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When do you visit?
Either at college in my many hours of nothing better to do or at home in my even more hours of nothing better to do.

You can generally tell when I'm writing at college since the quality shoots right up there compared to my usual garbage.

The Life and Times of Alice Boucher
“Mama, why does Daddy always have to work so much?”

Alice Boucher was a young toddler. Her hair, still brown with the essence of youth, was steadily growing longer by the minute as her mother continued to style it in the manner she deemed cute, despite her constant insistence that Alice stop chewing it. The young French girl, however, was only concerned with playing her games and exploring the world around her.

“Because Alice, he is a very busy man.” Louisa Boucher replied, ever so slightly biting the bottom of her lip. Jerard Boucher was a busy man, and so Alice usually only got to see him on the weekends.

“But what is he doing, Mama?” A question often asked, but never replied save a skirting response.

“Important things for our wellbeing Alice. I’ve told you I don’t like it when you ask questions like that.”

A frown formed on the child’s mouth, she just wanted to know what her daddy was always doing.

Ring ring, ring ring.

Louisa Boucher answered the phone with the typical response. On the other line, Jerard Boucher.

“Louisa, I’ve got excellent news. You remember the Grosvenors? The pigeons finally fell for it, and I’ve got the money! We’re loaded!”

He wasn’t lying; the Boucher family had just made a fortune, well worth more than an upper class family’s income in over a year.

After a brief pause by Louisa, rapid speech of joy and happiness flew back and forth between the two of them over the phone line, as Alice just looked at her mother and smiled in synchronicity.

“What is it Mama?”

“We’re rich Alice! We’re rich!”

Rich wasn’t a concept very familiar to the child, but she could see that her mother was exceedingly happy, and that was enough to make her happy!

“Did Daddy do good at work?”

Louisa’s happiness and energy was quickly drained from her, as she looked down at her daughter with solemn eyes.

“Yes, he did.”

Looking up at the roof of their moderate home, Louisa sighed as she made a cross across her chest with her finger, addressing herself to her God.

“May the Lord have mercy on his soul.”

Of course, Alice couldn’t understand what her mother meant by this, and she still had no idea what her father did for a living. By the will of her mother, she never would find out how the family gained their vast wealth either.

All that she knew was that every few months an event like this would happen, and every few months they seemed to have more money.

Even as she got older and the concept of money became more and more important to the girl, the huge income their family received was never really her prime concern. All she wanted was for her Dad to be less busy with his job, so that she could spend more time with him.

Her father was always busy with work though: the work which Alice would never know

A Wonderful Time
“Big night Janet, big night!”

Everything was in its place: her dress was here and she had her ticket, and there was plenty of time to prepare. Yup, everything was going on track for Prom night!

“Right, first things first: shower.”

This was the night Janet had been waiting for for months now, and she was going to enjoy it! If she wanted to enjoy it though, she had to be sure she was looking her best; Prom was no time for wearing her casual look!

“Whoever heard of a cheerleader who came in not looking their best?”

She wasn’t normally one for dolling herself up, but her insistence on maintaining the status quo propelled her to ensure she looked tip top tonight.

Stepping out of the shower and returning to her room to seat herself in front of her mirror, she whipped out her hairdryer (hair that was as long as hers would take hours to dry naturally!) and switched on the machine to dry her crimson red strands. She had spent ages trying out different styles for her hair, and she hoped that what she’d settled on would plead Chadd!

Chadd, her boyfriend for the past year, would be there in just a few hours to pick her up, since they weren’t particularly hell bent on forking out loads for a limo and instead decided to drive to the Prom in his car. Of course, that was assuming he didn’t get sidetracked by any street racers!

But it was that fast paced life that Chadd lived that was one of the things Janet loved about him. When they first met, he was hardly on the up and up since he was in hospital, but the weeks they spent together made her fall for him. He was sweet, but he wasn’t a wimp either. He deserved the best, and the best is what he got!

Well, almost the best…

It had been a long time since that night, that night where she cheated in the worst way she had ever cheated. It wasn’t like when she had cheated on those tests at school to make the passing grade, no, it was so much worse. She had cheated on Chadd with some stranger.

