For My Sanity: I don't own Harry Potter, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, any of the Fairy Tales mentioned, and I especially don't own Twilight. I also don't own Staples Business Depot. Any opinions expressed in the following part are sorely those of my characters, whom I do own, and any resemblance to any of the authoresses opinions may or may not be coincidental. I make no profit from the books mentioned in this part, or from mentioning Staples. That was easy. Enjoy!
Previously: Claire and Danica break for lunch, where Claire has a moment and when Danica offers her comfort, realizes that finally, everything will turn out right.
The tinkling of a shop bell welcomed them into the store. Although it was more of a very cozy living room, as anyone who walked into Splendora's thought. Weathered wooden shelves lined the walls, crammed with books of all shapes and sizes. A gas fire place warmed up the tidy shop, where people of all ages sat, reading books. Cozy chairs were scattered around, in between shelves and in corners, every so often giving comfort to the standing people. Some people found themselves sitting on a cozy rug or wedged into a corner, reading a classic tale.
A tall woman behind a white, weathered, wooden counter leafed through a book, occasionally stealing glances at the customers. She smiled to herself, watching the few bookworms browse quietly, her eyes briefly glancing to a reading corner where two girls sat reading to a group of little kids.
“That's Dora,” Danica murmured, having noticed Claire’s purple gaze eyeing the tall woman curiously. She looked up, eyeing the two women walking towards her, a smile on her face.
“Danica! How's it going?”
“Hey Dora. Same old, same old. How about you? It sure looks like you're busy,” Danica responded.
With a cheery laugh, Dora looked around her shop. “That's true. The twins have had to step in and read to the kids on the weekends to help me keep some hair on my head! This must be Claire!”
“How'd you know?” Claire asked, briefly ceasing her observing of Splendora's shop.
“Fran called. Said Danica was around with a relative, named Claire. Here's Danica. So you must be Claire.”
Danica smiled. “Claire is my cousin. We're out running some errands.”
“An afternoon in the village. She took you to the best place for errand running,” Dora said, smiling.
Nodding, Danica continued. “When she arrived yesterday, the way my parents' house looked reminded her of a castle. So I thought, why not bother Dora, and get Claire some fairy tales?”
“Splendid!” Dora said, pushing herself off the counter and turning to Claire.
“Tell me, Claire, how old are you?” She asked, smiling.
“Ten. I turn eleven next month.”
“WELL! You must know the classics,” Dora said, whisking away into a snug aisle. Danica gave Claire a little shove, urging her to follow Dora. She stopped at a shelf in the middle of the aisle, immediately pulling out several books. A small, thick volume found its way into Claire's small hands.
“This book is filled with the happy ending fairy tales you've probably read about before,” Dora started. “The ones about princesses, like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, the Little Mermaid-any princess story you could think of!”
She pulled down a small blue book from the very top shelf. “This one is filled with the lesser known fables, like Puss in Boots, Snow White and Rose Red, and some others that are really cute.” A few more books made their way of the shelf, each fairy tale sounding more and more alluring to Claire.
When there was a small stack of them in her hands, Dora smiled. “There we go, look through those. I'm going to quickly grab some other books you might like reading.” And, with a smile, she turned into an aisle labelled young fiction. Claire looked at the books in her hands.
“Go with that one, the big red one there,” a voice said from behind Claire. “It's got a lot of tales.”
“They aren't very happy, though,” Another voice said, from Claire's left. She looked up—the two girls who had been reading to the younger children earlier had joined her side.
“Oh! We didn’t introduce ourselves, I'm sorry!” The first one said. “I'm Ariana Rivers,” The short brunette smiled, her sparkling blue eyes peering out from beneath the bangs of her short, wavy hair. She sat beside Claire, and shook her hand.
“And this is my twin sister, Amber.” The slightly taller girl waved hi, plopping down on Claire's left. Her black hair was half up in a little side ponytail, the rest of her medium length hair down. Her green eyes sparkled as she smiled shyly.
