Daphne couldn't understand it. Ever since she'd agreed to give Frasier a massage in his bedroom, her world had been thrown into turmoil. Unbeknownst to him, Frasier

had spilled a secret that Daphne suspected was one that he had vowed never to utter to another human being. But once he'd said the words, she found that she

could think of nothing else. Dr. Crane... otherwise known as Niles-was in love with her.

She had no idea that one simple sentence could send someone's world into a tailspin, but that's exactly what had happened. Suddenly the days, hours and minutes

were much too long and it was becoming harder and harder to hide her emotions. But she did her best. Frasier and Martin, if they found out, would surely ask a

hundred questions-questions that she had no idea how to answer. And so she kept quiet. But not too quiet. Talking too much or too little was definitely a sign that

something was wrong.

The latter (talking too little) was not a problem, as she'd always been regarded as a talker. She'd lost count of how many times Frasier, Martin

(and in some cases, Niles) had rolled their eyes while she was telling a story about her childhood or her family. However, talking to little-keeping quiet, would give off a

sign that something was wrong. And then the inevitable would occur.-Frasier would ask her to tell him what was bothering her. She'd be forced to lie and say that it

was only wedding jitters. He'd know right away that she was lying. He always did. And then he'd dig a little deeper and deeper until he finally figured out what it was-

even if she herself wasn't sure what it was.

But of course, she knew. Her conscious made sure of that.

It was Niles. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get him out of her mind. At first she thought about how such a thing could be possible. How could a man who

was completely wrong for her in every way, but yet the sweetest man she'd ever met, be in love with her? It just didn't make sense. She was nothing like Mel, whom

he seemed to be very much in love with. And she certainly wasn't like Maris. Both women were infuriating but they had something that Daphne didn't have-and never

would have.

She had no idea what could have attracted her to him-if, in fact, he was really and truly in love with her. She'd learned early on to take everything that Frasier said with

a grain of salt. Sure he was brilliant and gave wonderful advice-most of the time. But she'd been hurt (intentionally and unintentionally) by so many people in her past

that she had to be as careful as possible. Frasier was a wonderful man and she loved him very much. But it was quite possible that the pain pills he'd been taking for

his back had some serious side effects.

However, there was much more to what he had told her. In the process of telling her the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard, he also did something else. He

implanted Niles in her mind, where he would never leave. When she returned to her room after giving Frasier his massage, thoughts of Niles swirled around her. She

began to see him everywhere-in her dreams, when she woke, when she fell asleep, and even while she was reading, watching television or making meals for Frasier

and Martin.

They hadn't seen much of him around, since he was busy with work and spending time with Mel, but that didn't stop Daphne from envisioning him walking through the

front door, greeting her with a smile and a sweet, but sincere compliment on her appearance (regardless of what she was wearing-a dress or faded jeans and a

sweatshirt), seeing him at the table (even when he wasn't there), imagining his voice whenever the phone rang (even if it was not him)... the images went on and on.

Her visits to Cafe Nervosa were filled with hope that he would walk through the door and order a non fat half caf with the faintest hint of cinnamon and wipe off the

seat with his handkerchief. Each time the doorbell rang, she considered rushing to her room to check her appearance and if need be, change her clothes. No matter

what she wore, it wouldn't matter anyway-Niles would compliment it-or so she hoped. Funny how she never really cared before. Oh, of course she cared, and she

found it incredibly sweet, but she never gave much thought to her appearance-that is until her world began to spin on its axis.

Then Frasier announced that he was having a birthday party and enlisted Daphne to help him. He'd called Niles. The fact that he'd invited his brother shouldn't have

surprised her, but when she walked into the living room and heard him say Niles' name, she couldn't help but picture Niles on the other side of the phone, gratefully

accepting the invitation. And she found that she didn't even care if Mel accompanied him.

Oh, she hated that woman with a purple passion and she knew that Frasier and Martin hated her too. But Daphne had a different reason-and it was an unreasonable

one at that. How could she hate someone simply because that someone had fallen in love with a man that, until recently, Daphne had thought of as a good friend?

Sure there were plenty of reasons to hate the woman. She was crude, inconsiderate, snobby and downright infuriating. And the way she treated Niles was absolutely

unacceptable. But she never said a word. It wasn't her place. She simply nodded and agreed with Frasier and Martin when they subtly let Niles know that they

disliked Mel. However their comments were always followed by a look of hurt on Niles' face. Frankly it wasn't right. No matter what they thought of Mel, it wasn't right

to belittle her in front of the man who loved her so. Daphne considered speaking up for Niles, but it would only lead to trouble and lots of questions. And so she kept


"Daphne, is everything ready?"

Frasier's voice broke into her thoughts and she looked up in surprise. "What?"

