Ruqayyah Tahir

April 19, 2012

Choosing Love(s) Well I guess you could say I had a normal life. I was adopted, but they never treated me any different. Laura and Kyrian Virgo (I agree, it‟s a strange last name) were the best parents a girl could ask for, they helped me lead good life. Just until a few days ago I worked as a legal assistant to the engineer director at Google‟s New York Branch. I‟m not sure how I got the job, but I guess my slight OCD probably played a role. I worked there for four years and now I am twenty-six (I felt so much older) and jobless. I could probably go a year without working because I saved a lot over the past four years, but I couldn‟t stand one more day in my apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City. All I‟ve been doing is reading old books and watching even older TV series, but not to worry today my best friend, Tia, was visiting. She was the type of person that can put a smile on anyone‟s face (most of the time). After reading three chapters of my book, I put it down and went for my snack cabinet to get a bag of Reese‟s Pieces (yeah, I had a cabinet dedicated to snacks and it was truly the best part of my apartment). While I was opening the bag Tia started to knock on the door. No, I‟m not psychic, but she knocks like she‟s about to break in (she was anything except gentle). When I opened the door, she barged right in without as much as a „how do you do‟. “Well, hello to you too,” I mumbled to myself. She started to speculate my apartment, paying close attention to the pile of movies and books near my oversized armchair. It was altogether clean but my boredom over the last few days could easily be noticed. “You need to get out of this apartment, it‟s not healthy,” Tia said looking at the pile with disgust.

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Choosing Love(s) Out of all the people giving me advice, she could barely handle money (I should know, I did her taxes).I started to pick up the books and movies to put them back on the shelf, but she grabbed my arm. “Zara, no, you need to go and get dress, we‟re going out,” she started to push me towards the bathroom. “But…” I started to speak but she cut me off. “No buts, you look like complete and utter shit. What is this?” she gesture to the messy bun on my head. “It looks like you have a hair ball on your head. God, you lost your job not your life,” she exclaimed pushing me farther into the bathroom. “Go on, make sure you put on some extra pretty clothes cuz‟ we, my friend, are goin‟ clubin‟.” With that, she closed the door and left. I knew I had no choice because she was a persistent person. “Oh, how fun,” I muttered to myself. Even though the shower was on full blast, I could still hear Tia shoveling my books and movies on to the shelf, completely ignoring the fact that they were supposed to be in alphabetical order. (Note to self, reorganized bookshelf.) “Zara Athena Virgo!” she barked, “Hurry up, we don‟t want to be late our dates are waiting.” “What the hell do you mean dates” I said pulling on a pair of black slacks. “I thought we were going clubbing.” “We are, just with John and Adrian. Stop being such a wuss,” she said barging into my bedroom. “When exactly was the last time you‟ve been on a date.”

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Choosing Love(s) I scoffed because she already knew the answer. She loved to remind me of my ever standing relationship status. “Oh wait, I know,” she said putting on a shocked face, if I didn‟t know what she was about to say I would of laughed. “It was two years ago and that‟s not even the worst part, you‟re still a virgin and you dress like one too." she started to frantically search through my closet. "Why do you always have to remind me? It‟s not really that bad and I don‟t really care." "Here it is," she pulled out the dress she got me on my last birthday "Tia, I am not wearing that, it‟s too short." Completely brushing of my comment, she went on, "Just because the first guy you tried to sleep with passed out and the second guy broke his leg doesn‟t mean you should just stop trying." she pulled me off the bed, "What are you staring at? C'mon, get the dress on," I sighed and started to dress. The dress was metallic, as Tia would say "Metallic is the best thing to wear to a club.” It had thick straps with a severely low V-neck (Ugh! Whore much!) and it only went halfway down my thighs. I should have given it away. Her vintage purple metallic mustang sat across the street, it looked as awesome as it did last time. It was probably the only thing she cared for, literally. When we got in I suddenly felt like the mustang had turn into the devil‟s chariot.

I absolutely hated clubs. They were always full with guys with too much gel in their hair grinding against half-naked woman (not that I should be talking). Like a five year old at their first play I was about to run out of there with my head between my legs, but then Tia pointed them out and started to run towards them (in heels). They stood in the back of the club posted

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Choosing Love(s) against the wall like they had so much swagger (which they seriously lacked). Putting on my best “F-U” face, I made my ways toward them. From the look on their faces I could already guess this was going to be a night full of bad jokes and awful dancing (Ugh!).

Boy was I right. Instead of staying with me and being a good friend, Tia darted off with the brown haired guy leaving me alone with a dumb blonde (stereotypical, but true in this case). He sat their staring at me for about a good ten minutes, but when he spoke this is what he said: “How do you know dogs are man's best friend?” he winked. I gave him a blank expression, but he brushed it off and went on. “Well, try this: Lock your best friend and your dog into the trunk of your car for three hours. When you go back and open it up, which one is glad to see you?” he smiled trying to keep himself from laughing. “I should have locked my best friend in the trunk,” I mumble and he looked at me with confusion, “I said I‟m not a man.” He smiled and didn‟t say anything else. The whole entire night made me even more depressed. Then, as if on cue, the phone rang and it was Tia's super bubbly voice on the other line (it kinda gave me an instant headache). She kept on babbling about how the blonde guy was into me and how much of a b-word I was being. After about five minutes of her continuous babble, I put the phone on speaker and left in on the kitchen counter. As soon as I left the kitchen she stopped babbling. “Oh, before I forget, you‟ll never guess what I got you,” she practically squealed. “What did you get me another „sexy‟ dress,” I prompted. “No, even better, so good you may even try to kiss me through the phoooone,” she sang, making a reference to some stupid song from our childhood. I decided to stay quiet and not play

