Over Ice Cream

By Maelstrom

Summary: The team are spending the day at the mall, and Monet ends up telling a stranger her deepest feelings.

Disclaimer: Gen X belongs to Marvel, yadda yadda yadda, oh heck. You know what goes under here.

P.S. I’ve included many hints from Monet to the stranger about her true nature - see if you can find them all out by yourself. :)

“Whoa, like, check it out, guys! Major kewlness!”

“Jubilee, I really don’t think one more neon-colored T-shirt is going to upgrade your wardrobe any.”

“Like, knock it off, hayseed. Can I help it if I’m way more bright an’ fashionable than any of yer?”

“Bright, yes, visually that you are. On the fashionable part, however, I am certain at least seventy people in the nearest perimeter have serious doubts about that.”

“Stuff it, Monet.”

It was a bright Saturday afternoon, and given that Emma was sick in bed with the flu and anybody getting on her currently-very-temperamental nerves was prone to receiving a brain-fry in return, Sean wisely decided that taking everybody out to the mall while Emma recuperated was a sensible choice. They’d just stepped into the building when Jubilee spotted the garment on sale.

“How long will we be here, Mr Cassidy?” Paige asked, looking at the man. The others listened for the answer intently as well, since from the way Jubilee’s eyes were fixating hungrily on the bright orange T-shirt at the store window, they knew they needed prior warning to how long they’d have to spend in the expert mall-rat’s raving-mad company.

Sean glanced at his watch. “Ye got four hours, lass. Emma does need her rest, ye know.”

“And we need our rest from her,” Jubilee put in. “She’s been, like, barkin’ down our throats a lot nowadays, even more than usual. I mean, like, what, her leather thong’s in a knot or something?”

“She is sick if you’ve noticed, chica,” Angelo put in. “Or were you just assuming that she got turned off by the smell of your new shampoo?”

“Ha ha, very funny, Skin. And how would you know I got a new shampoo?”

“Face it, Jubilation,” said Monet, “the way you have been walking around the mansion lately, flinging your hair around for everyone to smell like some cheap shampoo commercial, it hasn’t exactly been such a far concept for some of us to grasp.”

“Grasp this, you lil’ -”

“Hey J,” Everett interrupted, “why don’t we check out that neon T-shirt you liked so much?”

Everyone’s jaw dropped as they stared at the boy with wide, shocked eyes. Their expressions said the same thing: “HOW COULD YOU!” Everett gave them a helpless hey-I-was-desperate look in return as Jubilee happily bounced around in ecstasy.

{{Y’ know, mate,}} Jono murmured softly, {{there’re many other - less painful - ways to die.}}

“I agree,” Monet nodded. “Not to sound like a know-all, Everett, but you could have used other alternatives to distract Jubilee. She does after all possess the attention span of a moth.”

“Yeah well, yer just a snotty old cat who just likes slammin’ the rest of us ‘cause we all get more attention than you in a day than you get in a lifetime!”

“Jubilee, lass, this isn’t the place. . .” Sean tried to soothe the girl.

“Oh really, Mr C? Then tell me where the place is, an’ I’ll be there ready to kick ol’ Know-All’s butt here!”

“Always resorting to violence, aren’t you, Jubilation.”

“The name’s Jubilee!

“Uh, J? Can you please -”


“Just asking.”

“Hey nino, you a man or a chicken?” Angelo snickered. Everett glared back in return. He had good reason not to try and argue with a volatile pyrokinetic. He had experience. Heck, he even had the scars to prove it.

“He’s a tadpole in need of a few lessons in aggressiveness,” Paige said.

“Look who’s talking, the Queen of Assertiveness herself!” Ange hooted.

“Shut up, Skin. Watch and learn, Ev.”

She grabbed the still-squabbling Jubilee and swung her over inside the store. “C’mon, Lee. T-shirt. You. Now. Gawd I can’t believe I’m encouraging this.”

“Hey!!” Jubes yelled as Paige and Everett followed her in and disappeared from the others’ sight. Sean turned to Monet.

