written by Vixie
with help from Merry Treat and Tabby
"Ah, good afternoon, Mademoiselles Vixie!" Romance's thinly-accented voice greeted
Vixie as she seated herself at the
counter of the coffee bar inside the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, called the Java Stop.
Vixie giggled as she idly flipped through a menu. Despite all of her protests against it, he
still called her
"mademoiselles", which was French for "miss". "Good afternoon, Romm. How has your day
Romance rolled his eyes as he leaned against the counter, drying a coffee mug. "Oh, so
very slow. There isn't much
business on weekends. Everyone's at home drinking their own coffee."
"Hey, Vixie!" Cinnamon Twist came out of the kitchen, wearing a rather large apron.
"What are you doing in this early
in the day? You usually only come in right before we close."
"Well, today I have a rather untimely appointment with a certain younger sibling to
discuss the latest developments of a
particular acquaintance." Vixie glanced at the wall clock with apprehension. "But she's late.
Just then there was a clatter from the bells on the door as it opened and closed. "I'm not
late!" Merry Treat seated
herself next to her sister at the bar. "Hi, guys!" She waved to the two stallions behind the
counter. "I'm right on time, sis!"
Vixie sarcastically nodded her head and turned her chair so she faced her little sister. She
noticed that she was alone
today, her practically inseparable friend absent. "Where's Miss Tabitha?"
"Hey, Romance? We'd like two French vanilla cappuccinos, please." Merry Treat settled
herself on the round stool.
"She's spending some time with Tamara this afternoon."
Vixie raised an eyebrow. "Tamara? That cousin she can't stand? She's spending time
"MT, who died?"
Merry Treat giggled. "No one. And she does get along with Tamara just fine. For the
"That's not the point! Why is she spending time with her? Knowing Tabby, it's not just
‘quality time'." Exasperation
was starting to filter into Vixie's voice.
"Well, listen to me and I'll tell you!" Leaning closer to Vixie, Merry Treat motioned for
her sister to do the same. "Tex
broke up with Tamara! For Mimic!"
Both ponies jumped at a sudden crash of glass. Turning, they saw the remains of their
two cappuccinos all over the
floor, with a dazed looking Romance standing above them. He blushed and hurriedly went about
cleaning up the mess with Cinnamon
"It'll be a couple more minutes, ladies. I'm terribly sorry," Cinnamon Twist told them as
he went to fetch the mop.
Letting her breath out in a sigh, Vixie looked at her sister as she digested the new
information. "So, Salsa Boy finally
left her, huh?" She was referring to the stories of Tamara and Tabby's birthday party where Tex
had given them chips and salsa as a
"Sounds like a nickname that Tabby would come up with," Merry Treat commented
absently. Suddenly, something
beeped in her pocket. Pulling out her digital watch, the young pony suddenly went haywire.
"Eep! I gotta go! See ya later!" She dashed
out of the shop, leaving her confused sister staring at blank air.
"I guess I better make that one cappuccino, huh?" Vixie turned as she heard Romance's
quiet voice behind her.
"Yeah, sorry about that," Vixie said. "My spaz of a sister had something to do, I guess."
She motioned for her friend to
sit next to her. "You okay?"
The black stallion hesitantly nodded his head. Something appeared to be on his mind.
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. I just let the
tray slip, I guess."
Casting him a disbelieving look, Vixie sipped on her coffee. "Whatcha thinking, Romm?
It's not like you to ‘just let'
"Oh..." Romance trailed a moment, searching for words. He started to spin a straw
between his hooves. "So... who's
this Tamara you two were talking about?"
Vixie smiled. "Oh, so that's what's on your mind! You know exactly who Tamara is!
She's that pink unicorn that
comes in with Tabby sometimes." She giggled. "I thought you've had something for her."
"Well... I... uh..." Romance stuttered at the statement of what he thought one was of his
Vixie stood and leaned close to him. "Well, all I have to say, Romm, is if you wish to get
a chance with her, you should
start to move now, instead of waiting for her to choose you as a last resort." Pulling away, she
turned to leave. "I've got to go. Rascal
and I have a date tonight, and I must get ready."
Romance waved at her as she left the shop. Leaning back against the counter, he stared at
the tendrils of white clouds
in the afternoon sky through the large plate glass windows. It came as a sudden and welcome
relief to hear that his secret crush was
single after such a long time. But how was he ever going to pull off being with her? The thought
sounded like quite an adventure.
* * *
The sun shown through the windows of Tamara's room, filling it with the warm glow of
early morning. Tamara sat
against the headboard of her bed, reading from a book of poetry. Breathing deeply, she set the
book down and batted her eyelashes.
"That was so romantic!" she sighed contentedly. She had stayed up reading the entire night,
unable to peel her eyes from the love poems
that filled the binding.
Climbing out of her bed, she stretched and started to brush her mane and tail. It had been
months since she had felt
this relaxed, she realized as an afterthought to calling Tex. Though it had only been a day since
the rather harsh dumping had occurred,
Tamara was well over the simple-minded stallion. But she was still used to calling him every
morning, and it had slipped her mind that
she no longer needed to.
Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, she headed to her elegant wardrobe and
pulled open the doors. "What do
you think Persian, this hat?" She held up a dressy hat made of white feathers to her Persian, who
was curled in the window seat. "Or
this one?" The second hat was a simple straw hat with a blue flower stuck in the hatband.
The Pokèmon opened one eye and glared at the feather hat, then went back to sleep.
Tamara stared witheringly at the
cat-like creature and decided on the straw hat. After adjusting it on her head and collecting her
purse, Tamara picked up the phone. She
had a few months of savings, and had decided to check up on an ad in the paper about pedigree
kittens for sale, as well as a few things
from the dress boutique she had been eyeing. The list of items she needed kept growing as she
dialed Tiffany's number.
"Good morning, Tiffany! I'm doing quite well, thank you. Actually, I was wondering if
you would accompany me on a
couple of business errands today? Splendid! Twenty minutes? Perfect. Yes, see you there.
Tah-tah!" Hanging up the phone, Tamara
knew it was going to be a wonderful day.
* * *
"And then Toby told the waiter, ‘Well, they must hold some kind of nutritional value,
because you're still here!'" Both
Tiffany and Tamara laughed hysterically. It was late afternoon now and they were walking home
after a long day of shopping. Tamara
was cuddling her new Siamese kitten, Phoebe, close to her, along with about five large bags from
They were outside the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe when Tiffany announced that she
could use a good mocha late.
"Yeah, and it's still a pretty good walk from here to my house. Let's take a break," Tamara
agreed, and pushed open the door.
Romance looked up from the customer he was serving and felt his heart start to race.
"Uhm, yes sir, that'll be... uh...
three jangles fifteen..." He tried to close the cash drawer as quickly as he could, and after
smashing his hoof once he accomplished it.
Now's my chance! he thought excitedly as he calmly walked over to the table at which
Tamara and Tiffany had seated themselves.
"Good evening, ladies. What would you like tonight?"
Tiffany batted her eyelashes at the French stallion, and Tamara rolled her eyes. The
unicorn settled back, perfectly
used to her friend's pursuits of stallions. "Yes, I would like a mocha late with whipped cream and
a cherry on top and sprinkles. And a
kiss would be nice." Tiffany giggled as Romance turned a shade of red. "Just kidding on that last
Tamara rolled her eyes again. Tiffany was getting more and more blunt when it came to
her desires. "Don't mind her,
Romance. I'd like a hot chocolate, please, with whipped cream." It was then that Tamara noticed
the odd look he was giving her, and it
made her feel... she could almost say fluttery. "And sprinkles."
Romance blinked a couple of times and gulped. She knows my name! he thought
excitedly. "Uh... yeah, it'll be
just a couple of minutes."
"Hmph! What's his problem?" Tiffany commented as Romance walked away. "He was
looking at you the whole time,
and not me!"
Tamara ignored Tiffany. She was also used to her friend venting about guys. Instead, she
watched Romance as he
made the drinks. Why was he looking at me like that? she thought.
"Excuse me, Tamara? You're totally ignoring me!" Tiffany waved her hoof in front of her
"Meow?" Phoebe mewed from Tamara's lap.
Tamara looked down into the huge almond-colored eyes of the kitten. "Yeah, I bet you
are hungry. Come on, let's see if
those gentlemen have some cream."
"Meow!" purred Phoebe.
Tamara stood, cradling the kitten with one foreleg. "I'll be right back, Tiffany."
"Whatever," Tiffany mumbled from the depths of her purse. Leaving her friend to touch
up, Tamara walked up to the
counter where Romance was just finishing their coffee.
"Excuse me?" Tamara asked, rather timidly, she realized. "My kitten is rather hungry, and
I was wondering if you have
any cream that you could spare? I can pay for it."
Romance turned, wide-eyed, and looked at her for a moment. "Kitten?" He caught site
of the little creature curled up in
the crook of Tamara's foreleg. "Oh, how cute! Hold on a moment, okay?" He motioned for
Tamara to sit as he flitted into the kitchen,
returning a moment later with a fresh pint of cream and a bowl. He was trying his best not to
tremble as he poured the cream.
Tamara sat stroking the little kitten as she daintily lapped the cream. "She's going to make
a fine show cat. See how
she carries her tail?"
"I didn't know you were into cat shows," Romance told her. "I used to do them a bit
myself, before I moved here."
"Really? Did you ever win any ribbons?" All ears, Tamara leaned closer with excitement.
She had never met anyone
that had any real interest in what she did before.
"Uh..." Romance breathed in the smell of Tamara's perfume, and he could feel his cheeks
start to grow hot. He tried to
pull back a bit, so she wouldn't see his condition. Instead, he slipped off the stool and crashed
hard onto the floor, jolting the table at
which Tiffany was seated. Her coffee, which Cinnamon Twist had brought to her, splashed all
over the table. Tiffany leaped up with a
scream, brushing imaginary droplets off of her jacket. When she was satisfied that there were
going to be no stains, she glared harshly
at Romance and huffed out of the shop, not waiting for her friend.
Tamara raced after her to the door. "Tiff-a-ny! Wait! Aren't you even going to wait for
an apology?" She received no
response. Turning, she quickly went to where Romance was sitting, rubbing his elbows. "Are
you all right?" she asked delicately as she
helped the stallion to his hooves.
