Story: Not Quite Cinderella (all chapters)

Authors: AdventFalls

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Chapter 1

Title: Once Upon... You Get the Idea

[Author's notes: Every tale has its beginnings, even this one. Just don't expect perfection.]

Chapter 1: Once Upon... You Get the Idea


It all began with that most clichéd of expressions.

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl named Erika Andress. But no one that would know it, because no one ever seemed noticed her. Not her mother, because she had died shortly after she was born. Not her father, who died in a car accident the day after she graduated from the sixth grade.

In fact, the only attention she ever consistently got was the bad kind, especially from her stepfamily. Her stepmother was a rich MILF, and she knew it. Therefore, anyone that wasn’t an immediate family member was automatically relegated to second-class citizenship. What made things worse that this witch with a capital ‘B’ was a teacher at her school. So when she messed up, Ms. Allison Andress would be among the first to know it.

And no good especially came from associating herself with her two stepsisters, because Fiona and Jade were plastics. They belonged to the group of kids that was the popular kid’s version of royalty at Mary Theresa’s School for Girls.

And yes, she was enrolled at the area’s private all-girls school. While the locale she lived in was very affluent, only the upper crust sent their girls there. The only reason that Erika could come up with for why her stepmother would enroll her there was to keep an even closer eye on her.

In fact, besides her mother screaming at her to wake up two hours ago, her two stepsisters giving her nipple twists while she was trying to dress, and the abysmal rainstorm going on outside, there was near nothing to look forward to today. The fact that today was Friday was a double-edged sword. While Fiona and Jade would be busy getting drunk with their friends, she would be under the ever so watchful eyes of her dear stepmother doing chores.

The animosity between her sisters and her was so great that she even had to walk to a different bus stop than those two. Fortunately, there was a friendly face waiting for her at the stop.

Said face was opening his door and ushering her inside his more moderately sized house. “Come on outta the rain, Erika. You’ll getcha death of cold.”

Erika stepped into the warm air of the house and closed her umbrella, placing it carefully beside the door. The senior’s wrinkled chocolate face shifted into a kind smile, his white hair moving slightly from the movements of the ceiling fan. “It’s good to see you, Mr. Daniels.”

“Please Erika, I’ve told you a hundred times, just call me Buck. Have a seat and I’ll getcha an orange.” Erika smiled at that, because as Buck would say, ‘An orange a day keeps the doctor away, but don’t bother with apples. They taste something horrible.’

As she sat down, Buck couldn’t help but admire the way the young woman had grown up, “I gotta tell ‘ya Erika, you’re looking more like your mother every day.”

Erika would never truly know it, but Buck was right; she was her mother’s daughter. Her long red hair and those green-blue eyes were a definite hint, and she had inherited her mother’s naturally perfect dimensions where they really counted. Her face was more a combination of her mother and father, giving her a naturally striking face- one that no one ever seemed to notice.

That said, her clothes were a little old, but that couldn’t be helped. From what Buck understood, she mostly got to wear hand-me-downs from her sisters. The only unused clothes she got were underwear.

“What classes you got today?” Buck handed her a perfectly unpeeled orange, into which Erika tore into happily.

“US Government... AP Environmental Science...”

“I keep tellin’ ya, you got both your parent’s brains.”


“I’m sorry about that.” There was only one Calculus teacher at the school, and it happened to be her stepmother.

“And Theatre IV- still got that every day.” Both of them smiled a little bit.

“Well, one out of four’s better than nothin’.” The Theatre Department happened to be the only niche that Erika could really get along with, for a variety of reasons.

A cavalcade of noise came roaring from the nearby staircase as two grown black teens came rushing down, backpacks and suitcases in tow. “Morty, Georgie, good morning.”

“Morning, guys.”

Both of the college bound men nodded respectfully at Erika as they began to stuff their mouths with large spoonfuls of cereal and milk.

Buck smiled, rhetorically asking the two, “Today’s the big day, isn’t it?”

Georgie downed his mouthful first. “Yeah, Dad. Today we start the big trip to Brown University!”

Morty held up his pointer finger to ask for a moment, his bald head slightly reflecting the light in the room. Once he swallowed his bite, he started to clarify, “That’s only partially correct, Grandpa. George is the one going to Brown, I’m headed for West Point.”

Georgie shook his head, jokily adding, “Yessir, nossir, three bags full sir.”

Buck and Erika both laughed, knowing that today would be that last time for a while that they’d get to hear any more of Georgie’s antics.

Just then, the familiar creak of wheels and sleepy people ached along outside the street outside. Erika stood up, finishing off her orange. “I’ll see you later, Buck. Good luck, guys.”

As she walked out the kitchen, she caught the strangest sight. There was a blinking little red light on top of a phone of the same color.

“Buck... that weird phone is blinking again.” And immediately, all three men rushed past Erika towards the phone, nearly knocking Erika over in the process.

“Are you ever going to explain that thing to me?”

Buck picked up the phone, both of his grandsons eagerly anticipating the greeting from the other side. He turned to look at Erika, and replied, “I’ll explain it later. In fact, I’ll explain it to ‘ya the same day I explain that picture in your pocket.”

Erika nodded, and then picked up her umbrella as went out the door. Inside one of the parts of her wallet that people usually kept a picture in, was a picture of her parents and Buck. She was there too, but you couldn’t really see her. After all, her mother was still probably pretty early on when the picture was taken. Her mother was standing up and wearing a medical outfit, and her father was grinning like an idiot. He had sunglasses raised above his eyes, revealing a proud look in his eyes that she could’ve sworn that she’d seen before.

And behind all three of them was a slightly younger Buck, his face a little less wrinkled, his hair a little less grey, and he was in a nice suit and carrying a briefcase. He appeared to be almost as happy as her father, for some reason.

“Hey, move it fatty!”

Erika quickly came off that cloud when she noticed that not only had they already gotten to the school, but she had also foolishly sat next to Fiona. Said stepsister then pushed her out of her seat.


“Late for class, Kelly?”

“It couldn’t be helped, Mrs. Cosby. I got held up.” Which was true to an extent, but she didn’t really need to know why.

“Sit down, Kelly. If you’re late for class again before the end of next week, I’ll have to give you detention.”

Kelly gulped a little, but took it in stride. Detention didn’t faze her, even if she hadn’t ever been there before. But if word of her going there got out, then it could go pretty badly. She took her usual seat in the second row, reflecting on what kind of twisted school she was in.

There were two kinds of popular people at her school, and they were the same kind of people who took the class at this place. There were people who backstabbed their way to the top, and people who were naturally at the top through who their parents were. Kelly Kingsley belonged to the latter, her father being a big time movie executive and all. With his connections, anybody could get a good job in Hollywood.

That last little detail made her a person whom other girls tried to get into good graces with near constantly. That usually involved some combination of sexual innuendo, groping, and empty words. Truth be told, that was why she was late to the Student Government class today.

The girl had been pretty persistent, running her fingers through Kelly’s shoulder length blonde locks, whispering to her about things she’d like to do to her in a shower. When Kelly started to run, she grabbed onto one of her legs, mischievously trying to slide a hand up her thighs and into her skirt.

It was like her mother said, ‘All of the women at that school are closeted lesbians until proven otherwise.’ The whole school felt like it was ripped out of one of those manga that she read.

She snapped out of it. After all, the Gruesome Twosome were about to make a suggestion.

Fiona and Jade both stood up, their various lengths of brown hair issuing forth. They looked at each other before Jade spoke.

“As you all know, Homecoming is coming up in a few weeks. So we have to start typing up those ballots and start collecting nominations for Homecoming Queen.”

One of the juniors coughed loudly muttering something very quickly. Fiona looked at her, her short hair making her appear more frightful. “What was that?

The junior shrugged her shoulders. “What’s the point of getting nominations? We already know that it’s either going to be one of you two or Kelly.”

Kelly started to talk, if only to avoid being indirectly yelled at. “We don’t know that. Stranger things have happened.”

That seemed to have stilled Fiona’s infamous temper, if only for now. “We do need to get some nominations coming in. We can distribute the ballots during third period next Wednesday.”

That was more or less the agenda for the entire class; the remainder of the class time was spent socializing for the most part, except for that one outspoken junior, who was typing on the computer furiously.

“You alright, Meredith?”

The pink-haired junior laughed bitterly, looking at Kelly. “Those two take the piss outta me. I am so glad that you were elected president instead of them.”

It was Kelly’s turn to be bitter now. “I only got elected because of who my father is-”

“-you and half of the school-”

“-and as far as I’m concerned, I’m just a figurehead for the teachers. The only reason I haven’t resigned is that those two would do an even worse job than I do.”

Meredith kept pounding away at the keyboard, formatting the ballots for Wednesday. “Oh come off it. You do a better job not pissing off the student body than either of the Gruesome Twosome.”

Kelly chuckled a little, before wryly responding, “Probably.”


Erika’s eyes were dead set on the clock, just waiting to go to Theatre. She could’ve sworn that Father Time was out to get her, what with how slow the clock seemed to be moving.


She shifted her eyes back to the teacher. “Yes, Ms. Andress?”

“What is the definition of a piecewise function?”

“...I don’t know.” She groaned inwardly as her mother/teacher grinned wickedly.

Ms. Andress looked at the clock, before adding, “Check your syllabuses for this weekend’s assignment. Oh, and Erika?”

Erika stared at her mother, praying that she was wrong for once about what her mother would punish her with. “Yes?”

“You get to do the ‘Extra Practice’ section in addition to the regular assignment, as well as a written definition of what a piecewise function is, due on my desk at the start of class, Erika.”

And with that, the bell rang, and Erika quickly scurried out into the hall.

It wasn’t fair! Her stepmother always was harder on her than she was with any of her other students, often to the point of absurdity!

At least Theatre class was next, which was always a breath of fresh air- it was kind of like her home away from home. Plus, all her real friends were there, including the return of-

“Erika!” A woman about a head shorter than Kelly playfully tackled her, a low laugh escaping her midget body.

“Hey, Kat!” Her well-endowed and green haired midget buddy was just as hyper as ever, even after suffering generally incapacitating jet lag. “How was Hawaii?”

“Every bit I’d ever dreamed of! My brother was right- your eighteen birthday’s always the best!” The two started to walk into the expansive theatre, eventually taking seats amongst the others in the first row. “What show are we doing for Homecoming this year?”

“The Odd Couple. Today’s the last day of auditions.” Kat looked at Erika with a gleam in her aquamarine eyes and a grin on her face, and the raven haired seventeen year old knew what was coming. “No.”

But Kat wouldn’t quit now, not by a long shot. “Come on Erika, you’re a great actress! Hell, you’ve got more talent in one finger than most of us have in all our bodies!”

Erika blushed, her face becoming a color similar to her hair. “I’m not that good... besides, I’m too nervous. I’d get stage fright-”

“-Since when has the greatest actress I’ve ever known gotten stage fright? You were fantastic in Oklahoma!” She hugged her pal to accentuate that fact.

Erika’s eyes went to the stage, where another friend as quickly approaching, wielding a pencil and a clipboard. “You might want to let go Kat, your ‘husband’ is coming.”

Kat’s attention quickly shifted to the blonde girl, whom she greeted with a crushing hug. The girl responded by kissing Kat on the forehead, replying in her Southern twang, “Jeez, you’ve only been away for a week! I’d hate to have see what would happen if you’d been away any longer.”

Kat began to whisper something in her ‘husband’s’ ear, to which the expression on the girl’s face went from enthusiastic to miffed. Finally, she turned to Erika and tersely asked, “Why aren’t you auditioning? Your name’s nowhere on the list!”

“I just don’t think that I’m up for it, Mary.” She shrugged her shoulders.

Mary shook her head. “The audition’s just a cold reading, Erika, and we both know that you’re practically God at those.” Kat nodded her head in agreement.

Just then, someone that neither Kat nor Erika expected popped out of the backstage area, clutching her backpack and quickly making her way back to class.

Kat and Erika were flabbergasted, but Erika managed to find her voice first. “Was that-”

Mary licked her lips involuntarily. “Indeed. Kelly Kingsley, our class president.”

Kat couldn’t believe it. “Why on earth is she auditioning?”

Mary gestured for the two to keep it down. “That’s what I said. And she told me that she’d always been interested, but had always been too busy.” She looked over her clipboard again, before adding, “Plus, she’s probably trying to sabotage the Gruesome Twosome. They’re auditioning after school.”

All of the color went out of Erika’s face. “My sisters are auditioning?!?”

Mary nodded. “It is Homecoming season, and you know that the popular kids are going try to get exposure anyway they can. That means that almost all of the SGA’s auditioned.”

“Then I’m definitely not auditioning then.” Erika shook her head, a cold shiver running down her spine.

Kat and Mary both looked at her as if she’d taken crazy pills, before saying in perfect unison, “You’re auditioning, and that’s that!”

The stage manager looked at her clipboard again, then her watch. “I guess Julia’s showing up for her audition late then, the flake.” She took her trusty pencil and scribbled on the clipboard. She glanced at the watch again before remarking, “Erika, I know you’re afraid of your sisters, you’re letting them take away the one thing that I know you love. So just give it a shot, okay?”

If life was a movie, then Mary would’ve just won an Oscar for Most Persuasive Monologue. Erika sighed, before asking, “Where’s Mrs. Thatcher?”

Kat slapped her reluctant friend on the back. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Mary pointed her thumb to the dressing rooms backstage, and Erika walked off.

Once she was out of earshot, Kat hugged Mary more affectionately, whispering, “So, what are you up to tonight?”

Mary smirked before responding in monotone, “Well, I was planning on watching TV and reading, but now I think you want to have sex with me all night long.”

Her ‘wife’ squeezed her behind, forcing Mary to squeal. Kat was beaming, and responded with, “I guess you finally learned how to read minds, eh?”

“Just a lucky guess.”

Meanwhile, Erika was hovering just outside the girl’s dressing room, trying to stop her right hand from shaking. ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Don’t think about how your sisters are going to kill you when you get home.’ She managed to get her hand on the doorknob when the door opened on the other end.

“Mary, where’s Julia?” A middle aged English woman began walking out of the room, before running into a familiar red head. “Ah, Erika, so good to see you!” Her accent and mannerisms hadn’t been lost in translation; there was tea instead of coffee inside the thermos she was carrying.

“The same, Mrs. Thatcher. How’s Henry?”

“Oh, the man’s as cheerful as always. You couldn’t have come at a better time- Lord knows I need a pick-me-up right about now.”

Erika had an inkling she already knew what was stressing her out, but asked about it anyway. “Oh, those SGA people have been auditioning all day for me, and it’s been abysmal! With the exception of that charming Kingsley girl and Kat, it’s been nothing short of a ham-it-up fest today.” She looked at Erika square in the eye before continuing. “If I recall correctly, you weren’t planning to audition, am I correct?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did this have anything to do with your sisters?”

“Not originally, Mrs. Thatcher. Things are a little hectic right now, and then I found out that they were auditioning-”

The theater teacher held up her palm, and Erika quickly stopped, fearing that she had gone too far.

“Erika, I’ve heard all of the horror stories. But unless those two are nothing short of Katherine Hepburn reincarnated, you have my word that they will not be cast. Perhaps called back, but not cast.” Her face went from serious to cheerful as she handed the Nervous Nancy a piece of paper.

Erika could see that, as always, there was a monologue on the paper. She looked up at her teacher, who simply put her hands together and said, “Fire when ready.”

[End notes: And that's a good place to end the first chapter.

I put a little homage to my high school theater teacher, who would always start our auditions with 'Fire when ready.']

Chapter 2

Title: LUG

[Author's notes: A/N: I realize that I’m crazy for trying to essentially rewrite a ‘Disney story’. But crazy is one of the things I do best. So here I am, typing like a psychopath. A psychopath with an overactive imagination.

Since work on ‘Dual Fighters’ and ‘The Lost Years’ seems to be going slow, and I seem to be on a roll here, the second chapter’s here early.

Remember this: Constructive reviews often inspire me to write better, and provide more frequent updates! So...

(whips out giant megaphone)


Chapter 2: LUG


At first glance, everything seemed to be alright. One cold reading and she could at least claim that she tried. But as she read over the paper, she could tell something was up.

“...Mrs. Thatcher?”


“...I think you’ve mixed up the shows again. This isn’t a comedic piece.”

“No? It’s not Jane’s monologue about the monkeys from the Disney version of ‘Tarzan’?”

“No. Now that I think of it, this is from Superman.”

“Really?” Erika handed the sheet of paper back to her teacher, who promptly chuckled at her own folly. “Alright then. Let’s do this one instead.”


“Erika, every comedy has its tender moments. While there’s no real romance in ‘The Odd Couple’, there are less comedic moments. Besides, I am already aware of your comedic prowess- your performance in ‘Oklahoma!’ proved that. Now that I think of it, going with the original would’ve been redundant. Let’s just go with this one, and figure out what happened later.”

Was Mrs. Thatcher serious? Was she asking her to perform a dramatic monologue for a comedy audition? ‘That’s almost too impossible to be true.’

Just as she was about to ask her teacher to look for the other script, the door opened again, revealing a distressed blonde girl who appeared to be a little frazzled.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Thatcher, but I think I left my Calculus folder in here.”

The theatre master handed the girl a slightly tattered red binder, smiling as she took it. “Yes, Miss Kingsley. I was actually about to send this to the Lost and Found.”

Erika couldn’t believe it. She was in the same room as Kelly Kingsley. THE Kelly Kingsley, the girl who was considered by most to be nothing short of a ‘King’ in a school of girls. The one girl in all the school whom not even her stepsisters could dupe, bribe, badmouth, and/or seduce.

Kelly was about to leave as quickly as she’d come in, when she finally noticed the presence of a third person in the room. “Oh, I’m sorry; did I interrupt your audition? Please, I’m sorry.”

Erika couldn’t find any words to say- THE Kelly Kingsley was apologizing to her! Whatever guardian angels had been ignoring her for the past seventeen years appeared to finally be giving Erika something she might never forget!!! ‘Quick- say something! Anything!’

Fortunately for Erika and her twisted tongue, Mrs. Thatcher stepped in. “Oh, it’s not a problem, Miss Kingsley. She was actually about to start.”

Oddly enough, Kelly backed away from the door a little. “Can I watch?”

Erika’s eyes widened at the question, but shrank down back to normal at her teacher’s response. “I don’t think so, Miss Kingsley. You probably have class to go to.”

Kelly just shook her head. “All we’re doing in AP Government is watching some low budget movie about the three branches of US government.”

Mrs. Thatcher eyes closed shut tightly when she heard the word ‘Government’, which, in turn, caused the nervous actress’s eyes to widen once more. One thing that made her teacher’s blood boil was the History Department; her views of those ‘stuffy uncreative snobs’ were well known throughout the Theatre Department.

“Well, I don’t suppose it can hurt this one time.” Kelly leaned against the wall behind the English woman. Erika could’ve sworn that the President’s hazel eyes were staring into the very center of her soul. She peeked at the ancient watch on her left wrist. 1:45.

Mrs. Thatcher rubbed her hands together, sighed, and said once more, “Fire when ready.”

For what seemed an eternity, there was something caught in Erika’s throat. Her palms were cold and wet from sweat that hadn’t been there a moment ago, her eyes involuntarily moving from Kelly to the paper to the door and back to the paper. If stage fright truly existed, then it must’ve felt something like that. Father Time, once again, seemed to be working against her, as everything seemed to creep by so slowly.

Finally, Erika found the courage to speak. She finally remembered what part of ‘Superman’ this particular monologue was from. It was Lois Lane, giving Superman that really cheesy speech.

“Can you read my mind?” Erika ended up focusing her sight at a point on the wall between Kelly and her teacher. “Do you have any idea what it is you do to me? I don’t know who you are. Just a friend from another star.”

Erika started to laugh a little bit. The nervousness was being replaced now by overexcitement; she felt exactly like her character as she recited her next line. “Here I am, like a little kid out of school. Holding hands with a god. I’m a fool.”

Her eyes slowly went closer to meeting Kelly’s. “Will you look at me?” As their eyes met, Erika’s world stood still. The moment was, for Erika, as if someone had rejuvenated her with a modest jolt. She laughed under her breath, commenting, “Quivering. Like a little girl, quivering. You can see right through me. Can you read my mind? Can you picture the things I’m thinking of? Wondering why you are... all the wonderful things you are.”

Erika shook her head as she searched the paper for her next line. “You can fly. You belong in the sky. You and I...” She blinked twice as she read the rest of that sentence, refusing to believe her eyes. ‘...What the hell?’ Nonetheless, she had to say it. It could’ve said, ‘I’m wearing a pink polka dot thong and a dog collar,’ and she still would’ve had to say it.

“You and I... can belong to each other.” Erika could hear the words coming from somewhere, but couldn’t believe that they were coming out of her mouth. She couldn’t say that, not to THE Kelly Kingsley. “If you ever need a friend... I’m the one to fly to.”

‘No.’ She couldn’t say THAT, even if it was a cold reading, even if it was for a senior show, especially if Kelly Kingsley was in the room. Her hands were clammy now, and she was fighting the impulse to flee. Her heart was racing mad, like a fox from hounds. An image of her two sisters with horns, pitchforks, and voices that sounded eerily like Darth Vader’s echoed through her head, taunting her, telling her that she couldn’t do it, that she’d never be anything.

And then a voice, a tiny voice came out of a petite angel, reverberating through her skull. ‘You’re letting them take away the one thing you know you love.’ And in a split second, before the other voices could beat the solitary vote of support down, she made the decision. She said it.

“If you need to be loved... here I am.” The two damning voices in her head fell silent, their pitchforks falling out of their hands, while the tiny angel seemed to have a foam finger on her right hand, which said, ‘Erika’s #1’. It was time to finish it... then she could run far, far away from her fear.

“Read my mind.” She looked at the watch. 1:48... make that 1:49.


Kat’s line of sight was directly on the backstage area. “How bad do you think she’s going to be coming out of that audition?”

Mary shook her head as she looked at her watch. “A little shaken, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.”

Just then, a brunette who had put her hair into a French braid sat next to Mary. “Sorry I’m late. What’d I miss?”

Her comment was followed by a pale Erika, shuffling slowly out of the backstage region. Mary looked at the new girl before saying, “Julia, you’re late. It’s your turn to audition, we’ll explain later.” With that, Kat and Mary swiftly carried the weakened Erika out of the theatre.

After a good ten seconds, the three finally made it to the girl’s bathroom. The two lovers set her down gently, allowing Erika to grip the edges of a sink, neither of the friends trusting Erika’s legs to support her weight at the moment.

Both girls immediately started asking for the info, and Erika supplied every little detail. The alternate monologue, Kelly’s abrupt arrival, and the struggle within, she covered everything.

Kat ran a finger through her hair. The tale was taller than a lot of stories she’d heard in the past couple of years, but this one had the ring of truth to it. “What happened after the audition?”

After Kat splashed Erika’s face with some water, Erika finally finished her story. “Well, Mrs. Thatcher loved it. And Kelly... she said, ‘I wish I knew someone half as passionate as you.’” She shook her head, refusing to accept her memory as correct. “She actually gave me a compliment.”

Kat hugged her friend, shouting, “See? You did great, and you even got a compliment from Kelly Kingsley herself!”

“Who’s getting a compliment from the school slut?”

Almost as if on cue, one of Erika’s stepsisters came out of the large stall.

“Fiona!” All three girls turned to face the more intimidating stepsister. Fiona smiled sadistically as she realized just who was in the center of their little group.

“Hello, Erik.” Erika hated that nickname, HATED it, it made her sound like a guy... which was why both Jade and Fiona used it.

“Hi, Fiona.” She couldn’t fight back; she couldn’t try to give her stepsibling a verbal lashing, because Erika always lost. It was a god-given rule: Erika Andress always loses.

“So, rumor has it that you auditioned for the show.”

Mary stepped in front of Erika. “She’s part of the Theatre Department, Fiona. Back off.”

“This has nothing to do with you, Mary.” Fiona’s cold cobalt eyes turned to meet Erika’s green-blue. “Did you audition?”

Erika nodded. ‘Better to get nailed now with witnesses than later at home.’

Fiona’s gaze narrowed. “If you get called back, then I want you to do what you did for Jade back in the fifth grade, alright?”

Erika couldn’t believe this latest threat. “You want me to take a dive?”

And now it was Kat’s turn for virtuous rage. “You can’t make her do that!”

Fiona’s witty response was to slap Kat in the face. Mary hugged the green haired one in an attempt to comfort her, whispering soothing memories into her ear. Fiona stood resolute, demanding, “Take a dive, or else.”

Mary’s normally cool exterior was now red and livid, and that was a feat in and of itself; nothing ever got Mary pissed. “Leave. NOW.”

“No, I think you’ll leave. I have... unfinished business in here.”

Mary looked at the stall that Fiona had come out of, noticing two shoes in the stall that didn’t belong to an Andress. “Emily? That you?”

The face of a black-haired freshman with freckles peeked out of the stall, a blush on her face. Mary closed her eyes, not wanting to see her there.

Kat, meanwhile, saw the opportunity for payback and took it. “Emily, a warning before you lose your virginity to this bitch, alright? She’s a LUG.”

Like a man getting out of Dodge, the freshman quickly pulled her pants back up and ran out of the restroom, quickly telling Kat, “ThankyousomuchIcan’tbelieveherohmygodohmygod...”

The brunette stared evilly at the trio, cracking her knuckles. “Why the hell did you tell her I was a LUG?”

Kat nodded, eyeing what the Andress girl was doing. “If you’re going to do the ditty with a girl, at least let her know that you’re a Lesbian Until Graduation.”

Before Fiona could even the score, all three Theatre girls ran out of the bathroom, returning to the theatre before the stepsister could give chase.

Mary looked back at the theatre door. “What happened in the fifth grade?”

Erika took a step away from the entrance before replying, “Jade broke one of our neighbor’s windows with a baseball, and she blamed me.”

Kat’s jaw hung slack; she couldn’t understand why someone would do that. “But you knew you were innocent!”

“They threatened to burn my manga... that’s one of the few things I can do at home and not get in trouble for, is to just stay in my room and read.”

Kat refused to let this go, though. “You could’ve told your mom-”

Mary interrupted, saying, “And what good would that’ve done?” She put her hand on Kat’s shoulder, adding, “We both know that her stepmom doesn’t give a damn about her. So even if she knew the truth, Erika probably still would’ve been punished for it.”

Erika smiled bitterly, silently observing how wise and caring her friends were. If Kat was the embodiment of emotion, then Mary was logic personified.

As the friends walked back to their seats, they came across Julia once again. “So just what happened back there?”

The story was explained once again, but with Mary and Kat giving out the goods this time. Once they mentioned what Fiona was doing, however...

“SHE DID WHAT?!?” Mary, Kat, and Erika all gestured for Julia to lower her voice. Nonetheless, her whisper was still laced with displeasure. “She tried to do what to my sister?”

Mary gestured once more, this time telling Julia to stop. “She’s fine. We stopped it before Fiona could take ‘it’ from her.” Julia seemed relieved, but more importantly, she no longer seemed on the verge of exploding. The stage manager knew to tread lightly on the subject, because Julia was fiercely protective of those she cared for, including her younger sister, Emily.

Julia shook her head, saying, “I’m gonna have to have a talk with her ‘bout this when I get home.”

Deciding to change the subject, Erika asked if Kelly had left yet.

Julia then turned to Erika. “Yeah, I actually got to talk to Kelly a minute ago. She was coming through right after you guys left.”

