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One Step At A Time

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51 Re: One Step At A Time on 14th April 2012, 10:35

When Ricky hugged him, Liam felt a bit weird but he tried not to show it too much.

“I can’t believe you proposed!” Ricky took a step back and looked at Liam. “How did you do it?”

“Ehm…we went to Kensington Gardens…um…”

“Kensington Gardens? That is so romantic! You love Kensington Gardens, don’t you, Jo?”

“Yes, I do.” Jo nodded. “And then I said no.”

“What?” Ricky turned shocked to her. “You said no? To someone like him?”

Liam and Jo stared at him, and Ricky realized what he just said, blushed and cleared his throat. “I mean, why did you say no?”

“It was all a big misunderstanding”, she explained. “I thought he only proposed to me because felt like he had to, I didn’t expect that he really wanted it.” She looked up to her boyfriend and smiled.

“And when did you say yes?”

Jo told him what happened afterwards and how they got together again.

“I can’t believe I missed all of this!” Ricky shook his head. “Why didn’t you call me, Jo? You know that you can call me anytime.”

“Believe me, during those two weeks I didn’t want to speak with anyone, I was a wreck.”

Yeah, me too…, Liam thought, but he didn’t want to admit in front of Ricky what kind of wreck he was during the breakup, that wouldn’t look…manly. Not that Ricky knew much about being manly, but Liam just didn’t want to look like a wuss.

“You’ve been so busy lately, we barely have any time to see each other, and there’s so much to catch up!”, Jo said.

“I know, we should have a pyjama party or something like that, renting a movie, ordering pizza…”

Pyjama party? Liam wasn’t particular happy about the fact that another guy would see his fiancée in her pyjamas, even if that guy was interested in boys. Wait…that would mean that he would have to worry that Ricky checked him out, not Jo.
Okay- so Liam wasn’t particularly happy about the idea of Ricky seeing him in pyjamas.
Whatever. He is a good friend, so…don’t think about…well…the fact that he might check you out.

“Oh, definitely, that sounds like fun!”, Jo exclaimed. “Right, Liam?”

“Sure.”
Wow, that sounded convincing…

“Ricky, I told you about the plans that we turn Waterfall Downs into a school, right?”, she asked her friend who nodded. “The constructions will start in two weeks.”

“Wow, that’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see when it’s all done.” Ricky’s eyes wandered to Liam for a moment who was busy doing something with his watch. “So you two are going to move there too, right?”

“Yes, we will.”

“Which is great, because that means you’re basically back in Oxford again, and not in far, far London”, he said, winking at her, then he took her hand to look at the ring again. “Oh man, Jo, I’m really happy for you two. By the way, do you have anything in mind concerning an engagement party?”

She sighed. “Yeah, but only because Lor and mother insist on it.”

“Hey, you should look forward to it.”

“Not really, because it will be so over the top if I let them plan it.”

“Not necessarily.” He grinned. “I can offer you my assistance, and we can plan it together, so that it will be a party that is great and fun at the same time. Something like…a costume party!”

“A costume party?”

“Yes, everybody could come dressed up as whatever they want to, so the whole party won’t be a stiff, ball-dancing, champagne-sipping occasion but a lot more fun.”

“That’s actually a great idea!” Jo smiled and turned to Liam. “What do you think?”

“Sounds good to me”, he replied. “Definitely better than one of your mother’s parties where I would be forced to wear a suit again.” He looked at Ricky. “So does that mean I can pick any costume?”

“Yes, whatever you like.”

A grin played around Liam’s lips. “Awesome! I always wanted to dress up as a Musketeer!”

Jo giggled. “Really?”

“Yes.”

She wrapped her arms around her. “No, you’re not a Musketeer. I read the book and you definitely remind me of d’Artagnan who just doesn’t know when to be quiet, so you if you want to dress up like a French guy from the 18th century, then only as him.”

“That’s fine”, Liam said. “I always liked d’Artagnan anyway. And you could wear one of the dresses that those French girls during the time wore, you know, the ones where you really see their boobs looking out.”

Jo pinched his cheek playfully. “You wish!”
She continued talking a bit more with Ricky about the engagement party and made a date for their ‘pyjama party’, then she hugged him goodbye.
When Liam wanted to say goodbye as well, Ricky hugged him again, and this time the hug was a bit longer than the first one, and then Liam felt something… No, it didn’t come from his side this time, it came from the other boy who didn’t notice it until Liam took a step back. Ricky suddenly noticed what happened and his cheeks turned bright red. He didn’t know where to look, he just knew that he couldn’t face Liam for a while.
“Anyway…”, he said with a high, nervous voice. “Get home safe, I’ll see you later.” He nodded at Jo, then turned his back on the two, and Liam walked so quickly out of the office that Jo had a hard time catching up with him.

“What was that about, why was he so weird? Did you do something?”

“Did I do something?” Liam’s cheeks were just as red as Ricky’s. “I…I’m really disturbed right now, Jo…”

“What? Why? You just…oh…” She got it and couldn’t supress a grin. “I see.”

“Just don’t say anything, okay? I’m still…I’m too…oh God…” He took a deep breath while his girlfriend started to laugh.
“That’s not funny, Jo!”

“Oh, yes it is.” Her grin grew wider. “That was just payback because of what happens to you each time my cousin hugs you. Ah, justice!”


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52 Re: One Step At A Time on 14th April 2012, 12:50

Two days later Jo and Liam stopped outside of Ricky’s flat.

“Jo really do we have to do this? Ricky will be checking me out, what if he tries something?”

Jo giggled. “Liam, Ricky won’t try anything. It was an accident just like when you were with Lor alone. Unless you want to tell me something?”

“No there is nothing going on. I told you this a million of times.”

“I know that why I’m not worried that Ricky will kiss you again, oh wait it was you kissing him.” Jo grinned while she took out her bag out of the trunk, while Liam took the big picnic basket full of food.
Liam followed Jo shy one floor up to Ricky’s door, he was standing in it wide grinning. “As usual you are early, but come in. Whoa Jo is that all the food for tonight?”

“Yes, I might went a little over board with the food, but there were a few recipes I so badly wanted to try out.”

So far Ricky was ignoring Liam, he hadn’t even said hello yet. On the table were a few lists and other notes they needed for the party planning. “Let’s eat first and then start the planning.”
Ricky looked for a long time at Liam. “Listen Liam the thing that happened the other day that meant nothing. I mean you are… I have a boyfriend. Alfie you might remember him?”

Jo remembered the image from her graduation she witnessed.

“Alfie is great and we really connect. I mean he is not really gay, he also likes girls but that is fine. He and I are kind of casual…” Ricky fell silent, he had the feeling of no matter what he said he made Liam more uncomfortable. “Anything I can to do proof that I am just your friend?” he whispered.


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53 Re: One Step At A Time on 14th April 2012, 21:24

Liam felt awkward. So damn awkward. This was just not the most comfortable conversation he could think of, and he knew that Ricky only meant good, but he made him more uncomfortable with every second.
Ricky stood very close when he asked: “Anything I can do to prove that I am just your friend?”

Ahm. What about telling me that you’re into girls? That would make me a lot more comfortable actually…

Liam cleared his throat. “Just forget it, man, it’s okay, I believe you.” He just wanted to change the subject, and luckily Jo was with them, so when she saw how helpless he looked, she saved him by linking arms with Ricky and pulling him to the couch.

“Let’s eat something and start the movie, I’m starving!”

“Okay, okay!” Ricky chuckled. “After all, I have to try what you cooked. I’m very proud of you by the way.”

“Why?”

“Hell, two years ago you couldn’t even heat up soup, and look at you know, you’re going to be the next Julia Child!”

“Who’s that?”, Liam asked, carrying the basket with the food to the couch.

“Oh, you wouldn’t know!” Jo turned to him. “She’s a famous American cook.”

“Aha…” Of course Liam didn’t know anything about female American cooks, he wasn’t a girl. Or gay.

While they watched the movie he relaxed a bit more, mainly because Ricky was focused on the movie and didn’t have the chance to start any weird conversations with him again. After the movie was over Jo and Ricky went straight to the planning of the engagement party, and Liam didn’t really pay attention to it, so instead he read a science magazine. He wasn’t surprised to see that Ricky’s flat was completely tidy. The flat of a normal guy that age looked more…let’s say…like an area of complete destruction.

“Hey, we should change into our pyjamas, that’s more comfortable”, Jo suggested, immediately earning a warning glance of her boyfriend.

“Yes, you’re right. After all it’s a pyjama party”, Ricky replied. “You know where the bathroom is, right?”

Jo nodded and grabbed Liam’s arm. “Come on!”

Liam followed her rather involuntarily, but he knew that he couldn’t sleep with his clothes on, that would come off even more ridiculous. When they were in the insanely clean and tidy bathroom, Jo raised her eyebrows after she saw what kind of pyjama he had brought with him.

“Where did you get that from? I didn’t even know you owned a real pyjama!”
She had a point. Liam never slept in a real pyjama, always in his boxers and a shirt, but he didn’t want to run around in his boxershorts in front of Ricky.
“Would you stop staring at me?”, he mumbled while he got into his ridiculous flannel pyjama.

