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We Prefer Good Love to Gold

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Erica looks in the mirror to check her makeup and flips her hair over her shoulder. The lighting and sound people are working their magic, and Isaac and Boyd are busying themselves clearing off Erica’s desk and queueing up their videos for the scene. This is one of Erica’s favorite segments to film--her reaction to the millionaires who’ve submitted videos for entry into her club. She’s already prescreened these millionaires on paper and the production people have cleared them for the series. She spots the little logo on the back of a crew member’s jacket and laughs at the title of her show: “Millionaire Matchmaker: Supernatural Edition.” It’s their second season and they’re a mid-rated series on the Shifter Network. Erica has been in the matchmaking industry for the past seven years in one way or another, and she’s proud of the business she’s built with her friends.

The director signals for everyone to get into place and someone calls action. Erica waltzes into frame and greets her assistants. “Morning! How are you guys? Have a good weekend?”

Boyd and Isaac smile on cue and provide banter about going out, how tiring the whole dating scene is in Los Angeles.

“I just want to stay home and watch Star Wars.” Isaac pouts.

“I’m almost ready to let you set me up,” Boyd adds.

Erica squeals in delight. Boyd is a catch. She’d date him herself if they weren’t like family. “All right, well maybe after you show me who you’ve got for the club this week. I’m not going to have to fire you two, am I?” She lays it on thick. Boyd and Isaac are great employees, not matter the running joke that she’ll fire them.

“I think you’ll really like my millionaire,” Boyd says. He’s cool and confident, but when is he not?

“We’ll see about that.” Erica takes a seat on the stylish white leather chair and spins toward the screen, showing off her trademark leopard print heels.

Boyd hits play and the video starts to roll.

"I’m Derek Hale. I’m a thirty-year-old werewolf from northern California. My net worth is about ten million dollars. My parents made their money in the tech industry, and now my siblings and I invest in startups. It’s a risky business, but a lucrative one.” Derek raises an eyebrow at the camera, possibly directing it at whoever is behind it. “I’m filming this video under duress. My sisters have absolutely no idea how to mind their own business. They said if I gave Erica’s service a chance, then they’d back off for a while. We’ll see if they hold up their end of the bargain."

Erica’s nostrils flare. Her potential client is hot, she won’t have any trouble setting him up, but she suspects he’s going to be a pain in the ass. Combative clients are the hardest to deal with, and if Derek’s only doing this to make someone else happy, then she doesn’t want to waste her time. The video looks like it was shot in his office. In the background Erica can see stacks of papers and folders, like Derek was in the middle of work just moments before the camera started rolling. In the background is a window that overlooks trees and hills, a far cry from the city skylines that are usually prominent in client videos. If Derek is really worth as much as he claims, then he certainly doesn’t let it go to his head. His office is nice, but it’s not sleek enough to have been professionally styled.His sweater shows off his upper body without actually revealing any skin, and though he’s attractive, he doesn’t seem excessively prideful about his looks.

Derek scratches at his scruff. "I’m a mess when it comes to relationships." His voice softens a bit. “I’ve had a few significant relationships. Obviously none of them ended well, or I wouldn’t be doing this.”

The look Derek gives the camera is painfully honest, and it’s enough to make Erica at least curious about her potential new client. Erica can see his confidence is a bit shaken, but she doesn’t think he’s a lost cause.

There’s a cut scene to Derek working out and another of him driving a fancy car. Erica rolls her eyes but knows Derek’s video will play well for TV. He’s clearly genetically gifted--his eyes are an indescribable color, his hair looks effortlessly coifed, and his tight, muscular body is perfectly sun-kissed. “I lead an active lifestyle, obviously. I love the outdoors. My family has a home out in the country and I go for runs in the woods. If I’m in the city for work, I have to hit the gym hard.”

There’s a gratuitous shirtless scene and Erica can’t help it if she licks her lips.

“I’m a born werewolf. Control is very important, and being active is a way to ensure that," Derek says over a shot of him lifting weights, showing off some glorious back muscles and a sexy tattoo.

