::Betrayal in Shades of Friendship::

-1997-

"Colors of the world…"

"SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!" a chubby boy shouted with a withering pout of his lips.

"Every boy and every girl…" a tall girl belted out with a flutter of her eyelashes.

"SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!"

"People of the world…"

"SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!"

"Ahh…slam it to the left…"

"Na-na-na-na-na" the boy substituted for the words he didn't know.

"Shake it to the right…"

"Na-na-na-na-na" he shook his generous behind and smirked at the skinny girl who was now shaking with laughter.

"Chicas to the front…"

"Hi ci ja HOLD TIGHT!" they yelled and the two singers collapsed in a fit of laughter.

Their delight was short-lived as they heard an obnoxious dual throat clearing behind them. The little boy whispered "The Barbies have arrived" to the now white-faced girl who had been singing with him seconds earlier. The two turned to the door entrance as one and faced the two girls they had just been mocking.

The two girls had performed the very same song at yesterday's talent show to the two children's wicked delight. Here was a way to get mentally even with the two girls who made their life a living hell. The skinny singer grinned abashedly up at the long haired blonde girl, who was now standing with her arms braced on her hips, glaring for all she was worth at the chubby boy who didn't even bother looking sorry. He tipped an imaginary hat at the other girl who rolled her eyes so violently that you couldn't see her overdone icy blue eyeshadow.

"Miss Bridget Chandler, Miss Gretchen Dooley, just the people I was hoping never to see again! How do you do?" he said with an exaggerated British accent.

Both girls sent withering glares at him that rolled off of him.

"Get lost Fatty Freakazoid," the girl with the pixie cut, Gretchen Dooley, said as they both giggled as if she had said something ingenious. "We need to talk to Stella Luna here."

Stella's already pale face got even paler if it was possible. The chubby boy threw a worried look at his best friend, silently asking her if she needed his help. She shook her head and he shrugged as he ambled out.

"Aww, how cute; Stella Luna's got a boyyyyfriend. Is he giving you fwowers, Stelly Welly? Is that what he calls you? Are you his wittle Stelly Welly? Is he your wittle Nicky Wickey?" she crooned in a false baby voice that would have annoyed Stella if she wasn't petrified with anxiety.

Instead, all she could say was that they weren't dating. Gretchen smirked and held out her hand to help Stella off the floor. Stella took it and slowly dusted off her overall bottoms, trying to figure out what the two girls destined for beauty stardom could possibly want with plain gawky old Stella. She didn't have to wait very long because the second Stella had stuffed her fists in her pockets, Bridget launched into an explanation for why two of the demi-gods themselves would stoop to converse with the lowliest of mortals.

"Stella, we have known each other for years. Practically forever, I mean. Your mom and my mom were like, best friends even."

This was more than an exaggeration, as Stella's mother, Caroline Calloway, despised Henrietta Chandler.

Henrietta had been nothing more than a C list actress blessed with exceptional looks before she married Harding Chandler, one of Caroline's closest friends and movie production mogul. Henrietta had stayed faithful for all of three years before starting torrid affair after affair. Harding Chandler refused to listen to Caroline's advice and never doubted his beloved wife's fidelity.

Henrietta strayed back to Harding to have Bridget but then resumed her extramarital affairs. Harding went on believing that Caroline was trying to break up his marriage until he came home to find Henrietta in bed with the pool boy. Harding had stormed out in a rage to Caroline's home to apologize. All Caroline had said was "Oh Harding, the pool boy? How clichéd!" before calling up a divorce lawyer and handing the phone to a shell shocked Harding.

Caroline had never forgiven Henrietta for cheating on Harding and Henrietta told all who would listen to her that Caroline was responsible for her marriage falling apart. Henrietta had stooped lower than even Caroline could have imagined by going to Giovanni Marlowe, who Caroline was married to at the time, and telling him that Caroline was unfaithful to him.

