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Post Reply I'll Make Things Right: Part 1
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 12/26/08 , edited 7/1/09

DANG Crunchy cut off this one too xD I'll make a new Topic and finish off this chapter =_= Link will be at the bottom of the post

Last Update to the Story ::
May 6 (( Meet Tom <3 ))
April 29 (I think xD)
All of Chapter 4 is now up : D Hope you like it :3

Chapter 1, Part 1 ~~~~

In a dark alley, a tall man with greasy black hair stood, waiting. He was wearing black, a typical color for tall men in dark alleys. And he was getting impatient, and checked his watch by the dim light of the moon and a window far above him.

“Aw, damn! It’s already half past ten!” He folded his arms, and stood longer. There were little puffs of water vapor as his breath condensed in the chilly air.

His client was late, as usual. Whenever they did business, this client was always late.

His face was hard as he heard footsteps echoing off the walls of the alley, and he stood straighter, an expectant glint in his eyes.

He couldn’t make out the woman’s face, for it was veiled and there was not much light, with only the moon shining dimly above the alley. She held a bundle, and wore black, like himself. She seemed to be very gentle with the bundle, which was loosely wrapped in a navy blanket. It was a fairly large bundle, the length of the woman’s forearm, and bulgy. The tall man in black vaguely wondered what the bundle contained.

“I’ve got what you wanted. The money’s right here. Just don’t hurt me…” she paused. “And here’s a gift, to show that I’m still faithful.”

He was used to this kind of thing. A lot of people gave him “gifts.” He smirked, and she laid the bundle down, the money on top of it.

“I’ve got to go. Now…” As the woman ran off, the man bent down, and grabbed the money. He knew it would be the right amount, he didn’t need to check; she wouldn’t dare give him anything less. But he checked anyways. He stuffed the bills into his jacket, and bent down to pick up the parcel.

And he jerked his hand away instantly. It had moved.

“What the hell is she playing at?” He was irritated. He unwound the cloth around the “gift” and ground his teeth when he saw what it was. If she thinks I could be bothered with a kid, she’s way off. I despise babies. And children. And teenagers. He was about to just leave the baby on the road in a strange alley, when he saw a note laying on its chest.

“She will be very useful, so just keep her safe and I will be eternally grateful. You can give her a better life than I ever could. –Ms. F”

He stole a second glance at the baby. And it’s a girl. Great. Oh well. If anything, I can sell her when she’s older.

He considered the note, weighing the truth of it. But what did he have to loose? He picked up the baby and carried it awkwardly to his motorcycle. Without really thinking about the safety of the child, he put the bundle on his lap and sped off through the cold night air.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The next morning, the baby was crying.

“What do you want from me?!” He stood on the opposite side of the cheap hotel room from the baby, plugging his ears. She was laying on the second twin bed in the room, with the navy blanket tangled uncomfortably around her.

He barely heard the knock on the door, and opened it, aggravated.

A young woman in slightly torn jeans and a light blue t-shirt stood on the other side. She was slender, but not skinny. She looked past the tall man to the baby, and said suspiciously, “Is that yours? There some girl I don’t know about?” Her dirty blonde hair bobbed just above her shoulders as she raised her eyebrows.

“Naw, baby, don’t worry about that. One of my… clients… dropped it on me. And now it won’t stop crying!” His anger was evident as he waved his arms about.

The woman walked past him, and picked up the baby, cradling it and singing softly. She loosened the blanket a bit around the baby and she settled down a bit, but was still fidgety. “Don’t you have a bottle for her? Or diapers? Have you given any thought whatsoever to this child?”

Her bluntness startled him, and he staggered. “H-hey! I could have just left it on the street, but did I? No. I took it home with me and made sure it was warm and protected on a cold night.” Trying to make the deed sound gallant was no use.

She rolled her eyes and carried the baby to the bed, laying her down and resting her head on the pillow.

“Marty, you’ve got a lot to learn.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Seven years later, a little girl walked up to an elderly lady.

“Miss, do you have a dollar?” She looked up at the woman, with big, pleading eyes. Her ragged gray shawl slipped slightly from her shoulder. She was the very image of innocence.

The woman looked pityingly at the girl, and said, “Why, yes, I think I do.” She rummaged in her purse for a dollar, and found she only had fives. She gave one to the girl, and put her wallet back in her purse.

The girl’s eyes brightened at the catch, and she said, “Thank you ma’am,” as she walked away. She also reached stealthily into the woman’s purse and pulled out her wallet, as she walked innocently past. She grinned happily, but there was a sorrow deep down.

She walked into an alley, and pulled out the three wallets she’d snatched today. The one she just got, the old woman’s, had a surprising sum of money in it. Nearly 300 dollars. Oh, Marty’ll be so happy! Maybe I won’t get beaten tonight! She peered into the next one, taken from a young man in a suit. Almost fifty bucks and a credit card wasn’t too bad of a catch. There were also some photos of children, which she felt sorry were there. The man would miss them for sure. She pocketed everything of value from all wallets and headed out of the alley, into the streets.

She walked down Bakersfield Ave. to Park Street. She came to the stoop of a tall apartment building, which was her home for the next few months. She walked through its door and up the few flights of stairs until she got to her floor, and walked to room number 304. She opened the door, for it was never locked, and walked in.

“Jill, I made lotsa money today!” She called.

The same young woman, now aged seven years, came into the room, and looked over what the girl had brought her.

She nodded her head slowly, and said, “Good job girl. Now go to your room and don’t come out ‘til I say so.”

The girl walked to the closet they called her room, and sat on the little mattress on the floor. She had the light on, but it was still dark. She sighed, and the thoughts rushed in. What would those people be thinking right about now? Would they know their things were gone? Would they know it was her? Would they hate her?

She rested her chin in her palms, to remorse what she had to do to keep from getting beaten by Marty. She took the pictures from the man’s wallet out of her pocket, and looked at them. The children looked so happy in the photos.

Part 2 ~~~~

That night, when the girl was eating her nighttime meager meal, she said to Marty, in her young foolishness, “Uncle Marty, why do I have to steal from nice people? I don’t like it.”

He glared down at her, and his quick temper and bad personality took over. “Shut-up and don’t complain.”

She looked up at him innocently but defiantly. “Why, uncle Marty?”

He slapped her across the face, and she knew she was in for a beating. No, no more of this! I’m tired of being beaten for things that aren’t bad!

As the man advanced on her, she stood ready for him. Once he was in range, she kicked him in the shin. As he hopped on one foot, yelping and swearing in pain, she ran to the knife drawer and frantically grabbed one, holding it out at him. “Don’t hit me again!”