Erica snorts at the gratuitous shirtlessness and Derek’s comment about control. Erica accepted the bite as a teenager to help with her Epilepsy. It made her disease manageable, but she struggled for years with control as an omega. She’s the default alpha of her ragtag group. Boyd and Isaac are her assistants, and together they’re their own little pack.

“My parents instilled in me family and pack values, so I do want to meet someone I could settle down with eventually.”

Most of Erica’s clients are horny douchebags who just want her to find them ‘perfect tens’ because they feel entitled to pretty playthings. They’re not like Derek, who seems to actually care about finding something more meaningful.

There’s another cut scene to Derek in a spacious kitchen. He appears to be cooking with four stunning brunettes, two are obviously his sisters, and an older man seated at the table dressed in an obscenely low cut v-neck shirt. “I’ve been single for a while now and I’ve pretty much given up on looking. I respect what Erica does, one professional to another. My parents found each other through a matchmaker back in the day, and I guess all I can promise is to give this a go.” Derek smiles and the video fades to black.

Through the magic of editing they’ll intersperse Erica’s commentary that she’ll shoot later with Derek’s video, and it will be the open to the episode.

Boyd fixes Erica with his trademark look. “Well?”

Erica smirks. “You did good. I can’t tell what his deal is from the video. I’ll have to dig a little deeper with him. I have a whole database of women I could set him up with in a snap.”

Isaac is practically vibrating in his chair, waiting for his turn.

Erica turns toward him. “Okay, what did you bring me?”

Isaac’s eyes go huge. “Well, my millionaire is bisexual,” he says hesitantly, “but don’t let that get you down. He specifically asked to be set up with women.” He smiles, knowing Erica’s constant frustration with bisexuals and redheads.

Erica feels self-righteous about bisexuals because they’ve given her nothing but trouble. “You’re lucky you’re so cute.” Erica ruffles Isaac’s curls to offer reassurance.

“I think his breakup with his ex is still pretty fresh. He said it wouldn’t be fair for him to rebound with guy because he’d spend the whole time comparing them.”

“Yikes. I’ll have to dig a little deeper when I meet him. Maybe I should refer him to a therapist to work out any residual anger.”

“Let’s just watch his video.” Isaac hits play.

“Hi, my name is Stiles Stilinski. I’m twenty-five, human, or I guess technically a spark. I haven’t trained formally, so that’s not all that important. Anyway, I’m um...looking for assistance, I guess. My buddy suggested getting professional help, so here I am.”

Stiles blinks at the camera, a bit like a deer caught in headlights, and uses his hands to animate. He’s charming without meaning to be, and Erica knows he’s going to be a fan favorite already. Erica laughs and shakes her head at Isaac. He’s a soft touch and wants to help every socially awkward millionaire. His heart’s in the right place, but Erica can only do so much with the paunchy and pasty. Stiles is at least cute and fit, if a little young looking.

“My net worth is a lot, well over a million. I sold my shares in a very successful start-up I used to run with my boyfriend. Well, ex-boyfriend.” Stiles looks down, his lashes are dark against his pale cheeks. “My mom taught me not to kiss and tell, and my dad taught me it’s rude to talk about money. I think that probably says a lot about me. I’m an only child and I’ve always wanted a family. I tend to rush into relationships.”

There’s a cut scene to a living room with a big screen TV and two leather lounge chairs. It’s like Stiles got his decorating inspiration from Joey and Chandler on Friends. A cute guy with a slightly crooked jaw line waves at the camera and hugs Stiles.

“I live with my best friend, Scott. He’s a werewolf, hence why I am coming to Erica. Whomever I end up with has to be cool with supernaturals. One of my most important relationships in my life is with Scott, and he’s second only to my dad. And my mom.” Stiles looks a little sad. “She passed when I was a kid, but I know she’s with me always.”

Erica feels herself tear up a little. Who is this guy, she wonders. There’s another cut scene of Stiles in a nondescript home office talking on his cell phone and typing.

“I have a lot of time on my hands now and a lot of money. I’d like to travel, see the world a bit. It would be nice to have someone I could share those experiences with. As far as hobbies go, I’m your classic pop culture kind of geek. I spend a lot of time watching Netflix and gaming. I’m sort of a homebody.”