Giovanni wouldn't have believed Henrietta had it not been for the fact that his only brother sided with Henrietta. Remy Marlowe told his older brother that he was ashamed to report that Caroline had indeed been seen with a tall red headed man while Giovanni was out on business trips. Giovanni trusted Remy with his life and believed him incapable of lying to him. After all, Giovanni had made Remy's life, brining him up from a troubled adolescence into a fabulously wealthy adulthood. Giovanni was immune to Caroline's pleading and insisted on a divorce.

Caroline reverted back to her maiden name, Calloway, and took custody of their only child, Estelle Carolina Calloway, after Giovanni decided that he could better manage his extensive fortunes from Europe.

After much goading from Harding Chandler, Caroline agreed to send Stella to Devon Academy. Harding's daughter, Bridget, was set to attend Devon as well and Harding just knew that Devon was perfect for the both of them. Devon Academy accepted students of only the highest talent and it took serious connections to even get an interview. The fact that it was a boarding school was even better, Harding assured Caroline. Who wanted to raise children in such severely disturbed households? It was much better that they were raised in stable environments with the best educations money could buy.

Caroline reluctantly agreed to send Stella to Devon Academy for a trial year. Stella came back after that year full of anticipation for the next. School was amazing, she gushed. Everyone was so fun and the teachers were just the greatest.

Caroline sadly allowed Stella to return the next year. Stella's years until 5th grade were magnificent.

Everyone was best friends with each other and there was little animosity. Bridget and Stella were part of the inseparable threesome; their last member was Nicolai Perry. They remained the best of friends until a new player entered the scene in 5th grade.

Gretchen Dooley was a transfer from Devon Academy's sister school, Fenway Point. Gretchen and Bridget bonded instantly and the inseparable threesome became a twosome. Nicolai and Stella fast became the butt of Gretchen's cruel jokes.

Bridget had never been a leader, and under the guidance of Gretchen, Bridget became a snotty bitch who rivaled her mother. The rest of the impressionable grade followed Gretchen and Bridget's lead and made life hell for Stella and Nicolai. Bridget hadn't said a kind word to her two ex-friends ever since Gretchen Dooley enrolled at Devon Academy last year.

But still, life was livable as long as Stella had Nicolai, her partner in crime. They were rarely seen apart and knew each other better than their parents did. Nicolai's wit and prankster personality balanced Stella's sense of justice and sensitivity. Nicolai protected Stella to the best of his ability. Stella was starting to regret that she had let Nicolai leave; facing the Barbies took more courage than Stella possessed. This time it was Gretchen that spoke; she probably thought that Bridget was being too nice.

"You see Stella Luna, Bridget is having her birthday party tomorrow and her father is forcing her to let you come. The staff has set up the Lower Refectory with balloons and other things. Bridget obviously couldn't care less if you came, but her dad does. So you will show up tomorrow and you will let Mr. Chandler know you had fun. And you aren't allowed to-"

"Stella please come. Daddy says he won't buy me the horse that I want unless you come. And you know how important horse riding is to me, Stel. Please please please come?"

Bridget interrupted. In spite of herself, Stella felt her resolve yielding. Bridget hadn't called her "Stel" in an entire year. She knew that Bridget was just using her, but still she held some hope that maybe Bridget didn't hate her so much. Maybe she would see that Stella missed her and realize how much fun Stella was.

They could be just like old times; Bridget, Stella, and Nicolai: the Three Stooges of Devon Academy. Stella harbored the slight hope that this party would change Bridget's mind and for this reason she agreed to come.

Bridget was so ecstatic that Stella had agreed to come that she even allowed Stella to bring Nicolai to the party in spite of Gretchen's complaints. Stella beamed and gave Bridget a quick hug before her she lost her newfound courage. She told herself that it didn't matter when Bridget recoiled at her touch and Gretchen made gagging noises at her back.

When Stella told Nicolai that they were invited to Bridget's party he reacted rudely. He outright refused to come to "that traitorous plastic doll's" party. No matter how much Stella pleaded, Nicolai still refused to set foot in the Lower Refectory the night of the party.

"If you had any sense of pride Stella, you wouldn't go either. Bridget has done nothing for us. She sits and laughs that stupid laugh of hers every time Gretchen makes a joke about us. She betrayed us Stella, and no matter how much you wish and hope, she isn't coming back to us. She's gone forever."