“I can’t, because it amuses me too much how embarrassed you are.”

“Oh, shut up”, he said, but then he kissed her and she started to giggle.

“We’re not going to make out in Ricky’s bathroom!”

“Too bad.” He kissed her a last time and watched her changing into her pyjamas. He didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was totally checking her out.
While they were in the bathroom Ricky had already changed into his pyjamas as well, and when they came back to the living room he forced himself not to stare at Liam, and luckily it worked, because he immediately continued talking about the party. Liam was about to take a sip of milk when he accidently spilled it, and yes, directly on his shirt and pants.
“Oh shit!” He got up but it was already too late, his pants were completely wet. Jo tried very hard not to burst into laughter while Liam looked like he was about to have a freakout.

“Do you have anything to change?”, Ricky asked, trying not to stare.

“No.”

“Okay…ehm…I can give you one of my pyjamas, I have plenty. And we’re pretty much the same size, so let me see if I can…eh…find something…” He quickly went into his bedroom while Liam turned to Jo who couldn’t hold back her laugh anymore.

“Hilarious, Jo, really!”

“I’m sorry, but it is. You shouldn’t think of Lorelai naked or anything like that, that would be very inconvenient, especially in those wet pyjama bottoms…”

“Jo!” Liam’s cheek turned red, but the same moment Ricky returned with a spare pyjama. Liam was relieved to see that it was something normal, and not something…well…weird and girly, like zebra print or ruffles.

“Thanks.” He quickly took the pyjama and hurried back into the bathroom while Jo and Ricky cleaned up the rest of the milk. They were already in the middle of the party planning again when he returned, and Jo had the hardest time not to start laughing again when her boyfriend sat down next to her, in Ricky’s pyjamas.
Ricky kept his eyes on the papers in front of him, but she could tell that he was blushing.


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54 Re: One Step At A Time on 15th April 2012, 01:33

Not long after the milk accident Jo and Ricky took a last look at their plans, the party was planned they had a first draft on invitation list and the invitation itself are done. Jo had to talk to her mother who else she needed to invite. But she would tell her to keep it small.

“Oh I forgot I made Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Ganache.”

“You made what?” Liam looked questioning at Jo. It made Jo giggle, Ricky already knew what Jo made and looked amazed.

“Cupcakes Liam, but look for yourself.” Jo opened the cardboard box that contained 24 beautiful cupcakes, well they didn’t look all that even but they were probably eatable.

“Jo they look amazing.” Liam looked at the cupcakes and then at his fiancée. He still felt weird in Ricky’s pyjama but right now he forgot Ricky was still there, Liam got up and pulled Jo close while he kissed her passionately. He got carried away, when his hand wandered up Jo’s back under her shirt, and suddenly the two heard Ricky make a lot of noise with the plates. Jo blushed and didn’t look at Ricky for a moment. Liam whispered into her ear. “We continue this later.” But before she could have said anything he sat back down and took a cupcake.

“Oh my God, Josephine they are amazing.” Ricky took a third cupcake. Jo blushed and looked at Liam, but he was too busy eating cupcake after another. The three young people decided to watch another movie and have more cupcakes before they went to bed. Ricky had offered Jo and Liam his bed but Jo saw the panic in Liam’s face and said she wouldn’t mind sleeping and on the studio couch. Ricky had put Teddy’s basket into the kitchen.
It was late but Jo was still awake, thinking about the party and being married with Liam very soon, well they haven’t set a date yet but still.

“Liam?”

“Mhm?”

“Are you scared?”

Jo saw Liam lift his head and look at her. “Of what?”

“The wedding, being married, the future.” Jo whispered.

Suddenly Jo felt Liam’s hand move up her belly under her shirt. With ease Liam found Jo’s lips even in the darkness.

“Seriously here?” Jo whispered but she didn’t stop him.

“Yes here, right now.” Liam whispered back. “Mh you taste good.”

Liam never answered Jo if he was scared but he sure made her feel better. After two years together Liam know what Jo liked even though she was embarrassed about the excitement of sleeping with him while they were at Ricky’s, it still turned her on.


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55 Re: One Step At A Time on 15th April 2012, 18:53

It was around 7 when Liam woke up, which wasn’t that early for him because he often woke up around that time. Jo was still sleeping, her pyjama on, because after their late night activity Liam didn’t want Ricky to walk in on them the next day like his father did once when they had spent their one-year anniversary in the hunting hut of his father. Sure, Ricky wouldn’t check out Jo, but Liam still didn’t want her to be naked, not even half-naked, in front of him, so he made sure she would get back into her pyjama again. He still wore Ricky’s pyjama and couldn’t get out of his head what Jo said before they fell asleep.
I seriously wonder if Ricky will put the pyjama you’re wearing into the wash machine right away or wear it himself, just to have a little memory of you…
Liam had told her that was rubbish, but then she fell asleep and he was thinking about it. Yepp, once again she had managed to freak him out, not that he would show it or anything…

Liam got up slowly and decided to get dressed. He didn’t want to wear the pyjama any longer than he had to, especially not after what Jo had said yesterday. He was just about to go to the bathroom when a couple of pictures caught his attention. Liam stepped closer to the pictures, all of them framed, showing Ricky as little boy with his parents. On one picture he was helping his mother decorating the house, on the other they baked a cake, and one was particularly funny, because it showed Ricky having a tea party with his dad. His father was without a doubt the opposite of his son, but it was obvious that he cared a lot about him. Standing in front of the pictures he realized how incredibly lucky Ricky was for having a family like this, and how important it was for every little boy to have a father to look up to, even if they didn’t share the same interests. Liam picked up the picture with the two having a tea party and wondered if he could ever be like Ricky’s father if he had a son, caring and supportive, or if he would be…absent. Not physically, but mentally. He hadn’t told Jo, but he had already thought about having a son, and what kind of father he would be to a little boy. And he was worried. Not just about the general fact of being a father to any child, but specifically to a boy. He knew he didn’t have to worry about those things just yet, but what if his son expected him to be his role model, and he was just not a good one. He was never cut out to be a role model in the first place, so how on earth would he be a role model for his own son?
Liam’s eyes wandered over the other pictures with Ricky and his father, and he suddenly a memory came back that he had suppressed for quite a while now, but there it was, just this second. His mother’s favourite poets had always been Rilke and Blake, and one day, when he had just learned to read, he had picked up one of William Blake’s poem collection and read through it. There was one particular poem that he read over and over again, until he fell asleep, the book lying open next to him. The title of the poem was The Little Boy Lost. Liam remembered every line of it.
Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak father, speak to your little boy,
Or else I shall be lost.
The night was dark, no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, and the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.


His mother found him sleeping next to that book, the page open at this particular poem, and she never needed to ask him why he read this poem so many times, and not a nicer, happier poem by Blake.
Liam put the frame back and took a step back, his eyes still fixed on the various pictures. He realized that he never put up a picture of his mum. After her death he didn’t do it because he didn’t want to constantly be reminded of her, but now, six years later, he realized that he wanted to be reminded of her, because he was better now, and he had a wonderful girlfriend , fiancée, who was always at his side when he needed her. A tiny smile appeared on his face while he looked at the pictures. He was finally ready to put a picture of his mother up, instead of hiding them in a box under his bed.
He turned around and looked at the sleeping Jo, then he quietly picked up his clothes and went to the bathroom. After he got dressed he walked back to the couch, lay down next to Jo and brushed gently through her hair.


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56 Re: One Step At A Time on 16th April 2012, 14:30

Ricky walked in on Liam and Jo and he was about to apologize when he noticed that Jo was still sleeping and Liam was already dressed.

“Hey morning.” He whispered so he wouldn’t wake Jo and didn’t startle Liam.
Liam looked up and whispered back. “Hey, Jo is still sleeping.”

“Do you want breakfast?”

“Yeah, but don’t break your back for it nothing too big.”

“Coffee or tea?”

Liam looked at Jo for a while looking and as always he found what he was looking for. “Coffee but not yet Jo isn’t waking up any time soon.”

Ricky looked at Jo. She had slept over a couple of times and so did he in London while Liam was gone but she didn’t look any different. She just opened her eyes and woke up, but Liam seemed to see more when he looked at his fiancée.

“Okay, just tell me when I’m in the kitchen.”

Jo started to stir a little bit, but much to be actually visible but Liam saw that she tried to hold on to sleep just a little bit longer. Liam kissed Jo gently. “I’ll be in the kitchen. Put on a rope I don’t want Ricky to stare at you.”

Jo smiled with closed eyes, but Liam knew she would put on her rope.

“Okay now we can make the coffee.” Liam announced, Ricky started to grin weirdly at him.

“Did you sleep okay?”

Liam just filled the coffee into a cup for Jo when she appeared in the kitchen door, smiling sleepy at Liam. “Oh coffee, thanks” Jo stumbled to Liam hugged him before she took the coffee and looked at Ricky.

“What you talkin about?” As usual Jo was not yet fully awake, her mother always said she sounded drunk in the morning.


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57 Re: One Step At A Time on 16th April 2012, 21:36

“Oh, not much”, Liam answered, handing her the coffee.

