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Old 07-04-2017, 10:31 AM   #1
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Default Hourglass

(~bhm, ~ffa, romance)

Hourglass
by Catalin



Part 1

Caroline drummed her fingertips on the counter top in front of her absentmindedly, her hands remembering all the old rhythms that her brain had long since forgotten. She smiled to herself, thinking of how nice it'd be to get behind a drumset again. Her smile quickly evaporated, however. She wasn't in college anymore- she didn't have time for such things.

"Uh, did you get that?" A low, cool voice jolted her back to her present setting. She looked up to inspect the thing that had interrupted her daydream. It was a pair of dark green eyes, accompanied by a mop of messy black hair, strong cheekbones, and a soft jawline. The eyes were questioning, but not unkind. She hadn't even noticed that someone had approached her station. Suddenly embarrassed to have not been paying attention, she lowered her eyes from his face. Her gaze settled instead on a wide round stomach encased in a smart button-down shirt. That wasn't any better.

Staring down at her own hands on the counter instead, she mumbled, "no, sorry, could you repeat that?" What was wrong with her? Sure, he was a big guy, but that was no reason to be so intimidated. She had a job to do. Recollecting her composure, she looks back up at him and listened attentively as he ordered his coffee for the second time. His attention shifted to the cafe's glass pastry display next to her station.

"I know that I probably shouldn't, but I have to ask- are those éclairs any good?" He inquired. She had to suppress a bubble of laughter; he had a look in his eyes akin to that of a child about to get into something they shouldn't.

"Yeah, actually, they're sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Definitely worth every penny," she admitted, smiling.

"Well, you're not exactly doing a very good job of convincing me not to," he said, matching her smile, " I'll take one to go."

"Sure thing!" She rushed off to fetch him his drink and his pastry, and she sighed as she watched him exit with his order. She couldn't afford to let her manager catch her not paying attention like that. The rest of her shift passed without incident. The clock struck 4' o clock and get coworker walked in to take over her shift. Caroline grabbed her bag and rushed home.

---

She didn't gave much time- she started work at the local grocery store at 4:30. It had become her daily ritual to arrive home, change uniforms, check in on her mother, and then be back out the door. She'd graduated from the University of Miami two years ago with a degree in mechanical engineering. Immediately after graduation she had been excited and optimistic about employment prospects in her field. It had been around that time that she'd received news of her mother's multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Caroline's two older brothers had already been deeply invested in their careers at that point and were not in positions to give everything up to support their mother. Caroline made the decision to put her professional life on hold and move back to her small hometown on the coast of Florida to look after her. It was a nice enough town, and Caroline had plenty of friends there leftover from highschool, but there was simply no demand for a mechanical engineer there.

So she took work wherever she could get it in an attempt to cover her mother's medical bills, which left her in the situation she was currently in, slipping out of her bland café uniform into her equally mundane grocery store outfit. She'd so much rather be in an engineering lab somewhere, designing something meaningful. Creating.

But she didn't have a choice. She stuck her head into her mother's room to find her fast asleep. It occurred to her how much easier things would be if her father were around. The thought only lasted a moment, however. She'd made it this far without him, she didn't need him now either.

She scooped up her bag again and was about ready to head out when the phone rang. It was the grocer. Or- it was his voice, at least. Caroline was having a hard time associating his person with the things he was saying to her. He was sorry. He hadn't wanted to. He just couldn't afford to keep her on anymore. She put the phone down. There were tears in her eyes.

She walked up to the closet in her room and pulled out a box of her old college things. Inside was a drum pad and an assortment of drumsticks. She dragged them out onto her bed and began to drum. She let her hands play without getting her mind too much involved; her heart was wanting for somewhere else.