“Lass. . .” he sighed.

“I was just stating the obvious, Mr Cassidy,” the girl replied. Sean looked - prayed - for any signs of sarcasm. The girl was dead serious. He sighed again.

“I’m heading outside, Senor Cassidy,” Angelo said, “for a, um, breath of fresh air.”

He left. Monet watched the disappearing figure disdainfully. Breath of fresh air indeed. It was common knowledge that Angelo Espinosa was seizing the opportunity to ruin his lungs with poisonous, cancerous carcinogens. She would never understand what thrill a cigarette could possibly offer its pathetic victim besides a two-minute high.

Sean looked at Jono. “Well, lad? How ‘bout ye? Fancy joining me for a wee bit o’ grocery shopping?”

Jono could just picture the scene: him standing in the aisle, shifting weight from feet to feet while waiting for Sean to finish his out-loud debate on whether skim milk was indeed better than full-cream. {{No thanks, sir, I’ll just head over t’ the music store t’ check out the new arrivals.}}

“All right. Monet?”

“No thank you, Mr Cassidy. I think I would just rather like to observe our surroundings for a while.”

“All right. We’ll meet here again later.”

{{Yer gonna observe our surroundings for four whole hours, gel?}} Jono mused as Sean left the scene.

“I enjoy being as highly observant as I am,” Monet answered calmly.

{{Or it was a flimsy-but-effective excuse t’ get out of accompanying Mr Cassidy in his grocery shopping bit. Either way, it worked. See yer later, gel.}}

Monet didn’t bother to reply as the brown-haired boy headed in direction of the music store. No sense wasting the effort on him. She’d felt a strong resentment towards him after his last comment. Excuse? Why would she, Monet St Croix, need an excuse for anything? She didn’t need to stoop so low. She could handle anything on her own. She was intelligent. She was capable. She was Monet.

She looked around. People were up to their usual mall-roaming antics, most of them Saturday shopaholics like Jubilee. She did her observing for a while, then got bored by the monotony. People in malls were never diverse. Perhaps it would be better if she - and she hated the idea on thought - joined Paige and Everett with Jubilee. The latter was so immature, but it was a better alternative than watching Angelo smoke or tolerating Jono blasting the latest rock CDs over the music store speakers. Besides, she needed a little verbal challenge to her intellect. Not that Jubilee was even close to her intellect, of course.

She was about to turn to go when she caught sight of a stumbling old lady. The woman was carrying a lot of shopping bags in her fragile arms, and as a result of that she fumbled and she stumbled.

Monet would have helped, but she curled her lips disdainfully as she took in the lady’s garishly bright purple dress, out-of-date feathered hat and rotting handbag. The woman obviously had money, but she had no taste. Well, Monet supposed, not everybody could have her sense of style. She rolled her eyes and went to help.

“Let me help you with that, ma’am,” she said politely as she took the bags from the woman’s arms. With her superhuman strength, the task wasn’t even worth a blink.

“Oh thank you, dearie. Are you sure you can manage? Do you need me to carry something? Oh! Careful, dear! Don’t stumble!”

“I’m all right, ma’am,” Monet said tiredly. “Where would you like me to bring these?”

“Well I - well. . .” The woman looked around quickly, then spotted a bench seat the mall authorities had provided for shoppers to rest their weary limbs. “Let’s take them over there, child,” she said, pulling Monet along by one arm, “you can rest then. You poor old thing.”

Rest? Monet rolled her eyes but complied. The two females sat on the bench, the old woman more closely to Monet than Monet would have liked. She solved the problem by placing a bag in between them. The rest of the bags she put on her other side and some on her lap.

“We’ll wait a while,” the woman said, smiling connivingly at Monet. Her face was fair, pumplish and wrinkled, and her fading-blue eyes almost disappeared into crows’ feet whenever she smiled. She sat herself properly. “I’m waiting for my grandchild to pick me up.”

“Why didn’t your grandchild come with you to the mall?” Monet inquired.