It wasn’t her fault: she was drunk. She didn’t intend to have sex with another guy, and she never would again. But there was no going back on the fact that she’d done some weird little freak whilst she was meant to be with Chadd, and there was no way around that. For Chadd, it’d have to be a secret she’d take to her grave.


Putting those guilty thoughts out of her mind to look at her hair in the mirror, Janet smiled at her reflection. Her hair tied back above her head with slightly curled strands hanging down behind it really went well with her colour, and formed the illusion of a crimson waterfall.

“Janet Claymont, you look beautiful.”

Her mom stood in the doorway, catching Janet off guard and making her turn back away from her mother and towards her mirror

“Mom! I’m not done yet! You can’t see me till I’m finished!”

It was a playful tone of voice, and she slammed the door shut behind her to block out her mothers loving and chuckling smile. The woman would have to wait a little bit longer before seeing her daughter on the big night.

Now with only a short time left till Chadd was due to pick her up, it was time to put on the finishing touch: the dress!

The shimmering crimson red gown sparkled under her hands as she retrieved it, the soft material feeling lovely on her fingertips; she had been pretty lucky to find it.

As she dressed herself in her evening wear, she looked at herself again in her mirror again. Here she was, eighteen and in love, and about to go off to her High School senior Prom. There wasn’t a whole lot more a girl with that could ask for. Sure, there were problems in the world, with people dying and starving, but that was something Janet could put aside, if only for a little while. The world would still be there when she was done.

“Ok, I’m coming down now!” Janet called out the door, as her father told her to wait whilst he got the camera. She was feeling a little nervous now, which was a rare occurrence indeed, since it was the first time she had picked out such a fancy look all by herself. She hoped that she hadn’t made herself look like a complete boob.

“Ok, ready!”


Cheers from her brother and father shot up the stairs as she stood at the top, her face collapsing in on itself in embarrassment at the attention she was receiving. Oh sure, she was beautiful, but it was still embarrassing for your father and brother to be cheering at you when you’re dressed up like that!

Smiling widely as she walked carefully down the stairs, being careful not to trip up over her dress, Janet did a little twirl at the bottom for her male family members’ approval.

“Hubba hubba Janet!”

Joe and his outdated compliment made Janet’s cheeks flare up even more. It wasn’t that she didn’t like the attention, it was just embarrassing!

“Now, Janet, this is from me.” Sarah Claymont announced, as she pulled her arms out from behind her back to reveal a gorgeous corsage, carefully handing it to Janet to hold. It was so beautiful, and it completed the outfit perfectly.

Sure, it was traditional boyfriend to give the girl one, but Janet was in no mood to point that out to her mother. Instead, she gave her a thankful hug.

“You guys are the best.” Janet smiled at her family. They really were great to her, and she was so lucky to have them.

“Pictures!” Click went the digital camera as many family photos were taken, sure to be printed off and remembered years later. It was fun to be had, and Janet was more than happy to pose solo, smiling gingerly as she held the corsage in front of her waist.

Now the only thing left was the Prom itself! And of course, a proper Prom attendee must have the proper entrance!

Explaining her family of her plan, she headed upstairs to wait for Chadd’s arrival in her room. After her father answered the door, she would proceed to walk down the stairs once more as he stared up at her in awe! The perfect entrance for the perfect boyfriend, and perfection was what Chadd deserved!

Browsing thoughts
((Lucy Ashmore continued from Minuet))

I wonder if I’m pretty enough to wear one of these…

Lucy was stood next to Daniel, looking into the shop window at the many prom dresses on sail, her hand at her mouth as she habitually pressed the skin of her lip with her fingers. It was a habit she had taken up to avoid biting her nails.

Daniel, the one who had invited her there, was stood next to her, his reflection in the window letting her see the first guy to invite her anywhere. His outfit made him look pretty tough and intimidating, but Lucy was able to overcome his nerve-inducing presentation by remembering the time they had in the music room: no matter how big or dangerous he looked, she’d remember him as the gentle person who had helped her out, and that was all she needed to know.

However, Lucy was too preoccupied to notice Daniel’s own nervous behaviour, instead only focusing on her own worries.