“Did you sleep well, Jo?”, Ricky asked, and Jo didn’t miss the weird, barely visible smile on her friend’s face. That smile gave him away, she immediately knew that he had…um…probably heard them yesterday night. But Jo didn’t have time to blush because the same moment the phone rang and Ricky left the kitchen.

“I think he knows”, she hissed.

“Knows what?” Liam took a sip of his coffee.

“That we did it.”

“Heh?”

Jo rolled her eyes. “Yesterday!”

“Oh.” He looked a bit confused. “Really? How do you-“

“Let’s just say I know him a bit better than you, and I’m pretty sure he heard us.”

“Well…” He shrugged his shoulders. “Next time you better keep it down a bit.”

Jo’s cheeks turned red. “Excuse me?! I’m not that loud!”

“Well, you are and-“

“Hey guys!” Ricky came back into the kitchen. “What did I miss?”

“Nothing!”, Jo and Liam answered at the same time.


Two days later Jo spent some time with Lorelai to go shopping while Liam went to his father to tell him about the engagement. Of course Graham was more than happy to hear the great news.

“It’s funny”, he said, sitting down opposite to Liam. “When I met Jo the first time, this six-year old little, shy school girl, I couldn’t have imagined that she would be the one wearing Cathy’s ring one day.” He shook his head. “That’s crazy, in a way…”

“Yeah, it is.”

“And when I met this little, shy school girl I wouldn’t have imagined that through her I would meet my son one day.” Graham looked at Liam. “It’s just…I know my son’s girlfriend longer than I know my own son. I basically got to know you not only fully grown, but almost ready to marry. I missed eighteen years, your entire childhood.” He paused for a moment. “I know I have myself to blame, and believe me, that’s what I do all the time, especially when I see you and how well you have grown up. I know that I can’t change the past or make up for it, but I can make sure that I do things differently in the present and future. I’m aware that you don’t need a dad anymore, but I want to be there for you, Liam, for you and for Jo. I will do less traveling and-“

“You don’t need to do that.”

“I want to”, Graham said. “I missed eighteen years of your life, years that I will never get back. And I have no doubt that your mother would want me to make sure that you’re well, and that I’m there and help you and Jo, especially now that all those big changes will happen in your life. If that means that I have to cut travelling altogether, I will do that. And one day you will probably have children on your own, and then you’ll need all the help you can get.”

Liam felt how he blushed. “I’m not thinking about that yet…” He stared at his hands. “But thanks…for being there this time.”


Liam didn’t immediately go home after he left Graham’s apartment. He made one more stop. After all, the one man who has been the closest to a father figure he ever had didn’t know about his engagement yet.
“Dick!” Liam burst into the flat.

“What the hell, kid?!” Dick almost jumped up from the couch.

Liam stepped in front of this tall, muscular man and took a deep breath. “I’m getting married, and I don’t care if you like it or not, but you will be my best man!”


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58 Re: One Step At A Time on 17th April 2012, 01:10

It is not a surprise the Elizabeth thought a costume party was not the right way to celebrate the engagement of her one and only daughter, but Jo made it very clear. She wanted Elizabeth to be at this party the first Jo was hosting in Waterfall Downs and to do that Elizabeth had to jump over her own shadow and come to a costume party. The respond of the others guest were generally positive, it would be fun and everyone was looking for a more casual way of celebrating things.

It was the night of the party and Jo was so nervous. Ricky was a huge help, when he knocked at her bedroom door.

“Do you need help, sweetie?”

“Oh Ricky yes you are my life saver I don’t know what to do with my hair it doesn’t stay the way it is suppose to stay. And there is so much stuff for my makeup. And I’m still not dressed yet.” Jo dressed in basically nothing then her underwear and a thin undergarment.

“Okay sit down.” Ricky smiled he knew Jo was insanely nervous not just because she was the host, well okay and Liam, but more because well this party was a public statement of her and Liam’s love. With quick hands Ricky was pulling her hair into place and applied the makeup, not too much she would still look natural.

“You are so beautiful.” Ricky looked at his best friend and had already tears in his eyes.

“But I’m not even dressed yet.” Jo giggles.

“Do you even know how beautiful you are without clothes? I hope Liam tells you this every day.”

The two haven’t yet noticed that Liam is standing in the door. He is already dressed and looks dashing but he seems rather jealous of Ricky.


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59 Re: One Step At A Time on 17th April 2012, 17:25

Yes, it was ‘only’ Ricky, but still, Liam didn’t like to hear from any guy that Jo looked pretty without clothes on. He couldn’t believe how easily jealous he got…
Ricky clearly raised his eyebrows when he saw Liam all dressed like a French dude of the 18th century, and Jo grinned.

“Look at you! You really look like I always pictured d’Artagnan!”

“I really have to get used to the clothes…they’re kind of impractical.”

“You actually look older.”

“Do I? Wearing this?”

“Come on, you usually wear Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny jumpers, so yes, you definitely look older now”, Jo said.

“Ahm…I came up here to ask when you’re ready.”

“It might take another fifteen minutes”, Ricky replied, looking at Jo so that he would stop staring at Liam.

“Oh, okay. Should I go downstairs or wait here?”

“You better go downstairs, otherwise the guests have to wait for both of us”, Jo said. “And besides, you’re very distracting if you keep standing there in your sexy outfit.”

“Okay, okay!” He wanted to kiss his girlfriend, but Ricky was right next to her, so he only shot her a grin and disappeared.
The Grand Salon was filled with guests in costumes, which made him feel relieved because he no longer stood out since everybody was dressed funny. Instead of having a dull dinner at the table, Colin had arranged a huge buffet. Liam went to the buffet to get something to drink- he had to force himself to stay away from alcoholic drinks, at least in the beginning of the evening, otherwise he would be drunk in no time and that wouldn’t leave the best impression.

“Hi there”, he heard a familiar voice behind him, and when he turned around he saw Alfie who looked like he came straight from the 18th century French aristocracy, which suited him very well, just as well as the cheeky boy from the country side suited Liam. “Congrats to your engagement.”

“Thanks”, Liam replied.

“And who are you? Let me guess…” Alfie touched the sword that hung on Liam’s side. “A Musketeer.”

Liam grinned. “Kind of. More the d’Artagnan type of a Musketeer…”

The older boy scrutinized him from head to toe, which made Liam slightly uncomfortable. “Well, the costume most certainly works for you just fine…”

Liam didn’t like the way he said ‘fine’, but he tried to act normal.
“I feel kind of gay because the…” He suddenly realized what he just said. “Sorry, no offence…”

“None taken”, Alfie replied with a weird smile. “You know…I can see why Ricky was so attracted to you.”

Ehm…what?

“It’s a shame you’re not into guys, such a waste!”

“Um…sorry?” Liam’s voice sounded higher than usual and gave away that he was kind of nervous and disturbed at the same time.

“You kissed Ricky, didn’t you?” It was less a question and more a statement.

Oh, great. Who else did Ricky tell?

“I was drunk! Seriously wasted”, Liam defended himself. “I can barely remember a thing.”

Alfie continued looking at him with that weird smile. “Yeah, you might have been drunk, but still…there’s a part inside of you that was curious to know how it felt like to kiss a guy.”

“Ehm…eh…” Why couldn’t he defend himself? Alfie thought that Liam might be gay, and he couldn’t even contradict him!

“I’m not saying you’re gay”, Alfie continued when he saw how nervous the younger boy looked. “But there are, let’s say…other options, you know?”

“Other options?”

“Yeah, like me. If you’re like me you could still be with that little girlfriend of yours, but…let’s say, be open for men as well.”

What.The.Hell?!
Was he serious???


Liam wanted to say something, but all that came out was some helpless, awkward stutter.

“You know…” Alfie continued checking him out. “A threesome with you, Ricky and me would be amazing.”

He said it in such a ‘matter-of-fact’-way that Liam had no clue if it was just Alfie’s typical dark humour or if he was in fact serious. Just before it could get any more awkward and uncomfortable for Liam, Ricky appeared next to them, asking curiously:
“What are you two talking about it?”

Without giving any answer, Liam just turned away from them and looked desperately for Jo. She was easy to spot due to her bright red cape, and she was one hell of a hot Red Riding Hood!

“Jo!” Liam almost ran her over.

“Geez, what happened to you?” She noticed his flushed cheeks and already started to suspect that something between him and Lorelai had happened again.

“Am I gay?”

“You’re seriously asking me that in this outfit?”, she asked sarcastically. “No, of course not! Well, actually you should know better than me…but…why are you asking me this?” She looked confused at him.

Liam was quiet for a moment. “Just forget it! I most certainly want to forget it…”


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60 Re: One Step At A Time on 18th April 2012, 00:51

Jo peeked around Liam and saw Ricky and Alfie talking together.

“Oh. I see. Liam?”

Liam was still confused and shocked. “Hey Liam look at me do you like my dress?”

Very slowly Liam looked around at his fiancée, and he smiled. “You look so hot right now.”

Jo blushed and giggled. “Really?”

Liam nodded, pulled her close and kissed her passionately. “I need to show you something. In the pantry it the big bad wolf and only you Red Riding Hood can tame him.” Liam’s breath tingled Jo and it made her giggly. She whispered. “Okay. What about the guests?”

