Despite her outer fa├žade of complete, domineering control to Lucas and most of the general public, Clarissa was an unstable pit of gushing lava within.

Henry, Daddy Dearest, had sat in front of her and told her that he'd had a child with a relative of that wretched exchange student. The same girl that'd slammed into her on her critical first day back at Jasperstone. The same girl who felt entitled to hang around the manor anytime she pleased. And the same girl who'd staked an unrightful claim on her dear beau.

It was outrageous. It was mad. It was simply impossible.

But he had looked at her, his face like stone, utterly serious. So, she'd gone to throw a tantrum.

Later, she'd cried ever-so-dramatically to Ruth and Prathabelle (Prat for short), begging for comfort and promising them torturous lives and ruined reputations should they ever eek a word to anyone else. She intended to stay at Ruth's for at least a week, for three reasons: 1. To stay away from the sick creature called Reynolds who'd ruined her life, 2. To convey a message to Henry that she'd never forgive him and make him realize that maybe someone should have "put a cork in it a long time ago", and 3. To make sure Ruth was thoroughly clear on what the consequences would be if she opened her mouth. Clarissa reminded her and Prat of this every day, in creepy sing-songy reminders that oozed subtle viciousness.

Despite her intimidating demeanor, and despite the delicious betrayal she'd caused at the dance, Clarissa was not feeling her best. Actual emotions threatened to surface, though the most prevalent emotion she felt was pure rage. If one were to have examined her mind, one would have been surprised to discover how authentic that rage actually was. Clarissa tended to exaggerate her moods (though she'd never admit to that; it was rather obvious to most people anyway), but no amount of exaggeration could have amplified this feeling more than it already was.

Clarissa's hands were tied for the time being, just like Alistair's, as far as striking back went. Only, while Alistair was out to get rid of Meghan and her family to support his own career ambitions, Clarissa had wanted revenge, plain and simple. Until now, she'd had no reason to fear losing her status. Her main reason for hating Meghan was that the girl was becoming as popular as she was, and had stolen her Lucas.

She'd gotten some sweet payback at the ball, it was true. And to see the girl cry in the corner with Fried Wizracket had given Miss Payne much pleasure. But it wouldn't last long if Luke kept evading her, or if he were to somehow make Meghan believe he still loved her, and that the kiss wasn't his fault.

All that Clarissa could do was make as many people as possible believe that she and Luke were "secretly together", until she could figure out another way to cause torment. Maybe if it got bad enough, the girl would fly back to the New York sewers where she belonged.

I was unbelievably glad that Clarissa had not returned, and that word was she'd be staying until this time next week, or later.

I was also lucky enough to be free of Alistair this night, with him being off at some kind of business dinner or something.

But Glynnis, who ironically was the lesser of the three evils, was not absent in the least. She tried her best to make her presence known every second, in fact, as she chomped loudly at the dining table.

Faye was here, though. She'd been invited to stay for dinner after keeping me company in my room for a few hours, talking to me about Luke and about Daphne. Now, she sat next to me, while Henry sat at the head of the table on my other side. Jocelyn was seated across from me, of which I was glad. She seemed content, as always.

And she, along with Faye, kept the conversation going, chatting me up on lighter subjects to keep my spirits up. Henry and Glynnis didn't join in much, as Henry was too busy thinking, and Glynnis was too busy chomping.

I was happy to see that both Dashwoods seemed to like Faye very well. Jocelyn in particular found her to be an excellent person to talk to. She was sure to let Faye know just how highly she thought of her as she rose from the table at the meal's end.

"You're welcome here anytime, dear, I hope you know that." she said, gently pushing her chair under the table. "It was lovely talking with you."

"The pleasure was all mine, your ladyship."

"Ms. Dashwood will do, Faye darling. I shall be seeing you. And have a good night, Meghan."

"Good night." I told her, giving her the best smile I could.

She smiled back, then went to pour herself a cup of tea, which she'd take to her bedroom.

Glynnis then very loudly dropped her silverware onto her plate, before very loudly scooting herself and the chair backwards, then proceeding to stand up, bulky and imposing, turn and push her chair (very loudly) into the table. She gave Henry a hard, obvious look before stalking off with her plate.

She almost tripped in the kitchen doorway. It was the hardest thing in the world for me not to laugh at that.

Henry stared after her, bored, and unless I was seeing things, I think he actually rolled his eyes.

