Nothing major was changed, just a few things were fixed and such. I found a few grammatical errors and for some odd reason ffnet decided to omit some words. Yay. Well, I fixed it so it should be good now!

Dad, You Are an Idiot

I love my dad, I really do. But there are moments in life where I just want to punch him in the face. The way he constantly tries to hook me up with every guy in Mineral Town, the way he pesters me about marriage, or how he guilt trips me by saying that he wants grandchildren before his life ends.

Ann, you better give me grandchildren before I die! He says. Or, do you love me Ann? If you do, you must get married. I can't stand to think that you'll be lonely after I pass on.

I know that he's just trying to be a good father, but, seriously, he needs to back off. There is no way I am going to get married anytime soon. Not with the men in this town. And, once again, despite my hate for it, my dad is badgering me about boys, marriage, and children…

"So…did that Cliff boy ask you out?" he asks all sneaky like. Oh, I so know he planned this.

"No," I say as I wipe down the counter.

Cliff is okay, but he just isn't my type. How can I, Ann, get along with Cliff, the silent-emo-boy (the name I have dubbed him) if he doesn't even talk? Whenever I do get into a conversation with him, it's always me talking his ear off, while he listens. I tend to blab about my father, my job, my social life, and just life in general. Cliff always seems interested, unless he is just doing that to be nice. If he is, I swear I'll…

"What?" my dad almost yells. "I paid that boy five bucks to ask you out!"

I drop the rag on the counter, my jaw slack from shock and anger.

He gulps. "I mean…uh…he…um…"

"YOU DID WHAT?!" I scream.

Is he that desperate? That desperate to embarrass the crap out of me? Oh my good goddess, Cliff is never going to look at me again, let alone listen to me! He won't even do his little "…" thing anymore! I'm going to die of embarrassment, or just kill my dad.

Wait a second.


He sold me out for five dollars? Doug wants to get rid of me that badly?

He waves his hands in front of him to calm me down. It doesn't work.

"You paid Cliff...," I clenched my hands into fists, the next part of what I am about to say angering me, "five dollars to go out with me?!"

My dad cringes.

Good, I hope he feels guilty. Stupid parental unit…

"No wonder he didn't ask me out! Five dollars?" I laugh icily. "It isn't even worth it!"

Oh crap…I just burned myself, didn't I?

Well this sucks.

"Let me explain," he says frantically, embarrassed. I couldn't care less, let the people stare. I cross my arms, seething. "I did not give him five dollars." He looks guilty. Way too guilty. Besides, I'm not stupid. I know he paid Cliff five dollars to ask me on a date (like he ever would), he's just that stupid. And desperate. But mostly stupid.

"You're lying," I whisper, though the venom in my tone is still strong. And with that, I let out a hmph, hold my chin up high, and stomp up the stairs to the second floor of the inn.


"Take the day off, Ann," I mock my dumb-ass father as I fluff up Gray's pillow a little too roughly. I glare daggers at the inanimate object, yearning for it to pick a fight with me.

I'd totally win.

I hear someone grunt behind me and I whip around, pillow still in hand. Gray is standing there, his arms crossed and his head bent down to where I can't see his eyes. Stupid hat. What the hell does UMA mean anyway? And where did he get it? Mary? I snicker at the thought.

"I feel bad for my pillow," he states, his voice gruff and annoying as ever. He's trying to be funny, in that odd Gray way.

Ooo! That rhymed.

"Get over it," I practically hiss at him, my rhyming forgotten.

His eyes widen and he wavers a bit, but quickly recovers. "Geez, Ann. What the hell is wrong with you?"

I want to go over and deck him in the face, but decide to keep it cool and just deck his pillow in the face.

If pillows have faces, that is.

I sigh, agitated. "Why do you want to know?" It isn't like Gray to get into other people's business, especially mine. Even though we are pretty close brother-and-sister wise, he still knows to keep his distance from me. He's definitely aware of the consequences.

Yeah, ask him what happened to him last time he badgered me about my private life. He'll whimper and start limping around like a wounded soldier again. I laugh inwardly, the memory shedding some light on my horrible, horrible mood. Poor Gray and his precious jewels.

He chuckles. "I'm worried about my pillow. It's the only one I have."

I frown at him, slightly wounded by his lack of concern, though I have on more than one occasion told him not to worry about me. I release my death grip on his now-overly-fluffed pillow and set it down on the perfectly-made bed. "Dad gave Cliff five dollars to go out with me," I mumble so fast that it was hard for even me to understand.

"Wait," Gray shakes his head, "what?"

I take a deep breath, "Dad. Gave. Cliff. Five. Dollars. To. Go. Out. With. Me." There, I said it and it's now understandable.

