Notes: I represent internal dialogue as italics, English as "simply quoted" and Japanese as "[bracketed italics inside quotation marks]."
Updated 6/29/2012 with better line breaks
AmericanStyle,Chapter3 – Autumn Foliage
Azusa trailed behind the members of her own and her roommate's bands, amazed by the blazing umbrella of foliage, and the sheer amount and variety of colors that were represented within. The tree lined street stretching below the administration building was a veritable riot of fall colors. Yellows, reds and oranges mixed together in the waning sunlight of the afternoon, tricking the eye into seeing what seemed like a fiery inferno at times. It was breathtaking to behold, and more beautiful than any autumn splendor she had witnessed in Japan.
"[This is amazing!]" Azusa had her gaze upon the multicolored canopy above them, and the wonder in her voice was plain.
Ui giggled next to her and took her arm gently a moment to steer her around some obstacles unnoticed by her awestruck roommate. "[Pennsylvania's hardwoods are well renowned for the splendor of their beauty in autumn, Azusa-san.]"
Despite Ui's efforts, Azusa stumbled on an uneven part of the sidewalk, one caused by the spreading roots of a maple that she was admiring the leaves of. Her stumbling was abruptly halted as she felt herself suddenly grasped from behind and pulled back. She couldn't but help let out a startled cry. "Eyyyaaahhhh!"
I recognize this embrace.
"Azunyan is so cute!" Yui exclaimed as she clutched Azusa from behind. Azusa could have sworn she was walking and talking to Ari, Ritsu's 'big sister', several paces ahead of her and Ui. This sort of thing was starting to get on Azusa's nerves, even if she did recognize that Yui probably saved her from falling flat on her face.
"Let me down!" She started to struggle in Yui's grasp, her anger partly due to her wanting to hide other emotions. This only made the older girl laugh as she nuzzled Azusa's hair, a blush rising to her face and giving her goose bumps that even in anger she could not ignore.
"I couldn't let my precious Azunyan fall!" Yui rationalized in a cheerful voice, even as Azusa struggled in her arms. She wasn't hiding the note of amusement in her voice either, Azusa noted dourly.
Azusa turned to look at Yui, a stormy expression on her face. Yui's constant physical affections were not only a source of embarrassment to her; they were also a source of a growing sexual frustration that had a tendency to make her edgy.
This clinginess of hers, does she know what it does to me? If she'd just follow through… I don't care who sees anymore.
She put her anger firmly ahead of her needs however. "This... embarrassing in public! Not right!" Azusa yelled, gesturing around to the surrounding streets and sidewalks. There were a few other people about but it was doubtful they cared about Yui's hug. Azusa's yelling was drawing some looks, though, partly due to the broken English.
Yui just grinned at her and shifted Azusa into a much more tender embrace, pulling her face to her chest and gently stroking her hair. Azusa could feel the anger seep from her as she settled her head against Yui's breasts, breathing in her scent.
"I'm sorry, Azunyan." She could feel her warm breath tickling her scalp, and the calm taking her over like a big warm pillow enveloping her. She tried to ignore the damp heat she could feel gathering between her legs.
How does she do this to me every time?
This feels so good.
I'm in love.
She moved her head to look up, and Yui had a soft smile on her lips. Azusa stared longingly at those lips for a moment before raising her eyes to gaze into Yui's soft brown orbs, the autumn lighting giving them a golden reddish glow. She lifted her chin, reaching a hand up to wrap around Yui's neck, and brought her face closer to Yui's, eyes closing, her heart hammering in her chest.
Yui blinked a moment when Azusa closed her eyes, seeing the lips she desired approaching, at war with herself. Not yet Yui, down girl! I want those lips, but not yet! I have a plan!
So close... until the moment was broken with Ritsu's teasing voice, jarring her to her senses and making her pull her face back.
"Hey! Yui, are you and shorty coming, or you planning on swapping spit in the middle of the street?"
So close! She wasn't stopping me!
Though she wasn't encouraging me either.
Does she really think of me that way, or am I just another sister to her?
Azusa suddenly pushed away in embarrassment. She could feel the heat of a blush turning her cheeks a bright scarlet. "Whaa.. what! We never!" She sputtered, a look told her that Yui was just amused. Nothing ever got to that woman. She turned and resumed walking, catching up with Ui, trying to ignore how damp she was. She quietly seethed the rest of the way to the diner everyone had started hanging out at just off campus.
