A/N: Revised on 01.28.2009.

Chapter Twenty-One
.:Time Out:.

The moment Christy's lips crashed against his, Dean froze, completely taken off guard by her sudden move. For several heartbeats her lightly glossed lips moved leisurely against his. However, it didn't take him long to break the kiss, grabbing her shoulders roughly and pulling her away from him to arms length, where he saw that a conniving smile had appeared across her face.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" he snapped, pushing her further away from him forcefully. As he waited for her reply, he wiped his mouth with the backside of his hand multiple times, annoyed by the lingering feeling of her lips against his. The fact that she even had the audacity to do such a thing made him start to wonder what else she dared to do.

Once again, Christy's eyes diverted momentarily to a near empty space behind him where Dunstan currently stood, stone faced, giving her a weak, double thumbs up and walking away at a laid-back pace in the opposite direction, shoving his hands in his pockets. She smiled again, turning back to Dean.

"Oh, Dean," she began, taking a small step closer as pleasure from a scheme well enacted coursed through her veins. "You're fooling no one but yourself."

"What are you talking about?" he questioned, thoroughly confused, taking half a step backward when he felt that his personal space was being overly invaded.

"This…this relationship you have with Nadia won't last. It can't," she said simply, lifting her hand to stroke his cheek but he quickly slapped it away. Without missing a beat she added, "It's destined to fail, you know."

"You're delusional, Christy," he all but spat.

For a moment a look of hurt flashed across her naturally tanned face, fading just as quickly once she realized that her plan had just barely been set in motion.

"With her track record? We'll see who's right," she responded confidently. "And when I turn out to be right don't forget about me. I'll be waiting."

Dean huffed, shook his head, and then stalked off to be as far away from Christy Baker as fast as possible. She merely stood completely still, chocolate brown eyes bright and following every move he made as she watched him disappear into the crowd of students.

Jeremy had a firm hand on Nadia's arm as he led her to a fairly secluded spot near one of the empty classrooms. Her gaze was unfocused and after calling her name twice and getting no response, he snapped his fingers in her face several times in rapid succession. The unexpected sound caused her to intake a deep breath sharply, sapphire eyes instantly locking onto his.

Concerned at her form of lethargy, he asked, "Are you alright?"

"Huh?" she started, a little confused, wrinkling her forehead. "Oh, I'll be fine."

Jeremy was unconvinced. Placing both hands lightly on her thin shoulders he forced her to look him seriously in the eye as he asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure," she answered softly, clearing her throat afterwards, her gaze darting around to take in her surroundings in order to avoid the uneasy look he was giving her.

A sudden chill rolled over body, causing her to shake visibly. Adjusting her jacket, she crossed her arms over her chest tightly for any added warmth the move might provide. Jeremy continued studying her from where he stood across from her. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a bubbly raven-haired girl stopped directly in front of them, her full attention on Nadia.

"Ah, here you are!" she exclaimed happily, making her presence known to a more than surprised Nadia.

"Hey, Vi," she greeted, completely thrown by her sudden appearance. "Were you looking for me?"

"Yeah, Blake sent me after you. I think it was mainly to get me out the way so he could try to woo Kylie some more," she said with a sigh, rolling her eyes. "I still don't see it working, though."

Nadia laughed slightly, almost thankful for the distraction in the form of Violet. When she noticed that both Violet and Jeremy were silent while looking at each other questioningly, Nadia spoke up.

"Oh, I don't think you two have met," she voiced aloud for the two of them. "Jeremy this is Violet, Violet, this is Jeremy."

"Yeah," Jeremy started in a less than welcoming tone, extending his hand to her. "Nice to meet you."

"Likewise," she said, accepting his hand with a dark eyebrow slightly raised.

Retracting his hand he turned his focus back on Nadia, now slightly annoyed by the unexpected presence of the girl. "Did you need me to give you a ride home?"

A sudden curiosity arose in Violet causing her to take a step closer to the duo. "A ride home? Didn't Dean bring you, Nadia?"

"I um…thank you but I'm good, Jeremy. Violet's right," she said with a hint of uncertainty. "Dean drove."

His eyebrows furrowed. "I could still—"

"I'm good," she repeated firmly, standing on her toes in order to peck his cheek. She then took a step closer to Violet until they were side by side and linked her arm through hers. "Let's go grab some lunch before break is over."

