Excerpt #17:Date 1- Establishing the Brownie point System

For the next week, she tried her best to cancel the coffee date with Ray. She called him a couple of times, but had the strangest feeling he was screening her calls. She had to hand it to him…he had her pegged. She could never cancel a date, a first date at that, over a text…it seemed so barbaric. So when Friday rolled around, it found her in her favorite rust color long dress and her golden brown mane of hair tousled in waves over her shoulders. She might have been less than enthused about the date, but she never passed up a reason to dress up.

As she rounded the corner of Martha’s, she got her first glimpse of Ray. She almost changed her mind about the whole thing and began to turn back.

“Hey! Miss Sunshine!”

Damn, he saw her. Curse her bright dress and hair!

“Oh! Hi…Ray the artifact…” she mumbled.

“Did I just catch you attempting to slink away and stand me up?”

“N-no, that’s preposterous!” she said defensively. She was using SAT words, a sure tell she was lying to those who knew her.

He looked unconvinced, “Am I that hideous?” He teased.

He was the exact opposite of hideous and that was the problem. And funny. Shit. She wasn’t ready! She gave him a daggered look that he took to mean: no he wasn’t hideous and there was no way she was going to admit how attractive she found him. He was right.

He grinned, “Come on, grumpy lady, maybe some coffee will take care of that growling problem you have.”

How the hell did he keep doing that? Knowing exactly what to say, how to act to make it impossible to dislike him? She sat down facing him on a table outside the café with drinks in hand. She refused to start the conversation; she knew at this point that she was being a bitch. But this was dangerous territory and survival in any form was paramount. Besides, he seemed to be doing well in conversing all by him self.

He did not disappoint.

“You realize my name isn’t Ray the artifact right?”

“And you realize mine isn’t Little Miss Sunshine?

“Yeah, but it’s a cute nickname, I think I will call you that from now on.”

“Well then, your status as an artifact remains unchanged in my book.”

“Finally! Some progress! At least I am in your book.”

“Oh God, Ray you are relentless” She finally cracked a smile and shook her head in defeat.

“Hey, I say what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Her first sip of delicious coffee bought a blissful smile on her face. She caught him staring. “What?”

“Nothing, just seeing my theory being proven in action.”


“You’re a coffee lover, your whole demeanor changed with a sip.”

“Fine you got me, what about you.”

“Oh I dabble in the art of coffee, used to work as a barista for a bit.”

“No way.”

“Way…so should I put this down as two brownie points for Ray?”

“Ray, we do not have a brownie point system…”

“Well, we should. Let’s start now.”

“And what are we offering as a reward?”

“Not being mean to poor old Ray maybe?”

“Whoa there artifact, that’s asking a lot…how about I bake you actual brownies instead?”

“Yum home made brownies, that sounds delicious. Reward accepted”

“Then again, I don’t really know how to bake so…” She smiled devilishly, enjoying herself.

“Damn, fell into that one. Well I can always teach you…we can make a day of it!”

“Oh, Ray you’re hopeless.” Every negative thing just bounced off of him.

“No Little Miss Sunshine, I am here to bring back your hope…just call me…wait for it… your Ray of Sunshine.”

“Ungh, lame,” she groaned. “No, I think I will stick to Ray the artifact.”

“From you, I expected no less,” he conceded graciously.

She hadn’t had this much fun in weeks.


Excerpt #16: Asking a Girl Out 101 With Ray Fyodor

When she had suggested they go out for coffee, it had been her gut reaction. She didn’t want, or need, a rebound guy. Ray certainly wasn’t the rebound type either. So when he called her the weekend after their first meet in the train she was determined to turn him down. But somehow, she ended up with a coffee date.

Earlier in the day

She was binge watching Criminal Minds when her phone rang. She picked it up, not checking the caller ID as she continued to lust after—ahem—watch Spencer Reid do something brilliant on her screen.


“Hey Little Miss Sunshine.” A smiling male voice replied.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s Ray from the train? Remember me?”

She was so engrossed in her show, she didn’t respond.

“Ray… the artifact, remember? Cradle, Russian, ring any bells?” Comically he mentioned the highlights of their conversation.

As it dawned on her who this Ray was, she sat up straighter.

“Uh, yeah hi Ray the artifact, what can I do for you?”

“If I recall correctly, we had a coffee date.” he said ignoring her jab.

“If I recall correctly, you are a budding alcoholic.” She said vehemently, trying to offend him.

Instead, he laughed.

“As I told you, I am Russian, alcohols in our blood.”