"Yeah, I guess so..." Looking at the table, Romance let out a sigh. "You better catch up
with your friend. I don't want to
make her mad at you as well."
Tamara nodded slowly. "You're right there. And I don't need her majesty irritated with
me." She hurriedly gathered her
bags and scooped Phoebe up from the counter. "It was nice talking with you, Romance. See ya
Romance forlornly watched Tamara leave. He so wanted to go with her, just to feel her
next to him. Sitting at the table,
he let out another sigh. His first shot at talking with her, and he goofed it up. Kicking himself
inside, Romance went about cleaning up
the mess he had created. It was going to be a very sleepless night.
* * *
"Hmm, do I want carrots or tomatoes?" Tamara pondered aloud to herself as she stood in
the vegetable aisle of the
market. It was the next morning, and she had had the peculiar urge to see how the new local
greenhouse market was with produce.
Upon finding it excellent, she had quickly filled her hand basket with a few pounds worth of fresh
fruit and vegetables. But she had also
quickly spent her remaining jangles, and she had to rethink some of her choices. "Let's go with
Placing the bundle of carrots back into their wooded crate, Tamara headed towards the
"Thank you very much for shopping at Nature's Delectables! That'll be ten jangles
twenty-two," chattered the teen pony
behind the counter. Tamara smiled warmly and dropped the change into her waiting hoof. "Have
a spectacular day!" she called as
Tamara headed away from the market and down the sidewalk.
Digging through her bag for an apple, Tamara idly wondered at what had urged her to
stop at the little market. Looking
up, she realized that she was in a section of town that she did not recognize. A strange feeling
prompted her to take a stroll through the
cobblestone sidewalks and Victorian style brick buildings. She was in the historic district of
Dream Valley, she realized out of the blue.
"How very quaint!" she breathed to herself as she peered at the ancient stonework displayed on
many of the shop fronts.
Seating herself at a wrought iron bench with intricate whorls cast into the arm rests, she
quietly munched away at her
apple. Sunshine spilled over the street, and its gentle heat radiated from the stone paved
walkway. She was the only pony to be found on
the street, she noticed, which was rather odd for a Monday. The only sounds that violated the
silent warmth were that of bird song.
Tamara rested her head on her hoof and closed her eyes, soaking up the serenity.
"Excuse me, mademoiselles?" A gentle voice caused Tamara to jump. Opening her eyes,
she squinted towards the
source. "Sorry to have disturbed you," the voice continued.
When her eyes were fully adjusted to the light, Tamara recognized Romance standing
before her. He was holding a
shopping bag in one foreleg, and her bag in the other. "Oh, hello, Romance! You didn't disturb
Romance smiled kindly at her, and handed her the paper sack back. "That's good. I just
wanted to give your groceries
back. They had fallen while you were asleep and were busy rolling down the street."
"Oh, I hadn't realized that I had dozed off!" Tamara took the bag from him, and quickly
checked to make sure none of
its contents were damaged. "Thank you very much." Returning his smile, she motioned for him
to sit next to her. "It looks like we both
had the same thought on our minds," she said, eyeing his own bag of groceries.
"It certainly appears that way," Romance chuckled. He sat down next to Tamara, setting
his bag on the ground. "What
brings you down into this part of town? It's the first time I've seen you here."
Tamara thought a moment, a ponderous look on her face. "I don't know, really. I just
woke up this morning and had the
Romance nodded in understanding. "The same thing happened to me. I live just a couple
of blocks from here, though,
so I come more often." Romance's veins throbbed with exhilaration as he casually talked with
Tamara. Now's my chance! he
"I can see why. It's so delightful!" Tamara breathed, waving her hooves at the buildings
with a flourish. Her stomach
suddenly gave a low growl, reminding her of her negligence at not eating breakfast that morning.
Blushing, Tamara gave Romance a
sheepish look. "Pardon me!"
Laughing, Romance rose and picked up his bag. "That's quite all right! I agree with that
opinion. And seeing as it
appears we have the makings of a meal, why don't we go have lunch in that nice little park over
there?" Please! Romance kept
thinking, praying that she wouldn't refuse.
Tamara's eyes widened, and she snapped her head towards her lap to hide a rising blush.
"Why..." How was she
going to respond to this? Looking back up, her eyes met his and saw the pleading hope that
lingered there. "That sounds
She was rewarded with a beaming smile from the slim stallion. "Great!" Romance replied
in an exuberant tone.
Tamara stood, and the two ponies walked together towards the park. After finding a suitable
spot, they sat down and made a lunch of
tomato sandwiches, pears, cheddar cheese, and milk. They talked all the while, and time quickly
flew from midmorning to early
As the time passed, Tamara felt that she was growing closer and closer to the shy stallion.
At first she thought the
feeling was just something small. It was as if the world around them did not exist while they were
together, as though they were
someplace else that only they knew of. And she did not want it to end. By the time that
Romance announced that he must return home,
she was certain of what she felt.
"I'll walk with you, then. I have to stop by the groomer's to pick up my bill from last
week," Tamara suggested as she
disposed of the last of their garbage to the can nearby.
