Part 1
Yue was an independent girl. She was the kind of girl who believed she could be kidnapped by a villain, save her own butt and defeat the villain before her glorious savior could even mount upon his white horse in his shining armor. She didn't believe in a fairy tale ending, she believed that nothing in life came on a silver platter.
Growing up she didn't have many friends… All the little girls wanted to dress up in frills, sequins, and glitter and dance about like fairies, princesses, and enchantresses. All the boys wanted to play knights, villains, or pirates and would dress up and fight each other to the death (or really until they were too tired to continue). Instead of playing like children her age should, Yue found herself in the library every afternoon after school. Once she had read all the books in the library, she insisted that her teachers taught her more about "adult matters". By the time she was nine, she had completely redesigned her family's business by installing modern day business techniques and made the store more efficient and productive. Her mother said she had the brain for the business. Her father insisted she was too young to worry about such things and should enjoy being a child. Yue couldn't disagree more. Her father was an idiot, a child that would never grow up. Instead of helping her mother with the family business she inherited after Yue's grandfather died, Yue's father went fishing every day. Her mother was too blinded in unreasonable love to see this as a fault; she saw it as a plus to their business. Yue's uncle sculpted weapons and her aunt made jewelry, her mother sold crops, animal products, seeds, and flowers, hot meals, and her father sold his fish. The business was a shop where you could find everything under one roof. You could buy you're girlfriend an engagement ring, your groceries for the wedding and even a sword to keep the monsters away on your honeymoon. Yue saw the store's miscellaneous status as a bad mark on business, but kept her mouth shut. When she was fifteen she graduated, three years before her class with much higher knowledge than anyone who had ever graduated her school. Her mother suggested that she try her hand at business management, while her father suggested sending her to travel the world so that she could enjoy her youth before getting married and having kids. It was later decided against her will that she would travel around the world with one of her father's friends and his family. Her father gave her a journal to keep a log of all of her adventures and sent her off with the Roger's family.
Yue was smart though, smarter than her father anticipated she thought. She knew why her parents had chosen the Roger's family out of the four families that were leaving to see the world. The Roger's family consisted of Fredrick and Lisa Rogers and their four handsome, muscular sons Carter, Frederick Jr. , Tommy and Victor. Her parents, she thought, must have hoped that along their two year journey together that she might become fond of one of these morons and actually fall in love with them, that way when she returned home of proper marrying age their parents could arrange for their matrimony. Yue gagged at the thought of love, especially if she were to fall for one of these babbling idiots and their talk of hunting, dirt, and their large muscles. These boys swooned brainless girls of all was glad she had a brain.
Luckily, her parent's pointless effort to find her a husband failed as the end of their two year journey grew near. Even though the Roger's boys tried to romance Yue, they eventually gave up since they had no interest in succeeding. Yue returned home in the Spring and told her parents of all the things she had seen and learned, none of which involved boys, love, marriage or kids to her parent's great disappointment.
"Yue," her father scolded. "You have to learn that growing up is more than just business. Growing up is about accepting responsibility and starting a family."
"Aren't you the one who told me not to grow up so fast?" she retorted. "I don't need a man to take care of me. I can live happily on my own without a husband or kids!" Yue ran upstairs clutching her journal tightly.
"You can't be a child forever, Yue." Her father snapped.
"Then what's your excuse?" Yue yelled, slamming her bedroom door.