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Choosing Love(s) along with her childish games. “I‟ll assume your silence means you give up,” she paused attempting to build suspense, but it was only annoying me. “I, Tia Abernathy,” I could practically see her holding her hand to her chest, “got you, Zara Athena Virgo, an interview as some law firm in the city.” “Oh T, I know there was a reason for me loving you,” I said wanting to jump up and down like a kid. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity and wasn‟t going to turn it down, but she told me two days before the interview on Friday. This meant I had to do some serious time crunching, trying to get my paperwork, résumé, and myself together (it takes me longer to do this stuff compared to the average person). After two days of becoming myself again, which meant I was completely losing myself to bittersweet work, Friday finally came! Everything was packed neatly in a cute briefcase and I didn‟t look at all depressed (thanks to Tia spa kit). My hair was style in a really cute up do, it was parted at the side and braided on the right side (it reminded me of something out of Ancient Greece). I wore a dark gray skirt suit and a silk purple button down with ruffled lace. I was ready to face the world, but first I had to get to the office.

I practically tried to force myself not to freak out, but I was grateful to be greeted by an extremely bubbly woman as I enter the ginormous law firm (I prayed that his office wasn‟t on a high floor). “Can I help you, Ma‟am,” she was practically giggling everything she said. “Um…” feeling slightly confused by her giggles. “Yes, I‟m here to see Mr. Rumani about the assistant job,” I was already starting to get even more nervous.

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Choosing Love(s) “Oh, yes. Well, I can assure you this you‟re pretty much the most sensible person that came for this interview, so you can surely tip the scale your way,” she winked and my confidence sort of came back. The desk attendant walked me to the elevator and told me his office was on the third floor (thank god). For the most part the building was full or warm reds, browns and yellows, though it wasn‟t my choice of colors they made it work. The people seemed very nice. When I reach the desk clerk for the third floor, she told me to have a seat that Mr. Rumani would be with me shortly. Shortly my foot, I waited for about a half an hour, then he finally came out of his office. “Ms. Virgo,” his voice made me feels like a five year old about to go to the dentist. “Yes,” I jump out of my chair. “Hi, Mr. Rumani.” His office was absolutely nothing like the rest of the building. Everything was blue and black, and sleek and modern. This was definitely more my style. When I sat down in his weird straight back chairs, he smiled and it filled me with butterflies. He was drop dead gorgeous, I mean straight out of a Calvin Klein ad (with clothes on obviously). His black hair slightly brush the middle of his ear, it was completely straight. His green eyes were framed by sinfully thick lashes. The rest of his faced was practically carved to catch a woman‟s eyes. I wanted to sigh, but I didn‟t want to look stupid. We went through all the basic interview question, etcetera, etcetera. Then out of nowhere he asked me a random question. “Zara,” one of his eyebrows shot up. “Do you like my office?” “Yes, sir. I like your office very much,” I said with a bit more enthusiasm than I wanted. “Well, I suppose I have to fix up your office much like mine,” he smiled at me again.

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Choosing Love(s) “What?” I squealed and coughed to regain myself. “I got the job?” I wanted to hug him so bad but I stayed in my chair. “You start on Monday, and your office be done then too,” he looked at me for a few seconds, “Oh, right. What your favorite colors?” “Huh? No, Mr. Rumani …” “Call me Stephan,” Stephan Rumani, why did that ring a bell? “Stephan, the new office is not at all necessary,” I truly didn‟t want to be a bother. “No, I want you to be happy with your atmosphere, so what are your favorite colors?” “Purple and green. No, but …” “I‟ll see you at work on Monday.” “Bye,” I sighed under my breath. “Bye, now.”

As soon as I got home, I called up Tia. "Hello" she said "Tia, do we know someone name Stephan Rumani?" I said without saying 'hello' (it's not like she says it). "Wait, tell me you don't remember him," she mocked. "Shut up, it's obvious I don't," I snapped back. She started to giggle and it made me annoyed. "Tia..." and before I could finish she answered, "Okay, okay. He went to high school with us." "Oh. It's whatever then," I said feeling some sort of relief.

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Choosing Love(s) "Noooo, it's not. He's the guy you liked since freshmen year in high school," she squealed and kept on squealing. "Omigod, Zara did you see him today!" "Yes," she was about to speak again but I cut her off, “he‟s my boss.” "What, Zara. Really!" I really couldn‟t take her squealing, “It‟s like destined love." “Yeah," I said totally doubting her theory. "Oh, and I got the job as his assistant." "I'm so happy for you," "Umm...thanks, I gotta go," I really didn't want to talk anymore, my stomach felt all queasy and I felt light-headed. "Where..." but before she could finish I hung up. For some reason Stephen being my boss was making me slightly scared. He didn't like me in high school, so what was different now. He will probably think I'm some crazy stalker. God, what was I going to do? Plus, now that I know who he is I will act like a complete idiot. Destined love my foot.

Monday's are normally dreadful, but today is downright awful. I got dress and left the house feeling like my stomach was going to explode. You would think I would be less nervous then the day of my interview, but I wasn't. I felt like crying, it was going to be just like high school, only now I had no choice but to work with Stephan. When I arrived it the building, I was again greeted by the bubbly desk attendant, she wished me good luck and a nice day (yep, that‟s exactly what I needed). When I enter elevator, I was greeted by one of the most adorable smiles I've ever seen. "Hi," he said moving to one side of the elevator. "You must be Mr. Rumani's new assistant. Josh." he said putting out his hand.

