A/N This Chapter is for Minty, for helping me beyond belief! I couldn't have started this off without ya! Thanks a million!

Noel: Another Day in Diamond Bay

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.

-Johann Schiller

"Well, if this is the case, perhaps we best organise a DNA test," Richard says, his mouth set in a firm line. It is then that the consequences of his sentence hit me with full force.

"Oh. My. God, this cannot be happening!" I screech while frantically flapping my hands about. "My life is over! I'm going to be forced into some family I barely know, where anything could happen, there could be rats! Rats! Rats crawling around the place, looking for cheese, and when they don't find any cheese, they'll come after me and eat my toes, and then I'll have to go to some public school which is surely going to be rat infested and I won't make any friends because of my toeless condition, and then I'll fail all my tests because I'll be so depressed and then because I'll have no toes I'll be shunned my whole entire life and then I'll die an old maid and then-"

"How could there possibly be an 'and then' after that, if you're already dead?" Noah, my-oh who knows what he is. I've asked myself numerous times over the past seventeen years- 'What did I ever do to deserve a brother who takes joy in terrorising my existence? What is he, some sort of alien who has landed on Earth with the express purpose of throwing tennis balls at my head?' Of course, I'd never received an answer to my questions and I highly doubted tonight would be any different. Never would I come up with a sufficient reason to explain the odd life that is my-. Fabulous, now my thoughts have turned a complete circle.

"Look, Mikey, I think you are underestimating the consequences of this-"

The rat who calls herself Kendall rudely interrupts me. "You call him Mikey?"

"Isn't that what I just said, doofus?" I scream, infuriated that she has the nerve to consider opening her mouth in front of me.

"She calls him Mikey," she says in a hushed tone to her-. Don't even get me started on thinking about whatever he was… Stupid man who has the same eyes as I do…

"How strange," Kendall's father figure slurs, eying me strangely as if I have sprouted an orange tail.

How hypocritical. I wasn't the one daring to rock up and claim random children to be their long lost daughters in a pair of tatty shorts. Yes, that's right, you didn't read wrong. Tatty shorts. And a yellowing, natty t-shirt. And believe you me, the last thing you want to see at three o'clock in the morning is an ugly man with a hairy chest and a repulsive pot belly, extending his stinky arms towards you in a fatherly embrace. It becomes all the more nauseating if the afore said hairy beast starts claiming that you are its off-spring. I mean, how on earth am I expected to react? Oh joy of joys father, I'm ever so glad that you have appeared to rescue me and take me into the slums of the earth. Come, let us do a tribal dance around the fire and connect with our inner animal.

"If you have anything to tell me, Mr. Bernard, did you say? Say it to my face! You know this thing on top of my head with a mouth that will never stop screaming at you until it dies as an old maid with no toes!" I turn around and place my hands on my hips, poking my chin out petulantly, daring Mikey to contradict me.

"Noel." I wince at my mother figure's tone. "That is completely out of line. I think you are a little too excited. That will be enough for tonight. Go to bed."

I glare at Amelia Bell-Clair- the woman who has the audacity to think she can order me to my room.

I will go of my own accord, thank you very much. It is not as if I want to stay in a room jam-packed with crackpot old fools.

I stare menacingly at every single inhabitant in the room from Amelia's silent, shocked face (that woman never could handle scenes of any sort) to Kendall Bernard's amused sneer. I hate that girl. I despise her. I loathe her. I abhor her. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to bind her in chains, throw her off a cliff and watch her plummet to the bottom of the ocean. And it didn't help that she is a spitting image of Noah, had he actually been a girl. With her honey blonde hair, hazel eyes and abundant freckles, she stands for everything I have always questioned in my life. Muttering darkly under my breath, I turn on my heel and began to stomp my stilettos as I head towards my bedroom.

"Watch those heels! And that dress cost a fortune, young lady!" Richard's resonant voice booms across the hallway.

Typical. First that bull of a man forces me to some useless charity benefit in a dress that is ridiculously tight and when the world around me is being reduced to a flaming crisp he is stressing about a pair of stilettos! As if he doesn't possess enough money to buy himself a million stilettos to wear to a million charity benefits if he so fancied. I certainly am not going to stop him. Lord knows, I need some amusement, pronto, in my life.

What is it with charity benefits anyway?

