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    Chapter 7 – Tinseltown Holiday – Part 1

    Chapter 7 – Tinseltown Holiday – Part I

    It’s coming on Christmas
    They’re cutting down trees
    They’re putting up reindeer
    And singing songs of joy and peace
    Oh, I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on….
    But it don’t snow here
    It stays pretty green
    I’m going to make a lot of money
    Then I’m going to quit this crazy scene…
    I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on
    I wish I had a river so long
    I would teach my feet to fly
    Oh, I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on…
    -Joni Mitchell –The next two weeks were very busy for Tina. She was working extra hours in preparation for the one-month holiday production hiatus. Her days were spent juggling one episode in principle photography, another in post-production, two scripts in rewrite, and yet another awaiting her final approval. With nothing in pre-production due to the holiday this was actually a fairly light load. However, issues with storyboarding, props, costuming, budgeting for special effects, and hiring a new director added to her daily schedule. The busier the better as Tina remained preoccupied with thoughts of Bette.

    There was a time when Tina loved the holidays. She could not wait for the season to begin and found she was sad when it was over. This Yuletide she found herself listening to the 24/7 Christmas Music Radio Station at work and watching Countdown to Christmas on Hallmark when trying to unwind at her apartment. But beyond that she would be lying if she said she had any Christmas spirit. In fact, that part of her that began celebrating at Thanksgiving and continued through the New Year, was now neatly packed away with the no longer used ornaments and decorations. Carrie had talked her into a table top tree the previous year but Tina wanted absolutely nothing this season.

    Tina’s growing preoccupation for maudlin Christmas songs resulted in Sally begging for mercy and telling her boss that she wished SHE had a river she could skate away on. “Tina, and I say this with all due deference in my position as your loyal employee as well as an expression of love as your friend: Joni Mitchell would not mind one bit if you took a little break with, oh I don’t know, maybe a little ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.’” Tina stared blankly at Sally. Nothing would shake her doldrums. Tina’s end of year reflection? Professionally? She was thriving. On the top of her game. Couldn’t be better. Personally? There was a wedding on the horizon. But God help her she was beyond confused. Beyond miserable. Tina’s confession to Peggy had brought all of her regrets and insecurities front and center.

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    1. I can not wait to sit in a big comfy chair, with a tall glass of wine and marinate in this story. I have been waiting Billy! So sorry you have been so sick, I hope you are feeling better. RSV is no joke. I will comment more when I finish this masterpiece. Cheers!

      • I am with you BK. I read this chapter. But tonight I will pour a glass of Jameson and read again. I can only take ROD and Carrie in small doses…and with a drink in hand! Tina needs to blow her up for her comments around Angie. Totally unacceptable.

        • Finn,

          Trust me – it’s not easy writing this Carrie either. The bottom line is Carrie means no harm but she has no filter. I can assure you that she will not be around much longer. Tina is not quite there yet. She’s so afraid of having to admit her mistakes. Angie is every bit both her mothers’ daughter. She actually understands more about Carrie than most. At any rate, I really do hear you. I hope when the time comes the pay off will be worth it for you. Thanks for reading and for commenting. It’s always darkest before the dawn.


        • Finn
          My first comment to you did not post – here is a second try – every good, well written story needs a villian for the readers to root against and this Carrie is the perfect nemesis to Tina. I wanted to yell at my screen as I was reading which is always a sign that I am pulled in and invested in the story. Obnoxious. boundary less and unaware, this Carrie/ROD is all these things and more. There will be a collective cheer when Tina finally ends it.
          I think I will up the ante from my wine to Jameson as you wrote and re read this again. Delicious!

      • Hey BK,

        I’m sorry it took so long. Thanks for the get well wishes. I look forward to your comments. Be forewarned. Carrie factors in more than most would like. But that’s the story. Look forward to your comment.

    2. Billy,
      Sorry that you have been seriously ill. Hope things are better and you are on the road to recovery. It’s hard to do anything when you feel miserable.

      I must say that this chapter is filled with humor and the mishaps of Carrie O’Neal. She just cannot seem to get out of her own way. Tina and Angie arriving from LA only to find that “Carries been cooking” is not the welcome that they had expected. And then to find that Tina’s most valued possessions have been used as freely available items for Carries immediate needs puts tension in the air. You gotta love Angie for recommending a “pelvic protector” to Carrie just in case….