I haven't priced batteries in America yet. I hope they are not too expensive.
Tony's Diner had a distinct smell of grease that clung to the interior, the smell of the constantly cooking food outweighing the underlying weight of the old. It had big bay windows that readily displayed older structures in the old, quaint American town and its turning foliage, with booths situated in front of them.
The group of girls chose a large horseshoe shaped booth big enough for them to all squeeze into, though Azusa and Yui barely sat long enough to order drinks before they headed for the old fashioned, garish looking, neon tube decorated jukebox in one corner. Despite protests and angry demonstrations from Azusa and the downright silly or overly affectionate behavior from Yui, the girls were like two peas in a pod, generally on the same wavelength and sharing interests well.
Ari was near the back of the booth on the same side as Jun, idly twisting one of her currently purple locks of hair and watching the two girls at the jukebox with a bit of a smirk. Between her ever changing hair color and the fact she was the only Caucasian with a group of Asians, she stood out.
"Love is in the air, it's like blood in the water. Seeing it makes everyone want to experience it, draws 'em closer, just like sharks are drawn to the blood." She gave Mio and Ritsu a sidelong look right next to her and a grinned. "For instance my little sis there usually sits far enough apart from her girl that you can slip a basketball between 'em, but they are lookin' awful close right now." She nudged Ritsu slightly, who was on her left, and winked.
Mio blushed and looked down at the table, while Ritsu put the hand next to Ari to the back of her head and laughed. Neither let go of the hand they were holding between them on the seat, though.
"Ah come on, you guys all know me and Mio are a couple." Ritsu's eyes tracked to the jukebox herself while she gave her girlfriend's hand a little squeeze. "But I know what you mean about love in the air."
Everyone's gaze went to the pair at the jukebox, not missing how close together they were, or how familiar they were acting with each other. "Could just be close friends, but it's not that rare for a Big and Little sister to be dating. If one of those two were normal, that is." Ritsu chuckled, then cocked her head at Mio's still bowed head and perked a brow. A slight smile answered her unspoken question and the Japanese drummer nodded slightly in reply.
Mugi was watching the pair at the jukebox with a bit of a dreamy smile on her face, then glanced at Ui a moment who was also watching and gave her a bit different smile, before glancing at Jun, her thick eyebrows dropping and fixing her with a momentary unfriendly look. When everyone was seating themselves, Jun had tried to sit next to Ui and Mugi had managed to interpose herself in a way that seemed accidental, but after the little scene after the concert last month, few thought it was.
Ritsu's eyes went back to Ari, then the puffy haired girl beside her big sister, then across to Mugi and Ui before picking up the menu and examining it again. "Um... so, we're still agonizing for a play list for the December group recital. How about you guys, big sis?" Ritsu glanced up from the menu and caught Ari's gaze with a bit of a lopsided smile.
Ari picked up and idly twirled a straw like it was a drumstick. "We're a little stuck ourselves, weaning down to what we want. I am sure we will be fine, though. These girls have a great vibe that makes me happy to be a part of this group." Ari bumped Jun with her hip, who had been looking introspective and trying not to look across the table at Ui and Mugi.
Jun offered a small smile to Ari and nodded. "Yeah, we make a good combo." Jun couldn't help but look at Ui a moment after, a soft smile and a nod was her reward. Just then a small cheer from the two at the jukebox erupted along with the opening notes of Sweet Home Alabama and the pair of Japanese girls doing a little air guitar with it. Jun looked that way and smiled fondly.
"Ui, I've never seen your sister so close to anyone before; it's kinda sweet. Did she ever date in high school? I don't recall seeing her with anyone."
Ui looked that way as well, Azusa and Yui hunched over the jukebox and looking over songs, discussing each possible choice between them. "No Jun, she's gone out a few times, with both boys and girls, but she has never connected like that." She possessed a dreamy smile on her face that was Mugi-worthy. "Isn't it cute?"
Ari snorted and leaned back into the corner of the booth, suppressing a yawn. "So sweet it makes your teeth hurt. How are classes for you frosh? Ready for midterms?"
The conversation turned to classes as Azusa and Yui returned, then to eating and general companionship between the girls. Yui had ordered an amazing amount of food, of course, and Azusa just some crepes with fruit. Everyone else fell in between, food-wise. Later schoolwork and music arrangements came out and their diner ritual continued until fairly late. Life was good.