“No one will notice that we are taking care of a wolf.” Liam took her hand and pulled her out of the salon into the kitchen, the few staff that worked tonight was busy in the salon making sure the buffet looked pretty. Liam grinned and pulled her into the pantry, it was full of shelves with food also there were two fridges, a large freezer and in a corner a preparation table. Liam lifted Jo up easily on the table, he looked at her for a very long time. He never noticed that he counted her freckles, those tiny adorable freckles.

“J'ai pensé ici, c'est un loup, mon chéri?” Jo purred. Her lips where gently brushing Liam’s.

“Grrr.” Was all Liam said before The Red Riding Hood and d’Artagnan forgot everything around them.

“Jo where have you been there are people which want to congratulate you. Child you look flsuehd are you alright?”

“Yes mother I am fine.”

“You looked flushed.” Elizabeth touched Jo’s skin. “You are hot, maybe you are getting a fever?”

“No mother I had to run, um there was a problem in the kitchen. But I took care of it. Liam?” Jo took his hand and together they could face the guests they had to invite. “Don’t you dare to leave me alone and no getting drunk, please.” Jo mumbled to Liam. She felt wobbly and since Ricky had heard them a few weeks ago Jo was scared they could have been heard this time too.


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61 Re: One Step At A Time on 18th April 2012, 16:35

After their little ‘date’ in the pantry, Liam definitely knew where his place was; with girls. With Jo. And no, Alfie’s suggestion that he should be open for men was absolutely absurd, because Liam had always liked girls, and that wouldn’t change. He loved Jo, he adored her body, and he was damn glad that she was a girl. How could you possibly be interested in guys if you had a girlfriend as hot as Jo? Seriously… They had no idea what they were missing!
After they walked back into the salon he felt definitely manlier than he had twenty minutes ago, even in his weird French outfit. He tried to hold back a grin, especially when Jo’s mother kept asking her if she was okay because she looked so flushed. After they turned away from her mother Jo took his hand and looked up to him and told him he shouldn’t get drunk.

“I wasn’t planning on getting drunk tonight”, Liam answered. “The last time I got really drunk I ended up kissing a guy, and I so don’t want to repeat that, especially not after that rather disturbing conversation I had with Ricky’s boyfriend…”

“Do you want to tell me?”

“No!”

“But now I’m curious.”

“Maybe I’ll be able to tell you sometime later, but right now I have to forget that this conversation ever took place.”

Jo giggled. “Was it that disturbing?”

“You have no idea…”

“Hey, you two!” Lorelai showed up next to them, dressed as an Indian princess, her hair made into braided pigtails. Her dress wasn’t too revealing because she didn’t want to steal Jo’s show, or encourage any sort of fantasy in Liam’s mind. “You look absolutely adorable!” She kissed her little cousin on the cheek, then turned to Liam. “My, my…and where is that little boy that’s usually following my cousin around?”

“He does look older, doesn’t he?” Jo smiled at Liam.

“Yes, he does indeed.”

“Okay, you can stop talking about me as if I wouldn’t stand right next to you”, he mumbled, slightly blushing.

“Awww, are you embarrassed?” Jo squeezed his cheek teasingly. “Oh, by the way…” She looked at Lorelai. “Guess who’s going to be Liam’s best man?”

Lorelai looked at Liam. “Don’t tell me…”

“Yes.”

“No!”

“Yes.”

“You’re kidding me!” Lorelai laughed. “Did you ask Dick?”

“Yepp.”

“Oh God, I can’t imagine Dick as best man. I bet he was completely thrilled.”

“Oh yeah, he was close to tears”, Liam said cynically. “Well, I didn’t leave him much choice. Or none, actually.”

“He’s not here today, is he?”

“Yeah, as if Dick would come to a costume party…”

“Speaking of which…”, Lorelai turned to Jo. “Did you set a date for the wedding yet?”


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62 Re: One Step At A Time on 18th April 2012, 19:18

Jo was holding Logan’s hand proudly. “Yes we have, we wanted a summer wedding, well okay I wanted one and Liam said he would like us to be engaged for a little while that we can take care of the renovations of Waterfall Downs and plan the wedding without having to stress out with all the planning. So it will be June next year.”

Jo beamed at Lorelai.

“Oh a summer wedding, that is so wonderful I have so many ideas and…”

“Stop…” Jo whispered, she felt Liam squeeze her hand a little. He knew hard it was for her to speak up her mind. She didn’t like hurting people and she felt she did when she disagreed with them. “Only offer your help if you want to plan my wedding and not your second, please.”

“Oh Josey, of course it will be your wedding. I promise I will only help with whatever you two plan, scout’s honour.” Lorelai looked begging at her cousin.

“Well that is good to know, because as my MoH I expect your help.”

“Aaaaahhh!” Lorelai squealed and pulled her into a tight hug. “I will be the best MoH you ever heard of. I promise to give you your dream wedding.”

The two women were hugging and jumping around while Liam stood a little confused next to them. “Ehm girls? What is a MoH?”

Jo looked at Liam as if he just asked what water is.

“A MoH is the right hand of the bride. Come on Liam you know what a maid of honour is. It’s like the brides best man.”

“Why do you call it MoH?” Liam was still confused. Jo giggled wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. “Does it really matter?” Liam was so glad that Jo’s coat covered his hands, because Elizabeth would probably die by watching them. “I wish we would have a reason to go back into the pantry.” Liam whispered into Jo’s ear and made her blush.

“Hey guys you still with me?” Lorelai mumbled behind them, not that they would pay a lot of attention.

“Oh.” Jo whispered. Liam turned around and knew why the ‘oh’. Victor was approaching them dressed like the King of England.

“My, my look at you Liam, you finally realized that you are gay. I always knew it.” Victor snarled at the happy couple. “And you Josephine you look like a little girl, I mean seriously Red Riding Hood? That is a costume for babies and little girls. I thought you are an adult. You look hideous.”

No Jo clung to Liam’s shirt. She felt hurt, how could Victor say that she looked hideous?


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63 Re: One Step At A Time on 19th April 2012, 18:49

Okay. Victor had just done the greatest mistake in his life. Liam didn’t care if he insulted him, but insulting his girlfriend and telling her she looked hideous…that was the worst thing that bastard could possibly have done. Jo was always so insecure about her looks, and it took Liam ages until she slowly started to like the way she looked, and just one son of a bitch could destroy everything with his rude comment. Liam was furious, and he completely forgot that there were other people around them. He didn’t even care about the fact that Victor was one head taller and probably a lot stronger than him, right now all Liam cared about was to punch the living daylights out of him for hurting Jo. He was just about to move forward when he directly walked into Alfie who had suddenly appeared between Victor and Liam.

“Mr Gray...” Alfie said with a rather cold voice. “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

Liam felt like a little kid next to Alfie and Victor. He tried to pass Alfie because he still didn’t have the opportunity to punch Victor, but Alfie grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back.
“Why don’t you go outside to get some fresh air, and take your girlfriend with you. You seem to forget that this is Oxford county, not the Irish country side.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”, Liam snapped.

“That one does not simply punch another person in front of people, not in this part of the country.” Alfie turned back to Victor and gave Liam no chance to start a fight with Victor.
Alfie and Victor knew each other since they were little. They came from the richest families in Oxford, and never liked each other, especially after Victor’s family had lost a lot of money and jealousy grew from his side of the family, but in their society they learned that fighting in public was inappropriate. Victor wouldn’t start a fight with the son of one of the most powerful families in the southern England, and Alfie knew that, that’s why he came between the two before that little Irish boy got the chance to act like his countrymen.
Liam was very tempted to push Alfie aside, but the older boy was not only much taller but also looked stronger, just like Victor. Liam was like a toddler compared to them.

“Fine!” He sounded like a sulky little kid, looking frustrated at them, then he grabbed Jo’s hand who was awfully pale and didn’t say a word. He pulled her through the crowd of people and headed straight outside, where a couple he had never seen before were sitting on a bench and kissed.
“Move it!”, he snapped at the two young people who looked like typical Oxford students- and who were definitely invited by Elizabeth.
They got up quickly, looking confused at him. “What’s your problem, man?”, the boy asked, but then he went inside, taking his girlfriend along.

“Come, sit down. You look sick.” Liam tried to calm down a bit, he didn’t want Jo to get the impression that he was bossing her around. She sat down, staring at the floor.
“You’re not going to listen to that douchebag, are you? Come on, Jo, that guy is a jerk!” Liam waited to see a reaction, but she kept staring at the floor. “Jo, please don’t take him seriously, he just wanted to hurt you, that is all. He’s just…he’s so full of crap! He’s mad that he didn’t get you and your family’s money, so he took it out on you. But that’s no reason to take his words seriously, okay?”
She still didn’t look at him.
“Jo? Can you say something? Anything?”


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64 Re: One Step At A Time on 19th April 2012, 21:06

Jo didn’t look up; right now she couldn’t bear to look into Liam’s eyes. She was too scared to see in Liam’s eyes that he actually thought Victor was right.

“I’m sorry.” Jo whispered.

“Sorry for what?” Liam asked gently.