The scene cuts to Stiles on a field with teammates playing some sport Erica’s never seen.

“I joined an ultimate frisbee team here in LA and I go running with Scott. I played lacrosse in high school and college.”

Stiles shrugs his shoulders, nice ones if Erica is any judge of the way he fills out his baseball tee. He runs his hand through his hair and lets out a peal of laughter.

“I’d be really grateful if Erica could help me out. It’s brutal out there. I have zero game. I mostly just flail in the general direction of people I’m attracted to and sometimes it works. It hasn’t found me the love of my life though.” He smiles and the video ends.

Erica grins. “He’s adorable. Where did you find him?” she asks Isaac.

Isaac looks giddy. “Actually, he contacted me! Well, Scott did.”

“Wait, your college friend Scott, the true alpha, is Stiles’ Scott?”

“Yeah, he called me up and asked if I could set them both up, actually.”

“Scott is such a cutie. He’d be perfect for our database. One of our millionaires would snap him right up.” Erica is already running through her mental catalog of eligible women. “Stiles seems like a good guy, which is unusual for our clientele. I’m used to working with fixer-uppers.”

“I’m shocked you like him. You must be getting soft in your old age, boss,” Boyd jokes.

“I said he was a good guy; I didn’t say he was a catch. But with my help, he can be.” Erica stands to go. “Who am I meeting with first?”

Boyd gets up and hands Erica a dossier. It’s technically an empty folder. This is all for the cameras. “You’re meeting Derek first at the wine bar on Third.”

“Oh, that cute French place?”

“The very one.” Boyd helps Erica slip on her leather jacket.

Erica waits for the director to cut before she says a few final words to her staff. She gets in her flashy car and checks her lipstick in the vanity mirror. They crew resumes shooting and Erica drives the twelve miles to the French café. She provides commentary about Derek and the types of things she’s going to ask him during their meeting.

“I need to get under the hood and really find out what makes Derek Hale tick. He seems like a decent sort of guy, very family oriented, but clearly he’s had trouble in the past with his relationships. Maybe he has some bad habits that I’m going to have to break. I’m also going to really be looking at how he handles himself as a werewolf. He’s a beta, but maybe he does the alpha posturing. Some women might find that attractive, but they’re probably the wrong sort.”

Erica lets a production assistant park her car for her. She walks into the cafe and spots Derek with two glass of water at the table, looking nervous with the cameras rolling on him while he checks his phone. He hears the clack of her heels and looks up and gives her a bashful smile. He stands to greet her. Erica is impressed by his manners.

“Erica, it’s nice to meet you,” Derek says with an outstretched hand.

Erica offers a firm handshake. “Derek, you’re even more striking in person.”

Derek blushes. He pulls out her chair and Erica takes a seat. She peruses the menu quickly.

“I didn’t know what you’d prefer, so I played it safe with water.”

“Let’s order something with bubbles, shall we?” She nods at a waiter and orders two glasses of Champagne. After they’re brought over and they’ve toasted to a successful match, Erica gets down to business.

“So, I looked at your video and you’ve definitely piqued my interest. You’re a great catch on paper and in person.” Erica notices Derek’s cheeks flush again. “And you’re modest to boot.” Erica leans over the table and Derek laughs nervously. “I’m going to ask you what I ask all my clients. Why love now?”

Derek looks at Erica thoughtfully. “I’m ready. I’ve been ready. I just never seem to pick the right person.”

Erica sips from her flute. “Tell me more about that. What sort of people have you been picking?”

“I don’t know.” Derek huffs out a breath. “I guess I pick people who, for whatever reason, aren’t the type you can build a future with because we didn’t want the same things.”

It’s obvious he’s holding back, like he’s mulling it all over in his head.

Derek continues after a moment, “I haven’t dated in a few years. I just haven’t felt ready to put myself back out there.”

Erica reaches for his hand and puts hers on top of his. “You’ve been hurt. I can understand why you’ve been taking a break.” Erica squeezes Derek’s hand. “Do you think you’re drawn to the same type of people for a reason?”