“You'll hafta excuse Ari, she talks to everyone like she's known them forever,” The one called Amber said. As if to prove her point, Ariana looked up from the book pile.
“Hey, Danica! I haven't seen you around lately,” She said, Danica ceasing her mindless book browsing, startled.
Claire smiled. “I'm Claire. I'm new around here.”
“We know,” Ariana said, flipping through a small green volume. “This one is good, all the exotic fairy tales that take place in Arabian cities, The Caribbean...”
Grimacing, Amber tossed a light pink book back on the shelf. “That one was way too corny,” she said as she put the three books her sister had already approved in one pile, and the rejects in another. “Our mom tends to be very enthusiastic when it comes to books,” Amber stated.
“And so, it's our job to make sure she doesn't send people away with too much for them to handle,” Ariana said, putting the rejects back on the shelves.
Claire tilted her head and looked at Amber. “I didn't know that Dora was your mommy,” she said.
“We get that a lot,” Ari said. "I guess we look more like dad."
“And we haven't called her 'mommy' in ages,” Amber added, thoughtfully.
Amber snickered as Dora turned the corner with a large pile of books in her hands.
“See?” Amber said to Claire, as Splendora, like her daughters, plopped down in front of Claire dropping the books. “Okay, so these are...oh! I see you've met the twins!” she said, gesturing towards the two girls on either side of Claire. Nodding, Claire turned towards the newest book pile, pushing her small pile of fairy tales towards Danica. Having gotten hooked to the book, she had sunk into the nearest plush chair, abandoning her purse beside her.
“Oh! The Dear Dumb Diary series, those are hilarious!” Ariana said, picking up one of the paperbacks and flipping through it.
“You can read them all really fast, though, so I'd suggest going to the library or taking, like the first four...”
“But, at the same time, you'll want to read them over and over again, ‘cause they're really funny.”
“You agree with me then? She should get the rest from the library?.”
Ariana shrugged. “I guess so. But, here Claire, take the first two, just in case!”
Claire grabbed the books from Ariana, and placed them in the pile by Danica's purse. She turned to a hardcover pink book, called Dork Diaries.
“These are like the Dear Dumb Diary books,” Splendora began. Before she could continue, Ariana and Amber both shouted, “No! Not that series!”
“Why not?” Claire asked, Dora giving her kids a strange look.
“They are so girly-” Amber said.
“And stereotypical! I mean, really there aren't any girls as mean as Mackenzie is, in that book!” Ariana interrupted, shoving the series to the side, “although, the drawings are cute and the main character is relatable in some ways.”
“Alright, here're the next books I thought you'd like...” Dora said.
And so, the next hour passed with Splendora offering up book titles, either Ariana or Amber putting in their two cents then sorting the books into piles. When the rejected pile and the read it or else pile were about equal height, Claire stopped the Rivers family from giving her more books.
“Are you sure it's enough? Dora asked, as Claire picked up the books and held them in her arms.
“Yup, absolutely positively sure,” She replied, turning towards Danica, attempting to snap her out of the world of the novel she was reading.
“Daaaannnnniiiicccccccaaaaa...Let's go, I got all the books I need!”
“That is a big pile,” she said, snapping back to reality. Happily nodding, Amber and Ariana appeared beside her, with seven books in a boxed set.
“You must take these books,” Amber said, taking the boxed set from her sister and putting it at the top of Claire's pile.
“The Harry Potter series,” Ariana said. “One of the greatest series ever made, you'll love it!”
“We both loved them, and we've seen every movie so far,” Amber said, as they walked with Claire and Danica to the counter.
Claire smiled behind the stack of books she held. Behind the counter, Dora rang up the titles. A last minute decision made, Danica threw the novel that was in her hands into the pile.
“Twilight? You still haven't read that series?” Dora asked.