"Sure thing," Violet agreed, already being steered off in the opposite direction. "Nice meeting you!" she called over her shoulder to Jeremy before they were too far away.

Jeremy nodded his head in acknowledgement with his jaw clenched tightly. He waited a moment or two and finally wandered off in search of some much desired answers.

"So, what do you feel like eating today?" Violet asked in a casual manner, trying to brush off the tension she felt in Nadia. "And please don't say ice cream. That didn't go over so well the last time. Remember?"

Nadia remained silent.

"Nadia?" Violet said in a questioning manner, stopping them by coming to an abrupt halt.

Eyebrows creased as Nadia looked at her. "What?"

"Are you okay, Nadia?" she inquired, waving her hand in front of her face to ensure her vision was focused. "You zoned out on me."

"Tired," she lied in reply, "just tired."

Pushing past a small crowd of students who were more than likely freshmen, Jeremy rounded the corner and paused. He could see Dean at his locker, dropping off books to exchange them for others in a relatively calm manner. Jeremy started walking in his direction at a slightly faster pace than before. By the time he reached Dean, he had already slammed his locker door shut and began to turn around. His blue-green eyes widened with surprise when he saw Jeremy approaching quickly, a determined look on his face and a fiery hatred burning in his hazel eyes.

"Hey, Jeremy. Wha—" Dean was cut short when he found himself shoved violently against the metal lockers, Jeremy's forearm resting heavily against his neck, pinning him.

"What is your problem?" Jeremy asked crossly, slightly applying more pressure to his neck. "Are you trying to screw things up?"

"What the hell is your problem?" Dean countered, struggling against Jeremy's hold and letting his backpack fall from his broad shoulder to the dusty concrete floor next to him with a thud. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"Oh, so now you're going to play clueless?" Jeremy laughed bitterly, shaking his head from side to side, almost in a disappointed manner. "Shit, Dean, were you always this screwed up? I mean, was I always stupid enough to believe that you would never do such a thing?"

Instead of answering his vague questions with an equally vague answer, Dean quickly grabbed a hold of Jeremy's wrist that was pressed up against his neck and roughly bent it backwards, almost to its breaking point, causing Jeremy to hiss in pain.

"Don't start what you can't finish," Dean said on a whisper in a threatening manner.

"Hey! Break it up!" a passing teacher called out, glaring at the two while struggling with several stacks of paperwork in one hand and a cold soda in the other. He even slowed down his pace to make sure that the two wouldn't be stupid enough to turn their argument into a full out brawl.

After a moment of trying to stare each other down they relinquished their hold on each other, Jeremy pushing away from him muttering, "I can't even look at you right now, anyways."

He rubbed his sore wrist, turned, and walked away, wanting to be nowhere near Dean at the current moment.

"What the hell is going on today?" Dean asked himself as he watched his angered friend walk away, looking over his shoulder to glare at him one last time before joining a group of his other friends several yards away.

Dean looked around, waiting for anymore unexpected surprises. When he was satisfied nothing else was going to go wrong at that moment he bent down to retrieve his backpack from the floor, dusted it off, and swung it back over his shoulder.

As he walked away in search of Nadia, he just knew that staying in bed all day long wouldn't have been that bad of an idea after all.

Dean heaved a sigh of relief when he found Kylie and Blake by their old hang out spot. They did appear, however, to be having a very heated argument while also appearing to be very alone. None of the others, like Nadia for instance, were in sight.

"Hey, guys," he said, trying to be cheerful, though he knew it didn't come out as cheerfully as he had hoped. He even let any anger he felt toward Blake slide at that moment, wanting nothing but peace and far less excitement for the rest of the day.

"Hey, Dean," Kylie greeted in return, smiling as she reached into her back pocket and pulled out an envelope for him. He took it and stuffed it into his jacket pocket without a word, but after looking at her brother for a moment her smile faded and she couldn't help but look at him with concern etched across her face. "You okay? You look a little…I don't know…upset?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Just having a rough day," he explained, running his fingers roughly through his light brown hair. "Have you two seen Nadia by chance?" he asked hopefully, the need to see her was stronger than he had ever felt before.

"Uh…" Blake started in reply, glancing around the school grounds looking for her. "You know, they should be here soon."

"They?" Dean repeated in a questioning voice.