“You ungrateful little bitch!” Marty was furious. He ran at her, arms ready to give the little girl a beating she would remember for the rest of her life.

Feeling the grip on the knife and feeling too afraid to think, she swung wildly, and cut his arm. He howled in rage, but didn’t hit her again. “Your life’s gonna be hell because of this.” He vowed under his breath, as Jill nursed the wound, looking concernedly at the seven-year-old girl. Even though she could lower herself to consistently dating a man like Marty, she could not help feeling for the girl.

“Go to your room, girl,” she said coldly but calmly.

The girl stormed to the closet, and vowed to keep a knife on her person at all times. She needed to protect herself no matter what. Her harsh world was teaching her to be ready for a fight around every corner.

The next morning as she woke up and got ready for her day’s work, she decided to keep half the money from Marty and Jill, and save it so she could buy a knife in one of the alley-shops. She walked out the door before they noticed she was up and headed out. She really looked forlorn today; she had a few bruises on her face and she felt like crying for real, so she didn’t have to steal. All the nice people gave her more than enough that day, and she was relieved not to have to steal anything.

She counted up the bills in her pocket, and found that she had thirty dollars. She could go get a knife for protection, and still give Marty some money and say it was a bad-business day. She might get a beating, but at least she’d have protection this time.

She walked up to a stall that had a little green pocketknife and asked the owner if she could see it and how much it was. It was ten dollars, so she pulled out two five-dollar bills and handed them over, telling the stall owner that the knife was a present for her older brother. Even though there was a bit of shady stuff going on in these alleys all the time, she knew they would not like to a see a girl with a knife. Children were fine, as long as they were boys, and not weak little girls.

She walked back into the bustle of the street with the green pocketknife tucked safely inside her coat pocket.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ten years later, and she was standing in a line of other girls about her age.

The sonofagun! How can he do this?! After all I did for him?! She tugged at the shackles around her wrists, and stared defiantly ahead of her.

A middle-aged man in a dark green suit walked down the line of girls, past her, and did a double take. He came back to her, smirking.

“Ah, we have a feisty little one, don’t we?” He smiled wickedly, and lifted his hand to her chin, taking it and turning her head from side to side gently. “I like feisty in a girl.” She stared sternly ahead and didn’t let him get to her.

The man drew his face nearer to hers, and whispered, “You wanna come with me? I can give you a nice warm bed, if ya know what I mea- AAHH!” He kneeled to the ground, clinging to himself and whimpering like a puppy, as she put her knee back down.

“No, I don’t want to go with you, ya pervert!” She stared ahead of her again, and saw a line of men ranging from young to old, coming to have a look at “the girls.”

She went over the past few days again. First, the fight of all fights between herself and Marty. She finally gathered the resolve to confront him for good. She had told him that she didn’t want any part in his thievery any more and was going to leave to make her own life. He’d called her ungrateful. Go figure. She yelled back, and Jill only sat in the background. This led to that, and before she knew it, Marty was standing over her, and her head was spinning. She felt the warm stickiness of blood on her scalp, soiling her red hair. She had still clutched her pocketknife in her right hand, but it was no use using it at that point. To be honest, she’d never actually used it, but Marty felt more threatened when she had it out and let her off easier sometimes.

“You want out? Fine!” He had shouted, and he grabbed her and took her to his junky car. It was a two hour drive to this new city, and he’d led her kicking and screaming to a stupid man with a big nose who gave him a large sum of money for the feisty red-headed young lady. Apparently those were in high demand nowadays. She at least got to keep her things; what little things she had. An old, dinky pocketknife and the clothes on her back.

And now, she was standing in this line, waiting for some sleazy man to “buy” her.

If he thinks I’m ever going to forget this, he’s wrong. He’ll get what’s coming to him, even if I can’t give it to him now.

“S34! Get over here!” The girl shook her head irritably as Big-Nose, who thought he would sell her, called her “identification number.” She looked up and saw him standing with another man in black. That is not my name!

She didn’t move. She just looked at Big-Nose as if to say, “what was that? Didn’t hear ya there.”

He rolled his eyes and sighed, aggravated. He waved a hand and a large man grabbed the girl’s arm, and dragged her to Big-Nose. When she got there, she narrowed her eyes, and was getting ready to spit on his shoes. But she decided he wasn’t even worth her spit, and refrained from it.

Big-Nose sneered and pushed her belongings into her arms, and said, “Ha, I finally get to get rid of ya! You’re gonna take your pretty little self with this man. He just bought ya. Be nice to him; I wouldn’t want to have to give ‘im a refund if you aint satisfactory.” He pushed her at the man.

She glared back at Big-Nose and said, “Oh, don’t worry. This isn’t the last you’ll see of me.”

The man who had bought her took her arm and tried to lead her to his car. She wouldn’t budge.

She turned to Big-Nose, and shouted, “Trust me, you’ll see me again some day, and you’ll regret what you do!”

She finally relented to the man trying to lead her away silently, and trudged after him.

He opened the door to the back seat for her, and she turned one last time to the stupid man with the big nose and shouted, “And I’m so tired of saying this to everybody, my name is MARI!” The stupid man just looked up and smirked.

She got into the car without saying a word or even looking at the man who had bought her. He closed the door, and got into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and drove off.

The car ride was a long one. Mari had not slept in ages, and before she knew it, she was asleep.

Chapter 2 : Part 1 ~~

The car stopped, and Mari woke up, not really remembering the past few days. She was back at the apartment, and waiting for Marty and Jill to start yelling, the morning routine. Then, things rushed back, and she opened her eyes with a start. She was laying in the back seat of the car, and the door closest to her head was opened, with the man looking down at her. His face was like a silhouette, with the sun shining directly behind him.

For the first time she felt really scared. There were no people around, and in the confined space of the back seat he could easily overcome her, and do anything he wanted with her. She shuddered at the thought, and scooted to the door at the other end of the car, hoping to open it and escape. Darn, it’s locked! She tried fervently to jiggle the door open, as the man bent down and reached for her.

“Don’t you touch me, pervert!” She swatted the outreached hand away.

The man paused, and pulled his hand away. He knelt on the pavement, looking in at her. “I expected this to be tough, but not like this!” His lips curled into a slight smile, and Mari scooted back more. Oh no, he wants it rough, doesn’t he…

He saw her move, and the smile vanished. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to scare you, I want to help you. My name is Vale.” He stopped there, measuring her reaction. Her expression didn’t change, and she didn’t inch closer at all.

“I heard you say that your name was Mari. Am I correct, young lady? They only gave me a number at that horrible place.” He scowled.

