EIGHT

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One year and a couple of months earlier

A red-haired girl swings the door open. Her eyes shamelessly travel down his body and her eyebrows rise in silent approval. "Yes?"

"I think I'm at the wrong place," Michael murmurs, already turning away from the door.

Her fingers curling around his arm stops him. "Are you sure about that?"

He sighs and turns around. He never was a very patient guy. "You don't look like a guy."

She frowns while her lips curl in amusement. "Well, that's a relief."

Michael sighs again, audibly this time. "I'm looking for Sam."

She nods. "Right. Sam."

He imitates her nod and says slowly. "Yes. Sam. So obviously I'm at the wrong place."

"Yes," she agrees solemnly. "Unless, of course, you're looking for a Samantha."

He eyes her, irritated. "Look. I'm sure you have something else to do with your time. I know I do. So how about we say goodbye now and pretend that we never even met?"

"If that's what you want..." she starts.

A door opens further down the hall and a male head peeks out to look in their direction.

"Hey Sam, did you get that message about the apartment meeting?"

The girl smiles sweetly at Michael. "Excuse me. One sec."

As she makes some arrangement with the guy, Michael hopes that faith is not that cruel to tell him that the person he was planning on living with has a little bit more estrogen than planned on.

The guy in the hallway disappears and the woman offers her hand to Michael. "I'm Samantha. Michael Guerin, I presume?"

"You're not a guy," Michael says stonily.

"Wow, are you in college? Because you are really smart," Samantha says sarcastically.

"I'm meeting a guy," Michael says evenly.

"Ah," Sam smiles. "The wonders of technology mixed with some healthy old-fashioned assumptions. You never really asked me if I was a guy now did you? And email correspondence doesn't really reveal that kind of information now does it?"

"Maybe you should've offered the information," Michael snaps.

"Testy," Sam says without a hint of the intimidation tries inflicting on her. "Okay, genius. How about you just take a look at the apartment? I promise you, I won't bite."

Her tone of voice is anything but reassuring, but maybe that is why he chooses to take a look. He has never been the one to back down from a challenge and this girl appears to think that she can win this argument.

*****

Four months later

"Great," Michael murmurs as Samantha flops down next to him on the couch. She had come home twenty minutes earlier; drunk as a skunk.

"Whatcha watching?" she says and Michael grimaces at the loudness of her voice.

"What does it look like?" he says, keeping his eyes trained on the TV and not on the girl that smells way too good for just having come home from a club. He can't deny that she's an attractive woman either. But he would rather die before telling her that piece of information. Her ego is big enough as it is.

"Some boring sport," she states and he can feel her eyes on the side of his neck.

"Go to bed," he grumbles out.

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