Punchlines

Disclaimer: Mia & Co. belong to Meg Cabot, just as I belongs to Jesus and my momma.

Summary: Beauty and the Beast may not cure a broken heart, but a surprise trip to Japan for answers might. MM.

A/N: Also partly inspired by Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding.

Fic takes place right after Princess on the Brink, cool?

Friday, September 10, 7:45 pm, loft.

There are plenty of people in worse shoes than I am – right, totally. Aids orphans. People with cancer. Nicole Richie's baby. Anna Nicole's baby. Justin from American Idol. Britney Spears' hair. I mean, come on. It could be a lot worse. I could have no drinking water, painful pus-filled boils on my skin, some kind of spine disorder like maybe that girl Deenie (from Beverly Cleary's book). I could be a leper in the Biblical times before Jesus went around healing people. I could also be one of the orphans that Brangelina could have chosen – were so close to choosing – but didn't, and instead went for Maddox or something, and bought him lots of gel for his trendy chic Mohawk. Think about it. Think about how psychologically damaging that is to a kid. That kid would be known as the Almost-Child of Brangelina forever, and would be scarred by the experience and have such low self-esteem that he would grow up and live in a ditch in the forest, until somebody found his body eaten by some dingos. And then there'd also be a note for Brangelina that if they opened it and read it, he'd come from the inside of their toilet and kill each of the members (I'm thinking by then they might have adopted around 40 kids) Jolie-Pitt clan.

(Stole idea from plotline of The Ring with a few minor alterations, but I think my version's more believable, seeing as how a girl who died eons ago by falling into a well couldn't possibly have been caught on tape… the whole concept is just ludicrous. Then again, people thought Nintendo was ludicrous, so maybe the Japs have something going here. I don't care. I've never watched it. Am too scared of freaky girl.)

See?

I'm not so bad.

So I messed up. So Michael is probably in the airplane right now wishing he'd never met me. So Lilly hates my guts and will probably publicly humiliate me in some later course in my life. So maybe seeing Beauty in the Beast with JP is looking like an incredibly dumb idea, seeing as how dancing tea cakes and soaring musical scores will probably not be enough to distract me from the current state of distress in my life, nor will it distract me from my own pity party. I will probably burst into tears in the first ten minutes because of my misery, and then lie to JP about how I'm crying only because it is so beautiful, and not because I have utterly fucked up and will probably resort to trying to drown myself in the bathtub and failing, miserably, just like how I have at life.

Maybe I should go to church, and ask for forgiveness, and somehow all of the wrongs that I have bestowed upon human kind will be fixed – not miraculously, duh, but I'd have to work at it. Maybe Jesus will come down in a golden cloud from heaven and smack some sense into me – ooh, that's a very good idea. Then he'd say, in a booming voice, "Thou shalt no longer dwell in thy stupidity" and I will be quickly healed from the Satanic forces of stupidity and somehow get Michael to fall in love with me again.

Damn. Mom would never let me go to church.

Wonder if Lars is religious. Probably not, seeing as how he buys guns and probably fantasizes about actually using them one day.

Wonder if Grandmere knows the Pope. Maybe he can pour some holy water on me.

Will now call JP and say that I cannot go to Beauty and the Beast with him. Will leave out part about my impending suspicion of breaking down into tears during the first ten minutes. Am thinking about maybe asking him where the nearest church is.

7:55 pm.

Couldn't do it. Instead grabbed Fat Louie and snuggled. Cried a little bit and got his fur wet and he got mad and scratched the side of my face.

I am sure now. Whole world hates me.

8:15 pm.

I wish I could eat a sock.

8:25 pm.

JP's here. I can hear him talking to my parents downstairs. Should hurry. Look like crap, have no desire to try and fix it. Have heard of philosophy that if you look like crap, you must feel like crap – which is true. Really, really true. Am thinking of wearing hoodie to play – no longer have hair (DAMN! WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE I CUT IT?) to hide behind.

Hoodie it is.

8:27 pm.

Mom told me to go back up and choose another coat, not hoodie, since going to prestigious New York playhouse and a Princess wearing hoodies would be frowned upon (also pointed out that it wasn't even a fancy hoody with sparkles or bows or satin). Have niggling suspicion Grandmere has gotten one of her witch doctors or wizards or whatever to brew a potion and fed it to my mom by putting it into her Ethos water.

Will hide hoodie behind back, which I will then sneakily hand to Lars, and he will stash it in the inside of his Matrix-y leather jacket for me.

