Catfish by Pleione
Summary:

cat·fish

'kat';fiSH

1.

fish for catfish.

"with the Mississippi River far below its normal level, the catfishing kept getting better and better"

2.

US - informal

lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

"she was being catfished by a cruel prankster"

______________________________________

In recent years, online dating has become the latest trend in finding committed relationships. The success rate of these happy couples has stirred the interest of single career woman Jasmine Dimes, a senior graphic designer who spends a fair chunk of her free time browsing the internet doing everything from visiting forums, chatting, and dabbling a bit into the online dating scene.

She connects with a striking older man named Damien who shows to be a compatible match on a dating site. Sweet, charming, and incredibly attractive, the two hit it off through multiple emails and late night instant chats. Finally! Her Mr. Right was here! Except for the small fact that they aren't actually dating. Or at least he hasn't asked her and vice versa. Despite the sparks, their arrangement was seen as a close friendship developed over the internet. A friendship that hints at the possibilities of something more.

But when Damien announces his plans to visit the city, Jasmine starts gearing up for an opportunity to finally see if those sparks fly in person just as heavily as they do online. Despite the criticism by her friend, she sets out and arranges the meeting to see where things lead.

There's just one slight problem ... he never shows up. Not once, not twice, but a constant string of excuses that leaves her wondering if this is even real. Something always comes up where she's left hanging dry. Where is Damien? Is he real or is this some game? It's now uncertain if she should be concerned or simply angry.

And why is it that Michael Jackson, the worldwide renown pop musician who happens to be visiting the city, seems to always be somewhere around or mentioned to be within the vicinity of their intended meeting spot?

Probably just a coincidence.

... Right?


Categories: Humor, Mystery, Romance, Suspense Characters: Michael, Original Girl
General Warnings: None
Trigger Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: No Word count: 13776 Read: 12033 Published: Jan 27, 2015 Updated: Nov 17, 2023
Story Notes:

Catfish:

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

1. Prologue - "Connecting" by Pleione

2. Chapter 2 - "Viral" by Pleione

3. Chapter 3 - "Chatroom" by Pleione

4. Chapter 4 - "Reload" by Pleione

5. Chapter 5 - "e-Match" by Pleione

6. Updating Soon. by Pleione

7. To continue? by Pleione

8. Chapter 6 - "Voice Chat" by Pleione

Prologue - "Connecting" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

Catfish are a popular fish to catch for a number of reasons. Catfish are plentiful and can be found in just about any water conditions. Also, catfish can grow fairly large.

 “...there's some good fish back there.” — MJ

It was supposed to be a record breaking snowstorm, one that would literally bring the city to a standing halt. At least that was the so-called story from the forecasters. The predictions insisted that the snow would pick up starting around noon, and as far as Jasmine was concerned, it was not worth the risk to drive thirty minutes through winter rush hour just to get sent home early.

It was a sick day, or at least that’s what she called it. While she was by no means ill, her mind needed the reboot after several long weeks polishing the latest assignment at her design firm. It was a well-deserved break from the nine-to-five even if there was some part of her that felt guilty for leaving her co-workers stranded in the heart of the city with the looming fear that the roads would be slick with ice and sleet by the time they left. Oh well, she thought to herself, better them than me. After all, she had done them the favor of picking up most of their slack while cleaning up many of the blunders that were overlooked due to negligence. This project required their utmost attention due to the client, but as usual, most of the designers took to the task like a monkey with a wrench.

So this was needed. An evening off curled up on her sofa with a warm cup of hot chocolate on one side and her beaten down laptop on the other. That laptop had got her through some rough times. Nights alone in bed with only the warmth of the light filling her bedroom. That laptop was her home, her sanctuary, and most of all the place where her heart lied – with him. A smile touched her lips as she scrolled down to read the last bits of the email received by a man known simply as Damien.

They had met on the popular dating site through a connection of similar interests. The site had rated them as being extremely compatible, and so curiosity blossomed into months of long emails and instant messaging. It was the easiest way to meeting someone after years of failed attempts through bars and arranged blind dates through friends. While they were not exactly dating, the emails and conversations shared by them both were intoxicating. There was something about him that grabbed her with his writing. The way he spoke of his previous affairs, the bits and pieces of his life he was willing to share, and the enticing way he was able to weave words into art when in regards to her. It wasn't supposed to go as far as it did. It was really just a social experiement to test the waters. Now here she sat, engrossed by the text thta glowed across her screen. The words she had been waiting to read since her heart opened up to this man.

He was coming to her city.

That was the words shared in his latest letter. Those words alone made her heart rush with excitement and toes wiggle in a mini-couch stomping celebration. She had been imaginging this moment for quite some time. The nights spent fantasizing about their first hello, first chat, and the usual naughty imagery that followed afterward. In years to come they would become one of the many success stories seen on the dating site. Try it, you can't go wrong, was her sales pitch while attached to her lover's arm. All she had to go off of was the few pictures sent of him. Tall, extremely packed, and fair in complexion. He was a mocha delight and easy on the eyes, a slender yet built physique as seen in many of the pictures he's sent her.

Her desktop wallpaper was a shot of him taken on his camera phone, her mobile background a picture sent by him throug text. It almost seemed too good to be true that this mocha delight found her to be worth his time. And yet for the last few months, their friendship had budded into conversations that sent her imagination spinning, each letter was always insightful filled with whimsical thoughts, dreams, and beliefs. Their intimate conversations touched often in areas she never imagined sharing to anyone, and out of all places, it was the internet where she spilled them. To this man.  He found her charming and beautiful. Such a simple word that held so much meaning to her when said by him. What was perhaps the strangest of all was the fact that not once had they ever conversated over the phone.

'I'm still trying to get a feel for you' was the reason behind it. It made sense, she thought. Or maybe it didn't. He wanted to tread lightly as anyone would. Or maybe he simply preferred written contact. It mattered little to her. It made things more traditional, like a pen pal yet through the use of technology. Their conversations alone made it easy for her to forgive the fact that there was no voice to go with poet of words and mystery.

I really can’t wait to meet you, Jasmine. If you have the time, I’d love to meet you for dinner.

Jasmine bit down on her lower lip as she attempted to conceal a squeal. Relax, she thought. I need to come up with an appropriate answer that doesn’t make me sound like a giddy school girl. Despite the her attempt to calm her nerves and focus, the words to write back in response simply weren't coming. Frozen in a perpetual state of fear, Jasmine frowned as she glared at the empty open draft of the response portion of her email account. What to write? What to say? A simple yes seemed too plain and nonchalant, yet a long winded response appeared depserate. She had dreamed of this moment and now that it came the simple act of giving a response was harder than she ever imagined, or rather she was making it more complicated than it seemed. The rules of dating were never her strongest point and it showed.

 “And today in the news, Michael Jackson pandemonium! Fans are simply ecstatic for the King of Pop who will be paying a visit to the city in the next few days.”

There were few things that could draw her attention away and a name like the King of Pop was one of them. While not as avid as a fan as most, he was a recognizable name that few ignored. Curious of the story, her eyes wandered over towards the television to watch the short segment featuring the mentioned musician.

“That’s right, Michael Jackson will be here this week! Rumors leaked through sources say the King of Pop is planning to work on a new album here. Sources also say that there will be a star line up of featured artists. The Megastar has been tight lip about his music and what we can expect from him!”

A brow raised as she watched the quick video played during the short segment of the musician skittering through an army of paparazi and fans with the help of his bodyguards. After flashing a peace sign, the superstar quicky ducked into the van and was sped away. His life looked like a rollercoaster, she thought to herself as the station cut to commercials. Constantly under the limelight and never without a moment to breathe. Interest lost, her eyes returned back to the monitor as she continued to fiercely write out her response. To her dismay, another interruption came in the form of her ringtone.

“Hello?”

“Girl, you think you can just hide at home? I knew you’d find some excuse to stay home.”

A groan. No greeting at all and yet she knew immediately who it was. “Hey Denice.”

“Hey to you, too. Are you coming to the party this Friday? The club is going to be hype, I’m telling you.”

“We’ll see. You know how I feel about clubs.” said Jasmine with a hint of disdain.