Erika’s curiosity was raised. “What’d she say?”

“She said that she didn’t think that it was possible to see someone act with such fervor. And then she went back to class.”

Erika had no response, her face becoming a blank stare and a grin. THE Kelly Kingsley was telling the truth! She liked her acting!

Julia noticed this, and waved her hand in front of the girl. “I think I broke her.”

Kat disagreed, though. “Nah, she’s just on cloud nine right now. We’ll snap her out of it once class is over.”


The bus ride was uneventful, especially since neither of her stepsisters were riding the cheese wagon today. Despite that little fact, she still had to get off at Buck’s house. Jade and Fiona’s posse got off at the normal stop, and if she tried to get off at her sister’s stop, they’d hear about it, and once they heard- she shuddered at the thought.

As she stepped off the bus, she noticed that the rain had cleared up from earlier. Nonetheless, Erika kept a tight grip on the purple umbrella, almost as if her life depended on it. According to her father, this was the very parasol that her mother was using the day they met.

Buck was standing on the front porch of his house, eating a sandwich. “Oi! Erika!” He waved the girl down as she approached his home.

“Afternoon, Mr. Daniels.”

“Erika, you’re almost eighteen, and I’ve known ya’ for years. I think you’ve earned the right to call me Buck.”

Erika blushed a little. “Auditions were today.”

“For the fall show?” She nodded, which led Buck to laugh with gusto. “I guess you did pretty good then, ‘eh?”

“Yea, but a couple of weird things happened to me today.”

Buck’s laughter died down quickly. “Like what?” He led her inside, and they both sat down at the kitchen table.

“I got the wrong audition piece.”

Buck’s eyes narrowed slightly. “You mean, you got a different comedic monologue?”

Erika shook her head. “No, that’s the thing. I didn’t get a funny cold reading at all. The cold reading came straight out of ‘Superman’!”

Buck blinked, and swallowed spit. “Superman? There’s not many female monologues in that movie, except for-” The remainder of that sentence never came out of Buck’s mouth, as he finally realized just what she had to perform.

“-except for the one with Lois’s confession.”

Buck’s eyebrows arched, but wasn’t too shell-shocked by the turn of events. After all, Mrs. Thatcher always had an unusual way of doing things. “Well, okay, that’s the gist of it. I’m sure you did alright-”

“-That’s not the end of it.”

Buck’s breathing appeared to have quickened a little by that last comment. “I don’t understand.”

“Kelly Kingsley was there.”

Buck Daniels raised his hands in the air, stunned that the last comment could even begin to be true. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on a second! Are you telling me that the Kingsley girl was there?”

A nod. “And she was allowed to watch?”

Another nod. “And she saw you essentially perform the equivalent of a confession of love?”

A third nod. Buck appeared ready to comment, but then a buzzing sound came from a nearby room. Erika recognized that noise from earlier that day.

“Isn’t that the red phone?”

Buck nodded, his eyes hesitantly edging towards the phone. “Yeah, but it shouldn’t be going off.”

Erika began getting confused, commenting, “How often does that phone ring?”

“Usually? Once a month. I don’t understand, that’s the second time today.” He got up from his seat, and walked towards the phone, with Erika following him.

As they entered the room, Erika noticed a custom wooden sign hanging on the wall with red painted lettering, ‘Buck Daniels, Attorney at Law.’ Next to the little table where the phone was ringing was a desk littered with two or three neat little piles of papers, an old fashioned pen, an ink stamp, and a calendar.

Buck picked up the phone. “Hello?”

Erika took a step closer to Buck, but he shook his head. The lawyer covered the mouthpiece, and said, “Sorry, Erika. This call’s extremely important, more so than usual, I have to take it. I’ll call yo’ cell phone later, ‘kay?”

As Erika left the house, she passed by the window for the room she’d just left. She took a quick peep at the glass pane, and saw a nervous Buck, smiling a little bit.

And with that, Erika started to walk home. It would take her about fifteen minutes to get to her house. It would’ve taken two if she’d been able to get off at Jade’s stop.


As she finally made it to the steps of her house, she noticed a little sticky note on the door.


Have a slew of Parent-Teacher Conferences today for my other Calculus class. Won’t be back until late.

Don’t make a mess when you make yourself dinner, and clean the litter box. Lucy also needs to be fed, as well.


PS: Do your homework.’

Erika folded the piece of paper twice and placed it in her pocket. Her stepmother never made any attempt to recognize her as a daughter. In fact, out of all the creatures in the house, Lucy the cat was probably the kindest to her.

As she walked out of the entrance hall and into the kitchen, only one thought entered her mind. ‘I think I’ll have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner.’

[End notes: A/N: I originally meant to put a comedic monologue there. But right before I found the ‘Tarzan’ one, I found the ‘Superman’ one, and it fit so perfectly that I made it a plot point. I’ve never actually seen that movie- something for me to do before Christmas, eh?]

Chapter 3

Title: Call Back

Chapter 3: Call Back


“Kelly? You there?”

Meredith could easily see that something was on her friend’s mind. In fact, she didn’t need to look at her buddy’s face; the car had been in front of Kelly’s house for a solid three minutes, and she hadn’t gotten out yet.

Kelly came to when Meredith started poking her in the head. “Earth to Kelly, come in Kelly, this is Houston, over.”

“I’m here.”

Meredith ran one of her hands through her short ‘light red’ hair, smiling. “You’ve got something on your mind, and it’s not college applications.”

The ‘King’ sighed; her best friend knew her all too well. “How’s your boyfriend?”

“We already talked about that, Kel,” she reminded her, “he’s fine. You’re just trying to change the subject.” There was no response, so she continued, “Who tried to get into your skirt today?”

“Brunette, was the pep rally cheerleader captain. Had the nose job last year.”

Meredith started laughing uncontrollably. “No way? Emma Domino put the moves on you?”

Kelly smiled meekly, before confirming it. Meredith wasn’t done, however. “Seriously though, what’s going on?”

“That didn’t fool you for very long, did it?”

“That kind of thing happens to you every other day. Now what’s really got your panties in a knot?”

“It’s that theater show.”

“Yea, so?” Meredith was more of a sports girl than an artist.

“I just don’t want to have to deal with the Andresses. I mean, we both know that they’ve got it out for me.”

Meredith nodded, her mind stewing, in the process of creating one of her infamous plans. “It’ll only get worse once Homecoming starts getting closer." Kelly winced as she imagined the prospect of having to fend off hordes of Emmas two, three, four times a day.

“What the hell am I supposed to do?” she asked as she finally opened the passenger side door. “I mean, I know that the whole school can’t possibly be raving lesbians like my mom said, but this whole thing is just getting ridiculous.”

Meredith shrugged her shoulders, a thinking woman’s smile on her face. “I don’t know, I’m working on it. I’ll have something ready by Monday.” With that said Kelly finally climbed out and shut the door behind her, allowing Meredith to drive home.


Erika lucked out the entire weekend; her step-sisters were visiting their equally ‘popular’ cousins in San Francisco, and they wouldn’t be back for a few more hours. Her mother gave her a truckload of chores, but that was normal. The woman always seemed intent on pushing her harder and longer than either of her own flesh and blood. Erika had only asked her stepmother once about this tendency, but didn’t get a straight answer.

Either way, she was in front of Buck’s house once again, but instead of finding a smiling lawyer, she saw two pieces of paper taped to the door, as well as a peeled orange in a bag. This was the first time that Buck hadn’t greeted her in some time, so Erika was naturally confused. The first notes was on a torn piece of notebook paper, but had Buck’s clear and pristine handwriting on it.


Just took a BIG case, real big. Have to do research. We’ll talk after school.

-“Uncle” Buck

PS: Eat your orange. It’s good for you.’

She giggled when she read the word ‘Uncle’. Buck liked to think of himself as the kind parental figure that she never had, and Erika liked to do so as well. She peeked through the window to wave at him, seeing that Buck was in a crisp suit, writing something down with his trusty pen and clipboard, the special scarlet phone resting between his ear and his left shoulder. He waved almost mechanically at her as he continued talking shop over the phone.

Not that Erika would’ve been able to spend much time today talking to him anyway. The bus had shown up at the house earlier than usual. She got on this bus without a fuss and took a seat, making sure that it was unoccupied. Without anyone to read over her shoulder, she read the second piece of paper, which ended up being a newspaper clipping from the front page of a big newspaper (she couldn’t read the paper title).

It was an article about a recently murdered philanthropist, Jack Stone, and after a page and a half focusing on the family; she noticed that the next paragraph or two had been highlighted. The highlighted text noted that two suspects had been taken in custody. The first suspect plead guilty and said that she and the other suspect conspired to do the deed, while the second suspect claimed innocence and thought his companion was joking. The second person’s name was also circled, with the snippet ‘Ask Jack’ in red ballpoint pen written in the margin.

Erika stuffed the article into her pocket as the bus came to a rest in front of the school. She knew Uncle Buck was a big-time lawyer, but she also knew that he didn’t take cases very often, especially ones like this. The media was going to be all over this one, especially since the victim’s daughter, Charlene, went to her school. Buck NEVER took the reins at media circuses like this, never. It wasn’t his style.

She didn’t remember stepping into the school, but the next thing she knew, her two best friends were by her side.

Mary had a hint of a smile on her face as she asked, “How was your weekend?”

“Chores, bores, but no whores- the usual.”

Kat chuckled; it was about time she started to make jokes! “I guess my brilliant wit’s finally rubbed off on you, eh, Erika?”

Mary modestly replied, “Something rubbed off on her alright.” Before her ‘wife’ could shoot back, Mary changed the subject. “Call back list is up, Erika. So is the designer list, but by and large, no shockers there.”

“I’m lighting and sound designer, as well as the board operator,” Kat continued, “So I’ll be taking my orders from her.” She grinned, before adding, “Just like in bed.”

“KAAAAAAAaaaaaat...” Mary’s face could’ve been mistaken for a very ripe apple.

“Oh, come on. It’s not like Erika didn’t already know that we love each other to bits and pieces! She broke that code before either of us did!” It was Erika’s turn to blush now; as open as her friends were, she still was a little reluctant to discuss these sorts of things seriously.

All discussion was now dropped as they were only yards away from the wall where the long awaited listing of actresses was posted. But right in front of the paper was-

“Congrats, Kelly!” There was a pink haired girl who was gushing over Kelly Kingsley’s being on the call back list.

“I still can’t believe that I got on the list, Meredith. I mean, I can’t believe it.” Meredith looked at her as if she was crazy for a moment before remembering that the woman in charge of the Theatre Department was more impressed by skill than by name.

“Okay, I’ll bite. Why are you so surprised? I know you’re pretty good at acting and all.”

Kelly shook her head, her golden hair dancing in the air. “It’s just- okay, this is gonna sound stupid, but I actually got to see this one girl audition.”

Erika and company all tensed up as Meredith’s eyebrows went up. “They can do that?”

“Not usually. But that’s beside the point,” she said. “The girl that I saw audition, my God, she was incredible. I got shivers from watching her, Meredith. Shivers! The only time I’ve ever felt like that was when I was watching Jackie Daniels in “Black Holes”.”

Meredith gasped. Her best friend, who had seen countless numbers of actors with her father, had just compared this girl that she barely knew to the greatest movie actor of their time.

Erika couldn’t believe it, either. She never ever got to watch any movies- her stepmother had insisted- Jackie Daniels, one of the most decorated Hollywood men in history by winning five Oscars, Jackie Daniels, winner of a Grammy, Jackie Daniels, victim of a tragic drunken driving accident six years ago... she was being held in THAT much regard?!? By THE Kelly Kingsley?!?!?!? She nearly swooned on the spot!

“Ah yes, Jackie Daniels. I seem to recall that if you’d go straight for him if he was still alive.” Kelly laughed nervously; she’d never play ‘Truth or Dare’ ever again.

“You know what’s even scarier, Meredith? She kinda looked like him! I’m dead serious!”

The pink-haired junior scoffed at that claim. “Oh, really? What did our young Daniels double look like?”

Kelly paused, as if she was remembering a fond memory from a day long past. “Her face was softer than his. And the nose was a lot cuter. She had this red hair that would’ve made my mother jealous, and my God. The eyes, Meredith, the eyes were the big one. One look into those deep wells and they make you feel like you’re at home.” She had a far off gleam in her eye that her friend had never seen before. “I just wish I could’ve gotten her name.”

Meredith smirked; she finally had something to say. “Well then, judging by your vivid description, I’d say you should look right behind you.”

“What are ta-” Kelly’s words died as she realized that the red-haired actress she’d been glowing about had been right behind her. She looked back at her BFF, her face giving off the message, ‘And you couldn’t have told me sooner?’

Meredith had a wide grin on her face, before commenting, “I’ve gotta get going. See you at lunch, Kelly.” Before anyone could stop her, she was on her way.

This left Kelly Kingsley with Erika Andress and company. Actually, Kat and Mary seemed to have mysteriously disappeared in the time it took for Erika to realize that she’d been spotted, which took a good ten seconds. Not a word was spoken between the two until Erika finally walked towards the list.

“So... uh... nice day.” Kelly couldn’t believe it. All her scintillating wit and the best ice breaker she could come up with was ‘Nice day’?

Erika giggled a little bit- she hadn’t imagined that THE Kelly Kingsley could be so, so... human. Nonetheless, she still clammed up, meekly replying, “I guess.”

“Listen, I never got to tell you what a great job you did at that audition-”

Despite having heard what Kelly had thought of Erika’s try out twice now, she was still on cloud flippin’ nine from receiving a compliment from her.

“-so, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you were really, really good.” She paused, before asking, “Are you alright?”

That came out of nowhere. “What? Why?”

“You look really flushed.” She put a hand on Erika’s forehead, which made her blush even harder. “You don’t seem to have a fever.”

That entire spectacle felt like something ripped out of her anime; but she never thought someone might do this to her. “Anyway, you probably came here to look at the list.” She stepped aside to allow Erika a better spot to look, finally taking a closer look at whom else made the list.

“Ooooh, bummer.”

Erika paused, and asked, “Why?”

“Both of the Terrible Twosome made the cut.” Erika’s self-esteem suddenly shrunk to the size of a slightly salted slug. She’d be going up against BOTH of them? “Well that can’t be right," she continued, "There must be a typo on here- there’s a third entry for ‘Andress’. But this one’s called ‘Erika’, there aren’t three Andresses-”

“It’s not a typo.”

Kelly looked at the redhead that she’d just been gushing over. “What?”

“My name is Erika Andress.” She looked at her idol before awkwardly shrugging her shoulders and apologizing with a “Sorry”.

Kelly shook her head. “It’s nothing to apologize for. It’s just that I didn’t know that those two had another sister.”

“I’m actually a step-sister.” Erika gasped at herself, how dare she be so open with THE Kelly Kingsley!

But despite her honesty, Kelly did not punish her. “Well that explains it! I thought there was something different about you!” She smiled, and in that instant, Erika felt a warm gooey feeling in her heart that she’d never felt before, and her knees felt weak.

But the pleasant sensation was only for a fleeting moment. “Well, listen, I gotta get going, but it was really nice talking to you. I’ll see you at callbacks after school!”

As Kelly walked down the hallway, Erika blinked hard as she gently touched her forehead with her hand. ‘I’m never washing that spot ever again.’


The day seemed to speed by up to Theatre class, when Erika finally got to corner her two scheming friends.

“What were you two thinking?”

They feigned innocence, with Kat asking, “We’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.” The effect was lost immediately, as Mary was giggled like a kid with a secret.

“Seriously, what were you thinking?”

Mary looked her friend dead in the eyes, and said, “We thought that we would return the favor.”

Kat nodded and added, “You helped us find love, and we thought it was only fitting.”

Erika couldn’t deem this at all possible. “Wait, I just told you two what you wanted to hear, I didn’t do anything but!”

The two lovers stared at Erika, their eyes half-shut. “What about the Wood Shaving Incident?”

“That was a total accident!”

That was actually true. A few months after Erika had become good friends with both Kat and Mary, both of them had separately confided in her about their respective crush: each other. A week later, while constructing the set for “Death of a Salesman”, Erika tripped over a discarded two by four, causing the bag of wood shavings she was carrying to fly onto the stage floor. This, in turn, caused both Mary and Kat to slip and fall- on each other. After realizing the position they were in, it took them three seconds to just go for it. They kissed, and there was much rejoicing amongst their fellow theatre jocks.

“Congrats on making it to callbacks, Erika.” Mary had a little smile on her face, while Kat’s was more enthusiastic.

“Yea, you ready to kick some butt after school?”

Erika shuddered for a moment. “I don’t think I can do it.”

Mary’s brows furrowed, while Kat appeared flustered. “What? Gimme one good reason, and don’t you dare say that you’re afraid of Kelly Kingsley.”

“I’m afraid of my sisters.” That tidbit nearly got Kat started again, but Mary whispered some vital information into her ‘wife’s’ ear, and Kat went for a more calm approach.

“Your sisters made it into callbacks too?” Erika nodded. “Well, there’s not much else your sisters can do to punish you.”

“You obviously don’t know them very well.”

But Mary had her cornered with, “They’ve tried to do just about everything to us. So unless they’re going to try and get in your panties, there’s nothing they can really do.”

And that was the end of that. But Erika couldn’t help but remember the look that Jade gave her last Friday...


Indeed the entire day seemed to flash before her eyes faster than Kat could eat a large pizza. Before she knew it, the day was done. Callbacks were to take place in the theatre, so Erika and her friends stayed put. One by one, the various people who had been called back shuffled into the theatre at various points of time.

True to Erika’s luck, Fiona and Jade showed up to do their part, making a beeline for their stepsister.

The tension between both groups would’ve choked lesser women, but no one budged an inch. Jade merely was content to take a seat in the third row after giving Erika the evil eye, but Fiona stayed a bit longer. “Remember what I told ‘ya, Erik.”

Kat nearly rose from her seat to slug her, but Mary intervened. “Fiona, as stage manager, I must warn you: I don’t take kindly to people in the production threatening each other.”

Mary and Fiona stared at each other in silence, while Julia finally showed up. “Hey guys. What’s-” She stopped cold in her tracks as she realized who was right in front of her. The lesser stepsister stared at Julia, and smirked.



The staring contest was between those two now, until Erika finally stood up and said, “Please Fiona, enough’s enough.” But her severe gaze was back on Erika, and if looks were weapons, Erika would’ve been hit with a metal shovel.

“That’s enough, Fiona.” All eyes turned to see Kelly Kingsley and Meredith Alberdeen walking down the stairs to take their seats. “I said that’s enough.” The blunt stepsister might not haven taken orders very well, but even Fiona knew when she was outmatched. She stormed off, firing off one last warning glare before seating herself next to Jade. Julia (who had been given responsibilities over the costumes) finally sat herself next to Kat, while Kelly and Meredith ended up sitting in the second row.

All eyes were now on Mrs. Thatcher, who was proceeding down the stairs and focused on a stack of papers in her hands. She finally came to a halt in front of the gaggle of girls in the audience, and began to speak.

“Good afternoon, ladies, and welcome to callbacks for ‘The Odd Couple’. Now, a few things to get out of the way before we begin. First off, just because you were called back doesn’t mean that you’ll be cast. Likewise, the parts that you’re reading for today are just ideas that I’ve got- it doesn’t mean that you will play that person in the show should you get in. And on a final note, anyone who acts like Keanu Reeves will be shot. One of him is enough, thank you very kindly.” She then sat down in a different section of the theatre, and the call back began.


Two hours later, it was over. Call backs were usually a hit or miss affair, and this was a bit more of the latter than the former. But anyone who stayed for the last block of acting (the director, the theatre jocks, and Meredith) would’ve told you that staying was worth it. Once all was said and done, the remaining audience could see that the duet of Kelly and Erika was nothing short of show stopping in the best possible way.

Erika couldn't believe that she’d kept her cool for so long while sharing the stage with her, nor could she believe that she was in the same car as TH- no, just Kelly Kingsley. Just Kelly Kingsley, and the owner of the car, Meredith something-or-other.

“I’m tellin’ ya Mary, that new Kyle Youtz movie isn’t gonna be that good.”

“And I’m telling you, Kelly, that it looks ballstastic. What about you, Erika?”

The redhead was shocked that someone she barely knew was asking for her opinion. Despite this, she couldn’t really give an answer. “I don’t watch movies.”

Meredith didn’t turn around- she was still driving- but she almost felt like staring. “You don’t watch movies?”

“No. Mom’s never ever let me watch any movies.”

Kelly laughed a little bit. “Never figured Miss Andress for the strict type. Anyway, that’s gotta change.” They finally stopped in front of Buck’s house, and Erika thanked them for the ride.

They drove off as Erika approached the door. It was unlocked as usual, and Buck was sitting at the kitchen table, peeling a banana. “Aftanoon, Erika.”

“Afternoon, Buck.” She noticed several newspapers on the table, along with several legal pads. “Are you going to war or something?”

“Mm? Na, I’m just prepping myself for my big case. Jury selection’s comin’ up, and then the real fun begins. How wus ‘ya day?”

Erika shifted in her seat a little as she said, “It was fine. Callbacks were okay, and Kelly was kind enough to drive me home.”

“Whoa, whoa.” Buck was on good terms with the few friends Erika had- the mention of a new name threw him of his A-game. “Who’s Kelly?”

He began taking a drink of milk as Erika explained. “Her name is Kelly Kingsley. She drove me home.”

Buck swallowed involuntarily and strained his throat in the process, his eyes watering slightly from the pain and shock. “K-Kingsley?”

Erika nodded, and noticed his eyes. “Is something wrong?”

“I defended her father in a case years before you were born. I had no idea that he still lived in the area.”

A ringing breached their ears as the kitchen phone began to ring again. “It’s probably for my case. I’ll get it. Hello?”

Erika could tell after ten seconds that Buck wasn’t going to be happy. “What’d you mean; they might have finally figured it out? ...Uh huh... Are they right? You know that neither of us can answer that! ...They’re on their way to talk to her NOW? The gag order doesn’t expire for a few more weeks!”

Despite Buck’s screaming, Erika could distinctly notice that the red phone was also going off. With Buck yelling nonstop at the phone, Erika decided to try to take a message from the ‘special’ phone.

Trying not to give Buck anymore problems to deal with than he had already, she walked silently into the room with the phone, tore off a piece of notebook paper, and picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Afternoon Buck, it’s Cheryl. How are you?”

“Um, Buck’s not available at the moment, can I take a message?”

The voice paused for a moment before asking, “Who is this?”

“This is Erika Andress. Uncle Buck’s in the next room.”

Another pause, before there was finally a response. “Could I talk to him for a moment?”

But before Erika could get up, Buck had entered the room. “Why did you answer the phone?”

“It was-”

“WHY did you answer the phone?” But Buck didn’t look angry anymore, he almost look scared.

“It was ringing!” She held out the phone and said, “It’s for you. Some girl named Cheryl.”

Buck strode across the room and took the phone. “Cherry? ...Uh huh, well it’s good ta hear you too. Yea, that was. Mmhmm, she is. ...You are? Really? You both are gonna- The timing is a bit tight you know, what with the gag order about to terminate, and with the press- I’m just worried that it might blindside- ...Alright, we’ll talk about this later. I’m wasting daylight. Good night.”

He hung up the phone, and stopped Erika’s train of thought before it could even start. “No, I’m not going to explain who that was. Just trust me.”

“Can you at least tell me when you’ll tell me? A date, a year, something?”

Buck looked at his watch before finally conceding. “On your eighteenth birthday, I’ll finally explain everything. And I mean everything.” He looked at his watch once more, before saying, “I’ve got a lot of work to do, Erika. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

As Erika began walking back towards her house, she couldn’t help but focus on Uncle Buck’s situation. ‘Is the case stressing him out that much?’

Chapter 4

Title: Meredith's Master Plan

[Author's notes: Wow. Feedback out the wazoo! I should have more free time to write stuff for now, so expect an update for everthing soon.]

Chapter 4: Meredith’s Master Plan

Just like every weekday before school, Erika walked down the hall with the usual suspects: Mary and Kat. Buck had been busy with his case again, so she didn’t really get to talk to him (but she did get her daily orange).

Mary was unyielding in her sage advice. “Just take deep breaths, Erika. Deep breaths. And land’s sakes, stop shaking like a wet cat.” Erika stopped for a moment and promptly ran to perform the Technicolor yawn in a nearby trash can.

Kat patted her panicky friend with a nice pat on the back. “Relax! It’s not like Fiona and Jade will be cast!” That statement caused Erika to hurl once more.

“Kat,” Mary whispered, “she’s not nervous about the cast list. She’s panicking about how her sisters will react.” She looked at the redhead and gave her arm a soft squeeze. “We’re going to be late, so stop staring at your breakfast and let’s see just how badly your stepsisters did.”

As they turned the corner, though...

“I can’t believe it, Meredith.” Kelly was in shock, while Meredith merely was amused.

“I know. How on earth did you pull this off?” As Erika and her entourage approached, Meredith tapped Kelly on the shoulder and pointed in their direction. Erika blushed as the ‘King’ looked at her and smiled. The next thing she knew, she was being held an inch off the ground by a colossal hug from Kelly Kingsley.

“I can’t believe it,” Kelly said. “We both got in!” Erika blushed slightly while she asked what Kelly meant. “The show, silly! We both got in the show!”

She finally put the Andress stepchild down and let her look at the cast list. From what Erika could see, neither of her sisters made the cast in any respect- even some people who hadn’t been called back had gotten in. As for the leading roles of Oscar and Felix- No. That couldn’t be, not in a million, gazillion years.

It read that the role of Felix, the persnickety neat freak, would go to herself. And the person who’d be playing Oscar the slob would be Kelly.

Kelly and Erika were the two leading ladies.

Erika’s new partner grinned. “I guess this means that we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other, eh?” Erika nodded without realizing that she had. “Well, me and Meredith have gotta get going. See ya’ after school!”

As the two left, Kat grinned at Erika. “Oooooh, someone’s finally getting some!”

Mary shook her head, trying to hide a smile. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kelly Kingsley hug anyone in the hall before.”

“Knock it off,” Erika moaned. “It’s not like I’d ever have a chance.”

Mary seemed to disagree, though. “What’s that old saying? ‘Never say never’, right?”

Kat could agree to that. “You gotta admit it Erika. You managed to get on Kingsley’s good side a lot faster than most people.”

Erika pinched herself; she thought she was dreaming. After a brief instant of pain, she found herself looking at a poster for Homecoming. Oddly enough, this year’s event happened to be on her birthday. After double-checking the poster, she could confirm that it was. It was on a Friday, and the whole school had the day off!

There was a loud clamor in front of Erika’s face as Kat snapped her fingers in front of it. “There you are! We’re going to be late!”

But not even being late to class was going to ruin the natural high she was on at the moment.


Lunch at the school was usually the typical affair for Kelly- but not today. Oh, hell no- with the cast list for ‘The Odd Couple’ in the open, everyone who was anyone knew that Kelly Kingsley was in one of the two lead roles. Combined with her popularity, that meant that she was now front-runner for Homecoming Queen. And that meant-

“Kelly, you can come out of the tree now.” Meredith’s friend popped her head out of the tall plant and shook her head.

“No fricken’ way. I’m staying where it’s safe.” She took a homemade sandwich out of her brown paper bag and began devouring it. After a few bites, she stopped. “I thought you said you had a plan for dealing with all of these swooning Susans.”

“I did say that.”