“That I’m looking like a little girl and not like a pretty woman.” Liam saw Jo’s tears running down her cheeks.

“Oh Jo.” Liam pulled her into a hug and let her cry for a little while. He didn’t know what to do to stop her, it was funny that Liam actually didn’t know that embracing her was exactly the right thing. After some time Jo calmed down and Liam lifted her head.

“Whatever he makes you think you are you are not. You are the most beautiful Red Riding Hood I ever have seen.”

“You just say this to make me feel better.”

“Jo I would never say anything just to make you feel better and you know that. Do we have to go back to the pantry so that I can proof you how hot I think you are?”

Jo blushed and shook her head. Liam grinned and kissed her, pulling her on his lap. He was glad that they were alone in the garden. Jo giggled. “There is the little friend showing up, I thought he was satisfied after our adventure in the pantry.”

Liam grinned sheepishly at her. “He is never satisfied, it’s his favourite time of the day playing with you.”

Jo looked down at her lap. “So I don’t look hideous?”

“Not tonight or at any other time.”

Jo nodded absently.

“Why do we invite this pig all the time anyway?”

“His grandfather saved my grandmothers life, she fell through the ice on the frozen pond and his grandfather pulled her out by risking his own life. And since then our family is in his dept.”

“Great, so he will always be in our life?”

“I guess so or at least until his family’s name finally breaks under the fast amount of money they still spend.”

Jo leaned her head against his shoulder. “I think we have to go back inside there are more guests that want to congratulate us and I start to get hungry.”


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65 Re: One Step At A Time on 20th April 2012, 20:20

Jo put on a smile when they went back inside, but she also started to feel a bit better again, and when others came to congratulate her she slowly started to relax. Liam didn’t want to leave her side, but when Lorelai and John came over to talk to Jo, he thought he could quickly get something to drink without Jo starting to freak out that he went somewhere without her. John, Lorelai and Jo stood next to the buffet when Liam went over to the drinks. He was just about to get some water when his eyes wandered to the champagne.
Yes…he had assured Jo he wouldn’t get drunk, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t have one tiny glass. This was his own engagement party after all, so he shouldn’t have to defend himself for having some of that really good champagne that was displayed right in front of him.
Liam peeked over his shoulder to check if Jo wasn’t looking and emptied the glass quickly, then took another one, because hey, there were not that big, so two wouldn’t harm him. After he put back the second glass, he returned, putting his arm around her shoulder. They were just talking about Edward and Henry, and Liam didn’t really pay attention, especially when he spotted someone of the staff walking around with a tray with more glasses of champagne. One more glass wouldn’t kill him…

The man approached the four. “Champagne?”, he asked.

“No, thank you”, Jo answered, but Liam already reached out for glass.

“Thanks”, he said, ignoring Jo’s glance.

“You said you’re not getting drunk.”

“This is my first glass, Jo”, he replied, not telling her it was in fact his third. “I won’t get drunk from one glass.”

Jo sighed. “You have the lowest tolerance of alcohol I’ve ever seen, you get drunk from just looking at alcohol.”

“I don’t know where you got that from…”

She sighed and turned back to John and Lorelai. “So, how are the horses doing?”
They continued their conversation about the stables and their stud farm that wasn’t far from Waterfall Downs, when Liam suddenly started to giggle. As in ‘girly kind of giggle’.
Lorelai, John and Jo turned their heads around and looked at him.

“What’s so funny?”, Lorelai wanted to know.

“The brain of a horse is the size of a potato.” Liam grinned as if he’d never heard anything funnier. Jo knew that grin. And she knew that there was only one occasion when he giggled like a girl.

“Oh no…” She mumbled, looking at his empty glass. “So much for ‘it’s just one glass, Jo’…”

“It’s not”, Liam said, still grinning. “It’s my third.”

“Liam, seriously?”

“What? I’m fine, really.”

Jo looked a last time at him, then continued the conversation with her cousin, but it was really hard focusing on anything but the fact that her boyfriend was tipsy.

“You know that horses can’t vomit?”

“Liam.” Jo shot him a warning glance, but he just smiled stupidly at her.

“Here.” John handed him some water. “Sober up a bit.”

“I’m sober, I don’t need water…I have to pee. Where was the…what was it…um…bathroom thingy?”

Jo sighed. “I’ll show you, otherwise you get lost.”

“No, I can do that”, John offered. “You’re the host, you shouldn’t disappear all the time.” He smiled at her. “Come on, Liam.”

“I don’t want you to come with me”, Liam complained.

“What? Are you scared that I’m going to watch you while you pee?”, he asked sarcastically.

“Yes…”

John rolled his eyes. “I’m just showing you the way, that’s all.” He turned around and Liam followed him, but before he left the room he stopped because he saw Alfie talking to an older gentleman. Liam just turned away from the door, walked to Alfie and hugged him from behind. Alfie looked surprised at him and the old man raised his eyebrows.

“Thank you, man…for…thanks…you know…You’re a really good person. I like you…yes, I really, really like you…ehm…yes…but I’m not sure if I want to sleep with you…”

“Ehm, Liam…?”

The younger boy still had his arms around him when John came to the rescue.

“Excuse me, gentlemen”, he said, smiling at the old man who looked more than confused. “Liam, are you coming?”

“Okay, okay!” He let go off Alfie and followed John out of the salon. “You’re really bossy, you know that?”

“Only if I have to”, he replied, pointing to the bathroom. “I’ll wait here, don’t do anything stupid.”

“Yeah, whatever…”


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66 Re: One Step At A Time on 20th April 2012, 21:46

Jo was so disappointed the entire evening was a disaster. Lorelai looked at Jo. “Hey Josey come here.” Lorelai pulled her favourite cousin into a tight hug. “Listen you are beautiful and if I have to punch the bastard Victor myself to proof you that. I’m telling you within a year Victor will finally reach bottom and crash. And Liam is just nervous. Sweetie, Liam is a guy and even though he asked you to marry him and gave you this beautiful rock just think about it, it is a scary decision you two made. Being married is the difficult balance between the two of you alone to a unit.”

“Lorelai excuse I need to find Liam.”

“Josey? Don’t be mad at him.”

Jo closed her eyes. “I’m not mad at him.”

Jo hurried to the bathroom and found John waiting outside the door, the young girl hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I got it from here.”

It was weird so many month, actually years ago the exact same thing happened here in the bathroom. Well nearly here, but it was pretty similar.

“Hey handsome.” Jo whispered to Liam, luckily he was down peeing and already washing his hands.

Liam looked at her a little crossed eyed in the mirror, when Jo hugged him from behind just as he had Alfie a few moments ago.

“Whad ya doin here?” Liam asked confused.

“I needed to see you. How do you feel?”

“Ya mad?”

“No Liam, I’m not mad. It’s just the whole party is such a mess.” Silent tears were running down her eyes. “I wanted to show everyone how happy we are and all I do is cry the entire time. Liam? You didn’t get drunk because you have second thoughts about us?”

Jo was shivering and she pulled out of her rope a bottle of Merlot and a corkscrew. “You want some?”

Liam grinned and opened the bottle they didn’t use glasses and just drunk right out of the bottle. “Liam? This party sucks, do you think we can ditch it? Our wedding better turn out better.”

Jo and Liam were sitting on the floor, and the young girl was cuddled into Liam. “I hate this circus. Liam don’t you leave me.”

The empty wine bottle lying on the floor.


Meanwhile in the Great Salon


"Lorelai, darling have you seen Josephine? I can't find her or Liam and there are some people that want to congratulate them to their engagement.” Elizabeth looked around to find her daughter but there was no sign of Liam or Jo.

“Oh Aunt Elizabeth Josey went with Liam there was some problem they had to take care of. “

“Again?” Suddenly Elizabeth looked so scared and took Lorelai’s hand. “Oh my Lorelai do you think Liam and Josephine are… oh my poor baby, do you think they are…” Elizabeth wasn’t able to finish the sentence, but Lorelai knew what she tried to say.

“Well they are engaged now, so yes I think they are doing it. Maybe not right now but yes I think so.” Lorelai sounded very calm, but Elizabeth panicked. “We gotta find them he will hurt her. Oh, my little baby girl.”

“Aunt Elizabeth it is alright, I’m sure Liam is not hurting Josey. He knows that I would kill him if he does.”

Elizabeth shook her head and went out of the Salon to find her little girl, hoping Liam wasn’t doing what she feared he was.


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67 Re: One Step At A Time on 21st April 2012, 17:22

“Hell no, I’m not going to leave you”, he said, stroking her hair while her head was on his lap. “You know what…I think we’re cursed.”

“Cursed?”

“Yeah…well…not that I really believe in that stuff, but I actually start that to think that we got ourselves cursed or something. I mean…everytime we go to Waterfall Downs together it ends up with either you crying, or us fighting, me getting drunk or something else bad…And it has probably something to do with that one time…”

“What time?” Jo started to feel slightly dizzy after drinking so much wine.

