Family Secrets

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Juliette had indeed missed breakfast. Kennedy had contemplated waking her, but she knew the girl was probably exhausted. She had seen the light streaming out from underneath Juliette's bedroom door in the early hours of the mornings. She knew Juliette wasn't sleeping well, and felt guilty waking her when she needed sleep. Kennedy had made her a plate and put it in the fridge for later, along with the rest of the breakfast leftovers.

Kennedy was doing the dishes when the doorbell rang. She heard something clatter from the basement, and Eva let out an exasperated groan. She had gone down there shortly after breakfast to pack her bag for that evening's show. They wouldn't leave until late in the evening, but each time Eva left the packing to the absolute last minute she wound up frantic and irritable.

"Have you seen my iridescent heels?" Eva called up the stairs, continuing to rummage through the mess of the basement.
"Under the stairs, last time I checked," Kennedy called back, drying her hands on the towel by the sink before going to answer the door.

Juliette's social worker had stopped back over to deliver her medicines. Vitamins, and one antibiotic for the chlamydia that Juliette had. Juliette had no idea, and Kennedy wasn't quite sure what to say as Juliette descended the staircase and gave her a confused, nervous look.

"Morning, sunshine," Kennedy said, offering the girl a smile. "There are leftovers from breakfast in the fridge if you're hungry. I didn't want to wake you." She held up the bag containing the bottles of pills. "There's some medicine and vitamins for you to take after you've eaten. You'll be fine."

Ronan appeared on the staircase behind Juliette. "Who was that?" he asked, looking over at Kennedy. "Is Bea here yet?" He called Kennedy's mother by her first name. They all did, for the most part.
Kennedy shook her head. "She'll be by later," she told him. "Go make yourself useful and help Eva pack her bag. She's hunting through that disaster of a basement by herself."
 

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"Morning, sunshine," Kennedy said, offering the girl a smile. "There are leftovers from breakfast in the fridge if you're hungry. I didn't want to wake you." She held up the bag containing the bottles of pills. "There's some medicine and vitamins for you to take after you've eaten. You'll be fine."
Juliette tried to offer a smile in return as she took the bag of pills, but it was hesitant. Most other times people had told her she would be fine it was a lie. She passed her aunt and headed toward the kitchen after Ronan came down to heat up whatever leftovers they had saved for her. She had never had siblings, but it felt strange to hear familiar orders given to someone that wasn't her.

She found the plate they had left her easily, and heated it up in the microwave, pulling it out before the beep; a habit. She sat at the table and pulled out the pill bottles one by one, placing them behind her plate. Most of them said Vitamin [Capital Letter], but one of them said
azithromycin. She didn't know what it was or what it was for. She wasn't that hungry, but she decided to eat quickly so she could help with whatever needed and then do her laundry. She had found the washer and dryer by now, both of which looked spotless and actually worked.
She stared at the different pill bottle while she picked at her food, reading the different parts of the label. She couldn't figure out any more useful information.
 
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The girl took the pills and went to heat up her breakfast. Kennedy returned to her dishes, and out of the corner of her eye, watched as Juliette examined the bottles in front of her. She wondered how much she should tell her. Should Kennedy tell her anything at all about what she had? It should be gone by the time she finished all the pills.

Kennedy had had the same thing after Logan had gotten to her, and, while she had been horrified, the diagnosis had also been meet with a wave of relief that she didn’t have something worse, something that wouldn’t go away.

She might not have anything at all if you’d told someone about him sooner
.

Kennedy let out a small sigh, trying to ignore the guilt that still wracked her. She looked back down towards the sink, realizing she had been scrubbing the same dish for several minutes at this point. She was about to set it off to the side when another loud crash came from the basement.

“If you put all your stuff together beforehand instead of the day of the show you wouldn’t be digging through a mess,” Kennedy muttered. She said this mostly to herself, and put the clean dish down on the counter harder than she’d meant to as she spoke. She jumped slightly at the loud sound it made, and sighed before setting it off to the side to dry.

“You have any laundry in your room?” Kennedy asked, looking back toward Juliette again. She figured Juliette must have some clothes that needed cleaning by now. “I can just toss it in with the rest of the laundry if you want.”
 