His mouth drops and he uncrosses his arms, stunned. To my complete and utter horror, he starts laughing. I stomp my foot and hold my fists at my sides. "It's not funny! Stop being so immature, you Kai wannabe!"

Gray stops abruptly, all serious now. "Doug actually did that?"

I nod, a frown gracing my features. "Yeah, and now he's giving me the day off today. Trying to suck up, is more like it…," I trail off.

"You're angry about having a day off? Are you mad, woman?"

"Absolutely," I grin. "Speaking of working, why are you here?"

"What?" he asks. "It's my room; I can be in here whenever I want."

I glare at him. "You know what I mean."

"Snow storm," he grumbles. "Pops doesn't want me to get stuck at his place, says I annoy him enough as it is." He grunts. "Too bad he's the annoying one. Always putting me down, never complimenting my work…"

Yeaaaah…I lost him at snow storm. The rest is just a jumbled blahblahblah. Whenever Gray rambles on about his strict grandfather and his crazy do-better-or-feel-my-angry-wrath antics I tune him out. If I don't, his angsty nature will consume me and then I will die a horrible, incredible death. Well maybe that won't happen, but still, I don't need to listen to his whining. It'll totally ruin the very awesome essence that is Ann.

I walk out of the room, feeling a little better. I don't even think Gray noticed that I left; he's still moaning and complaining about his sorry-excuse for a life.

Despite my dad giving me the day off, I am still doing my daily chores around the inn. Call it a habit, I call it my life. Cleaning is fun. Well, at least I think it's fun. Not everyone shares my feelings for it. They should, since I'm always right.

Anyway, cleaning is an activity that I truly enjoy. I can block out all other thoughts except for what I need to clean, when I need to clean it, and where I need to clean it. Quite simple, really.

And after I'm done with work for the day, I always award myself with a nice, long, hot bath. It relaxes my muscles so I can do it all over again the next day. It might sound boring to you, but I find it more exciting every day. Too explore new ways of cleaning something is an awesome experience. I love being able to create a solution to a new mess, it's my gift.

It only takes me an hour to clean all of the guest rooms and my own. The worst thing about cleaning every day is that it takes less and less time to do it as time rolls by. This means I'm done earlier and then I have nothing else to do except for serving drinks to already-drunken men.

Oh joy.

I decide to take a bath, like I usually do after I'm done with my chores. I stroll into my room to where my own bathroom is (my father may be many things, but he isn't that stupid to deprive his only daughter her own private bathroom) and adjust the Hot and Cold knobs to my liking.

Once the tub is full of steaming water, I sink down into the hot depths and let out a sigh of contentment. I could practically feel my strained muscles (from all of the stress in my life (mostly my dad) and the constant exercise that came with working at an inn) uncoiling from the relaxing, yet scalding temperature of the water.

After I'm done washing myself, I stand up out of the water. The cold air hits me like a boxing glove and I let out a small squeak as I grip the sides of the white porcelain tub to keep myself steady. I quickly resort to leaning towards the vanity off to the side, groping for the fluffy white towel I had laid out. When I successfully wrap the towel around my body, I trudge into my room, my feet leaving wet footprints on the linoleum tile in my bathroom.

Slinking into my closet, I grab a pair of my jean overalls and a plain yellow, long-sleeved shirt. I practically wear this ensemble every day. It's simple, comfortable, and easy to maneuver in. I'm not one for fashion, that's more Popuri and Karen's genre. It just isn't my thing.

Once I'm done dressing, I blow dry my hair (yes, we have outlets and hair-friendly technology!) and leave it down. It's a change, but I feel as though I need to keep my hair down for some odd reason.

Don't ask me why, though. I have no idea.

I usually always wear it up in a messy ponytail. My hair always gets in the way when I'm cleaning, and it annoys the crap out of me. Wearing it up solves the problem, and I don't have to worry about how it looks. But don't get me wrong, I love my hair. It has that natural wave to it that I love oh-so-much, and the color, which is a ginger red, is my favorite. I'm probably the only one who has red hair here in Mineral Town, too. Rick and Gray don't count. Rick's hair is more strawberry-blonde than anything, while Gray's hair is more on the rust-colored side. So…yeah…I'm the only red-head. Which makes me special.

Not to mention awesome.

Anyway, back to the task on hand here.

I stagger down the stairs (I'm pretty klutzy) just as Popuri and Karen waltz through the front door together, clad in matching gloves, scarves, and hats. The only difference is that Karen's set is pink and Popuri's is red. I swear, they probably have matching underwear on as well.

They sit down at a random table and Karen motions for me to come over with her finger. I roll my eyes but walk over to their table anyway, taking my sweet time in doing so. When I'm finally hovering in front of them, Popuri just stares at me, her ruby eyes wide.

