How Did This Happen?

Julie E. Miller

2003

Chapter 12

Disappointment

"Diesal?" a voice called out.

"I'm over here," I choked out. My ribs hurt from crying, but I couldn't stop. Was I just a toy to Cole? Didn't I even mean the slightest thing to him? Why was he doing this to me?

And then it hit me: he didn't love me. He couldn't. If he loved me, why would he kiss me one night and make out with some unknown girl the next?

"Are you okay? We've been looking all over for you," Jeremiah said. Shelli was with him and they both wore worried expressions.

"Why are you sitting onstage on a guitar case?" Shelli asked me. "Crying, no less."

"Didn't you see?" I sobbed. "Didn't you see him?"

"I did," Jeremiah whispered, before he walked up beside me and pulled me into his arms.

"What? What was happening?" Shelli asked.

"Cole was making out with a groupie," Jeremiah stated simply, pulling me closer to him.

"Oh Dies…" Shelli said, sympathetically and pat my back. Jeremiah let me go and I sat back down on the guitar case.

"I love him. I fucking love him!" I screamed. "And he told me he still loved me too! If he loves me so much, how can he do this to me?!"

My head fell into my hands again and tears sprung forth again. "I don't know," Jeremiah said calmly. "I think you hurt him."

"That's my problem," I groaned. "I hurt him too much. It's all my fault we broke up before."

"Whoa…you two were serious that long ago?" he asked.

"I let him fuck me!" I screamed. "I thought he loved me…"

"But…"

"Then I hurt him by telling him how it was going to be if he decided to follow through on this music thing. I broke up with him then."

"But I thought that last night you two were getting back on track," Shelli said, confused.

"So did I." I sighed. "I didn't hurt him last night, I couldn't have. I didn't pull away, I didn't slap him. I didn't tell him to leave me alone."

"He said that you said you weren't ready," Jeremiah confessed, finally. "He told me he didn't think you'd ever be ready and you were killing him."

"I told him I wasn't ready to sleep with him. That's what I meant. He invited me back to his room and I said I wasn't ready."

"Then he misunderstood."

"Then I guess I deserved this," I moaned.

"No. You don't. You both misunderstood," Shelli explained. "You were both at fault then. But just because he misunderstood doesn't mean that he can go and do this to you."

I understood what she meant too. Just because we misunderstood what the other meant, didn't mean he could use some other girl to take his anger out on me. Well if that was how he was going to do it…venting his anger out by making me upset, then I'd upset him too.

"Where's his guitar?" I asked, standing up and looking around quickly.

"It's on the bus…why?"

I stood up quickly, bound and determined to make him hurt like I was. I ran to the bus and found his guitar and pulled it from its case. The party had started to die down and the only people there were Cole, Andy, John, and the guys from Alkaline Trio. Cole looked upset and Andy was talking to him.

"Hey Cole, you asshole!" I called out, walking to them, before stopping just before the pavilion. He looked up. This was it. I lifted the guitar over my head, ready to slam it into the ground below me. Shelli and Jeremiah both were yelling at me to calm down. I'd never acted this crazed before. It was nuts. I looked over at a horrified Cole and just broke down. I lowered the guitar and before I could allow myself to slam it into the ground, stopped. I burst into tears, handed the bass guitar to Jeremiah and turned back to him. "You know, if you just would have talked to me about last night, you would have found out that I wasn't turning you away from me. You misunderstood what I'd said and I did the same, but now look at what happened," I screamed. "You go and make out with some random girl. Such a shame Cole, because tonight I was going to finally tell you I was ready to have you back in my life. But you know what? Now I'm glad I didn't. Because now I've realized that you obviously don't love me like I love you."

I turned my back on him and ran away, this time to my bunk, where I ended up crying myself to sleep.

I didn't want to get out of bed the next morning, but I did so, showering and getting ready before everyone else. I started working early, finishing some publicity shot and banners up. I even helped the merchandise people set up for the show that day.

When I did get a chance to relax, I ran into Shelli. "Coffee?" she asked, worry in her eyes.

