Hey guys! For everybody who's been asking I'm sorry to say this but I won't be doing a sequel. I know that the anime continues with their married life but I won't be. I'm really sorry. The reason I wont be continuing is because after this story, 2 words, and Infinitive 9 are over I'll be retiring from fanfiction for a while. I don't have enough time especially with school and friends and work so there's just no way. I wont be quitting completely though, I may write a few one-shots here and there by like Christmas and New Years and stuff but that's about it.

On a brighter note I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who's been reading this story. Originally it was just going to be something fun because I loved the anime so much. I wasn't expecting to have this many readers at all so thanks so much for reading it and loving the characters as much as I did. (PS. Sammy was probably my favorite)

Chapter 23: The Finale

It's been 3 months since that day. Since I cut my finger and all my tears and pain finally let out. I still have a scar…..something to remember that day.

My Father and I now live in a small apartment alone. It's cramped and there's not many people to talk to. No Melanie, no Harry, no Sammy….no Brandon. Even though it was sad to go I think my Dad was right. After we moved out I felt as if I was leaving the old Stella behind. I made a decision that day: Brandon Shields is merely a thing of the past. I don't need him, and my life doesn't revolve around him.

I haven't seen the Shields since I moved out. I miss Melanie a lot, and I have a feeling she misses me too. The connection we shared those 3 years was unimaginable. For a girl who lost her mother and a woman without a daughter we clicked together as if we were really related. Harry Shields and I don't speak much but he and my Father go out for drinks sometimes. As for Sammy Shields I think I miss him the most. He filled the younger brother role in my life. It's such a shame that we became friends so late. If only we had been nice to each other the whole time, than we would have been a lot closer. It's sad to think that he's left alone, put in a life of living in his brother's shadow. At least with me there he had someone to talk to….to confide in.

"Stella"

I turned my head to the door, finding a face who'd become familiar to me these passed months.

"Hey Case, just wait a minute. I want to finish this before we go for lunch" I said putting the finishing touches on the new painting I started.

"No problem" He said, entering the small empty art room. He took a seat on the stool beside me.

The painting I was working on was dark and bold. It had meaning to it, much like the paintings I've done since the move. They've all involved lots of dark colors, lots of browns, and blues, and purples.

"Amazing" Casey said

I looked at him and smiled.

"You think so?" I asked

He nodded.

"I don't know how I got so lucky to have such a talented girlfriend" He said

There's that word again. Girlfriend.

I laughed.

"Thank you" I said adding in a bit of violet to the center.

"What do you call this one?" He asked, and I could feel his hand grazing the small of my back.

"Treacherous" I said

"Treacherous? That's a bit…..frightening" He said and we both laughed.

"Where did you come up with that?" He asked knowing that my fine art of extremely low vocabulary definitely didn't include the word treacherous.

"I wanted to name it something bold, something that people will remember. I needed a word that was haunting, that was…..blood chilling" I said thinking about a certain someone.

"So you chose treacherous?"

"Yeah, I found it online" I said

"Well it's awesome" Casey said

I turned to him and smiled, placing a soft kiss on his lips.

"Thank you" I said again.

"Go wash off, happy meals are calling our names" Casey said

"Happy meals?! Screw this!" I said, pulling off my smock. I quickly went to the sink to wash my hands while Casey chuckled at my eagerness.

"Speaking of happy, you'll never guess what I heard around the hallways" Casey said

"What?" I asked drying my hands with a towel.

"You know Mackenzie White from the medical department?"

I nodded bitterly.

"Yeah" I said

"I heard she just got engaged" Casey said

"You don't say" I said not looking at him

"Yeah, apparently she and that Shields kid you used to live with are tying the knot" Casey said

I nodded as we began walking.

"Isn't that crazy? They've been dating for less than a year and are getting married? Man that Shields kid must be pretty whipped" Casey said

"You don't even know the end of it" I said

"Whatever, I guess it's really none of our business" Casey said

I nodded in agreement.

"Hey, by the way, how's John been?" I asked

"He and Nicole really hit it off. He loves to shower her in love and she enjoys the showering. It's a perfect fit" Casey said

"I'm so happy for him" I said

"I haven't heard him mention your name in months" Casey said

"Wow….I'm not sure if I should be happy or insulted" I said sarcastically

Casey laughed, wrapping his arm around me as we walked to McDonalds.

Casey and I have been dating ever since I had that talk with my Dad. He was right, I cant just wait around for Brandon all my life. If I did I'd end up dying alone with probably 3 or 4 cats. I don't even know why I stuck with him in the first place he was just my high school crush. Besides, these past 3 months have been my happiest in….a long time. Casey and I are just a perfect match. We joke together and he's such a gentlemen. Plus, I've never even fought with him once. With Brandon it was another fight every other day….and that's just from living together! If I had gone out with him I don't wanna know how many fights we would have gotten into.

2 months later

"I'm home!" I called as I entered the college dorm room. It was late April, summer vacation only a few months away.

"Hey Stell" I heard Musa from the kitchen, but her voice sounded a bit shaky.

I narrowed my eyes, walking into the kitchen.

"Hey" I said. When I walked in Musa, Flora, Bloom, Tecna, and Layla were all sitting around the kitchen table. I could tell by their eyes and the tension in the room something was going on.

"What?" I asked

"Nothing" They all said at the same time

"Uhhh…is this like an intervention or something?" I asked

"No, why would you think that?" Bloom asked, not looking me in the eye

"Gee I don't know, maybe because you're all looking at me like you've just seen a ghost" I said
"Come on Stella, ghosts aren't real" Musa said with a snort.

"Guys seriously, what's up? Are one of you pregnant or something?" I asked

"No!" They all screamed

"So what is it?" I asked. Suddenly I spotted something gold tucked tightly beneath Flora's arm.

"Nothings wrong. Come on, finals aren't for a week. Why don't we go do something fun like….go clubbing or something" Musa suggested, standing up and pushing me out.

I pulled out of her tight grasp, turning around.

"Not until you tell me what Flora's hiding under her arm" I said pointing to Flora

"What? She's not hiding anything. Geez Stella, why don't you go check that vision of yours" Layla said

"Let's go to the eye doctor" Bloom said standing

"I'll drive" Musa said as the 3 of them tried to push me out.

I ran toward Flora, trying to pull out whatever the hell they were trying to hide from me.

"No! Stop!" She cried as I started to tickle her, knowing it was her weakness.

"Not until you give it to me" I said reaching for it.

"Tecna, catch!" Flora through what looked like a letter to Tecna, who caught it and ran.

"Tecna!" I screamed running after her.

"No! No! Bloom!" She cried, tossing it to Bloom.

I ran at Bloom around the table. She stopped on one side and I stopped on the other.

"What's going on? What's in the letter?" I asked curiously

"Nothing!" They all said together

"Than let me see it" I said

Bloom paused for a few seconds, watching me. Then, she took off. She started running around the kitchen.

"Ahhhh!" She squealed as I chased after her.

"Layla!" She said tossing it to Layla.

"Oh come on, you know I cant outrun Layla!" I cried

"That's kind of the point" Layla said hopping on top of the counter and running out into the living room. I ran after her even though it was pointless. She's way too fast for my pathetic version of running.

"You know I'm not athletic!" I called

"Layla, in here!" Musa called from the kitchen. She'd turned on the stove, a small fire blazing out.

Layla circled around, heading back for the kitchen. She tossed the letter to Musa who then politely…shoved the letter into the fire using a salad tong.

"What the hell!?" I screamed going to the fire.

"Sorry Stella, we had to" Musa said as the letter slowly burned. I rolled my eyes, shaking my head as I pushed her away. I shut the stove off, took the salad tong, and pulled the half burned letter out of the fire.

"Stella, don't" Musa begged as I started to open the envelope.

"What is wrong with you guys today?" I asked

"You know that we love you. We just didn't want you to see-"

"Brandon and Mackenzie's wedding invitation" I said reading the card. My face went blank for a second, taking in the letter before me. I turned around, shutting my eyes.

I felt a hand on my back.

"We didn't want you to see it because we didn't want you to get upset" Bloom said comfortingly

I shook my head putting the card down. I cleared my throat.

"Who's angry? We knew they were getting married" I said facing them.

"Yeah but aren't you-?"

"I don't care. What's the big deal?" I said

"Stell-"

"I'm happy for them" I said walking toward the door.

"Where are you going?" Layla asked

"Out"

"Out where?" Musa asked, concerned.

"It doesn't matter, just out" I said not looking at them.

"Stella"

"Just leave it alone" I said

"Stella-"

"Just leave it alone!" I screamed, exiting the room.

The 5 girls looked at each other, sad faces.

"Do you think we should tell her that Mackenzie wants us to be her bridesmaids?" Tecna asked.

"We'd be lucky if she even goes to their wedding"

"Why am I getting so worked up about this? I knew they were getting married. What's the big deal?" I said taking a bite of my ice scream

Sammy shrugged.

"Same reason Mom's only been wearing black for the last 2 weeks" Sammy said

After I stormed out of the dorm room I got a very unexpected call from a very unhappy kid. Sammy called me asking if I could pick him up. After I stole Musa's car and drove out to get him, I drove us to the nearest ice cream store.

"Maybe the invitation is making it more real" Sammy suggested

I nodded in agreement.

"Maybe…." I said

The 2 of us sat in silence.

"How are things at home?" I asked

"Quiet" He said

"Quiet? I've never known your house to be quiet" I said

"Yeah well, without you and Brandon fighting, and the fact that my mom has gone into full out mourning nothing really goes on" Sammy said

"How about you?" I asked

"What about me?" He asked

"How have you been doing?" I asked

He shrugged.

"This whole thing is bull shit" He said

"Amen to that" I said fist pounding him

Sammy chuckled, rolling his eyes.

"So why'd you call me? What happened?" I asked

"Brandon and Mackenzie were over for dinner and I really didn't want to be there" He said

"Aren't you supposed to go to those things?" I asked

"Yeah. I told them I was sick" He said

"Wait so….they all think you're in your bedroom sick right now?" I asked, eyes wide.

"Yup" He said

"Holy crap dude, I just kidnapped you! We have to get back before they file a police report!" I screamed standing up.

He wouldn't stand up.

"It doesn't matter. They wont even notice I'm gone. Brandon and Mackenzie probably wont say goodbye to me and after they leave my mom goes straight up to her room to cry"

"What about your Dad?" I asked

"Are you kidding? Since his heart attack he cant stay up passed like 8:30" Sammy said

I closed my eyes in sadness.

"Where did things go so wrong?" I asked

Sammy shrugged.

"I ask myself that everyday"

"And?" I asked

"I'm the smartest person in my school, and even I couldn't come up with an answer" Sammy said

I smiled bitterly.

"Well I can" I said

Sammy looked at me knowingly.

"Brandon" We said together.

"That little son of a bitch is ruining everything" Sammy said angrily, looking down.

I put my hand on his shoulder.

"Hey. Sooner or later your mom will accept Mackenzie, and you will too. You and your brother cant hate each other forever"

"We don't hate each other. I just hate him" Sammy said

"Please find a way to make things better" I said

"There's no way. He's screwed things up too bad for them to be fixed. He's completely ruined everything and I will hate him forever for this" Sammy said

I looked away.

"Family is the most important thing in the world. You're very lucky to have a mom and a dad and a brother. As time goes on your small family is going to become bigger, whether you like it or not. Brandon will have kids, and you and whoever you marry will have kids and the generations will go on. That's just the way things are. Please don't hate Brandon forever. You need family more than you think" I said

"I'm sorry" Sammy said

I looked at him.

"For what?" I asked

"You were stuck with such an awful life" Sammy said

"Gee thanks" I said

"You lost your mom, and even after that things were going just fine for you. Once you met my brother everything went wrong. The earthquake ruined your house forcing you to move in with us. We pulled you into all of our problems. Brandon hurt you so much and yet you never gave up on him. Now here we are, Brandon completely blowing everybody off just because he wants to be a doctor and not a business man. He's so selfish-"

"Sammy how could you say that? Don't you see? None of this is even your family's fault. If I had never involves myself in all of your problems everything would have been better. Your family was much better off without my Dad and I. All we did was cause the problems." I said

"I just wish….I wish we could be like normal people. Free to choose what we want to do. Not run by a stupid company" Sammy said

"Normal people….when they love somebody they get loved back. Most guys don't act like Brandon." I said

"See, you hate Brandon too" He said

"But I'm not his brother. We're not family, I'm allowed to hate him" I said

Sammy looked down.

"So what do we do?" He asked

I looked at him.

"About what?"
"About the wedding" He said

"I guess there's nothing to do" I said

"I was afraid you'd say that" He said

I looked down, closing my eyes.

"I don't even know why they invited me. I have no business being at his wedding and he knows that. He's just trying to taunt me, isn't he?" I asked

"Actually it wasn't Brandon who wanted you there" Sammy said

"Your mother must be working up some sort of scheme-"

"It wasn't my mother either" Sammy said

I narrowed my eyes.

"Than who?" I asked

"Mackenzie"

My mouth shot open.

"Mackenzie?" I asked

He nodded.

"But she hates me. She's been horrible to me ever since we met. What's she up to?" I asked

"She said she called your phone to tell you but you didn't answer. She called one of your friends and told them instead" Sammy said

"Told them what?" I asked

"She wants you to be her maid of honor"

My eyes widened, and my mouth went so wide my jaw started to hurt.

"Excuse me?" I asked

"My exact reaction" Sammy said

"How do you know this?" I asked

"Her and Brandon always come over to discuss wedding plans with us. She wants you to be her maid of honor and all of your friends to be her bride's maids" Sammy said

"What the hell? Will she ever give up?" I asked

"What do you mean?"

"She's always trying to shove it in my face that she got Brandon. This must be yet another attempt to-"

"Or maybe it's because she doesn't have any friends that are girls" Sammy said

I looked at him.
"Huh….I never really noticed that. Every girl in school hates her because she gets all the guys" I said trying to make sense of it in my head.

