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  1. London Ridley exhaled slowly and tried to imagine the tension gradually leaving her shoulders as she allowed the comfort of warm air and delicious smells to wash over her. She had taken a chance coming to the diner, but she had no choice. It had been some time since she had been home so she no longer knew the best restaurants and places to shop like the back of her hand. Of course, Alaska wasn’t exactly known for its avant-garde shopping and cuisine, but having grown up in the area, she did have her favorite places. Whatever vague knowledge and memory she might have had, however, left her when she learned of the shooting of Liam and Naomi McLeod. She would never say the words out loud, but it may well have been the attempted murder of her own parents as far as London was concerned. Since returning, she’d experienced her share of warm memories and flashbacks - passing by familiar houses that had aged ever so slightly, walking past the bakery that sold the best donuts she had ever tasted and provided the friendliest and most nurturing conversation one could ever hope to experience - but not even those memories captured even half of the good feelings she felt for this place compared to her memories of time spent with McLeods. London would be the first to admit her feelings surrounding the McLeods were complicated, primarily because of her feelings for Lucian McLeod. He had been her first love, her high school sweetheart in fact, and the tenderness and warmth she felt about that time in her life was as much about her love for the family as it was for their son. Liam and Naomi had been another set of parents to her at a time when her family relationships and her feelings toward family in general had been quite complicated. Liam and Naomi had always kept things simple - they left her as one of their own and she loved them in return. Even when she and Lucian had decided to go their separate ways because they wanted different things, London never felt, and was never made to feel, as though she were divorcing herself from the family. In fact, London had been a bit incredulous at that initially, and even felt a little guilty the family had chosen not to cut ties with her to spare their son, but that’s just how they were. Sure, they didn’t keep in touch as frequently as they once did, but that was to be expected. London just appreciated she had been thought of at all. Unfortunately, she’d had to learn of the shooting from the television. To the credit of the local police department, she’d received a phone call just a few minutes later. She would not be the victim advocate assigned to the case. She couldn’t exactly be sure whether that was because she hadn’t officially started as a victim advocate and trauma support specialist or whether it was because the local authorities were familiar with her relationship to the family. Ridley couldn’t be sure what exactly they knew, but she wouldn’t have been surprised. The area wasn’t the equivalent of New York City, after all. She met the news she wouldn’t be officially professionally involved with mixed feelings. This wasn’t the way she wanted to see the family again after all these years, and the professional in her knew it would be better if the victim advocate assigned to the case could be more objective. London knew the McLeods weren’t inclined to show emotional vulnerability to anyone, let alone someone they knew intimately. In particular, she knew that to be true Liam and Lucian, whether because of their sex or experience. Still, part of her believed her familiarity with the family would be an asset. Besides that, she needed to do something. That need to do something was what had brought her to Java on the recommendation of colleagues she barely knew. Taking a chance the family would benefit from access to decent coffee and even some pastry, she’d ordered coffees and mixed baked goods to go, carrying her offerings with care, letting the warmth radiating from the cups to warm her shaking, nearly numb fingers.
  2. [ FAMILY HISTORY ] London’s family line is an in the flesh example of the cycle of poverty, substance abuse, violence, and its consequences. Her mother, Miri Marlowe, grew up with two alcoholic parents in Cincinnati, Ohio who barely acknowledged her existence, let alone provided for her most basic needs or gave her any sort of affection. According to Miri, her own mother told her the only reason Miri was born was because her mother underestimated how far along she was when she sought an abortion and she believed no one would adopt Miri if they knew how much her mother drank during her pregnancy. Miri’s earliest memories involved observing both parents either passed out, beating each other up, or beating her. During those rare periods when her parents were able to hold down jobs as a waitress and simple handyman, respectively, Miri was left in the care of random neighbors or drug using acquaintances of her parents, who themselves were neglectful and in some cases, sexually abusive. During Miri’s childhood, teachers weren’t as attentive to child abuse and neglect, but even if they had been, Miri came from a long line of Marlowes who were labeled “trailer trash smart asses” who were criminals that had defiantly resisted any attempts by “the government” to tell them how to live their lives. By the time Miri turned 16, she had dropped out of school and was living on the streets. Having decided life on her own couldn’t be any worse than what she had experienced in the first 16 years of her life, Miri made the decision to turn to prostitution to make money to survive. It wasn’t long before Miri met her Romeo pimp, who promised to love her and take care of her mere hours before he beat her and gave her to his friends to “break in.” For the next two years, Miri’s life consisted of what seemed like the endless repetition of the same awful day over and over again. Eventually, Miri was arrested for the first time for prostitution and possession. Traumatized and strung out, she didn’t believe the nurse who told her she was pregnant by some rapist john, but she was filled with relief when the judge sentenced her to a residential program out of consideration for her circumstances and her lack of prior criminal history. [ CHILDHOOD ] January 22, 1976 London Kyler Marlowe is born a healthy 7lbs, 6 ounces at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, thanks to the His Honor, Judge Charles Ridley, and his wife, Elizabeth Ridley, Miri’s social worker, who grant Miri a placement at the Bishop Maternity Home. London is named after the foreign city her mother would most like to visit someday. February 1, 1976 Miri and a newborn London move into the maternity home’s transitional shelter, where for the next two years, the two are allowed to stay while Miri completes her GED, finds work as an administrative assistant, and saves money toward an apartment of their own. February 1, 1978 Miri and two year old London leave the shelter and move into a small but comfortable apartment. Miri works as an admin assistant and a waitress at a local diner by night while London spends most of her time in daycare. Social worker Elizabeth Ridley continues to periodically check- in out of concern for London. 