Brilliant plan for a girl who feels remarkably like crap.

9:15 pm, bathroom of Metropolitan Playhouse.

Am in bathroom, and was totally right about my suspicion of bursting into tears once the raggedy townspeople swept in and started to sing with Belle. It was horrible – not the play (the play's fantastic), but the feeling I got in my stomach. Somehow I feel like I am NOT supposed to be here trying to DISTRACT myself so I can FEEL good because IT IS ALL MY FAULT.

GET ME SOME HOLY WATER, DAMNIT.

So I started to tear up once the baker with the bread started to do his operatic voice thing, and then I started sniffling – which I really did hope would go undetected and nobody would hear it, since people were singing and this was a musical and all – which I guess JP noticed, because he was sitting beside me. He glanced at me with this concerned look on his face, and I felt even worse, because I was totally ruining the Beauty and the Beast musical experience for him by trying to keep my stupid snot up my nose and keep it from coming down.

"Mia," he whispered, leaning over. "Are you okay?"

"Uh huh," I said, biting my lip, nodding. "It's just… so great, you know, this musical. It reminds me of my dad."

LIE. IT REMINDS ME OF MICHAEL. DON'T ASK WHY; MICHAEL HAD NEVER HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE MUSICAL BEFORE TONIGHT.

I swear I could look at a chewed up piece of hotdog on the street and start tearing up because it reminded me of Michael, which goes to prove that I am simply insane, or simply just too heartbroken. Half-eaten pieces of hotdog on the dirty streets of New York was never supposed to remind me of Michael. The two are completely different.

"Do you miss your dad?"

"No, not really. Why?"

He looked confused. "Well, because, Mia, you're—"

Oh, right. I was crying. Duh. How could I forget, when I was still trying to snort the snot back up my nasal passages?

"Right," I said quickly. "I just… I think I caught something. A cold. I took a shower last night, and I had the fan on – don't ask, Fat Louie likes it when the fan's on. I think I need a tissue. I think I need to go to the bathroom."

So I'm in the bathroom. I washed my face and all that (have pimple on chin, damn) and tried to calm myself down. Lars is waiting on the settee outside, probably texting on his sidekick or browsing the internet for more guns or something. I'm pretty sure Lars knows my whole situation; he kept giving me these looks while we were walking here, kind of like the look that a Dad gets when he's the only one home when his daughter first gets her period, meshed with the look of pity. He patted my shoulder (but it was awkward – I get the feeling Lars isn't much of a touchy-feely guy, which I understand, I mean, look at him, dressed in black leather jackets in his six foot frame with guns) and mumbled something about how things are going to work out, and that's when I started crying even more. This alarmed him.

"How can you say that?" I wailed. "How could you possibly say that? Did Grandmere's astrologist tell you that?"

Lars looked taken aback. Surprising how he's had very little experience with dealing with distressed, crying teenage girls. Maybe I haven't cried in front of him enough.

"Princess," he said, a little tense. He looked around. "It is common knowledge that—"

"That what?" I snapped. "It's common knowledge that Michael Jackson is black, isn't it? It's also common knowledge that Tom Cruise is crazy. So, really, it doesn't make me feel better, this whole 'It's common knowledge' crap."

Ouch. I admit this was mean. But to be honest I was feeling really bitchy, seeing as how I still had no tissue (I was sniffling like Lindsay Lohan with some coke by this time) and I really just wanted to go to the bathroom and maybe sit by myself underneath the chandelier for ten minutes and maybe vent.

Or sulk, more like.

Sulking. With the candied mints in the crystal bowl beside me, beside the fresh flowers, and the other fancy ribbon toiletries.

I'm gonna apologize to Lars when I get out. It wasn't his fault that I totally screwed myself over like this – not even remotely – and it wasn't fair for me to throw a bitchfit like that in the hall. Poor Lars. It isn't his fault the girl he's been hired to look after is a total basketcase who caught a bad case of the Stupiditis. God. Kill me now.

Michael.

Suddenly wonder if he's read my message yet.

Suddenly want to throw up.

Suddenly burst into tears again.

No, no, I've got to be strong. Strong woman. Come on. You know Kathleen Hanna from Le Tigre and Bikini Kill. Channel your inner Kathleen Hanna. Channel inner strong feminist that believes that you don't need a man to make you happy. You don't need Michael to make you happy. You don't need Michael to feel complete. You must never ever let a man… get you attached to the smell of his neck… I am so screwed…. GARGH!