I mean, the Prom’s coming up, and I guess I would like to go. But still...

She had never seen herself as that good looking: oversized forehead; off putting glasses; ugly nose; squinty eyes; yellow teeth; not to mention her tiny breasts. Of course, these were merely the insecurities that accompany high school life, as in reality Lucy had little to complain about physically, even if she didn't realise it.

“The Prom’s coming up soon, isn’t it?”

He probably already had a date, since girls always seemed to be into those big, tough guys. Someone as big and tough as him would probably have had girls asking him out months in advanced. No-one had asked her, not that she was surprised though: who would ask out a girl with her remarkably uninteresting physique and her meek personality.

She still wanted to go to Prom though.

“I think I’d have fun if I went…”

But then how could she when she didn’t have a date? Those things were for the attractive girls who could draw the eye, not the high school geek like her.

No, it would be another night inside for Lucy Ashmore.

V4: Ethnicity
Lucy Ashmore ~ 100% American
Janet Claymont ~ 100% American
Alice Boucher ~ 100% French
Amber Whimsy ~ 100% American

Hey, they can't all be parents of mixed descent!

Does Music Help You Learn?
Ta for the helpful linking there Fantastic; always good to have some more data for looking at.

Though rest assured, I never intended to live on the survey as any big evidence: I was just interested in seeing what the responses I would gather were before I got all this testing underway. After all, this sample is far too tiny and practically lacks any generalisability whatsoever, not to mention the risk of demand characteristics.

"You don't need to worry about paying me back either. Just more smiles like that will do. That's how you'll attract people. Confidence."

He was right: she really did just need to be more positive about herself. After all, she had overcome her shyness and asked Daniel to play music with her, and look how it had turned out. A little bit of courage goes a long way.

She clenched her face a little as he ruffled her hair; it was a little more than she appreciated. After all, she was eighteen, not a kid. Hopefully, he wouldn't do that too much. She didn't hold it to him though, and as she looked at him walking over to the door her smile quickly resumed.

"I'm thinking a slice of pizza will do me..."

“Sounds good.”

Pizza was tasty food, but Lucy was happier to have met someone so nice, and he definitely seemed to be asking her out! Or maybe he was just trying to be friendly, and she was overreacting

Oh, it didn't really matter. Going out for pizza would be fun, and it would be with someone that wasn't her mum, so she wouldn't have to feel like a social reject as she watched all the other groups about.

Agreeing the meet up with him. Lucy smiled at him as she walked out the front door, her possessions in hand.

“I'm looking forward to it, Daniel.”

Her cheeks flaring up with excitement as she turned away from Daniel, the smile never left her face as she scurried her way back home.

((Continued in Browsing thoughts))

Stranded in this Shopping Hell

Fantastic! Now he could correct her, and her mission would be complete!

...aaaaany second now.

Amber continued looking at Rizzo, only shifting her eyes every now and then the check that things around her were still moving.

It wouldn't be long now...

Okay, what the hell?


You know, the nice thing to do here is politely correct a person in this situation, asshole.

“Sorry, I dunno why I thought Jake. What's the name I'm looking for again?”

And this time don't screw it up: there's a story to be written already!

v4 Prom, and Other News
Now I can rebel against Clu and feel even BIGGER!

I've said it already, but for the sake of public appearance I'll say congrats again.

Stranded in this Shopping Hell
Amber listened for a while to Aaron, and at first it made sense. Gary Gygex had invented D&D, which Amber carefully calculated probably stood for Dungeons and Dragons, with a bunch of his friends and then it got bigger. Made sense, really.

Then he started using loads of abbreviations, and Amber got a little lost. She didn't exactly claim to be an expert, so it would've been nice if he'd been a little clearer...

Oh well, that was hardly the concern.

"Hell, everything interests someone."

So true: Amber's interest was in the guy sat next to her.

Nodding and smiling at Aaron, having not really understood the latter half of his sentence, Amber spoke to him:

“You know, that was really informative Aaron. Now I know all about D&D.” Sort of. “So, wait -”

At this point, she turned to Rizzo.

“Sorry, I got Aaron's name wrong the first time, so I'm just gonna be sure: you're Jake right?”

