Annabeth untied the ribbon that had her hair in a messy bun. She ran a hand through her silvery waves that had fallen out. Her grandchildren were more of a handful today than ever before. She walked over to the couch and frowned when she saw her blonde bunny laying on the couch, pretending to be asleep. She sat down then picked her head up and placed it gently on her lap. Annabeth stroked the blonde head resting on her lap. She had just gotten the younger ones to bed, but it was always a challenge with the oldest. Annabeth sighed tiredly, she wasn't getting any younger yet her stupid daughter kept dumping them on her doorstep. What was it with their need for normality, she could never understand. She smiled at the 8 year old in her lap, how could anyone believe being touched by Eros is not a gift? A gift and a curse, but that was just how the universe worked.
Annabeth glanced down, "Yes darling?"
Serena turned so she laid on her back, "Why did I see those lights around people?"
"You had a gift of being one of the servants to Eros, the god of desire, love, attraction, and affection. You see soulmates and you have a desire to make sure they're together." Annabeth explained.
"So I just bring everyone their soulmate? That's easy."
Annabeth snickered at her naivety and shook her head,but she was only a child. She'll learn soon enough, "Basically yes."
Serena sat up, she had so many questions,"How will I know?"
"You'll see and you'll learn."
10 years later...
The little girl soon grew up and at the age of 18, in a tiny office space with the cheapest rent she could find, she made it into a business. Serena Tsukino advertised her skills with a 100% satisfaction rate. It wasn't like you could return her services. With a price that varied depending on the manual labor, she's quite a success. In her office, Serena sat typing away on the only new thing in there, her laptop or as she affectionately refers it to her 3rd arm. There were files and papers piled up all over in an assortment of colors. 2 pictures on her desk of her family and the other with her friends at high school graduation. A giant printer/fax machine was squished into a corner and consistently printing papers. In a drawer that she had forgotten to fix for failing to shut had stacks of invitations, photos, postcards, and letters from the friends she has made through her business. As disorganized as her work space is, she knew where everything was located. Even the paper that stacked a mile tall on her desk, she knew the details of every single one.
Serena finished typing her essay for her class that was due in an hour. She stretched her arms above her with a grin on her face as she submitted the document to her professor. Her latest client had created all nighters for her to catch up with her school work, but there was nothing Serena loved more than a challenge. The annoying pop song she had set as her ringtone echoed throughout her office. She picked up papers, but her phone wasn't there. Serena groaned and crawled under her desk to search for such contraption. While under, the rubber band holding her hair in a bun snapped, unraveling her Rapunzel long hair over her face. She finally found the dumb contraption in her drawer of clients and of course it stopped ringing. She slid her finger over the screen and cursed, it was unknown. She hated unknown. Oh well, if it's important they'll call again. She didn't know how long she spent with her thoughts on the floor, but it must had been a long time because the elderly couple was not at her doorway before. She stood up, tucking her messy third day hair behind her ear. She tried to clean up, but knew her attempt was fruitless.
"Miss Tsukino, it is a pleasure." The man greeted her. The woman looked at the room with distaste, but still sat down on the mismatched chair across Serena's desk.
Serena smiled sheepishly, "I'm sorry about the mess, it's been a while since I've had a guest in here."
"I can tell." The woman muttered not so quietly. Serena forced a grin and sat down on her chair, trying to look professional.
"So what can I do for you?"
"We called earlier, but I believe you were…held up. We're just here for a reading. " The man smiled, "Can you explain your gift to us?"
Serena nodded, it wasn't uncommon for her to explain herself, "It's a little confusing. I can see soul mates as well as every major stage in a relationship. I see if a relationship is bad or good. I see love and when love falls apart. I see the potential soul mates or close enough. I see it all in different lights people have."
"Yes. So if I see a white light around you and your significant other then they're soul mates. Every feeling and progression is a different color. I just have to figure out what color it is. I need focus." Serena explained. The older woman smirked at her husband then turned to Serena.
"What do you see between my husband and I?"
Serena grinned finally something she's familiar with, a reading. "Bright white, but with a touch of pink. Both of you are not each others' destined soul mate, but because of circumstances and experiences you have become each others' second soul mate."
"Well what happened to the destined one?" The woman asked.