There was a snap to the air that hurt your sinuses a little today, and it was getting more and more common. The early morning frost that made many surfaces a sparkling white had been burned away by the afternoon sun except in some shady places where it still clung stubbornly. Without the green of the late summer or the splendid colors of the fall things looked bleak. Only a few leaves still persistently clung to some trees, and those were brown and uninteresting, their brethren already fallen, picked up and hauled away, leaving the bare branches looking naked and skeletal.
Midterms had come and gone, at least for the classes that had them. November had arrived and with it the day-long freezing temperatures, the sun reduced to a simple source of light and even that was becoming less frequent. Azusa silently thanked Kami-sama once again that she could wear pants instead of a skirt to school. She only owned a couple anyway, preferring shorts or jeans.
Midterms went well. I got straight A's, thanks to Yui and Ui's help. I've always been a good student, but it's affirmation that helps with my confidence.
She looked over at her roommate; they usually went to class together since they had very similar schedules. They were on the way back to the dorm, walking down the hill from the main class buildings to drop off books before meeting everyone for lunch. "It is getting cold, Ui. Will it snow soon, you think?"
Ui giggled softly. "Yes, Azusa, we might see the first snow before December this year. This part of Pennsylvania gets cold; it isn't as bad in New Jersey which is closer to the ocean."
Azusa pulled her scarf a little tighter and shivered slightly at that thought. This was going to be a cold winter, when she accepted the invitation to come to school here she hadn't thought about the weather, but she supposed she had an impression that weather in America would be like California, where she'd been to when she was younger and made an impression on her. She didn't mind the cold all that much, but she was very small and she got cold easily.
They arrived in the dorm and were trying to warm up as they were passing by the duty desk when the person on duty caught Azusa's attention.
"Azusa Nakano? You have a package." Moving towards the desk she accepted the package, seeing it was from her parents. She grinned a little and held it close to her body, glancing at the calendar above the desk.
November 8th. They made sure it arrived early. Wonder what they got me.
Ui looked on curiously as Azusa signed for the package, pulling off her gloves and slipping them in the hip pockets of her coat, stamping her feet a little. With the lack of wind, even the mediocre heat of the lobby felt great to her.
She looked at the shipping label and saw it had come from California instead of Japan, but didn't really think much about it. Her parents traveled a lot for their career.
"Care package, Azusa?" Ui inquired softly one they were in their room. The box wasn't all that big, maybe one square foot. Azusa set it on her desk gently, then started removing layers of clothing from her person, moving to the radiator in their room and letting the moist heat coming from it penetrate the chill she had taken on.
"What is a care package, Ui?" Azusa pulled her schoolbooks and supplies out of her satchel and put them on her desk beside the package. She then sat at the desk and carefully opened the package, finding three things in the packing peanuts separately boxed. She examined each quickly. Her father had sent her a new pedal, a Boss Metal Zone MT-2 that she had wanted for some time. Her mother had sent a rather expensive looking set of hair clips and some tasty looking cookies that appeared to be home made. Azusa knew better than to assume they were homemade. She was betting on a small bakery or something.
"Oh, like goodies from home or snacks or things you might miss." Ui explained patiently.
"Oh, no. My birthday is soon. My parents they send gifts for that, I am sure. Besides, it come from California, so no Japanese snacks, but mom did send cookies." Azusa said distractedly, not noticing her English was not exactly up to her Composition class standard. She was completely amazed that she got an A in that and suspected that her teacher was lenient on her because she was a foreign student, but she had certainly put a lot of work into it. Besides, written words came easier than spoken ones to her.
"When is your birthday, Azusa? We'll have to celebrate!" Ui was exhibiting her version of excitement. How her roommate managed to be gently excited amused Azusa a little. "Ah, the 11th, Friday."
2011, I'll be 19 years old, still not old enough to drink in America, and not a full adult in Japan, either. Old enough to get married in either country, I guess.
Azusa quickly put thoughts of marriage out of her head as soon as they arrived, Yui played with her head enough as it was. "Don't make a big deal of it please, Ui." She shouldered her satchel again. "Go to lunch?"
As she left, though, that small thought played in the back of her head.
But I can marry another woman here.
And her heart added the person she couldn't help thinking of marrying.