"What?" I finally snap.

It must have caught her off guard because she reels back, stuttering. "Well…uh…hum…you well…you're hair is down today."

That's all?

"Yeah, it looks good," Karen adds in that snobby way of hers. It sounded more like, Yeah, it looks okay, but I look better. Typical Karen; she always sees everyone else as if they were below her. I'm pretty sure it's going to come back and bite her in the back end sometime soon.

I notice that both of their noses and ears are bright pink, and their attire is covered in white powder that could only be described as snow. Their gloves and hats are strewn across the wooden table, forgotten. Popuri's head looks like a giant cupcake and Karen looks as though she just stepped out of a winter fashion magazine.

How can someone so beautiful be so snobby? Aren't people who are beautiful on the outside supposed to be beautiful on the inside as well? Don't get me wrong, I love Karen as a sister, but sometimes her attitude just gets the better of her. Trust me, she does have her shining moments where she is positively kind and soft-spoken, but her snooty attitude overpowers those scarce moments tenfold.

"Valentine's Day is in two days, isn't it exciting?!" Popuri squeals.

Apparently during my deep thought process Karen and Popuri had changed the topic from my hair to Valentine's Day. It is amazing how they can change subjects so quickly.

"Of course," Karen replies haughtily. "It's my favorite holiday."

It definitely isn't mine. To me, Valentine's Day is a useless holiday for love-struck idiots to exchange cliché gifts with their partners and relish in the endless amounts of "I love you's" and "My heart is yours forever's".

Eyuck, pah-lease. Gag me with a giant spork.

I mean, really, not everyone enjoys Valentine's Day. For those of us who don't have that "special someone" in our life, we're left alone and feeling sorry for ourselves on this bitter and unnecessary holiday while loving couples go out on a romantic date or receive precious gifts that come from the loving heart.

If you ask me, it's all a bunch of crap.

Half the people nowadays don't even know what love is. Including me, for I have not had the chance to experience it yet. No, Valentine's Day is for real lovers, who know what love is and who have found their soul mate. Not for some giddy little teenagers and young adults who think they're in love, but, in reality, are just in a relationship out of lust and need.

Until I have experienced love, I will always hate Valentine's Day.

And I, for one, will never feel sorry for myself. Ever. I'm not that pathetic, even if I'm alone on Valentine's Day.

"Who do you think will receive a gift from Jack?" Popuri questions, a slight pink tint spreading across her cheeks.


One word comes to mind when I hear that name.


The guy practically has all of the girls of this town wrapped around his finger. Excluding me, of course. Supposedly, from what Popuri blabs about, Jack's charming, kind, good-natured, and not to mention handsome! Add a little girlish sigh at the end you basically have the definition of Jack that Popuri gave me the first day he moved here.

Our first meeting, which was about a year ago, was rather…infuriating. I was already having a bad day, but I tried my best to put on a happy face and welcome him to our small town…

"So, Ann, have you heard of the new farmer moving into that abandoned farmhouse? I heard it was a guy!" Popuri giggled. "I can't wait to meet him!"

Apparently a guy moving onto a farm was big news here in Mineral Town, how could I be so naïve? But quite frankly, I didn't really care that we were getting a new addition to this small town. It might liven things up a bit for a while, but their arrival would soon die down and things would get back to normal once again.

"This should be interesting, no one's taken up the offer of owning that rundown farm in a while," Mary added.

That was why Mary was my best friend; she always had a level head on her shoulders. She never melted into a puddle of giddiness like Popuri did whenever someone mentioned anything remotely close to cute guys. Mary saw the rational side of the situation, rather than the possibility of the dude being hot or not. She was more interested in why the guy bought the farm in the first place, like I was.

He obviously didn't know what sort of state the farm was in, or he would have never bought it in the first place. He'd probably end up like all the rest; shocked city-born tourists who were looking for an easy way out but stumbled upon a crappy piece of property.

Yeah, they all left the next day within their arrival.

"Well, if you ask me, I think it's going to be a waste of everyone's time to get all excited about this dude. He's just gonna pack up and leave as soon as he sees that farm," I said, tapping my fingers on Mary's desk.

"Oh pssshh," Popuri waved her hand at me from across the room. She was sitting on the dark green couch next to a giant bookcase, looking at some thick novel on the cushion next to her. "You don't know what you're talking about, Ann. Of course he is going to stay once he knows how nice we all are!"

Oh, poor, innocent and naïve Popuri.

"Not if he goes broke."

"Now, Ann," Mary scolded. "Stop being such a pessimist. I'm sure he'll do just fine."

"Fine," I practically growled. "When does he get here?"