“Yeah, and that’s why you’re single now.” replied Denice with a bit of attitude.

Jasmine snorted. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“It IS. You’re twenty-nine, girl. Twenty. Nine.”

"And?"

"—And? Do I have to remind you what we said some years ago? That if you—"

“—Didn’t find a man by thirty we would just marry each other.” She laughed. The pact made as teenagers was said in jest at the time, but sometimes she wondered if she would really go through with it. “Girl, we’ll see. I never know what to do anyway.” She murmured.

"Just come. Me and my girls are going and you can come with us. You always shy."

Jasmine shrugged, an act done consciously despite the fact that nobody could see it. “Can’t be helped.” 

"Well it can if you just live. Anyway, I gotta go. CALL ME if you’re going, okay? Stop spending all day on the internet. You know creepy people stalk the internet."

"Yeah, yeah I heard you. BYE, Denice."

“—And you can’t be too careful with predators.”

“BYE Denice.”

“I’m just trying to help YOU out, girl!” exclaimed Denice.

“Byeeee!”

With that she ended the call before another word could be uttered. Quiet, at last. With a sigh of relief, she turned to look at the television that was now blaring about the snowstorm yet again.

“This storm is coming in, folks. Be sure you bundle up nice and tight!” exclaimed the metrologist as he gestured to the animated storms on the screen.

That sounds good right about now, she thought. Nice and tight, in his arms. The perfect setup. A smile touched her lips as her imagination ran away. A reoccuring habit whenever she felt like drifting into space. If there was one thing she was good for it was creating a vivid scene through the use of imagery and thinking. While a blessing in most forms, it was often her worst trait given how easily she could paint a situation to be more elaborate than it really was. It couldn't be helped, her daydreams were often her only escape.

A notification suddenly popped up on her taskbar with a username she knew all too well. Without skipping a beat, she immediately brought it up and rushed to reply. After all, they had made the names together on silly whim some weeks back as a tribute to a favorite novel they both mutually loved.

PterPn251: Hello Wendy lady. :-)
Wendylady2: Hello Peter. ((: I got your email! I am so happy!
PterPn251: haha, I thought you might be. So is that a yes?
Wendylady2: of course!! I know of some places we can meet, too.

It was going to be a long day of back and forth, a perfect way to spend her time home.  

You make me feel like I'm more than just a person. I can't wait to see you, Damien. This is my chance...

 

End Notes:

Please let me know what you think. (: Worth continuing? Y/N? I'm trying to decide of a year to place this. Maybe in a time when he doesn't die. Perhaps somewhere in 2007. Not sure. Will think on it!

Chapter 2 - "Viral" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

Tips for Online Dating: "No matter how much of an expert you’ve become at reading profiles, and no matter how well this girl or guy corresponds to your dream match, there’s still a lot you won’t be able to glean until you sit across from him or her at a coffee shop." — Mashable.

Across the bed laid several dresses selected for the scheduled date later on this week. All of them had their own positives and negatives, but picking the right one was harder than she thought. Jasmine frowned as she glanced at the far end of the bed where a bright pink dress laid out. Purchased two years ago during a period when clubbing was a getaway, the dress number was a hit when it came to getting attention. The drawback, however, was the fact that it often brought about the wrong type. And thanks to a bit of weight gained over the last year, her once trim and fit backside turned into what her friend affectionately referred to as a 'bubble table'. Embarassing. That was a definite no. Without a nice coat, there was no way to hide it, either. The next outfit was a little more low-key, flattering without too much attention drawn to her physical attributes, but overall rather bland in comparison to the vibrant selections. If she wanted to make an impression dressing like a business executive was certainly not going to do her any favors.

“And today the city prepares itself for the arrival of Michael Jackson who is expected to arrive sometime later this evening by private jet.”

A sudden roar of cheering fans drown out the reporter for a second.

“As you can see out here, Tom, many of his fans are eagerly anticipating his arrival with a series of posters and Michael memorabilia in hopes of getting a signature from the King of P—“

No one cares, thought Jasmine as she flipped to the next station. Well, at least not her, for the moment. Such a distracting name and one that was turning rather viral thanks to the local news stations that were covering it. For the last few days it had been a nonstop update on that man’s state of affairs. As amazing as his music was growing up to, she couldn’t be bothered to hear for the umpteenth time about some celebrity’s expected visit. After a bit of surfing through stations, she settled on a network station rerunning a popular sitcom. Much better. Now to the dresses.

It was a tough choice but she had succeeded in narrowing it down between two dresses. This evening she would either don a simple black dress number with a bit of gold jewelry or a white gown. The question was determining which one would allow her to stand out in a crowd.

When he sees me, I want him to never forget.

 

. . .

 

“That snowstorm was quite the storm,” said Denice sourly. “Girl, I have my fridge stocked with food thinking it was going to be Alaska by tomorrow. Now what am I going to do?”

Jasmine laughed softly at her foolish friend, quick to believe the hype without looking out her window. “Eat it, obviously.”

Denice sucked her teeth at her friend but quickly joined her in that heartfelt laugh.

What was supposed to be a city wide shut down had instead turned into a bust. Roads salted for no reason, streets vaguely empty due to closings, and a plethora of angry citizens scattered the streets in attempt to make do with their free day off. For Jasmine, work had reversed its original decision to shut down and instead gave its employees the option to come in. Many had chosen to take advantage of the free day, but Jasmine had far too much on her mind to consider staying home again. For her, this was an easy way to speed the day along so that evening could get here sooner. She had plans, after all.

Seated outside at a trendy café, the pair was engrossed in conversation ranging from topics on the weather, work politics, and among other things that kept them entertained while waiting for the arrival of their food.

“So you still talking to that dude over the internet?” asked Denice rather suddenly, a brow parked high over the other as she took the moment to sip a bit of water from the glass. Jasmine knew that look all too well. Highly skeptical as usual.

“You mean Damien? Yeah, we’re still talking.” She paused. Tact was needed if she was to get through this part of the discussion without revealing all. “I mean there’s nothing wrong with talking to people on the internet, Denice.”

A roll of the eyes told her what she thought before a word could even be said. “Mmhmm.” Chimed her friend in that know-it-all fashion. It was the cue for a delightful earful she had heard many times before. “You better watch out. Just because you see those commercials where they’re all happy talking about how they found each other doesn’t mean that’s going to be you. Hell, you might end up on the news instead.”

“Don’t play like that,” scolded Jasmine as she looked away, a crippling fear she had placed in the back of her head ever since she sent the first email. There was always a chance of danger when it came to meeting strangers, but the same could be said for encounters at bars and other havens. It took some convincing for her to accept that life was worth taking chances, including with matters of the heart. Still, that fear lingered.

Feeling as though her words had made somewhat of an impact, Denice wasted no time in drilling to her point. “Look, I love you like a sister, but it’s been several months of this. You’ve never even met him yet.”

“That’s changing.” Shit.

“What do you mean by that?” Asked Denice, catching on immediately.

It was too late to back out now. “I’m just saying that it’s changing, that’s all.”

A pause fell and Jasmine turned now to drink from her water and avoid eye contact. As for Denice, her quick detective work by the reluctance to explain revealed everything.

“Oh no. No, no, hell no! … Don’t TELL me you’re going to meet this guy.”

Well that cat was out of the bag. “I didn’t tell you anything.” Jasmine fronted.

“But you’re also not denying it, either. Jasmine!

Denice?

“What has gotten into you? Are you crazy? You can’t be making arrangements like that without taking proper precautions first.”

Jasmine groaned and looked to the time on her cell phone. Their food was taking too damn long. And where were the endless breadsticks when you needed to stuff someone’s mouth? “You assume too much over two words.”

“But that’s what you meant, right? You don’t meet some stranger off the internet! This that shit that make movies!” exclaimed Denice. “Remember that one movie where they go online and some scary shit come out or whatever it was—what’s that name … damn.”

Jasmine chuckled and slowly shook her head. “Look, if  it happens I promise I’ll give you a call. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m grown, Denice.”

“And stupid.” Denice retorted.

“But grown,” said Jasmine firmly. “Besides, if I can do blind dates then I don’t see the difference here.”

“Mhm. Alright. If you say so.” Murmured Denice.

