Round Robin Chapter 1


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Round Robin Chapter 1

  1. 1. “Mary Mary Quite does your garden grow...with silver bells and cockle shells....”
  2. 2. “...and pretty maids all in a row...” “Ow She bit me!”
  3. 3. Kimberly Cordial examined a toothy child-sized mark on her wrist in anger as the tiny offender fled.“That despicable little street urchin bit me. Bloody little brats these days, no appreciation for how hard we work to get our hands on them! It’s not like back in the old days when parents just left their children out in the woods with some bread crumbs and no sense of self preservation...and I’ll tell you what else. I-” Kimberly’s tirade trailed off as she glanced up, noticing her sister staring off vaguely into the distance. “See how they run...see how they run...quite contrary...” Kimberly snapped her fingers abruptly in front of the other woman’s face, drawing her out of her reverie, though that absent look never left her eyes.
  4. 4. “Pay attention Samantha,” Kimberly reproached her, “It’s been far too long since we fed on youth, I’m beginning to get wrinkles and the crone look has never suited the two of us. So if we plan to outlive this miserable century the way we have the last five, we need to consume. you think that perhaps they still fall for the gingerbread house trick out in the countryside? Because it would look out of place here I should think but maybe they’re more gullible-” Kimberly paused as she saw a flash of motion flicker past in the corner of her eye. The feeling of danger prickled down her spine. She reached for her wand, but too late.
  5. 5. Before her hand had even fully closed around the weapon, the vampire was springing towards them, with the sort of speed and agility that no mortal and most immortals could never hope to match..
  6. 6. Fortunately for Kimberly, she didn’t have to. She had a sister who, in spite of her fits of vapid madness, was more alert. Samantha moved in an almost lazy daze, waving her wand languidly, carelessly speaking old and powerful words. And with a final flick of her wand the vampire stopped mid-leap, suspended in the air above them for a fraction of a second, before flying backwards and hitting the nearest lamp post with a force that would have shattered any man’s spine. “Have you ever seen such a sight in your life....” She smiled broadly at the would be assailant’s face, “cut off your tail with a carving knife.”
  7. 7. Samantha lowered her wand and the pale figure slid to the ground, a groan escaping his blue lips. The twin sisters stared as the creature’s fanged face changed from confusion to embarrassment as he cursed under his breath in French. That was when Kimberly recognized him “Auguste?” The vampire looked up, squinting a little in the lamp light before recognition dawned “Mesdemoiselles Cordials!” He clambered eagerly to his feet.
  8. 8. “Such a pleasure to see you survived the Pleasantview Witch trials, my darlings!” He offered a fanged grin, and Kimberly could not help but smile back. She could never keep track of when they were supposed to be at war with the vampires, they were old enemies on and off. Even in times of truce they did not associate when it could be helped. But the Cordial sisters and Auguste LeNoir had crossed paths too many times to not at least have struck up a rapport . “And I see you’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any unfortunately sharp stakes since we last met. Though I’m very sorry to see that you seem to be afflicted by a truly embarrassing moustache Auguste.”
  9. 9. “Mademoiselle Kimberly I am hurt.” Auguste spoke in an exaggerated French drawl and Kimberly pulled a face. “Well we’re very hurt you tried to make us dinner, Auguste. After all we’ve been through, how could you? Besides I’ve already been bitten once this evening.” “Well you do look very biteable my dear.” He gnashed his teeth at the witch jokingly, before offering a remorseful shrug “I do apologize ladies. It is simply that prey is difficult to find these days. Oh for the days that damsels wandered around graveyards weeping for their lost loves at midnight.”
  10. 10. “You think you have it hard with your hypnotic powers and foppish good looks?” Kimberly laughed “All you vampires need to survive is a little blood. Children squirm infinitely more than young women, not to mention that we have to consume them in their entireties to get to their essence. And then they think it’s terribly clever to try and push you into an oven, while you’re performing the ritual. Brats.”
  11. 11. “Not to mention-” “Kimberly!” The witch turned as she felt her twin sister grasp a hold of her skirts as a child might a mother “I just had the most wonderful idea!” Kimberly raised a dark inquisitive eyebrow at the other woman’s wild green eyes, which were alive with frenzy as she looked at Auguste “A most perfect idea!”