Derek leans back in his seat and runs a hand through his dark hair. “To be honest, I feel like they’re the ones drawn to me.”

Erica looks at Derek carefully. He’s more handsome in person than in his video, something she hadn’t thought possible. He’s the kind of guy that probably doesn’t have to work hard to meet women. “Do you often think your looks have anything to do with it?”

Derek nods. “People see me and they think I’m going to be one way, and I’m just not.”

Erica can sympathize to an extent. People see her big boobs and blonde hair and thinks she’s a ditz. They don’t see the multi-million dollar company she’s built all before the age of thirty, or care that she’s an expert in her field, and a third generation matchmaker. Erica takes in Derek’s physique and easy confidence and knows that some women might think of him as a conquest but aren’t interested in something meaningful with him. “Elaborate.”

“Kira says--she’s my best friend from college--Kira says I’m just a down to Earth kind of guy. I don’t like to go out. My idea of a good time is staying in and ordering take-out. I hang out with family a lot. I guess people see the expensive car and leather jacket and expect that I lead some lavish or exciting lifestyle. When they find out I drive my car to pick up pizza for game night at my sister’s place, it’s a disappointment to them.”

“I can’t believe you’ve been a disappointment to anyone,” Erica lets slip. Derek’s bringing out her softer side, and that’s rare. She’s known for being a tough-as-nails matchmaker.

“So, do you think there’s hope for me then?” Derek smiles at her and this time it reaches his gorgeous green eyes with little crinkles around them.

“I do. But first, I think you have to see the patterns in your dating history so you can start to make different choices. It sounds like maybe you haven't been the pursuer in a long time, or maybe ever? You’ve been pursued mostly, right?”

Derek’s face falls and it takes him a second to recover. “Yeah. That’s a fair assessment.”

Erica thinks she may have just gotten to the root of the problem. “Tell me where you went just now.”

“I had this mental image of being sixteen and asking out the first girl I ever liked.”

“How did that go?”

Derek smiles sheepishly, lost in the memory for a bit. “She seriously disliked me. Took me a while to get her to warm up to me.”

Erica smiles. “She made you work for it.”

“Yeah, she did.”

Erica takes another sip of her drink. “What happened?”

“She was my first girlfriend. We dated for a few years.”

Erica raises an eyebrow. “Sounds serious.”

“I was. She... I don’t know. We broke up and I never really knew why.” Derek sits back and plays with the stem of his glass.

“You loved her,” Erica says.

Derek looks up and meets her gaze. “Yeah, I really did.”

“And it hurt that it ended.”

Derek nods.

“Do you think that maybe you internalized that hurt? That maybe it was just easier to let people pursue you rather than you taking an active interest? Because maybe it protected you. Maybe it felt safer than going after someone you actually liked?”

Derek sighs. “Yeah, I guess I never thought of it that way.”

“Well, you have some more thinking to do then before the mixer. I want you to really dig deep and get in touch with what you want.” Derek has probably never given what he wants much thought at all. “This isn’t going to work if I put you in a room with ten gorgeous women and you stand around waiting for one of them to make a move on you.” Erica really wants to avoid the cliche about werewolves and the thrill of the hunt. “You’re going to need to be more assertive, get to know the women there, and pick one. You can’t fall back on what you know and let yourself get pursued. Understand?”

Derek nods. “I can try to work on that.”

Erica knows better than to expect him to change his bad dating habits overnight. She just hopes that now that he’s aware of the pattern, he can begin to address the issue. “Okay, tell me who you’re looking for? If I could build you the perfect partner, what traits are you looking for? What are your three non-negotiables?”

Derek gives her a confused look.

“I require that my clients know their three non-negotiables. These are the things that are deal breakers for you and you have to stick to them. So what are the three qualities your future partner must possess?”

Derek looks deep in thought for a few moments and then finally speaks, “I need someone who’s smart, funny, and family-oriented.”

“Those are perfect.” Erica grins. “Anything else you think I should know while I’m scouting for your mixer?”

Derek nods. “I’m surrounded by four very strong women. I spend a lot of time with my sisters, my cousin, and my best friend who is also a woman. Anyone who has a problem with them is going to have a problem with me.”