Jasmine glanced at her phone again. Damn. It was cutting too close. Normally their food was done quicker than this. The glass of water was quickly drained before setting it on the table along with a few dollars. “Here, that will cover my meal. I need to get back to work!”

“You’re not eating?”

Jasmine sighed as she reached for her phone yet not without pausing to admire the alluring face that made up her wallpaper. “Obviously. I’ll grab a Snickers and call it a day.”

Denice frowned but couldn’t argue. When it came to Jasmine, she knew that her work took priority, even if it meant skipping lunch. “Alright girl. Give me a call when you get home today. And I mean when you get HOME.”

“Yeah, yeah. Take care!”

 . . .

 

It was a quick walk up the street back to her building. Back to work where the only thing to do for that evening was browse the web and snoop on the gossip spilled by co-workers. A crowd could be seen a ways ahead along with a ton of shouting. The Four Seasons Hotel was just a block from where she worked and normally teeming with some sort of activity. It was a popular hotel for celebrities and important political figureheads, but judging from the sheer size of the people present, one would think that royalty was on their way.

Royalty. A King.

Thanks to the repetitive reminder by the news, she remembered the recent hype over a certain celebrity who was supposedly in town for a while. While the chances were unlikely, it only seemed to make sense that a crowd this huge had to be here for someone like him. The streets were lined with various new station vans, cameramen, reporters, and just a wave of activity that literally clogged the street to the point that even traffic was slowing down just to see what the buzz was about. Curious if her assumptions were true, she began to weave through the crowds in hopes of getting a better look. Some were simply curious what the buzz was about while others seemed perfectly aware to the nature of what was going on.

Suddenly, a fleet of black vans rolled up to the front of the hotel. Like a hive of bees, the crowds began to stir and flock in anticipation. It was as if the city took a breath in unison and, for a split second, all was quiet.

“Oh my god, it’s him! It’s him!” Stammered a random woman in excitement. That was all she needed to hear to confirm her suspicions. Perfect timing. A reward to make up for her lack of lunch in the form of getting to see a world star celebrity. Even if the clock was ticking fast, this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. How often does one get the chance to say they’ve seen the King of Pop? Eager to get in on the action, Jasmine began to make her way through the loitering numbers in hopes of making it to the very front of the police barrier that sectioned the public away from the prized star. It took a bit of force and a lot of squeezing through tight ends, but her work paid off so that she was given a front row seat to the arrival of the pop star.

The vans were suddenly surrounded by a number of rather tall and overly bulky men garbed in suits. Bodyguards. They had to be. Judging from the way they scanned the perimeter and murmured into their microphones, it wasn’t hard to tell. As soon as the front doors opened to reveal a hand, the roar of fans hit her ears like a crash of a tsunami wave.

There he was, garbed in some elaborate ensemble with gold trimming and medals. His signature fedora sat atop his head along with a surgical mask he was so notoriously known for wearing. It was interesting seeing this all upfront. For years she had only seen the man on television, so the experience was certainly interesting. She watched as he began to make his way up the path that lead to the glass doors of the hotel. Waves were given, kisses blown, and the crowd ate it up while screaming for more. He stopped and took the moment to blow another kiss towards a small crowd seen in the far back waving signs. Seeing it on television was one thing, but being there firsthand made her realize just how big of a deal this man was.

“We love you, Michael!” cried his fans.

“I love you more!” he countered.

Jasmine watched from the back as he slowly paced himself up the ramp. Unlike other celebrities, who had often just hurried off, it was clear that he preferred to take his time and give the audience as much attention as possible before disappearing. It was oddly endearing to see firsthand, to say the least.

As he made his way up to the doors, their eyes suddenly met and locked in a titillating moment of acknowledgement. Her eyes widened at the contact to which he mimicked with the same regard. In the awkwardness of the extended moment, Jasmine quickly flashed a friendly smile and a nod in his direction in which he returned in kind. She watched as he was quickly hurried through the glass doors where another group of people eagerly greeted him.

What an encounter.

Probably the first and last time in her lifetime she would ever see the man in person, but the experience was certainly one to add to her list of celebrity sightings. This one ranking higher than that time she had attended a Ginuwine concert in her youth. With another glance at the watch on her smart phone, she quickly began to weave through the remaining crowds. The staff wouldn’t mind if she was a few minutes late. Besides, she had quite the story to share with them all that would surely detract away from her obvious tardiness.  

A glance was given to her phone wall paper. In a few hours, this man was going to be standing right before her. She had the dress picked out and the accessories waiting for her at home. Tonight was going to be perfect and simply couldn’t get here soon enough. Damn the fears instilled in her by Denice, she had to believe this was fate, as cheesy as that may have been to think. ‘I can’t wait to meet you,’ she thought to herself, then hurriedly skittered back to the office building.

 

 

Unbeknownst to her, that very celebrity watched as she departed from the other side of the doors. 

 

 

 

End Notes:

I had a burst of inspiration and came up with the next chapter. This is coming to me so easily. I really like this. I hope you guys do, too.

Chapter 3 - "Chatroom" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

One night a baby fish was sleeping under some coral when God appeared to him in a dream. "I want you to go forth with a message to all the fish in the sea," God said. "What should I tell them?" the little fish asked. "Just tell them you're thirsty," God replied. "And see what they do." Then without another word, He disappeared. — MJ / DANCING THE DREAM 

8:02pm: cant wait to see u tonight!

 

The music was the real reason she chose this location. On the lower level was where a live band played hit R&B numbers using nothing but jazz instruments. It was a medium between trendy chic with a touch of romance, or at least that's what the Yelp reviews said. At the request of Damien, reservations were made so that they were to meet here and dine on some of the city's best steaks then later head to the lower level to enjoy the music. A perfect evening all in one place. They were to meet at 8:15pm for chat and dinner and then see where things headed from there.

She had imagined this unfolding a bit differently than what was arranged. In her visioned fantasy, their first meeting was a surprise date arranged by Damien himself. He surprised her with a bouquet of roses then escorted her to his Mercedes-Benz. Okay, okay. Maybe not a Mercedes. If there was one fault she was known for doing it was letting her fantasies set expectations for her. The fantasy, while nice, was simply not realistic. She had come to realize it was a lot to expect from a guy who had never been to her city, and there was still plenty of opportunity for him to bring the charm – and the roses – like in her daydreams. There was no shame in her game by planning the evening for them, especially if the outcome ended on a note she was hoping for.

She had came to a final decision on her outfit for this chosen date. A long, white maxi dress that skittered about her feet. The elegant yet simple ensemble was accessorized with wooden earrings, an oval wooden necklace, and sleek sandals. Her hair was worn down in loose curls that rolled down her neck and stopped just near the small of her back. In her very modest opinion, she looked damn good.

To her delight, the table reserved exclusively for them was stationed towards the front by the windows. The trees outside lined with white lights while the remainder of the floor was darkened considerably so that the glow from the candles was more pronounced. It was perfect, right down to the exceptional service since her arrival. A pair of strawberries dipped in chocolate was served at the table to be enjoyed later by them both. The selection of artisan bread in a basket kept her satisfied as she waited. Nothing wrong with being a little early, she thought. Punctuality was a plus, though she wondered if it was better to have come late and make an entrance. No sense in leaving just to come back now.

 

8:43pm: hey. u on ur way here?


It was soon apparent that whatever music was playing on this level of the restaurant was either a CD of some sort or very selective radio station. She could have sworn she heard this melody just a few minutes ago, or maybe they were all starting to sound the same. The plate of elegantly dressed strawberries had become nothing more than stubs. A small sacrifice for being late, she thought. Besides, the food here was supposedly divine. She had wanted to feed the strawberries to him but that was a fantasy that could wait for another time.

A couple near her giggled profusely just then catching her attention. There was enough space between each table to allow a measure of privacy. Yet it was difficult to keep from noticing the various couples absorbed in their own world that surrounded the table for one. Jasmine watched as one of the many couples in this room stole kisses in the low lit area of the room they were seated, whispers murmured followed with the gratuitous smack of lips. She was forced to finally turn and look away when a tongue flickered out. That was enough gawking for her. Still, it was enough fuel to jog her own imagination to life as she pictured herself there with the man who should have been here by now.