Noah and I have always been in accord. The ghastly affairs are a way for the affluent of Diamond Bay to pretend, if only for a few hours, that they are charitable souls. Does anyone really believe that the likes of Emily Clement give a beeswax about the living conditions of children in Ethiopia? I'll eat my five-thousand-dollar stilettos if she could even point out Africa on a map. A benefit is an overpriced, over-rated, tedious evening specifically designed so that if one day the attendees do meet God at a pair of ornate gates, they will be able to tell Him that they actually did try to help out with the dastardly state of the world. Oh puh-lease. If they want to be of some actual assistance for a change, they could quietly donate the millions without making such a big hum-di-doo about it. Or better yet, they could get their rich butts out to Ethiopia and start helping to treat the millions dying of AIDS each year. But no, they'd rather spend their boring, meaningless lives gossiping about the state of the lace on Mrs. Hemmingway's gown. Heaven knows, I can't care less about lace. I mean, is it really imperative to my survival? I didn't even see the blasted thing until Leigh pointed it out to me.

If this is the kind of world Kendall Bernard wants to worm her way into, she is welcome to it. Let's see how many conversations about lace she can stand.

Having finally reached my room, I shut the door with a resounding thud so that the sound would reach the bunch of loonies crowded around the front door.

"Stupid, freckly cupcake," I scream, angrily kicking my bureau with my foot. As I yelp in pain, the door slowly clicks open, and Noah's worried face comes into view.

"Did you just call your bureau a cupcake?" he asks, allowing himself in. Never taking his eyes off my face, he slumps onto my four-poster-bed, his brows knit in confusion.

"No, I was simply addressing the bureau whilst thinking about that pathetic excuse for a girl, who resembles a freckly cupcake and should really be eaten whole by a giant Cyclops." Noah opens his mouth to argue but I cut him off. "And before you start, she is a cupcake because cupcakes have sprinkles and she has freckles and if you don't clearly see the resemblance between her and a cupcake by now, I'm certainly not going to explain it to you."

I grin slightly in spite of being in the middle of a temper tantrum and Noah tentatively returns my smile.

"You do realise you're being rather stupid Noel-" he begins.

"Tactless! Tactless! Completely tactless! Do you not possess a slither of intelligence, you obtuse peanut?" I roar, pacing around the room so fast that I cover the distance between my bureau and my brand new plasma screen in about fifteen seconds. In my room, this is no mean feat.

Noah overlooks the fact that he has said something so ridiculous that it forces him down to the level of a brainless vegetable and ventures, "Err…Why?"

"Do you not realise the serious catastrophic, apocalyptic implications if that pile of wobbly fat is correct?" I ask incredulously.

"Err. No?"

"My name could be, technically speaking, Kendall Bernard!"

Noah's blank face looks up at me, blinking stupidly.

"Kendall Bernard! What kind of name is Kendall Bernard? It sounds like Candle! Ken-doll! I do not want to be named after some steroid-filled pretty boy doll, for God's sake! And don't even get me started on Bernard. Bernard! Yuck! Have you seen Beethoven? Those dogs have got to be the must disgusting creatures on the face of the planet. Have you seen how much they drool? It's like their purpose in life is to create a Nile of saliva! Sickening, I tell you, sickening! Can you imagine what it would be like to be cursed with a wretched name like Kendall Bernard?"

Noah opens his mouth to offer some words of comfort, but I am nowhere near finished.

"It's not as if I sat down when I was three years old and said 'God-"

"Noel-"

"Please, oh pretty please with chocolate sprinkles on top, when I reach the age of seventeen, change my name to Ken-Doll Bitch."

"Noel-"

"Because I'm a girl and female dogs are bitches and so-"

"Noel!"

I finally look up at his face, because his voice is so loud that I feel my ears are ringing.

"Will you cut the dramatics for about a split second? I think you're missing the bigger picture here."

I part my lips to tell him that nothing could possibly be worse than having to tell people that my name is Ken-doll Bernard, but Noah doggedly continues.

"Do you realise that Mum could seriously kick you out this time?" he says softly, keeping his eyes on my bedspread.

Oh. My. God.

Gee, I think this is the first time in your life that you've been rendered speechless.

Oh. My. God.

Do you really not have anything more eloquent to say?

Piss off voice. Before I attempt to impale you with a pitch fork.

Rude! You realise that I am you, and you are me, and so if you do impale me with a pitchfork, you will be effectively, killing yourself.

Piss off!