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Juliette could sense a tension in the air. There were various unfamiliar noises from downstairs and Kennedy was scrubbing a dish in the sink for longer than normal. It made her anxious. She wanted to leave, but she didn't want to put her plate in the sink while Kennedy was cleaning. She hadn't even eaten half of what she'd been served and she felt guilty for it, but didn't know how to leave the situation. The loud crash, the irritated muttering, the plate's clatter too noisy on the counter made her throat feel too tight, her lungs too shallow.

“You have any laundry in your room?” Kennedy asked, looking back toward Juliette again.
When Kennedy addressed her, she straightened her posture instantly and met her gaze with a clenched jaw and tense shoulders. She'd been told to take the pills. She had forgotten to get herself a glass of water. She was trapped.
“I can just toss it in with the rest of the laundry if you want.”
She knows I have dirty laundry; she knows I should have washed it by now. I waited too long she'll hate to have to do it herself. But if I wash it separately, that'll waste water. She bit her lip. Stop staring like an idiot, answer the question! "Um," she whimpered, wincing at the crack in her voice. Her fingernails dug little crescent moons into her thighs, struggling for the safer answer. She felt like a broken toy with a fractured voice box and messed up programming. And no matter how hard she tried, she never did anything right.
 
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Juliette stiffened at Kennedy’s response to the sound from the basement. Kennedy sighed and looked over at her. “I’m not mad at you,” she said gently, passing the girl a glass of water. She’d noticed Juliette hadn’t gotten one earlier when she was reheating her food. “I’m...not really mad at Eva either, even though she should pack her things earlier than she does. I’m just...” she trailed off. Mad at herself was what she was, but she didn’t want to burden Juliette with the knowledge, not when the girl was already walking on eggshells as it was.

“I think too much,” she finished. “I’m in my own head too much.”

Juliette only became more nervous at Kennedy’s offer to do her laundry, digging her fingernails into her thighs, and Kennedy could practically hear the ticker tape of anxieties running through her mind. She’s really that frightened of me.

“Hey,” Kennedy said, her voice and expression softening. She took one of Juliette’s hands in her own. “I really don’t mind. I wouldn’t have offered to do it if I didn’t want to. It takes an extra five minutes at the most to seperate and toss a couple extra things into a load of laundry. It won’t kill me.”
 

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She didn't mean to, but her breathing picked up as Kennedy approached her with the glass of water. She was saying she wasn't mad at her, but Juliette couldn't believe her. And even if she did, Kennedy was irritated at something and Juliette was the closest thing to her. The closest thing that would react to being hit, the easiest one to take anger out on. The cause doesn't matter. The effect is always that she ends up in pain. She didn't understand the logic, but she had yet to untangle the signs of anger in an adult or a man from the potential for violence. And yet, she didn't lean away from when she came close.
“I think too much,” she finished. “I’m in my own head too much.”
Juliette blinked, unsure of why her shoulders relaxed for a moment. She had never met an adult that admit to any fault or vulnerability of their own. Especially not to something that sounded so similar to one of her own several flaws. It threw her off. Where was this going?
She took her hand. Juliette watched her hand rise gently with Kennedy's. A fleeting image of her wrist snapping with one swift twist made her tremble. She forced her gaze up to Kennedy's.
“I really don’t mind. I wouldn’t have offered to do it if I didn’t want to. It takes an extra five minutes at the most to separate and toss a couple extra things into a load of laundry. It won’t kill me.”
"Okay," she whispered. A clueless beat of silence. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, because that was the only other thing she knew to say.
 
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Kennedy gave Juliette’s hand a gentle squeeze. “I’m sorry I scared you,” she apologized softly. “You, on the other hand, have nothing to be sorry for. You don’t have to apologize for having feelings. You have every reason in the world to be afraid of me. I just want you to know that I’m not angry with you and I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to see you happy.”

She let go of Juliette’s hand and turned in the direction of the laundry room. “Once you’ve finished your food and taken your pills, bring them to the laundry room for me, okay?”

And then she drifted off down the hallway, leaving Juliette in the kitchen.
 