Even though it seemed that most of the room was far too absorbed with their date to take notice of the single occupant at the table, she couldn't shake off the feeling that something or someone there was watching. Her eyes squinted as she looked to each table with no avail. Those to the front were clear, but towards the back it was only darker lit by only candles. She could make out the shadows of a few, but nothing else.

 

9:18pm: hello? are u even there?? ):

 

This damn fool. Or was she the one that was a fool? Not even a word of update on his whereabouts and the bread basket had gone empty. She checked the time on her phone, then scanned the area to see if it matched with the clock here. Maybe his phone died. Maybe he was lost. This was supposedly his first time out in the city, so the chances of him wandering about with a dead phone and no sense of direction was a believable possibility. Hell, anything at this point. Anything but the one fear she had never counted on. The fear of being stood up.

A glance was given to her phone again. No response. This was frustrating.

 

10:59pm: u got some nerve, you know that? if you didn't want to meet me you should have said that!

10:59pm: hello???

11:00pm: can you at least tell me if you're okay?

 

"Madam, would you like a refill?" asked the waiter.

Jasmine huffed. "No, I'm fine." She answered, trying her best to sound as cordial as possible despite the look of agitation written over her face. The waiter nodded and uttered a quiet apology before leaving.

Three hours. Three long hours and the man couldn't even so much as let her know he wasn't coming. Three hours of stuffing herself with as much bread as possible to keep from dying of starvation. Three hours watching as other couples made out, ate their food, then departed to likely return home and rub the rest of their night out. She could have been doing anything else this night. Maybe browsing the internet or chatting with her best friend. She had waited all day to finally see the man she had her heart set on meeting in hopes that he could potentially be the one. She risked everything getting here despite the warning from her friend. And what did she have to show for it?

An extra complimentary basket of pity bread.

Even the staff could see that she had been stood up this evening. Such a mortifying experience that she could barely keep her head up. Never in all her years did she imagine being the victim of something like this. The least he could ahve done was tell her that he either changed his mind or simply wasn't interested. That would have been easier to swallow than simply no answer at all. For his sake the reason, whatever it was, had better been damn good.

A sudden urge to strike boiled over and was released by smacking her glass of water over. As if on cue, in the far back a random shadowed figure, who looked to be wearing a hatsuddenly rose from their chair and knocked a plate over in the process. An apology was uttered along with the raise of a head to look her way. Upon notcing that she was indeed staring, the shadowed stranger quickly hurried down the flight of stairs to the first level of the restaurant. Great, she was scaring the customers with her attitude. They didn't deserve this. Her ruined night didn't mean having to ruin others. Fetching her phone from off the table, her fingers flew across the keypad to write out her final thoughts for the evening.

 

11:23pm: you're an asshole.

 

With her date ending up being a no-show and her meal consisting of gorging on bread and water, she decided to leave and attempt to redeem her terrible night with a much needed bubble bath and bottle of wine to make light of the situation. Maybe a movie or two just to say she at least did something. After leaving a generous tip for the waiter, she quickly made her way down the stairs and headed towards the exit. It was time to leave what could only be described as an ‘uneventful and terrible evening' behind. As she rushed to the door, she began to pick up on various conversations from some of the customers still here. In fact, most of them appeared to have been standing instead of sitting. The sight of that alone slowed her pace in order to better hear what had the restaurant in such disarray.

"Wonder why he was here?"

"Who knows? He probably realized this was a place for adults and fled."

The floor seemed buzzing with whispers and looks of surprise. Whatever had happened moments before arriving downstairs had long since ended. People were standing and gazing towards the door way. Some had their phones texting madly while others appeared to be sharing photos that were likely taken just moments ago. It was enough to slow her tracks just a bit in hopes of trying to understand what had the restaurant in such a fuss, but the interest quickly passed when she noted the time and opted to simply leave instead. Tonight her date was a glass of wine and a long bath.

So much for that.

It was back to the drawing board. Maybe online dating wasn't such a good idea anyway.

 

. . .

 

"So how did it go?" asked Melissa, a neighboring co-workers with a habit of conveniently overhearing many of her private phone conversations.

Jasmine sighed, then slowly spun her chair around to face her. "How did what go?"

"You know. Your date. You weren't exactly quiet with those phone reservations." Replied Melissa.

Their friendship built around the need to shoot the shit when the days at the office felt like a slow crawl. Today was one of those evenings. She was a tall, lanky sort with curly red hair and oval glasses that made her eyes appear larger than normal. It was as if her prescription glasses were simply magnifying glasses. If not for her rather monotonous voice and dated sense of fashion, she could have passed for mildly attractive. She was borderline average when it came to looks. Unlike Denice who, while plus size, had a fashion sense that could rival the curators of Vogue.

After overhearing the arrangements made at the restaurant, it wasn't hard for Melissa to figure out that a date was in the works arranged by Jasmine herself.  A pile of folders were sat on Jasmine's desk so that her visit had a purpose other than small chat.

"Probably the first and last time I will ever go on another blind date again." Said Jasmine, the part of how they met conveniently left out. She already had one friend in her ear about the dangers of the internet.

"Man, that's too bad." She replied with a tone that lacked empathy. It was up to Jasmine to pretend it was her own manner of showing it even if she couldn't hear it in her voice. "Did you at least get Michael's autograph?"

Jasmine cocked a brow. "Say what?"

"You didn't know? Michael Jackson was at the restaurant you picked." Explained Melissa impassively. For someone who was supposedly a big fan of the singer, one would think there would be more enthusiasm in her voice. "It was all over the news."  

A flash of realization set in. A memory replayed of the scene from last night; the commotion seen before leaving the restaurant. The whispers, the camera phones, the standing customers all chatting amongst each other – was that what happened? Were they star-struck over seeing Michael?"

"See? Look." Said Melissa as she pointed to the small television seen in the kitchenette area. There they both could see as the local station spoke of the celebrity. A video played of Michael seen walking out the door, his surgical mask covering the lower half of his face while a few surprised onlookers began snapping photos from their phones. The report was about Jackson, his intentions in the city, and if the rumors regarding the new album were true, but the video caught from last night was used as background.

The video suddenly pans in on Michael's face who appeared a little more reserved and a lot less pleasant from what she remembered of him. No waves or kisses, just a blank expression void of any emotion as he nodded towards those who greeted him.

Jasmine watched as Michael hovered about the front of the restaurant while the reporter continued to drawl over the star and what the city could expect from him, then her eyes rose to the second level where her back could clearly be seen facing the window. She was caught on camera and didn't even know it. At least Melissa couldn't tell seeing as all they got was her backside. With a frown, she sighed and rose from her desk, eager to put that memory away. "Time for lunch, I'll see you later." And with that Jasmine set off, eager to leave the office and try to clear her mind of the terrible evening.

"Take care." Said Melissa, her eyes still glued to the screen.

 

As the story continued, in the recording there is a brief moment where Jasmine above is seen texting fiercely on her phone before slamming it to the table. Within seconds of that, Michael reached to retrieve his own phone and reads. His brows furrowed as he glanced towards the higher level of the restaurant as if looking for something in particular. Then the artist was suddenly whisked away into his van by an entourage of bodyguards. 

"Onlookers said the King of Pop seemed distracted and not quite himself. Despite the rumors of his financial situation and troubling reputation, it seems Michael is making the best of the situation. Now back to you, Rich."

End Notes:

I'm having so much fun with this story.

To answer the question, yes, Michael is using a fake profile and picture. For those curious on the picture he's using:

 

Jasmine thinks she's been talking to THIS guy! Or so she thinks, haha! Thank you everyone for your words! My first time doing this and having a blast.

Chapter 4 - "Reload" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

“I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.” 
—Edith Sitwell

“Just say it.”

Jasmine groaned. The obnoxious look on Denice’s face was painful enough, but she knew that look alone was only the tip of the iceberg. After twenty minutes of sharing the details of her disaster evening with the no-show date, Denice looked ready to pop. She was practically beaming in sheer delight over her friend’s misery. So much for sympathy, but what did she expect? After weeks of warning Jasmine of this very possibility, this was her opportunity to metaphorically ‘dance on her grave’.