“Yeah, yeah. Look I am actually really busy at the moment…”

“Is that Criminal Minds I hear in the background?” Indeed she had forgotten to turn off the show.

“AS I was saying, Spencer Reid and I have a standing Criminal Minds date on the weekends and you are disturbing our alone time.”

“Ah, Spencer Reid. Many a great men have lost to his boyish good lucks and his nerdy charms.”

“You watch Criminal Minds?” She narrowed her eyes.

“Yep, does that win me brownie points?”

“I didn’t know we had established a point system.”

“We hadn’t, why not start now?”

“Sure, can I go now?”

“Yep, so coffee next Friday at Martha’s downtown? Let’s say seven-ish?”

The team was about to face the perpetrator, “Yeah sure, whatever.” She said transfixed, whatever to get off the phone.

“Okay, cool! It’s a date. See you soon.” He hung up quickly, knowing he won.

She looked at the phone, episode forgotten. Wait, what?

He looked at his phone as he hung up. Thank you Spencer Reid.


Excerpt #15: White Russian

She knew better than to look anyone in the eye on the train. It was a recipe for disaster.

“Hello, hello, miss?”

Maybe if I ignore him he will stop. Concentrating on the music, she closed her eyes.

“Oy, Miss, you in there?”

“Yes, hello, apologies, I didn’t hear you the last 3 times, how may I help you?” she sighed.

“Do you know how I can get to ________? The announcer just said the train wouldn’t stop at the station.” He smiled at her, undeterred.

“Yeah, just take the shuttle at the last stop”

“Where’s the shuttle?”

“Just follow the crowd.” She began to put her earphone back on, eye contact averted.


Sigh. And then it happened, eye contact made. Gorgeous blue eyes crinkled back at her, reminding her of someone else.

“Hi I am Ray.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Are you always this friendly or am I getting the special treatment?”

“That’s me, little Miss Sunshine, at your service,” she gave him a grudging smile.

He made small talk while she berated herself for making eye contact. Granted he wasn’t a pervert, but she never knew how to deal with beautiful eyes.

“How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”


“Wow you are a baby! Like practically in the cradle” He guffawed.

“Well, how old are you?”


“Wow! You’re ancient, like practically an artifact!” She mimicked.

The woman sitting beside them burst into laughter. “Good one”

He shook his head.

“Wanna grab lunch sometime,” he asked.

“How about a drink?”

“But you’re not even legal!”

“Are we back to that again? Russians. I meant coffee.”



Excerpt #14: Obtuse and Acute

Senior year of college was definitely kicking her butt; it was late in the evening when she returned home to her tiny apartment above a Chinese restaurant. She shared the floor with the owner of the restaurant who lived in the only other apartment. She wasn’t really hungry, but Ms. Wong had noticed her lurking up the stairs and forced a container of lo mein onto her from the restaurant. Container at hand, she struggled to unlock her door.

“Is that lo mein I smell,” was the first thing she heard. It was lucky Judy took the container from her before she dropped it in shock.

“Thank God, you’re finally here, I was getting bored sitting around,” August whined.

“Hey Sweetie,” Marielle, waved from the donated couch where they were all sitting except…

“I don’t know why I am here,” Chase, who was sitting on a donated ottoman, held his hands up at her accusing glare.

“Why the HELL are you all in MY apartment?!”

“Do you really not recognize a friendtervention when you see one?” Judy said between mouthfuls of her lo mein.

“A what?”

“Friendtervention. It’s a friend intervention.” Explained August, looking at her incredulously.

“Okay…” They had officially gone insane. “First thing first: How did you guys get in?”

“The key in your cactus fertilizer? Seriously, that was probably your stupidest idea. A random cactus by your door, it obviously holds your spare key. Anyone can get in.” This was Marielle’s standing objection about her safety.

“How does the cactus survive? That’s my question,” Chase’s nerdy senses had kicked in.

“There is a window in the hallway, this building faces south and the people who come up here are screened by the Wong family first. I would like to see someone get past Mr. Wong…but that is not the point! You guys violated my cactus?! Please tell me you put the dirt back.”

“Yeah, yeah, I wanted to let it die, but they wouldn’t let me.” Judy grinned.

“Of course we did, and we cleaned up in here a bit too,” Marielle said proudly.

Ignoring the jab, she continued, “Okay, secondly, why are you guys here? Intervention for what? I thought you guys were going to let go of my coffee addiction?”

“The whole ‘Him’ thing.”

“Guys I am fine!”

“Yeah sure, he’s obtuse but that doesn’t mean we are too. You have been moping all week,” August drawled.

“Have not.”

“Have to.”