“I thought you said that you’d tell me on Monday.”

“Said that too.”

“That was yesterday, Meredith.”

“Oh.” She shifted slightly on her bench, trying to remember what she was going to say. “Oh, that.”

Kelly sighed. For all of her friend’s genius, Meredith tended to be a little forgetful. “Yea, that. Are you gonna tell me or not?”

Meredith opened her mouth, but quickly stuffed her mouth full of Cheetos and gestured for Kelly to go back into hiding. The moment she was out of sight, Fiona and Jade walked by, pissed off for good reason. They saw Meredith, and the pink-haired one knew that anything could set them off.

Unfortunately for all parties involved, the Gruesome Twosome approached. “What are you looking at, punk-head?” Meredith HATED it when people called her that. Just because she dyed her hair...

But she had the perfect comeback. “What, did the puppy you run over this morning survive? Screw you.” The sisters gave her the finger and stormed off, still trying to find someone to pick on.

Kelly popped back out, eyebrows raised. “Nice one. Now what’s the plan?”

The junior finished her lunch before finally unveiling her grand master plan. “Alright, I got this one out of those stupid shoujo-ai fics that you read.”

“Don’t even start- you’re the one that writes them.” Meredith bit her lip in an attempt not to fire back- writing those things was going to get her that book deal someday.

“Anyway, what I figure is that you get close to a girl. You don’t have to date her or anything, but you have to give off the impression that you are.”

Kelly swallowed a bite of her Jello before commenting, “Sounds a little Machiavellian to me.”

“In a way. You just have to be friends with the person. But it’s gotta be someone who doesn’t run in our usual circles, and it can’t be me. Everyone will catch on if I do it.”

“Alright,” Kelly grimaced, “but who? I mean, who’s not going to take my being close to them like a lunatic?”

Both sets of eyes went to a little further down the outdoor lunch area, where both Fiona and Jade appeared to be teasing a redhead and her three friends. Meredith squinted, asking, “Isn’t that the Andress stepsister?”

She turned to look at the tree where Kelly was hiding, but her friend was gone, striding towards the scene. Meredith mumbled something about ‘bleeding heart’ before pursuing.

“What the cock, Erik? I thought you knew what to do!” Fiona was livid with unbridled rage, while Jade merely squinted, trying to be the calm one.

“I’m, I’m sorry, b-but th-theatre’s all I g-g-got.” Erika appeared to be stumbling for something to say, her face pale and her eyes wide with fear.

Mary gnashed her teeth as Kat stared at Jade, asking, “Is this really necessary? Seriously?” Jade smiled like a crazed loon before nodding.

Julia’s fist was shaking slightly- she might not have been as passionate about things as Kat, but her near unlimited patience was nearing its end. “Leave her alone, I don’t-”

“-Have any authority here, bitch!” Jade mockingly shook her head in triumph. “This ain’t your dinky little theatre; it’s the school at large. And we rule the school.”

“Not on my watch, Jade.” The Terrible Twosome turned around and saw that their match was standing right behind them. “Don’t you two have better things to do besides threatening your stepsister?” Fiona walked off immediately, while Jade stuck around.

“And what are you going to do about it, Kingsley? Sick your fan club on us? Twist our noses?”

Erika stood up at last, finally rising to Jade’s eye level. “Please leave me alone.” The way Erika said it gave her a brief rush of adrenaline- she felt empowered. Jade stared her down for a moment before walking after her sister. As she walked away, Erika’s mouth fell open. “What just happened?”

Julia’s eyebrows were raised. “I think that you just grew a backbone.”

Mary and Kat both nodded, while Erika thanked Kelly for coming to the rescue. “It’s not a problem,” she replied. “You shouldn’t have to deal with that at school.” Erika’s eyes fell to the ground, and nodded after a few seconds.

“I know.”

Kelly smiled a little, and asked for Erika to hold out her hand and to close her eyes. When she opened them again, she saw that there was a snickerdoodle in her hand.

“I made it myself,” Kelly said. “I was gonna have it for lunch, but I think you need it more than I do.” Erika gave her a thank you as Kelly and Meredith went back to their little area.

Meredith was tapping her chin, her tongue being lightly chewed. Kelly gave her a skeptical look at this. “Okay, what crazy idea do you have this time?”

Meredith smiled, before saying, “I think this plan could work. And I think we’ve found our girl.”

Kelly let that run through her mind, before she started shaking her head. “Why her? I mean, why?”

“Well, let’s see here,” Meredith began counting with her fingers. “First, you barely know her. Two, no one knows who she is. Three, you’re already gonna spend a crapload of time together with that show. And ‘D’, you totally think she’s cute.”

Kelly blinked hard at that last one. “And how on earth did you come up with that?”

“Oh, please. You gave her your cookie.”


Meredith sighed, before explaining. “You NEVER give away your cookie. You slapped my hand away and growled at me the last time I tried sneaking a bite.”

“...That doesn’t mean anything,” Kelly said.

Meredith smiled, believing that Kelly was in denial. “Whatever.”


As Erika walked through the halls towards Theatre class, things were relatively normal. Well, almost normal- she was stopped in the hall by the captain of the cheerleading squad. The plastic looked at her for a moment before asking, “How did you do it?”

Naturally, Erika had no idea what Emma was talking about, and said so. Emma stared at her as if she was mad before asking, “I don’t get it. She could have any girl in the school, so why would she choose a nobody like you over a somebody like me?”

Erika, still in the dark about what was going on, just shrugged her shoulders while Emma walked off disgusted, muttering something about how the world had gone mad. ‘It certainly has,’ Erika thought, ‘if popular people like her keep talking to me.’

Theatre class that day was fairly uneventful. Julia’s group finished up their performance, and the designers began talking shop with the teacher. That left Erika with not much to do, and she couldn’t write because her last pencil was out of lead. So she slept.

Normally, she’d just close her eyes and wake up when class was over, but she was having one of her recurring dreams. Which was a little strange- she usually only had those when she was actually going to bed.

She was on the stage, alone. But that was all she recognized. Instead of her regular clothes, she was adorned in plate mail that sang ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’, and instead of a theatre surrounding her, she was at the bottom of a grassy hill. At the top, she could make out the outline of what appeared to be a three-headed monster. The fiend on the hill was usually a chimera, with each head belonging to a member of her step family.

“Well, this is as far as we can go.” Erika looked to her left and right and saw Kat, Mary, and Julia there, fully decked out with chainmail.

She’d had this dream before, but it always tended to go the exact same way. “Why?”

All three of her friends raised their weapons, which ended up being really large shields that were currently on fire. “What makes you think we can kill the Andress dragon with these?” Okay, different monster this time, but the dream would still end the same.

Erika sighed, before Julia added, “We can protect you from their sarcastic fire breath, but we can’t stop ‘em.”

There was a low but loud beating of small wings, and Buck showed up, a wand in his hand. “What the hell, Erika? Why is it that every time you have this dream, I’m dressed in a mother fucking tutu? I look like a reject from a magical girl manga!”

Erika shrugged her shoulders- yes, this was her dream, but she always thought of Buck as the man who kept her from getting in too much trouble, always there for her with a kind word and an orange. Likewise, her friends were the only thing keeping her from constantly being roasted by her sisters. By her right knee, she could see the family cat Lucy holding a harp, saying in a Scottish accent, “Don’t look at me, dearie. Music doesn’t kill dragons.”

“Uncle Buck? Can’t you just kill the dragon?”

Buck shook his head. “This wand is just decoration! Besides, the Allison head would kill me faster than you can say, ‘dead by dawn’.”

It was usually at this point that the dream became a nightmare as Erika would try to slay the beast unarmed and be flamed to a crisp and eaten like fried chicken.

Today proved to be far different.

Out of the blue came a striking question. “Need a hand?”

Erika looked in the direction of where the voice came, and there was Kelly, wearing extremely ornate armor that Erika could’ve sworn was made for royalty. She threw a sword at Erika handle first, which she took gladly.

This was a pretty big deviation from the normal dream! Someone new had shown up and actually helped her! Erika blinked, and the next thing she knew, Kelly had closed the distance between Erika and herself. And her hand was on Erika’s shoulder.

“Erika? Erika?”

Even in her dreams, Kelly Kingsley looked like an angel.


In a flash, Erika was being lightly shaken back into reality, back in the theatre. “It’s almost time for rehearsal.”

Kelly Kingsley was there after all, her hand lingering on Erika’s shoulder. Both women blushed as the ‘King’ removed her hand and took a seat in the second row.


Rehearsal that day was somewhat shorter than usual- the cast was handed their scripts, and a cold reading was done. To Kelly, the experience was surprisingly lively, with Ms. Thatcher cracking great jokes and the people surrounding her were dedicated to their craft. She even found herself being drawn in deeper into the reading whenever she shared scenes with Erika for some reason.

After the reading was done, a tentative calendar was distributed amongst the cast and the session was over be spending every weekday afterschool and parts of Saturday, she’d be spending time at rehearsal. She could also see that the three performances of the show were in a few weeks, starting just a day after her birthday and ending a week before Homecoming.

As her fellow cast members dispersed, she walked into the parking lot with Meredith’s sage advice in her mind. Her advice was usually wise, sure, but this latest plan of hers was throwing her for something of a loop. Kelly was fairly sure that Meredith had counted on the possibility of her actually becoming friends with the ‘new’ girl. But Meredith’s teasing had more of an effect on her than she would like to admit.

As she walked into the parking lot, she saw her father of all people, standing next to what looked like a new car. His brownish silver hairline was receding, but otherwise he still looked fairly young- time had been good to him. But he was a little pudgy. “Happy birthday, sweetheart.”

“Dad?” Her brain started churning a little bit. “My birthday isn’t for a while.”

“I know, Kelly,” her old man admitted, “but your mother and I thought that we might give you your ‘big’ birthday present a little early.”

He held up a key ring that held one key on it, and thumbed the car next to him. Her eyes widened as she realized what her father was saying. “You got me a Lexus?!?”

Her father chuckled. “I warned you, Kelly. A car is a big responsibility, but you mother and I agree that you’ve shown that you’re more than ready.”

He tossed the keys to his flesh and blood, and she stared at the keys. She’d been wanting a car, any car short of a minivan, since she got her license, but she’d only started asking for one since she started junior year.

Kelly smiled and turned around, only to bump into someone. “Oh dear, I’m sorry, I should watched what I was doing-”

“-No, it’s my fault, I-” Both women paused as they realized who they ran into. “Kelly?”

She blinked, before realizing that she had to respond. “Erika! Oh God, I’m sorry.” There was a slight pause, before Kelly remembered that there was someone else there. “Where are my manners? Erika, this is my father. Dad, this is the other main actress in the show I’m in.”

The elder Kingsley held out his hand, and greeted Erika. “Kingsley, Kyle Kingsley.”

Erika shook his hand. “Erika. Erika Andress.” As she shook his hand, Kyle’s eyes widened.

‘Andress? ANDRESS?!?’

Kelly could see the look in his eyes. “Yes Dad, she’s actually my Calculus teacher’s stepdaughter.” Her father’s jaw dropped slightly as the word ‘stepdaughter’ was uttered, and he just stared at Erika.

Erika look at him with a hint of concern. “Are you okay?”

Kyle nodded slowly, stuttering, “Y-Yes, I’m f-fine. I just remembered that I have an important business call to make.”

Kelly knew where this was going. “One of the actors forgot to show up or something?”

“Something like that,” Kyle muttered. “I’m going to walk home. Have fun driving home, sweetie. I need the exercise.” Anything involving Kyle and exercise was usually code for ‘This is really important, don’t ask’. He walked off, beginning to fumble around in his pockets for his cell phone.

Erika started walking away, when Kelly called out to her. “Where you think you’re going?”

She stopped dead in her tracks before turning around. “Home,” she simply replied. “Why’d you ask?”

Kelly took a deep breath before replying, “I could drive you home. My dad just got me a car, and I like having someone to talk to.”

Erika’s heart stopped for a moment. Kelly Kingsley was offering her a ride home. Kelly Kingsley. Ride home. Kelly. Home. After dislodging her heart from her throat, she took Kelly up on her offer.

After a minute of looking at the interior of Kelly’s birthday present, Erika felt that she had to say something besides ‘Nice car’. “Thank you for giving me a ride.”

Kelly flashed her a friendly smile before commenting, “Ya know, you’re one of the few people who didn’t try to wheedle yourself into my father’s good graces or my panties.”

Erika blushed as a very suggestive image played out in her head. She never really craved power- after seeing how bitchy her sisters were, she’d sworn to never seek it.

The driver could sense that she might have crossed a line and apologized. “Sorry for being so blunt,” she said, “but it’s just weird. The last person I met that treated me like everybody else was Meredith.”

Her passenger smiled meekly while Kelly continued, “I mean, I’m just a regular girl who’s about to become an adult. What is it that makes me so different besides my dad?”

Erika thought about it for a moment. She could come up with a million things that she could never say out loud. ‘Your golden hair? Your stunning looks? Your brown-greenish eyes? Your charming personality?’ After giving a second more, she found an answer. “The fact that you’re your father’s daughter?”

It was Kelly’s turn to think things over, before finally admitting, “Maybe that’s it.”

A minute later, they pulled up in front of Buck’s house. Kelly looked at the domicile and said, “I thought your family lived in a bigger place.”

“They do. I just don’t want Jade and Fiona to see that I came out of your car- that might give them an excuse to be meaner than usual.”

Kelly agreed with her there as Erika got out of the car. To her surprise, Kelly turned her new car off and ran up to her. “Um... Erika? Isn’t that Miss Andress’s car in the drive?” Erika looked at the driveway and saw a familiar red Mustang. She paled as she tried to think of why her stepmother would be here. At best, she was just having a cup of joe; at worst, well... it WAS her stepmother...

Erika snuck into the house with Kelly following behind, the front door unlocked. They hid into the same room where Buck kept his red phone once they were inside. Both girls peeked out the edge of the doorway to see that Buck and Allison were both in the kitchen, Buck talking on a cell phone while Allison sat impatiently at the table with a cup of coffee.

“-No, I understand. No, I haven’t been able to tell her. Kyle, just trust me on this. Just trust me- yes, I know that’s what I told you when I represented you. I’m just legally unable to do that, not until the gag order expires-”

Kelly gasped softly. “I think Mr. Daniels is talking to my dad.”

Erika was more concerned about what they were talking about, though. “Alright Kyle, I’ll talk to you later. Ciao.” He pressed a button and stared at Allison coldly. “This could have all been avoided if you had just told Erika the truth.”

The Andress matriarch sipped her coffee before replying, “Whatever makes you think that I’m going to let her know?”

Buck bit his tongue before commenting, “She’s going to find out sooner or later, Ally. Once she turns eighteen-”

“-You’re not going to tell her, or I’ll slap a restraining order on your ass so fast-”

“-Fat chance.” Buck slammed his hand on the table, the object of his violence shuddering under the impact. His eyes came upon the spot where Kelly and Erika had been spying, before continuing his rant. “By the time you could ram a restraining order against a respected lawyer through the courts, it wouldn’t matter! By that point, she’ll be eighteen and capable of shutting that suit down.”

It was Allison’s turn to be angry now. “I don’t want you seeing her again,” she said through tightly grit teeth.

But Buck had the perfect comeback. “It’s not my fault that those whores you call daughters basically forced Erika to catch a different bus!”

“And I suppose she came to your house voluntarily?” Allison was snarling now, while Buck couldn’t hold himself back anymore.

“Ally, Ally, Ally... when George found her standing in front of our house with her mother’s old umbrella, waiting for that bus, she was in tears and had a black eye. Do you have any idea how much it tore me up inside? And all I could do was to calm her down and offer her an orange.”

Allison stood and shouted, “She’s my stepdaughter, Buck! So keep the hell out of my family affairs!”

Buck then began to bellow, his voice louder than Erika had ever heard it. “YOU EXPECT ME TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO SOMEONE’S SUFFERING?” He got up in Allison’s face, which remained etched with anger. He then took a deep breath and pointed at the door. “Get the hell out of my house.”

So she did. As the door closed behind her, Buck turned towards where Allison had left and said, “Erika, you can come out now.”

Slowly, Erika and Kelly walked towards the kitchen, a little shaken by the normally calm Buck’s tirade. His heartbeat quickened when he saw who was with Erika. “Kelly? Is that you?!?”

Kelly smiled a little bit. “It’s good to see you again, Mr. Daniels.” She ran straight at him and nearly crushed his ribs in a massive bear hug.

“Haven’t seen you in six years. You’ve definitely grown up. ”

Kelly blushed, moaning, “Mr. Daniels...”

Buck laughed, before noticing that Kelly was in his house. “Why are you here, though?”

His attention quickly turned to Erika, who explained. “She drove me here.”

Buck nodded mindlessly, his mind already on the orange coming out of his fridge. “I’d give her an orange, but that would take me a little bit.” He took a bite out of his fruit, chewed it, swallowed, and said, “You gals heard all of that I suppose?”

They both nodded. “Just keep it on the down low that you heard that conversation, alright? I could get in big trouble if your mom finds out that you know anything.”

Kelly didn’t like being left in the dark. “Anything? About what?”

“That’s the thing. I can’t say a word of it because I’m not a blood relative.”

Erika looked a little confused. “What are you talking about?”

Buck swallowed his spit before choosing his words carefully. “I can’t go into specifics because of a gag order I put in. All I can say is this- your father left you a lot in his will and your mother is a gold digging bitch. And she doesn’t want you getting your share or being exposed to people who are in the know.”

Kelly sighed. “Great. Erika, your family’s starting to sound more and more like a romantic movie. An evil step family, a damsel in distress, a man on the inside... all that’s missing is the knight in shining armor.”

Erika got a brief mental image of Kelly wearing a suit or armor, a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. She also got a warm feeling in her gut before asking Buck, “In the know? About what?”

Buck held his hands in the air and motioned for Erika to stop. “If I tell you that, then I’m getting thrown in the slammer and having my license revoked. Eighteenth birthday, Erika. I can tell you then, but not a moment before that day.”

An all too familiar ringing reverberated through the kitchen, much to Erika’s annoyance. “The red phone again?”

Buck cringed. “Like I told ‘ya, Erika. I took a big case, I’m getting phone calls all over the place. See you both later.” The girls left very quickly after his goodbye.

Outside, Erika smiled and apologized to Kelly. “I’ve never seen him so angry. I thought it was just the case he was dealing with; I had no idea my stepmother was messing with him. Anyway, I’m gonna huff it from here, it’s not too far.”

“No, it’s cool,” Kelly claimed. “See you tomorrow!”

As Kelly drove off, Erika dug out that old picture of her parents and Buck. ‘What on Earth could Dad have wanted to give me after so long?’


Buck picked up the phone as the Lexus in front of his house pulled out. “Hello?”

The voice on the other line was deep and firm, yet reassuring. “Sounds like you got into a bit of a fight with Ally. Cheryl told me about the whole thing.”

He chuckled slightly. “That woman’s a real pain in the ass, you know?”

“I didn’t know until it was too late. How is she?”

Buck looked out the window and saw Erika walking off into the distance. “Same as usual. Ally still hasn’t told her.”

There was a pause over the line, before the man Buck was talking to sighed. “I guess that whole idea that you cocked up didn’t quite work out.”

“I guess so,” Buck admitted. “Call me an optimist all you want, but I thought I had all my bases covered.”

“Right,” the man on the line said. “Anyway, we’re both showing up, it’s official.”

Buck’s jaw nearly fell off his face. “You got permission?”

“Something even better. Cheryl will explain it to you tomorrow.” The voice then lightened up a little bit, and said, “Smell you later, Buck.”

Buck smiled. “It was nice talkin’ to ‘ya.”

Chapter 5

Title: Ominous Calendar

[Author's notes: It's definitely been a while, hasn't it? Well, I've kinda been in an emotional funk ever since a death in the family. Actually, I'm not sure if some people think a dog qualifies for that moiniker, but it does for me.

Any way, on to the stuff you came to read!]

Chapter 5: Ominous Calendar


Erika was just opening the door when she found a small package at her feet, addressed to one of her stepsisters. She picked up the parcel, went inside, and shouted, “I’m home!”

Surprisingly enough, the only living soul in the house when Erika entered was Lucy, who was curled up on a couch and basking in the sunlight. She left the cat alone for now, knowing that the cat would come to her later. As she trudged up the stairs, carrying her backpack, she couldn’t help but be pleased at her luck. She had very little homework to do except to start memorizing her script, which left her plenty of time to talk to her friends over the phone, to write, to read her manga, and to watch her anime DVDs.

She made a quick pit stop in her room to drop off her backpack, and then quickly went down the hall to her sibling’s room. Jade and Fiona both shared the same bedroom, so Erika figured that there would be no harm in just putting the box inside. As she walked in the room, it was pretty dark- the sunlight was coming in through the windows, but the lights weren’t on. ‘I guess I beat my sisters home for once.’

Erika gently placed the mail between their beds, and was about to walk back out of the room when she saw a calendar attached to the door. Deciding to let curiosity to get the better of her, she took a quick peek.

The day of auditions was labeled ‘Blow everyone out of the water’, the day for callbacks said, ‘Show up Erika’... but what caught Erika’s attention were a couple of dates in the future. Just a day before when the first showing of ‘The Odd Couple’, there was a chilling sentence written in pink pen and surrounded with a heart on the calendar- ‘“Surprise” Kingsley’.

But the most disturbing series of addendums came during Homecoming week. ‘Eliminate Homecoming Queen competition’ and ‘Find dates’ were amongst the alarming, but the worst of them all were on Homecoming day and the day following.

Her birthday was labeled ‘Stepsister’s birthday’ and ‘Have fun with
Erika’. But the day after that simply had a question mark with a smiley face where the dot would be.

Erika tried to walk backwards away from the time teller, but tripped over her own shoelaces. She landed right next to the package for her sisters. Fortunately, she didn’t land ON it, and took a nice deep breath.

And then the box started to vibrate. Erika may not have been a whiz at this sort of thing, but even she could connect the dots. Quickly, she began slamming the box against the floor, desperately trying to make it stop. A quick look out the window- ‘Oh God- they’re almost here!’

She threw the box against the door, and finally got a mini-miracle- the box fell silent. Without skipping a beat, she carefully put the box back between the beds and scurried back into the recesses of her room, just in time for her sisters to walk through the door.


Fortunately for Erika and the world at large, the next few weeks were highly uneventful, instead beginning to take some form of normalcy. Rehearsals were fun affairs, and Mrs. Thatcher was especially pleased to see that Kelly and Erika were playing off each other wonderfully. But something just seemed missing. Right before this session ended, Mrs. Thatcher took Erika aside.

“Is something wrong, Mrs. Thatcher?” The English woman tapped her lips with her pointer finger, staring at the star student.

“It’s nothing Erika,” her teacher began, but she shook her head. “No, there is something a little off.” She eyed the young Andress carefully before saying, “How long have you been in the program, Erika?”

‘That’s an odd question,’ Erika thought. Nonetheless, she answered honestly. “Ever since I came to high school.”

“Right, right,” the teacher replied. “And you’ve been stellar ever since. It’s just- just-”

“You’ve been holding back.”

The teacher cringed slightly as Mary walked towards the two and cut the bullshit. “We both have noticed that you just haven’t been giving it all. What’s up with that?”

Mrs. Thatcher bit her tongue; Mary was usually very blunt with her stage managing methods, but she always got the job done faster and better than everyone else.

Erika was stumbling for something to say, before finally coming up with an old school denial. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But Mary wouldn’t have any of it, quickly pointing at Kelly with her thumb. “I’m pretty sure it has something to do with her.” Mary knew the details behind it, but she wasn’t about to mention them in front of Mrs. Thatcher.

Unfortunately for Mary and Erika, Mrs. Thatcher spent the next five to seven minutes talking to them about trusting her fellow thespians. Both girls had heard such words before from their teacher. But never before had the words been given so intensely, or so passionately. When she finished and walked away, Mary half expected an actor to pop out of the curtains and hand their director an Oscar.

Once she was sure that Mrs. Thatcher was out of earshot, Mary began asking her dear friend some burning questions. “Erika, what’s really going on between you and Kelly?”

“Um... nothing’s happening.” She gave Mary a fake smile, but she wasn’t fooling the stage manager today.

“Nothing’s happenin’?” Erika nodded. “Nothin’ at all?” Another nod. “So nothing’s going to happen ever?” The nod came slower this time. “So you wanna kiss her?” Erika nodded for a good three seconds before ceasing all body movements and allowing her eyes to double in size.

Erika began mouthing the word ‘no’ while Mary was just content to raise her left eyebrow skeptically and smirk. She was about to pry when Kelly walked up to Erika.

“That was pretty fun, eh ‘Felix’?” Kelly smiled at Erika, and she gave the ‘King’ one of her own. “Man, I had no idea what I was missing! And just seeing Brandi take off her pants on stage-” Kelly was overcome by a fit of laughter. Erika nearly joined her, while Mary smiled.

“Anyway, I wanted to ask you something,” Kelly continued. “It’s a little embarrassing, but I think I can trust you enough to ask it.”

Erika nearly fainted on the spot. Kelly Kingsley... TRUSTED her?!?!? None the less, she managed to fool Kelly into thinking she was perfectly calm. “What?”

Kelly appeared to be stumbling for words. “My, um, birthday is coming up this Friday- I mean, right before the show starts- and I... I’d like it if you could come over to my place. For a sleepover. You-you know, that is, if you want to...” The blonde scratched the back of her head nervously and blushed, and everything in Erika’s world stood still.

Kelly Kingsley... no, just Kelly (did she dare think of her as just ‘Kelly’?)... wanted her to come over? For a birthday party? When Erika really thought about it, she hadn’t attended such an occasion in years- she was locked away in her room whenever her sisters were celebrating their birthdays; only allowed out to go to the bathroom, to get food, or be subjected to the mercy of her stepsisters.

“Who- Who else would be there?” Kelly wracked her brains for a moment before realizing something. “At the moment... just you, me, and Meredith. I’m afraid I never really got to have any big birthday parties with people from school or have anyone other than Meredith over.” Kelly shrugged uncharacteristically sheepishly before adding, “One of the curses of being semi-famous, I suppose.”

Erika nodded, before coming up with a brilliant idea. “Well, since you never really bring anyone to your place... why don’t I bring a few friends?” Kelly hadn’t expected such a kind gesture at all, let alone a positive response! They both turned to Mary, who deadpanned, “I’ll make sure Kat is available. Julia should be available as well.”

Kelly was ecstatic at this point, going so far as to hug Erika. Erika felt very warm all of the sudden, letting the sensation of Kelly’s breasts rubbing against her own be enough. Kat walked into the spectacle and merely watched, amazed at the scene before her.

As Erika began to let go, she felt that Kelly was keeping her close for a moment before slowly releasing her. “See you at the car,” Kelly said as she walked away. A mere few moments later, one thought ran through both their minds- ‘Did she just smell my hair?’

Erika was snapped out of her reverie by Kat and Mary, the former of whom seemed to have a lecherous grin on her face. “What?”

Kat kept grinning, saying, “I think somebody wants to get laid- OW!” Mary smacked her on the back of her head, with her ‘wife’ continuing, “I’m just saying!”

Mary sighed, but she couldn’t deny that. “Let’s face it, Erika. You think that Kelly is the hottest woman on earth.” She paused, before adding with a sly grin on her face, “Nice catch.”