  12. 12. For the four following days Kimberly watched her sister immerse herself in work, scribbling over projects endlessly as Kim tried not to worry about if she was getting grey hairs. She had great faith in her sister. Sam had always been the smarter one, a genius in fact. Of course Genius was a notoriously lonely creature, and so Samantha’s madness came along to keep it company, as it often did in those who had more brain power than any man or woman should. Not to mention those who had had the misfortune to watch their mother burn at the stake for witchcraft when they were only sixteen.
  13. 13. In the end Samantha’s madness was a good thing, if she had been right in the head she would never have agreed to help her sister kill children and consume their essences for eternal life. But wrapped up in insanity Sam was more than happy to help.
  14. 14. “What is it?” Kimberly sloshed the liquid around the glass a little suspiciously, it was a pinkish red colour, but with a thick oozing consistency that made it look entirely unappealing. “It is so very very clever Kimberly! So very very clever you see. It is everything we are not. Everything the vampires are. The Essence the soul of thing it is in the body and we devour the body for the soul. Yum Yum. And the Vampires, they are so much like us! They need the soul too. But all they need is blood, sweet, sweet blood, they don’t need to devour to its core. So I looked Kimberly I looked and I saw what it was that made them different. I saw so many things and I made it so we could be so! So that we could be free of it all! Free of the body. Only the soul.”
  15. 15. “We drink this and it takes only one touch, and the words, those old old words, and we can devour the children’s souls whole without ever needing their flesh. And we don’t even have to kill them, it will simply be as if they never wake up from sleep...Rock a bye baby rockabye... With this we can consume easily. We can grow our powers with their life force like no other witch before us! We can, we can....” Samantha’s words faded into unintelligible sighing as Kimberly grinned her full red smile at her sister. “Samantha Darling you are a beautiful Genius. Only...” something resembling regret passed over Kimberly’s features.
  16. 16. “I only wish it had not been necessary to kill Auguste. I rather liked the idiot.” Samantha’s gleeful expression remained unperturbed as she looked at the still corpse of a man they had known for several hundred years “I just had to cut him open to see what makes him tick! Just like a clock! Hickory Dickory Dock! And then I bled it all from him...all that blue cold blood and he fell down... Ring around a Rosey....they all fall down....but not dead not yet.” She waved her glass proudly. “...The sunlight will take care of him for us...ring around a rosy...we’ll all fall down.” Kimberly summoned a smile “To Auguste.”
  17. 17. “To Eternal life.” The twins clinked their glasses together before downing the mixture rapidly. It tasted like rotten meat and slime but the sensation that came with it was like a rush of adrenaline through her whole body and she shivered with anticipation.
  18. 18. “Come sister dear.” Kimberly looped one arm through her twin’s “I do believe we are only a few blocks from Mercy Hartigan Orphanage, what say you to a trial run?” Samantha never noticed Kimberly give a slight flick of her wand backwards the second before they passed through the door, never noticed Auguste stir a little on the table where he was sprawled. Because if she had, she only would have bled him some more. Sentimentality was something her sister had successfully repressed years before. The fact that they were heading out to put children into an eternal sleep should have been proof enough of that to anyone.
  19. 19. “-this marks the third child from the DeBateau orphanage to be struck by the mysterious “sleeping sickness”. “
  20. 20. “According to doctors the afflicted children show no symptoms except a comatose like state. The affected children have been moved to hospital and the entire Orphanage has been quarantined while the causes are investigated.”
  21. 21. “More on that, and the rest of our stories after these messages.”
  22. 22. “Hey there sweetie, can I get you anything else?” David Doran was snapped out of his reverie as a motherly looking waitress with wispy grey hair appeared at his elbow, she smiled kindly at him “We’ve got some really nice pies, fresh out of the oven.”
  23. 23. “Uuuh,” the boy’s hand strayed inadvertently to the pocket where his wallet was stored. He knew exactly what was in it. A single crumpled up bill next to a few coins, barely enough to pay for dinner “No thanks...I’m not very hungry.” He lied.
  24. 24. The waitress offered David a knowing smile. He fancied the smile seemed a little tired, a little sad, and he had the feeling this woman had seen her fair share of folks far more miserable than him wander through this Diner. “Actually I forgot to mention, special offer on today, a free slice for anyone who looks like he’s a bit down on his luck.” David quirked her an eyebrow “That’s really cool, but you don’t have to-” She held up her hand forbidding protest “No, no. All I want to hear is what you prefer, apple or cherry?”
  25. 25. David ran his hand tiredly across his eyes as the waitress disappeared into the back, leaning back into the comfortable if worn seats of the Diner. And he found himself wondering what the rest of his family was doing at that moment.
