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Victoria drove slowly up the drive from the gatehouse, an uneasy feeling settling in her stomach as the house loomed into view. It struck her - as if she was seeing it for the first time - just how big it was, and how empty it seemed. Max's house would have easily fitted into the ground floor of just one of the wings, but she knew that given the choice she would choose to be there instead in an instant.

It took her a few moments to get out of the car while she sat there running through various permutations of the impending conversation in her head. Suitably prepared, she walked up to the front door and went to ring the bell before stopping as if remembering something; instead she got out her keys and unlocked the door.

“Hello?” she called, her voice echoing down the empty atrium as the door slammed shut behind her. “It's me, Victoria - I'm home.” There was no answer and she began to make her way towards the main dining room when seemingly out of nowhere a middle-aged woman appeared, dressed in a smart suit.

“Ms Victoria, welcome home. Can I take anything? Is there anything you need?” Victoria found herself giving the woman a friendly smile, which made the woman raise an eyebrow.

“Oh hello, Maria. It's nice to see you again. Apparently my parents are having lunch somewhere?” Maria nodded curtly, then realised what Victoria had said.

“Thank you, Ms Victoria. Your parents are in the main dining room awaiting you. Can I take anything? Do you need any-” Victoria shook her head and looked past her, as if trying to see through the walls.

“No, no - it's all good, I know the way. I'm sure you have other, more important things to be doing.” There was a pause while Maria looked at her with an inscrutable expression, before giving her a cautious smile and thanks and disappearing to wherever she had come from. Victoria walked down the corridor, absent-mindedly looking at the various portraits and statues that lined the walls. She vaguely remembered her younger self being told at length who each of them were and why they were important; but now they were just a group of predominantly old men staring back at her. Over three hundred years of Chase family history was memorialised in front of her; with her as the last member of that House.

Victoria's heels clacked against the stone flooring as she made her way to the dining room, feeling increasingly nervous as she got closer and reminding herself that she had to - no, must - keep control of herself. She didn't want to have to use the Max get out of jail free card, but knowing it was there was a small comfort.

The tall oak doors creaked open as she entered, with the heavy wood panelling matched by the long table that stretched away from her. Seated at the far end were her parents, and she could see one of their interchangeable PA's hovering in the background. A place was set for her at the opposite end of the table as normal, which she suddenly realised was rather ridiculous.

“Hello Victoria,” her Mother said, looking up at her as she entered. “You are looking well; it's good of you to join us.” Her tone was pleasant but formal, but Victoria couldn't help but detect a small rebuke in what she had said.

I'm not the ones who have been out of the fucking country for the last six months. You could have come and seen me at any time.

“Mother. Father.” Victoria slowly sat down in her seat, aware of their eyes upon her. Not for the first time she was struck by just how much she looked like her Mother, who was immaculately dressed and made up as always. Her Father looked slightly older, a little grey peeping around his temples but with the same serious face and serious suit as always. Victoria couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him smile, or at least smile at something she had done.

As soon as she was seated the far door opened and in swept some serving staff with the starter for their lunch – some Lobster Bisque with various breads, which Victoria poked at with a spoon. There was a silence in the room, broken only by the sound of expensive cutlery clattering on even more expensive china.

“How are you both?” Victoria eventually asked, to break the silence more than anything. It seemed a long way from the hustle and bustle of yesterday’s lunch, with Max's family all crowded around the dinner table; but she knew that this was the also only family she really had and had decided to try and make the best of it.

“Good actually,” said her Father. “We've managed to close on a controlling interest in some lithium extraction around Atacama, which should be profitable and put us in a good strategic position going forward. We are expecting an increasing emphasis on electric vehicles globally, so it should be a sound investment.”

“We've also increased the holding around Entrechaux, and the restoration is nearly complete,” her Mother continued. “We now own roughly 20 percent of the village centre as well as the surrounding farmland. It's where we went after Monaco, as Françoise wanted to show us the improvements to the Chateau. You should see the new vineyard that has been planted, it's quite spectacular.” Victoria looked at them both, realising that she had been told nothing.

“No, I meant how are you two? Not how is the business, or the old house. I haven't seen you both for months, and.. I just wanted to know how you are.” There was a glance of surprise between the two of them and then her Mother practically smiled at her, which nearly made her fall of her chair in shock.

“We are good, Victoria. A little tired from all of the travel, and I keep telling your Father to slow down, but you know how he is.”

