Author's Note: Just posting a little something to prove that I'm still alive. I have a lot of stories open right now, but I lost a good share of my recent files after my keyboard shorted out. I'm currently working on rewriting them, but it's going to take some extra time which is something I don't have a lot of with school starting again.

I'm not sure how long this new AU is going to be, but the idea's been on my mind for ages now. There's no set schedule as of right now, but I would like to try and update it every Thursday if I can. We'll see. Regardless, thank you all for the support!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or its characters.

-/-

Chapter One

"They just don't make lip stain like they used to, do they?"

I sighed as I stared into the mirror. A hard double-shift will to terrible things to a girl's face, but I didn't have much choice in the matter. If I was going to keep the roof over my head, I needed all the work I could get. That meant keeping up appearances even when all I had was cheap lip stain and a dried out tube of mascara.

From the small poorly lit bathroom, I could hear the news crackle through the radio. By the sounds of it, we were in for another beautiful day in paradise which, of course, was a lie on both counts. I hadn't even looked outside, and I still knew it. That was why I'd worked so hard to make my home my castle. I might have been living in a studio apartment, and I might have made only enough tips to buy one thing at a time. It didn't keep me from making the best of a bad deal.

All around me, from the bath mats to the towels and even my soap dispenser, everything was pink. I was so used to it by that time that I didn't notice all that much until I brought my boss up to have a look at the place. I pouted to hear him say he expected nothing less from a girl like me, but he'd just laughed as his mustache twitched and his eyes crinkled shut.

"Still in love with a married man? You really must be desperate, honey," I mused aloud. "You know as well as I do that he's a happier man now than he was before, so you better just forget about him if you ask me."

When my reflection refused to answer, I had no choice but to smile. It didn't quite reach my eyes, though. Whether I wanted to admit it to myself or not, I'd finally fallen for that sweet old friend of mine, and then he had to go and get himself married to the new girl. She was a good woman at least. Too bad she was such a terrible waitress. Still, I had a feeling she'd treat him well enough even after the honeymoon was over.

Stepping into my studio apartment, my surroundings went from pink to red. For a woman with so much love to give, it made me happy to think I was living in a valentine. My bed, tucked just under the only window, was freshly made, and my waitress's uniform rested on top of it. It was a pretty baby blue, but the deep red of the down comforter threatened to swallow it whole.

"Hey, princess, you plan on getting out here soon?" a voice just outside my door demanded. "Or are we gonna have to find someone else to stand around all day and chit-chat with the folks downstairs?"

"I'll be right down!" I called back. "Just get the grill hot and ready, and I'll take care of the masses!"

"Fine." I giggled to hear Chase grumble to himself, but I decided to cut him some slack. Business was even more crazy without the boss around to distract our customers which always made our cook more irritable than usual.

I slipped into my uniform without too much trouble. It was a little snug as always, especially around my hips, but it fit well enough. The boss was kind enough to let me pick it out myself, too, so the cut was perfect. I even got to show a little bit of skin which made the tips all the better.

"Guess that'll have to do it." I stole one last glance at the mirror as I ran my fingers through my blonde hair. Then I sighed with yet another sad smile. "Oops, forgot a curler."

"I said come on, Muffy!" Chase snapped from down the stairs. "I can't open this place up myself, you know!"

"Keep your apron on, honey! I told you I'm coming, didn't I?"