  26. 26. At first they had been inseparable as they took their first anxious but inevitable steps out on their own. But they were a family, they were all resourceful in their own way. And when they had stuck together they were unstoppable. They were bound together by a wonderful heady rush of adventure, of existing on the road, never knowing what was around the next corner. That feeling, that unspoken ache that existed right in the back of the each of their heads, that impulse, that strange little impulse, that mad little voice saying go on, go on, go on, go on.
  27. 27. Except then it seemed like for his brother and by one, the feeling had gone away. Or maybe it had just led them to wherever they were meant to be in the end. But to David it just seemed like they were falling by the wayside, while he was pulled onwards. Somehow he had thought they would be together, forever, travelling. But he supposed the Universe had other plans for his siblings and David Doran was left to make his own discoveries on the road.
  28. 28. What he discovered was that he was not as great as managing money as he had thought he was. And that was how he ended up stranded in Belladonna cove, without enough money to fill his gas tank.
  29. 29. He was going over this conundrum for the thousandth time as he enjoyed the temporary warmth offered by the Diner, when something said by one of the toothy newscasters on the small television set drew his attention.
  30. 30. “...this autumn will mark the 25th year that the DeBateau scholarship program has given a chance to an underprivileged High-schooler. Any teenager without the financial means to go to University is eligible for the scholarship that aims to give these young men and women an opportunity at success.” Suddenly the television had David’s full attention.
  31. 31. “That’s right Bonnie, Armand DeBateau, Belladonna Cove Millionaire and renowned Philanthropist is said to be once again evaluating students to decide which individual is worthy of the Scholarship, personally funded by himself, and other members of the BC Charity Board, to attend Belladonna Cove University.” “There had been rumours this year that Mr DeBateau would not be running the program this year, and that the funds usually reserved for the Scholarship would go to Mr. DeBateau’s only daughter, for her own University Education, however-“
  32. 32. David was already on his feet when the waitress returned with the pie “Do you know where Mr. DeBateau lives?” The woman seemed startled by the question, but she nodded “Yes of course hon, he’s up on Audrey Avenue, number three. In one of the big apartment complexes, you can’t miss it. What’s this all about then?” But David was already excitedly pressing the remainder of his money into her hands. “Thanks very much. I appreciate it. I really do.”
  33. 33. And then he was through the door in a flash.
  34. 34. As it turned out the apartment was not hard to find. It was easily the largest building in town, perched above the city with a view that stretched all the way out to the sea side. Naturally however for such an ostentatious looking building, there was an equally ostentation looking doorman standing vigilantly at the only unlocked entrance, no doubt meant to be a deterrent to riff raff. However, it was not a deterrent to David Doran.
  35. 35. Not for David Doran who was exceptionally good at finding ways around problems like that. Or more accurately, through problems like that.
  36. 36. He pulled his body through the wall, emerging gradually on the other side and dragging the rest of himself through the exceptionally thick stone wall of the apartment, dusting himself off as he emerged on the other side. Then he noticed where he was.
  37. 37. “Ah...sorry.” He offered an apologetic grin, “This a bit awkward, and you’re really naked. So I’ll just be going.” The blonde woman screeched, reaching for a nearby robe.
  38. 38. But by the time she had managed to cover herself David was already half way through another wall. “Sorry!” He offered again, “Won’t happen again. Just pretend you’re hallucinating all of this.” He called as he vanished through the wall paper, leaving the woman to gape after him.
  39. 39. The rest of his journey through the building was relatively uneventful, he did not encounter any other people, naked or otherwise and soon he found himself standing outside a door, where the name “DeBateau” was engraved on small plaque below the knocker. For a moment he considered simply letting himself in, but it occurred to him that that might not be the best way to introduce himself to the man who might hold his future in his hands. So instead he did something he never had before. He knocked. His sister would have been so proud.
  40. 40. To say that the figure that appeared in the doorway was not what David was expecting would have been an understatement. At first glance it appeared to be a flurry of purple, stripes and red hair that was coordinated deliberately to clash with the stark white of the hall way. But somewhere under it was hidden a teenage girl who at that moment was raising her eyebrows inquisitively at him. “You knocked?” The stripy socked girl prompted when he didn’t say anything. “Um, yeah” David said articulately “I’m looking for a Mr. DeBateau.”