"That'll be great," Romance replied warmly, and led the way to the street. They walked
together, admiring the
architecture the area had to provide.
"Oh, look at that one!" Tamara said excitedly, pointing at a smallish shop on the corner of
the street. The siding was a
light shade of violet, and the whole building was trimmed with white filigree that looked like
frosting on a cake. Two huge windows
reflected Tamara and Romance in the oily hues of old glass as they approached. It opened into an
empty room, Tamara quickly noted as
she peered inside.
"It looks like this one is for sale," Romance commented to Tamara's delight.
"Really? Oh, this would make a wonderful place to have my show cat headquarters! My
basement is starting to get
rather cramped," Tamara said as she looked longingly though the glass, imagining her degrees
adorning one wall and cozy cat cages
along the other.
Romance didn't respond, letting Tamara dream a moment. Instead, he watched the
reflection of the two of them
standing together. In the glass, it looked like she was almost right beside him, her tail brushing
his. He was filled with his own feeling of
Puffing out a sad sigh, Tamara peeled herself away from the little building and turned to
Romance. She quickly caught
his sad gaze, but didn't have the nerve to ask what was on his mind. "Maybe someday," she said,
and started to walk again.
They completed their journey to Romance's home in silence, each thinking their own
thoughts. Tamara paid her
companion little notice as she dreamed about buying the little shop and turning it into a center of
Romance quietly led the way, occasionally glancing at the unicorn as she trailed after him.
He had tried many times to
tell Tamara how he felt about her, but the words simply stuck to the back of his tongue. He was
so caught up in his personal torment that
he almost walked right past his own house.
"We're here," he announced sadly, knowing that she would continue without him.
Tamara looked up from her thoughts, and took note of which townhouse it was they had
stopped at. "I suppose then I
will be seeing you again sometime," she told him, realizing she truly hoped she would. "Thank
you for lunch."
"Thank you for joining me," Romance responded, bestowing his tender smile upon her, to
"Perhaps I'll see you soon at the Java Stop." Tamara hated to turn away from the smile
that gave her such warmth
inside, but she knew she must. "Tah-tah!" she waved as she slowly started to walk away.
"Yeah, tah-tah..." Romance echoed sadly. He stood at his door, watching Tamara until he
could no longer see her. It
killed him to watch her walk away, and he vowed that the next time they met she wouldn't do it
without knowing how he felt. He slowly
drug himself indoors, wishing that she had stayed longer.
* * *
Later that evening, Romance, Rascal, Cinnamon Twist, and Tiger were all at Romance's
townhouse watching TV and
eating Cheetos. It had become a weekly ritual between the four friends over the years, giving
them time to catch up on the others'
"So, how was everybody's weekend?" Tiger mumbled through a mouthful of Cheetos. He
received mostly grunts and
"Okay's" in return. "Yeah, I guess mine was okay. My girlfriend broke up with me,
"That stinks. Why?" Cinnamon Twist asked, not particularly caring.
"Oh, something about needing a ‘more romantic guy'." Tiger said breezily, brushing
crumbs from his lap.
"Romantic? And we aren't romantic?" Rascal said, sarcastically waving his hoof at the
gang. "Girls kill for us,
Cinnamon Twist raised an eyebrow at the multitude of empty soda cans and the remains
of foodstuffs that littered the
coffee table. "I don't think we quite qualify as ‘romantic'."
A few of them snickered, and they returned to dully watching the television screen
flickering. After a few minutes,
Cinnamon Twist turned to Romance. "You've been awful quiet for a few days. What's been on
your mind, bud?"
"I bet he's festering over some girl," Tiger retorted.
Romance blushed and buried his chin in his chest. "Who, me? Obsessing over a girl? No
way!" He was actually
quite perturbed that his friends had interrupted his thoughts of the lunch he had shared with
Tamara earlier in the day. But he was also
not quite in the mood of reminding himself how he would probably never have the chance to talk
to her again as he had earlier that very
"Oh, sure, like we believe you. Come on, spit it out," Rascal taunted.
Romance looked up, realizing he had everybody's full attention. "Well, uh, I guess you're
"Then who is it?" they all asked in unison.
"Well, uhm, it's..." He glanced around at the faces of his friends. "Promise you won't tell
her? Or laugh?"
Rascal jumped up and crossed his hoof over his heart. "Cross my heart and hope to
"Of course you can tell us," Cinnamon Twist agreed.
"Yeah, it's not like we'll even know who she is," Tiger added.
Taking a deep breath, Romance blurted it out as quickly as he could, hoping they wouldn't
catch the name. "It's-Tamara-Moore-I-love-her-so-much!"
"Blah-biddy-blah?" asked Tiger.
Drat. Of course he wasn't going to get off that easily, Romance decided. Sighing, he
prepared to announce his secret
to his friends. He well knew that if they did know who she was, that the fact would probably
somehow show up on the evening news.
All the stallions gasped in surprise. "Tamara? You've got a crush on Tamara?"
"Isn't she that cousin of Tabby's that you were talking to yesterday?"
Romance blinked at their responses. "What's so wrong with that?"
"Nothing! She's one of the cutest mares in town! I don't blame ya, bro," Rascal seated
himself next to Romance.
