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The Blind Side of Love

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The date had been going well, to Lena’s surprise. Daniel was neither boring nor self-absorbed, and Lena began to understand how one might end up in a relationship after all. If she had been even remotely interested in him physically, she might have agreed to a second date. And maybe a third, and then who knew? They might be picking china patterns by the end of the year.

“I need to apologize to you, Lena,” Daniel said, looking uncomfortable for the first time all evening. His green eyes darted around the restaurant nervously, and Lena began to wonder if she’d been wrong about him all along. Perhaps he was a con-artist, or a Pap in disguise. Perhaps the real Daniel Thornton was tied up and gagged in the trunk of a car somewhere.

Lena put down her glass of Château Margaux and regarded her date, with what she hoped was a curious-but-not-panicked expression.

“I know that our mothers set this up, and I’m truly honored that you’d even want to go on a date with me, considering who you are and everything. And I realize this must make me an idiot in about thirty different countries. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be dating Lena Luthor, right?” He reached for his drink and finished it before continuing. “It’s mainly that... my last relationship... she and I were very serious and I... I’m not quite over her yet. God knows I should be. I mean, she broke my heart in every way imaginable. I’m just... not.” He breathed, meeting her gaze. “I wanted to tell you that because you’re so lovely and I feel horrible agreeing to this date when I knew I wasn’t over Angelica yet.”

Lena relaxed and offered him a sympathetic smile. To say she was relieved was an understatement. “I understand completely,” she said, and was pleased when he returned her smile. “Why don’t we just enjoy the rest of the dinner and then at least we can tell our respective mothers that we made it through the evening without embarrassing either of our family names. That’s all they really care about anyway.”

Daniel laughed. “Isn’t that the truth?” He studied her suddenly and looked pensive for a moment. “Forgive me for asking, but, why are you single? I can’t imagine there’s a shortage of men wanting to take you out to dinner.”

Lena lowered her gaze, feeling uncomfortable under his scrutiny; as though he might be able to guess what it was just by looking at her. “I guess I’m just picky.”

He nodded, as if she’d said something wise. “That’s good. Don’t settle. I dated so many women. Family- approved women, of course. I was pretty certain at least one of those Stanford girls would turn out to be the One. Didn’t happen. Then I started working and you know, crazy hospital hours didn’t leave me much of a social life. And one day, after I’d given up on ever meeting anyone at all, there she was: Angelica. The maid’s daughter. It was a disaster from the beginning.” He shook his head sadly, and shrugged. “But you can’t help who you love, right?”

***

Her cell phone chimed the second Lena stepped into her house, and an image of Sam hiding out in the bushes outside crossed through her mind before she answered. “You have impeccable timing. Are you stalking me?”

“Always,” came Sam’s voice. “Your paychecks have funded my entire arsenal of tools. Night vision goggles, binoculars, the works. I heard some college kids came up with a type of camouflage suit. I’m putting in a pre-order.”

Lena took off her heels and carried them the rest of the way to her bedroom. Her feet ached and she was anxious to change into something comfortable. “I guess that means I don’t need to fill you in on the details of my date tonight since I’m sure you have video footage already. Let me know when it’s up on YouTube.”

“You seem to be in a good mood,” Sam noted. “It couldn’t have been a total disaster.”

Lena sat down on the bed and rubbed her feet. “It wasn’t, actually. It was quite nice, in fact.”

“Oh? Does that mean you’re thinking of dating him?”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Yes. One evening with a man I could talk to and suddenly I realized I’d been wrong all along. I’m cured! Bring on the men.”

There was a pause before Sam said, “I really can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

“I’ll work on my punch line for next time. Anyway, the date went fine. We ate, we talked, he told me all about the woman he’s in love with, I listened. He paid the check. He opened the door for me. And then he drove me home.”

Sam laughed. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“So he’s in love with someone else?”

“Yes. Angelica. She sounds like a nice girl. Smart, too. Did you know she was the Valedictorian at her high school? She even got a scholarship to Yale but her father got sick so she had to stay around here and help out the family.”

“Wow, he really did tell you about her.”