No, I don't. Not anymore.

“We can't afford to let things slip,” her Father said grouchily. “The Family needs to be maintained, and that requires hard work and dedication.” Victoria wondered at what point in history 'The Family' had become synonymous with 'The Company' and vice versa, and what things would have been like without it. Would they instead be sitting at a small table, eating simple food but actually enjoying it? There was another pause as Victoria tried her soup; it was expectedly delicious. She idly wondered if the PA had eaten yet, or whether she was being forced to watch them all eat. Just as she wound up the courage to ask her Father spoke again.

“I was impressed by your proposal for Blackwell Academy, Victoria. That was a well thought out piece of business that should prove profitable for the future, especially for a supply of easily recruitable future employees with the skills we need. Well done.”

“Thank you, Father,” Victoria said, finding herself basking in the unexpected praise. “I thought it was a good solution to the situation that I had found myself in.”

Or you had put me in.

“Speaking of which,” he continued, “we do need to discuss your future. You will be going to university next year, and we have already been in contact with a few people we know at Harvard and Princeton about you joining there. Of course, you'll major in Business, but there will be a chance to choose other complementary electives.” Victoria just stared at them as they continued to eat their soup, the matter seemingly settled. She felt a cold sweat break out on her forehead at the thought that the near future – potentially the last year she would be spending with Max before whatever the fuck was going to happen would happen – was being decided for her. What was worse than the cold sweat was the unwelcome feeling of her power treacherously deciding that now would be a good time to manifest itself.

“No,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper and a sick feeling in her stomach. She stared at the table, aware of the sudden cessation of spoons clanking on china.

“What did you say, Victoria?” asked her Mother, in a voice that seemed perfectly designed to make her feel like she was eight again and being told off for not practising her piano enough.

“I said no,” Victoria said again, this time in a louder voice; raising her head and trying to look her parents in the eye. “I want to choose where I go. It's my life, my future – I want to do something I want to do.”

“We've discussed this before, Victoria,” replied her Mother. “We let you go to Blackwell because we thought that you would get over this silly little phase of yours and finally grow up. It's clear that -”

“It's not a 'phase', Mother,” Victoria practically spat. “I like photography. I'm good at photography. Very good. Why can't you just -”

“Being a Chase has responsibilities,” cut in her Father with a wave of his spoon. “You cannot just abandon them because you think you might be good at taking pictures. All of this -” he gestured around at the room “- is because of the hard work and dedication that we have all put in, what we have all sacrificed for. Me, your Mother, and everyone before us. And you in the future will do the same.”

Victoria gripped her spoon tightly, fighting the overwhelming urge to just throw a chunk of ice at their stupid bowls of soup and immaculate clothing. Her own soup had already long since frozen solid.

“And you have shown through your involvement with that boy Prescott that you cannot be trusted to choose the right circles to mix with, so therefore we have to choose for you.” Victoria blanched at her Mother's words; as much as she didn't want to admit it, she had a point – or at least would have had a point. Things had changed now; Victoria had changed – she was no longer that person. She was different. Better. Stronger.

“The people you will meet at Harvard would be much more appropriate for you to be socialising with, rather than a crowd of small-town nonentities wasting their lives,” her Mother continued. “The contacts you make now will pay dividends later on – knowing the future leaders and policy makers is integral in maintaining our position.” Victoria was only half listening – she'd heard all of this before, on more than one occasion and at much greater length. She glanced at the PA who seemed to be doing her best to ignore the conversation, and she briefly wondered what she made of it all.

Probably thinks the whole thing is ridiculous and that I am just an over privileged brat, and only stands there because of the money.

What was really annoying her, however, was the description of her Max – Max, her girlfriend, her lover; the one person who seemed to just accept her as she was, and possibly the most powerful person on the planet – and not just Max, but Taylor and Courtney and Kate and even Dana, as nonentities. These nonentities who had more personality and intelligence than all the other so-called acceptable members of her social class she had met, the nonentities who had become her friends, friends more real than she had ever had in her life before.

Victoria was slowly winding herself up in ever increasing levels of anger and annoyance, which was beginning to visibly manifest itself in the most obvious way that it normally did; thin tendrils of frost were appearing on the edge of the table – which only served to make her more annoyed at both herself and the situation. The chiming of her cell served as a welcome distraction, and she hastily dug it out of her bag. The message was short and to the point.