"Thank God. Fuck yes. Let's get some," I said. I tried to give her a smile, but failed.

"No offense, but you look tired."

"I am tired. I didn't get much sleep, so I just got up at the crack of dawn today and then finished up my work and helped the merch people."

"Aren't you the worker."

"Trying to keep my mind off things," I said simply.

"But are you okay?"

"Honestly?" I asked, stopping and turning to face her.

"Honestly."

"No. No I'm not okay. He fucking broke my heart, Shelli. But you know what? I'm going to be the stronger person here. I'm going to survive and be fine. I just need time to heal."

"You're strong," she commented, as we continued on our walk to the nearest Starbucks.

"Strong? No. Ready to move on? Yes."

"He's sorry, you know," Shelli started. "I heard him talking to Jeremiah last night. I thought my brother was going to rip him a new asshole."

I grinned. "Thank you Jer," I said, a small laugh escaping me.

"Maybe you should just talk to him."

"I really don't want to see him right now, Shelli. I don't care what he does now. He lost the trust I had for him and I never want to see him again."

"But you'll have to…"

"I have to work with him yes, but that doesn't mean I have to be his friend."

Four hours later, I'd finished my work for the next two days. I was really going. In fact, I was engrossed in my work. I'd thrown on my favorite jeans, a t-shirt, gone barefoot, and even put on my glasses. My hair was pulled up too. I looked like a slob, but at the moment, I really didn't care. I hadn't gone out to see any shows that day, not even the local bands, something I tried to check out everyday. I knew that Cole would be there and he was at the top of the list of people I was avoiding.

I was listening to Good Charlotte, my headphones cranked up way high, when I felt someone pull them from my head. I looked up from my laptop at Cole and grimaced. "Fuck off," I spit at him.

"I want to talk to you."

"And I want to avoid you, but that's not happening, is it?"

"I didn't know that you that you still cared," he said, sitting across from me. "I thought you wanted nothing to do with me."

"You misunderstood. I thought you were inviting me to your room to sleep with you and that's not what I wanted. I wasn't ready. But because you fucked up last night, I realized something else. Apparently, you don't love me as much as I thought. You know, Cole, I haven't gone out with anyone since you. I haven't fucked anyone since you. I haven't even kissed anyone since you. But apparently the second I'm ready to try, you're ready to fuck a groupie. And you know what? I'm glad I figured out what a jerk you were before we decided to try a relationship again." I pulled my headphones away from him. "I have a job to do. Believe it or not, they hired me to be a publicist, not your girlfriend."

Chapter 13

Going Home

Home. I hadn't been home in over three months and I got to go back. I was thrilled. The past two shows had been kinda depressing. I'd given Shelli the courtesy of introducing the guys without my help. I needed a break. We were taking three days off and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'd offered to house Shelli at my house, but she'd declined, stating that her and Andy were gonna just share a room at the Holiday Inn. Cole, I'd heard through the grapevine, was also staying at home. Not that I cared.

Okay, so I did care. I had the hardest time looking at him. I'd caught him staring at me more times than I could count this past week. And okay, so I did still love him. But he's hurt me. Sure, maybe we weren't dating, but I had reason to be mad, right?

Well I think I do.

He hadn't tried speaking to me, but he had been leaving lyrics on my pillow every night…which was kinda sweet if you think about it. They were all those sappy, emo, "I'm sorry" songs. I saved them all too. Boys didn't do things like that for me everyday.

Anyways…we arrived in my hometown at three that afternoon and all I wanted to do was go and shower in my own bathroom. So a guitar technician gave me a ride to my house and I ran to the front door, dragging my backpack behind me. I wanted to wash my clothes like no other.

I ran up the steps, opened the screen door, then turned the handle to the front door and pushed. Locked. My house was locked! Where the fuck was Parker? I knew my parent's were in Vegas, but my brother was supposed to be here. I found a door near the top.

Hey Dies—

Mom and dad took me to Vegas with them. I met them there, but was locked out too. Take whatever's yours in the mailbox and find somewhere else to stay while you're here. I talked to Parker's mom, in fact, and she's expecting you any minute now.