"So, have you told her yet?" Cinnamon Twist questioned.
Tiger assumed a look of shock. "Why not? I heard that Tex broke up with her, so she's
"Yeah, I know, but... I don't have a clue as to what to say or how to act... and what if she
doesn't like me?" Romance
stuttered. He felt so awkward spilling his guts out to his fellow males like this.
"Man, you've got it bad, buddy!" Rascal remarked as he opened a can of soda.
"Yes, he certainly does," Tiger agreed. "I say we help him out."
Romance's heart raced. He was growing increasingly uncomfortable talking about the
subject, which was rather
personal to him. But, another part of his mind knew that he needed all the help he could get.
"Uhm, I dunno, guys..."
"Oh, come on, we're your buds. We wanna help ya out." Cinnamon Twist put his hoof on
Rascal leaned back in the couch cushions. "So what are you having problems
Realizing he wasn't going to get out of analyzing the subject, Romance thought a moment.
"Well, to sum it up,
"Ah, I see. Don't know what to say to her, eh?" said Tiger.
Romance nodded. "That's a good start to the problem, I suppose."
"Well, from what I've encountered with females is that they like a lot of sweet talk. Lots
of junk about loving them
forever and how pretty they are and stuff. Over all, romance," Rascal explained, sounding rather
"Like what?" Romance felt very befuddled. He had always had a very hard time talking to
any girl he liked, and with
Tamara it was exceptionally hard.
Cinnamon Twist rolled his eyes. "Well, Tamara's romantic. Why don't you just say
something in French?"
"Yeah, girls really go for foreign languages," Tiger stated. "As long as it isn't Pig
Romance stared wide-eyed at his friends. "Of course! I hadn't thought of that!"
"Yup, French, the very language of love! Works like a charm, I'm sure," Rascal said
encouragingly. "That covers the
‘What to Say' category. Now, as for how to act, that's rather obvious."
Tiger took over the narrative. "You see, the more sweet and smooth you are to a lady,
the better they will warm up to
you. Simply shoving some flowers under her nose and saying ‘I like you, Tamara' isn't going to
cut butter. You have to be a gentleman
when you talk to her. Something more like ‘I bought these roses for you because I decided to
bring some beauty to the life of the girl that
brought it into mine.' "
"Gee, for a guy that just lost his girlfriend because he isn't romantic enough, I'd say that
made even my heart flutter,"
Rascal swooned, causing all the stallions to break the serious atmosphere with guffaws of
After they had all calmed down and gasping for breath, Romance sat in contemplation for
a moment. "So, if I go to her
with roses and act romantic and poetic, it'll work?"
Cinnamon Twist rose from his spot on a large denim beanbag chair and threw away his
last soda can. "Like a charm.
And I hate to change the subject, but I better start heading home."
The clock on the wall chimed ten times as Tiger and Rascal got up as well. "Yeah, I've
got to going as well," Tiger told
his friend as he searched for something in his jacket pocket.
"Yeah, me too." Rascal chugged the rest of his soda and threw the can upon the growing
heap in the middle of the
"Thanks for helping me out, guys!" Romance called after them. Shouts of "No problem"
and "Good luck!" echoed back
to him from the street below.
Leaning back in his easy chair and gazing at the mess of Cheeto crumbs and soda cans,
Romance felt as though a
great weight had been lifted off of his chest. Deciding to leave the disorder for the morning, he
headed upstairs to call the flower service,
and to figure out exactly what romantic babble he was going to tell Tamara when next he saw her.
It was going to be perfect.
* * *
"Hi, Tabitha, it's me. I was just calling to let you know that our engagement tonight can
go as scheduled. I'm going to
be about a half hour late, though, as I have a heap of paperwork to fill out for the next show. I'll
meet you and the others at the Satin
Slipper Sweet Shoppe about six. Tah-tah!" Tamara finished her message to Tabby's answering
machine and hung up. She sipped on
her third cup of coffee as she gazed at the expanse of papers that filled her desk, all of which had
to be filled out by that evening.
The thought of how tired she was skipped at the back of her thoughts as she started on
the first stack before her. She
had stayed up most of the night tossing and turning, unable to sleep well when she did manage to
drift off. Since the incident with
Romance the day before, there had been a knot in her chest. She didn't think it was a bad feeling,
because every time she touched it with
her mind it made her feel very warm and secure. But she had been unable to pinpoint exactly
what it was.
Am I falling in love with him? The idea echoed dully through her veins. She had
never been one to believe in
"love at first sight" or stuff like that, but still...
Tilting back in the high-backed chair, Tamara gazed out the window. In the cherry tree
outside, whose branches just
barely brushed at the panes, two sparrows were busily working on building a nest. The
brown-clad female sparrow was rather clumsy
with most of the branches that her mate presented to her, and many of them would clatter back to
the ground below. Tamara realized that
it might be the very first nest the female had ever built. But patiently, the black-hooded male
would retrieve them and give her a second
Tamara watched quietly for a time. She could clearly see the connection the two were
building between each other as
the work progressed, one showing the other how to help build their life together. Maybe
Romance is just like that little sparrow, trying
out something he has never had a chance to before. Perhaps he just needs me to help show him
how to build a nest with me... the
revelation whispered quietly in her heart more than her head. That is, if I'm right...