“Oh well, the little darling’s busy. I wouldn’t want to bother her. Besides, I got you with me now, don’t I?” She reached over and squeezed Monet’s hand with an impish grin. Monet hid making a face and indiscreetly tried to wipe her hand when the old lady wasn’t looking.

“But tell me, child, why are you here in the mall?” the lady asked. “All by yourself too! Aren’t you afraid of getting hurt or kidnapped?”

“Not in the least.”

“Well! Girls of today certainly are brave, aren’t they!”

“No they aren’t,” Monet answered. “I am.”

The lady smiled. “What a confident little girl you are. Come for a bit of shopping, have you?”

“No,” Monet replied, “I came with some other people. They are busy now, so I went to be on my own.”

“Really! Why, child, don’t you want to be with your friends? Don’t let this little old lady stop you.”

“I’m all right,” Monet answered. She glanced at one of the shopping bags on her lap. It bulged with fruits and vegetables, tomatoes in particular. How red they were.

The lady noticed Monet’s change of expression. “Dear?” she asked. “What’s the matter?. . . They are your friends, aren’t they?”

Very red. And round. And big. Probably pumped with lots of injected hormones. “I suppose,” Monet mumbled.

“There’s no supposing in this matter, dearie. Either they are your friends or they aren’t. Which is it?”

Monet shrugged. “I don’t know. We never really considered each other as ‘friends’.”

The woman was appalled. “Whyever not?”

“We don’t get along well.”

“Abominable! How is that possible? You seem like such a lovely young girl.”

“I am,” Monet said. “It’s the others that cannot accept it.”

The woman looked at Monet. “You sound very. . . confident, dearie.”

“I am.”

“I can see that. Why child, I don’t even know your name! How rude of me! Tell me, dear, what is your name?”

Monet looked at the smiling old woman. She was getting too nice and friendly than Monet could take. “Nicole,” Monet answered. “My name is Nicole.”

“Oh what a pretty name! It suits you so well.” The woman beamed. “Would you like to know my name, dearie?”

“Not particularly.”

The woman looked a little puzzled, but apparently was not hurt by the sincere remark. “Well then, perhaps this little old lady could be of service. Tell me, Nicole, why do you and your friends not get along so well?”

Monet looked at the lady, and she was about to give some articulate equivalent to “Mind your own business” when she decided it would be better to humor her instead. The poor woman probably had little human contact due to her uncouth looks and behavior. Even her grandchild didn’t want to come and be seen with her. Monet fingered the top of the grocery bag. “Probably because they do not understand me,” she replied.

“Understand you? My word, how complicated these new ages get! Back in my time, we didn’t need to understand a person to be friends with her. But I’m rattling on, dearie. Don’t pay attention to me. You were saying?”

Ripe red tomatoes. Penance would probably mistake them for soft apples. “They do not understand me, and they behave most immaturely. Particularly one of them.”

“And who is that, my dear?”

“Ju. . . Sparks. Her name is Sparks.”

“Youngsters nowadays have such odd names. At least you have a good, sensible name, Nicole. But how does this ‘Sparks’ person behave immaturely?”

Monet shrugged. “Through everything she does. She’s the youngest, so I suppose I should forgive her unsophisticatedness, but she always acts like a brat at times. She hates me in particular.”

“Now, dearie, hate is such a strong word. Are you sure that’s how she feels?”

“Well she certainly doesn’t enjoy my company, if that is what you mean. Everytime we are together we end up bickering, just because she’s too childish to accept my views.”

“Perhaps that is the point, child. Many young ‘uns don’t like to be talked down to. Perhaps you should simplify your views for her convenience.”

“Why bother? She will not be grateful for my trouble. She hardly makes an effort to do anything. Ms Fr. . White, Ms White, our headmistress, says Sparks has the potential to be half as intelligent as I am, but she’s just too lazy to try. I can’t be bothered with people who don’t make an effort to try.”

“And I suppose you manage to be perfect without even making an effort?” the woman asked kindly.

