A New York Life

A New York Life

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A look into the lives of the tenants of an apartment building at 304 W 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York

4,547 readers have visited A New York Life since Collapse created it.

Introduction




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New York, New York

This story focuses on the lives of the tenants living on the fifth floor of the apartment building at 304 W 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York. This particular building is located on the border of the West Village and Chelsea, and is approximately a fifteen minute walk from both Union Square Park and Washington Square Park. The building isn't the nicest, so at least once a month, you'll probably be knocking on the building manager's door about a leak, pest problem, or utility issue that you know will never be fixed, but considering it offers decent, livable apartments in one of the most expensive cities in the world, it's not a horrible place to live either. It's a walkup building, with no doorman or elevator service, though there is a keypad at the front door of the building as a puny security measure. Pets are not permitted in the building, and it does not offer any services such as a rooftop area, gym, or swimming pool. However, on the block and in the surrounding area are many restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, and schools.

The building has seven floors of apartments, with ten apartments per floor. The majority of them are single, one bedroom apartments, with a few studio apartments, and two and three bedroom apartments in the mix. Studios generally run around $1500 a month with a kitchenette/bedroom and bathroom per apartment. One bedrooms separate the bedroom from the kitchen/living room, and also have one bathroom, and run around $1800 per month. A two bedroom apartment, with two separate bedrooms, a kitchen and living area, and one bathroom will run you $3000 a month, and a three bedroom apartment, fitted with three separate bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living space will cost approximately $4500 a month. The fifth floor consists of a mix of all four of these apartment types.

ImageImageApartment 5A:
Apartment 5A is a two bedroom apartment, currently being occupied by one male, after his roommate just recently moved out. Colton King currently works at a deli, and likes to believe that he's living a simple, yet fulfilling life. He has enough money to pay his bills and afford as much beer as it takes to make him pass out each night, and up until now, that has been enough to keep him content. He does wonder, however, if that's going to be enough to keep him content forever.
Colton King | FC: Harvey Newtown Haydon | Age 24 | Taken by Thunder


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Apartment 5B:
Apartment 5B is a three bedroom apartment. The first of the three rooms is occupied by Chanel Owens, a girl who is known for her bubbly personality and ability to befriend almost anyway. She's currently unemployed, but has a history of working jobs such as a barista in a coffee shop, and freelance graphic design work. Recently, the second bedroom's occupants changed, and now Nick Moreno and Roman Killens reside there. Nick is the neighborhood drug dealer, while Roman makes most of his money through underground, illegal street fighting. The third bedroom is occupied by Kacey Rogers, an aspiring actress and waitress.

Kacey Rogers | FC: Keke Palmer | Age 21 | Taken by Thunder
Nick Moreno | FC: Diego Barrueco | Age 24 | Taken by Collapse
Roman Killens | FC: Ash Stymest | Age 21 | Taken by Predictmeifyoucan
Chanel Owens | FC: Imaan Hammam | Age 22 | Taken by Predictmeifyoucan

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Apartment 5C:
Apartment 5C is a three bedroom apartment. It was originally only occupied by Caraline Forrester and her brother Ryan, a sibling pair who grew up on the Upper East Side with their father, after their mother passed away in the 9/11 attacks. Ryan, a student at NYU, recently bit off more than he could chew, when he slept with Brooklyn West, and in an impulsive move, moved back home with his father to avoid the drama. Following her breakup with Nick, thanks to him sleeping with Cara, Nick left her bedroom, but Brooklyn still remains in the second bedroom, and Holly and Makayla now occupy the third bedroom, that once housed Ryan and Roman. They're not biological sisters but were raised together and think of each other as being the closest thing to family that either have ever had. After Makayla's father was sent to prison with Holly's mother two years ago, Makayla assumed custody of Holly. With her father and his drug money gone, they were evicted from the house they were living in in Queens, and the sisters were homeless for a month before Makayla resorted to prostitution.

Caraline Forrester | FC: Lindsay Ellingson | Age 22 | Taken by LaurenAFI
Brooklyn West | FC: Amber Heard | Age 23 | Taken by BurningBridges
Makayla Wright | FC: Jhene Aiko | Age 22 | Taken by Bandit
Holly Maddon | FC: Ariana Grande | Age 16 | Taken by Writer


Rules
  • More than anything else, the most important rule in this roleplay is that you must be active! I really don't want to be that annoying GM sending PM's every week asking if you're still interested, so if you don't have the time to post at least once every three days, don't join. More important than the three day guideline, though, is that you just need to post to an extent where your character is slowly down the scene. I ran this roleplay a few months ago and it went great for a while, but all it took was one character to stop posting regularly for the entire thing to fall apart. I really do not want that to happen again, so if you are just looking for a quick roleplay to satisfy a craving, please do not join this!

  • Being active in the IC is obviously very important to me, but I would love it if everyone was active in the OOC too! I want this to be a fun and social roleplay, so I think it's important that we all are comfortable with each other and are willing to bounce ideas off of each other!

  • I won't obsess over minor grammatical errors since none of us are perfect, but please make sure your posts are understandable. Read everyone's posts so you aren't writing completely out of the current plot and try to put effort into your writing. I hate putting numbers on posts, since I do prefer quality or quantity, but I think a minimum of 300 words per post isn't asking too much of anyone.

  • Multiple people can try for the same role since this will not be a first come, first serve roleplay. When you post in the OOC, please just state that you will be able to post once every three days, to stress that you read these guidelines. Please also include the character that you are trying for, and what face claim you will be using if you'd like to swap it for a different one. You have three days to get a WIP up, and five days to finish the character sheet. The character sheet code below is simply an outline. Make it as fancy as you want, but make sure your writing is as detailed as all of the frilly, prettiness ;D.


Character Sheet
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Full Name:

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Age:

DOB:

Sexuality:

Personality:

Likes:

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Background:

Job:

Hometown:

Height:

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Face Claim:

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The GM of this roleplay hasn't created any rules! You can do whatever you like!

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 14 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Chanel Owens Character Portrait: Caraline Forrester Character Portrait: Colton King
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It had taken Chanel quite a bit of willpower not to intervene while Colton spoke. Not to stop him, but to show him that she was listening. Every few sentences, she had something to say, and then some sentences later, she had something even better to say. Although she did give him small affirmatives--head nods and smiles mostly--she had remained well-mannered, mostly enthusiastic about how much he was talking since he seemed like the kind of guy who just smirked and spoke about a paragraph worth of words a month. So she was mostly able to remain still, although visibly excited, due to the fact that she was intrigued, especially since he didn't seem to be upset any, and was even being charming. At Colton's proposal, her face lit up, clearly indicating her answer, although she didn't say anything until after he'd finished speaking, unless her subsequent laughing could be counted against her. "Yeah, no," she began, some laughter still remaining in her voice as she nodded. "I definitely think wine and my so-called social reputation is a pretty fair trade off," she said. She took a half step towards her room, beginning to point to it as she said, "I have to fix this though," and she pulled at her t-shirt. "You can come in if you w-"

