(Saturday Morning )

Her hand trembled as she picked up the phone. Even though she knew that no one was home, she still felt self-conscious about making the phone call. Slowly she

dialed Donny's number, forgetting that Frasier had programmed it into the phone so that . Her heart skipped a beat when the phone began to ring. The ringing stopped and it

went to voice mail. It should have brought some relief, but instead it made her feel even more uneasy.

"Douglas here. Leave a message, thanks."

Daphne rolled her eyes at Donny's insensitive voice mail greeting. Perhaps it was trite, but couldn't he have at least left a pleasant message with his full name, asking

the person to please leave a message?Suddenly she realized that whatever she said next woudl be recorded. "H-hello, Donny. It's me, Daphne. Your fiance. But you

already knew that. Listen, we needed to talk, and I'm afraid it's serious. I know the timing is bad but I think we should talk right away. But not tonight. You see, I have

plans. Dr Crane is having a dinner party and... well, he needs me there to help him out. I can't let him down. But can we meet tomorrow? I really need to talk to you.

goodbye, Donny."

She hung up the phone and sighed. She hadn't lied to Donny-not really. In theory she really was going to a dinner party but Donny would probably think that it was

Frasier's party and not Niles'. She would explain later. At the moment, she had to get to the store.


(A few hours later)

She worked diligently but carefully, placing all of the needed items into sturdy reusable shopping bags, the expensive cloth bags that Frasier insisted upon, even

though the gourmet grocery store where he shopped charged outrageous prices for them. Now they proved to be invaluable to carry the items to Niles' apartment.

When everything was ready, she focused on herself. She still had plenty of time to get ready and she used it to her advantage. With all of the stress of the past few

months, it was wonderful to be able to soak in the tub. Wrapped in her terry cloth robe, she took care of her hair and makeup and then removed her dress from the

closet. It was a dress that she'd all but forgotten that she had and the fact that she found it the morning of Niles' dinner party had to be a sign. When she glanced at

herself in the mirror, she smiled. She knew that she was a bit overdressed, but she hoped that Niles wouldn't mind.


(The Montana 7:50 pm)

She was more nervous than ever before when she exited the elevator and crossed the hall to his apartment. The cloth shopping bags clutched tightly in her hand, she

knocked on the door. The wait seemed to take forever, but she soon heard footsteps and the sound of the lock turning. And then the door opened. For perhaps the

first time in her life, the sight of Niles Crane took her breath away.

He smiled when he saw her. "Daphne, please, come in."

She nodded and stepped into the foyer. "Thank you Dr. Crane, I-."

"What's wrong?"

A glance at her watch told her that she'd made a major mistake. "Oh Dr. Crane I'm completely daft! I can't believe I didn't pay attention to the time!"

"But you're-."

"You said seven thirty and here I am ten minutes late! I'm so so sorry!"

"Nonsense. You're right on time."

"But you said-."

"I know, but-."

"I hope I haven't kept your guests waiting. I-." Her eyes scanned every inch of the room and she walked further into his apartment until she reached the dining room.

There were no place settings, no heavenly smells coming from the kitchen. And they were completely and utterly alone.

"I see you brought the ingredients."

"What?"

He motioned to her hand. "The bags in your hand. You brought the ingredients for sticky toffee pudding."

"Yes, I-Where are your guests?"

"Guests?"

"Yes. You did invite me over for a dinner party, didn't you?"

"Well, about that..."

"What is it?"

"Actually, there's something I need to tell you."

"All right."

But before he could say anything more, the doorbell rang. As soon as he opened it, the smile on his face disappeared. "Hello Mel."

She barged in without saying a word. "Niles, really! I can't believe you're having a dinner party tonight of all nights! Don't you know those things take a long time to

put together? Because I for one-." Mel froze and glared at Daphne, and then at Niles. "What's she doing here?"

"This is Daphne."

"For God's sake, Niles! I know it's Daphne! I see her almost every day! But you didn't answer my question. What is Frasier's maid doing here?"

At the familiar word, Daphne flinched and she saw Mel's grin of satisfaction. But Niles did not look amused.

"Mel, don't call her that! Daphne's not a maid! She's a physical therapist!"

"Whatever she is, what's she doing here?"

"Dr. Crane asked me to come over!" Daphne shot back. "H-he needs me to teach him to make sticky toffee pudding-and he said I could come to his dinner party."

Mel laughed. "That's what he told you? Come on, Niles! You can do better than that!"

"Mel, please! I told you-."

