Story: Not Quite Cinderella (chapter 4)

Authors: AdventFalls

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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.”

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