I thought I said that was rude. Hopelessly vulgar. Have you not been raised with the utmost care?

I let out a fiendish, ear-splitting yell, finally cracking. In a fit of rage, I pick up the closest thing to me and hurtle it into the air. I only realise after it is airborne, that it is my ugly Chihuahua, Fifi.

Let's pause for a minute there. See there? Noah is sitting, shocked, on the bedspread, Fifi is flying through the air and that rather peculiar girl has just realised that she may have killed her dog. Now dear, don't look so puzzled. If you ever hope to fill my shoes as Lady Fate, you must grow accustomed to the fact that I have the power to control time. Dear-heart, you can shut your mouth now. Honestly, leaving it open like that! You should know that it's not safe to show your vulnerability around here. The last apprentice who showed up, about fifty seven years ago, it was, did the very same thing. Poor darling, she was in so much pain. But never fear, we did get the spirits out of her eventually. Goodness! Shut your mouth girl! Didn't I just tell you it was dangerous? God said you were supposed to be one of the intelligent ones. Don't tell me He didn't instruct you on the hazards of travelling in limbo! Heavens!

Ah, he played the old 'learn as you make mistakes' card. I've always disagreed with him in that respect. If people can be told that they're about to do something wrong- shown the consequences of their actions, surely the world would be a better place? If it were up to me, things would certainly be running differently around here. But who am I to overpower him? He is God, after all. Now girl, I'm going to show you the lives of two children. I had to intervene in their lives seventeen years, four months and seven days ago. Apparently they need to learn lessons, develop as people, create character and so on and so forth. The usual. You want the details- go talk to God about it. He's yet to tell me. Sometimes I think He's vague just to irk me. He orders, and I make it possible…You're still looking confused, girl. Honestly, if you're going to behave like a terrified duck, I don't see how we're going to get along. I've been due for long service leave for sixty years now after six hundred and twenty three years on the job! That's enough to tire anyone out. And if you are going to step in for a few months, I'm going to have to show you the ropes, with your mouth shut.

That's my girl. Don't worry. Everyone feels confused in the beginning. Just keep your mouth shut and we're going to get along just fine.

Now let's start at eight thirty am and Noel (let's refer to her as Noel for simplicity's sake) has just woken up.

I am going to kill that wretched thing.

"Bleep Blop, time to get up!" the mechanised voice repeats for the millionth time.

Exterminate it I tell you, explode it! I'm going to track down whoever invented those blasted things and decapitate them in the dead of the night.

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

Gah. Blasted machine. Now it's gone and made me lose my train of thought. And it made me say 'gah', and if there's one thing in the world I despise, it's the word 'gah'.

"Bleep Blop, time to get up."

Whoever heard of a talking alarm clock?

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

Just let me find my tennis racquet and then I'll bash it into a twisted pulp.

I launch myself off the bed and start to hunt the wretched thing down.

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

What is a talking alarm clock doing in my room, anyway? Last I heard, my alarm clock, like any law-abiding citizen of Alarm Clock Land, plays the radio to wake me from my slumber. Its abilities do not encompass screeching two stupid sentences over and over.

"Bleep Blop, time to get up!"

"I am up you lump of useless machinery!" I yell, trying desperately to locate it. The bizarre thing is that the voice is throwing in such a way that I can't tell exactly where it is coming from.

"I'm onto you, clock!" I yell, catching sight of my tennis racquet on the dresser and brandishing it around.

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

"Gah!" I repeat, nearly kicking myself as soon as the word is out of my lips. "Stupid word," I mutter darkly underneath my breath, "stupid clock. Stupid, stupid morning."

Suddenly, an evil cackle enters my ears, its noise loud enough to drown out the clock as it attempts to screech 'bleep blop, time to get up.'

"NOAH DANIEL BELL-CLAIR, GET YOUR ARSE OVER HERE AND EXPLAIN YOURSELF!" I shriek.

My brother's guilty face appears in the doorway and he is biting back a large grin- a sure sign that he is behind the instance of the screeching clock.

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

"Conversing with inanimate objects, were we?" he grins, looking thoroughly pleased with himself.

"Bleep blop, time to get up."

I stamp my foot. "Can it, you filthy piece of vermin. Make that thing stop talking now!"

"Time to hurry or you'll be sorry!"

"Aw, but you're looking so adorable oh sweet sister of mine! Adorable enough to take a photo, I should think!" he drawls, whipping out his pride Polaroid.