  41. 41. The girl leaned in the doorframe “He’s at a charity dinner thingamajig, or possibly on a date. A date at a charity dinner I think. Honestly I think that’s kind of a ridiculous place to take a date, since you can’t get any privacy, and you have to listen to boring people drone from high horses instead of actually having fun. Not that I don’t support Charity, but did you know that a lot of charity events loose more money than they make?” David blinked at the girl “Ok....” She looked at him behind purple lenses and tried again “Dad’s not in right now, he should be back soon.”
  42. 42. “Right...I guess I’ll wait for him. Do you mind if I come in?” The words were out of David’s mouth before he really thought about what he was saying. The petite red head, raised her eyebrows in amusement “Seriously? Did you, a total stranger, just ask me, a young girl who’s home alone, to let you into her apartment? Seriously?” “Well yeah...I kind of did, didn’t I?” The red head stared at him for a moment before shrugging “Sure come in.”
  43. 43. David peered at her trying to detect any traces of sarcasm. “Seriously? I thought you just said...” “Yeah I know, but I’m relatively confident you’re not going to chop me up into little pieces and eat me whole, or grind my bones to make your bread, or eat my brains....” “I find it interesting you would consider Zombie else ever.” “So...not a zombie then?” “No, just part elf.” He tapped the end of his pointy ears with a grin “I promise.”
  44. 44. The girl inspected him a moment longer before sticking out her hand “Tara DeBateau.” She introduced herself. “David Doran.” He supplied shaking her hand, before she nodded in satisfaction and led the way into the apartment.
  45. 45. “So what do you want to see my Dad about David Doran.” Tara asked as David peered around the luxurious apartment curiously. “What? Oh!” David turned back to Tara “The scholarship. I had to drop out of high school a while ago... And I don’t have the money to pay for college. It’s sort of a long story. I was hoping maybe your Dad could help me out for going to college and get me on my way to being successful.” “You know-” Whatever Tara was going to say was interrupted by the sound of a scream from the next room. David jumped in spite of himself. “What was that?”
  46. 46. “Oh...Dracula Versus Wolfenstein.” Tara glanced into the living room, where David could now hear the sound of rising music. “It’s a horror marathon on the B movie network.” “Right, that makes sense. Wait? Wolfenstein.” “Yeah, Frankenstein and Wolfgirl’s baby who was abandoned at birth.” David was aware of Tara looking at him sideways, as if waiting for his reaction to her strange movie choice.
  47. 47. But David just nodded “So wolf girl had to give up the baby to an orphanage because the wolves wouldn’t accept Frankenstein’s half breed baby?” It seemed like a natural assumption to make to David. Tara grinned, relaxing visibly “I like to think she left him on the doorstep “please take care of my baby and keep him away from fire and the full moon.”” David laughed “ “P.S Dracula may come after him at some point. So get ready for that.”
  48. 48. The two teenagers laughed together, and David suddenly felt less than unhappy that it was in Belladonna Cove that the car had run out of gas.
  49. 49. “I think ‘Zombie Alien Invasion: The Reckoning’ is on next. I don’t suppose you’d want to watch with me? Basically everyone I know thinks these movies are moronic. They don’t get the bad movie factor of it. Also that they’re really pretty socially interesting because they were made at a time when we were becoming more and more technologically advanced and so our fear of the unknown and the strange was growing every day...Also I like the ridiculously terrible effects. But if you’d rather we can put on...sports or something. That’s what my friend Justin always wants to watch. And I guess on an intellectual level I sort of understand the appeal but on a real level...I really don’t.” “Zombie Aliens sounds cool.” David managed to put in as Tara took a breath.
  50. 50. It was past midnight and the teens were midway through “Werewolf Gladiators” when they heard the sound of the key in the front door, and two pairs of feet, one the unmistakable clicking sound of high heels, across the marble entrance way. “Tara. Are you still awake.” A voice called out.
  51. 51. “Oh hey Dad.” Tara greeted her father warmly as David followed her a little hesitantly from the living room. Armand DeBateau noticed him immediately and frowned. “Who’s your friend.” “Oh Dad, This is David. David this is my Dad. David’s here about the scholarship.” “I see.” David felt himself being scrutinized by the tall blonde man, and met his gaze evenly. Finally Armand nodded and turned to the woman hovering behind him, huddled in her fur coat.
  52. 52. “Can I take a rain check on that night cap Kimberly?” The witch’s lips curved into the sort of smile that would send small animals scurrying for shelter “Of course darling. I will speak to you some other time. And thank you for the lovely evening. Though I am so sorry to hear about the plight of all those little children...I shall have to go visit them sometime.”