Serena shrugged, "They could have died or found their second soul mate. It could have been a toxic relationship so it's a good thing you're not together. It's complicated."
"Here I thought you would be naïve and only believe in one in the world."
Serena shook her head, "Love is complicated, but that's what makes it real. I do however guarantee that you'll meet them, but I can't guarantee a happy ending."
"We will all meet our soul mate once in our life?" The man asked.
"Souls are connected so they'll never be too far apart. There's this draw to you and them, but sometimes the string that connects you two become twisted and tangled up so much that it's impossible to untangle them so you cut it. That's when a potential comes in and a new string is formed, but it's not as strong as the first because that one is destined. Do you understand?" Serena asked.
"For a young girl you understand love deeply."
Serena shrugged, "It's my life. Also it's kind of my job. Because of my gift, it's hard not to intervene. It's my destiny to be the annoying flying baby."
The couple turned and smiled at each other before turning to Serena, "You're perfect."
"I want to hire you."
Serena laughed nervously, you know the feeling at the bottom of your stomach when you know it's a bad idea? Too bad Serena was prone to ignoring such feeling and going with it. "I don't understand. I thought you were just hear for a reading."
The man nodded, "That and we wanted to evaluate your skills and knowledge."
"I mean it's a little late for me to find a soul mate for you two if what you already have is so beautiful and magical..." Serena ramble until the woman cut her off.
"Not for us, it's our grandson. I want to see my great grandchildren, but at this rate I'll be dead before that happens."
The man placed a hand on his wife's hand to calm her, "We want him to be happy, but this girl he's with. It's concerning."
"Can I have a name at least?" Serena asked, "Can I have all of your names if we're going to conduct business."
The man laughed in response, "I completely forgot my manners. Old age does that and all. I'm Jack and this is my wife Wanda."
Wanda dropped a vanilla folder on Serena's desk. She looked at the folder puzzled, before opening it to reveal the contents. Her eyes widen at the magazine clippings and newspaper articles as well as typed information of…everything.
"Darien Shields? As in Shields Corporation? Your grandson is the chairman of a mall and hotels! I've stayed in one of them. Isn't he dating Madeline Blanc? You know my friend is modeling with her in Rome." Serena exclaimed, flipping through all of the information.
"You have your work cut out for you. My grandson is hopelessly devoted to dear Maddie." The way that woman said her name sounded like poison.
Serena placed the contents back in the folder, crossing her arms. "I've never had a client that's unwilling. How do you propose I meddle in his life when he really doesn't want me to meddle in it?"
"I'm his grandmother he has to obey me. It doesn't matter if you succeed in finding his soul mate or you don't. I just need you to break his devotion to that silly girl. . I need you to make him question what he wants in his future not what she wants." Wanda explained with a wicked smirk, "Either way, it'll be one hell of a pay day for you cupid."
"I don't do this for money." Serena retorted, "I have to see this girl to see if she is a potential or his soul mate or neither. I can't just break them up because you don't like her. And even if she isn't either, I can't do much about him wanting to be with her. Love is all about freewill too and if he freely wants to be with her then so be it. Not even my intervening can break that."
"It's more than that Miss Tsukino. When you spend time with my grandson and hear about her, you'll understand why we're doing this." Jack explained vaguely, "You'll want that pay day after the hardships you'll endure because of my stubborn grandson."
Serena shrugged nonchalantly, "I believe I am the most stubborn person I've ever met. I'm pretty sure I'll surpass him and because it's my sense of duty to find love, you'll find that I have…unique methods."
"Does this mean you'll accept?"
"When do you want us to meet?" Serena asked as she wrote down the time and place and smiled at her planner. If accomplishing a mission made her giddy then receiving a new target actually made her happier. Sure this one's going to be a challenge, but if she knocks some sense into this boy than she already is going to be half way there.
Jack and Wanda Shields took their leave afterwards. They waited until the day of the meeting to spring up the news to their unsuspecting grandson and he reacted as predicted. He stomped up the stairs then continued to shout obscenities at various inanimate objects. Jack sipped his coffee while waiting for his grandson to become 22 years old again. It had gotten cold how long had it been sitting out? His wife followed his example flipping through the newspaper, rereading the news cover to cover.
"I am not going on another arranged date." Darien Shields fumed as he drank his coffee quickly, ignoring his burning tongue.