Erika blushed profusely, before finally admitting, “Okay, I admit it. I think she’s pretty good looking-”

“‘Pretty good looking’?” Kat shook her head. “Erika, those words do her beauty a disservice. I swear, I would tap that if I didn’t already have my snuggle bunny.” Mary didn’t know whether to blush or to smack Kat on the head again.

“What Kat is trying to say, is that getting invited to Kelly’s house is a fairly good sign. Nothing definite, but this could be the start of something interesting.”

Erika excused herself from the conversation, partly because it made her think about things she knew weren’t possible, and partly because Kelly was still waiting for her.


As had become the routine, Erika and Kelly both stopped by to see Uncle Buck, who was washing his dishes in the sink. “Hello, ladies. Good ta’ see you again.”

Kelly nodded, but Erika responded, “Pretty good. How’s the case, Buck? The papers yesterday said it didn’t look so hot.”

Buck threw his head back and laughed. “Please, since when do I ever give up on a client? I don’t lose cases. Besides, what the papers won’t say ‘til tomorrow is that the police found some new evidence inside the victim’s mattress, thanks to an anonymous tip someone sent me.”

Kelly nodded while Buck continued talking. “So Kelly, a lil’ birdie told me that your birthday’s comin’ up. Nineteen years old! My oh my, how the time flies.”

She agreed with him, before adding giddily, “I’m having a sleepover this year, and it’s more than one person this time! Erika’s gonna be there too!”

Buck just chuckled. “Well, that’s good. Lord knows that Erika could get out of the house more.”

“Buck!” Erika looked a little saddened by Buck’s comment, but it was the truth- besides visiting Kat and Mary or even Julia from time to time, she really didn’t get out of the house much.

“To be perfectly fair, Buck, I don’t usually have people over. But I think that I found the right person- I mean, people, to have a good time with.” After her embarrassing use of the wrong word, Kelly quickly turned her attention to the freshly peeled orange in front of her.

Buck flashed a lightning quick smile to Erika before congratulating her. “It ain’t everyday someone gets ta celebrate the day they were born.”

As Erika took a bite out of her own delicious fruit, Kelly remembered something that her new friend had mentioned the very first time they had been in the same car. “You said that you don’t watch movies.”

Erika swallowed her latest bite of produce, then answered, “No. I WOULD watch them, but my stepmom doesn’t let me. No idea why- she lets my stepsisters.”

Kelly scarfed down the remaining bite of orange before commenting, “Well then, I guess this’ll be the perfect time to show you the greatest movie of all time... in my opinion, anyway.”

The Andress stepchild had no idea what Kelly spoke of, so she elaborated. “‘Black Holes’, silly!”

There was a colossal clattering of forks and plates in the sink as Buck dropped his sponge and the mug he was working on. He then yelped in pain as a few of the pieces of said cup cut his hands. Fortunately, the injuries were only minor cuts, with only one of them actually bleeding. He sucked on the wound, before saying, “I need to get back to work, ladies. Expecting an-”

But he was cut off by an all too familiar buzzing noise. “That would be my special phone.” He dug out a gauze pad from one of the kitchen drawers, applied it to his hand, and wished both women a good day.

As the door closed behind them, Buck strode into his work room and picked up the scarlet phone. “Hello?”

It was the masculine voice this time. “Did it help any?”

“Yea,” Buck affirmed as he stared at the previous day’s newspaper. “Yeah, saved my case. Tell him that it’s all in the bag now.” He paused before adding, “We may have a problem on our end, however.”

There was a pause before ‘Cheryl’ came onto the line. “What’s the issue, Buck?”

“She’s goin’ to a sleepova at Kingsley’s place.”

Cheryl did not seem concerned. “Well, it’s about time she went out and had some fun.” Buck did not respond, instead choosing to let his words sink in. “...Kingsley, right?”


“Wasn’t he our-” Buck cut her off; he knew that she had figured it out.

“He was.”

“Didn’t you represent him in that case?”

“I did.”

“...I see.” She paused again, before commenting. “So this could really mess up that big plan you made for Erika?”

“It could push up certain events to the point where I could get burned pretty badly. Don’t worry though,” he assured, “I’ll talk to Kyle. He’ll do what needs to be done.”


Erika knew by this point that she was getting home before Fiona and Jade, and usually took advantage of this time by trying to prepare for whatever horrors they might concoct next. She crept through the door, put her stuff in her room, and stealthily went into the room at the end of the hall.

The calendar hadn’t changed much since the pervious times she’d studied it, but she did notice a plethora of wrapping paper on the floor. And next to the paper, well...

‘That explains why my stepmom asked about where all the booze went.’

Allison had repeatedly searched Erika’s room in the past two weeks for alcohol. While this sort of practice was standard for her- Allison made sure that Erika never had any real life movies- she had become much more persistent as of late, especially trying her damndest to find some alcohol. She kept telling Erika that it kept mysteriously vanishing from her stocks, and being the stepchild, she was always under more suspicion than either of her ne’er-to-do well stepsisters.

Either way, now she could see that it was her stepsisters who had taken the drinks after all. It wasn’t like she could tell Allison, because then she’d be grounded for ‘invading her sisters’ privacy’.

She was about to walk out the door when she nearly slipped on a note card. The mere fact that there was a note card of any kind was a shock to Erika’s mind- could it be that her sisters actually studied?!? But then she looked at the writing on it and saw that, instead of the chemical makeup of a compound, there was the booze content of an extremely potent mix; which, according to the card, would ‘get someone drunk with just a few gulps’.

And right next to that paper and those bottles was an all too familiar box. She stared at it for a moment, touched it, and shuddered as it began to vibrate.

Instantly, Erika slammed the box against the floor, causing it to stop. She then rushed to her room, locking the door behind her and rummaging through her desk before finally finding it.

The football phone.

Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the sport- what was important was that it was a phone that her stepmother couldn’t easily track. It was the phone she used for emergencies only, or if Allison took away her six year old cell phone.

Erika quickly plugged in the phone to its proper places and began dialing a number she knew by heart.


Mary was taking in deep breath after deep breath underneath her bed covers, all while being held in Kat’s arms. “Kat... where on earth did you learn that?”

Her green-haired lover grinned and simply said, “Well, I kinda adapted a few things from the Kama Sutra. But that last thing was totally me.” She added with a wicked grin, “You wanna try that again?”

The blonde stage manager was about to say yes when her cell phone began to ring. Kat swore under her breath while Mary rolled her eyes and checked the caller ID. “It’s Erika. She’s using the football phone.”

Kat straightened up as Mary answered the call using the speaker phone setting. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Mary.” Erika’s voice seemed a little shaken, but at least she wasn’t hurt. “I think my sisters are up to something.”

“There’s a shock,” Kat mumbled. “Erika, your sisters are always scheming or plotting or planning something bad. What makes this one any worse than normal?”

“I...” Erika took a deep breath of fresh air before saying, “I think they’re going to do something to Kelly.”

The two lovebirds looked at each other before asking Erika to hold on for a moment. The two quickly went out of the phone’s range before Kat commented, “Well, that’s definitely a good use of the football phone.”

Mary agreed. “We need to make sure that nothing goes down. If her sisters go as far as what they tried to pull on you and me-”

“-I know.” Kat still had nightmares about their failed seduction. They had nearly been driven to the breaking point that night under the pressures of their peers (namely, the Terrible Twosome) and a lot of drugged punch. It was only through sheer persistence that Fiona and Jade left them be. “How on earth would they manage to get in?”

“It’s Erika’s stepsisters we’re talking about here, Kat.” The short woman grimaced before agreeing to return to their phone conversation.

Erika was relieved when she heard Mary’s calm voice return to the line. “We’ll try and warn Kelly tomorrow, Erika. But there’s not much else we can do- they’re not being invited, so really, it’s up to chance now.”

That wasn’t quite what she wanted to hear, but Erika understood the logic behind it. “Thanks. See you tomorrow.”

Mary barely got out her response because someone began to nibble on her earlobe. As she hung up the phone, she turned to her partner-in-crime and playfully said, “Oh, you’re in trouble now.”

Kat smiled as she replied, “This should be fun.”


[End notes: I promise, I'm not going to take forever and a day to update again. I swear.]

Chapter 6

Title: Oh, It'll Be a Party Alright...

[Author's notes: My exams are over, I'm hunting for a new job.... Excuses, excuses, excuses....]

Chapter 6: Oh, It'll Be a Party Alright...


Friday came sooner than Kat and Mary anticipated. The entire school day and the final rehearsal flashed before Erika’s eyes. And the drive to Buck’s house was a blur to both Kingsley and Andress.

But the more Erika thought about it as she talked with Buck and Kelly, the more time seemed to crawl. She found herself more and more looking forward to being able to spend time with the ‘King’ without the pretense of school or theatre. Buck finished talking about his case- the defense had rested today, and the jury would begin reaching a verdict. “The prosecution’s case collapsed with the new evidence.”

“Excuse me,” Kelly said, “But I have to go to the bathroom.” As she finished her orange and walked towards the restroom, Erika found her eyes following her associate’s exit.

Buck chuckled heartily. “You’ve got it bad, I see.”

“Uncle Buuuuuck...” Erika moaned, but she didn’t deny it.

“I swear, that lovesick look on ‘ya reminds me o’ your father when he was goin’ after your mother.” He paused, then said, “God rest her soul.”

“Yea.” Erika took a small bite of her own fruit before commenting, “I can’t believe that’s how she went.”

“How who went?” Kelly walked out of the bathroom drying off her hands with a disposable towel.

Buck coughed uncomfortably as Erika replied, “My Mom. She got sick after I was born and she just didn’t make it.”

Kelly seemed surprised at that. “I’m sorry.”

Buck grunted. “Even with the best of medical technology, people can still die from preventable problems under the wrong circumstances.” He sighed, before saying, “Well, I’m sure that you all have some preparations to do for t’night. Have fun, ladies.”

As seemed to be becoming a regular occurrence, a phone rang. This time though, it was Buck’s cell phone. He didn’t even need to look at caller ID. “Evening, Kyle. How’s business?”

“Oh, can’t complain,” the caller replied. “Kelly’s really excited about this sleepover. If something happens with her and Erika-”

“I know,” Buck said. “I know. Things’ve been crazy for those two ever since those auditions for ‘The Odd Couple’. I think my dear Cherry might’ve had sumthin’ to do with that.”

The line was silent for a few moments before Kyle coughed. “I know that the phone works, Buck, I’ve seen it work, but you don’t really think she’d have switched the-”

“That phone’s been the gateway to strangah events, old friend.”

“Like the Stone Case?” Kyle didn’t need to hear a response; he already suspected the answer.

Surprisingly though, Buck gave a straight answer. “Like the Stone Case. Helps people find closure, helps bring people to justice or it helps keep the innocent out of jail.” He changed the subject at this point: both men knew what the ‘Bat Phone’, as Kyle called it, was capable of. “Is everything set for tonight?

There was some ruffling on Kyle’s end before a response came through. “It’s all set. I still don’t understand why I had to hide-”

“It’s all part of the plan,” Buck interrupted yet again. “Keep trusting me and we’ll get through this.” He checked his watch, before adding, “It’s almost time for that nice dinner we had planned. Is Holly coming?”

“Yep,” Kyle finished. “Just the three of us.” He gulped and added, “Dixon and Kroenke called again. About-”

Buck groaned and asked Kyle to stop. “Those guys from the New York Times, right?”

“Right. About an hour later, Jenny Bracco from the Washington Post gave me a ring.” Kyle took a deep breath. “What am I supposed to do, Buck? We barely managed to convince them not to try to find her last time. If the Times or the Post come in now-”

“They already know, Kyle. They’ve known since the very beginning.” Buck expected Kyle to gasp at that point, but the lawyer was impressed to hear dead silence. Perhaps Kyle had finally gotten used to his surprises. “Again, it’s all part of the plan, my old friend. I’m counting on them trying to come in soon. Just trust me and everything will work out wonderfully.”


“Don’t get your hopes up too high, Kelly.” Meredith was trying to be the voice of reason.

Kelly kept rummaging through her movie collection for her favorite, asking, “What, I can’t be excited that I’m getting to have a sleepover for once?” She smiled serenely while her friend took a deep breath. How was she going to put this?

“I’m talking about Erika.” Kelly poked her head out of the movie cases and looked confused at Meredith.

“I’m not sure I follow.”

Meredith took a breath as she fanned herself; the room was a little too warm for her liking. “I know you better than anyone else. And I can tell that you’re interested in her.”

“Right,” Kelly said, “as a great friend. How many of those do I have?”

“Point taken. But I’m just saying that the plan only called for it looking like you two were dating. You’re actually acting like you might be falling for her.”

Kelly shifted uncomfortably as she went back to looking through her movies. “Oh come on, Meredith. You’re seeing shadows where there are none. She’s just a friend in need of help.”

Meredith had seen enough to know that something was there, though. “You gave her your cookie. You made a scene about Erika having a fever in the hall that I can only call romantic in nature. And you’ve been giving her this, this look that all of those other girls gave you before we started this whole plan!”

“We’re just friends, Meredith.” The doorbell rang through the house before the genius could come up with a comeback. Kelly smiled as she swung the door open to find Erika, Mary, Kat, and Julia all piled on her doorstep and carrying bags of various sizes.

“Well,” Kelly remarked as the group walked into the foyer, “I couldn’t find the movie I wanted to show you all, but I guess I can save that one for a rainy day.” The five walked into the TV room and saw that one of the windows was open. “Meredith,” she called, “I know you said it was hot in here, but did you have to leave the window open?”

“I didn’t open a window,” Meredith claimed as she walked in the room. “All I did was turn down the heat. Oh, and I ordered some pizza a little while ago.” She went to close the window, adding, “It’s generally never a good idea for a parent to pay for sleepover pizza. Usually ends up with someone being run out of house and home.”

Kat, Julia, and Mary laughed heartily from experience, while Erika just smiled. She’d seen some of the parties her stepsisters had thrown. Kelly was merely confused, but let it slide. “Anyway,” she said, “we’ll just have to watch a different movie.”

Outside the room, while the five began deliberating over their choice, a familiar brunette peeked over the door frame and pulled a walkie-talkie out of her school hoodie’s gigantic front pocket. “Jade to Fiona, come in, over.”

“Copy that, Jade,” the longer haired stepsister replied as she hid in the bushes, “but is it really necessary to use all that radio lingo?”

“...Are you still talking, over?”

“No sis, I was done.”

“...Then why aren’t you saying over? Over.”

Fiona smacked her forehead with her free hand. “Fine, whatever. How’s Operation: Drunken Love Nest? ...Over.”

Jade moved into the kitchen silently and removed a two liter container from the oversized pocket. “The bait’s being planted. Just gotta wait ‘til the pizzas get here, and then I can get you inside. Over and out.”


About half an hour later, the pizza guy arrived. “Alrighty then, that’s two cheese pizzas, a half-cheese half-mushroom pie, and a meat lover’s special.” Meredith shrugged her shoulders and grinned at her friends as she paid the man and went into another room.

Julia eyed the number of pizza pies Kelly was carrying as the rest of the part entered the kitchen and gasped. “Wow. Are we really gonna eat that much pizza?”

“Of course!” Kat grinned. “I’m almost always ready for seconds!”

Mary smiled with a blush and said, “Isn’t that the truth...” Kat nodded grinned like the Cheshire Cat as the pizzas were set on the kitchen counter. The lights turned off for a brief moment, the only artificial source of light in the room quickly becoming the candles on the modestly-sized ice cream birthday cake that Meredith was bringing into the room. Although the ensuing birthday song was nothing short of William Hung-esque, Kelly didn’t tell them to stop. She could hear a beautiful voice beneath the entire ear violating symphony.

The cake was on the counter, and Kelly stopped in her tracks. The sheer amount of fun she was having just by being in good company made her want to savor the moment. Meredith had been her best friend since they were in grade school. Kat and Mary, when they weren’t making cracks about their sex life, were great people to hang around, and even Julia had a simple charm that made her more trustworthy than many of her peers. And Erika-

Kelly looked at Erika for a good moment, who was smiling out of genuine happiness. From what she knew about the girl, her parents were both dead, leaving her at the mercy of her cruel stepsisters and an uncaring stepmother. It all sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Despite all of the shit she’d been put through, she still was one of the most honest people that she knew.

She looked back at the birthday cake. Kelly knew what to wish for now. She closed her eyes and blew out the candles. Her birthday wish from last year had finally come true; maybe Lady Luck would smile at her a second time.

The birthday cake was entirely devoured in a matter of minutes (not counting the time they spent suffering from ice cream headaches). The refrigerator was opened in celebration as the girls all grabbed for various flavors and brands of soda. Only one person seemed to be going for the half empty Cherry Coke bottle, though. “I like it,” Kelly said as she defended her choice against a throng of disgusted party guests. “Cherries make everything better, like Jolly Ranchers and Starbursts.”

“But Coke?” Mary shook her head. “A drink? Really? I don’t think-” She was cut off by the sudden presence of Kat’s hand over her mouth.

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Kat added as a whisper. “Shut. Up. We’re getting free pizza out of this. And possibly getting Erika a girlfriend.”

Despite being only a whisper, Erika could distinctly hear Kat’s aside and blushed a deep crimson hue. Kelly took out several glasses from one of the cabinets and placed them on the counter for everyone to use. “A toast,” Kat said as she raised her empty glass, “to another year of happiness.” Glasses were clinked, and then were filled as they all returned to the TV room with sustenance.

Meredith pulled out a small box out of almost nowhere as they all sat down and handed it over to the birthday girl. “Happy birthday.” Kelly opened the box and had to bite her lip to hold back the laughter. Tears began welling up in her eyes as she held up the item of question to show everyone else. Erika commented first.

“...Is that a condom?”

No one answered the question as Kat and Mary both joined in on the laff-fest. Even Meredith snickered at her gag gift. After a good minute of good-humored ribbing, Kat, Mary, and Julia handed over their gift, which ended up being a couple of classic comedy movies. Kelly thanked them for the gift, and then all eyes were on Erika.

“Um, I... um... I... I forgot to bring a present.” But Kelly just smiled at her newfound friend.

“It’s no biggie. Besides, I already got your birthday present.” Erika looked at her, not even daring to breathe, and everyone else in the room was confused as all get out. “You got me some trustworthy people for me to celebrate my birthday with.” Kat cooed as Erika smiled bashfully, while Kelly took a drink from her glass. ‘Hm... Cherry Coke must taste even better on your birthday. And it goes great with my pizza. Gonna have to get some more of this.’ “Hey Erika! You don’t have to sit on the floor!

Erika stood up and said, “No, really, it’s okay.” But Kelly would have none of it, and she insisted that Erika sit right next to her on the recliner. It was a surprisingly comfortable fit, as both girls found out.

Kelly got up from her chair, feeling happier than she’d been since... well, ever. “Alright, I’m gonna get a bigger glass for my drink. When I get back, let’s watch one of those movies, eh?”


Rory took a deep breath as she looked at the poster on her friend’s wall. “I mean, seriously, you’ve got a picture of a swimsuit model in nothing but a bikini framed on your wall.”

“So? That could mean anything! It could mean that I got it for free through one of those ‘Buy Two, Get One Free’ kinda deals!” Alice tried to defend herself.

Rory gave her best friend a mock-lecherous gaze. “Or it could mean that you just enjoy the view. Just how big of a nosebleed did the framers get when you asked them to frame this?”


Not even Erika could help but laugh at the antics happening on the big screen TV. Sure, she was breaking one of her stepmother’s cardinal rules, but this was so worth it. She was having fun with her friends, laughing her head off, and sitting next to Kelly. Erika saw out of her peripheral vision that Kelly was taking another sip from her glass. ‘She must really like that Coke,’ she thought as she took another bite out of her pizza slice.

In Meredith’s mind, she couldn’t quite believe that her plan had worked out so well. Erika and Kelly seemed to have this natural chemistry between them that she had greatly underestimated. She knew it had been there, that had been why the plan called for Kelly getting to know Erika better for the past few weeks. WEEKS! Yes, their romantic relationship was supposed to be a facade, but it seemed so convincing that they could’ve even fooled her, possibly the smartest girl in the school. Kelly had denied the possibility, but she wasn’t entirely sure...

The same thoughts were echoing through Erika’s head. Her entire world had been turned upside down and topsy-turvy ever since she’d auditioned for the show. The most popular girl in the school, the one that a majority of her schoolmates had openly pursued, a girl that Erika actually had had a small crush on, chose to be friends with her. Chose! They’d been two complete strangers when this all had begun, and in an unusual twist of fate, they were more or less forced to spend time together.

Just then, Erika could feel a sudden shift in the positioning of the recliner cushions. Next thing she knew, Kelly’s arms were wrapped around her and she was blushing furiously with a shy little smile on her face.

The glass in Kelly’s hand fell to the floor, spilling onto the carpeting. Julia immediately noticed and got up from her seat, which in turn got everyone else attention. “Julia,” Mary asked, “what gives? The movie’s still going.”

But Julia motioned for Kat to come over. “Come over her and smell this,” Julia implored. Kat did so, paused, and then started smelling Kelly. Mary paused the movie and began walking over to smack Kat a new one. But she refrained from doing so after seeing the look on Kelly’s face.

Finally, Meredith got up to see what all the fuss was about and saw it after a good five seconds. “How in the world did she get-”

“I dunno,” Julia remarked, holding up the glass for Meredith, “Does Kelly usually take her coke Irish?”

Erika finally piped up. “Irish? What’s going on?”

Kat explained it to Erika. “She’s drunk, Erika.” Kelly began cupping Erika’s face and talking about the baby pink elephants dancing atop her skull. “Really, really drunk.”

Meredith shook her head. “I don’t get it. Someone must’ve spiked the drink or something.” Everyone in the door denied involvement, which Meredith took at face value. “Erika, you’ve got to get her to bed. Right now.”

Erika looked reluctant to move. Kelly was about to say something, but instead threw up all over herself and Erika. “Ugh... okay, maybe you’ve got a point.”

“Alright,” Meredith corrected herself, “you both have gotta take a shower and THEN go to bed.” She motioned for Erika to not interrupt, adding, “She’s not herself when she’s drunk, Erika. Really. It’s like she has to say everything she’s thinking out loud and other stuff.”

Carefully, Erika helped Kelly get on her feet and shuffled towards the staircase, being extra sure to get good footing on her way up. “Oh god,” Kelly slurred, “I feel sso hawt hight now.”

Erika unconsciously swallowed spit as she clumsily opened up the shower and locked the door behind her. “Alright,” Erika meekly uttered, “Now I have to... un-un-undress you.”

As she began to take off her drunken friend’s clothes, Kelly started giggling. “Does this mean we’re going to be washing each other?”


Ten minutes later, Erika’s eyes were the size of dinner plates when she left the bathroom with Kelly, who had a ridiculous grin on her face and wasn’t wearing any pants.

Meredith and Julia both came into the area to check on them and both were flabbergasted to various degrees, Julia in shock and Meredith in awe. Julia asked it first. “Did you two... you know?”

Erika frantically shook her head and kept mouthing ‘No’, but Kelly giggled like a little schoolgirl. “I don’t feel so good.”

Meredith stayed calm and said, “Just take her to bed, okay?” Erika nodded as she immediately led Kelly into her own bedroom. With the utmost care, she lifted Kelly into the air and tucked her into her own bed.

As Kelly situated herself, she looked up at Erika. Erika stared back and found herself unable to leave. ”Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?”

Erika’s tongue was tied, she was so shocked. Before she could get her mind moving again, Kelly had fallen fast asleep.

Meredith was waiting for Erika outside the door. “She’ll be fine. She just needs some rest.” The Andress stepsister nodded, but stopped short of leaving the subject alone.

“Meredith... you said she says things out loud that would’ve stayed in her head when she’s drunk, right? Does being drunk make her lie?”

“...No, not that I’m aware of,” Meredith responded. “Why’d you ask?”

“Nothing,” Erika denied. “I just need to take a really cold shower.”

Meredith nodded. “Alright, we’ll all meet you downstairs.” She turned away for a second, turned back to face Erika, and said, “She really appreciates it, you know. Bringing your friends for her birthday, I mean. Kelly’s never really been able to have anyone over who didn’t try to suck up to her.”

Erika nodded as she closed the bathroom door behind her.


“Goddamn,” Fiona complained, “Took long enough for everyone to leave her alone.”

“Calm the hell down,” Jade commanded as she took out a piece of paper, “We’re about to get what we came for, so calm the hell down.” She peeked into the room and added, “We’re finally clear. Let’s go.”

The two stepsisters made their way out of Kelly’s closet, tripping over each other into her room. Fiona eyed the figure in the bed. “So it’s now or never?” Jade handed her the paper for her to read off. “Alright, gag?”

Jade pulled a ball gag labeled ‘Bitch’ out of her hoodie. “Check.”

“Video camera?”

Jade also pulled out a HD video camera and began moving a small table to mount the thing on. “Check and check.”

“Weapon of choice?” Fiona smiled as her sister pulled out a vibrator, which had already been switched on somehow. Jade slammed the device against a wall to shut it off.

“I swear, you really gotta be rough with that thing to turn it off,” Jade commented. “Must be defective.”


Erika walked out of that bathroom wearing only a bra and a pair of jeans, the clothes she’d brought for the following day in Kelly’s room. Something in her pants began to buzz as she closed the door behind her. She fished her hand into her pocket and brought out her cell phone.


“Well, hidey ho! I hear someone’s going to be a hotshot actress tomorrow!”

There was no mistaking who was behind the caller’s voice. “Georgie Daniels, is that you?”

There was a great deal of guffawing on the other end. “I’m in town to visit. Can’t make it tomorrow, though. Gotta meet Morty at the house- we both got a break from school for the next week or so. There is another showing, right?”

“Yea, the next day. But that’s the last performance, Georgie. You guys’d be cutting it pretty close.” Georgie chuckled a little less this time.

“I know. Just thought I’d let ‘ya know that I’ll be picking you up tomorrow from Kingsley’s, alright?” Erika agreed to the offer. “Obekaybee, see ‘ya later.”

Erika hung up on Georgie and put the ancient thing back in her pants. In the back of her head, she decided to check up on Kelly one more time before she returned to the movie downstairs.

When she opened the door to Kelly’s room, she wasn’t expecting to see Fiona atop of Kelly and Jade holding a vibrator with her free hand about to remove the bed sheets.

“Jade? Fiona?” Both stepsisters stopped dead in their tracks. “What the hell are you doing to Kelly?”

Fiona began stumbling for words while Jade played it cool as a cucumber. “We’re just giving Kelly Kingsley her birthday present.”

Fiona nodded, deciding to act like she was smart. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Erika’s answer was deadpan. “I’m here for the birthday party.”

Fiona stared at Jade in confusion. They hadn’t planned on a birthday party! But Jade still stayed emotionally detached. “Erika, I don’t care why you’re here, just leave us and Kelly alone for some quality time, okay?” Erika Andress stood in the doorway. She knew perfectly well what her stepsisters planned to do. But something was different this time than the hundred times before. “What’re you waiting for Erik, an invitation? Leave us alone!”

This time, Erika had a different tone in her voice; almost as if she had grown a spine. Maybe hanging out with Kelly did that to her. “No.”

[End notes: I realize it's a bit of a cliffhanger. The next part is already 1/4 written.]

Chapter 7

Title: ...Some Party, Eh?

[Author's notes: Creepy story today: I was at work, and the person we were helping out.... their family name was Kingsley!