She dreamt that night of big green eyes.
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Old 07-04-2017, 12:33 PM   #2
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This is a fantastic start: I love realistic, character-driven stories. I'm excited to read more!
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Old 07-05-2017, 07:53 PM   #3
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I like this a lot. Please continue!
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:46 AM   #4
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Part 2

Caroline ran her fingers through her hair and sighed in aggravation. She had just gotten off the phone with Julia, her best friend from high school. The two of them had known each other since elementary school and had been more or less attached at the hip ever since. When Caroline had gone away for college, Julia had remained behind, working to advertise for her father's landscaping company.

Julia's advice had been the same as always- she urged Caroline to relax, and to take some time to herself. She couldn't spend her whole life working- she should try to find fun, maybe even a little romance. What Julia didn't understand was the pressure of having to devote yourself to caring for someone you loved. That being said, a week had gone by since the grocer incident and Caroline had yet to make an effort to find a replacement job. She'd spent the extra time helping her mother, drumming, and wallowing in how stuck she felt. It wasn't exactly fun, and it certainly wasn't romance. She'd start looking for work tomorrow, she told herself, once again pulling out the drum pad.

Her shift the next morning at the café had brought her an unexpected surprise in the form of soft cheeks and pleasant green eyes. She'd recognized him instantly. She couldn't quite place why his face had stuck with her, but she supposed it had something to do with how he'd surprised her with his appearance.

He ordered a coffee, the same as the week previous, and then said, " You were right about that éclair, it was fantastic. I think I'm going to have to order another." He'd remembered her too. That wasn't that surprising, she decided- he'd only seen one barista that day most likely, while she'd seen what felt like hundreds of customers. Caroline was about to move to put together his coffee when his gaze fell to her hands. She froze; she'd been tapping again, and she hadn't even realized.

"You're a drummer, aren't you," he observed, "or you tap like one, at least."

"Yeah, I played a bit in college, but not so much anymore. The tapping habit just doesn't seem to want to die." She was blushing. She could feel it.

"Actually, my bands guitarist recently left us for a better gig. I'm usually on drumset, but I know all the guitar parts and the drum rhythms aren't that hard to learn if you'd like to give it a try." His deep smooth voice made the offer seem wildly appealing.

"Oh, I don't know, I haven't so much as touched a drumset in over two years now," she responded, caught off guard and unsure as to how to react.

"Music isn't something you just forget like that, I'm sure you'd be fine. We have a deal worked out with the bar down the street, so you might even get to see some money out of it." He was so level and so confident; there was no nervousness in his voice at all.

"I... I don't know, I guess I'll have to think about it," she said.

Caroline busied herself with preparing the coffee as he continued, "Well if you decide you want to, we have practice tonight at 6. I'm Garret, by the way." He was leaning over the counter towards her, and his broad belly pushing into the marbled counter edge kept catching her eye.

"Caroline," she said, gesturing at her name tag, "nice to meet you Garret." She handed him his drink and éclair, he gave her the address they were rehearsing at, and then he was on his way. For whatever reason, she couldn't keep herself from watching his plush behind as he moved back through the shop and out the door.

She blinked. She couldn't possibly- responsible adults don't take care of their families by performing at bars. What would her brother James, the lawyer, think? Or Simon, the doctor? They were contributing their shares of covering the medical bills, and she'd sworn to contribute hers as well while looking after their mother.

---

It was 5:30 and there she was, in her mother's old sedan with her drumsticks in her bag. She'd made her brother dinner and then her feet had led her right out the door. She couldn't quite justify it to herself so she tried not to think about it. It was simply, really- she couldn't stand sitting long hours behind a cashier's box. She needed to create, and music was her outlet.

The band welcomed her warmly, and introductions were quickly made before they began to warm up. There was David, the lead singer, a slim blonde-haired man who looked to be approximately Caroline's age. On the bass guitar was a somewhat younger girl named Kayla, and on the keyboard was a shy-looking guy named Shaun whom Caroline later learned to be gay. Then, of course, there was Garret on the electric guitar. This was the first time she had gotten to see him without the counter between them. He looked to be maybe two or three years older than Caroline. He was heavy, but he wasn't enormous, and he wasn't sloppy either. He was tall enough to be propionate; Caroline guessed him to be in the neighborhood of 6 feet tall and weighing maybe 250 lbs. He dressed well, and had his hair in that effortless messy-on-purpose style. And, of course, there were those deep green eyes of his.