“No, I need to relish … in this … moment,” said Denice, her lips curled into a delicious grin that seemed to reach her ears. After sharing the details of the disaster date, Jasmine was forced to endure the smug look of satisfaction so clearly written on her friend’s face. Denice pulled her legs into a lotus position on the sofa, straightened her spine, dropped her chin, and then closed her eyes. Jasmine watched with an arched brow as her friend went into a meditated trance state complete with gibberish chanting just for added measure.

 “Denice…”

“Hold on, girl, hold on. I need to enter my zone. My good, good zone.” Said Denice, the mock meditation ending with palms met together in a bow of Namaste. Then came a long inhale as she needed every bit of oxygen to say what Jasmine already knew was coming.

“I TOLD you, girl.” There it was. “I told you, I told you. I. TOLD. YOU! Didn’t I tell you? Yes, I did tell you. And when did I tell you? SO many times I told you. That’s what you GET—HA, HAAAA!” With that, Denice erupted into a fit of laughter, much to Jasmine’s chagrin.

“All I said was that he didn’t show up!” snapped Jasmine, “You're the one that made it out like he was going to murder me!”

“But think about it and hear me out for a second,” pleaded Denice. “All he had to do was wait for your little prissy butt to walk outside defeated and then follow you home—BAM! The next day, you would be all over the news.”

Jasmine shook her head and simply fell back against the white sofa, a glass of wine in tow. Tonight was supposed to be a chance to unwind with a bit of wine and a good friend. Sadly, it ended up being a night of ridicule and humiliation, though part of her wondered if she deserved it.

“Yeah, well … you can relax, I haven’t heard from him in two days.” Said Jasmine with a note of sadness. That part she hoped her friend would not kick her down on. “I’ll just … go to the club with you this Friday.”

Denice beamed brightly and applauded. “Finally! That’s what I’m talking about, girl. We gonna go out, get drunk, an’ meet some REAL men!”

“Yeah, sure. Real men …or in your case as real rich.” Chuckled Jasmine.

“Hey, I got standards, boo. They gotta come looking good, and they gotta know how to keep me styliiiish.”

It was no wonder her friend was still single. After several men and one woman, she was still searching for Mr. Right yet with too many expectations. Being rich was certainly a plus but not a requirement. Sadly, her friend simply wouldn’t have it any other way. She smiled and slowly shook her head, how could she really blame her? If she was to settle down then there was no reason to settle for less. Even if she couldn’t be supportive of her choices, she would at least do that much for her. “You right, girl,” said Jasmine, “But uh, let’s hope he can keep you under control as well as stylish. You’re too wild.”

“And if he can’t handle that, then he can’t handle all of this.” To which she gestured to herself, thick frame and all. A laugh erupted between them both as they brought their wine glasses together and clinked in cheers.

 

But their laughter was interrupted seconds later as her phone lit up with a notification for a text. She had set a special sound notification for whenever Damien messaged her, and to her surprise she knew immediately it was him. Jasmine grimaced, just when she had thought she could get over this, it appeared her evening was just beginning. Denice looked between both her and the phone, quick to figure out just what had her friend in such a state of alarm.

“That’s him, isn’t it?” she asked. Without bothering to wait for confirmation, a hand whipped out to collect the phone which instantly sent Jasmine into a frenzy to retrieve it.

“Wait—No!” She exclaimed, but the cry went unheeded as Denice was already off the couch and speeding off towards the kitchen to read the received text like the nosy friend that she was. Jasmine could only watch from her sofa, conflicted between letting her read now that things were done or fighting to maintain her privacy. Then again, there really wasn’t much between them she could consider private. It was likely the third glass of wine that made her so reluctant to pursue her, so a part of her was curious how her friend would react. With a groan, she dropped her head face first into the cushions of the pillow in hopes that whatever was reported back to her went unheard.

Oooo, he think he’s SLICK!” shouted Denice. “Those pretty words he gives you must be why you were chasing him to begin with! Listen, listen…”

Unwilling to do just that, Jasmine reached to fetch one of her throw pillows and held it over her head in hopes of muffling out whatever else she had to say.

“Jasmine, I hope you are not too mad at me – insert a sad face – but I had something come up. Please talk to me. I will make it up to you. I miss you, girl. Period. Another Sad face.”

She snorted into the pillow. Try as she did to ignore it, the side of her that wanted to know what the man had to say made her hear every word. Then there was silence. Well, not complete silence, but the sound of someone fiercely using her phone.

 
“What are you doing?!” shouted Jasmine as she suddenly leapt up from the couch to look for her friends whereabouts. To her horror, she watched as Denice stood a few feet away, a wicked grin on her face with her tongue half out, her fingers flying over the keyboards to. Even the quiet release of a cackle told her that her friend was clearly up to no good.

“She … don’t want … you no mo’ … Mr. Freak. You … need … to get … gone.”

Oh hell. Leaping to her feet, Jasmine quickly made a mad scramble to retrieve her phone before the damage could be done. “DENICE!” But it was too late. The notification of a message sent sounded off, and with that went whatever chances she had in preserving her friendship with her no-show guy friend. That single act alone was enough to reveal how much didn't quite get over him. There was a small part of her ( or perhaps large ) that still had hope. Just a small one.

A notification sound went off signaling his reply.

 

9:31pm: Who is this?

 

Denice sneered. “Who is this? Oh I’ll tell him who this is—“

But before Denice could respond, the phone was quickly swiped away, back to its owner’s rightful grip. “I’ll take care of that!” said Jasmine as she wandered off to a remote area of her apartment.

“We just sat here for an hour talking about this guy and now you wanna talk to him?”

As much as she hated to defy her friend, she couldn’t help the aching curiosity to try and understand the reason behind the lack of appearance for the dinner. She deserved an explanation, one that would be met with closure. Maybe. Perhaps.

 

9:35pm: y didn’t u come? |:

9:36pm: I had reasons. I don’t know if I can explain.

9:36pm: Try me.

9:36pm: I’m really sorry, Jasmine. You went out of your way for me and I blew it. I’ll pay back whatever you charged. I’m sure you were beautiful, too.

 

“What’s he over there telling you?” Denice shouted from the sofa. having returned to it now that she no longer had reason to stand. She had returned to refill her glass with another helping of wine and grab a mouth full of crackers and cheese. “Don’t you start that mess up again! Remember what you told me!” she added, crumbs sputtering from her mouth.

But it was hard not to feel somewhat tickled by his last words. She did look good. He would have known that if he was there.

 

9:37pm: I wanted to see u. Im mad as hell at u. Who do u think you are?

9:38pm: You have every right to be mad. I still want to see you. Know you. Need you. Please stay. I can fix this. :(

 

“I see you over there getting all fluttery.”

She couldn’t help it. For a few words on a screen, they still managed to send her stomach into knots. Maybe it was her wild and vivid imagination that was helping this along. She could see it clearly; standing before her with a look that could melt a woman like a chocolate bar on a pickup truck dashboard in the middle of August.  Speaking of heat, that image alone made her skin flushed with fever.

 

9:39pm: I don’t know. What are you going to do?

9:40pm: I have something for you.

9:40pm: For me?

9:41pm: Yes. At your door. ;)

 

A short, sharp set of four hard knocks rapped on her door causing both Denice and Jasmine to jump. Startled by the unannounced arrival, a look of panic crossed their face as they both looked to each other in a state of shock.

Denice scowled as she silently mouthed the words ‘I told you' with a look of utter disgust. This was it. They were going to die tonight and it was entirely her fault. Who knew that her friend was right all this time and twice in one night? The messenger behind that door had followed her home and now they were going to meet their end. Ducking behind the counter in her kitchen, she quickly dug into a drawer and retrieved a butcher knife.

Being the braver of the two, Denice armed herself with a broom then cautiously made her way over to the door, yet not without sending another scathing look over to her friend. If this was to be her last moment on earth, she wanted to make sure Jasmine knew how angry she was over this. Once there, she slowly leaned forward to peer out the peephole first.

"Who is it? Ya'll better be ready! We ain't in here alone!" She yelled. No answer. "Wait a minute," she murmured as she looked out the peephole again. Jasmine watched in horror as he friend began to unlock all the locks to the door then immediately swung to open.