-Parker

FUCK. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. My brother is such an asshole! I'd called and told him everything that had happened with Cole and he sets up a place for me to stay there. I went through the mailbox and took the magazines that belonged to me, then called the operator and asked her to connect me to the Holiday Inn.

Over my dead body would I be staying with Cole.

"Hi dear!" Anne Sekelsky exclaimed, as she opened the door later that day. "We've been expecting you!"

"Well I had other business to attend to," I said, a smile on my lips. Business that included calling every hotel in town, only to find out they were all booked up. I have bad luck. "Are you sure you don't still have that key to my house?"

"No. Cole took it one day and I never saw it again."

I groaned. Thanks to Cole, I had to stay at his house now. "Alright."

"Well come in dear!" she said, sweetly, pulling me inside.

I'd always liked Cole's mother. She was the nicest woman, besides my own mother, that I'd ever met. She was like my second mom, in fact. Like now, she was pulling me towards her kitchen, where she was going to feed me cookies and milk. I just knew it.

We entered the kitchen and I stopped, dead in my tracks. Cole was sitting at the counter eating her cookies and drinking milk with his sixteen-year-old brother, Christian. The world was officially out to get me.

Cole looked at me, then turned to look at his brother. They were engrossed in catching up. "Sit down, dear," Anne told me. "Join the boys."

"I don't want to intrude," I told her. "I only came to tell you that I think I can stay at my friend Kim's house, tonight."

"Nonsense," she told me. "Cole's already agreed to sleep on the couch so you can have his room."

"But I don't want to intrude. I—"

"Stay," Cole told me simply. "She wants you here. Can't you tell?"

I sighed. "Fine."

"Now sit dear. I have to show you some things," Anne told me. I followed her directions and sat across from Christian. Anne left the room and returned a few minutes later with three photo albums. I arched an eyebrow at Cole quickly and he shrugged.

"This book is one I made for you before you and Cole broke up, but I never gave it to you," she said, handing it to me. I couldn't open it. I didn't have the heart to. "This book is one that I've made with different articles about Fully Ignited. It's his book, pretty much." I opened it up and flipped through a few of the pages. There was everything from home articles to nationally produced ones. And the pictures…It was incredible. "He's got another book coming soon." I grinned. "But this book…this is yours." My mouth fell open.

"I haven't had that much written about me," I said, shocked.

"I've been collecting for awhile. I always knew you'd grow up to be something incredible and that's happening."

"Because I introduce your son's band?"

Anne laughed. "No. Look." She handed me the book.

I read some of the headlines, "Local Teen Organizes Food Bank From Her Own Backyard", "Laura Anderson Opens the First Volunteer Website Design Team", "The Valedictorian", "Local Teen Entering College as Sophomore Receives Academic Achievement Award and a Full Ride to Fordham University".

"You saved all those?" I asked, a small smile crossing my lips.

"Every one of them."

I kept flipping when I came to a local article that had been written in May of that year. "Lockhaven Native to Tour with Up-and-Coming Local Band", it was called.

"That's the first article they wrote about you and the tour," Anne told me.

I grinned. "If only it would have stopped there."

"You tore up the scene," Christian said, laughing. "I can't wait till you guys play here," he told Cole.

"Soon enough," Cole said, nodding.

"This is amazing," I told Anne. "Thank you."

She nodded. "It's nothing. A hobby. You look tired dear. I'll have Cole show you to his room and the shower."

I sighed. "That sounds nice."

I stood up. Cole followed suit and picked my bag up off the floor. "I'll carry it," he said, sensing the warning in my eyes.

"Fine."

I knew where Cole's room and bathroom were, but Anne apparently forgot, so I didn't push it. I followed Cole to his room and when we walked in, not much had changed. There were posters all over his walls. He'd painted them black during high school. He had bare oak flooring and his bed was made of the same wood. His sheets, unlike his walls, were a dark hunter green. He had a desk with a computer in one corner and a TV and VCR in the other.

"Home," he sighed, tossing my bag onto his bed.