1:24 p.m Mxx: I can't rewind any more you are on your own

Victoria felt a wave of guilt and nausea flood through her – just how many times had she fucked up and forced Max to redo this? Why couldn't she keep herself from losing control all the time? She used to be able to do it, so why not now?

Because you were even more of a fucking mess then than you are now, weren't you.

She looked down the long table at her parents, so distant and far away, so unknowing about her life and what she wanted, what she needed.

And what I need to do..

Victoria abruptly stood up, her chair scraping loudly across the floor as she did so. She picked up her cutlery and glass of water, leaving her frozen soup behind, and walked down the table to where her parents were, overly conscious of their eyes on her. She pulled out a chair from next to her Mother, the feet seemingly to deliberately make as much noise as they possibly could as they were dragged across the floor. Victoria quickly sat down, arranging her cutlery out in front of her as slowly as she could, as if buying time. Eventually she looked up at her parents with a bravely brittle smile.

“There we go, now we no longer need to shout at each other.” Her parents looked at her as if completely baffled, before her Father suddenly burst out into a short bark of laughter, a sound Victoria realised she had not heard for what seemed like forever. Even her Mother smiled thinly, and the very sight made her feel giddy inside. Victoria took a moment to compose her thoughts, doing her best to keep her voice level and without too much emotion – both to try to control her power, and because of what they had drilled into her for years growing up.

“Father. Mother. You have to let me decide what I want to do. Let me be my own person, make my own mistakes – and take responsibility for it. Like a Chase should.” Her parents exchanged a glance, as if silently communicating a conversation they had had many, many times over between them.

“Victoria, you are our only child and we only want the best for you,” her Mother said. “You are the heir to everything this family has built up over a long time, and we have to ensure that that legacy is maintained. You must understand that we only have your best interests at heart when we say these things.”

You mean the best interests of the family, not me.

“But you never once asked me what my best interests are. It's always you deciding for me, and I can't-”

“Victoria, you've not exactly shown us that you can make the best decisions,” rebuked her Father. “Your behaviour before you went to Blackwell was bad enough – how many times did we have to get the lawyers involved to cover up for your antics? And just in the last few months - do you even have the slightest idea how we felt when we saw in the news that Prescott had been arrested? Especially after you told us how much of a friend he was of yours. To think you could have been involved in that -” He stopped when he saw the expression on his daughters face – Victoria's thoughts had immediately jumped to a red binder with her name on it and the knowledge that in at least one other reality she was dead, murdered by the very people she thought she had wrapped around her finger.

“What is it?” her Father asked, his tone now one of slight concern. He glanced at her Mother, raising an eyebrow as if questioning if she knew anything.

“Victoria? What is it?” Her Mother bent over to try and get a better look at Victoria, who was now staring down at the table, fists clenched tight. Victoria's imagination had decided to fill out with gleeful delight all the various ways she could have ended up as another Rachel Amber; dying alone and forgotten in a ditch somewhere – with the worst of it being the fact that she knew, she knew, that it had happened to her – until that Max had stopped it, and sacrificed herself in the process.

“I -” She looked up and caught the eye of the PA, who was standing there and pretending to not take any notice. “Actually, could you leave? This is a private matter.” The woman hesitated until there was a surreptitious nod from her Father, and with a small half bow left the room. Victoria waited for a moment to make sure they were really alone, before looking at her slightly bemused parents.

“If I tell you something, promise me.. promise me you won't get all mad or judgemental; or tell me how disappointed you are. Not until I've finished anyway.” She paused, watching their reaction – their faces were inscrutable, carefully set to not give away any indication as to what they were thinking – years of being at the top level of business having made it second nature to them. “And you can't tell anyone about this, either. Please promise me.” Victoria's voice was almost pleading, and something in her voice seemed to indicate to her parents that she was, for once, being serious.

“Of course, Victoria. You can trust us, we're your parents,” said her Father.

“You haven't done anything illegal, have you?” demanded her Mother. “This had better not be a repeat of-”

“Mother!” said Victoria in exasperation. She wondered how many times she had had this conversation with them, and how badly it had gone wrong before – she made a mental to note to thank Max when she saw her later.

Maybe I'll buy her some flowers. Wait does she like flowers? What does she like apart from stupid hipster shit? Why don't I know this?

Oh, I know.. maybe I could -

“Victoria?” Victoria blinked, realising she had been spacing out like Max usually did.