Friday saw more of the sunny but cold weather as Azusa camped in her dorm room after lunch for a bit, doing her math homework, bundled up in a blanket from her bed while sitting at the desk. During the day the dorm radiators didn't give off all that much heat, but at night they were delightful sources. Ui had wished her a happy birthday that morning in their room, and she had gotten a birthday hug and 'recharge' all in one from Yui at lunch along with birthday wishes from the other girls.
Azusa finished her math assignment, and stretched, as a smile came to her face as she thought about Mugi's tea. She glanced over at Ui's empty side of the room, knowing that, that was likely who her roommate was with right now, and wondered a moment about Jun. The puffy haired girl had been trying to get close with Ui all semester, but Ui had been maintaining a distance. However, she kept a distance from Mugi as well. But making tea together almost made it seem as if they were dating to Azusa and she wondered slightly if it did to them. She glanced at her wristwatch, worn on her right wrist so that she didn't have to take it off to play guitar so much and smiled slightly.
Ui left half an hour ago, and that should mean that between her and Mugi, tea and snacks should be ready by now and that everyone should be there now, as well.
Of course 'everyone' meant Yui to Azusa, whether she admitted it to herself or not. She had her mind on the brunette as she headed downstairs, knocking lightly on the door before reaching to open the usually unlocked suite door.
The door was locked.
Oh... I wonder if they need some privacy. Nah, but this is weird.
Azusa felt a little cold inside at being shut out, for some reason. She knocked on it louder and called out. "Umm... excuse me. Hey, it's me, Azusa? The door is locked!" She tried to look into the little peephole, but it was designed to be one sided, so it didn't help her.
She was about to give up after a few moments when the door opened suddenly, thrown wide by a widely grinning Yui. After a short pause, where she took a quick note of everyone in the room standing not far from the door, she was greeted with a chorus of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AZUSA!" followed by another big hug from Yui that made the anxiety she was feeling earlier gently melted away by the feeling of having Yui's arms wrapped around her. She knew somewhere in her mind that she should be embarrassed by this public display of affection, but she couldn't bring herself to care.
It's like she's conditioned me to accept her affection.
Yui guided her to the kitchen table where a round pink cake decorated with the words 'Happy Birthday Azusa' an already lit candle shaped like the number nineteen, surrounded in a field of pink floating balloons that definitely said 'birthday' sat. Soon the candle was blown out by Azusa and everyone was eating cake and drinking tea, after singing the 'Happy Birthday' song to a fidgeting and embarrassed Azusa.
"How did you all get this together so fast?" Azusa looked around at her friends, looking a bit overwhelmed.
Yui giggled a moment then lazily grinned at Azusa. "I saw your student ID when you checked in, Azunyan." Yui drawled, her grin getting wider as Azusa tried to put together how long Yui had been thinking of this. "Besides, it's close to my birthday, easy to remember. Today, we are the same age. Cool, huh?"
Azusa was sitting close enough to Yui on the couch that their legs touched, and that alone made it a little hard for her to concentrate on everyone around them. She looked at Yui a few times, and each time she found Yui was looking her way and greeted her with a smile that brought a slight blush to her cheeks.
I can't keep my mind off her, and just this much touching is making me warm... there.
Mugi was the first to broach the idea of opening the presents by bringing out a pretty large box and setting it in front of her on the table.
"Mugi-san, you should not have!" She looked at the expensive wrapping on it and felt a little uncomfortable. "That must be too expensive."
"Oh no, birthday girl, you just shut up and unwrap." Ritsu admonished as she added a much smaller present that looked like it was probably a CD by the size and shape. Azusa sank back into the couch and just blushed, she'd never had a birthday party like this, with friends. Actually, she hadn't had a birthday party with her parents since she was in primary school. The presents piled up, large and small, and she watched for the present from Yui but didn't see anything emerge. It disappointed her a little.
Maybe she went halves with someone else. It's okay.
When Mio added her present to the small pile she told her "Think of it as our way of saying we are glad you are with us." The tall beauty winked and sat back in one of the big chairs, Ritsu perched on the arm of it next to her.
She started opening each in turn carefully, starting with Ritsu's CD. 'Play Blues: Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center with Eric Clapton and Wyntin Marsalis'. This brought out of her a small gasp as she looked over the track list of the double album. "Wow, this is hard to find, Ritsu-senpai. I will cherish this."