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Choosing Love(s) "Zara and yes I am." He started to tell me why the other assistant got fired. She got fired because she was throwing herself at Mr. Rumani. He thought it was funny, but I stayed serious. Just imagine what he would do if he found out I was the creepy girl from high school that had a crush on him. He said Rumani‟s former assistant thought he would like her because she was hot. "So, he hired someone less attractive and someone with less confidence and someone who doesn't even have a chance," I probably sounded like I was self-loathing. "Wait...what? I thought he was crazy to hired another hot chick," he gave me a confused smile and I felt some butterflies leave my stomach. "I'm not sure how to take that," I could feel myself blushing. "Do you have anyone to go to lunch with, cuz' I know this awesome pizzeria up the street," "Umm...yeah, I'll see you at lunch. Bye," I said leaving the elevator. Well, Josh is really nice. Tia would be proud, first day and I got date (sorta). Scratch that; she would be ecstatic. Plus, Josh was really cute. He had soft brown eyes, broad shoulders and sandy blonde hair. He reminded me of a boy-next-door kind of guy.

The third floor desk attendant told me I wasn't allowed to go in the room just yet because Mr. Rumani wanted to show it to me himself. I was cool with that so instead of going straight into working one of the other workers gave me a complete tour of the building. She showed me things like the supply room, the mail room, the roof, etc. The whole entire building was filled with warm colors. Supposedly, Mr. Rumani‟s mother helped design it. By the time she was done it was time for lunch and for some reason I didn't feel nervous.

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Choosing Love(s) I felt happy and excited; maybe it was because Josh seemed like such an easy-going guy. We met outside of the building by a massive sculpture that looked like scrap metal (I never under stood those). Whiles walking we talked about how I liked him building and our co-worker. The entire time he was smiling and I was giggling because he was really funny. After getting our huge slices of pizza, we went and sit near the window, then we started to talk about the boss and my stomach started to clench. "Do you like the boss?" he asked as we sat down, but his voice was void of all happiness, now he sounded a bit angry. Thinking of Stephan made me nervous again. “I guess he's nice, he gave me a job and all." Josh took a deep breath that sounded strained. "Yeah, the boss is nice, but he could be a bit mean." "Well, I suppose you have to be, runnin' a business and all," all he said was "Huh." The rest of lunch we talk about random stuff. High school, college, and our past, it was nice talking to him. I almost felt like I was talking to an old friend. Even though Josh was funny and kind, my mind kept drifting back to Stephan. The fact that I kept thinking about Stephan didn't surprise or confuse me; I did it when I was in high school. I liked him a lot and the fact that he kept to himself made him more intriguing; at least to me anyway. Most girls thought he was scary. Tia agreed he was hot, but was also scared of him. After lunch we went back to the office and the desk attendant directed me to my new office. It confused me because she also said that Stephan wanted to show me the office, but I guess he had things to do. I walked into the office and was surprised to see how well the room reflected my taste. Everything was purple and green. I was thinking that it was the most perfect

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Choosing Love(s) office ever when Stephan turned around in the chair and I could have sworn my heart skipped a beat. "Hi, Mr..." he shot me a look, "Umm...Stephan, watcha ya doin," I wanted to hit myself for saying something so stupid. "Nothing waiting for you," for some reason he sound disappointed, kind of. "Oh, I was at lunch. Did you know there's a quaint little pizzeria down the street," of course he knew (I just kept saying stupid things). "Yes, did you just find it randomly?" he said "No, I went to lunch with Josh, he's one of the paralegals," I started to fidget with the hem of my blouse. "Josh, he's nice," but the way he said it made me feel like I did something wrong. "Yeah, sure. What was it you wanted?" "Right ... I was looking for you to take you to lunch, but now I found out you had plans. Man, your quick," he was smiling now and I felt a bit weak kneed. “I don't know how to take that," the sound I made afterward was a cross between a scoff and a giggle. "Trust me," he said getting up from the desk walking towards me, "It‟s a compliment." Now he was standing so close that I could touch him. "Zara, you're a very beautiful woman." "Th-thanks," I could barely breathe and my heart was beating its way out of my chest. He lowered his head until I could feel his breath on my neck. "How long did you think it would've taken for me to find out who you are?" he whispered into my ear. I trembled when he rested his hands on my shoulders. "Wha…what?" I said still trying to catch my breath.

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Choosing Love(s) "Zara, don't you think I would remember you. I‟m pretty sure you remember me because I remember the shock on your face when you found out my full name," his lips brush my collar bone and I shivered, feeling warm all over. As he moved closer and closer to my neck, I finally came to my senses and pushed him away. "So, what‟s different now?” I spat feeling anger boiling inside of me. I look at his eyes and they were red with no sign of the beautiful emerald green they were before. "What the hell is wrong with your eyes?" and as soon as I pointed it out it flashed back green. Then he rushed out of the room with a stoic expression on his face. When I was sure he was out of earshot, I sat down in the chair and bawled my eyes out. I cried for at least five minutes until someone knocked on the door. "Hey Zara, you okay," Josh's soft, calm voice was like balm to my pain. "Oh, it's nothing," but my face was soak with tears and I was hiccupping (I probably look like complete crap). “I‟m just thinking bout'...stuff." "Oh...okay. I should probably leave." "Thanks." After talking to Josh for only five seconds, I finally realize the truth. That bastard, Stephan, was never worth my tears. After three hours of non-stop working, it was finally time to head home and curl up on my over-sized arm chair. It was amazing how many people called Stephan; he wasn't even one of the lawyers. Anyways, it wasn‟t any of my business. I was putting on my jacket when someone knocked on the door. "My mom always told me when you see a girl crying buy them ice cream or chocolate," Josh smile and came into the office with a grocery bag.

