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Dining room

"One of the enemy's spies may look fair and feel foul," Rose told Luka, once again referencing her favourite book, "I've known plenty of landlords who seemed relaxed in correspondence, and turned out to be stricter than a nun once the lease is signed."

Before Mitch stepped in, Dark had fallen silent. Not because he was at all offended by what Ishade had said, but because he never spoke unless he knew what he was going to say, and he preferred silence to stammering or using filler words, when Mitch asked about what he did, he refocused his attentions, saying, "I have never made a chair. Or, I suppose more accurately, I have never made a chair any of us here could use, although I did make Ivy's bassinet. No, I make toys, often, mostly for her, but in the neighborhood we used to live, I would donate them to children whose families could not afford to buy from a toy store, or to shelters and orphanages. But I also make boxes and figurines and," he cleared his throat, "urns, twice. I do not sell anything, but if somebody is simply desperate for me to make something for them, I will trade, I will not accept money, because disposable income is harder to come by than making an extra loaf of bread or offering to babysit for many people."

"Baba also made a carnival," Ivy added. She didn't understand most of the grown up talk at the table (she thought art was just fancy things that made you feel something, she didn't know about 'creating with a purpose,'), but now her dad was talking about the things he made, but he didn't even mention his coolest thing, "all the rides move, 'cause--because he put gears in them, and the carousel is a music box. And he made all sorts of tiny people, so there's a little me there, and so are Baba and Mama, 'cept they're working."

"...Except."

"Except."
 

Machina Somnium

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Rose's words made Lukais laugh a bit, soft, quiet and polite. He did what was best and abandoned all hope to understand why Ishade was feeling so bitter today. Bitter and talkative. He could be bitter and quiet. Some men said women's moods were unpredictable and ever changing. Those people had never dealt with themselves, probably. Because really, it wasn't men or women. It was people.

"I am strict, but I don't think about it as being bad. Not as strict as nuns are, probably. Which reminds me, I'm taking Sel- Mrs. Dunham and her children to church tomorrow morning for 8 o'clock mass. I'll stay, too, in case anyone else wants to join. Their car isn't working and they like Jenny just fine." He said, to Rose. Otherwise he would have explained the new names to the new tenants.

Ishade focused on swallowing his bad mood with his stew. Really, he was annoyed in general today. The art thing was just an explanation, though, he hadn't meant for it offend Mr. Dark. And he didn't look bothered, but Luka did. Not that Ishade cared. Except he did, why did Luka have to get annoyed on everyone else's behalf? He was so infuriating sometimes. No, he behaved stupid. He wasn't a stupid person.

He hummed in agreement with Mitch's words, that things just felt more personal when they'd been made by friends or family. It reminded him of an art project he had been thinking about.

"That's nice. Gears are complex work." He said after listening to Ivy. She was nice, and Dark sounded like an honest man, who did honest work. He'd like to see what he was capable of sometime. But at a later day, when his own inner demons were quieter. Or when he was high.
 

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At this point, Mitch was finished with his stew. Or at least, he was done trying to use his stew as a distraction, as his stomach was beginning to revolt against him. He put his utensils down and smiled at Luka. "Excellent as always," he said, putting his hands down on his lap. He reflected on his past history with a whole lineup of dictatorial landlords and heads of houses. No, he definitely couldn't say that the Luseths were at all strict compared to what he was used to.

"I've had my share of tyranny in the household, and I can certainly say this is the furthest thing from that in my experience." He scratched at the peach fuzz on his chin, and looked out into space in remembrance. "Though I think there's something sort of rewarding being on your own, too... Not like in a house. On your own, on the road." Mitch could easily ramble on about vagabonding all night if permitted, but he kept it brief, lest he be judged for being effectively homeless. "There's just a feeling of freedom when you're not tied down to a property. You just go where you want, when you want."

Mitch's eyes lit up at the description of the model carnival. "An engineer too, eh?" He said to Dark. "That's not easy stuff, I've dabbled in that sort of thing with varying amounts of success," he looked over to Ivy, "you're very lucky. He seems like quite the craftsman." Mitch looked back over to Dark. "Any other projects you're working on? I've been working on this locking case with a sort of secret mechanism. There are... certain tenants with sticky fingers, if you get my drift." He gave a cheeky smile.
 
