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Weeks passed and Don still hadn’t called. It didn’t bother her at first but after thinking about it she should’ve known better than to give her cell phone number to a guy she met at the gym once. She even went back to the gym a few times to work out but to also see if he was there and he wasn’t.

28 Her disappointment didn’t hamper her work though as it gave her plenty of inspiration for new pieces. Ariana noticed she painted her best work whenever she was feeling strong emotions such as anger or sadness. One time she and her co-worker Lilah were joking around. Ariana could do a spot on impression of their supervisor Frederick Marlow. Without realising it Frederick walked right up just as Lilah began laughing profusely at Ariana’s impression of him.

29a He didn’t seem too pleased. But instead of directing his anger at Ariana he attacked Lilah for her unprofessionalism and scolded her for not meeting her deadlines. Lilah didn’t take kindly to his reprimanding and began yelling at him for being too hard on her and always seeing her faults. Ariana stepped away leaving them to argue. She knew she had nothing to do with it so she went back to her workstation and continued working on her painting. No one else but her knew that Lilah and Frederick were lovers and Lilah drew inspiration from feelings of anger. So to motivate Lilah, Frederick would taunt her a few times during the day.

30 With all of her hard work at the museum she was soon promoted to Art Book Collator, a promotion that came with a bonus. Ariana was thankful for it as the money brought her much closer to being able to put up some walls around her lot. In order to get another promotion soon Ariana needed to do some research on art references and do a report for her boss. She was worried at first because she didn’t own a computer but soon found out she could do her research on the computers at the library.

31 Since she’d been spending so much time at the library doing research Ariana got to meet some new people, one of them being a guy named Ray Means. He was a very sweet and friendly guy who always made Ariana smile.

32 “I can’t wait to submit this research. Writing papers is not my things. I’m much better with a paint brush in my hand than I am typing on a keyboard.” Ariana said to him.

“I hear ya. I love computers and games… it’s why I’m a Support Agent for Busy-Tech Enterprises. I like writing the code and testing out the games but when it comes to doing flowcharts and feasibility reports… not for me.”

“Definitely”

“So…” he began hesitantly. “When your research is complete am I gonna see you again? I mean I know you’re from Oasis Springs and you come all the way out here to Willow Creek to use the library so you might not have another reason to come out here so… I was just wondering…”

“Of course we can still hang out together Ray. You’re a nice guy and I like spending time with you.”

“You do?”

“Yes. Just promise me you won’t try to take me to watch sports or something.”

33 Ray laughed remembering the time she hilariously freaked out while he was going on and on about a penalty kick from a game he watched earlier that day. “Okay I promise I won’t even mention sports in your presence.”

“Ok good.” Ariana wasn’t aware of the way Ray was looking at her while she laughed wholeheartedly at his jokes and how it made him feel nervous and happy at the same time.

34 When Ariana left the library she got a call from Don who apologised for not calling her earlier saying he misplaced her number and had been searching his house looking for it. Ariana knew it was a lame excuse but when he begged her to forgive him and insisted she meet him at the Rattlesnake bar for a drink she agreed. “So you want to tell me the real reason why it took you so long to call?” Ariana asked him as they were sitting by the bar.

35 “That is the real reason, I swear.” Don said with his ever charming smile. Ariana decided to let it go. “Do you come here a lot?”

“Yeah it’s one of my favourite hangout spots. My friends and I come here every weekend. And since it’s my favourite spot, I don’t bring just any girl I meet here… she’s gotta be special… like you.”

36 Ariana couldn’t help but blush a little at his compliment. After having drinks at the bar they went over to the sofa in the back to get more comfortable and to try to get to know each other better. The more she talked to him the more she realised that Don was actually more than just a charmer and a romantic but he was fun loving, a good listener and a lot smarter than she gave him credit.

37 “I’d love to see your work.” He said.

“My portfolio isn’t much as yet. Most of what I paint ends up going to the museum or an art collector who commissions us from the museum.”

“I can help you build up your portfolio. I’d be happy to pose for you and give you some… creative inspiration.” He said with a wink.

“I’m sure you would Don.” Ariana responded. “I might take you up on your offer sometime.”

38 “I’m gonna go get another drink.” Ariana announced as she starting walking towards the bar.

“Can I get you anything?”

39

“Yeah just one thing first.” He said as he got up, walked up to her and pulled her into his arms planting a hot kiss on her lips that made Ariana weak in the knees.

40

He pulled away and for a second she was disappointed that the kiss was over until he took her hands in his and told her “I’m so into you Ariana. You have no idea what you do to me.”

41

“The feeling is mutual Don.”

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