OK, so I know you all probably thought I'd dropped dead or gone missing or something since it's been so long since I've updated but it's just that I've been really conflicted about this final chapter for this story considering it's the longest I've ever written. I swear I've rewritten this about six or seven times and I'm still not completely happy.. But because some of you guys seem like you will rip my head off if I don't post this, I decided to finally put it up..
Now, I know you're all probably waiting for me to say something like: 'after that whole Oprah moment in the hallway with Ashley, we became really close friends and Tristan and I got together to live happily ever after.'
Well… that probably would have happened in my dreams.
No, in reality, Ashley went straight back to being the bitch she was before, as if nothing had ever happened. The slight change was that she didn't talk to me, Tristan or anyone else associated with me during the following two weeks. Instead, she acted as if I didn't even exist.
What happened between Tristan and I, you ask? Well, turns out that no matter how much I like the guy, I couldn't just jump straight into a relationship with him, not after everything that's happened this year.
So, things went on as normal as the seniors' graduation and formal loomed nearer.
"Do you think we should sign up for the formal's decorations committee?" Harry asked.
"No!" I exclaimed firmly, looking up from my freshly painted nails.
Harry, Georgia and I were all sprawled on my bed spread, painting our nails, flipping through magazines, gossiping and just having a naturally girly time… apart from Harry, who's technically not a girl.
It was a week before the formal and we had only just gotten back from shopping for mine and Georgia's dresses. Harry was still looking for the pink and purple suit he was determined to have.
"Why not?" Georgia asked, one eyebrow raised questioningly.
I rolled my eyes. "Uh, let me think about it – maybe because every other time we do join the decorations committee, something bad happens, namely to me?" I replied.
Harry sighed. "I guess she's right. It wouldn't look so good for you to have a broken leg at our formal."
I gave him a half-smile.
"So…" Georgia spoke up a few minutes later.
My eyes flicked up to meet hers, waiting for her to continue. She glanced at Harry, chewing her bottom lip for a moment before turning back to me.
"Has Tristan… you know… asked you to the formal?" Georgia asked tentatively.
I sighed, my eyes returning to my drying nails. "No," I replied quietly.
"Well, have you ever thought that's because you've been avoiding the poor bugger?" Harry suddenly cried.
"Harry!" Georgia exclaimed, her eyes flashing in warning.
"What? Come on, we all know it's true! Every time Amber sees Tristan walking down a hallway toward her, she'll suddenly run off to the bathroom or something! And I know that it's not just an unlucky coincidence." Harry's eyes bored into mine. "What's going on? What aren't you telling us?"
I bit my lip, finding myself unable to maintain eye contact with Harry. Instead, I sat up slowly, wrapping my arms around my stomach in a self-hug.
"It's just… hard…" I said slowly.
Harry snorted in contempt. "Hard? Hard to have a sensitive, caring and extremely lovable guy chasing after you, wanting to talk through his feelings with you?"
"That's just it, Harry!" I found myself exclaiming in a much louder voice than I realised. "I don't want to talk through my feelings with him!"
Harry and Georgia stared at me, both looking very taken aback.
"But… why?" Georgia asked.
I sighed, covering my face with my hands. "After everything that's happened this year… it's just hard to suddenly jump into a relationship with him just like that, you know?" I looked up at my two best friends, pleading with them silently to understand.
Georgia and Harry both nodded slowly.
I swallowed, feeling guilty. "Sorry for shouting… it's just that, I really don't know how I feel about all this yet."
They nodded again and Harry said, "We get it, hun. I'm sorry too."
I shrugged. "It's OK."
An awkward silence reigned for a few moments.
Georgia, in a slightly obvious attempt to lighten the mood, turned to Harry and asked, "So, how about you and Henry? Have you asked him to the formal yet?"
A blush slowly crept into Harry's cheeks and he shook his head. "I can't," he said, shrugging.
"He'll be visiting relatives on the night," Harry explained heavily.
I brightened with a sudden idea. "You and I can go together!"
Harry looked up at me questioningly and I knew what was on his mind.
"Look, I'm not going to go to the formal with Tristan, OK? So I'll go with you." I smiled, trying my hardest not to show the conflicted feelings that raged inside me.
Harry shrugged, his gaze still uncertain. "If you're sure…"
"I am," I said firmly.
Harry's face split with a grin. "Now I can get a suit to match your dress!"