Before she had the chance to finish, she heard Cara behind her and turned around to see the girl. Chanel's face hadn't immediately changed upon sight of Cara, and still retained its lightness from her interaction with Colton. It wasn't until she caught Cara's look and heard her invitation did Chanel cock her head slightly. She looked at Cara for a second then, her eyes narrowing some in confusion before she looked back behind her and Colton, as if searching for someone, before turning back to Cara. Her eyes widened some, as if she was finally understanding. "Oh!" she said. "Sorry, I was just confused as to who you were looking at like that." She laughed then in a self-deprecating kind of way, the way one would as if to excuse something embarrassing they'd done. It was a dry laugh and with less depth than she'd used with Colton just a moment before. "But what were you saying?" she said genuinely, her smile still present. "Oh. Oh, oh, oh, oh. Right. That actually sounds so much fun!" she said, looking back towards Colton with a kind of nod before looking as if she remembered something and then she turned back to Cara, almost. "But I was actually going to pretend to ruin my social reputation tonight, and I don't want to risk actually doing that if I were to go. Plus," she added, this time almost apologetically. "Secondhand invitations aren't really my thing, now that I think about it." She reached out towards Chanel as if she were handing her a thought that she'd almost forgot to mention. "But, girl, you get you some stilettos and a slutty dress, and turn that place upside down. If you're not pregnant by the end of the night, then you did something wrong," she said winking at her, and that gesture seemed to be the truest thing she'd done since interacting with Cara. While Chanel had been openly stiff and ostentatiously fake as she was being, she didn't need to be. Cara knew her well enough to pick up on it, and the authenticity of her last comment solidified just how quick she could change, even if in the subtlest of ways. Her hand had ended up on the door, pushing it partially open when she faced Colton again. What she said next she didn't intend to wait for an answer, mostly because she didn't want to actually be turned right in front of Cara. "Give me ten minutes, okay?" she said as she slipped through the door, only leaning out at the last second before finally closing it in order to wave widely at Cara and say, "Bye, Cara!"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Chanel Owens Character Portrait: Caraline Forrester Character Portrait: Colton King
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#, as written by Thunder
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It wasn't necessarily obvious that Cara and Chanel weren't being genuinely friendly with each other, and yet, though Colton was no social mastermind, he still sensed that there was something underhanded about the way that they were interacting. He had caught Cara's up and down look of Chanel when she had first come over, and the way that Cara had only seemed to invite Chanel as an after thought, and how Chanel's response seemed equally.... he didn't know what the word was, but it wasn't nice and cheerful. He watched in silence, eyebrows raised slightly, and mostly just out of surprise. The last that he had heard, the two of them were friends. They were the two hot model chicks who had made his Thanksgiving move bearable, since they provided him with some unrealistic fantasies of what might happen now that he was their neighbor. They had hosted Thanksgiving together, and as far as he knew, seemed like the kind of best friends that most girls liked to have. Living with Kacey had allowed him some sort of inside view on how girls (particularly catty ones) worked, and that was probably the only reason that he didn't smile along obliviously, thinking that everything was as fine and dandy as the girls' tones and smiles suggested.

He hadn't had time to answer Chanel before Cara had come over, to respond to Cara's initial question, or to say anything more to Chanel before she disappeared behind her own apartment door with the promise of being no longer than ten minutes, and for a few seconds, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. What the hell just happened?, he wondered, reminding himself that he would probably end up with a headache if he spent any longer trying to figure out what the sentiments were behind the girls' exchanges. Maybe that would have been easier though, than trying to figure out why Cara had suddenly decided to talk to him. They had passed by each other more than a handful of times since Thanksgiving, and she had always looked straight through him as if he didn't exist. Why, suddenly, was this pretty girl not only acknowledging his presence, but actually inviting him out somewhere? It was perplexing, and it certainly wasn't Colton's head or heart telling him that he needed to stop thinking and just roll with it, but he tried to actual calm and cool. "I feel like this is a dumb question," he laughed, "But what the hell is '1 Oak'?" Colton wasn't big on the nightlife scene to begin with, and when he did go out, it was usually to local dive bars. He wasn't into scenes that were pretentious or hard and expensive to get into, so it wasn't surprising that one of the most elite clubs in the city wasn't on his radar. "Other than apparently being a fertility clinic," he added in after a slight pause, a second thought move that he hoped would lighten his fall if it really was an idiotic question. "She agreed to go out with me tonight, but I actually don't think any of the usual bars I go to will really be up to her standards," he admitted with a laugh. "So if this place fits that whole 'too cool for me, supermodel-y' vibe that she's got going, I'm down to go if she is."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon Character Portrait: Roman Killens Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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Brooklyn listened curiously as Makayla warned Holly not to use an attitude with her again. She had been home for less than an hour, and the majority of that time was spent showering, and resting, so she had not had the time to notice how oddly quiet it had been, or how Makayla had been relaxing without Holly hovering somewhere nearby. She did notice how the kitchen seemed particularly clean, but opted against commenting on it. It wouldn't have killed her to have commented with appreciation on how nicely Makayla had done, or how it had been nice, in general, for her to do all of that by herself, but she didn't like giving people credit that easily. It felt better to pretend not to notice, as if someone's small good deed simply wasn't good enough to receive praise. "She's right, Holly," Brooklyn said, not looking in either of the girls' direction as she busied herself with pouring a glass of water from the fridge. "You better always appreciate your sister. She does so much for you, and you should never take it for granted." The thought behind it was more personal than Makayla and Holly, as a fleeting thought of her own sister came into mind (and then was pushed out just as quickly). However, Brooklyn wasn't going to allow herself to get sentimental. More than anything, she brushed her own words off as being a "don't say I never warned you" type of situation, as if Holly were actually in risk of losing Makayla soon.

It probably would have made more sense to take the subway to the pizza place that Brooklyn wanted her food from, rather than walk there, twenty minutes in the bitter cold, but Nick liked thinking that he was more capable and more invincible than he actually was. He really had no excuse other than that, because he had a monthly Metro Card in his wallet that easily could have gotten him there in half the time, if not less. Additionally, with Brooklyn on his tail about getting there sooner than later, it made even less sense for him to walk there, but he did. In his defense, he had called in his order ahead of time, so by the time that he got to the small pizza joint, his order of three pies: one plain cheese, one sicilian, and one that was half meatball, half pepperoni, were all ready and waiting for him. The order was extremely excessive given that he only imagined that it would be himself, Brooklyn, and maybe Roman, eating, and the only thing that Nick could blame for that, was that he was at the peak of his high. Additionally, and in his defense, one of the guys who worked at the shop was a regular client of his, and "accidentally" only rang him up for two of the pies, instead of three. Still, spending forty-five dollars on food that easily could have cost ten didn't help Nick's reputation much.

He was much smarter on the way home, opting to take a subway that allowed him to return to the apartment in enough time that the pizza boxes still burned the tips of his fingers as they pressed against the bottom of the boxes. He called Brooklyn on his way back, and since she said that she preferred the idea of eating at her own place, that was where Nick headed. He wanted to drop back into his own apartment for a few minutes, mostly to leave his coat and belongings there, but after walking up five flights of stairs with arms full of pizza, he decided that the most important thing for now, was putting those pies down. He was too focused on the pizzas and getting to Brooklyn to want to chat when he saw Cara and Colton in the hallway, so he only smiled at them while walking by. Resting the three boxes on one hand, he used the other to knock on the door. While he waited, he texted Roman, saying, "Back w pizza if u want". It took only a moment for the door to be opened by Brooklyn, and Nick instinctively smiled when he saw her. "Sorry it took so long, but I made it. Roman here, already?" he asked as he walked in, knowing that it was unlikely, unless he and Brooklyn were already hanging out prior to his text just seconds before. His hands were both full again now, as he settled the weight of the pizzas between the two, so he offered Makayla and Holly a nod of his head and a smile as an impromptu greeting.

