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Chapter 1: The Beginning
Melrose took one last look at herself in the mirror, and hurried downstairs where her best friend in the entire world, Chris, was waiting for her. People always teased them because Chris was a guy, but they never paid any attention to that.
Melrose caught sight of Chris, and couldn’t help but think how handsome he looked. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. Then, her foot slipped on the last stair, and the next thing she knew, she was sitting flat on her butt. Chris, trying to smuggle his laughter, helped her up. This was going great.
“Are you okay?” Chris asked concernedly, but Melrose caught the glimpse of laughter in his emerald green eyes.
“Yeah,” she laughed. “Only my ego is hurt.”
He laughed as well. “Good. Now c’mon! The movie is gonna start!”
The two of them left her house, and walked two houses down, to where Chris lived. Even though they lived so close together, he always insisted on picking her up.
The two of them walked up his brick steps, and locked the door behind them.
“Okay, I’ll meet you in my room. Lemme just make some popcorn. I know, I know,” he said as Melrose opened her mouth. “No extra butter. Just loads of salt. I’ve gotcha covered, Rose.”
Her heart lifted as he said his special nickname for her, and she smiled. “You sure do.” She smiled again (she was gonna look like a heart-sick girl before long!) and headed up to his room.
Melrose jumped, and Chris laughed.
“Relax, it’s only a movie. Besides, look how fake it is! There is no way that that guy just got eaten. The special effects of this movie stink.”
Melrose grinned, embarrassed. She hated horror movies, but since Chris liked them, she was all for it. This, of course, did not mean that she liked him, she told herself over and over again. It just meant that she was being considerate of his feelings. Hah, yeah right.
Chris shook his head, and said “C’mon, let’s go to the creek. I’ll be sure to protect you from any water monsters.”
Melrose laughed, and got up. She followed Chris to his backyard, past the wooden bench, and into the very edge of the forest, where a beautiful creek flowed. There she sat in the balding grass, dipping her feet in the cool water.
Chris plopped down beside her. They were silent for a few moments, just listening to the crickets chirp, and the sound of the moving water. “Rose-” Chris began after a moment. He hesitated. “I was wondering, if, maybe you ever thought of us being more than just friends.” He stopped then, watching carefully for her reaction.
She looked up at him, and smiled. “Yeah, I have,” she said quietly. “A lot. But, I was always afraid to say something, because I was worried that you might not feel the same way, and that it would ruin our friendship.”
The relief on his face was clear. “I felt the same way! Well, if you want to, would you like to maybe go out with me?” His eyes were bright with excitement.
Melrose’s smile grew. “I would love to.”
Chris smiled back, looking very comfortable and relaxed all of a sudden. Melrose shivered as the wind began to blow, and hesitantly, Chris wrapped his arm around her shoulders and drew her against him. She rested her head against his chest, finally feeling at home.
Chapter 2: The Date Is Set
Melrose raced up the steps to her school, and groaned when the tardy bell rang. She was late. Again.
This time it was her fault, though. Melrose just couldn’t decide what to wear that morning, since she wanted to impress Chris. She had settled on jeans, brown uggs, and a cute brown jacket that she had bought that weekend.
Melrose skidded to a halt at her homeroom door, which was now closed. Timidly, she knocked, knowing she was about to get another “late lecture”. To her surprise, it was not Mr. Kingsley who opened the door, but a substitute.
She smiled at Melrose and said “Come on in, sweetie. Try not to be late next time.”
Melrose let out a sigh of relief, and walked to her seat, where her lab partner was waiting for her.
“Hey Mike,” she said breathlessly as she sat down.
“Hey,” he replied, not looking up from his book.
Just then the sub turned the lights off, and put on a movie. Melrose didn’t even know what it was about. She was too busy watching the clock, counting down the time until she would see Chris.
Walking into the cafeteria, she spotted Chris and smiled. She made a beeline for him after she got her lunch. He already had a seat waiting for her.
“Hey,” she said brightly. It was amazing how much one single person could make her day seem remarkable.
“Hey,” he said happily. “So, I was wondering if you wanted to catch a movie or something Friday night.”