After a pause that was patiently accepted by Vale, she said defiantly, “Yeah, my name’s Mari, and if you think you’re going to do anything to me that I don’t want you to, think again.”

“I’d never do anything to you that you didn’t consent to.” Vale looked almost insulted.

“Yeah, then why’d ya buy me? You just want to look at me, is that it?”

“No, I bought you to get you out of there. I saw how you kicked that disgraceful man, and thought that you didn’t deserve to be in that place. So I got you out. You’re free.”

“Then why am I locked in here?” She raised an eyebrow at him.

Vale smiled a little, and said, “Because I don’t want you running off and getting lost.”

“Why should you care?” She stared defiantly at Vale.

“Like I said, I wanted to help you get out of that place. It wouldn’t be much use to get you out then get you lost. Just come with me, and I promise you’ll eat a full meal tonight and sleep in a warm be-” she glared at him. The same words the disgraceful man had used... “-that is unoccupied save yourself and possibly a fat ginger cat.”

She considered her possibilities. The best thing to do was go with the man, she decided. She couldn’t get out of the car except through the door he was blocking, and didn’t think getting lost would be that much fun. Besides, she could fight if he tried anything.

“Okay, I’ll come with you. But if you try anything funny, I’ll kick you, just like I did that man.”

Vale smiled, and backed away from the door for her to get out. Once in the full daylight, she could see his face. She realized with a start that he couldn’t be too much over 20, and that he had a hat on over his wavy brown hair, which fell over hazel eyes like her own. He gestured toward the house that they stood in front of, and she walked in, behind him to keep him in her sights and make sure he didn’t try anything funny.

* * * * * * * * * * *

As she stepped through the doors of the house, she realized that it was much grander than anything she’d ever seen. She stared up at a chandelier high above her.

Vale noticed her awe, and said quietly, “What was your home like before this?”

After a few moments, Mari responded with, “home? Not sure I’ve ever had a home…” She tried to remember a time in her life when she’d ever felt at home and like she belonged. Nothing came to her mind.

Vale looked concernedly at her, and said, “Well then, what were your living quarters like?”

Mari scowled, “Marty and Jill never looked after me. Left me to myself most of the day, ‘til I was five, and could wander the streets, filching wallets for them. And every day, I’d get one with photos of children in ‘em. They looked so -” she looked down and fell silent, feeling she’d given too much information to the stranger that walked with her.

He led her silently to a stairwell, and up it. Then down a hallway, and she was at a door. “You’ll be able to sleep in here tonight. There’s a bed and a fireplace, so you won’t be cold. Tomorrow my sister can take you to get some clothes,” he said, glancing at the skimpy rags that Big-Nose had put her in. They barely covered anything. He scowled, disgusted at the weaker members of his sex and what they did for so-called fun. “We can all discuss what you want to do after that.” He opened the door slightly.

“You’ll get your own bathroom, with a tub to wash in,” he added hopefully.

She looked up at him, a questioning look in her eyes. “Tub?” What is a tub?

“A tub, you know, a big bowl you fill with hot soapy water to bathe in or just to relax? Have you never heard of one?” Her look answered his question. Good Lord, who were the people that raised her?

“To wash myself, I always had to use the bucket we would keep in the bathroom.” She didn’t seem too grim about it. It was all that she had ever known, never having indoor showers in their apartments.

He nodded, and said, “Well, I’m sure you’ll like a tub much better.” He gestured her into the room, and she was astonished at the size of it. Even the bed itself was larger than any of the rooms she’d occupied in all her life. She stared wide-eyed at the bed, at how comfortable it looked, how good for sleeping. She walked around a bit, opening the dresser, peering at a bathrobe the hung in it, and then closing it.

As she looked around, Vale left the room, to let her get acquainted with her new home.

Mari walked around, and looked into the drawer of a bedside table. It was empty, and she used the opportunity to put her pocketknife in it for safekeeping.

She saw a door on the other side of the room from her bed, and opened it cautiously. She saw a bathroom, much more than the ones she’d known with Marty and Jill. It was not actually that grand, but it was more than she’d ever known and it overwhelmed her. She saw the fabled tub, and realized that she’d seen one of them on the streets in one of her past cities. But she’d not known what it was, and the one she’d seen had been torn in half and ready for the trash truck.

She was going over its curled feet, when a young woman, older than herself, knocked on the open bathroom door to indicate her presence. She had long brown hair, which was braided in the back. She had brown eyes.

Mari jumped, and backed against the wall, fixing the woman with a cold stare. Her life had taught her to be weary of all. Don’t trust anyone; that was her motto.

The woman smiled at her, trying to loosen her. It didn’t work. She tried speech.


Mari’s eyes widened and she was back in the cities, three years ago.

The girl was walking in an alley, counting the money she’d gotten that day.

She heard a rustle, and looked up suspiciously. Out of nowhere it seemed, a little boy bowled into her. He looked to be about 8 years old.

She shook her head and rubbed it, for the boy’s elbow had hit it.

The boy shuffled to his feet hastily and said, “Woah! Sorry ‘bout that!” He stuck out his little hand to help the older girl up. “I’m Billy! Who’re you?” His voice was too cheerful, in her opinion.

She got up on her own and ignored the little boy. She started to walk away, but he followed her. “Gee, don’t you wish the sun would come out more?” In the city that she was living in, the sun almost never came out from behind the clouds. And when it did, you often could not see it since the buildings blocked it out.

She continued to ignore the boy, and walked along another alley.

The little boy skipped alongside her and after a short pause, he said, “What is it that makes you sad?”

She stopped and turned to the boy. “Why do you care, kid?”

Billy tilted his head, and a puzzled look crossed his face. “Because I know what it’s like being sad and don’t think other people should be that way all the time.” A wide smile was plastered on his face now.

The girl sagged, and said, “Yeah, well. Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do about it, kid.”

Billy shook his head. “Not true!” He chirped. “If I can make people smile, I’ll be taking away some of the sad.”

The girl looked at this little boy with such an optimistic outlook on life, and shook her head sadly. “You wanna know what makes me sad, kid? The fact that I have to steal from honest people to keep myself safe from the people that live with me. The fact that some kids get to eat three healthy meals a day when all I get is a few bites twice a day. The fact that we live in a world like this; that makes me sad.” There were tears welling in her eyes, and she sat down on a lump of metal that was next to her.

Billy sat down next to her and gave her a big hug. His little arms barely reached all the way across. Even for a near-8-year-old, he was small. “What makes me sad is that other people are sad.” He smiled up at the girl. “See, now that I know why you’re sad, and you know what makes me sad, we know more about each other. Now we can be friends, and then maybe both of us won’t be as sad!”