Brooklyn was the closest to the door when Nick knocked, and since she was expecting him anyway, she opened it for him. Though she was glad to see him, she was even more glad to see the three pies in his hands. It was definitely an excessive amount of pizza, given that one probably would have been all they needed, but she wasn't complaining. "No, he's being a little bitch like usual," she responded nonchalantly, taking the top pizza box from Nick's hands and setting it on the counter. It was the plain cheese pie, the one that she wanted, so after opening it up and seeing that, she didn't bother to help him with the other two pies. There was space on the counter for him to set it down anyway, so she didn't feel rude just jumping right into making herself a plate. "You can text him. Just tell him to lose the attitude on the way over," she said, continuing to act unbothered, because truthfully, she really wasn't bothered, but just simply being petty, which wasn't abnormal for her. "Holly and Makayla are eating with us too."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Chanel Owens Character Portrait: Caraline Forrester Character Portrait: Colton King
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Well, Cara couldn't say that she was surprised at Chanel being dramatic. If you asked Cara, she would tell you that "that's like, her number one trait". When they had been friends, the drama had been fun because they were being dramatic and gossipy together. Now, Cara was getting a taste of her own medicine in the form of a behavior she liked to engage in herself (and used to like to engage in with Chanel), and that surprised her. Chanel hadn't given her much time to respond, but even if she had, Cara wouldn't have known how to answer that. The only thing really crossing her mind was "Hmm... not bad", in response to the level of pettiness that Chanel was able to reach on the spot, but obviously Cara wasn't going to admit that out loud. She was glad that Colton started talking, seemingly brushing off and joking about what Chanel had said, rather than fixating on it and making Cara feel more awkward. It made it easier for Cara to bring the smile back to her face after Chanel waved goodbye to her.

Colton was definitely cute, and in Cara's eyes, that came more from his words than his appearance so to speak. She definitely knew that he wasn't ugly, but he simply wasn't her type, to the extent that she could swoon over him solely because of that. While his looks caught her eye, but didn't have her jaw dropping, his attitude did surprise her just a bit. She didn't picture someone like him, who looked a bit rugged and tough, to be making fun of himself and admitting that he had a crush on someone. He was being funny and open, but not in a weird way. It was really just sweet, and for a moment, Cara remembered Thanksgiving night when Colton had first moved up to their floor. The night had been entirely strange in its own right, but Cara had been a little thrown off by Chanel inviting him and Kacey over. Due to everything that was going on, from what Cara recalled, he had only stayed for a couple of minutes, but Cara could clearly remember Chanel being her endearing, fun self when she expressed how she thought Colton was attractive after she had first encountered him in her apartment, helping Kacey move in. The memory made her want to smile, and if she wasn't already smiling at Colton, it was possible that she would have let the smile slip before catching it. And maybe that said something to the way she had been feeling lately, even considering how she had just blatantly been disrespectful to Chanel. "It's a club," she laughed. "She's definitely never been there, which was why she talked about it like it's a place where trashy people go to party. It's actually nice, and I do think that she would like it but she totally doesn't look like she'll be 1 Oak ready in the next ten minutes," she said casually, as if she wasn't continuing to try to diss the girl who was gone now. "So I guess you should either plan on taking her on one date and having her never call you again, or prepare for her taking an hour to get ready and come wait for her in my apartment. I'll text her to come over when she's finished!" she insisted.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon Character Portrait: Chanel Owens Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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#, as written by Bandit
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"Yes, yes, I've got it!" Holly insisted, her perky side staying strong after it's disappearance for the afternoon. She wasn't quite convinced that going to bed was the best option after she finished eating, but she knew that saying anything, other than confirming what Makayla had said, would likely land her in trouble. That was why she opted against reminding Makayla that she wouldn't have had an attitude if Makayla hadn't had one with her first. She was also hungry and excited for this pizza, so when Nick walked in with three boxes full of it, Holly's attention was redirected to that. "Hi Nick!" she greeted as she hurried towards the boxes of pizza he was setting down on the counter. Brooklyn had already opened up one, and as Holly peered into the box, she found that they were regular cheese slices, which was just what she wanted. "Can I have one of these?" she asked, looking to Brooklyn. She was tempted to just reach in and grab one but knew to have manners in a situation like this. "Isn't that funny, Brooklyn? Me and you like the same kind of pizza! We're like pizza twins! And also, I forgot to say it but I do appreciate Makayla. She's the best sister in the whole word, even when she's in a bad mood!"

Makayla watched Holly from the table, sipping her tea quietly as she watched Nick come in with the pizzas. She was more used to whatever he and Brooklyn were now than she had been initially after their breakup, but it was still strange seeing them as "just friends" or whatever they were, when they used to be close enough to be a married couple. Makayla had never envisioned Brooklyn as being the kind of girl who would go back to someone that cheated on her, even knowing how close she and Nick had been. She saw Brooklyn as being too strong for that, too independent, and more than anything else, too cold. She knew that she was being dramatic by acting like Brooklyn was cold enough to literally have no feelings, but she still thought that Brooklyn was good enough at turning off her emotions, to be able to do so in a situation like this. Cheating seemed like the ultimate betrayal to a girl like her, and though Makayla hadn't told Brooklyn originally for that reason, she knew that it had been true back then too, so it did make her feel a little weird for being the one to let Brooklyn know about the cheating. It would have been different, different in a better way, if Brooklyn had never went back to Nick, even as friends, because then Makayla could have justified her snitching as being some good deed in Brooklyn's benefit. Now, even though she knew she had done it for petty reasons, she was beginning to feel like it was even harder to convince herself otherwise, since it seemed like all she had done was cause problems for a few months, before things returned to normal. It wasn't that big of a deal, especially considering that the snitching had led to her getting a good job, but it still felt strange.

She was set on Holly going to bed in the next half hour, and though she was in the process of trying to get ready for bed herself, she knew that the easiest way to get to sleep tonight would be to smoke. Nick's presence was a good reminder of that, but Makayla had enough weed on hand to not need to actually ask him for anything. Thinking about the drug, though, reminded her of the plans that had fizzled out earlier, about her and Chanel smoking. Though Makayla was pretty sure that a girl like Chanel would be out and about on a Friday night, she figured that texting her couldn't hurt, and sent one saying, "Hey girl. Probably going to light up before bed if you're around! Np if not but we have to light up this week some time!!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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"Sounds good," he nodded, when Brooklyn claimed that Holly and Makayla were eating with them. He had definitely bought enough food to satisfy everyone's hunger, and given that the two girls were in the room, he would have felt obliged to offer them some anyway, if Brooklyn hadn't already done so. Her response to his question about Roman wasn't anything incredibly surprising, at least not in the sense of Brooklyn seemingly having tension with him, but he was curious about what it was that caused this attitude. As long as it wasn't being directed towards him though, he was okay with putting the questioning off until later. "I texted him a few minutes ago. Haven't heard back, but I figured you might've spoken him. I'm sure he'll be over here sooner than later, though," he said with a shrug. He was pretty certain that was how the night would play out, partly because Nick had already informed Roman of the plans, so unless the kid had taken one too many downers and was passed out, he would be alive enough to know that he had to come out later on in the night. Additionally, Nick assumed that if Roman had smoked recently, his munchies would make it all the more easier for him to smell and crave the pizza in the apartment across the hall. He hoped so, at least, because he really did want this night to work out, and he had a feeling that Brooklyn wouldn't be happy if it didn't go how she planned. Those plans included Roman, and even though it seemed like Brooklyn was upset with him right now, Nick knew her well enough to know that she would likely be even more upset (possibly just for the sake of having an attitude), if things didn't go how she envisioned they would.