      So, Carrie has never flown? What could possibly go wrong for their trip to LA? Of course, Carrie becomes the one that security decides to pull out for a more through search. I love Carrie yelling at Tina “Don’t forget to write” as if she were really going to prison. This Carrie is never what you think. So, Carrie gives coach section a concert, manages get lock inside the toilet, has a long and in-depth conversation with the Fendersons, and manages to become friends with the flight attendant. All of which Tina slept through and Angie manages to witness and seems a bit perplexed by.

      For the most part, Carrie is a likeable eccentric sole… just not right for Tina. And Tina appears to be starting down that road to realizing what a mistake she has made. Can you imagine her thoughts when she sees the book “Wedding Planning for Dummies”? I was cackling through the entire chapter.
      Carrie can be somewhat course and rude with her comments on Peggy and Bette. These are people she has never met. But these crude comments are not meant to harm but are meant to be funny in her eyes. She simply has no filter and no sense what impact her words can have on people. Carrie’s character seems to me to be like the huge English sheep dog as a puppy. Big, affectionate and breaking all the furniture as she runs through the house playing and wondering what all the yelling is about. Carrie is an okay person…. Just not the right person for Tina. And Tina knows it. Just a matter of time before she gets up the courage to break up with Carrie.

      In the meantime, Bette is moving on with her life. Bette is surrounding herself with her friends, being a mom to Angie, and proceeding with enhancing her career and doing the things she wanted to accomplish. And she is doing this without Tina. And Tina is so out of touch with Bette that things which have been in place for almost a year, Tina is simply not aware of. Tina is feeling left out and left behind, but it was Tina who chose to leave. And the personal successes of her profession are not very rewarding when there is no one really to share them with.

      People are going through difficult times at the moment. People need some methods to escape the everyday pressures of life. What better way than to read a story which has a chapter or two which makes us laugh….
      Thanks for the chapter… looking forward to the next.

      • Oh Martha. I am so glad you got the humor. Writing comedy is very difficult. And yes everything is so very serious right now. I wanted just a little levity in this part because the second part of the chapter contains a major shift. I also wanted to write several little vignettes depicting Tina’s present life and world. Her eyes are truly beginning to open. Well, let’s say Tina is definitely confused regarding what to do about Carrie and her feelings for Bette. That the Fenderson’s instantly seemed to like Carrie gave Tina great pause. Is the problem Tina? Or is it simply one of incompatibility? As I have said and tried to show, this Carrie is loud and brash. But she is not evil or malicious and is totally in love with Tina. I suspect Carrie knows there are problems in the relationship. More of that in part II. As for Bette? She’s still and always will be very much in love with Tina. But in her mind she does need to move on. She truly has no idea what is happening with Tina. For now.

        Thanks again Martha!! Billy

    3. Poor Carrie will get squashed like a bug by Peggy. Tina has to to stop this carousel soon. Obviously Carrie is the ant-Bette but not a compatible partner for Tina. Tina continues to keep this relationship is so selfish. Carrie will not mesh with her life in LA. What a mature centered young woman Angie has become. A pelvic protector? LOL Sorry about your illness but you have come out the other side with a fine piece. Thank you! PPS

      • Thank you very much for the great comment. Very much appreciated. You know I have been really focused on Peggy and Carrie. How WILL she take to Carrie? I am so glad you like my Angie. I really want her portrayed that way. I love writing her. It is very hard to take it slow with Tina but I want to put her back with Bette forever. Still, I even drive myself insane over Tina. Thanks again for reading and commenting. Billy

    4. Billy

      I know this is funny but… I held my breath when I read this. So simple but telling so much. (I reread it at least 5 times.) LOL

      Delicate cycle.” Angie smiled. “I know. Mama B taught me.” As Tina walked into her own room she softly whispered: “And I taught her.”


      • Hey there K,

        I get it. Everywhere Tina turns are reminders of Bette. Of course there are. You wrote this And very well. How do you go back? When you were the one who left? It’s going to take time and Tina definitely needs some answers. As for Bette? She’s doing what she thinks she has to do. She trusts that Tina is doing what she wants to do. When she learns Tina is not happy? Well there’s the rub. Thanks for reading. Keep going with yours.


