HERE IT IS! The long awaited chapter 8! Enjoy ;)

News of Mark and I spread like wild fire. Apparently Carmen had seen us together at the new movie Baby Mama and now we have been crowned the new "it couple". I do admit that I'm flattered by all the attention, but it gets tiresome being the center of everyone's gossip…fast. I don't know how Brangelina stand it.

However, there was one person who I definitely didn't get any attention whatsoever from…Katherine. I thought she had been shunning me before, but now I realized that her former antics were like the calm before the storm. Now every time she caught my eye, I received a heart-wrenching glare. The fiery hatred in her eyes burned me until I felt numb inside. I couldn't stand the abuse, not from her, not from Katherine. I spent my nights crying and my days depressed. I knew the damage was done, even if I broke up with Mark. Katherine would always hate me. I had after all, broken the number one rule of girl world. I had known that Katherine liked Mark, she had told me to my face. And yet I went out with him anyway, hoping that he was the cure to my heartache. Hoping that I could somehow get over the love of my life.

But what had begun has an attempted rebound backfired. The only good to come out of the situation was, well, Mark himself. He was a sweet boy, he always made me laugh and I was comfortable around him. Mark always knew what to say to put a smile on my face. But even after our first date I could tell that he would always just be a friend. As much as I tried, there was no passion. My skin didn't tingle when our hands brushed. I never got lost in his eyes. Even when we kissed, there were no fireworks, not even sparklers, just an overeager teenage boy shoving his tongue down my throat.

My life was a mess. I didn't know what to feel anymore. My thoughts revolved around one thing, and one thing only. Katherine. I hated her for making me feel this way. It was almost funny how much control she had over me, and she didn't even realize it. I didn't want to love her anymore. I knew it was no good. I knew she would never love me back, and yet I couldn't stop. I would never be able to stop.

A tear escaped my eye. I was sitting hidden behind a tree in the courtyard when I heard footsteps behind me.

"Amanda is that you?" Mark's voice echoed through the courtyard. I didn't respond but I felt him as he slid down beside me and pulled me into a firm embrace. "Hey what's up?" I could hear the smile in his voice, and I turned to face him.

"Nothing much." My weak voice cracked as I attempted to wipe my face with my sleeve. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mark's gleeful face transform to one of worry and concern.

"Babe…why are you crying? Are you okay? Did I do something wrong?" Mark pulled me into an even tighter hug, and I instinctively nuzzled my head into his shoulder. Mark was warm and smelled like laundry detergent. I felt my tense muscles uncoil as I relaxed in his arms. Having his strong sturdy arms around me always made me feel calm and protected.

"It's not you, it's me." I muttered miserably into his shoulder. Feelings of my unrequited love and Katherine's new found hatred threatened to overtake me again. It was all I could do to not burst out into hysterical sobs.

Mark pulled back and his concerned green eyes bore into mine as he gently wiped away my tears with his calloused thumbs. "Is there anything I can do?" he whispered softly, "Do you want to talk about it?"

I smiled weakly looking into his boyish face, rugged with anguish, "Well, it's complicated." That was an understatement.

Mark smiled back, making his eyes sparkle. "Well missy, I have all day." Mark looped his arm around my shoulder, pulling me tighter against him. I couldn't help but feel a bit better, how could I be sad when Mark was constantly so kind towards me.

I bit my lip, wondering how much of the truth I could reveal to Mark without hurting him. Guys don't usually like to hear that their girlfriends are in love with other girls. "It's…well, it's Katherine. I think she hates me now."

Mark furrowed his brow in confusion, as if baffled by the notion of how anyone could hate me. "Why's that? What did you ever do to her?"

"Well she likes you a lot…I knew that, and yet I went out with you all the same." I looked away shamefully, the guilt of what I had done tying my stomach into knots. I sniffled softly as another tear forced its way down my cheek.

"Is that it?" Mark sighed while shaking his head slowly, "Well, that's immature on her part. I know she likes me. But I just don't share her feelings. She's just going to have to move on, my heart is set on someone else." He beamed down at me and tweaked my nose gently.