"Violet went off to go get her."

Dean glanced at his wristwatch to see how much time they had left before the next class would start. By his count he had roughly fifteen minutes which wasn't a whole lot of time. He just hoped it would be enough to find Nadia in.

"How long ago?" Dean inquired, looking back up at Blake.

Blake shrugged, trying to think back to when Violet had actually wandered off in search of her. "Five, ten minutes maybe?"

Dean sighed heavily, pursing his lips at his answer. "I need to talk to her."

He brushed past them without another word, intent on searching for her himself and, with a bit of luck, finding her soon.

Blake and Kylie shared a questioning glance as they watched Dean walk by. Kylie looked more concerned while Blake looked more confused.

"Is he alright?" Blake asked her, pointing after him.

Kylie shrugged, replying honestly. "I have no idea."

The late bell was about to ring when Dean made it to his classroom's open door, out of breath and feeling frustrated at not being able to find Nadia. When he took a step inside the room and pushed through a small throng of students waiting for class to start, he was pleasantly surprised when he found Nadia sitting at her desk, head down, and hands folded neatly on top of the table.

He was relieved at finding her but it didn't take a genius to see that something was wrong with her as well. Perhaps she was having as bad a day as he was.

"I have been looking for you everywhere,"Dean said, startling her. Her eyes were trained on him as he took the seat next to her. "Were you here the whole lunch period?"

"Uh, mostly," she answered softly, turning her gaze back onto the desk where her index finger traced the engraved pencil markings that the old desk mostly possessed.

He furrowed his eyebrows at her odd behavior and turned his whole body toward her. When he rested his hand on top of hers in hopes of gaining some of her attention he was taken aback when she pulled her hand away swiftly the moment his skin touched hers.

"Is something wrong?" he inquired, starting to rest his hand on top of hers yet again but stopping when he saw her flinch.

"Nothing," she replied softy, eyes still locked on her desk.


"I'm fine."

A little stunned by her attitude, he leaned back in his chair, unable to suppress the irritation in his voice as he said, "You sure as hell aren't acting fine."

The bell rang loudly in the classroom, passing over the students loud voices and causing near silence to pass over them. Each student took their assigned seat while a few stragglers raced through the door, the last one pulling it shut behind him.

"I don't want to talk about this right now," Nadia whispered just loud enough for him to hear, pulling out her class notebook and turning her attention to the teacher who was preparing to take roll by taking out the class roster and a regular pencil with a worn out eraser tip.

"Alright," Dean agreed with a nod of his head.

He turned his attention to the teacher as well, but out of the corner of his eye he could have sworn that he saw a tear cascade down her pale cheek, one that she quickly wiped away without hesitation.

As the hour ticked slowly by, most of Dean's attention was on Nadia's hunched form. The longer he stared at her, the more and more his concern over Nadia's strange behavior grew. Even the teacher peered at her periodically, a look of concern on his face, but he seemed to dismiss it easier than Dean ever could and continued right along with his lecture for the day.

Nearly an hour later the teacher had just given them their weekend homework assignment when the bell rang, a sound which made the other students jump to their feet and scurry to the door as quickly as possible. Nadia was still packing up when the last few students left the room. Dean waited patiently for her to finish gathering her things together, standing just after she did.

He was happy when she didn't object to him taking her backpack from her so all she had to deal with was the weight of her bundle of roses that she still hugged tightly to her chest. Letting her bag dangle in one hand, he placed his other hand on the small of her back as they walked out of the classroom and toward the parking lot where his car was parked.

She remained silent and passive even as they reached Dean's car in the parking lot that was oddly almost completely cleared out. It didn't take Dean long to load up the back seat with their backpacks and her bouquet of roses. Dangling the car keys in his hand, he opened the driver's side door and slid in next to Nadia who was already waiting patiently for Dean to start the car, which he did the moment both of their seatbelts were tightly fastened.

He took his time exiting the parking lot. He even took his time down the residential streets, feeling no need to be in any hurry. When he realized that they were halfway to his house after driving for almost ten minutes in silence, he couldn't stand the feeling of a tension brewing between them any longer. Remembering the contents of his jacket pocket, he pulled out two tickets and held them towards her.

"Kylie got us tickets for the Valentine's Day dance," he said, sparing her a quick glance in hopes to have seen even the slightest smile on her face before turning his attention back onto the road. "You know, just in case you change your mind."