“Well. . . yes, but that is not the point. Ju - Sparks doesn’t even try to fulfill her potential. It is hard to believe that she was once with. . . a more capable group.”

“Perhaps she’s hungry for your attention, my dear, and you’re hungry for hers. That’s why you always ‘bickering’ with one another.”

The very idea! Monet glared. But then she looked away, and she felt the bags around her rustle from the air-conditioning.

“Perhaps,” she murmured. “Sometimes I wish people would accept me for who I am. I am. . . different from other people, but I cannot tell them how different. Because of that, they do not trust me.”

“Well, dear, a little honesty wouldn’t hurt.”

“It would. It would hurt many. But it is not fair - I behave the way I do and they do not like me. I am more mature for my age, yet when Sparks behaves the way she does - immaturely so - she gets accepted. It’s so. . . unfair!”

“Aw. . .” The woman patted Monet soothingly. “I know how jealousy feels, dear. I’ve been that way many times -”

“I’m not jealous!”

“Nicole, darling, you’d have to understand, the youngest usually gets the most attention -”

“If that is so, I should probably be overwhelmed with it by now,” Monet said dryly.

The woman looked confused. “But dear. . . you are not the youngest, are you?”

“More than you’ll ever know.”

“I. . .”

Monet played with the top of the shopping bag on her lap. “Circumstances always taunt Sparks and me. Everytime I feel happy and kindly to anyone, she shoots down any efforts of mine to be friendly with sarcastic remarks. And everytime she tries to be friendly with me, I am not in the mood to recipocrate her feelings.”

“Well friendship doesn’t depend on moods, dearie -”

Friendship? That was a laugh. Monet nearly did.

“I normally try not to get hurt by what Sparks says,” she continued, “but today. . . Sparks. . . she said something today, right before we parted.” She pulled tightly at the top, again and again. “She said that she and my. . . friends. . . get more attention from people in one day than I will ever get in a lifetime.”

“Oh, my poor dear. . .” The woman patted Monet gently. “That was so cruel.”

“It was.”

“Was she right?”

“Excuse me?”

“Was she right in assuming that you hardly get attention from anybody?”

“I don’t really concern myself with the thought. I do not need unnecessary, idle attention from people. I am perfect the way I am, and I am satisfied. It is their loss if they do not wish to understand.”

The woman raised an eyebrow. “’Perfect’, dearie? I do hope that is not the way you describe yourself to this Sparks person. If it is, it’s no wonder she resents your presence. No youngster enjoys being told she’s inferior to someone else.”

“I’m just stating the obvious, ma’am.”

“I’m sure you are, Nicole dear, but not many people enjoy being told the obvious.”

“That is exactly my predicament,” Monet agreed. “I always speak from an objective point of view instead of a subjective one, and the others resent me for that.”

“Objective view, dear? Subjective? I’m sorry, my muddled old mind can’t quite make out the difference.”

“My ‘friends’ speak in subjective terms, describing so-and-so as better than something else, et cetera. I do not compare when I make a point - if something is bad, I will say so, regardless of whether it is better compared to something else. Because of this, my friends think I am being a snob.”

“Oh dear, don’t think so negatively -”

“I am not, I am stating the obvious.”

“Well dear. . . perhaps I can help you out with this Sparks person. Maybe if you’d just tolerate her ‘immature’ antics for a day, she won’t be half as cruel as she normally is.”

“I doubt it. She dislikes me for another reason too.”

“And what other reason is that, my dear?”

Monet hesitated. “My brother,” she said. “She hates my brother.”

“I see. And you love your brother.”

“No, I hate my brother too.”

The woman blinked. “I. . . see. And why is that, Nicole?”

“He is. . . mean. And nasty. And he takes what doesn’t belong to him.”

“You poor dear.” She caressed Monet’s back sympathetically. “I know how hard it is separate a family member’s reputation from your own. You’ll get through it eventually. I know. I can see that you are a strong girl.”

“You do not know how strong.”