Yes, I know this chapter is WELL overdue, considering that cliffie- don't look at me with those eyes of death.]

Chapter 7: ...Some Party, Eh?


This time, Erika had a different tone in her voice; almost as if she had grown a spine. Maybe hanging out with Kelly did that to her. “No.”


Meredith stared at the paused movie. “Does Erika usually take this long in the shower? I mean, I know she was covered in half-eaten pizza, but come on!”

Julia shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, but she should’ve finished by about now.” Something in her gut just didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t the food or the drink. “I’m gonna to tell her to speed the hell up. Who’s with me?”

Kat stifled a giggle. “You need a posse to tell someone to get out of the shower?” Julia grinned back.

“You wouldn’t believe what it takes to get my sister out.” All three remaining gals decided to humor Julia, partly because they wanted to watch the rest of the film.

All four of them walked up the stairs, knocking on the bathroom door. “Hey Erika,” Kat said, “Dry off and get your butt out of the shower! We’d like to finish the flick!”

There was a ruckus, but none of it came from the bathroom. A great deal of muffled argument seemed to be emanating from Kelly’s bedroom. “Odd,” Meredith commented, “She’s supposed to be asleep.”

Kat looked at Mary for a second, before deciding to be the first to investigate. She cautiously walked up to the room and stood aghast at the sight before her. Erika was on her rear and against the wall, her bra ripped off her person. She was being held against the wall by a visibly angered Fiona, while Jade was holding Kelly down to her bed. Kat just motioned for everyone else to approach the threshold.

Julia immediately went through the door, Mary following soon after, the two of them working quickly to stop the fracas. In a flash, Jade and Fiona found themselves thrown to the floor courtesy of the party guests.

“Jade,” Fiona commented, “this wasn’t part of the plan.”

The mastermind behind their operation, miffed at the fact their plan had been outright shot down, grimaced. “Yeah Fiona, I know.” She briefly took a glance at the people surrounding her. Kat, Julia, and Meredith’s faces were all etched with unadulterated anger; while Mary’s eyes were loaded with cold fury. Her stepsister looked like a deer in the headlights, her face frozen in stone. “Time for Plan B.”

Both siblings shoved their way out of the room, running from the bedroom and the house itself. Erika slowly began to breathe again as Kat asked if she was alright. “I’m fine,” she remarked, “I’m fine. Although I’m going to have to buy a new bra next chance I get.” Erika got back on her feet, trying to cover her exposed breasts with her arms as she stood over Kelly. “Is she-”

Meredith nodded her head. “She’s fine. Kelly’s actually fallen back asleep. They didn’t manage to do anything.”

Erika stared at the floor in shame. “I’m sorry about my sisters. What they tried to do”-

Mary cut her old friend off. “Stop right there. They’re your stepsisters, Erika. You’re not their keeper.”

There was a collective pause about the room. “Alright,” Julia commented, “time to continue the movie!” All of the girls sans Kelly began to shuffle out of the room, but Erika found that something was tugging on her torso.

“Mmm...” Kelly had snaked her arms around her. “Teddy...” There was a tiny little smile on her face as well.


The following morning was not a pleasant one for Miss Kingsley. It felt like her brain was bouncing off the sides of her head. She also felt a little off-balance for some odd reason. Regardless, she felt a little better after she hopped out of the shower. Once she got dressed and out of the bathroom, though...

“Well, look who’s still alive.” Meredith’s sarcasm was making Kelly’s head ring.

“Not so loud,” she moaned. “What the hell happened last night?”

“You want the long story or the short one?” Meredith asked as the two friends walked down the stairs.

“The one that doesn’t make my head feel like it’s been hit with a sledgehammer.” Kelly was careful enough to keep a hand on the railing.

Meredith took a deep breath as she recounted the previous night’s events. “In a nutshell, the Gruesome Twosome broke into the house, spiked your favorite drink, and tried to take advantage of you. Repeatedly.”

That helped sober up the Kingsley girl. “Wait, what?!?”

“Yeah,” her friend grimly noted. “If it weren’t for Erika, you probably wouldn’t be a virgin anymore. And the Andress girls would probably spread rumors of your, em, ‘misdeeds’ to the entire school.”

“Remind me what good that’ll do?”

“Well,” Meredith thought out loud, “it would probably ruin your reputation as a wholesome girl, you’d be called a slut, and make you extremely unpopular.”

Kelly blinked. “I keep forgetting that those two bitches have an IQ.”

“Fiona doesn’t,” Meredith replied. “Jade’s the brains behind that operation, remember?”

But Kelly didn’t hear that, instead letting her brain process that little detail about Erika to finally seep in. “Erika stood up for me?” A simple nod from Meredith put her in a brief daydream about Erika in a sexy dress, holding a sword, and holding her ever so closely-

-wait, where the hell did that come from?

“Yea, she also helped you shower and put you in bed.” The same daydream repeated, and her cheeks became flushed. She knew what flushed cheeks meant, but it didn’t have anything do with Erika, right? ...Right? “You okay?”

“No, I’m fine.” The two walked into the dining room where all four of the newcomers were busy eating breakfast and chatting. They all greeted the duo as they got their food. “The ‘rents have the day off, so they’re sleeping in.”

Breakfast was pleasant, though everyone in the room knew that today was opening night. Julia left first, deciding to walk home. Mary and Kat were next, Kat winking not so subtly at Erika while Mary pushed her out the door.

“Well um, this was great. We should do this again sometime. Minus the whole stepsisters thing, I mean, I- um-” Erika couldn’t really put it into words, but Kelly could get the gist of it.

“It’s cool. I mean, thanks so much for helping put this all together, I mean.” Kelly wasn’t usually tongue-tied, but being around Erika made her more conscious of what she was saying for some reason. She was about to walk away, but tripped over her own feet and bumped into Erika, her arms going around the girl unintentionally.

Erika couldn’t believe her eyes. Both of their faces were beet red from realizing the position they were now in- Kelly was unknowingly hugging Erika’s midsection, but her head was resting on top of Erika’s breasts. Quickly, Kelly let go of the hug and they both stood up, breathing heavily. Not knowing what else to do, Kelly hugged Erika again and said, “Thank you so much.” Erika returned the hug and savored the moment- this was as close to Kelly as she was going to get in her lifetime.

Their moment was interrupted by a knocking at the door. Erika and Kelly broke off the hug as Meredith instinctively went for the intercom button. “Who is it,” she asked.

“Pizza delivery guy, someone ordered three Grease Lover specials?”

Meredith looked at the intercom with some confusion, but Erika went for the door. “It’s alright,” she said. “I’ll handle this.”

The door opened to the sight of a tall and lanky black man standing with his hands in his pockets, his somewhat short hair messed up as if he had just rolled out of bed and yet he pulled it off as if it were cool. He chuckled as he took his hands out and said, “Hey!”

Erika gave a mock-frown. “Georgie Daniels! Where have you been?!?” But then she smiled, unable to keep up the façade anymore, and bear hugged him. “So good to see you again!”

Kelly stopped paying attention at that point. She didn’t feel a powerful pounding in her head from the hangover anymore; she now felt a hot pounding in her head for an entirely different reason.

“Alright, well I gotta go take Erika back to the battleaxe’s place. I’ll be watching the show with Morty and Gramps tomorrow. Break a leg!” And with that, Georgie walked out of the house to the car. Kelly now had a name for that feeling that had consumed for all of three point six seconds- jealousy.

Erika smiled as she turned to thank Kelly for her hospitality. “See you tonight,” she said as she left the house.

As the door closed behind Erika, Kelly let out a breath that she’d been holding in. “Am I the only one who was getting a mixed message there? I could’ve sworn that Erika was gay.”

Meredith looked calm, but a bit curious. “I didn’t know about Daniels. But you need to relax, Kelly. I’m almost positive that they aren’t an item.” She then left the room to get her things.

Kelly just stared at the door.


Kelly still couldn’t answer that question while she was in the dressing room for the show. She was dressed, Erika was dressed, they were both putting on make-up, and the night’s show was almost ready to roll.

The events of that morning were still echoing in her head, especially the look on Erika’s face when that man came to the door. Why couldn’t she just say that it was just ‘part of the plan’? Why couldn’t Erika be just like Meredith and be great friends? Why wasn’t any of this making sense?

“Are you alright?” Kelly jumped in her seat a little bit at the sound of Erika’s voice. Her friend appeared very concerned. “You’re shaking. Nervous much?”

‘Only because I can’t think straight while I’m around you.’ “A little,” Kelly admitted, “if only because of the show.” Erika appeared to believe that half-truth, and tried to assuage her ‘fear’.

“It’s all in your head,” she assured the popular girl, “there is nothing that can or will stop you from kicking ass out there.” Kelly could see a smile on her friend’s face, and it made her feel calm, happy, and nervous all at the same time.

The door to the room opened slightly, allowing both girls to see Mary’s head squeak through the door. “Places, ladies.” She went back behind the door not a moment later.

Erika smiled at Kelly again. “Break a leg.”

“...Why would I want to break my leg?”


The show was a riotous blast; the audience was roaring with laughter from start to finish. The crowd was standing up about halfway through the curtain call, and there was much cheering when Erika and Kelly took their bows.

Once they were finally back in the dressing room, Erika looked at her friend and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard them cheer that loudly before.”

Kelly was bear-hugged by an ecstatic Erika. “I can’t believe that we did it! You were great!” The hug seemed to last a bit long for both of them, especially Kelly, who couldn’t help but notice that Erika’s hair distinctly smelled like coconut.

The show of affection had to end at some point, and the two girls let go when the door opened to let the director in. “Congratulations, gals!” If Erika was ecstatic, then Mrs. Thatcher was ready to start bouncing off the walls. “It was a smashing success! I knew that you two were perfect to play the leading roles!” Both ladies blushed at the compliment, taking it in a completely different and unrelated direction. “Anyway, I’d best be off- my husband is waiting for me.”

As she left, Kelly and Erika began to redress, both of them sneaking peeks at the other when they thought their friend wasn’t looking. Erika couldn’t help herself- she’d seen everything during that little episode in the shower. But Kelly was just beginning to see her friend in a more affectionate light- and it was making her oogle her. It was a little disturbing to her because she’d never felt the urge to look at anyone like that, and partly because it was Erika she was staring at.

Kelly nervously smiled at Erika and told her that she’d see her tomorrow. Erika nodded as she struggled to put on her socks- damn things just would NOT go on. After two minutes of wrangling with those stupid things onto her feet, she slowly opened the door-

“I’m telling you Mary, it would be the greatest birthday present she’s ever gotten.” Kat seemed very eager for some reason.

“And I’m telling you, Kat- as much as I’d like to do that for her, the fact is that there is no way that Erika would want a threesome for her eighteenth birthday.” Erika’s jaw dropped as she heard the conversation. “She likes Kelly, remember?” Mary seemed intent on enjoying her orange soda.

“So then we could wrap Kelly up in wrapping paper and give her away!”

Mary shook her head. “Because she’ll actually agree to that.”

“Well, all else fails,” Kat grinned mischievously, “We could ask Kelly for a foursome.”

Mary spat out half a mouthful of orange-flavored soft drink. “That’s... unlikely.”

“Oh, come on! Like you’ve never looked at Kelly like that! We’ve both seen how Kelly is around her! And I know that Erika’s pretty hot- don’t deny it.” Erika felt faint when she saw Mary blush.

“That’s beside the point and you know it. We need a serious idea for what to get her...” It was at that point that Erika went back inside the dressing room to calm down. A threesome?!? There was a huge debate going on in her head- one side arguing that she really shouldn’t and go for Kelly, one side arguing that this would be a great way to become a woman, and this really perverted voice telling her to go for the foursome.

‘My god, since when was my mind so far in the gutter?’


That conversation still haunted her by the time she lied down on her bed. Not the lesbian part- she’d known that she liked women for quite some time. The fact that she might get... THAT for her birthday both scared and intrigued her. She was a virgin, yes, but she knew a few ‘things’ about sex. Whispers here and there in the school had led her to understand a few things about how that ‘thing’ was done.

And then there was what they’d said about Kelly. ‘How she was around me?’ Erika wracked her brains a bit. Kelly had certainly been very kind to her, helping her out time and time again... ‘What on earth were Kat and Mary talking about?’

As she went to sleep, she found herself in another dream. She was on the stage, and the only light on stage were two spotlights, and one of them-

“Kat? Mary?” Her two friends were making out on the floor on the stage in one of the lit spots. “What on earth are you doing?”

Kat grinned, her hand up Mary’s shirt. “Oh, come on. Like you’ve never wanted to try it.” Mary’s face was flushed at her lover’s blunt comment.

“Be fair, Kat- she helped us get together.”

“I know- but this is a dream, and we’re part of her subconscious. I can be as blunt as I damn well please. Plus, I don’t hear Erika telling me to stop.” she said as she began feeling up Mary again.

“B-but do we really have to makeout in here? Now?!?”

Kat shrugged. “Well, this IS a dream. There’s only one reason that we’re here like this- Erika wants to at least watch us.” Erika blushed and turned away from the two.

“I-I do not!” But it was definitely hard to argue with this ‘dream’ Kat.

“Oh COME ON,” Kat snickered, stopping the makeout session. “We’re figments of your imagination at the moment! The only reason we’d even be here like this is if you had at least THOUGHT about it!” And with that, Kat returned to pleasing the love of her life.

As Erika tried to ignore the two women behind her, she could see a third walking into the spotlight she was in. Erika oogled the new figure. “K-Kelly?”

Her friend was wearing nothing but a red bikini, and it took a great amount of willpower to pull her line of sight to Kelly’s face. “What the hell is going on here, Kel- WHY ARE YOU TAKING OFF YOUR CLOTHES?!?”

Kelly’s hands were mere inches from pulling the knot keeping her bikini on. “Come on, it’s not like you haven’t seen me naked before. You really want this, and your imagination needs a kick start.”

The commotion behind Mary stopped, and a disheveled Mary and Kat came into the same spotlight. “Sad but true,” Mary stated.

Erika blinked hard. “This dream makes no sense.”

“Since when,” Kat pointed out, “have your dreams made ANY sense? That one you keep having about the dragons is way too symbolic. Armor singing a song from ‘Oklahoma’? My God...”

“Kat, stop it...” Mary huffed. “What we’re trying to say here Erika, is that you need a kick in the seat. You need to get out there and get to romancing!”

“Yeah! Get out there!” The lights in the theatre came on, and all four gals looked out into the seats.

“Guys, why is there a visibly miffed panda and an Australian guy in the audience?” Erika asked.

“I have no idea.” Kat shrugged.

“Enough!” Mary was getting really angry. “We came here for a reason, right?” The lights in the theatre went off again, and the spot all four girls were in was lit once more by a spotlight.

Erika began breathing heavily as Kelly drew her into her arms. “Mary’s got a point. Now kiss me.”


Kelly sighed. “Fine, I’ll start.” And with that, Kelly’s lips met Erika’s.

Erika knew this was a dream, but it still felt surprisingly good. “And that was just the warm-up,” Kelly purred. Kat grinned and a smile went across Mary’s face as they stepped a little closer...


“Miss Andress-”

“How many times have I told you to call me ‘Mom’?”

Erika sighed. “‘Mom’, it’s time for me to go.”

“Just one moment, young lady.” Allison approached her quite literally red-headed stepchild. “One thing before you go. Why on earth were you screaming at four in the morning?”

Erika had to beat back a blush with an oversized stick and resorted to an old standby. “I dreamt that I was being eaten alive by a gigantic mouth.” It was a dream she’d had when she was a kid- one that Allison had heard before.

“Fine. But I want you to do your laundry tomorrow,” Allison sternly told her. “I had no idea you had so many dirty clothes.”

Erika gulped. “Yea. Dirty clothes. Gotta go.” She flew out the door, that blush finally hitting her face as she walked to Buck’s waiting car. Buck was outside the car, tersely talking on a cell phone.

“Jenny, I swear, you’re catchin’ me at a bad ti- Yes, Dixon and Kroenke called me earlier- I’ll tell them the same thing I told you, call back next week. Yes, I’m happy I got the ‘not guilty’ verdict for my client. Yes, you can talk ta me about it later. But stop talking about ‘that’ for now- gag order’s still in effect.” He clicked the phone shut and turned to Erika. “Please don’t ask,” he said, opening the car door for her.


The second show somehow ended up even better than the first- maybe because it was the last performance and the cast was putting their all into it. Regardless, there was much celebration backstage once the show ended.

But not everyone was celebrating. Kelly was regretful that it was over because she no longer had an excuse to hang around Erika- she’d have to find ways to do so, and fast. Her imminent problem with Homecoming suitors was about to get a lot worse...

And Erika was uneager to let go of the one thing she thought she had in common with the only ‘popular’ girl who had shown her any sign of friendship. And a girl who she’d come to realize made her happy and nervous in ways she’d never expected.

It was Kelly who broke the ice. “So... your friend from earlier... Georgie... he was in the audience tonight?”

Erika nodded as she put her socks on- she always seemed to have issues with the darned things.

“How is he?”

The line of questioning came out of the blue for Erika. “He’s alright. He likes the school he’s going to.”

Kelly nodded, afraid that she might say too much if she responded any other way. “Do you enjoy... being around him?”

Erika smiled and said, “He’s got this great sense of humor, and he’s very sweet. I mean, I wouldn’t date him, but who ever he’s going for is a lucky gal.”

Something got caught in Kelly’s throat. “Wait- you’re NOT dating him?”

“No...” Erika looked at her friend in confusion. “He’s not my type. Why, did you think I was?” A nod confirmed her guess. “No, no, and no. Georgie’s a great guy, but no. He’s like one of the brothers I never had.”

Kelly felt her heart leap. She was almost... relieved that Erika was single. The two left backstage, only to run into two aging men who seemed very eager to talk to Erika.

“Erika Andress? Matt Dixon and Cameron Kroenke from the New York Times, we’d like to ask you a few questions- what the hell are you doing, Jenny?”

A short-haired brunette barged through the two men. “Ignore those guys, Miss Erika. Jenny Bracco, Washington Post. Could you spare a moment of your-”

Jenny’s question was immediately cut off by a thundering roar. “BRACCO! KROENKE! DIXON!” Buck Daniels and his two grandsons were walking at a fierce pace towards the three reporters. “What the HELL did I tell you about coming now? It’s too soon; we’ve got another week on the deal! A WEEK!”

Kroenke looked ashamed and looked at the ground, but Dixon and Bracco did not back down. “First Amendment, Buck,” Dixon recited, “states that-”

“I know the damned First Amendment,” Buck spat out. “Now let’s the three of you and myself go into the next room and I’ll explain to you the concept of a gag order.” His face was seemingly made of stone as the three reporters relented at last and followed him, Georgie following.

“Morty,” Erika asked, “what’s going on?”

Mortimer Daniels looked at his childhood friend and sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you. Grandpa risked enough by explaining it to me and George. Now if you’ll excuse me, Grandpa needs my help.” With that, he marched off after his family.

“Something about this doesn’t quite add up,” Kelly stated. “You’re definitely one of the best I’ve seen- but why on earth would reporters from two of the most respected newspapers in the country come here for you?”

Erika shrugged. “I dunno. But I’m all but certain that Uncle Buck’s definitely in the know.”

Chapter 8

Title: Know Now What We Knew Then

[Author's notes: A/N: Hokay, I'm finally back on track. This ain't dead yet, just coming up with ways to give a satisfying conculsion.]

Chapter 8: Know Now What We Knew Then


The silence in the car was deafening. Buck Daniels and Erika Andress both sat in the car, not speaking to each other. Buck stayed silent from not knowing what to say and Erika because she didn’t know how to say what she was thinking.

Finally, Erika piped up first. “Where’d Georgie and Morty go?”

“They’re out with some friends,” her pseudo-uncle said. “I hope those two enjoy their time back.”

Erika scratched the back of her head before finding something to begin the conversation in earnest. “Those were people from the Times and the Post back there.”

Buck sighed. “Yes. Yes there were. I was hoping they wouldn’t show up fer a little while longer, but I suppose that no plan truly survives a brush with reality.”

The seventeen year old girl continued her line of questioning. “Why were they there?”

Buck stopped the car. Erika looked around confused for a moment before discovering that they’d stopped in front of Buck’s house. “Come inside,” he said, “and I’ll try to expand on our earliah conversations.”

After going inside, Erika sat down at the table, taking slow and deep breaths through her nose. How much was Buck going to tell her? And more importantly, would he finally answer her questions or just ignore the elephant in the room?

It was some time before Mr. Daniels finally returned, with two glasses of orange juice in his hands. “I forgot to go to the grocery store today,” he remarked. “So you’ll just have to do without this time.” Buck sat down at the table, setting the beverages down and got down to brass tacks. “What’d ya wanna know?”

Erika’s answer was immediate. “Everything.”

“Can’t do that, Erika.” Erika grit her teeth as Buck closed his eyes. “Try being more specific.”

She thought for a moment before deciding on her approach. “Why were the reporters there?”

Buck looked at his drink before beginning his response. “They were there for you. Obvious, I know. They wanted your opinion about the... situation involvin’ what yer father left you in his will.”

“I remember you talking about that,” Erika commented. “But why do you keep talking about a gag order?”

“Well,” Buck said after taking a long swig of juice, “that’s a bit of a tale. I’ll have to start from the beginning.”

He coughed before finally starting. “Your father and I were... very close, as I’m sure I’ve told you. Hell, it’s about time I explained that. Remember that picture you carry around with you- that one with yer parents?”

Erika plucked it out of her pocket- the picture hadn’t changed an iota from the last time she’d looked at it, but it still helped things make sense. “Go on. How’d you get so close to my father?”

Buck stayed silent, his fingers anxiously tapping the table. “Alright, I can tell you that. You see... your father and I worked together. Your father and a-” he coughed- “a co-worker found out that someone was ripping him off of a lot of money on some very lucrative material. He hired me to help him with the case. Long story short, we won. And it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

“Eventually, he met anotha friend of mine- the woman who’d end up being your real mother. She was strong, confident, and a bit of a heartbreaker before she met your father. They fell in love, got married, and she got pregnant with you. Then... well... we both know what happened to your dear mother.”

Erika nodded. “I wish I could’ve met her. You make her sound like a hell of a woman.”

“Yessiree bob, she was,” Buck chuckled, “helluva woman. But life isn’t fair sometimes. I guess it just wasn’t part o’ the Big Guy Upstairs’s plan, eh?” He became serious again. “Your father was so depressed. His world, his fairy tale ending- smashed to pieces. He quit his job, he stopped going out of the house... the only thing that kept him going was you.”

There was a long silence as Erika let it sink in. The truth was finally beginning to come out. “What happened next?”

Buck gulped down another mouthful of OJ. “A few yeas passed, and your father met Ally. Your stepmother.” He sighed, remarking, “I never liked her, told your father that she was a horrible woman, but he didn’t care. He just wanted a normal life. He wanted you to have a mother again.”

Erika quietly looked at the picture of her parents again. “Did he love Miss Andress?”

“Honestly? I couldn’t answer that question. Not because I can’t say, but because I honestly don’t know.” Buck then added, “But if he did love that woman, he could never have loved her the same way he loved your real mother.”

“Alright,” Erika said. “I think I understand that. But where’s the gag order come in?”

“Well,” Buck explained, “after your father remarried, the world left him alone. He changed his name to your stepmother’s and lived off the money he’d made. Which was a great deal, mind you- much greater than the inheritance that Allison Andress had received when her parents kicked the bucket.”

“After your father died, there was a big brouhaha in the press, mostly over the monay. But there was another fight going on over who received custody of you. Much quieter because, well... I lost. Badly. I did so horribly that it was the last case I took for years.”

Erika stared at Buck. “Wait, you wanted custody over me?”

The lawyer nodded his head. “Erika, we both know what kind of a woman your mother is. And I thought I had a genuine claim because your father made me your godfather.”

There was a long pause. Finally, one of the two people at the table spoke. “G-godfather?”

Buck Daniels nodded. “Before you were born, your father took me aside and said, ‘Buck, I want you to give me your word as a man to watch over my kid, no matter what happens.’ When I asked him to speak it in simpler terms, he asked me to be your godfather and to raise you in case something happened to your parents. Unfortunately,” Buck grunted, “it seems that neither of us counted on him ever remarrying. Nor did I count on a stepmother having priority over a godfather- a massive blunder on my part.”

Things finally started to fall into place for Erika. Why Buck had been so eager to be kind to her, why he constantly argued with her stepmother, why he kept asking her to call him ‘Uncle’... Drink. She needed to gulp down some more of her drink.

“I know this is a bit hard to stomach,” Buck finally stated as he rose from his seat, “but I swear to you, it’s all true.”

Erika took a long and deep breath. “Thanks for telling me, Uncle Buck.” She stood up and hugged him like never before. “Thank you so much.”

Buck Daniels hugged back, a smile on his face. “It’s the least I could do for ya. It’s the very least I could do.” He looked at his watch before releasing his godchild. “It’s late. Ya need to get home.”

The two were about to walk out the door when a familiar ringing noise rang out. The red phone was ringing. “Uncle Buck, one more question- what’s the deal with that phone? You said you’d explain it when you explained the picture.”

Buck gulped as he remembered that promise. “I should’a known that would bite me in the butt. I’ll say this- it’s the secret to my success during the last few yeas as a defense attorney.”

“But you said you’d explain! That’s a cop-out!”

The lawyer calmly looked Erika in the eye and smiled. “Erika... do you believe in magic?”

Erika raised an eyebrow at the sudden change of subject. “Buck, what are you-”

“Do you believe in magic?” He seemed very serious about such a trivial question.

“No. I mean, it’s a great coincidence that you knew Dad and were gonna look out for me, but I just think it’s all stuff for little kids.”

Buck subtly bit his lower lip. “Alright then. Goodnight, Erika.” Once she walked out the door, he silently chuckled to himself as he went for the phone. “I promise, I’ll show you some real magic.”


As Erika closed the door to her house behind her, she just wanted to go to bed. The house was almost completely dark, and it seemed that she would get home from a show without any trouble, just like last night-

Op, scratch that. A lamp flickered on in the next room, revealing Allison Andress sitting calmly in a chair. “Erika, take a seat.”

As she did, she noticed her stepmother sniffing the air, searching for the slightest trace of alcohol. Erika knew the game she was playing- Allison never acknowledged that Erika was out at a show, acting instead that she thought Erika was getting drunk, high, or selling her body for money.

“Where have you been, Erika?” It appeared that tonight would be no different.

“I-I was doing a show for school.” It was better to be straightforward tonight, Erika figured.

“I didn’t give you permission to do a show.”

Erika knew that was a blatant lie- she’d had her stepmother sign a permission slip granting her the right to audition for the entire year. “Yes you did.”

Calling Allison’s bluff, in hindsight, may not have been her best option. “Are you talking back to me? What gives you the right, you little runt?”

It was taking everything that Erika had not to fire back with what she’d learnt from Buck. But no, that could get them both in trouble. “B-Because I have the right to hang out with my friends. Jade and Fiona do it all the time, and they get drunk and stuff! I don’t even touch the stuff!”

Miss Andress stood up out of indignation. “What did you accuse my daughters of doing?”

And Erika stayed perfectly still, her newfound willpower finding an ax to grind against Allison’s draconian rule. “You heard what I said.”

For the first time that Erika could remember, Allison Andress was at a loss for things to say. “I... You...” She was shaking with anger, but she couldn’t make the words.