  53. 53. Kimberly took a step towards the door before pausing, her green eyes suddenly fixing themselves on David. “And it was nice to meet you...David wasn’t it?” She extended her hand towards the young boy.
  54. 54. “Yeah. Nice to meet you.” David reached out and took the woman’s hand and let go almost immediately as he felt a small sensation like a jolt of electricity pass between their palms. He looked up to find the dark haired woman’s green eyes studying him intensely now. But she said nothing else as she gathered her fur coat around herself and let herself out.
  55. 55. “Now, what’s this about the scholarship young man?” Armand turned to David as the door closed behind his date. David squared his shoulders “I’d like to apply for the programme that you’re running to send teenagers to University.” “I see...well you’ll have to apply through your high school then...”
  56. 56. “Actually that's the thing sir, I never finished High School...It’s sort of complicated. But there were some circumstances in my family. We had to leave our parents before we got a chance to graduate.” “I see.” Armand DeBateau said again, though David very much doubted that he did see. He didn’t seem like the sort of man who would see about elves and wanderlust and spending your life knowing there were people out there who would love nothing more than to kill you. “Tell me David, why do you think I should give you, a high school drop out, a second chance when I have so many applicants who have graduated from high school?”
  57. 57. “Because I won’t let you down.” David drew himself to his full height “I’m smart, I’m driven, and I’m not going to feed you some sob story about how I need it. But I do deserve it, even if I never did finish high school.”
  58. 58. Armand DeBateau was silent for a long moment, before giving a slight inclination of his head “All Right. I will consider you. Same as all the other applicants.” David grinned broadly “Thank you sir.” The shook hands quickly before David showed himself out, managing, against all odds, to remember once again to open the door, and go through the normal way.
  59. 59. “Tara, what were you thinking, letting complete strangers in when-” “Yeah, yeah, we’ll talk about that later.” Tara interrupted quickly “Don’t change the subject Dad. So I think you should give David the scholarship.” “Tara I can’t hand out money based simply on who you like.” “Yeah, I know...but you were just saying last night that you’d looked over all the other files and you were disappointed in how little drive all the other candidates seemed to have. You remember that Dad?”
  60. 60. “Yes, but-” “Come on! Who could have more drive than someone who showed up here in the middle of the night to make his case. You have to admit that takes guts. And he seemed smart when we were talking. And he put up with me and bad movies for like two whole hours so he’ll probably be able to stand living with me for four years. I’m failing to see any flaws in my logic at this point.” “Tara...”
  61. 61. “Dad.” Tara gave her father a disarming smile “You know it’s the right thing to do.”
  62. 62. “Samantha? Samantha where are you? Sam?”
  63. 63. “Jack and Jill went up the fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after... Up Jack got and home did trot, as fast as he could caper. And went to bed to mend his head With vinegar and brown paper. And then we came and made him sleep. Made him sleep so long. But Jill pushed Jack down the hill. Jack and vinegar, Jill and water. I can make it stop. I can make it go away Jack, I can...”
  64. 64. Kimberly Cordial found her sister muttering to herself in the potion’s room, brooding over what smelled like a batch of fresh toadstools boiling in wolfsbane. Just like mommy used to make Kimberly thought smiling to herself. “Jack and Jill. Jack and Jill. The Hill. Jack drowned and lost his crown and-” “Samantha.” The other woman looked up her eyes slowly regaining some presence, as she smiled at her sister.
  65. 65. “Sam, darling, you’ll never guess what I’ve just found.” “Dragon’s teeth under a full moon? True Love? A Gypsy’s heart and liver?” Kimberly sighed as patiently as she could “Samantha, when I say ‘you’ll never guess’ don’t interpret as an invitation to start guessing...You know what I’ll just show you.”
  66. 66. Kim reached out and placed one hand on her twin’s bare arm, and closed her eyes, focusing on the young man in Armand’s apartment. The jolting sensation when she had taken his hand and probed into that aura of powerful energy she had felt hovering around him when she’d first seen him...and passed it all on to her sister.
  67. 67. Sam drew back with a start, nearly falling straight into her own cauldron as she did. She drew a shaky breath full of ecstasy as she steadied herself. “” Her eyes flashed with the sudden wild frenzy of hunger.
  68. 68. “Elf Blood” Kimberly smiled her catlike smile in satisfaction. “Rare creatures indeed to just wander into our hands unarmed and unwarned.” “But not pure elf...oh no...not for so very long...” Samantha rubbed her thumb and forefinger together like an expert scientist examining a sample invisible to anyone but her “Human...a lot of it...mingling with...two different batches of elf blood...and something else...something that tastes of...of....stardust?” She placed her thumb to her lips, but the small taste of the boy’s energy was fading fast and she was craving more.