Suddenly it became hard to swallow, and she was dangerously close to tears. "So that's what this was? All a joke? Well, thanks a lot, Dr. Crane! I thought you were

my friend!"

"Daphne, wait! I-."

"SURPRISE!"

She whirled around, stunned at the sea of familiar faces coming toward her, engulfing her into hugs and words of congratulations. They were carrying balloons and

gifts and motioning for her to sit on the fainting couch. Before she could comprehend what was going on, Roz came out of the kitchen carrying a large sheet cake

decorated in Daphne's wedding colors with the words "Happy Wedding Donny and Daphne" written in bold colorful icing.

Her heart was racing like mad and she worked to catch her breath. "Wh-what is all of this?"

"Welcome to your shower, honey!" Donny said, pulling her into his arms. "My God, you're shaking!"

"I'm just... I'm absolutely blown away. I never thought-."

"Oh my God, Niles, is this why you dragged me over here?" Mel yelled. "For a damned bridal shower? For Daphne?"

"Now Mel-."

"Don't "now Mel" me, Niles! We need to discuss this! You should be ashamed not telling me about it before."

"Mel, if I had told you, I know you wouldn't have come."

"You're damned right I wouldn't have come! And you wouldn't be here either because I wouldn't have allowed you to do it! Why waste a perfectly good Saturday '

afternoon on that-."

"You have no right to speak to me that way! And I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions! Daphne is my friend and-all right, perhaps I was a little sly in

getting her over here but that doesn't mean-."

"Don't make a scene, Niles! Not here! Let's go into the library."

"But what about the party?"

"That can wait! Come on!" Against his will, Mel grabbed Niles' sleeve and dragged him away, ignoring his protests.

"Well, that was certainly interesting." Frasier said. "Daphne I'm sorry this was all so secretive, but-."

She went to Frasier and hugged him. "It's all right. Thank you, Dr. Crane. This is lovely."

"Thanks, Daphne. Dad had a little to do with it, but mostly it was Niles."

Daphne hugged Martin and kissed his cheek, smiling at his resistance. "Thank you. Both of you."

"Well, for what it's worth, I'm happy for you, Daphne. I hope that you and Donny will have a wonderful life together." When her smile disappeared he glanced at Frasier

and then back at Daphne. "Something wrong?"

"I-I'm not sure."

"Meaning?"

Her eyes moved from Martin to Frasier. "Before I came over here I called Donny and left a message, telling him that we need to talk-badly. But obviously he hasn't yet

gotten the message."

Frasier nodded. "I see."

"I don't love Donny. I know that now. And I feel terrible that everyone's gone to so much trouble."

"You shouldn't marry someone that you don't love." Martin said.

"I know but I feel like I'm supposed to marry him. And I can't even imagine what he'll say when I tell him."

"If you don't tell him soon it's going to become more and more difficult." Frasier said.

"I know. And I will. But not tonight."

"All right. I understand."

"But I don't think I understand." Daphne said. "I don't understand at all. I never... He's your brother, and-."

"Niles loves you, Daphne. I can see it on his face and he's told me over and over again. I admit that I discouraged him and that was probably wrong, but now I realize

that if you honestly don't love Donny, you can't go through with this wedding. He needs to know as soon as possible. Tonight would be easiest, while he's still here."

"I know. And you're right. It's just hard."

"Now that the witch is gone, I'm going to have a drink!" Roz announced. "Who's with me?"

The cheers that followed prompted her to go over the bar and begin to pour drinks for everyone. But Daphne could only stare at the short hallway that led to Niles'

library. There was no telling what Mel was doing to him. Most likely she was belittling him to no end. Suddenly she felt someone standing behind her. She whirled around and found herself in Donny's arms.

"I'm sorry if I freaked you out." He said. But this is some party, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's... Did you get my message?"

"What message?"

"The one I left this morning on your voice mail."

"No, I-."

She felt helpless when he opened his phone and pushed a few buttons and then brought it to his ear.

"Donny, wait, I-."

When he was finished he closed it. "What do you need to talk about that's so urgent? I mean can't it wait until Monday?"

"No, it can't."

"What is it?"

She looked around uneasily and then led him into Niles' office. She locked both doors and motioned for Donny to sit. She had a feeling this was not going to go well at

all.


(An hour later)

When she was finished with what she had to say she wasn't he wasn't prepared for the expression on his face or the way he wordlessly rose from his chair. "I need

the ring." He announced, with no emotion whatsoever.

Aren't you going to say anything?"