Sometimes Nick wondered how Brooklyn got away with being like this. She got away with it with everyone, it seemed like. Nick certainly let it fly most of the time, and especially so recently, given that he didn't want to do a single thing wrong to ruin his chances of getting her back. Before now though, back when they were on the same playing field and he actually had a say and some leverage in their relationship, he was still very nonchalant about how Brooklyn acted. He gave in to a lot of her unreasonable demands, apologized when he had done nothing wrong, and allowed her to escalate situations between himself and her, and her and other people, without interfering. Roman did a better job at taking his own jabs at Brooklyn, but even he seemed to just accept that this was the way she was. It was her personality, and Nick knew that, but at the same time, he felt like that wasn't always a viable excuse to justify her behavior. It wasn't fair that she could be callous and cold and heartless, and for everyone to just shrug and say, "oh well, that's just how she is". It was especially unfair, when one considered that if someone treated her the way she treated them, she liked to make a big deal out of it, like she was probably doing with Roman right now, claiming he had an attitude, when whatever he did likely wasn't half as bad as whatever Brooklyn had done or said to him.

It still wasn't a good enough reason, but Nick knew that somehow, this meanness just worked for Brooklyn. Maybe it was because she was pretty, and pretty people just seemed to be exempt from a lot of the social rules and standards that average people were held to, but maybe it was also because there was more to her than just someone who was mean. She wasn't nice by any means, but you could tell that she wasn't all evil. Like how she subtly welcomed Makayla and Holly to dinner just now, or how before their breakup, and the whole apartment change, she would sometimes wake Nick up in the middle of the night and ask him to go check to see if Roman was home yet, if she knew he had a fight that night (or the day before, if he hadn't come home between then and that next night). She wasn't all screaming matches and below the belt comments, and somehow, that made her likable.

Nick opened up the box containing the half pepperoni, half meatball pie, and slid a pepperoni slice on to his plate. Holly and Brooklyn were getting started too, so after grabbing a drink for himself, he looked to Makayla who sat beyond the counter he stood by, and at the table. "Makayla, what do you want? We have cheese, sicilian, meatball and pepperoni. Take your pick."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Roman Killens Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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It was already June 7th, and that was one more reminder to Brooklyn of how life felt like it had moved surprisingly fast over the past four months. She had found herself a part time day job at a restaurant, waiting tables, so maybe that was why it felt that way. She was busier than she had been used to over the winter, and being busy, and having more to do than working at night and sleeping all day made the days go by faster and faster. The increase in her work schedule meant that she was feeling a lot more tired as well, but it was a trade off that seemed worth it. The money made it worth it, and mentally, she was the kind of person who did better when they were doing things. It gave her less time to sit around and think about her life, which was a good thing, because thinking about her life always resulted in some strange mixture of feelings that always left her feeling unsettled. She would begin to loathe herself for ending up where she was. It wasn't like she was struggling, not financially, at least, but still, working as a stripper and a waitress wasn't something that you wanted to boast about, either. It wasn't something that she could do forever, and it wasn't something that she could ever put on a resume. When she got into this train of thought, she would always tell herself that she needed to go back to school. Pick a career path that could lead her into a stable life, like nursing or business management or even a lower level medical specialty, like a radiologic technician or something. At least if she had a degree or a licence in something, she would look good on paper. Somehow, she was convinced that having that would make her feel better about herself too, but still, that wasn't enough to get her to actually make a change in her life.

In her defense, after a traumatic transition into the real world, and after years of just knowing 'this' as her life, just waking up one morning and deciding to enroll in college wasn't something that would be as simple as that. Still, though, Brooklyn hated feeling like she was making up excuses for herself. She couldn't complain if she wasn't going to do anything to try and fix the problem, and that was why her disdain for herself was something that she kept to herself, lately. It was an internal conflict that she didn't want to have to explain to even her closest friends, because Brooklyn wasn't one who sought advice from anyone. It related back to how she hated feeling weak, and how she liked having all of the answers herself. It was silly; immature, even, but that was just how she was.

Just like the days were moving by quickly, Brooklyn was lucky that today's shift at work moved by quickly too. Five o'clock came sooner than she was expected, and as soon as the employees for the next shift showed up, she was clocked out, with dinner that she ordered from the kitchen already ready to go for her in a take out bag. The diner was less than a ten minute walk from her apartment building, so the bottom of the bag was still burning hot, even by the time that she made it up the five flights of stairs to her door. "Honey, I'm home!" she sang, her voice cheerful in a manner that was nearly mocking, as she knew it was out of character for her to be perky. "And I come bearing gifts. Chicken fingers for my five year old son, and lasagna for the neighborhood's favorite drug dealer," she announced, placing the takeout bag and her purse on the kitchen counter as she headed towards the bedroom that the boys shared and banged on the door twice. She really had no idea if either of them were even home, but she knew that even if they weren't, as long as she stuck the extra food in the fridge, it wouldn't take long after the boys got home for it to disappear. She wasn't always so generous, especially since while she did get the food discounted from the restaurant for working there, she didn't get it for free, but on days like today, where she had no reason to be in a bad mood, it seemed okay to be nice, for a change. Besides, even though the boys had been back in her apartment for a month or so, already, it still felt new and nice for things to be back to the old normal... even if they weren't fully back. "And you two bums better not still be asleep, or be drunk or high, when this bitch has been working her ass off all day. I will murder both of you if you come out here with bedhead, or reeking or weed or liquor!" she warned, giving one last bang to the door before returning to the kitchen.

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Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon
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Holly wasn't suddenly independent, or even capable enough of blending into normal society, but having her own cellphone had surprisingly resulted in her wanting independence more than she ever had before. A lot of it probably stemmed from how having a tool that allowed her to see what other people her age were doing all day, every day, actually made her feel insecure. Holly was blind to a lot of social cues, and there were very few things that could actually penetrate through her optimism to allow her to feel negatively, but she wasn't stupid. Especially as she got older, she began to understand more and more that her upbringing wasn't normal or ideal, and that other people were luckier than her. Sure, she was still elated if Makayla bought her a gumball in a store, so it wasn't like her personality had suddenly and drastically shifted, but it was worth noting that watching Youtube videos every day, or seeing her classmates posts on Instagram and Snapchat did force her to realize that she was different in ways that she never would have taken notice to before. One of the first ways that she realized it, was when she started to see that all of her classmates didn't just socialize with each other in school. They went to the movies, or hung out at each other's houses, or got dinner at restaurants together. As obvious as that sounds, Holly never would have thought that that stuff happened as frequently as it did, and that the friendships that she thought that she had with people in school (which was normally her just talking to people, and them smiling or responding to be nice), was different from what real friends had. No one invited her to get pizza or to spend a weekend afternoon in Brooklyn, and she didn't understand why.