      • SK – that was a great line. Even apart, Bette and Tina are so linked, their history dictating their every move. Hopefully we won’t be holding our breaths regarding Carrie for much longer, but I must say the angst is spectacular!

    5. Hi Billy,

      Sorry you’ve not been well, hope you’re recovering.

      I so enjoyed this although I didn’t know whether I would when I read your Author’s Note. I found it really funny and love your take on Carrie as well as Angie.

      Really looking forward to the next post (the longer the better!)
      Stay Well my friend.

      • Hi SG,

        Hey there SG,

        Thank you so very much for your comment and for reading the story. Humor is very difficult to write. And writing Carrie is not my favorite but I know it’s what I signed up for. Tina is finally realizing that marrying Carrie just to make a point is definitely no reason to keep going. The second part will really hit this home. I just want to hold her hand. But she’s got to get there on her own before she can truly approach Bette. Can I just add that Angie one of my absolute favorite characters? Thanks again for your continued support. Billy

    6. Billy
      Where to begin. My. Goodness. What a chapter, what a contrast in their lives, what a moment for Angie to shine.

      I love how Tina’s preoccupation with maudlin (great word!) Christmas songs matches what she is feeling inside even if she doesn’t fully accept it yet. Her friends see it. Sally sees it. Alice and Shane see it. But while they circle around her and watch her reactions they are at a loss as to how to help as much as Tina herself is lost on how to move forward. They are stuck watching it play out in front of them and she is stuck in her indecisions and regret. I must say the part of this chapter where Tina is in Bette’s house and surrounded by all the Christmas memories and decorations was beautifully written. Having been in that position – in Bette’s shoes – in the sense that I had to recreate Christmas for my children using decorations and traditions built after years as a complete family – you describe it perfectly. Christmas is such a time of remember-whens and good cheer and I really felt for both Bette and Tina in this scene. Bette because she is doing the painful steps to move on and Tina because she is confronted with the fall out of her decision making – she is now on the periphery of a life she yearns for. The Christmas cards on the mantle, the ornaments on the tree, the music, the eggnog and ultimately… watching her soul mate move on with a positivity that only Bette Porter can muster. All happening around her like she is a visitor to her past and present and future at once. They are reduced to small talk and everyone around them wants to scream that they hash it out and get back together. The implications of that scene alone could be discussed for hours.

      And then the Yale shirt. Wow. Just WOW. While I know some other readers commented that Carrie is a likeable, eccentric character I would disagree in the sense that this is a grown woman that is charming and funny and engaging at first but whose lack of boundaries and insight make her actually cruel. There is no excuse for her lack of respect and Tina calls her out on it. At a minimum Carrie would had to have seen the word YALE on the shirt and paused, knowing Bette’s history …so maybe there’s a hint of passive aggressive payback in using the shirt as a rag. I imagine that Carrie has few people in her life that can put up with her behavior for long so her inner circle must be small and she must be lonely – which makes her crave the attention even more. I suspect she knows she is losing Tina and doesn’t know how to reel her back in. She is that person you meet on a plane (like the Hendersons was it?) that entertains and sucks you in but you are glad to leave at baggage claim. And you might tell stories about that person to your family and friends because who doesn’t love a story about a grown woman getting stuck in an airplane bathroom and loudly singing while in flight? Small doses. That is Carrie.

      And yet…

      There are threads of love in this chapter that made my heart jump. Angie, of course. She loves her Mama Tee with all her teenage, determined heart and sees that Mama Tee is lost. Lost without a map, without a compass. She stepped up big time. Alice and Shane are there, tentatively trying to figure out what in the world Tina is thinking and Peggy of course. There to console Angie after the loss of the championship and the family hug was sweet. But also Bette. This Bette has an inner strength that most of us could only dream about. She has every reason to cut Tina out of her life. Tina wanted the divorce, Tina walked away, Tina made her choice. Instead, Bette makes room for her in the limo, makes sure there are tickets for her and Carrie to the symphony and takes her hand to make sure they are there to greet Angie together outside the locker room. Be still my heart. Gentle, thoughtful, caring. Was that missing while they were together? Only Tina can say. I think she lost sight of that part of Bette, that Bette didn’t change so much as she became more of who she already was.

