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.
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.’”