Grounded. That's the way to teach an adult to not be a kid, ground them. As if that made any sense. Yue guessed they expected her to cry, to throw a fit, to say "It's not fair!" like a child would. Instead, she locked herself in her room. She sat on her bed all night writing in her journal, refusing dinner by saying the journey home had ruined her appetite. Yue flipped through her brown leather journal, a beautiful book held together by ribbons on the left and right side so that she could move around or remove the sheets as she wished. Yue had organized her entries in alphabetical order; she made notes of products made and shipped, popular items bought and other merchant notes on every county they went to. She opened her book and took a piece of empty paper from the back and placed it in the front. She wrote "Yue's Traveler's Journal" at the top in big cursive letters, then underneath it she wrote:
"I'm leaving. I'll be turning 18 in two weeks, the 9th of Spring. I'll be old enough to travel on my own without the accompaniment of an older individual. It's high time I moved on, I'm old enough to carry my own weight and my parents don't need to any longer, they've even tried to marry me off just so that I was no longer their responsibility even though they used the excuse of my responsibility to cover it. Journal I feel as if you're the only thing I could trust, though I'm not going to foolishly call you Dear anytime soon. I say this because I know you are sensible, unlike the average humans I've met. Like me, you believe hard facts and no foolish fictional tales of princesses, dragons, enchantresses and knights, which is why I feel as though I can confess this to you. I don't believe in love. I'm afraid people might see me as a monster or a witch if I told anyone, which would take a huge bite out of business. I know you will keep my secret safe though, I don't believe in love because it's so silly, have you ever seen people in love Journal? They're fools! Men who spend thousands of dollars to please women they love with jewelry or fireworks display, women who cry their eyes out when a man they love breaks their heart, Romeo and Juliet who were dumb enough to kill themselves if they couldn't be together, and my mother who's lost her senses for business (which has drastically effected her business) because of my child of a father. Love is a drug, a poison that seems sweet until it takes control of your mind and kills you. Don't get me wrong journal, I'm not a stick in the mud or some evil stuck up tyrant. I'm just smart enough to realize true love is a myth, and if you let it catch you it can stop your broken heart and kill you. So promise me this journal, that when I leave you will not let me fall to the foolish ways of mankind, help me to keep my mind on business and not be seduced by the evils of the wizard of love.

Sincerely, Yue"

***
"Welcome! Welcome one and all! You want it I got it! Find some of the rarest and exotic items at a stupendously affordable price brought to you by your very own Yue!" Yue sold her self to the crowd as rich, poor, and mid class rushed to buy from her store ignoring all of the other vendors at the bazaar. By the end of the day she was sold out. "How is it that you just moved here not even a year ago yet you seem to have all the customers drooling at your feet to buy the same stuff we got for three times the price we charge it for?" one of the angry merchants asked. The others joined in, grumbling around her store seeing her sold out while they didn't sell but a few items. "Boys, boys please!" her voice soothes over the angry crowd. "It's all too simple, yet your poor little minds can't seem to fathom it!" They all grumbled and shouted though none of them understood why except they knew they had been insulted. "If you want to succeed in this business gentleman, you need more than just good prices and nice items." They all paused to listen to her wise advice on business, even though all of them were twice her age or older. "You gotta sell it to make it look better than it is," she said with a wink. "But none of you can do this because none of you are as cute, sweet, or innocent looking as me." She slid down behind her booth escaping just before the attack as they all began to argue and shout of how they were better. Yue rolled her eyes, grabbed her pack and left the old men arguing with each other in the bazaar tent.
She giggled to herself at the foolishness of the men, with advertisements like "We sell pigs feet, so come and see what you want to keep" or "I don't mean to be a grouch, but if you don't buy something I'll have to sleep on the couch." They were practically giving all their sales to her! Plus the fact that she dressed like a little Chinese girl with a pink flower in her long black hair and a short blue kimono helped to emphasize her cuteness and made buyers completely oblivious to any scam she might pull. For example buying a pearl necklace for ten times the price the seller thought they could get then selling it for twelve times that price to a noble in another town. With a bat of her glimmering blue eyes she could also sell a hammer for three or four times the price another vender sold it for because she sold a better quality of items than the rest. Even though a wood hammer and an iron hammer were worth about the same prices, she could sell the iron one for more because it looked like it was worth more.
She whistled to herself as she walked down the street to the town inn. Normally she camped if the option was available to her, but one of her richer clients heard she slept by herself in the "cold, cruel woods" as they called it and paid for her to have a room at the town inn for as long as she wished to stay in town. She didn't want to accept at first, she actually liked being on her own away from the world but he was one of her best clients and thought it best not to upset him and lose business. It was a nice inn of course, and he had paid for the nicest suite they had.