"Make one more move, buster and I swear I'll-" I cut off abruptly as the alarm clock, evidently thinking that I am still somewhere off with the fairies, begins to wail like a siren in an attempt to get me to wake up. My face contorts with fury and it is at this wonderful moment, that darling Mikey decides to take a photo. It pops out of the camera and my brother flaps it about while a devilish smile lights up his features.

"Don't you think the entire population at Diamond Academy would just love to see this photograph?" He yells to make himself heard over the sounds of the despicable alarm clock.

"No. I don't," I growl, ready to pounce on that supposed relation of mine.

Noah simply grins and whips out a remote, then presses a button and within seconds the wailing has stopped and we are left listening to the sweet sound of silence.

"Noah Daniel you are going to pay for that one, you hear me?" I threaten.

"Yep, just like I 'paid' for the talking saucepan and the way you made me 'pay' for the dancing vase," he smirks as he waves the photo in my face.

Good grief. I look hideous. My raven hair looks like it is trying to defy gravity and fall horizontally, my eyes are half shut and my mouth is curved in a vicious snarl. Mikey begins to laugh at my expression and within seconds, is rolling around on the floor.

Gee. Such a sympathetic brother I have been blessed with.

But within this moment, I see a window of opportunity.

Ahah! I have you now Mr. Gadget-Head.

If there is one thing I have been blessed with, it is quick reflexes. In the blink of an eye, I grab the incriminating photograph and before Mikey realises what is happening I have torn it into shreds.

"You. Suck," I inform him, smiling triumphantly as I let the remains of the photograph fall onto his face. When siblings have hit the nail on the head about a certain issue, the best thing for one to do is to insult them. My experience proves that in nine cases out of ten, they will forget about the issue in a rash haste to defend themselves.

"Insult all you want sister dear, but the fact is, I still managed to get you to wake up three hours earlier than usual and got to see you run around talking to nothing while holding a tennis racquet. So you see honey bunch, I actually have the upper hand."

Well, there is a reason I said nine out of ten.

I glower at him but can think of no answer to send his case hurtling into the ground. Don't get me wrong, I love my brother. And coming from me, that is an extremely strong statement. I don't waltz about like the majority of girls at Diamond Bay, professing my love for anything with that has two legs and the ability to talk. It is completely beyond me to comprehend why they find it customary to say 'see you later Noel, love ya!' at the end of every single farewell or why they insist on writing 'love you Noel,' at the end of every email. It isn't just me that they seem so intent on loving though, it's practically everyone! Surely they don't have enough love to extend to the entire schooling population? Don't they dislike at least one person? I find it extremely fake.

Honesty is the best policy, I say!

And no, Emily Clement, if you happen to have heard that, it is not called being 'blunt and rude'. At least everyone knows who I despise- you're the one acting as if you adore Dana and then you start gossiping about her the moment her back is turned.

But I digress.

The point which I am trying to make is that I do happen to love Noah Reece Bell-Clair, just not early in the morning and definitely not when he feels like road testing his latest gizmos on me. For dear Mikey, just like everyone else who attends Diamond Academy, is both filthy rich (or should I say, his parents are) and extremely intelligent. And, as Mikey is living proof, boredom, brains and money are not exactly a good mix. Over the years, he has taken hold of his practical joke side to bombard me with as many tricks as humanly possible. He has progressed from chucking tennis balls at me (that was before he discovered his genius streak) to most recently, filling my room with talking objects.

"Don't you have anything irrelevant to say in order to try and prove your case?" Noah asks, prodding me with his finger.

"No. Not really."

"Whoa! Is the world ending? Is it raining cats and dogs? Has hell frozen over? Has Noel really got absolutely nothing to say?"

I roll my eyes and decide to ignore him, feeling it is time to track down a change of clothes. Hmm… what to wear…. I trudge over towards my walk-in-wardrobe, intent on finding an outfit that I haven't worn before. I push a button and it the wardrobe whirs into action and item after item flash by without my brain actually registering what I am looking at.

"Before you decide today's identity, you might want to know that Haleigh has arrived," Mikey informs me as he settled himself down into an armchair.

"She has? Brilliant!" I squeal happily, switching off my wardrobe. If Leigh is here, that will change everything. Goodbye boring, dreary day and hello fun times galore!

"Mmm, she said something about showing you her new tarot cards and you showing her Dad's new restaurant again. Translation: Parent trouble."