“Sorry, I was just thinking of something.” She paused, took a deep breath then looked up at her Father, fixing her gaze at him as if daring him to doubt her. “There was a binder with my name on it. I was next.” The room was deathly quiet as they both stared at her, before her Mother frowned and spoke, clearly not believing her.

“Victoria, this is just - how do you know? Are you sure? This sounds a bit-”

“Because I’m the fucking one who brought in the FBI, OK?” Victoria shouted, before forcing herself to calm down and speak in a more controlled manner. “Me and my.. my friend, we had found it all out. We realised what had been happening and we called them in, told them what to find and where. And we were right.” There was another silence as they both digested the information, her Father having an expression that seemed to Victoria to be one of admiration and approval. Her Mother, though, appeared to not be buying it.

“Victoria, what have I told you before about lying about things? This is just like the time-”

“I’m not lying,” Victoria said quietly, turning to gaze with defiance at her Mother with a courage she didn’t realise she had within her – given everything that had happened to her over the past few months, confronting her parents suddenly seemed not insurmountable. “Call the District Attorney – Mr Amber – if you don’t believe me. Go on, call him now. I’ll wait.” As if to emphasise it she tossed her cell onto the table, where it lay as a direct accusatory rebuke to her Mother

“There’s no need for that, Victoria,” answered her Father. “I believe you.” He stared at her for a moment before rubbing his face as if agitated, then swore under his breath. Victoria was shocked; she had never seen him like this (or at least she couldn’t remember having seen it – but then what she had chosen to remember of her parents was decidedly selective and one sided) and she didn’t quite know what to think.

She watched as he picked up his cell and dialled a number, staring at her all the time with a mixture of what appeared to be anger and regret, and she realised that she didn’t feel anxious at all, which caught her a little by surprise.

“Simon? Matthew. No, listen - I have a new assignment. I want you to find out everything you can about the Prescott family – yes, that one. I mean business interests, assets, surviving relatives – everything. We are going to utterly destroy them, I don’t care what it takes. Yes, that is correct. Arrange a meeting for next Monday. No, I’ll be in touch. Thanks.” He hung up and gave Victoria a smile that seemed positively predatory and rubbed his hands together as if in satisfaction at a job well done, or a pleasing task ahead. “I’ll sort this Victoria, no-one messes with the Chase’s, especially with my daughter, and gets away with it.” Victoria didn’t answer, but felt slightly perturbed by the fact that her Father was acting like some sort of mafia boss from a film – but then she knew that there was a long and at times unsavoury family history stretching behind her, so why would it be any different now?

But it could be different with me. When I am in charge.

“Thank you, Father. I think.” She didn’t look at her Mother, who she could sense was still disapproving of whatever she did. “I know in the past I may have not been the best behaved,” she continued with remarkable understatement, “but going to Blackwell, and making my own friends – and yes, I know not all of them were the best choice – has helped me grow up a bit. Be my own person, be able to understand what it takes to be the person I need to be.” She paused, her mind rapidly working on the best way to convince her parents. “You even said it yourself you were impressed with my proposal for the school, and given I also managed to stop.. stop those things from happening, can you not see I can do it? Can you not trust me a little bit now? Can you not trust me to choose where I want to go to University, to study what I want to study?” Her parents looked at each other again, faces impassive before her Mother spoke.

“Victoria, you have to look at it from our point of view. We are your parents and we only want the best for you, but above all we want you to be safe. We worry about you and given what you just said we are right to be worried.” Victoria rolled her eyes, feeling exasperated but doing her best to keep herself under control.

“I can look after myself. And I’ve had to, haven’t I – you both are never fucking around.” Victoria couldn’t help herself; the stark difference between her stay at Max’s and the open welcome she had received was in stark contrast to this austere, awkward lunch in an empty room with the people who were supposed to be there for her.

“Victoria! Language!” admonished her Mother, but Victoria didn’t care and doubled down, thinking she had nothing to lose.

“Well it’s true, isn’t it? You are fucking never here anymore. I’m just left to rot in this fucking house on my own, while you are obsessed with just getting more and more useless stuff. You say I’m in danger – how the fuck do you know I am?” She pointed a finger shaking with anger and nerves at her Mother. “What courses am I doing at Blackwell? Can you tell me?”

“I.. Victoria- ” Victoria turned to her Father, the finger wavering.