Stella cried and begged him to come with her but he set his lip and didn't give in.

"Stella, mark my words. You will regret going to Bridget's party. Nothing good can come out of it. Even if Bridget is nice to you, Gretchen never will be. And we know that what Gretchen does, everyone else does as well."

Stella dried her tears and set her lip as well. She was going to this party and she was going to get Bridget back. And then Nico would be sorry. She would show him. With that last statement of promised success, Stella stormed out of his room to look for a present for Bridget. As Stella left, Nicolai whispered, "For your sake Stella, I hope you do prove me wrong."

The day of the party dawned and the only preparation Stella had left was wrapping the present she had ordered. The company had rush delivered it so that she could have it in two days. Stella had spent hours cutting and pasting and drawing to make the present she was sure would bring Bridget back.

She knew that Gretchen would probably get her something expensive and barely thought out. Bridget would know then that Stella was the better friend. Stella wrapped the scrapbook in pink and blue wrapping paper; the two colors were Bridget's favorite. Stella wore her favorite jeans with the big butterfly decals on the legs. The soft cotton shirt she pulled over her head was identical to the one Bridget had. They had purchased them together after Bridget had insisted that everyone back at school would be jealous of them. This shirt was sure to bring back good memories for Bridget; it could only help her cause.

Stella hadn't spoken to Nicolai ever since he refused to come to the party. He had approached her multiple times but Stella swerved into a classroom or entered into random conversations so that she could avoid him. It wasn't that she was really mad at him; she only wanted him to realize how serious she was about getting Bridget back.

Stella entered the Lower Refectory grinning with anticipation. She found Bridget standing with a group of friends near the food table. Gretchen pointedly looked at her shirt and snorted. Bridget smiled tightly at her and told her that she could leave her present at the table with the rest of the presents before returning to her conversation.

As Stella wandered over to the present table, she heard Gretchen reassure one of the other guests that Stella was only here so that Bridget could get her horse. If there was one person Stella hated in this world at this second, it was Gretchen Dooley. Stella poured herself a soda and tried to mingle with some of the other kids that were towards the ends of the social ladder. Sadly for Stella, even they thought that they were too good for her.

She lingered at the edges of crowds, only adding a halfhearted giggle or two in at somebody's jokes. The party was turning out to be just like another day at school and Stella chided herself numerous times for thinking it could be anything else. The only thing she looked forward to now was the time when Bridget would open the presents. After this, everything would fall into place. It was the only thing she had left to hold on to.

The chattering mobs dispersed, the dancing began and ended. The cake was put on display, bits of it were smeared on a good natured Bridget and the rest was served to the guests. The cake filling had blueberries which Stella was allergic to, so she didn't even have a chance to enjoy any of the cake specially ordered from a gourmet bakery in New York.

As soon as Bridget finished her cake, she reached for a present to unwrap. Gretchen was first in line and smugly watched as Bridget opened an elaborately wrapped package that contained expensive horse riding gear.

"Oh my God! A new saddle, jodhpurs, and brand new chaps! This must have cost you a fortune, Gretch! Thank you so much," she squealed, jumping up and down.

She gave Gretchen a warm hug that she returned and Stella couldn't help but be reminded of the hug she had given Bridget a few days ago. Bridget had acted as if Stella had leprosy but here she was practically attached to Gretchen's side. Stella shook off the jealousy and smiled to herself. Just wait, Gretchen. It was only a matter of time until Gretchen would be a cast off and Stella would be Bridget's best friend again.

Bridget opened up present after present until she finally got to Stella's present. By this time, Stella was practically hopping with impatience. Gretchen wrinkled her nose and asked whose present it was. The wrapping paper was slightly wrinkled from being near the bottom of the pile but the present inside was still intact. Stella stuck her hand in the air and said, her voice only shaking moderately, that it was her present.

Bridget smiled that fake smile of hers again and said thank you before she ripped apart the wrapping paper, not even noticing the consideration that had gone into choosing the paper and card. She glanced through the card before throwing it to the side. Bridget opened the box and Stella held her breath.

