Diagnostic: partition for OS missing.
Solution: download the live version of Gparted (unix based) and run the cd in the broken computer. Follow the VERY simple and user friendly directions and viola, partitions back in place and computer running like nothing ever happened.
Windows did realize that it came back from "major damage" but that was just a window that popped up.
Virus software is installed and problem software is gone (avoid Paradox) and the program I was trying to get a free copy of before the trial went away is now running smoothly - and won't go away in a few days
So it took two trips to Best Buy (I hate their Geek Squad, I knew more than he did - and the "I know alot about computers but I have no idea what a partition is" employee) and a trip to a hole in the wall computer store that everybody swears by to get the solution. Best Buy wanted $200-$300 to fix it, it only cost me a blank cd to burn Gparted onto.
So, if anybody else ever has the same problem, I VERY HIGHLY recommend Gparted, it's user friendly, I figured it out and I know nothing about Unix and partitions. (I did have to tell it to boot from my NTFS partition and not the FAT16, but that's what my husband's for)
Thanks everybody for your help!