York was nice enough, the villagers (excluding the other merchants) were very nice to her, but she was too restless to stay in one place too long. She had been traveling now for five years, staying in a town a few months then designating a kid with potential to sell her merchandise while she moved on to another village to plant her business. In a way, she was the first CEO of trading, but no one of her time understood what that meant so she just called her self the owner and designated workers and one star pupil to be manager. She had used her previously gained knowledge from her two years of travel to put a unique twist on each of her stores. She gave her managers books to keep up with finance, all of which were put into an account that nobody but her could take money from and each month the workers and manager would be paid their share of that month's income. Even though high-tech equiptment hadn't been managed yet she was able to run her entire cooperation while still traveling town to town.
She went to the kitchen and ate a plate of curry rice and fish. Then she went upstairs and went to sleep, she decided that she'd leave the day after tomorrow at dawn. The next day she went to find Reed. Reed had learned how to talk someone into buying whatever he had to sell, no matter what the item, no matter what the price, he could convince you it was the best deal even if it was far from it. Though he wasn't good at convincing anybody anything else, like talking that cute girl Jenny into going out with him, he had what her mom called 'a mind for the business'.
"Reed," she said to the 16 year old. "You know I've told you that you were my star pupil, and that if you worked hard enough that one day you could manage all my sales in York. Well guess what, today's that day." Reed smiled and nodded, slicking back his blond hair and winking at Jenny, hoping that his advancement in power at such a young age would attract her attention. Yue taught him the rest of the day about how to keep up with sales and gave him her book on store management that she gave to all her managers that would remind him of all the things she had taught him about management. The men who had argued with her the day before were pleased at her disappearance, thinking they had scared her off yesterday, not knowing that her sales would double the next day because of her absence today.

The next morning Yue left, leaving a note for the innkeeper and for the man who paid for her room, thanking them both for making her stay in York so pleasant. She took a deep breath as she walked out into the forest, smelling the fresh pine. "Where to next?" she thought out loud as she pulled out her map. "Alvarna isn't too far from here. 3 days travel." Yue was glad to travel, and after spending half a year in York it felt good to finally move on. Yue sang to herself as she traveled, she would stop to sell to any travelers she passed by and collected valuable items she saw along the way. Monsters didn't normally bug her but if they did she knew how to fend them off with a sword.
"Excuse me miss?" one traveler said from behind her.
"How might I help you good sir?" she asked brightly with her cutest smile. "Are you looking for something in particular, or are you just shopping because of how beautiful it is today?"
"Actually I wanted to ask you something…" the gentleman asked meekly.
"Well I'd love to answer sir, it's not often I get to have a conversation with a nice fellow like you."
He blushed at the compliment and quietly thanked her, then said. "Do you believe in Earthmates miss?"
"Earthmates? You mean people entwined with nature that can control monsters and close portals designated by an immortal being to protect us and keep us safe from monsters? I can't say I do. I gave up such childish thinking long ago, I believe that we need to fight for ourselves instead of waiting for a hero to do it for us."
The traveler nodded, "A lady of knowledge I see. Well I was just wondering, you see I've been traveling not too far behind you for a day now, and I couldn't help but notice you take the paths that are said to be filled with dangerous monsters yet none seem to attack you, almost as if you were a witch or an Earthmate."
"You do realize those are two completely different things?" she asked as she stared at the mad fool. "That's like comparing a fish and a bird. A witch is someone who has played with the devil and sold her self to do his bidding. An Earthmate is a mere child's fairy tale. Perhaps I simply have Elven blood running in my veins."
"Right you are, miss. Right you are. Well good day to you miss, safe travels."
Yue turned her back and sighed, sad at the sight of such an insane fool, she looked back but he was nowhere to be seen. In the clearing of the forest, she could still see York's tallest buildings even though she was half way to Alvarna, but she could not see the man who had only left but a few seconds before…

Alvarna was a peaceful human village; it had everything a little village needed, from blacksmith to hospital and fortuneteller to mayor and home to one of the richest families in the world— the de Sainte-Coquille. Yue could already imagine the numbers in her head, she smiled as she walked into town, introducing herself first to the mayor and left to meet everyone, saving the richest- er the best for last.
"Hello, I'm the de Sainte-Coquille's maid, Cecelia. May I help you?" the orange haired elf asked.
"Yes ma'am you can! My name is Yue, I'm a traveling merchant with some of the most exotic items you can imagine to sell, I've just come into town and I wanted to introduce myself to everyone in town, might I ask if the de Saint-Coquille family is home."