"Oh," she said simply with little emotion.

He had hoped for a more enthusiastic response but he shrugged off any hurt her plain response had created, returning the tickets to his pocket.

"You weren't going to tell me, were you?" she asked suddenly, drawing his gaze to her momentarily once again and away from the street.

"Tell you what?" he asked curiously, scratching his head.

"That you and Christy kissed," she replied.

He whipped his head toward her and then back to the road just as quickly as he felt his blood rush to his face while his heart began to beat loudly against his chest. "How did you…" he trailed off as a sudden realization hit him. "You and Jeremy saw her kissing me, didn't you?"

"My God, Dean, you didn't even push her away!" she managed, pressing her hand firmly against her chest in an attempt to slow her own racing heart.

"Obviously you didn't stick around very long to see that I did push her away," he responded, gripping the steering wheel tightly. "I'm sorry it wasn't sooner but I was kind of in shock, Nadia. I wasn't expecting her to kiss me. We were talking about math, for Christ's sake," he tried to explain.

Wrinkling her brow she turned her head toward him and asked, "You were talking about math and she just spontaneously kissed you?"

"Yes!" he exclaimed, hitting the palm of his hand against the wheel for emphasis.

"I still can't believe this is happening."

"I have waited years for you, Nadia. Years. Do you honestly think that I would really go around kissing other girls now that I finally have you?"

"A part of me knows you would never go around doing shit like that but another part of me…"

"Thinks I would betray you at the drop of a hat?" he supplied snippily.

She rolled her eyes at his words. "No, the other part of me is just so…confused."

"Confused over what?"

"I don't know," she replied, shrugging her shoulders. "It's just how I feel."

He wanted so much to say to her at that moment but as his frustration grew, the less he trusted himself to keep his cool on the road long enough to get home if he did speak his mind.

"Look," Dean said, coming to a stop when he reached a red traffic light. "Let's continue this conversation when we get to the house."

Half nodding, half shrugging, Nadia murmured, "Fine."

After unlocking the front door to his house Dean led her inside, letting her pass him before he slammed the door shut behind him. Nadia put her things down near the door while Dean threw his keys down roughly on the console table near him, following Nadia into the empty, nearby kitchen.

Nadia seemed unfazed by his obvious display of anger, never missing a stride as she walked deeper into the kitchen until she reached the island table. Resting her hands on the counter she turned and looked up at him, finally meeting his gaze after trying so hard to avoid it.

"It's never going to end, is it?" she managed, her voice a mere whisper.

Frustrated and confused, he asked, "What is? Jeez, Nadia, you're scaring me here."

"There are always going to be women like Christy, constantly trying to drive a wedge between us, and there are always going to be men like Dunstan, trying to do the same thing to get to me," she explained sadly.

"And don't you think that by us working through things like this," he began, making his way to the counter, "that it would only make our relationship that much stronger?"

"Not even five days, Dean," she said bitterly. "We went from being best friends to a couple practically overnight. How strong can our relationship be?"

"I can't believe you right now. You're letting some stupid bitch and a meaningless kiss effect a good thing we have going."

"Meaningless kiss? You mean to tell me that if you saw a man kissing me like Christy was kissing you, you wouldn't be the slightest bit upset?"

"Of course I would be upset!" he exclaimed, slamming his hands down on the counter as he stood across from her. "But at least I would feel confident that you had nothing to do with it because I trust you."

"Don't try to imply that I don't trust you, Dean. God knows I do."

Throwing his hands up in the air he asked, "Then what the hell are we arguing about here?"

She swallowed hard, finding it difficult to look him in the eye as she said, "I just…I just think that things were a lot simpler when we were just friends."

He tensed, sensing the underlying meaning beneath her words. "Nadia, don't."

"But things were!" she said rather loudly on a firm note. "Things were normal before I even found out that you liked me. Things were simple, easier…"

"So you're blaming me for all the shit that's happened to you lately?" He walked around the bar and turned her toward him, resting his hands on her upper arms. "Let me remind you, Nadia, that when everyone one backed away, I was the only one still there by your side, because I love you."

"I'm not blaming you for anything, I just can do this!" she exclaimed, brining her hands up to massage her temples.

"Do what?"