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Juliette felt her jaw clench when her hand was squeezed, but she didn't pull away. She wanted to be good. She wanted to be brave. She wanted... to be normal. She should have clarified about how she wasn't really scared of Kennedy. She was scared...in general. She couldn't recollect the last time she had felt entirely safe. And although she desperately wanted to, she couldn't truly believe that all her aunt wanted for her was happiness. She didn't feel it was possible, anyway.

She let go of Juliette’s hand and turned in the direction of the laundry room. “Once you’ve finished your food and taken your pills, bring them to the laundry room for me, okay?”
The warmth of Kennedy's hand around hers left her fingers cold when her aunt walked away. "Okay," she acquiesced. When Kennedy was out of her sight, Juliette sighed, relaxing somewhat and pressing the heels of her palms against her forehead. Why couldn't she just stop being such a pathetic little wimp? Another loud crash from downstairs made her flinch again. She groaned, then took her pills. She had to try a few times to down a couple of them, but eventually managed. Then she washed her plate on her tiptoes in silence.
 
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Kennedy slipped into the laundry room, and began silently separating the pile. She glanced over her shoulder as she heard the sink start, and her mind shot back to her niece. She hadn’t flinched or pulled away when Kennedy had touched her, even though she looked a bit like she wanted to. It was a small thing, but it was progress.

She heard a few soft thumps of what she assumed was Eva trying to drag her full bag up the stairs. Her theory was confirmed when Eva’s voice spoke from the kitchen.

“Okay,” Eva said, rounding the basement doorway with an exhausted sounding huff. “Im still down a shoe, but I’ve packed all the rest of my shit.” She dropped the shoe she was holding down onto the bag before shoving the bag up against the wall to get it out of the way.

Eva then looked towards Juliette, who still appeared somewhat frazzled. “Sorry for all the noise,” she said. “I can’t find anything down there.”



There were several reasons Bianca had stayed away. The most prominent one was guilt. She had failed, more than once, to protect someone from her son. She had failed for nearly Kennedy’s entire childhood, and ultimately her adulthood too, the first time when Kennedy fled the house to escape him, and the second nearly ten years later when Logan had cornered her in the bathroom.

She hadn’t known Kennedy would get hurt. She probably should have known, but all Bea had really wanted was to have a nice day with both of her children. She couldn’t remember what the plan for that day had even been now.

She’d tried her best with both of them, and she still felt her best hadn’t been good enough. She’d been a young, single mother, hardly more than a child herself when she’d had Kennedy. She’d spent more of it working than she wanted to admit, at least while they were young. She’d had to to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Maybe that was part of where she’d failed both of them. Being away so much while they were still so young.

Logan had always been...angry. And at first Bea had thought that maybe it was because she wasn’t home enough. So she’d made extra time for him, when that didn’t work, she tried just about everything else. She tried punishing him for his behavior. That failed. She’d taken him to several different psychologists over the years, most of them never being able to pinpoint what was wrong with him, if anything at all. He’d gone to therapy too, but manipulated most of his therapists into thinking there was nothing wrong either.

So she’d spent most of the time floundering helplessly, trying her best to help her son grow up into a decent man, while he resisted every attempt she made.

And now, yet again, he had hurt someone else. His own daughter, this time. A daughter Bea hadn’t even known about, even though she’d probably been living with him for at least the past few years. And she’d never suspected a thing. Granted, she hadn’t seen or spoken more than a few words to him since he’d done what he’d did to Kennedy, but still. She should’ve known something. Anything.

Bea sighed as she gazed out into the road in front of her. Too late. It was done. It happened. She couldn’t go back in time and fix it now.

She stopped the car in Kennedy’s driveway and tried to focus on more positive things. She would get to see her daughter again today. And her daughter-in law, and her grandchildren—all of them this time.

Bea leaned into the backseat for a moment to grab the plate of cookies she had brought with her. She baked a lot at home by herself, and mostly never finished eating any of it. Better to bring part of it to a houseful of people who would probably appreciate it more than Bea herself did. She paused in front of the door for a moment, and then reached out and gave it a few light knocks.
 