"I liked playing with them when I was a little kid." Ivy said, agreeing they were complex.

Dark raised his eyebrows slightly, and turned fully to face his daughter, and in a light hearted, bewildered way told her, "You still are a little kid."

"No, I'm in double digits. And I'm always the tallest one in my class. And I read above my level."

"You still have baby teeth."

She frowned, and tried to think of another way to prove she was not still a little kid, but she had a loose tooth, and felt stumped. She tried to give him a very annoyed face, but he was looking at her in that way he did, and it made her laugh, which, frankly, was cheating.

Having successfully bested his ten year old in a battle of wits, he replied to Mitch, "No, I am not working on anything at the moment. The last thing I made was... well, it was for my wife. I have not felt quite motivated to do anything since, although I promised Ivy new dolls, because there is a dollhouse in our room, so I suppose they are my new projects, but we have not gotten beyond the planning stage yet, right?"

Ivy grinned, pleased to speak about her new toys, "I'm going to have one with three eyes."

"Do you travel often?" Dark asked Mitch, interested about his remark about being on the open road, and when he made his inquiry, he had a curious light in his eyes.

Although she had been listening politely the the artists talk, and battle, Rose did not join the conversation. Instead, she leaned over towards Luka and said, "I'll go with you and the neighbors t'church tomorrow," but it probably didn't need to be said, because she attended regularly.
 

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Luka listened to the other conversation too, once he was done talking. It seemed Mr. Dark had some surprises still up his sleeves. He also found his interactions with his daughter quite endearing. It was obvious they got along well, and he felt it brought good energy into the house.

"Thank you! I'm glad to hear it." He said to Mitch, even though the other hadn't finished his plate. Perhaps he had served a bit too much. To answer Rose, he nodded.

"We're going quite early, so I'll be up at 5:30 to make breakfast, they'll be here at 7 and I need to have both Jen and the buggy ready by the time we're all done eating so we can get there on time. I'm sure Gabe and Liv will be quite happy to see you, and that you're joining us." Luka wasn't sure about the way Selene felt toward Rose. Whether she liked her or not, really. But he did know the children were very fond of her. He knew Rose frequented the church more than he did, but Selene made sure he didn't miss it every few weeks, at least. She wasn't fond of God, personally, but the Dunham family had pressure.

Ishade listened to Ivy as she talked about her dolls.

"Three eyes hm?, How come? Do you give them all backstories?"
 

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Mitch did feel bad not finishing his meal, but he was always a fairly light eater. "I'll have to come back for my leftovers later on in the night, if that would be okay," he said quietly.

He gave a light chuckle during the back-and-forth between Dark and Ivy. "Hey, enjoy your youth while you can. Before you know it, you'll find out just how valuable this time is in your life." Mitch was smiling while he was speaking, but his eyes had a melancholic aura about them. He seemed to be speaking from a position of experience, or rather knowing what the alternatives could be. He nodded somberly to himself.

Dark's inquiry, however, perked Mitch right back up. He leaned forward in his chair. Oh boy, Dark got him started. "Do I ever!" His voice was about as excited as it had ever been. "My last trip was out to Liverpool. I tell you, it was absolutely gorgeous. Of course, they're still recovering from after the war, but the urban development is fascinating, and the rock 'n' roll scene is booming there, never heard anything quite like it. I backpacked all the way out to Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, too. Ireland certainly is a beautiful sight. Saw the St. Mary Cathedral, too. You don't truly appreciate the grandeur of these places until you've stepped foot in them." His words finally stopped and the quiet air just hit him. Mitch almost felt embarrassed that he had been caught rambling. He really should be learning more about them, not going on about himself. He smiled sheepishly. "I've uh, I've been around. I've been all around the States, too."
 

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If Ishade was a cat, he would have flicked his ear as Mitch talked. Always ready to hear about travels that could inspire any sort of artistic muse in him.