"It is not a date but a..." Jack tried to explain thanking his wife mentally as she intercepted the conversation, "Business arrangement. I would like to see my great grandchildren before I die you know."
"I have Madeline." Darien noted once more ignoring his grandmother's eye roll.
"With her, I doubt I'll see your wedding." Wanda muttered, but her grandson still heard.
"Your grandmother is just concerned."
"I still love Madeline. Doesn't matter what you say. You have no say in my life." Darien explained to his family once more as he grabbed his laptop case about to leave for work.
"Please spare me the dramatics; you are worse than your sister. Because a relationship is functional when one of them continues to break the other one's heart causing him to turn to alcohol and the double X chromosome for company." Wanda said sarcastically to her husband, but as usual was far from quiet about her opinions.
"That was once."
"Twice, did you forget your escapade on Christmas Eve?" Darien ignored her and continued to pack up for work. He shrugged on his jacket, making his way to the door before his grandfather stopped him.
"Your grandmother has a request." Jack called out causing Darien to sigh and stare at his grandmother.
"Impregnate one of these girls you meet up with and then I would be very happy." Wanda teased, but meant every word. He groaned at her crude and blunt nature. You'd think after years of her ridiculing his girlfriend, his grandmother would give up when he didn't do as she said but that wasn't the case. It seemed over the years seemed to boil her up even more. Darien stepped into the town car at the front of the house and made his way to the building with a logo on top Shield Corporation. He made his way into his office and set about his usual routine of phone calls, meetings, and a whole lot of numbers.
Another man pulled in front of the car a few minutes later showing off his new bright red Ferrari. He stepped out of the car with a grin. He ran a hand through his styled hair and brushed off the nonexistent wrinkles on his navy sweater. The young man strutted like a peacock, barely giving a glance to the employees that bowed to him out of respect. He leaned against the assistant's desk, taking off his sunglasses in the process. The woman in front barely glanced at him and continued to type.
"Mr. Hays he's in a meeting you'll have to wait." She droned politely.
"Lana, you look ravishing as always." Jerry Hays complimented, but it had no effect on her.
Lana stopped typing then rested her chin against the back of her hand with a doll like smile, "Mr. Shields just arrived and is currently in a meeting with a CEO in Australia over the phone. So no you can't barge in there even with the key to his office that's in your pocket. Now let me repeat myself, you'll have to wait."
Jerry pouted at Lana, who went back to her typing and sat down on the plush chairs outside the office. He crossed his arms glaring at the assistant who simply smiled back. He angrily pressed buttons on his phone. He put the phone up to his ear and made sure to look at Lana in the eye.
"Hey Dare-bear, I'm outside your office. Your mean assistant won't let me come in...uh huh…I promise I'll be quiet…I'm bored that's why…I'm not you….Whatever….ok thanks doll." Jerry stood up with his hands in his pockets and sauntered into the office, feeling victorious against the evil one called Lana Suttel. Jerry waited on the couch in his office for his friend to finish his call before speaking.
"What's wrong now?" Jerry asked, "You haven't texted me so early in the morning since high school."
"My grandparents want me to get married." Darien exclaimed as he slammed his office door and Jerry lifted himself from his lying position on the couch and plopped on the chair across from Darien's desk and waited for his friend to rant about marriage once more. Sadly yes there has been numerous times this has happened over their 17 year friendship.
"I'm twenty-two years old. I don't need to get married when I could easily do so when I'm thirty. Also there is Madeline, who I will marry in the late future. I want to get married on my own time not when my grandparents want me to. They keep arguing about seeing their great grandchildren and what not but have they bugged my sister about it? Well of course not because she lives in Malibu on the beach house with a rich director that just won his 3rd Oscar!" Darien ranted.
"What did they do this time?" Jerry asked nonchalantly while playing with his cell phone.
"Set me up on a business lunch to discuss about I quote my grandmother 'hobbies and what not." Darien emphasized the business as Jerry laughed at his friend's expense.
"So it's either they are setting you up with a girl that matches their standards, a therapist, or believe it or not could only be business." Jerry explained as his friend groaned and covered his eyes with his forearm.