“That would be great,” she replied. He smiled at her.
“Cool. I’ll pick you up 8:00?”
They talked, and talked, and when the bell rang ending lunch, Melrose laughed wistfully and looked down at her still-full lunch tray.
Chris laughed too, his looked the same as hers.
“I guess we’d better go,” Melrose sighed. “I’ll see ya in biology.”
“Yeah,” Chris agreed, still smiling.
The two of them left the lunch room, hand in hand. Not too many people seemed to notice. Those who did were whispering things like “about time” or “I knew they would get together”! One of the people who did notice, unfortunately, was Chantal, the most popular, rich, beautiful snob in the school, who always got everything she wanted.
Her gaze drifted to their interlocked hands, and her eyes narrowed.
“So.” She spat the word. “I see you two are together now?”
“Yes, we are,” Chris said pleasantly, but his eyes were cautious. “Now, excuse us, but we are going to be late for class.” He led Melrose past Chantal and Tiffany, and right up to her trigonometry class.
“I’ll call you tonight.” He grinned her favorite crooked smile.
Melrose, not being able to help herself, grinned foolishly back at him. “I’ll be waiting.” She let their hands drop with a sigh, and walked into class, Chris’s footsteps echoing behind her.
Chapter 3: Gray Skies Turn Blue
Rose raced upstairs, and to her room, where she flopped onto her bed with a happy sigh. The rest of her day had been perfect. Her and Chris had been inseperateble, and one of her good friends, Evelyn, couldn’t refrain herself from voicing how perfect she thought the two of them were together. She was a big gossiper, but Melrose loved her for her heart anyways. The only problem that day was Chantal.
Why can’t she ever leave me alone? Melrose thought. She always has to try to best me at everything! First cheerleading, then class president, then the drama club, and now Chris! I wish she would stop trying to outdo me at least once!
Melrose sighed, and remembered when she had first moved to Phoenix. Chantal had immediately taken to hating her, and doing her best to make Melrose’s life miserable. Chantal always had to prove that she was better than her!
Melrose smiled despite herself. Chantal couldn’t do anything about her and Chris, since they seemed destined for each other, and she couldn’t alter their feelings. Melrose’s smile turned into an ear to ear grin. Chris was all hers, and she was finally being able to walk out of Chantal’s shadow.
Ring! Ring! Ring! Oh, the phone. It must be Chris! Melrose raced to the phone, and answered excitedly. “Hello?”
“Hey Rose.” Chris’s lovely husky voice replied, sending shivers up and down her spine.
He laughed. “I miss you already.”
Melrose got chills, the good kind. “I miss you too,” she said, smiling at her empty room. “You already have me hoping for school tomorrow! Hey, wanna come over?” She asked, it just dawning on her that he lived so close.
He laughed again. “I wish. I’m stuck home helping my dad do some yard work and stuff. I snuck away for a bit, cuz I just wanted to hear the sound of your voice.”
“Aww, Chris, stop, you’re making me blush!” Melrose taunted, though she was amazingly happy that he had said those words.
Chris laughed. “I’m serious. You make my gray days turn blue.” He paused to let the truth of that wash over Rose, and then groaned. “Dang, I gotta go, my dad needs my help again. I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Melrose said glumly, not wanting to hang up.
“Oh, hey, I meant to ask you, can I drive you to school tomorrow, if you don’t mind?”
“I wouldn’t mind at all,” she replied, grinning. Gosh, her feelings were going up and down like a roller coaster!
“Great!” he said excitedly. “Ah, okay, I gotta go for real now. I’ll pick you up around 7:00.”
“Sounds perfect,” she replied, and hung up the phone. Then, she waltzed to her desk, got her ipod, and put on mushy love songs, finally understanding the feelings they described.
Chapter 4: The Kiss
The rest of the week flew by, mainly because she had Chris there with her. Chantal still eyed them in the hallways, but really the week was great. Before Melrose knew it, it was Friday night, and Chris was knocking on the door to pick her up for their date.
Her mom answered the door, pleased for her daughter’s selection. “Hi Chris, come on in,” she greeted him.