She looked at Chase for back up and so did August. “I know nothing, as I said I don’t know why I am here.”

“As her friend you had to be here, to get her out of this funk!” August was on a roll.

“I am not in a funk or moping, maybe you guys are just acutely gauging my emotions for no reason”

“Really? When was the last time you spoke to Him?” Judy asked.

“A week ago or two ago?”

“Is that normal?”

She bit her lip.

“And I heard you have been trying to switch your classes, the ones with him…in the middle of the semester.” Marielle frowned.

“I just wanted a break! It’s been a tough semester.”

“Because of the subject or him?”


“Now we are getting somewhere.” Judy rubbed her hands.

“Guys I am fine, I just need some alone time to think okay?”

“Okay, take your alone time, but hurry up please, I need your ears to bore you about Anthony.”

“And I need you for our little shopping adventures.”

“I still have you as a gym partner, so no complaints.”


“Okay, okay, I want you to be your happy self.”

“And I need my little sister back for our weekly conversations, I missed them so much I had to come up here.”

“Gee, thanks guys. Nice to see you care about me and this wasn’t just a selfish endeavor.” She said sarcastically.

“Of course we care!” Marielle exclaimed, and they all nodded.

“Yeah, now that all that is over, can you get us more Chinese food for free? That lo mein wasn’t enough.” Judy was a bottomless pit. She ate everything and gained nothing.

There was a knock at her door. Wondering whom it was, she opened the door.

In came Ms. Wong with containers of food, “I heard growling stomachs downstairs so I bought up all your favorites.”

As they happily sat down she added sweetly, “That will be $40.00, only She eats for free and you (looking at Judy) pay extra, I can still see the stain from the lo mein on your shirt”


Excerpt #13: When A Heart Breaks in A Ribcage

“I heard about Friday night,” He said while they sat in the park for their weekly meet.

“Yeah, that was weird.” August had obviously blabbed.

“What was weird about it? You’re pretty, it’s only normal.” He said offhandedly.


“Don’t mention it.”

They became silent. She didn’t know what happened, but something was wrong.

“You should have taken his number.”


“You should have taken his number and seen where it might have gone.” He didn’t meet her eyes.

“So it wouldn’t bother you.” her heart beat painfully fast. This was the closest they had ever gotten to this conversation.

“No. Why would it? You should date whomever you want. We are friends…Right?”

He looked into her eyes then.

She recalled Chase’s words.

We men are not as complicated as you make us to be, if he is with her it’s because he wants to be.

“Right.” She made an excuse to leave early. She didn’t want the sound of her heart breaking anywhere near him.


Excerpt #9: The Intruder

“She sounds nice”, she says sitting at the edge of his bed.

“Yeah, I guess. It’s nothing serious really.” And he joins her.

“Is it ever with you?”

“Hey!” He swats her on the arm and his hand lingers for a second too long.

“I am not judging you, just stating.” She falls backward on the bed with a soft thump.

“Sure you are.” He replicates her.

“I hope you are being careful,” she says softly staring a hole into the ceiling.

“You know I haven’t slept with her right?” His eyes glance at her profile for a second before looking at the ceiling.

“Don’t know why I need to know that.” Yet, her body relaxes next to his.

“I don’t know but I want you to know.” He smiles and nudges her shoulder.

“She hates me you know.”

“She doesn’t hate you, she just…doesn’t like you very much.”

“She hates me.”







“Hey,” He looks at her, smile dimming as he turns his head to face hers a foot away.

“Hey,” now she mimics him.

Are silences ever silent or do they hold the answer to unspoken questions?

“Hey guys have you seen the—oh?” His roommate stands at the door. “Hey there, sorry…”

“Nah its cool, come on in.” She gets up and sways her legs against the bed edge with a grin at the intruder.

“What’s up roomie?” He follows her ascent and stares at the guy in question, frustration only infinitesimally noticeable.

“Never mind.” The roomie retreats.

“So where were we?” He huffs.

“She sounds nice”, she says sitting at the edge of his bed.


Excerpt #6: You and I

“You and I?”

“What about you and I?” He asked tentatively, excited.

“You and I…it’s the name of the store. Look!” She replied completely missing his tone.

“Oh…You and I is a store,” he answered dimly.

“ Imagine saying that in a conversation,” she continued.

“Hey, let’s meet at You and I?”

“Meet at You and I? I thought the expression was “You had me at hello?”

“No You and I! The restaurant?!”

“You and I have a restaurant?”

“Ugh, never mind! Let’s just go to Chipotle.”

“So burritos for you and I then?”

“Now you’re talking.”