-Chapter One-

Dakota Elizabeth Jane Whyler lived three places at once: two in California, one in England. A home-schooled girl at the age of 16, Dakota was in that frame of mind where she though she could take on the world. She was constantly pulled from one end of the earth to another; spending time with one of the three family members she valued the most: her mother, her father, and her aunt. Ever since her mother and father had divorced when she was three, she spent measured amounts of time with each of them, and the in-between time with her aunt from her dad's side.

At the current moment she was laying in her hammock that her mother had made her during her annual five month stay reading her favorite book, 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austin. Dakota was a lover of the classics, and had an extremely large library in all three living spaces, as well as library cards to every available library. She wasn't a nerd, but actually a very pretty girl who valued her time, and allowed extra down time in between her daily activities. She loved to surf when she was in California, and when she was back in Dover she would paint and play the guitar and sing and be as flamboyant as her mother. But she tried very hard to reign in her artistic side while she was with her dad, who didn't like to be reminded of his ex-wife.

Harry was a fisherman from Moss Landing in California, and lived on a spotless house boat ironically called the Elizabeth Jane. He kept the boat completely clean, scrubbing the deck on Wednesdays and constantly tiding up that which was already tidy. Anyone would call him a neat freak, or else someone with a very severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Every morning he would take his little dingy out to the dock and board the Lauren Rugby, his other prized possession, out to the middle of the bay and fish until noon. Then, at exactly 11:35 he would head back, and be back at the Elizabeth Jane by noon sharp. He would have a lunch consisting of a tuna fish sandwich, an apple, and flask that usually contained whiskey. Not the best lunch by anyone's standards, but Harry was a tough man to sway once his mind was made up. After lunch he would go in Phil's Fish Market and talk with the cook, discussing weather conditions and fishing regulations, and would usually bring back some sort of fish to eat for dinner, compliments from the chef. And every Sunday he would eat dinner at the market with his other fishing mates. This he did everyday, and would do everyday until he died.

Annie was an artist and the shopkeeper of a little boutique in England. She resided along the White Cliffs, in a small town called Dover in England. She was unlike Harry in almost every way possible: she was a free spirit, and would spend most of her time in a hammock right along the edge of the cliffs, reading or daydreaming or painting. She lived in a small cottage that was in desperate need of a new paint job, and the floors were entirely linoleum with paint spatters underfoot every so often. She moved with the wind, never staying on one subject for too long, and was always singing, which she was rather good at. She didn't like to clean the house, but she kept it in a artistic disarray that you would either love immediately or hate passionately. Unlike Harry she would sometimes have lunch at 3 and dinner at 10, and she was always late to everything.

Dakota somehow was landed in the middle of the two, but was most likely leaning toward her mother's characteristics more than her father's. She was quiet, but when with the right people couldn't shut up. She had even physical characteristics from her parents as well: her mother's wavy auburn brown hair and her father's blue-green eyes. Both of her parents were tall folk, so it was inevitable that she too would be tall: 5'9 1/4 by her father's exact standards. Her mother called Dakota her 'water baby' as she put it, because even when the water was as cold as ice, she insisted on being by it or in it. She liked to write poetry and she played the guitar, but was mostly a solitary being who enjoyed being alone: very much in like her aunt.

Auntie Maggie was as exotic and creative as Annie. Maybe that was why Maggie wouldn't talk to her brother for a month when he divorced Annie. The two got along great, and turned out to be kindred spirits from both parties. They were like sisters, inseparable and one could not exist without the other. Auntie Maggie lived in an apartment above Union Grove Music on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, California. She was, as her brother put it, 'the ultimate hippie', with her long gray-blonde hair and tie-die shirts. Really, she was the stereo-type for all hippies, with an obsession over Neil Young and an avid 'peace love and music' festival goer. Dakota was the happiest with her Aunt, mostly because her easygoingness matched Dakota's evenly. Auntie didn't care where Dakota was as long as she told her where she was going, and it didn't involve drugs and sex. Other than that, it was cool.

And although those demands have plenty of loopholes in them, Dakota wasn't one for drugs and/or sex. Sure she liked her booze every once in a while, but she never over did it. She enjoyed late night bonfires on the beach with her friends, and lying on the roof under the stars at night. She probably spent her happiest years with her Auntie, and would remember them forever.


Laurie's voice echoed through the boat window, disrupting the delicate balance that Dakota had created for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in the stillness of her room. Huffing indignantly, she marked her place and called back, "What?"

"Um…I forgot!"

Dakota rolled her eyes, silently laughing at her psychotic friend. Laurie was a sweet girl, but her short-term memory sure did get annoying. Dakota gently rolled off her hammock and landed gracefully on the floor. She righted herself, pulled on her Converse, grabbed her bag, and headed out the door. She locked the boat door behind her and pulled the notepad that was under the mat and wrote a quick note to Harry, explaining that she was with Laurie and she had her phone with her. Harry was most likely at the fish market, and wouldn't be home until later. Plus, since it was summertime, she didn't have any obligations for three more months.

Laurie stood on the edge of the dock, waving frantically to Dakota, beckoning her to come quickly. "Come onnnnnn," she yelled, stretching out the end of 'on' as she did with most of her sentences. "I want to go to the mall before it closesssssss." Laurie had a way of making everything she said sound like a whine. Dakota didn't know if that was a good trait or bad, but she guessed the latter.

"Geez, Laurie give me a minute it's not going to close for another four hours," Dakota pointed out, grabbing onto Laurie's outstretched hand as she hoisted herself off the boat's deck. "What are we going for anyway?"

"I need new shoes," she stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and how could Dakota be so thick as to not know that.

"Laurie you have millions of shoes. Why do you need new ones? Wait don't answer that, I think I already know."

Laurie laughed, tossing her short blonde hair over her shoulder, her blue eyes glistening in the sunlight. "I'm so glad its summer!" She said.

"Yeah same here. I have six more months' here, including my stay at Auntie's, and then I go back to England," Dakota stated, swinging her bag onto her shoulder as they walked across the dock.

"I hate it when you leaveeeeee," Laurie whined. "I'll only be able to talk to you on MySpaceeee."

"Oh please it'll be fine! We've managed this for, how many years? Well, it's been a long time and everything's worked out fine, hasn't it?" Dakota said, putting her arm around her short friend. Laurie nodded, but didn't look appeased. "Hey. It'll be fine. Let's just live it up, k? Come on, let's get to the mall. You don't want those shoes to be gone, do you?"

This made Laurie respond almost immediately, and Dakota smiled. Sometimes people with short-term memory aren't so bad.