      So that gives me hope. Because when these two finally reunite, it will last. It will be earned. The softer, more considerate Bette and the settled, at home Tina. My screen may melt from the impact. And their story, their love story will truly come full circle . Post part two soon. And keep writing Billy, this is marvelous on a scale I can not comprehend.

    7. Wow!! I am so very humbled. You picked up on a lot of what I was trying to convey. Regarding the shirt, I needed something every reader would instantly understand. No one messes with the Yale t shirt. I really wanted Angie to step up and take care of her mother. This is hard to write because I want Tina to be happy and with Bette and yet she has messed up so much and has also missed a lot. So much. But she is becoming determined to fix it. Bette is as in love with Tina just as much today as she was the moment she met her. If not more. Bette doesn’t understand what happened. Not at all. But Bette is never going to abandon Tina. Still, she has a plan to move on. She has to. And that plan does not include any other women in her life. No one can replace Tina. Alice and Shane and Peggy all know this. Bette is content right now to work on her dissertation and try to put Tina and Carrie out of her mind. But she will always set the proper example for Angie. What Bette does when Tina finally ends it with Tina is going to be the really rough part. Love has never been the issue. How to rebuild trust is going to take time. This is a softer Bette to be sure. Or was she always this way? But she also needs to protect herself.

      As to Carrie. This is a tough one. She is not written to be intentionally cruel. She is somewhat oblivious. And lacks a filter. But she truly loves Tina. She has several exes and her job seems to be her life. Long term relationships do not seem in the cards. People like the Fenderson’s can be amused by her and truly like her but they aren’t going home with her. Tina has been able to hang in there in large party because they only see each other on weekends. Two weeks in LA? Let’s she how that works out.

      Your comment means the world to me. I read your stories over and over. And I am so glad you took on Gen Q. I can think of no one better to fix our couple.Thank you so very much for the kind and amazing words. You inspire me my friend. B

    8. Short o time, but Lord!!! U have me tied up in knots LAUGHING with Angie’s thoughts as she’s trying to decide whether she’ll have to testify for the prosecution after Tina kills Carrie!!! Every time I think about it, another wave of LOL erupts!!!!

      Will write more later . . ..

      • It makes me so happy that you enjoyed my attempt at humor. This was a difficult chapter to edit. I mean I know what I think it funny but…. you know. Thanks, DT for the great feedback. B

        • Angie is THE Master at interpreting MamaTee!!! She’s just tryna keep her Mom from burying Carrie’s body under a set at the studio. And boy is she adept at pulling the curtain back (without judgement and Mama-shaming Tina).

          Can’t wait to hear how she fills the Bettester in on what happened. Will she mention that she had to apply some serious “elbow grease” on cleaning THE priceless Yale t-shirt that Tina had in her possession, but stored in the of “WHY did I leave Bette box” for safe keeping.

          I say, let Carrie be Carrie and release her clueless comments in the presence of Peggy and Bette. The way I see it, Peggy will be free to deal with C in a way that Bette wouldn’t dare.

          Bette has never debased, or tried to demean Tina in word nor deed. She hasn’t done that in Angie’s presence nor in the confines or her other friendships. She doesn’t hate Tina, but fare to say, doesn’t understands what triggers Tina into her “bolt at a drop of a hat” actions.

          • I can’t explain it but I absolutely love writing Angie. Having her as a central character has been great. Plus Peggy is a joy. The gift that keeps on giving. And it’s kind of bad on my part but all I have to do is watch a little of Rosie on Instagram and there you go. Just have to help Tina get her mind right. Thank you DT!!

    9. I think the following revelation will eventually jerk the stupid out of Tina and compel her toward ending the ill-advised “wedding” and “opt IN” once & for all into a redemptive relationship with Bette.

      “. . . Her mind a jumble of thoughts and feelings about how kind and thoughtful Bette had been. Selfless. Such a gentleness about her. Thinking only of Angie and her welfare”. . .

      “And then there was Maya. As much as Tina wanted to dislike this woman, she knew her reaction was entirely irrational. Maya was very good with Angie and it was obvious that Angie adored her. As for Bette? Did Bette adore Maya? Tina truly could not tell”.