"Tomorrow morning," Popuri chirped.

Oh, yay.


I was angry. No- infuriated.

For some stupid reason we were going to have a welcome party for the new farmer, and I was stuck cleaning the whole inn. Did my dad help? Heck no! The constant "Ann, make sure you dust the walls!" or "Why isn't this done yet, Ann?" were beating me raw.

But, noooo, of course my father wouldn't get off his lazy butt and help me. He was too busy talking to Duke, who was already drinking wine at this early morning hour, and ordering me around!

Good goddess! I was only one person with two appendages that I could actually do something with! I can't grow more arms to clean with, it's just not plausible!

I had a life too, ya know!

Yeah, keyword there- had.

"ANN! Did you sweep yet?!" my dad called from a table across the room.

I was in the supply closet, just about to get the broom. Clutching the broom with all of my might, I stomped over to where he was sitting. His laugh boomed through the empty dining area, Duke apparently said something funny.

Stupid drunk.

Afraid of snapping the broom in half, I threw the stick at my dad, who was eyeing me funny. His eyes widened and just as it hit him smack dab in the face, I yelled, "SWEEP YOUR OWN DAMN INN!"

I whipped around without waiting for an answer and stalked upstairs, to my room. I jumped haphazardly onto my freshly-made bed and screamed into my pillow, the fluffy object muffling the sound.

Gah! I was just so…frustrated! And annoyed. It wasn't like I hated cleaning, I loved it, actually. But not when someone was bossing me around, and ordering me to clean the whole damn inn, by myself, mind you, for some stupid person who was moving to our small town.

Who did he think he was, barging into Mineral Town and making my life a living hell? And the worst part was that I hadn't even met him yet! He didn't even know that he was bestowing all of this havoc on me; I already hated his guts! I hated to find out what sort of mayhem he could conjure up when I did meet him. Nothing good, of course.

After punching my poor pillow too many times to count, I was slowly calming down. But that didn't mean I was going to go downstairs and help my dad anytime soon. No way, no how. He could clean the rest of the inn himself, for all I cared.

I groaned into my pillow, not wanting to do anything the rest of the day. My mood was shot, some unknown punk ruined my day, and now I was hungry. Just freakin' great.

Deciding not to wallow in any more of my self-pity, I picked myself off the bed and headed downstairs. I wasn't apologizing, if that was what you were getting at. My dad could eat the broom and the stuff he swept up; and I meant that.

Heh heh.

Well, he practically ate the broom already.

Score; Ann: One, Dad: BIGFATZERO.

Hopefully he still had the imprint on his face, oh what a site to see!

As soon as I got downstairs, I noticed that Duke was gone and my dad was nowhere to be seen. Probably nursing his broom-wound that I inflicted upon him. I snickered at the thought, replaying the moment in my head over and over again.

This would be a story to tell the grandchildren.

Oh dear goddess! I sounded like my father! NOOOOOO!!!!

"Ann? What in the Harvest Goddess's name are you doing?" my dad's voice entered my ears, surprising me. Shouldn't he be wallowing in his epic defeat?

I turned around, rubbing my forehead. Looking at him dumbly, I asked, "What?"

Ah, dude, massive headache.

"I stood and watched you bang your head against the wall for more than five minutes."

"Really…" Wait a minute. "You let me do that?!!"

My insolent parental unit shrugged lamely. "Seemed fair enough. You were also mumbling something about grandchildren. Yeah, just to remind you, I want some soon."

I smacked my forehead, which was pretty dumb on my part; it hurt like a bitch. He just couldn't let the grandchildren thing go, could he? How annoying.

My family was messed up.

If you could even call my dad and I a "family".

"Nice broom imprint," I snickered, looking at his forehead. "Where did ya get that from? Oh. Wait. I know. Me."

"Hah," he laughed emotionlessly. Running a hand through his orange hair, he replied, "Ann, I just don't get you anymore. Why must you be so immature?"


Me? Immature?

How freakin' dare he!

"You're calling me immature," I stated. "Yeah, coming from the one who tries to get every guy to go out with his daughter. Real smooth Dad, real smooth."

Before he could retort, I added, "I'm hungry. If you don't mind, I'm going to go cook myself something to eat."

"Oh, can you make me some pancakes while you're at it?"

I twisted my face into a tight scowl. "Hell no. Eat the dirt you sweep up."

"Love you too, Ann," Dad grumbled.

I blew him a kiss.

Oh, what a beautiful love-hate relationship my father and I shared.

Thirty minutes later I had my own plate of hash browns and a bacon, ham, and cheese omelet. And it smelled delicious.

Of course it smells delicious, I told myself. You, the Great Ann, made it. It's the best of the best.

