AUTHOR'S NOTE: FINALLY!!!! A NEW CHAPTER!!!!!!!!! To my lovely readers, thank you SO MUCH for putting up with the fact that I haven't written anything in over a month. Two months. Maybe three. …Well, SORRY!!! I apologize for the ridiculously long wait, but, because I'm in my senior year in high school, I've been busy scrambling for scholarship information and filling out college applications, and it's generally very overwhelming. That being said: I apologize profusely for my tardiness and thank you again to everyone who reviewed my last chapters and please keep reading! To anyone new: pretty please read and review!!

Excitedly,

she fuels the fire

P.S. The book Molly is reading is a real book. And, yes, I admit, I have read it. Don't give me that look; it's a good book! Oh, and Dom's middle name is supposed to be that. It's not, I don't know, a spelling mistake. I felt like, being a manly man, Dom would have a girly middle name. Oh, and there are several more chapters that I've written; they're just in the process of being edited and such.

P.P.S For the record, this was written before the Alice in Wonderland fad that's recently come about (due to Burton's new movie). I'm basically obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, and have been for quite some time. I just wanted to say that this chapter wasn't in response to the new movie; but, anyway, moving on!


Molly Taylor's Music Playlist: Song Twelve: Looking Glass: Hypnogaja

My mother is a frightening woman.

A bit like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland (the Disney version, of course). You know, always shouting, cheating at croquet, and beheading red-rose-painting Spade cards. That sort of thing.

But, no, not even Lewis Carroll could possibly describe the evilness that is my mother when she's in "one of those moods". When me and Dom arrived at the house, she was in "one of those moods". I've learned that it's generally advisable to put a fifteen-foot distance between me and my mother; just in case she happens to flip out and twist my ear in punishment. She's always doing that: pinching my ear when she doesn't like something I've done (which apparently happens a lot, if her ear-pinching ratio is any indication).

I glanced down at the doorknob for a second, foolishly hoping that it would come alive and give me some very good, movie-esque advice. Something to the effect of, "If you eat the well-done steak, it'll magically give you the ability to tune out anything offensive that your mother says to you."

Sighing longingly, I opened the door, ignoring the questioning look on Dom's face.

"Molly!" She screeched when I passed through the doorway. I wasn't entirely sure if it was a I'm-happy-to-see-you shriek, or if it was a why-are-you-so-freakin'-late shriek. My money's on the latter. "What are you wearing?"

Whoops, it was actually an I'm-embarrassed-to-be-seen-with-you-in-public shriek. Just lost that bet, didn't I? I looked down at my body, inspecting what I was wearing (have you noticed how people do that when you say something about their clothing, as if they don't remember what they put on that morning?). Nothing out of the norm. Jeans, Converse high-tops, tee shirt. But then again, my mother was a Gucci Whore, so it's understandable that she finds it offensive that I don't wearing ridiculously overpriced clothing.

And, before you say anything: yeah, my parents are sort of rich. Not as rich as Jeremy's parents, of course, but they do have quite a bit of money in the bank. Just to clear everything up: I choose to be poor; I choose not go to fancy restaurants. I would rather have a great, comfortable life with my lower middle-class grandmother, than a stiff, uncomfortable life with my upper middle-class parents.

"We have reservations for a nice, family dinner and you two are late!!" My mother shrieked, throwing her arms up in a huff and then immediately smoothing out the wrinkles that had formed on her button-down shirt from the action. She gently cleared her throat (as if she hadn't just been having a hissy-fit) and said, "Go. Change. We're leaving in ten minutes. And, for God's sake, put on something decent."

I've looked at my wardrobe before and I'm pretty sure there's nothing in there that she would consider decent. But, even knowing that my search would be futile, I tromped into my bedroom and threw open the closet door. Let's see… jeans… tee shirts… jackets… more jeans… dresses—where'd that slinky blue number come from? I touched the tips of my fingers to the spangles.

Disgusting. I hate sequins.

And since when did I have an apron?

Frowning into the depths of my closet, I poked a little farther down the line.

Ah, here we are. A plain black dress: classy enough for my mother, but casual enough for me. Actually, where did I get that? I gave my closet a suspicious pair of shifty eyes and snatched the dress from its hanger.

After pulling the dress on, I yanked some black tights up my legs and a pair of black heels gracefully attached themselves to my otherwise clumsy feet. Applying some mascara and little bit of eyeliner on the way down the steps, I joined my parents and brother in the living room. "My goodness, Molly. This is much better than your usual."