"Relax. Madeline knew what she was getting into. You just have to steer clear of making a bad decision or not, I'm not your mother so I won't judge." Jerry said patting his friend on the back and quickly avoiding his punch, "It's not a big deal, your grandmother has planned a lot worse so this isn't even that bad."
"Let's have an early lunch. My business meeting with whoever this is in three hours." Darien led Jerry out of his office and those three hours flew by. He walked into the restaurant his grandparents made him go to. He groaned and walked into the restaurant and waited for the hostess to escort him to the person he would talk about what not and his hobbies with. A red-haired girl, probably in college rushed towards him and greeted him with the hostess sunny smile.
"Are you waiting for someone?" Molly asked eager to please.
"I'm supposed to meet someone. I am Darien Shields..." Darien explained before Molly's eyes grew wide with recognition.
"Mr. Shields! Oh my friend was talking about meeting you! She is a miracle worker I swear." Molly yelped and led him to the outdoor area of the restaurant. Miracle worker? The over excited waitress pointed out to a petite girl sitting in the back with a blue notepad in front of her. She had extremely long blonde hair that almost touched the floor. They were styled in odd pig tails with two large meatballs positioned at the top of her head. She seemed cross with the waiter judging from her exaggerated hand gestures. The waiter looked flustered then relieved when he saw Molly. The blonde looked over then stood up to greet him. She's tiny like a troll. Not very professional judging from the black leggings and long white button up.
"Hello." Darien greeted with confidence, so this was a date.
"Taller in person." The blonde girl muttered not so quietly to herself as she scribbled on her notepad.
"Hello Mr. Shields, I am Serena Tsukino, your guide through this painful journey you are about to endure." Serena explained using her arms to gesture the journey. Darien stared at her oddly, maybe a therapist?
"Look lady, I don't have any problems and whatever my grandmother told you is a lie and I really don't need help." Darien stood up about to leave before he heard her.
"Could have fooled me."
"I don't need you. I am not suicidal and…I wasn't abused emotionally or physically, I have nothing for you."
"Let's see you have a girlfriend that is god knows where. You are rude, but at the same time polite from what your grandparents tell me and according to your file. You are arrogant and I have nothing to counter that. Also I hope you don't kill yourself and cry when I tell you what I honestly think. Mr. Shields, you have plenty of problems." Serena listed off, "Now be rational and take a seat. I'm a busy woman."
"I don't need a therapist." Darien said forcing a smile.
Serena laughed at his statement. She hadn't been called that. "I am not a therapist and if you need one I know people who are great at diagnosing your paranoia. I am practically cupid and I am here to find you your soul mate so sit your lovely butt down and hush." Her tone went from welcoming and friendly to cold like a professor on a bad day. "Alright here is my job. I will set you up with various people you may be compatible with and see if there are any sparks. Soul mates are usually in the same area and I believe yours is out there are well."
"Matchmaker? My grandparents hired a matchmaker?" Darien asked in disbelief, "Are you trying to con people?"
Serena glared at the accusation, "Look, I'm good at what I do. I have a gift for it if you will. I have never failed at any mission I've been given so allow me to prove my skills to you before you make such claims."
"Fine, I'll take the bite." Darien replied, "How did they find you?"
"I run a good business. I have an office." So what if her office was the size of a small walk in closet with an outdated printer/fax machine stuffed in a corner. Also there's papers, magazines, and files scattered across the floor. It's a good start.
Darien rolled his eyes, "Anyone can have an office. Are you properly licensed? Experience? You look like you're 12 years old."
"No need to be insulting. I'm younger than you by 4 years! Also you're not that impressive Mr. Inheritance. One last thing you can't fire me! I work for the person that signs the checks and that's your grandmother."
Darien glared at the blonde, "I'll get to the bottom of this. Until then let me repeat myself meatball head." He leaned down until he was only centimeters from her face, "I don't need you interfering with my life." He stormed off almost knocking the glasses of water from the waiter's hand. The waiter glanced at Serena in curiosity, but she was too busy fuming to notice him.
"Did that prick just call me meatball head?"