"Look, I can take the couch if you want me to," I told him. "I don't have a problem with that. This is after all, your house and I know how bad you probably want to sleep in your bed."

"It was my idea to sleep on the couch," Cole said simply. "Take my room. I don't care. The couch is better than the bus any day."

I nodded. "Alright, well…thanks."

Cole gave me a small grin and began to leave. He paused in his doorway, though, turned, and looked at me before he said, "I know this probably doesn't mean much now, but I really am sorry."

I nodded. "Bye."

I woke later than planned. I figured I'd missed dinner, but I wasn't really hungry, so I suppose that didn't matter so much. Earlier, I'd taken a nice shower and tumbled into bed, wearing my jeans and a clean shirt. I thought I'd be up by dinner, but Cole's clock read ten thirty and I couldn't believe it.

I turned on a lamp and sat up. There was no way I was going to go back to sleeping. I yawned and stretched my arms out, as Cole's door opened. He walked into the room, wearing just a pair of jeans and I looked at him for a minute. His eyes caught mine and he shut the door behind him.

"What do you want?" I asked him.

"Well I was going to get a clean shirt and take a shower, then go to bed. I figured you were still sleeping," he said simply, turning his back and opening his dresser.

"Is your mom mad that I missed dinner?"

"Nah. She understood your need for sleep."

"But now I won't sleep all night," I groaned.

"I took a nap too. So I don't think I will be either."

He had been shuffling through his drawer and I just stared at his bare back. I guess that's one of my favorite features on a guy, as stupid as that sounds. Cole's back was strong, broad, and smooth. The light bounced off of it and when he shut the drawer, the muscles in his shoulders flexed. I felt a slight grin cross my lips.

I had to stop this. I couldn't feel this for him. I wouldn't…

But I couldn't stop myself.

I rose slowly from the bed and walked towards him. As I approached him, I ran my hands up his back and over his shoulders, before hooking them around his neck. I rested my head on his back and sighed. Cole had stopped and reached up to grasp my hands.

"What're you doing?" he whispered.

"I don't want to love you," I whispered back.

"Oh…"

Cole tried to pull away from me, but I held onto him. "Look at me, would you?" He sighed and turned. My arms were still around him. "But I can't stop, Cole. As much as I want to hate you for kissing that girl, the more I realize I have no right to. It's not like we're dating. It's not like I can decide who you kiss. You aren't bound to me."

"But I do love you," he said, his eyes bright.

"And I love you too. But…"

"Shhh…" he told me, a small smile on his face. "That's all I want to hear now."

My heart was thudding hard in my chest. The look in his eyes made my stomach roll and I felt my breath getting shorter.

"What are you going to do?"

"This," he whispered, lowing his head to mine and fusing our lips together. I gasped when his lips met mine, and jolts of electricity spread from the tips of my fingers, to the end of my toes. I kissed Cole back with everything in me and pulled his head closer, if that were possible. His hands moved from my shoulders, down my ribs, then rested on my waist. He pulled my body closer to his. It was perfect, honestly perfect.

Soon, he'd pushed me towards the bed and when I landed on it, he pulled back and let out a small grin. "I want you," he said simply. "And if you tell me to go, I will."

"Don't," I told him, pulling on one of his belt loops and pulling him to me.

Things continued on and just before we were about to finish things off, his took his lips off mine. "I love you," he whispered. It was so quiet, I'd barely heard it.

"I love you too."

And it was bliss…pure and honest bliss.

I'd come home. Now it was going to be hard to leave. Not that that was an issue. Cole was home…a home that I now refused to leave.

Chapter 14

Things the Way They Used to Be

I woke up more than comfortable the next day. I sighed, still half asleep. Bliss. I was in utter bliss. But I also didn't know where I was. I thought about rolling over and when I went to follow through with the action, found myself wrapped in a pair of warm, strong, tattooed arms. I smiled softly.

Cole.

I was in Cole's arms. I squeezed my eyes shut and snuggled myself closer to him. He groaned softly and the next thing I knew, soft warm lips were touching my back. This couldn't get any better. Cole rested his head in the crook of my neck and pulled me closer to him.

