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Lydia smiled to herself as the recording of the piano she made earlier slowly faded.
Finally done. She thought with an audible sigh.
"That was great!" Gustavo's voice cheered. Kelly smiled and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up.
"Thanks, guys." Lydia sang through her grin. She had just finished another song for her album. Slowly, she made her way out of the recording booth and into the sound room where Gustavo's thick fingers were stretched over his round stomach as he tapped away at red buttons and twisted various black knobs.
Gotta ask... Gotta ask...
"Hey... Gustavo?" She asked timidly.
"Yess?" He replied, still looking at the sound board in front of him.
Ready...
"Uhm... Thhhanks for another great day of recording." She chickened out.
Way to go.
"You're welcome." He smiled, still looking down at the blinking red lights.
"See you tomorrow."
I'll ask with the boys, they'll convince him. She reassured herself as she exited the room.


The sun was especially sweltering that afternoon by the famous Palm Woods pool. Lydia stood in line at Katie's sno-cone stand, dollar in hand.
"HelloLydiawhatcanIgetforyout oday?" the brown haired girl said at lightning speed.
"Uh-" Lydia laughed at Katie's all-business persona, "Pineapple and cherry, please." As quickly as she could talk, Katie scooped up a sno-cone in one swift motion.
"Onedollarplease,thankyouverymuch."
"Thanks, Katie. Loosen up a bit, will you?" she replied. As she stepped away, a big foot crushed her toes. She spun around to see her assailant.
"Oh, sorry!" a tall guy apologized. He looked genuinely concerned. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, thanks. It's okay," Lydia said, forgiving him offhandedly. Something looked familiar about this toe crusher...
"Are you new here?" she asked.
"Uh, yeah. Just moved here with my family-I'm sure you've seen them around."
"Oh, you're Juniper and Violet's brother! Dominic, is it?"
He smiled. "Sure am. Juniper is pretty wacky, isn't she?"
"Yeah," she said with a laugh, remembering the tiny girl's explosive cannonballs, "but it's people like her that make the Palm Woods fun."
"How long have you been here?" Dominic inquired.
"About a year and a half now. I live here alone, but the kids that stay here almost become family, so it's not very lonely," Lydia explained. She didn't admit it to a stranger, but she did feel very solitary sometimes, having a whole apartment to herself... "What business are you trying to make it in?" she asked him.
"uhm, I'm an aspiring artist," he responded, "You?"
"I have a contract with Rocque Records; I'm a singer."
"Wow, that's awesome."
"HEY!" Katie yelled, breaking into their introductions, "Do you want a snowcone or NOT?"
"Oh," a look of realization on his face, "Sorry. I'll get blue raspberry."
Katie took his money and, in a flash, handed him a blue mound of slush.
"The flirting that goes on around here..." she muttered with a roll of her eyes.


"Well, it's kind of hard to say I'm an artist already, it's not exactly easy to get into a business like that" Dominic explained to Lydia.

"Well it should be if you're any good! Are you?" Lydia asked curiously. Dom looked at her and then walked backwards out of the elevator without saying another word. Now Lydia was confused, and a tad disappointed That was rude...

She sulked back to her room, and when she arrived, she was suddenly glad that she had had her head down. She bent down to pick up the piece of paper that had been placed at the foot of her door. On it was one intricately drawn rose and something written in beautiful calligraphy "I'll let you decide" Lydia could almost see the smirk on his face as she read it, and couldn't help but smile back.


She sighed deeply as the vibrant plastic bags dropped around her feet, sinking into the new beige carpet that layered the floor. Anisa took her first Los Angeles shopping trip after her first big pay day. The California shopping was magnificent.
"Almost makes Hawk bearable." She mumbled to herself, throwing her body down onto her playful purple sheets. Anisa buried her pale face into the fancy feather pillows the record company bought her. She was grateful for all the wonderful things they had gotten her for the Palm Woods apartment, but it was almost as if they were bribing her.
"If I were you, I'd take that bribe." Harley had told her the last conversation they'd had via Skype. Hawk Records also got her a Mac Book. She was starting to feel spoiled.
It came to Anisa's attention that the usually chatter coming from the pool had sunken into complete silence. Her head sprung from the pillow and turned to look outside.
Around the unlit fire-pit, the four boys she'd seen a zillion times were singing and snapping their fingers. The tallest one quickly got into the song and jumped on top of the wooden cushioned seat.
"We're halfway thereeee!" He sang out as the boys harmonized beautifully along side him. They were good.
Most famous people just use crappy computer voices... Her heart dropped as she thought this. Oh Nisa, what are you doing?
She listened close as the boys continued the chorus. It was simple, but all encouraging and sweet. By the time it came around again, she found herself singing along with the tan brunette out her window. And loudly.
"Nini," a tiny male voice called from outside her door. Anisa jumped and quickly stopped singing as her younger brother, Luke, pushed the black wood door open. "Who are you singing with?" His blue eyes sparkled in the California sunlight.
She always envied her other siblings blue eyes, her mother gave her green eyes but she wanted the dazzling blues of her father so badly.
"Just some boys outside..." She said casually, trying so hard not to care.
"Oh. You sound nice with them. I heard them before, they sing a lot. I like them." He smiled as she returned her own. He shut the door slowly leaving the singer with her thoughts.
Maybe someday I'll do a song with them...