“Thanks Mrs. Thompson.” He looked up and spotted Melrose at the top of the stairway, and smiled. She looks beautiful, he thought as she walked down the steps.
Melrose didn’t rush down this time, afraid that she would fall flat on her face again. She smiled at Chris when she finally reached the bottom. “I’m trying my best to not fall tonight.”
He laughed. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. Thanks Mrs. Thompson, we won’t be out to late,” he promised Melrose’s mom.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. You kids go have fun.” She waved goodbye, and headed to the living room, where her soap opera was on.
Melrose giggled, and allowed Chris to steer her out the door. Once the front door closed, he took her hand, and led her to his car, where he opened the door for her.
“Why thank you,” Melrose said, smiling at him.
“Why, you’re very welcome,” he teased back, gently closing the red door, and opening his own. They cruised down the road, and up to the theater, where the movie Year 4020 was playing. Melrose insisted on buying the snacks since Chris had bought the admission, and he reluctantly gave in.
The movie was pretty good overall, but what made it better was the laughs the two of them shared, and being able to hold his hand for the whole two hours.
When they finally pulled up into her driveway, he once again opened the door for her, and led her to the front door. Only, his time, he paused, and looked into her eyes.
Ohmigod, he’s going to kiss me! Melrose excitedly thought. He brought his head closer, and carefully, almost timidly, pressed his lips against hers. Chills ran up and down her spine, and she knew she didn’t want this to end. He broke apart the kiss, sadly, and smiled shyly at her. “I had a great time with you.”
“I did too,” she smiled, and leaned in and kissed him herself, feeling her heart jump in her throat.
His smile turned into a full sized grin, and said “I’ll see you tomorrow, Rose.”
“Okay,” she agreed. He kissed her cheek, and didn’t drive away until she had closed the front door.
Once inside, Melrose did what she thought only girls did in books and movies, and slid down the door with a sigh, extremely glad that he was hers.
Chapter 5: Sleepover!
“Hey sweetie?” asked Tanya Thompson.
“Why don’t you make plans with one of your friends for this evening?”
“I was kinda hoping to hang out with Chris and do something,” Melrose replied.
Tanya sighed. “I know, and that’s what I’m worried about.” When Melrose looked up at her, clearly baffled, Tanya continued. “If this is to end badly, well, I want your friends to be around for you, and as of right now, I don’t want you spending all your time with Chris. I know he was one of your best friends, and is now your boyfriend,” she added calmly when Melrose opened her mouth furiously. “But, you need your other friends as well. I just want you to keep in mind that you guys might, in the end, break up, and then where will you be?”
“Mooooom,” Melrose dragged out the word. “I’m seventeen. I think I know how to handle things. But,” she held up her hands in surrender, “if it will make you happy, I’ll call Evelyn and have her spend the night.
Tanya smiled. “That’s all I’m asking.”
Melrose trudged upstairs, and first called Chris, saying she had other plans for tonight, and that she was really sorry. Then, she called Evelyn.
“Do you have any plans tonight, or do ya wanna come over and spend the night?” Melrose asked.
“I really didn’t have any plans, so a sleepover sounds great,” she replied brightly.
“Cool! What’s a good time for you?”
“Uhh, how ‘bout 7:30-ish?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Alrighty then, I’ll see ya then. Bye!”
“Bye!” Melrose hung up the phone, and shouted downstairs, “Okay mom, Evelyn is coming over in an hour!”
“Alright sweetie!” she called back.
Melrose wandered over to the living room, collapsed on the couch, turned on the TV, and waited for Evelyn to arrive.
Two shows later, the doorbell rang. “Got it!” shouted Melrose, and walked to the front door, letting Evelyn in. “Hey!”
“Hey Melrose! I brought over a new cd, so maybe we can make up a new dance routine or something. Oh, and I brought this really cool magazine that I bought last night!”
Melrose laughed. “I can tell this is gonna be a late-nighter! C’mon.” The two of them went upstairs to Melrose’s room, and closed the door behind them. They plopped on the bed, and poured over the new magazine, squealing over who Paris Hilton was currently dating and the new tour that Gwen Stefani was going on. They even discussed the upcoming prom, and what they were going to wear.