She looked over at the little boy, so young and optimistic, and almost smiled.

“Thanks, kid.” She said quietly.

“Hey, I said my name was Billy. You have to call me by my name if we’re going to be friends!” He folded his arms and pouted, and the girl actually laughed.

“Thanks, Billy.”

The little boy brightened up and asked again. “So what’s your name?”

The girl looked down. “I… don’t think I have one…” Nobody had ever given her a name. She’d always been “girl” or some insult.

Billy looked shocked, and became almost angered. But then he smiled brightly and said, “Then I’ll give you a name. You can be…” the boy thought for a few seconds, and came up with, “Your name is Mari! Mari is a good name for you!”

O.o So now you know how she got her name =D
So here's a question for all of you :: Just HOW important to Mari is this Billy kid, eh? You shall have to wait and seeeeeeeeee .^^.

Chapter 2, part 2 ::

“Mari?” The young woman’s voice pulled her back from the past.

Mari wondered why the woman was calling her by her name. At Marty’s she was always “girl” or some insult. At the girl slave trade, she was S34. No one had ever bothered to call her by her name, unless they really wanted something; except for that one person in her life. Sometimes she wondered if people even knew she had one.

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Mari, I’m Lizzi. I’m Vale’s sister. I’d like to help you get settled here.” She reached her hand to Mari, and at first Mari didn’t move.

Eventually Mari stood up, and said, “Hi… Lizzi…” she didn’t really know what to say next. Her instinct told her to duck and run, but her eyes and brain were telling her to trust this kind woman, the only person, aside from the kind hearted little boy who had been her only friend, who had called her by her name.

“Mari, will you let me measure you, so we can get you some clothes tomorrow?” She didn’t move until, after a while, Mari nodded slowly.
She took a tape measure out of a pocket in her large dress, a very elegant dress, and approached Mari slowly.

Mari allowed her to take her measurements and determine what size would suit her well.

When she was done, Lizzi said, “Well, Mari, how old are you?”

“I’m 17… that is, I think I am.” She’d never had a birthday in her life. But she kept track of the days, and was pretty sure she had it within a year of her actual age. On a rare good day, she’d asked what the date was when Marty and Jill had acquired her, and reckoned she was half a year old at that time. But she’d never know when her actual birthday was.

Lizzi was silent for a bit, then said, “I’m 20. Vale and I are twins, you know. Our father died a few years ago, and he inherited this house.” She hoped that by opening up to the girl she would in turn open up to her.

Mari nodded, praising herself on her guess of Vale’s age. “I don’t have any siblings, that I know of. I guess you could say that I’ve never had a family before. Marty made me call him uncle, but I know he’s not related to me. He told me my mother just left me with him and hadn’t been seen since.” She fell silent.

Lizzi’s eyebrows came together, as she thought of the life Mari must have had. She wondered what she could do for the girl to make her life a little better. Hopefully a new, stable home would help.

“Well, I’ll leave you to get acquainted with the tub,” she said kindly, and added, “that is, unless you want some help with it.” She looked hesitantly at Mari.

Mari thought about it for a bit, and decided she needed help, though she hated to admit it. “You can help me if you want,” she said, to make it sound like she knew how to work the tub but didn’t want to hurt Lizzi’s feelings. And she really didn’t want to hurt her feelings; she was being so nice, nicer than almost anyone Mari had ever met. She remembered all those pictures of children she’d found, and knew that Lizzi must have been like one of those happy children.

Lizzi smiled and came nearer to Mari. “First, you’ll need to get undressed,” she said.

Mari obediently took off the tatty rags she was wearing, and stood bare in the bathroom, wondering what to do next. She figured that since Lizzi had been so nice, and they were both girls, she wasn’t too uncomfortable. She was a bit self-conscious, but it wasn’t too bad. No body had ever really made comments about her body, good or bad, before. And besides, the window at the other end of the room was open, and had a curtain drawn over it, letting the cool air in so it brushed her skin.

Mari watched Lizzi turn a tap and was amazed to see hot water pouring out of it fast. She walked to the tub, and peered into it. Lizzi was putting something that smelled really nice into the water.

“What’s that stuff?” She asked suspiciously.

“They’re bath oils. They make it feel and smell really good. You’ll like it.” Lizzi turned off the tap when the tub was full, and instructed Mari to get in. She did, and immediately sunk into the hot water, sighing.

“Oh, this feels good!” She took a deep breath, and felt her tense body loosen up. “He was right!”

Lizzi looked questioningly at Mari, and Mari explained, “Vale told me that I’d like a tub better than a bucket.” Though Lizzi did not fully understand, she left it at that with a nod and a smile.

After sitting in silence for some time, Lizzi spoke. “Would you like me to wash your hair for you?” She held a bottle of shampoo.

Mari nodded, liking the attention she’d never received before. She liked Lizzi.

Lizzi massaged the sweet-smelling gel into Mari’s hair, and it felt so good that when she was done, and warm water was poured over her head, it almost ended up waking her up. She’d been close to falling asleep.

“Now, you’ll want a good scrub down,” instructed Lizzi. She handed Mari a loofa, which she knew how to use. Mari had used one of them many times before with the bucket. But this one was softer, and felt much better on her skin.

Lizzi watched silently as Mari scrubbed herself down, and took no notice of the now much darker water. The girl probably had not had a proper wash in a while. Lizzi’s heart swelled and went out to the girl. The hardships she must have experienced had to have been great and many.

“I can get your back for you,” she offered, and Mari nodded, handing her the loofa. Lizzi scrubbed Mari’s back until it was clean and smooth.

“When you’re all done, and feel better, come right out and dry off with this towel,” said Lizzi, heading for the door. “There is a dress for you on the bed, and you can wear it until we can get you some clothes of your own tomorrow. It used to be mine,” she said and smiled, before heading out the door. After a few moments, she popped her head back in, and said, “If you have any trouble getting into the dress, I’m in the next room. Come see me when you’re dressed if you don’t need help getting it on.”

Mari nodded, and sat in the tub for a few moments longer, until the water wasn’t as warm as she liked, and got out. She patted herself down with the towel, and rubbed her hair until it was nearly dry. She wrapped the towel around herself, saving what warmth she could, and walked into the room.

She saw the dress on the bed, and gasped. It was more elegant and better than any thing she had ever worn. She found that she did not need help to get it on, though it was confusing, and she wasn’t entirely sure she’d put it on right.

She looked at herself in a mirror and was surprised. She’d only seen her own reflection when passing a broken mirror on the streets before, and in the grubby ones in the past bathrooms of her “living quarters.”

