Here’s to Serendipity
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Dani Hai was sick to death of the dating scene. She was only 25, but unlike other people her age, she wasn’t interested in the steady and unending stream of meaningless hookups and casual sex. She just wasn’t wired that way. She’d always been a little different, always looking for something real and lasting, not just on the prowl for tonight’s latest conquest. She wasn’t looking to get married, but she at least wanted something that might last through tomorrow. She was beautiful, young, Asian, and tuned into all the dating apps, websites, and technological tools used to meet people. But she’s had her fill of ‘swiping left’ on losers. Even the ‘swipe-rights’ ended up being disappointing. She wasn’t desperate enough yet to try out the softer sex, though there had been offers. But she HAD recently had to replace her favorite toy. She was determined to find a human male before she wore this one out as well. She’d given up on perfect. Now she was just looking for decent.
She worked in IT, for a company that designed smart systems for the home. Right now, she was working on what she thought of as the Holy Grail of AI… true conversational interface. No more calling out, “Hey, Siri!” or “OK, Google!” The system would automatically know when you’re talk TO it, or when you’re just talking ABOUT it, based on tone of voice, context, inflection, phrasing, and a hundred other things that humans pick up on automatically. Things that had to be programmed, one by one, into the machine’s matrix. She knew she could make two or three times as much if she moved to California’s Silicon Valley, but it would cost five times as much to live there. Here in Orlando, she OWNED her 3-bedroom townhouse, and it even had a den that she’d made into an office. In California, she’d be renting something tiny and have roommates.
She was glad it was finally Friday. She was looking forward to hanging out with her BFF and talking about anything except coding. She pulled up to Cassia’s townhouse and texted her that she was there. A second later, Cassia texted her to come in since she was still getting ready.
Dani and Cassia Simpson were the very best of friends, as close as sisters, even though they had almost nothing in common. Dani was serious, studious, and hardworking while Cassia was flirty and impetuous, always looking for the next good time. Dani was reserved and careful, but if there was a crowd, Cassia wanted to be in the very center, with all eyes on her. They’d met during their junior year at Orlando State University when Cassia had car trouble and Dani who happened to be walking by, came to her rescue. As it turned out, her car wouldn’t start because the car wasn’t all the way in ‘Park’. Dani joked, “I’ve never met a real live airhead before. No offense!”
“None taken,” replied Cassia. “Believe me, we’re out there. Hi, I’m Cassia Simpson. And no, it’s not Cassie or Cass. It’s Ka-See-Uh.”
“Hi, Cassia. I’m Dani Hai.” Despite being polar opposites, they became best friends. Cassia dragged Dani out to parties and social gatherings, while Dani made sure Cassia managed to get through her classes well enough to pass. Dani graduated Summa cum Laude, and the fact that Cassia graduated at all was a happy surprise to both Cassia and her grateful father. Because of all that, Damien Simpson considered Dani his ‘other daughter.” Now, three years out of school, their friendship remained strong. Cassia jokes that without her, Dani would have missed out on all fun in college. Dani always cracks back that if it were not for her, Cassia would still be in college.
While Dani had a parent-approved corporate job in I.T. complete with a 401(k), Cassia worked as an admin assistant at a different tech company. While her income wasn’t nearly enough to cover her lifestyle, she was kept comfortably afloat by regular assistance from the Bank of Daddy, much to her stepmother’s annoyance. Because of this, Dani sometimes felt a little envious of her friend. Sure, Dani had a great job, she owned her townhouse, and her financial future looked very bright, but she secretly envied Cassia’s great relationship with her dad. Her own father had made it abundantly clear that he’d wanted a son. He pushed her to do well and smiled ever-so-slightly at her achievements, but he never provided the praise and approval Dani was forever seeking. Once, after the girls had spent a particularly grueling Thanksgiving holiday with the Hai family, Cassia joked to Dani on the drive home, “Girl, between you and your dad, it’s a wonder you’re not on the pole!” Dani wanted to be offended but she had to admit her friend had a point. That was the last time she went home. She still FaceTimes with her mom every week or so, but she hasn’t been back home. That was years ago.
She walked into Cassia’s townhouse and yelled out, “I’m in the living room!”
Cassia yelled back, “Be down in a sec. You better not be wearing something boring!” A minute later she bounded down the steps and ran to hug her friend. They hadn’t seen each other all week. Cassia looked walker independence izle appraisingly at Dani’s outfit of a white cardigan that highlighted her meager boobs, with a short dark blue tartan print pleated skirt and black leggings. The skirt and leggings highlighted her sexy round ass. Cassia was wearing a pair of very tight ripped jeans with a tight black sweater, with a pair of black low-rise boots. There was a lot of smooth brown skin showing through her jeans.