Rehearsal ran smoothly, and Caroline surprised herself by picking up most of the rhythms fairly quickly. They had to break a few times to work with her or Garret on their new parts, but overall she felt pleased with herself at the rehearsal's conclusion. As the others began to pack up equipment and clear out, Caroline remained seated at the drums to work on a particularly tricky piece of the music that had been giving her trouble. She was dimly aware that someone was still in the room with her, but was startled anyway when Garret pulled up a chair next to her behind the drumset.

He laid a hand on hers gently, and she handed him the drumsticks. He began to gracefully demonstrate the part without saying a word to her. For the first time, he seemed almost shy. He was so close she thought she could feel his body heat in the air conditioned practice room, although she may have been imagining it. They continued that way- with him demonstrating parts and her repeating them- for maybe twenty minutes before beginning to pack up. He responded to her 'thank you' with a small, soft smile, and then they parted ways.
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:28 AM   #5
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Such a cute romance
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:48 AM   #6
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A new romance from a new(?) FFA writer? Be still my heart
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Old 07-07-2017, 08:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ashblonde View Post
A new romance from a new(?) FFA writer? Be still my heart
I'm so glad you guys are enjoying it! I'm completely new to this type of writing and I have to admit I was a little nervous to put it up here Hate to say the next part is going to be a little delayed (I may or may not have dropped my writing device and shattered the screen) but I'm hoping to have it up sometime next week!
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:28 AM   #8
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I hope you've been able to repair or replace your writing advice, because I'm sure I'm not the only one waiting to hear more about those green eyes, etc
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:05 PM   #9
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Part 3
One of the greatest parts of living in a coastal Florida town is the access to the ocean it provides, free of the obnoxious crowds of tourists you would find in the bigger cities. Caroline's mother loved the ocean, a trait Caroline herself had also inherited, but the muscle spasms and fatigue that resulted from her mother's ailment prevented her from being able to drive herself anywhere. Caroline often brought her mother to the local beach where she could keep an eye on her while she went for a swim. Today was to be one of those days - and she was meeting Julia at the beach as well, which always put her in a good mood.

The smell of salt was brought to Caroline by an ocean wind as she set up a towel and umbrella for her mother in the sand. Julia ran up to greet her and assist in getting her mother settled.

"Hey Caroline!" she called, "and hello, Natalie. How are you today?" Julia smiled respectfully at Caroline's mother.

"As good as ever, maybe even a little better now that I'm in the fresh air. It’s always so good to see you Julia, I swear you're the only thing keeping me from driving my poor Caroline here completely insane," Natalie responded, smiling up at her daughter from her chair in the sand.

"Oh, you know that's not true. I love you, mama," Caroline laughed. Seeing her mother's happiness written so clearly on her face gave her a rush of warmth. She'd made the right choice in deciding to stay with her- even if it meant putting her aspirations on hold.

Julia and Caroline made their way to the ocean together, laughing and talking. Spending time with Julia always made Caroline feel like she was still in high school. Julia was so fun, and so carefree, and she always acted from the belief that the whole world was still open to her. They talked about the local gossip, about Julia's latest advertising project, and about their love lives (or Caroline's lack thereof) for what felt like hours. Julia had a new boyfriend *again* and she absolutely swore that he was ‘the one’ - *again*. Caroline had always been envious of her petite brown-haired friend’s ability to maintain optimism in the face of repeated rejection. Julia would date a man for a week or maybe two, before she either wore them out with her relentless energy or grew bored of them. And Julia channeled that energy into playing matchmaker for Caroline as well. She sent a constant stream of guys in Caroline’s direction, and Caroline spent a considerable amount of effort in dodging them.