* * *
"Guys, let's sit at the counter. I love those cool little stool chairs," Merry Treat cooed as
the entourage entered the
"As you wish, Sis," Vixie commented as she plopped down at the nearest one. Merry
Treat sat next to her, with Tabby
and Thomas on the other side.
"Tammy's going to be here in a bit, I hope. She's probably still busy with her paperwork
or something," Tabby
commented to Merry Treat, who had asked where her cousin was.
All three mares chattered brightly about the day's events. Tabby had seen a Cubone for
the first time at the Pokèmon
Center, Merry Treat had given away two Forest Badges, and Vixie had had a rousing interview
with the princesses.
Thomas sat silently next to Tabby, starring at the counter in front of him. He was having
one of his weird feelings of
dread again, which had been coming over him more and more frequently lately. He barely paid
any attention to Tabby when she spoke to
him, only giving a subtle nod or a mumbled "Ah-huh". He knew it hurt her, but he didn't know
what else to say.
Finally, Tabby started to get worried about him. He looked rather pale. "Thomas, do you
need to step out a moment to
get some air?"
He barely nodded. "Yeah, I think I do... excuse me a moment."
* * *
Romance watched intently as the stallion, who had been seated next to who looked like
Tamara, stepped outside. He
had seen the four ponies go in a few minutes before, and he had just been biding his time for a
chance to talk with Tamara. After talking
with his friends the night before, his courage had gone up immensely.
Romance opened the refrigerator and pulled out the beautiful white rose with red fringed
petals he had ordered the night
before and made sure it hadn't been knocked or bumped. Looking up again and fixing his gaze
upon the pink unicorn, Romance almost
thought he could feel a mild panic attack coming on. Just stay calm and everything will go just
fine. Stay calm, he told himself
over and over as he casually walked to where the mares were seated.
"Excuse me," Romance said quietly, leaning over the counter and meeting the violet eyes
of Tamara. "I have something
very important to tell you."
Tabby stared in shock back at the black stallion before her. She nodded dumbly, not sure
how to react. The stallion--
Romance, she thought was his name-- came around to the other side of the counter and knelt on
one knee before her. In one hoof he
held an exquisite rose, and reaching up he gently took her hoof in his free one.
"Depuis le moment j'étends mes yeux chanceux sur votre beauté, j'ai été enchanté. S'il
vous plaît, croyez-moi quand je
dis vous que je vous aime, et moi toujours volonté, pour toujours." ("Ever since the moment I laid
my fortunate eyes upon your beauty, I
have been enchanted. Please, believe me when I tell you that I love you, and I always will,
Romance spoke to her in rolling, gentle French. His eyes held so much love in them, and
his words sounded so
sincere. Tabby gaped open-mouthed at him, totally unsure of how to respond. "Uh... that's
fascinating..." She turned her horror-ridden
gaze to her friends (who were both in equal shock) and then back to him.
Romance laughed and took her other hoof, setting the rose on the floor next to him.
"What I'm trying to say is, I love
Romance was cut off by the slam of the shop door, and everyone turned to see Thomas
standing there, his eyes locked
with anger upon Romance. Taking a solid step forward, his voice made the very air in the room
boil with rage. "What do you think you
are doing with my girlfriend?"
Romance's heart dropped through the floor. The flower he had just felt blooming inside
of his chest puffed away like
ashes on a breeze. He turned his eyes from Thomas to whom he thought was Tamara.
"Girlfriend?" It can't be! No! his mind
screamed at him.
"Yes, girlfriend. My girlfriend. Just who do you think you are, buddy?" Thomas took
another threatening step towards
him. "Explain yourself." The words were spoken as a command, filled with underlying
Romance dropped Tabby's hooves and stepped back, stammering with embarrassment.
"I-I didn't know! I th-thought
she wasn't going out with anyone! I'm sorry sir!" Romance told him, raising his forelegs to
protect himself in case a fight did start.
"Well, sorry isn't going to be good enough, buster! I want an explanation right now on
why you even had the nerve to
touch her!" Thomas growled.
Tabby was sitting back in her chair, relatively calm, taking small bites of her ice cream
while watching the scene before
Vixie jumped up and stood between the two. She had suddenly realized what exactly had
just happened, and she
wasn't about to let it start a fight. "Hey guys, cool it. It was a simple misunderstanding. Let it
go." She cast both stallions a solid
Lowering his fist and casting Vixie a venomous look, Thomas turned and stomped the rest
of the way to where Tabby
sat. Taking her hoof in his own, he turned his back on Romance. "Come on, Tabby, let's
"That was so dashing of you," Tabby rolled her eyes as she went along with him.
The remaining two sisters
watched him storm out the door of the shop, practically dragging Tabby behind him.
"Tabby...? That wasn't Tamara...?" Romance stuttered into the sudden silence of the
room. His eyes stared without
seeing into space, and it felt as if his whole world had just been smashed like the rose he suddenly
realized was beneath his hoof.
* * *
A cold breeze blew in puffs down the street, heralding the coming of rain. Thick gray
clouds filled the evening sky,
reflecting the last rays of the sunset in scarlet and golden hues. Tamara hugged her jacket close
and bent her head against the wind.