  69. 69. “We have to consume him.” Samantha spoke in a voice so suddenly cheerful it almost frightened her sister, as she grabbed hold of her broom stick “All that new power, all those gifts that have the potential of manifesting in the bloodline...if we consume them, with our power we could be gods. We could rule the whole coven...we could...” “Unfortunately we can’t do anything to this one.” Kimberly interrupted her sister “He’s too old.”
  70. 70. Samantha’s shoulders sagged in disappointment. The boy was too old to be consumed. In spite of what some of the vampires would have liked the world to believe it was not cowardice and certainly not convenience that had witches preying on children. It was pure necessity. It was not within the power of even the most powerful witch to consume adult essences, when humans matured their essences became fixed. Children and the younger adolescents however, their essences were in flux, always as the child became who they would be. It was the reason it was so easy to drag their souls from their shells, they had not yet been anchored there. But if this boy was on the cusp of adulthood, it was already too late.
  71. 71. “Don’t worry.” Kimberly soothed “I have a plan...we may not be able to consume the boy but we can consume his children...You and I are never going to see eight hundred again and we are still at least a decade away from needing to leave Belladonna Cove least our lack of wrinkles becomes apparent. We can wait a few more years...and then just think...all that power we have to work so hard to harness with words and will simply be there...within us. Infinite potential for infinite gifts! Besides, I’m sure we have something for love potions and fertility spells here, we can always help the boy along...”
  72. 72. “But he will wander. He will seek his fortune...the poor little lost elf boy...they’re always seeking their fortune...the worthy sons of once great families....” “He will find his fortune here.” Kimberly spoke with confidence as her sister bit her lip anxiously “He has applied to Armand for his scholarship. He will receive the grant and he will stay. I’m sure of it. And we won’t even need to waste magic to make it so. Little Tara is pleading his case as we speak. And she wields more power over that man than we ever could through our magic, of that you can be sure.”
  73. 73. “What do you mean you’ve already chosen a candidate?” Marisa Cleveland gaped at her the blond man across the table. “Without consulting the rest of the board?” “He’s very intelligent Marisa, and driven, and I have to admire his guts in coming to my house to plead his case. I am satisfied that if you all review the file I drew up for him you will support my choice.”
  74. 74. “Be that as it may I-” “Oh bloody hell you’re shrill Marisa.” Geoff Rutherford cradled his head in one tuxedo clad hand, “Some of us have a hangover here Sis.” Marisa bit back a retort that she did not need advice on decorum from someone who turned up to board meetings reeking of gin and cheap perfume. “All I am saying.” She spoke between clenched teeth, “is that this is not a decision to make lightly. The other applicants deserve to be properly considered.” “And they have been Marisa.” Armand spoke soothingly “I have personally every single file submitted to this year’s program and none of them stood out to me. Which is why I think David Doran will be the perfect candidate.”
  75. 75. “Well, I promised my kids I would take them to the zoo today, so I’m all in favour of wrapping this up early.” Benjamin Baldwin, grinned broadly. “This kid has my vote if you really think that much of him Armand.” “And I left a very pregnant wife and a mound of paperwork at home.” Ramir Patel was already rising to his feet, reaching for his briefcase “So, I’m with Ben on this one.” “Thank the powers that be.” Geoff staggered to his feet “I haven’t seen my own bed in over three days. She and I are long overdue for a date.”
  76. 76. Marisa sputtered in silent outrage as the three men filed out of the door with chatter about wives and children, and setting up play dates, her good for nothing brother staggering after.
  77. 77. “Armand.” She rose to her feet, firmly blocking the door as he faced her resignedly .“You must understand my concern. In case you had forgotten, both Justin and Tara will be starting University in a few weeks. And will, as per tradition, be living in the scholarship house with the little charity cases. I am not comfortable having my son live with some vagabond boy I know nothing about. He could be a bad influence.” Marisa lied smoothly. In reality she did not believe her son could be influenced any way by anyone, after all she had been trying for years to not make him such a colossal failure with no results.
  78. 78. “Marisa, I have confidence in this boy. He seems perfectly well brought up, he’s just going through something of a rough patch. You have nothing to worry about for Justin.” And then Armand cheerily walked away leaving Marisa with a rather fixed smile on her face, the kind that didn’t reach her eyes.