Makayla would insist that it wasn't a big deal and that she didn't need to be invited places in order to be liked, but it was something that bothered Holly nonetheless, and maybe it was only really significant because she had never felt bothered like that, socially, before. Not since she was a child living with her mother and stepfather, but that was an entirely different situation all together. For the first time, Holly was becoming aware enough of social norms, and how she didn't fall within them enough to be accepted by her peers, and while it was a bad thing for obvious reasons for her, at the very least, it was a positive sign for her mental and emotional growth levels.

With a few bags of groceries in her hands, Holly walked a few steps behind Makayla as they made their way to the fifth floor of the building. For some reason, today the walk up felt ten times longer and more tiring than it normally did, and that was saying something, considering that Holly enjoyed running and skipping and nearly dancing up them most days, with the amount of energy she possessed. "Remember how I told you how all of the girls from my classes always do fun things after school? Today they're going to that place I told you I really want to go to, that makes the rolled ice cream. Remember I told you about that? Do you want to go tonight, maybe? Maybe we'll see them while we're there!" she insisted, staring at her sister's back eagerly, as she continued upwards.

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Character Portrait: Roman Killens Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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The past four months were blurs. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, although it was discouraging to think that this much time has passed without anything to really account for it. It was like walking in place. The only real outlier moment being when you fall down, but then you get back up and continue moving nowhere. On the other hand, though, there was the fact that time was still moving, and when each day seemed to get harder, and the prospects of life seemed to dim, it could be quite a triumphant thing to have any done anything, even if it lead nowhere. Really, all Roman wanted to do was nothing. Even then, though, he was unhappy doing nothing. It was easiest to just get high or go to sleep, both of which he could never really get enough of. It showed itself in his face a lot. He wasn't walking around blue in the face and cheeks sunken (at least, not on most days), but he was a bit more tuned out. It was also easier to swallow the day when he was only as present as he was really required to be, and that minimum level had decreased substantially to date.

Recently, he begun waiting tables. It wasn't something he really enjoyed because he didn't like interacting with people, and this showed quite fabulously in his tips, or lack thereof. There's one girl who works there and constantly humblebrags about the amount of tips she gets. It was annoying, just because she was a pretty and flirty girl and she used that to her advantage, which no one could really be mad about, but Roman found a way to. It was less anger and more a validation of discouragement. Another thing he disliked about his job were the hours. There were times where he would work straight through the night and straight through the day. If he was lucky, he could get a few hours sleep in between, but this wasn't typically the case. This Tuesday he was scheduled off from waiting and he was looking forward to just sleeping all day. He'd closed Monday, and gone straight to his kitchen job at the strip club Brooke works at. He didn't get back until after four in the morning and was woken up two hours later, asking if he could come in for someone. He didn't get back until about two in the afternoon and had immediately fallen asleep after taking two Xanax. His body still felt heavy from the effects; the knocking at the door more disorienting to him than it would have been otherwise. Roman, in response, lifted his head half an inch, before the act became too laborious, and he was pulled back to his pillow. In his mind, he thought that more time had passed and didn't even realize he'd fallen back asleep until Brooke's voice on the other end woke him up.

Quite uncharacteristically of him, he lifted himself up without much grumble. He lacked the general annoyance he had towards Brooke as a whole, and especially so when she woke him up (although the latter really applied to anyone or anything). Instead, after stretching and trying to ground himself, he went to door quite neutrally. While Roman didn't smell of his usual recreational devices, he didn't look much better as he cracked the door open just enough to let as little light in as possible, placing his head against the doorjamb. Roman hadn't heard any of what Brooklyn had said, and so he looked at her, his one eye that was open only being half so, he looked confused. Everything about his body language spoke to the fact that he was still mostly asleep and barely awake in the slightest. He was less standing, and more leaning against the door, and when he whispered, "What?" it was practically inaudible, but fully insincere as he was hardly present in the moment.

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Character Portrait: Roman Killens Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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Nick's life had not changed in any drastic ways, over the past four months, but changes did occur, and luckily, he was in a mindset where he could interpret them all positively. While he and Brooklyn still were not dating, and she still seemed adamant on reminding him that she wasn't the type of person to trust someone again, after they had hurt her, they were at least living in the same apartment again. Nick knew that he was lucky, and if he had anyone to thank, he thought that it had to be the guy that was fucking Cara. For one, the guy was probably doing a good job at it, since Nick wanted to connect her being nice and allowing him and Roman to move back into "her" space as having something to do with her getting laid more frequently, now. Additionally, her having a boyfriend meant that she was out of the apartment more than she was there now, and Nick believed that Cara being taken probably made Brooklyn feel better about the three of them living in the same space now, too. It wasn't like being in a relationship had stopped Cara from being willing to sleep with him the first time around, but Nick was sure that just like this time things were different for him, that they had to be for Cara too. She was happy, he thought, and he was more than happy to finally have things going his way again. While he still smoked more than he should, in the past four months, he had rid himself of the need to get blackout drunk at least once a week. He wasn't against having a few drinks with dinner, or before he went to bed, but the fact that he was happy just getting buzzed, and not obliterated, spoke to how much of a better place he was in now, mentally. In addition to the changes in his living location and his mental state, Nick had also acquired a second job. A legal second job. He was hired as an overnight stock associate at Kmart for three nights a week, and while on the books money didn't compare to drug money, having it in addition to the drug money made a difference.

He had not mentioned it to anyone, but over the spring, he had actually applied and was accepted to a technical school uptown, for their welding certification program. It was really a spur of the minute decision, one night when he was night and feeling self-critical over where he was in life. He had convinced himself that if he could become something, Brooklyn would automatically want to take him back. He didn't think that he was smart enough to go to "real" college, to study something that he had no interest in, and he had always been a hands-on learner anyway, so trade school seemed like the best route for him. One of the guys he dealt to had mentioned the school to him, after recently graduating and then obtaining a decent paying job, and because Nick didn't think he had any other viable options, he applied. What left him struggling though, was the amount of money the school wanted. They offered financial aid, and it was Nick's own fault for being lazy and not attempting to apply or reach out to the aid office for guidance, but he automatically assumed that it would be too difficult to obtain. This was a private school, which meant that it was for-profit and likely would force him to jump through a million hoops just to get a dollar's worth of help. That was what he assumed, at least, and though he still had time to apply for aid, he was in the mindset where he would need to come up with the ten thousand dollars in tuition for the first semester, by August. The salaries from his two jobs had left him with a little bit over two thousand dollars in savings after all of this month's bills were paid, but with just over a month left before tuition was due, the possibility of making eight grand seemed like nothing more than a fantasy. Shockingly, Nick didn't let that get him down though. He had been in such a pleasant mindset lately, that he insisted to himself that if he couldn't make the money to start this semester, he would postpone his admittance and start next semester, when he had all of the cash. A part of him rang in the back of his head, reminding him that it was possible that this stamina and motivation would be gone by then, but he tried not to acknowledge it. Nick was finally feeling good after falling into a depression for months, and he didn't want to even consider that he could get that low again.

He had been in the bathroom when Brooklyn got home, finishing putting himself together after taking a shower. Unlike Roman, he hadn't just gotten up. He didn't wake up bright and early, but still, getting up at noon, after working until four in the morning the night before, seemed like an accomplishment in itself to him. He had spent the past few hours finishing up some deals, before coming home and needing to shower, due to feeling sticky from the heat outside. It wasn't that bad, especially as evening began to set in, but walking around all day was bound to leave him sweaty and tired. A surprise meal couldn't have been more welcome, and the words that Brooklyn said had him hurrying as he ruffled a towel over his hair in an attempt to dry it, before getting dressed, and heading into the kitchen. "Dinner time, Killens," Nick smirked as he passed by his roommate who was standing outside of their room, looking like he was ready to crawl back into bed. "Brooklyn's doing something nice for us, A-K-A, we should be suspicious."