Before Cecelia could answer, a deep proud voice answered from above, "We are indeed." Cecelia let her in and Yue looked up to see a handsome young man walking down the proud staircase that looked like a prince with long blonde hair in a light blue and white outfit that Yue imagined cost more than her parent's store. "My name is Max, Max de Sainte-Coquille and don't you forget it darling." he said with a wink. "And might I ask who you are?"
"My name is Yue." She said with a curtsy, gesturing her hands since her dress was too short to curtsy with. "I'm a traveling merchant and I've just come into town and decided to formally introduce myself to everyone."
"Yue?" he asked curiously. "I believe I've heard of your shop before. You have stores stationed around the globe! It is an honor meet you." He took up her hand and kissed it. "Look at this guy, thinks he's a girl's dream! Good thing I'm not a pawn in his chess game. Though he doesn't seem very smart or manipulative, just very outgoing and open, acting as though he were a prize to all but not willing to settle for any girl's heart. Clever, not the sharpest tool in the drawer, but not a bad method of action."
"If you'll follow me up to my father's bedroom, we were just having a meeting." He said gesturing to the stairs that had two paths up and only one down like a wishbone. "I've got it from here Cecelia, thank you for welcoming our guest."
"My pleasure Master Max." she said with a curtsy as she went back in the kitchen.
Max led her up the long staircase, where he began to play his game, unable to resist flirting with a pretty girl.
"Thank you for your compliments, but I'm afraid I'm not interested in what you're selling." Yue said. "If you don't mind I'd like to remain professional about business, besides I'm sure there's a girl much prettier than I who deserves your attention rather than a poor merchant like myself."
"Well I'm afraid I disagree," Max said. "I don't believe there is a girl more beautiful nor one who deserves more attention than you. I also do not believe that you, my dear Yue, are poor. From what I've seen you are quite rich, though you don't seem to want to settle down and retire even though your money would keep flowing in. Might I ask why?"
"You're a lot smarter than I first gave you credit for." Yue complimented. "So I'll tell you. You see, I'm rather restless. I don't like staying anyplace longer than a season or two. You ask me why I don't settle down and live the rich life, well it's because I don't think I was made for sitting, I'd get too bored."
Max smiled, "We're a lot alike." Yue doubted that. "You see I too am not good at sitting still, so I help my father with many different aspects of our business. It may not sound physically challenging, but I promise you one day's work is a real mental work out."
"I'm sure if you were half as physically driven as you were mentally you'd be moving faster than a hummingbird and more muscular than a even the strongest of knights." She teased.
Max laughed and replied, "Probably so, but if I did that then I might be as dreary as you." Yue laughed, glad to have finally found a customer who didn't mind a little sarcasm, though she was good at adjusting her behavior and humor to match what her customers saw fit.
Max opened the door for Yue as she walked into a bedroom that was larger than a school room. Yue walked in to see a round man with blonde hair and glasses dressed in purple and a beautiful girl with blue hair in a white and pink princess like outfit having a serious conversation. "Father, Sister, this is Yue, the traveling merchant who's store's we've seen world wide." Max introduced proudly as if she were some ingenious business plan. "Yue this is my sister Rosalind and my father Herman."
"It's an honor to meet you Mr. And Ms. de Sainte-Coquille." Yue said with a curtsy.
"And an honor to meet you Lady Yue." Herman said.
"I'm afraid I have no noble blood that entitles me to be a called Lady." Yue said. "But thank you for the compliment."
"If you don't mind me asking Yue, I've been to all your stores and I've been wondering something. How did you discover Spain's secret love for ruby jewelry and that the French loved the smell of roses and vanilla?" Rosalind asked. "You seem to have special items only available in certain countries, and these items are the most popular. How were you the first to discover this?"
"Well I feel as though I were surrounded by highly educated and successful, business minds like myself. So I'll tell you my secret." Yue complimented. Every ear leaned forward as though they weren't going to catch what she said. "I went on a trip after school, I graduated three years before my class and I had the knowledge higher than that of a noble and already had the mind for the business. So on my two year journey around the world, I made notes on what the people of each city and country seemed to be interested in and I kept all my notes in a journal."