Need more tissue. God.

Feel really pathetic, yet it is something I cannot help. Am consumed by self-loathing and misery and depression.

More candied mints. Hopefully the more I eat the more the taste will block out my emotions.

I really wanna hunt him down. I really, really do. I feel like it's a damn mistake to apologize to him via email, because really that's not the way to go, but what could I do? I missed him at the airport. He'd already left. It wasn't like I could have sent a pigeon with my note of apology attached to its leg, or an owl like they do in Harry Potter (God, though, that would be so neat). What I would do to apologize to him in person. Maybe… maybe I can get Dad to buy me a plane ticket to Japan so I can look for him. I'll take Lars. I just really, desperately need to get this straightened out.

Feel lurch in stomach.

Means it's a good plan.

Right?

Oh, Lars is knocking. He's asking if I'm okay. Try to compose self and stop sniffles so I can get back to Beauty and the Beast, all the while trying to work out kinks in Fly to Japan and Talk to Michael plan. Sorry, Belle, and Beast. There are more important matters at hand, like my heart.

Will stash some candied mints in pocket for later.

11 pm, the loft.

Haven't ironed out all the kinks in plan yet. After the play I met and talked to JP's parents, and they were nice, friendly people. Very cool parents, I really have to say, and they even invited me up to their fancy place one night for dinner. To be honest half of me was still furiously trying to think of how to talk to Michael, so I was pretty absentminded, I didn't realize that I had agreed to having dinner with them until later on, when Lars was clearing his throat beside me.

"Huh?" I asked.

"Next Friday night, then?" JP's mom asked sweetly. "Unless you have to ask your mom—"

"Oh, um, sure, Sunday night," I said. "I'm sure it's fine. Thank you."

"No, no, it'd be a pleasure to have you. JP's told us so much about you. He says you're the sweetest girl." She winked at JP. He rolled his eyes, but I noticed when he looked away that his cheeks were a little red.

I laughed weakly. "Oh."

We said goodbye and JP walked me to the car with Lars. I'd started to eat the candied mints in my pocket again.

"Sorry about that," he said. "My mom… she's…"

"Don't worry about it," I said, waving it off. "Moms, you know. It'd be weird if they weren't like that."

JP perked up. "Right." He laughed. "Right. Well, I'm really glad you can come to dinner on Friday."

"Me too," I said.

We reached the car. Lars gave me a nod before he got in.

"Listen," I said, "thanks for this. This was… really nice of you."

He shrugged. "No problem. We both needed it, Mia."

I nodded. "Yeah."

"Did it work?"

"Did what work?"

"The play. Beauty in the Beast. You know. Did it get your mind off… Michael?"

I felt a sting in my chest. "Um. A little."

I didn't feel guilty about lying to JP about this because the truth was way worse – the fact that I'd thought about Michael the entire time I'd sat there, and had been concocting the plan of going to Japan to see him. It was the exact opposite of what JP had intended, and that made me feel horrible inside, but I knew there was nothing I could do. Things were unfinished. They'd ended (God, that word, like searing blades to the skin) too quick.

That's it.

Things just weren't finished.

Michael had left without a word, with our entire relationship left hanging in the air. I think I owed it to us, if not to myself, to try to find out exactly what was happening.

"A little," JP echoed. He looked at me seriously. "So it didn't work, then?"

I sighed in the horribleness of my character. Great. Bad liar. Bad friend. Bad girlfriend. Bad person in general.

I lose at life, don't I?

"I'm sorry," I said. The smell of New York in the summer – asphalt, smoke – was starting to get to me. "I'm really sorry, JP. It's just… things were different, you know, between me and Michael than how they were with you and Lilly."

He nodded, but he was looking down. "I understand."

"Yeah," I breathed.

"So what're you gonna do, then? About Michael?"

I smiled. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the best smile – it was kind of a cracked smile, really. "Well, right now I'm thinking of kidnapping him, holding him in a room with no doors and windows, and keeping him there until he falls in love with me again. In a straitjacket, of course. I figure I've got to be a little morbid, since I am royalty and all. It's tradition to be a little freaky."

"I don't think your problem is making people in love with you, Mia."