“Ehm…wait…your birthday…Not last year, but the year before, when we almost broke up. Maybe since then we’re cursed. Or maybe…” Liam needed a moment to continue because there were a hundred thoughts running through his mind at the same time, plus he was even more drunk now since he had helped Jo with that wine bottle. “Yeah, I know why we’re cursed! The very first time we went to Waterfalls Downs together…that conversation I had with your dad…he told me I wasn’t allowed to have sex with you, and just three days before that we had done it, and I lied to him…and you sinned too and lied to your mother…that’s where it all started…you know…after that we were screwed and damned and that’s why we never go to your house without avoiding any of this…crap…”

Jo looked up to him. “Cursed, hm?”

“Yeah…”

“So do you think we can manage running a school if we’re cursed?”

Liam shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea.”

“Liam?”

“Hm?”

“I’m dizzy.”

“Me too.”

“Liam?”

“Hm?”

“Do you have the hots for Alfie?”

“Whaaat…?” He looked confused at her.

“I don’t know…you always got along with him, even when he was mean to me.”

“He doesn’t have boobs.”

“I know.”

“So…no, I don’t have the hots for him…I don’t think so…no, not really.”

“Okay, just checking.” She closed her eyes, hoping she would stop feeling so dizzy.

“Jo?”

“Hm?”

“I know I don’t say it very often, but…but I think you’re so pretty, and smart, and special, and awesome, and great, and just…and so lovely…”

She opened her eyes, her heart started to beat faster.

“And I guess I have to be drunk to tell you this…I really wish I could tell you more often how I feel about you…and I…sorry…um…what was I saying?” He tried to think straight, but all the alcohol was seriously kicking in. He wasn’t sure if he was imagining it but he thought he heard Elizabeth’s hysterical voice outside the bathroom door.

“Josephine?” , she yelled. “Josephine, where are you?”

Liam noticed that the bathroom door wasn’t locked, and he was too dizzy to get up and had Jo’s head resting on his lap. It was too late anyway, because the door opened and Jo’s mother stared at them, looking like she was about to faint.


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68 Re: One Step At A Time on 22nd April 2012, 00:25

Elizabeth didn’t look happy, not one of the three Jo saw. “Mom seriously stop jumping around, you make even dizzier.” Jo yammered while she held her head with her hands. She knocked over the wine bottle.

“Upsy-daisy, good that we drunk it all.” Jo giggled drunk.

“Good gracious are you alright Josephine? Did he hurt you?” Elizabeth kneeled down next to her daughter looked angry at Liam, who was so far very quiet. Jo got up a little, kissed Liam and look at her mother.

"Oh Mommy, you know what? I slept with Liam just hours ago in the pantry and we are out of wine we should get one of the maids to bring us more."

It took all of Liam’s strength to pull his eyes from the shocked Elizabeth down to his girlfriend, which just started grinning. “Hey, you.”

“Oh my baby girl, he made you drunk and violated your precious flower.” Elizabeth pulled Jo’s face closer to her.

“Mom stop it is fine, I wanted it and I wasn’t drunk or anything.”

“Jo. Don’t.” Liam whispered, but didn’t really sound convincing.

Jo got up and pulled Liam to his feed. “Let’s go back to the party Liam.” Jo kissed her mother on the cheek and pulled Liam out of the bathroom. They both were not stable on their feet, but Jo was giggling while Liam was pale.
The two ran into Lorelai and John. “There you are. Elizabeth was looking for you two.”

“Yeah, she found us in the bathroom and I finally told her the truth.”

“The truth?” Lorelai looked worried at her little cousin.

“Yes that Liam and I do it like the rabbits.”

John and Lorelai looked shocked at Jo and Liam.

“I always knew that you are incredible cheep Josephine.” Victor snarled at them. Jo turned around and wanted to tell him to shove his comments to where the sun never shines, but well that plan didn’t work out. Instead of words Jo honked all over Victor.

“Oh my… Victor I don’t know if you noticed but you have there a little something. No not there further to the right, no your right.” John and Lorelai started laughing. While Jo wiped her mouth with a tissue one of the maids handed her. The young girl pulled at her cousin sleeve. I think it is late and the party should be over. Can you send everyone home? I really need to get laid.” Jo tried to whisper but her whispering was more a loud talking. Elizabeth went paler then she already was. “The devil took my daughter.”

Colin rolled his eyes. Squeezed Liam’s shoulder, kissed, Jo’s and Lorelai’s cheeks and let John help him to bring Elizabeth to the car. While Lorelai told everyone that the young couple got carried away by the festivities. Victor was still dripping when he left, the Great Salon with as much dignity as for someone possible that got honked over.

Jo was standing in the Great Salon hugging Liam. “You are awfully quiet are you okay, ducky?”


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69 Re: One Step At A Time on 22nd April 2012, 17:21

Next to feeling dizzy and tipsy, Liam was scared as hell by Jo’s mother who had looked at him as if she tried to burn him from the inside. Obviously Elizabeth Williams thought that he was not only the reason for everything bad in Jo’s life but he had also turned her precious daughter into a slut - brilliant. How on earth would he ever marry her if her mother thought that he was possessed by the devil, if not the devil himself?

“You’re awfully quiet, what’s wrong?” Jo grinned at him as if she was just telling a joke.

“What’s wrong? You told your mother everything!”

Jo shrugged her shoulders. “She needed to know the truth sooner or later. What did she expect? That I spent the last two years holding hands with you and kissing you on the cheek?” She started to giggle. “Holding hands…we’re not in a freaking Jane Austen novel!”

Elizabeth’s furious glance seemed to have a huge effect on Liam, because he immediately sobered up after she shot him that glance.
“Jo, your mother thinks I’m the worst thing that ever happened to you…”

“Don’t be silly!” Jo touched his face and squeezed his cheeks. “Look at you! How can you be a bad thing? You’re so goddamn cute!”

“Your mother doesn’t agree with you on that. Did you see how she looked at me? If she didn’t wear such an expensive dress she would have thrown herself on me and strangled me, that’s how she looked at me!”

“Don’t worry, she likes you just fine!” Jo hugged him tightly.

“I don’t think she likes me for ‘violating your precious flower.’” He started to sound more sarcastic. “Which, by the way, sounds just ridiculous and absurd…”

Jo giggled. “I’m glad you violated my precious flower.”

“There you are.” Lorelai turned up behind them, and Liam immediately pushed Jo away as if it was Elizabeth who just showed up. He was scared to touch Jo in front of anyone right now, especially her family members.
“I think it’s better if you two try to get some sleep, and Jo…” She turned to her little cousin. “You have to drink some more water before you go to bed.”

“I don’t wanna drink water!”, she complained.

“Oh yes, you will.” She turned to Liam. “Are you okay? I know my aunt can be a bit scary sometimes…”

“Sometimes? I’ve never met someone as scary as her!”

“That’s her way of showing concern for her daughter”, Lorelai explained.

“What if she won’t allow the wedding? I mean, I’m the Public Enemy number one in her eyes, so…”

Lorelai shook her head. “Don’t worry about that, Colin will calm her down. Now you two better go to bed and get some rest.” She kissed her cousin on the cheek. “Good night.”

“Nighty night!”, Jo said, still giggling, then she followed Liam upstairs who made sure that she drank enough water. As soon as he closed the door she jumped at him, pulling at his pants.
“Get you clothes off, I want to get laid!”

“No, Jo, not now. You need to sleep.”

“But I don’t want to sleep!” She fell down on her bed and watched him. “Do I look pretty?”

“You always look pretty.”

She rolled her eyes. “No, I don’t! You’re just saying that because you’re my boyfriend…um…fiancé!”

I’m not so sure if I’ll be you fiancé for much longer, because your freaky mother will either break off the engagement or kill me in my sleep…

He went to the bathroom to wash his face, and when he came back Jo had already fallen asleep. He was only wearing his non-French boxers and non-French shirt and lay down next to her. “Thank you”, he whispered even though she was already sleeping. “For puking all over Victor. Justice after all…”


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70 Re: One Step At A Time on 23rd April 2012, 15:36

The next day the last things from their flat in London arrived, which completed the move to Waterfall Downs. They would stay for the moment in a small room in the prior servant wing, while the constructs were going on they would move around Waterfall Down bedrooms a lot. Their flat within Waterfall Downs in what is at the moment still the attic storage will be done last.
The guest house would be turned into many flats with one large living room on the ground floor which could be used as common room for the tenant. Most of them will be teachers, but also everyone else from the staff at Waterfall Downs can live in the house. The student’s bedrooms will be on the third and fourth floor, all of them will be double bedrooms. Both floors will be split in half and be half for girls and half for boys. Each student track has a matron, well the boys will have man as matron. The second floor will be classrooms and the offices of the teachers, and the ground floor will be the kitchen including the laundry, dining hall, hospital wing, the teachers’ lounge and the library and Liam’s lab which wasn’t part of the school lab (it was always locked). On the fifth floor were some guest rooms, and storage rooms of bedding, and other everyday life things. There was another storage room, in the other half of the attic.

For the first time there wasn’t the typical big Christmas party at Waterfall Downs, Liam and Jo kept all festivity to a minimum. The best part was that Liam and Jo finally spent their first New Years Eve together. Just the two of them having a picnic in the library in front of the fireplace. It was the perfect night.