1980 – 1983 The financial strain and stress of single parenthood begin to take its toll on Miri, and it isn’t long before she resumes her old bad habits. London is removed 3 times over the next 3 years due to parental neglect. March 1984 In an unusual turn of events, Miri is convicted of murdering a john and sentenced to life in prison. Miri implores her former social worker and her husband, the benevolent judge, to adopt 8 year old London and raise her as their own. The formerly childless couple can’t deny their feelings for London, and agree. London visits her mother for the first time with glass between them in the visitor’s area. She is outwardly shy but inwardly seething over her mother’s abandonment. December 1984 Now officially London Kyler Ridley, the family of three moves to Kodiak, Alaska to give their daughter a fresh start. 1984 – 1991 London attends elementary and middle school. She is a top student with lots of friends, but counselors express concern that she isn’t entirely bonding with her new family and seems to carry a great deal of anger over her biological mother’s absence. London expresses fierce affection and gratitude toward her adoptive parents but acknowledges feelings of confusion and anger. Miri continues to reach out to London by mail, but most letters go unanswered. September 1991 – May 1993 London completes her first two years of high school and quickly distinguishes herself at the top of her class. She isn’t in the most popular crowd, but she develops a close circle of friends and is active in the academic honor society, debate club and student service organizations. A class project on her family tree re-ignites her interest in her biological mother. May 1994 – August 1994 The summer of her junior year in high school London asks to return to Ohio to visit her mother whenever she can over the break. She expresses a desire to hear her mother’s side of the story of London’s life, and the Ridleys agree, relieved London may finally let go of her underlying anger and depression. The visits are tense at first, but as Miri starts to recount the circumstances that led to her choices and imprisonment, London begins to feel more empathetic toward her mother and to become more aware of how easily vulnerable and traumatized people can fall through the cracks of the system. Her mother does not make excuses for her crimes and the two begin to bond again as mother and daughter. May 1995 London graduates high school in the top ten percent of her class. She is shocked to learn she has been accepted to her “pie in the sky” college, Harvard University, which she attributes to her excellent grades and raw essay about her life as the child of an addict. She calls her biological mother to tell her the good news and to plan their summer visit and is devastated to learn her mother died. The official word from the prison is she overdosed, but London isn’t convinced, having heard from her mother all about the abusive and corrupt practices by staff on inmates. Still, she has no evidence either way and is left dazed and in shock. [ PERSONAL HISTORY ] September 1995 – June 1999 Following her mother’s death, London is eager for a fresh start and throws herself into her studies in Boston. As a biology major and a pre-medicine student, she finds herself in the toughest academic program she has ever encountered and she has virtually no social life. For four years, she suppresses her grief, only talking to her parents on any sort of regular basis. July 1999 London learns she has been accepted to Harvard Medical School. A trusted professor reaches out to express concern for London’s welfare as by now she has dropped 30 lbs. and is looking frail. London agrees to enter grief counseling and ultimately comes to respect and admire the therapist who helps her process her trauma. This experience shapes the course of her future career. September 1999 – June 2003 London completes medical school and graduates in the top twenty percent of her class. June 2003 – June 2007 She is selected to complete her psychiatric residency with Massachusetts General Hospital. During this time, she gains exposure to a broad range of psychiatric specialties, including neurology, adult inpatient psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry (inpatient and outpatient), emergency psychiatry, psychiatric consultation, addiction, psychiatry in correctional settings and community psychiatry. June 2007 – June 2009 London is selected for dual Trauma and Forensic Psychiatry Fellowships. During this period, she continues to assess and treat inmates in the local area jails but also gains experience assessing and treating juvenile offenders, completing threat assessments and providing expertise in other civil and criminal court matters. Her favorite rotation, working with the Boston Police Department, teaches her how to compile psychological profiles and how to assist traumatized victims, witnesses, and officers alike. June 2009 – 2013 Upon completion of her fellowship, London accepts a position as a forensic psychiatrist and victim advocate with the Massachusetts State Police. She enjoys the opportunity to continue the work begun during her fellowship on a much larger scale, and she also appreciates the variety of her work, but the experience also helps her realize her passion for working with a specific group of trauma survivors: domestic and sexual violence survivors. 2013 – 2015 London ultimately leaves the MSP to take a position as the senior clinician with the Boston Area Domestic and Sexual Violence Center. In her position, she provides crisis counseling and safety planning to survivors, individual and group therapy for survivors and their non-offending family members, develops and facilitates support groups, and provides medical and legal accompaniment as needed. It is rewarding but ultimately emotionally taxing work, and after so many years away from her family, London knows it is time to come home to Alaska. 2016 - 2017 London has taken a job as a clinical and forensic psychiatric consultant with Storm Shelter Air & Rescue. and provides psychiatric services with Horse N Buggy MedCare. London believes she can be of use to both companies given her combined skills while enjoying a somewhat slower pace and better benefits. The chance to reconnect with her family is also priceless to her.

About Storm Shelter

Storm Shelter brings crime drama and not quite soapy soap-opera to the online written RPG world. Set in one of America's last frontiers, the residents of Kodiak Island and Storm Shelter Air & Rescue encounter bad guys and storm gales in equal measure. The RPG offers guided site-wide plots and open character driven stories..

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