I looked at him, a little stunned. I know JP's sweet and all, but there was just something… weird about how he said that. And the way I caught him looking at me – it gave me chills, chills that I didn't like – before he looked away, his hands shoved in his pockets, made me wonder if… if… no, that couldn't possibly…

Boy. Call me Mia Thermopolis, CRAZY PRINCESS OF FRICKIN' GENOVIA.

Yeah. No. That wasn't an option.

It just wasn't possible. It was just – crazy, crazy.

"I mean," he said, clearing his throat, "you know, I bet he still loves you."

"Yeah," I said, a little hesitant with what just happened. "I hope so. But I'm not sure I would love myself so much after… after what I did."

"It was a mistake, Mia. He shouldn't hold that against you."

"Michael's human, JP."

"Yeah, well, so are you." He seemed a little angry. "I mean, first he tries to impose the Waiting Game on your while he goes off doing God Knows What in Japan – he has no right to be pissed at you for a stupid little kiss, you know, it's just… I mean, isn't Michael in college?" he said heatedly, squinting at me. "You'd think, since he's a college boy—"

"Whoa, JP," I said, stopping him, feeling very uncomfortable with what he was saying, "calm down. Look, I – this was nice, okay? Thank you. I mean it. It did make me feel better, honest, but I gotta go, Lars is gonna start to change the CD in the car, so I gotta—"

"Go," he finished. "Right. Goodnight, Mia. See you at school."

"See you," I said. I gave him a quick hug before I got in the car. As we drove past, JP waved and I waved back, smiling, until I couldn't see him anymore and I slumped into my seat, sighing heavily.

I am way too scared and freaked to write down what I thought when JP was going on and on about Michael the way he was. It'd just be utter and complete madness.

Wonder if they prescribe crazy pills in addition to pills that cure a broken heart.

Saturday, September 11, 10 am, the Loft.

Major memorial service and tribute to 9-11 victims on news channels. Had moment of silence for the fallen before Rocky woke up and started crying and shattered solemn remembrance. Was depressed watching CNN while eating breakfast and seeing George Bush on TV giving speech. Mom covered Rocky's ears and started to swear at the TV and Mr. Gianini shook his head, saying "Helen" in that way he always does when my mom does something he doesn't necessarily approve of, and she just snapped at him, saying, "We have an idiot for a president. Are you defending him?"

"Just – not in front of the baby," he said.

"I covered his ears. And, besides, it'd be nice if he picked this up early in his life, you know, knowing which politicians are scum and being vocal about it."

"Helen, all politicians are scum. They're politicians."

"But some more than others."

True. Very true.

They talked some more, with Mr. Gianini shaking his head and telling her to calm down about politics ("It's the anniversary for 9-11, for heaven's sake," he said, and Mom said, "All the more reason to say what I'm saying, then!") when I left to go up to my room. Went on internet to research flight dates to Japan. Prices pretty steep from New York. Crap. Major problem. Am still pretty damn broke.

How will I convince Dad to let me fly to Japan?

Why can't I use his private jet again?

Will ask later.

Will be honest, though, this plan of mine has given me motivation to get up in the morning. Even Mom and Mr. Gianini were surprised to see me coming out of my room – they were both all like, "Oh, Mia. We didn't think you'd…"

Yeah, I didn't think I would, either, UNTIL I FOUND A BEACON OF HOPE.

CANCEL THAT ORDER OF HOLY WATER, BUB.

MAYBE I DON'T LOSE AT LIFE. MAYBE THIS WAS THE CHANCE FOR ME TO WIN AGAIN.

They'd probably gotten used to me sleeping in and staying in my room all day crying about Michael (even watching my season DVDs of Buffy wouldn't help)(I even tried watching the sex scenes with Spike and Buffy – made everything worse, seeing as how… well, you know, the sex thing) and then dragging my feet with a solemn, zombie-like disposition if I ever needed hydration or needed to pee.

Okay, gotta concentrate. Really have to concentrate, if I'm gonna make this plan work anytime soon. Hope Michael has not gotten with some pretty Japanese geisha girl (OH GOD) in the span of a week. I HAVE TO MAKE THIS WORK, HAVETOHAVETOHAVETOHAVETO. AND FAST.

Maybe I'll have to buy a samurai sword once I get there, so if Michael had gotten with a geisha girl I could totally take her on, like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Will also consider buying yellow Adidas jumpsuit. Bet that would make Michael fall in love with me all over again.

Okay.

OKAY.

WILL CONCENTRATE NOW.

12:30 pm.

Oh no. Was concentrating so hard I feel asleep.

