Well…now it's over. All of it. Thanks to all of the people who have read my stories so faithfully! I guarantee you'll either hate or pity Jonathan after Karen finishes with him. What about Rick? What about Ohmygosh? Will she jump overboard? Will she stay? Will she come back? Read on and enjoy the last chapter! Don't forget to read and review Threshold which should be out in a few weeks. Thank you!

Like red on a rose: Well it's all over now. Will you like the ending? Thank you for reviewing so many times. You get a hug!

Morgan Lee Faye: Thank you so much for being nice! I'm glad that you like my writing. Read and enjoy this next chapter.

Poncho D: She won't be jumping overboard…or will she? Thanks for reviewing the last few chapters.

Kountry 101: Poor Rick won't feel so poor after this chapter!

Moonlit Dreaming: Moonie! This chapter should make you happy if you want Rikaren to continue…

Awesome Rapidash: Thank you! You thought that it was the best chapter? Wait until you read the ending. Thanks for being a faithful reader!

HMAngel: No! She won't be coming back next summer…

Chicken Yuki: I can see where you're coming from. Karen has a lot of maturing to go through, doesn't she? You are such an attention w. Did you know that? I love you, though. Thanks for reading my stories.

Kisa chan: Wow! You are amazing, kisa! Thank you so much for reviewing with such sweet comments! Please don't start crying. This chapter will cheer you up, I bet!

CHAPTER NINE: Demented Boomerang

Five days later I was back on that same old, stinky boat back to Mineral Town. Can you believe it? I am such a weakling. I'm like some kind of demented boomerang--I leave and then return right back where I started. Only this time I wouldn't leave ever again. This time I was here to stay forever. I had done a terrible thing by leaving all of my friends with even saying goodbye. Would they…forgive me?

I had dissolved into tears on my first day of being back in school. The reason for my crying was that none of my old friends were excited to see me. Not even Melissa welcomed me back! She acted like I didn't exist. Jonathan wasn't even pleased to see me like I'd hoped he'd be. Instead he had found a new girlfriend with size-X boobs and platinum blonde hair.

"What are you doing here?" He asked rudely when I tapped his shoulder and greeted him.

I scowled, hurt. "What do you mean? I used to live here."

"Oh."

"Who's the blonde bombshell?"

Jonathan ran his arm around the girl's waist. "Her name is Angelique. Guess what she is."

"A playboy bunny?"

"No." He replied coldly. "She's my girlfriend."

I sputtered into derisive laughter. "That's your girlfriend? Ha! That's hilarious!" Angelique's face was turning pink with indignation at my obvious enjoyment of the idea. "Angelique, honey," I wiped tears of mirth from my eyes. "dump him now. I guess he didn't tell you that he never broke up with me before dating you, huh? That makes me wonder how many other girlfriends he has. I can answer that! He has sixteen girlfriends! I…uh…found them on my way through some of the major cities." I was lying so hard that it was turning the air around my person blue.

She narrowed her blue eyes and stepped away from the angry and disbelieving Jonathan. "That, like, can't be true. He gave me, like, this bracelet." She extended her arm from which a copper chain dangled.

"Did he now? You only got copper jewelry? Wow…my bracelet is silver. His eighth girlfriend, Meredith, actually received a gold bracelet--with earrings to match. You must be low on his list…or he's just getting cheap. Either one." More lies. I smiled one last time and walked calmly past the couple to my class. Thirty seconds later, Jon learned that having a copper chain shoved in your teeth hurts.

Another thing I missed from Mineral Town was my goat, Ohmygosh. On the first morning of our new city life, I came downstairs to pancakes on the table and, as always, a glass of milk. I took one sip and then spat it back into the glass. "Yuck. Where did you get this milk? It's terrible."

Mom glanced at the carton. "It's fine, Karen. I just had some myself."

"Oh, I see. You gave me cow's milk. Do we have any goat milk?"

"No, I'm sorry. None of the stores around here carry it." No goat milk? This city deal was looking worse and worse by the day. What respectable city didn't carry goat milk? I wanted Ohmygosh back right then.

Then that evening, out of habit, I put my hand on the front doorknob and almost yelled to my parents that I was going to the beach. I stopped myself when I realized that the nearest beach was probably the one in Mineral Town. I couldn't even watch the waves to soothe myself! The city sucked!

I stomped upstairs and melted on my bed, sniffling in self-pity. I opened my diary and flicked through the pages. Glued on the day of Winter the third was a small picture of Rick with his favorite chicken in his arms. He was smiling. I slammed the book, closed my eyes and screamed as hard as I could. My parents came sprinting up the stairs and into my room, demanding to know if I was bleeding, stabbed, burned, etc.

"TAKE ME BACK TO DANG MINERAL TOWN, DANGIT!" I hollered. To my surprise, my parents embraced and exchanged high fives.