Despite the cold, being out of doors was much better than being stuck inside with mindless
Tamara was about a block from the Satin Slipper Sweet Shop when she heard the door of
the establishment slam.
Looking up, she could see a rather perturbed Thomas followed by a thoughtful-looking Tabby
coming towards her. "Really, he must just
be some nut they let in," Tabby's words reached Tamara on the wind, and she halted to wait for
them to meet up with her.
"Tamara! Come with me! I have got to tell you what just happened!" Tabby said
excitedly as they passed, grasping her
cousin's foreleg and pulling her after them. As they briskly walked to Tabby's house, Thomas
didn't even acknowledge the world passing
by him. Tabby was equally as silent, though she had a somewhat cocky smile upon her face.
Tamara decided to refrain from asking
questions until they were inside, out of the steal gray rain that was now steadily falling.
After reaching Tabby's home, the girls quickly dried off. Thomas said a few words to
Tabby and quickly left, giving no
mind to the nasty weather. "So, what happened?" Tamara asked finally as they seated themselves
at the kitchen table with two cups of
"You'll never believe it!" Tabby started, taking a measured pause to gather wind. "You
know Romance from the new
coffee bar at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shop? Well, he proposed to me! Well, not exactly, but he
professed that he loved me! He was
talking to me in French and everything, and I hadn't a clue what he was doing. And then Thomas
came in, and he made him apologize for
even touching me! He was like a knight in shining armor!" Though not fully admitting to it,
Tabby was rather proud of what had
transpired. Pausing again to sigh romantically, Tabby took no notice of the troubled look on her
Tamara stared in shock into her tea. No! she thought over and over. There was a
sudden twang of hurt inside
of her chest. It was as though her heart had been crushed. "That's... nice Tabitha..." she stuttered
Hearing the distress in her cousin's voice, Tabby cast her a look of apprehension. "Are
you okay, Tammy?"
Nodding, even though she was rather unsure herself, Tamara replied quietly, "Yeah, I'm...
fine. I think I'm catching a
cold, though... I'm going to head home and retire for the night..."
Tabby escorted her cousin toward the door, handing her a slightly thicker coat for the
journey home. "Call me in the
morning, okay? You don't look that great."
"Yes, of course. Good night, Tabitha." Tamara stepped into the downpour, weakly
waving at her.
"Night-night, Tammy," Tabby waved back, her eyes showing some concern.
Tamara paid little heed to the heavy cold drops of water that crashed into her. Her gaze
watched the ground ahead of
her. It was some time before she even noticed that she was crying. What am I crying
about? she thought angrily to herself. It
was a simple crush! I didn't even cry over Tex!
Tamara turned into the park that had revealed itself to her in the gloom. It was in this
very same park that but a few
days before she had lost Tex to Mimic. The few streetlights that surrounded the play areas cast a
mournful sheen upon the wet surfaces
of the swingsets and slide. Puddles of water filled the thousands of imprints left by scampering
youth in the loose fill gravel.
Dragging her hooves, she went to one of the swings. Brushing away the water that had
collected, she seated herself
and hugged the chains. Everything inside of her fell together in a abnormal way, a jumble of hurt
and confusion. The fact that it was
Tabby that Romance liked explained why he had been acting so weird around Tamara. She
figured that he had probably gotten her mixed
up with her almost identical cousin, and when he was spending time with Tamara he had thought
it had been Tabby.
"Why? Why the irony?" She screamed in pain at the rain. All of her emotions collapsed
inside of her, leaving her in a
rubble of agony inside. Thunder crashed as if in response to her outcry, and muffled her sobs.
She did not wish to be alone and
abandoned, like an old plaything no longer needed by those she cared for. But alone she was,
with only the rain to comfort her
* * *
"Oh, where could she be?" Tabby fretted as she set the phone on the receiver. She had
just tried to call Tamara for the
fifth time after Tamara had neglected to call that morning.
"Maybe she's just asleep?" Merry Treat suggested, but she was just as worried as her
Looking at the clock, Tabby shook her head. "Tamara? Still asleep at nine-thirty in the
morning? No, that's most
definitely not like her."
Merry Treat shrugged, pacing the kitchen floor again and again in thought. "I don't
"Maybe she was kidnaped! Or murdered! Or..." Tabby fussed, wringing her hooves. She
generally didn't worry about
the well-being of her cousin, but this was an extreme case.
"Tabby, calm down! We can't do anything to help her if we're stressed out," Merry Treat
consoled her friend by putting
her forelegs about Tabby's shoulders.
Tabby took a couple of deep breaths. Horrible thoughts kept filling her mind as she tried
to think about where Tamara
was. "Let's go over to her house. She wasn't looking that great when I saw her last night, and
she might have deteriorated to the point
she can't move."
"Good idea. Come on," Merry Treat replied, and the two mares quickly hurried outside
and rushed across town to
Tamara's house. Unfortunately, their frantic knocks on her door went unanswered, and the
windows were dark and quiet. "Okay, now
what?" Merry Treat asked Tabby as she sat down on the step before the door.
