A/N: Well, hello there. Funny seeing you here. This story came to me all of a sudden this weekend, and I just had the impulse to write it today. This is just a short and relatively imperfect intro, but my brain wouldn't shut off about it. So here you go. Let's see how this goes!

The title of this story and in effect this chapter comes from Taylor Swift's song 'hoax'. I do not own the rights. Obviously...


I knew her like you know a dream. Simultaneously knowing everything and nothing all at once. A face I could recognize in a crowd as easily as it could fade into the masses. A smile that imprinted itself into my fantasies and also my nightmares. She both haunted and transcended me. She felt a part of me from first sight despite not knowing anything about her. But as soon as her eyes hit mine from across the room, I knew that I would be nothing without her. Without making my dreams a reality.

Her curled up-do hit my eyes first. The nape of her neck angled and arched in a way that begged for company. She tilted her head toward conversation, mimicking the laughter swirling around her. I was caught between the luxury of her giggle and the dip in the back of her red gown flush against her skin. I imagined her smile, as the glow from the chandeliers above reflected off her earrings that dangled delicately. Her grin had no other option but to shine just as bright. I prayed for her turn toward me, for the actuality of her beauty to exceed my idea of it. I followed the zipper of her dress against her skin as I lifted my martini for another sip. The sharpness of the gin hit my lips as her body turned 90 degrees. Her jawline hit the back of my throat at the same time as my drink, gasping for air as her red lipstick took my breath away. The strapless gown appeared to float across the floor behind her as I could only assume the angel in front of me was destined to float as well. Someone called out the name of the man she was speaking to, causing her eyes to flit closer toward my sightline.

Blue.

A color of usual despair now a symbol of hope for my imagined future. Her hand extended to make acquaintance of the man approaching the conversation and though her smile appeared sincere, it quickly faded as the men promptly continued speaking without her. She sighed, rolling her eyes as she continued to rotate away from them. Spinning until… there she was.

I straightened my back as I took her all in. Shorter than me, but with more confidence which I thought evened us out nicely. Her eyes flit around the room searching for newfound company. So I waited for her eyes to linger over mine. I looked down, delaying eye contact until I felt her eyes pause. I adjusted my glance just as her eyes scanned my exposed neckline. She swept them up to my face as I attempted to take a drink nonchalantly, smiling through my sip as her cerulean irises reached mine. She blinked, looking me up and down shamelessly. Raising my glass politely, I nodded my head her way before spinning back to the bar.

"Could I take another martini and a white wine?"

"Tab for the hard alcohol?"

"Fields." I replied, passing another $5 bill as a tip his way.

Perfectly shaped nails intercepted the bill, as the voice matching the laugh I previously heard reached my ears, "Paul, feel free to put her tab onto mine." She nodded to the bartender before fully facing me. "Hi…"

From my peripheral vision, I watched her gulp despite her air of confidence. I grazed my pinky finger over hers to slide the bill out from her grasp, "A tip, for you. Paul…"

"Thank you, Ms. Fields. Your martini." He inhaled, turning to her, "And I assume your wine, ma'am."

"Hmm?" I heard her voice shake beneath her lilt as she picked up the glass, "Charming, are you?"

I put on my slyest smile while facing her, "Close. I'm Emily. Noticed you getting low as we made eye contact back there."

"Emily…" My name read like a poem across her lips. I pinched the inside of my wrist as she continued, "Thank you. Hoping that I would come over here, were you?"

I shrugged, looking directly into her eyes as I replied, "I was planning on coming to you actually, but you took it easy on me."

"What can I say? You turning away from my smile had me puzzled. What brings you to the event tonight?" She started walking for the tables nearby as I followed close behind.

"I'm close to one of the donors." I sat on my left hip so that my body would still be facing hers, wondering how much of myself to give away. "And you?"

"I guess I could say that same… This." She pointed wildly around the room. "All arranged by my father."

The pieces began falling in place in front of me as she met my eyes again to read my face, "Ah, it's great what your dad is doing for Johns Hopkins." She nodded apprehensively as I continued, "It's my first year attending, and I'm impressed by the variety of people from Philadelphia that are in attendance."

"He's a very connected man, yes. Over the past few years, this gala has grown into one of the biggest fundraisers their cancer center has each year." She smiled while looking to the side, as if conjuring up a memory, "It's been great to watch it grow."

"I'm honored to have somehow fallen into a conversation with Kenneth DiLaurentis' daughter my first year here. And yet, I still have no idea who you are."

"I mean, there's not much to know. Your look across the room at me just left me… intrigued."

"No, I meant your name."

She chuckled, "Right. I'm sorry; I'm not used to coming to this and people not knowing who I am implicitly." She held out her hand, "I'm Alison. It's nice to meet you, Emily."

"You, as well. I was hoping you might want to dance with me."