Ui gave her a large hand knit scarf and Mugi a thick expensive looking wool sweater. Mio gave her a thick CMC sweatshirt with a hood, while Jun and Ari had split the cost of a gift card for the local music store. Azusa thanked each in turn for their thoughtfulness and confessed that the warm clothing was definitely something she needed more of.
That left Yui, and although there hadn't been anything from Yui at all, somehow she was certain that Yui got her something. Azusa turned to Yui and noticed she looked uncharacteristically grounded for the amount of sweets that were present, simply watching Azusa soak in attention with a fond smile on her face. When their gazes met, Yui grinned and pulled a small wrapped box out of her shorts pocket and handed it to Azusa, holding her gaze with eyes that all but glowed.
Jewelry, that's a jewelry box! Oh sweet Kami-sama, is she… can it be?
Azusa's world shrank down to the two of them, everything else forgotten. Her heart was pounding so loud she could hear it in her ears as she gently took the box with slightly shaking hands and started to unwrap it. Within the wrapping, there was, indeed, a jewelry box. She tried to control her shaking hands as she opened it, gasping softly when she saw a heart shaped silver locket, on a silver chain opened to display the picture within.
The picture was from just after the Lighting Ceremony, she and Yui had posed for a picture together. She was still dressed in white and Yui still in the robes. Yui had her arms wrapped around her from behind and instead of them looking at the camera directly their gazes instead met each other. Anyone could see the affection for each other in the gaze clearly, captured on film.
Azusa brushed her fingertips against the locket and smiled at it fondly, it was then she saw the inscription inside the other half of the lid. 'Azusa, you are forever in my heart. Love, Yui.' Azusa gasped when she processed that and her eyes flew up to look at Yui's face, Yui smiled back at her confidently and nodded once.
"Could… could Yui put this on for me?" She stammered out, getting anxious thinking about Yui's hands on her bare skin.
Yui gently took the box from her shaking hands and motioned for her to turn around. She tried to look at everyone around her as she turned her back to Yui and noticed that they all seemed a little blurry, but she couldn't imagine why. She wasn't aware of the tears that were in her eyes.
She felt her hair being moved out of the way, then a soft touch on her neck and collarbones, it was almost like an electric current that made a warm feeling spread down from that touch, filling her chest and then settling down in her stomach, and lower yet as well. Once the necklace was clasped and she could feel the weight of the locket on her chest, those wonderfully feeling hands pulled her up and back, right into Yui's lap with her arms wrapped gently around her. It was like sinking into the furo after a cold day, she could feel the heat from this embrace to her bones.
"Happy birthday, Azusa." Yui's voice softly tickled her ear and Azusa turned sideways into Yui's lap until she could see her love's face, see the smile that set off so many feelings inside her. Yui adjusted her arms and lap to accommodate her change of position and held that gaze with a warmth in her eyes that melted any remaining of Azusa's reserve.
I'm always drawn into your pace, Yui. Like my lead guitar following the path that your rhythm paves for me, my emotions follow yours, my actions follow yours, and maybe my heart did too... or was that my lead?
Azusa's world now was just her and Yui. She couldn't hear or feel any of the other people around them and she couldn't bring herself to care about how public they were. All she could care about was how close she was to the woman she loved. Azusa knew she was horrible about expressing herself with words, so in a rather Yui-like fashion she held her love's gaze and slipped her arms around her neck, bringing their faces close, and before she could think about it any further she closed her eyes and brought her lips to Yui's.
Azusa could feel the softness of Yui's lips on her own, pressing back firmly, her mind went elsewhere and nowhere, her entire being focused on that feeling and on her feelings. She parted her own lips slightly and furthered the kiss, a soft moan in her throat as she felt the heat welling upside her already, the white spreading in front of her closed eyes. A hand moved from her waist to the back of her head, cupping and holding it as Yui kissed her back gently.
She's kissing back, she's really kissing... oh... more!
The new couple was in their own little world and everyone knew it. Mugi felt especially privileged to witness their first kiss, and the rest of the girls in the room smiled at the kiss, even when it lasted just a little too long. Mugi especially was enamored of it, her hands moving to her cheeks and looking starry eyed.
Ritsu smirked, then looked to her girlfriend's face and smiled more honestly, taking her hand for a moment and squeezing it, speaking softly. "[About time, huh, Mio?]" She winked at her lover and then blinked a moment as the kiss lasted a bit longer than a few seconds, and cleared her throat. Apparently Yui heard her and broke the kiss.