I sighed happily as I made my way into the dining area. I started for my favorite table, which was more towards the front, but stopped as my eyes laid sight on a very confused, very good-looking (though I hated to admit it) guy. It looked as though he was debating whether or not to just leave or find someone here, since no one else was in the room except for me.

He hadn't noticed me yet.

I took my advantage and got a better look at him. He had shaggy, messy brown hair that was kept in a backwards blue baseball cap. His eyes were the color of the deepest dark chocolate known to mankind, and I couldn't help but lose myself in them…

Someone cleared their throat. "Uh…H-Hello? Miss?"

Slowly coming from my dazed state, I shook my head and gave him the best smile I could muster. It didn't help that whenever I stared into his eyes for too long, they drew me in like magic, leaving me breathless and beyond words.

"Yes?" I finally said. "Are you the new farmer?" He had to be, who else would visit this tiny town?

"Yeah," he stated attentively.

All too suddenly, my blood boiled with rage and I thought I was going to erupt like a volcano. This was the guy who made my day crappy. This was the little farmer boy who caused me grief. All. Damn. Morning.

I sucked in a quick breath to try and calm myself. No need to get angry, Ann. He didn't know anything, he didn't do anything. Relax, relax.

"Could…could you help me?" he asked softly, his eyes pleading innocently.

Now he was playing mind games with me. He knew I was angry with him and now he was using his mind voodoo on me to calm my mood. Or something like that.

"What do you need?" I pressed, giving him a small smile, though I really wanted to give him a grimace.

He blinked before shaking his head from side to side a couple of times. "Well…ah…I…"

Oh just spit it out already!

"This is the Inn, correct?" he asked me, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

I shifted my weight to one foot, cradling the still-hot plate in my hand. "Yup, whaddya need?"

I saw the way he eyed my plate full of delicious food and suddenly knew what he was here for. He was hungry. "I wanted to…introduce myself. The name's Jack," he grinned.

"Ahh…," I breathed, "my name's Ann. I work here at the Inn with my father. Are you hungry?"

Jack hesitated for a moment. "Yeee…uh…yeah. It was a long boat ride here."

"I see," I said. Eyeing my breakfast, I shrugged and held the plate out to him. I could always make more food for myself. "Here, take this. It's on the house."

Yeah, that'll show my dad who really runs this joint. He absolutely hated it when I gave people free meals.

"No, no," he pushed it back towards me. "I can't do that. I should pay for my own meal, it looks as though that's your breakfast."

It took my whole being not to growl at him. Here I was, offering him a free meal, and he throws it back in my face! How…how insulting! My free hand clenched into a fist, and it was hard not to punch this dude in the head.

I was afraid I'd break his beautiful face.

You don't think guys are beautiful, Ann. You hate them all!

"No," I clenched my teeth, "I insist." I pushed the plate of food back, almost hitting his nose. If he didn't duck out of the way, I was sure it would have been all over his face by now.

The farmer laughed nervously. "Let me pay for it then. It just doesn't-"

"NO!" I blurted. He jumped. "Take the damn food," I hissed, taking his large palms and wrapping them around the edges of the plate. "I'm giving it to you for free, you should take it graciously."

"Really…I am grateful…b-but…let me pay for it, please. I'll…I'll feel better that way."

I raised an eyebrow as he held the plate out for me to take, again, as he reached for his wallet in his back pocket.

"I'm not taking that back," I shook my head. "You're keeping it, eating it, and not paying for it. If I have to shove that food down your throat, I will."

"Really." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah," I assured. "So you better eat it willingly."

"No," he smirked, "you aren't making me eat this. It's yours."

Gaping, I stomped my foot and grabbed a fistful of the hash browns on the white porcelain in his hands, squishing the fried potatoes in my hand. He eyed me with curiosity, that smirk still on his face. He just had to refuse my offer, and after everything he'd done to me!

But that wasn't the biggest thing I was angry about.

It was the fact that I liked that smirk on his handsome face. I wanted him to keep smiling like that.

Ugh! I made myself sick.

I clicked my tongue on the roof of my mouth. "I warned you." And without a second thought, I threw the squished hash browns in his face.

There, eat that, Jack.

Jack stood there, gawking at me for what felt like hours. Finally, after staring at me like I had grown five heads or something, a noise that sounded much like a growl escaped his mouth. I cocked an eyebrow at that one, amused. It sounded funny coming from some guy with potatoes all over the lower part of his face.

Cue staring contest.

"Cat got you tongue, Jack?" I asked in humor after some time passed. "Or are you finally going to eat that off your face?"

To my utter surprise, he started laughing. And before I knew it, I had an omelet in my hair.