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Choosing Love(s) He had such a boyish charm that would have made any girl melt. Plus, he was really cute. "I didn't know what to get, so I bought both." he put the bag on the desk He got me moose-track ice cream and a bag of Lindor truffles; I could kiss him because I love chocolate and ice cream). "Omigosh Josh, thank you. That was very sweet of you." "I'm glad. So Zara, I was wondering what..." he pause and seem kind of nervous, "...you were doing this weekend?" he said the end of the question really fast and then he shut his eyes anticipating my answer. How cute. "Sorry, my weekends full. I'm going to spend it with ice cream and chocolate.” He opened his eyes and looked a bit disappointed (even cuter). "Josh, I'm just joking. I'm free!"

Tia was glad I was dating again, but was disappointed because it wasn't Stephan. The rest of the week went by pretty fast and the date with Josh went really well. He was a complete gentleman and he took me to this awesome seafood place. The food was really good (I heart me some shrimp). Afterward, we went to my house and watch a half a season of The Big Bang Theory, which we both loved since we were teens (nerds). He was a really good guy, the type of guy any girl could imagine having a future with, but it didn't feel right to me. Surprisingly, I spent the day with Josh and not once did I think about Stephan.

When I walked into my office on Monday, I found Stephan in my office once again (sigh).

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Choosing Love(s) "You're dating Josh" he said bluntly. I felt my cheeks turning red. "Why do you care?" "Why..." he trailed off and pulled me close by my waist. His face looked calm, but his eyes seem to be searching mine. His eyes were also turning red again; it was almost like blood was running through them. I felt scared but at the same time safe and warm in his arms. It seem so strange, it was almost like I wanted to be held by him. Like I belonged next to him. As he leaned closer to my face I knew I should have turn away or push him but I couldn't. I always wanted to kiss him. But, I knew I was going to regret it. So, instead of pushing him away, I move closer and laid my arms on his shoulders. As our lips touched I felt desire spread through my body like an explosion. His lips were soft and there seem to be so much passion whiles he kissed me. I liked how it felt to be wrapped in his strong, secure arms; it was like nothing I ever felt before. He moaned low in his throat and pulled away, which made me wince because I didn't want to stop kissing him. I open my eyes and even though we stopped kissing, our faces were still close and his eyes no longer had streaks of red in them. No they were glowing red, it just wasn't natural. "WH-what," and before I could form the question in my clouded mind, his eyes flash back green and he moved away. "How do you like the office, because I forgot to ask you last week," he said "Right, um...it‟s lovely and very comfortable," we were both trying to avoid what just happen for no reason. "You also got it done pretty fast." He smiled with a satisfied look on his face, "I'll never let you down again," at least that‟s what I thought he said.

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Choosing Love(s) "What do you mean?" I said completely baffled. "I said I never let my workers down," his voice sounded sure but he was avoiding my gaze. "That's nice," I said and he left. Boy, he was seriously confusing I thought. Again? When has he let me down before? I mean he didn't date me in high school, but that wasn't anything to get worked up about. Was it?

After that visit from Stephan, he never came back and it has been about three weeks now. I didn't let it get to me; instead I spent tons of time with Josh. I went on a lot of dates with him and he seems to fit in well with my life. We went to lunch together every day and went on dates almost every other day. I think it safe to say we were kind of a couple. "Josh," I yelled as the elevator doors were about to close. "Hey Zar," (oh, and he gave me a nickname) he put his arm out to open the elevator. "Sorry, didn't see you coming." "It's okay," I said giving him a big hug. He gave very warm hugs (like hugging a puppy). "So, where are we going tonight?" he said. "I don't know, how bout' the new Indian place on 52nd street," I said, “I been wanting to go there for a while.” "Yeah, I'll pick you up at seven." "Alright, then bye," I gave him another hug and a kiss on the cheek and left the elevator.

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Choosing Love(s) An hour later, I sat in my office playing solitaire (even though I suck at it). For the past few weeks things around here has been rather quiet, no visits from the boss and no calls from investors. I supposed things were just easing up. Just when my already drooping eyes were about to shut and I was about to collapse on my desk, Penelope walked in to my office and plopped down on a chair. "Man, shit these past few weeks have been pretty dang boring." she said fidgeting with the calming rock on my desk (sigh, I wish she would stop that). Penelope was short, probably about four-ten with long, thick blonde hair, which made her look even shorter. She had pixie like features, overall she reminded me of a faery. "Yeah, I guess. Do you know why?" I said drinking some of my once hot coffee. "Supposedly the boss doesn't want to speak to his investors." Then my office phone rang, “Hello," I said and Stephan answered, "Zara, I need to see you in my office." "Speaking of the devil. Good luck.” Penelope said as soon as I cut off the phone. When I got to his office door, I stopped and took several deep breaths hoping it would stop the churning in my stomach. I even closed my eyes but it didn't help. When I opened my eyes, Stephan was standing in front of me with an amused look on his face. "Hi, Zara," he said on the verge of laughter. “You aren‟t scared, are ya?" he said with a smug look on his face. "I'm not gonna fire you." I tried hard to seem confident, but it didn't work, especially after that incident. "May I ask, what's this about?" I said as my palms started to sweat. "I was just wondering how‟s work?" he said.