"So what are you gonna do? Are you gonna be her maid of honor?" He asked

"Is there any way to say no?" I asked

"Not really" He said

I groaned.

"Oh come on! I was planning on not showing up" I said

"What do you know, I was planning on that too" He said

"Aren't you Brandon's best man?" I asked

"Nope, Sky is" Sammy said with a smirk.

"That is so unfair! Why do you get out of it but I'm her freaking maid of honor?" I asked

Sammy shrugged happily.

"When is this stupid wedding anyways?" I asked

"Didn't you get the invitation?" He asked

"Yeah but the date got burnt off" I said

He raised an eyebrow.

"Long story" I said

He rolled his eyes, shaking his head.

"It's next week"

I started choking on my ice cream.

"Next week?" I asked through breathes.

"Yup. And the rehearsal dinner is on Wednesday" He said

"Rehearsal dinner? What the hell is a rehearsal dinner?" I asked

"Sorry, I forgot you weren't rich" He said earning a glare from me. That's one thing he and Brandon have in common, they're both smart asses.

"A rehearsal dinner is this dinner you have before a wedding"
"What's the point?" I asked

He shrugged.

"Ask Mackenzie" He said playfully, with a smirk.

"I am gonna punch you in like 30 seconds" I said holding up my fist.

Sammy laughed and I have a feeling it's the first time he's laughed in a long time.

"I'm driving you home just in case Brandon has a change of heart and decides to say goodbye to you" I said with a smile.

I drove Sammy home than drove back toward the college. I debated on whether I should stop by the apartment to say hi to my dad or not. He was, after all, living all by himself. I kind of felt bad leaving him all alone. He probably gets really lonely at night.

I drove back to the college, parking Musa's car by our dorming house.

"I'm back!" I called

"Stella, is that you?" Bloom asked coming out of her bedroom. When she saw me her eyes lit up.

"Stella! Guys! Stella's back!" Bloom screamed

Everyone came out of their bedrooms, hugging me.

"What's going on? It's only 10" I said

"We were worried sick!" Musa said hitting me on the back of my head

"Huh?" I asked confused.
"We only called you 21 times" Musa said

"My phone was dead" I said

"Your phone was dead? We thought you were dead!" Layla screamed smacking me.

"Yeah, we were about to call the police!" Tecna screamed

"Well, good thing you didn't because I'm not dead. Or at least not yet" I said

"What's that supposed to mean?" Musa asked

"I'm Mackenzie's maid of honor! Me! What the hell, right?" I said outraged

"Well we're supposed to be her bridesmaids" Bloom said

"I know!" I screamed

"Did you also know that the wedding is in like a week?" Layla asked

"Yes! What is wrong with them? You don't send out an invitation a week before the wedding" I said

"Wait, how did you know? Where did you just go?" Flora asked

"It doesn't matter right now. What matters is that we have to be freaking in their wedding, that's in like a week" I said angrily.

"This is so stupid" Tecna said shaking her head

"I know! And, they're having some stupid rehearsal dinner on Wednesday" I said

"Rehearsal dinner?"

"It's a dinner before the wedding, I don't get it either" I said

"Wait, Wednesday is in 3 days" Layla said

"I know" I said, sitting on the couch.

"We're not going…right?" Musa asked

"How could we not? Mackenzie wont have any bridesmaids if we don't" Bloom said sympathetically

"Who cares? Not like she ever did anything nice for us" Layla said

"No matter how much I hate her…Bloom's right. It's her wedding day" I said

"Stella-" Musa started

"If you're okay with it Stell, there's really no reason for any of us not to be. I mean, it's mostly up to you" Flora said looking at Musa.

"R…right" Musa agreed

"So then I guess we're going" I said with disgust.

We all sighed.

"You guys are lucky. All of your boyfriends were invited" I said

"Why don't you just bring Casey?" I asked

"But that's….actually not a bad idea" I said

"That's perfect. This way, you wont have such a bad time" Musa said

"And Brandon can see that you really have moved on" Flora said

They all looked at her with warning glances.

"What? It's true" She said

"Yeah…it is. You know what, I'm calling Casey right now" I said taking out my phone.

I paused.

"Right after I go charge it"

"Stella!"

I talked to Casey the next day and he said he would be happy to be my date. It kind of gave me a bit more confidence. Bloom called Mackenzie…because I refused to…and asked about the dress thing. Mackenzie said that she had our dresses waiting for us at her house. Everything was settled, we would all be staying over at Brandon's house where the rehearsal dinner and the wedding was being held. Their house was definitely big enough. After I heard that I would be staying there I had a mix of happiness and nervousness going through me. I was happy to see Melanie and my old room but…I haven't been there for months. It'll be a little weird.

"Can't believe I'm doing this. Can't believe I'm doing this" I said rolling my heavy suitcase behind me.

"Lighten up Stella, we can get drunk and party at their wedding" Musa said pulling her suitcase out of the dorm room.

"Oh I intend to" I said

"Help me get these bags into my car" Musa said

I nodded, putting my suitcase down. I took 2 from the dorm and brought them down to the car.

"Did you guys bring your hair irons, curlers, and make-up?" Bloom asked

"How could I forget" I said emotionlessly.

Bloom smiled, bringing down her bag.

"Stella, don't worry. This'll all be over in only 5 days" She said

"That's practically a week" I whined

She shook her head with a laugh.

"What did you decide to wear to the rehearsal thing tonight?" She asked me

"My birthday suit and pumps" I said

"Isn't somebody being sarcastic" Layla said, coming out.

"That's how I'm getting through this week, sarcasm and alcohol" I said helping her put her bags in

"That's my girl" She said, making me laugh.

"When's Casey picking you up?" Musa asked

"5 minutes" I said

"Great, so we'll get there around the same time" Musa said

"I cant contain my enthusiasm" I said

"Here, turn that frown upside down" Musa said throwing a chocolate bar she'd taken out of her purse at me.

"Chocolate!" I cried happily.

"Why do you have a chocolate bar in your purse?" Tecna asked with a laugh

"Because I'm Musa" She said

We all laughed.

"I changed my mind. I'm getting through this week with sarcasm, alcohol, and chocolate" I said taking a bite out of my chocolate bar.

We all laughed.

"We're meeting the guys at their apartment so we're gonna head out now" Musa said getting into the front seat.

"Okay. Drive safe and don't get into an accident" I said

"Hey, I drove us all the way to Vegas and back without getting into an accident. I think I can survive driving home" She said

"You better. If I have to go through this alone I might kill someone" I said

"If you do kill someone can it be Mackenzie?" Layla asked

"Sure" I said

They all laughed while getting into the car.

"Bye, see you in 2 hours!" I called

"Bye, don't kill somebody!" Musa called

I laughed, waving.

I turned around, going back upstairs. I made sure I didn't forget anything, then went back downstairs. I waited by my suitcase for Casey to pull up.

"Hey toots, need a ride" Casey said, rolling down his window. He had dark sunglasses on.

I laughed.

"Sure! Just don't tell my boyfriend!" I said playfully

Casey laughed, shaking his head.

He took his sunglasses off then got out of the car, helping me with my bag.

"Thank you" I said handing it over to him.

"Anything for my lady" He said

He put the bag in his trunk as I got into the passenger seat. Casey drove a small black car that seated 5. This trip it'll just be the 2 of us.

Casey got in the front seat.

"Ready?" He asked

"As I'll ever be" I said unenthusiastically

Casey put his keys in then started the car.

"I haven't been home since Christmas so this'll be fun" Casey said

"We should go see your family tomorrow or something" I said

"I want to meet your Dad first" He said

"Are you gonna kiss up to him?" I asked

"Oh yeah. By the end of this trip he is going to love me" Casey said

I laughed.

"Got any tips?" He asked

"Show him how awesome you are at cooking. He owns a restaurant" I said

Casey smiled then put one hand on mine. I smiled back but I started to feel a little….off. I don't know what it was I just felt….weird.

I cleared my throat.

"2 hands on the wheel! Trying to get us killed?" I asked

The rest of the trip we just talked. We joked around a lot and listened to music.

"Hello?" I said picking up my phone

"Hey Stell, we're here" Musa said

"Go in we'll be there in 5 minutes" I said

"Not until you come. If we're doing this thing we're doing it together" Musa said

"Okay, we're coming. Be strong buddy, be strong" I said

She groaned.

"Cant we just go home and tell them we mixed up the dates?" Musa suggested

"As much as I want to I think we've got to do this" I said

Musa groaned again.

"Fine! Hey, since we're here can we go to our old high school to pay our good friend vice principle Griselda a visit" Musa said evily

"Actually it's principle Griselda now, Sammy told me" I said

"What?! Now we really need to pay her a visit" Musa said

"I know. Hey, I wonder if our old prank locker is still there" I said

"I still remember Grizelda's scream when we super glued everything to her desk" Musa said

"Good times" I said with a laugh

"Ye-I see your car!" Musa cried.

"Case, open my window for me" I said

Casey pulled down my window and I poked my head out.

"Hi!" I called, waving my hand out.

There were 2 cars waiting. Musa was in 1 with Riven, Nabu, and Layla, and Sky was in the other with Bloom, Timmy, Tecna, Helia, and Flora.

Casey parked the car in the Sheild's driveway, and I immediately got out.

"Hey guys" I said running toward Musa's car.

"Why don't the girls go in and we'll start bringing in the bags" Casey suggested

"Good call" Sky said

"But Riven's not a gentlemen" Musa said with a snort.

"Watch it or I'm not bringing in your bag" He said

"Fine. Come on girls, let's leave these big strong guys to do their work" Musa said tauntingly

I laughed.

"I'm so excited to see Melanie" I said feeling really hyper.

We went to the front door all together, and it really felt like déjà vu. I was really excited…and kind of nauseous.

"Stella, you knock" Bloom said

"Why me?" I asked

"You used to live here" She said

"Fine" I said

I went up and I knocked really hard, knowing they wouldn't hear me if I knocked lightly.

The door opened immediately and we were met with a scream.

"STELLA!"

"MELANIE!"

We hugged for a really long time.

"Stella, I've missed you so much!" She cried

"I missed you too!" I cried

We separated.

"Girls!" She cried, hugging all my friends.

"I really missed you and Harry, so much" I said hugging her again. Once we separated she grasped my arms.

"Stella, you don't understand. Everything is so wrong. This wedding can't happen" She started

"Melanie, I don't know what to-"

"Is it Stella?" I heard my Dad's voice.

I ran in, finding him in the living room.

"Dad!" I cried, hugging him.

I looked around, finding my Dad, Harry, Sammy, and Mackenzie sitting on the 3 couches in the living room.

"Harry!" I cried hugging him next.

"Stella, you look different" He said

"Different how?" I asked

"Did you get taller? You just look more mature" He said

I smiled, hugging him again.

"How are you feeling?" I asked

"Better now that we've got the whole family here" He said, referring to me and my Dad as family.

I looked at Sammy and smiled, giving him a knowing glance.

"Hey Sam" I said hugging him.

"Augh, gross, get off me" He said but I know what he really meant.

"I haven't seen you in so long" I said to him, and only Sammy and I knew the true joke to that statement.

"Feels like years" He said going along with it.

We both smirked as my gaze moved toward Mackenzie.

"Well if it isn't the bride" I said, trying to be enthusiastic.

Mackenzie beamed proudly, showing off her movie star worthy smile.

Mackenzie stood and did something I never would have expected. She hugged me.

"It's good to see you Stella. I haven't seen you in a while" She said sweetly.

My teeth clenched. The good girl act? Really Mackenzie? Just go along with it Stella, only 5 more days.

"You too. I never got a chance to congratulate you on finishing college early by the way" I said

"Thanks. It was hard but it all paid off" She said

"You and Brandon finished together right?" I asked

"Yeah. Now Brandon's going to Medical school and I can start working" She said

"Sounds like all your dreams are coming true" I said bitterly.

"Hey Stella"

I froze, taking a gulp. I haven't heard that voice in what feels like forever.

I turned around.

"Brandon" I said, smiling lightly. Be nice, Stella.

"Nice to see you" He said keeping his composure. The way he was talking to me it seemed like we were business partners or something.

I cleared my throat fearing I would lose it.

"You too" I said, and I could just feel the awkwardness in the room….or was it just me?

The girls came into the room, led by Melanie. Melanie had her arm around Layla and Musa and they were murmuring to each other. They stopped as soon as they looked up and saw everyone.

"Hey, Mr. S" Musa said giving my Dad a hug

"Girls" My Dad said hugging each of them.

"Congratulations to the happy couple" Bloom said politely. Naturally in these types of situations we usually send Bloom forward being as she's the friendliest.

"Thank you" Mackenzie said with a smile.

"Thank you" Brandon said simply.

By then I had backed myself out of the large group of people, positioning myself on the wall. I could feel Brandon's eyes watching me but I refused to look.

"Brandon!" Nabu cried, running in. He went toward Brandon, punching him lightly on the arm.

"Dude, dude, I don't know what the hell a rehearsal dinner is but tomorrow we are having the bachelor party of the century. Okay? I'm talking girls, I'm talking beers, I'm talking-"

"Really?" Layla asked, hands on her hips

"We'll talk about the details later" Nabu whispered, but everyone could hear him. Nabu always makes me smile.

Brandon laughed, hugging his best friend. The guys came in and greeted Brandon.

"Bro!" Riven screamed hugging him

"This is so much fun" Melanie said happily, jumping with a clap.

"Sweetheart, I haven't seen you this happy in a long time" Harry said with a smile

"What could I possibly be upset about? Radius is here, Stella's here, all of the kids' friends are here, what's not to be happy about?!" Melanie said enthusiastically.

Casey walked in, walking toward me.

"Hey" I said quietly, placing a quick kiss on his lips. I smiled, trying hard not to look at Melanie's face…or anybody else's for that matter.

Melanie cleared her throat.

"Stella, want to introduce us to your…friend" Melanie asked

"Sure. Everybody this is my boyfriend Casey Freedmen. Casey this is my Dad, Harry Shields, Melanie Shields, Sammy Shields, and you already know everybody else. They're all Brandon's family" I said

"Hello" Casey said, shaking hands with my Dad and Harry. I smiled.