"Noah, how long has she been here?" I say slowly.

"Oh, about half an hour," he answers nonchalantly.

"And you were going to tell me this when?"

"Well, if my memory serves me correctly, I had to wake you up didn't I? And then in return for this lovely act of good Samaritan-ship, you yelled empty threats at my noble self. You hurt me Noel, you hurt me deep," he wails, though he doesn't look particularly perturbed because he has risen to investigate status of his hair in the mirror.

"Don't worry Danny boy, you're looking very sexy this morning," I assure, walking up behind him and standing on my tip-toes so that I can lean over his shoulder.

Seeing both of our faces next to each other in the mirror makes me wonder once more how it is possible we are twins. Noah is lanky with fluffy blonde hair, a freckly face and hazel eyes. I am (as I like to put it) petite or as Emily likes to put it 'shrimpy' with (as I prefer to say) curly raven hair or as Miss. Clement insists on saying 'wild, black and resembling a bird's nest'. Noah's complexion tans easily, and even during winter he manages to look like 'such a hunky bronzed God' (that is me quoting Emily Clement and the rest of the whacky girls at Diamond Academy, not myself, I assure you). Next to his face, my own complexion looks glaringly white.

"Don't call me Danny boy," he glowers, though, as is usual when he attempts to be angry with me, the corners of his lips quirk a smile.

"Ah but Danny boy, how come Haleigh can, and I, your very own twin can not? I am sensing some grave injustice over here," I tease.

"Yeah, well, she's different."

"Aha! I knew it! You are secretleey in love with zis Haleigh," I exclaim, kissing my fingertips.

"What is with the accent?" he says grumpily.

"Love is in ze airrrr, everywhere I look around!" I sings, twirling around on the spot.

"I am not in love with Haleigh!"

"Love is in ze airrr, erm…" Has anyone ever actually song anything past that first sentence? "…in ze movements of ze sound!"

"Stop singing, you're embarrassing yourself," Noah scowls but I detect the beginnings of a smile dwelling on his lips.

"And I know zat you think I'm demanding-"

"Where on earth are you obtaining these lyrics from?"

"But I zink if you look you vill zeeeee!" I increase my volume with each word, ready to move into the climax.

"LOVE IS IN ZE AIRRRRR, EVERYWHERE I LOOK AROUND!" I yell, leaping onto my bed and jumping on it. Would someone please pass me some bouquets so I can prance about and shower flowers onto the happy couple? Err- Man? Who is now coming towards me with a mad a-glint in his eye? Arrr… When a man be a-glinting, a girl should be a-running. Away. Far, far away.

Fortunately, I am saved from a sudden violent end via means of the a-glinter, by the arrival of the girl in question.

"Noel, what on earth are you making that screeching sound for?" Haleigh asks, hands on her hips as she stood in the doorway.

"Haleigh, my dear shark fish. Let us leave this popsicle stand!" I holler, jumping off the bed.

And no, that is not utter gobbledygook. Translation? Haleigh, Mikey is on the warpath. Let us escape and save our skins. It is a code I had invented last week. I find it extremely useful when escaping said twin when he is a-glinting.

Let's skip part the next bit for I find it rather boring. More sibling bickering, Haleigh laughing and the girls deciding what to wear. Heavens, no wonder God asked me to step in. Surely it isn't natural to spend over one and a half hours selecting an outfit? We'll just fast forward a few hundred minutes or so …Don't look so shocked dear. It's not as if (Heaven Forbid) I'm changing anything. Things are running their natural course! Just a little faster than normal, that is all. You'll find this is a useful tool if you're trying to help someone, but looking for the right moment for Divine Intervention. I don't even want to think about how monotonous it would be if I had to watch every single second of those girls' rather mundane lives. Hmm, what's that? Yes, I suppose the whole switching lives scenario does make it a little less mundane, but nevertheless, I do get awfully bored, sometimes. Right, back to Noel, as you say. Well, after finally choosing an outfit, a 'punk' look, did you say it was? Yes, well darling, whatever it is they are aiming to look like they are now in the Bell-Clair limousine, cruising towards Richard Bell-Clair's new restaurant, The Sparkle. No, dear, I don't know how he came up with that name either. I can safely say, with pride, that I had nothing to do with it, so you needn't look at me like that.

"Look Noel! See what I hold in my hands?" Leigh asks me, a grin of excitement lighting up her features.