      “There was a time when Tina knew every facial expression. Every glance. Every dart of her eyes. Every lick of her lips. Every grimace. Every twitch. Every wrinkling of her forehead. Every shift of position. But now? Now she realized she could no longer read her ex-wife. And this reality felt like a dagger to her already broken heart”.

      THERE WAS A TIME. . . . THIS INTIMATE “knowing” Bette in a way that very few had gotten a chance to learn (let alone the amorous physical connection that they willingly share) is what Tina needs to pray & work towards.

      Bette has welcomed and cherished Maya’s role as safety net, but has purposely held her at arms length when it came to a next level relationship, but the opportunity still exists. Tina doesn’t know this but she DOES know how much Bette wants to be “loved” in a total holistic way. As far as Bette knows, she & Tina are doing gr8 at “co-parenting” and she’s “happy’ to have that much relationship with Tina.

    10. Hey Billy,

      Sorry to hear you’re still struggling with your infection. I hope things slowly get better for you!

      A great chapter, more insight into Carrie, the humor you wrote here and there.

      Especially the way you describe Angie is beautiful, a beautiful young lady who has picked up on things from both Bette and Tina, her humor, her absolute support for Mama B, but who is also concerned about Tina. She is amazing. I enjoy how you describe her thoughts.

      Carrie, although not a bad person, I seriously cannot understand how Tina is in a relationship with her. She’s a big little kid with a mouth that doesn’t have a filter on it. I wouldn’t last an hour with her. What I absolutely wouldn’t tolerate is how she talks about Bette in front of Angie. Tina confronts her about this, but does that make an impression?

      Tina, Tina, girl, I don’t know where you are, what is it you’re running from? You had a wonderful wife in Bette, although Bette also has her flaws, but how could you just leave your family behind and be engaged to the absolute opposite of Bette? Bette trying so hard now to live her life and take small steps forward every day she breathes.

      I don’t know what else I can add to the comments of my fellow readers, they all mentioned the pieces I could have mentioned. I’m jealous of them, they always say it so well! Maybe because English is not my native language. Ok, no kidding, I agree with all their comments.

      You have a great story that you won’t want to stop reading, so I hope you post part two soon.

      Take care of yourself!

      • Hi Bibi,

        Thanks for the supportive comments. You nailed it, what IS Tina running from? They were very happy in New York. Had a great life. What happened when she took the job in Toronto? Mid life crisis? Tina will need to learn her whys in order to start again with Bette. Step one is to end it with Carrie. Thanks again! B

    11. Tina is at the top of her game professionally. She has it all. She makes more money than she can possibly spend. But! Tina is discovering what happens when you achieve all of your dreams but do not have love. The irony is that Bette would have gotten it had Tina said I really want to see what I can do with this career change. But Tina didn’t talk to her. And now Tina gets by because she is in Toronto and so busy with her work. What happens when she truly has time to think? What happens when she lays eyes on Bette? Comes face to face with her loss. This is not a happy Tina. This is a lost Tina. And Bette? As long as she is alive and kicking Bette will be in love with Tina. What to do. What to do. Thanks for the lovely comments DT. Your support means a lot. B

    12. Hey Billy

      I have not read it yet and as I’m coming back from holidays I will reread everything to get back in the swing of things and remember all the details but as soon as I finish I will be sure to leave you a comment !

    13. Hey Billy

      I’ve been catching up on my reading and am now ready to get stuck into this chapter. But before I do that, I just want to say that I am sorry to hear you’ve been unwell and sincerely hope you’re on the mend and feeling better.

      Also…. I just saw that you opened this chapter with ‘River’ – a song I am currently brushing up on guitar so I can go Christmas busking with my bandmate in a week or two – and in the process of practising it, it occurred to me that it is SUCH a massive Tina song!! So imagine my joy and surprise to see it there at the top of your chapter. Wonderful.

      Will read and comment later…
      Take care

    14. Billy, this is just a wonderful chapter. I made notes as I read, so forgive me if they’re a bit lengthy….

      I admire how you subtly portray Carrie’s type of coercive control. She doesn’t overtly tell Tina what to do, she’s simply ‘unhappy’ and that trains Tina to avoid certain areas or activities. Tina’s motive – Angie – is so strong that she stands up to her, but there’s still a cost in the belly-aching, the withholding of Carrie’s good humour. Tina then responds in textbook Tina fashion: she ‘seemed distant’. Massive red flags in this relationship, and not all of them on Carrie’s side.