She stood in front of the mirror, looking at her red hair, still wet. It was a tiny bit wavy, but she’d known that. And now that it was washed and smelled nice, it looked better than it ever had in the past. She got up close to the mirror, and looked into her own hazel eyes. She saw the little streaks of red-ish brown near the pupil. Her pale skin seemed to look healthier than it usually did.

She stood back and tilted her head, examining herself for a moment more, before going to the door and opening it slowly. She looked down the hall and saw a door. Lizzi said she was in the next room. She headed for the door, and knocked.

She was surprised to see Vale answer it, instead of Lizzi. “Um, where’s Lizzi’s room?” She asked, confused. He took her out into the hall and past the door to the room she was using, to the next one.

“This one is Lizzi. She didn’t say in which direction, did she?” He smiled, and Mari noticed that he wasn’t wearing the black suit and hat anymore. He now wore gray suit pants and a blue button-up shirt, the kind businessmen wore.

“Thanks,” said Mari, knocking on the door. Lizzi opened it immediately, and ushered Mari in. Vale went back to his own room, to do some thing or other.

“I see you figured out the dress,” she commented as Mari was led to a chair. She sat in it, and Lizzi said, “Wait here a moment.” She walked through a door, and came back with a hairbrush. “I’m going to brush your hair, okay?”

Mari nodded, and submitted to the wonderful feeling of having one’s hair brushed. No one had ever bothered doing it for her, and she’d always treated it as a nuisance and skipped it some days. But when some one else did it, it was all different. It was like a head massage. It felt good.

When Lizzi was finished, she pulled Mari’s hair back into a ponytail, fastening it with a clip big enough to hold her hair.

Lizzi inspected her handy work, and nodded in satisfaction as she led Mari to a dresser that had a little jewelry box on top of it. She opened the box, and sifted through various necklaces, until she came to the one she’d been looking for and pulled it out. She motioned Mari to stand in front of the mirror, and then clasped the thin gold chain around her neck.

Mari looked at the necklace, actually on her neck, with wonder. On the chain was a little citrine pendant that matched her eyes very well. She lifted her hand to touch it, and smiled.

“That is now yours, Mari.”

Lizzi’s comment puzzled Mari. She’d never gotten a gift this nice, aside from her name. “You mean I can keep this?” Her eyes widened, and she raised her eyebrows in excitement.

Lizzi nodded, smiling. “Yes, of course.” Dear Lord, has this young woman never gotten a gift in her life?

Mari was overwhelmed. So many things had changed in one day. She had a room bigger than most of the apartments she and her “guardians” had lived in, she had her own bath tub, she was going to have dresses in a few days, she had her very own necklace, and she had a friend. She’d never had any of these things before, aside from a friend in Billy, and she was so overwhelmed that she could not talk. She just hugged Lizzi, which was a rare thing for her to do until now.

Lizzi patted Mari’s back, and said, “You’re welcome,” understanding that this was Mari’s way of saying “thank you” at the moment.

Chapter 3

Lizzi spent the rest of the day showing Mari around the house and grounds. Mari especially liked the garden and the woods. She’d never really been able to breath clean, fresh air, and she loved it. She also found a great tree for climbing in the woods. She was careful not to rip the fine dress she wore, and couldn’t resist the urge to climb higher. She got up to the fourth branch before Lizzi called her back down because it would soon be time for supper.

Mari smiled, and climbed back down, landing lightly in the grass at the trunk. Growing up on the streets had made her very agile.

She walked with Lizzi back to the house, and marveled over the garden for the millionth time. She’d never seen anything so beautiful. She’d never really seen anything beautiful. She was actually smiling when she got to the house, and Vale, looking out over the garden before supper, saw the great change in the girl since this afternoon and smiled. He was sure he’d done something good today; making the life of a girl who’d never known much happiness a little better. And then he thought of all the other young girls in that line, and shuddered, wishing he could have helped all of them escape that horrible place.

His eyes followed his sister and Mari until they were inside, and he turned from the window to head down to the dining room.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Lizzi led Mari through the house until they got to a very elegant dinning room. Everything in this house seemed to be very elegant, including the people. Mari stared for a moment, until she felt Lizzi’s hand gently touching her arm. She shook her head and walked slowly to a chair that Lizzi had led her to.

She sat down slowly, and realized that Vale was already sitting at the head of the table. Her chair was to his left, and Lizzi was to his right, across from Mari. She was content, and sat happily waiting for the meal.

When it came to the table in the hands of three maids, her eyes went wide. She’d never seen so much food in one place! Her eyes followed it until it was set in front of them all, and was almost afraid to touch it. Lizzi noticed, and told Mari that she didn’t need to be afraid of the food. Mari smiled hesitantly, and took a small portion of food. When she had finished it, she looked longingly at the food still on the table.

“Go ahead, Mari. Eat as much as you’d like!” Lizzi tried to get through to Mari.

Mari sat for a while, confused. She’d never been allowed more than what she’d been given. Every time Marty caught her getting more, he’d beat her for eating the food. She had known that other children were allowed to eat more, but had never fathomed that she’d be one of them some day. The urge to take no more had been ingrained into her, so she was afraid and unable to eat more. When Lizzi had no effect on her, Vale tried.

“Aren’t you hungry? Don’t you want more?” He said it gently, hoping not to scare her. She waited, and nodded slowly. “Then why don’t you eat more?”

She looked away from Lizzi and Vale, and said, slowly and quietly, “I’d be wasting the food…” She shook her head at the food, and added, “I’m not allowed to eat more.” Her eyes seemed to glaze with the memories. She knew it was a foolish thing, but she could not make her limbs obey her pleas for more food.

All the progress Lizzi had made with Mari seemed to slip away, as she became silent and shifty-eyed again, as she had been when she arrived. Vale sighed and Lizzi frowned. It would take time to make Mari see that in this house, she need not go hungry. But for now, they let her be.

After dinner, Lizzi led Mari to a living room and showed her a card game. Mari was hesitant at first, still in her dinner mood, but soon loosened up a bit, and allowed herself to have a bit of fun.

Halfway through their fifth game, Vale walked into the room with five other people. Mari froze, and stared at them. Lizzi smiled and said hello to each one, leaving the card table to greet them each.

“Why, Arnold, how are you? And Katharine? You look very well today. Tom, Anne, Benjamin, you all have been good, I hope?”

They were all in their early twenties or late teens, guessed Mari, and she staid where she was, fearful of what they might do to her. When Lizzi came to her to introduce her to their friends, she backed away, shaking her head. Her eyes shifted from Lizzi to the group of strangers, three of whom were men, and then to the doorway, trying to find an escape route. There was no possible way out, she realized with a stab of fear. Even the window was closed, she realized.