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When she had finished with her dishes and left her pills in their large ziploc in the pill/medicine cabinet, Juliette started to head back up to her room to get her laundry, but stopped when she heard thumps headed up the stairs. Eva appeared then, holding a shiny heel and a large bag. Her tone was slightly irritated and tired. Not a safe combination. Juliette bit her lip when she was addressed, confused again at why she was being apologized to. "It's okay," she mumbled, mostly as an excuse to leave and head up the stairs. When she got to her guest room, she saw movement outside the window and spotted a car parked outside the house. Swiftly, she pulled her laundry basket from the closet and quietly lifted it all the way to the laundry room, mindful of the stairs. When she dropped off her basket next to the washer, the looked up at Kennedy and spoke softly. "There's someone at the door..should I just leave this here?" she gestured to her laundry basket and waited for further instructions. There was a hesitant knock at the door.

She usually hid whenever there were visitors, and she would never answer it herself. Though she knew it was likely her grandmother, as expected, she hadn't actually seen anyone get out of the car from her window. She wasn't sure how she felt about this meeting, or what Bianca expected of her. She had only known one other grandparent, her mother's mother, but she was killed in the same car crash that killed her mom. She felt a pressure start building in her chest and thought back to what Kennedy had said that first night, that she had never known Juliette had ever existed--that if she had...what had Bianca known? Juliette shook her head. The hypothetical was useless. What happened already happened. There's no fixing it. No fixing her. She's broken and she knew that she wasn't going to be good enough for the woman who stepped through the door.
 
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Kennedy smiles as Juliette dropped her laundry basket. “You can just leave it,” she told her. She knelt to begin separating the laundry, lifting her head as she heard the knock at the door. “That’s probably my mother,” she said, quickening her pace before putting in the first load of laundry. “I’m sure she’s anxious to meet you."

Eva reached the door first, running her hands through her now messy hair. She gave a tired smile as she pulled open the door. "Hi, Bea."
Bea smiled and reached out to give her daughter-in-law a tight hug. "Hey, Eve," she greeted as she stepped inside and set the late she held on the kitchen counter. She eyed Eva curiously and then said, "Are you feeling all right? You look tired."

Eva shook her head as she headed back towards the basement door. "I'm okay," she said with a smile. "Just frazzled. But I suppose that's what happens when you wait to pack for a show until the last possible minute. I'm still hunting for a shoe."

Bea was about to say something else, but stopped as Kennedy rounded the corner, grinning.

Hey!” she chirped, reaching out to give her mother a tight hug. Seeing the pair next to one another, it was quite obvious they were related, and with Bea looking as young as she did, whether it was due to good genetics, how young she’s had her children, or perhaps a combination of both, they looked more similar than most mothers and daughters did.

"Hello, darling," Bea greeted, giving her daughter a kiss on the forehead as she hugged her.

"I found it!"

Everyone's attention turned towards the basement door as a matching shoe to the one Eva had previously been holding flew through the doorway. Eva scrambled to catch it before depositing it on top of the bag with its match. "Thank you, Ronan," Eva sighed with a smile as the boy drifted up the stairs and around the corner. "Bea!" he said, darting over to give the older woman a hug. "Hi!"

"Hello, Ronan," Bea greeted, smiling at the boy. Kennedy looked over her shoulder at the sound of footsteps on the staircase Jupiter and Hugo appeared on the stairs, having heard the doorbell ring.
 

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While she was told to just leave it, Juliette felt awkward just standing there while Kennedy put the load in. She could hear Eva and (Bea's?) voice at the front entrance while she grabbed the last few garments at the bottom of her basket and tossed them into he machine. Their footsteps migrated into the kitchen, where Kennedy met up with them both and then Ronan burst in with the missing shoe.

Juliette tried to keep her breathing even and mustered her courage to peek carefully around the corner. Bianca's gaze was drawn to the stairs when Jupiter and Hugo came down and Juliette stared, trying to find any hint of familiarity in her features. She felt like such a wimp, half-hiding behind a wall like a little kid, but she felt frozen to the spot for no discernible reason. She just wanted to be normal! Juliette winced and clenched her fists as if that would keep her from showing the slight tremble in all of her movements right now.
 
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"Hi Bea!" Jupiter said, hopping off the last step with Ronan following after them. Jupiter gave Bea a quick hug, and the woman greeted them with a peck on the cheek. She looked over at Hugo before she spoke again. “I made cookies,” she told him, grinning as the boy’s face lit up. “I left them on the counter.”

