Author's Note: A heartfelt thanks to my reviewers- old and new… And a warning: This is my last pre-written chapter… so be prepared for a bit of a wait. Sorry? ;)
O~Glad you're enjoying it. =)
Gina~I'm glad you're still interested!
Smile 1~Aww, thanks… I'm really glad you liked it- the first chapter was my favorite one to write. (At least so far… Hehe)
CaliforniaDreamer~*hugs* Thanks you! I'm glad that it peaked your curiosity- hopefully it won't disappoint!
Legs~Thank you… Your review was very encouraging and I really appreciate it… But I'm afraid Jess won't be making an appearance for this one- I've never been much of a hard-core Literati, (Though I preferred him to Dean any day) even though I read the fics occasionally. I only hope that you remain interested! *gulp* ;)
Haley~Thanks! I'm glad you like… =D
Vickie~Wow. I had this story posted for MONTHS yet no one ever made the connection! (They kept thinking Jess… *scratches head* Dunno why…) I' ll take your strawberries and raise you some sugar if you can guess what my fav. Pairing is…. =)
Thanks to all! I hope you find your way to the update… I'm sorry it wasn't posted sooner- but I couldn't get on the internet for a while…. Makes things a wee bit difficult! LOL
"It's too small Mom!" Rory whined feebly into the phone.
"Sweetie, didn't you tell me that Croxton has four coffee shops? Because then it's not only bigger than Stars Hollow but it's a place suitable enough for you to thrive." Lorelai said cheerfully before adding, "Plus, it's new to you…and practically everyone in Stars Hollow knows each other…. Just wait, after a few months it won't be nearly as bad."
Rory sighed, "You're right… I'm still getting settled after all…" She paused before jumping in with, "And yes, there ARE four coffee shops and I've already tried them out. Only 2 of them serve coffee that can be congested."
Lorelai winced, "I'm sorry Kiddo. That's gotta be tough. Just look on the bright side… you have one more coffee shop than me!"
Rory brightened slightly, "True… But then neither of these coffee shops can hold a candle to Luke's."
"That's because it's Luke's" Lorelai clarified reverently. A sudden deep murmur was heard on Lorelai's end.
"Mom! You woke him up? I can't believe you! Get out of bed right this second Missy! Your husband-to-be shouldn't be abused in that fashion. Speaking of which… what exactly are you doing sleeping in the same bed with a man that isn't legally married to you… Hmm?" Rory snickered lightly, imagining Lorelai's reaction to her question.
"Oh my dear child, and I had thought that I already talked about the birds and bees with you… Very well, I will do my Motherly duty and explain to you what, exactly, I was doing in bed with Luke. We were-"
Lorelai's wicked tone was cut off by Rory. "MOM! That's GROSS! I swear if you finish that sentence I'm going to bash my head against the wall until those images are washed away by a flood of pain!"
Lorelai remained silent so Rory spoke again, "Stop pouting… You've put me in my place- I will never ask why you're in bed with Luke ever again."
"Wonderful. My work is complete."
After a brief pause, Lorelai got back into the "interrogation" spirit, "So Croxton sucks, huh? How're the guys? Any eye-candy living in your apartment?"
Rory giggled, "Eye-candy? Unfortunately- No. Though I DO have a… rather promiscuous neighbor… Her name's Bonnie Edwards and she has at least 4 people a day go into her apartment with her and…well, *enjoy* themselves."
"People? Ah, the door swings both ways?"
Rory laughed, "Yep… I even got invited to go to one of her "parties" when I first moved in."
"How was it?"
"MOM! You KNOW I didn't go!!!"
Lorelai smiled as she imagined Rory's expression, "Yes sweetie, I know you didn't go… But back to the point… Are there any guys of interest? Any guys at all?"
"There is one guy at work that's pretty cute… he's one of The Croxton Review's reporters. About twenty-three, nice build, nice smile." Rory admitted.
"Ah, so my little columnist is lusting after a co-worker?" Lorelai teased.
"No, but you *did* ask about cute guys…" Rory paused thoughtfully before saying, "I wonder if being a columnist for a small town paper will even look good on my resume. After all "Dear Leigh" is just a "Dear Abby" knockoff."
Lorelai frowned, "Don't you dare think like that! You are a talented writer and this is your first job. If you keep working your ass off then you'll be able to go write for whoever you want."
Rory smiled at Lorelai's vehemence before saying, "Thanks Mom… " and then adding sweetly, "If worse comes to worse- I could just pack up and run home to Grandpa- he's been offering me jobs since the moment I graduated from Yale."
"Don't you dare! I've told you time and time again…. Making thousands of dollars from a filthy rich family member is far less enjoyable than a meager lifestyle doing what you love."
Rory burst out laughing, "Don't worry Mom. I remember this speech from last year. And the year before. And the year-"
"Stop, stop," Lorelai interrupted, "Now you're just being annoying."
Rory laughed again and Lorelai smiled, feeling the prick of tears as she thought of her baby so far away from home. "Listen I've got to go… But you take care okay Ror? And don't forget to call me whenever you get the chance… Luke wants to talk with you too."