Erika turned around calmly, savoring what was possibly the first true ‘victory’ she’d scored against her stepmother. “I’m going to bed.”

As her stepdaughter stepped out of the room, Allison finally found her voice. “You are grounded from Homecoming, young lady! I’m not giving you any money for tickets!”

But her punishment fell on deaf ears. Erika walked up the stairs, thankful that she had a stash of money hidden away in her room- it wasn’t a large amount she had squirreled away, but it was enough for a ticket. But the dress... well, the theatre department had enough spares, and they looked pretty good. And as for dealing with her mother’s wrath, well, she’d find a way. She seemed to be finding ways to stand up to things that seemed immovable just weeks before.



Lunchtime the next day was a bit different than usual for Erika- it was starting to get a bit too cold to eat outside for most people’s taste. So now most people were packed in the lunch room at those long rectangular tables. She was sitting with Kat and Mary along with Julia and a few Theatre ‘jocks’, as they liked to call themselves.

Erika wasn’t really paying attention to the conversations around her. Her mind was awhirl in thought, partly because of what had transpired the previous night, but mostly because she wanted to see Kelly. She knew it would be nearly impossible to get ahold of her now- they were pretty much in two different worlds.

Kat nudged Erika, trying to get her attention. “Hey, you there?”

That promptly brought Erika back to reality. “Mm? Yeah, I’m here. Just thinkin’, I guess.”

“Well,” Kat grinned, “start thinking about Homecoming! There’s so much to plan for- dinner, the dress, the limo...” Her grin turned wicked as she added, “...the date...”

Erika’s face became flushed at the words. “I’m gonna need some help on the dress- Mom cut me off for performing.”

Mary’s eye twitched. “What’s that woman’s problem, anyway? It’s not like you’re breaking the law by acting.”

“Eh, to hell with the witch,” Julia snorted. “If I had a bit more notice and the materials, I could make this great thing I’ve been sketching out.”

Erika deadpanned, “You’re just calling her that because she failed you on today’s test.”

“Well, EXCUSE ME for not putting the date at the top of the freaking paper. No warning, no precedent, just BAM! I would’ve aced it this time, I had a freaking tutor!”

Mary nodded. “Either way, it’s about time for you to get a ticket for Homecoming. Kat and I already got ours, and Julia’s planning to pay for hers and her date’s.”

“It’s so cute!” Kat was grinning ear from ear. “You know that cute little bookworm that Julia’s been hanging out with the past few weeks, the one who’s been tutoring her? Well she’s FINALLY going-”

“Do we really need to go into my dating profile? Especially when there’s a more interesting example right across the table?” Julia was a little cross, but there was no denying that she was blushing.

“Speaking of which-” Kat turned to tease Erika again, only to find that she had gotten up from the table. “Hm. You think she’s finally taking her love life into her own hands?”

“One can only hope,” Mary said. “One can only hope.”

“It’s only fair that we push her though,” Kat remarked. “She helped us, so we’ve gotta help her.”

Julia sighed. “My God, you two love playing Cupid.”

“We know,” Mary admitted. “But it’s not like you complained that much when you started looking at Tina. Go and ask her already!”

A grunt came from Julia’s throat before she got up from the table. “I’ve gotta be going now.”

Halfway across the room, Erika was next in line. The desk was covered with a black cloth, with a colorful sign that read ‘Senior Homecoming Tickets’ hanging in front of the table. Underneath the large writing was some fine print that read, ‘Maximum one ticket per student. Non-students must be accompanied by student when purchasing ticket.’

She stepped forward, to be greeted by a familiar face. “Hey, long time no see!” Meredith smiled at her, her hair as pink as ever. “Pretty obvious why you’re here, eh?”

Erika smiled nervously. “Yeah.” She dug the money out of her pocket and handed it over. “This should cover it.”

Meredith quickly counted the bills, sorted them into the nearby cash box, and ripped a red ticket off the ticket roll. “Here you go.” She looked at Erika, writing her name on the record. She asked, “So... who’re you going with?”

She shrugged. “At the moment, Kat and Mary. Gonna probably go as a group.”

“Actually, she’s not going at all.”

Erika and Meredith both turned to find Jade standing a foot away, smirking. She grabbed the ticket from Meredith’s hands, commenting with a sneer, “Mom didn’t give you any money for a ticket.”

“I’ve been saving up money,” Erika replied. “I paid for that, please give it back.”

Jade smirked. “I don’t think so. If Mom didn’t give you any money, then you aren’t buying a ticket. And that means,” she added, “that you’re not going to Homecoming.”

With that, she ripped Erika’s ticket in half. Erika looked on in disbelief as Jade turned to Meredith and said, “You know the rules. Don’t sell her another one.”

A little bit after the incident, Meredith saw Erika telling the people she’d been eating with what happened. Mary and Julia had to physically restrain Kat while Erika made a break for the bathroom.



Meredith ended up nearly restraining Kelly as well during lunch the next day. “Calm down. There’s nothing we can do at this point.”

“Like HELL there isn’t,” Kelly grunted as she hid back in her tree- she wasn’t going to eat inside just yet. “That family of hers is ruining her senior year. And she can’t go to Homecoming either!” She scarfed down her snickerdoodle cookie, adding, “I don’t understand how she deals with it.”

“I don’t understand how YOU’RE going to deal with it,” Meredith said. “With Erika out of the picture, you’re going to have a pretty rough go of it yourself saying ‘no’ to everyone.”

Kelly didn’t seem to hear that part. “I mean, how can she stand those two? They’re like a twisted version of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”


She snapped out of her tirade against the two she’d fought against for so long. “What?”

“Back to reality, here. Lunch is over. And we’ve got people waiting for us.” They both looked at the entrance to the school- there were a gaggle of girls standing there, conversing. “Twenty-two of them. I already counted.”

Kelly cursed as she climbed out of the tree. “Dang, that many? There were only four of them yesterday.”

“Yeah, but since you never asked anyone,” Meredith stated, “word got around that you’re still available. And it’s like the old saying, ‘Never hurts to ask.’”

The girls swarmed the two as they reentered the school, with Meredith being pushed away by the rabid throng of fangirls. Papers flew out of her backpack as she was thrown out of the crowd. “My draft!” Meredith frantically began grabbing at the flying pieces of her novel-in-the-making.

Meanwhile, Kelly felt like she was going to suffocate, though she wasn’t sure if it’d be from the attention or the closely-knit crowd. So many people were pulling her in almost every direction, the sensation of being so close to so many people was giving her the feeling she was in a sauna- minus the relaxing feeling.

“Excuse me ladies!” A familiar voice rang cut a knife through the crowd, causing all of the ‘suitors’ to stop their antics. Kelly recognized the cultured tone and the figure of Mrs. Thatcher, Head of the Theatre Department. She was carrying a stack of scripts in one hand and a Thermos in the other.

“If you’d be all be so kind, I’d like to see Miss Kingsley in my office.”

A couple of the girls groaned in disappointment, dispersing to allow Kelly some air. “Alright, please follow me.”

Kelly quickly maneuvered her way out of the group and followed the teacher, muttering a quick farewell as she escaped her fangirls for the day. “...would be so much easier if these idiots would stop STANDING on my work...”

Once they were well out of earshot, Kelly asked Mrs. Thatcher, “Am I in trouble?”

“No,” Thatcher grinned, “I just thought you could use a little help getting out of that mess.” Kelly chuckled a little bit at that. “On a more serious note, I actually do need to have a word with you. In private.” She took out a set of keys out of her pocket- she never seemed to carry a purse- and unlocked the doors to the theatre.

Kelly knew this part of the school, but not the door immediately to the left that Mrs. Thatcher also unlocked. “This is my office,” Thatcher said. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Once she sat down, Kelly quickly realized that Mrs. Thatcher’s ‘office’ was fairly large. In fact, it doubled as her classroom for the Theatre students. The walls were decorated with posters of various shows- some from Broadway, others advertising shows the school had done in recent years. The desk was surprisingly neat, the only things on it being a phone, a calendar, a nameplate labeled ‘T. Thatcher’, and a picture frame of Mrs. Thatcher and a lanky man in wedding clothes.

“I’m sure you’ve had a pleasant day?” Kelly blinked as Terry Thatcher set the scripts down beside her desk and sat in her chair. “Relax- it’s not as if I’m grilling you for a quiz.”

Kelly sighed as she pulled a chair out from one of the tables and sat. “It’s been... fine. I guess.”

Mrs. Thatcher smiled as she took out a sandwich and unscrewed the top of her Thermos- the fresh smell of tea escaped from the opened container.

Kelly laughed for a second. “I half expected you to break out some scones.”

The teacher laughed as well. “Surprise!” She took a sip of her tea before stating, “Shockingly enough, not every English gal likes scones or crumpets with her tea- or may not even like tea at all. But that’s neither here nor there, now is it?”

Kelly nodded. “I guess not. You had something to tell me?”

“Yes.” Mrs. Thatcher appeared a little nervous, but continued nonetheless. “I have a bit of a favor to ask of you...”



She could’ve been having fun with her friends today, but Erika was sitting on her bed, reading a manga. She sighed as she looked at the clock again. It was still seven thirty. Erika put the Japanese book down and massaged her temples. She was so freaking bored! The sun hadn’t even set, and she was at her house, reading MANGA!!!

“Ugh...” Erika was fairly angry, more so than she could recall being for years. The fact that there was a tapping noise wasn’t helping things. ‘Wait... just where is that coming from?’ Nothing from the door, though it would more likely come in the form of a door being slammed against the wall-

“GAH!” Erika nearly screamed as she saw a familiar blonde at her window, tapping the glass. After opening the window, she stared at Kelly, thunderstruck, and asked, “Are you mad?”

“Just a bit,” Kelly grinned as she climbed through the window, backpack in tow, “but you’ve probably gone nuts from dealing with the Terrible Twosome.”

Erika chuckled slightly at her joke. “It’s just gone from the usual tricks to flat out insanity. I’ve been grounded for a month for ‘stealing money’ from my stepmom.”

Kelly looked amazed at that. “I heard that was your money!”

“It was. I’d been saving it for something like this. And now, I’m freaking grounded.” Erika sighed bitterly while Kelly got angry.

“That’s bullshit! It’s your money; you have the right to spend it how you want!” Erika looked at her as if she was going crazy. “And she’s freaking grounded you for Homecoming! I swear, they’ve killed off everything for you!”

“Yeah... being grounded for my birthday really really bites. But it’s not as if I ever get to do anything-”

“Wait.” Kelly looked at Erika, confused at that tidbit of information. “What was that?”

“Well,” Erika remarked, “Uncle Buck and the guys are really the only ones who celebrate it.”

“No no no! You said your birthday was coming up! AND that you were grounded for it!”

Erika gulped, playing with some strands of her hair. “Y-yea. My birthday is the same day as Homecoming.”

Kelly stared at her for a second, before saying, “I have to get you something.”

“No, really, it’s not necessary-”

“But it is!” Kelly began talking full speed, not allowing Erika to interrupt. “I mean, you’ve never gotten to do so much and it’s, it’s criminal! To think that they’d just lock away a beautiful girl like yo-” She stumbled for a second, blushing at her slip of the tongue. “A girl like you into her room on her birthday AND for Homecoming... it’s horrible.”

Erika’s face was a deep blush as well, but nodded at the last part. “I-I guess.”

An idea sprang into Kelly’s head as she started to scrounge through her backpack. “Hold on, I got something good for you in here somewhere...” Erika was about to tell her that she didn’t need too, but Kelly’d already found it by that point, anyway.

“What is it?”

Kelly grinned as she rested her hand on the gray object she’d pulled out. “This is a portable DVD player, with one movie inside it. You,” she continued, pulling out some headphones, “are gonna finally get with the times and watch some movies.”

“But then I’ll be even deeper in the dog house.”

“Not if you keep the volume low,” Kelly grinned. “Any way, I’d love to stay, but I’m pretty sure that you don’t wanna be caught with me in your room in case someone decides to check in.” When she waited for a response, she found Erika staring at her, followed by a crushing bear hug.

That hug didn’t leave Kelly’s mind until she’d climbed back down the ladder and had driven halfway back to her house. ‘Alright,’ she finally thought to herself. ‘She’s grounded. I’ll tell Thatcher tomorrow, and then I have to figure out what to do next.’

Chapter 9

Title: Countdown

[Author's notes: At long last, most of the questions are FINALLY answered! On another note- made some edits to previous chapters. How the hell did I confuse Senior Prom with Homecoming?]

Chapter 9: Countdown



“So she’s grounded?” Kelly nodded as Mrs. Thatcher took the news in. “She could’ve told me that.”

“I don’t understand, Mrs. Thatcher. Why send me to check up on Erika?”

The theatre matriarch replied, “For starters, I think we both know that she has a very... unstable domestic situation.”

“Right... living with the Terrible Twosome can’t be healthy.”

But Mrs. Thatcher shook her head. “I don’t think you quite understand. I’ve heard an uncountable number of horror stories about how Erika is treated by them and by her stepmother.” She paused before adding, “With all of the things that poor girl has surrounding her... it’s a miracle she’s as kind as she is.”

“Okay... but there’s probably other people in the department who’ve got family issues.” Kelly reasoned. “Why focus on Erika?”

Mrs. Thatcher reached for her tea for a second, before deciding not to, instead opening a drawer in her desk and bringing out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. “You never saw this bottle.” She took a swig before quickly returning the bottle to its rightful place and sighing. “Sorry, just needed something a tad stronger than my tea. What was I saying?”

Kelly smiled at the teacher’s antics before answering, “Erika.”

“Ah.” The teacher sighed once more before bluntly stating, “I’m very concerned for her well-being. Everyone in this department has their problems, yes, but the combination of issues that girl is dealing with is very problematic.”

“You don’t need to go into much detail about those, Mrs. Thatcher.”

“Yes,” the teacher continued, “I wish I could say that was my only reason, but there’s another motive.” Thatcher looked Kelly dead in the eyes before stating, “She’s one of the best damned actresses I’ve ever seen.”

Kelly stared back at the teacher for a moment, bewildered. She blinked before finally saying what she was thinking. “Because she’s that good?”

Thatcher took a breath before explaining. “I’m afraid that’s it. I’m not going to beat around the bush- she has more talent than most of the people I’ve ever worked with.” She licked her lips, focusing on how her motivation could be so mixed. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hand out lead roles based on who your parents are- she had to earn her keep, just like you and everyone else. But quite a bit of my time around her has been cultivating her skill, as well as helping her grow into a mature woman- just like everyone else in the department. I just had to help her out of her shell and tell her how to fine tune her performances.”

Kelly didn’t know whether to be thankful or disgusted. “So you’ve been manipulating her.”

“No no no,” Mrs. Thatcher fiercely denied, “no more so than any other instructor. I’ve been teaching her. And as one of her teachers, I have the right to be concerned about my students. It’s not like I can call a parent-teacher conference.” Both women cringed at the thought. “Ally would probably try to get me sacked for that.”

A long silence permeated the room, before Kelly finally got up. “I don’t really know what to say.” Words continued to fail her as she looked at the teacher, before finally managing, “Thanks for looking after her.”

“Please don’t think too badly of me,” Mrs. Thatcher said. “I’ve been where she’s been, more or less. And I was lucky I managed what I did. I’m just trying to be to her what I wanted when I was her age.”

Kelly nodded in agreement, thanked her once again, and left the room. As she walked away, she began to contemplate which movie she’d be letting Erika borrow later that night...



“...then you cross multiply...”

“Mmm...” Julia could barely concentrate on the worksheet in front of her, the spectacled dark-haired girl next to her all over her mind. “Sorry, what was that, Tara?”

Tara sighed as she cleaned her glasses with a handkerchief from her pocket. “I know its Friday and that this isn’t due until next week, but focus a little, please?” She slowly squeezed Julia’s arm affectionately. “Or are you looking forward to tomorrow that much?”

“I can’t really help it,” Julia admitted. “You’re a lot more appealing to me than freaking homework.”

“J-Julia!” Tara blushed as she stared at her friend. “I don’t know what to say.”

Julia flashed a rare smile at Tara. “Then don’t say anything. You being with me is enough to make my day.”

The bookworm’s mouth opened, but no words were coming out. Julia’s smile grew a little wider, the hint of a giggle escaping her lips. “You-you’re not kidding, are you?”

“I don’t crack jokes like that,” Julia deadpanned. “I really am looking forward to Homecoming.”


“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

As the camera panned out, a few tears ran down Erika’s cheek. “That was beautiful...” As had become a sort of habit the past few days, a hand rapped the window. Kelly Kingsley once again set foot in the room after Erika had opened the window. “Why did you give me such a tearjerker?”

“Because,” Kelly said, “it’s one of the best movies ever.”

Erika couldn’t disagree with that, if only because she didn’t have many other movies to compare to. “It was really, really good.”

Kelly smiled at Erika, licking her lips. She pulled out another DVD case from her backpack, setting it on the desk. “Alright, this next movie is my personal favorite- thank God I finally found it- and I’ll tell you right now, it’s a lot happier than Casablanca.” She moved it away from Erika as she began to get up. “No no, I want you to wait until tomorrow to watch it. Hopefully it’ll make up for the rest of the BS your family’ll make you go through.”

The redhead looked at Kelly sincerely and said, “I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

“Are you alright?” Kelly looked concerned. “You’re shaking.”

Erika silently thanked God that Kelly was too concerned to notice that it was her knees that were doing most of the shaking. “I’m fine. Really.”

That seemed to satisfy the ‘King’, but she was still a little concerned. “Alright. Just get a good night sleep and watch that movie tomorrow, okay?”

After Kelly climbed back down, she watched Erika wave and turn away from the window. While on her way back, she had a quick thought about the movie she’d given her friend. Maybe watching that movie might give her some ideas, maybe even give her a hint...

Meanwhile, Erika began heading downstairs to begin making dinner. On the way down, she saw Fiona talking on her cell phone in hushed voices, who stopped the instant she saw her red-headed stepsister. Fiona stared at her as she walked by, and Erika stared back, though her stare was more out of confusion than suspicion.

In the kitchen, she noticed a sticky note on the fridge.


Gone out for meatball subs. Call me so I know what to order for ya.


There was a smiley face at the end of her note, one that began ringing a bell in Erika’s mind. But she didn’t make the connection until she had finished her dinner- tomato soup and grilled cheese.

Tomorrow was her birthday... that smiley face...

The sound of vibrations began emanating from behind her, causing Erika to jump in her seat. Luckily, she found that the source was just her mother’s cell phone, vibrating because she had just received a text.

Erika walked briskly back up to her room. Now she remembered! Her stepsisters! She was going to have to do a bit of work before she went to bed.



Erika walked back into her room and got dressed for the day. After putting on her shirt and shorts, she then moved her desk chair to block the door- the lock had been broken for some time.

Today was the day. Eighteen years old... legally a woman. Her birthday had come by again, and once again, there was absolutely NOTHING to look forward to besides a birthday cake from Uncle Buck and a hug from Georgie and Morty.

She looked at the clock. All of her friends were probably preparing to get ready to start their agendas for Homecoming. She knew that everyone at her school wanted to have a good time at Homecoming, which usually involved a dinner at a restaurant, maybe a movie, dressing nice, and showing up at the event about half an hour after the doors opened.

In fact, it sounded something like an excuse for people to go out on dates to Erika. She sighed as she looked out the window, noticing that Kelly had forgotten to put the ladder away. She smiled as she thought about Kelly. Her warm smile, the way her hair moved when nodded her head, her toned legs, her voluptuous figure-

Erika took a deep breath and snapped out of it. She felt something warm on her lip, which ended up being saliva. She’d been drooling over Kelly! She’d been drooling like some horny guy over her soft skin, those ruby lips, the way she looked when she was naked-

No! Erika pinched herself something fierce. She felt very... hot thinking about Kelly. Had her crush on the popular girl turned into full-blown fantasizing?!? She shook her head as two naked Kellys began taking suggestive poses in her mind. It wasn’t helping that she’d helped Kelly shower and had seen everything... Op, now there were twelve of them beckoning her to come close-

Erika slapped herself out of that alluring daydream. Her heart was racing because of that girl. She couldn’t STOP thinking about her! She licked her lips as she tried to get her mind on something else. That DVD was still on her desk, next to the DVD player Kelly had given her. Well, she could watch the movie to pass the time.

Erika stopped where she stood as the door knob twisted a little bit. Someone was trying to enter her room! The door began to open, but the chair that Erika had placed stopped it from opening enough for anyone to get through.

“Erika,” Fiona asked, “why won’t the door open?”

“Um, it’s broken.”

Evidently, Erika’s ability to lie was far worse than her acting. “That’s bull, Erika. Open the door.”

“No! Uh, I’m naked!”

Erika knew that saying that was a mistake the instant she heard it coming out of her mouth. “Right... I’m busting the door down.” A great slam shook the door, but the hinges held it in place. “Dang, that thing’s more solid than I thought it’d be.”

“Hey, Erika.” Jade was apparently behind the door as well. “We just want to give you a birthday present.”

Erika knew that was a blatant lie; her stepsisters had made an art of ignoring her birthday. “Maybe later, guys.”

“No,” Jade reassured her, “we mean it Erika! We want to do something special this time!” Erika was still very doubtful, especially since Fiona tried busting down the door again. “Fiona! You’re not helping!” The fact that an all-too familiar vibrator had been turned on from that last attempt wasn’t helping her either.

Erika frantically began piling more things against the door.


“Kat, remain perfectly calm.” Mary rubbed her temples as Kat ran around the room in a tizzy.

“But I can’t!” Kat was running around the room, high on sugary cereal and anxiety. “Today’s the big day! We’ve gotta get our hair done, do our make-up, buy tickets to the movie, double-check our reservations-”

“There’s a reason why I’m taking care of the plans, Kat.” Mary remained calm, though she took some ibuprofen to alleviate her headache.

Kat took a deep breath and nodded at her ‘husband’. “No wonder you’re always the stage manager. You’ve always got a cool head.”

It was at that moment that Mary’s cell phone began to ring. “For the love of- Oh my God.” She grit her teeth as she looked at the caller ID.

“What is it, Mary? You look like all the color’s gone out of your face.”

“It’s Erika,” Mary stated. “She’s using the football phone.” Kat’s eyes widened as Mary answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Mary? Oh, thank God I got ahold of you. I need to get out of Dodge, stat!”

“Calm down, Erika. Give me the short story. Right... Okay... What? WHAT?!?” Kat had never seen Mary so angry, there were veins popping out of her head and her eyes looked like giant glasses of milk with olives in the middle. “Alright. Call that Buck guy and tell him you’re on the way. We will be too. Just find a way out of there.”

Mary hung up the phone and turned to her lover. “Get the dresses, the shoes, and the hair stuff. I’ll start the car.”


Back at Erika’s room, she was finishing up her call to Buck. “Thank you so much.” She looked back at the door- that chair did NOT look like it was going to hold up much longer.

“Alright, Erika. We’ve got a freaking battering ram. Now open the goddamn door!”

“NO!” Erika shouted. But she was still in a pickle- that door was the only way out besides jumping out the window. The window! Kelly had forgotten to put away the ladder last night!

Erika quickly got her backpack, and chucked the DVD player into it- she was NOT giving her step family any more ammo against her if she could help it. She also picked up the DVD, and took a quick look at the title- ‘Black Holes’.

Her gaze lingered slightly on the people depicted on the box. For a moment, she was experiencing déjà vu. “No way. That’s- that’s impossible!”

The door was nearly split in half. Erika stuffed the box in her pack and made a break for the ladder.


“I can’t freaking believe this,” Fiona growled as Jade drove the car. “How the hell did she know we were coming?”

Jade kept her eyes on the road, but still shook her head. “Hell if I know. Look, we’ve just gotta make sure that she doesn’t get to that stupid black guy before we do.”

“African-American,” Fiona corrected.

“To hell with being PC,” Jade yelled. “We got lucky that Erika didn’t call the cops on us for catching us with Kelly. Let’s just take care of business, hm?” The car came to a quick stop in front of Buck Daniel’s house. “Great. Those two crazy drama dykes are already here.”

The two ran to the door and knocked. “Here’s hoping that we get lucky.”

The door opened to reveal George and Mortimer Daniels. “Hello,” Jade said, “have you seen our stepsister?”

“Nope,” Georgie replied with a straight face. “Have you seen your front teeth?”

“What?” In an instant, Georgie punched Jade in the face, sending the mastermind to the dirt.

Fiona retaliated by throwing a right hook at the bald freshman, but her attack was blocked by Morty, whose fist connected with Fiona’s stomach. “You have eight seconds to get you and your sister off our lawn before I really start kicking your ass.”

Jade sat up and rubbed her chin. “You’ve gotta be kidding.”

Morty’s features hardened and he barked out, “ONE!”

The two began scurrying away, managing to climb into their car by the time Morty was about to shout ‘seven’. As they drove away, George commented, “You know, I SHOULD feel bad for punching a woman in the face.”

Morty nodded, before saying, “How do you feel?”

“I feel freaking fantastic,” George smirked. “And I know you feel the same.” His brother sighed as the two closed the door and returned to the kitchen. The room had become sort of a makeshift meeting room, with many more people sitting around the table than usual. Erika and Buck were there as always, but so were Kat, Mary, Julia, and Tara. “Alright, Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun have left the building.”

“Now’s not the time for jokes,” Julia remarked. “Erika just went through a VERY traumatic experience. Two, if you count what they tried to do to Kelly.”

“True,” Mary agreed, “I knew those two were horrible human beings, but this is beyond their usual brand of mayhem.”

Julia disagreed. “Please, I’ve been warning you about those two for weeks.”

Kat was enraged at Julia’s tone. “And that’s only because they almost did your sister!”

“Enough!” Everyone calmed down at Buck’s command. “We’re not here to point fingers at how this could’ve happened. We’re here to support Erika in her time of need.”

Tara, who happened to be sitting next to Erika, sighed. “Are you alright? Would you like some of my orange juice?”

“I’m not really in the mood for OJ,” Erika mumbled.

“Okay.” Tara seemed resolute to do something. “I’ll make you some hot chocolate. Would that be better?”

Erika nodded. “That’d be nice.” Tara nodded and turned to Julia. “I’ll be sure that you get some too, Julia.”

As she walked away, Julia licked her lips. “God, I love that girl.”

Kat took a deep breath before reasoning, “Alright. I’m not really sure where to begin.”

“It might be better to talk about something else.” Georgie looked at Mary, who continued, “It might as well be ignoring the elephant in the room, but it’s better than awkward silence.”

Erika nodded, finally deciding to bring something up that’d been bothering her. “Uncle Buck? I got a question for you.”

“If you want to take it to court, we’re gonna have to-”

“No.” Mr. Daniels looked surprised at her interruption. “I want some answers.”

Buck looked fairly confused as all eyes turned on him. “I’m not sure I follow.”

Erika dug around in her backpack until she pulled out the movie. “This.” She slid Kelly’s copy of ‘Black Holes’ across the table, watching Uncle Buck pick up the DVD box. “Explain,” she said, taking her old picture of her parents out of her pocket.

Buck’s face looked several shades paler. “How did you get ahold of this?”

“Kelly lent me a movie to get me through the day.” She sat up in her chair and asked rhetorically, “Who are the people on the cover?”

No one spoke for a good two minutes. Tara walked in, two piping hot cups of cocoa in her hands. “Sorry it took me so long.” She handed the cups to Erika and Julia, and then lightly pecked Julia’s cheek. Julia couldn’t stop smiling for half a minute.