“Oh, don’t tell him that,” Eva teased, reaching out to tousle Hugo’s hair as the boy skittered past her. “He’ll devour the whole plate before anyone else can have any.”
“Let him,” Bea answered. “He’s skinny, he probably needs it.”

Kennedy laughed as her mother spoke, and then Bea’s gaze travelled to the hallway, where Juliette still stood peering nervously around the corner. Bea offered the girl a friendly smile.

“You must be Juliette,” she said. “Hello, dear. Would you like a cookie?”
 

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Feet glued to the floor as she tried to breathe at a normal pace, Juliette watched the family gather and tried to figure out something that she's always been confused about since she arrived. It seemed that even with extended family, everyone was so..touchy. They touched all the time, and none of them ever seemed more than jokingly malicious. She didn't understand why and that would make it that much harder for her to get used to things around here. She still wasn't sure how long she would be here and she was still trying to process that Bianca and Kennedy are actually related to her.
“Oh, don’t tell him that,” Eva teased, reaching out to tousle Hugo’s hair as the boy skittered past her. “He’ll devour the whole plate before anyone else can have any.”
“Let him,” Bea answered. “He’s skinny, he probably needs it.”
Juliette bit her lip. If she thought he was skinny... well, it's a good thing most of her clothes is baggy on her. Bianca spotted her then; she looked for all the world like a deer in headlights.
“You must be Juliette,” she said. “Hello, dear. Would you like a cookie?”
She had no idea what to say, but she knew her stomach was far too affected by her nerves right now to properly digest anything. But she didn't want to refuse. She gulped and took a small, forced step forward, raising her right hand in a hesitant wave hello.
 
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“Don’t worry,” Hugo said to Juliette from where he stood leaning against the counter. He could tell that the girl probably wasn't very hungry. "I'll save you some." He grinned at her and took a bite of his cookie as he spoke. "I'll only eat most of them." He looked back over to Bea again. "Thanks," he told her, still grinning.

"You're welcome," Bea told him. "I bake too much. Might as well bring them to someone who'll appreciate them. God knows I won't eat them all." She looked back to Juliette again. The girl didn't look like Logan, at least. Her looks must have come from her mother. looked petrified of her. She probably was, and Bea supposed she had every right to be. Who wouldn't be completely terrified of the mother of the person who had abused her for years?

How could I not have known?

Bea's gaze softened as she looked at the girl. "I have something for you," she said, rummaging through her purse and pulling out a book. "Someone told me you liked to read, so I got you this." Her gaze flicked over to Jupiter as she spoke, and they raised their hand in a gesture of admittance.
"Guilty," Jupiter said with a shrug. "I don't have the next one in that series you started reading, and she wanted to bring you something you'd like, so that's what I suggested."

"Consider it an early Christmas gift." Bea told her.
 

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Though Hugo told her not to worry, she could swear her heart was beating hard enough they could see it through her shirt. Everyone was staring at her again. Her light eyes flickered from person to person, stomach knotting all the while. Her kept lingering on Bianca, getting caught there when the older woman addressed her. She watched anxiously as she pulled the gift from her purse, wary of everything and resisting the urge to step back the way she came and run away. She pulled out a book. The next one to the novel she had chosen off of Jupiter's shelf. Her eyes widened and turned briefly to Jupiter. She knew she shouldn't have said anything to them. Now they all know. And gifts always come with strings attached. She clenched her teeth and nodded, giving the barest smile of gratitude in an attempt at polite acceptance. But she didn't step any closer to take it, she just stared at the book Bianca held out for her, thinking ahead to when it would be taken from her.

That was what froze her in hesitation all of the time. She wasn't scared of Bianca or anyone here really. She was afraid of the uncertainty if it all. Back home, she was constantly walking on eggshells or a tightrope she could never stay balance on, but that was familiar. She knew how to handle it, however horrible it was. Here, there was a calm she didn't understand. Living here with no idea of how long she could stay or what the dangers were was like tiptoeing her way across an open field. No cover, no hiding places. No danger around, from what she could see..yet. So she was always waiting for a snap, looking over her shoulder with every move knowing the wrong mistake might land her right back in that rotten house with her father. Sometimes she almost wished someone would hit her, if only so she knew where her boundaries lie. If only so she could stop waiting for it.
 