" I asked if everything was ready." He repeated.


"Yes, for the party! Dear God, don't tell me you've forgotten! I specifically told you-."

She forced a laugh. It was a sound that was foreign to her ears. "No, of course I haven't forgotten! What makes you think that? How could I forget your birthday?

You've had them for years now! And they always fall on the same day! Come to think of it, everyone's birthdays always fall on the same day, don't they? Wouldn't it be

nice to be able to pick our own birthdays?"

Her rambling produced a look between Frasier and Martin but she pretended like everything was completely normal, when in fact, it was not normal at all. But Frasier,

to his credit simply nodded. "All right. Well, look. Niles will be here any minute, so-."

She gasped. "Oh my... I need to get ready, don't I? I'll be right back and then I'll finish getting everything set up for the party."

"Daphne, it's not a formal occasion, so you don't-."

"I'll be back in a bit!" He was still talking when she ran into her bedroom and shut the door, leaning against it. Her heart was racing so much that she could hardly

breathe. That was close-much too close. Frasier and Martin knew something was up, but she wasn't about to validate their suspicions.

She searched through her closet until she found it-the dress that she'd bought specifically for this occasion. A pink print skirt and a pink sweater. It was quite an

ensemble and the moment she saw it, she knew it was perfect. And she gave no thought to the fact that she was had bought it to wear to Frasier's birthday party.

What kind of loon buys an outfit to wear to a family birthday party?

After she was dressed, she stared into the mirror and sprayed perfume onto her brush, running it through her hair. She checked her make up and then returned to the

living room. Martin, of course, took notice of her appearance and smiled. Like father like son.

"Hey! Look at you! What's the occasion? Donny taking you out tonight?"

"No, I just-."

"Why Daphne, you look beautiful." Frasier said, obviously choosing to wear his robe for the occasion. "Why didn't you tell me you had a date with Donny tonight?"

"I-I don't. I just... Thank you... for saying that I look beautiful, that is."

"Well you always do. I just don't say it enough."

She smiled, remembering how often his brother had called her beautiful and she hardly paid it any mind. And now she'd give anything to hear him say it just once more.

"Thank you." She said.

"Here we are!" Martin came out of the kitchen carrying the chocolate cake with blue trim. "For the birthday boy!"

"That looks wonderful." Frasier said. I can hardly wait to try it!"

The doorbell rang, causing Daphne to nearly jump out of her skin. Both men changed glances.

"Are you all right, Daphne?" Frasier asked. "You seem..."

"I'm fine." she lied.

"Let me guess-wedding jitters again?"

"Yes." She laughed. "You'd think that I wouldn't have them at all, given how much I love Donny."

"Love has nothing to do with it." Frasier said. "I was a nervous wreck when I married Lilith."

"Yeah, and now you know why!" Martin quipped, laughing .

"Dad, please! Lilith is a wonderful person!" Frasier bellowed. "Without her, I wouldn't have Frederick!"

"Or memoris that will haunt you for hte rest of your life!"

Frasier glared at Martin. "Just get the door, okay?"

"I'll get it." Daphne said. Her heart was pounding as she started arcoss the room.

"Wait, Daphne! Not so fast!"

She turned to Martin. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, you certainly can't attend a birthday party without the proper attire!"

She looked down at her clothes. "But you said-."

"I meant, this!"

To her horror, he produced a paper party hat in a multitude of colors-identical to the one that Eddie was wearing.

"I can't wear that!" Daphne shrieked.

"Why not? If Eddie can wear it, so can the rest of us!"

"I-I mean... my hair-."

"Who cares what your hair looks like!" Martin said. "Just put it on, all right? Do it for Frasier!"

Daphne sighed and slipped the ridiculous hat on her head.

"Now you can answer the door."

She crossed the room and went to the door. He stood there, wearing he doorbell rang and she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. And when he smiled it made

she increased her grip on the door.

"Good evening, Daphne."

"Dr. Crane."

He looked so handsome, wearing a dark suit with a blue shirt and a blue printed tie. In his hand, he held a beautifully wrapped gift in gold and black paper, tied with a

black bow. He looked at her for a moment and he heart rate increased.

"I-is something wrong?"

"No, not at all. It's just that... you look different, somehow. Have you done something to your hair?"

"Oh..." her hand moved to the hat atop her head and she slowely removed it, unable to take her eyes off of him.

He smiled and nodded. "That must be it."

She watched as he moved past her. "Well, hello, Frasier! Feeling better?"

"Niles! I'm feeling much better, thank you. Oh, is that for me?"

Their voices were replaced with the voices in her head. The ones that told her what she should have known all along, but that she'd done her best to ignore. She was

in love Niles. And once the heart decided that someone was in love, there was no going back.