LIFE VS. MIA TALLY

LIFE: IIIII IIIII IIIII IIII

MIA: I (My plan).

My ass is getting kicked left, right, up, down, and diagonally.

Oh yay.

12:45 pm.

Totally forgot I had princess lessons today. (DAMN.) Mom popped head in saying that Grandmere had just called and yelled at her asking why the hell I wasn't there yet.

"Mom," I said, my forehead against the wood of my desk, "doesn't Grandmere have any respect for the fallen of the 9-11 attacks?"

My mom laughed. Actually, she cackled. Rocky, who was in her arms, giggled.

"Oh, Mia. Oh, you're being serious. No. No, she doesn't."

"Can you please tell her to turn on the TV and see how the state of New York is taking this day seriously, so that she may comprehend why I MUST take a break from princess lessons today?"

"Mia, I don't think that's going to work. She was pretty adamant about—"

"WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT MY HEART IS COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY BROKEN?! HOW ABOUT THAT?!"

I started to cry again. Oh great.

One more tally under Life.

ARE YOU HAPPY, LIFE?! WHY MUST YOU BE SO CRUEL TO KICK A WOMAN ALREADY DOWN?!

"Oh, honey," my mom said. She was about to come in when she realized she had Rocky. "Frank!" she yelled. "FRANK! COME GET THE BABY!"

Mr. Gianini popped around and took Rocky, giving my Mom a look (which my Mom then glanced at me for, and he nodded before taking Rocky into the living room) before she came in. She silently closed the door behind her, before she walked over to my bed, sitting down. She looked intently at me.

"Mia."

I sniffed. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. "Helen."

"Look, I know you love Michael. I know he's like the… the sun to your flower, or something like that."

I cringed. "Oh Mom," I groaned. "Please don't try to explain this in metaphors, okay? I'm still scarred from when you tried to explain the birds and the bees to me."

"All right, fine. Thing is, Mia, I know you're hurting right now and you're allowed that. But the whole world doesn't have to stop just because he… just because things didn't work out between you two," she mended.

"I know," I said, "but… Oh Mom, you just don't understand—"

"I don't understand?" she scoffed. "Mia, I've had my share of break-ups, too."

"But that's the thing!" I shouted. "We didn't break up! He just – left! He just left! And I don't know whether we are broken up are not – God I sure hope not – and I sent him an email saying I was sorry, because I wasn't able to catch him at the airport… Mom…" I wiped my tears. "What if he thinks I meant it? That I meant to kiss JP?"

She sighed. "I don't know, Mia. I don't know. But Michael's a smart boy, I'm sure…" but she trailed off, because it was obvious she wasn't so sure about that as she'd originally thought.

"Mom, I have to see him."

She froze. Then her face got stern and stricken. "Mia Thermopolis, if you are thinking about running after that boy—"

"But Mom, what if Mr. Gianini was going away to Japan for an undecided amount of time, and he'd just caught you kissing this other guy, except you hadn't really meant to kiss him, it just happened—"

"No," she said firmly. "No. Do you understand me?"

"But Lars would be coming with me—"

"Mia, you are a teenage girl. You have no business jumping into planes and chasing after college boys—"

"This isn't just a college boy, this is Michael—"

"Which makes all the more reason for you not to go! Michael is a very reasonable boy, I'm sure—"

Frustrated, I put my head back down on the desk. I was crying again.

LIFE: IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII

MIA: 0 (since plan squashed by OVERBEARING MOTHER.)

I couldn't believe even my own mom couldn't understand why I had to do this. It just seemed too cruel. If anyone, I would have expected her to understand. Suddenly feel as if in fascist eastern European country with no freedom and certainly no love.

For the first time in my life, I feel genuinely alone, and it feels… completely terrible.

God.

Just lock me in a dank, rotting Genovian prison, why don't you?

So I'm there crying all over my desk, and next thing I know my mom's rubbing my back and trying to comfort me, saying everything was gonna be okay… I HATE THAT. HOW CAN EVERYTHING POSSIBLY BE OKAY, WHEN YOU'RE NOT EVEN LETTING YOUR DAUGHTER WHO LOVES HER BOYFRIEND WITH EVERY INCH OF HER BEING GO AFTER HIM AND TRY TO EXPLAIN BEFORE HE MAKES A MISTAKE BY SLEEPING WITH A GEISHA GIRL?!