Erica takes a sip of her Champagne. Derek’s sincerity is refreshing. “Has anyone had a problem with that before?”

“Yeah, and that’s another reason why my relationships tend to be short,” Derek says with dark look.

“Have there been warning signs in your previous relationships that you maybe missed?”

Derek’s brow furrows like he’s making important self discoveries. “I supposes, yes, there were things they said or did that should have clued me in quicker.”

“When you say you want someone family-oriented, do you mean you’re looking for someone to join yours or start one with you?”

“Ideally both. It’s really important to me that my partner get along with my family, and I’d love to have kids someday.”

“Is it important that they’re biologically yours? What would you think about someone who already has a kid or two from a previous relationship?”

“That would be fine, too. I’m just really looking for someone who’s ready to be serious. I don’t mind doing the long distance thing for a while. I’ve got the means, and the type of work I do doesn’t require my presence every day of the week. But I need someone who has their own life, you know? I don’t know what we’d have to talk about if the person doesn’t have a path in life.”

Erica nods and thinks that Derek isn’t giving himself enough credit. Even if he hasn’t dated in a while, he actually sounds like he knows what he’s looking for in comparison to many of her other clients. “Dream girl or celebrity crush?”

Derek smiles shyly. “I don’t have a type really,” he sighs and blushes deeply, “but maybe that Kristen Stewart actress?”

Erica giggles. “From Twilight?”

Derek blushes again and rolls his eyes. “I know, I know it's a little embarrassing. My cousin Malia used to watch every interview with her, and I don’t know, there’s something about her. She makes all these faces. She’s interesting to watch, and you never really know what she's going to say.”

Erica nods. “Okay, so gorgeous obviously, with expressive features and a mind of her own? No small feat. Look, I gotta go and put together your mixer.” Erica stands to go and Derek stands up with her. Erica comes around the table and hugs him and kisses him on the cheek. “It was so wonderful to meet you, Derek. I’ll be in touch with details this week for your mixer!”

Derek looks nervous, in fact, he looks a little bit like a caged animal debating a flight or fight response. Erica supposes this is where Derek’s control comes into play. A less disciplined werewolf might have flashed his eyes or let out a low level growl, but not Derek. His muscles look tightly coiled and there’s tension in the set of his jaw, but other than that he’s kept his cool while filming the segment.

Erica reaches out again and squeezes his hand. “Don’t worry. I do this all the time. You’re safe in my hands. I’ll be in touch.”

Erica walks to the front of the cafe and waits for her car to be pulled up to the curb. She checks her manicure and fires off a text to Isaac to ask where she’s meeting Stiles. She clicks on the link he sends and sees that she’s meeting Stiles at a bungalow in the Hollywood hills.

Erica gets in the car and starts talking to the rolling camera, “Derek is a sweetheart. A total gentleman, the complete package, really. Did you see how he stood up every time I did? Those were some God damn manners, right there. I’m really excited to see what kind of women I can introduce him to at the mixer. If he can really learn to be more assertive, I think we can find him a match he’ll be really happy with long term.”

While the car idles in traffic, Erica checks her lipstick in the vanity mirror again. She switches over to Stiles to prepare herself for the meeting. “I liked Stiles in the video, but we’ll see what he brings in person. He’s a little young for my club, but I guess they make ‘em young in Silicon Valley. My guess is that he’s a serial monogamist, and at his age not a lot of people are ready to settle down. Maybe he gets too intense too fast. I might need to break him of those habits. Maybe he needs to learn to let relationships take their course, or maybe I just need to set him up with women who are on the fast track to marriage and family.”

Erica pulls up to a nice place in the hills and parks on the street. She walks to the front door and knocks. Stiles opens the door and greets her with a huge smile.

“Hi, thank you for coming! Come in.” Stiles steps back from the door and lets Erica inside.

Erica takes in the eclectic decor and the way it lacks Stiles' scent, as if he just moved in. She decides the place must be a furnished rental. “This is a nice place.”