After stomping back into his office, he locked himself in. He had demanded that no one speak with him to Lana who as usual rolled her eyes and did as she asked. That was the best thing about Lana, she would do anything you told her to no questions asked. Darien paced in his office occasionally throwing a file on the floor. He would feel bad about his mess and clean up only to make a mess again. It's an endless cycle when he's frustrated. Darien took out his phone and selected the only group to message. He needed complain to others. Darien called in an early night for himself. He entered the car with an exasperated sigh. The driver knew where the next destination is going to be without instruction. After 5 years as his driver, Darien Shields is predictable when he's upset. Darien entered the private room and inhaled the smell of grilled meat. He opened his eyes to see Jerry pointing out every option on the menu. Jerry grinned and patted the pillow next to him on the floor allowing Darien to explain the situation.
"Your grandmother is going to be furious with you. My god you couldn't have just kept your big mouth shut." Jerry exclaimed.
"Whatever, I meant every word to that meatball head." Darien grumbled, stuffing a piece of bulgogi in his mouth. Both men looked up when the door slid open to reveal another man part of their brotherhood. He waved in greeting then plopped on the floor, immediately digging into the pork belly.
"I'm good too, thanks for asking." Jerry greeted sarcastically then he received a not so friendly hand gesture.
Nate Benton swallowed the meat before speaking, "So matchmaker, that's a new one."
Darien groaned picking up his small glass cup. He held it in front of Jerry. Jerry grabbed the green bottle and poured the soju into the cup. He shook his head at his friend's pathetic state, "You're so dramatic."
"So now that we're drinking to forget our problems, want to play a game of my life is worse than yours?" Nate asked Darien who just shrugged, Nate took that as a yes. "My mom arranged a marriage for me."
Jerry choked on the chicken he had just got from the grill. He grabbed the green bottle and washed it down, "What the hell?"
"I made the girl think I was a psychopath so I got out of it, but at least your grandparents aren't forcing you to marriage to some stranger. It's the 3rd time so I kind of understand what they want."
The door slid open then slammed shut alerting another one of them had arrived. "Jerry how many times do I have to tell you not to text me when I am at the hospital?" Zane Burke exclaimed. His long copper hair had fallen out of its usual neat ponytail. Zane sat down on his usual spot next to Nate and Jerry then proceeded to tie his hair back up. He smiled at his friends. They left the rest of the brisket for him.
"What's up with you Kael?" Darien asked causing the rest of them to turn at him. No one noticed him come in. He always appeared out of thin air.
"I don't want to talk about it. Wanda's quite creative. I don't believe I ever saw matchmaker in her cards." Kael Pierce diverted the attention back onto Darien.
"Yep." Darien glared at his empty cup as his friends took in the news.
"What about Madeline?" Zane asked as Darien shrugged in response.
"She said she was supposed to find me my 'soul mate'." Darien quoted.
"Why don't you just go with it?" Kael suggested, eating some of his rice.
"What?" Darien exclaimed.
"He has a point. Go with it, Mrs. Shields won't be mad. Then the matchmaker could say Madeline is the one if you pay her enough. This will result in your grandparents to stop meddling in your life because it has been analyzed by a professional." Zane concluded and finished his 3rd bowl of rice.
"You treated that problem like a math equation," Nate began and placed his hand on Zane's shoulder, "I worry about you."
"What's her name?" Jerry asked.
For the 2nd time that night, someone else choked only this time it's Zane. They all turned their head to Zane who was gulping down his water. He looked up at Darien and shook his head, "I tutored her in chemistry in high school."
"What's with the reaction?" Jerry asked.
Zane shuttered, "I still have nightmares about her." He failed to elaborate, just continued to nibble on his meat.
"What about her matchmaking skills?"
Zane calmed down after his round of flashbacks ended, "Ah yes. She's a servant for Eros or cupid. It runs in her family. They see this light for soul mates and have this need to get them together. I've been told it's hard to suppress." Zane explained, "There hasn't been concrete proof, but according to the people she has helped, she's good."
Darien's head dropped on the table. How was he going to get out of this one?
"When I pull this off, maybe I'll be able to get a full on office. Not a closet." Serena exclaimed to her circle of friends. The boys had their meeting place at a Korean barbeque restaurant while the girls had theirs at Mina's apartment. Every week they spent the night at her place, catching up. It was getting harder to see each other as they got older.
"There is one particular person I believe is my greatest competition. His family comes from a long line of doctors and they own their own hospital." Ami Mizuno replied indifferently as her friends' jaws dropped.