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Choosing Love(s) "You should know, being my boss and all." I said, but when I notice what I said I felt like an idiot. "Okay, I was also wondering, what you were doing tonight?" he said it so bluntly I wanted to say nothing. Then when I realize what he said my eyes widen and I looked at him, "It's Friday, so I'm going to dinner with Josh." "How nice," he paused. "Cancel." "What?! No!" Was he serious, who did he think he was? "Why?" he said standing over me. "What is this like your 30th date," his eyes weren‟t red yet but, because the events that transpired before, I figured they were about to be. I shot up from the chair, "It's none of your business." His eyes still weren't red, but he looked at me with intense eyes. "Cancel. I'm going to take you out tonight." "No, who do you think you are?" I said. "Fine, I'll pick you up at six." "But I won't have time to dress," What the hell did I just do? I thought. "You agree?" he said inching his way to me. I don't know but I think he likes to make me feel awkward. As soon as he moved closer to me, I backed up closer to the wall (I know the wall was a stupid choice, there was a door right there). This put a humorous look on his face. "No, I don't agree,” I shudder as he pressed himself closer. "Where do you want to go?" (persistent much) his voice was now deep and husky.

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Choosing Love(s) "I-I-I don't..." he stared at me like he was trying to read my mind. “My house!" I blurted before I could stop myself. What the hell was I thinking I couldn't invite him to my house; I could barely stand up straight around him. He looked amused. "Okay," his voice was normal again, "We'll go to your house," he winked and backed away. As soon as he did I practically scuttled out the door. "Bye." "I‟ll see you tonight," he leaned back into his chair looking incredibly hot. I left the room and braced against the door thinking Ah crap, what did I do?

That night I simply text Josh and told him I couldn't make it. He didn't even question me, which made me feel even worst (he actually trusted me). Things with Josh went well, but I still had the whole night to deal with (Ugh!). When I reached my apartment I took a deep breath and gave my house a once over, It was obviously clean. I only had to get dress and cook dinner (not in that order). I decided on cooking beef curry and roti, it is one of my favorite Indian dishes. I made sure the curry was chock full of habaneros. I could handle them, but I wondered if he could (Wink-wink). I also wanted my outfit to be simple, something that says 'I don't care much'. I wore a peach dress that I bought off the Donna Morgan site. The dress went down to my knees and was twisted at the waist. I threw on some gold heels, a gold charm bracelet, and a gold necklace with a milky colored stone pendant. Tia would say I looked like a virgin because she thought pastel colors label virgins or good girls (stupid), but I thought I looked pretty good. Normally, I wouldn't wear make-up but I did. Not too much, some mascara and a swipe a sparkly, tinted lip

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Choosing Love(s) gloss. I let my severely thick, black hair fall down my back and shoulders in lose curls. I was totally wrong, I did look like I cared, but I was pretty proud of myself. Usually, I look quirky and weird, but tonight I looked well put together and like I had a sense of fashion. I was finish a half an hour before six. I sat there watching Will & Grace and right when the theme song started to play again, the doorbell rung and my heart settled in my stomach. Quickly, I shut off the TV and check myself out in the mirror by the front door. I clenched and unclench my fists and then I opened it. I didn't realize my eyes were shut until I opened them, but I wish I didn't, so I could have a few more seconds to myself. "Well, it's nice to see you too," he said laced with sarcasm. "The house smells nice, what are we having?" I almost didn't notice his question; I was too busy staring at the way he walked. Every movement he made was so graceful, it was captivating. When I realize what he said, I answered like a genius, "Curry and... roti." "Indian food, that's great," he walked over to my bookshelf and started to look through my movies and books. I cringed because he wasn't putting them back in order (Ugh). I walked over to the shelf and start to reorganize the books and movies. Then I notice he was spitefully messing them up. "Stop," I grabbed his hand and pushed it away "Man, you got it bad," he said backing away from the shelves. "No, this is one of my particular quirks," I said pointing at the shelves.

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Choosing Love(s) I turned back around and started to reorganize again. Then I felt his hands on my shoulders. I was scared at first, but when his hands started to move it was almost like magic (I even forgot about the disorganized bookshelf). "Maybe you just need to relax," his voice jolted me back to reality. "Stop," I pushed him away. "Let's just have dinner," I sounded really mean, but he followed me to the table anyway. I thanked god that my table was longish, so we wouldn‟t accidentally touch each other. "Everything looks good." "Thanks," I passed him the bowl of curry. We sat there silently eating, it was extremely awkward. He kept smiling, which made it even more awkward. "So..." I said scooping up some beef with a piece of roti (oh, and it was kinda amusing because he couldn't eat with his hands), "...how's the business going," He laughed, "You should know, being my assistant and all." "Oh, right. It's going..." my voice trailed off; there was a huge pepper on the piece of roti he was about to shovel into his mouth. "Shit," I mumbled. I wanted to say something but instead I settled for counting it down. Five...four...three...two...one and his face exploded red and I doubled over laughing. "What are you trying to..." he started to fan his mouth, that wasn't going to help (obviously). I hurried over with a pitcher of water. He was truly freaking out, and (for me anyways) it was completely awesome. "You're gonna be fine!" I said handing him the pitcher. "It‟s just a habanero."

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Choosing Love(s) He gulped down the pitcher, while I laughed lawlessly. After he finished, he sat there breathing heavily with his clothes soaking wet, which made his shirt transparent (abs much!). "You think this is funny!" he shot up looking furious (man, did he look hot when he was angry). "Yeah, you're a big guy crying over a pepper," my laughter dimmed a bit but there was still a hint of humor in my voice. He stared at me for about five seconds and then he turned his back to me. I walked up to him, "Stephan," I pause and cleared my throat, "I'm sorry." I rested my hand on one of his huge shoulders and felt him stiffen under my touch, "I seriously didn't know you didn't like pepper." He turned around with a huge smile on his face, "I really just had a panic-attack over a pepper." I nodded. "Man, you should have got that on camera," he busted out laughing. I was a bit confused (and scared) at first, but I slowly join in his laughter. That moment was the most comfortable I've been around Stephan, even in high school. Then I remembered he was still soaked with water, "I should probably get you some clothes." "Okay," he said. I went to the guest room and grabbed some of my brothers' clothes from the drawer (my brother came over quite a bit). I went back to the dining room and gave Stephan the clothes.