“I can guess. Oh my! We shouldn’t be sitting and talking like this! It’s not right. Come with me, my dear, and we’ll have a little something to eat and drink while we talk.”

“I’d prefer not, actually,” Monet said as the woman tugged at her arm.

“Oh don’t be shy, my dear! Don’t worry, I can afford it. Do come, it’s only just ice-cream!”

Monet followed, carrying the shopping bags. As usual the old woman fussed, unable to make her old eyes see that Monet was carrying the bags without the least bit effort. They entered a cheerfully-lit Haagen-Dazs shop, where the old lady ordered Strawberry Rum for herself and Almond Rocha for Monet. They nestled themselves comfortably, the shopping bags resting on two other chairs. Monet scooped a small lump of her ice-cream in her naturally graceful way and let the rich taste slide inside her mouth. She liked ice-cream.

“Now, Nicole darling,” the woman said, slapping a dab of her ice-cream with her spoon, “as much as you’ve described your relationship with Sparks to be tense, I just cannot believe that the rest of your friends do not like you as well! The very idea is just unthinkable!”

“The others are all right,” Monet replied. “They’re barely tolerable.”

The woman looked squarely into Monet’s eyes. “’Barely’, my dear?”

“Yes. They often get themselves worked up over trivial matters.”

“Such as?”


The woman smiled. “I’d have thought a girl like you would have some interest in boys.”

“I don’t. I think most boys are yucky.”

The woman looked slightly puzzled, but smiled. “Tell me about your friends, dear.”

Monet ate a creamy lump. “Well, there’s Gaile. She’s from the South, and she’s got this pathetic inferiority complex of herself. She’s ashamed of where she comes from, yet she expects to become our leader and gain our respect. She has adequate skills, but to be absolutely honest, she has no way of gaining anyone’s respect by hiding behind a false front.”

And it suddenly occured to Monet that the same thing applied to her. But she said nothing.

The woman nodded understandingly. “Teenage years are so hard,” she sympathised.

Monet shrugged. “Besides that, she’s tolerable enough. Maybe even nice, although I think that the word ‘nice’ is such a flat, undescriptive word. But her weakness is that she is obsessed with achieving perfection - though her self-motivation is commendable - and to add to that, she has boy trouble.” She said the word ‘boy’ as if it was equivalent to the plague.

The woman smiled. “Go on.”

Monet rolled her eyes. “There’s one boy in particular she has trouble with. James. He has a bigger inferiority complex than Gaile. He keeps thinking that he’s ugly, that he’s not good enough, that life is black. He is always so miserable and depressing, always lamenting about his lack of good looks.” She stirred her ice-cream with her spoon before eating some. “He is so obsessed with himself that he babbles on how nobody could like such an ugly monster such as himself, when virtually the whole world can see that Gaile does. That is why boys are such babies.”

The old lady smiled, her eyes disappearing into crows’ feet as she did so. “Oh, I’d say you’d change your tune when you get older, dearie. But is he always so miserable?”

“Constantly. He does lighten up that drab mood of his sometimes, but not enough to make Gaile happy. Love is so tiresome. But I suppose it is sort of an obligation for grown-ups to fall in love.”

The lady smiled. “You obviously treasure your younger years, dearie. You enjoyed your days as a child?”

Monet gazed at her calmly.

“Yes,” she replied, “I do. It is so less complicated than being an adult.”

“I can understand that,” the woman laughed. Monet felt certain she didn’t. “I remember when I was a teenager. I felt so many different emotions in me all at the same time!”

“True,” Monet agreed. “To me there are always two little girls living inside my body, both of them completely different, yet exactly the same.”

“Yes, darling, of course you do. Every teenager feels that way.”

“Not exactly.”

“Tell me about your other friends, child. Would you like some more ice-cream?”

“Thank you, yes.” She didn’t have to worry about the ice-cream affecting her perfect figure - nothing could. “Another boy is Alfonso. He would’ve been tolerable too if he didn’t smoke.”

“Yes, such a horrible habit.”