Hey, it wasn't the most subtle approach, but she seemed to have Aaron on her side now: if he reacted badly, then Aaron would probably come to her aid!

Unless they were pals, in which case it was unlikely that he'd pick her over him. But oh well, you got to take a gamble sometimes!

The Life and Times of Alice Boucher
Jerard Boucher was burning rubber down the streets of Barnes as Louisa Boucher panted heavily in the passenger seat. She was early, and they had to dash out of their house at top speed, without a moment to grab the essentials. Sure, Jerard could always get those things later, but there was no time for thinking of that right now. Right now, Louisa was getting ready to go in labour!

Hurrying through to the reception of the hospital, Louisa was quickly placed in a wheelchair as the receptionist took down the details, before she was wheeled off down the corridor, Jerard in quick pursuit.

As the labour unfolded, and the hours crawled by, so many thoughts flew in and out of Jerard's mind: What will she look like? What will she do? Who will she take after? Will she like me? His mind reeled with all these different ideas, as he nervously watched his future as a father unfold.

Louisa was a little preoccupied to be thinking too hard.

After twenty hours of labour, it was finally over. The midwife held their child, and happily announced “It's a girl!”

Louisa and Jerard held their daughter together, tears of joy filling their eyes. They were parents! They had a complete family, and now they could start the next part of their lives together: raising their child as a team.

“What should we call her?"

They didn't want to pick a name before hand: they wanted to look into their child's eyes and let her tell them what her name is. And now, they were looking into her wonderful blue little eyes, and just couldn't decide on what to call her.

“Why don't we name her after your mother?” Louisa asked.

“You mean Marguerite? Maybe...” Jerard responded, not being a huge fan of the name. It just didn't seem to suit his little angel.

His daughter looked back at him, her eyes speaking for themselves as the name popped into his mind.

“Alice. Alice Marguerite Boucher.”

She was named for Jerard's sister, who had passed away not two years ago in a tragic accident. Jerard could see the love he had for his sister glinting in his daughter's eyes, and knew that the name suited her perfectly.

Alice Boucher was born.

“From what I can see, you're a warm, nice girl. With just a look I'm sure you make your friends, if not your family smile."

It was such a kind thing to say; too bad she didn't really have any real friends. Probably something that'd make her look like a sad loser...No, he wouldn't care. She could tell.

She looked down again in shyness, her blush growing. He just wouldn't stop being friendly, and even though she'd only known him for a very short time, she felt really comfortable around him. It was great.

She watched from afar as he tidied up the music sheet, gripping her flute tightly between her hands, and smiled gingerly at him as he looked into his wallet.

She chuckled slightly at his comment, even if she knew it probably wasn't a joke. It didn't bother her though; she didn't start freaking out and worrying that he'd think she was some spas who laughs at the simplest things: there wasn't a need to.

"What say we celebrate this newfound friendship over lunch? My treat."

Was he... was he asking her out to lunch?

No, no it must've just been an invitation. I mean, why go out with a girl like her? She was just a lowly nerd.

No no, he'd just said he didn't think of her like that. She had to stop panicking like she always did.

“I'd really like that.” she said whilst continuing the smile across the room, smiling her largest smile yet.

Janet smiled as Chadd smiled: it felt good to know that his mood seemed to be perking up, regardless of how well she did (or rather, didn't) know him. Giving that happiness to someone in a troublesome situation was something Janet always enjoyed doing.

"Hey, I'm sure you'll do fine. Junior year wasn't terrible... Hey, when I get out of here I can always help tutor you instead! I might not be the brightest bulb either, but I've done it all before."

Janet chuckled lightly at that; maybe he was being serious, maybe not. It didn't really matter, since he would most likely appreciate the company no matter what the two of them were doing, and Janet would enjoy keeping him company; he was a pretty fun guy.

"Assuming I don't go back, I'll have a ton of free time anyways."

It was a sad sight: a man in the prime of his life crippled to a hospital for weeks on end, no way to get out and have fun with his mates, or drive around as he seemed to like doing, or enjoy his youth. Janet knew as she sat there that she wasn't going through any of those problems, and was in fact an awesome person in almost every regard. Even having being exposed to people in such situations for years on end in the form of her little brother, Janet couldn't even begin to compare herself to someone in a bad situation like this one. It made her feel a little guilty.