“What the hell?

Curious as to what hade her friend in such shock, Jasmine quietly made her way over to the door to peep behind her friend. Her eyes widened as a hand rose to cover her lips at the sight of what littered the hallway of her apartment complex. From her front of her door leading all the way towards the elevator were a series of various flower arrangements in crystal vases. Some vases were roses, others were daffodils or posies. Each one unique and with a card of some sort for her to read. Unfortunately, the cards were not to be read by Jasmine herself first as Denice had already begun to filter through each one.

Her phone went off again, a new message received.

 

9:48pm: Do you like it?

 

Unable to contain her joy, her lips slowly blossomed into a smile while her fingers quickly began to write up a response.

 

9:49pm: you did all this?

9:49pm: I have my ways. Don’t be creeped out. I said I would make it up to you.

 

“I’m not carrying all this into your apartment, by the way,” bellowed Denice from outside the doorway. “They could have done that!”

It was a bit odd and somewhat daunting knowing that he may or may not have delivered the items himself. Then again, being able to pull off such a feat so quickly was likely not done alone. Straight out of a novel, he had redeemed himself and then some by surprising her with an elaborate gift. While there was still no sign of him, which would have been a far better prize, the fact that he had went through such great lengths to do this did not go unappreciated. She couldn't stop from smiling. It was like being seventeen all over again.

 

9:50pm: I know you like flowers. So I gave them to you. Ten times.

 

“And how does he have your address? You mean to tell me he has your address?!”

It was easy to tune out Denice by this point. She was too far gone, floating about on some cloud marked nine. The fact that he had her address didn’t bother her either as she recalled giving her address before for letters they exchanged purely so that both of them had something tangible in their hands that came from the other. So it was no surprise that this form of apology was met with open arms.

 

9:50pm I love it thank u

9:50pm: You’re welcome, Wendy. I will make it up to you okay? :)

 

“Is that chocolate? Oh lord, that’s chocolate, girl. Let me break into this.”

 

9:51pm: I promise to fix this. I will. Don’t end our friendship, please. Forgive me?

 

. . .

 

A small grin began to grow on Michael’s lips as he read off the response.

‘Forgiven.’

One simple word somehow made his day. It wasn’t a lot, but it was definitely progress in his effort to rectify a situation he was having trouble trying to fix.

The gentle foot falls of shoes upon floor announced the return of one of his own and forced him to tuck his phone away for later. The unnamed man nodded to confirm what Michael appeared to be waiting to hear.

“It’s done.”

“All of it?”

“I’m sure whoever that was for will certainly appreciate it, Michael.”

 

Michael nodded, satisfied with the answer. “Well, that’s one step down, “He murmured as he raised his brows. “Now on to the next.”

Chapter 5 - "e-Match" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

Beard said: "He just wanted to turn off that fame. He told me 'I just want to be able to walk into a bar and have a beer. I want to go to the grocery store with the kids.' He was just fighting to be normal."— Remember the Time, Protecting Michael Jackson in his Final Days

10 Months Ago…

He hated being driven around by other people. There was always a better route to follow, a quicker way to take them off from a traffic light, but those calls were not for him to make. While many envied those with private chauffeurs willing to take them anywhere at any time, Michael was the type that often said he envied those who could simply get up and go. Today, all he wanted to be just go shopping for new clothes. That was it. Just a bit of shopping to update his wardrobe and purchase a few things for his children, too. But shopping as Michael Jackson meant calling in the proper backup, making an initial sweep of the chosen area to ensure the star’s safety on arrival, arranging backup escape routes in case things got too rowdy, being accompanied by his hired bodyguards at all times, and having the luxury of being toted wherever he wanted in Las Vegas discreetly in a heavily tinted van or limo (if he was feeling flashy). It was sad how one couldn’t even shop for Spongebob t-shirts without needing an army at his disposable.

The drive was long and the day warm. Inside the vehicle he was joined by his three best men; a group who had protected him from many and slaved hours at a time keeping him protected from the repercussions of his renowned reputation. He loved his fans, they were his heart and reason for the music he made, past and present. Without them there would be no him, no legend or status envied by musical icons across the world. But even Michael knew of the downsides of fame and the dangers of having too many people gathered all at once eager to catch a glimpse or touch their beloved icon. Protection was necessary not only from that of his fanatical fans, but the attention that often came whenever word spread that Michael Jackson was out and about in a normal setting. Try as he may to live a peaceful life like an average guy, his name and image alone could stir pandemonium within minutes. Some attempts to slip into the cracks of normalcy were met with success, while other attempts failed tremendously enabling his bodyguards to kick into action until they were safely out of the harm’s way. Despite all the failed attempts, none of that seemed to stop Michael from trying again and again.

Even his love life had to be handled with the same guarded measure of safety and care. Whenever word got out that he even had the slimmest attraction to a person, media spread the news like wildfire. Nothing was private for him. Not even a hello to a stranger. After the divorce to his second wife, love had become somewhat of a mythical beast in his life, always spoken about in tales and depicted as beautiful but nothing more than that  — just a tale. Love was a word he used seldom when it came to women in his life. He loved being with them. Their essence, their beauty, curves, and enigmatic presence, but that was about as far as it tended to go. Sometimes it felt as if the women loved his legacy more than the man himself, another drawback to being who he was. There were times he often just wondered what the world would be like for him if he was just Michael. Just a man with a love for music but no fame or glory tied to his name. Would these women still love him? Would they still befriend him and give the attention they seemed so willing to give easily?

What he wouldn’t give for just a second to step outside everything that he was and be a normal human being. To have someone get to know him first without the attachment of his high profile image. It was this way of thinking that made Michael so heavily interested in shows like the hit television show, The Bachelor. When word got out that a rich and successful bachelor was looking for a wife, women flocked at the opportunity to bag a good one on national television. Whether or not these women were there for the riches or love was the whole appeal of why the show was so popular. Some were clearly there just for the status while others simply wanted a chance at love. In the end, it was up to the woman to decide whether or not she truly loved the man who decided she was the one, even if his fabulous lifestyle was all just a huge lie. It made him wonder if there was a way that could be reversed. A chance to have someone reach out to him but believe him to be nothing more than an average Joe Schmoe.

Seated near the window of the van, Michael watched quietly as various cars sped past them on the highway. Some vehicles carried solo drivers or businessmen yacking on their phones. Others had families or large groups chatting with each other or calming their rowdy children. The women that often drove by were often judged on a scale he kept to himself, ten being definite good fish while two or three was one he’d throw back into the pond. When the van pulled over towards the shoulder of the road, his people watching came to an abrupt end.

Michael shifted a bit in his seat, his face turned forward while he adjusted his legs from the cramped space shared with the other much larger men inside the van. The hunt for new clothing had turned into an adventure as they were now headed for what would be their fourth store. Michael was very specific about what he wanted to buy and preferred nothing but the best. This high expectation turned what was supposed to be a thirty minute errand into an all-day event. The boredom in between the drives made the silence excruciating, and with nothing to gaze upon aside from the blurred trees, it was time to turn to the only set of people he could chat with. His bodyguards.

“How are we doing today, guys?” asked Michael, breaking the silence in the van.

“Not too bad, Mr. Jackson." Came the response, almost all of them in unison. The group suddenly broke into a small fit of laughter at that before falling silent again.

In that silence Michael took note of each of the men within the van. At the very front seen driving the vehicle was Terry, an ex-military member who had dedicated his life towards guarding Michael and his family. His build was like that of your traditional bodyguard, fit yet bulky, capable of pummeling a being into dust if given the opportunity. Despite his frightening size, he was more of a gentle giant, especially around his children. To the far left of him was Johnson, a former police officer turned bodyguard who had been by his side for only a few years now. He was tall, extremely so, and built like a football quarterback. With olive tone skin and a clean cut fade, Johnson was one of his more reliable guards that he could depend on. In front of him at the other seat was Henry, a smaller framed male with a lighter complexion and lankier build. His height was probably the only thing intimidating about him, but what he lacked in appearance he made up for with his excellent knowledge of hand to hand combat. Thankfully, that was something he had yet to use. Sitting alongside him was Anthony, another large bodyguard who was a bit huskier than the other two who looked more like a sumo wrestler instead of a guard. Unlike the other men who were focused at gazing outside the car, Anthony’s attention was focused on his smartphone.

