Okay boys and girls . . . Here's the deal. I've gotten pretty far in It All Started With a Cup of Coffee. And Lord has that taken on a life of it's own . . . but every time I go to work on Learning Curve, I'm brought back to my original outlines and I have to say . . . I love the direction I was going to go. So, that in mind I'm going to be revising this story. I'll be posting all of the updated chapters (and new ones) with this prologue/Intro chapter . . . but I'm telling you now. Things are going to change. It may be small things but they will change. It will still be Chaosia and Sphinx . . . it's just going to progress the way I originally wanted it to . . . before the characters got away from em and lead me to my proverbial dead end. So, without further adieu, I give you the revamped Learning Curve. Oh and Inferno? Please don't skin me for this.


In the Beginning

Memphis Raines couldn't believe what he was hearing. Otto had a goddaughter. And she was moving here? To work with them while she was in school?

He looked at his surrogate father-figure, clearly able to see that behind the tight smile he was wearing for his practically beaming wife, Otto was just as uneasy about this as he was. Seriously what were Junie and this girl's mom thinking? They were going to send some sweet innocent kid here?

Sway would probably eat her alive if she didn't snap her like a twig the first wrong word she uttered and Atley . . . Dear Lord. Atley "Antifreeze for Blood" Jackson was the master of the cold shoulder and gut wrenching glare. If she crossed him they'd have to ship her back to Seal Beach in a straight jacket.

Donnie would be okay, as easy going as he usually was . . . and the younger crew, with the exception of Kip, would probably be neutral. Hell if she was cute, they might try to date her . . . That would just leave him to deal with keeping her out of the Sphinx's way.

Memphis groaned mentally, nodding and smiling to Junie who was talking about how smart and ladylike her niece was. That cemented it. He'd have to keep Sphinx as far from her as possible. The others would respect his and Otto's wishes to be civil or just leave her alone, so long as she didn't step on toes . . . but Sphinx . . . The man lived by his own rules. And if she looked at him wrong, he'd be pushing her corpse through his morgue and right into the incinerator in the Coroner's Office.

He shuddered. He'd have to go home and call Sway and Atley. He'd need their help in wrangling the others to talk and restraining the Sphinx long enough to explain he'd never have much contact with the girl . . .

"Memphis?"

He looked up to see Junie looking at him expectantly, smiling. He nodded, smiling back. No matter how much he hated this he would help Otto keep Junie happy. The woman was a saint and never asked anything of any of them . . . save to be careful. So he would do this for her.

"Sure Junie. We'll make her feel as welcome as we possibly can."

Her smile brightened as she hugged him before she turned and gushed to Otto.

"Oh see, honey. I told you it would be fine. Besides, Chaosia isn't an idiot. Eddie's shown her about cars and she keeps up with those brothers of hers . . . well . . . mostly. She'll be nothing but a help, I can feel it."

Otto smiled indulgently, patting Junie's hand. He never could deny her anything when she smiled.

"I know sweetness. I know. Let's just hope the others think the same thing, okay?"

She nodded, dismissing the idea immediately that anyone would dislike her cherished niece.

"Oh don't be silly, Otto. Chaosia is a doll. Kip and Tumbler will love her. Sway may have to get used to another girl being around but I think even she will be happy for the company . . . Why I bet even that quiet young man Sphinx will take a shine to her once she's here. She's impossible to ignore once you get to know her."

Memphis paled but nodded, laughing weakly.

"I'm sure you're right Junie. Now, I'm gonna go and tell the others. When does she get here?"

Junie beamed, grabbing Otto's hand and squeezing it.

"Tomorrow afternoon. She'll be here tomorrow afternoon to talk with Otto and survey the front office. Millennia and I are putting her to work reorganizing it and the Records Room for the month she won't be in school. Give her something to do other than fix up that house. Maybe if the office looks nice enough the customers can overlook our more sour restorers like Bob and Mitchell."

Memphis huffed.

"Unlikely, Junie. You'd have to be blind and deaf to overlook Bob and Mitchell."

She chuckled, soothing Otto as he groused.

"I know they're uptight but they're the best at what they do, Memphis my boy. Until I can replace them I have to have them. Even if Sway does want to break their jaws."

Memphis nodded, bidding the couple goodbye before heading out to Eleanor. He had phone calls to make and prayers to say. He just hoped that this would all work out for the best . . .


Chaosia stood in the doorway of her now empty apartment, looking over the vast space with remorse. She didn't want to leave home . . . and that's what this place had been since she'd turned nineteen and moved out of her parents' house for freedom.

Sure she still loved them and had been a frequent visitor at their home . . . but she had needed the space to grow away from them. And she doubted her father would have let her then boyfriend live if they'd fucked in house.

She sighed, glowering at the blank walls.

Marcello was the whole reason she was having to move in the first place, the lying bastard. Before he'd decided to up and start whoring around she was going to be able to just commute the twenty minutes to school and back. But oh no. He just had to screw around. And with Bastian's girlfriend no less.

She growled, cutting the lights and closing the door. She knew she should blame her brothers for this too but for some reason she just couldn't bring herself to be angry with either of the dorks. Especially Bastian. He was a yuppie and usually acted like he was better than everyone else . . . but he was her yuppie. And she knew that no matter how big and bad he was acting right now, her yuppie was hurting.

He and Yvonne had been together for almost three years . . . and had been planning the wedding of the century . . . And then this happened.

She sighed, walking down the hallway to the elevator as slowly as she could. She would be staying with Bastian tonight and leaving for Long Beach in the morning. She really didn't mind going there . . . she just didn't want to go there like this. She felt like she was abandoning her brothers and that didn't sit well with her. Hell, she'd gone out one night with Paul to drown her sorrows and had woken up to the whole Children's Pool fiasco.

She grinned. She really didn't put them up to it but it was a work of art in the revenge department . . . she had never really cared for Monique but she had to give Mikhail's girlfriend credit. She was a pro at getting even.

As she rode the lift down, she couldn't help but feel the weight of everything falling on her. She and Marcello hadn't been like Bastian and Yvonne but they had been together . . . and Marcello was supposed to be the best man in Bastian's damned wedding. A wedding that would never happen now that said best man had fucked the bride-to-be for the past four months.

She sighed.

It was probably better this way.

She could go to Long Beach and open up the house in Bixby Knolls. She could redecorate that and help Uncle Otto and Aunt Junie with the shop paperwork. And whatever else they needed. She could make a new life for herself without Marcello constantly telling her that studying to be a Marine Biologist was stupid.

Everything would work out for the best . . . Now if she only believed that.