"My mother told me she'd run out and get me a netbook... I've never been big into computers, but the hospital has free internet. And it's something to do. Maybe I can even start looking for a new car."

Six weeks of browsing the internet: fun. There was no way she could just leave him to this fate; she had to do something to cheer him up! Luckily, she was experienced with such situations far beyond the average young adult, and knew plenty of limited resource means of having fun. Unfortunately, most of these were tailored at young teenagers. How much would carry over to a young adult like Chadd?

"I'm really glad that you happened in. You're like the first person I've seen since the crash besides my parents... and it is nice to have someone to talk to.“

It was true: the important thing is that she was there, keeping him company in this otherwise boring and dreary hospital. Not everyone had that benefit.

What are you doing here in the hospital anyways? You look perfectly healthy.”


“Shit! Joe!”

Shit! How could she forget her own little brother?! What sort of big sister was she?!

“My brother! Shit I forgot!”

Shit! She had to get out of there and get her brother! She was already late before she started!

“Chadd! My brother! I need to -”

Leave him alone. Great.

She couldn't just leave him alone to wither away in the hospital, but she could hardly forget her brother either. What could she do?

“Crap, I'm sorry Chadd. I really need to pick up my brother, but I, I mean, I don't want to just leave you to die of boredom. Fuck!”

Damn it, she was being so selfish. Or rather, not selfish, but inconsiderate. Ugh, what to do...

Stranded in this Shopping Hell
"Er, Aaron, actually, Aaron Hughes.

Haha! Her gambit had worked out fantastically! One down, only one more to go.

Aaron began speaking before she had a chance to put out the second part of her scheme, so she would have to hold off on the coop dee grace in finding out the short one's name. Only a matter of time, though, before the conversation ended in a way that she could change the topic without raising too much suspicion.

"Roleplaying games, I mean, not video games. Dungeons and Dragons, that stuff. You need to know how to write well, how to design things, and, above all, you need to be willing to do a lot of research."

Hm, slightly interesting. She had heard of her online game buddies talking about stuff like Dungeons and Dragons occasionally, but she had never played it herself, although she wasn't completely against the idea of trying it out once or twice. Most MMOs these days were a lot like it, apparently.

“Is there any money in that? I mean, doesn't that guy who invented Dungeons and Dragons make all the money?”

That was a question of general curiosity, rather than another probe. Aaron, despite having started out as a pawn in her game, was still a moderately interesting person. It wouldn't be the first time something like that had happened, but hey, that's life for ya.

“Everyone seems to have this... this...stereotype of me.”

Daniel was worried what people thought of him? Why? He was so friendly, even when she was acting like a total spas. How could someone like that be a bad person?

Then again, looking at him one more time reminded Lucy that he did have the appearance of a hardened street thug. Not that she was trying to be mean or anything! He did, though.

Still, he had just been so friendly to Lucy, she couldn't care if he was missing a hand and had an extra head: he was one of the nicest people she'd met in a long time.

“I don't care if you look like a stereotype.” She smiled up at him. Wait, should she have said if he looked like a stereotype, and been a little less direct? Had she just unwittingly insulted him? No, that was silly.

And he had either not heard her, or he was simply not replying as he thanked her for playing with him.

She shook her head, still smiling as she looked down at the floor.

“No, I should be thanking you. I don't usually practice with other people, because I'm so awkward and nerdy...”

It was true, as much as she didn't like to admit it: she was unpopular, graceless, and not just a little bit uncultured. Why anyone would ever agree to practice with her was a mystery, but Daniel had looked past it and played with her anyway in the most nice of gestures.

“I had fun.” she looked up at him, still smiling. The faintest hue of a blush bloomed into her cheeks, looking at the gentle Daniel Blessing.

Stranded in this Shopping Hell
“Mr. Alpert? Oh hell yeah! He's so confusing; I swear I don't know half of what he's on about!”

Not that maths had ever been her forté, the conversation was hardly the key thing on her mind right now! The topic was changing away from the much more important facts of the relationship, and if she didn't change it back carefully, her entire cover could easily be blown!