“Do you know who my friends are? What I like to do?” Her Father held her gaze but showed no reaction – if anything he seemed a little amused by her outburst. Her Mother suddenly shivered and rubbed her arms, and Victoria quickly realised her mistake – she stood up and went to stand between the two of them, as if forcing them to look up at her but instead getting a safe distance away to buy her time to calm down. She put a hand to her forehead, being careful not to mess up her hair and closed her eyes, conscious of her parents just looking at her, as if waiting for the next outburst – to which they would eventually lose patience and the whole thing would end up in another tedious argument.

“Look, I’m sorry,” she said instead. “I didn’t mean to lose my temper, but can you not see? All I want.. all I want is my parents back. How it used to be. Like that time we went skiing years ago, do you remember? Can we not just have a normal lunch like a normal family?” She looked beseechingly at her parents, and it felt like there was a tension in the air - as if things could go one way or the other until her Mother suddenly sighed.

“I don’t want to fight with you, Victoria. And neither does your Father. You are our daughter and we are proud of you, even if we don’t show it enough, it seems.” Victoria was caught by surprise; she couldn't remember the last time they had said they were proud of anything she had done, nor backed down from a confrontation with her.

“We wanted you over for Thanksgiving because we hadn't seen you for so long,” her Father said. “And yes, admittedly it was to discuss your future, but also to see you. Maybe our priorities were a little wrong.”

You think?

And did my Father just admit he was wrong?

Victoria slowly sat down again and looked at them both. She wondered if she should have tried to rebuild bridges sooner – but realised that before everything with Max had happened, she was in a far too destructive cycle to have done so. Either way, considering how she had felt before coming here, this was as best an outcome as she could ever possibly imagined.

“So,” her Mother said, trying a friendly smile on her face to see how it fitted, “as we are trying to be ‘normal’, I will ask you about yesterday. You said you were staying over at a friend’s house. Is it someone we know? No-one we know informed us of this, so..?”

Oh fuck.

“It was a friend from Blackwell who lives here in Seattle,” she stammered. “A new one I've made, a really good one. They helped me uncover the whole Prescott thing,” she added, as if trying to vouch for Max's validity as a friend.

“And you stayed the night?” asked her Mother with a raised eyebrow. Before Victoria could answer some attendants came into the room as if silently summoned and whisked the dishes away again, to be replaced with the main course – Seared White Sturgeon with Caviar Beurre Blanc. Victoria's stomach grumbled with hunger – although the dish smelled delicious, there just wasn't enough of it for her liking. There were a few minutes of quiet as the three of them tucked in, and Victoria began to think that the subject of her new friend had been dropped before her Father spoke again, a glint in his eye.

“So, this new friend of yours.. do I need to stop Veronica matchmaking?” Victoria coughed on her food, grabbing the serviette immediately handed to her by her Mother before taking a sip of water.

“Pardon?” she said weakly, trying to stall for time – but her Father clearly wasn't having any of it.

“This new friend who you stayed over with, for perhaps the first time I can ever remember. What's their name?”

“Max,” Victoria said, suddenly regretting the attempt at trying to rebuild the bridges to her parents. They, meanwhile, exchanged a meaningful look, and her Mother took the lead in the inquisition.

“Well you are finally making some progress in that area, at least. What business are the family in? How serious is this? Are you taking suitable precautions? I trust that you will introduce us to him, and his family.” Victoria suddenly wished for Max's rewind powers and wondered if it was karma for egging on Max's Grandma yesterday so much.

“It's.. it's not like that, and anyway it's only been a few months and.. and.. Max is.. is.. is a..” The word just couldn't leave her lips, no matter how hard she tried.

“Well, there's no rush – if it lasts, I'm sure we will meet him in a few months, yes? I mean we can trust you to make a good choice now, can't we?” Victoria stared glumly at her food, defeated – she knew that if she wanted to show that she was as capable and independent as she was saying, then introducing her new partner would be an excellent way of demonstrating it, especially as it was Max.

The problem – the big, big problem - was that it was Max.



Max was waiting for her near the big wheel, leaning against a railing and looking out over the waterfront. She hadn't yet seen Victoria approach, and Victoria fished out her cell to quickly take a picture of her – she was pleased with the results, especially give it was just taken on her crappy cell.

“Hey,” she said, and Max turned to face her with a happy smile that made her feel all squishy inside.

“Hey you.” Max leaned in to give her a kiss, and after a brief hesitation before she reminded herself that she had left her parents far behind, Victoria leaned in to receive it.

“How was your lunch date?” asked Max. “Did you all manage to not kill each other?” Victoria gave her a withering look before handing her a bag.