"Keep going. I wanna know about the dolls, kind you, but your travels are always inspiring Mitch" He commented, so Ivy didn't feel like he was ignoring her even as he listened to his friend.
 
Rose's eyes lit up at the mention of Ireland, "Limerick is beautiful. I used to travel down t'it when I was still at home, it only took a couple hours by train," she had been feeling homesick, lately, because it was nearly her one of her sisters' birthday, and the talk of her homeland didn't help, "It's been so long since I've been able t'go back and see my island again. There's nothing like those green hills, and the cold sea." She sighed, and looked out the window at the backyard. She really needed to visit home again, soon. Some part of her was terrified of waking up one day and feeling American, or realizing she had spent most of her life off her island. But she couldn't so well move home during a recession, she needed to stay in the United States and work so she could help out her family. But one day...

Dark listened politely, and only said, "I visited Liverpool, once."

His daughter fidgeted in her seat. It was another conversation she couldn't really add to. She had only ever been on one "real" trip, "When I was seven, we went to Canada. We got to see the whales," It was really unfair. Everybody got to travel all the time but her, "They say we went on another trip when I was little, but I don't remember it. But they have been everywhere."

"We took you to the Smoky Mountains," Dark said, "tell Mr. Ishade about your doll."

"Oh, yeah," She looked at him, "I want three eyes, because the third can see the future. But I don't have stories for my new dolls yet, because I haven't met them."
 

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Nope, Mitch definitely talked too much. He swore he could feel interest waning with Dark's brief response. "Nah, I've, uh... Pretty much said my piece, I think." He mumbled to himself, clearly embarrassed that he let himself go on as he did. He fell silent after that, looking down at his placemat with the shine in his eyes dulled. Way to bulldoze the conversation, buddy. He couldn't shake the feeling that his enthusiasm was misguided at best and tiresome at worst.

He shifted in his chair as well. "I may retire for the night soon. I haven't slept in quite a bit." That was an understatement. He had been awake since yesterday morning, but he was restless and contemplative. Thinking about Ireland and listening to Rose recall the geography had him feeling somewhat homesick for a place that wasn't even really his home.
 

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"I should retire soon as well, we're getting up with the sun tomorrow." Said Lukais, who had finished his stew already. Every person could wash their plate, or at least take it to the kitchen sink.

"If anyone wants dessert, I brought out the cake earlier. But there's also fruit in the kitchen" He added, cutting a couple of pieces of the cake after putting the plate he had used for the stew aside.

Ishade frowned a little when Mitch didn't really tell them any more about his trips, and nodded in response to Ivy. He'd have to ask about already finished dolls.

"Want to head to my study right after dinner then? I wouldn't want to keep you up for too long. I'll have some cake first though." He said to Mitch, while handing Luka his plate so he could get a piece or two. The cake wasn't huge to begin with.

Luka would give a piece to anyone who who wanted one.
 
"You will have to tell me more about your travels sometime." Dark said. It had been--god, nearly two decades? When did he get so old? since he had last truly been on the road, and he liked to hear stories of those who still could, although it made him wistful. But it seemed the longer haired man was done for the night, which was disappointing... and he hoped he had not accidentally said something discourteous. He was sure he used to be less awkward... but it had been a long time since he had last been 'on his own' socially. That was a truly disconcerting notion.

"I suppose I should get t'sleep too," Rose said, stretching, "but I'll have a bit of fruit before I go. Thanks for dinner, Luka," She stood up, waved breezily to everyone, and as she left the room she said, "Goodnight, friends. Mitch, come with me next time I return home. I'll set you up with one of my cousins, then you'll be really Irish." She was lightly teasing, because she wanted him to smile... but also she was basically tasked, by her parents, surviving grandparents, and all her aunts, and great aunts, and lonely cousins to play matchmaker. Everybody in her family was always trying to set everybody up with everybody. Nobody was safe, especially not someone who was, himself, of Irish descent.

Dark and Ivy said goodnight to Rose, and then thanked Luka for dinner--both of them calling him 'Mr. Lukais.' Ivy, after making sure it was okay, had a slice of the cake, and Dark had nothing for dessert, but of course he stayed sitting at the table, not yet feeling at all comfortable with the idea of leaving Ivy unattended in this place.