Here it came, Bridget would squeal with joy any second now. Stella waited for it as Bridget opened the book and turned page after page. She waited as Gretchen looked over Bridget's shoulder, her eyes scanning every photograph, note, and doodle. Then all of a sudden, both girls started laughing.

Some of the tension eased from Stella's shoulders and she waited for the thank you that Bridget had given everyone else. It never came, just as the happy squeal of joy never came. Instead, Gretchen took the book and passed it around to some of the other girls standing near her.

"Look at this! It's a picture of nakie-pants Stelly Welly! How cute! Aww, is your bum-bum just as cute now, Stelly?" all of a sudden Gretchen dropped her cutesy voice and snickered at Stella. "God Stella, this is sick. Why would you think that Bridget would want to see old baby pictures of you and your fat little boyfriend? It's as if you think that the three of you are still friends or something." Gretchen saw Stella's face fall and latched on to it like a barnacle. "Oh God, you really do think that you and Bridget are still friends. How dumb could you be? Bridget doesn't want this stupid token of your affection, does she?"

Bridget vigorously shook her head in agreement with Gretchen. Stella's head started spinning and she felt tears pricking her eyes. This wasn't how she had dreamed this would go. In her daydreams, Bridget laughed at all the inside jokes written in the book and cooed over the pictures. She left a flabbergasted Gretchen in the dust and the two of them went of to find Nico and they went to the ice cream shop in the town close to the school for sundaes with three different types of fudge.

Instead Bridget stood there, the book abandoned to the vultures who were her friends. Bridget stood there and mocked her with a perfect smile of scorn that mirrored the one on Gretchen's face. By this time, the naked baby picture had circulated around the room and was now back in Gretchen's hands. She looked at it once more before ripping it in two, the horrible smile still in place. She flung the two pieces at Stella and threw the scrapbook on the floor.

Bridget laughed again and turned around to the stereo. She turned the volume up and the hit of the year, "Mmmbop", blared as people started gravitating towards the dance floor. Soon Stella was the only person remaining by the presents other than Bridget and Gretchen who were admiring or laughing at the presents. She walked over to where the scrapbook lay on the floor.

It had been stepped on by careless partiers and someone had spilled their drink on it as well. Stella kneeled next to it and picked up the soppy mess it had become.

The tears she had been holding back since Bridget had opened her present were even closer to falling now that she saw what had happened to the one hope she had left for their friendship. In a way, this scrapbook was symbolic for what their friendship had become: a ruined mess.

There was no way to fix it; she should have known that nothing so simple as a scrapbook would fix their friendship. Just then, Gretchen noticed Stella kneeling on the floor next to her.

She grinned and said, "Oh God, this is rich. You're still here? After everything? You are still waiting around for Bridget to talk to you, say something to you, and acknowledge that you exist? Well stop waiting. It isn't going to happen. Bridget hates you, and so do I. Haven't you realized yet that she was only nice to you so that you would come? Well, you came and Bridget's dad is shipping her new horse over this very minute. By tomorrow, Bridget will have a new horse at the stables and you will be history. You were used, Stella. Get over it, and get over Bridget. Now, if you will excuse us, we have some dancing to do. Come on Bridget."

Gretchen took Bridget's hand and led her onto the dance floor where she promptly grabbed Nick Harrington, her current boyfriend. As Stella left the Lower Refectory, centimeters away from tears, Bridget and Nick were slow dancing to "Unbreak My Heart" as Stella felt her heart break.

A/N: Hey everybody…this is the first chapter in a fic that I really hope will turn out well. In the next chapter, you will see what has happened to Stella up until 2005. By the end of the chapter, she will return to Devon Academy for her senior year and revenge! Yay…everyone loves some revenge. If you have any questions and need anything cleared up, please let me know. I'll do my best to fix it and clear it up. PLEASE READ AND REVIEW because I will do the same for you. Thanks so much for clicking the link that takes you to my story.

With lots of love from…

my.inferno