EXCERPTS and MEDIA

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Clia, on her suspicion that Elise will take an instant liking to Carissa...

     Clia drove for about an hour, along the coastline. Carissa watched along the coast for most of the drive, and conversed with her sister about everything from the events of the last year since they'd seen each other prior to her arrival "up here," to comments about how comfortable the bed Carissa slept in the previous night had been, to Clia dishing out the occasional compliment about Carissa's appearance.
     They parked in front of a beachside restaurant with outdoor seating. "Oh, Elise is here already," Clia said, pointing out a shiny red convertible that a young woman built about like Clia, but five years younger, stepped out. Carissa immediately recognized Elise Matthews, a film actress whom Clia was apparently on a first-name basis with.
     "I am underdressed," Carissa bemoaned as Elise got out of her car.
     "No you're not," Clia teased. "Elise overdresses for everything. I blame her brother for making her a year late to her prom. But please don't tell her I said that."
     "I won't," Carissa assured. "I know the topic's probably still a sore spot since she didn't go to her actual one."
     "Yeah, especially don't say that." Clia teased. "As far as she's concerned, the one she went to was her prom, and everyone who knows her knows it's best to leave it at that, even now." she continued. "Come to think of it, do they even have prom in Australia?" "Yes and no, but we don't call it that," Carissa replied, "and we don't crown a king or queen - everyone's special at the valedictory dance."
     "I could get down with that," Clia replied. "But we'd better change the subject, fast, because she's coming over here. Rule number one with Elise, don't mention prom unless she brings it up. Rule number two, she instantly takes a liking to anyone who speaks with the same accent as her father, as long as you don't break rule number one." "Are you making fun of me?" Carissa groaned. "No, I'm just saying that you may find she latches onto you a little bit because you'll remind her of her father every time you open your mouth, seeing as how he was born and raised about an hour from where you grew up." Carissa nodded in acknowledgment. "I'm not sure if I should be annoyed or just say 'Fair enough' and let it go at that."

Cassandra's visit to Atlanta for a debate regarding a controversial topic...

      Cassandra was amazed at how much Atlanta drivers had calmed down since the last time she'd been here - before Will was even born. Come to think of it, though, I didn't live in Los Angeles then. She realized that she'd probably just been desensitized to these drivers who seemed to her like they didn't even try to fight her for space.
      When she got to the hotel, the first thing she did was get in a nice, warm shower. She liked them nearly as hot as Clia did. She noticed on the complimentary shampoo bottle a disclaimer that worried her. THIS IS NOT FOOD. DO NOT EAT.
     Are they SERIOUS? Cass thought to herself. Just how stupid are people, anyway?

Carissa getting used to driving in America (and possibly being stalked)...

     5:45 AM, Friday. From his old beat-up car outside the gated parking lot behind Carissa's off-campus apartment building, her long estranged uncle Jasper watched as Carissa walked into the gated parking lot behind her off-campus apartment, and proceeded up to the front passenger door of her car, a used four-year-old blue sedan that was fairly inconspicuous, and opened it. He suspected from her attire - a pink polo tucked into black chinos, with a purple blazer over the polo - that she was probably headed to her part-time internship at Nick Walsh's production company in Burbank.
     Carissa pushed the unlock button on the key to her car, which had actually been Darien's car until recently, when he got a new one and gifted this one to her. She proceeded up to the front passenger seat and opened the door. Jasper laughed as he watched her. He realized her faux pas right away.
     Carissa didn't realize it, however, until she started to get in, suddenly realizing there was no steering wheel. "Damn it!" Carissa loudly swore, realizing that once again, she had forgotten that in cars in America, as a general rule, and her car being no exception, the steering wheel was on the other side. Having lived in Australia for fifteen of her nineteen years, she'd gotten so used to the steering wheel being on the right, that she still found herself doing this, after more than two months back in America.
     I suppose you do get used to something, and it's hard to break the habit. She allowed herself a little bit of a laugh at her own expense, though it irritated her that she kept forgetting trivial things like this. She closed the passenger door, walked around the car and opened the driver side door. "One of these days you'll remember, Carissa. One of these days. At least you remember which side of the road to drive on."