“Hey, I wanna hear that new music you brought over!” demanded Melrose playfully.
“Okay, Evelyn laughed. She crossed the room, and put in the cd, and cranked the volume up loud. She began jumping up and down in circles, and jammin’ to the beat. Then, she shimmied her way over to Melrose, grabbed her hands, and lifted her off the bed to join her. They bobbed their heads back and forth, and jumped and slid until Melrose had a stitch in her side, and they both collapsed on the bed, out of breath.
There, they broke out in hysterical laughter. What made it even funnier was that they couldn’t seem to stop. Soon, tears were in the edges of their eyes, and they were gasping for breath as they were when dancing.
It didn’t even occur to them to check the clock until Tanya yelled from downstairs, “Girls, I’m glad you’re having a good time, but please try to keep it down, its one thirty in the morning!”
They looked at each other, and broke down laughing again. Once they had calmed down, Melrose was able to realize how tired she actually was. “I guess we should go to bed now,” she sighed, looking at the clock.
“Yeah,” agreed Evelyn, trying to smother the all-of-a-sudden yawns.
The two of them changed into pajamas, brushed their teeth, and climbed into bed, exhausted. Melrose switched off the lights, and the girls fell asleep immediately.
Chapter 6: Heartbreak
Chris cut his car’s engine, and the two of them walked up the school’s steps together. Once again, Melrose was on time for school, thanks to Chris.
“See you at lunch,” he said when they reached Melrose’s homeroom.
“Yeah,” she replied, and walked into class, fighting yawns. There, she sat down in her seat, surprised that she was earlier than Mike. Record!
Melrose didn’t know what to do with this new leisurely time, so she just pulled out a book and read to pass the time.
Soon Mr. Kingsley was tapping the board to gather everyone’s attention. Melrose put the book away, and began taking notes to what promised to be another boring class.
The rest of the day slowly dragged on, and it was a relief when the release bell finally rang. Melrose headed out toward Chris’s truck, so he could take her home. The time was ticking by, soon fifteen minutes passed, and Melrose began to worry. Where was Chris?
She put her stuff on the ground, and began to trot up to the office, to ask if they by any chance knew where he was. On her way there, though, she thought she heard Chris, so she doubled back to check.
There she found him, but what she saw was not what she expected at all. He was there with Chantal. With his arm around her. Chris had his arm around Chantal’s shoulders! His face was close to hers, very close, as if to kiss her, and he was whispering in her ear. Melrose watched, dumbfounded, as he pulled her closer to his body.
With a gasp of shock and hurt, Melrose ran away from that torturing sight, and to his truck, where she got her stuff and began quickly walking home as she fumbled for her cell phone. She called Carina, and asked if she could take her home.
Within minutes, Carina was there, and wordlessly, Melrose got into her car, tears streaming down her face.
“Oh, honey, what happened?” asked Carina worriedly.
Melrose just shook her head and furiously wiped away the tears.
The drive was a silent one, and Melrose did her best to ignore the worried looks she got from Carina. When she pulled up in her driveway, she turned to Melrose.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked softly.
Melrose shook her head wordlessly again. “Sorry. Thanks,” she managed to choke out, before she broke down crying again. She raced upstairs, thankful that both her parents were working late that night.
Melrose went straight to her room, and collapsed on her bed, closing her eyes. Her mouth trembled as she relived what she had just seen, and a fresh wave of tears erupted.
Melrose cried and cried, and when the phone rang, showing that it was Carina calling, she didn’t bother to answer. She just bawled.
After an hour or two, Melrose didn’t know, the phone rang again, showing it was Chris. Fury and hate rose up in Melrose’s chest, and hands shaking, she answered the phone.
“What do you want?” she hissed, venom dripping in every word she said.
“Rose?” he asked, surprised. “What’s wrong? Carina called me saying that she took you home, but what happened? Why didn’t you wait for me? And- are you okay?”
She drew in a breath, shaking from what was not sadness anymore, but from rage. “I don’t want to see you ever again.”
“Rose?! What’s wrong? What did I do? Please, tell me!” He begged in that phony voice of his.