She looked at one of the young men who had joined them, and her eyes widened, and her heartbeat raced. She backed into a corner. The man looked hauntingly like Marty. He had the same greasy black hair, but his was longer than Marty’s and cleaner, and his eyes were the same as Marty’s, just softer with younger age. He seemed to notice her staring at him, and tilted his head, confused and curious.

Mari closed her eyes, trying to get the images out. The memory of all the times Marty beat her, the way he screamed at her and called her stupid all the time flashed before her, and she tried to shut her eyes tighter.

“Shut up!”
“You’re just a stupid girl!”
“Who could love you?!”

She held her own arms, and her knees fell to the floor. She doubled over in pain, and then she felt a hand on her shoulder. She was brought back to the present, and she jumped away, stifling a scream and opening her eyes.

Lizzi looked into her eyes. She was kneeling next to Mari, asking what was wrong.

Mari shook her head, and would not speak or move. She let Lizzi put her hand on her shoulder eventually, and soon after allowed her to lead her out of the room.

They left Vale apologizing to his guests and explaining Mari’s situation. They were all good about it, and understood that she might be uncomfortable around strangers. But the young man, Benjamin, who looked like Marty, was puzzled and wondered why the girl had gotten so scared and reclusive when she saw him.

In the hall, Lizzi had her hand on Mari’s shoulder, trying to loosen her.

“Mari, will you tell me what’s the matter?” Her voice was gentle and sweet.

After a long silence, Mari whispered, “He looks just like Marty… I hate that face. I can’t look at it. Not now…”

Lizzi nodded, and led Mari back upstairs to her room. She led Mari to the bed, and instructed her to take off the dress, while she fetched a nightgown. Lizzi came back soon after with a nightgown that fit Mari nicely. She had it on and Lizzi left her, and she was just about to climb into the bed, when she heard a knock on her door. Assuming that it was Lizzi, telling her something she forgot, she said, “Come in.”

Vale stepped in, and Mari held her breath. I’m getting into bed. We are alone. I trust him more than Marty, but I still don’t know what he’ll do to me…

He said, “Are you alright?” She nodded hesitantly, and he said, “Lizzi told me what was wrong, and I am so sorry. I should not have had guests over tonight; your first night here. You are still adapting to this house, and must be confused and scared. I should have known better.” He bowed his apologies, and added, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

She shook her head, only wanting to be alone to sleep. He nodded, and turned to leave, but seemed to remember something, and turned back to her. “Oh, and as I said before, you may expect some company tonight.” She drew back in horror, and he stopped, sighed, and said, “the cat. He usually stays hidden during the day, but at night, he likes to sleep in the beds. Do you like cats?”

She thought, and answered him with, “I really don’t know. I’ve never really known any.” She just wanted him to leave...

“Well, I have a feeling you’ll like him. If you don’t, you can keep your door closed from now on.” He bowed again and left her room, leaving the door slightly ajar so the cat could come in. As soon as she was alone again, she began to loosen up.

She shut off the light and got into the bed, and was just about to fall asleep, when a small, fat blob pushed the door open. She watched the shadow move silently to her bed and then stop at its edge. Just when she thought she had imagined it, the blob jumped onto the bed suddenly, startling Mari. She soon felt soft fur nudging her chin, and smiled. She reached up her hand and stroked the fur, and it flopped down next to her, purring deeply.

She smiled and closed her eyes, and was soon fast asleep, with her arm wrapped loosely around the fat ginger cat.

Chapter 4 ::

When Mari opened her eyes, she was confused to see nothing but orange. She blinked, and realized that her face was buried in the cat’s fur. When she could see clearly, the cat shifted his position slightly, and she pet him on the head. He immediately started purring, and she smiled, rubbing his belly as he curled to expose it.

Sunlight was streaming into the room through a window, and she realized how much better this room was than anything she’d ever had in her life.

The cat soon got bored of her and leapt off the bed gracefully, making his way out of her room through the door. Mari still sat in bed for some time, and her mind wandered to the past again.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Mari, the girl with a name now, walked along an alley, calling, “Billy!” Her green eyes scanned the corners and openings, trying to locate the little boy.

She smiled as the little figure of the boy hurdled out from nowhere seemingly, ready with a huge hug. “Mari!”

She smiled and hugged the little boy, and said, “What shall we play today?”

“We can pretend we’re cats! You’re a ginger cat, and I’m a black cat.” The shine in the boy's eyes was evidence of his pleasure in making new games.

Mari looked concerned, and said, “Aren’t black cats supposed to be bad luck?” She had heard that rumor a lot around the streets; people talking in alleyways, people walking around in the open, and young children too, all spoke of many things.

Billy shook his head. “A silly superstition. It’s not true.” He crossed his arms over his chest.

Mari smiled and then pretended to be a ginger cat with her friend.

The little boy pounced on an imaginary mouse, and Mari licked her “paw” and rubbed behind her ear. They played for a while.

When they heard a bell chime noon, Mari straitened up and said, “Gotta go now. I’ll see you tomorrow, same place, same time.”

Billy nodded and scampered off.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Then, pulled from the past, Mari heard footsteps in the hall, and froze for a moment, wondering who it was. She relaxed a bit when Lizzi appeared at her door, but was still a bit weary, even after all the things the young woman had done for her. Her instinct told her to be careful with people she didn’t know well.

“Mari, would you like to get dressed and then go shopping after lunch?” Lizzi’s face was calm and cheerful.

Te girl remembered the promise of her own clothes, and relented. She got up, and headed for the dress she’d worn yesterday. It was clean and pressed now, and ready to wear. She put it on after taking off her nightgown, and Lizzi brushed her hair and put it up for her like she’d done the day before. The young woman left Mari for a few moments, and she went to the bedside table and put her knife into a pocket in the dress, out of habit more than anything. She went out into the hallway and Lizzi led her down the hall to the stairs, and then to the front door, where they put their boots on.

They took a morning stroll through the garden and woods, and when they got back to the house they had an hour or so before lunch. Lizzi left Mari to do what she wanted, supposing that she’d want to be alone.

They met Vale for the first time that morning in the dining room for lunch, where Mari again would not eat more than just enough to satisfy her hunger, despite the urges of both Vale and Lizzi. Their futile attempts to get her to eat more made Lizzi feel bad, and her spirits were down a bit, until she realized that Mari was seeming to look already a lot healthier than she had on the previous day.