She said 'usual' like she was about throw up into my grandmother's crochet basket. Oh, sorry, that's much too undignified for my mother. My mother would never demean herself by getting sick in the presence of other people. Honestly, like with my brother, I have no idea how we're related. It doesn't seem humanly possible.

But, then again, I was never sure if my mother was human.

"Thanks, Mom." I replied sarcastically to the obviously rhetorical question.

"Is that the way you're going to wear your hair? It looks like… it looks like—"

"Sex hair." Dom interrupted with a mischievous grin.

"Yes, sex hair—Dominic Tracy Taylor! Don't you talk like that while I'm in the room!" She wacked him across the back of his head with her Louis Vuitton clutch.

"Ouch!" Dom cursed under his breath, earning himself another smack in the back of the head from my mother. He never did learn when to shut up.

* * * * * * * *

Dinner was awful.

And it hadn't even started yet.

We had walked into the restaurant where Jeremy and I had discovered each other's true identity and immediately my mother started screeching at the maitre de that "she never has reservations and it's positively insulting that she should be asked such a question", (never mind that she had told us that she'd made reservations) to which the maitre de replied, "Madame, please, there will be no shouting in this restaurant. If you be so kind as to wait a moment, I would happily show you to your seats."

She huffed.

She puffed.

And she blew all her needless anger down through her nostrils.

I almost expected fire to come shooting out, but while my mother might not have been human, I seriously doubted she was a dragon either.

So we were seated and we ordered our food and then my mother decided to say something along the lines of, "You know, Molly, that's horribly fattening. You can stand to lose a few pounds. Why don't you just get a salad instead?"

I politely nodded my acquiescence (personally, I would rather starve that eat nothing but a salad, but there was no real point in arguing with the woman) and then excused myself to the ladies' bathroom.

It was there, outside the ladies' bathroom (admittedly hidden behind a large green fern), that I began reading my newest skanky romance novel. Skanky romance novels, you see, are a wonderful way to distract oneself from the horrors of day-to-day life. Even better, they're a great way to lose track of time, which, in this case, was something I was most definitely aiming for. This particular book was one I had recently bought at Barnes & Noble: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, written by Linda Berdoll.

I'd always loved Pride and Prejudice, so I was more than happy to escape into the world of Darcy and Elizabeth instead of facing the fact that the world I was in wasn't fictional.

For had Darcy not kissed her with such exceeding warmth that evening, she would not have begun to ponder his lips as she had (in defense of pondering any other part of his person). And had she not pondered his lips so insistently, when he pressed her back against a convenient oak and kissed her that next day, she would not have taken his lower lip betwixt her own and so decidedly bitten it.

The particular etiquette of reducing one's beloved to a masticatory morsel had never once been addressed to her so far as Elizabeth could recollect.

Good stuff, huh? Kind of reminds me of Jeremy (as I had, in fact, reduced him to a masticatory morsel that day in Drama class). And his lips. And his jaw. And his neck. And shoulders.

And chest.

And waist.

And hips.

And—

"Molly? Is that you?"

I jumped, startled. From my position on the floor, I glanced up and my eyes met with the very crotch I'd been about to ponder (not that I'd ever admit that out loud, of course). Jeremy was here. My knight in—what was it?—vanilla-scented cologne. And there he stood, looking unbelievably gorgeous and delicious and manly in a "Rapunzel—Rapunzel—let—down—your—hair—I'll—climb—up—and—save—you" sort of way. I couldn't stop the smile of pure pleasure that crept onto my lips.

"What are you doing here?" Jeremy returned my smile and slid down the wall to sit next me.

"My parents."

"Ahhhh…" He nodded, as if those two words explained everything. Who knows; maybe they did. He opened his mouth to say something but my stomach loudly interrupted with an angry growl. "Do you want me to bring you some food?"

I blushed, loving the fact that he didn't even bother to question about whether or not I wanted to stay hidden next to the restrooms. I would like to think that he didn't ask because he could just tell I didn't want to leave, rather than just being a regular stupid boy. "Yeah, if it's not too much trouble."

"It's no trouble."

"Bring me something meaty?" I asked when he got to his feet. He sent me a cute smile over his shoulder and disappeared around the corner of the hallway. Man, that boy had nice a butt.

But maybe that was the skanky book talking.

I could never be sure.