Azusa felt the kiss pulling away just as she was getting immersed in it and realized with embarrassment that they were kissing right in front of everyone. Yui had pulled back a few inches and when Azusa's eyes opened Yui gave her a bit of a lopsided grin and nodded slightly, eyes looking to the ceiling a moment followed by a wink.
She... is she saying my room, later?
Azusa glanced around and realized everyone was looking at them then buried her head in Yui's chest. She knew her face had to be badly flushed, and wasn't sure she could do much of anything for the moment except cling to Yui. She felt a hand softly stroking her hair as Yui worked her magic upon her. Already she could feel the heat that was raging in her body cool to a gentle warmth and her breathing return to normal. It took time but she understood what she was feeling when she did that now. It was love, Yui's love for her.
She loves me. She loves me. She loves me!
I think she promised to make love to me.
An involuntary shiver ran through her body and she felt herself being held a little tighter. She couldn't see it, but she could feel Yui's smile when she spoke to everyone else.
"Sorry to upstage everyone, but I think my Azunyan likes my gift best!" There was pride in that sentence; that was clear to hear, and it was ludicrous enough to get a giggle from herself as well.
After a few minutes she turned and looked at everyone, showing her face again. "Thank you everyone. I... this is my best ever birthday." She looked back up at Yui a moment to catch the huge grin on Yui's face and then sighed and leaned in against her once more, not really willing to move.
Azusa didn't move from Yui's lap for the rest of the party, but as it got later she regretfully did, helping Ui to gather up her presents. Yui moved towards her little sister and whispered something to her, taking the load over from Ui. "I'll help you take this stuff to your room, Azunyan." Azusa couldn't help blushing at the big grin on her lover's face. She wasn't fooled, and she doubted that anyone was.
"Go on without me, Azusa-san. I am going to help clean up here." Ui looked at her evenly, and she was her normal polite self, but she could almost feel the mischief between the sisters.
"Thank you, Ui-san." She bowed to Ui then picked up the presents that she hadn't gathered yet, and moved towards the door that already held open for her by Yui. She looked at Yui in the eyes, a question in her own that got a simple nod from the taller girl. She could feel a blush creeping on her cheeks and she dropped her gaze, moving demurely out the door.
Neither of them said a word as they made their way upstairs, the air heavy with unspoken promises. Azusa could feel the warmth gathering within her again in anticipation of what she was expecting, or at least hoping for, once they were alone. Her hand shook as she tried to unlock the door, and just as she was starting to get frustrated another hand was holding hers and guiding her action.
She let go of her as Azusa opened up her room, though she wasn't sure when that happened. Yui put the gifts she carried up, the clothing items, onto Azusa's desk chair and sat on the edge of her bed, watching Azusa with smile as she dropped the other things on the desk itself. She glanced at the box her parents had sent, sitting open on her desk with the gifts still inside it, and gave it no more mind as she slowly walked towards Yui, holding her hands out in front of her.
Yui took Azusa's hands in her own and held them, looking in her eyes, the warmth of her gaze like a gentle massage to the younger woman.
"[Is this real, Yui-sempai? I... love you. I want you... I want...]" She hesitated, and Yui smiled a little wider, pulling her gently to sit in her lap and then wrapping her arms around her.
Yui's voice was firm, her Japanese carefully pronounced. Azusa could hear the certainty in her voice. It went up her spine in a slow tingle when she heard it. "[I want all of Azusa, because she is mine. I give you my heart in return.]"
Azusa looked down into Yui's face, slightly below hers and swallowed hard, then nodded while holding her gaze. "[I am your girl, Yui. Please treat me well from now on.]"
Well, that one was a lot shorter, and easier on my precious and pretty damn awesome Beta readers that I certainly couldn't do without the help of.
Thank you Musician74, your insight into characters and feelings, and your eye for detail are irreplaceable.
Thank you Lupo Azzurro for having an awesome grasp on grammar, trust me folks, if you see great grammar, it's not me, it's Lupo.
(Lupo replied in comment here "You are very welcome", which I found hilarious. Thanks again Lupo!)
Both of my Betas do more than I could probably express, and put themselves out to help me get this stuff up for you, my gentle readers, to peruse.
Thanks also to everyone who has read this far, I couldn't do this without you either. Please review, or send me a message, let me know what you liked and what you didn't like, what you want to see more of, or just say hi!
Till next chapter, in which Doris gets her oats.