My mom giggled like a little girl. "We've been waiting for you to say that! You can't imagine how much I miss Lillia and Anna."

"You can't imagine how much I miss the business and money we made there!" That was my dad the businessman 'til death.

It wasn't hard to pack out things for the third time. We'd barely unpacked them in the two days we'd been living in the apartment. When mom called the steam ferry again, they were exasperated that we'd want to make a return journey after two days. They couldn't spare time to pick us up until three days in the future, so I was compelled to attend school twice more. When the day arrived and the noisy boat finally backed into the city's harbor, I ran aboard eagerly, welcoming the sight of the peeling paint, the water stained benches and the rusty rails. The only other passenger on the boat was a girl of about eleven or twelve with light brown hair, clutching a worn satchel. Her face was dull and looked like it was no stranger to tears. I wish now that I had talked to her, but I was far too preoccupied with visions of my friends' faces to bother.

The island of Mineral Town grew larger and larger until I longed to jump over the rails of that smelly ferry and swim to the beach. When it pulled against the dock and came to a halt, I cheered and snatched up my luggage. The corpulent captain shooed us off the deck irritably and shoved off as soon as the last bag was on the beach.

I sprinted through the streets until I reached the Super Market. My home. Our spare bag was still under the mat, so Mom dug it out and we filed in. After rudely dumping my suitcases on the floor, I escaped out the door and jumped around for a few minutes. Then I proceeded to journey towards the Inn. Elli intercepted me in front of the Clinic.

"KAREN!" She yelled, tackling me. I fell over and gulped a mouthful of dirt. She released me happily and danced to tell Tim of my return. At the entrance of Rose Square, Ann spotted me while chasing a bug.

"KAREN!" She yelled, tackling me. I fell over again and received a second mouthful of dirt. After exchanging general 'hellos' and 'how do you do's, I continued through Rose Square and to Barley's farm. I had left Ohmygosh in his care when I moved away, but now I boldly marched into his kitchen and demanded the return of my beloved milk-giver. He cheerfully agreed and said that she was 'the worst demon of an animal I've ever seen". Then, goat leash in hand, I entered the Poultry Farm, where Popuri was playing with colored pencils.

"KAREN!" She yelled, tackling me. I fell over yet again and received my third mouthful of dirt.

"Popuri, get off of me!" I forced out. She grinned obligingly and let me go. "Where's Rick? I need to speak with him."

"He's at the Goddess Spring. Would you like to draw with me?" I declined and skipped on my way. Unfortunately, Gray was leaning on the wall of the Blacksmithy. "KAREN!" He yelled, tackling me. I screeched and dodged him. He was the recipient of the mouthful of dirt that time. "Great to see you!" He choked out, pulling grass off of his tongue. Then, embarrassed, he retreated inside the Blacksmithy and I continued on my path, still spitting gravel from Popuri's yard.

Farmer Aberle made a big deal out of my inquiry about Rick's whereabouts. He guffawed and remarked about 'city gals' and 'love affairs' until I was ready to kick him. Even with the jabs, I was permitted to cross through his farm to the forest. The cows were enjoying the Autumn sunshine when I passed them. The old man's farm was beautiful…I longed to meander around it and climb the old apple tree. Then a cluck from one of the many chickens reminded me of my task. I crossed the bridge into the forest and tiptoed up the entrance to the Hot Springs and the Goddess Pond.

There he was, sitting with a book in his hands, reading. I smoothed down my shirt and stepped into view. He looked up, stared for a moment and then dropped the unlucky novel into the pond out of surprise. "You came back." He stood up and smiled hesitantly.

I walked over and kicked a dandelion. "Yeah. I guess I did."

"Are you back…to stay? You know, forever?"

"Maybe." A smile tugged my face.

He jumped into the air and war whooped. He then picked me up and twirled me around the Springs. I clung to his neck, grinning like a fool. When I was released, he grabbed both of my hands. "Does that mean I'm forgiven?" He peered into my eyes anxiously.

I tapped his nose with my finger. "Only if you forgive me for leaving in the first place…and if I'm allowed to do one thing…"

"Sure! You name it!"

I put my hands on his shoulders and brought my face barely an inch form his. I felt his nervousness tense his shoulders and hasten his breathing. Right when his eyes closed and he began pulling my face even closer, I pushed him hard--right into the Goddess Pond. He came up spluttering and gasping for air. "What was that?" He whined.

I feigned surprise. "What? Did you think that I wanted to…kiss you or something like that?"

"Of-of course not."

"Liar." I kicked off my shoes and jumped into the water with him. It was warm and clear. He held out his hands and I accepted them. That's where I kissed my Rick…the first time, at least.

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So. Whatcha think? It's over. All over. Thank you so much for reading. I'll be posting Threshold in the next few weeks. Make sure you read it and review!