“Indeed. And he makes frequent innuendoes, particularly towards Gaile, that I find most derogatory. Boys always let themselves get carried away by their hormones. But I suppose notwithstanding his faults, he is a good person. He has a good sense of humor, and he does stand by his friends. Such an act is rare nowadays.”

“See, dear? Everybody has his good points. Don’t Gaile or James have theirs?”

“Them? I suppose. Gaile is friendly to us all, despite her over-achieving obsession, since she wants to be a good leader. She has commendable self-motivation, as I’ve said before. And her diligence and devotion in whatever she does is admirable. That being the case, I like her. Because of that, I put up with her as much as possible, although her strive for perfection can never equal mine.”

She was lost in thought as she received a new bowl of ice-cream from the waiter. The old woman prodded on. “And James?” she asked.

“James? He is strong. Despite his constant misery over his looks, I suppose. Perhaps emotionally he isn’t adequately secure, but deep, deep down, I believe he can endure trying situations. And the times he does lift himself out of that mood of his, he has shown to have an odd - but at least he has - a little sense of humor.”

“Thank goodness, child. When you first painted him out to me you made it seem like he was permanently dressed in mourning-color black!”

“He is.”

“Oh. . . Well, are those all your friends, dear?”

Monet shook her head. “There’s E. . . David. He’s the nicest boy among the others. He’s changed my notion a lot on how boys seem to be, and he’s especially nice to me. More so than anybody else, that’s why I like him.”

The woman smiled knowingly. “Oh, you do?”

“Yes, and so does Sparks.”

The woman opened her mouth, speechless. Then she flustered. “Well. . . I. . . well. . . there must be a conflict between you two, then? Concerning this David?”

“Not yet, but there probably will. Another reason Sparks does not like me, as you can see. Sometimes I try to make Sparks see that I cannot help like David, but she still thinks I do it on purpose. That’s why I’ve long given up talking to her.” Monet sipped her Earl Grey tea. “The last person in the group is Yvette. She is a very gentle, fragile creature, despite the fact that she cannot talk.”

The woman blinked. “Excuse me, dear?”

“She’s. . . mute. And deaf. Therefore, we cannot comprehend her, and she cannot comprehend us. Pity. She might’ve been the nicest girl among us if she could speak. I almost like her. The others think I don’t, but I do. They think I rarely am with Yvette because I look down on her, but that is not true. It is just hard to carry out an intellectual discussion with someone who doesn’t keep up her end of the conversation.”

“Just because she cannot talk to you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to her, darling.”

“What’s the use? She will not be able to hear me.”

“But that doesn’t mean she can’t listen, child.”

Monet sniffed and ate her ice-cream. A lesser being might not have understood the meaning of the old lady’s words, but Monet St Croix did. She was after all a genius.

The lady smiled kindly at her. “Does Sparks talk to Yvette?”

Why did that woman seem to love bringing up that name? “So what if she does?”

“Well, dear, it might indicate that Sparks isn’t as mean as you think her to be. At least she spends time with the poor dear Yvette. It shows she does have a heart.”

“And I don’t, you are implying?”

“Not at all, darling! I think you have a wonderful heart! It just seems to me that you are afraid of showing it.”

Monet swallowed her ice-cream. Rich and tasty.

“And, as you’ve said before, you are afraid of revealing your true self to the others. Dear, don’t be! If they are indeed your friends, they will accept you no matter what your true self is!”

“That’s if they are my friends, ma’am, and I am not sure of that fact myself.”

The woman patted Monet’s hand. “If Sparks can be kind to Yvette, I am sure she can be kind to you. And I know, deep down, that you can be really sweet to Sparks yourself.”

The ice-cream was getting a bit blurry. Her eyes were wet.

“Perhaps,” she whispered.

A silvery drop creeped its way out of the corner of her eye. Despite all her heightened senses, Monet St Croix did not notice it. She played with her spoon.

“I just. . .” She jabbed the spoon into her ice-cream, again and again. “I just wish. . . I just wish she would understand me. I wish she could understand me.”

And with that, she broke down crying.