“I saw you and Chantal,” she growled. “I couldn’t believe it. You’re a liar! Every touch, every kiss, was a lie. I hate you, and I never want to see you again!” Her voice cracked on the last word.
“Rose, please, listen to me!” he said, alarmed. “I know what that must have looked like, but it was the opposite!”
“How could you?” she screeched. “I trusted you! I cared for you! You went behind me, for, for her!” Melrose stopped and drew in a deep breath, which hurt her throat from the big lump welling there. “Go away, Chris, and stay away from me.” Melrose hung up the phone.
Chapter 7: Empty
Melrose was dreading the next day of school, but it was unavoidable. She walked up the brick steps with growing dread, not wanting to see Chris. To make matters even worse, Chantal took it upon herself to sneer at Melrose at every possible chance.
Although there was a lot of talk about the upcoming prom, Melrose wasn’t entirely interested in going anymore. There was no way that she could bear the sight of Chris dancing with Chantal in his arms.
Throughout the day, Chris made several attempts to talk to her and see why she was so upset, but she did everything she could to avoid him and make herself unavailable.
At lunch she sat with Carina and Evelyn, listening to their chatter, and not bothering to join in herself. The rest of the day went pretty much the same, Melrose doing her best to keep as much distance between her and Chris as possible.
She drove herself home, and numbly sat on the couch, curled up in a ball, staring at the empty wall. Empty, just like her heart.
Melrose went to school in the same fashion as yesterday, following the same schedule, and routes, avoiding Chris at any way possible. At lunch all everyone talked about was prom, since it was that very night.
“So, Melrose, what’s a good time for us to pick you up tonight?” asked Evelyn.
“I wasn’t planning on going,” she mumbled in response.
“What?!” she yelped. “Mel, you’ve got to go. It’s prom!”
“Yeah,” agreed Carina. “You can’t let some stupid guy ruin your fun. We’ll come by and pick you up at eight, so be ready. There’s no way that we’re gonna let you miss out on this!”
Chapter 8: Prom
The car horn beeped, and Melrose rushed out the door, not wanting to make Evelyn and Carina wait. Melrose herself wasn’t really looking forward to going to prom, since she had no date but a broken heart.
She put on a false cheery smile anyway, and opened the car door. “Hey girls!”
“Wow, Melrose, you look stunning!” exclaimed Evelyn. Melrose couldn’t help herself, she laughed.
“Thanks! So do you and Carina!” In truth, she envied them. Carina had a deep green halter dress with gems glittering in all the right places. The color really brought out the red highlights in her brown curls. Evelyn was wearing a midnight black gown with a deep neckline, and pearls embroidered in the hems. Her strawberry blonde hair was twisted up in an elegant knot.
Melrose climbed into the car, while the girls admired her, making her blush. She was wearing a rich red dress to the ankles, and straps draped around the shoulders. It too glittered. Her brown curls were pinned up, and her side bangs were swept to the side. The make-up was flawless, though it had taken a while, since the mascara had to keep being reapplied through Melrose’s tears.
“Alright, let’s get this party started!” Evelyn hit the gas pedal, and they zoomed their way to the school’s gigantic gym.
Melrose was always used to hearing about proms in hotel ballrooms, so she was a little surprised when she heard they were having prom at the school.
Evelyn blasted the radio, and began singing along with Carina. The mood was infectious. Melrose joined in, and felt as if she was leaving her broken heart behind.
When they walked up to the gym, Melrose gasped in awe. It was completely unrecognizable! There were torch lights outside, leading up to the double doors where a colorful explosion awaited them.
Round lanterns hung from the ceiling, as did many multi-colored lights. The DJ was spinning records, and people were all over the dance floor.
“Wow,” Melrose breathed. She had only seen parties like this in movies!
“This is so cool!” squealed Evelyn, and Carina nodded her head vigorously.
“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s dance!”
Melrose knew that both of them had dates, but had decided to spend some time with her so she wouldn’t feel lonely. Melrose was really grateful towards them, but she did feel kind of bad.
Evelyn interrupted Melrose’s thoughts by grabbing her hand and leading her to the dance floor. There they swiveled their hips and threw their arms up to the music. It all ended too soon, though, for Jon and Kyle came and swept Evelyn and Carina away to dance, leaving Melrose alone.