"So you're Casey" Melanie said

Casey nodded.

"Has Stella spoken about me?" He asked

"Only good things" Melanie said politely, but I could sense her stiffness.

"Anyways…why doesn't Sammy show us the sleeping arrangements?" I suggested, wanting to get myself out of there as fast as I could.

"No way, I don't want to" Sammy said

"Yes you do, come on Sammy" I said

"No I don-"

I nonchalantly slammed my foot onto his.

"Right this way" He said through the pain.

We all followed him upstairs.

"Stella, you and 2 people can stay in your old bedroom, and 2 people can stay with Brandon in his old room. 3 of you can stay in the bedroom next door to Stella's, and 3 in the one next to Brandon's" Sammy said

"Where's Mackenzie staying?" Bloom asked

"Downstairs" Sammy said

"Let me guess, in the huge one down the hall from the kitchen" I said

"That's the one" Sammy said

"Shouldn't Brandon be with her?" Musa asked

"No" I said immediately

Sammy looked at me…actually, everyone looked at me.

"I mean, isn't it bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. This way, they wont have to switch rooms the night before. It's easier" I said

"Good logic" Sammy said, saving me

"Good logic and Stella in the same sentence? What has this world come to?" Musa asked

I smacked her in the arm.

"If it's 3 and 3 where should I stay?" Casey asked

"Sorry we weren't expecting you. There's another room next door you can take" Sammy said

"Thanks" Casey said

"Get settled, the dumb dinner's in 3 hours" Sammy said unenthusiastically.

We all nodded.

"Oh and Stella, Mackenzie wants to talk to you before the dinner" Sammy said

"Oh joy, what does she want?" I asked

"I don't know" He said

"Why didn't you ask?" I asked

"Do I look like I care?" He asked

"Good point" I said

He went downstairs leaving us to assemble.
"Me and Layla will go in Stella's room and you 3 go next door" Musa said

"Helia and I will take Brandon's room, you 3 in there, and Casey you get the room after" Sky said

We all went toward our rooms. I have to admit I was really excited to see my room.

I opened the door and what I saw made me so happy. They hadn't changed the room. My same bed was in there, my same dresser, same carpet. The only difference was that my stuff wasn't in here.

"Yay! Stella's room!" Musa cried dropping her bags. She ran toward my bed and started jumping.

"It jumps the same!" Musa screamed. Then she dropped down, laying on the soft pillows.

"It feels the same too!" She said

"Ahhh!" I screamed in happiness. I ran to the bed and started jumping just as Musa had. I jumped so hard I made Musa fall off.

The 3 of us looked at each other and started laughing.

"Hey, wait for me" Layla said, then she jumped up.

"Woooo!" We all cheered, jumping.

We stopped jumping sinking down onto the king sized bed.

"Man, now this really feels like home" I said with a sigh.

Layla propped herself up on her elbow.

"Stella, tell us the truth. Do you still like Brandon?" Layla asked

"What?" I asked

"Come on tell us, nothing leaves this room" Musa swore

"No way do I still like Brandon. He's such a jerk. Besides, I'm with Casey now" I said, wishing they hadn't brought him up. We were having so much fun.

"But everybody always has a little bit of feelings for their first love" Musa said

"Not on his wedding day they don't" I said

"So you admit it, you still like Brandon" Layla said

"I never said that" I said

"Defensive" Musa sang

"I am not defensive. Plus, weren't you guys the ones who told me to move on from Brandon? Make up your mind" I said

"We never said date him, we said have feelings. You don't even like him a little bit?" Musa asked

I stayed quiet, shaking my head.

"Not even a little. Like if he were to leave Mackenzie and fall madly in love with you, would you leave Casey for him?" Layla asked

I sat up, hugging my legs. I bit my lip.

"Truth?" I asked

"Truth" They said at the same time.

"I don't know….maybe" I said

"Aha! You admit it!" Musa screamed

"A little bit, I said a little bit" I said

"It just proves that everybody will always have feelings for their first loves" Layla said

"Just a little…and don't tell Casey! If he heard us right now he'd flip and go murder Brandon" I said

"Why would we tell Casey? We said nothing leaves this room didn't we?" Musa said

I nodded.

We decided to start getting ready in an hour. During the time before we just hung out and chilled. Bloom, Flora, and Tecna came from next door to hang out with us.

"I'm going to get a snack. Who wants?" I asked

"Just bring like a bag of chips for all of us" Musa said

"Okidoke" I said walking out. I walked downstairs, toward the kitchen. I could see from the windows they were setting up a big white tent in the back yard. I guess the dinner thing is outside. It's probably going to be really pretty.

I found a bag of chips then went to get a cup of water. I propped myself up on the counter and watched the men put up the tent.

I was so lost in thought I didn't hear Brandon come in. He went to the fridge and took out what looked like a beer. I guess I was pretty quiet too, because he didn't see me sitting on the counter. Or maybe he was just ignoring my presence…

Brandon took a big breath, taking a seat on a bar stool. I decided I should see if he saw me or not so I cleared my throat.

His eyes rose suddenly. So he didn't see me.

"Sorry, I didn't see you there" He said, rising from his chair.

I pushed myself off the counter.

"No, you stay. The girls are waiting for me anyways" I said, avoiding eye contact.

"Stella" He said just as I was about to leave. He put his hand out like he was about to grab for my hand but then decided against it.

"Yeah?" I asked softly

"Never mind" He said, then he turned around.

"I didn't know that you drink during the day" I said motioning toward his beer.

He shrugged.

"Doesn't matter" He said

I nodded, then I turned to leave. I went back up toward my room trying to forget what just happened. Before I entered the room I took a deep breath, just as Brandon had.

"Hey girlies, chips have been found" I said walking in

All 5 girls were sitting around my room. On the floor, on my bed and on the desk. What can we say? We like to make ourselves at home.

"My hero! I'm starving!" Musa screamed grabbing the bag out of my hands.

"Yeah, what took so long?" Layla asked

"I stopped for a drink" I said

"It takes 10 minutes to drink water?" Layla asked

"I was also watching the guys outside" I said
"There are guys outside?!" Musa exclaimed going toward my window

"Not hot guys you idiot! 40 year old worker guys that are putting together this huge tent for that rehearsal dinner tonight" I said

"A tent? Are they for real?" Tecna asked

"The rich can do anything" I said

"But a tent? I thought it would be downstairs in the dining room. There's definitely enough room for it" Flora said

"I know. I bet Mackenzie planned this whole thing" I said

"Maybe we should become friends with her. I bet she'll buy us stuff" Musa said

"Oh great, another gold digger" I said, sitting down on my bed

"Not a gold digger, I just enjoy getting stuff" Musa said

"And by stuff you mean some useless crap you never use anyways" Bloom clarified

"Exactly" Musa said with a wink

"Speaking of the rehearsal dinner, we need to get ready" Bloom said checking her watch

"Aughhh" I moaned

"Are you gonna whine all week?" Layla asked

"Yes" I replied, throwing my head back

All the girls moaned, mimicking me. I smiled, throwing a pillow at Bloom.

"Get dressed you whiners!" I screamed

"Yes mam" Musa said saluting me

I laughed throwing another pillow at her.

Bloom, Tecna, and Flora went back to their room leaving Musa, Layla, and I in ours. We had all picked out our outfits in our dorm room. Layla was wearing a blue, strapless dress that went up to her knees. Musa was wearing a red one shoulder dress that was form fitting and suited her well. I brought a crème high-low dress that I paired with white heels. I'm usually not a crème kind of girl but Mackenzie requested I wear crème to match everyone. Aughhhhh…..

"So elegant Stella" Musa said as I entered the bathroom to do my hair and make-up.

"Thanks, you look pretty hot yourself" I said taking the curler from the counter.

"Do you have any more bobby pins?" Layla asked

"I don't think so, but I can go get some for you when I'm done" I said

"Thanks Stell" Layla said

I curled the ends of my hair then I applied a bit of make-up.

"Be right back" I said, going out into the hallway. Just as I went out I slammed right into someone.

"Sorry" I said. I looked up and saw it was Casey, wearing a black suit jacket and pants. He looked really handsome.

"I was just about to find you" He said placing me on my feet

"Well you found me" I said

"Are you busy?" He asked

"Uhhh…nope" I said. I can get Layla's bobby pins later.

"What's up?" I asked

"I was getting a sense that Melanie didn't like me for some reason. Does she have something against me?" He asked

"Why? Did she say something to you?" I asked nervously

"No, no, just the way she was acting" He said

I smiled.

"She's just…..Melanie is really super sweet if you get to know her. She's just being rough because….she kind of wanted me to be with someone else" I said

"Who?" He asked

Errrr….oh god…..what do I say….?!

"It doesn't matter. The important thing is that you have nothing to worry about" I said taking his hands.

He smiled pulling me in closer.

"How could I have forgotten to comment on how beautiful you look?" He asked

"I was wondering how long it would be" I said playing along

He laughed pulling me in for a kiss.

"Stella"

Just before our lips could touch, I turned around at the sound of a voice. My eyes ran over him, my heart doing the usual thump that it does when he's around.

"Y…yeah?" I asked, stepping away from Casey.

"Mackenzie's waiting for you in her room" Brandon said in a steady voice. He was wearing black pants with a belt, a black shirt tucked in and a gold tie.

"Uhh…yeah. Okay. Uhh…I'll go now" I said. I looked at Casey waiting for him to motion with his head that it was okay. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek then quickly walked towards the stairs. As I walked passed Brandon our arms brushed against each other making me nervous. I kept my eyes forward, not giving him or Casey a second glance. As I walked down the stairs Brandon and Casey stared at each other in silence.

"Can I help you?" Casey asked

Brandon stood there for a second in thought, then shook his head.

"No" He said

Casey turned around, going back toward the room he was staying in.

"We don't usually allow public displays of affection in this house. There are children around" Brandon said

"Isn't your brother like 14?" Casey asked

"13" Brandon corrected

Casey and Brandon looked at each other in silence.

"You'll have to excuse me, I didn't know about the rule. I'll make sure to refrain myself next time" Casey said, then he turned back

I went downstairs passed the kitchen and toward the biggest bedroom in the house. Before I walked in I groaned inwardly. I cant believe I'm doing this. I cant believe I'm doing this.

"Mackenzie" I said, knocking lightly on the door.

"Stella?" She asked

"Yeah, Brandon said you wanted to talk" I said, rolling my eyes

"Yeah, come in" She said

I opened the door only to find her surrounded by like 4 maids or servants or whatever you want to call it. One was curling her hair, one was painting her nails, one was putting on make-up, and one was massaging her feet. So she doesn't do it all by herself! I knew nobody could make themselves look that beautiful all on their own.

"Hey" I said awkwardly

"Shut the door, I want to talk" She said

"What about…-?" I said motioning to her little servants

"It's fine, pretend they're not there" Mackenzie said.

"Of course, what was I thinking" I said, turning to shut the door. Pretend they're not there? Are they people or are they animals?

"What'd you want to talk about?" I asked

"Well for one thing you look great" She said, complimenting my outfit

"Uhhhh thanks" I said, confused by her compliment. Nobody important was even in the room. Why was she still keeping up this act?

"But you'll probably look amazing" I said

"Thanks" She said looking down at her hands.

"Actually I wanted to talk to you about this whole maid of honor thing" Mackenzie said

"It's totally fine, I don't mind at all" I said

"It's not that. I know that it probably came off as a big surprise" Mackenzie said

I nodded.

"When a girl picks her maid of honor it's supposed to be her best friend or her sister or something" Mackenzie continued

"Look, no offense, but why did you pick me? Like seriously. I wouldn't exactly call us friends…..I mean if you don't count my occasion one liners and your rude yet clever come backs" I said blinking

"I don't really know why I asked you. For some reason Brandon wanted to get this wedding going soon so I didn't exactly have much time to think about it. I kept analyzing all of my friends, and I don't really have any siblings" Mackenzie said

"Don't really have any siblings? What's that supposed to mean?" I asked

"Well I have a brother, but we don't really talk. When my parents split up my mom moved 50,000 miles away. She took my brother with him" She said

"At least you have a brother. Being an only child sucks" I said

"At least you have friends that practically act like your sisters. I don't even have any girlfriends" Mackenzie said

"Oh come on, you have to have 1" I said

"Nope. All of my friends that are girls are all colleges. I only talk to them in class, never out of class" Mackenzie said

"And all this time I thought you were being mean for no reason" I said sitting on the couch

Mackenzie sighed.

"Look Stella, I know that we're not best friends or anything but you agreeing to be my maid of honor after all the crap I give you….it means a lot to me" Mackenzie said

I looked at her and smiled.

"Awwww! Kenzie! See I knew you liked me!" I said

"Don't call me Kenzie you idiot" Mackenzie said, returning to her normal self

"Why not? Since we're not enemies anymore I can give you nicknames" I said

"Who says we're not enemies?" She asked with a smile

"Yeah, yeah. Get ready bridezilla, your guests are coming in an hour" I said going toward the door.

"And you do too have girlfriends" I said

"No I don't" Mackenzie said

"Yes you do. You got 6 of them and they're all coming to your wedding" I said with a smile. She smiled back which was pretty rare for Mackenzie. I walked out of the room half happy half confused. Mackenzie and I are friends now…..this is so weird.

I went back up to my room where Bloom, Tecna, and Flora were now waiting.

"I'm back" I said, walking in.

"Gee thanks for those bobby pins Stell, can always rely on you" Layla said sarcastically

"Sorry, bridezilla called me to her room to talk" I said

"What did you talk about?" Bloom asked

"I'm not really sure….but I think we're friends now" I said

"You're kidding" Musa said

"I'm not" I said

"What has this world come to?" Musa asked, dramatically falling on my bed.

We all laughed as Musa picked herself up, straightening out her hair.