"I see a loser holding a bunch of cards, which probably cost a fortune and will end up predicting random things like," I put on a spooky voice, "Haleeey, you haf seven days my child, seven days…"

"Oh shut up." And she hits me on the shoulder.

"You vill dieee, in seven days!" I continue, "do not tell me to shut up! You should not be telling me to shut up! In three days, you vill meet the man of your dreams…but oh! It is too terrible for me to continue…. No, please, do not ask Count Mathilda."

"Count Mathilda?"

"Chuh!" I answer, reverting to my normal voice, "haven't you heard of her?"

Haleigh rolls her eyes and chooses to stare out the window instead.

Exactly seven months ago today, Leigh and I met at the Debutante Ball, and it is one of my greatest regrets in life that I haven't formed a friendship with her sooner. Although, she has only been living in Diamond Bay for a little under a year. Our friendship was cemented from the minute we discovered each other hiding behind the same pot plant to escape from Emily Clement, who had been threatening to regale us all with a story about new yacht and a fisherman. There are some moments when you notice that a person's cheeks are dimpling a grin for exactly the same reason you are laughing… and you realise you're going to like this person immediately. Leigh was no different and she's already become one of my favourite people.

For this reason only, I find myself apologising to her for not at least acting excited over her new collection of tarot cards, and I allow her to tell me all about them over lunch.

"And lookee, it says in the instructions that you should get to know your tarot cards before attempting to use them," she squeals, as if this is great cause for celebration.

I can't help it- as much as Haleigh is a wonderful friend- I can't disguise a snort of laughter. She gives me a patronising glare and stabs at her tomato, no doubt imagining it is my wonderful face.

"Aw, come on Leigh, what are you meant to do? Well howdy card, my name is Noel Bell-Clair and I like long walks along the beach during the sunset. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?" I say, picking up one of the cards and attempting to converse with it.

The waiter who had been serving us during the meal can no longer disguise his frightened stare, and I could tell he is fervently wishing that he could wait on anyone but us. I don't blame him. We have already made him change our cutlery (because a fly had landed on Haleigh's spoon), exchange the tomatoes in our salad (because they definitely tasted fishy), ordered four different flavors of Coke but have yet to sip on any of them and have loudly complained about the dodgy service. Call us sadistic, but we thoroughly enjoy pushing the waiter's buttons.

It is not as if we arrived for the purpose of annoying Gregory the Waiter (as his name tag reads). He sealed his own fate when he turned his nose down at us (no doubt unimpressed at our 'punky' attire) and said in the snidest way possible, "I suppose we could find you a spot." And find us a spot he did- right between the kitchen and the bathrooms. Yuck. He obviously has no idea who he is talking to. So Leigh and I had made a silent pact to be as irritating as possible, because if there is one thing we agree upon, it is hating shallow people who judge others by what they are wearing. What has that got to do with the price of tuna in Tahiti? What? I hear you ask?

Exactly. My point exactly.

Finally, we both decide that we have had enough of the glorious food and I motion for the waiter. He hurries towards us, obviously hoping for a large tip but I merely give him my brightest smile and say, "I think you'll find that this one's on the house."

Gregory's own fake smile slides off his face and he says coldly, "I think you'll find that impossible, little lady."

I continue to smile widely at him. Leigh and I rise and link our arms together. "I think you forget who you're talking to, young man."

"I fail to see how that is relevant, Madam."

"Well. It is. Let me talk to your manager!" I grin, my voice honey sweet.

Gregory bustles off pompously and Leigh and I exchange a conspiratorial grin. Oh, how I do love being evil.

Within seconds, a round woman with curly silver hair bustles out of the kitchen and when she sees me, her irritated expression breaks into a smile.

"Noel!" she squeals, engulfing me in a hug, "How are you! My, how you've grown! Your father told me you still were nothing on Noah but I must say dear you are still a lot taller than you were before!"

"Then I must have been very short," I laugh. My voice is muffled because Tabitha is still holding me like she is trying to make me merge into her frame.

"So, Noel, what do you think of the place?" Tabby enquires, finally breaking away from me.