I felt better about things this time around, than I had when I was sixteen. I felt older…more mature. I felt equal to him, too, for once. Unlike the times we'd done this before, I felt on the same level with Cole. I felt like I knew what he was thinking and furthermore, I knew he loved me this time.

Regrets?

Not yet. I knew for sure that I probably wouldn't have any, either. I rolled around so I was facing Cole. His eyes opened slowly and a smile began to crawl across his face.

"Morning," I whispered.

"Morning," he whispered back, touching his forehead to mine, making our lips mere millimeters apart. "How'd you sleep?"

"Wonderfully."

Cole kissed me softly and pulled back. "Me too. I missed this. I missed us."

"There's an us?"

"Well I was assuming…" he started, a worried tone in his voice.

"Shhh…I was just checking to make sure we had the same thing in mind."

"So you're my girlfriend?"

"I'd love to be."

"Good."

Cole kissed me again and we shifted in bed again. His lips never left mine, though.

"Cole?" a female voice rang out, and his door opened. His mother stuck her head in the doorway and we yanked apart from one another. How embarrassing! I pulled the sheet up to my neck and his mother looked at us briefly.

"Uh, hey…" he said, sitting up.

"I just wondered if you were going to be down for breakfast."

She wanted to know what?! She was looking right at us, there was no way she couldn't see us both in his bed. "Uh…sure. Give us thirty minutes."

"Alright, dear," she said, leaving the room, closing the door behind her.

"Oh God. You're mom is going to hate me! I have to get dressed now…I need a shower…" I began. "Oh fuck, where'd my shirt go?" Cole had burst into laughter. "This isn't funny!"

"She doesn't and won't hate you," he said, pulling me back to him, then kissing my neck softly.

"Cole," I said, as calmly as I could. It was like explaining something easy to a four-year-old. "We're in the same bed, kissing, and naked no less. What the hell is your mother going to think?"

"That I'm almost twenty-one and you're legal. So what's it matter?"

"What's it matter?!" I asked, looking at him, pulling the sheet closer to my body. "She's going to know we…we…"

"We what? We made love?" I looked at him, trying to calm down. "Come here." He pulled me over to him and wrapped his arms around me. "She doesn't care. I love you, she knows that."

I sighed, then relaxed in his arms. "When you put it that way…"

Cole kissed my cheek softly. "Which I do, by the way…"

"Do what?"

"Love you."

I bit my lip and grinned. "I love you too."

He hugged me to him. "So don't worry about it. She's not going to bring it up. I promise."

I nodded. "Okay."

"But before you go downstairs…"

"Yeah?"

"I'd cover that hickey up on your neck."

Three hours later, we were hanging out with Jeremiah, Shelli, and Andy. Jeremiah and Andy were showing Shelli places they'd hung out at growing up, since she hadn't ever stayed here often. Cole and I hung back a bit, walking slowly behind them, our fingers loosely tangled through one another's. The others hadn't really noticed. Shelli was excited to see the town, Andy was tied up in Shelli, and Jeremiah, as usual, was oblivious to what was going on around him.

We arrived at a small restaurant and went in. I'd been here so much with Cole, that it was almost odd going back. I hadn't been there since he'd left and entering the place made me feel three years younger. We were seated in a booth by a sixteen-year-old girl, and I ended up squished between Cole and Jeremiah.

Our group joked around till our food came and the guys shared stories about home for awhile, before Shelli looked at me in an odd way. "What's that?" she asked, pointing at me.

I arched an eyebrow and looked at the front of myself. "What are you talking about? Did I spill something on myself?" I asked.

"You're neck, you moron." I knew my cheeks were flaming up. "Oh God! You have a hickey! Cole gave you a hickey!"

"What?" Cole and I asked, quickly. I guess I hadn't hidden it so well. I pushed my hair forward quickly and tried to cover the mark up, but Jeremiah, who was conveniently sitting on the side of me that had the hickey, pulled my hair back.