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Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon
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M A K A Y L A ~ W R I G H T

Outfit: Here
Location: 304 W 14th St, Apartment 5A
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The past few months had proven to be increasingly difficult on Makayla. During the early winter, it seemed like she was finally getting on track with her life. Brooklyn had helped her get a job that paid well and by the end of February, she had picked up a part time day job as a cashier at Rite Aid for extra cash. She was paying barely any rent to Cara, and she felt like for the first time in a while, she was finally in control of some things in her life. However, a few months later, Cara had understandably said that she could no longer pay two portions of the rent. The months that she had gotten away with living there for free had allowed her to save up some money anyway, so she was prepared for that day to come, and with a steady income now, she wasn't terrified at the idea of having to pay rent. Fifteen hundred dollars a month was a ton of money regardless, and after paying that, she was left with basically nothing, but now, at least, she could say that she was paying her own way, and not selling her soul and dignity just to get by. She was back in a place where her food stamp benefits were savored, she and Holly's phone bills were barely paid on time, and having to pay for basically anything else made her physically ache, but she was surviving. Every day seemed like a battle, but she was surviving.

If financial woes were the only problems that she had, Makayla would have been lucky, though. On top of having to stress over that, it seemed like Holly was becoming increasingly difficult. She wasn't impossible to deal with, necessarily, but she was becoming more and more like a teenager. She still wasn't at the mental level of someone who was days away from being seventeen, but for the first time, she was beginning to act like a preteen, rather than a five year old. That was something that was good in ways, sure, like Makayla being able to trust Holly with staying home alone enough that when she decided to move back in with Chanel, she felt comfortable with leaving Holly alone at night when she went to work, knowing that she wasn't going to wreck havoc on the place. At the same time, with everything on her plate, the attitude and moods that Holly was bringing to her lately had Makayla's patience running at an increasingly low level. It was hard to always want to be a good sister, when you worked day and night to provide for a child that was not yours, and who failed to always appreciate it. Makayla knew that she could overreact sometimes with Holly too, and that it was only natural (and actually positive) for her to finally start going through those moody teenager stages, but she had too much stress on her mind to always acknowledge that. A lot of the time, it felt like everyone else in the world got to have excuses for having bad days, but she never got a break like that. She was always giving herself away, piece by piece, and it felt like sooner than later, there would be nothing left of her for them, or for herself.

"I told you that we don't have money to do things like that right now," Makayla responded to Holly, her voice tired as she tried not to sound snappy. Like Holly, for some reason, and maybe it was because she had her arms filled with groceries, the plight upstairs felt more exhausting than it normally did, today. She had worked the night before, and then had only gotten two hours of sleep before waking up to send Holly off to school, and then to go to work at her retail job, so that probably played a role in it too. Even though she wasn't in the mood to think about money, and she definitely wasn't in the mood to feel guilty about not having money, a part of her never ceased to feel bad when she had to say no to Holly. Especially in situations like this, where the girl wasn't demanding something or begging for something stupid. Makayla was well aware that her sister probably didn't even want ice cream, but was more interested in getting to socialize with people who clearly had no interest in socializing with her. It was sad, and as always, part of her did feel like a failure for allowing finances to interfere with Holly's social growth, even though the more realistic side of her knew that the reason that those girls probably didn't think to include Holly had nothing to do with their socioeconomic level. When they got to their apartment, Makayla set her grocery bags at her feet as she fished through her purse for the apartment key. Mustering up a smile, she turned her head to look at Holly. "Maybe we can go for your birthday on Friday before I go to work," she offered.

A while ago, she had thought that she would be able to take Holly to visit her mother for her birthday. Holly had been pushing the idea for a long time, after she had written to her mother about getting a cell phone of her own, and then how after that, her mother would randomly call Holly on occasion, from prison. The woman had insisted that they come visit her, but Makayla didn't have the money or the desire to travel over an hour to Westchester County, to the prison that the once-abusive woman lived in. For Makayla, it wasn't even about not wanting to relive the memories of the time that she had lived with Holly's mother and her own father. More than that, she was just disgusted with the idea of giving this woman anything that she wanted. She was the reason why Makayla's life sucked so much. It was her stupidity that had led to her having a child that she never wanted. It was her addiction, and atrocious personality and choices, that led to her neglecting said child, and allowing her to be abused, mentally, physically and sexually, by people. Holly had been just a helpless child, and dammit, Makayla had been too! And yet she was the one who had to play mommy to this child. She was the one who had to try to protect her, and comfort her, and care about her, and when everyone else's poor decisions finally caught up to them, she was the one who ended up with the child that no one else had ever wanted. Makayla resented the woman for it. No matter how much she loved Holly, she resented that she didn't have much of a choice in all of this, and it was easiest to blame Holly's mother for all of this. While she knew that it would probably disappoint her sister not to be able to visit the woman who she insisted had "learned how to be nice" since being imprisoned, Makayla was almost glad that their limited finances prohibited her from being able to afford the bus fare to get to the prison.

"Now let's get these groceries put away, so that I can make dinner and we can finish your homework before I have to leave for work," she said as she opened the front door and headed inside with her groceries in her arms once again.

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Character Portrait: Roman Killens Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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Before Brooklyn had a chance to response to his half-interested question, Nick appeared in his line of sight. Because Roman was still only peeking through the door, trying to let in as little light as possible, he couldn't see Nick completely, and opened the door just a smidge so that he could see him. Being that he was still half asleep, and trying to rush this interaction as quickly as possible so that he could get back in bed, it took him a second to register what all Nick had said. Roman hadn't heard Brooklyn's declaration of gifts when she first came inside since he was still asleep, and he couldn't smell it from the kitchen yet either, so he was still mostly out of the loop in terms of what was going on, but he still half nodded at Nick's quip. "I am," Roman said, knowing that Nick's sentence didn't need much clarification for Roman to readily agree with him. Of course, Roman and Nick (but probably mostly Roman) gave Brooke more crap than she was actually worth, and not in a harsh way. Everyone, including Brooklyn, was well aware of the vibe she put out. Since Roman did know her past that exterior, he knew she wasn't all coal and ice, and he knew he hyped up her aggressive bitchy qualities more than her more subliminal, kinder ones. This was also the smartest move too, though, for the both of them. Neither were into chummy feelings, and Roman knew Brooklyn well enough to understand that if he wanted to shut down her moments of kindness, all he had to do was linger on it. But still, it was all in good fun, and interactions like this weren't so abnormal anymore.

