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~*Prologue*~



Cursing softly Rae sucked the end of her finger which had begun to bleed slightly after it slipped under the needle in the sewing machine at the Shirtwaist Factory. She had been working since five in the morning, eleven hours ago, without a break. This was just another day for her and her friends. They all worked in the factory together. "Finally!" she sighed as the bell rang signaling the end of that shift. Dropping the piece of cloth she was working on in the finished pile and stretching as she stood, Rae looked around for her friends who were working their way to the exit. Quickly the group converged outside. "Heya, ladies!" she greeted them tiredly, sitting against the wall outside the factory, taking her hair out of the bun and kneading her neck muscles.

"How can you be so perky?" Singah asked, smiling at Rae and sitting beside her against the wall. Singah was not able to go home that night because she had to be at Medda's for work in an hour until three the next morning.

Rolling her eyes Rae answered with a grin, "Years of faking it". Dearbhail bit her tongue to keep a comment from leaving her lips. "Good. You're learning self control!" Rae noticed her friend's eyes when she responded. Dearbhail stuck her tongue out and crossed her eyes. Even though she had only arrived from Ireland a month ago, the other girls had accepted her into their little group.

Checking her watch, Lashes stood up. "Alright I need to get to the library before it closes. You should get to work, Singah. Medda would be on your tail again," she warned her friend. The two were pretty much inseparable, even though they were as different as night and day. Lashes was quiet and reserved while Singah… wasn't.

"Yes, mother," Singah laughed, winking at Lashes and heading off down the alley towards Meddah's. Lashes went in the opposite direction, towards the New York Library her arms toting a few books she needed to return.

"Alright Blaze, you still owe me a rematch. I need to earn my money back. Seven card stud. Deuces and Jacks wild. Who's in?" another girl spoke up after Lashes and Singah had disappeared, she turned over a crate and sat behind it. Blaze smirked sitting on Half-Pint's right, fighting a laugh, knowing Half-Pint was just going to give up more of her money. Rae and Duchess took up the other sides of the crate and retrieved their meager pouches of money, waiting for Half-Pint to deal. Since Moth was saving up for a hat she saw in a store near her place she decided to watch. Dearbhail shrugged and watched the other end of the alley.

"Oscar should be picking me up some time soon. I shouldn't start a game", She reasoned aloud, to no one in particular. This was met with five groans of disapproval. "What? He's an alright guy," she defended him. The five girls went back to the card game so as not to start an argument. "He's better than nothing. There he is now. Bye girls!" a wide grin, which didn't reach her eyes, spread across her face as the man in question ambled into the alley. The two left with another word to the girls who just continued their game.