Mark's words hit me like bullet. I had always thought the boy had been strangely oblivious. But no, he knew…he knew that Katherine liked him. Gorgeous, popular, sexy Katherine, and he had still chosen me? I shook my head as confusion clouded my thoughts. "Wait…you knew that Katherine liked you?" I blurted out incredulously.

Mark laughed softly, amused by my reaction, "Of course. I would have been blind not to notice the way she was constantly throwing herself at me." Mark scoffed. It sounded as if…as if he was annoyed by the fact Katherine was incessantly flirting with him. I would have killed to get the amount of attention Katherine gave Mark.

"But-But why me? I mean…you knew Katherine liked you. And yet…you chose me. Why?" I sputtered out lamely. I couldn't bring myself to understand Mark's reasoning. Couldn't he see how Katherine was the embodiment of perfection, everything I wasn't?

Mark said nothing, but simply smirked. Looking down at me as if I was too naïve to understand. I seethed under his cocky all-knowing look and glared at the ground. However, Mark seemed unfettered by my annoyance, and chuckling softly, he hooked his finger under my chin and tilted my head up until our eyes met. All my irritation suddenly melted away under the caring look in his eyes. "Its funny," he muttered thoughtfully, "You really don't realize how beautiful you are."

I gasped. My mind went blank. Me…beautiful? And then his lips were on mine. We had kissed before, but this time it was different. This time is wasn't just some overeager teenage boy shoving his tongue down my throat. His chapped, rough lips were a far cry from Katherine's soft pink ones. His muscular arms were the opposite of Katherine's gentle embrace. But it almost felt…right. And for the first time I felt a spark. Small and almost imperceptible, but a spark nonetheless.

I felt something warm flood over me, and I realized it was hope. Hope that maybe…just maybe I could make this work. Maybe I could rid myself of my self-destructive love for Katherine. Maybe I could move on.

Mark pulled back and leaned his forehead against mine. His eyes gleamed with bliss. I felt a true smile spread across my face, filling my body with a tingling contentment. As Mark's lips moved forward to claim mine for the second time, I felt a sensation I hadn't felt in the longest time. Happiness.

By the end of the day I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. My footsteps through the hallway were light and carefree. My heart was so full of emotions it was almost hard to breathe. A smile still lingered on my slightly swollen lips.

Reaching the sophomore hallway I spotted Christine, still packing up her book bag.

"Hey Chrisy!" I greeted her merrily. Christine looked up and studied me for a moment, before her expression transformed into one of complete shock. I faltered slightly, "Huh? What is it?"

Slowly Christine's look of surprise was replaced by one of apprehensive joy, "Nothing. It's just that you look well…happy." She eyed me warily, as if not truly believing my cheerful demeanor.

My smile grew, and I giggled slightly "Is that really so surprising? The way you looked at me, I thought I was missing a limb or something."

"I know. It's just that I haven't seen you truly happy, ever since...the ski trip." Christine last words were barely a whisper. Almost as if she thought I would breakdown at the trip's mere mention.

I will admit, I felt my smile droop slightly. But only slightly. "Oh well you don't have to worry about that anymore, Christine. I think…I think I may finally be able to move on." I said as my smile returned to its former radiance.

"What?" But it was clear she heard me, by the look of relief and glee that washed over her.

"I've decided I've had enough. I've been depressed and heartbroken for far too long. There's…there's no way she will ever love me back." I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, concentrating on the words I was about to speak, "I can't love Katherine Bell any longer. I have to move on. And I will…with Mark."

"Aww Mandy!" Christine tackled me into a loving hug. Squeezing me so hard I had to fight for breath. "I'm so happy for you!" she squealed.

I hugged Christine back, and as we laughed together I finally felt free. Free to laugh and smile, and just to be happy. I was so overcome with joy I didn't even notice a flash of red hair whisking out of one of the nearby classrooms. A room with the door wide open.