Cassia said, “I like it! You got kind of a ‘good girl-gone bad’ vibe to it. And with that ass, black guys are gonna be all up on you!”
“Shut up!” cried Dani, blushing furiously. “I’m gonna go change!” she said, moving to go to Cassia’s closet, but Cassia stopped her.
“No! You look amazing. It’s perfect for you. Just, well, first let’s fix those Asian eyes, make ’em pop!” Cassia applied a bit darker liner, making Dani look sultry and exotic. She stepped back to admire her work and said, “Hmph! I’d do you!”
Dani laughed, “Bitch, you couldn’t get me! I’m way outta your league!”
Cackling like happy witches, they headed out the door to her car, Cassia declaring, “God, I created a monster!”
Cassia had arranged to meet up with a guy she’d met earlier in the week. He looked yummy, and he was supposed to bring along a yummy friend for Dani. He claimed to have a hook up at the Jurassic Grille, a really swanky restaurant at the Springs. Cassia was pretty skeptical and pressed him to make sure he was on the up and up, and he swore it was legit. They were supposed to meet at the front of the place at 7:00 and be seated by 8. It was now almost 8:30, and there was no sign of him. Dani looked really annoyed, mainly because she was already tired of the whole dating scene.
What the hell is wrong with guys today? Is there that much easy available sex out there that a guy can just blow off not one, but TWO hot girls at a time?! Did guys not even want to try anymore? Cassia said, “Fine! Screw that asshole! Daddy will buy us dinner!”
“Your dad’s here?” asked Dani, looking around for Mr. Simpson.
“No, silly… his credit card is!” Cassia replied happily.
“Cassia, don’t you ever get tired of mooching off your dad?” Dani asked.
“Look, if it’s anybody else, it’s mooching. When it’s Daddy, it’s being spoiled. Now ask me that again, but don’t say ‘mooching’, instead say ‘being spoiled’.”
“Fine. Don’t you ever get tired of being spoiled—okay, I hear how that sounds now. So where’s Daddy taking us?”
“Daddy is taking me. Mr. Simpson is taking you. How about sushi? There’s a great place over on the other side. I think it’s called ‘Bamboo.'”
“Ooohhh, thank you Mr. Simpson. You’re too kind!” said Dani.
“I know, right? My dad’s the best!” agreed Cassia. “He always has such good taste!”
The two friends walked along at a leisurely pace. They weren’t in any hurry. They wanted to get there a little bit later to make sure the place wasn’t crowded with a bunch of kids and families. Hopefully they might find some suitable company as well. They passed a Starbucks on the way. Cassia said, it’s gonna be a late night. Im’ma grab a latte. You want one?”
Dani looked at the line and said, “No, I had iced coffee just before I left, and I’m still good. You mind if I wait here? I’m not feeling that line.”
“Okay, but don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back. You sure you don’t want anything?”
“I’m good. I’ll be right here.”
Cassia walked over to the coffee line, and Dani sat on the low wall to wait, and took out her phone. As she was swiping it open, she noticed a guy sitting about ten feet from her, and she juuuust caught him checking her out before he quickly looked away. He was pretty cute: black guy (Cassia did warn her!), short hair, solidly built, in really nice shape. He was kinda short, but then so was she. She caught his eye and smiled. He smiled back, and gave her that smooth little head nod all black guys seem to know. As she looked him in the face, she noticed two things. He wasn’t a kid. He looked older, more mature. Maybe 35 or so. And he looked vaguely familiar.
The fact that he was older was not a deal breaker. Dani was tired of young guys. They only thought with one body part, and that body part usually made monumentally bad decisions. They weren’t confident or sure of themselves yet, so they spent too much time showing off trying to prove themselves; to the girl, to other guys, to their parents, it didn’t matter… it was exhausting. Yes, they had nice hard bodies and great stamina, but what good is it if they can go four times in a night, but can’t make you cum once? No… this older guy might get a shot as long as he didn’t mess it up!
But he did look familiar. Think, Dani! Where is he from?! Quick, before Cassia gets back. She glanced at Starbucks and saw Cassia was still in line to order. She saw the video screens with the menus and prices, and then she remembered! waterloo road izle His name was… Mike, no… something different… not an everyday name. Morris? Sounded right, but no… Maurice!
