ONE.

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MARLEY ACOSTA HAD her life scheduled to the hour. Her brother liked to call it psychotic, her mother worried that she pressured herself too much, and it drove her boss crazy, but she didn't think of it in any of those ways. The way she had trained herself to live was necessary to get the things she wanted.

Her day started at six thirty. She would wake up, clean the mess she left from the night before, eat breakfast, brush her teeth, then walk to school. From school, she would go to work, serve her customers, try not to bark at Taylor Doose for ordering eggs benedict at eight thirty at night, close, then go home. She would then shower, do her schoolwork and study, then catch four hours of sleep. On a good night, that was.

Sure, it was intense and, as her brother also called it, deranged, but it was structured. It was safe, it was smart, and it benefitted everyone around her. It left no room for surprises. Marley didn't like surprises.

Which is why, when she came into work to find Luke Danes yelling at a kid with a paperback in his back pocket, she approached with caution. This was new. The kid was new.

Luke saw Marley as soon as the bells hanging off the door rang. He almost looked relieved to see her. "Oh, thank god," he sighed. She raised her brow, hesitantly taking one strap of her backpack off her shoulder. "Marley, go clock in then get back out here."

"You got it," she replied slowly, looking at the boy in front of Luke strangely. He still hadn't turned around from his seat at the counter. "Give me a minute."

"Thirty seconds," Luke grumbled.

Marley chuckled as she walked to the back room. "You say that like you're a threat to me."

"I'm your boss. What other threat do you need?" he called.

"Death, probably." Marley poked her head out from the kitchen where she had just greeted Caesar. "You could carry a gun. That might make you more threatening."

"I'll get right on that."

Marley wiped her hands on a rag and emerged from the kitchen. "Maybe a pair of brass knuckles. You look like a ring guy."

"You done yet?" Luke asked, face blank.

She grinned. "Yes," she answered. She placed the rag down on the counter, finally making eye contact with the boy at the end of the table. Her eyes widened slightly when she recognized who it was.

Stars Hollow was a small town. Very little happened there and very little changed. Things like Katie Longtree getting a new haircut or Neil Titus setting yet another thing on fire made the school talk. So, when Jess Mariano came into town with his suspicious record and variety of jackets, the entire school was abuzz. Her friends couldn't seem to stop talking about the new kid in the grade above them who had argued with their god-awful English teacher, Mr. Jenkins about Hemmingway for ten minutes straight. Marley had heard from her friend Courtney that she had seen Luke push him into the lake. She made a mental note to ask about that.

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