"Oh, stop being such a selfish bitch," he began, causing Nadia to stumble backwards in shock. "Your life was so hard with a constant roof over your head, your every whim catered to; having more money than one can spend in a lifetime. Your parents weren't around; mine were always there for you. You got involved in an abusive relationship; that was your own damn fault for not trusting anyone enough to protect you. Not trusting me to protect you."

Nadia's eyebrows flew and her mouth dropped open. Before she knew it, she raised her hand, thrust it forward, and it collided with his face. Dean whipped his head back around to face her, utter astonishment written across his face as a red spot in the shape of her hand began to appear on his cheek.

"Don't you dare attempt to chastise me. You have a loving family who is whole, you have almost as much money as I do, and you've never been abused. How could you know what I feel? What it's like?"

Feeling guilty, he raised his hands and cradled her head in them as he said sincerely, "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean—"

"Just don't, Dean," she cut him off, turning her head out of his hands.


"If you love me as much as you say you do then don't follow me, don't talk to me, and stay the hell away from me."

She spun on her heel and marched for the front door, only to be halted after taking a few steps by Dean grabbing her wrist and spinning her back around to face him. Within seconds he had pinned her arms behind her back and pressed her body flush against his even as she tried to pull away.

Without a word he dipped his head, catching her lips with his own. He was surprised to say the least when she responded without the slightest bit of hesitation. She even craned her neck in order to be closer to him and deepen the kiss, the sudden move on her part causing him to loosen his grasp on her wrists and letting his hands settle on her hips, fingers splayed and pulling her as close to him as possible.

He took great pleasure in nibbling on her lower lip, gliding his tongue along the pink tinted skin once, twice, three times before gaining entrance to her sweet mouth where he began to gently stroke his tongue against hers.

Her hands had risen up to rest on either side of his face, a part of her missing the stubble that was once there, but no longer. She could even feel extra heat on the slide of his face she had slapped just minutes earlier, yet the reason for it was getting hazier and hazier in her mind the longer Dean tempted and teased her lips with his own.

Abruptly he broke the kiss just long enough to help her up onto the edge of the counter where he then wrapped her thin legs around his waist, his hands settling at the hem of her shirt.

When his lips met hers once again he was nowhere near as tender as she was used to, instead letting all of his frustration, all of his anger pour into the kiss. She buried her fingers in his brown hair, loving the texture of it in her hands while his lips then grazed her cheek, her jaw, her collarbone. She couldn't stop herself from eliciting a soft moan when he placed a gentle kiss at her neckline before using the tip of his tongue to delicately taste her smooth flesh.

She was so caught up in what he was doing with his mouth that she almost didn't notice that he was slowly inching her shirt up, pausing when he reached her chest in order to brush the skin beneath her breasts with the pads of his thumbs. When she suddenly cried out, the sound made him pause out of concern over the fact that he may have hurt her somehow. Dropping her shirt, his hands brought back a more gentle touch that he then laid across the skin of her shaking forearms in an attempt to sooth and steady her.

"Wh-What—" he tried, out of breath and not really sure what to ask her.

"No," she said firmly, pushing him away and sliding off the counter.

He reached after her, sliding his fingers through hers weakly but she easily slid out of his hold.

She adjusted her clothes and her hair as she made her way to the door, refusing to look back at Dean. Still breathing hard, she bent down to retrieve her bag and roses from the floor near the console table and then pulled open the front door.

Nadia fell back on her steps in order to avoid colliding with Kylie who stared at her wide-eyed from the opposite side of the threshold, hand raised with keys poised and ready in order to have unlocked the front door. Nadia recovered quickly and stormed past her without so much as a verbal acknowledgement, leaving Kylie feeling a mixture of surprise and concern with her hands held up, almost in the form of surrender.

With her eyebrows raised high in question Kylie turned toward Dean and asked curiously, "What just happened?"

At her question, Dean shook his head from side to side, burying his head in his heads without even attempting to answer her question.

Kylie fully entered the house and closed the door shut behind her. She then turned and leaned against it as she waited several minutes before asking, "So, are you going to tell me what happened or am I going to have to resort to bodily harm?"

Dean looked up at her out of the corner of his eye. "I think you have a pretty good idea what happened, and if not, here's the condensed version: I think she just broke up with me."

"What?! Okay, I don't want the condensed version."

"Then ask the school's reigning bitch."