He watched quietly as Anthony grinned at the screen, his fingers practically flying across the keyboard with each and every quiet notification received. It was the first time he had ever witnessed the male show signs that he had a life outside of guarding him. Not that he believed they had no lives outside of their work, but very seldom did he ever catch glimpses of them simply being ordinary men. After thinking so heavily on how his own life was anything but ordinary, seeing this intimate side of one of his own engaged in conversation with someone other than co-workers made him wistful. They had it easy. Whatever he was doing, it looked to be far more interesting than his car fishing game.

“What are you doing?” Michael asked.

Two of the three raised their heads, then both turned to Anthony who appeared to have missed the question. It took a light jab of an elbow from Henry to finally get his attention.

“What? Oh—I’m sorry, sir!” he quickly apologized.

 “No, it’s fine,” said Michael, softer this time just to remove the suspicion that he was angry. He knew how easily his voice could often convey that message, sometimes unintentionally. “I just … wanted to know what you were doing.”

“He’s probably talking to his new girl toy.” Said Henry before he could answer. The van suddenly erupted into laughter, all except Michael and Anthony. Feeling a bit detached from whatever inside joke had just transpired, Michael decided to egg the conversation on. This was clearly something that he was not let in on, likely because it was personal affairs.

“What girl toy?” asked Michael.

The group each looked at each other, then back to Michael. “Some girl he met online that he’s been bragging about since Sunday,” said Henry as he flashed Anthony a grin.

Michael smiled. “Online dating?” chuckled Michael quietly as he turned to Anthony for confirmation. “You do that?”

“Yeah, sort of. I mean it's not that bad.” Said Anthony, embarrassed and a bit annoyed at the same time by the direction of the conversation. “I told the guys I was going to try out this site. So I’ve been doing that and met this girl.”

“Does she look good?” Asked Michael.

“She is fine as hell.” Anthony crooned.

Johnson snorted. “Yeah, a little too fine, if you ask me.”

“I think she’s fake.” Added Henry, a comment that was immediately followed with a shove by Anthony. “What? You see her body? She don’t need to be on no damn dating site.”

Michael scooted slightly forward until he was at the edge of his seat to get a better look over Anthony’s shoulder towards his phone. “Let me see!”

Despite being hassled by the others, Anthony did as asked and quickly pulled up a picture of the woman in question. She was indeed fire. Slender frame, pouty lips, and an outfit that accentuated the curves of her body while leaving little to the imagination in regards to her breasts.

“She’s got some big titties!” giggled Michael, a comment that made the entire van break out into laughter. “And you said you met her online?”

“Yeah, it’s called e-Match. They’re this big name company that gathers all your information, what you like, what you don’t like, and just … match you up with people that they feel are compatible to you.” Explained Anthony in an excitable manner. “They got these algorithms or something that make it perfectly tailored to you. So you can’t go wrong. They pick out the women that feel will be your soul mate or something. And there are success stories, too!”

“Yeah, the ones that don’t end up with disasters.” added Henry.

The description by Anthony, however, had Michael more than just a little intrigued. It sounded almost too good to be true. A website that could find you a perfect match. Technology sure had a way of removing the work out of everything. Back in his day, dating required meeting people face to face and getting to know them before determining if they were worth your time. Now it seemed all one had to do was enter a few things and their dream girl was found.

 “How, uhm … how do you do it exactly?” Asked Michael quietly.

“You thinking about making a profile, Mike?” Came a voice from the front. Even if he had been focused on driving, Terry had listening the entire time.

Michael smiled and lowered his head bashfully, trying hard not to laugh even if he was a tad embarrassed by that presumption of his intentions. “Me? No, no… I couldn’t do that.”

“Why not?” asked Anthony.

Michael made a face that immediately told him how dumb that question really was without having to say a word.

“Right. Well, I mean I’m sure you could try it just to test. The internet is famed for the power of anonymity. Who said you had to say who you were?”

Michael nodded sagely. “You think I can get away with that?”

“Yeah, why not? Just don’t use your name.” replied Anthony with a shrug. The other two bodyguards gave each other a look of quiet disapproval. One of them cleared their throat as a silent form of telling the other to shut up.

“That’s … that doesn’t seem right. I can’t do that.” said Michael with a shake of his head, not picking up on the subtle clues by the others trying to dissuade Anthony from continue. The van fell into a short silence only to have it broken minutes later by Michael again who appeared to still be thinking on the subject. “I mean, I don’t want to be … dishonest or anything.” Michael added. Now that the idea was already in his head, the others knew Michael wouldn’t let this go.

Anthony passed a look over to Henry who was still giving him the eye for him to keep his trap shut. Against his better judgment, he decided to answer again anyway. “You wouldn’t be. Who said anything had to be serious? It’s harmless.”

“You really think I could find my match?” said Michael, feeling a bit inspired by the encouragement. The idea of going undercover and pretending to be someone other than his famed status – it was tempting. It wasn’t the first time that Michael was drawn to the allure of the internet. He had often visited many of the fan sites dedicated to him and had taken up the guise of a regular person when commenting on articles of interest. Yet the idea of using that same anonymity as a means of dating? Well, it sounded a bit skeptical, but the appeal was certain there.

“Never really thought you had a problem with finding women, Mike. I mean, boss.” Said Anthony after, hoping to clean up the mess he had made. “You can get any woman you want.”

Michael chuckled. That may have been slightly true, but it was certainly not always the case. He could count a handful of times where his advances was met with disinterest. “I like fishing,” murmured Michael. “I think if I can do it without … without being bothered or judged … I’d like that.”

“I would advise against it, sir.” said Johnson who had no problem putting the brakes on what looked like a potential for a train wreck. Unlike the others who were a bit more laid back, Johnson took his job to a more serious level, never one for sharing personal details or acting too casual. This was a job he took seriously, an admittedly admirable trait Michael favored about him, but often was found to be bit too much. In this case, it was like a kid stomping on a sandcastle. “I don’t think anything that has the potential to attract the media is a wise move.”

“I wouldn’t do anything that would attract them,” said Michael in some hope to defend himself and the idea, not that he was committed to it yet. “I’d be careful. I’m always careful.”

“I’m sure you would, Michael, but for your case it might not be a good idea to throw yourself into a world where we’re not able to protect you properly.” Johnson pointed out, then continued. “It would be bad for both you and your family if one of those ‘fish’ you caught decided to take the conversations to the press about how they were pursued by a famous icon.”

Michael swallowed hard and gave a sad nod in agreement. There was no denying the potential dangers if word ever got out. That sad dose of reality crushed him a little, but it was something he needed to hear. Online dating may have had the advantages of making looking for a partner convenient, but it wouldn’t change the fact that he was still going to be Michael Jackson on a dating site. All it would take was one person to catch on to the fact that they were speaking to him and massive hysteria would break out. The tabloids would especially have a field day with such information and turn his image into an even bigger mockery. He couldn’t have that on his conscious. The allure of cruising the site for potential matches suddenly didn’t look quite as magical as it was originally made out to be.

Defeated and silenced by the cautioned words of his men, Michael settled back against his seat and resumed his people watching. The trio all gave each other looks when they noticed Michael fall back into a state of silence. Even if the topic had come to an end, somehow they all knew it would not be the last time they’d hear of it.

 

. . .

 

This shopping center was a little more outdated than the others he had visited, but the selection of clothing outlets were at least promising. Michael was not dressed for appearances on this day as demonstrated by the Mickey Mouse pajamas worn beneath his jacket. He really didn’t care. Today he wanted to just be comfortable and himself for a change, that and he had originally intended the trip to be quick so dressing up seemed pointless. But even when dressed like a bum, Michael had a knack for drawing a crowd. One had to only look twice to realize that the guy in cartoon pajamas, fedora, surgical mask, and iconic shades was no other than Michael Jackson. He paid little heed to the whispers, occasional flashes from phones, and shouts from across the building by men who shouted phrases like ‘yo, mike’ and ‘ey michael’ from afar. As amusing and flattering as it all was, today he really just … wanted to shop.