After lunch Lizzi led Mari to the front door, where they again put on their boots for an out-door adventure.

They walked onto the cobble path in the bright sunlight, and to a car waiting for them. Lizzi gestured for Mari to get in the back, and then followed her. Once in the confined space, Mari felt a little uncomfortable. In the open air, she was fine, but here in the small space of the car, she felt like she had not enough room. She felt as though she were back in a cramped closet at Marty’s place.

Lizzi tried to talk to Mari as they were driven to the town a few miles off. But the girl was silent for most of the ride, only saying an occasional “yes” or “no.”

The car stopped, and Lizzi got out first, holding her hand out for Mari to get out. Mari took it, and stepped out of the car into the bright sunlight. She shielded her eyes for the first few moments, until she was used to the light. She saw crowds of people, and was happy that for the first time, she could walk among them and not worry about stealing. She was free from that now. She’d never have to steal again. She felt the pocketknife in her pocket and was sure she’d never need it again.

They walked away from the car, with the driver standing next to it, and headed down the street. The first shop they stopped at had a few dresses in the window, and when they got inside she saw more. But they went past the racks of dresses and to the counter, where a middle-aged woman stood receiving customers. Lizzi walked with Mari to it, and said to the woman, “Mandy, we have a young lady here who needs some dresses.”

The woman smiled at Mari and replied, “I don’t think that should be any problem. Custom dresses?”

Lizzi nodded, and gave the woman a slip of paper that had Mari’s measurements on it. The woman looked them over, nodding, and looked at Mari a few times. “How old are, young lady?”

Mari looked up and said, “I think 17.”

Both Lizzi and Mandy looked confused, and Mari timidly explained like she had to Vale that she had no way of knowing exactly how old she was.

“But I’m pretty sure I’m 17.” She looked at the two women, knowing what they were thinking.

Mandy shook her head to clear it and said, “Well, any color specifications?” Lizzi looked to Mari for an answer.

Confused, Mari said, “Um. Well, I like this dress,” she fingered the dress she was wearing. “Maybe something like this? Just… different? Maybe in blue or green…” she trailed off.

“You decide what’s best for her. You’ll make something good, I know it.” Lizzi handed the woman a bag of gold coins for payment, and Mandy rushed to the back room to begin. She had one of her daughters man the counter.

Lizzi walked Mari out of the shop and down the street to another shop. This one sold hats.

“We’ll find you a few nice hats to wear,” said Lizzi as she leafed through the hats in the shop. She picked one up, held it at arm’s length, and then handed it to Mari to try on. She stood in front of a mirror and put it on, finding that she liked it a lot. It was a wide rimmed hat with flowers on it, perfect for wearing out in the sun. Her pale skin would burn easily, so a hat would be nice on days like this.

Lizzi picked out two more hats; one a bonnet and the other another sun hat, and they took them to the counter to pay.

As they left the shop, Mari put on the new flowered sun hat and pulled it down over her face, smiling from underneath it. She felt as if she were back in the alleys with Billy, pretending she was a spy.

As they walked down the street to the baked goods shop for a snack, she kept her head down, keeping her face hidden from everyone around her.

She walked on for a while with Lizzi, until she bumped into a man in a dark suit. She apologized and looked up into the face of Benjamin from last night.

Her heart skipped a beat, and she pushed down the thought of Marty. She curtsied hastily, as Lizzi had taught her the day before, and said, “Terribly sorry, sir.”

He looked at her for a moment, puzzled at the change from last night, and then said, “Why, it is okay. Just make sure you look where you’re going next time,” and smiled.

“And I’m sorry for last night. I didn’t mean to offend you or anything…” she trailed off, and Lizzi smiled understandingly. “You just reminded me of something I would have liked to forget.” And, you’re a man…

“It is quite alright, do not worry.” He bowed and said, “I must be going though. It was nice to see you again Miss Mari, Lizzi.” He walked away, and Lizzi led Mari along to the bakery. Mari could not help feeling a little odd about her encounter with the young man who looked so much like the man she'd always hated...

Lizzi ordered them two pastries, and led Mari to a small table by the window. They sat, and Lizzi said, “you handled that well there,” referring to the encounter with Benjamin.

“Well, at first I was scared, and then I just told myself that he was not Marty and never would be.” Lizzi smiled at Mari, who blushed slightly. She was embarrassed at how the memory of Marty haunted her so. But he called me by my name, so he can’t be too bad…

“Who were all those people last night, anyways?” Mari put her chin in her hands.

“They were some friends of ours. And they are all good people, you know.” Mari nodded slowly, and Lizzi said, “Let’s see. Katharine is your age. She’s 17. Arnold is her brother; he’s 22. Benjamin is 21, Anne is 20, and Tom is 18. So we’re all roughly the same age. Vale went to school with Benjamin and Arnold, and I knew Anne in school. Arnold was over a lot and brought Katharine with him all the time, and we met Tom at a dinner party of Benjamin’s; he’s his cousin.” As she explained this, Mari made a mental tree of connections. She made a mental note to try and behave next time she saw them all.

A waitress came to their table with their pastries, and Lizzi thanked her. They ate them, and Mari marveled at the taste. Luckily they were not big, or else she would not have finished it, still feeling that she was not allowed to eat more than usual. That fact had been beaten into her; she was not allowed to eat more than what she usually did with Marty.

Chapter 5

They sat at the little table for a little longer, then paid the bill and left the bakery, heading to the store owned by a top-notch boot maker. This time, Mari kept her head up, watching out for any more people to not bump into.

Lizzi pushed open the door to the boot maker’s and looked around for a few moments. Then she led a tentative Mari to the owner, who sat at a table with boot making materials scattered all over the surface. The man looked up and smiled brightly.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this beautiful face?” He was an old, cheerful, large man and liked to compliment the ladies. He got up immediately and walked to Lizzi’s side, bowing gallantly to her. “A beautiful face such as yours is always a treat to an old man like me,” he looked at Mari, standing behind Lizzi, and exclaimed, “And who is this beauty you have brought in here?! I have not seen her around! Is she just now coming out? It is a blessing indeed to see two such faces in one day!”

Lizzi smiled at the man and clasped his hand warmly, saying, “My dear Mr. Spencer, you over exaggerate my looks, though Mari here is indeed very pretty. She happens to need a pair of boots.”

Mr. Spencer beamed at them, and instructed Mari to sit in a chair next to his desk. “Sit here please, Miss Mari, and I’ll just get your foot size!” The happy smile staid on his face, as Mari timidly sat in the chair and undid the boots she was wearing. They were old and of very poor quality. Mr. Spencer kindly ignored this fact, but Mari still caught the drift. Her boots were tatty and way below his quality of boots. And she knew it. She’d gotten these a while ago; they were getting to be too small for her and they were torn at the tips.