"Fascinating!" Rosalind said sincerely.
"Do you think I could look at some of these notes?" Herman asked.
Yue wanted to say no, but she hesitated because she didn't want to lose his business.
"Now father, that wouldn't be very fair of us." Max corrected. "Even though we might act like friends, we need to have a barrier between personal and business relationships. We are still her competition, and we wouldn't want to steal her secret to success."
Yue sighed in relief, she was glad Max saved her but she didn't want to be in debt to a man that seemed to like her, or at least liked to flirt with her.
"You're right Max, please forgive me Yue. I hope that this doesn't interfere with out business later I'd rather like to shop from your store." Herman apologized.
"Of course! I'll be sure to stop by your house every day at the end of my route." Yue said. "Now if you'll forgive me for being rude, I need to leave. It's been a long day and I need to rest for opening day."
"Please, join us for dinner first." Rosalind begged.
"Oh yes, it's the least we could do!" Herman agreed.
Yue stayed as to not insult her hosts, but she had never had a more delicious meal. After dinner Herman insisted on Max walking her home, or where she'd be staying, saying it was too dark for a pretty girl to be walking alone. Yue again agreed and thanked them even though she knew that she could take care of herself.
"Where are you staying?" Max asked.
"At the crossroads near the forest." Yue answered hoping he wouldn't insist on her staying at the Inn.
"You're camping?" he asked. "I don't like the idea of you staying out there all by yourself with all those monsters in the forest."
"Well they never bother me and I've been camping at places like it for nearly six years now. I can defend myself with a sword and I am perfectly capable of protecting myself."
"I don't doubt that you are fully capable. I just don't like the idea of you being by yourself." Max said. "Do you ever get lonely?"
"No." she answered. "I'm a very social person, but the woods is the one place where I can get away from everything. Where I can get warm and cozy in my sleeping bag and watch the stars. You can't get a good view of the stars in the city, but out here in the forest, away from all the light- the night sky has as many stars as sand on the beach."
"Wow, that does sound wonderful. No wonder you like camping out rather than staying in a crowded, stuffy Inn." he said sincerely.
Yue paused and stared at him in amazement, she wasn't expecting him to agree with her, no one ever did, especially not rich, white playboys. She had already figured out her argument on why she preferred it, but now it was useless to her. They walked in silence for a moment then Max broke the silence.
"Beautiful." He said.
"They are, aren't they?" Yue said staring up into the night sky.
"Yes, but they aren't nearly as beautiful up in the sky as they are when they're dancing in your blue eyes."
Yue felt her face grow hot and turned away. What an idiot… Thinking he could melt the stone heart of a scholar into believing fairytale love stories. "Here we are." She said, glad that they had reached the crossroads. "Thank you for taking me home."
"I'm sorry if I have insulted you." He said with a serious look of concern on his face. "Might I bestow one last kiss upon the hand of the lady before we say good night?"
"If you want to kiss it merely as a polite gesture then go ahead, but if you think somehow I'm going to melt in a puddle at your feet then you're just wasting your time."
Max smiled and kissed her hand, "Good night Yue. I hope fate brings us together soon."
"Fate won't," Yue retorted. "Business will."

***
"Oh Yue! Have you met the new guy? He's such a dream!" Mana fluttered. Yue had only been in town a week, but she had already learned that Mana was the most annoying, childish, bossy, and most undesirable person she had ever met. She was a notorious gossip and her voice was so high pitched Yue wondered if the dog whistle was 2 octaves below Mana's voice.
"Though Father made me look like an idiot in front of him,"
"You don't need any help with that." Yue thought.
"Father said that he couldn't have my hand in marriage when Kyle and I talked about the sakura trees."
"As though anyone would want to marry Princess Squeak-And-Shriek"
"I don't know why Father would just assume that every guy I speak to wants to marry me."
"Maybe because you flirt with everything that breaths and is male."
"Anyways thanks for this new frilly pink dress, I'm sure Kyle won't be able to keep his eyes off me in this!"
"Probably because you'll look like you escaped from the circus."
"But I must say, it's three times the price I thought it'd be."