"Okay Mom. Bye, I love you!"
"I love you too Sweetie."
Rory smiled one last time before tossing her phone on her couch. Her apartment was a cozy two roomer, with a small living and dining room, kitchen and bathroom. She had used the bigger room as her bedroom, and the much smaller one as an office/library.
Rory smiled wryly as she noticed that her already small living room was steadily becoming even smaller. All of the boxes that Lorelai sent had arrived the day before and they were spread liberally over her entire floor and covered the small coffee table. The only thing that was exposed was the TV set which was turned on and sitting in its dusty splendor, encased in its dinged TV shelf.
There was an attractive blonde woman currently speaking in a "serious" reporting voice, while wearing a hot pink clingy outfit. Honestly! Does she just think that we can't see what she's wearing? How are we supposed to be impressed by her oh-so-serious face if she's wearing something that looks like it belongs on a Barbie doll?
"This savage murderer has been dubbed the "Sleeping Beauty Killer" because of the peaceful appearance of the victims. The FBI has chosen to withhold any information of the Sleeping Beauty Killer's MO or the names of the deceased- their official statement is that they are 'currently working on a lead' and hope to put a stop to this chain of seemingly random murders…"
Rory was rifling through a stack of "Dear Leigh" entries when she distractedly groped for the remote and then switched off the TV.
Let's see… Boyfriend troubles. Boyfriend troubles. Husband troubles- wife troubles…Love troubles- love troubles… Are these people obsessed with romance?
Aha! Friend troubles- that's more like it! Signed by "Lilac"
I'm having a problem with my best friend.
She thinks that I've become too close with my boyfriend and now I'm becoming distant with her. I think that she's overreacting- what's your opinion? I wish she'd just open her eyes- I still care about her and I'll never stop…
I know she's feeling neglected because I keep canceling our plans to spend time with him, but I thought she'd understand- I mean, we're roommates so I see her every single day and I just wanted to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. But she's getting bent out of shape because sometimes I'd rather confide in him, or spend time with him than her. I love her like a sister but sometimes I just need space… How do I show her that I still value our friendship?
Rory almost groaned at the simplicity of the letters that had been pouring into her box. Being part of a small town newspaper obviously meant that she was bound to be giving a lot of similar advice. Glancing over Lilac's letter again Rory put it in her paper to be "included" in her column… No spelling mistakes have got to count for something- plus it's not a problem with or about her boyfriend… it's problems with her best friend that have to DO with her boyfriend. A welcome change all things considering…
* * * *
Rory walked into The Croxton Reviews office early the next morning holding a briefcase in one hand and a steaming cup of coffee in the other. Yawning, and trudging over to her small nook that served as an "office" Rory's co-workers exchanged grins as they noted her slowness and lack of expression.
Rory had been working at The Review for about a week now and yet everyone was STILL amazed by the amount of coffee the young woman consumed daily. They had started a poll the day before on how many cups it would take before she got the little bounce in her step that meant that she was fully awake and ready to take on the world.
Justin Embers, the reporter that Rory had mentioned to Lorelai, winked at Donna, before asking Rory casually, "So Ms. Gilmore, is that your first cup of coffee this morning?"
Rory grunted a reply that was shortly translated into an actual answer by Darcy- the Hollywood Gossip columnist that doubled as the Movie Review writer. She had been standing close enough to Rory's drooping head to formulate an answer among the grogginess.
Hiding a smile, Darcy announced, "Third cup."
A very audible "Damn." Echoed throughout the confines of the small room and everyone- even Rory looked towards its source. Ben Rothsbaum, a business reporter, was already sure that his money was a lost cause and he began to mutter about "Young people and their caffeine".
Donna stage-whispered, "He's just a bitter loser."
Rory downed the cup and radiated a tiny bit of awareness when she clearly asked: "What'd he lose?"
Justin's green eyes sparkled mischievously as he confessed. "He lost a bet."
Rory's acceptance of his terribly vague explanation convinced him that she still had a ways to go before she would be herself.
He saw her eyes focus on the coffeemaker that sat on the table in their "break area". It wasn't long before she began to slowly unfold from her desk and begin towards caffeine. Justin, feeling pity on her, motioned her back and went to refill her mug himself. After all, his mother raised him right… and plus it would be easier to keep track if he was doing the refilling for her.
* * * *
"Usher Inn? How nauseatingly upbeat…God, I hate small towns." Scout was left mumbling to himself as he heaved luggage from the trunk.
"And no doubt they reciprocate the sentiment… You've been dumping on small towns ever since you saw that the population sign was under 1,000. What gives?" Kenith demanded as he emerged from the small Inn's entrance doors.
Scout's eyes darkened as he glanced around, "Bad experiences, Boss. Just some really bad experiences."
Kenith chuckled before testing his theory, "Who was the girl?"
Scout smiled grimly at the irony, "The only one that got away."
"You still carrying an ancient flame, Junior?" Kenith asked curiously.
"That was a lifetime ago… I don't even think there's a candle anymore." Was Scout's crisp reply.
But of course, that was all the answer Kenith needed.