After flipping through a selection of clothes on the rack in one of the stores, Michael gave a thankful nod to the attendant who had been helping him before slipping back out to browse a few more stores.

His bodyguards, armed in suits and presence, kept him locked in a circular pattern that allowed him to walk about freely in his own guarded bubble.

As he looked behind him, he could see that Anthony was once again off in his own world on his phone yet again. Even if it was a bit unprofessional, Michael couldn't help but envy the enamored look on his face from a few words seen on a screen. He longed for that kind of relationship, the kind that stole his attention away from the world. Looking forward again, he slowed his pace considerably until he was walking alongside the clueless bodyguard. “Anthony.”

The quiet utterance of his name broke his connection from the phone and instantly he pocketed it away. “Sorry, sir.” He sputtered, ashamed to have been caught yet again. “I just thought if I appeared normal people might not—”

“No, it’s not that,” murmured Michael as he cut him off, then gestured with his hand to keep their tone down, “I have a favor to ask.”

Anthony’s brows furrowed as he looked to the men ahead then back to Michael again. “Of course, sir.”

“Can you … can you make me one?”

“Make you one?”

“You know, a profile. On that site.” Michael whispered, trying to keep their conversation as private as possible now that his behavior alerted the attention of the neighboring bodyguards. Despite their concern, they kept their distance to give the boss privacy.

“I…” Anthony blinked, surprised by the request and stumped for a proper response. A look was given towards the other guards who were unaware of what Michael was doing, at least for now. Without any guidance from the others to help him properly give an answer that would save his hide, he decided to make a quick decision on his own. Michael may have been a celebrity, but he was still a man. Left with the awkward decision of either responding properly or pleasing his boss, he opted for the choice that wouldn’t immediately get him laid off.

“Of course, boss. I can help.”

Michael nodded. “Good, good. I want a profile and you can write everything you can about me. Just don’t use my picture. No picture.” He instructed.

“Yes, I understand, but … you realize most people kind of skip over profiles with no pictures right?” Anthony revealed.

“They do?” Michael looked away as he considered his words.

There was no sense in making a profile if nobody was going to interact with it all because of some picture. Suddenly, he was reminded of the television show Bachelor. The entire show was sensationalized because women were clueless to the fact that the guy in question was not the millionaire described and it was up to the Bachelor to decide which one would love him regardless. What if this was reworked differently?

What if he applied it as women thinking they were dating one guy while actually being another all while keeping true to his personality? Yes, there was the chance it could explode in his face and thus work against him, but there was no denying the potential of it working for him, too. She would learn about him and everything with only his face being the little white lie. There was so much potential here, an experiment of sorts like a modern day Coming to America. Except instead of the character played by his friend Eddie Murphy, it would be him instead. Sort of. Well, almost like that movie.

It was in that moment that Michael knew he was going to do this, with or without their approval. A smile crept across his lips beneath his mask.

 

 

“I think … I think I have a picture you can use.” 

End Notes:

I thought an explanation was needed for how this all came about. I hope to include additional flashbacks like these in the future. Hopefully that will kind of paint the entire story better.


The bodyguards used here are inspired from the ones that guarded him in real life but with different names and backgrounds since this is a purely fictional piece.


Thank you for reading!

Updating Soon. by Pleione
Author's Notes:

Just a quick update.

There really is no excuse for my delay in updating this story. My life as a Photographer puts me on a busy schedule. But this is just a little note to say that I WILL be updating this soon. The story is saved on my file, I just need to add a bit more. I'm so sorry for keeping those waiting and again I have no excuse aside from my work.

For those waiting, please stick with me! I have every intent to finish this as I already have this mapped out and brainstormed from start to finish.

Thank you so much for your interest in this! I will be deleting this little 'chapter' when the actual story goes up to keep things orderly and clean.

To continue? by Pleione
Author's Notes:

Do I continue this story?

This was on my mind today. Do people still read stories here? Should I continue? I just wanted to see what the chances are of me continuing.

 

I do have a laid out plan for how this was to unfold from beginning to end. The next chapter was going to dig more into Michaels end and finally explain how the two meet. I did this for fun but never thought it was much except for a wild imagination. If this place is still lit I think I can whip up some more chapters now that I have the time energy and writing interest again.

Also let me just say I really appreciate all the love this story got over the years I was gone.

but if it's quiet here then where can I continue this story? Because even I'm wanting to see more after rereading my own little tale.

 

 

---

 

In recent years, online dating has become the latest trend in finding committed relationships. The success rate of these happy couples has stirred the interest of single career woman Jasmine Dimes, a senior graphic designer who spends a fair chunk of her free time browsing the internet doing everything from visiting forums, chatting, and dabbling a bit into the online dating scene.

She connects with a striking older man named Damien who shows to be a compatible match on a dating site. Sweet, charming, and incredibly attractive, the two hit it off through multiple emails and late night instant chats. Finally! Her Mr. Right was here! Except for the small fact that they aren't actually dating. Or at least he hasn't asked her and vice versa. Despite the sparks, their arrangement was seen as a close friendship developed over the internet. A friendship that hints at the possibilities of something more.


Chapter 6 - "Voice Chat" by Pleione
Author's Notes:

 "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Jasmine felt her heart flutter as she typed her response to Damien, her fingers trembling slightly with a mix of excitement and nervousness. The simple, yet powerful word 'Forgiven' seemed to resonate within her, echoing her willingness to move past the hurt and confusion. She glanced at the array of flowers and chocolates that now adorned her hallway, each piece a testament to Damien's efforts in seeking her forgiveness.

She couldn't help but smile. Despite Denice's constant warnings and her own doubts, Jasmine found herself drawn to the sincerity in Damien's actions. It wasn't just about the grand gesture; it was the thought behind it, the acknowledgment of his mistake, and his evident desire to make things right.

"Girl, you are smitten!" Denice's voice snapped Jasmine out of her reverie. She turned to see her friend, a piece of chocolate halfway to her mouth, an eyebrow raised in playful accusation.

Jasmine chuckled. "Maybe a little," she admitted, her gaze drifting back to her phone. She couldn't deny the warm, tingling sensation that spread through her chest each time she thought about Damien. It was a feeling she hadn't experienced in a long time, a mixture of anticipation and joy that she couldn't quite explain. It was as though everything he did was no longer an issue, and all it took was an explosive show of affection. 

Just then, her phone buzzed with another message from Damien. Her heart skipped a beat as she read his words:

9:52pm: Can we meet tomorrow? I really want to see you and explain everything in person.

Jasmine hesitated. Meeting Damien face-to-face after all that had happened felt daunting, yet there was a part of her that longed for that very encounter. A part of her found herself wondering if she was setting herself up for another disasterous disappointment. Yet, a small part of her didn't want this to be the final show. After developing their relationship for months, the idea of it being cut short based on a miss connection felt almost selfish. She wanted to see the sincerity in his eyes, to hear the inflection in his voice as he explained himself. She wanted to know if the connection they shared online could translate into the real world.

She looked up to find Denice watching her, an uncharacteristic seriousness in her eyes. "What do you think I should do?" Jasmine asked, seeking guidance.

Denice put down her chocolate and walked over to her friend, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Listen, Jasmine, I may joke around a lot, but I want what's best for you. If you think meeting him is what you need, then go for it. Just... be careful, okay?"

Jasmine nodded, feeling a surge of gratitude for her friend's support. She took a deep breath and typed her response:

 

9:53pm: Okay, let's meet. Tomorrow. But in a public place.

 

After sending the message, Jasmine felt a sense of resolution wash over her. Whether this meeting brought closure or a new beginning, she was ready to face it. She turned to Denice, a determined look in her eyes.

"Let's make it a night to remember," she said with a smile. "But first, help me get these flowers inside."

As they began gathering the vases, Jasmine felt a newfound strength within her. She was ready to face whatever tomorrow would bring, with or without Damien. Her journey was her own, and she was determined to make the most of it, one step at a time.

End Notes:

I did it. It's not long but I'm jumping back into it. Let's do this and continue the story I never finished years ago.

This story archived at http://www.mjfiction.com/viewstory.php?sid=6684