"Well I'll be," he said, a grin covering his face. "You marked your territory, Sekelsky."

"God," I said, resting my elbows on the table and dropping my head onto my hands. "Please tell me this isn't happening."

"So what's going on with you two? Are you going out?" Andy asked.

I lifted my head to look at Cole who was nodding, a small smile on his lips. "We're all better," he told them, wrapping an arm around me. "Aren't we?"

I nodded and rested my head on his shoulder. "Much."

Jeremiah leaned over me to hit Cole. "I knew it! I just knew it!"

"Oh shut up," Cole and I said at the same time, which caused Shelli and Andy to laugh.

The door to the restaurant opened up and a couple walked in. I looked at them for a minute. Then I returned my gaze to them. I groaned loudly. "What?" Cole asked me, looking at the people.

"Lauren Hollister," I groaned. "My number one enemy."

"She'll avoid you."

"Hardly."

Of course, I was right. The minute she saw me, she stalked over to the table, pulling her boyfriend along behind her. "Diesal Anderson," she said, a sugary smile on her face. I wanted to grab her by the neck and strangle her.

"What do you want?" I asked. Cole pulled me closer to him.

"If it's not Cole Sekelsky too!" she exclaimed, reaching her hand across the table, to shake his.

Cole pulled his arm away and she finally pulled her arm back. "Are you done now?" I questioned.

"Are you two dating again? If I remember correctly, Cole, you fucked her before, then left her. Does history repeat itself?"

"Fuck off," he said quickly, then began talking to Shelli.

Lauren looked offended, but pulled away for a minute. "This is not over, Diesal."

"You're just jealous, because you're still working at the grocery store," I called after her. Cole squeezed me to him.

"Just hush up now," he whispered in my ear. "Don't give her the satisfaction of knowing she rattles you."

I nodded and felt him kiss the top of my head. The door opened again. Great. Who would be behind it now? I let out a breath of unexpected tension and proceeded to look into the eyes of another of Cole and Parker's friend's…Rick.

"Cole, my man!" Rick exclaimed, coming towards the table and shaking Cole's hand.

"Hey. What's up?" Cole asked him, motioning at Andy and Shelli to move over, so Rick could sit down. They obliged and when he was comfortable, all the guys burst into another round of Memory Lane. It was gonna be a long day.

The rest of the week, I caught up with friends, hung out with Shelli, and spent time with Cole. I was busy beyond belief and when the show in my hometown rolled around Saturday night, I was thrilled. I finally would be able to check out the local talent on the hometown stage. I could tell Cole was happy about it too. The guy couldn't stop smiling.

Finally, it was time for Fully Ignited's set. Shelli and I walked onto the stage and I looked back to meet Cole's eyes. The crowd roared. I stepped up to the microphone and gave the audience a grin.

"I'm Diesal Anderson," I began.

The crowd went insane. "And I'm Shelli," Shelli said, taking her place beside me.

"And we're the publicists for Fully Ignited," we said together.

"Now I know you guys are excited to get started and trust me, we want to also," Shelli explained.

"BUT Jeremiah misplaced his pants and is trying to find them," I explained.

It was the truth. Jeremiah had misplaced his pants. I'd finally met his fiancée. She was a nice girl and would be joining us on the tour. We'd caught them at a bad time though and Jeremiah's pants had been misplaced. The crowd cheered and I looked behind me to see Jeremiah running behind us in his boxers. I shook my head. "I know you're excited," I said. "So without further ado…your hometown heroes…Fully Ignited!" Shelli and I walked offstage as the guys ran on and began their set. Once behind stage, I relaxed. I was home…home meant the kids in the pit would be from the area. I left the backstage and headed for the mosh pit.

I let go and got into the music. I talked to the fans too. There were some people I knew from the area and high school and it was just good to be home. I was pushed into a guy and when I turned to look at him, my stomach fell. "Dan?" I asked, staring at the boy who had somewhat betrayed me a few months ago.

Dan grinned. "Hey Dies," he said.

"What are you doing here?"

"AP assignment," he said, shrugging.