I gasped and pointed at him, the cheesy omelet sliding down my ponytail. "YOU. WILL. Pay for this!"

Before Jack could get a word in edgewise, I stomped up the stairs to my room, mumbling incoherent swear words under my breath.

Jack would pay. And pay soon he would.


This was disgusting.

Popuri, Karen, Elli, and even Mary, of all people, were bewitched by Jack's charm. Their mothers were even swooning over him from afar! The farmer was amidst a large circle of giggly girls, telling them stories of his life in the city. I heard Popuri's girly sigh as he laughed at something one of the girls asked.

He had a handsome, deep, and smooth laugh. It was nice…it fit him.

I immediately slammed my head on the table for thinking such thoughts.

"Ann! Come over here, silly! Listen to Jack's amazing stories!" I was going to punch whoever it was calling for me.

It sounded like Popuri.

Oh great; who could punch such an innocent-looking face?

Not even I could.

Fighting a scowl, I waltzed over to the large group and crossed my arms, seething. Jack still had it coming, and I was in no mood to talk to him, or even look at him. Narrowing my eyes, I joined the group of frilly girls.

"I know about the city, I don't need Jack to tell me about it," I stated, snippy.

Without out noting any of their reactions, I let out a prissy hmph and sauntered over to the other side of the inn, where all the lonely boys were sitting. They probably needed a shoulder to cry on; all of their girls were swept off their feet by some charming (gag me) stranger who just arrived this morning.


Oh ho ho, this plan was just so…so delicious, I could practically taste the fruity goodness of it on my tongue. Why fruity? 'Cause I'm not a mint person, thank you very much.


Back to my fruity delicious plan.

I was going to TP Jack's farmhouse. Yes, you read that right. Toilet Paper his house was my plan. And it was a beautiful, majestic plan fit for only those worthy enough of carrying it out.

Which was me.

Oh, this moment would go down in history.

Supply closet: check. Tons and tons of rolls of toilet paper: check.

Now all I had to do was act like a sneaky little ninja and not wake my dad up who was sleeping in the backroom. It was no challenge at all, really, he slept like the dead. One time I threw Misty, my orange tabby cat, at his head and he didn't even wake up! But in the morning he was moaning and complaining about "mysterious" scratches all over his face. That'll teach him to…wait…I couldn't even remember WHY I threw my beloved cat at him. I shrugged. Oh well.

I cackled like a maniac, as quietly as I could, as I left the inn with tons of toilet paper in my arms. Jack wouldn't see THIS one coming.

Apparently Jack didn't understand the word sleep. I'd been hunched over behind this very old, very ratty-looking doghouse a few feet away from his house for what seemed like hours. His lights were still on. It sounded like he was watching TV or something; there were multiple voices coming from the open windows.

And it didn't help, that just now, some thoughtless puppy came to claim this disgusting excuse for a doghouse as his own.


"Shut up," I hissed, scooting away from the animal. Dogs weren't my cup-of-tea, cats were more my style.

It looked at me with its innocent eyes, but I wouldn't let this creature win me over with its mind voodoo like Jack had done. No way, no how. I'd eat this dog kennel before I'd let that happen.

Oh great, now the stupid little thing was chewing on my pant leg. "Get off me, mutt," I whispered, trying to be calm. This dog was going to get me caught!

"Woof woof."

"Woof woof back at chya, bud. Now go home before I kick you."

His answer was a loud bark. Which probably tore my eardrums apart, but I wasn't really worried about that at the moment. What I was focusing on was the front door opening to Jack's tiny house, revealing none other than…Jack.

How pleasant.

"Hello?" He asked quietly. Jack had such a smooth voice…almost like silk.

I hit myself in the face with a toilet paper roll.

Stop it, you dirty hormones! I ordered myself. Keep your head in the game, Ann.

The farmer walked closer to the doghouse, where I was currently hiding behind. My heart about froze mid-beat. I was going to get caught, my mind screamed. Caught. In trouble. Caught by JACK, of all people!

I wasn't about to let that happen.

Picking the puppy up with one hand, I silently apologized to it before tossing it over the roof of the kennel, making sure it looked like it jumped over it. At least…I thought it looked like he jumped over it. Hopefully I aimed the poor puppy in the right direction… With a small yelp, the animal landed on the ground with a soft thud.

"Oh, it's only a puppy," I heard Jack talk to himself, as if assuring himself there was no real danger. Yeah, except me. "Come here boy," he cooed, "let's get you inside. I bet you're hungry!"

So he feeds the devil spawn?! They both owed me a new pair of pants!