"This cake is really good, Mr. Lukais," Ivy said, deciding if this was normal, she was pretty okay with living here. Her parents rarely made dessert, unless it was a special day. But then again, today must have been a special day, because she was also allowed donuts for breakfast. Having had this thought, she realized this probably wasn't all that normal for here, either.
 

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Mitch nodded to Ishade. "I'm alright for dessert, but I'll meet you in the study, yeah?" He said. He picked up his plate and took it over to the sink, giving it a courteous rinse and washing it off.

"I'd be happy to discuss my travels further whenever the topic comes. And I'll certainly come along with you whenever you're up to Ireland next," he directed this over to Rose. "No promises on your little game of matchmaker, though," he said with a dry smirk. No, settling down was not in his future quite yet. At least he didn't think so. He placed his clean plate over to the side of the sink.

Mitch walked over by Ishade and Luka and gave them a light pat on the back and a silent nod, respectively. He smiled politely to Dark and Ivy. "It's been wonderful getting to know you both, and I hope you guys settle in and get yourselves feeling right at home." He began walking out to head over to Ishade's study. "See ya in Galway," he joked to Rose.
 

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"I'm glad you like it Ivy!" Said Lukais to the little girl. He did love baking, and he was always happy to share what he decided to make when the mood struck.

The cake was good, nothing new, but no need to fix what isn't broken. Ishade ate it without much waiting for anybody, licking his lips once he was done. He took his plate to the sink and washed it, along with the plate that had held the cucumber canapes and the celery sticks.

"Aight, enjoy the rest of the evening. I'm off." He said to no one in particular once he was done doing his part. And then he was gone.

Luka took a bit longer to eat his piece of cake, nodding at Mitch who was off to talk to Ishade and then get a well deserved break, probably. He was a good lad. It was funny, to imagine him among Rose's big family as once more. He didn't quite see it, but he could be wrong. He also wondered what it was his brother had to talk to Mitch about. Maybe something art related? Hm.

He got up and started cleaning up and putting away the leftovers.
 

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Once in the dining room, Luka told everyone else to sit, even Rose. He wouldn't let her help when the Dunham were over, no matter how stubborn she was about it.

"Its good to hear you and your family are doing well, dear. Do send them our regards and congratulations." Said Selene, patiently waiting at the table. Like a lady. The kids who had been whispering and giggling and Gabriel in particular admiring Rose's dress, hadn't really paid much mind to he recommendations to free the bugs. It didn't surprise Gabriel his sister wasn't willing to do that, seeing how she speared through worms on a daily basis only to gather a bunch and throw them at the dogs. It was gross, but funny... Sometimes.

Now the kids sat at their mothers' right side. There was food at the table already. Bread, marmalade, butter and fruit. But Luka wasn't seated so everyone had to wait. It was the polite thing to do. Olivia tried to pout at her mom so she'd let her start already, she was so hungry!. But not a word left her mouth and one severe look from Selene silenced her rebellious thoughts.

Soon the smell of pancakes filled the air, and Lukais came over with a plateful to serve everyone as many as they wanted. One of the few things Selene didn't do, compared to other high society families of the time, was police how much her children are. Sure, she kept an eye out so they wouldn't get sick after, but she wasn't about to body shame them into submission. They were growing! For the love of God.
 
Rose hated the rules and regulations of mealtimes with Selene. She knew, of course, Selene's story, and of course she felt very sympathetic, but she also thought the lengths everyone went to appease her was a bit... extreme. When she was a kid, she knew a woman whose husband and only son died in an accident on the farm, and a decade later they weren't still all curtailing themselves to her every whim. But, even having those thoughts, which of course she kept entirely to herself, because she liked living at the boarding house, and she liked Olivia and Gabe, and Selene was pretty, if cold, like a flower who bloomed too soon, before winter had well and truly passed. And she assumed the Luseths knew better than her what she needed... even though she did often wonder if they were, in fact, catering not to Selene's needs, but to her wants.

