Welcome to the final chapter of More Lonely Than the Flowers! Thanks for sticking with me throughout this whole thing. It was a very different type of writing than I usually do and was an interesting experience.

Disclaimer: I have yet to own anything of AiW.

Inspirational Song: "Wheel in the Sky" - Journey

. . . . .

In the picture Alice is holding, she is nine years old. The bright smile painted on her face hadn't been exaggerated at all as she sat on her father's lap. She looked up at her father's face with pure admiration. His grin was wide and his eyes full of happiness. Charles Kingsleigh was a man whose treasure was his family and no one would ever forget that.

Alice placed the picture back on her dresser, on top of a folder of documents that Alice had been interested in. She had Hamish sneak them to her after borrowing them from his father. Lord Ascot might've been a little confused at first by his son's sudden interest in the trade, but Alice believed that he soon caught on to what was truly going on. Hamish might be a git, but he could be useful every once in a while.

"Alice? Are you ready yet? We'll be leaving soon."

Alice turned around to find her mother standing at the door. "Margaret and Lowell are already there," she explained. Helen was wearing a pleasant and flowery dress of black and white. "We cannot be late to this one," she added.

"Juts about," Alice said warily. They had been invited to so many gatherings this past year. She suspected it was due to the curiosity of how her family was doing after their recent. . . trauma.

"Well, do hurry. The stagecoach is already waiting on the drive." She turned to leave.

"Wait. Mother?" Helen glanced back at her beautiful and now nineteen-year-old daughter. "Must we go to this one?"

Helen sighed, exasperated. "Yes, for the fifth time today, Alice, yes."

"But they're really all the same. What's this one for, anyhow?"

Helen's eyes hardened. "It's a surprise."

Alice lifted a brow. "Really?" Helen nodded briskly. Alice sighed. "They won't even notice my absence! Really, I don't see why-"

"You're going to this party." Alice shrunk a little bit at her mother's tone. "Meet me out front in five minutes, no less." Again, she made to go, but then looked back at her defeated daughter. "You can try to have fun at this one, perhaps?" she added a bit softer.

Alice nodded and Helen left.

She stood up a little straighter and rubbed the nonexistent wrinkles out of her light blue dress. She'd just been so tired lately. No, she went to bed at a reasonable time every night. What kept her up were the dreams. They visited her every night now and the mysterious images had slowly been getting clearer and clearer. She didn't know what to make of them, but had long since grown used to them.

She'd also grown weary of her exasperating company. While Alice had matured into a curious and insightful young woman, the Chataways had grown into giddy and superficial young ladies. It only pained Alice slightly to realize that there was no one she was truly on kind terms with.

And now she was to go and socialize with a whole collection of them. They were all the same. The parties, the people who went there, it was all so tiresome.

But she really didn't have a choice, did she?

So she walked out her bedroom door, heading for the stagecoach that would take her to the Ascots'.

Alice pondered how boring and dull this party would be. Surely it would be just like any other.