The guests started arriving about an hour later. They were all dressed in really fancy clothing and they all looked really rich. I recognized some of them from Harry's company dinner. The girls and I watched them come in from the window in my room.

"Layla, let's head down" Musa said

"Let's all go down" I said rising from my seat

"No not yet" Layla said

"Why not? All the guests are here" Bloom said

"Because…Nabu and Riven are waiting for us downstairs. The rest of the guys are waiting in their rooms to escort you down" Musa said

"Oh, why didn't you just say so? You didn't have to act all suspicious" Flora said rising

"See you down there" Musa said cheerily, pulling Layla by the arm

"Smooth one genius, you almost blew the whole plan" Layla whispered

"Oh shut up, like you were any better. Come on, Melanie's waiting for us outside. Those rats aren't going to bring themselves" Musa whispered

"I cant believe we went with the rat idea" Layla whispered

"Why? It's the perfect balance of funny and genius" Musa whispered

Layla pulled Musa downstairs.

Bloom, Flora, Tecna and I went toward Brandon's room. Before Bloom could knock I suddenly remembered that not only were Sky and Helia in there, but so was Brandon.

"Guys, we're coming in! Are you decent?" Bloom called

Sky opened the door, fully clothed in a suit.

"We were just about to get you" He said kissing Bloom lightly.

My eyes scoured the room until they finally set on Brandon. A wave of nostalgia hit me as I saw him sitting at his desk. That desk is where he spent most of his time. Reading, writing, even sleeping.

He looked up, our eyes locking. No, look away Stella! You have to look away!

"Uhh…I'm uhhh…I'm gonna go get Casey" I said turning

"Stella"

I froze at his voice.

"Yeah?" I asked

"Your Dad was looking for you downstairs. You should probably go see what he wanted" Brandon said

"Oh…..yeah…I'll go see. First I'll find Case-"

"He said it was urgent. You should probably go now" Brandon said

"Urgent? Oh god, I'll go now" I said turning quickly

I zoomed downstairs, whizzing passed all the guests. I weaved my way through the crowd of people until I found Sammy sitting in the kitchen with a soda.

"Sup Solaria" He said

"Sup Shields, seen my Dad?" I asked

"He's outside" Sammy said

"Thanks…and you look so cute in your tux!" I exclaimed, pinching his cheeks

"Get off me!" He said pushing me off

I narrowed my eyes but turned around so I could find my Dad. Brandon said it was urgent…..I hope nothing bad happened.

I went toward the back door where all the guests were being led to. The party decorator did an amazing job. They set up twinkling lights everywhere and the round tables were so beautiful. The night breeze set the perfect scene for a romantic evening.

Suddenly I saw Layla, Musa, and Melanie walking toward the door with big cardboard boxes in their hands.

"Uhhhh hey guys….what's up with the boxes?" I asked

"What boxes?" Melanie asked

"The big ones in your hands" I said raising an eyebrow

"Girl, you must be seeing things" Layla said as they tried to get passed me.

"What are you talking about? They're right there in your arms" I said confused

"Where?" Musa asked

"There!" I exclaimed pointing to the box in her hand.

Layla, Musa, and Melanie looked at each other.

"Ohhhhhh!" They said together.

"You mean this box?" Musa asked

"What other box would I mean?" I asked

"Uhhhh…what were we talking about again?" Musa asked

"Musa, honey, I know we're not the smartest but come on. What up with the short intention span?" I asked

"I just heard somebody call you Mel" Layla said

"We better go see what it is" Melanie said

"Wait, why are you acting so weird?" I asked

"We gotta go, we'll finish this conversation later" Musa said, nudging for Layla to follow Melanie.

The 3 went off leaving me extremely confused. Oh well, when it comes to Musa, Layla, and Melanie you cant really stop them. They're just crazy.

"Dad!" I called when I finally spotted him

"Hey Stell" He said, as he took an appetizer from a waiter walking by.

"Hey, what's happened?" I asked

"What do you mean?" He asked

"The urgent thing, what happened?" I asked

"What urgent thing?" He asked

"The thing….Brandon said you needed me" I said

"What are you talking about? Nothing urgent happened" My Dad said

"So why did Brandon-"

"He's probably just made a mistake. Cut the boy some slack he's under a lot of pressure" My Dad said

"Oh come on, you and I both know that Brandon doesn't make mistakes….he's Brandon Shields for god's sake!" I exclaimed

"Just forget it, they're about to start. We better find out where our seats are" My Dad said

Bloom, Sky, Tecna, Timmy, Helia, Flora, Nabu, Riven, and Casey came outside, walking toward a table.

"Hey" I said walking toward them. I kissed Casey lightly on the lips then he wrapped his arm around me.

"Hey, have you seen Musa and Layla?" Nabu asked

"They said they were coming down to meet you and then I just saw them carrying these big boxes somewhere" I said

"What are they up to?" Bloom asked

"Who knows, come on let's sit" I said motioning them toward a table

"You and your Dad are sitting with Brandon and Mackenzie at the head table" Flora said

"I was afraid of that" I said

"It's your family Stell" Tecna said

"How am I supposed to get through this without you guys? Who am I supposed to make sarcastic comments to?" I asked

"You always have Sammy" Flora said cheerily

"Aughhh, Case, can you come with me?" I asked

"Wish I could but they sat me last minute on another table" Casey said

I groaned

"Don't worry, it's almost over" Bloom said

I nodded. It's almost over.

I turned and walked toward where my Dad was now sitting with Harry. Sammy was in the seat next to Harry. There were 2 seats set up at the head where I assume Mackenzie and Brandon were sitting. Next to them was President White's seat.

"Sup family" I said taking a seat next to my Dad.

"Classy" Sammy said sarcastically

"Thank you" I said taking the cup of wine set in front of my plate. I drowned that cup faster than Sammy could think of a come back. And that's fast.

"Oh yay, are you getting drunk tonight?" Sammy asked

"Oh yeah" I said

"I've seen crazy Stella, I've seen angry Stella, but I've never seen drunk Stella. This should be fun" Sammy said

"Have you seen my wife anywhere?" Harry asked

"I saw her before with some boxe-"

"I'm here! I'm here!" Melanie said, quickly sitting down next to Harry. I took a peak at the other table and noticed Musa and Layla had joined the table.

"When's Mackenzie and Brandon gonna come out?" I asked

"Soon" My Dad said giving me the "Be patient" look I was way too familiar with.

All of a sudden everyone stood up. I looked around wondering why but you know what they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do. I stood with the rest of the crowd craning my neck to see what they were looking at. I finally saw it.

Mackenzie and Brandon walked out, hand in hand. Mackenzie looked amazing in her signature red colored dress. Brandon's gold tie but black attire really went well with her dress. They were truly the perfect couple. I couldn't find a single flaw in either of them….physically of course. Emotionally, shit I can make a list of things wrong with both of them emotionally.

Mackenzie was given a microphone and a glass of champagne.

"Hi everybody, it's so good to see you" She said, sounding all mature and whatever.

"Brandon and I want to thank you so much for coming tonight. We're so thankful to have such great friends and family" She said

I searched Brandon's face for any sort of emotion but still, he was rock solid. I wish he would stop being so stone faced and show everyone what he was really thinking. Sometimes I wonder if anybody will ever be able to read him.

"We want to thank our parents especially. Melanie, Harry, thank you so much for letting us use your beautiful home as the venue. I couldn't have asked for better in laws than you" She said

Everyone clapped as Harry smiled proudly and Melanie just fake smiled, drowning another glass of wine.

"Get on with it! We're hungry!" A deep voice echoed. Everyone looked around for the source of the person.

"Oh god" I said recognizing the voice.

I looked over at the other table giving Musa a death glare. I shook my head but she shrugged, laughing.

"Well it's true" Melanie said to me.

"It doesn't matter, I told her to behave" I whispered

"Anyways," Mackenzie said trying to save the awkwardness

"I just want to make a toast" She said raising her glass. She looked at Brandon with lustful eyes full of hope.

"To love and to family and to a happy life together" She said

"Cheers" Everyone said raising their glasses

"Cheers" Mackenzie said

Brandon smiled at her which I'm sure made her really happy.

"Cheers" I said in a monotone, raising my refilled glass. I drank it down, shutting my eyes as the liquid made it's way down.

Brandon and Mackenzie walked toward our table, still holding hands.

"Mackenzie, Brandon" President White said, standing. He kissed Mackenzie and shook Brandon's hand.

"Welcome to the family" Harry said kissing Mackenzie on the cheek.

Harry looked at Melanie, giving her a nudge.

"Yeah, yeah. We're so happy to have you Mackenzie, thank you for those kind words" Melanie said

"I meant it though, thank you so much. Everything is so gorgeous. I cant wait for the food to come out. I hear nothing but great things about your food" Mackenzie said to my Dad

"I'm honored you asked me to cater" My Dad said with a smile

"Oh look, here it comes!" Melanie said perking up as she saw the waiters coming with a large tray

" Wow Mel, you must really love my food" My Dad said

"More than you think" Melanie said excitedly

The waiters went to all the tables setting down trays with steel covers on them.

"Enjoy" The waiter said just before opening the top

Melanie squealed with joy as the top was lifted to reveal stakes. We all looked at her weirdly.

"What is up with you tonight?" I asked, taking one of the delicious looking stakes off the tray.

"What? I…I don't understand" She said looking around the dish.

"There's not much to it, it's stake" My Dad said

"Not the stake! I mean…..nevermind!" She said looking over to the other table. Musa and Layla looked at her with the same confused stare.

"Wow Radius, I had no idea you were this good" President White said biting into a stake

"It's great" Brandon complimented….and Brandon never compliments

"Yeah Dad, awesome job" I said proudly

"I would enjoy mine a lot more if you would stop brushing your heels against me" Sammy said to me

"What are you talking about? My feet are no where near yours" I said

"That's like your 5th cup of wine, you probably cant even feel your feet" Sammy said

"Oh yeah? Look!" I screamed, lifting the tablecloth.

"I'm no where near you…..AHHHHHHHHH!" I screamed on the top of my lungs

Everybody's heads snapped toward me, and Brandon stood up. I got out of my chair.

"MOUSE!" I screamed on the top of my lungs running behind my Dad as if I was safe there

"Mouse? That's not a mouse it's a …RAAAAATTT" Sammy said as one popped out of his sleeve

"AHHHHHH!" I screamed, running.

"A rat? What are you talking about? I assure you we don't have rats" Harry said getting up. All of a sudden another rat jumped onto his plate

"EEEEEEPPPPP!" Mackenzie squealed getting up

All of a sudden everyone was screaming and running.

"RAAATTTT!"

"RAAATTTT!"

"RRRAAAATTTTT!"

"EW! EW! IT TOUCHED ME!" I exclaimed, the image horrifying to even think about

"Calm down!" Brandon shouted, trying to get everyone together

"Oh my god! Oh my god!" Mackenzie started freaking out

"Rats! EVERYWHERE!" Melanie screamed, running toward the house

"I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!" I heard Musa scream

"ME TOO! THIS IS DISGUSTING!" I heard Layla scream

"Ewwwww!" I squealed jumping up and down trying to shake the image

"Let's get inside like everyone else!" Sammy exclaimed, pulling my arm

"No! What if there's more on the way there!" I screamed

"Fine! I'll go myself!"

"No wait! Give me a piggyback ride!"

"No!"

"Yes!"

"No!"

"Yes!"

"No!"

"I'm getting on anyways!"

"Auggghhhhh Stella!" Sammy screamed, but he started running toward the house, me on his back. There were literally rats everywhere. They were running around, on the tables, in the food. It was disgusting!

Sammy got us inside where a lot of people were having the same nasty feeling I was. Everybody was just freaking out, getting really paranoid. A lot of people started to head out towards their cars.

Mackenzie, Brandon, and everyone else made their way inside. Mackenzie looked like she was about to start crying.

"I cant believe this!" She cried

"It's fine, It's fine. This isn't the wedding" Brandon said trying to calm her.

"I know! It's the rehearsal dinner! This was supposed to be perfect!" Mackenzie screamed

"Oh well, better luck next time I guess. Everyone can just go home" Melanie said escorting everyone out until only the people who were staying in the house were there.

"Stella, are you okay?" Casey asked

"Yeah, just really grossed out" I said

"When I heard you scream I almost had a heart attack" Casey said taking my hand

I smiled, with a laugh.

"That's so sweet….sort of" I said

He laughed.

We kissed quickly, but he kept my hand in his as the drama continued.

"I don't understand. This isn't freaking New York City! There aren't rats around here! What the hell happened!?" Mackenzie screamed

"It was probably just some freak accident" I said. I kind of felt bad for her. If this happened to me I'd be freaking effing pissed.

"Freak accident? That's funny coming from you" Mackenzie said

I narrowed my eyes

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked

"Oh please Stella, don't play dumb. That quantity of rats has to be bought" Mackenzie said

"What are you trying to say?" I asked

"You did this on purpose!" Mackenzie screamed

"Why would I do this?" I asked

"We all know that you still like Brandon! You're just jealous because I got him!"

"First of all, you got him? What, is he a prize now? And second, I do not like Brandon you egotistical little brat!" I screamed

"Stella!" My Dad exclaimed

"Somebody had to say it!" I screamed

"Pipe down Radius, this is getting good" Melanie said

"Yeah right. Everybody knows, you're a freaky stalker" Mackenzie said

"Oh get over yourself bitch! I'm with Casey!" I screamed

"Don't call me a bitch! If anything, you're a bitch! I shared something very personal with you Stella! I really thought things had changed, but you just stabbed me right in the back!"

Everyone was silent.

"I swear to god I didn't do it Mackenzie, and things have changed" I said

"Obviously not. You know what, you got your wish. Congratulations, you win. Some friend you are" She said, her voice cracking towards the end. Mackenzie turned and ran to her room. Tears started to come down her face. I've never seen Mackenzie cry before.

"Mackenzie! Wait!" Brandon glared at me then went after her

Everybody looked at me as I shook my head angrily.
"That girl is just….auugghhhh!" I exclaimed, running upstairs. I slammed my bedroom door shut.