As Faye and I started to stand, he held up one finger, signaling that we wait. We sat back down.

In waltzed Gaines, holding a small platter with one of those shiny dome lid things covering whatever was on it. He seemed to actually be in a good mood as he did this, despite the never-ending phone calls he'd endured the last couple of days.

He set the platter down in front of Faye and me, and with the utmost panache, removed the lid.

There sat three small plates, each holding a slice of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie! I couldn't believe it. I had completely forgotten that it was Thanksgiving. How in the world...

"Oh my, what a nice surprise!" Faye exclaimed.

How could anyone here have known what day it was today, let alone that pumpkin pie was the traditional dessert? I looked to Henry, who had a wry smile on his face as he snagged one of the plates for himself.

"Don't tell Mother." he said with a wink.

I smiled.

"How did you know...?"

He passed a plate to me and one to Faye.

"Ah, my secret."

With eyes wide, I cut a piece with my shiny fork and took a bite. It was delicious. Faye seemed to like it, too.

"Good?" Henry asked, when his was already half-finished.

We both nodded.

"Thank you." I told him.

Now it was his turn to nod. "Thought you might appreciate it."

He polished the rest of his pie off in no time, and took his plate to the kitchen. He emerged a minute later, on his way to the office. He looked very fatigued and seemed to drag a bit as he walked. He stopped momentarily next to us.

"Well, Faye, it was splendid having you here. Hope to have you back. And you," he said, eyeing me directly. "Sleep well."

I knew he meant more than that. I answered honestly.

"I'll try."

He gave a slight smile and patted my shoulder as he raggedly walked out.

About an hour or two later, a feast was being set out at the Reynolds residence. Everyone was happy that Catherine had the day off, for once. Grandpa Reynolds was visiting from the senior home, and was watching the football game with vigor. A turkey had been delivered and was already sitting on the table. Daphne had helped Catherine make her special homemade dressing, while Libby had mashed the potatoes with enough force to make one think she had a vendetta against them.

As the newly mashed potatoes were set on the feasting surface, the doorbell rang. Catherine ran to answer it.

"Mom! Dad! You're finally here." she said happily. Russ and Patricia Shore had arrived, and they both wore enormous grins.

"Brought the gravy!" Russ announced, holding up a bundle of his famous concoction.

"Thank goodness." Catherine remarked. "Libby pummeled those potatoes."

"Aunt Tricia! Uncle Russ!" came a voice.

"Is that our Daffy?"

Indeed it was, and she'd wheeled Grandpa Reynolds in with her. The couple rushed in to greet them.

"Hello, sweetheart!" said Patricia as she smothered Daphne in a hug. She insisted that the girl call her Aunt Tricia because she thought it made her sound younger and more hip.

"How ya doin', Pete?" Russ asked Grandpa Reynolds.

"Great, except I'm missin' the game."

"Oh yeah! You know what, so am I!" Russ agreed before giving Daphne a kiss on the cheek. "Let's go on in there-"

"It's time to eat right now." Libby told him as she walked up for a hug. She glanced around the corner at the television. "And it's halftime anyway."

Soon, the TV was off (for the time being), and they were well into a scrumptious meal. With six people there, conversation flowed, but Meghan's absence was still noticeable.

"I hope she had a nice Thanksgiving." Libby remarked. "Though she's probably sleeping now."

"I hear both Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop are good cooks. Maybe they made her some turkey."

"If she asked for it. Maybe she forgot."

"Who are the Winthrops again? Are they the family she's staying with?" Patricia asked.

"That they are." her daughter answered.

"Speaking of that." Russ said, with a mischievous smile.

Everyone looked at him, and noticed a smile on his wife's face that mirrored his. Russ paused for a minute as they looked at each other.

"We've been thinking. It's starting to get a little boring around our neck of the woods...the last thing we did was our rock climbing trip, and that was what, three months ago?"

"Almost." his wife confirmed.

"Yeah. And...also, we've been hearing that a certain someone has been missing her cousin very, very much. And that same someone will be out of school until a week from Monday."

All was silent as Mr. Shore looked to his daughter's niece, whose eyes were already going wide.

"So Daphne, we have a proposition for you."

So...what do you think of that? I'm excited. I'm so happy to be doing this again.

Hope these were a good read. I will return in one week.

-rf-