Seven months ago he would have reeled at having to interact with them both together, but that tension has since subsided, although not enough for Brooklyn to get back with Nick. From Roman's understanding, Nick was taking what he could get, and he seemed to be doing better because of it too. Although Roman has a nasty tendency to shift from friendly to cruel like Brooklyn, albeit perhaps on a lesser overall extreme, especially when its for the purpose of maintaining his own validation, he also tended to assume more of a role in Nick and Brooke's life than they actually require from him. Subconsciously, he believes he's essentially Switzerland since they're both his friends; there's really no picking side, which is really find with Roman who's not into conflict, as contrary as it is to his nighttime job. Always playing neutral can be problematic on its own, especially when no one asked him to involve himself, but it stemmed from the fact that he hasn't had as a deep a relationship in the past as he has now with Brooklyn and Nick. As a child, he really feared making a mistake on just about anything. It became severe enough to where even the simplest of questions was almost paralyzing. Of course, Brooklyn and Nick don't bring any amount of fear to him as his parents did when he was a kid, but that need to please is still ingrained in him, for validation and peace of mind. It speaks to why he believes himself to be more important than he actually is at it relates to the other two, not necessarily because he's being selfish and just doesn't want to get involved in their conflict, but quite the opposite. He'd rather not risk upsetting the two people who he actually genuinely cares about, which is something outside of himself on its own. Them being cordial is much easier on his mind, and also made it all the more easier for him to say, "Kay, well, if you don't mind, I'm going back to sleep. Don't wake me up unless the flat is burning down."

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Character Portrait: Makayla Wright Character Portrait: Holly Maddon
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Holly followed Makayla inside the apartment, and set the bags down on the kitchen floor. "Why don't we ever have money if you're always working? Isn't it dumb to keeping working and working and working if you don't make a lot of money? Wouldn't it be the same if you just didn't work at all?" Holly wasn't trying to be critical, but it was the first thing that came to mind when Makayla explained why they couldn't go to the ice cream place that she was sure the other girls from school were going to today. The inquiry was as innocent as it could have been, given that Holly just didn't understand it. Makayla worked almost every day between her two jobs, and yet lately, whenever Holly asked for anything, the answer was always that they had no money for it. It was the same line that she had heard today at the grocery store when she wanted to buy chocolate chip muffins, and yesterday when she asked if she could buy a new bathing suit before summer started, and a few weeks back when she wanted to see a movie. She had been more understanding to this kind of thing months ago, and years ago, when Makayla wasn't working a real job. Holly was still oblivious to the fact that her sister was prostituting during that period of time, and simply thought that her sister was visiting friends or doing odd jobs when she left at night. Then, it made sense to her that they had to live frugally, especially given that at that point, she was still more well-acquainted with her neglectful childhood where she barely had the necessities, none the less luxuries, to begin with. Now though, she knew that Makayla worked as a cashier during the day, and that she worked as a waitress at a restuarant at night (even if she wasn't privy to it being a cocktail waitress job at a strip club). Those were two normal jobs, and in turn, she expected Makayla to have more money for things that she wanted. It didn't register to her that housing and the basics in the city costed so much, especially when she compared their situation to her peers, whose parents also worked (albeit very different jobs), and seemed to have so much more than her.

Makayla's back was to Holly, so she didn't hesitate to roll her eyes at the girl's ignorant words, but she was able to bite her tongue. She didn't snap at Holly about how she could have money if she didn't have to take care of her, and that if she didn't have to take care of her, she could have finished school and obtained a decent paying job so that her life wasn't centered around working just to pay the bills. "If I didn't work at all we would starve and we wouldn't have an apartment to live in," she answered plainly, continuing to focus on putting their groceries away in an attempt to show Holly that she wasn't interested in playing around right now, all while trying not to have to snap at her.

There were still grocery bags by her feet, but Holly decided to sit down at the table instead. She wasn't in the mood to help, especially when her latest idea entered her mind "If me and you moved to Hawaii, we could open up an ice cream shop right on the beach and we would make a lot of money," she mused excitedly, followed up with, "It's always hot in Hawaii, right?", that was said in an uncertain tone.

Again, Makayla did her best to be patient. She turned around to look at Holly, and then pointedly look at the untouched groceries, before looking back to the girl. She figured that maybe, just maybe, the girl would take a hint. "I would imagine so."

"Then that would be a good idea because everyone loves ice cream when it's hot, so they would give us so much money, and then you would only have to work during the day time when people are awake. Wanna do it with me?"

"Sounds fun, Holl." Now, her tone was a bit sharper and less interested. The four plastic bags that Makayla had carried up were now empty, so she balled them up and stuffed them into the cabinet under the sink. She could have just made things easier and unpacked the three bags that Holly had set down earlier, but now, she wasn't in the mood. She knew she was being dramatic and sensitive, but dammit, wasn't she allowed to feel that way sometimes? Wasn't she allowed to be bothered by the fact that she drained herself working just to provide for herself and this kid, and then the thanks that she got was criticism over it? She spent all her money on food and clothes and necessities for Holly, and the girl couldn't even unpack the groceries that she would be eating, on Makayla's dollar? Fuck that, was all that she could think, even though she knew it was wrong.

"But do you wanna do it with me?" Holly pressed eagerly. She didn't sense Makayla's growing frustration at all as she watched the girl maneuver the kitchen, unpacking the first set of bags, and then stopping once the ones that Holly carried up were the only ones left.

"You have to finish going to school, and then you have to go to college. Once you go to college, you'll be able to get a good job and you won't have to work as much as I do, and you'll make a lot of money." She wanted to leave it there, she really did, but as she headed towards the hallway, she looked back to add, "If I hadn't taken you in, I would have finished school and I wouldn't have to work so much for no money."

Luckily (at least for Holly), she was too consumed with this newfound dream of owning her own ice cream shop that she was barely processing a single word that was coming out of Makayla's mouth. "Can I go to college to be an ice cream shop boss?" she said, once her sister headed towards the kitchen's exit.

A part of Makayla was relieved, anyway, that Holly didn't seem to take notice in the sharpness of her words and tone, but another part of her, the eviler side, wished that the girl had. She wished that Holly could feel some sort of guilt for "ruining" Makayla's life, as if the other girl becoming upset would serve as validation for those feelings within her. Clearly, though, Holly's inquiries were back to being purely innocent, a reflection of how that childlike side of her was still very much alive and well, despite how bratty she could be at times. "Finish putting those away," was all that Makayla said, though, ensuring that her voice was stern, before she headed for their bedroom.

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Character Portrait: Chanel Owens
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A warmth glazed over her leg; the piece of sunlight that broke through the curtain, illuminating the small specks of dusts dancing in the air. As she gazed at it, tracing it down to her thigh, she noticed that she was trembling and mentally forced herself to stop. She was used to this now. Besides, she couldn't let herself get to the low place she'd been in earlier in the year. Just thinking about how dark that time period was made it even harder to sit still on that bed that smelled like a mix of his cologne and her perfume with small traces of alcohol. No, she needed to get it together. Silence her thoughts, like she'd practiced. It was called mindful thinking, just another word for meditation, but it helped in times like these where everything seemed to trigger some bad experience. Like the shower going on in the back, so casually as if nothing was wrong while she sat on the edge of the bed trying to pretend like the knot in her throat didn't exist. It brought her back to his place, where she needed to stop going because one day he'd end up killing her. But for now, all he left her with was marks, and he'd go one like nothing had happened. If he did address hitting his girlfriend, it wouldn't be in a self-accountable kind of way. He'd just hand Chanel the responsibility and go on normally, like maybe taking a shower the way the man she'd slept with last night was doing right now. Chanel desperately wanted someone to knock on the door. She desperately wanted to hear the words 'Room service,' so that she could answer it and slip away. But even then, she couldn't. He hadn't paid her yet. When he finally came out, his eyes undressed her and she pretended not to notice. "You look nice," he said.