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Juliette didn’t take the book. She glanced nervously from person to person, the look she gave Jupiter being especially fearful. She probably regretted taking the book at all, Kennedy realized. She wasn’t used to being given things just because. Kennedy paused, her jaw clenching for a moment before relaxing again. If she ever saw Logan again it would take everything she had not to punch him straight in the face.

Kennedy stepped foreword to stand beside her mother, who still held the book in her outstretched hand. “You can take it,” Kennedy assured her gently. "Nobody's going to take it back. She wouldn't have brought it for you if she didn't want you to have it."
 

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Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi, Hurt/Comfort, Horror,
Genre You DON'T Like
Medievel, detective stories
Kennedy stepped foreword to stand beside her mother, who still held the book in her outstretched hand. “You can take it,” Kennedy assured her gently. "Nobody's going to take it back. She wouldn't have brought it for you if she didn't want you to have it."
The awkward silence felt deafening to the point that her ears seemed to ring in them. She knew she was the cause of it and she hated being the center of attention so much, but she was unable to stop criticizing herself for her lack of normalcy that she could barely attempt it. She took a small step forward once Kennedy prompted her, got a closer look of the cover. It was new. She had bought it; just to give it to her. What would she want in return? Bianca doesn't live here, so she couldn't bring up the debt all the time for favors from her, but even if it was just a christmas gift..she knew christmas was supposed to be an exchange. She hesitated again. "I-" she bit her lip, forced the words out, eyes down. "I don't have anything for you," she murmured, still trembling. She had lost track of the days and didn't realize Christmas was only a few days from now. She should have known. And on top of this, she had no clue what to do about gifts for the people housing her. She would probably be the only one not giving gifts if she didn't come up with something soon.
 
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
Speed of Light, Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Female, Transgender, Androgynous
Favorite Genres
Real life
Juliette stared down at the book, trembling as she fumbled over her words. For a moment, Kennedy wondered when she had last been given a gift. Logan probably had never given her a Christmas present, and anything he had given her had probably been conditional. Juliet finally managed to speak, saying she didn't have anything to give to Bea. "You don't--" Kennedy started, but Bea put a hand on her shoulder and Kennedy fell quiet.

Bea stepped forward, still holding the book. "You don't have to give me anything," she said gently. "I didn't bring you something to get something back. I brought it because I wanted to do something nice for you. That's the whole point of giving gifts. Not because you want to something in return." Bea wanted to tell the girl that just seeing her was enough of a present, but she stopped herself and instead added, "I'm just happy to see you."
 

Ravenbelle

An Artist of Words
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fine being both passive and aggressive. i suppose it depends on the story, though i usually tend to swing passive.
Favorite Genres
Modern fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi, Hurt/Comfort, Horror,
Genre You DON'T Like
Medievel, detective stories
Her eyes flickered back up to Kennedy, then Bea when she interrupted her, resisting the urge to step backward when Bea came closer.
Bea stepped forward, still holding the book. "You don't have to give me anything," she said gently. "I didn't bring you something to get something back. I brought it because I wanted to do something nice for you. That's the whole point of giving gifts. Not because you want to something in return." Bea wanted to tell the girl that just seeing her was enough of a present, but she stopped herself and instead added, "I'm just happy to see you."
She wanted to ask why. She was nothing special. A basket case and a flight risk rolled into one stupid skinny package.She couldn't say as much. Besides, the older woman had such a calming voice. Like it was made of honey. A voice in the back of her mind imagined that the sweeter her voice seemed now, the sharper it would be later. It didn't make sense to her that her father came from a woman like this.
Juliette clenched her teeth, frustrated with the stalemate of her own creation. She finally reached out and pulled the book to her chest with a small, "Thank you," then stepped back and kept her eyes down. Hopefully that would be that. All of these eyes on her made her antsy and she wanted to find some excuse to hide again and hope they'd let her fade into the background, but she knew this woman had come mainly to see her and had already bought her clothing, so she couldn't leave. But of all of the people who had been staring at her for what felt like hours, someone must have felt uncomfortable to change the subject by now. Or at least that's what she was banking on. Because the alternative was another painfully awkward silence, entirely her own fault.