  79. 79. “Are you just getting up now!” Justin Cleveland winced ever so slightly as his mother’s shrill tones reverberated through the apartment, the baloney slipping from his hands as he hastily wiped them on his pyjama bottoms in a vain attempt to hide his less than nutritious breakfast, but too late.
  80. 80. “It’s not even noon mom! And It’s Saturday. Besides, I thought you were in some board meeting all morning.” He carefully did not add and I was looking forwards to it. “It was cut short.” Marisa snapped, as she gave her son’s rumpled state a disdainful once over. “Shouldn’t you be doing something, rather than lounging around in your pyjamas. You are aware your finals are in four days aren’t you?” But before he had a chance to reply that he was aware of that fact, Marisa was off again.
  81. 81. “You know by the time I was your age I was class vice president, getting straight As and head of the young debutantes. My room was stacked with trophies, and ribbons, and all you have is that one measly second place basketball trophy.” When Justin did not rise to the bait into what was an old an ongoing argument between his mother and himself, she looked at him in exasperation and wondered if what she had done to deserve such genetic punishment. Perhaps it was quite simply because she had married beneath herself.
  82. 82. In addition to all her achievements, back in High school Marisa had had plans, she had known with absolute certainty that she was going to marry Armand DeBateau. They were made for each other after all, both born into the cream of Belladonna Cove High Society, if they had been to combine their old names, their bloodlines and their money, Marisa could have asked for nothing more from life.
  83. 83. And then Armand had gone and met that...waitress...thing. Jessica. A tarty blonde beauty school drop out whose lineage was shorter than her mini skirt. Armand had obviously been taken by her considerable charm and charisma. And then he had gone and married the cheap little hussy just barely out of college, and effectively smashed all of Marisa’s plans in the process.
  84. 84. Of course it had all gone up in flames in the end, which shocked no one in high society. And Marisa felt a comfortable smugness that if Armand had chosen her he could have avoided the heartbreak.
  85. 85. It left Marisa with some consolation that she had married better than Armand had. Jason was not well born or bred like her, but he was rich, and that had contended Marisa as a second choice. Even if he was a Nouveau Riche. She had done things properly, she had met her husband at a charity event, and by the time Armand and Jessica were embroiled in a messy divorce, Marisa had two new men in her life.
  86. 86. Justin however, lacked his parents’ drive, lacked his father’s business instinct and his mother’s understanding of the importance of birth and of class. And all that kept her from blaming her husband’s lack of blue blood was the fact that her son reminded her far too much of her own brother. And unlike her brother, Marisa meant for her son to achieve at least one thing, one very important thing, for which business instinct was not a necessity, and his outgoing boyish charm could, for once, serve him well in. “Well, I think you’d best get Tara over to study again today Justin. I will not have you failing exams, and you are lucky enough to know such a lovely, pretty, clever girl, willing to help you with your own failings.” “Uh...sure...ok...I guess.”
  87. 87. Just because her ambitions had fallen short of her mark, didn’t mean she had lost her vision. Tara might lack the DeBateau blue blood, but she had the name, and was heiress to the fortune. And no matter how much Justin protested that they were just friends, she was confident that with a bit more nudging she could become the grandmother to the next DeBateau heir.
  88. 88. And no one was going to get in her way this time.
  89. 89. “Woah.” David blinked up at the house the town car had just dropped him off at. He ran one hand through his dark hair as he tried to collect his thoughts. First a phone call to tell him he was being granted a full ride to college. Then a town car sent to drive him to his new home...and now here he was at a house that looked more like a hotel than university accommodation.
  90. 90. His musings were cut short as he heard the sound of an engine behind him and noticed a fluorescent yellow sports car pulling up to the house. A moment later a vision in messy red hair emerged from the passenger’s seat. Her gaze fell on him and immediately she smiled broadly.
  91. 91. “David” She wrapped him in an impulsive hug “Dad said you got the scholarship! I’m so excited.” “Tara, heya! Yeah...I did. What are you doing here?” “I guess you weren’t briefed.” She smiled up at him “The kids of the people on the scholarship board live in the same house as the kids who get the award. It’s a good experience I guess...since we’re expected to join the board after we graduate...”
  92. 92. The ‘we’ did not escape David’s notice and his eyes flicked to the car, just as another figure stepped out of from the driver’s seat of the flashy car.