Yue smiled, she had never risen a price because she didn't like someone but she decided that every dollar she cheated Mana for would go to some foundation that would find a way to save people's ear's from bleeding due to exposure to high pitched annoyingness. "Well you see Mana, that's because the material for this dress was made by a rare Swedish silk worms!" Yue lied.
"Really?" Mana asked staring at the dress. "It's amazing how well little worms can sow!"
Yue resisted the urge to face palm. "Which is why the price is just right." Mana ran off happily clutching her new treasure and Yue sighed in relief.
"Cute isn't she?" Yue heard a deep voice say.
"Cute? More like Puke!" Yue thought. "Well I'm afraid I'm not interested in women to notice." Yue turned around to see whom the voice belonged to.
"According to Max you aren't interested in men either." A boy with red hair and blue eyes said. "My name's Kyle and I like a challenge."
"My name's Yue, and I'm not interested."
"Alright, so the bad boy routine doesn't work on you. You just seemed so upset that Mana was so obsessed with me so I thought maybe you liked me."
"Your head's grown too big for your ranch and you haven't been here a week." Yue snapped, she wanted to punch this guy already and she had just met him. "If you'll excuse me, I'm closed."
"And I like working after hours." Kyle said, grabbing her arm and taking a step towards her.
Yue gripped the butt of her dagger she hid in her kimono. "Well you'd better learn to leave while the door's still open before it hits you where mother nature split you."
"Ooh feisty." Kyle teased, his forehead touching hers. Yue began to pull her-
"That's enough Kyle." Yue had never been happier to hear Max's voice. "Leave this young lady alone or I'll tell Mana where you hide when she comes looking for you."
Kyle chuckled, "You got me Max, sorry I hit on your woman. I hope you won't hold it against me."
"She's not my woman." Max said with his hand on Kyle's arm though he wasn't nearly as strong as Kyle was, Kyle let him act it though. "She's just a beautiful woman who I am pleased to call friend and a girl who is way out of your league." Max shoved him back away from Yue, stepping between the him and her.
"Whatever," Kyle said putting up his hands. "I'll see you around Max, Yue."
Max grunted in displeasure. "What a creep." he spat. "Are you okay?" he asked turning his attention to Yue.
Yue pulled away, looking down. "I had everything under control," she snapped. "I didn't need your help."
"True, he wouldn't have stood a chance to your dagger, but I didn't want you to have to explain yourself when mayor Bryon asks why his protegee amnesic comes to him with dagger wounds."
Yue swallowed hard, feeling guilty for snapping. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Max said, he grabbed her arm and rolled up her sleeve to see a light bruise.
"It's nothing."
"Yue he bruised you!"
"They won't believe me!" she yelled. "It's like you said, who will believe the mysterious merchant who lives in the woods and never stays anywhere long over the man who's making this town famous."
Max sighed he knew she was right. Max rolled her sleeve back to cover it. "Come on, my father's been dying to buy your merchandise all day." He said putting hand behind her back as though to protect her. Yue knew he was a wimp, but it was sweet that he wanted to protect her. Sweet, but that didn't mean she liked him.

***
"Top of the morning to ya!" Yue said cheerfully.
"You're rather bright for a Sunday morning." Max said. It was only dawn but Yue had already set up shop in the town square.
"Well Sundays are the best day for business, because everyone else is closed and people have fresh new paychecks in their pockets that burn holes until they're spent. Which is why Sundays are the best time for my business!"
"You rat!" Max laughed.
"Squeak squeak!" Yue said with a wink. "Throw me some cheese and I'll do the Nutcracker Suite!" Max and Yue laughed in the empty square like a couple of fools.
"Why are you telling me all your dirty little business secrets?"
"Because I know you won't run away in fear of a scam." Yue replied. "You have a nose that could smell a scam a mile away, it runs in your family. If I were to sell you a broach that I bought for a fourth of the price I sold it to you for you'd know right away I was a rat."
"But in business, all men are rats selling to other rats just trying to become the top rat." They laughed and Max asked, "Would you consider having lunch with me today? Rosalind is hanging out with her friends and father is off on a business trip today and I thought it'd be a lovely day for a picnic, but I hate eating alone."