“Oh, thanks. I can’t take any credit for it though. I was staying with my buddy, Scott, but he finally gave me the boot. I’m just renting this place until I figure out my next move,” Stiles rambles without seeming to mind the intrusion of the cameras.

Erica wanders behind him to the living room. There’s a lovely spread of tea sandwiches and tea in an actual china pot. “Wow, you went all out.”

“My mom…” Stiles smiles softly.

“She would have been proud.”

Stiles beams. He’s taller than she expected. His looks are less rugged than Derek’s, he’s not as classically handsome as Isaac, and he lacks Boyd’s controlled charisma. Instead, his whole body vibrates with energy that he can’t quite contain, and there’s something about him that draws Erica’s eyes to him. She settles down into the oversized leather couch and helps herself to tea.

“All right, so I saw your video and I just want to dive right in. Tell me about your last relationship. It sounds messy.”

Stiles runs his hands through his hair. It’s a little overgrown and mussed, and slightly greasy with too much product. He laughs nervously. “Ah, yeah. So, Danny and I met in high school. Always had a crush on him. Then after college, we met up and decided to go into business together. It got intense, the business and then our relationship. I thought it was going really well, but then it sort of turned out that Danny loved the business side a bit more than our relationship. We just wanted different things, you know? It was hard to deal with since we built a company together. When I had the opportunity to sell, I took it. It was too difficult to be with him and not be with him.” A myriad of emotions cross Stiles’ face.

Erica nods and takes a sip of tea. “Was he just not ready to settle down then?”

“I think so. Or I wasn’t it for him, I guess.”

“And what about before?”

“Before Danny there was Heather. We grew up together and we dated in high school. I thought it was so cool to be with my childhood sweetheart. But she didn’t think it was sweet, I guess. She wanted to end things while we were in college.”

“And you didn’t?”

Stiles ducks his head. “I was sad she didn’t feel the same way about me. I wasn’t ready to be done with the relationship just because we were getting older. I thought we could keep growing together.”

Erica is taken aback by Stiles’ candor about his romantic side. She hasn’t met many clients so idealistic about love or willing to open up so quickly. She’s used to clients like Derek who need a bit more coaxing. “Anyone else I should know about?”

“Not anyone of note. I’m just really a relationship kind of guy. I haven’t fooled around too much. I can usually tell right away if I’m going to want to be with someone long term.”

“That’s a good thing to have, that type of intuition. You need to keep listening to it, but also refine it. You need to get under the hood of the car, so to speak, and really get to know any future partners and find out their interest level before you let yourself fall for them. You’ll be able to form healthier and sustainable relationships that way.”

Stiles laughs nervously and picks at a tea sandwich. “How do I do that, get under the hood of the car, like you said?”

“I’m glad you asked. I want you to think about your three non-negotiables. These aren’t physical things, they’re qualities you’re looking for in a partner. They’re deal breakers and you have to stick to them.”

Stiles hums in thought. “I guess I’d say the first thing I’m looking for someone who’s interested in a relationship, someone ready to be serious. I know people think I’m young to settle down, but family is really important to me, so that’s the second one. It’s just me and my dad, my best friend and his mom, who happens to be dating my dad. I want to have a real connection with my partner. What good does all my money and all my free time do me if I have no one to spend it with, you know? And lastly, I think I need someone who’ll push me. I don’t want to date a doormat, someone who doesn’t have an opinion or just wants to be agreeable. I think both Heather and Danny knew I wasn’t the one for them, but they just went along with the relationship because they didn’t want to hurt me. So I think I’d like a bit of a challenge.”

“Is that something you haven’t had in the past?”

“Not really, no. Heather was really sweet, maybe too sweet for me. And Danny’s the most likeable person in the world, everyone loves Danny. But I’m kind of a live wire, so maybe I need someone who can match me? I mean I’m a nice guy, but I can be a bit of an ass.” Stiles looks at Erica guiltily. “You know what I mean?”

Erica jots down some notes and smiles. “I’ll look for someone who can keep you on your toes.”

“Awesome.”

“What about your celebrity crush?”

Stiles laughs. “Oh God. I’m such a nerd. It’s not really a celebrity crush. Sansa Stark.”