  93. 93. “Oh, David, this is my friend Justin. Justin, David. Justin’s mom is on the board too, so he’s moving in with us. It’s going to be so great!” “Nice to meet you.” David shook hands with the other young man. “Yeah you too.” The two were saved from further conversation as a voice sounded from the house.
  94. 94. “I thought I heard cars.” She smiled a broad genuine smile that lit up a round girlish face as she waved. “Hi, I’m Ginger. I won the Scholarship four years ago, so I’m the current house Senior.”
  95. 95. “And you must be David,” she smiled down at them “And naturally Tara and Justin. It’s been a few years since we had more than four people in the house at a time. Figures two people on the board would go and get kids the same age.” She laughed a little ruefully “Don’t worry though, plenty of room for all of you. Come on up, leave your bags, we’ll worry about them later. I’ll give you the tour.”
  96. 96. If David had thought the outside of the house was big, the inside left him floored, it seemed even bigger, though he knew that wasn’t possible. And it was definitely far more ostentatious that he had been led to believe any university accommodation was. In addition to a fully equipped kitchen, the house had a games room, arts room, and its own gym, all of which Ginger showed them around with a casual acceptance of the ostentatious-ness that could only come from great wealth or simply having growing accustomed to the space in the last four years.
  97. 97. “And our library.” Ginger pushed open the doors and led them in “Not as well stocked as the Uni Library or some of the faculties but in a pinch when you’re panicking about exams it’s pretty pleasant to know you’re sleeping above you’re own personal library. And- Oh Hi Matt.” Ginger smiled at the blonde boy who glanced up from his reading as they entered.
  98. 98. “Guys this is Matthias Vance, Matt. He is currently our Sophomore, studying applied philosophy. Matt this people.” Ginger made introductions as Matt stood. “Heya, always great to meet new people.” He smiled, setting his book aside and rising to greet them “Sorry, I didn’t hear you guys come in, was just doing some prep reading for next term.” Polite introductions were made before Ginger led the threesome upstairs.
  99. 99. “And this...well it’s pretty boring, this is just bedrooms and bathrooms on this floor. Soo....pick any ones you want. Except the one at the end of the hall is mine, that one is Matt’s and the one next to it belongs to-”
  100. 100. A dark haired pale skinned girl staggered out of the room Ginger was pointing to. “What’s going on?” She yawned. “-Aileen.” Ginger smiled, indicating the girl “She won the scholarship last year, and is now our resident sophomore, and not a morning person. By which I mean, you will rarely even ever see her before noon, at best...” Aileen squinted at them tiredly, before muttering something about coffee and disappearing downstairs.
  101. 101. “Aileen’s studying Architecture” Ginger supplied “Lives on all nighters. Really hard worker, you’ll get to properly meet her at some point when it gets dark I’m sure. Though I can’t guarantee she’ll be pleasant then either. She can be kind of...tough at first. She was living by herself in an old abandoned warehouse in the city before she won the scholarship. Ran away from home apparently. One of the house rules is don’t play her at Poker, she will clean you out. She and Matt are kind of an on and off again thing at the moment. Another rule is try not to get involved, for your own good. We have fairly unusual rules. You’ll learn them as you go...”
  102. 102. “Soo...get settled in I guess. Make yourselves at home, I’ll brief you all stuff like laundry days and when the maids come later...but for now I’ll just let you guys get ready to be here for the next four years!”
  103. 103. Tara, Justin and David exchanged looks as Ginger left them to it. David may not have been as adept at reading emotions as his father, but in that moment he didn’t need to be. He could see the same excited nervousness written on the faces of the other two as was settling in his stomach. College. Four years. And he got the feeling there were far worse places to call home than this one. And he was in good company.
  104. 104. Hi! I’m Jamie and that was part 1 of Generation seven of the Boolprop Round Robin. Which means that for the next little while, I’m going to be trading my usual Desert for the Metropolis of Belladonna Cove and I’m really excited to be taking up the awesomeness that the other writers who have gone before me have set up. So thanks to Marina, Gin, Lark, Cait, Orikes and Pen for creating a really great story so far, and I hope I can keep up the standard with this Generation. Also thanks to all the people who let me run a million and one different thing by them for covers and for the slides with words in this chapter. Without their patience and advice I would probably still be fumbling around in PSP. You guys know who you are and you rock! Hopefully I should be able to get out the next chapter soon and really get into the college groove with David Doran and company. Until then have a gratuitous Tardis to go with my gratuitous use of Doctor Who quotes in this chapter. All in honour of David’s namesake of course. I hope you enjoyed and I will see you all next time!