Buck looked at his grandsons. Georgie closed his eyes and took a deep breath, while Morty shook his head. “Today IS her eighteenth birthday, right? There’s no harm in telling her.”

The eldest Daniels struggled with his words, which was shocking, considering his profession. He opened and closed his mouth, trying desperately to find a good place to start. “Erika, pass your picture to any person at the table, and I’ll pass the DVD to that person.”

After a moment’s thought, she passed the picture to Tara. Another few second passed, then handed the movie to the new girl. Tara cleaned her glasses before analyzing both items.

On one hand, she had a tattered picture. Buck Daniels was in the center, with a strangely familiar man to his right. His sunglasses were raised above his brown eyes, and his brown hair was held up by hair gel in the front. His chin was so strong that it seemed to be chiseled from stone. He was wearing a leather jacket, and he had that proud look in his eye that Erika had committed to memory.

The mother was nearly a spitting image of Erika- her red hair was only shorter to Erika’s, but everything else- especially her eyes, were exactly the same. That specific shade of blueish-green.

Tara then looked at the box art for ‘Black Holes’, starring Jackie Daniels and Cheryl Long. She blinked, cleaned her glasses again, and looked at both images again. “They look exactly the same.” Tara paused as this fact dawned upon her. “That-that would mean that Jackie Daniels and Cheryl Long would-”

Buck nodded, confirming Tara’s suspicions. “Yes. They’re Erika’s parents.” All around the table, people were shocked, confused, or at least hid those emotions well. “Erika, I’ll answer yer questions now.”

Erika blinked. “ANY question?”

“Any question. I can’t get in trouble now.”

Mary piped up first. “How? How is that possible? And how the hell did we not see the resemblance?”

Buck thought a moment. “Well, you probably never thought about those two the same time you were around Erika. Their story is a little more complex. They met on the set of the movie, after Kyle Kingsley and myself helped take care of a major lawsuit. I introduced her to Jackie, and things just happened from there.”

Kat was next. “That makes sense... Cheryl was supposed to have died from childbirth complications. But why didn’t anyone hear about it?”

“Well, that was hard to arrange. Jackie wanted things to be kept quiet. But the media wouldn’t have any of it- the tabloids, more respected papers like the Times... they all wanted to talk about it. Eventually, I got a gag order placed on anything involving Cheryl’s death. Had to fight tooth and nail to do it, had to give out a few favors to some of the more... determined reporters. Like Kroenke, Bracco, and Dixon. It took a while fer people to stop paying attention.”

Julia drank the last of her cocoa before asking, “But if Erika’s parents are those two, wouldn’t that make her richer than all of us?”

“Technically, yes. But because of the way Jackie’s will was written, Erika could not legally assume ownership of the money he made off his albums, his movies, Cheryl’s movies ‘til she was eighteen. Meanwhile, his step wife could, which is why she isn’t living in a slightly less opulent house. Oh, that reminds me...” Buck ran to his study for a moment, returning with a formal piece of paper and a pen. “Sign this please.”

While doing so, Erika inquired, “What’s this?”

“This document states that you accept anything and everything that came from your father’s will. The money, the cars, the stocks, the house you’re living in... everything.”

Erika gulped as this news came crashing down upon her, along with another new question. “My dad’s real last name was Daniels, then. ...Were you and he-”

“Stepbrothers?” Erika nodded her head. “No. Daniels is actually a fairly common name, Erika. Though it’d be easy to assume that, considering how close we were.”

“I just can’t believe it,” Erika said, taking a sip of her cocoa. “My dad was- is THE Jackie Daniels?!?”

Morty chuckled. “Even without seeing any of the movies or hearing any of his songs, people know his name. He’s that famous.”

Erika took a deep breath before taking another sip of her cocoa. She looked at her friends, who all seemed to have been looking at her with some mix of respect and amazement. Even Mary, who always prided herself on remaining calm, looked generally shocked.

“And now,” Buck said, “I think that’s all the questions you’ve got-” As if to say, ‘not a chance’, that familiar red phone began to ring. “-Should’ve seen that coming.”

Erika stood up out of her chair. “Uncle Buck, just what is that phone?”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to answer that question later today,” Buck sighed. “I really have to take this call. What you all can do is take that movie, put it in the DVD player in the TV room on the other side of the house, and watch it.” He then said, “I think you’ve got some catching up to do.”

As Buck picked up the phone a little bit later, the deep, masculine voice rang out over the line. “Ready to work a little magic, old buddy?”

Buck laughed at his joke. “Just wait another hour or two. Then I think she’ll be ready.”

Chapter 10

Title: Answers, Answers Everywhere

[Author's notes: A/N: Special thank you to DDQFPlusKick for helping me figure out how to explain how the money works.

Coming in at 1.5 times longer than what you're used to... the chapter that explains EVERYTHING.]

Chapter 10: Answers, Answers Everywhere


As the movie in front of them ended, Erika found herself speechless. Her whole world had been turned upside-down once more, only more so this time. Her parents had been famous celebrities!

A few things had begun clicking into place for her. Her mother probably hadn’t wanted her to see any flicks because she didn’t want Erika to know. Granted, she HAD managed to see a few movies without her mother knowing- but besides ‘Superman’ during a slow English class, the only films she’d been able to see were a few Disney flicks and some anime that Mary was holding for her.

“You know,” Tara commented with Julia’s head resting on her shoulder, “that movie just gets better every time I watch it.”

Erika nodded as she yelped in surprise at the sight of Kat and Mary making out, one of Mary’s hands up her ‘wife’s’ shirt. “Mary, why’d you have to st- oh.” Mary’s hands went straight to her sides as Kat laughed awkwardly. “Sorry... that’s, you know... ‘our movie’.” Erika turned away, blushing.

Georgie stared at the scene before them. “I’m gonna go take a cold shower.”

Shaking his head as his brother went up the stairs, Morty said, “I’ve got a bit more self-control than that.”

Julia sighed. “Anyway, it’s still a great flick. You should be proud, Erika.”

“You should be.” All eyes turned to see Buck entering the room. “Alright, I think you’ve got some more questions now.”

Erika thought for a moment. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”

“Well,” Buck admitted, “Allison wouldn’t let ya’ have the upper hand against her if she could help it. And there was a gag order.”

“Yeah, but against talking too much about Mom! Where do I fit in?”

Uncle Buck took a deep breath, and began. “That order went in about talking about you and your mother. So when your father died, God bless him, they couldn’t touch any part of you. All they could really talk about was what was going to happen to all of the money, which would legally become yours today.”

“No, no, NO!” Erika seemed frustrated. “Why couldn’t you tell me? Why couldn’t Mr. Kingsley tell me? Why?””

Her uncle took another deep breath. “It’s hard to explain. Once you were born, your father wanted you to live a relatively normal life; he trusted your stepmother to help take care of you. His trust was usually very hard to gain, you must understand. So even though I didn’t like Allison at all, I trusted your father’s judgement.”

“That’s not an explanation,” Julia pointed out.

“I’m getting there,” Buck explained. “When yer father died, his will was read to a small group of people- myself, Allison, her lawyer, and Kyle. A lil’ fight broke out over how it could be done, if at all, and I had to fight tooth and nail to make sure that the will would be carried out in some shape, way, or form. But I had to make some concessions.”

“That’s right,” Morty said. “For one thing, Allison demanded Erika had to be raised in ignorance of just who her parents were. But Jackie’d been out of Hollywood for so long that by that point it wasn’t much of a problem.”

“Right,” Georgie added, “Jackie Daniels more or less retired after his wife died.” Erika remembered that her father had never gone to work, and focused all his spare time on loving her.

“The part that I had to actually concede was what would happen if ya found out before today.” Buck pulled at the collar of his turtleneck sweater. “If you found out, several things would happen. First, I would be prosecuted and/or sued by the state for breach of contract. It wouldn’t matter if I’d been the one to tell you or not, I would’ve been charged along with whoever told you.”

“There was another concession,” Georgie claimed as he reentered the room. “Which I still think was a horrible thing to agree to.”

“It was that or she’d go public. And while that would be violating the gag order, it would still be going against Jackie’s wishes and I’d rather die than let that happen.”

“What are you talking about,” Kat asked. “This is really getting me confused.”

Buck opened his mouth, but didn’t speak for a second- he seemed to have lost his voice. “Ally wanted it so that if the contract was breached, that she would get all the money.”

The reaction was immediate. Morty was shaking his head, Georgie grit his teeth, Mary stared at Buck, Kat began cursing profusely, Julia took Tara’s hand (who was busy nervously cleaning her glasses), and Erika screamed, “WHAT?!?”

“The press got an abridged version of his will, so they never knew; they were just obsessed with covering that Allison was getting the money at that point.”

“But you actually AGREED to her terms?”

Buck sighed. “Erika, I was a mess after your father died. He was like a brother to me. I’d just lost the case over who got custody for you. I had to concede the point.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Kat was confused again. “You almost had custody over Erika?”

“If I’d done the research for that custody case... if I hadn’t been so torn up over Jackie’s death... then maybe this whole mess could’ve been avoided.” Buck looked at his watch, then said, “Hm... a couple of people I’d like you to meet should be here in a little bit. You ladies should get ready for Homecoming.”

Erika couldn’t get a straight response out of Buck about who was coming, though.


Kelly sighed as walked out of the restaurant, looking classy in her dark blue dress. “Kelly,” Meredith said, “what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry about Jack,” Kelly said out of the blue.

Meredith shrugged her shoulders. “I didn’t know he was a two-timing playboy when I met him. But, you know, you learn things about people. I’m just happy I broke up with him before I had too many plans in place. You’re acting like this happened yesterday, Kelly.”

“I just forgot.”

Meredith looked at Kelly as they got in the Lexus. “I know this isn’t what we had in mind when we started thinking about Homecoming, but we’ll just have to deal. Heck, I’m dealing with it right now! Look at me! I’m wearing the same dress that my mom wore when SHE was going to Homecoming because my dress wasn’t ready!”

Kelly nodded. “I know, I know... I just miss Erika.” She turned on the car. “I miss Erika a lot.”

“I know,” Meredith agreed as she played with her pink hair. “You’ve already mentioned it.”

“I mean, it’s like I barely know her, but in a few weeks she’s... she’s a part of my life that I don’t wanna lose. Someone I wanna fight for, someone I wanna spend more time with-”

“-someone you’ve fallen in love with and wanna sleep with-”

“Oh, hell yes,” Kelly shouted, as she remembered those stolen glances in the girl’s dressing room, Erika helping her shower- naked, the day they met, how she felt happy any time she heard Erika laugh... Her eyes widened as Meredith laughed a little bit at her expense. It was at that moment that Kelly realized just how deeply she cared for Erika.

“Hey look!” Meredith pointed to a spot in the sky. “A shooting star!”

When Kelly looked though, she saw something odd. “There’s two of them!”

“You know what they say about shooting stars,” Meredith grinned. It went quiet in the car as Kelly turned the radio down, the only noise in the car being the running engine.

Meredith stopped wishing first. “I know you’re not supposed to share wishes, but there are two stars... I’m feeling a little lucky.” She turned to face Kelly. “I wished that my book gets published. You?”

Kelly turned to look at her friend. “I wished that Erika’d be at Homecoming.” She looked at the twin stars. “I really, really, really wish she’d be there.”

The car left the parking lot as Meredith kept silent, deciding to turn the radio on. Kelly stayed quiet as well the entire car ride, but Meredith could see that it was written all over her face. Kelly was in love with Erika.


“My goodness,” Erika said. “It’s taking Kat and Mary so long to get ready that I could’ve read a Tom Clancy book by now. Twice.”

Julia and Tara agreed to that, they were already dressed for the evening. “So much for our reservations,” Tara sighed.

“But we can go to a restaurant any day,” Julia replied. “This whole thing with Erika is something that’s really once in a lifetime, you know?”

“There’s something I don’t quite get, though.” Erika looked at her Uncle. “If my stepmom had access to the money, then why didn’t she just withdraw the funds?”

Buck pursed his lips. “Well, she could only withdraw a certain portion per year. That was part of the agreement we made.”

Mary and Kat finally walked down the stairs and joined their friends. “Sorry we took so long,” Kat apologized, “but I was having trouble with Mary’s dress.”

Her ‘husband’ added with a serene smile, “A lot of trouble.”

As the two sat down, Buck finally began speaking again. “Erika, do you believe in magic?”

“Uncle Buck, you already asked me that question. And it’s still ‘no’.”

“Well, I believe,” the lawyer commented. “I believe that there’re some things that science cannot explain or replicate.” He gestured for everyone to follow him. “What I’m about to show you all is the secret behind quite a few of my victories in the courtroom.” Georgie and Morty nodded; remembering when their grandfather explained the red phone to them.

“I suppose none of you gals believe in magic either,” Buck said to himself. “No matter. In this room, I keep a red phone that has... special properties. It’s magic.”

“Since when is a phone,” Julia questioned, “magic?”

“When it can talk to the dead.” Erika looked bewildered at his comment, so Buck elaborated.

“Quite a few of my biggest cases involved some form of murder. After I lost to Allison, I was walking through a flea market, when an old woman asked me to look at her wares. I had nothing better to do. Most of her stuff were things like dream catchers, good luck charms, sanctified crosses... I bought a rabbit’s foot out of kindness.”

“She stopped me before I left, telling me that I had a good heart. Then she gave me that phone, said that I needed it more than she, and sent me away. When I looked back to ask why, she was gone.”

“So I installed the phone in this room, out of curiosity. And then... it started to ring.”

“To make a long story short,” Georgie commented, “Gramps started getting calls from dead people, asking him to take cases that had the wrong person accused or cases where the perp wasn’t gonna get the guilty verdict.”

Buck nodded at his stepson’s assessment. “It took me a while to get my life back in a place where I could go back to law. But once I did... people like Jack Stone could finally rest in peace.”

Uncle Buck, Georgie, and Morty had never lied to Erika about something this important before. But this seemed like insanity! And yet somehow it had a kernel of truth in it; why else would those three look so serious?

Once again, Buck’s handy red phone began to ring. “Hello? Alright, thanks for telling me.” He hung up the phone, and turned to Erika. “There’s someone waiting for you at the door.”

Everyone looked confused, but approached the front door regardless with Erika leading the group. Her hand slowly rested on the doorknob, and with a twist the door opened.

“How the freaking HELL IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?” Kat screeched.

Erika stared at the man and woman before her. The woman looked like an older version of her with shorter hair, but the man was-

“Erika, it’s so good to see you again.” Jackie Daniels laughed, as he threw Erika into a bear hug.

“...Dad?!? M-MOM?!?”


Kelly and Meredith finally rested for a brief moment as they took a break from setting up the last of the Homecoming decorations. “I keep forgetting how much high heels hurt,” Meredith groaned.

“And this is why I don’t wear super high heels,” Kelly grinned. “I think the sophomores can take care of the rest. Seniority and all.”

“Amen to that.” Meredith looked around to make sure no one was around before asking, “Did you hear about what happened to Emma?”

“Nope. What happened?”

Meredith checked once more before saying, “I heard through the grapevine that Emma broke her nose.”

Kelly breathed a sigh of relief to that- Emma had always been one of her more fervent suitors. “How’d she do it?”

“She apparently got into a fight with her girlfriend, and-” Meredith stopped talking as she saw Jade and Fiona waltz in. “You guys are late.”

“Does it look like we care, bubblegum head?” Fiona seemed to be surprisingly quick with the insults today.

“Does it look like I care, Miss Fake Boobs?” Meredith was eager to sling insults back. “Why don’t you go off and plan the cruelest way to kill kittens with Madame Slut here?”

Fiona stormed off, Jade not far behind. “Well, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that their dates are gonna show up later,” Kelly commented. “Hate those two so much. And they’re Erika’s freaking sisters!”

“Stepsisters,” Meredith corrected. “So there’s really no blood relation there.” She dug her hand into a box a passing junior was carrying and brought out two masks. “I guess this is what we get for going along with Kerry’s idea. That woman loves ‘Phantom of the Opera’ just a bit too much.”

“Agreed.” Kelly took one of the masks from her friend’s hand, opting to put it on later. “It’s a nice theme and all, but does everyone really need to wear masks?”

Meredith shook her head. “‘Meet the mysterious person of your dreams’... yeah, but that was a REAL nice pitch she made, though.”


Back at the Daniels house, Erika found herself in a strange situation. Granted, the past few weeks had been chock full of oddities, but seeing her long-dead parents trying to make up for lost time took the cake easily.

Jackie Daniels laughed as Kat told him a joke that she’d heard in school. “My goodness,” he said as he slapped his knee, “It’s great to be back.”

Cheryl Long nodded at her husband’s comment. “And it’s so good to finally see you again.”

But Erika continued to stare at her parents. She finally spoke up after letting most of the surprise sink in, but not long enough for her to speak rationally. “It’s... I... But... You both are supposed to be dead!”

Jackie twiddled his thumbs, while Buck coughed nervously. “Technically, you’re right,” Cheryl pointed out.

“That’s Cherry for ‘ya,” Buck said. “Never one to beat around the bush.”

“He’s right,” Jackie added. “We are dead, and we’re going to stay dead.”

Erika still was confused, though. “Then how are you guys here? Are you ghosts or something?”

Jackie let out a breath, then licked his lips. “Yes and no. Lemme give you the short version, honey. We’re like ghosts in the sense that we’re dead. But well...” He decided that he could explain it better by reaching for a banana in a nearby fruit bowl. To almost everyone’s surprise, Jackie succeeded; managing not only to grasp the fruit in his hand, but also unpeeled the banana and then proceeded to eat the food. “I’d have gone for an apple, but a certain someone hates the things.” Jackie stared at Buck, then added, “Despite the fact that he will eat applesauce.”

“Hey!” Buck pointed a finger at his old friend. “It tastes different, I swear it!”

Cheryl shook her head as she smiled at her only daughter. “Anyway, we can come by whenever we want to see you. All you have to do is pick up that scarlet phone.”

Erika’s mouth hung open as Cheryl rose from her seat and hugged her daughter. Jackie joined his wife a moment later as Erika’s friends looked on in awe.

“I can’t believe this,” Julia stated. “This all sounds like some really jacked up fairy tale.”

“Maybe,” Mary agreed. “Either way, this is pretty cool, you have to admit that.” Tara agreed with her while Kat scratched her head.

“I still can’t freaking believe it,” Kat said, “our best friend Erika was- is- It just blows my mind.”

Buck sighed as he looked at his watch. “I guess Cherry got to do what she wanted.” Cheryl looked at the girls with a devious smile on her face. “But we need to cut to the chase, ladies. I know that you’re supposed to show up fashionably late to Homecoming and whatnot, but it started over an hour or two ago.”

Mary smacked her head as she looked at Kat’s watch. “Dammit! All my appointments, shot!” She bit her tongue after saying that, remembering why her best laid plans had gone astray. “I mean- Alright, that was a cold thing to say and I know it.”

“It’s alright,” Erika said. “You guys should enjoy Homecoming. Don’t stay here on my behalf.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Jackie butted in. “Don’t tell me that you’re actually planning on missing out on Homecoming!” Erika sighed, nodding her head silently. “...Cheryl, do you wanna say it, or should I?”

“I think I’ll say it.” Cheryl looked at her only child and said, “There’s no way in hell we’re letting you stay here.”

Erika stared incredulously at her mother. “I’m sorry, what?!?”

“You heard your mother,” Jackie replied. “We’re making you go out there and having a good time. Consider your stepmother’s word overruled.”

Kat slapped Erika on the back thoughtfully as Erika tried to make sense of this latest turn of events. “But I-I don’t have a ticket, a date, a dress-”

But she found herself being dragged up the stairs by her mother. “Let your father worry about most of that; we need a dress first.” Cheryl seemed to rush up those stairs as quickly as she had the day she went for her wedding dress. Following right behind the two Andresses were Julia, Tara, and Mary.

Erika now found herself in Uncle Buck’s room, with her mother frantically searching through his closet. “This is so cool,” Tara squealed. “This is even cooler than that one time when I got to cosplay as Yomiko from Read or Die at Otakon!”

Julia smiled as Tara continued to recount her cosplaying misadventures. “Just what is it that you’re looking for, Mrs. Andress?”

“Call me Cheryl, hon,” Cheryl said. “And I’m trying to find a dress in Buck’s closet- he used to keep his wife’s dresses in here.” But her search seemed to be to no avail; the only dress that Cheryl could find was a wedding dress- and there was no way that was coming out. “Well, crud. I was really hoping there’d be something better in there.”

“I wish I could’ve had more warning,” Julia lamented, “or I could’ve made something.” She sighed as Cheryl looked at her, intrigued. When pressed, Julia said, “Well, I finished this simple design the other day, but it would’ve looked beautiful if I’d had the materials.” She whispered what it looked like into the ears of the somewhat-dead Cheryl.

After Cheryl was done listening, she smiled and brought out a toy wand from behind her back. “Um, that’s a bit random,” Mary pointed out. “What’s that for?”

“Oh,” Cheryl said as she practiced waving the wand, “I’m just about to fulfill a childhood fantasy of mine.”


Buck and his grandsons looked outside the window as they watched what wonders Jackie was pulling outside. Georgie looked intrigued, asking, “Did he just do to that car what I think he just did?”

Morty nodded his head. “Yes. Yes he did.”

“That’s still pretty frickin’ sweet,” George grinned, “if I do say so myself.”

All three of the men’s attention was grabbed by a yelling upstairs. “BIBBITY- BOPPITY- BOO!” A bright blue flash issued from the upper floor, causing the staircase to take on a blueish tint for a few seconds before fading away. After a few more seconds, everyone sans Erika and Cheryl came down the stairs into the kitchen.

“Now Erika,” Cheryl told her at the top of the stairs. “There’s one thing I want to talk to you about real quick.”

“Yes, Mom?” Erika’s remark seemed to make Cheryl’s face brighten up that much more.

“Well honey,” she said, “I’m going to be very frank. I know all about Kelly.” Erika appeared shocked before her mother continued, “No no, it’s okay, I’m actually telling you that it’s okay for you to be in love.”

“W-wait,” Erika stammered, “I’m in love?!?”

“Are you in love- hon, I could tell a mile away that you two were made for each other!” Cheryl told her daughter. “All you needed was a little push. I mean, do you honestly think that your theatre teacher just happened to be carrying that Superman monologue and just HAPPENED to pull that one out instead of the Tarzan one?”

“Wait, so I had to do that monologue in front of her because-” Cheryl just nodded at that. “Whoa.” Erika couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that her dead mother was giving her romantic tips, let alone the fact that her dead mother was right in front of her and speaking with her. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just a hug will do,” Cheryl said. And just like that, she found herself being hugged like she’d never been hugged before. “Hon, as much as I love holding you in my arms again, your friends are waiting for you.” And as her daughter walked down the stairs, she followed right behind.

The three Daniels men found themselves in awe of Erika’s appearance. Her hair was done up in a bun, and she now wore a dark blue dress with small streaks of light blue and sparkles, as well as an accompanying purse. The dress was simple, yet elegant- but something about it bothered Erika. “Mom, why am I wearing glass shoes?”

“Why not? It’s not you’ll be doing any great amount of running.” Cheryl looked at her daughter, proud of her flesh and blood. Buck joined Cheryl in accompanying Erika outside, where a limo appeared to be waiting in the street, Erika’s friends all excited at this turn of events.

“Madame, your chariot and friends await.” Jackie Daniels appeared in a chauffeur’s outfit. “But before we go... we’ve gotta take some pictures.”

Erika quickly began to learn why some people dreaded having their pictures taken by their parents- the parents always wanted ‘just one more picture’. Regardless, she did enjoy posing with her parents, with her friends, with everyone...

“Now Erika,” Jackie warned her as her friends entered the car, “a word of warning. This spell holding up the limo? Only lasts ‘til midnight. The dress and purse’ll be fine, but everything else goes kaput.” He changed the subject as the car started to move. “So Erika... we need to have a talk about Kelly.”

Erika groaned as Kat began grinning wickedly.


There was still a relatively big crowd waiting in front of the check-in desk at Homecoming, Meredith noticed. The freshmen SGA reps were doing a great job making sure that everyone had a mask, making sure that people received their disguises at the door. She’d have to thank them when she got the chance. “How’s the dance floor?”

“Miserable,” Kelly admitted as she walked next to her friend. “I’ve probably had to dance with half of the school by now- and they’ve all got two left feet.” She grit her teeth, adding, “Why do I have to stay again? I don’t have a date; no one’s relying on me for a ride.”

“Because you’re one of the finalists for Homecoming Queen?” Meredith said. “Look, I already asked. All you have to stay for is the crowning, and then you get out of the gym and go.”

“Good, because quite frankly I-” Kelly stopped speaking as she saw the doors open to let some more people in. While doors opening were far and away nothing special, the person who opened the door for the incoming group looked quite odd. He appeared to have been ripped out of a movie; his attire reminding her of a clichéd driver for the rich and famous. But as the group he accompanied filed into the building, Kelly felt something akin to a lump in her throat as she looked at the redhead in the blue dress. “Meredith, who is that?”

Meredith looked at the masked gal and twitched. “You mean you can’t-” She looked at the confused face Kelly was making, before saying, “You know what? I don’t know either.”

“But,” Kelly said, “the way you just said that-”

“If you’re so interested,” Meredith replied, “then why don’t you talk to her?” She walked off towards the gym with a grin on her face before Kelly could respond.

Deciding to take her friend’s odd advice, Kelly walked down the stairs to the check-in desk, where it seemed that the mysterious redhead and her chauffeur were in a bit of a panic, the rest of the group already having gone to the gym. “-couldn’t just conjure up a pass or something?” Erika dug through her purse, asking the person at the desk, “I guess I left my ticket in the limo. Can’t you just let me through?”

The teacher looked at the woman and stated, “I’m sorry Miss, but the rules are there for a reason.”

Kelly approached the teacher and said, “Mrs. Cosby, can’t you just bend the rules just this once?” She looked at her teacher, adding, “She’s not gonna try to spike the punch, I promise you.”

Mrs. Cosby appeared to relent after a moment. “I suppose this time.” Erika and Kelly both were ecstatic at the news.

Kelly took off her mask for a moment and grabbed Erika’s arm as she tried to walk to the gymnasium. “Hey. You alright there, Red?”

Erika gulped as she looked at her friend’s face. “F-fine. Thank you.” Her mother’s words about love still rang in her head, along with her father’s advice on how to woo the gal of her dreams (he seemed very adamant on using Kelly as an example).

“Don’t sweat it,” Kelly smiled. “You wanna share a table with me?” She backed off a little bit as Erika looked at the floor. “Sorry if I seem pushy... you just remind me a lot of a close friend of mine.”

Now Erika felt guilty for wearing her mask. But her stepsisters were both here; she couldn’t risk them finding out, let alone letting them see her here! “Sure.”

Kelly was taken aback. “Sure?”

Erika decided to take the offer. “Let’s get a table. It’s the least I could do to repay you.”


Erika couldn’t help but feel... happy when hanging out with Kelly as she talked about herself. Yes, Kelly was going over things that Erika had heard her talk about before, but Erika didn’t care. Kelly was talking so enthusiastically that she didn’t mind listening a second time. But one topic that Kelly always seemed to return to was Erika.

“I’m sorry I keep talking about her,” Kelly said, “but she just, I mean... she just IS.”

Erika felt a warm fuzzy feeling whenever Kelly spoke highly of her. “It’s alright, you managed to make it interesting.”