She waited patiently for Luka to return, and thanked him heartily when he returned with the pancakes, and gave him the look she always gave him, which conveyed this was frankly torture. She was not someone who was born to be served, and it was not something she was comfortable with. Even when she went to a restaurant, she was that person who carefully put the plates, glasses, and utensils in the best locations so it was easy to clear and in all other ways did everything she could to make life easier on the waitstaff. Sometimes she swore she was going to move out and request Luka to tell everyone he had hired her as a live-in maid, even though in actuality their living situation had not changed, and she was still paying rent, purely so she didn't need to behave like he worked for her. It really was not a natural or comfortable situation for her.

"I'll forward your regards," Rose replied, "although it'll be brief. An hour isn't really a long time, and I'm sure Luka doesn't want me running up his phone bill. Oh, did he tell you about our newest tenants?" She was quite careful to keep her hands, and napkins, and utensils all in their proper places to avoid any possible wrath (and was certain she had forgotten something), and it made her feel like a culchie, but then, to be fair, she was from a fairly remote part of Ireland, so the term was accurate, even if she really was quite well mannered. And she had excellent posture because of all of her years of dance, which she felt was never appreciated when she accidentally put her elbow on the table in a moment of moral weakness.
 

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As always, Luka did his best to reassure Rose that this was fine. He returned her gaze in earnest with an honest, and brilliant smile. He did this as a host, not out of some sense of forced duty. It was true he and Sel went way back, nobody would have batted an eye if she helped with the dishes. No one would complain if she came dressed more modestly, or if her kids weren't that well behaved. But she had been grown to expect the best, and what was appropriate to their context. And so, now, she sat looking pretty. Her kids spoke between themselves in hushed whispers, and Lukais served them their breakfast. Like a good host. He'd be happy to do it a thousand times over, for someone who had seen him at his worst and viceversa. But that was in the past, with Gabriel and with Keith's constant presence. And this is now.

Once they were all sitting, Luka assured Rose he could maybe offer to pay her half an hour longer than she had saved up for. She did make up for it with chores and being wonderful, though this two last things he didn't speak them out loud.

"Oh he did, they arrived yesterday did they not?. He told me what he knew from talking to Mr. Dark through letters." She said, eyeing Luka for a moment to make sure it was all good to share. His response was a quick nod.

Liv and Gabe dug into their pancakes and slowly as their hunger and good manners permitted. It was quick anyhow.

"They did! Both of them are very nice, especially the kid" Said Luka, getting the children's attention.

"What's she like??" Asked Olivia, licking some marmalade off of the side of her mouth and then grabbing a napkin, because licking wasn't polite. Her mother praised her quietly for correcting herself.

"It's soon to judge, really. She's nice, talkative... Tall for her age I'd say. She gets along with her dad very well" he continued.

Selene nodded.
"Good, good. I'm sure we'll meet them soon anyway. No rush, I'm not sure how much more time we'll have to spare for social calls this coming week." She said, basically letting them know it was a wonder if she'd be in the mood to see people outside of her family. Luka nodded, always very understanding with her.
 
When Luka offered to pay for an additional half hour, Rose looked at him, her already large eyes wide, and then she glanced up at the ceiling and down at the floor, and then just quietly mumbled, "that's a lot of money..." It wasn't exactly a secret that it was difficult for her, being so far away from home, because although she was, of course, extremely grateful she was able to receive such a prestigious education, she knew her heart was always on her island by the sea.

Thankfully then they were discussing the Darks, and she was able to talk about something else: "The father makes toys, and he's very polite, but he's a bit--intimidating..." She straightened up, and, speaking directly to the children, as if she was telling them a ghost story, she said, "and he's got yellow eyes, like a hawk, and I think if you look at him t'long, you'll get trapped, and if anyone could scoop you up and put you int'a jar, it's him," and then Rose looked at Selene, and added, "but he does seem very nice, and he is very quiet, and seems so devoted t'his girl." She said nothing out of malice, or out of any real desire to make fun of Mr. Dark, she just wanted to peak the weans curiosity.
 