Her next move would have to be planned very carefully...

“I'm pretty excited about college, myself. I mean, we get to be more independent and stuff, and there's plenty of stuff on campus to enjoy! I'm pretty sure I'll end up doing a course in journalism, or whatever they call it at Univeristy.”

Stay focused Amber: you've managed to get on their good side, and you're in a conversation, but damn it if you don't have a job to do in here! You better fall back on the crude methods.

“What about you, Tony?” Amber asked, looking at Aaron.

It wasn't the most graceful way to get information, picking a random name out of a hat and hoping they correct you, and it was especially volatile if you weren't on good terms. However, she seemed to be getting comfortable enough with them, so with any luck they wouldn't be too annoyed at her mistaking their names, and if whoever Tony was corrected her, she wouldn't have much trouble making sure she had gotten the little one's name right too.

Dr. Couse
Name: Dr. Julian Couse
Gender: Male
Age: 35
Occupation: General Practioner of Regions Hospital
Hobbies and Interests: Tennis; Photography; Folklore

Appearance: Dr. Couse is a fairly average sized man, measuring in at six feet tall and weighing in at 162 lbs. When not wearing his doctor's coat, it can be seen that he keeps in a reasonably good deal of physical shape, as shown by his moderately toned muscles.

Dr. Couse's hair is very dark, short, and quite untidy: it doesn't fall much further than his ears at the sides, but the top is visibly unkempt, though not ridiculously so. His eyes are relatively small, in contrast to his large mouth. His nose and forehead however, are quite normal in terms of proportion, and his face is round and soft, with a box shaped jaw.

When not wearing his GP uniform, Dr. Couse will typically wear a variety of casual shirts and trousers, showing a particular fondness towards Hawaiian shirts. His footwear of choice tends to be stylish over practical, and he constantly wears a pair of thin black rimmed glasses.

Biography: Born to an average family in St. Pauls, Julian lived an average life for the most part, growing up in the seventies and eighties. Although he tended to hang out with the popular crowd, he eventually developed his own popularity through a kind, and friendly nature, not to mention his rumoured skill in bed that attracted his large amount of girlfriends, a fact he still jokes about to this day.

The younger of two children, Julian had a healthy enough relationship with his family. His mother, Janet Couse, a housewife, and his father, Andrew Couse, a partner at a law firm, always supported their son in earnest. His big brother by two years, Andrew junior, got along well enough with his little brother: the two had their disagreements every now and then, but like most brothers they never really held it to each other. Currently, both of Julian's parents are retired, and Andrew Jr works at the law firm previously owned by his father.

Attaining good grades in the sciences as well as literature, Julian decided to study medicine at the University of Minnesota. There, he joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and managed to enjoy a healthy dose of campus life. He made friends, he had a few girlfriends, and he took part in his fair share of shenanigans. He also met his current wife, Amanda Lane, a philosophy student, whilst attending medical school, and married two years after his graduation. Whilst he still keeps in touch with a few of his former brothers, most of the relationships have moved on over the years and are no longer kept in touch with.

Currently, Dr. Couse works as a general practitioner at Regions Hospital, having worked at the job for the last four years now. When not indulging in his exercise of Tennis, his interest in photography, his indulgence of folklore and urban legends, or spending time with his wife, Dr. Couse works at the hospital and regularly attends to the many patients which range from all walks of the town's populace, including many patients from Bayview Secondary School. He enjoys his work greatly, as he likes to meet a variety of new people and faces, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that he's helping make people well again.

However, his job was not always in perfect condition. Only a year after being employed at Regions Hospital, the stress from the amount of work he had to take on resulted in Dr. Couse becoming an alcoholic to deal with the tiring career. Whilst he knew on some deep level what he was doing to himself, every evening after his job he would come home and down many cans of beer, despite Amanda's concern and protest. After his boss put him on leave after he attempted to drive to hospital drunk one morning (A situation that was thankfully kept out of the media's attention through sheer luck), Julian knew that he had to seek help and joined Alcoholic's Anonymous. After several long, hard months of effort and co-operation with his wife, Dr. Couse finally went thirty months without drinking any alcohol. Since then, he has managed to remain sober for the most part, although he does still have small amounts of alcohol during celebrations.