At some point, clouds had begun to gather overhead, and now the sky was threatening rain. With concern for her mother, Caroline was about to say farewell to her friend when she heard a new voice calling her name.

“Caroline! Hi! Funny seeing you here.” Caroline turned to identify the source of the voice. It was David. David the Singer.

“And this is… ?” he asked, his gaze shifting to Caroline’s friend.

“Oh, this is Julia, she’s been my best friend since forever,” Caroline responded. Introductions were made, with Julia grinning wickedly and glancing back and forth between Caroline and David through the whole thing.

“Hey- since we don’t have practice tonight, the guys and I were going to get drinks at the bar we usually perform at. Would you like to come along?” David asked. Caroline knew that he was flirting with her; it was obvious enough in the tone of his voice and the smile that was invading his features. Caroline looked into his thin fair-skinned face and big blue eyes and felt … nothing.

It worried her sometimes- guys would ask her out all the time and she would even go on dates with some of them. And she’d enjoy the dates, she really would, but they always felt like an outing between friends to her. They failed to evoke any form of a physical response. Even sex felt boring and awkward to her. Julia always insisted she just needed to find the right guy, but Caroline wasn’t so sure.

Back in reality, David was waiting for an answer, and Caroline pulled herself back out of her thoughts to give it to him- and under Julia’s expectant gaze there was only one correct answer to give.

“Um, I’m not working today, sure” she conceded.

“Great! I’ll see you there, then.” David grinned. He seemed like a nice enough person; maybe she should give him a chance.

They were back on the sand, and Julia’s devious smile had yet to fade.

“He liiiiiked youuuu,” she cooed, nearly dancing about Caroline mother as she helped in folding up the beach umbrella. Caroline didn’t quite share in her excitement. She really did like the band, and she wanted to avoid the inevitable awkwardness when things didn’t work out with David. She really didn’t want to have to go back to working another counter.
---
Caroline wasn’t usually one for bars. She liked focus and direction, and bars are places entirely void of either. The only direction, as far as she could tell, was to drink to get drunk, which was something she never did alone and only occasionally did with friends. She felt comfortable with the guys from the band, however, and found herself enjoying herself quite a bit. David was obviously trying quite hard to capture her attention, and as the conversation progressed she began to find the true personalities and backgrounds behind the faces of her fellow band members.

Shaun was married to a man named Jackson, and together they had adopted two children. After how quiet and uncertain he’d seemed through the couple of practices that she had seen him at, Caroline was surprised to see how much Shaun opened up when the topic of conversation was his family. He seemed very pleased with his life, and radiated the subtle confidence of a man who’d attained his most important life aspiration.

Garret, on the other hand, remained smooth and steady throughout the conversation. He had no peaks of excitement or valleys of hesitation that came and went with the conversation’s focus the way Shaun did. He was a powerful and level presence, but it seemed to Caroline that his cool demeanor was underlied by a very careful effort to keep up some form of guard. When he wasn’t playing with the band he was a freelance programmer that worked from home. Caroline was vaguely envious that his career choice allowed him to dodge the obstacle of their town’s remoteness that was preventing her from similarly establishing herself professionally.

He seemed so perfect, like he had everything in his life together- he had his music and his career and he always dressed so nice and everything about him seemed so effortlessly calculated. He looked so soft and so round and so comfortable and she so much wanted to break down that guard he’d put up because he was so---

What? Caroline snapped herself out of her thoughts abruptly. Where had that come from? How had she gotten so distracted? David was looking at her, triumphantly; clearly he had just said something that she was supposed to be impressed by. Caroline blinked at him as she realized she had no idea what he’d just said, or even what the current subject of the conversation was. Panicked, she faked a smile and nodded politely at him.

And so the conversation continued, and David seemed not to have noticed her momentary lapse in attention as he continued to tell of the time that he’d apparently spent a week learning to fish with the residents of a small village somewhere in Brazil. Caroline did her best to pay attention and not to let her eyes wander back to Garret, who was sitting beside him. She felt awful- she’d been invited there by David, and he was clearly putting on a show for her, and she’d practically been ignoring him.