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"You barely get to call, and you help a lot around the house. It's the least we can do" Said Luka, quietly, before the conversation drifted to Mr. Dark. The senior Luseth found the scary description amusing, he saw little Gabriel cower a bit and Olivia's eyes shine with delight. It was interesting how the sister had enough courage for herself and her brother too, even if the older kid was a bit more responsible and polite.

Rose got a glare from Selene.

"If your stories provoke nightmares in them, don't think I won't come fetch you in the middle of the night to help calm them." She said severely, especially when Gabriel turned to look at his mother with big eyes. She sighed afterward, shaking her head.

"It's alright Gabe, she said he's really nice" Said Olivia, smiling a bit. No need to be afraid.

"But that's probably to lure you into his jar!" Protested Gabriel, conflicted. He was a big too old to believe in fairy tales, even if his mother didn't discourage it.

"No- no he's not trying to lure anyone anywhere." Clarified Luka with an amused grin on his face. Lord save them from the kids imagination.

"I'm done! Can I go say hi to Pint and Jenny?" Said Olivia, cleaning her mouth with a servillet and putting her fork and knife over her plate. She was looking at Selene, but a quick look made her remember it was Luka she was supposed to ask for permission in his home.

"If course. But make sure you don't get any dirt on your hands or your dress, it's beautiful." She nodded and in an instant she was off, running outside. Gabriel started eating a little faster so he could join his sister.

"How is your job, Rose?, Do you mind reminding me what you do exactly?" Asked Selene. Luka arched his brow, because she never asked without reason and she had never had a particular interest in Rose's job beyond the basics.
 
"He's a big kid," Rose replied, knowing Selene was certainly more concerned about Gabriel than Olivia in this instance, "I'm sure he can survive a few nightmares, and if he can't, I will gladly go over and help calm him down." She was unwithered by the glare she received, although she did seem apologetic.

The kids would be fine, and luckily for Olivia, it had been a few days since it rained, so she was unlikely to come inside muddied... although if anybody could find a way, it'd be that girl. It was sweet watching the siblings. Pretty soon, she expected, Gabe would decide he was too old to play with his little sister... Puberty had its way of making people three years younger than you seem suddenly like babies, even if not too long ago they seemed like the best playmates only a few months before.

She was pulled quickly out of this line of thinking when Selene asked her about her work, she turned to her, "My job is... my job. I get paid for the work that I do, and I get the weekends and holidays off, so..." She shrugged. She wanted to brag about how it had been a month since her boss and Steve, one of her coworkers, had last asked her out, but she was a little worried Selene would urge her to at least give Steve a chance, and anyway Gabriel was still at the table, "I'm a bank teller, so I... cash checks and give people the money they withdraw, when I'm not basically just the secretary. But I'm really good at making change, because of it. But, you know, I always think my real job is writing music and, I go to the Nursing home on Saturdays and the Children's Hospital on Wednesdays, and I perform in the park or on Main Street whenever I can. My work at the bank is temporary. Why do you ask?"
 

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"He struggles with night terrors sometimes. Unrelated to any stories he's told, but it's better if we don't add nightmare fuel" Said the copper haired woman patting her son's shoulder. He was still eating, apparently unaffected by his mother's words.

"I'm done!" He exclaimed, hastily wiping crumbs from the side of his mouth. "Can I go with Liv?" He asked, looking at Luka and Selene. The former laughed a bit, almost done with his coffee.

"Of course, and remember to be careful around Jen. She's used to you two but horses are always easy to spook." He said, and Gabriel made it to the hallway walking calmly only to then run off as soon as he was out of the kitchen.

"I have to admit I'm also curious" Said Luka, adding to Rose's concern about Selene's questioning. She had never cared about it before.

"I recently fired our state administrator, he was keeping money that didn't belong to him. Quite the surprise, honestly, his father had worked for us before and he was an honest man. So I'm looking for someone trustworthy to keep track of our finances, just to have everything written, you know how it is. So I thought I'd ask if you know someone trustworthy who'd do the job... Or if it's something within your capabilities. Just writing down all exchanges really, a couple times a week. It's well paid" She explained.
 
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