"You selling me out again?"

He laughed. "Um…no."

"Sure you aren't. Listen, you wanna come backstage after the set. We'll just give you some straight up answers."

"Okay. Makes my job easier."

Fully Ignited finished up. When we were backstage, I found out that this was a planned interview. We grabbed Cole and had to head off to the local high school for a tour.

The article written, was of course, amazing. Dan was such a great guy…it was hard to hate him for the stuff he said. It was just too damn good.

A Journey to the Past

By. Dan M. Brandis

"That's it," Diesal Anderson, co-publicist of Fully Ignited, says, pointing to the locker in front of her.

"Is not," Cole Sekelsky, bass player/vocalist of the above-mentioned band, replies, shaking his head.

"Cole…look at it. It has the dent in it. Can you not see it? Are you that blind?"

Cole shakes his head. "Girls," he mumbles.

"Look, I'll prove it."

Diesal opens the locker, which is empty sticks her arm inside, moves around a minute or two, before pulling out a sheet of paper. "What's that?" Cole asks, moving to stand beside her.

"It says, 'May 8, Senior Year. This is the locker Cole Sekelsky rammed headfirst after he was paid fifty dollars to do so. This note was placed in here in case Cole suddenly has a brain lapse as to which locker it was. Signed Us.'"

"Let me see that." Cole grabs the note and shakes his head. "Wow."

Where are we? That's easy. We're at the place where it all began. Still lost? Masterson Villa Memorial High School is today's destination. The two we're following around, too, are obviously trying to cover up something in their relationship. They think they're not being obvious, but they are. The two are head over heels for one another and it's easy to see.

We walk by the cafeteria and Cole turns to go in. "You remember this place?" he asks Diesal. She rolls her eyes.

"Who could forget? You ate an entire jar of mayo here."

I wince. Mayo? "Yeah. That was a very bad day. I don't ever want to relive that memory."

We continue our trek to a student lounge where we all seat ourselves. Cole and Diesal share the couch and I sit in a chair near them…Yup. It's apparent. They are going out. Diesal laces her fingers through Cole's and then she gives him a grin.

"Dan, we've got your next article…" she begins.

So till next month, later kids and have a nice day.

I laughed, reading the article. If he wanted to make our adventures a serial every month, then so be it.

Cole wrapped his arms around me and looked down at the magazine. "So have you considered staying any longer?"

"Yeah. I think I will," I told him.

He pulled me closer to him. "You won't regret giving this another chance."

"I haven't yet," I said, as I turned in his arms and his lips joined mine.

Okay, so it took us a few years to figure out that this was right and this was what was supposed to happen with us. So maybe I fought him off. Maybe that got lame, but in the end, I did end up with him.

We don't know where tomorrow will take us and for the first time in my life, I honestly do not care. I'm with Cole, I've got a good job, and I'm honestly happy. In ten years, I hope that I can say I'll still be with him. But who knows?

When this whole mess started, all I wondered was how did this happen? Or even why did it happen? It seemed like a cruel joke to me. But you know what?

I'm not regretting any of it.

Because it's made me stronger…

And it's helped me find the love I thought I lost.

And right now, that's all that matters.

March 8, 2003

Well there you have it kids, the end. I got really frustrated at the end with this story and well, I had no where else to go with it. I'm still working on my sequel to JUST ANOTHER DAY and my other project, which is top priority…is the joint story I'm writing with my friend Heather. We're over 100 pages…and when we're done…you may all read it! Heh…cuz well we're gonna post it. If you wanna read what we've written together thus far, look us up under Heather Julie. Our already posted story, NOT YOU is there. But we plan on rewriting some of THAT too. So for those of you who read it and enjoyed it before, well…that's something to look forward to also.

I'm sorry about my lack of updates and such. School is top priority now and I've been going through a lot of personal conflict. But…summer is coming. Which means my updates will be more fluent…and my thank you notes WILL be returning. I PROMISE.

I love you all, like you know. Heh. So thanks for taking the time to read this.

Till next time—

Me…

Or Julie.

HOWEVER you think of me.