It was spring nearly summer and Liam and Jo lived in the guest rooms in the fifth floor, the work on their flat still hasn’t started yet and it most likely wouldn’t until July. The constructions on the attic would be the last in the house to start, but until then it wasn’t so bad. Living in the guest rooms was okay.

Just today Ellen White started. She and her two kids moved as first tenants in the guest house which was now named The Grownup House. Liam was a little shy, Ellen’s son Tommy was most of the time in town with his friends and Gracie Ellen’s daughter was often somewhere playing in the house. Jo loved Gracie, in the beginning it was a challenge having her here. Grace White is the most adorable six year old little girl, but she is having Down Syndrome. That didn’t stop her from wanting to learn and she really liked Waterfall Downs. After Ellen got over her fear that Gracie would get hurt or lost in the big house she let her little girl run around the house alone with Teddy. Liam had troubles being with Gracie, but the little girl seemed to like him a lot. She often knocks shy at his lab and asks him if she can watch him work. Gracie wasn’t allowed to go outside alone and she understood why. The danger of her getting lost or hurt between all the construction materials was too big.
Ellen helped Jo and Liam to find suitable teachers, work out a curriculum for the students and find suitable staff for housekeeping, the four matrons, a nurse and a caretaker that would maintain the houses and the grounds. And now that the school was nearly all finished, only the outdoors which means the training field, the running track, the multifunction field for football, rugby and similar games, also a basketball field, and the pool will get modernized to be suitable for a school pool. Also there would be a piece of field to grow something on it. That meant approximately five acres a little away from Waterfall Downs was turned into fifty agriculture fields from the same size. Every student would have its own little patch of field and they could grow on it whatever they wanted.

Jo loved that the old horse stables were turned into stables for the petting Jo planned, something Jo hadn’t told Liam about she knew how he was with animals. And of course the new stables that Lorelai built just a little over a mile from the main house. All students were able to have riding lessons at The Von Gruensee Stud, and additionally the students own horses would have a place in the stables.

There was so much to do but all the constructions were right on schedule, Waterfall Downs Academy for Highly Intelligent Youngsters would open January 1971 its doors. Ellen will teach culinary arts, sewing, basically domestic things etc. Jo’s confidence in talking with parents of possible future students and also their teachers grew daily. The last screening of the children would take place in late October, the students will not just be picked by outrageous good marks. Every child would be invited to a test day in October to see if they were just studying hard to have those marks or because they were highly intelligent. Liam and Jo were making sure that not just the smart appearing kids were under consideration.

Now that most of the work was done or started Liam started to work more in his lab. He really enjoyed the most advanced lab he could think of. He had a light he could turn on when he was working on something and shouldn’t be distracted. Later he would always lock the door but at the moment it was safe enough to just turn on the not disturbing light. It was late May, the day before the bachelor parties of Liam and Jo. When a shy knock interrupted him, well it was more a toc, toc, tic kind of knock. Liam sighed, he wasn’t doing anything dangerous but he always got nervous when he was alone with Gracie. He opened the door and there she was the little super adorable blond girl with those curious blue eyes.

“Hi Mister Liam. What you doing?”

Gracie was holding on to Teddy’s fur rather roughly. She seemed a little shaky today. “Look ouchy.” Gracie showed Liam her right arm on which she had a bandage with a smiley on it. It didn’t seem too bad but for Gracie it was a little drama to be injured. It made her nervous because she didn’t like seeing blood.


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71 Re: One Step At A Time on 24th April 2012, 17:25

The thing was, Liam didn’t know much about children in general. Yeah, not the best condition to build a school, but it was different because they didn’t take any children but children who were a lot like Jo and Liam when they were little, and with those kind of children Liam could interact. However, as soon as children were not ‘highly intelligent youngsters’ he was kind of lost. For instance, a few weeks ago he and Jo had to take care of 2-year old Edward, and Jo had her blast while Liam freaked out as soon as she went to the bathroom, leaving him alone with the toddler. Nothing happened, but he just didn’t know what to do with the child, especially when Edward started speaking in that weird ‘baby language’ to him, Liam had just no idea how to respond. For him, little children were just unintelligent human beings who acted without really thinking. But as soon as the children were incredibly smart for their age, he knew how to handle them and didn’t actually mind spending time with them, that’s why he wasn’t that concerned anymore about the fact of spending the next years around so many children. After all, their students would be more intelligent than normal children their age, and he felt much more comfortable around those kind of children than children who believed in the tooth fairy and didn’t even know that the sun was in fact a star.
Little Gracie White, however, was a completely different story. She was neither a normal child nor a highly intelligent one, so she was like an ‘unknown species’ to Liam, and he had absolutely no idea how to interact with her. He had never met a child with Down syndrome, and he worried that he had to talk to her differently than to any other child. Ellen had already told him that he could talk to Gracie like any other child because she would completely understand him, but everytime the little girl started talking to him, Liam got nervous and didn’t know what to do. He knew he acted ridiculous, but he had never been good in interacting with young people in the first place, so interacting with a child like Gracie was even harder for him.

“Hey Gracie…”, Liam said after he had opened the door and looked at the little girl who smiled shyly at him. She was cute, no question, she just irritated him- which he didn’t want to admit to Jo, and especially not to Ellen, who had been such a great help to them the past weeks. “Did you fall down?”, he asked when she showed him her wound.

She nodded. “What ya doing, Mr Liam?”

“Ahm…I’m working on a chemical experiment.”

“What’s that?”

That was the problem with children, he couldn’t explain anything to children in a way that they would understand, he always explained things way too complicated, whereas Jo could explain things to children in a way they understood. Liam had no doubt she would be a much better teacher than him, she had such an easy time relating to children.

“Ehm…well…it’s…eh…”

“Me see?”, she asked.

“What?”

“Me see?”

Liam thought about inventing a gadget that would translate ‘kids language’, but after she said it the second time he guessed that she wanted to watch him.
“Do you want to see what I’m doing?”

Gracie nodded. He actually didn’t want anybody else being in his lap, especially no children, but she looked so hopeful at him that he couldn’t say no.
“Okay, come in, but leave Teddy outside please.”

“Teddy not?”

“No Teddy.” He waited until the little girl was inside, then he closed the door behind her. “Okay, you ahm…just…yeah, sit down on that chair, that’s the best.” He pointed towards a chair but realized that she was too little to get up on the chair so he lifted her up carefully. She looked at him with a bright smile and sparkling eyes, which disturbed him because that’s how his fiancée usually looked after they spent some very intimate time together, but the girl looked at him like that for different reasons, obviously. He tried to continue working but he was too distracted by the fact that Gracie sat there and watched him. He didn’t mind her presence, he was just distracted because he worried that she could fall off the chair or other bad things could happen.
That moment he noticed that something dripped from the chair. She wasn’t holding any water or…Oh no. Please not.

Gracie started to blush.

“Did you…eh…you need to go to the toilet?” Well, it was too late anyway.

“Sowwy, Mr Liam…” There were tears in the little girl’s eyes.

“No, no, don’t cry!”
There was something that he could handle even less than children.
Crying children.
“Ehm…you just…stay where you are…” He quickly went to the door and walked into the hallway. “Jo! I need your help!”


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72 Re: One Step At A Time on 25th April 2012, 01:42

Jo poked her head out of the kitchen she was carrying a basket with fresh washed laundry. “What’s wrong?”

Liam looked like he was really in trouble, which made her worried. “Liam?”

“Gracie… she is… she…” Liam took Jo’s hand and pulled her in his lab. Where Gracie was still sitting on the chair, she was crying and mumbling. “Bad Gracie. Bad, bad Gracie.”

Liam didn’t need to explain what happened. “Oh Gracie, you are not bad. This can happen, you liked watching Liam work didn’t you?” Jo brushed the soft blond hair out of the little girl’s face. Gracie nodded shy. “I know the feeling it is so amazing when he is working. But did you know that Liam has a shower here in his lab? I’ll show you. Let’s get you cleaned up alright?”

Jo helped Gracie from the chair and looked at Liam. “Gracie go ahead over there is the shower I’ll be right with you.” Gracie walked like someone would walk that peed into her pants.

“Liam? Gracie is okay, she just wet her pants.”

“I know but still.”

“Liam she really likes spending time to you.”

Liam sighed. “She makes me nervous, what if she gets hurt in here. This is not a place for a child like Gracie.”

Luckily Jo knew Liam well enough, Liam didn’t mean to be mean, but it sounded mean. “Liam. Don’t say this. You just have to explain to her what she can do and what she can’t do. She will understand it.”

“Missis Jo? Its icky.” Gracie said loudly.

“I’m coming.”

Jo quickly went to Gracie and cleaned her up. Luckily in the laundry basket she had a knickers of Edward it was big enough for Gracie. “There we go all clean and dry.”

Gracie smiled and hugged Jo. “Thank you Missis Jo.”

“Where is Ellen?” Liam asked from the background.

“Oh she went to take a nap. Gracie is having some problems sleeping in her new room. But she will join us for lunch.”

“Me going. Bye, bye.” Gracie smiled and hopped out of the lab. Jo giggled. “Gracie is a handful, but she is awesome.” Jo got up and hugged Liam. “You worry too much. She is fine. Just try not to destroy her dreams. She really likes you.”