“The actress who plays her?” Erica sighs just thinking about Sophie Turner. She hates redheads.

“Nah, like the actual character Sansa Stark.”

Erica cackles. “I’m trying to picture what about the character is such a turn-on for you.”

“You watch Game of Thrones?”

Erica nods.

“Well, then you know she’s this great multi-layered character. She’s so stoic and strong, but she’s also vulnerable and sweet. I don’t know, I guess I like the element of surprise, an air of mystery. You just can’t underestimate her, you know?”

Erica tries to think of how she’ll look for that quality in potential matches for Stiles. “If I can get you in a room full of beautiful women who are serious, family-centric, with dynamic personalities, you have to promise that you’re going to do your part and really bring it.” Erica starts thinking about how she’s going to style her new client to really give him an added boost of confidence. “Don’t be afraid during the mixer to ask about their careers--if someone is really ambitious and they’re still climbing the corporate ladder or traveling for work all the time, that might not be a good match for you. You’re ready to settle down soon, so you need someone who’s at the same place in life. Ask about their relationships with their families.” Erica reaches out and squeezes Stiles’ hand. “And bring the charm you obviously have. Anyone who gives as good as they get from you is going to be a great match.” Erica stands to leave. “All right, I think you’ve given me plenty to work with. I’m off! I have to go plan your mixer!”

Stiles walks her out and gives her a hug. “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me.”

“The pleasure was mine,” Erica says and finds she means it. “You’re not someone we normally have in the club, but it’s a nice change of pace. I’ll be in touch, Stiles.”

When Erica gets situated in the car she starts talking to the camera again, “I’ve met with both of my millionaires and I have to say, I’m really excited. Isaac and Boyd knocked it out of the park lining up these clients. Now, let’s just hope casting goes as well.”

Erica considers everything she’s heard from her clients and tries to distill their wants and needs in a sound byte. “For Derek I’m going to be looking for career women with interests of their own, women who are not easily intimidated by Derek and his friends and family, but would in fact want to be part of his pack and start a family with him, and someone who isn’t overly aggressive, who won’t railroad Derek in a relationship. And for Stiles I’ll be looking for women who are serious about commitment and family sooner rather than later, and someone who can keep up with Stiles’ personality. Neither of them had specific ideas about looks, which is nice for a change. I’m really excited to get back to the office.” Erica gives the cameras a cheeky grin a she drives into the parking garage at her office.

***

Over the following days Erica and her team spends frantically putting together a mixer and contacting women for the casting session. Erica calls up her millionaires to tell them a few details about the mixer and give them direction on their attire.

Derek sounds surly on the phone. “I just don’t like the city, and I’ve already been here a few days. I just want to get this over with,” he complains.

Erica gets the impression that Derek likes routine and the comfort of his pack. Erica is an omega, essentially, so she doesn’t have the same problems pack members do, but she’s sympathetic to his anxiety.

“The mixer is in a few days, so you just have to sit tight. I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you and the other millionaire you’re sharing the mixer with a chance to meet. It’ll give you something to do, and maybe you’ll make a friend.”

“I don’t know,” Derek mumbles. “I have watched your show before. Usually there’s one okay millionaire and the other is a total tool.”

Erica snickers. “How do you know you’re not the tool?”

Derek is silent on his end.

“Wow, you’re awfully confident,” she teases.

“There’s no way I’m the tool here.”

Erica just laughs at Derek’s affronted tone. “If you must know, I lucked out and you’re both okay guys. His name is Stiles, and I’m going to call him up next. I’ll double check it’s okay with him if I give you his contact info. I’ll leave it up to you.”

“Is he a werewolf or another shifter?” Derek sounds leary of meeting an unknown person.

“Nope. Human. His best friend’s a werewolf though.”

“Well, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad.”

“Okay, just hang in there, Derek.” Erica ends the call and gets Stiles on the line next. She needs Derek to relax before the mixer. Maybe hyperactive Stiles can help with that. His cell phone rings and then he answers. “Stiles, it’s Erica. How do you feel about meeting your werewolf millionaire counterpart?”