Tabby leaned against the door and closed her eyes, trying to calm herself into a thinking
mode. "Let's go to the Satin
Slipper Sweet Shoppe. We need to get some ponies to look for her."
Merry Treat cast her friend a questioning look. "A search party? Don't you think that we
should just call the police?"
Tabby was already cantering down the sidewalk towards the shop. "That costs money we
don't have! And anyway,
maybe someone knows where she is," she shouted back though her own dust.
It only took a couple of minutes to reach the shop, and they entered breathlessly. "Hi, you
two," Scoops said to them,
eyeing their flustered faces. "Is everything okay?"
Tabby quickly explained their plight to the older pony, whose cheery face turned grave.
"Come on, let's make some
phone calls. I can get together a few ponies in no time."
About a half hour later, the three had gathered Thomas, Tiffany, Sugarberry, Vixie, and
Cinnamon Twist at the shop.
"Just ask someone at every house you pass if they've seen her." Tabby instructed as Merry Treat
handed out a few hastily photocopied
pictures of Tamara. "Check in at hour intervals, and when someone finds her call here
The group nodded silently, their faces lined with worry as they filed out of the shop. "I'll
stay here to catch phone calls,"
Scoops told them as they left.
Vixie watched as the others left, and turned to Scoops. "I need to make a quick phone
call," she told her as she lifted
the phone. Vixie had been formulating what had happened in her own mind, and she knew
someone that the others had forgotten to call.
"Hi, Romm," she said seriously when the rings were answered on the other end of the line.
"Hey, Vix. What's up?" Romance asked, quickly discerning the worry in Vixie's
"Tamara's missing. She's not at her place, and no one has seen her since last night," Vixie
There was an expected silence on the other end as Romance listened to the news in shock.
"What? Are you
"Yes, Romm. I don't know where she would be at, but I think I know why she's missing.
You have got to find her
before the others do, so you can set your mishap last night straight," Vixie explained. "I'm at the
Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. The others
are already out looking, but there aren't very many. When you find her, bring her here." She
knew she did not have to ask him to look, for
she already knew his response.
"Okay. Thanks for calling, Vix," was Romance's reply.
Vixie hung up the receiver, not expecting a "goodbye" from him. She seated herself at a
table, deciding to help Scoops
take calls. She prayed that Romance would find Tamara safe and sound.
* * *
Romance galloped out of his house in a panic, his heart racing much faster than his hooves
as they flew over the
ground. His muscles ached from a terrible night's sleep, but he didn't care. He had to find
Tamara, and that was the only thought on his
Stopping to catch his breath, he leaned against a tree. The day's heat sweltered over him,
and it felt as though he was
going to collapse. Glancing about him, he realized that he had come to the entrance of the park at
which he and Tamara had shared
lunch the other day. There was no better place for him to start looking, he supposed, and plunged
into the shady depths at a full
Leaping over puddles left by the downpour the night before, he practically broke his neck
as he turned this way and
that, looking desperately for the pony he loved so much. In his mind, she was lying hurt in a ditch
somewhere. Or unconscious along the
path, having slipped while she had ran from an unknown terror. A million different scenarios
played out in his mind, and he hoped that
each one was totally wrong.
After a frantic hour of searching, his heart was starting to grow heavy. He had never
noticed how large the park was.
Maybe it was just because he was so worried. He was about to give up all hope of ever seeing
her smile again when the trail turned from
the trees and opened into a play area. His vision focused in on one thing: the form of Tamara
huddled on a swing with her forelegs
around herself and eyes closed as she slept.
"TAMARA!" Romance shouted in pure joy, and in a burst of energy he galloped the last
hundred feet between them.
He threw his forelegs about her, glad that she was alive. "Oh, Tamara!" he mumbled into her
Tamara blinked in surprise as she was jolted awake. It took her a moment to recollect
that she had gone to sleep in the
park, her pain soothed by the rain's caress. "Romance?" she asked in confusion, not sure how to
react to his warm hug.
Pulling back from her and brushing a stray lock from Tamara's eyes, Romance smiled
happily. "You're all right! Oh,
you're alive!" he said, almost in disbelief.
Tamara nodded slowly, unsure of what to think. "Yes, I'm fine. What did you think was
Romance didn't respond, only smiled bigger. Tamara watched his face, noticing how
happy he seemed to just see her.
And then, a single tear ran down his cheek, and he buried his head in her shoulder. "I'm so glad!
I don't know what I would do if
something had happened to you!"
The shambles of her heart that her hours of sobbing the night before had torn to bits
stirred as the stallion cradled her
firmly in his embrace, like nothing in the world would make him release her. Was everything she
had been thinking a total mistake?
Her question was answered when she heard him whisper something in her ear that not
even Tex had ever said to her.
"I love you, Tamara."
"What?" It felt as though beams of light flooded her body as the words soaked through
her, and she pushed Romance's
head up so she could meet his crystalline red eyes. "D-do you mean that?"
Romance nodded, and his own heart felt like the purest joy had been bestowed upon it as
her eyes gazed into his.
"With all of my soul."
They did not hear the cheers and whistles from the search party, which had decided to do
a sweep of the park, as they
kissed. Romance and Tamara had been lifted into a world of their own.