“Yes. And I bought you a present by means of a thank you.”

“A present? For me?” Max snatched the bag out of Victoria's hand and delved into the contents, pulling out a cardboard box that was ornately decorated, which she quickly opened.

“Doughnuts!” she cried in delight, pulling out a sticky, gooey, tooth destroying mess.

“Not just doughnuts, but posh doughnuts. Apparently there was a good French bakery around the corner, so I popped in there to get you some as a thank you.”

“For what?” asked Max, mouth already full and bits of chocolate stuck to her chin.

“You don’t have to eat them all right now,” Victoria said, looking with disgust at Max as she stuffed the rest of the doughnut in her mouth. “It was a thank you for helping me today with all the rewinds. Everything ended up being OK after that. Almost normal. Almost.” Max rooted though the box for another doughnut.

“Ooh, raspberry jam and cream with icing! Yum!” She held it up for inspection, and Victoria’s teeth seemed to rot just looking at it. “It’s very kind of you, but you needn’t have – I didn’t rewind at all.” Max took a bite of the new doughnut, giggling as the cream oozed down her chin creating even more of a mess. Victoria just stared at her as her brain tried to reconfigure the entirety of the afternoon.

“Wait.. you didn’t.. but you sent a message saying you did? What.. I thought that..” Max gave her a mischievous grin from around the doughnut.

“Well I knew that you would probably lose it with them, so to save myself the whole effort of having to do it to get to that point, I thought I’d just skip it all. And it worked, I bet.” Victoria just stared at Max, not sure whether to be furious or impressed.

“Why you little… give me that! Give me them back! You don’t deserve those!” Max danced away from her laughing, clutching the box in one hand while stuffing the rest of the doughnut into her face with the other.

“Not a chance! You gave them to me and they are mine now! All mine!”

“Come back here you duplicitous little shit!” growled Victoria, running after her. She reached out to grab hold of her, but Max was suddenly a few metres away, still laughing as she opened the box once more.

“Stay back, Chase! Don’t come between me and my sugary treats!”

“I hate you, Maxine Caulfield.”

“Mmphh, these are sooo good.” Max licked her fingers, and Victoria narrowed her eyes debating whether she could get away with a quick blast of ice to knock it from her hands. Max pulled out a doughnut that seemed entirely composed of purple and held it out in front of her as shield.

“If you just heat yourself up for a second, you’ll realise I did you a favour. You managed to get through it all on your own, without me helping you.” Victoria had realised that already, but it did little to assuage her annoyance.

“Yes thank you, I get that. You still don’t deserve those though, so gimme. Now.”

“What’s your problem then? You didn’t do anything stupid, and I got doughnuts. Everyone wins.” Victoria knew Max was right, but it just didn’t seem fair – she felt she had been tricked into behaving well.

Wait, that’s a bit of a fucked up way of looking at it. I shouldn’t have to be tricked into it.

Ugh. She's so annoying.

“Fine, whatever. But don’t eat them all, you’ll be sick.” Max looked at her then reluctantly put the purple monstrosity back in the box, but still cradled it protectively. Victoria rolled her eyes and took a step towards her, causing Max try to shield the box some more.

“Mine! My preccciouusssssss..”

“I’m not going to steal them Max, I just want to give you some wipes as you look like a two-year-old.” Victoria proffered a packet as evidence, then pulled one out and began to dab at Max’s face. “And why did you say it in that silly way, are you trying to reference something nerdy that I don’t know about? They are only doughnuts, not like a ruling ring of power or anything.” She stepped back and admired her handiwork. “There we go, you look human now.” Max stood on her tiptoes and kissed her, still clutching the box tight just in case.

“Thank you. And really, well done with today. You can tell me all about it once we are on there.” She nodded her head towards the wheel that loomed up behind them.

“You want to go on that? Why?”

“Because it’ll be fun, and romantic. And you can tell me about your lunch with your parents. And then we can go for a walk along the front, and then some food – there’s a Thai nearby which is supposed to be good. What do you think?” Max looked up at her with a happy expression, and Victoria couldn’t help but smile back at her.

“That.. sounds perfect. But only on one condition.” Max looked at her quizzically, tilting her head to one side and causing her hair to fall across a cheek.

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I get lots of hugs and kisses.” Max laughed and did just that, then took Victoria by the hand and led her towards the wheel. Victoria reflected that, on the whole, today had been a good day – and was only going to get better.