Author's Note: Ok, first: I deleted the last chapter because I wanted to end it with this chapter instead:) And second, I AM SO SORRY IT HAS TAKEN ME THIS LONG TO FINALLY FINISH THIS STORY! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hope you guys like it, and agree with the ending. Please tell me what you think, I love hearing from you! Thanks for staying with me through this entire story :)

It was a week into the beginning of eighth grade and Emily had yet to find herself a group of friends that weren't too crazy, too weird, too athletic, or too smart. She had yet to find a friend at all, really. High school was a lot different than elementary. The students were a lot taller and bigger and a lot fuller of themselves. The girls were so pretty to Emily, with their hair neatly straightened and their makeup nicely done. Emily didn't even own a vial of mascara, let alone a flat iron!

It was sunny outside so Emily decided that she would go out onto the courtyard to eat. After all, the sun was only going to last a little while longer before the leaves began to fall and it became cold again. As she was walking across the grass section of the courtyard, she heard a deep voice yell, "heads up!" She instantly knew that only one thing could occur after that phrase and she knew that any second now, a hard, speeding football would slam into her head. There was a loud bang and she winced, but then she realized that it wasn't her head the ball had come into contact with. A girl with loud black curls and bright green eyes was standing in front of her with a huge smile on her face, the football nestled safely in her hands.

That girl with the loud black curls would soon turn out to be her best friend; up until the point where Emily cut all forms of communication with her.

Tristan was sitting in the hospital lobby, long after visiting hours were over. Shelby and Steve had both gone home, but Tristan wouldn't leave the waiting room. He wanted to be there when Emily was finally out of surgery and he needed to see her with his own eyes to make sure that she is really okay; but no one had given him any news yet.

His cousin; of all the people in the world that could have done such a horrible thing, it had to be his cousin. He spent so much of his childhood with Ryan. There were so many summers spent together fishing, swimming, or chasing girls. In those moments, nothing of a violent or sadistic nature was ever obvious. He always thought Ryan was just like him, that they were brothers; but he had proved Tristan horribly wrong.

It just didn't make sense. Why would he do that to someone so pure and innocent? Emily didn't deserve something like that to happen to her, she didn't deserve anythinglike that. If there was anyone on this planet that could make him a better person, it would be her. She's so vibrant, so colourful. She looks at the world with a cautious eye, but once she gets past that, she sees it like no one else can. Her actions and her words bring a smile to Tristan's lips and her face is what gets him to wake up in the morning, what keeps him going. Emily is his world, his everything and Tristan can't comprehend what he would do without her.

She was so broken in the beginning, so defeated. He was finally able to break through her wall and bring out the old Emily, the one who wasn't afraid of pursuing things, the one who had fun. He had finally succeeded, and Ryan ruined all that—again.

If Ryan wasn't already dead, Tristan would probably have been capable enough to do it himself.

In eleventh grade, Lily, one of the seniors at school, held a big spring break party. Her house had a hot tub and pool so generally, many of the guests were hopeful to walk around all night in their swim suits and relax in the hot tub. Emily and Sasha walked in, arms locked together, promising themselves to have as much fun as possible without doing anything stupid. As soon as they reached the hot tub, they realized that there'd be no point for them to even strip down to their swimsuits because the hot tub looked absolutely disgusting. It was so jam-packed with drunk teenagers who had spilt half their drinks in the water, that it totally turned Emily and Sasha off. Plus, there were quite a few people hooking up and no one wanted to get in the middle of that.

Suddenly, Max, a cute guy in their grade, grabbed Sasha's arm out of nowhere and pulled her towards him. Sasha could tell that he too was drunk and was hoping to hook up with someone, but Sasha knew that it sure as hell wouldn't be her. He gave up and walked away but a few minutes later, he was back. Emily had been cast in the corner for a little while, but once he had come back, she was on full alert. The idiot kept pulling Sasha towards him and grabbing her butt. He had a goofy smile on his face, but you could tell he was serious. He wasn't relinquishing his hold on her so before Emily even realized what she was doing, she grabbed hold of his shirt and shoved him hard into the pool.

Sasha looked over at her with a glowing smile on her face. Emily could see the new found respect in her eyes and grinned.

Tristan could barely keep his eyes open, so at two AM, he finally decided to make a bed for himself out of the chairs in the waiting room. It obviously wasn't as comfortable as his soft bed at home, but he'd have to make do. The doctors had finally come and spoken to him. Emily was alive, but she was lucky to be. The shard of glass that Ryan had dug into her body was literally only a few centimetres away from her heart. Any closer and there would have been no possible way of saving her. Nevertheless, she still had four fractured ribs, a broken arm, a collapsed lung, a concussion, and several deep cuts and bruises. The cut on her face was the worst.

He suddenly had an idea. The raping had happened and Ryan was gone but Emily still hadn't resolved her problems with her old best friend, Sasha. She may not like it, and may hate him for it in the future, but Tristan believed that having her here after everything that happened would really help her to move on.

Summer of twelfth grade; Emily and Sasha had gone through so much together and been such good friends—until then. The incident that happened at that party during the summer left Emily stranded with no best friend and no one else to talk to. She cut off all ties with Sasha and Sasha never knew why. She called that summer, over and over again. Not even Emily's parents knew why they had to lie to Sasha about Emily's whereabouts. They just went along with it because they knew something had happened but never found out what until later on. It hurt Emily to ignore her and to pretend that she never existed, but every time she saw a picture of Sasha, she was reminded of what happened and she couldn't bear to remember that night. So instead she chose to stop talking to her one incredible best friend, and she regretted it every day since then.

