A couple of weeks after the drunken escapades of the Ethan Blaine gig, Maria decided it was time to move out and back into the real world. She’d decided to sell up the large estate she’d once shared with her father, unable to face living alone in the huge house, and had used the money to buy a smaller, but still impressive, house on the cliff tops. It was on the same side of town that the Rivers lived on, as well as her work, so she still spent most days hanging out with her adopted family!
Ivy had spent the time partially cut off from society. After having a much needed shower the morning she returned home from her sordid night, she had turned off her mobile phone. She didn’t want any calls from a certain someone, so decided it was easier to just turn off the only point of contact rather than go through the whole screening thing. Every time she remembered Ethan strolling into the room while she stood there half naked she felt her face burn. How on earth could she face him again? Not that he would call. A millionaire super-rock-star with a gazillion girls at his feet? Why would he call after the one who practically sprinted from his house after stuttering at him? No, he definitely was not going to call her back. But, just in case, phone off.
Before he knew where he was, it was time for Matthew’s birthday. He decided on a small, family affair, although naturally Maria was invited. He didn’t want a big audience as he debuted his new wrinkles!
‘Come on, admit it, you’re having a good time!’ Maria preened her hair, scanning the room for any eligible men who may have been looking over at the two girls. Ivy, feeling more self conscious than she ever had done, was still trying to find a way to simultaneously pull her dress both up and down, feeling incredibly exposed. Literally. ‘Yeah, it’s amazing here,’ she muttered, trying to ignore the judging looks of the similarly-dressed elite who were slowly filtering into the bar, trying to determine whether she was dressed finely enough to be accepted.
‘Oh, come on Ivy! You just need to relax a bit. C’mon, let’s go to the bar. We’ve got to take advantage of this free bar, right?’ Taking her by the hand, Maria pulled Ivy over and ordered two cocktails, which Ivy gratefully took.
‘I definitely need this!’ Ivy grinned in spite of herself, stirring her drink a little before taking a sip. A fruity sweetness filled her mouth. ‘Oh wow, this is delicious!’ She took a deeper gulp.
‘So if you take eight away from this, carry the four, and multiply the whole lot by twenty six you get… Uh… Oh, gnomes…’
Homework had never been Ivy’s strongest point. Growing up with only basic supervision had meant it was simple to get away with not bothering, and so she, like many of her foster-siblings, had easily opted out of completing their extra work. It was to be expected, really. How many children enjoy their homework? How many would rather go outside and play than sit slaving away for hours at their desks after slaving away for hours in school? While she was cleverer than she gave herself credit for, Ivy didn’t really know how to put her brain to good use. She hadn’t bothered to learn in an academic sense, instead choosing to pour her heart into the things she loved; growing fresh produce and spending time by the lakes, teaching herself which fish liked which bait and the best methods of catching them.
Frowning, she stared at her messy notebook. Numbers were everywhere, crossings out and scribbles covered the page, and she still wasn’t any closer to the answer.