Wow, after another freakin' hour of just…sitting there, Jack finally found it useful to TURN OFF THE LIGHTS AND GO TO BED! Geez, it had to be at least one in the morning. Normal people didn't stay up this late; I was surprised I was still conscious. But I guess he was a city-boy. So, he did have an excuse there.

Using my super ninja skills, I hopped over the dog kennel silently, landing on the balls of feet with the utmost skill and precision. And I did all of that with the toilet paper rolls in my hands. How's that for ya?

Oh yeah, I had skiiiilllzzzz.

Now it was time to put my fruity plan into action!


I about tripped down the stairs, yawning. I was up till three in the morning, remodeling Jack's house. I snickered, my mind replaying the events of earlier this morning. Oh, Jack was in for a papery surprise when he walked outside today! He'd probably think it snowed overnight or some crap like that.


"Ann," my dad called from the supply closet sleepily. "Where's all the toilet paper?"

All over Jack's house. Bwaha! Hahahaha!

"Don't know, don't care."

My plan was so fool-proof that not even my father could figure it out. But that wasn't saying much. He was much too clueless for his own good.

"ANNNNNN!!!!!" a smooth voice rang out. Rather loud, I might add. Sounded like it came from…ahaha…Jack's farm. Ooo! Farmer boy's up!

I cocked my head to the side, acting clueless. "Dad, did you say something?"

He shook his head, groggy. "No. It sounded like it came from quite a ways. Why would someone be yelling your name, Ann? What did you do?"

"What?! No one yelled my name! They…uh…said…annnnddd…I gotta go!" Without saying another word, I booked it out of the inn.

Doug was left clueless, like always, in my wake.

Whew, thank the goddess for letting me snake by unseen once again. My revenge was always so thrilling…

"…Ann. Ann! Ann," Popuri pesters me, waving her hands in front of my face. She is standing before me but Karen is still seated. "What's wrong with you? Looked like you were reminiscing in some good memories," she winked.

I raise an eyebrow at her, "Eh…?"

"Oh, oh! I know! You were daydreaming about Jack, weren't you? I can see it in your eyes, you were!" she squealed. "Does someone have a ca-rush?"

I slap my forehead and Karen's musical laugh fills the inn. "Oh, Popuri," she chides. "Did you forget that Ann and Jack absolutely hate each other?"

Thank you, Karen.

Popuri opens her mouth to say something, but snaps it back shut a few seconds later. After a few minutes of silence, something finally dawns on the pink-haired girl. "…Ooooh…"

"Yeah," Karen and I say in unison.

"Well, Ann, trying to get your attention has made me thirsty. Can you get me something to drink?" Popuri asks, sitting back down next to Karen. "I think I would enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa right about now."

"Wine for me," Karen adds. "Don't like chocolate."

I wave my hand and let out a sigh. "Whatevs. I'll be right back."

I head towards the backroom, where the kitchen is, just as my dad decides to bellow, "What do you think you're doing? I told you, no working today!"

Turning towards the bar, I see that he's leaning against the counter, talking to Cliff. Well, it is more like talking to a brick wall; Cliff doesn't do any of the talking. I wonder if he's gone mute. He doesn't even make any affirming noises; such as a grunt or even a slight hmph.

How can Doug possibly think I can get along with that poor, silent, emo boy?

Without even looking his way I say, "Fine, get Karen and Popuri a glass of wine and a mug of hot chocolate. I'm going back to talk to my friends."

"What do you mean you have the day off?" Karen asks upon my arrival. "Like, you never have a day off."

I sit down, cradling my head in my arms as I say, "Idon'twanttotalkaboutit."

"Huh? What was that?" Popuri huffs. "I couldn't understand you."

I groan, "I don't want to talk about it, okay?"

"What happened this time," Karen rolls her eyes, "Doug sell you on eBay?"

"Worse," I mumble, running a hand through my thick locks.

"What's worse than that?!" The pink-haired girl sitting next to me exclaims. "I don't think anything is worse than selling your daughter on eBay!"

Rubbing my face, I say, "He paid Cliff…five dollars to go out with me."

"Oh crap," Karen announces, wide-eyed. "That is worse."

"Agreed," Popuri bobs her head. "And Cliff is sitting right over there! I bet you're really embarrassed, Ann!"

Oh great, she just had to remind me that Cliff was sitting over at the bar. Yay me.

"Yeah? And you're really embarrassed because you fell off your chair," I drum my fingers on the wooden table.

"What do you mean I fell off my chair? I didn't fall-"

Before Popuri could even finish her sentence, I use my foot to tip the overly-optimistic's chair over, causing her to fall backwards onto the floor. With a shrill squeak, Popuri scrambles around, trying to get back up.

Even Dad couldn't help stifle his laughter. And he usually scolds me for doing such things.