"Dance?" Her eyebrow cocked while reaching for her glass. She looked around the room toward the dance floor. "I'm not sure if here is the best – "

I shuddered, as my lips pursed, " – did I misread something?"

"No!" she interjected, her hand reaching for my leg, "Not at all. I mean, you're stunning. I just… fuck." She looked away, tucking a fallen piece of her blonde hair behind her ear.

"Is your wife hiding around a corner or something somewhere?" I placed my hand on top of hers, circling my finger as soon as we touched.

"Not a terrible guess, there. My ex, actually."

"Ah…" I let my hand go, "On a break or something?" I leaned onto my palm propped up on the table with my elbow, staring at the woman seemingly slipping from my grasp.

"You could say that; we're divorced."

"Divorced and yet she still is hung up on you? I can't say that I blame her, but I think that publicly dancing might be the perfect way to show her – "

" – him." She corrected, watching my eyes for reaction.

"Okay, him." I replied quietly, hoping for it not to come off too surprised. "It might be the perfect way to show him that you're moving on."

"I'm not nervous about him, Emily." Her smile made me swoon again. "He's an old family friend, and it's been a few years. It's more so that everyone else here is used to seeing me with men… if you know what I mean."

Her eyes searched mine once again for understanding. I found her honesty refreshing. She spoke with a directness and candor that I appreciated. A candor that typically is not found in people in their early thirties, though I assumed her age directly from my own. Divorced before 35? Either their relationship was too toxic or moved too hastily for longevity. She sucked on the inside of her bottom lip realizing that she had confided in a perfect stranger about a hell of a lot of her past.

"Sorry. I'm not sure why I just told you all of that."

"It's not an issue. Any of it." I leaned forward to barely a whisper, "You do know that two women can dance at a party without a romantic assumption behind it though, right?"

"I do." She bit her lip, staring back up at me. "Can I think on it?"

I stood without a second thought, leaning forward to kiss her cheek, "Come and find me whenever you're ready. As I said earlier, it was nice to meet you, Alison. I loved every moment of it."

Exhaling consciously for the first time since I felt her breath on the back of my neck, my heart ached for a second chance at winning her over. Had I not been vocal enough? Had I been too vocal? Should I have played my cards another way? Should I have played my cards at all? It wasn't often that I found someone worth the limited time I had at my disposal. And Alison… well, Alison was breathtaking to say the least. From her first 'Hi', I was counting away the minutes I could reserve solely for her. The minutes I only wished for her. It had been a long time since I had been captivated. Since I had been –

"Emily!" I snapped out of my thoughts hearing her voice about twenty steps back as I glanced over my shoulder. Barely turning, she chugged her wine in one swift swig. "Wait."

My eye upturned, meeting her face as she shyly signaled 'come here' with her finger. I made her wait for it as I slowly walked back to her, "Sorry, I didn't hear you say anything?" I smiled, letting her know that I was teasing for her to make the second first move.

"Dance with me? Please?" she connected her hands with mine, looking at me endearingly.

I blushed. "That quick of a turnaround, huh?"

"My stomach dropped watching you walk away, and it made me think… What do I have to lose?"

For her, I figured that I would be willing to lose it all. Time. Control. My way. "I'll put it this way… You've been the highlight of my evening since I saw you over thirty minutes ago, Alison. I'd lose those precious minutes over and over again for even an ounce of time with you."

She bent her head to look at me more closely, "Where did you come from, Emily?"

"Originally? A little town outside of San Antonio." I held out my arm for her to hold as we walked toward the dance floor.

"You know what I mean."

"I don't tend to get out much. I try to make the most of events like these." We sauntered to a corner near the side of the dance floor where I gently placed one hand on her hip before reaching for hers. Her hand settled on my shoulder and in mine as we began swaying, "So when I saw a gorgeous woman across the room, I knew I had to at least try."

"You mean me?" she gasped, pointing to herself jokingly before continuing, "I understand what you're saying though. I don't get out much either. It's hard when… you get out of your twenties. Meeting new people seems overwhelming."

"Completely. Speaking of, tell me more about you. Outside of tonight, I mean."

"Well, I've grown up my whole life here. I turned 31 in June, and I work for my father's foundation doing the accounting and books and stuff. I'm able to mostly work from home which is convenient to say the least. Umm… I got divorced over 3 years ago. Carter, my ex, is great; the timing and circumstances just weren't. I see him often, and we're friendly which I appreciate considering our families have been close friends for so long. My life has slowed down a lot from 5 or 6 years ago, and I'm getting to the point where I think I can finally enjoy it again. Does that make sense?"