Though Mr. Spencer was being nice, and Mari knew this, she could not help feeling very uncomfortable when he complimented her so much.

Mr. Spencer used a contraption to get her foot size and ushered her to put her boots back on. “That will do. You shall have a fine pair of boots by noon tomorrow, Miss Mari.” He bowed again.

“Thank you so much, Mr. Spencer.” Lizzi said her goodbyes and led Mari out of the store. A pair of women walked past them just before they reached the door, and Mari heard from the back of the store, “Why, Miss Maria, Miss Addie! How lovely you look today! I am blessed indeed!” She suppressed a laugh. The old man sure did love to compliment ladies. And it still made her a little uncomfortable, but the prospect of the soon-to-be freedom of the streets was picking up her attitude.

Once in the street again, she said to Lizzi, “He seems to be a happy man…”

Lizzi nodded, smiling. “Yes, he is old and widowed, but he enjoys the company of most every young lady in town, and always knows just how to make them smile. He is a very sweet old man.” But even as Lizzy said this, Mari’s mind was on darker things.

They walked down the cobbled sidewalk, and passed a few shops, stopping in front of one that had a sign hanging from the roof. It read, “Bernie’s Books.”

Mari tilted her head, and asked Lizzi what the sign said. Lizzi pointed out each letter to Mari, telling her what it said. “I’m going to teach you to read, Mari. I could tell yesterday that you didn’t know how to read, when you kept asking me what things meant. We’ll get you a few books and start there.” Lizzi walked into the store, and Mari followed uncertainly behind her.

The number of books startled Mari, and she almost stumbled on her bootlace, which she’d forgotten to tie up. She stooped down to tie it, and when she was done ran after Lizzi, who had walked on. She caught up to her at a shelf that had many books that seemed smaller than the others. She pointed to the title of one, and asked what it was.

“This says, ‘A B C’s for Beginners’ and it has all the letters in it. It will be easy to understand, and is the first one we will look over.” She moved to another shelf and picked up more books. Mari realized that the books were getting slightly bigger and more confusing as they walked on.

In the end, they walked out of the store with ten books of varying difficulty. One of the books was to add to the library in the house, and the rest were Mari’s to keep.

The last stop was at the dress shop, to see how the dresses were coming. Mandy had the basic outline of them, and would be finished by noon in two day’s time. Lizzi decided they would come back to town the next day to pick up the boots, and the day after that again to pick up the dresses. They left the shop, and headed back to the car.

As they drove back to Lizzi’s– and now Mari’s– home, Mari again fell silent in the uncomfortable confines of the car. Lizzi tried to talk to her yet again, but got no spoken answers. She noticed Mari’s eyes shift every time she heard an unfamiliar or sudden sound.

And so Mari was happy to get out of the car when it stopped. She stepped into the open air and felt much better. The sun was about half way down in the sky, and Mari decided she would walk around in the open air until suppertime.

Lizzi left her outside, telling her that she would come and get her when supper was ready. Mari nodded and walked to the tree in the woods that she had climbed before.

She carefully climbed into it, keeping the skirts of her dress safely tucked between her legs. When she got up to the branch she could sit comfortably in, she stopped climbing and sat down in the little notch in the branches, leaning her back on the trunk.

She looked out over the garden, for she had a perfect view of it from here. She watched the gardener grooming the flowerbeds, and the herb master tending to his spices. In her ears were the sounds of early summer; bees buzzing in the flowers, birds chirping in the branches next to her, and a faint rustle of wind in the leaves. She closed her eyes in this peaceful environment, and dozed a bit. It seemed that she could forget all her worries if she was like this.

“What are you doing up in that tree?” Mari was startled out of her doze, and looked down to find the source of the voice. It was one of the visitors from yesterday. If she remembered rightly, this was Tom, the 18-year-old cousin of Benjamin. She scowled down at him; in the open air, she wasn’t frightened and shy, but independent and forceful. She felt not the strains of being indoors and enclosed.

“I’m sitting, duh,” she called down to Tom.

He smiled up at her and said, “girls are not supposed to climb trees, you know. It is not proper.” He leaned against the trunk of a nearby tree and gazed up at Mari through the branches.

She gazed back down at him defiantly, and replied, “I frankly don’t care weather I’m ‘proper’ or not. Never have been, and most likely never will be.”

Tom chuckled, and called, “Well, then, stay up there if you like. Unless you want to walk with me to the house for supper.”

“Are you eating with us today?” The dread rose. Out in the open, she could confront anyone with a calm if not defiant face. But inside, in a room packed with people, she would fall silent. She already knew she was not the most sociable of beings at mealtimes.

“No, but Benjamin and I stopped by just a few moments ago and Lizzi sent me out to get you.”

Of course. Vale said he wouldn’t do something like that. She nodded, and called, “On my way down, then. Just don’t look up my skirts.” She nearly flew down and Tom chuckled again, fixing her with a penetrating stare.

“You are very different from any of the girls around here.” He finally said, after Mari stood with a look of annoyance and impatience, and even slight discomfort.

She smiled. “Darn right I am. Is that a bad thing?” She put her hands on her hips and glared.

[[ Find the rest at :: ]]
Posted 12/30/08 , edited 12/30/08
whooo o-o
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 12/30/08 , edited 12/31/08
Next part is up as well
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24 / M
Posted 1/3/09 , edited 1/4/09
sounds good
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 1/3/09 , edited 1/4/09

naruto330 wrote:

sounds good

Whoot :]
Thanks .^^.
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 1/16/09 , edited 1/17/09
=D Added the first part of chapter 2 ^^
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28 / M / Archangelus
Posted 2/28/09 , edited 3/1/09
All in all, this is rather good.
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 2/28/09 , edited 3/1/09
Thanks ^^
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 3/17/09 , edited 3/18/09
Added chapter 3 :3
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24 / F
Posted 3/20/09 , edited 3/21/09
That is an awesome story! ^_^
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 3/22/09 , edited 3/22/09
Oh, thanks mtn ^^
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28 / M / Archangelus
Posted 3/22/09 , edited 3/23/09
What's with the pics of the characters on Photobucket?
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 3/22/09 , edited 3/23/09
What do you mean?
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28 / M / Archangelus
Posted 3/22/09 , edited 3/23/09
I mean, since we already have photo upload here on Crunchyroll, why then are the pics located in Photobucket?
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 3/22/09 , edited 3/23/09
Because I like Photobucket. Does it really matter, Angelo?
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