Everybody looked at each other with wide eyes.

"Mom, why are you smiling all of a sudden?" Sammy asked

"Oh nothing…" She said

I sat in my room, angrily pulling my shoes off. I grumbled to myself, narrowing my eyes angrily.

There was a knock at my door.

"Go away Brandon! I'm not apologizing!" I exclaimed

Casey poked his head in.

"It's me" He said

"Oh," I said taking a breath, "you can come in" I said

Casey walked in, shutting the door behind him.

"I thought you were Brandon coming in to tell me to apologize. Uh-uh, not happening. That girl had a lot of nerve accusing me like that" I said angrily

"Brandon just took off somewhere" Casey said

"Where?" I asked

"He didn't say, he just kind of went" Casey said

"Classic Brandon, cant even comfort his own girlfriend. He's such a-"

"Can we please stop talking about Brandon for just 1 minute?" Casey asked

I looked at him in silence, taking in his words.

"Uh yeah….what would you like to talk about instead?" I asked

"Stella, sit down" Casey said standing

I sat on the bed.

"Oh god, are you breaking up with me or something?" I asked

"No! No! Far from it actually" He said

I smiled.

"You had me there" I said putting a hand to my heart.

Casey sighed.

"Look Stella, you know how I feel about you" He said

"Uhhh…I hope so" I said

"I love you" He said

"I love you too" I said

"Well…all of this wedding stuff, I don't know, doesn't it seem nice?"

"Yeah, I guess" I said raising an eyebrow

"And everything looked so nice tonight, and you looked so beautiful, and the atmosphere just had me thinking…..what if you and me were to….I don't know….try this whole marriage thing?" Casey said

My eyes shot open.

"Woah…Case, what are you getting at here?" I asked

"I'm saying…let's get married Stella" He said

"What like, right now?" I asked, my heart beating fast

"No, of course not. We'd have to plan it…and I'd have to buy you a ring. But I mean…doesn't it sound great?" Casey asked

"I mean, yeah….sort of... but I mean….we haven't even been dating for a year yet" I said blinking hard

"Neither have Mackenzie and Brandon but they're madly in love" Casey said with a smile

"Casey this is a lot to take in" I said

"You don't have to answer me right now. Just think about it" Casey said

"O…okay" I stuttered

Casey smiled, placing a kiss on my cheek. He got up, going out. Once the door shut I exhaled. My eyes were wide open and all memory of Mackenzie was completely gone. Marry….Casey? Marriage?! Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy shit.

"Hey Stell" Layla and Musa came in, kicking their shoes off.

I cleared my throat, not making eye contact. My cheeks felt flush and my mind was shattered in a million pieces.

"What's wrong Stella?" Musa asked

"Uhhh nothing. Why would anything be wrong?" I asked

"Gee I don't know, maybe because you're as pale as a vampire and you look like you've just seen a ghost" Layla said

"What are you talking about? I'm perfectly fine" I said going toward the door

"Where are you going?" Layla asked, taking a seat on the blow up mattress on the floor

"Uh…um…to uh…take a shower" I said, my mind everywhere but in the room

"Still grossed out from those rats?" Musa asked

"Yeah…" I said

"I wonder who did it" Layla said

"Whoever did it must be pretty damn clever" Musa said

"Basically geniuses" Layla said nodding

"Yeah…sure" I said nodding in agreement.

I went out of the room, going straight towards the bathroom. There are so many people in this house right now the bathroom seems like the only place I can even go for privacy.

As I entered the bathroom I shut the door behind me. I closed my eyes, breathing hard. Married….to Casey Freedmen? I shook my head trying to clear it but it wasn't working. I just….I've never seen Casey ass the married type. I've never thought about us being married! We had something great going and he just had to ruin it by bringing up the M word, didn't he?!

I undressed and got in the shower. I turned the water on super hot, making the bathroom fill with steam. The heat in the room was suffocating. I started scrubbing my skin as if the soap would rid me of all my problems. Yeah right…..I don't think anything can rid me of all my problems. I'm just….I'm so confused!

At least Casey gave me time to think. How long will it be until he finally asks for my answer again? How long can he possibly wait for me? I just wish time can stop. I need like a year to just stop and think about everything. I wish everything didn't have to move so damn fast! Like relationships for instance, why do I have to marry the guy when we've only been dating for like 9 months?!

"Stella! You've been in there for an hour! Hurry up!" Sammy exclaimed snapping me back to reality. He'd been pounding on the door for the past minute and a half.

"Go to another bathroom!" I called

"They're all occupied and I gotta pee! Move it!" He screamed pounding harder

"Alright! Alright!" I screamed

I shut the water off quickly wrapping myself in a towel. I got my clothes on as fast as I can, then put the towel around my wet hair.

I opened the door and Sammy ran straight in.

"Thank you! I was considering going outside in the bush" Sammy said angrily

"Why didn't you?" I asked

"I was afraid the rats were still there…." He said sheepishly

I rolled my eyes going back toward my room. I walked in, only to find Layla and Musa collapsed on the air mattress beside my bed. I shut the light off, shutting the door behind me. I got on my bed, wrapping myself in a blanket. I leaned my head against the cool window, which felt good against my hot skin. I looked down toward the drive-way looking at all the parked cars. It was nearly 1am and Brandon still wasn't back. Where in the world could he be? I hope he didn't get into any trouble….

Maybe this is my problem. Every time I try to think seriously about my life my mind just drifts back to Brandon. Sometimes I wish I'd never met Brandon and I'd never fallen in love with him. My life would be much easier and we'd both be a lot better off. I shook my head, looking down at my phone. The front screen of my phone was a picture of Casey and I kissing for crying out loud! I'm in a serious relationship and I'm still thinking about my first love!

"What is wrong with me?" I whispered to myself, holding my head in my hands. I've gone completely insane. Nothing makes any sense anymore!

I sat there, 1 hour goes by, 2 hours go by, 3, and still my mind is a complete blank. I looked down toward the driveway and Brandon still wasn't home. What the hell? Where could this guy be?

I looked down at my phone, going into my contacts. I went toward Brandon's number, debating on whether I should call him or not. Maybe I should text him and see what's going on. On second thought that death glare he sent me after Mackenzie stormed out makes me wonder whether he wants to hear from me.

I sighed staring at my phone. I turned my head toward the picture frame that still stood at the top of my dresser, untouched and left since the last time I was here. I had left it because I felt I didn't need it anymore. It was a picture of Brandon and I. Melanie had taken it right before our graduation. Brandon was in his suit and I was in my purple dress. We've come so far since then. It's amazing to think it's only been 2 years. It feels like I've known then for my entire life.

I reached out and picked up the frame. I ran my finger over Brandon's unsmiling face. I smiled shaking my head at how little he's changed since then. I looked at my phone, at the picture of Casey and I, then back at Brandon. I sighed, putting the picture frame down.

All of a sudden I saw a flashing light coming from outside the window. I looked down only to find Brandon driving in at 4am!

My curiosity took over, leading me to stand and head toward the door. I tried to be as silent as I could, weaving my way around Layla and Musa. I tip toed all the way out, silently opening and closing the door. The hallway light was on, as was the kitchen's. I crept down to the foot of the stairs, listening closely for the door to open.

"Brandon Shields, do you know what time it is?!" I heard Melanie scream in a whispered tone. I narrowed my eyes when I heard her speak. I didn't think anybody was up except me.

"I'm 22, you didn't have to wait up for me" He said

"You had me worried sick. You think you're ready to get married? You had your so called wife crying all night. Not to mention the fact that she yelled at Stella for absolutely no reason!" Melanie said angrily

"Oh not this again…" Brandon said walking passed her

"Yes this again! And I'll keep saying it until you understand!"

"Go back to sleep, there's no use in fighting" Brandon said ignoring her

"Come back here right now young man" Melanie seethed

"Goodnight mother" Brandon said walking toward the stairs

My eyes widened as I heard his footsteps. I turned, running up the stairs. I hope he doesn't catch me! I'm almost to my room! Almost ther-

"Stella"

I froze, my hand on the doorknob to my bedroom. I shut my eyes, thinking of something to say. I finally turned around meeting his eyes.

"Uhhh…Brandon, what are you doing up?" I asked
"I should be saying the same thing" He said

"Right….well…I'll just be going-" I said turning back around

"I have to say I'm quite surprised to see you in that room and not with that boyfriend of yours, what was his name, Cory, Conner?"

I turned around, narrowing my eyes.

"Casey, and what's that supposed to mean?" I asked

"You two seemed really comfortable tonight" Brandon said looking me up and down.

My mouth went open, then shut again, as I thought of something to say.

"That's what I thought" Brandon said, walking toward his room.

"No, you're right" I said

Brandon didn't turn around.

"Casey's funny, and sweet, and values my opinion. He and I don't fight, and he will always be twice the man that you are" I said angrily

Brandon paused.

"I'm so happy for you" He said, then he went into his room, shutting the door behind him. I looked at the closed door, clenching my fist. He is so….that little….who does he think he is?! Saying something like that to me? Shit I could say a lot of things about him and Mackenzie! Please, he thinks a few words are gonna hurt me?

I went into my room, getting back in my bed. Thanks a lot Brandon, you've just made my decision 10 times easier!

Sammy sighed as he watched the scene unfold before him. It's weird to him, that he's suddenly so interested. 2 years ago Sammy never would have cared…..definitely not enough to wake up at 4am with his ear pressed against the door, which was open just a crack in order for him to catch even a glimpse of the sad sight. They were fighting again.

"Casey's funny, and sweet, and values my opinion. He and I don't fight, and he will always be twice the man that you are" Stella said

"I'm so happy for you" Brandon said, disappearing into his room.

Sammy shook his head angrily. He took a deep breath to calm himself, then stood, walking toward the door across the hall. Brandon's room.

Sammy quietly opened the door, only to find Sky and Helia sleeping on the floor and Brandon sitting at his desk. His desk lamp was on, a book in front of him.

When Brandon heard the door open he looked up from his book.

"Sam, what are you doing up?" Brandon asked in a low voice

"What are you doing?" Sammy asked, trying to contain himself

"Just studying a bit. Go on back to sle-"

"No I mean what the hell are you doing blowing every chance that's being thrown at you" Sammy said

"What are you talking about Sammy?" Brandon asked

"I think you know perfectly well what I'm talking about" Sammy said

"Well I don't"

Sammy stood there, looking at his brother. Brandon has this distressed look in his eyes, something Sammy had never seen.

"It's funny, you've become such a great liar" Sammy said

"Excuse me?"

"I'm not as naïve as you think I am" Sammy said

"Go back to sleep Sammy. Now is not the time, I have a lot on my mind" Brandon said

"Yeah well…I know a lot more than you think..." Sammy said, then he turned and left, shutting the door behind him. Brandon looked down at his book once more scanning the same page for what seemed like the hundredth time. Finally Brandon slammed the book closed, putting his hand over his eyes in frustration. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of everything.

"Stella! Stella!" Musa screamed

"Stella, wake up!" Layla shouted

"It's 2 in the afternoon you shlub, wake up!"

I blinked, rolling over.

"Okay, I get it. Now get off of me" I said pushing them off my bed

"Dude, what the hell? It's 2 oclock" Layla said

"I was up pretty late" I said, remembering the night before.

"You missed breakfast….and lunch" Layla said as I sat up in bed, rubbing my tired eyes.

"Did you save me something?" I asked hopefully

"Yup, I saved you a piece of French toast and a donut" Musa said

"I can always count on you" I said high fiving her

"She forgot to tell you that she got hungry on the way up and ate it" Layla said

"What?!" I screamed, slapping her

"Oh yeah, sorry about that. You know how I get" She said with a nervous laugh

"Musa!" I said slapping her again

"Hey! Don't slap me!" She cried, slapping me back

"Hey!"

"Children! Stop fighting!" Layla exclaimed

We both looked at Layla.
"Now come on lazy, get dressed" Layla said, pulling me out of bed and towards my closet.

"What's the point? We're not doing anything today" I said

"Always dress to impress" Musa said handing me some clothes

"Who are you and what have you done with my friend Musa?" I asked seriously

"Oh come on, you should always dress to impress….I've always said that…" Musa said

"No you haven't"

"Anyways! Put that outfit on, do your hair, and a little make-up wouldn't hurt" Layla said

"You should put on some perfume too!" Musa said spraying me with some stuff

I started choking on it.

"You guys! What's going on?!" I screamed pushing them off

"Nothing, is it so bad to look good?" Layla asked

"Well….I mean…"

"No, it's not. So go pretty yourself up, Casey will love it" Musa said

"And Brandon will too" Layla said

"Who cares what Brandon likes" I said, still angry with him from last night.

"I'm just saying" Layla said

I rolled my eyes, going into the bathroom. I got dressed, rubbing at my tired eyes with water. To think, I stayed up worried about that jerk! He better be ready to face the wrath of tired Stella!

"I'm ready" I said walking out

"You look great" Layla complimented

"Thanks" I said, thankful for the make-up I used to cover the bags under my eyes

"Here's some more perfume" Musa said, as she squirted me like 9 more times

"Musa!" cough "Would you" cough "Stop" cough "Doing that?!" I screamed as I choked on the heavily scented perfume

"Sorry" She said with an innocent shrug

"Sometimes I wonder what goes on in that head of yours. I feel like there's always an evil plan brewing" I said

"You know me so well" She said wrapping her arm around me

We all laughed, going toward the door. We went downstairs, toward the kitchen. When we walked in I found that everyone was in there, sitting at the table just chatting.

"Well what do you know, it's alive" Sammy said when he saw me

"Hahaha, you are hilarious" I said sarcastically, causing a smirk to appear on his face

"Seriously Stella, 2 oclock? Really?" Bloom said

"Yes! I had a bad night of sleep" I said, looking over at Brandon. Brandon kept his eyes on Mackenzie, barely even acknowledging my existence. He had his hand on Mackenzie's back, as she hurriedly wrote down more and more notes for who knows what,

"A bad night of sleep? What? Couldn't sleep with the guilt?" Mackenzie asked

"Not in the mood, Kenzie" I said, going toward the fridge for something to eat

"How many times must I tell you not to call me that?" She asked

"Well let's see, take the amount of times you've said that to me, multiply it by 20, subtract 12 and there you go" I said cleverly

"You are possibly the most annoying-"

"Yeah, yeah, save it for your diary" I said, pouring myself a bowl of fruity pebbles.