Her brain’s need to create a logical understanding of the situation was coming up blank. David was charismatic and very traditionally good looking, and yet the only person who was really capturing her interest was Garrett, who was neither of those things. There was something about Garret, which Caroline for the life of her could not identify, that made everything else seem to fade to the background of her mind when he was around.

Caroline didn’t have much experience with attraction. She’d never felt attraction to any of the lean and confident guys who had asked her out in the past. She couldn’t be attracted to Garret, could she be? Garret was nothing like the chiseled and muscular guys that all of her college friends had gone crazy for. He was so much- bigger. Big wasn’t supposed to be attractive, right? None of the guys that were “so so hot” that Julia had tried to set her up with were big.

But when she looked into those dark green eyes of his she felt … something. Something where she’d felt always felt nothing before. It confused her.

And that’s how she felt still as she lie in bed that night trying to find sleep- confused.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:29 PM   #10
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I'm really enjoying this! Your authorial voice is very natural and relatable, and the plot itself feels very real and well fleshed out. You're obviously a super skilled writer-- I can't wait to see where you take this story!
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:42 PM   #11
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Part 4

A week had gone by since Caroline's first rehearsal with the band, and tonight was to be her first performance. As she stood behind the cafe counter waiting for her shift to come to a close, she couldn't help but feel a little nervous. Even in her college days she had never quite grown used to performing in front of an audience, and now, after a two year hiatus from drumming of any kind, her apprehension was only intensified.

She shifted her posture as she stood at her station, drumming on the counter with her fingertip and fidgeting slightly. She looked up as the next customer approached and then smiled as her eyes fell upon a familiar face. Garrett. Immediately she felt her restlessness melt away as he returned her friendly smile.

"Coffee and a pastry?" she asked him before he was able to give the order himself.

His eyes widened in mock surprise, "How did you know?"

With a light giggle to herself Caroline whirled away to put together his order once again. There was something about his smooth and seemingly unbreakable confidence that made her own nervousness evaporate. She sure could use that superpower of his to keep her calm over the next couple of hours. Maybe she should-

"My shift ends in twenty minutes, would you like to get some dinner together before the show?" the words escaped her lips before her mind had time to fully process the thought.

Caroline could have sworn that there had been a chatter of quiet talk among the other people in the cafe as she asked the question, but now all she could hear through the silence left by Garrett was the sound of her own heart pounding. She watched his face, waiting for an answer. She watched as the smile on his soft lips dropped. She watched as the shine in his green eyes disappeared, only to be replaced by a brooding darkness. She watched as he pulled his shoulders back and into himself, as though he was trying to make himself smaller.

"Why?" His lips barely seemed to move as he delivered the curt single-word question. His voiced was crackling and barbed- almost accusatory.

All the breath was sucked out of Caroline's chest, and for a moment she couldn't put together any words to form a cohesive response out of. Inviting him to dinner had been to her a natural extension of the warmth that she thought they'd been sharing. Why did he look now like she had said something unforgivable?

She swallowed, and forced herself to speak. Barely. "I thought... I wanted... had to get dinner anyway... was nervous about the show... thought it would be a good way to pass the time ... with you ..."

"Oh."

Silence reigned for a moment, before he continued, "I suppose I'm not that busy that I couldn't go to dinner with you. If that's really what you want. "

There wasn't any warmth left in the air. All that was left was a nervous anxiety- the same as what Caroline had been feeling before he'd entered the shop.

So she shook her head. "No, if its a bother to you, then I don't want to take up your time," she said quietly.

The expression on his face changed again to something she didn't quite recognize. Certainly softer, and certainly less afraid and angry, but still uncertain, and still slightly dark.

Silently, he took his order from her and handed her a wad of bills. He turned to leave before she could so much as count out his change.