She moved over to him and said, “Maurice, right?”
He looked panicked… she obviously knew him. How the FUCK could he forget meeting such a gorgeous girl? He stammered, “Uhhhm, yeah, I’m… I’m Maurice. Uhhhhmm, Maurice Roman. I’m really sorry, but how do you know me? I mean I just can’t believe I could possibly forget meeting someone like you.”
Dani was impressed. Most guys would pretend that they remember and try to guess. To tell a pretty girl you don’t remember her is pretty confident… like he knows he’ll get a chance to know her again. So far so good. She held out her hand and said, “I’m Dani Hai. We met at that Smart House trade show last year. I was pretty new with the company, so they made me go as a booth babe,’ and—”
Maurice finished her thought, “And we spent the whole afternoon talking. I remember now! You looked so young, I thought that any minute, some big muscle-bound football player was gonna come at me for flirting with his girl.”
“Ahh, so you WERE flirting with me! I thought so, but then I never heard from you again and I thought I imagined the connection.”
“Nah, you didn’t imagine it. I just wasn’t in position to uhm… get back with you. Gotta be straight with you, I was married at the time.”
“So, I was young and impressionable, and being hit on by a married man?!” Dani pretended to be outraged.
Maurice said, “Whoa, girlie! You were working me pretty hard yourself. Giggling, playing with your hair, touching my arm, biting that bottom lip, just like you’re doing right now,” he pointed at her playfully. “Quit actin’ all innocent!”
He was right, she was acting all flirty. She NEVER acted like this! She needed to take control before she just handed this man her panties. “So, what about now, Mr. Married? Is this a better time, or is Mrs. Roman still waiting at home while her husband chats up impressionable young women?”
“I guess she’s at home, but she’s not waiting for me anymore,” Maurice admitted. “We tried to hold it together, but it didn’t work out. We split up just a few months after I met you. I thought about hitting you up, but you’d probably think I was just after some rebound booty, so I figured I’d wait. Then life kinda got in the way, and here we are.”
Dani smiled. “That was a good call. If you had gone for it, and then I found out you were married, I would have dumped you in a heartbeat!” she said, touching his arm. “But now you get a do-over,” she added, nodding suggestively.
“Really? So how am I doing?” he asked, taking her hand and pulling her to him so she was standing between his legs. She offered no resistance.
“SLUT!” Dani heard Cassia from fifty feet away. She put her face in her hand in embarrassment. Cassia came up to them, her eyes twinkling in delight. She continued, “I’m in Starbucks for five minutes getting a latte, and I come out and you’re hooking up with some guy! Damn, girl, you work fast!”
Dani sighed dramatically and said, “Maurice, this is my dumbass, uncivilized friend Cassia. Cassia, Maurice.”
“Hi, Maurice,” sang Cassia.
He nodded, “‘Sup, Cassia.”
Cassia added, “We’re headed over to Bamboo for sushi. Wanna come?”
Maurice looked conflicted. After a few seconds, he sighed and said, “I want to… I really do. But I’m here with my uncle. He came over from Tampa to hang out. There he is now,” as another man, older, maybe 50 or so, walked up. He was also black and looked like he could be Maurice’s… well not father, maybe older brother.
The man walked up to them holding up a box, and spoke to Maurice, “I finally bought the Gauntlet! It’s gonna look – Whoa! How long was I in the store?” he asked as he saw Maurice with two very attractive young women.
Maurice answered, “Not long, man.” He indicated the pretty Chinese girl leaning against him between his legs, “This is Dani. We meet at a work thing last year. And this,” motioning to the slim, busty black girl eyeing the whole scene suspiciously, “is her friend…”
“Cassia,” she added.
“Right. Cassia. Sorry. And this is my uncle Gene. Anyway, man, they’re headed to get some sushi, and Dani invited me so maybe we can catch up. But I told her we’re hanging out tonight.” Maurice looked intently into Gene’s eyes for a few seconds, having a silent conversation with his uncle.
Gene said, “Nah, man. I gotta bounce. I told Nikki I’d be back by 11. I was gonna have cut it short tonight anyway. You go get some sushi with these lovely young women, Im’ma roll out. It was nice meeting you Dani, Cassia.”
Dani and Cassia just waved slightly, and Maurice said, “Ah’ite, man. We’ll catch up tomorrow, okay?”
“That works,” answered Uncle Gene. He smiled and nodded to the group and walked away.
Dani asked, “Didn’t wayne izle you guys ride together?”
Maurice answered, “Nah, he drove over from Tampa. We met up here.”