"Reigning bitch?" she repeated, not understanding his words until it finally clicked and, "Christy?" passed over her lips.

He nodded yes, sighed heavily, and then began to make his way toward the stairs. "I'll be in my room," he said over his shoulder in a defeated voice, making it plainly obvious that he didn't want to talk about anything else for the moment.

Kylie nodded her head slightly, feeling somewhat required to obey his need for space.

When Nadia reached the sidewalk, Blake's car was parked right up along side of it. She tried her best to walk past it as quickly as possible without being stopped but she wasn't expecting Blake to dash around his car and jump in front of her, blocking her path.

"Whoa, wait up beautiful," he said, holding his hands out in order to help stop her.

"Move, Blake," she demanded, trying to cut around him.

"Are you okay?"

"Do I look okay?" she asked in return curtly, looking up at him with icy blue eyes swirling with a wide array of emotion.

"Not in the slightest," he replied simply. "Is there anything I can do for you? Give you a ride home or something?"

"No," she responded, shaking her head for some added emphasis. "Just give me some space. I just really need to be alone right now."

He nodded in understanding, forcing himself to say nothing when she shoved her bouquet of roses in his arms as he stepped aside in order to let her pass.

"Yeah, no problem," he murmured after she had brushed past him.

As he stood there watching her walk away, a multitude of thoughts racing through his mind, Violet came over and stood by his side. She was silent along with him for a moment as she looked after Nadia as well, said person almost out of their line of sight when Violet finally allowed herself to speak.

"There is something seriously wrong with that girl," Violet pointed out. "Do you have any clue as to what it might be?"

Blake sighed, a little unsure how to answer his sister. "I just think there is some trouble in paradise today. That's all."

"Better hope that's all," she muttered, turning and walking back to the car.

Nathan was relaxing in his study, reading the heavily thick script lain out in front of him on his hardwood desk when the unexpected sound of the front door slamming shut caused him to visibly jump in his seat. He could hear his heart pounding his ears as he folded the script closed and stood in order to investigate the noise. At first he had thought that it couldn't have been Nadia who had come through the door, thinking it was far earlier than it was, but by glancing at his watch he knew it was more than likely her and so he proceeded to his door.

He emerged from his study seconds later, expecting another unexpected battle with his unpredictable teenage daughter, but what he found was the opposite of what he had expected to find of his little girl.

"Nadia?" he called out to her cautiously.

Her movements were slow, almost looking pained with her unfocused gaze darting across the room. Slowly her eyes lifted to meet his but she did nothing more to show that she had heard him.

He began to walk toward her at a careful pace, asking, "Is everything alright, baby girl?"

She started shaking her head from side to side at his question and at the small movement tears began to well up in her blue eyes, threatening to cascade down her flushed cheeks.

When he reached for her, he wasn't expecting her to cling onto him like she did, like he was some kind of lifeline for her. It was awkward for him at first as he tried his best to wrap his arms around her in a way that felt natural to him while also trying to be comforting.

His child was hurting.

It made him hurt.

It hurt to see his daughter crying, vulnerable, heartbroken, and he could do nothing to ease her pain. But what hurt worse was the fact that he couldn't remember the last time he had held his little girl.

This chapter was really hard to write for me. Thankfully Talyn Gray was there to help me out.

Anyways…I've been throwing around the idea of changing my pen name. Any objections?

And thank you reviewers!!!

miss-life: Haha. Well, I guess she just can't trust anybody!

ExclamationPoint: Well, in most cases it is just another typical romance story…with lots of little twists. ::grin::

daling: Ooo…double review! Stupid Christy indeed…

mph!: Another double reviewer! Love it. Thank you!

MissRandomDramaAnonymous: Oh, thank you! I tried to make Dean's love apparent but I'm afraid I emasculated him a little at times. I'm trying to make him a little manlier now. ::smirk::

IronicSarcasm: I liked your view on the story. It's nice to get a different angle sometimes. Hehe…Care Bear. ::snickers::

cheergurl12: I'm evil. I know it. Sorry!

X34: Two times?! Ah! I think I found my biggest fan! Last week I forced myself to lay out a timeline for the rest of the story. If all goes according to plan it should end in April with chapter 25. Cross your fingers though.

ukrgil: Thanks so much for your review! I tried to update at quickly as I could, just for you. ::wink::