Caroline blinked. This is what she got for being impulsive. Cold, hard rejection. How did Julia do it? She was always so confident, so persistent.


And what was with Garrett? She had never seen him break so dramatically from his typical cool, confident character before. Had she really been so out of line with her question? The image of his face as it had looked as he rejected her returned to her mind. It still seemed so alien to her. he normally looked so warm, and so at peace with himself, she'd almost felt drawn to reach out and touch his soft cheek to try and tap into that energy of his. Or go lower, and wrap her arms around his waist, and pull herself into that soft body of his...

Caroline shook her head, pulling herself back out of the fantasy. Clearly, he wasn't interested. And even if he had been, those kinds of things never ended well for her. It wasn't worth the pain.

She mad a promise to herself to do her best to put him out of her mind and to enjoy her relationships with her bandmates for what they were. If she pushed things, she'd ruin it. That's how it always went.

---

Caroline scoured the bar crowd apprehensively with her eyes as she arranged her percussion equipment in front of her. She had no real reason to be nervous - there was only one song that she was still having trouble with, and David had promised her not to start that song without checking with her first.

But there was something about the bar setting that unsettled her - with the constant dull but droning chatter produced by the patrons and the casually expectant looks they kept shooting towards the band.

And, of course, there was Garrett. His expression gave away noting - not so much as the slightest hint that the exchange between them earlier that day had even happened. He hadn't said so much as a word to her since arriving at the bar, or even glanced in her direction. It was as though she didn't exist to him.

David was standing beside her. She hadn't noticed him before that moment, and he hadn't said anything to her yet, but she could tell by the inquisitive look on his face that he'd noticed her staring at Garrett.

"So what's his deal?" she asked David, nodding her head towards Garrett in what she hoped was a casual manner.

David looked at her with an odd expression on his face for a moment, but then responded, " He's a good enough guy- sociable when you drag him out somewhere but otherwise keeps mostly to himself. I met him in college, the year before he graduated, and we've kept this band going together ever since. I get the feeling you're referring to something slightly more specific here though, so you're going to have to help me out a little if you want a better answer."

"I saw him earlier today and he... kind of freaked out on me," she admitted.

"Well, what did you say to him?"

"Nothing crazy, I just asked hi if he wanted to get something to eat together before we performed tonight."

The same odd look returned to David's face as he asked, " Why would you ask him that? "

She snapped. "Maybe I enjoy his company? I don't get why that's such a hard concept for the both of you to understand.

It came out louder than she'd intended- Garrett was looking at her with an expression of shock inhabiting his soft features. Caroline wondered briefly how much of their conversation he'd overheard. David blinked at her with a similar expression of surprise before retreating to his mic stand.

Caroline moved to hide behind her drums as she regained her composure. The performance passed her by in a blur, her hands keeping the beat largely without her notice. It seemed to go well enough, and the bar patrons gave them the expected polite applause between songs. It wasn't long before the night had drawn to a close, and even then Caroline found herself still unable to take her mind off the situation with Garrett.
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:27 AM   #12
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Interesting!

Can't wait to find out which turns this story will take.
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Old 08-02-2017, 01:59 PM   #13
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I'm really enjoying this! Your authorial voice is very natural and relatable, and the plot itself feels very real and well fleshed out. You're obviously a super skilled writer-- I can't wait to see where you take this story!
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Interesting!

Can't wait to find out which turns this story will take.
Thanks guys! As a new writer, it really means a lot to know that you all are enjoying this
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Old 08-04-2017, 02:10 AM   #14
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This is great! Really love your writing style and characterisation
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Old 08-12-2017, 05:58 PM   #15
Xyantha Reborn
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Really enjoying this!
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Old 08-13-2017, 02:00 PM   #16
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Please, more!
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Old 10-24-2017, 07:19 AM   #17
Tad
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I hope you haven't lost the rhythm of this story; still hoping for another installment!
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Old 10-27-2017, 03:32 PM   #18
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This is so much fun!
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