"I'm sorry?" Chanel turned her head back to the woman in front of her, not realizing she'd, again, fallen into a daze. She needed to stop. She was going to end up looking crazy, and during a therapy session? Not good. Not, not good. "I said you look nice today," the said, smiling kindly. "And then I asked where you'd like to start. Is something on your mind?" Chanel shook her head coolly, rubbing her thumb along the smoothness of her freshly manicured nail. Her Plan B fund had racked up so she splurged on a more expensive set at the salon. What she called her Plan B fund, though, wasn't in actuality just that. It was the extra money she put aside from the men she slept with when she told them they needed to pay for the Plan B lest they wanted to pay more in child support for the next eighteen years. They were men, and it was about women's reproductive health, and what more they were rich and old and came up in a time where abstinence and promise rings were as common as chocolate milk. So naturally, they were idiots and didn't notice when she gave them a price that was more than what Plan B actually costed. She had, though, visited the women's clinic quite frequently, only because she was covered under her parents' plan. "No." She smiled sweetly, but her voice was tired. "Nothing. I'm great. I got my nails done yesterday and it's really pretty today, and I have a date next week. So life's great. Couldn't ask for more really. Well," she said after a moment, her tone becoming more ominous. "Besides not having to waste an hour a week doing this against my will, but other than that...Yup."

"Do you know why you're here, Chanel?" the woman, Lindy, asked. Her voice was reasonable and not at all accusatory like Chanel's was. She'd never once gotten an attitude with Chanel like Chanel had a tendency to do, and while this didn't surprise Chanel, it did bother her. She felt powerless in this place. She felt like something was wrong with her here. Here she had to try three times as her than she did outside to look normal because this woman was a professional. And each week Chanel would have to work even harder than the last because she knew Lindy saw through her, but if there was anything about these people, it was that they were patient. "I am here," Chanel began, enunciating each word as she shuffled her hand through her hair. "Because my parents made me come here." Lindy blinked slowly, casting her eyes down as she thought. Chanel watched, trying to analyze her and figure out what she was about. "Why did they make you come here?" she said. "Because," Chanel began before hesitating and realizing she didn't have an answer, or at least an answer she was comfortable with saying that wouldn't lead to her crying. She looked at Lindy with a soft glare, and Lindy looked at her coolly. "Probably has something to do with my brother. They made me do this shit right after he tried killing himself and now they're making me do this again because they're worried for whatever fucking reason."

"I hear some anger in your voice as you speak about your family," Lindy said as if she understood. Chanel swallowed back the emotion that had slipped through and tried to recompose herself. She wanted to jump across the room though; she took personal offense to Lindy's--albeit accurate--observation. What Chanel interpreted was that if she was angry at her family, then she was being ungrateful, and that was something she was trying to work on. Hearing Lindy's comments just actualized the fact that after, what, three years in this city nothing has changed. "I'm not angry at anyone." Lindy nodded again, but this letting out an understanding, "Hmm," before continuing. "I was just wondering so that I could better assist you. If I know what you believe you are here, I can either confirm or deny that, and then we can go from there. But first, you'll have to talk to me. About whatever. In the, I think it's been three weeks that you've been here? Maybe four? You sit quietly or talking about your nails or dates or the like. I guess I'm wondering what else?"

"There's nothing else," Chanel said shaking her head. "I like getting my nails and hair done, and I like boys. I'm very superficial, nothing wrong with that," she said. "I have a very hard time believing that, Chanel." Lindy smiled. "Look, I just don't want to do all this Freudian shit, okay? God." She placed her face in her palms for a second and leaned back into the couch, exhaling slowly. "I'm trying so hard to be okay for everyone else and they just keep trying to find ways for me to not be okay. Like I know it's not all nail polish and boys, but it's a lot easier for me and everyone else if I just think that way."

"And why is that?" Lindy said. Chanel looked outside the window, her face in a frown before she realized it and softened her face at the gentle reminder that she didn't want to get wrinkles prematurely. She cleared her throat and ran her tongue across her cheeks as she practice her mindful thinking. She spoke quiet affirmations in her mind and pretended that she was breathing out any and all bad energy. It helped, but only a little bit. She was still drowning in the tension from the room. In this room her body felt this instinct to just double over and cry, but she reminded herself that that was what her bedroom was for. At night with a bottle of wine and a blunt and donuts. She was done crying; she'd done enough of that this year. "Because it makes it so that I don't have to think about the real shit, and maybe if I don't have to think about it for long enough, then it'll eventually go away, and I'll be okay."

"Why aren't you okay?"

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Character Portrait: Nick Moreno Character Portrait: Brooklyn West
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Brooklyn had not heard Roman's initial answer to her, and had only known to look in the direction of the bedroom down the hall as Nick headed into the kitchen, seemingly haven spoken to Roman on his way over. Roman wasn't in her line of sight when she did look over, so she assumed that he was still asleep, maybe, or just not in the mood to socialize. She didn't pay too much mind to it once she unbagged her own meal, a grilled chicken sandwich on a toasted baguette. It was topped with roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese, with french fries on the side, and though it wasn't something that she had ever ordered from the restaurant before, it definitely smelled good. "If I hate this, I'm eating half of that lasagna," she said to Nick, eyeing the bag container that he was pulling out from the bag, as she pulled a string of melted cheese off of her sandwich to taste. "Or I guess I'll eat his food. Is he still half-asleep? Or just stoned out of his mind?" Either option seemed fairly likely, and Brooklyn would not have been surprised if it was actually a combination of the two. Sometimes it bothered her that Nick and Roman both seemed so lost sometimes, tangled up in things that were only leading them farther and farther towards a bad life, but most of the time, she was able to reassure herself that it wasn't her problem. She didn't tell herself that in a way to be callous, or even to really relieve herself of any responsibility or guilt, but more so, because she knew that it wasn't her problem. She lived in a mindset where she took care of herself, and didn't expect others to take care of her, and because of that, she expected them to take care of themselves as well. It didn't mean that she wasn't human, and that she didn't worry and think about it sometimes, but it wasn't to an extent where she was actively trying to get either of the boys into rehab, or forcing them out of bed everyday when it was already late afternoon. It wasn't her business (usually), and besides that, she knew that just like they had their own devils to deal with, she had her own as well. She couldn't criticize her two closest friends for their lifestyles when hers wasn't completely pristine or by the books either.

After actually taking a real bite out of the sandwich, she decided that she wouldn't need to take from anyone else's dishes, because she was perfectly content with how her sandwich tasted. It wasn't a five star meal, but it would definitely due, and after a few bites, she turned to Nick with a random question. "Wanna go on vacation this summer? I've been in this city for too damn long." It was an impulsive idea, but a genuine question. Brooklyn only had a few thousand dollars in savings, so a major vacation was out of the question, but she did genuinely want to spend a few days outside of the city. Where, exactly, she wasn't sure. Being right on a beach would be nice, she supposed, but anything new and different would do. Neither she nor Nick had a car, so they couldn't take a road trip that way. They would have to either take a train, bus, or fly, with the former two seemingly like the most realistic options cost wise. Having no set destination in mind made it harder to even try and plan any aspect of a vacation, and until she knew his answer, she knew that there probably wasn't any use in trying to plan. Maybe inviting an ex-boyfriend on vacation was odd, but when it came down to it, Brooklyn didn't have any girlfriends who she was close enough to, who would want to do that. She would include Roman in the plans as well, of course, given that she didn't want Nick to think that this was her asking him to date her again, too.

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