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Choosing Love(s) "I'm gonna clear up the table, so you can go in the living room," I picked up a plate and a bowl to carry it to the kitchen, but he was still standing there staring at me, "Jeesh, I promise I won't peek." "Trust me, that's the least of my worries," he said grinning (ugh). "I was just wondering, how the heck am I gonna fit in to these sweats," he held up the pants. I knew the pants weren't going to fit because my brother was the size of my leg and Stephan was big, not fat, but buff. "Just wear them, it won't look that bad." "Riiight," he stretch the word and went out of the living room. I smiled and went into the kitchen. I cleared the table thinking about how much fun I was having with Stephan. When he came into the kitchen I was practically throwing the dishes into the dishwasher, which was weird because I always took my time and packed it (whatever). He came into the kitchen with his hands on his hip, mocking a girl. I didn't notice I grabbed one of my brothers‟ oversized tees (which meant it's like XXXL) and the sweats were extremely tight, it looked like something I would sleep in. "How do I look?" he spun around and waggled his eyebrows at me. "Amazing," I said giving him a once over. He lifted the hem of his shirt, "I don't know, I think it makes my butt look big." I raised my eyebrows, "That it does.” I shook my head, “Stephan. you look fine and nobody's is looking at you." "No?" he hoisted himself on top of the counter top, "cuz' I'm pretty sure you were just doing it."

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Choosing Love(s) Then he picked up the basket of habaneros off the counter, "You really do eat a lot of these, don't you? Have you ever tried to eat one raw," he looked at me wickedly. "No," I said as my brows furled together, "I can't say I have." "How bout' this we‟ll both take a bite of a habanero and see who can last the longest without water. If I win..." "Doubt it," I scoffed. He twisted his lip and went on, “I get a kiss and another date." "And if I win?" "I'll raise your hourly pay by four bucks." he said throwing a pepper for me. "K, let's do it. I'd love me some extra cash." We both bit into the peppers at the same time. I felt the spiciness of the pepper spread through my mouth and I was about to go for the sink by impulse, but I didn't. He didn't even last fifteen seconds (Ha!). He drank about two glasses of water and he filled up another one and held it out towards me. I refused it. "You sure?" he leaned down and put his arm on the countertop behind me. "you should see your face right now. Your nose and your cheeks are blazing red. It‟s so cute," he went to pinch my cheek and I went for the water. I grabbed the glass and gulped it down (god, I love water). I looked up from the glass to find Stephen staring at me like he was lost. He wasn't smiling anymore, he looked very serious and he was staring into my eyes. Then he kissed me, it wasn't like last time. This time it wasn't force, it felt like a question, like he wasn't sure. He pulled back his eyes were still close and he was taking short breaths. I cupped my hand around his neck and pulled him closer. This time there was no question; there was passion in both of us. He kissed me with need and urgency, it

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Choosing Love(s) was confusing. Then a picture of Josh popped into my head and Stephen crushed himself against me. I pushed him away not only because I felt guilty, but also because I barely knew him. "Stephan," I said breathlessly He looked at me frantically and loosened his grip on my hip. His eyes were once again red, but I wanted answers this time. "Stephen, don't you dare go changing eye colors on me again cuz' I know I‟m not crazy." "What are you talking about?" he looked away. "You don't think I noticed, not everyone's eyes turn red," I paused. "Just tell me what's wrong with you or what are you?" "That should've be what you betted on?" he turned to leave the kitchen. I grabbed his arm, "Don't you dare leave this kitchen. You have to tell me, how can I ever get to know you if you can't answer a simple question?" "Zara," his voice was almost a whisper. "That's not a simple question," his shoulders slumped and he turned to face me. He looked truly sad, like keeping this from me was hurting him. "I can't answer your question." "Then leave, I never want to see you again," I said letting frustration get the best of me. "No. No, don't say that," he combed his fingers through his hair staring at the floor. "So, what do you expect me to do? Huh! Have a relationship with someone who can't be honest with me." "Zara, please try to understand, " he looked at me with pleading eyes. "Understand what?" I screamed. "You won't tell me anything." "I can't," he pushed past me.

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Choosing Love(s) I notice the anger building up in him and he was about to leave again, but I threw myself between him and the door. "Move," he looked so powerful, I could have sworn I saw the air tremble around us. He paced backed to where he was standing before and leaned over the counter. "Zara, why are you so stubborn," he said passing his hand over his face. I walked over to where he was standing and took the hand that wasn't leaning on the counter into mine. "Stephen, you can trust me. We've never really knew each other, but you can really trust me." He faced me and placed his other hand on top of mine. He took a deep breath, looked into my eyes and in all seriousness said, "I'm an angel." He looked like he was holding his breath. I just stood there looking at him in complete shock. Did he really think this was a joke? I backed away from him. "Are you fucking kidding me, get the hell out of my house," "Zara, I..." I didn't want to hear it, "Leave," I screamed with sadness thick in my voice. He left and when I heard the front door slam, I fell to the floor and bawled my eyes out. How could he think I was that stupid? I couldn't believe it, an angel, really? A vampire or a werewolf was more believable. To think I actually wanted to get close to him.