"I'd love to Max, but if you don't stop loitering then I'll have to turn you down because I won't have made enough progress to stop." Max smiled and walked back towards his house to prepare lunch by himself. Suddenly, Yue was worried about what he was going to make for lunch.
Luckily, Max didn't try to overcomplicate lunch. He brought some sandwiches, some juice, and fruit slices. They took the boat at the dock to Blessia Island to get away from assuming eyes. They were just two friends having lunch, nothing more. They put out their blanket on the beach and sat down and began to talk and eat. Yue was surprised Max was okay with talking with your mouth full, but he would just politely cover his mouth if he had to talk and Yue did the same. Soon she didn't even notice they were doing it, and got lost in conversation.
"Such a beautiful summer day," Max said.
"It is." Yue said. "It's hard to believe that I've been here for a season already… Normally I would be choosing a kid to be my manager and preparing to leave but for once, I don't have a single worker, no star pupil and weirdest of all… I don't care on finding one."
"Why is that?"
"I'm not sure." She laughed. "I guess I just like this place so much I don't want to leave. Something about this place it— …it makes me sad to think I'd have to leave."
"Hm…" Max smiled.
"What?"
"Oh nothing, nothing, it just amuses me that the great and restless Yue has been tamed by such a simple town."
"I have not been tamed." Yue insisted. "The great and powerful Yue has simply decided to rest her never ending motor for a few more seasons than usual."
"In other words— you're retired, or tamed." Max teased.
Yue threw a grape at Max and began the epic fruit battle that would haunt the island for an entire four minutes. It ended with both of them exhausted, hiding behind a rock lying next to each other, covered in sand. Max dropped the orange slice in his hand and Yue ate her strawberry. "We're getting too old for stuff like this." Max said.
"Speak for yourself!" Yue said, she sat up and continued. "I'm only twenty four and still a ball of energy!"
"I can tell!" Max laughed. "But you know as well as I do that people are age our considered old. I mean think about it, most girls are married by sixteen, most people have three or four kids by the time they're our age!"
"Ugh." Yue said lying down. "We are getting old…."
"How is it that a beautiful girl like you hasn't gotten swept away by a handsome prince yet?"
Yue was silent for a moment. "Can I tell you a secret?"
"Of course." Max said turning to look at her, propping his head on his hand. "You can tell me anything."
"I know I can." Yue said smiling. "It may sound strange, but I trust you more than anyone I've ever met. You're the only real friend I've ever had. I've had friends before but none that I feel I could trust as I trust you."
"What do you wish to tell me dear Yue?" Max asked, his bright smile shining brightly in his emerald green eyes as well as his mouth.
"I don't believe in love." Yue blurted out. "I think it's just a fairytale, like fairy god parents and dragons." Neither of them said anything for a while. "You think I'm a monster don't you? Some freak beast without a heart… I guess I've just never believed in fairy tales. I've always seen things in a mind of business you see."
"I never said you were a beast, and if you were then you are the prettiest and nicest beast I've ever met. I can't say I agree with you about fairy tales and love, but I don't think you're a monster; it's simply your opinion. But may I tell you why I believe?"
Yue sighed, too glad that the closest friend she had didn't hate her for not believing in love and fairy tales to worry about arguing with him. "Sure."
"Well you see, my parents were never home when Rosalind and I were little." He said laying back down. "So we had a nanny take care of us. She always told us fairy tales of princes and knights in shining amor saving princesses, slaying dragons and wizards, riding horses and sailing the deep blue sea defeating pirates and sea monsters. It was the only thing that could get us to forget how sad we were that our parents were gone. Rosalind and I would play wild imagination games and be pirates, princesses, princes, knights, and such. Fairy tales give me a reason to hope and dream, they may not be real but they give you a small hope of happiness that things always have a happy ending."
Yue nodded, she had never thought about that but she couldn't shake the idea that, "What if there aren't always happy endings?"
Max smiled and didn't waste a moment thinking of what to say, "Then I always have you to make me happy."
Yue smiled and got the strange urge to-… no that'd be crazy, they were only friends, but she really wanted to lay beside him and have his arms around her, that wouldn't be too strange, would it? Before she could even ask him if that would be weird, an irritable voice broke the silence.