"Well hello there, ladies," a deep voice interrupts our laughter.

"Holy freezer popsicles!" I scream, falling off my chair sideways. I land on top of Popuri's head and we end up getting our hair tangled together. It wasn't that I was frightened. Oh no, it was because Jack was the one who greeted us.

"Why hello, Jack," Karen sighs dreamily. "What brings you to the inn?"

I hope she knows that she's dating Rick.

Ignoring Karen's flirting, Jack says, "Oh, hello Ann. I didn't know you were there."

I snort, unlady-like. Is he dumb, deaf, and blind? I just screamed holy freezer popsicles and fell off my chair. I think he knew I was there, he's just playing dumb. "It hurts me Jack," I tug at my hair that's still knotted in with Popuri's, "that you don't think I'm a lady." I pull at my hair once more, finally freeing it from the pink rat's nest. "Saying my name separately and all."

Go Ann, way to lay on the sarcasm.

He grunts, and I can't help but laugh quietly in victory. But this causes my head to hurt worse than what it has been from it being knotted with Popuri's hair, so I immediately stop my quiet laughing fit. Rubbing my head and smoothing out my hair the best to my ability, I use my chair to crawl back up to my feet. Once I'm standing, I help Popuri, who's blushing, and in no time we are both off the floor.

I look over at Jack for the first time and scowl at him, letting him know how much I hate that he's here. He gives me a smirk, dazzling me clueless for a few a seconds.

Curse you Jack, and your dazzling abilities!

I hate how he can dazzle anyone with just a simple smile.

And I couldn't help but notice that he isn't wearing his trademark baseball cap, his shaggy brown hair is tousled from the snow and his cheeks and nose are pink.

I guess Jack is just too "macho" for things called hats and gloves. At least he has a coat on, I tell myself. He shouldn't be too cold.

Ugh! I despise myself! When did I start caring if Jack was cold or not? Never!

I hate hormones, I really really do.

"What are you two girls doing here so early?" Jack asks, leaning on the back of the chair I just sat on. His breath tickles the back of my ear that is sticking out of my hair, and my whole body stiffens as I intake a sharp breath.

He did that on purpose.

What was his deal?

I hear him chuckle heartily, obviously taking joy in watching me squirm.

Jack, I hate you.

"We're here to get some hot chocolate!" Popuri grins so widely that her eyes squeeze shut.

"Wine," Karen adds with a low grunt.

He leans over me and I can see the look of shock that runs across his handsome face. "Don't you two know that we are supposed to get hit by a snow storm later today? You two really need to get home!"

"Oh, I'm sure they'll be fine walking in the bone-chilling wind and harsh snowfall," I smirk.

Popuri's mouth drops and it takes my whole being to keep from laughing at the dumbstruck look on her pretty little face. "What do you mean we'll be fine? We would die, Ann!"

"No dip, Sherlock," Karen and I say at the same time.

Ooo, that's creepy.

Jack, seemingly ignoring Karen and I, says, "Of course you wouldn't survive! Here, I'll walk you two home, okay? We don't know when that storm will hit; I just want you girls to be safe."

"Okay!" The pink-haired girl cheers, clapping her hands and giggling.

"Whatever." Karen rolls her eyes and gets up from her seat. "But I want my wine first," she looks at me, as if the glass of wine would magically appear in my hands so that I could give it to her.

Yeah, right.

"What are you looking at? It's my day off; you want something, go talk to my dad."

She rolls her eyes again.

"You know," I snort, "if you roll yours eyes like that enough, they'll stay like that forever. You'll look really stupid, Karen."

Karen huffs, sticking her nose high in the air, and walks out of the inn without another word, leaving the three of us shocked and wide-eyed. This surprises me, for Karen is the type to tell you off without a second glance. That is why we always have such good arguments, neither of us ever back down.

"Well then," I say, standing out of my chair and crossing my arms. Just because Karen didn't get what she wanted…she has to pull this crap with me right now.


"Ann…," I hear Jack scold me from behind. For some reason, I'm slightly disappointed with myself for letting him down, but I soon push that thought into the back of my mind. Who cares? I sure don't.

I let out a heavy sigh as Jack, being the gentlemen that he is, walks over to Popuri and helps her with her coat. As soon as they were done, Jack whispers something into Popuri's ear that makes her blush, and she rushes out of the inn.

I'm still standing there with my arms crossed as Jack turns towards me, his mouth etched into a grim line. "Promise me you won't do something stupid and happen to venture outside into the storm, okay?"

I scrunch up my nose in confusion. "And why would I do that?"

He takes two long strides before he's right in front of me. "Because you're Ann."

After tenderly squeezing my arm, Jack leaves me gawking at the spot where he last stood.