"Augh!" She exclaimed, standing from her spot. She then very gracefully left the room.

"For the record, I did not put those rats outside!" I called after her

Brandon stood, glaring at me, just as Casey walked in.

"What did I miss?" Casey asked as he saw Brandon glaring

"Control your girlfriend" Brandon said, just as he left, probably going after Mackenzie

Everybody looked at me as I stuffed another bite of fruity pebbles in my mouth.

"What?!" I exclaimed, making them all look away

Everybody went back to what they were doing. The girls and Melanie were chatting while the guys were playing poker with Harry's poker set. Harry and my Dad were in their own world, chatting and catching up as if they hadn't seen each other in decades.

"Hey" Casey said walking toward me. He took a seat next to me at the bar.

"Good morning….or afternoon, whatever" I said

He smiled, then he put his hand over mine.

"So um, have you thought about last night?" He asked

I looked down, my eyes going wide. Holy crap! With all this Brandon drama I completely forgot about the proposal! Holy crap! Holy crap! What am I going to do?!

I cleared my throat, looking up at him.

"I have given it a lot of thought-" I said

"Great! Let's meet tonight at your Dad's restaurant and you can give me your answer" Casey said

"Well, actually-"

"I've asked your Dad if I can borrow his restaurant just for tonight so it'll just be you and me" He said with a wink

I smiled, trying to make myself seem happy.

"Sounds great" I said. Casey leaned down, kissing me gently.

I looked down at my cereal, pushing it around the bowl. Suddenly, my appetite was gone. _

No POV:

"Mackenzie" Brandon said, following her to her room

"Brandon, I just can't take her anymore! She's just..aughhhh!" Mackenzie exclaimed, pacing the room back and forth

"Calm down, it's just Stella being Stella. You get used to it after a while" Brandon said

"What exactly is Stella being Stella?" Mackenzie asked

"Sarcastic, rude, annoying, stupid, immature-"

"I get it" Mackenzie said

"Good. Then just ignore her" Brandon said, wrapping his arms around her waist

"You don't seem to ignore her" Mackenzie said

"What do you mean?" Brandon asked

"You and her always fight" Mackenzie said

"Because she's everything we just covered. The complete opposite of you and me" Brandon said

"Yeah but, don't you think that couples should fight here and there?" Mackenzie asked

Brandon raised an eyebrow

"I mean, you and me have never fought in our lives, isn't that weird?" Mackenzie asked

"Are you…asking for me to fight with you?" Brandon asked
"Yes…no…I don't know!" Mackenzie said, moving from Brandon's arms.

"What's going on? Are you okay?" Brandon asked

"Yes! I'm perfectly fine!" Mackenzie screamed

"You don't seem perfectly fine" Brandon said

"You and Stella are pretty comfortable around each other, aren't you?" Mackenzie asked suddenly

"No, we hate each other" Brandon said, confused

"You guys don't seem to really hold anything back" Mackenzie said

"I don't understand why you're acting like this? Did Stella say something to you?" Brandon asked

"No! It's just….forget it!" Mackenzie said

Brandon looked at her in the face.

"Fine" He finally said, exiting the room.

Mackenzie looked at the closed door, crossing her arms.

"This is not the kind of fighting I meant" She said to herself, sadly looking down.

"Hey guys" I said, entering the guest room where Bloom, Tecna and Flora had slept. Layla and Musa were in there too just hanging out. They were all laying on the air mattresses, talking.

"Hey girly, take a seat" Bloom said, smacking the empty part of the air mattress

I smiled, laying next to her.

"What are you guys talking about?" I asked

"Boyfriend crap" Layla said

"Who are we talking about this time?" I asked

"Sky, do you know what he did to Bloom?" Tecna asked

"Oh god, what?" I asked

"At the rehearsal thing last night when everyone was running from the rats he didn't even wait for me! The wimp took off faster than Musa can down a bottle of beer" Bloom said. I laughed, patting her on the head.

"Oh Sky, classic, classic, Sky" I said, wiping a tear from my eye.

Flora yawned, putting her head down on the pillow.

"I'm so tired" She said

" Me too" I said with a yawn.

"You slept till 2! How could you possibly be tired?" Musa asked

"I was up late" I said

"What were you doing?" Bloom asked

"I don't know just….thinking. And Brandon didn't come home until 4 so-"

"Why did you wait for Brandon to come home?" Layla asked

"It doesn't matter. I was up for…another reason" I said

"Something bigger than Brandon? Now this I wanna hear" Bloom said

"It's…Casey" I said

"What happened?" Tecna asked

"Nothing bad…..just…." I took a deep breath.

"You guys have to promise you wont freak, okay?" I said

"Oh my god, are you pregnant?" Musa asked

"No!"

"Oh my god, did he get someone else pregnant?!" Layla asked

"What? No! Okay, nobody's pregnant!" I screamed

"So what is it?" Bloom asked

"Well…..he asked me….to marry him"

"AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!"

I got up and ran for the door, shutting it.

"You guys! Keep it down! I don't want the whole house knowing!" I said

"Wait, so he asked you to marry him?!" Bloom asked

"Yeah" I said with a nod
"Where's the ring?" Musa asked

"He hasn't gotten me one yet" I said

"You said yes?!" Layla exclaimed

"No"

"So you said no?" Flora asked

"Nope"

"So what did you say?" Tecna asked

"Uhhh…well….I haven't said anything yet" I said

"What do you mean?" Bloom asked

"He's taking me to my Father's restaurant tonight and I have to give him my answer" I said

"Well, what are you going to say?" Layla asked

"I don't know" I said looking at my hands

"Stella, this is huge. If you get married….everything will be different" Musa said

"But in a good way" Flora said with an excited smile

"Yeah but….I don't know. It just doesn't feel right" I said

"Stella, you have to really think about this. You and Casey have been dating for a while-" " It hasn't even been a year!" Musa said, cutting Bloom off

"But they both love each other a lot. Maybe marriage is a big step but I think you're both ready. You and Casey are like a match made in heaven" Bloom said

"Yeah but….I don't know" I said

"Stella, if you don't say yes, then what? You want to be alone the rest of your life?" Tecna asked

"No" I said, looking down

"Who says she'll be alone?" Layla asked

"She'll never find someone as good as Casey" Flora said

"How about Brandon?" Musa asked

"Brandon's getting married" Bloom said

"Yeah but-" Layla started

"Stella cant wait for Brandon her whole life" Bloom said

"You even said that to me" I said to Musa

"Well….we haven't even asked Stella yet how she feels about this! Do you even want to get married?" Layla asked

"Of course I want to get married….I want to have kids one day too…it's just…for some reason I just….something in my heart is telling me no. When he asked me my heart was beating, but not in the right way. Usually when a girl's heart beats for something like this it's a good beating, but this heart beat….it's an anxious one. The anxiety is making me feel like I'm doing something wrong" I said

"Why are you feeling anxious?" Bloom asked

"I don't know! I've had the worst stomach ache the whole day. It's making me dizzy and I just want it to stop" I said

"Stella, it doesn't have to be this difficult. He asked you…..don't you love him?" Bloom asked

"Of course I do" I said

"Then why is it so hard for you to say yes?" Bloom asked

I looked at her, tilting my head.

"Bloom….you're a genius!" I said

"Woah, what?" Musa asked

"She's so right. I can't believe I've been feeling anxious all day! God, I should of told you guys the minute he asked me" I said

"Woah, settle down now-" Layla started

"You're completely right. If I love him….what more do I need? There's no guy out there more perfect for me than Casey" I said, smiling.

"Oh my god….Stella's getting married!" Bloom exclaimed, hugging me tight. All of them came into the hug too. Musa and Layla looked at each other with wide eyes.

"This is so exciting!" I exclaimed with a jump of excitement

"So super exciting" Musa said in monotone

"Where'd you say Casey was taking you tonight?" Tecna asked

"My Dad's restaurant. He got my Dad to let us have it the whole night, all to ourselves" I said

"Awww, that's so romantic" Flora said

"What time are you going?" Bloom asked

"In a few hours" I said

"We have to find you the perfect outfit" Bloom said, going through her bag.

"I didn't bring anything fancy except for the dress I wore last night" I said

"Don't worry, I always bring like 3 extra outfits just in case I decide I hate something the day of the event" Bloom said, fishing out 2 dresses.

I smiled, holding up one of the dresses. This is it. My decision is made.

The dress Bloom had given me was a strapless high-low dress. The top was crème and the skirt part was floral. It was really pretty and summery. I paired it with some wedges and nice earrings. I put on a few bracelets and a necklace as well. I curled my hair just as I had the night before, putting on a thin cote of make-up.

Bloom was touching up my hair, putting in some hair spray.

"You know you're making a good decision" She said

I looked at my hands.

"I hope so" I said

"We're growing up, whether we like it or not. Soon enough all of us will be settling down, finally being grown ups" Bloom said

I smirked.

"Grown ups" I said, shaking my head. The thought of it was amazing to me. Me, Stella Solaria could never be a grown up. I still laugh at fart jokes!

"There, all done" Bloom said putting the curler down.

"Thanks B, it looks great" I said hugging her

"That's my job" She said with a wink

I laughed and we both walked out of the bathroom. We went downstairs into the living room where everyone was sitting.

"Why are you all fancy?" Mackenzie asked, looking me up and down.

"None of your business, Kenzie" I said, throwing in the Kenzie for fun.
"But if you must know, I've got a date" I said, taking a seat next to my Dad.

"You look gorgeous sweetheart" My Dad said, kissing my forehead

"Thank you" I said

"Where's Romeo?" Nabu asked looking around

"He went to the restaurant to set up. He's picking me up in 10 minutes" I said happily

"Excuse me" Brandon said, standing.

"Where are you going?" Mackenzie asked

"I have to finish a paper for Dr. Garfield" Brandon said, exiting the room.

Melanie, Layla and Musa stood in the corner whispering to each other. Suddenly, Melanie and Layla pushed Musa forward giving her a look. Musa gave them a look right back then turned toward me.

"Um, Stell, can I talk to you for a minute?" Musa asked, motioning toward the kitchen with her head.

"Yeah, sure" I said, walking after her. Musa closed the door to the kitchen, then turned to me.

"What's up Muse?" I asked

"You and I have known each other longer than anyone else has" Musa said

I smiled.

"Ah yes, I remember when I met you. It was 3rd grade, we were both sent to the principles office" I said

Musa laughed.

"And we've been best friends since then. You and I know each other better than anyone else in the world. You know things about me I don't even know" Musa said

"Musa, are you getting sentimental?" I asked

"Sort of…..look, what I'm trying to say is, everything I do is always for your benefit" Musa said

"Oh my god, what did you do?" I asked immediately

"See, you do know me well" She said with a nervous laugh

"Musa…." I said nervously

"I did it! I did it! I sabotaged the rehearsal dinner!" Musa exclaimed

"WHAT?!"

"Well, okay, maybe not just me. Melanie and Layla were in on it too"

"Is that what was in those boxes? Rats?" I asked

Musa nodded

"Why would you do that?! Mackenzie thought it was me!" I screamed

"I know, I'm sorry. But remember what we just talked about? How everything I do is for your benefit?" Musa asked

"How was that for my benefit?" I asked

"You can't marry Casey!" Musa exclaimed

"Why not?" I asked

"Because he's not Brandon" Musa said

I blinked.

"Huh?" I asked

"You and Brandon….there's nobody better for you than Brandon" She said

"You've been spending way too much time with Melanie" I said, turning around

"Stella, please. The way that you look at Brandon….you guys are meant to be" Musa said

"Weren't you the one who said that I cant wait my whole life for Brandon? You gave me this whole speech about how I cant let Brandon rule my life"

"I know"

"So then why are you telling me that I should be with him?" I asked

"Because….because I just want you to be happy. When I said that to you I was being selfish. Even though Brandon's a jerk he cares so much about you. More than you know" Musa said

"Why does everyone keep telling me that? More than I know! More than I know! Then tell me what I don't know!" I screamed

"Because it's true. Melanie knows it, Layla knows it, Sammy knows it, I know it, Brandon knows it…..and you know it too" Musa said

"You're confusing me! First you tell me to let go of him now you're telling me we're meant to be? Make up your mind!" I said, holding my head

"Stella, you said it yourself. Brandon gives you a different feeling than Casey. You and Casey….you're just too alike. Brandon and Mackenzie are too alike also. The way you and Casey are….you're more like friends than husband and wife"

"Why cant we be both?" I asked

"Because then life would be too perfect. Life isn't perfect" Musa said

Suddenly, Bloom poked her head in.

"Stella, Casey's here" She said

I looked at Musa.

"I'll be out in a minute" I said

Once Bloom left I turned back to Musa.

"Well what should I do? Casey's gonna ask me and now you've made me even more confused than I was before" I said

"Look Stella, I cant make your decisions for you but….please. Think about what you're doing. If you say yes it's gonna be really hard to get out of it" Musa said

"Musa…..I'm sorry. We may know each other more than anybody else but you've messed up, big time. Brandon and I…..it's over. He's marrying Mackenzie and I'm marrying Casey, that's it. I don't want to do this anymore" I said, then I turned to go.

Musa watched me leave, sadly shutting her eyes.

"Bye" I called, shutting the front door behind me. Casey was waiting in his car for me, dressed in his tux.

"Hello beautiful" He said as I got in.

I forced a smile, complimenting his tux. I cant believe Musa and Layla did that to me. I'm now realizing how many hints they've dropped this whole trip. The clothes, the make-up, complimenting Brandon. How could I have been so blind?

"You smell nice, are you wearing perfume?" Casey asked

I sniffed my wrist, not remembering that I put on any perfume.

