Previously in Picket Fences…

Xavier picked up his date to the F.A.C.T. fundraiser, Saraya Foster. The event is underway and Connie has agreed to Angela’s demand that this be their last con together.

As the moonlight dances on the dark waves of Benicia the F.A.C.T. event is in full swing.

Angela and Madalyn are surveying the room. Madalyn beams with pride, looking at all the people enjoying the music, food, and the ambience as she starts to become aware of a lot of new people in the crowd, some of whom she doesn’t recognize. She comments to Angela who is also observing the room. “There’s a lot of new faces.” “Yes, Connie has a lot of friends from many different places,” Angela answers, thinking of all the backdoor deals going down at this event, looking around at drug runners, money launderers, and dangerous people hob-knobbing with each other. “I thought I left all this behind,” she thinks to herself. At that moment, her train of thought is broken by the voice of Olivia Leavenworth. “Ladies! It looks like you pulled it off. This is a wonderful event and I just looked at the numbers and I’m very happy,” she says with delight. “It really was all Madalyn this year; I couldn’t have done it without her and she did a bang-up job!” Angela says, letting Madalyn take the credit. “Well, you did wonderfully Madalyn! We might have to talk about getting you on some other committees. Excuse me, I think I see my son and his date. We’ll talk later!” And with that, Olivia is off, leaving the other two to bask in the success of the event. Madalyn, checking her watch, says, “It’s almost time for the art auction.”

Saraya and Xavier walk into the event immediately running into Olivia. “Hello, mom.” “Hi, honey. I’m sorry you got held up,” Olivia says, greeting her son. “Hi, Mrs. Leavenworth,” Saraya says. “Hello, Saraya. I see you finally decided to show up. I hope we don’t have any more… mishaps,” she says, staring Saraya down. “You two, enjoy. Xavier, please mingle,” she says, softening her gaze upon her son. Olivia then leaves to greet guests.

But she’s not the only one distancing herself from Saraya.

Looking across the room, Xavier spots Payton looking at artwork in one of the many rooms, getting it ready for the auction. “Why don’t you find our seats at the table? I’ll be right there,” Xavier says, trying to rush Saraya away. Payton notices Xavier walking towards him in his slim fit, classic black tux; he can’t help but be amazed how well it fits him. “I see you didn’t go the traditional route. I like it. The dinner jacket… it’s a nice shade of green,” Xavier says, opening the conversation and closing the door behind him. “You clean up well, yourself. And so does Saraya Foster; you make a cute pair. I could put you on a wedding cake,” Payton replies sarcastically. “I get it. And you know I had no choice. You know that my mom set it up. I’m… I’m sorry,” Xavier says, trying to seek forgiveness. Payton takes a pause. Looking Xavier in the eyes, Payton says, “I can’t help it, but it hurts. It’s just a messed up situation for both of us. Anyway, we can get out of here when the auction starts in about 30 minutes; I’ll meet you around back.” Payton starts to walk away. “W-  …wait.” Xavier, taking Payton’s hand, forces him to turn around, “Just give me a minute.” He then proceeds to takes Payton’s other hand and stands in front of him, subtly bearing his soul with just four simple words: “I need one minute.” The two begin to see a life flash before their eyes; holidays and birthdays, triumphs, defeats, seeing a version of a life they could have together, all in that one simple minute. The two suddenly feel that they have found their person, standing directly in front of them. Payton and Xavier felt a range of emotions they couldn’t even begin to describe. Both, wanting so desperately to share this revelation with the world. But this one minute would have to do, for now.

They both hear a voice that shocks them back into reality. “Well, well, well. Look at this. Who knew you two were an item?”

To be continued…