"There's nothing to say. Now give me the ring so I can promise someone else the stars someday."

The words made her flinch and she struggled to remove the gold and diamond engagement ring from her finger. The moment she held it in her hand, he grabbed it with

more force than necessary and headed for the door.

"Donny, wait!" She cried running after him. But he kept right on walking. He crossed the living room and walked out the door, slamming it so hard that the walls shook.

The room grew silent but Daphne couldn't bring herself to look at anyone, not even Frasier or Martin. And not more than a few seconds later, screams came from the

library.

"Dear God, what was that?" Frasier asked.

The question was answered when they saw Mel storm out of the hallway, with Niles close behind.

"Mel, for God's sake! We can discuss this rationally like two adults!"

"Like hell we can! I hate you, Niles! I hate you so much! And I never want to see you again! Just get out of my sight!" Mel screamed.

Just as Donny had done, Mel stomped off toward the door and slammed it as hard as she could. As before the walls shook but a picture fell from the wall and

shattered. The sight shattered Daphne's heart.


The room was even quieter than before-so quiet that Daphne could hear the soft humming of the Sub Zero refrigerator in the kitchen. Finally Niles spoke. "I'm sorry

but the party is over. Thank you for coming. "

The guests said nothing but walked out one by one, each of them acknowledging Daphne and Niles. When the apartment was empty, except for Frasier and Martin,

Daphne rose to her feet, hugging each man. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry." Frasier said. "But I do think that you and Niles should talk."

"But-."

"Just talk to him, Daphne."

"Thank you."

"Frasier? Dad?"

"Don't worry about it tonight, Son. Just... take care. All right? We'll talk soon enough."

Niles sighed. "All right."

When Frasier and Martin were gone, Daphne walked over to the fainting couch and sat down. Niles followed suit. For a long time neither of them spoke. But when

Daphne looked at her bare finger, tears streamed down her face. She knew that she had to say something. The night had been ruined because she'd chosen to speak

to Donny. Why hadn't she waited until Monday, like he'd asked? She wondered if Niles would ever speak to her again. Not only had she ruined the party he'd so

wonderfully planned for her, but she'd ruined his relationship with Mel in the process. And that hurt more than he could imagine.


"Daphne, I'm sorry about all of this. I ruined your party. I-."

But at the mention of the word party, Daphne burst into tears. He was beside her in an instant, sitting on the fainting couch, drawing her into his arms. He said

nothing; he just let her cry for as long as she needed. And when she could cry no more, she lifted her head.

"This is my fault. I feel responsible."

"No, Dr. Crane. It's mine. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this party. But it's not needed now."

"What are you saying?"

"Donny and I broke up."

"What? Oh Daphne, no... please, I can't imagine-."

"It's all right, you know? It is. And this morning I called him and left a message saying that I needed to talk to him. I just never dreamed that I'd be breaking up with

him at my bridal shower."

"But what about your wedding? And everything else?"

"It wasn't meant to be. I can't love someone when my heart is somewhere else."

His stunned expression made her smile. "I should have told you a long time ago, but I thought it was all in my mind instead of my heart."

"Daphne, I-." He moved to kiss her but she drew back.

"No, it's too soon. Let's just get to know each other better as friends. "

He nodded. "All right."

"Dr. Crane, I'm sorry that Mel treated you so badly. I really am."

"I'm just sorry for the way she treated you, Daphne. You're not a maid. Far from it. You're a wonderful therapist and you've helped Dad more than you know. And I'm so

grateful."

"I love your father. I love you too, Dr. Crane, though I suppose I should start calling you Niles."

"That would mean a lot to me."

"All right, Niles." She hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek.

"I suppose we should start cleaning up this mess."

"I'll have a lot of presents to return come Monday."

"Frasier and Dad will help. And I'll help you as well."

"I'd like that, Niles." Oh how she loved saying his name. "But for now we should do what I came here to do."

He looked at her blankly, making her smile. "I don't-."

"We can't let these ingredients go to waste. Why don't we make some sticky toffee pudding?"

"It sounds wonderful. And there's cake and all kinds of food. Roz really outdid herself."

"Yes, she did. I'll be sure and thank her the next time I see her."

"I should thank you, too."

"Me? Whatever for?"

"If it weren't for you, I'd still be under Mel's wrath."

Not knowing what to say, she hugged him again, much the way he'd hugged her at Frasier's, and then slipped her hand into his. "Come on, Niles. The sticky toffee

pudding is waiting."

THE END