Least to say, Oliver's reply left me kind of baffled. His mother sounded like a nice person, and even though he didn't go to much detail, his life appeared to be just fine. You can't judge a book by its cover, I learn.

Well, on the plus side, he had to be my personal slave – I mean assistant, so I promptly punished him for leaving me in the dark like that. Granted, I didn't push for any more details, not that I wanted to know. If he wanted me to know, he'd have said something by now.

Needless to say, I only managed to finish with one project since that day, and it was by the skin of my teeth. Prima nearly killed me when she came back the other night and saw nothing done. Despite managing to uplift my spirits a little, I only had enough motivation to finish that one project and it was during a week's time.

At least I managed to finish it one time for the carnival.

"The… carnival?" My groan was unmistakable. Whatever early attempts I tried to make to my work was halted, my head resting down over the fabric of corduroy I planned to work my magic on… planned.

"This is good moment to increase business even more than we're already going to receive." Prima inserted from her end.

I did not feel safe with her lack of reaction to my attitude. Plus she confused me with what she said. "Hold it. Didn't you already negotiate something with Li'l Miss Rohou? I know these times tend to be one of those busy periods, but don't take on more than you can chew."

My reward for caring? A slap across the head. "We can never have enough advertisement. We need to spread the word about our lovely works of arts."

"But do the gypsies really need more clothes?" I struck a nerve; she visibly twitched and looked caught between ideas of how to finish me off. Course that's what she wanted, though. Outside folks were always the best targets for this sort of business since they brought our clothes with them where others could see, thus bringing in more visitors and customers. One could even say business like this was one of many reasons a city would flourish. Aren't I proud of being a part of this? "I'm just letting you know right now I'm not taking part of this."

She gave me a flat look. "You are not going to be ditching me because you don't want to get anywhere near the fair all right. Its moment like these you can tell you're from the country. It's not that loud and there's not that much people around."

She LIES. Regardless of how small the city is, several folks here enjoy a good ruckus. The carnival was a great time to enjoy oneself… I suppose. I rather spend my time someplace quiet. Unfortunately, that's too much to ask at this point.

"So a carnival's coming?" Oliver entered the room, still dressed in some pajamas… that Prima made for him. Ugh.

"Yes. As an employee here, you'll be required to accompany Aria to promote her clothing articles."

"I don't have anything to broadcast."

"Of course you do. Oliver showed me the lovely project you finished." Oh, that sly smile on Prima's face.

My gaze turned over into glare. Was the blond the target of it? No. As much as I wanted to wail on him, this is Prima's shop. All in the store could not escape her omnipresent gaze. "It's just that one."

"But it still something. I'm not letting you stay home this time. You can't always be confined to the store, Aria."

But the problem with leaving the store is the noise and all the people I never knew lived (or visited) the city. The various carnival booths made home in several of the weaving streets. However, to be part of the bigger picture, one needed to stay in the center of Sherbet. The excitement escalated past charted levels here – where our shop also happens to be located.

And even with all of her bragging, Prima set up the outside transmission RIGHT NEXTTO THE STORE. Bad enough we're in the nosiest part of the festival. Goodness...

"Hey, Aria…" Oliver reverted to his shy old self now that we were outside. It could be because of all these people. Maybe it had to do with the new blue coat he was wearing. Dear Lord, but he looked so good with it. I'm not speaking for myself, since I don't like wearing blue if I can help it, but Oliver looks gorgeous in dark blue. It just seemed to bring out best of his features.

He's such an attention grabber now, a number of female gypsies – both young and slightly older – gathered around to talk to him. His face turns red, and he starts stuttering like crazy. Aww, I guess he's not used to being the center of female attention.

Some of the girls tried to coax him to dance with them, which met them with more stammering. He sent a pleading look to me, to which I just shrugged.

"Take him away, ladies." I don't know if they understood me, but I translated their happy squeals to be a "YES!". As for Oliver, he merely held his hand out futilely in my direction as the girls forcefully dragged him to the center plaza.

I wasn't doing this to be evil, I promise. (Mostly.) If Prima was going to make me advertise for the store, I will. Oliver would be front and center, where all eyes coming in and out of the plaza can see him. His jacket is gorgeous, and with him looking so fabulous already, it's a sure thing.

(It's the perfect excuse for torturing him! Uh, I mean-)

Just as planned, the plaza soon filled up with more people. I shifted uncomfortably as small group of women soon huddled in front the stand giggling over the clothes articles. Mostly though, they just gawked at Oliver. All said and done, I managed to do some sales. I think we can call this a success.

The eve of the carnival soon dawned on us. They wouldn't be leaving yet, but this first day was done and I managed to do some sales. Now all I can ask is for the day to end well…


It was too much to ask. I actually dropped what I was attempting to pick and store away (since Prima gave orders to close shop at evening) as I slumped over in sudden depression at hearing that voice.

"Hey, you're here, too?" She-who-shall-not-be-named walked up to the stall, a cotton candy in hand and dressed up in a gorgeous red dress she purchased from the shop (that Prima designed). "How's it going? Hey, where's Oliver?"

I growled. "Are you just going to ask questions?"

She stopped looking around and gave me a smile – ugh. "Sorry about that. I guess I'm just excited. I've seen so many familiar faces today, and with yours added into it… I don't know. By the way, saw some chicks walking down the streets with merchandise from the shop. Great going!"

With a groan, I resigned to listening to her go on and on about things I didn't give two cents about. Then, a chorus of squeals emerged from the central plaza, which still hasn't lessen in quantity of folks.

"Hey, what's going on over there?" Ignoring the redhead, I stood on the tips of my toes to get a better look. All I saw was a brunet standing in the midst of female gypsies and residents of Sherbet alike, clearing the cause for the swoons from them.

"Just some guy." I answered despite myself.

"Okay, what kind of guy does THAT?" she emphasized pointing in their direction. She has a point.

"All right, he's a good looking guy."

"Now we're getting somewhere." She clasped her hands together as much as she could with the carnival goods she was carrying. Turns out she didn't need to do anything.

The tight gathering of women split as the brunet with olive skin made his way out. In itself, this alone wouldn't have turned my head. What caught my attention was Oliver, walking next to the guy like he knows him. His face was the brightest I've ever seen, like he was talking to his best friend.

You know, I felt a little happy for the guy.






A/N: I failed to confirm this in the last chapter. Although there are hints of it, the name of the city IA and Oliver currently inhabit is called Sherbet. Not creative, I know, but I wanted it to be simple.

Thank you for reading. Ja mata ne!