Jeremy reappeared surprisingly fast, carrying a plate of steaming food in one hand and a glass of lemonade in the other. He set it on the ground between us and handed me a fork, knife, and spoon all wrapped in a cloth napkin. I glanced hungrily at the food and then speared one end of the steak with vehement force and proceeded to hack it off with my steak knife. The helping he'd brought me, however, was rather large considering it was for one person, so I didn't think I'd be able to finish it all. That being said: I swallowed the hunk of meat and made sure to wipe my face with the napkin before saying, "You wanna share?"

Jeremy grinned and shook his head. "Nah. I already ate. Me and my family were about to leave, but then I told them you were here and they… well… my mom and dad decided to have another, but slightly belated, anniversary dinner so we could stay."

"If you were going to leave, you didn't have to stay!" I felt awful. I mean, he and his parents had just finished their family dinner and now I was ruining their night.

"I know that look."

"What look?"

"The 'I'm totally ruining your life' look, that's what."

I gave him a dry stare.

There was moment of awkward silence, something we hadn't experienced for at least two weeks. Time to loosen up. "So… do you know how much a polar bear weighs?"

Jeremy cocked his head and shot me a slightly puzzled expression. "Quite a bit more than I could carry. Why do you ask?"

"Enough to break the ice." Yes, I admit: that was a pick-up line. And although Jeremy was already technically… um… picked up, I've never used a pick-up line to hit on someone before, so I figured I might as well try it out on someone I wasn't actually trying to get in my pants. Not that I was trying to get Jeremy in my pants, but—well—I mean—you know—never mind. Just… never mind.

"… I'm not sure how to respond to that."

"Don't think. Just do it."

"Do I have to?"

"No. I guess not."

"Then don't look so… glum. You're making me feel awful."

"Glum? I'm not glum."

"You look glum. Very glummy."

"Glummy?"

"Because you look glum. And yummy. At the same time."

I hid my grin behind a bite of steak. He was too cute sometimes. But then I remembered the fact that I was supposed to be at a family dinner, so I felt bad. Misplaced guilt, right? I mean, I knew that if I went back to the table, all my mother would do when I got there would be to make casually hurtful comments about my appearance and my future.

"Now you just look depressed." He paused. Scooted closer. Trailed a finger along the inside of my elbow. "Tell me what's wrong."

I sighed. "My mom is here and I know that if I go back she'll start raggin' on me about my choice of profession or something. It's a generally degrading experience that I've lived through far too many times than I would like to admit."

He kissed me on the forehead, a tender gesture that made my toes curl from pleasure.

"Hey, you, perv, don't be touching my kid sister like that in front of me. Or even when you're not in front of me." Dom growled, pushing aside the ferns' leaves that Jeremy and I were currently hidden behind. "Especially when you're not in front of me."

"You know, Dom," I replied, clasping Jeremy's hand in my own and therefore disregarding Dom's comment altogether, "If you're going to take the liberties of lecturing my boyfriend on the principles of how a man should act with a woman, then you might as well put your own advice to good use."

"Excuse me? You're my kid sister. I refuse let some horny teenaged jerk put his clammy hands all over you."

"His hands aren't clammy."

"You better not have been touching her—oh, God, never mind. I don't want to know. I don't. Want. To know."

"I don't think you need to worry so much," Jeremy protested with a smile, "I'm not out to corrupt your little sister or anything."

Dom squinted hard at him. "That's what all the horny teenaged jerks say."

"Except that I'm not a jerk."

"But you admit to being horny and teenaged?"

"I said no such thing."

"But by not saying any such thing, you implied that you were what you were not saying."

"Unless I wasn't saying any such to thing imply that it was so far from the truth that it wasn't worth mentioning."

Dom glared at him, but realized he was at an impasse. He turned to look at me. "Mom was wondering if you had been kidnapped by that old lady who sits outside the bathroom and hands out mints."

But there was no lady who hands out mints, at least not that I know of… oh, wait, there she is. Totally didn't see her there. "Nope… just hiding out with my boyfriend instead of suffering through dinner."

Flinching as I spoke the word 'boyfriend', Dom took a deep breath and said, "Please, Molly, come back to dinner. All Mom can do is talk about how you've probably been kidnapped—"

"She actually cares? How surprising."

"—and that now at least she won't have to worry about you ruining your future."

"She doesn't actually care? How unsurprising."

Jeremy stood, placing the drink on my plate and picking them both up in one hand. Pulling me up to stand next to him and tugging me into the cradle of his arm simultaneously. He bent down, kissed me on the cheek, and then abandoned me to face the Beast alone. He parted from my presence with soft chuckle while saying, "See you later, honey. Be brave."