She wandered outside, away from the pulsing lights and the thundering music when a slow song began to play. She didn’t want to see Chris and Chantal dancing together.
She walked to the wooden balcony, now decorated with white lights, and surprisingly empty. She sat down with a sigh and rubbed her already tired legs. Everyone must have been in dancing, since she didn’t see anyone outside, or hear people talking.
She rested her head back, and closed her eyes, feeling a little out of place, since she was by herself. She smiled slightly, though, listening to the crickets chirp.
“Rose, hey, Rose!” Chris’s frantic voice came out of nowhere, calling her.
She opened her eyes and stood up in time to see Chris race up the steps to her. She vaguely wondered where Chantal was.
Chris took her hand in his, and shook his head when she tried to pull away.
“Please, Rose, just give me five minutes to explain the incident with Chantal, please.”
“I know what I saw,” she whispered, afraid to speak because of her quivering voice.
“No, please, listen. It wasn’t like that at all! She had told me about her sister being in the hospital with lymphoma, and she had started to cry, so I tried to comfort her! That’s all, I swear! Her sister wasn’t even in the hospital, though, Chantal just made that up for some stupid reason. She’s a good liar.” He added bitterly.
Melrose stopped trying to tug away, confused.
“Rose, please believe me, I would never lie to you.” He took a deep breath. “I love you.”
It was the first time he had said those words to her. She drew in a shaky breath, her blue-gray eyes never leaving his pleading ones. “I believe you,” she whispered.
Chris tightly wrapped his arms around Melrose and drew her against him. “Thank you,” he said roughly.
Melrose was about to reply, but his fingers moved under her chin, and he gently lifted it up to press his warm lips on hers.
This kiss was not like the others that they had shared, it was much, much more. Melrose couldn’t even begin to describe the amazing feelings that seemed to flow through her veins, or the maddening thudding of her blood pulse quickening. Her lips seemed to mold with his, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, finally receiving her Cinderella kiss.
When they finally broke apart, Chris kept Melrose wrapped in his arms, his eyes bright. He wordlessly stroked her hair, and she snuggled closer to him.
Melrose didn’t know how better to say this, but all of a sudden the world felt right. Every bitter feeling, every resentment she had ever felt, seemed to melt away at Chris’s magical touch. That was when she realized that she truly loved him with all her heart.
Chapter 9: Goodbye’s
The next few weeks seemed to go by in a blur. Things between Chris and Melrose were better than ever, and Melrose couldn’t help but smile with grim pleasure when she saw Chantal’s disappointed face in the halls. All too soon, though, the year was coming to an end, and there were major decisions to be made about their future, and what paths they would take. Both Chris and Melrose had sent in college applications to different schools, wondering if their relationship could withstand the time and distance away from each other.
The last day of school, Melrose and Chris both got their acceptance letters to college. With a pang of sorrow, Melrose realized that her and Chris would be four states apart. Would their love be strong enough to stay an unbreakable bond, or would it shatter under all the college pressures? Only time would tell…
Melrose sniffed again, and gave a watery chuckle. “I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe this is goodbye!”
“I know,” said Chris sadly. “But, you’re going to UNC, and I’m going to Florida State. We’ll work something out, though, I promise.”
Melrose smiled at the love of her life through her tears. “Okay. And, you promised to come up for Christmas, so I’m holding you to it!”
He gave a strained laugh. “You don’t have to worry, Rose, I’ll be here whenever you need me.”
“I’ll always need you,” she whispered.
He smiled at her, and shook his head. “I don’t think wanting and needing is the same thing. But, you know that I’ll only be a phone call away, and I swear that I’ll come up and visit once I have the time.”
She nodded at him, biting her lower lip, willing herself not to break down crying in front of him. There would be plenty of time for that later.
Chris took Melrose into his arms for the last time, and whispered in her ear, “I love you. Be good for me.”
Melrose looked up into his watering eyes, and kissed him passionately. “I’ll do my best.” She swallowed, and looked up at him seriously, and said, “I love you too.”