“...Not yet. But I'll start now, I guess,” Danica said smiling. Amber and Ariana grimaced at the book title. At Claire's questioning look, Ariana told her, “It was a decent book. Well, the concept mostly. Except the sparkling, that’s weird. And Bella was a really bland character, in all honesty.”
“Every other character in the series were way more interesting than the main characters. It was kinda sad,” Amber added.
“Here are your books," Dora began, handing Claire a nice reusable bag. "I gave you a bit of a discount too,” Dora mentioned, winking.
"Thank you," Danica said, a warm hand on Claire's back, guiding them to the door.
“See you at school this week!”
“School, that's right. You'll be starting this week,” Danica mumbled moments later, pulling into the local Staples. “We should run in and pick out some things. Backpack, lunchbox, pencil case, a binder or two...”
Claire didn't say anything. She was exhausted, and thinking of school was tiring. One quick trip in and out of Staples later, Claire was back in the van, nearly dozing off. She leant against the window, watching everything speed by.
Danica, meanwhile, was once again thinking of Derrick. He was just so infuriating. Not to mention cocky, annoying, a bit of a smartass, handsome, charming...wait, where'd that come from? Danica thought.
Preoccupied with her thoughts, as they neared the exit for Swim City, Danica misread it, pulling the van onto the off ramp. Once they were stopped at the lights, Danica quickly realized her mistake.
“Oh—shoot, Sorry Claire. We may be a while getting home.”
“Wrong exit,” She murmured, as she turned left to find the on ramp.
“This is Swim City,” Claire said out loud. “Shouldn't it be all empty?”
Danica, more focused on getting onto the highway once more, looked around. The once diseased city looked a tad bit better. It looked neater, a few people milling about.
“I don't know. Maybe they've cleaned it up? Oh! There's the on ramp!” Turning onto the highway, determined to pass the bus, the two companions breathed a sigh of relief, glad to be back on the road home.
Walking out of the bus stop and past the on ramp to the cleaner cities, Melthore paid no heed to the van turning onto the highway. He didn't blame them. In fact, if his licence hadn't been taken away years ago, instead of taking the bus, like he did today, he would've been driving out of Swim City like a madman, too.
His lawyer's call had definitely been beneficial, if it were to bring him to this shitty city.
Melthore smirked to himself as he walked into the national bank, each stride with more and more confidence. He walked up to the front desk, looking at the woman behind it.
Through the foggy haze that was his mind at this specific moment, Melthore could've sworn he'd slept with her before. Trying to steady himself through his sudden dizzy spell, he leaned on the desk, smiling at the woman.
“And how may I help you today, sir?”
“Hello. My name is Melthore Aerovl, and my daughter has been left a large amount of money by her mother, Sophia Evans. If I am not mistaken, it is a massive fortune,” he stated, trying to be as suave and smart—like as possible, his head hurting from attempting to remember his love’s last name.
The lady at the desk had heard about the little heiress. At that week's meeting, they had been given a specific set of instructions in regards to the girl's inheritance.
“Yes, I am aware of the situation. And, the size of said inheritance. And how would it concern you, Mr. Aerovl?” She asked, icily.
“Well, I would like to make a withdrawal from the account, seeing as how I am her legal guardian and—”
“No you aren't,” the woman cut him off, wiping the cocky grin off his face.
“As of last Friday, you were officially unregistered as her legal guardian. She was taken to the Swan Valley Social Services, thus making them her current legal caretakers.”
Before he could protest, the woman continued. “As such, the account is frozen until Miss Aerovl is either adopted, comes of age, or is physically giving her consent to family and is with them in person. So, Mr. Aerovl, You cannot under any circumstances access the account at all.” She finished with an air of finality.
Melthore felt a surge of boiling hot rage ignite inside him.
“Good day, sir.” She said, beckoning the next person in line forward. Furious, Melthore turned on his heel and stormed out of the bank, a scowl etched onto his face.
Time to make a plan B.