"Are you gonna kiss her or just stare into her eyes reciting love poems all day, Romeo?" Kyle shouted, a union of girlish giggles following. Yue and Max sat up to see Kyle on the boat with Mana, Alicia, and Julia all in their swimsuits ready for a beach party.
"I'm afraid I prefer to be a gentleman. Unlike you who seems to take more than one girl on a date at a time." Max snapped. "And my name is Max, don't tell me you've forgotten already."
"That's cause I got game." Kyle laughed, ignoring Max's last statement, the girls giggled in unison.
Yue clenched her fist and in a flash threw one of her daggers and it stuck right next to Kyle head.
"Ha," Kyle chuckled nervously. "Y-You missed."
"This time on purpose to make a point. If you aren't careful and date around than you're chances of getting a chased by an angry mob of dads are as high as your chances of me hitting you in between your eyes. The odds aren't in your favor."
Kyle gulped and stomped off the boat, his party slowly filing behind him. "Kyle," Mana whispered. "Isn't it dangerous in there with all the monsters?"
"D-Don't" Kyle cleared his throat, "Don't worry ladies," he said very deeply. "I'll take out the monsters so we can enjoy our private party."
They walked off just in time before Max exploded in laughter. "That was great!" he barely managed. "Did you see the look on his face? Oh man! He just about peed on himself!" Yue relaxed and started laughing too. It felt good to laugh, and Yue laughed the most when she was with Max.

***
A few days later, Kyle came by Yue's shop. "What do you want?" she snapped.
Kyle put up his hands in surrender and said, "I only wanted to apologize for my rude behavior. You're right, I don't take responsibility for my actions, I've always just partied and done what I wanted when I wanted and didn't worry about the consequences. So I came here to apologize."
Yue was about to object when he held out an aquamarine. It was beautiful, the perfect shape and the perfect color of deep blue. Yue had to control herself to keep from snatching it out of his hand. She loved aquamarines. "I-Is that for me?" she asked. Kyle nodded with a smile. "All yours." Yue calmly reached out and took it from his hand.
"Thank you," she said. "How did you know that I liked this?"
"I have my ways." He said with a smile. "I'll see you around."
Yue nodded and watched him leave. Everyday he came by and bought something from Yue and gave her an aquamarine. He started being nice, friendly even. And she started to notice… that Kyle was actually kind of… sweet and maybe a little—cute even.
One day Kyle came up with armloads of panther claws and Yue's eyes widened. "Where did you find all of these?"
"You wouldn't believe how great panthers are for sword practice." Kyle said. "I remembered you saying something about people in a few towns over would pay an arm and a leg for these so I stayed out late at Blessia and scored as many as I could."
"Kyle this is incredible!" Yue said as she quickly slapped the money in Kyle's hand and packed them in her bag.
"Incredible enough to save me a dance at the Dance Festival tomorrow?"
"What?" Yue asked trying to hide her bright pink cheeks. She had never been asked on a date before, let alone to dance. "But why would I care, it's not like I'm interested in dating… So why did I feel such a jolt in my heart when he asked?"
"Of course, I'd love to." She heard herself say. Why was she acting like this?… "Oh no, have I caught the disease… for Kyle? That can't be true…"
"I'll be looking forward to it." He said with a wink.
Yue stood there for a moment to think. She had her first date tomorrow. "What will I wear? I don't know how to dance! Wait- why do I care…?!" The rest of the day, all Yue could think about was Kyle. How he smelled, how he walked, how his nose crinkled when he smiled, how he'd look all dressed up tomorrow… It was sickening, but she kind of liked it.

***
"You want me to do what?" Max asked.
"Teach me how to dance." Yue repeated. "You know how to don't you? I thought you might know how because I thought that you might have been to a few Balls…"
"I do know how." Max answered. "But why do you want to know all of the sudden?"
"I um…" Yue said. "For the festival tomorrow."
"Do you have anyone particular you want to dance with?"
"Yes, but I don't know if I really like him or-" Yue sighed. "I'm not good at this whole 'love' thing, I guess I'm just trying to figure out how I feel about him. He's sweet, he's funny, he's cute and we talk a lot."
Max smiled, "Sounds like a charming fellow, and on that note—let's dance!"