She ignored the chiding at the back of her mind, telling her that big girls don’t cry. What do you know? she articulately questioned that voice, with an air only Monet St Croix could effortlessly pull off with success. At my age I deserve to cry. I don’t care. And she sobbed.

The old woman sat herself closer and embraced the poor child in her arms.

Sometimes, all one needed was a good hug.


“For gawd’s sakes, Lee, I cannot believe that you bought seven different kinds of neon clothing all for yourself!” Paige looked disgusted.

Jubilee blinked. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “did you want one for yourself?”

Paige emitted a loud, pained groan, accompanied only by Jubilee’s confused, for-once-genuinely-innocent look.

Sean glanced at his watch. “It’s almost time now. Hasn’t anybody seen Monet?”

Everyone shook their heads.

“Maybe she got lost,” Paige said.

“Hello, hayseed,” Jubilee put in, “this is, like, the Monet St Croix we’re talking about here? Like she can get lost?

“Maybe she went out for a cappuccino next door,” Everett suggested. “I doubt she’s a mall person.”

“Gee, Ev, yer think?”

“Hey amigo, weren’t you the last one with her?” Angelo asked Jono.

{{Don’t blame me, mate,}} the boy replied. {{The gel said she wanted t’ observe ‘er surroundings. I wanted to observe the new CDs. Not my fault, ennit?}}

“Hey,” Everett said, pointing, “look, there she is!”


“Thank you for carrying my bags, dearie,” the old woman said gratefully to Monet as her grandchild took away the last of the shopping bags from Monet’s arms. “I’m in your eternal gratitude.”

“As am I,” Monet smiled. For the first time in a long time. She looked beautiful with it. Then again, she always looked beautiful.

The woman winked. “Anytime you need to find me, dearie, just look in the mall on Saturdays for the clumsy old lady with the shopping bags.”

“I will, ma’am. And. . . and ma’am?”

“Yes dear?”

Monet hesitated for a moment, then hugged her. The spontaneous show of affection was not her style, but the woman graciously accepted it. They released each other slowly, and the lady caressed Monet’s perfect soft hair. She patted the girl’s cheek, then turned to leave.

Monet watched her follow her grandchild. Then, suddenly, she cried out, “Ma’am! Ma’am - wait!”

The old woman turned.

“I. . .” Monet St Croix, smart and pretty, was now at a loss for words. Who’d have thought? “Ma’am, I. . . I do not know your name.”

She smiled. “Mrs Kinzy, dear. Mrs Kinzy.”

She turned and walked away.

Mrs Kinzy. How appropriate, Monet thought, for a person with lots of money and a bad sense of dressing.


“Who is that?” Paige asked.

“Like we know, chica?”

“What is Monet doing with someone like her?”

“Like we know, J?”

“I can’t believe she willingly hugged her!”

“I can’t believe she’s willingly seen with her!”

Monet approached the group in her usual calm, stately manner.

“Hello, Mr Cassidy,” she greeted, “hello, everyone. At last you are here. May we go now?” She headed for the exit without waiting for an answer.

Jubilee raced up to her. “Who was that, Monet?” she demanded, just brimming with smart-alec retorts. “Ain’t always that we find ya in the company of a lesser being, eh?”

As soon as she said that she nearly kicked herself in annoyance. Oh great, she thought, just like me to leave myself open for such an easy shot like that. Doh!

But Monet walked on by. Jubilee stopped and stared. She couldn’t believe her senses. She clutched for the nearest person, which was Everett.

“Hey! Watch where you’re grabbing, Lee!”

“Ev! Did you see that? Did you see that? Monet actually let that one past! She actually let the chance t’ slam me pass her by! What’s with her?”

Everett rolled his eyes. As if he would know. And it would be typical Jubilation Lee to pester him and bother him all day, wondering what was up with Monet. And then Monet would finally wake up from her thinking spell and resume her same old ‘slammin’’ behavior again that day.

But then again, maybe not.

Because Monet St Croix certainly wasn’t going to be the same at all that day.