The next day I went to work feeling like a slug, dragging myself and staring at the floor like it was the only things keeping me grounded. As soon as I walked into the third floor, Josh attacked me with one of those huge warm hugs he gave, but today I felt cold in his arms. Almost like I didn't belong. "I missed you so much and it's only been...18 hours," he lifted me off the ground.

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Choosing Love(s) Why couldn't I just like Josh as much as he liked me and forget about Stephen (that jerk). The worst part was that I felt like I was betraying Stephen when Josh hugged me, even though I should have felt like I was betraying Josh. Josh trusted me and I couldn't even like him enough to stop think about Stephan. I knew I was going to have to do something, but I liked having Josh around. I really didn‟t want to be lonely. As soon as the "boss" walked out of the elevator Josh gently lower me to the floor. I looked at Stephan and his eyes, those sharp, beautiful, emerald green eyes, were bloodshot (almost like he had been crying). It not like I cared, so I pulled Josh in for a long, hard kiss. I knew why I did it, but I would never admit it out loud. When I pulled away from Josh, he smiled at me with amazed eyes. Then he pecked me on the cheek and went back onto the elevator. I turn to look at Stephan, who was looking at me with shock and a touch of sadness. It was confusing; I didn't understand him at all. The way he looked at me made me feel like a jerk but it wasn't like I could take it back now. My feet felt like cinder blocks and shoulders slumped as if they could have hid my shame-filled face. I collapsed into my desk chair thinking about Stephan (it made my head hurt). The truth was that I really did like him and he seemed really sincere when he told me about him being an angel. He didn't laugh after he said it and when he left he was angry, either because I didn't believe him or because I kicked him out. He eyes did turn red but that looks like something evil. Maybe he's fallen, but he is so nice. Maybe that's the lure of darkness (what?). He also had an air of power surrounding him and not to mention how unnaturally gorgeous he was. I let those thoughts bounce around in my head for a few minutes and before I knew it I was standing in front of his door (again).

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Choosing Love(s) I barged in and slammed the door behind me. "Prove it," I said walking towards his desk. I sucked in air, "Prove it; prove that you‟re an angel." I leaned closer to the desk and look him in the eyes with a scowl on my face. He stood up and walked around the desk to where I was standing. He had his hands in front of him, palms facing up. “Give me your hands," he said looking at the floor. I slowly raised my hands and placed them in his. As soon as I did I felt a jolt of electricity go through my arms and straight to my head.

It was like being in a dream (whatever it was). I was in the most beautiful place I‟ve ever seen and because of its beauty I knew it was nothing I could imagine. I saw Stephan, there was a blue glow surrounding him that made him look amazingly powerful and beautiful. There was a pair of stunning white wings attach to his back, which look like they were dusted with silver. He was angry, how could someone be angry in a place like this? Then, out of nowhere I saw something shot out of the sky and Stephen fell through the ground. I ran to the hole in the ground and looked inside. Stephen was falling into a dark abyss; the only light I could see was the glow surrounding him. Slowly, the glow dissolved into the darkness and the world shook around me. Everything around me shifted, slowly the beautiful place turned into a faded gray city street. I got off the floor and stood up next to a broken street lamp. The road was really dark and there were no cars or people passing by. The street seemed very eerie; it sent an awful chill down my back. I turn my head to the left searching the street for any sign of life. Then from around the corner appeared a couple, they were smiling and the woman had a bundle in her arm that look like a baby. She stopped and gave the baby to the guy. When I saw her face, I was stunned. She looked exactly like me, all except for the hair, she had thick red hair. The guy next to her had a

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Choosing Love(s) hair color that was exactly mine. I could feel it, they were my parents, but what did my parent have to do with Stephan being an angel. I looked up, thinking that was where an angel would be if you wanted to find one. I was right, he was perched on top of one of the buildings with his head in his hand, he seemed sad. His wings weren't white anymore, they were pitch black and he was surrounded by a hue of red. It seems so strange and then suddenly his wings unfurled. He swooped down and went for my parents, at the same time a truck was coming. The baby flew in the air and landed into a pile of trash. The truck hit right into my parents and Stephan. Instead of stopping, the truck just kept going and Stephan stood up and started to checking my parents if they were alive, then he looked for the baby. When he found the child, a bright light flashed and I was back in Stephan's office. I stepped back from him, his eyes were shut and his wings were unfurled. I stood there in complete awe, one of his wings were black and the other white. It was amazing, they stretch so far up that they bend at the roof. I stuck one of my trembling hands out to touch it, as soon as I did his eyes shot open. "Stephan..." I looked at him wanting to throw myself into his arms, but first I needed an explanation. "What did I just see?" "First, promise me you'll believe me," he said holding my hands. "No, if it's the truth, I will know. I know you‟re an angel...a fallen angel. Now, I just want to know what my parents have to do with this and what was the hold last scene about?" I let go of his hands and sat down on the sofa in his office. He did the same and took a deep breath and looked me straight in the eyes. "I was in love once when I was in heaven. Her name was Evangeline, but when the angels were supposed to choose between heaven and Lucifer, she chose Lucifer. I spent several days wondering what I