AND HOW COULD I POSSIBLY FIGHT SAID GEISHA GIRL OFF WITH MY TOTALLY BITCHIN' YELLOW JUMPSUIT AND SAMURAI SWORD UMA THURMAN-STYLE IF I AM NOT THERE TO DO IT??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I swear, people tell me all the time that I have incredibly cool parents, especially my mom, since she is this crazy feminist artist lady. They seem to forget that she is still a mom, and sometimes even the coolest mom cannot escape the fact that they are still MOMS and that sometimes MOMS SUCK.

12:55 pm.

Am too depressed to go to princess lessons. Tell Mom this. Mom gives me pitying look before telling me that either I go, or Grandmere comes over, and if Grandmere comes over, Mom will take away my allowance.

HOW CRUEL.

THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

1:07 pm.

Am too depressed to go to princess lessons. Was gagged and tied up and forced into car. Glaring at Lars. Lars pretends not to see from mirror. Lars sings along to Kelly Clarkson to try and cheer me up. Does. Not. Work.

LIFE: IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII

MIA: 0

1:20 pm.

Here at lobby at Hotel. Uh oh. Must be bad if Grandmere is actually waiting for me with Rommel, smoking and drinking, looking at me narrowly with her eyes and tattooed eyebrows.

"Amelia, a princess is never late," she says scathingly to me, setting down her Sidecar. She shoos Rommel off.

"Yeah, well, people are," I say begrudgingly. "And I'm a person too, Grandmere. More than I am a princess."

Though I really doubt Grandmere is a person, underneath all of that make-up and Chanel.

"Do I sense an attitude?" she says to me. "Amelia, you look me in the eye when you are talking to me."

I look her in the eye. "LOOK. GRANDMERE. I. AM. NOT. IN. A. GOOD. MOOD. TODAY. TODAY. IS. THE. HORRIBLE. ANNIVERSARY. OF. A. HORRIBLE. INCIDENT. IN. THE. STATE. OF. NEW. YORK. AS. WELL. AS. THE. COUNTRY. OF. AMERICA. WHICH. OBVIOUSLY. YOU. DO. NOT. CARE. ABOUT –"

"Oh, you mean all the hubbub on the television," she said, waving it off. "Amelia, more tragic things have happened. Have you seen what the Princess of Monte Carlo wore to the Queen of England's 65th birthday?"

GOD! THE INHUMANITY OF THIS WOMAN! I SWEAR! WHAT IS SHE, THE LOCHNESS MONSTER? SASQUATCH? "IT CAME FROM THE DEEP"?! WHATEVER SHE IS, SHE APPARENTLY STORES COAL IN HER CHEST INSTEAD OF A LIVE, FUNCTIONING HEART!

"GRANDMERE."

"Amelia, don't you take that tone with me. You are beginning to sound like your mother, and let me tell you something, young lady, she is not somebody you want to sound like." She took another drink. "It is not very appealing for a princess to—"

Honest to God, it really seems like being a princess is a completely different type of species, and IT REALLY SUCKS. Next thing you know she's gonna be building concentration camps and killing little girls who write in diaries—

OH MY GOD. LIKE ME.

Grandmere is the SS and I am Anne Frank!

OH MY GOD!

Except, well. Anne is a way better person than I am, and I in no way even deserve comparing myself to her, since I am a HORRIBLE PERSON and she is this Jewish hero girl for the Jews and the entire world.

"Well, I don't know if you got the memo, Grandmere, but I don't exactly have the fondest wishes to be a princess – actually, I'd rather much like to be treated as a human being instead of that," I snapped, falling a bit weak at the end. Damn. Must work on effective communication skills.

And instead of shooting some highbrow quip my way, she stopped jingling around the ice in her sidecar and just looked at me. Totally still. She just looked at me.

"Well, Amelia, I see this situation of yours has jammed an even larger stick up your behind than I thought," she said amusedly.

"What situation?" I harshly retorted, because I don't imagine Grandmere would have even the slightest clue about what had happened to me –about Michael and about JP and everything – because like I said, Grandmere isn't like most grandmas, she is malicious and cruel and smells like pepper and smoke and alcohol and disrespects American tragedies.

"Your father has filled me in a little bit on what has been going on," she said, and I blinked at her. She stood up, leaving her drink there. "Well, come on, Amelia. Let's go to the room."

"What?" I said, her words still jumbling around in my mind like the ice in her sidecar.

She didn't turn around and just kept walking. "We're going to talk."

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