The week before the formal seemed to be the fastest week I'd ever experienced. Suddenly, I found myself sitting in English on the Friday, staring at the clock and hardly able to register that I only had four hours left before the formal.
This was my very last day at school.
I barely had time to ponder on this thought before the bell signaling the end of the day rang through the halls. Shouts of celebration could be heard throughout the school and I grinned with the rest of the class, slowly sliding my books into my bag.
I joined the surge of students in the hallway beyond my English classroom and made my way toward my locker. Halfway there however, I caught the sight of Tristan weaving his way through the crowd, heading away from me.
Suddenly, I was overcome with the urge to talk to him.
"Tristan!" I called, pushing through the crowd as I ran toward him. "Hey, Tristan!"
Obviously not being able to hear me over the din of the students, Tristan turned a corner. When I reached the next hallway I discovered with a sinking heart that he had disappeared.
Sighing, I trudged back to my locker with my head hung low.
"Why the unhappy face, babe?"
I raised my eyes to see Georgia and Harry standing before me, beaming grins on their faces.
"Yeah, turn that frown upside down, Amber! School's out baby!" Harry crowed, practically jumping up and down with happiness.
I couldn't help but smile back at them and decided not to bring up the subject of Tristan because it would only dampen their high spirits.
"Come on, Amber, let's get you home and ready for tonight," Georgia grinned, hooking her arm in mine.
Harry appeared at my other side, grabbing my arm, and they both frog-marched me happily out of the school. The front lawn was filled with celebrating seniors throwing toilet paper and open packets of flour in the air.
Shouting in surprise, I dodged a flying flour packet, breaking my link with Georgia and Harry and knocking into someone, taking them down with me as I plummeted toward the ground.
"Oof! Ow! Sorry!" I cried, accidentally elbowing the person in the stomach as I sat up.
Turning, I saw Tristan lying on the grass, clutching his stomach and grimacing. He caught my gaze and his expression changed from pain to surprise and happiness.
"Amber! I've been looking everywhere for you. I haven't seen you in over a fortnight," he said but instead of look angry and hurt he just looked unbelievably happy.
I flushed. "Yeah… sorry about that…"
Tristan sat up properly and leaned forward slightly, his expression turning serious. "Listen, can we talk?"
My stomach lurched. "Uh… I, er… I dunno – I mean, what about?" I stammered.
Tristan shrugged. "Oh, I don't know," he said sarcastically. "How about the weather? That's a nice topic."
I gave him a half-hearted smile.
"No, seriously, can we talk? Please?"
I inhaled a long, steadying breath and hesitated before saying, "When and where?"
Tristan's face brightened with a grin. "How about tonight, at the formal?"
I nodded. "Sounds good."
"Great." Tristan stood and held out a hand to help me up. I took it and rose to my feet.
At that moment, a distressed voice echoed out over the front lawn: "AMBERRRRRR!"
"Oops," I said, glancing toward the parking lot where Georgia and Harry were looking around wildly, obviously searching for me. "I've got to go. They're looking for me…"
"Oh, OK. I'll see you tonight then?" Tristan stared down at me hopefully.
I nodded. "Sure. Tonight."
With a final smile and a small wave, I headed over to Georgia and Harry.
"You look stunning," Georgia commented, her eyes gleaming.
I smiled at her and returned my gaze to the mirror.
I was wearing a floor-length blue dress. Above my waist, the dress hugged my curves flatteringly while the bottom flowed freely, swirling around my silver heels. My hair was curled and pinned in an elegant up-do and my make-up had been applied almost professionally by Georgia.
"Thanks," I said, grinning. "So do you."
Georgia twirled around, the bottom of her red dress fanning out around her. "Thank you!" she gushed before turning serious, her cheeks reddening. "Do you think Zach will like it?"
"He'll love it," I assured my best friend, smiling at her nerves.
Georgia regained her grin as a dreamy look crossed her eyes. "Amber… I think he's the one."
I stared at Georgia. Was this the same girl I had been friends with for years speaking about the one? She hardly believed in relationships, let alone love!
"You… You think you love him?" I asked in disbelief.
"Think? I know I do," Georgia gushed, her expression as happy as humanely possible.
I distantly noted that if she grinned anymore her face might break in two.
"Girls! Your dates have arrived! Photo time out on the front lawn!" Mum called from downstairs.
I glanced at my bedroom door before turning back to Georgia, grinning.
"This is it," she said. "We're going to graduate."