      Carrie getting turned on by the studio tour is hilarious!

      “Tina had left a lot behind when she moved out. In retrospect, she had never really moved in.” This is an intriguing and, I think, very wise insight. It speaks of Tina’s problem with trust and true intimacy.

      I love how self-aware this Bette is. All the care she takes of herself and her shattered heart, how to not rush her healing (and also the very issue of whether healing is possible – the way she gauges progress so carefully as being simply continuing to live). This is a wonderful, if searing, depiction of a broken-hearted woman.

      Peggy’s solicitousness over Buddy is charming and exactly the level of attention to character detail that the show writers could learn from. I love it.

      I love your research, Billy! I checked out Hi-Fructose. Superb level of detail.

      “A definitive Peggy Peabody art retrospective with commentary and critical analysis by Bette Porter. No check that. Dr. Bette Porter. No check that. Dr. Elizabeth Porter.” This is lovely. Tina sounds so young here, like a teenager crushing on Bette. Beautiful insight.

      I have to say how pleased I am that you didn’t kick Maya to the curb. It pissed me off no end when GQ S2 came back and she’d disappeared. She was a good fit for Bette. Younger, grounded. Much better than Pippa.

      Bette’s acknowledgement of Tina’s support for completing her doctorate is interesting. A tacit indication that some of Tina’s complaints about Bette’s selfishness might have a basis in reality??? And then we have this: “Yes, Tina had supported Bette in the initial endeavor. Bette knew Tina was genuinely happy for her. And that meant a lot. But Bette’s why’s in finally completing her dream should really be of no interest to Tina.” Now, that’s very like the ‘stay in your lane’ attitude of GQ S2 Bette towards Carrie. Interesting.

      Alice’s halibut pun is precious. And the badinage between Peggy and Marilyn about punctuality just sparkles on the page. Aargh, why can’t this level of writing be on the show!?

      Kenny Rogers made me laugh out loud!

      When they arrive in TO, it’s tough seeing the way Angie has become parentified by the divorce, but her comment about the athletic protector is hilarious. And of course Tina later has the insight that her daughter deserves better.

      This is quite a passage: “Tina had a knot in the pit of her stomach. If she was being entirely honest all she could think about was the elusive owner of that ratty Yale t-shirt. Was it elusive or illusive? What was that rule? If Sasquatch is elusive, it eludes those who try to find it: oh, it’s out there; it’s just difficult to find. But if Sasquatch is illusive, it’s illusory; it’s based on something that is not true or real. Can both be true? Are both true? Elusive illusive be damned. All Tina knew was that in that moment she wanted to somehow someway someday find her way back to Bette.”
      As you know, I work with words for a living so I love the casual distraction into pondering which is the more correct word. But then Tina just – boom – comes clean with herself. And it’s great but it’s also a little worrying because how does she know she’ll be good for Bette?

      This is so, so beautiful: “I’ve officially sunk pretty low when my daughter washes my underwear but yes, I do have a few things. Delicate cycle.” Angie smiled. “I know. Mama B taught me.” As Tina walked into her own room she softly whispered: “And I taught her.” How I would love to see Laurel acting that.

      On the plane, Tina and Angie are almost like Carrie’s carers. And even as we wonder what attracted Tina to Carrie in the first place, there is something endearing about her extreme extraversion, her lack of filters, a puppyish quality that is the very opposite of Bette. But is that enough to inspire a sexual relationship (and indeed a marriage) rather than just a friendship? Of course that’s exactly what Tina is asking herself on the drive to the hotel.

      In summary: I loved this, Billy. I hope you’ll post more soon but mainly I hope your health is better. Big thanks for this wonderful piece of writing.

      Take care

      • Thank you so very much. High praise from such a literate author. This was a difficult story to write because it is so detail driven. And it has to be detail driven to understand what might have happened to get them to this point. Regarding Maya, I wanted Bette to have a new friend in addition to Shane and Alice. Each one of these characters takes on a role Tina once held. And this helps Bette move on. Yet there is only one Tina. There will always be but one Tina. And their journey back together is a long one. As I have said, ALT was my inspiration to even attempt writing this story. Thanks again for following this story. B

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