“Oh yeah. I even saw baby pictures. He’s got it bad. Poor guy. He was really nice. If I’d been straight, or even bisexual, I’d have definitely been upset that his heart is taken.”

“Well it all worked out for the best then.”

“Absolutely. It’s over and done with, and that’s the last time I agree to a blind date.” She reached over to turn on the lamp on her nightstand. “So, was that the reason you were calling? To find out about the date?”

“Partly. I wanted to tell you I finished reading the script.”

Lena switched the phone to the other ear. “Oh yeah? What did you think? Be honest.”

“Honestly? Honestly, I think it’s great, Lena. I think that if you turn down this role, you’re going to regret it somewhere down the road. You’ve wanted a part like this for as long as I’ve known you...”

“I have.”

“And this character, Elizabeth... I can’t imagine anyone else playing her. This could very well be a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity. Why dismiss it on account of your personal life? It’s just acting, right?”

Just acting, Lena thought. Right. “I have that meeting with the director tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah that was the other reason I was calling, to remind you. I emailed you the details and the directions to the restaurant. Brunch is okay, right? She suggested brunch and I figured you wouldn’t care.”

“Brunch is fine. Thanks, Sam.”

“My pleasure. I also attached a picture of her I found online so you would recognize her easier. I assume she knows what you look like, but just in case.”

“You’re the best.”

“I know. So, listen, guess who called me today?”

“The Pope?”

“Jack.”

Lena smiled. “And?”

“We had a really, really long talk. I’m talking long. He yelled. I yelled. I hung up on him. He hung up on me. We took turns calling the other back. It was quite dramatic, but I think we’re going to be all right. I think as long as I manage to keep my exes away from him, things should return to normal.”

“Sounds like a plan. I’m glad you guys managed to work things out.”

“Thanks for calling him an idiot and telling him to call. Sometimes he needs to hear it.”

“Oh don’t worry. It wasn’t the first time I’ve called him an idiot, and it likely won’t be the last.”

Sam snorted. “I believe it. Listen, we also discussed your very cryptic phone call about the homophobic artist in New York. Any chance you’ll illuminate us with the details sometime soon?”

“Are you saying you didn’t believe I was writing a story?”

“Well ... I’d say yes, but I’d be lying.”

“Great.”

“So?”

“What so?”

“Who is she?”

“She who?”

“The artist?”

“What artist?”

“Lena!”

Lena smiled into the phone. “You’re the stalker. Figure it out.”

“We’ll break you down eventually. You can’t hide – Oh my God!”

“What?”

“It’s the artist! The one who made that painting that you had me cart all over Los Angeles. What did you do? Did you call her?”

Lena had forgotten how it easy it was to piece it all together. She should’ve never made those phone calls. “I didn’t call her,” she said impatiently. “And don’t go blowing things out of proportion. It’s nothing. I just emailed her to say that I liked her painting. That’s all.”

“That’s all?” Sam sounded doubtful and Lena didn’t like it.

“Yes that’s all! What else would it be?”

“I don’t know. Why did you want to know if she’s homophobic?”

Lena sighed, a headache beginning to pound at her temples. “I was just wondering. I don’t know. It wasn’t for any particular reason.”

“Does she know who you are?”

“No.”

“You didn’t tell her it was you?”

“No!”

“So... what, she thinks you’re ... who?”

“Tess.”

“Tess who?”

“Just Tess.”

“And she didn’t think it was odd when your email came through as Lena Luthor?”

Lena hesitated.

Sam started to giggle. “Oh no. You just made up a new address?”

Was her assistant psychic? She was unnerved by the conversation. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s nothing. And talking about it makes it seem like something, and that makes me uncomfortable.”

“Sorry.”

“And don’t tell Jack.”

“Oh, c’mon. This is too good not to discuss.”

“Sam!”

“Ooh, I’ve got another call. Probably Jack. Talk to you tomorrow. Enjoy your brunch!”

“Sam!” The phone went dead and Lena’s shoulders slumped. So much for keeping this a secret. Her own fault. She should’ve known calling them would arouse suspicion. They were nothing if not nosy.

Resigned, she dropped the phone on the bed and headed into the closet to change.

Tomorrow was another day, and she had important decisions to make.