After three years without incident, there has been talk of things starting to move forwards for Julian in his medical career, although at this point it is mere conjecture and the director is far more interested to see his work in the future. Excited about the opportunity for a more lucrative job, Dr. Couse has began to become somewhat hopeful in advancing within his profession, and has began sucking up a little to his boss, much to the man's dismay, although he manages to look beyond his greed to the qualified, well meaning man beyond.

Lonely Soup
Alice continued to grin as the two argued back at her, listening to their accusations of antisocial behaviour and unreasonable desires to be left alone.

Complete attention seekers, the lot of them: everyone always has to greet them whenever they want to, and if they don't then clearly they must have some sort of problem.

An outright laugh followed her thought pattern, followed with Alice returning the glare in Clio's eyes with a look of arrogance in her own.

“That is not smart. I am so sorry for not looking at you, and I am going to give you looks in the next time, you bad people.”

Urgh, this was hard. How the hell was she supposed to insult these people when she didn't even know the words for needy or whores?

“If you would like, I will write a book about you two after talking to you for many hours. I will give you all the looks you need and want whether or not I am going to be eating my lunch without people here.”

It wasn't fun, not being able to unleash the full brunt of her tongue. She wanted so badly to put these people in their place with a few well placed insults and her normally creative use of her vocabulary of French insults, but all she could do was fall back on sarcasm, and as they say: sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

“You are bad people, and I laugh at you not having intelligence.”

It was still all remarkably tame, and her grin had turned into a pout of annoyance at her own lack of versatility rather than the worms in her presence at this point. If she couldn't have fun with laughing in people's face in this country, then there wasn't a hell of a lot she could do beyond read, cook and swim; yet another reason to hate the USA.

Why, mother and father? Why did you have to send me to this country?

Stranded in this Shopping Hell
"You in the creative writing class?"

Remembering once again that she wasn't actually alone, Amber rapidly rushed her hands to cover the text, not wanting to blow her cover.

“Writing class? What writing class!?”

But hang on! If I keep this up, I'll look even more suspicious!

Not really paying attention to Rizzo at this point, Amber pulled her hands off the paper and down to her side, chuckling nervously at Aaron.

“Well, I mean... It's not for class or anything, it's more of a thing. An internet thing! Yeah, it's for this website I'm a member of.”

Continuing to chuckle as she finished her statement, her face started to blush slighty.

Get it together girl! We've got more research to do!

Coughing to clear her throat, Amber took the notes and tucked it back into her pocket, hoping that she hadn't ruined her chances to find out even more info for her story.

“Sorry, I just had an idea and had to write it down. Where were we?”

Her chuckling slowly subsiding as she returned to look at the others, Amber tensed up slightly as she awaited their next response.

With any luck, she hadn't gone and lost her chances.

Music began to fill the room as Lucy let herself relax, the soft tinker of ivory calming her nerves. Daniel had just been very patient with her, and Lucy felt relieved to find her flaws not messing up his gentle demeanour.

At her cue, Lucy too joined in on the melody. The gentle noise emanating from the flute accompanied the piano’s sound, as the two embraced to form a sweet melody.

Having never played the piece before, Lucy inevitably made the odd slip up: a missed note here, an overdrawn note there, but by letting the calm in the room support her, Lucy managed to play through without stopping in a panic.

Glancing at Dan between the notes, Lucy smiled behind her woodwind. He looked huge, there was no doubting that, but it turned out that he was a lot more than that: he was gentle, and kind, something Lucy had had a hard time running into lately. Well, except for the people at the flowers, but she had messed that one up badly.

It was true: Lucy always had more of a problem with women than it was with men. Her tormenters when she was younger had only ever been those horrible girls, and if anything her problem with men was just a natural shyness.

Regardless, Lucy still felt proud of herself as she had managed to talk to someone so well: she had managed to hold a genuine conversation, and she was even playing music with him now. It may be the first step in a long time, but damn it if it isn’t a step.

Of course, he could just be pulling a prank on y-

No, I’m not listening to you.