Kelly breathed a sigh of relief as Erika told her that little fact. “Thanks. You know, I gotta know. Do I know you from somewhere?”

Thankfully, Erika was saved by the DJ. “Hey, hey, hey ladies! This is MC Wright talkin’ to you now, and I gots a special message for ‘ya from the women in charge, so give ‘em a moment of ‘ya time.”

The DJ handed a microphone to the Principal, who held an envelope in her hands. “Thank you. It’s time to announce the Homecoming Queen!” The gym began being filled with women’s cheers, with a couple of men whooping. “The votes have been tallied, and I am pleased to announce that your Homecoming Queen is...” She opened the envelope, easier said than done whilst holding a microphone. “Kelly Kingsley!”

The gymnasium seemed to explode with applause and yells as Kelly got up from her table and went to the dance floor to be crowned. In the corner of her eye, Erika could see her stepsisters cursing up a storm. She quietly decided to hide herself amongst the throng of fellow students.

Once she weaseled her way into the front of the mob, she could see Kelly waving to the collective masses, unmasked once again. As if on cue, the women surrounding her seemed to call out to Kelly, as if trying to communicate an obvious demand.

This was what Kelly had wanted to avoid all along- having to spend her night with one of her fangirls. A quick skim over the crowd didn’t show much promise... but then she managed to find someone. Erika could see Kelly approaching, but was still surprised when her friend held out her hand. “Sorry if I seem forward,” Kelly asked bashfully, “but would you dance with me?”

Erika looked at the Homecoming Queen, and knew that there was no way she could refuse her. Erika nodded her head as she took Kelly’s hand and stepped forward. “I have a confession to make,” Erika said. But when Kelly looked at her, she chickened out. “I’ve never been dancing before.” She mentally chastised herself for that; getting dancing tips from her father just before arriving did not count as dancing.

“It’s alright,” Kelly smiled meekly. “We’ll just have to have our first dance with each other.” Erika blushed as the music began, and the Queen had her dance with the person of her choice.

The song was slow as the two singers began their tune, but it was one that Kelly knew all too well. “Oh my god,” she laughed softly, “this is from my favorite movie!” Erika looked at the DJ for a moment, who looked perplexed- he appeared at first to be confused that that song had come on. But then, right next to him, Erika could see her mother and father for a moment. Jackie saluted her while Cheryl gave her a thumbs up.

Erika found herself leaning into Kelly as the song continued. Kelly unconsciously noted how much Erika’s hair smelt like strawberries before jumping just a little bit. “Your hands-” Kelly looked at Erika for a moment before saying, “Your hands are on my butt, Erika.” Erika froze for a moment before Kelly apologized. “Sorry. I mixed you up with that friend I kept talking about.” The dance continued, but Erika’s heart was still beating at a mile a minute- Kelly didn’t allow Erika to move her hands up. Erika could practically hear Kat squealing with glee.

Her heart began beating even faster as she recognized that the song was ending. Erika could see that Kelly’s eyes were closed. She could also see that the clock on the gym wall was reading 11:56 and fifty-two seconds. “Mmm...” Kelly was whispering to herself. “Can you read my mind?”

Erika couldn’t believe that Kelly had quoted the monologue that had started this whole affair, nor could she stop herself from replying, “If you need to be loved... here I am.”

The song ended the second those last words escaped Erika’s lips. A million things began to happen all at once. The crowd went into thunderous applause; her stepsisters were barging their way through the crowd, likely having finally figured out that something didn’t add up; Kat and Mary were both pointing at the gym clock; but Kelly kept staring at Erika.

“Please, tell me it’s you-” But Kelly didn’t bother trying to finish her own sentence as she slowly moved her hand to remove Erika’s mask.

Erika began to panic. Her time was almost up. Her stepsisters were about to beat her within an inch of her life. She had pretty much made the equivalent of another confession of love to Kelly. And she was standing alone with Kelly. To put the icing on the cake, Erika finally understood how hard she’d fallen for the girl.

She reacted the way that she’d been conditioned to react when her sisters were angry- she ran. She ran as fast as she could with those glass high heels and that nice dress through the crowd of confused on-lookers. Erika couldn’t bear to look back; she couldn’t bear to see the look on Kelly’s face.

Erika finally managed to break free of the gym’s confines and continued to run until she fell down the little set of stairs just before the main doors. As she made impact with the ground, she could feel one of those glass shoes shatter. Erika was careful as she got back up, being sure not to step in the glass. Nonetheless, a shard had cut her ankle.

“Wait! Don’t go!” Erika could see that Kelly was trying to chase after her. Trying to think fast, Erika took off the other glass shoe and set it aside before running once more. She was faster now that she was barefoot, and managed to outrun the woman that she loved to the waiting limo.

Kelly found herself alone in the dark as the limo sped away, staring after the vehicle.

Meredith joined her after a moment, holding something in her hands and wincing in pain from trying to come so quickly in heels. “Damn,” she said, “she was in a hurry.” She looked at her friend before saying, “You know, I managed to pick up that other glass shoe. Dunno what good it’ll do you though- won’t help you figure out who it is.”

Kelly took the fragile footwear before commenting, “I know, Meredith. But I think I knew who it was from the start.”

[End notes: One more chapter after this! Sorry, but all good things must come to an end. But I promise, it shall be oh-so-satisfying (read: stepsisters being punched in the face).]

Chapter 11

Title: Hey, Is That the Ending?

[Author's notes: 2/4/09: You get enough feedback, you end up realizing that some parts of a story aren't quite up to snuff. I expanded the last scene to give some closure to all of the living characters. It should've been there day one, but I make mistakes. I was just happy to finish this. ^^;;]

Chapter 11: Is That the Ending?


The limo pulled up in front of Buck Daniels’ house, or at least what used to be a limo. Erika and her friends were now sitting in a cramped sedan. As the sedan came to a complete stop, the car seemed to begin to disappear, as if some sort of magic was coming undone. Luckily, everyone managed to pile out of the car before the seats vanished. “I warned you,” Jackie said, “that the whole shebang only lasted ‘til midnight.”

“I know,” Erika apologized, “I know. I just got caught up in the moment.”

“It was so cute!” Kat beamed. “She was dancing with Kelly, and they almost kissed!”

Jackie smiled at this news. “I would’ve been less angry with you if you’d told me that on the way back.”

“To be fair,” Mary explained, “she did cut herself on some glass. We were more concerned about the blood.” She glanced at Erika’s ankle, with now had a band-aid on it. “Thank goodness it was just a small cut.”

The group of ladies (and one man) entered the house to find Cheryl waiting with bated breath at the door. ”So? How was it? I want details- spare me no details!”

“Honey,” Jackie said. “She just got back, cut her some slack.”

“No way.” Cheryl took her daughter’s hand and dragged her to the kitchen, forcing her to sit at the table. “I haven’t had the chance to pester her about a date- ever. So, how was she? Was she happy to see you? Did you kiss?”

“Um... uh... I enjoyed myself?” Erika chuckled, but Cheryl kept staring at her. “Oh, you- you’re serious.”

Cheryl continued to look at her daughter as Jackie handed her a cup of applesauce. “So, you got there...”

“Okay. I got there, and I almost couldn’t get in. Didn’t have a ticket, and Dad forgot to create one.”

“Jackie...” Cheryl stared at her husband, who had been trying to sneak out of the room.

“In my defense,” Jackie said as he smiled meekly, “I completely forgot.”

Erika continued her story. “Luckily, Kelly came out of nowhere and convinced the teacher to let me in.”

Cheryl squealed something fierce as a brilliant smile spread across her face. “She came for you! Definitely a good sign!”

“Well, she didn’t know it was me. Everyone was wearing masks.” Cheryl looked a bit confused. “Yeah. It was weird. But we got a table together, and we got to talking...” Cheryl appeared to hang on Erika’s every word as the young woman described her time with Kelly. She laughed, gasped, and became a bit peeved when Erika finished the story. “Why didn’t you kiss her?!?”

Erika looked at her mother in shock. “You’re asking me why I DIDN’T kiss a girl?!” In her mind, she thought, ‘The world must be ending.’

“Absolutely. The sooner you two kiss, the sooner you gals can get hitched, have two point five kids, and live happily ever after! ...Well, maybe not the kids part, but you never know,” Cheryl admitted.

“...You’ve got this perfect little life for us planned out in your head, and I haven’t even, you know,” Erika stammered, “told her.”

Cheryl laughed a little bit. “Well,” she said as she calmed down, “I’ve had eighteen years to imagine you having your fairy tale ending. Nothing’s gonna stop you now.”

“Not if my stepsisters have anything to say about it,” Erika sighed.

“Erika,” Cheryl reasoned, “what’s the worst that could happen?” Her face froze as she realized what she’d just said. “Oh, boy. I just jinxed it, didn’t I.”

“I think so,” Erika said. “I think so.” She looked at the kitchen clock before exclaiming, “Oh no! I’ve gotta get home!” Erika looked at her mother, whose smile wavered a little bit. “I’m gonna miss you. You and Dad.”

Cheryl rose up from her chair and hugged her only daughter. “This isn’t a goodbye, honey. All you have to do is pick up that phone.”

Erika walked out of the room once Cheryl released her, and encountered her father and ‘godfather’ at the door. “Erika,” Jackie told her, “Happy birthday. It’s been good seeing you.” His daughter hugged him back.

“I missed you a lot,” she told him.

Buck joined in on the hug, and whispered to Erika, “Remember, Erika. You have the power to control your own destiny now. All you have to do is exercise that power.” He left her to think on that as he and Jackie both let go and watched her go out the door. “We’ve done all we can do for now,” Buck sighed. “We’ll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.”


Kat woke up the next day in her bed, right next to Mary as she always did. “You know, I keep thinking it can’t get any better. And then I wake up next to you,” Kat grinned.

Mary rolled her eyes. “Only you could make such a cheesy, cheesy line sound so romantic.” She smiled as she gave Kat an Eskimo kiss. “You think that Erika’s gonna do alright?”

“Dunno,” Kat surmised. “On one hand, Erika’s got the right hand; she can finally go tell her stepfamily where to stick it. On the other... it’s Erika. She might be able to take on her mother, she might be able to stand up to her stepsisters, but all three at once? I’m not sure.”

As the two got out of bed and put some clothes on, Kat’s cell phone began to ring. Mary picked it up and checked the caller ID. “Oh no.”

“What is it,” Kat joked. “Spam caller about car insurance?”

“No.” Mary stared at Kat in horror as she brought the phone up to her ear. “It’s Erika. And it’s the football phone.”

“Oh, thank God. Kat, listen to me. Allison’s gone crazy! She keeps talking to Fiona and Jade about Mexico, something about buying a donkey show, it’s all gone to the dogs.”

“Calm down,” Mary told her friend. “Can you sneak out of the house?”

“Not easily,” Erika explained. “I accidentally knocked over the ladder last night when I was getting in the window. If I- Jade, what the hell are you doing in here? Get out- Let go of the phone! LET GO OF THE-” The line went dead.

“Kat, start the car. Things are about to get ugly.”


Buck finished his breakfast of oatmeal and an orange when he heard a knock at the door. He put the dishes away before opening the door.

“Sorry to show up so suddenly,” Kelly apologized, “but I figured you might be able to help me put things together.”

Buck let her in the house, interested in what Kelly had to say. “Sorry if I seem a little sad,” he apologized, “but I was just thinkin’ about some friends o’ mine.” Then he smiled. “But let’s not dwell on that. How’re ya’ doing?”

“Well,” Kelly said, “like I said, I need some help piecing something together.” She put a glass shoe on the table.

Buck was a bit surprised when he saw the fragile footwear and the expression on his face clearly showed it. “Where’d you get this?”

“The girl I was dancing with last night was wearing it,” she replied. “I’m asking you about it because I think you might know something about it. I don’t know why...”

“Well,” the old lawyer chuckled nervously, “I’m happy to hear that strange things remind you a’ me.”

“Don’t change the subject please.” Kelly stared into the Buck’s eyes as hard as she could. “Do you know who wore that shoe?”

She noticed that he blinked. “You mean- she didn’t tell you?”


Buck put his hand over his face for a moment and shook his head, as if he was ashamed of something. “Erika, you lovesick ninny...”

Kelly broke eye contact, changing her focus to the shoe on the table. “That was Erika?!” When Buck nodded a silent ‘yes’, it was Kelly’s turn to be ashamed. “How could I have been so blind? So- so stupid?! They acted the same, they had the same hair color, the same eyes, and those same soft hands- Oh, no wonder it felt so right having her hands on my behind!”

Buck couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of Georgie running off for a cold shower at the thought. “I swear I would’ve thought that Erika would’ve just told ya’ and... well, that part’s not my place to tell.” Kelly continued to stare at the shoe when a phone began to ring. However, it ended up being Buck’s cell phone, which he had left next to the crimson telephone.

“Y’ello, Buck Daniels. ...Ah, Kat. How’d ya’ get this numba? ...Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. ...Okay... Wait, what? What was that about Erika?” Kelly broke out of her trance and got up to look at him. “WHAT?! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSS - Okay, I’ll try not ta’ yell, but STILL! Give me a moment, I’ll figure something out. I’ll meet you there.”

“What’s happened to Erika?” Kelly was concerned; if anything happened to her now...

Buck looked out the window as he put down the cell phone and picked up the receiver for the red phone. “Allison’s trying to smuggle Erika out of the country.”

Kelly went ballistic at the mere thought. “She can’t DO THAT! It’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s just WRONG!”

“She’ll do it anyway,” he confessed as he waited for a response. “Allison’ll do anything to keep - Yeah, come on down ASAP, we’re gonna need another miracle- she’ll do whatever it takes to keep living the kind of life she’s used to.”

“We can’t just stand here, we’ve gotta act, we’ve gotta do something!”

“Way ahead of you,” Buck told her. He looked out the window and smiled. “Kelly, do you believe in magic?”

Kelly looked at him incredulously. “I think this is the wrong time for that kind of question, Buck.”

“Humor me,” he told Kelly. “Do you believe?”

After taking a moment to calm down, she gave him her response. “After all that happened last night, I’m willing to take a few things on faith.”

Buck smiled a little at that. “Go to Erika’s house as fast as you can. Take my car,” he said as he swapped car keys with her. “I’ll catch up.” As Kelly ran out of the house, she could hear him yelling, “GEORGIE! MORTY! WAKE UP!”

In a flash, Kelly jumped into the car and turned the key. She took a moment to adjust the rearview mirror and promptly screamed.

“Calm down! Calm down!” Cheryl tried to reassure her.

Kelly froze as she felt a masculine hand on her shoulder. She slowly turned to look at the passenger’s seat.

“Drive. We’ll talk on the way there.” Jackie Daniels had a stern look on his face as he watched Kelly stomp her foot on the pedal.


“Let go of the doorframe, Erika!” Jade seemed determined to pry her stepsister from her death grip on the frame. Fiona put a dog collar around Erika’s neck and began pulling on the leash. After a few tugs, Erika was forced to let go, her hands going to her throat as she was led to Allison’s car.

“Come on you two! Shake a leg!” Allison stood next to her car, miffed that this was taking so long. “We don’t have all day!”

Jade shoved her stepsister into the backseat; Fiona took shotgun. “All right, I already called the school; we’ve all got the week off. Cell phones?”

Jade and Fiona took out their cell phones. “Locked.”

“Snacks?” Fiona pointed at the cooler between her legs, while Jade held up a soggy banana labeled with a piece of tape with Erika’s name on it. “Great, let’s get going.”

Allison began backing out of the drive way. Erika couldn’t believe that this was happening, not when she had come so close to being with Kelly-

-The car came to a sudden stop, and Allison began cursing. “What the HELL DOES THAT OLD FART WANT?!?” Erika looked out the rear windshield, and saw that Buck’s car was blocking Allison’s. But Erika’s heart leapt when she saw Kelly get out of the car instead of Buck.

Allison and Jade both got out of the car and Allison started to tell off Kelly. “What the hell kind of driver are you, a crazy old Asian lady?” Erika couldn’t help but cheer as she watched the woman she loved punch her wicked stepmother in the gut.

“WHERE. IS. ERIKA,” she hissed through gritted teeth.

“You can’t do that to my mo-” Jade never finished her sentence due to the fact that she was being sucker punched in the face.

“Can, did, will continue to do until I get answers.” She turned her attention to the car, seeing that Fiona was getting out of the car as fast as she could, falling to the ground on her knees and hands. Kelly also heard a car pull up behind her; Buck and his grandsons had arrived. She grabbed Fiona and lifted her up on her feet. “I’m only gonna say this one more time. Where is Erika?” Her attention was caught when another door on Miss Andress’ car opened. She was elated when she saw Erika come out of the car. “Oh, thank God.”

“Kelly! You - how did - why are you-” But Erika was immediately hushed by Kelly.

“We can talk about that later. I’m just happy I caught you.”

Buck, Georgie, and Morty all walked up to the two girls. “Looks like you got here in the nick of time,” Buck admitted. “I would’ve been here sooner if my good-for-nothing grandsons weren’t such heavy sleepers.”

“Sorry about that,” Morty apologized. “Helped me get a few more minutes of shut-eye back at school.”

Buck turned to Allison, who was standing next to Jade. “It’s over, Allison. Erika knows. She signed the papers. The press’ll be here tomorrow.”

Jade looked at her mother. “What’s he talking about?”

“...Jade, Erika owns the house now. And most of the money.”

Allison looked at her daughter, who looked at her mother in shock. “No... no! That- that can’t be!”

“Suck it up,” Georgie taunted. “This is schadenfreude at its finest.”

Fiona joined her sister, saying, “This can’t be right. What was God thinking?!?”

Erika finally found her voice, and she also found that backbone that she’d been building up for the past few weeks. “Allison... Jade... Fiona... Go ahead and go to Mexico for the week. We’ll settle this when you guys get back.” The sheer pleasure Erika got from commanding her stepfamily to back off was indescribable. Her stepsister crawled back into their mother’s car, but Allison just stood there, looking at her stepdaughter.

“Excuse me.” Allison felt a tapping on her shoulder, turned around, and was punched in the face again. “I know I wasn’t supposed to do that,” Cheryl said. “But after all the hell she’s put you through, she deserved it.”

“I- I won’t argue that,” Erika told her mother. She paused before coming to a realization. “Wait, if you’re here, and Kelly’s here-”

Kelly saw where Erika was coming from. “They explained it in the car. It’s a bit weird... but after seeing my idols, I couldn’t really argue.”

Erika turned to look at Buck’s car, and saw her father’s head poking out of the window. When she approached, Jackie whispered, “Don’t worry. I’ll guilt trip her in her dreams when she goes to bed.”

“Alright,” Kelly shouted. “I think we’ve had enough drama for today. So everyone, just go ahead and get out of here.” The three Andresses seemed eager to get out of Dodge, while the Daniels clan began moving around the cars. “And where do you think you’re going?”

She looked at Erika who was attempting to walk away. “Um... I don’t know. I just wanna get away from my step family.”

Kelly grabbed the leash and began dragging Erika into her own house. “That can be arranged.” After getting inside the house, Kelly locked the door behind her. “Alright,” she told Erika, “Let’s get this out of the way right now.”

She showed Erika the glass shoe. Erika began babbling as Kelly set it on the counter in the kitchen. “Uh- I was gonna- This isn’t what- Er...”

Erika was silenced by Kelly’s mouth. Kelly kissed her full on the lips, and didn’t stop. Erika began reciprocating after a good period of shock and general confusion. “Hm... we’re gonna have to work on that. But lucky for us, we’ve got a week to practice.”

Erika gasped for a moment. “You mean that you and me, we’re-”

“-I thought that the fact I just kissed you told you that, but here goes nothing.” Kelly wrapped her hands around Erika and said, “I’m in freaking love with you. In ‘that way’.”

She looked at Erika, who was still stumbling over her own words. “I... I lo- I looov- Screw it.” Erika planted her lips on Kelly so hard, Kelly found herself against the wall.

When Erika finally released her new girlfriend, Kelly smiled. “Much, much better.” Kelly snaked her hands downward and goosed Erika. “You’re my Teddy. Mine,” she said as she tightly hugged Erika.

Their tender moment was interrupted by a furious knocking at the door. “Jade! Fiona! Open this goddamn door!”

Erika opened the door to find a furious Kat and a visibly miffed Mary. “IT’S O - -oh, wait, it’s you. It’s you!” Kat tackled Erika to the ground in a hug, while Mary walked into the house. “Thank God! We thought you were halfway to a donkey show!” Kat looked up after hearing a throat being cleared, noticing that Kelly was there. “Please tell me this is what it looks like.”

“Well,” Kelly said as Kat got off of Erika, “I think so. Me and Erika are, well, you know, ‘together’.”

Kat squealed and Mary smiled. “Congratulations. You two are a good match.”

“Hey Mary,” Kat said, bouncing up and down, “Can I give her that birthday present?”

Mary tapped her chin, knowing that Kelly likely wanted to be with Erika. Alone. “This might not be the best - Kat, what are you - Put your shirt back on!”

“Spoilsport,” Kat moaned. “Come on, we’ve talked about this already. And I think that Erika wants it.”

“Not everyone is as much a hornball as you are.” Mary told her. “If I know Erika, she’s going to want us to leave and spend some time with Kelly.”

Erika however, had her eyes locked on Kat’s bra. “Oh, for the love of-” Kelly ripped off her own shirt, forced Erika to look at her, and moved Erika’s hands onto her shoulders. “I want an hour.”

“Five minutes,” Kat bartered as she snaked an arm around Mary’s waist.

“Fourty-five minutes.”





Kat licked her lips as she conceded, “Well, you do have dibs.” Kelly thanked her and she led Erika by the leash up the stairs and into the redhead’s room.

“Kelly,” Erika asked, hypnotized by her shirtless girlfriend, “what’s going on?”

Kelly smiled as she threw Erika onto her bed. “In a nutshell, I’ve got you all to myself for half an hour. Then Kat and Mary are going to come in.” She looked at Erika, whose eyes widened in shock.

“So we’re-” Kelly nodded. “-and then they’re gonna join-” Kelly nodded once more. “...Am I having that dream again?” Her question was answered when Kelly pinched her arm. “Guess not.”

“Enough talk,” Kelly said. “We’ve only got twenty minutes left.” She took the dog collar off of Erika and lightly kissed the area where it had been. “And you’re all mine until then,” she smirked as she touched Erika’s breasts.

Erika’s response was to kiss Kelly like never before. “I’m all yours,” she said while taking a quick breath.

Kelly’s eyes lit up as she started taking off Erika’s shirt. “Of course, Teddy. Of course.”


Several months later

“You ready?” Kelly looked at her lover, who was sitting in the passenger’s seat.

“I guess I’m just a little nervous,” Erika admitted as she got out of the car. “Prom’s coming up, the end of the year’s close by, and I’m actually going to college.”

Kelly grinned at that. “Yeah. Same college, same dorm, same room. And Dad says he’s got something lined up for you when we graduate.”

“Oh yeah, have I thanked him for letting me move in with you guys?”

“Every day,” Kelly told her. “And it’s no big deal. I still can’t believe that you let them keep the house, though.”

“Oh, there’s a good reason,” Erika told her. “Ever wonder why Jade and Fiona have seemed like model students the past couple of weeks?”

Kelly thought about it for a moment. “They got replaced by aliens? I dunno, I thought those two were rotten to the core.”

“Oh, they are,” Erika agreed. “But if I hear anything about them taking advantage of naïve freshmen, I take the house and go to the police.”

“Mm... I’m loving the irony,” Kelly admitted as they approached the school doors. “Seems a little dark for you, though.”

Erika shrugged as she opened the door for Kelly. “I prefer to think of it as karma coming back and then some. My step-mom finally backed off some too.” She had been thankful for that. The specter of Ericka talking kept Allison on her toes, fearful for her job, and as such treated her step-daughter more fairly.

Just then, Erika’s cell phone began to ring. “Hello?”

“Erika? You there?” It was Buck Daniels.

Erika smiled at the sound of her adoptive uncle. “Hey, Uncle Buck! You doing alright?”

“Yeah,” Buck said. “Just got off the phone with Georgie and Morty. Georgie’s finally got a gal.”

“Really?” Erika asked. She’d never thought of Georgie as being serious in his romances.

“Surprised me too. I suppose college makes ya grow up some. Morty’s doing fine as well. West Point’s a hard as nails college, but I think he’s managin’ and then some.” Buck paused before saying, “I got another case. Reputation for solvin’ the Stone case made me a more attractive pick for the courtroom.”

“That’s great to hear, Uncle Buck.” Erika was honest for that; Buck’s reputation had been scarred heavily by her father’s death.

“Well, you’d best be goin’. I’ll talk to you later. Love ‘ya.”

“Love you too, Uncle Buck. Tell Mom and Dad I said ‘hi’.” Erika hung up the phone as she turned back to Kelly. “We on for tonight?”

Kelly smiled as she confirmed, “I got the tickets reserved for us. It’ll be just the two of us.” Both women smiled at that as they entered the building.

After walking through the school for a few moments, the two found themselves swarmed by various fangirls. “I don’t know how you deal with it,” she told her.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I did it either.” The two managed to break out of the crowd for the time being and met up with Kat, Meredith, Julia, Tara, and Mary.

Meredith raised an eyebrow at the approaching duo. “Quite the fanbase you’ve two have gotten.”

“True.” Kelly looked back at the crowd, which had dispersed somewhat. “It would drive a girl insane.”

“Anyway,” Meredith changed the subject, “I got word from the publisher. They really liked it; it’s been getting some good buzz in the right circles.” She dug out a book from her backpack. “I managed to get a copy early. It’s not in stores,” Meredith told her friend, “but I thought you might like it.”

Kelly took the book and looked at the title for a moment. “Not Quite Cinderella...” She laughed for a moment and hugged her friend. “I can’t believe that you managed to do it.”

“I said I would, and you know how I am when I put my mind to something.” Meredith left soon after, telling her friends that she had work to do at class.

“On another note,” Mary said as she looked at her watch, “You’re all invited to my house this weekend for my birthday. Now please excuse me,” she apologized, “I need to talk a few things over with Mrs. Thatcher.” Kat followed for a moment, and winked at Erika and Kelly before continuing her pursuit.

“I think she wants us to do ‘that’ for a gift,” Erika guessed.

“What’s she talking about?” Tara appeared a little confused.

“I’ll explain it to you on the way to class,” Julia told her.

Erika and Kelly followed them for a moment, taking a moment to watch them holding hands before ducking into an unoccupied hallway. “You know,” Kelly told Erika, “some of the fangirls’ve taken to calling you the ‘Queen’ of the school.”

She blushed at that. “It’s only because I’m with you.”

“It’s probably half and half.” Kelly looked at the main hall for a moment before continuing. “Ever since that story about your parents hit the press, they finally noticed you. But they probably call you the ‘Queen’ because you’re my Teddy.” Kelly hugged Erika like a stuffed animal.

Erika blushed again at her lover’s nickname. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Kelly looked at the clock on the wall. “We’ve got a couple of minutes.” She pulled Erika even closer, if such was possible. “I think I know how Meredith’s book ends?”


Kelly kissed Erika for a good thirty seconds before saying, “Yeah. The second most clichéd line in all the English language.” She kissed her on the cheek, explaining, “‘And they lived happily ever after.’”

[End notes: A gracious shout out to my beta who made sure that all of the story made sense, and to anyone who stuck with this story from start to finish.]

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