At that, Dani looked intently at Cassie, holding her gaze as an unspoken conversation passed between the friends.
Cassia asked, “Won’t your uncle be mad that he came all the way over here to see you and you blow him off for some girl?”
Maurice just said, “Gene’s not just my uncle. He’s my best friend. So no, it’s cool.
Dani continued staring at Cassia, widening her eyes slightly for effect. Cassia stared back with her counter-argument. Dani narrowed her eyes. After a second, a slight frown joined the narrowed eyes. Despite Dani standing right next to him, Maurice was oblivious to the furious discussion being waged.
Cassia huffed, and under her breath, hissed, “Fine!” She looked at something on her phone and said aloud, “Dang. Sorry, Dani. Change of plans. Gotta take a raincheck on Bamboo.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” asked Dani.
“Daddy, that’s ‘Mr. Simpson’ to you, needs me to come home. Probably something to do with that bitch. Anyway, I’ll drop you off and go see what’s up. Sorry, Maurice,” Cassia said.
Dani pouted, “That’s a shame. I was really looking forward to some sushi. Plus, it’s still early. I’m not ready to go home yet.”
Cassia shrugged, “Sorry, sweetie, Daddy needs me, and I’m your ride.”
Dani shifted against Maurice’s leg pressing herself closer to him. “Oh, well…” she said sadly.
Maurice offered, “How about I take you out for sushi, and then I can drive you home. It could be our first date. Sound good?”
Dani flirted back, “I don’t know… I don’t want to put you out.”
Maurice smiled back seductively and said, “It’s just a first date. Nobody has to put out.”
Dani laughed and said, “Well, maybe they don’t HAVE to, but…”
Cassia rolled her eyes and muttered under her breath, “Slut!” Aloud, she said, “Fine, but you’d better not be some axe murderer or a psychopath!”
“Hey, I’m black. Axe murderers and psychopaths are always white. I promise you your friend is in good hands.”
Cassia hugged Dani, who whispered, “Thanks.” She squinted her eyes at Maurice and pointed to him as to say, ‘I’m watching you!’ Maurice put his hand over his heart and repeated, “I promise.” She turned and walked away, going in the direction they had just come from.
As Dani and Maurice started walking together, he resisted the urge to try and take her hand… he wasn’t sure they were there yet. Instead, he offered her his arm, which she happily took. Even better, he thought. He asked her about her job, taking great interest in the projects she’d worked on. He was impressed with her skills and told her so.
They got to the restaurant and were told there’d be a 45-minute wait, but they could wait at the bar. Once seated, Maurice excused himself to the men’s room. Not five minutes later, the couple was shown to a very nice, very secluded booth. “Wow!” said Dani. “That was fast! And this table is so nice!” Maurice just shrugged.
He continued to focus on her, asking about her family, her college experience, where she’d lived, her likes and dislikes, and her dreams. They were halfway through their entrees before she realized he’d made the evening all about her. The guys her age couldn’t resist talking about themselves, only stopping to fish for compliments. They reminded her of the joke, ‘Enough about me! Let’s talk about you…what do YOU think about me?’ Maurice was the total opposite. He didn’t talk about himself at all. It wasn’t that he was being secretive… he readily answered every question she asked him, but he always brought the conversation back to her. She even let down her guard enough to talk about her strained relationship with her father, telling him how her father was so disappointed that she was born a girl, and that no matter what she did, it was never enough to make him proud of her. She looked like she was about to cry. They had been seated on opposite sides of the table so they could look at each other, (another thing young guys didn’t seem to get!) and Maurice quickly came around and sat on her side holding her soothingly. He didn’t say anything… he just held her. After a minute or two, she said, “Thank you, that was nice.”
Maurice asked if she was ready to leave, and she said she was. He held up a finger and the check appeared out of thin air. Maurice didn’t even glance at the bill. He just put his card in the folder and handed it back, and the server was back in less than a minute. Dani was really impressed with the service. They had been treated almost like VIPs. As they walked out, she noticed two groups who had been waiting when they first walked in. Surprised, she realized that at some point, Maurice must have tipped the hostess, and it must have been large enough to not only get a good table almost immediately, but to also keep the service at the highest level. And he never mentioned it. She’d gone out with one younger guy who did that, and he couldn’t stop bragging about it. Maurice was quietly giving her the best date of her young life.
As they walked along heading eventually to the parking garage, they passed by the observation balloon Disney Springs was famous for. Maurice asked, “Hey, have you even gone up on that?
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