"Well, technically we already have," I told her, referring back to the boring old graduation that was held the previous night. "Tonight is just going to be dancing, laughing and having a freakin' awesome time!"
I started at the sound of Mum's yell and grimaced. "We better get down there before Mum has a stroke."
Still giggling, Georgia and I hurried downstairs. Taking one last reassuring glance in the front hall mirror, I opened the front door and we emerged out into the cool night air where a group of people were waiting.
Zach's eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw Georgia and she turned a brilliant shade of red, almost matching her dress. Harry smiled at me in a slightly apologetic way and I wondered why… until I caught sight of Henry, who stood next to him in a matching suit.
"I thought Henry couldn't make it?" I said when I reached Harry.
"You look amazing, Amber!" he said in an overly-bright voice, avoiding my question completely.
I sighed. "Harry, if you wanted to take Henry all you had to do was tell me. Then I wouldn't be alone on our formal night," I said somewhat glumly.
Harry exchanged a significant look with Georgia, who was beginning to smile. I turned to her, frowning.
"OK, what's going on here?" I asked.
Before they could reply, Mum called, "Photo time everyone! Get into your positions!"
"Wait a second, Ms. Jones. There's still one more person coming," Georgia said hurriedly, glancing at me.
My confused frown deepened. "What? Who else is coming?"
Georgia's eyes drifted to a point above my shoulder, obviously looking toward the road. Turning, I saw a sleek black limo driving slowly down the road. The sun roof slid open and…
A grinning Tristan rose from the car, a single white rose in his hands.
My eyes widened as I took in his attire, noting that the colour of his tie matched my dress almost perfectly. Glancing back at Georgia and Harry, I found them positively beaming. Yeah, they weren't guilty or anything…
Turning back to the limo, I found that it had pulled up beside the footpath. Gathering up the bottom of my dress, I walked to the footpath as the back door of the vehicle opened and Tristan emerged, still grinning.
"Why – What are you doing here?" I asked breathlessly, feeling my heart leaping as though I was running a marathon.
Tristan slowly approached me, feeling in the pocket of his tuxedo for something. Finally, he withdrew what looked like a tiny, velvet covered box, his brilliant green eyes never leaving mine.
Oh God, he's not going to propose is he? The wild thought swept across my mind before I could stop it.
My heart beat wildly in my chest as Tristan stopped before me. He didn't kneel – much to my relief – and instead just opened the box. What was in it shocked me to my core and tears instantly sprang to my eyes.
The old pink ring lay inside the small box and by the way it now glittered, I could tell Tristan had polished it.
Tristan cleared his throat slightly and my eyes jerked up to his face.
"Will – Will you be my date to the formal?" he asked quietly.
I stared at him for a few silent moments, rendered utterly speechless.
"WILL YOU JUST BLOODY-WELL ANSWER HIM ALREADY?!"
I jerked out of my shocked stupor and looked around to see Mum crying on the front lawn, her head on Harry's shoulder as she watched Tristan and I. It was, evidently, her who had shouted out.
Looking back at Tristan, I saw that underneath his amusement at my mother, he was extremely nervous, as if he thought I was going to say no…
But how could I?
"Yes," I said quickly, a smile growing on my face.
Tristan let out a short sigh of relief as his own grin appeared. "I thought you were going to say no for a minute there," he said in relief.
He took the pink ring out of its small box and looked up at me. My tears threatened to spill as I raised my left hand and he slid it onto my finger, just as he had all those years before.
I stared into his eyes happily for a few moments before throwing my arms around his neck and pulling his lips down to meet mine.
Cheering exploded on the front lawn as we kissed and I broke apart from Tristan after a few moments to look back at my whooping friends and Mum, blushing.
"Well that turned out better than I expected," Tristan grinned, wrapping his arms around my waist.
I smiled up at him and was about to kiss him when Georgia yelled out, "Well, come on lovebirds! We want to get at least one good photo in before the formal!"
Laughing, Tristan and I joined the others, hand-in-hand. As my still teary-eyed mum began to snap photos of our group, I looked up at Tristan happily.
Right now, right where we were… this was exactly where I wanted to be.
I know, I know. It was extremely short.. but eh, I thought it was cute. Haha. So this is it for An Old Family Friend... Sad really.
But now I'm just going to focus on Not One Of Those Days and You Leave Me Speechless, so I don't leave all the readers of those stories hanging like I did with you guys.
Thanks to all of you who have stuck with this story from the beginning. It's been great!