Westwood, Ami Mizuno

FROM: Serena Shields
SUBJECT: Get-together conformation

Looks like we are all getting together! It's next Saturday, my penthouse, 8 o'clock sharp.

Much love, Serena

PS- Turns out Jared Landon, Raye's mystery man, will definitely be at the engagement party after all. He's actually an old friend of Nate's! –Sere.

TO: Serena Shields

CC: Raye Westwood , Lita Kino

FROM: Mina Archer

SUBJECT: Project: Ami's love life

Let's get this project started!

STEP #1: Pester Ami for more info.

-That's really all we can do at this point. We don't even know his last name so we can't do a background check. And besides, Raye really does have a good point—we have to figure out whether or not Ami really likes this guy. So start pestering her, girls!

STEP #2: Push them together.

-If Step #1 goes well, then we have to find some way to push them together. Invite him to some event? Further Planning needed.

Okay, so this is the first draft of the plan. All we really need to do at this point is get Step #1 done well. And that'll be hard enough, what with this being Ami Mizuno and all. If only we could get into her diary! I know she keeps one. That's why she's constantly typing in that Mac of hers. And besides, intuition tells me that the diary is why the security on her computer is that good.

Start working, girls!

Xoxo, Mina

()-()-()-()-()

THE TOP SECRET JOURNAL OF AMILENE MEREDITH MIZUNO:

Okay, something's up. I can sense it! Serena hasn't bugged me about my love life in days, Lita and Mina aren't e-mailing me about parties and getting out on weekends, and even Raye's e-mail was completely about work (hence, sans her usual independent women speech). The Verdict: The girls are up to something. They are never this quiet or this un-pesky, unless something is up. Unless something about me is up and they can't talk to me about it. What can it be though? Work is going along fine, all the girls are getting together next Saturday, and—Oh my God. No. Way. But really, there's no other explanation—why be so quiet about my non-existent love life, unless you are trying to fix said love life?

And how, exactly, do you "fix" a love life, according to the girls? You start on the double M—Meddling and Matchmaking, and hope it's successful enough to get to the third M—Marriage. But what do you, and not coincidentally the girls, need to do before you launch the M's? Plan. Plan and plan and plan and plan until your head is going to burst and you are going to die of over-thinking. And that is precisely what the girls are doing now—planning. (They're also probably listening to Death Cab for Cutie's album "Plans", just to get in the romantic planning mood.) They've been doing this for years. It usually works, like in the cases of Molly, Andrew, Alan and Anne, etc. etc. Heck, even Amara and Michelle, sort of.

The one case that has continuously failed? Moi—Amilene Meredith Mizuno. They certainly tried: senior year of high school, at Columbia University, even at The NY Journal. They tried and they failed, so they're trying again. But that's the thing—you need two people to match-make. And there is no second person, unless… Oh. My. God. They have got to be kidding me. But again, there is no other possibility. They're trying to set me up with my next-door neighbor! Serena met him a few days ago and she probably alerted the girls, so…

And I don't mean to sound like Raye, but I don't know anything about him besides the fact that he has deplorable taste in food (how could he buy Thai?) and great taste in music (hey, the walls are thin and he likes to turn up the music really loud). I don't even know his full name! All I know is that his first name is Zach—but he could be lying about that too! And he could be a psychopath, a serial killer, a hopeless playboy, or something really, really horrible. (Note to self: spend less time with Raye.)

Okay, I'm over-reacting. I know I'm being completely neurotic, but these pesky thoughts just keep running circles around my head. Darn it, I knew I should never have taken the crime article. I already hold two positions at The NY Journal and I do not need another position, especially not one that involves arrests and thefts and murders. I would like to get a higher salary so I could maybe move out of this hell-hole (excuse the language), even if I do happen to have a cute neighbor here.

Ugh. I manage to make things even more complicated yet again. I am completely freaking out about the fact that I have a new neighbor (my old one, Mrs. Chase, was harmless and just a 60-year-old woman who liked cats—I even had Raye do a background check on her just to make sure) . Why? Because for one, he's a he, and he could be some raving lunatic. But I can't even do a background check because I don't know his last name! This delicious Sundae de Complication is then again made even more complicated by the fact that he's cute.

Okay, cute doesn't do him justice. It doesn't even skim the surface. He's drop-dead gorgeous. Blonde hair, bright green eyes, tall but not too tall, and quite slim—he's pretty much my vision of "gorgeous". Plus (and I don't mean to sound weird, but I just noticed this) he has really beautiful hands—the hands of a pianist: long, slim, shapely and incredibly white. Also, he was holding Descartes' "Mediations" in one hand when he opened the door. Descartes! Sure, Descartes is no Plato, but still! Could my new neighbor be an intellectual? And besides, I really do want to like him. I liked Mrs. Chase, my old neighbor and, well, he's my neighbor and one is supposed to like neighbors, right?

Getting back to our original subject, we—you and me, dear journal, have to face the fact that the girls are probably scheming about me now and will be pestering me non-stop at work tomorrow. Shall we make a wager? I will get e-mails from all the girls asking about my new neighbor Zach. If not, I will write the gossip column for the currently on-vacation Beryl.

Dear God, this is pathetic. I am actually making wagers with my computerized diary on a Sunday evening.

Ugh.

-Ami.


Worth continuing?