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Choosing Love(s) should do, if I should follow her or stay. When you saw me fall through that hole was when I finally made the decision to follow her. As soon as I made that decision at heart, I was shot out of the sky and during the fall my wings turned black." "Why is one of them white now?" I said. "That‟s where you come in." I gave him a confused looked and he went on. "When I found Evangeline, she was savage; she wasn't the women I fell for. She was completely consumed by darkness. The treads of darkness wrapped itself around her, and she embraced it. I couldn't believe it and the worst part was I was slowly becoming more and more like her. I fought it, but I couldn't help it, so when I found out about the loophole I went to find someone to save. When your parent were about to get hit by the truck; I tried to save them. If I did save them my wings would have been full white and I would be allowed in heaven, but I didn't. My full intent was made when I decided to help you. That day when I picked you up; I took you to Mr. and Mrs. Virgo's house. It was also the day; I was granted back some of my angelic ability. I still had light in me when I fell, because my reason for falling was love. Now that my wings are half and half I'm an outcast in both heaven and hell, but the truth is I don't want either of them. When you were in high school, I notice that you were becoming a bit reckless and I felt the need to keep an eye on you. This happen right after you were told you were adopted. So, I made myself into a kid your age, so I could fit into your high school." "Well, you really didn't fit in," I chuckled. "I know, but you didn't either." I nodded in agreement and he went on.

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Choosing Love(s) “It was hard to stay with you in high school because the whole you having a crush and all. So, after high school, I decided to stay out of your life for good because I knew I would cause problems and make your life difficult, but when you walked into my office that day I felt like pinching myself because I couldn't believe it was actually you. I tried so hard to not get close to you, but you have no idea how you effect people. Every time I saw you with Josh, I wanted to pull you away from him and beat the crap out of him, but I didn't I knew that would push you away. I gave him a confused smile and started to fidget with the hem on my shirt. "That‟s why you said you would never let me down again." I said feeling suddenly heavy and my heart was racing and my breath caught in my throat. "You practically saved my life. You gave me a good life and you tried to save my parents." "I'm sorry," he looked into his hands. "what? Stephen, if it wasn't for you I could have been dead or worst living on the street. You might not have saved my parents, but you saved me and now I have you." I scooted closer to him and wrapped my arms around his arm, "Stephen, I..." I took a deep breath and look his in his wonderful emerald green eyes, "I knew there was something different about you but I would of never guessed an angel," I leaned my head on his shoulders and held him tight. I was sitting next the man (the angel) who save my life and protected me throughout my childhood. I felt secure next to him and I felt close to him, like if I sat there and told him all my secrets he would keep them for me. We sat there was no passion, no lust, no need, just comfort. I never thought it was possible to be around Stephan in such easy. I looked up at him and smile and he smiled back. I scooted even closer to him and gave him a kiss, a long, gentle kiss that quicken my heart and sent soft pulses of heat through me.

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Choosing Love(s) Then my heart almost fell out of my body when I heard Josh, "Zara!" I Pulled away wide eyed and look at Josh, but he wasn't looking at me. He was looking a Stephan like he was going to kill him (I really doubted it, but it was still scary). "You son of a bitch, you did this with Katelyn and now Zara, why do you always go after my women," his face turned red and his fist clench. I started to get up but Stephen was holding me like if he let go I would fly away (irony). I looked at him and move a piece of hair from his face. I mouthed 'it's okay' and stood up. I put on my "F-U" face, "I'm not anyone's girl, and you don't own me. Nobody owns me!" "But your definitely a slut," he twitched and walked closer to me. I pushed him away, "How can I be a slut if I'm still a virgin, asshole?" "Remember his last slutty assistant; you are exactly like her, moving from one guy to the next. I don't see what you and Katelyn see in him, he acts like a complete ass all the f-ing time." "That's it you need to leave, what Zara does is none of your business," Stephan said stepping up. "So, what she does is your business?" Josh face twisted, it looked so out of place. "Well, yes I knew her all her life," Stephen said calmly, but his eyes were harsh. Josh look shocked, "You knew this fuck and you didn't tell me?" "It's none of your business," I looked at him my gazed matching Stephen. "You know what, screw you and screw him too. You guys can go be weirdoes together. If I would have known you knew him I wouldn't have tried," he scoffed, rolled his eyes and left. I sighed when he left, "I didn't know he was such a douche bag." "Zara," Stephen rested his hands on my shoulders, "Promised me you won't get involved with guys like that ever again," I saw the sadness in his eyes.

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Choosing Love(s) Was he kidding? After all we been through, after all he did for me, and all things he showed me. Does he really he think I could ever love another guy, nevertheless get involved with one? I reach out to touch his face, "Stephan, I love you," and before I could finish the sentence he said "I love you too." and pull me closer. He hugged me fiercely, but it was gentle like I might break or something. I stood there reveling in his warmth, which was getting warmer and warmer by the second. When I open my eyes his wings were unfurled. "Stephan, umm..." I stepped back. "What happen to you wings?" He didn't answer, "Stephen, your wings, they're both white?" I let go of him and as soon as I did, his body floated up until he back was to the ceiling. I watched him, it was truly awe inspiring. His eyes were close and his body and his wings were glowing blue again. It was making his office look like we were underwater. "Stephan," I said trying to wake him for his daze. He stayed floating, his eyes busted open and he sucked in air. His eyes were green and I had a feeling that they were never going to turn red ever again. He smiled at me; I swore the light around him got brighter. "Zara," he swooped down and grabbed me, "it's over. You saved me!" he started to shake me. He tuck his wings behind his back and nuzzled me neck, "I love you so much." "I love you too, Angel." He busted out laughing, "It's true, but it doesn't sound right." "Why not? It could be our own little pun," I laughed.

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Choosing Love(s) “Sure," he lifted me up and spun us off the floor. "Zara, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.” "Really? I would think you had even more amazing things happen to you, being an angel anyway," I said smiling. Then I stop smiling and I notice something, that didn't bother me before. He was an angel and I was going to be old someday. "Stephan, your immortal," my face drop as did his. He put his head in his hand, "Well, hell."

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