"Definitely. In my twenties, I thought that I was supposed to have it all together. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. Like I said earlier, I grew up in Texas. My father was in the military, and we were stationed there for most of my life. I went to Austin for school and recently moved up here for work. I work in specialized research and am finally where I have wanted to be for a long time. I'm 31, too. I turn 32 next month, and it's been years since I've even remotely put myself out there. So this, and you, are a lovely surprise."

"You're still incredibly enchanting for not putting yourself out there for years." Alison laughed, her head falling into my shoulder which took my breath away once again, "Can I ask why? Or is that too personal?"

"No, not at all." I inhaled having not wanted to get into it tonight. But this was different. She was different. "I was focused on school. Earlier when I said that I work in specialized research, I was being intentionally evasive. You see…"

"Emily!" I tightened my shoulders, hearing my colleague's voice behind me. On his arm was his visibly pregnant wife, smiling and already extending her hand. "I'm so happy I was able to find you in this crowd."

Alison let go of my neck as we now stood awkwardly side-by-side. I placed my hand on her back in attempts to comfort her as I silently apologized with my eyes before turning on further charm.

"Emmanuel, it's so good to see you. This must be your wife!"

He reached forward to place his hand on my forearm as his wife and I shook hands, "Yes, Dominique, this is who I've been telling you about. Dr. Emily Fields. The brightest and up and coming name in cancer pathology research at Johns Hopkins."

Dominique began speaking as I watched Alison's eyes grow larger next to me, "Emmanuel has raved about you ever since you started over the summer. He has been so impressed with your talent and ideas. He didn't mention you had such a gorgeous wife though."

Alison interjected, "Oh no, we're not… I'm not. I mean, I'm Alison. Alison DiLaurentis. My father is Ken, who is running the gala for… well, I guess for your program! Right, Em?"

"Right." I nodded, swallowing deeply. "Alison, this is Dr. Emmanuel Onyeke and his wife, Dominique. He's my colleague and supervisor in the pathology center."

"Pathology…" she muttered. I could feel her pulling away next to me without the ability to edit the scenario in my attempt to remain cordial.

"You know, can I come find you both a little later? Alison and I were just about to go and spend some time… alone on the balcony." It came out as more of a question as they both looked at us with concern in their eyes. "It was a pleasure to meet you Dominique, and I would love to discuss our research from yesterday further, Dr. Onyeke. We just – "

"Completely understood. You two enjoy your evening. See you both in a bit." Emmanuel turned toward his wife to wrap her in his arms as Alison quickly began walking away from me.

"Alison, are you okay?"

Her eyes were moving rapidly back and forth as she visibly tried to calm herself down, "Doctor?"

"Well, not exactly. I do have a Ph.D., but I'm not a practicing physician if that's what you mean."

"So when you said you were close to one of the donors? That was a lie? One of the first things you said to me… was a lie?"

I reached for her hand to explain, "Since I've arrived here, everything has been about 'the next great Doctor of Pathology', so I just wanted to blend in tonight. I had no idea who you were when I said that. I wanted a night to just be…" She began wringing her hands, taking a step backward from me, "Alison, I'm sorry. I didn't know that this would be such a big deal. I was about to tell you."

"It's not that…" I stared at her in confusion, trying to link our hands, "Okay, it is that, but not for the reason you – I don't. Emily, I don't know you. I can't; I don't think I can do this."

She shook my hands off as I replied, "Do what, Alison? This is usually how it works when you're trying to get to know someone, right?"

"This isn't going to work. I'm sorry." She reached forward giving me a small hug, "I thought I was ready, but I – I'm sorry. I can't."

"Okay… I understand. I don't know what happened. But okay, Alison. Whatever you want."

Without ever turning back to look at me, she walked swiftly down the hallway of the ballroom leading to the front of the country club as I stood completely dumbfounded and soul crushed.

I knew her like you know a dream. Simultaneously knowing everything and nothing all at once. A face I could recognize in a crowd as easily as it could fade into the masses. A smile that imprinted itself into my fantasies and also my nightmares. She both haunted and transcended me. She felt a part of me from first sight despite not knowing anything about her. But as soon as her eyes hit mine from across the room, I knew that I would be nothing without her. Without making my dreams a reality.

But in the blink of an eye, my reality had faded back to a dream, and I had no idea why.


A/N: I know it's short, but it's intended to be an intro of sorts. I definitely feel better getting that down. But if you guys are so inclined, I'd love to write more. I have some aspects of a story created, but can chisel out more specifics if you guys would really like more. This could always stand alone as a sort of 'Missed Connections' one-shot if it's a total miss. Haha

Just let me know :)

If this is your first story of mine that you've happen to run across and you enjoy my writing style, then you're in luck! I have 3 complete Emison stories on my page: More Like You, Turn Your Face, Needs, Wants, Desires, and Dreams (my personal favorite). Go check those out while this story sorts itself out!

Hope you enjoyed this surprise story. Let me know what you think, please!

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- secretpen28