Tristan was standing outside Emily's hospital room the next morning but he was too scared to walk in. He didn't want to see her all battered up and broken, only because he felt guilty whenever he thought of how hurt she had gotten. She would awaken soon and Tristan didn't want to miss that moment so with a deep breath, he took a step into the room.

Her gorgeous, blonde hair was fanned out around her bandaged head. She had gauze over the scars on her face and from the skin that he could see, she was covered in bruises. His throat constricted and his jaw tightened when he looked at her. She was just too much of an amazing person to have gone through this. There was a chair near the bed that looked incredibly inviting and he pulled it right next to her bed. He gently grabbed hold of her hand and laid his head down on the bed. Now that he knew she was safe, he could take another nap.

It seemed like only minutes later, but suddenly Tristan was being shaken violently awake by someone.

"Sir! Sir, you need to get out of here right now! Sir, you need to move!" His eyes opened with a jolt. A nurse was yelling in his ear and trying to move him to the door.

"What's going on?" Tristan said groggily taking a moment to finally take in his surroundings. Emily's doctor was standing over her with a crash cart beside him, holding two emergency paddles in his hands. Tristan's eyes grew wide in shock.

"No! No, you have to make sure she's alright!"

"That's what we're trying to do sir, but we need you to get out of this room," the nurse assured him, trying to stop him from running to the bed.

"No, you can't make me leave. Please! Please, I need to make sure she's alright," Tristan's voice broke, and his hold weakened, but he couldn't take his eyes off Emily and her lifeless face.

"Charge to 300!" He heard the doctor yell. He shocked Emily again and everyone waited for a moment. For a second, nothing happened. Her heart stayed quiet. The monitor played a flat tone.

Then, a treacherous, prolonged second later, the monitor started beeping again. Her heart was beating. Tristan let out a huge sigh of relief.

"Thank you," he said to both the doctor and the nurse. He couldn't express his gratitude enough. They all left the room; so once again, he resumed his post, sitting on the chair by Emily's bed. This time, he left his eyes open. He wouldn't leave anything to chance.

Emily was starting to come to. She could feel her dry throat, her eyes trying to open, but most of all, she could feel the epic pain that was coursing through her body. There wasn't one inch of her that couldn't feel it. Images were coming to her in flashes. Ryan right before he almost killed her, the night of the rape, Sasha's smile, and lastly, Tristan with his adoring eyes and beautiful face. She wanted to see him again, wanted to hear his voice. She wanted to open her eyes.

The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was the cast on her arm and then she realized that she was lying in a hospital bed. As she looked around her, her eyes fell on Tristan. He was staring at her with the most beautiful, angelic expression on his face. A single tear fell from his eye.

"Good morning, sunshine," he said hoarsely with a gorgeous half-smile.

"Hi," Emily replied, wanting to kiss him more than anything she's ever wanted to do before.

"I want you to kn—" Emily cut him off.

"Come here," she whispered. He moved towards her but she urged him to move closer. When they were only inches away from each other, she slowly lifted up her head and lightly placed her lips on his. It felt like they hadn't seen each other for months, maybe years. Their kiss seemed to convey a lifetime between them. Emily had a feeling of what he was going to say but she didn't want to hear it. None of it was his fault and she would never blame him. The only person she could lay fault on was finally, fortunately dead. Though Emily knew that it would take her a while to get over everything, she was so happy that she would have Tristan with her every step of the way and that right then in that moment in his arms, she was finally and truly safe.


"Ouch! Gently, please, I don't want to ruin my hair!" Emily snapped at her old friend, Sasha, as she was trying to put Emily's veil onto her head.

"Settle down, you crazy girl, I'm putting it on properly," Sasha retorted with a huge grin on her face. Emily smiled back at her through in the mirror, so ecstatic that her best friend was here, she felt like she would burst with joy.

Later on that day at the hospital—six months ago—Sasha appeared in the doorway of Emily's room, looking like she had in high school. Tristan had called her and fed her no details, other than the fact that Emily was in the hospital. He had left everything else to Emily. He left them, and they spent hours talking. Sasha finally understood what had happened that summer and she no longer held the grudge that she had once held. Tristan proposed to Emily a week later, with a beautiful 18-carat diamond ring.

Six months and many countless hours of stressful planning later, they had finally arrived at this moment; this one special day that they would remember forever.

"I'm so nervous," Emily whispered as she slowly walked out of her dressing room, "and so excited, I could die!"

"Don't be nervous," Sasha winked," the kid loves you like there's no tomorrow and he's super rich to boot. You've got one heck of a life ahead of you." Emily laughed and she could feel the butterflies leaving her stomach. It felt like their friendship had never missed a step.

Emily's father was standing by the door with a huge grin on his face, his arm outstretched, waiting to walk his daughter down the aisle. With a glowing smile, she linked her arm through is and turned toward the door. The wedding march began to play. As her maid of honour, Sasha waltzed through first. Slowly one by one, everyone left until it was only Emily and her father. Emily could see the guests get up from their seats and turn to look at her. With one last deep breath, she took a step through.

As she was walking, she met Tristan's beautiful blue eyes. She could tell that he was ready for this moment and so was she. He gave her one of her favourite half-smiles and he didn't take his eyes off of her—or couldn't. When they reached Tristan, her father gave her a kiss on the cheek and passed her over to her future husband. She grabbed his hands excitedly.

"You look a little too beautiful for a wedding, don't you think?" Tristan whispered in her ear, bringing a smile to her face. He took a step back and winked at her and their eyes held for a second time. She loved him with all her heart and couldn't wait to live a life with him. He was everything that she ever wanted and more.

Emily finally knew that this was where she belonged: safe in Tristan's arms, home, and life.