"I think it's breathtaking," I answer truthfully. And it is. The Sparkle is located in one of Diamond Bay's most prestigious suburbs- Belmont, and therefore has a truly spectacular backdrop. The rooms has glass walls which bath the place in warm sunlight throughout the day, and provide its visitors with a view of a beach that Diamond Bay is renowned world wide for. The waters are bright blue and crystal clear. To add to the effect, my father had decided to build a series of fish tanks beneath the glass floor and so visitors had the impression that they were walking on water teeming with gorgeous tropical fish.

Tabitha beams and spots Leigh, who is regarding the scene with amusement. "And who is this?" she says, giving Leigh a motherly smile.

"Tabby, meet Haleigh, Leigh, this is Tabitha, the woman who has been sneaking meals out of father's chain of restaurant's for me since, well, forever..." I introduce, shooting Gregory a triumphant smirk.

"Hi, nice to meet you," Leigh grins, extending her hand to shake Tabby's.

"Don't be ridiculous!" Tabitha laughs, "Any friend of Noel Bell-Clair's is like a daughter to me too!" She pulls a shocked Haleigh into one of her infamous bear hugs.

I almost laugh out loud at the stunned expression on Gregory's face, as he finally makes the connection as to who I am. Noel Bell-Clair, daughter of Richard Bell-Clair, the richest and therefore most powerful man in Diamond Bay, and dear old Greg's boss.

How fast the proud do fall…

"Terrorising the waiters! Waggling your way into free meals! Acting like a juvenile delinquent! Dressing like a common hoodlum!" My mother is yelling the usual diatribe at me, but I am more interested in consuming my fruit salad.

Noah saunters into the room and plops down next to me on the sofa, stealing the last watermelon from my grasp.

"Oi!" I pout.

"What's she up to?" he questions quietly.

"Before you know it," my mother begins.

"You'll be hacking it by yourself on the streets with no one but the rats to help you," Mikey, my mother and I finished together.

Mum is infuriated and opens her mouth to yell something horrid even at her beloved Noah, but she cut off as my father enters through the front door.

"Hallelujah," I mutter under my breath and Mikey shoots me a sympathetic smile.

Quite simply put, my mother and I do not get along. There are occasional times when we both happen to be in a good mood and we bond over a shopping expedition, but these times were few and far between. Noah has always managed to get along far better with darling mother, while I have a closer connection with our father.

Aah, Richard Bell-Clair. There is just something about his aura that makes you want to trust him immediately- be it his twinkling green eyes or his wide, honest smile. He describes himself as an entrepreneur - a highly successful entrepreneur. When I was young, I had liked to imagine that we were a royal family who were hiding out in Diamond Bay to escape from assassins (I had just watched Anastasia). The truth is, unfortunately, a lot less romantic. Daddy had struck lucky in Vegas and won seven million dollars- which he wisely invested in the stock market. And the rest is history. He was able to triple his winnings within three years and the Bell-Clair fortune was born. Now, Richard fills his time by doing whatever strikes his fancy, and at the moment, it is building restaurants.

"Daddy!" I squeal, leaping up from the sofa and giving him a big hug. He laughs and ruffles my hair affectionately.

"It's no use Noel, I already know about the fiasco at the restaurant."

"Fiasco? What fiasco? There was no fiasco!" I say, feigning innocence.

"Greg? Terrorising? Using your connections to wangle your way into a free meal?"

"Now you're starting to sound like that woman who keeps insisting she's related to me," I say, rolling my eyes.

"Now, Noel that is no way to talk about your mother. So, as punishment," he clears his throat and continues loudly so that Mum can hear, "you will have to join your mother, Noah and I at, erm, who's benefit is it Amelia, dear?"

My mother purses her lips. "The Clement's."

My eyes widen in horror- if anything this cements my negative answer. "No!" I wail, "anything but that Daddy! I didn't even do anything bad!"

"Ehe, yes, I know Noel," he says, lowering his voice and keeping his eyes on the ground, "but your mother will have my head if I don't make you go. She seems to have her heart set on you making an appearance!"

"No! Please! No! I'm going to die if I spend any more time with that insufferable girl!"

I stare pointedly at Noah, hoping he will support me. Noah stifles a laugh. Pfft. Fat lot of help siblings are.

"Well, if you do not go, Noel, I'm going to cut off your allowance for the rest of the month," my father says flatly.

"You wouldn't!"

"I think you will find that I am quite capable of doing so."

I scowl. The prospect of life without money is terrifying enough to make me choose spending an evening in Emily Clement's company. "Fine. I'll go to this ridiculous benefit."

Life has a strange way of forcing things upon you.