"Are you serious? You practically graduated high school when you were only in ninth grade!" Another one of their friends, Lita Kino, asked shocked.
"It just means I have to study harder and he transferred from the hospital slash medical school, Capital Heights, north from here. Bertie told me during rounds that he was ranked number one out of all the students there and Capital Heights is a great hospital and school, but only the top elite get in."
"Didn't you get into Capital Heights?" The girl in the laptop screen, Rei Hino, questioned while eating pastries.
"I did, but tuition's a little too high for me." Ami replied, "It's ok, I love the school I'm at now."
"Do you know his name?" Serena asked, that history sounded so familiar.
"He's a Burke."
Serena's eyes widened, "He tutored me in high school. I set him up with his soulmate! I don't know if they're still together but that gossip is so wrong! He only went to a semester in Capital Heights before dropping out."
"Was it too much for him?" Ami asked, it was kind of bothering her that there's a chance her #1 ranking could be taken from her.
Serena shook her head, "I heard he went to rebel against his family. Obviously he stopped or else he wouldn't be in medical school. So what's the letter you have Lita?"
Lita blinked at the sudden change of subject. looked down at the torn envelop in her lap, "I got accepted to the culinary school that the Benton Family opened up last year."
"That's an amazing opportunity." Serena stuffed her mouth with popcorn.
Ami shook her head, "Don't talk with your mouth full." Serena nodded and waved her off in reply.
"Remember that big project I told you I was part of Madame Clarrisa's wedding dress? Well they moved up the wedding meaning moving up the deadline and now they want all of our designs by this Friday and we can't even agree on fabric let alone a design." Mina ranted before banging her head against the table once more.
"I'll help you tomorrow how about that?" Serena proposed, but her blonde counterpart shook her head.
"I have to meet my parents' lawyers tomorrow. They're fighting over who gets the piano. I mean no one plays the piano." Mina exclaimed then proceeded to stuff her face with a pillow. Serena patted her head in comfort as the girls turned to the computer screen.
Rei rolled her eyes, "Modelling's great thanks."
"You get to model the newest line, of course it's wonderful while I'm stuck trying to prove myself to the people who dress you!" Mina mumbled, her face still in the pillow making it hard to hear.
A light bulb went off in Serena's head, causing her lips to melt into a mischievous smirk. Her friends were far too familiar with that evil look in her eyes, "You know Madeline Blanc don't you Rei?"
"Don't even think about it."
"I'm not doing anything." Serena answered sickeningly sweet as her friends groaned.
"Not yet." Rei muttered as Serena glared in response.
"Don't meddle in their relationship Serena. I love you, but sometimes your plans are...to put it nicely extreme." Ami lectured looking away from her textbook.
"Especially when you drag us into it remember Sammy's first Valentine's day after puberty." Mina reminded as the rest of them groaned at the memory.
"I was not that bad." Serena replied trying to down play the whole thing as her friends simultaneously shook their heads.
"You stuffed the poor girl's locker with teddy bears before making it rain rose petals and you also embarrassed him in front of the whole school." Ami reminded.
"I skipped my lunch because of your insane plan and you made Rei miss the bus." Mina exclaimed.
"I skipped my lunch date because of you." Lita emphasized the date, but Serena waved them off.
"Number one you all joined me with that long plan, secondly I bought you a pretzel after school to make up lunch and I had the track star give Rei a ride home, and lastly he wasn't your soul mate." Serena answered as she began to plot, "And Rei, I need you to return that favor now."
The next day Darien looked up at the small office building. He looked around the 1st floor of the building and frowned, looking down at the information his grandmother had written. The upper floors were thriving with life, but the first seemed abandoned. He wandered around the halls and finally found room number 157. The door wasn't shut. Darien winced at the shrill laugh through the door. This is the place. His eyes widened as he took in the office. It was tiny. The desk was overly large and so was the printer which was squeezed into the corner. Nothing in the office matched at all.
"I'll call you back." Serena hung up her phone then dropped it on her lap. What's with this family and her office? It's not exactly habitable for human beings. It's surprising for Serena who's here almost every day. She didn't choose a good day to not wear contacts. Her glasses had snapped in half after a dispute with her lovely sibling. She even wore the same pullover from the day before. Serena tried to straighten herself up however it wasn't like Darien noticed her lazy state.
"I'll do it."