Author's Note: This manuscript is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of my imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events, products, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter 1: The Maneater in the Suburbs

"Welcome to the 'burbs," Beth sings to me happily as we work on getting our apartment together. "I know it's not exactly Boston, but it'll do, right, Elle?"

I nod my head fiercely. "Yeah, it'll do, Beth. It's not even close to Boston, but you know what? I'm happy. I even kinda like it."

Despite the fact that I'm missing Boston tremendously, I really am cool with living in West Hartford. Beth and I moved into our new apartment five days ago, and we're really enjoying living together and finding all the cool places to hang out. Now, believe me when I say that the suburb of Hartford that is West Hartford, CT, is never going to be Boston, but there are a few places that we're starting to call ours. Blueback Square, for example, which is sort of like a very small version of a city, with a whole bunch of shops and restaurants (Cheesecake Factory included). Jared introduced me to a little martini bar in Hartford called Tisane, and they make a mean s'mores fondue, complete with melted dark chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, strawberries and french toast sticks. Not to mention that they have the most extensive martini list I have ever seen. Mmm, I love a good dirty martini. Vodka, not gin.

Speaking of Jared, he was a hit at my graduation party last weekend. I had such a good time at my party; it was like a small-scale wedding reception without the groom. The food, which consisted of a lobster ravioli appetizer, a crab cake/strip steak entrée, and hazelnut-flavored crème brûlée with biscotti for dessert, was beyond delicious. There was a soft open bar consisting of beer and wine. I purchased a gorgeous little black designer dress off-the-rack at a bridal salon located near our apartment, the same bridal salon that Christian bought her wedding gown at. Speaking of Christian, she did my hair and make-up that night. I was looking beautiful and feeling beautiful. Plus, with Jared dressed in his grey silk suit with sage-green shirt and tie, we looked incredible together. I was on such a high that I went back to his apartment with him that night and slept with him for the first time. The sex was...well, not as good as it had been with Michael, but still good, and way better than nothing.

Beth enters my room as I sit on the floor, assembling photos into two big multi-picture wooden frames. In the first one, I'm putting random pictures of me with my friends. In the second one, I'm putting the photos from my graduation and party. I've also framed a couple of individual pictures - one of me with Jayne and Madison as the bridesmaids from hell in one, the other of me with Dawn and Allegra at Lynn's wedding. It's kind of difficult to believe that so much time has passed since those pictures were taken. It's also hard to believe that I'm living in this fantastic apartment with brand-new furniture.

That was my graduation gift from my parents: furniture. We went to several different furniture stores in the area and went a little crazy with the items for my bedroom, purchasing a queen-sized bed and mattress set, storage containers to roll underneath the low-lying bed, a night table, a bureau, a wardrobe with a tall mirror, and my personal favorite, a bench with a built-in shoe rack. (Hey, you know how I love my shoes.) We picked up a futon for the living room and a couple of throw pillows to decorate it. Afterwards, my mother and I ran over to Bed Bath & Beyond and picked out some bed linens, curtains, and a carpet, while my dad ran over to Best Buy and purchased a flat-screen TV with a TV stand. I have to say, once you put it all together, it looks pretty impressive.

Beth brought her own bedroom furniture, of course, and she brought stuff for the kitchen - a few pots and pans, some measuring cups, a set of dishes, and some random silverware. It's OK, though. It all works. We don't have to get everything the first week. We just have to get settled in. The rest will follow in time.

She picks up the picture of Jayne, Madison and me dressed in those may-they-burn-in-hell black corset dresses. "Wow," she muses softly, "those dresses were really bad."

I sigh. "Yeah. Tell me about it."

This is fun, living with Beth. I feel like my whole life is now finally in order. I have the job, I have the degree, and I have the boy. In addition, I have the apartment and I have the roommate. Life is definitely interesting, and with me living in the suburbs, I feel like a whole new path is about to open up.