"It must be that perfume Musa sprayed me with this morning. I've tried washing it like a million times but it just wont come off" I said

"I like it" Casey said, giving me a wink. I smiled, looked down at my hands. I looked at the scar on my finger, rubbing my thumb over it. Brandon…..

Musa sat at the table, her hand in her hair. She looked down, shaking her head.

"Why couldn't I convince her?" She whispered to herself

"Musa, what happened?" Melanie asked walking in with Layla, shutting the door behind them.

"It didn't work. She said she wants to marry him" Musa said

"What?! Did you try everything?" Melanie asked

"We cant make her do anything she doesn't want to do. If this is what she wants then….who am I to stop her?" Musa asked, defeated

Layla sighed.

"Musa's right. We shouldn't have ruined Mackenzie's dinner" Layla said

"What are you talking about? We cant give up yet" Melanie said

"What's the point? One detail we forgot was that Stella's one sided love is not there anymore. She doesn't love him anymore" Musa said

"Even if we got Brandon to admit he likes her Stella cant just drop Casey" Layla said

"And Brandon can't just drop Mackenzie" Musa said

Melanie sat down, shaking her head.

"Maybe you're right. Maybe all this time I've been wrong about those 2. Maybe Brandon and Stella aren't as perfect for each other as I thought" Melanie said

"You know it's over when Melanie even says it" Musa said

The 3 looked at each other sadly.

"Like you said, what are we supposed to do? We cant fix a one sided love" Melanie said

"It's not a one sided love"

They all turned toward the door, where Sammy stood casually, leaning against the wall.

"What are you talking about sweetheart?" Melanie asked

"Brandon doesn't love Mackenzie, he loves Stella" Sammy said

The 3 looked at each other, then back at Sammy.

"Uhhhh, Sammy, do you know something we don't?" Musa asked

Sammy walked over to the fridge, casually taking a cup of water.

"Not that I care, but yeah, Brandon's in love with Stella" Sammy said

"Sammy sweety, tell me what you know" Melanie said

Sammy took a long sip of his water, than looked at them.

"I saw something….that I wasn't supposed to see" Sammy said

"What did you see?" Layla asked

Flashback

My eyes opened very slightly. This is strange, this bed…it doesn't feel right. I tried to turn over, but I realized I was hooked up to some machines.

I was in the hospital!

Suddenly I remembered what had happened. I was sitting in my room trying to do my homework and then I was getting really short of breath. It wasn't until I was gasping for breath did I realize I was having an asthma attack. I tried to reach for my inhaler but I couldn't get it. Then Stella came in and ran toward me. That idiot couldn't find my damn inhaler! I could've died! She's so stupid. And yet…she's so nice to me. She gives me more attention then my own brother does. Of course Brandon is very busy though…

I was pretty tired, and kind of achy. My eyes scanned the room, but I didn't move my body. In the corner of the room I could see Brandon and Stella. Stella had her head on Brandon's shoulder and he had his arm around her. She was snoring really loud- typical. He was studying her face as if it were something interesting. He started running his fingers along her face, as if waiting to see a reaction. No reaction. He leaned down and placed a small kiss on her cheek.

Did he just? My eyes grew wide. What is he doing?! We don't affiliate with idiots like Stella! It's not what Sheilds do! I wanted to scream at him, but I couldn't find my voice.

He looked back at her face and again, no reaction. This girl is the heaviest sleeper in the world! There could be an earthquake and she'd sleep through it.

Suddenly, he put his hands under her and lifted her up, placing her across his lap. He lifted her chin and then put a soft kiss on her lips.

No! Not on the lips! Brandon snap out of it! Get the demon off your lap!

Brandon smirked, then went in for another kiss, this one a bit more…messy. I blushed, trying my hardest to look away.

"Just like the first time" Brandon said with a half smile

"Casey Freedmen, I cannot believe you right now" I said when I saw what he'd done to my father's restaurant. There were candles everywhere, and rose pedals around. A bottle of champagne was open on the table in the center of the room. 2 glasses had already been poured. He put up lights that shimmered beautifully. He even dimmed the lights!

"Only the best for my girl" He said placing a kiss on my cheek. I smiled at him.

"Go sit down" He said heading toward the kitchen.

"Did you cook for me?" I asked

"Of course" He called from the kitchen.

I smiled, looking down at my hands. I fiddled with my thumbs, deep in thought. Casey treats me like a queen. When I'm with him I smile and laugh and just have a good time. With Brandon…..we always fight. The constant teasing, the constant back and forth…why would I want that? Right? Augghh! I wish Musa hadn't said anything to me. Now she's got me all confused! I was so sure about Casey and now….I just cant stop thinking about Brandon. His gorgeous brown eyes, his flawless face, his hair that falls perfectly…..it's like I'm in high school again. My heart won't stop beating as I picture him in my head.

I looked back toward the kitchen where I heard plates being put down and picked up. This is wrong. This is so wrong. I'm being proposed to by a man that loves me and I cant stop thinking about another man who loves someone else. I'm not that kind of girl. I don't steal other woman's men. It's wrong. This is wrong.

"Casey" I called, my voice cracking a bit. I'm just going to tell him I don't feel well.

Suddenly, he walked out with 2 plates of a freaking gourmet dinner. My eyes opened wide as he put it in front of me.

"Holy shit" I said, my mouth watering

Casey smiled, sitting in the seat across from me.

"I had a feeling you'd say that" He said

My eyes didn't leave the plate, all my thoughts of leaving fading.

"Before we eat let's make a toast" Casey said raising his glass

I raised my glass in the air, trying hard not to look too interested in the food….but I was!

"To young love" Casey said

I looked at my finger again, running my thumb over the scar. I cleared my throat.

"To young love" I said slowly.

We clinked glasses and each took sips. He couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't stop eating.

Bloom sat in the living room, a textbook open in front of her. She was studying for the upcoming finals. With her red hair up in a bun she was determined to get some work done before the end of the trip.

"Hey Bloom"

Bloom looked up from her book, finding Mackenzie standing by the door.

"Hey Mackenzie" Bloom said, a bit surprised by her greeting.

"In light of the fact that you're probably the only tolerable girl in the house right now,"

"Understandable" Bloom said and Mackenzie nodded

"Do you think we can talk?" Mackenzie asked a bit awkwardly

Bloom looked at her surprised, but then gave her a friendly smile.

"Of course, come sit" Bloom said making room for her on the couch

Mackenzie sat down, crossing her legs gracefully.

"What's up?" Bloom asked

"I know this is probably really weird that I came to you for advice, right?" Mackenzie asked

"Don't worry, anything you tell me will remain strictly between you and me" Bloom said with a wink.

Mackenzie sighed.

"Is something wrong?" Bloom asked, concerned

"Not wrong…..just not right. You know what I mean?" Mackenzie asked

"Uhhh…can we be a little more specific?" Bloom asked

"You and Sky have been dating for a while, right?"

Bloom nodded

"Did you ever have a moment where you asked yourself if dating Sky was the right thing to do?" Mackenzie asked

"Not really. I've known Sky all my life. We've grown up together. We just never talked until after high school. Since then our personalities just kind of cliqued" Bloom said

Mackenzie stayed silent.
"Is something going on between you and Brandon?" Bloom asked

"I don't know. He's really sweet and all but….sometimes I feel like he's acting. And then, when he sees Stella he gets really mad and they start fighting" Mackenzie said

"That's great for you. Being nice just means that he really likes you" Bloom said

"I always thought Brandon was the kind of guy that shows his love through….I don't know…anger" Mackenzie said

"You think Brandon likes Stella?"

"I don't know. I've caught him staring at her a lot during the time you've been here. Even at the rehearsal dinner when she screamed from the rats he stood up in his seat like he was going to save her or something. And he's been so hostile toward that boyfriend of hers. Brandon's usually really calm and doesn't care about anything" Mackenzie said

"Well…did you confront him about it?" Bloom asked

"Sort of. I asked him why we never fight" Mackenzie said

"And?"

"He kind of got mad" Mackenzie said

"You asked for a fight"

"But that's not what I mean. When Brandon and Stella fight….I don't know. It's different. I feel like….everything's just being so forced."

"What do you mean?" Bloom asked

"I don't know. This whole thing seems really rushed. When we kiss, don't get me wrong he's a great kisser, but I don't feel any…..sparks. You know?" Mackenzie said

Bloom smiled.

"Mackenzie White, who knew you were such a closet romantic?" Bloom said

Mackenzie smiled, putting her head in her hands embarrassingly.

"Hey, with all the books you read you have to slip in a romance novel here and there, right?" Bloom asked

Mackenzie smiled, but then she turned sad.

"Seriously though…..I don't know what to do. I don't want to go through married life with him staring at other girls. I've tried everything to make him look at me more" Mackenzie said

"Are you sure you tried everything?"

"Yes! I even hiked up my skirt a few inches the other day" She said

Bloom laughed.

"Oh man….what are you going to do?" Bloom asked

"That's what I came here to ask you about. What can I do?" She asked

"Look, I've known Brandon for a long time. He may be a jerk, a smartass, and stuck up….but there's one thing Brandon's never been. A liar. He's a very honest man and if he says he loves you then don't worry about the other girls" Bloom said

"My minds telling me you're right….but my hearts telling me no" Mackenzie said

"Whenever I'm with him my heart beats really fast….but not the kind of fast people want to feel about their fiancés. It's an aching heart telling me something's wrong. I've been feeling it since Stella's got here" Mackenzie said

"It's funny, Stella said the exact same thing about Casey's proposal" Bloom said in awe.

"It's just…..wait, Casey proposed?!" She exclaimed

Bloom covered her mouth.

"I probably wasn't supposed to say that" She said

"What did she say?" Mackenzie asked

"She's going to say yes tonight." Bloom said

"So Stella's marrying Casey?" Mackenzie asked

Bloom nodded with a smile. There was a long moment of silence as the 2 girls smiled.

"You know, you're not so bad" Mackenzie said

"Thanks, I always love to be told that" Bloom said sarcastically

"But you're not too bad either" She finished.

"Thanks for listening, I just needed to tell someone" Mackenzie said

"Anytime" Bloom said

Suddenly a loud thunder erupted outside. Bloom went over to the window and lifted the shades to look at the sky.

"Looks like a thunderstorms coming" Bloom said

"Oh yeah, let's tell the others. I think they were about to fire up the barbeque" Mackenzie said.

The 2 girls got up, going to find where the rest of the family was. They found Harry and Radius outside, looking at the sky.

"No barbeque tonight guys, it's supposed to rain for hours" Bloom said

"I guess it's leftovers then" Radius said as they all came in.

"We'll warm up the stuff from the rehearsal dinner" Harry said

"BLOOM!" Musa screamed coming in. She ran toward Bloom, took her by the hand and ran out with her.

"MUSA! WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME!?" Bloom screamed as Musa dragged her upstairs. Musa opened the door to Sammy's room then shut it behind them. In the room was Layla, Flora, Tecna, Melanie, and Sammy.

"What's going on?" Bloom asked

"I'm being kidnapped" Sammy said in an annoyed tone

"You're not being kidnapped. You're being….okay you're being kidnapped" Melanie said

"Will somebody tell me why Sammy's being kidnapped?" Bloom asked "Layla, you tell her" Musa said happily

Everyone looked at Layla, who too was wearing an excited smile on her face.

"Sammy here has been holding in some important information" Layla said

"What?" Bloom asked

"Brandon likes Stella!" Musa exclaimed

"Huh?" Bloom asked

"Sammy saw them kissing. When he was in the hospital Brandon kissed Stella while she was sleeping. He saw it!" Melanie said excitedly

"So what? Even if he does like her she's kind of a little busy with her boyfriend" Bloom said

"Yeah. What about Casey?" Flora asked

"Casey can have any girl he wants. He's Casey freaking Freedmen." Musa said

"Okay but he's proposing" Tecna said

"This is a problem…" Melanie said

"Wait. I have an idea" Musa said

"This one auta be good" Sammy said

"Pipe down Sammy, the adults are talking" Musa said

Sammy snorted.

"Yeah, you guys are the adults" Sammy said sarcastically, shaking his head.

"What's your big plan?" Bloom asked

"Yeah, what's the plan?" Melanie asked

"Well if we cant get Stella to Brandon, let's get Brandon to Stella" Musa said

"I don't get it" Layla said

"What I mean is, if Brandon found out that Casey proposed to Stella, maybe he'll….get a little jealous." Musa said

"And go run after her! Musa, you're a genius!" Melanie exclaimed

"Wait, what about Mackenzie?" Flora asked

"Mackenzie wont mind" Bloom said with a smile

"Let's do it!" Layla exclaimed

"YEAH!"

They all went toward the door.

"Ladies" Sammy said

They all turned toward him.

"I'm no genius…..oh wait, I am. You morons haven't even thought your plan through. If all of you go to Brandon now and tell him to go after her obviously he wont. You need to be subtle. Which is why only 2 of you should go down and casually have a conversation. Make it seem like you don't think he's listening" Sammy said as if it were obvious

"Good thinking Sammy, I'm so happy we added you to the team" Musa said

"I'm not on the team" Sammy said

"Yes you are"

"I'd rather sleep in my own vomit"

"Gross"

"Kinda the point"

The group of girls went downstairs into the living room where everyone was sitting. Brandon was sitting next to Mackenzie. Musa and Layla looked at each other suggestively, giving each other a nod.

"Melanie, I have to say, this trip has just been amazing" Layla said

"Oh? Why is that?" Melanie asked

"You're house just has a great vibe to it" Musa said

"Always really cheerful and happy" Layla said

"It must be all the marriage in the air" Musa said

"I know. It's great isn't it?" Melanie said

The 2 girls nodded.

"I hope I get married someday" Musa said

"Hear that Riven? Your girl wants a ring" Nabu said with a snort. Riven slapped him

"I wanna get married too" Layla said

"Hear that Nabu? Your girl wants a ring" Riven mimicked

"Stella's so lucky" Musa said

"Why's that?" Radius asked, looking up from his card game with Harry.