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73 Re: One Step At A Time on 26th April 2012, 15:08

Liam felt bad for acting so weird around Gracie. He really liked the little girl, but she was some sort of challenge that he just didn’t know how to handle. She wasn’t a science experience but a small human being. If she was only a robot, then he would have no hard time interacting with her at all…

“What makes you think that she likes me?”

“Come on, it’s obvious. She constantly follows you, she loves watching you work, and you make her smile even if you don’t intend to.”

“But I just made her cry…”

“No, she didn’t cry because of you, she cried because she was embarrassed that she wet her pants”, Jo assured him.
Liam wasn’t sure if it wasn’t him who actually scared the little girl. He didn’t tell Jo, but he highly doubted he could ever become such a thing as a ‘good father’, or a father at all for that matter. Well, yeah, it was easy to become a father because it didn’t require more than sleeping with Jo –which he was pretty good at so far and didn’t mind doing at all- but the real challenge was to become a ‘dad’. Being a dad was something completely different than just being the biological father to a child, and judging from how much he sucked around little children he had no doubt in his mind that he would suck as a dad too. Well, he was still young and wouldn’t be ready for children for at least five more years, but then what? Would he actually be more ‘dad material’ five years from now, or would he still have to call Jo for every tiny ‘problem’ that involved the child. Truth was, he was scared of the thought that one day Jo would tell him she was pregnant. Not that he didn’t like children…but he was scared he would totally mess up. He knew there was no way he would ever leave Jo alone with a child, not after he saw how hard life had been on his mother while she tried to raise a child on her own, but he worried that he would simply be one hell of a lousy dad, even if he was present in the child’s life. He didn’t know the smallest things when it came to raising children. He didn’t know what he would have to do in case the child got sick, or started to cry, or wanted him to read a story. What story would he read? Lady Chatterley’s Lover? Wait…that wasn’t appropriate for children…See, he didn’t know what was good for children and what not. And there was something that worried him even more than all those issues. What if he wasn’t able to express any love for his child? Yes, that sounded absolutely impossible because apparently all parents loved their children, but it wasn’t a matter of love, it was a matter of not showing it- and Liam was very talented in that. He loved Jo more than anything and yet could hardly say that infamous ‘L-word’ to her. What if he would end up being a biological father but not a dad?

“Liam?” Jo waved her hand in front of him.

“What?” He quickly stopped thinking about children. Why should he think of children anyway, they were not even married for another month, and most certainly didn’t plan any kids for the next years to come. But, of course, being so close to getting married made him think about children now and then, even if he really tried to avoid thinking about that subject. Soon, when the school was done, they would be surrounded by many children of various ages, so he had to get used to children around him. Maybe it would be a good practice, and maybe he would finally understand children a bit more, though he was sure he would never understand their weird way of thinking completely. His mother often told him he was never a real child, he was basically born and skipped the hole ‘being a little child’-part, so he couldn’t really get back to his own experience as a child, since he never really was one in the first place.

“Let’s have some dinner”, Jo said, taking his hand. “I think Ellen will join us.”

Liam locked the lab door behind him and followed her. It was hard to believe that one month from now they would be married.


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74 Re: One Step At A Time on 26th April 2012, 20:32

Jo hugged Ricky. “You promise me this night doesn’t turn into a fiasco.”

“Of course, your bachelorette party will be awesome, and your mother won’t spend the entire time with us, but I thought it would be nice to have her around.”

“Ricky?”

“It’ won’t be a fiasco. I promise. And just so you know, you look very nice today.” Ricky smiled. “And now go and say goodbye to your fiancé.”

Jo kissed Ricky’s cheek before she went to find Liam. She wasn’t surprised that he was in his lab. “Hey, where is the rest of your party troop?”

“Erm? I don’t know.”

Jo was standing shy in front of his desk. “Liam?”

It took a couple of moments until he looked up. “Hey you are pretty.”

Jo smiled shy. “You really think?”

Liam stepped around his desk and kissed her. “Yes really.”

Jo kissed Liam. “You know I just do it because it is a tradition. I could stay home if you want me too.”

Liam looked at the girl in his arms, she didn’t need to tell him that she was scared. The kidnapping was a long time ago but in moments like this she felt the fear again and he knew that.

“No you go out and have fun, I know Lor will make sure that you are perfectly safe! And when you and I are back home we can tell each other what weird friends we have and what they made us do. I have the weird feeling that we both have to deal with strippers. Just promise me not to look to closely to the naked guy.”

“Liam!” Jo giggled when she punched Liam in the chest.

“Go on Ricky is waiting for you.” Liam kissed her once more passionately, before he let her go. In the corridor Lorelai, Ellen and Ricky were waiting for her.

“So girly ready to go?” Ellen grinned.

“Yes I guess so.” Jo looked shy at her friends.

“Hey I quickly want to say hi to Liam, I’ll be right back.” Lorelai squeezed Jo’s hand before she walked to Liam. “Hey there groom. How are you doing?”


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75 Re: One Step At A Time on 27th April 2012, 21:35

Liam had just kissed his seriously hot fiancée goodbye when another seriously hot woman approached him. She was once his goddess, when he was a seventeen year old boy who had not even been kissed by a girl yet. Never before had he adored and desired a woman as much as Lorelai von Gruensee. There were no words to describe her, she was the hottest woman he had ever seen, and far more important than a duchess, princess, queen - she was his goddess. He thought he was the luckiest guy in the whole wide world when she turned out to be his birthday present for his eighteenth birthday, and oh, had he loved every inch of that body! He’d never been happier in his entire life, and although he knew that he had no chance since he would always be nothing more than the ‘kid’ in her eyes, he just felt incredibly lucky for all those hours he was close to her, for every minute he could look at her.
And then he met Jo.
Two months later after Lorelai made him the happiest man on the planet.
And Jo changed everything.
Yes, he never got Lorelai entirely out of his mind, well, her body, because after all, that was the thing he really adored, but he loved Jo more. No question about it. He adored Lorelai’s body, but he loved Jo. Now and then he caught himself wanting Lor’s body, just for a very brief moment, but it wasn’t his heart that was speaking, only his own body that still desired Lorelai. It didn’t occur very often though, it got less and less the more he learned to love Jo’s body.
But now it was time. Liam knew it. It was time to finally and completely let go off those feelings, of him desiring another woman’s body. She would always be the one who turned him from a boy to a man, but he needed to stop thinking of her that way.

“Hey there groom. How are you doing?”, Lorelai asked, looking gorgeous in her black dress. He scrutinized her from head to toe, then took a deep breath. His eyes stopped at her décolleté.
Just one last time…

“Ehm…Mina…?”, he asked almost shyly.

“Yes?”

“Don’t get mad at me…it’s just…um…when I’m married I really don’t want to look or think of any other women. Well, I know that this is kind of impossible for a guy, but still, I’ll try my best. However…eh…I sometimes think of you, still. Well, I don’t do that on purpose, it just…happens.”

Lorelai raised her eyebrows. “Go on.”

“And I want it to stop. I promised myself to be faithful to Jo, with my mind just as well as with my body, and I think, um, if I touch them one last time I might be able to finally end this…ehm…thinking of you. If I just could…ehm…feel them one more time…and then will never think of you that way again! Promise! Well…I’ll definitely try my best.”

She still looked at him with raised eyebrows. “You want to touch my boobs?”

He actually started to blush. “I’m not going to be unfaithful to Jo, I swear! That’s why I’m asking you. It’s just...I feel like I have to do it one last time and then can finally end this…ehm…chapter…or however you might call it.”

“You do know that I’m married and have two children, right?”

“Eh…yes…”

Lorelai sighed. She could understand him on one hand, but on the other she knew how sensitive her little cousin was and didn’t want to hurt her feelings in any way.
“Listen, Liam, I won’t let you touch my boobs because it’s inappropriate since I’m a married woman , and your fiancée is standing not far from us, and she happens to be one of the most emotional people I know, so you touching me would only hurt her and-“

“I don’t want to hurt her!”

“I know.” Lorelai nodded. “So, I make you a deal. On your wedding you and I will have one very long dance, so that’s the closest you will ever be to me again, and then you’ll let go off me, you promise, right?”

Liam nodded. “Yes, I promise.”

“Good boy”, she said, tousling his hair, which reminded him of the first time he met her. The same moment Alfie appeared next to him, and Liam had to admit, he looked very handsome. They had to wait for John and Dick who were on their way, although Dick had to be forced to come, he was not the type who would usually go to bachelor parties.
Lorelai turned around to Alfie. “Now you make sure that this little one doesn’t do anything bad.”

“You can count on it”, he replied, winking at Liam. When Lorelai walked back to Jo, Alfie turned to Liam. “Now that woman is something!”

“Tell me about it…”, Liam mumbled.

A grin appeared on Alfie’s face. “You had a thing with her, didn’t you?”

“Eh…yes…”

“You’re joking!”

“No.”

“Well, well…” He crossed his arms. “Going for older women, I see…”

“That’s a while ago”, Liam said. “Things changed. I changed.”

“What happened?”

He smiled. “Jo happened.”


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