"You didn't hear? Casey's gonna pop the question tonight" Layla said

Brandon stayed still. Not a single movement. Only if you looked into his eyes did you see a change.

"Really?!" Radius asked excitedly

"Maybe those grandkids will come sooner than you hoped" Harry said giving him a pat on the back.

"Cross your fingers" Radius said

The 2 men laughed happily, continuing their game.

"Augghh, look at this weather. How am I supposed to pick up dinner now?" Melanie asked

"We're just going to do leftovers" Harry said

"Not with guests here we're not. I was going to make something good" Melanie said

Brandon stood.

"I'll pick it up for you" He said calmly.

The girls looked at each other with smirks.

"Are you sure?" Melanie asked

Brandon nodded.

"I was going to pick up Dad's pills anyway" Brandon said taking an umbrella from the closet.

"Thank you! I'll text you the shopping list!" Melanie called as he left.

Once the door shut all the girls stood up and left the room.

"AHHHHH! WE DID IT! WE DID IT!"

"Case, that was amazing!" I exclaimed, throwing my head back.

"Thanks, I'm happy you enjoyed it" He said with a smile.

"Oh god, I'm so full I can't even eat dessert" I said

"You must be really sick if you're not eating chocolate cake" He said

We both laughed.

"So have you had time to think about what I asked you last night?"

I froze. Oh god. Here it comes…..

"Ummmm…I thought a lot, yes" I said

Casey smiled.

"I know I don't have much to offer you and I don't have a ring yet but, what do you say? Do you want to get married?" Casey asked

"Uhhhhh…"

Casey searched my face for my answer.

"You see…."

"What's wrong?" He asked

"Nothings wrong. It's just…..do you think maybe I can have a bit more time?" I asked

"Stella-"

"Just a bit. This is a really big decision" I said

"I understand that but, I mean, I'm 100 percent into this. What's the matter?" Casey asked

"Nothing….I just need time to gather my thoughts."

"Gather your thoughts?"

I nodded.

"I just have a lot on my mind" I said

"Stella, with all do respect, I think this is a bit more important that whatever you have on your mind" Casey said

I looked at him trying to think of something to say.

"Ummm…well…."

"It's Brandon isn't it?"

My head shot up.

"What?" I asked

"You think I'm an idiot don't you?" Casey said

"What are you talking about? I never said that"

Casey shook his head bitterly.

"I just….I cant figure out how he has you so wrapped around his finger" Casey said

"I'm not wrapped around his finger and I don't like him!" I shouted

"Don't lie to me. I see the way you look at him" Casey said

"I can't believe you! I don't look at him!"

"Me? I cant believe you! I'm Casey freaking Freedmen! I can get any girl I want but I spent the last year and a half only thinking about you!" He screamed

"I never asked for that!" I screamed back

By then we were both standing up.

"I can give you so much more than that asshole!"

"Casey, stop it!" I cried as he took my hands in his.

"All that bastard's ever done is hurt you! Why would you want to be with him?!" He asked

"Stop it! Just stop it!" I cried, feeling tears well up. I tried to break free of his grasp but he was too strong for me.

"No! Stella, when will you see that he doesn't care about you?! That asshole only cares about himself!"

"Stop it! STOP IT! DON'T CALL HIM THAT!" I shouted, finally freeing my hands. I put my hands forward and I pushed him…a bit harder than I intended. He fell to the ground looking at me like I was insane. I just pushed him on the floor…..maybe I am insane. I covered my mouth in horror thinking about what I'd just done. I messed everything up. I started shaking my head, backing away.

"Stella-"

"Just…stop it. Okay? Stop it." I said going toward the door.

"Where are you going?!"

"I'm…I'm sorry" I said, just before I turned and ran out the door. I ran as fast as I could, not thinking about the consequences that came with it. I could hear him screaming my name. I looked back to make sure that he wasn't running after me. He wasn't.

I started crying. Breathing was so difficult, running and crying. It took me a moment to realize that I was soaking wet. Honestly, I didn't even care that I was being rained on. I didn't care that I messed this dress up so bad I'll probably never wear it again. I just didn't care.

Where am I supposed to go? I can't face my family like this. I cant face Casey. They'll all probably hate me and call me selfish. Maybe I am selfish. In fact, maybe I'm the most selfish person in the world because I will never be satisfied with anybody but Brandon. I just cant take it anymore. So many people have told me not to let him rule my life but it's official, he rules my life.

I ran toward the park, trying to find shelter. I sure as hell aren't going home so I may as well get comfortable. I sat beneath a tree, putting my head against the bark. I sighed, wiping away my tears.

"This cant be happening." I whispered to myself. This isn't how this night was supposed to go. I was supposed to say yes! I was supposed to be engaged! Why….why does Brandon have so much control over me. Since the day I wrote that love letter everything has been a complete wreck. I lost my house, I lost my dignity, I lost my man, and now….because of Brandon I even loose the right to get married.

I'm such a horrible person. Here I am complaining about how horrible my life is while I just ditched Casey at the restaurant. What's he supposed to do now? I led him on….but it took me almost a year to realize that I can never date. I can never love anyone but Brandon. It's like a curse has been put on me.

I told myself a million times to just give up on him. So many times Brandon has hurt me with his words. He's an arrogant jerk…..so why? Why is he the only person that I think about. When Casey was saying all that stuff about Brandon I couldn't help but feel angry. That's why I pushed him….like the little 5 year old I am. I guess Brandon was right after all. I will always be a stupid, talentless, brain dead, good for nothing, immature baby. As if I could ever measure up to Mackenzie. She's perfect.

"Come out from there, stupid"

My head shot up, recognizing the voice on instinct. No. Not now. It can't be.

"Brandon" I said, surprised. There he was, in jeans and a t-shirt, an umbrella in hand. If this is a dream I'm gonna be so pissed! I quickly wiped my tears trying to look as natural as possible.

"Are you trying to get killed or something? Under a tree is the worst possible place to be during a storm" Brandon said.

"I…I…I…" I stuttered, scrambling to my feet. Of course his highness himself had to be here. I cleared my throat.

"What are you doing here?" I finally asked

"I should ask you the same question. Where's Freedmen?"

"I asked you first" I said

"Your father asked me to get him something from his restaurant and I saw you sitting here. Now you"

"Uhhhh….Casey…Casey had to go home. It was an emergency" I lied.

Brandon nodded. We stood there silently.

"Come on, I'll take you home" He finally said, putting the umbrella over me.

"Where's your car?" I asked

"I walked" He said

I nodded, trying to remain as silent as possible. It was awkward, walking alone like this. The streets were empty so it was dead silent. The only sound you could hear was the pitter-patter of rain.

"I heard Casey proposed to you"

"He did" I said simply, not making eye contact.

We were silent again.

"I'm not totally unwanted you know" I said, watching the rain fall in the puddles.

Again, a long silence. I could have sworn I was holding my breath.

"What was your answer?" Brandon asked

"That's really none of your business" I said, looking at him.

He paused thinking of something to say.

"I supposed you're right"

I don't know why but hearing him say that made me feel really emotional. The one man I love cant even have the decency to come up with a better answer than, "I suppose you're right". Tears started streaming down my face as I remembered how exactly I got into this mess. My heart felt strained and it hurt for me to breath. I held my breath in hope that a sniffle wouldn't escape giving off that I was crying. I took in a big breath, silently calming myself. I wiped my tears, shutting my eyes.

All of a sudden I stopped dead in my tracks. Brandon hadn't realized so he kept going. When he did, he turned around.

"What are you-"

"Isn't it pathetic though? That you and me are here, walking in the rain"

"What are you talking about?"

"I suppose this is how it's going to be though. This is the last time that we'll probably ever be like this"

He stayed silent.

"After today we'll both move on with our lives. You'll marry Mackenzie. I'll marry Casey. Everything will go back to the way they were the last 9 months" I said

"Do you love him?"

I looked at him.

"Of course I love him. How could I not? He chose me out of all the other girls…he's loved me since we met at that party" I said

"But do you love someone just because they tell you they love you?"

"Is that so bad? To tell somebody you love them? To show them affection?" I asked

He stayed silent, looking at me.

"Isn't that the way things are. A girl loves somebody and she gets loved back? Is that so bad?!" I asked, pouring my heart into it

Again, he remained silent.

"Because let me tell you, one sided loves suck! They make you feel like you will never be good enough! They take you and they rip you into a million little shreds! They taunt you and laugh at you in your dreams! But, I guess you'll never understand that, will you?!" I screamed, my emotions on edge.

"Because for you, everything has always come so easy! I'm so sick and tired of being pushed around by you. You have made my life a living hell!" I screamed

"So please, can we just part ways? Pretend we never knew each other? You can be with Mackenzie and I'll be with Casey. That's just the way things are."

"You love me. You don't know how to love anybody else" He said

I breathed hard, feeling tears well up.

"How do you do it? How do you get people so obsessed with you they cant bare to live without you? Why are you so confident? It's….it's not fair!"

"I'm confident because it's true" Brandon said.

I looked into his eyes, breathing hard. Tears were falling down my face and my cheeks were red from screaming so much. My hands were shivering cold from the rain.

"What choice do I have?! I've loved you since elementary school and you've never shown me any sort of affection. I spent my whole life loving somebody who will never love me back. Do you know how hard that is? I watch you every day with Mackenzie, hugging her, kissing her, telling her how much you love her. Being apart of this damn wedding is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. You didn't even care when I told you I was getting married! You don't love me and you don't care about me so what am I supposed to-"

All I could see was the umbrella being dropped on the floor. Next thing I knew I had Brandon's arms around me and his lips on mine. My eyes went wide as his lips glided against mine. I haven't felt his lips on me in….a long time. Casey never kissed me the way Brandon did. When Brandon kisses he's rough, yet gentle. His lips are soft and they feel good.

"do" I squeaked out as we separated.

Brandon pulled me into a hug, gently stroking my hair.

"Don't tell me that you love any other man" He said into my ear.

I breathed, taking in his scent. I pulled back looking into his eyes.
"And I suppose now you'll be running away, pretending it never happened" I said, but sure enough I was pulled back into his arms, tighter even.

"I'm not going anywhere" He said

I shut my eyes when I heard those words. I've waited over 10 years for this. Why the hell did it have to rain tonight of all nights?!

"But what about Mackenzie?" I asked

"The only reason I was with Mackenzie is because I wanted to be a doctor. I don't want her to settle for me, she should be able to find love on her own. She wont be happy otherwise" Brandon said

"But Casey…."

"Shhh, we can worry about that later. For now let's just go home" Brandon said

"What are we going to tell them?" I asked

Brandon shrugged.

"I don't know" He said

"Brandon, you seem different" I said

"How so?" He asked

"You seem to be going with the flow….I see I've taught you well" I said, smiling.

Brandon half smiled.

"You seem different too….are you wearing perfume or something?" Brandon asked

I nodded.

"Musa sprayed it on me-"

"Don't wear it, you don't smell like yourself" Brandon said

I looked into his eyes, my arms on his.

"Wow, that was like an insult within a compliment" I said

Brandon smiled, pulling away. He picked up the umbrella, holding it over us. He put his hand out for me to take, and I did.

"So what happened? What made you change your mind?" I asked

"Who says my mind was ever somewhere else"

I looked at him and he shrugged.

"So you've always liked me?" I asked, a smile spreading.

"I didn't say that"

"Yes you did"

"No I didn't"

"Yes you did!"

"No I didn't!"

"YES YOU DID!"

"NO I DIDN'T!"

Together we walked home, bickering away. It seems nothing changed really, except for the fact that my hand was in his. And I'm completely okay with that.

Epilogue

Brandon and I will always be Brandon and I. We still bicker and fight, but for Melanie, as long as we're together she's happy. When we got back that day nobody was too surprised that Brandon didn't return with groceries. Melanie and my Dad cried. Mackenzie seemed okay with it, which confused me then. I stole her fiancé! It was only about a month later that I found out it was because she had a crush on Princeton's very own, totally single, Casey Freedmen. Yeah, I know! I was freaking surprised when I found out too!

Since Brandon and I were dating, Melanie demanded my Dad and I move back in….so we did! About a year later the girls and I all graduated from college. I graduated with a degree in the teachings and making of art.

As for Brandon, he was off into Medical School, living out his dream to become a doctor. The company didn't pay us much because of the cancelation of the wedding, but have no fear because in only 3 years the new heir to the White Company will take office. You guessed it! Sammy Shields has finally made it to the top! All this time he's wanted to take over the company. Once he graduates from high school he'll be going straight over there to take over. He's still sarcastic and immature, but that's just what makes him Sammy. Who, by the way, now has a girlfriend! Ah, young love.

The last 10 years of my life have been the happiest. I finally beat him! I finally beat Brandon Shields! Woooooo! It's fun to look back on my life, 10 years into the future. Married to the love of my life, and a daughter who I love with all of my heart….life doesn't get better than this. It just comes to show that the underdog always wins. You don't have to be the most beautiful or the smartest, or even the funniest. You don't have to be the most anything. You just have to be you. Nobody's perfect. Even the people who seem perfect aren't perfect. If you set your heart on something and never give up I guaranty you will be victorious in the end. And To all of those people out there who ever said that writing letters was for old people, I think you auta try it. Sometimes letters are worth a lot more than you think.

Ahhhhhhh! It's over! I'm crying! I cant believe it's over. This was possibly the longest chapter I've ever written in my life. It's 48 pages long, font 12. It's 22,000 words! Holy crap! But it's so worth it. I hope you guys enjoyed the read. I'm sorry it took so long, and I hope it's up to standards. I'm so thankful for everyone who reads it, and it's really upsetting to see it go. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love you guys!

Author's Note: I just want to say that all of the alcohol usage in this story was strictly for comedic reasons. I don't support underage drinking at all, in fact I'm extremely against it. Alcohol isn't something to use free willingly and it can be really dangerous sometimes. So, all the times Stella got drunk it was strictly for comedic reasons.