(A/N- This is it!!! After 46 chapters, 6 months, and 128 reviews; it's finally the end! Power To The Players is finally ending! It's been a good ride and I want to thank all of you for reading and reviewing. Now that that has been said, I proudly present chapter 47…and the end of this story.)
I stared up at the moon with Natalie lying right next to me. Her head was on my shoulder and we were relaxing after spending an hour in the hospital with Chase, Jessie, and baby Jamie.
Lee decided to let Chase stay over night with Jessie and the baby, when actually Jessie asked Chase to stay with her, but we all brushed it off because we didn't want to bother Lee for the rest of the night.
Mark went home after Lee dropped him off from the hospital and Kieran, Melody, and I were sitting in the back of our cars listening to music.
"Beck!" Kieran yelled from her car. I leaned up and looked over at her. "Don't you leave for Towson next month?" she asked.
I nodded my head and Natalie groaned. "I don't want to talk about it," she said, cradling her head against my neck. I put my hand against her neck and stroked the ends of her hair.
She sighed and pulled me closer. "I don't want you to go," she whispered, kissing my neck. I looked down at her and smiled.
"We still have this month and I already called Charlie and worked things out. Plus, you'll come help me move in right?" I said, kissing her forehead.
She looked up at me and unbuttoned her seatbelt. I arched my eyebrows at her as she climbing into the back seat and pulled me by my collar with her.
I laughed while she pulled me on top of her. "I love you…I really do," she said before claiming her lips on mine. I smiled against her kiss before deepening it and I felt her hands on my waist.
Before I knew it, we were full on making out in the back of my car, which will definitely be something to remember, but that was quickly interrupted when I heard Kieran knocked on my window.
I looked up and tried to pull away but Natalie leaned up and glared at Kieran. "What? I'm just trying to tell Beck her phone is ringing," she said, holding up her hands in defensive.
We both groaned and I pushed myself up and took my cell phone from Kieran. I flipped it up and pressed it to my ear.
"Beck! Where are you? It's 2 am! Come on and bring Natalie back with you because I know she's with you"
"Alright. Alright. I'm on my way now…and oh yeah! Jessie had the baby, mom"
"Is that why you were out so late?"
"Yeah because I went with Lee and the others to the hospital to visit her and the baby"
"Alright. Just hurry home Beck. I'm tired and you know I'm not going to bed until you're home safe"
"Ok. I'll be there soon".
I hung up the phone and climbed back in the driver's seat. "Time to go home, Red" I said, giving her a glance. Natalie got out the back seat and opened the door to the passenger seat before sitting down and putting her seat belt back on.
I started the car and quickly said "bye" to Kieran and Melody before pulling on to the main street. Natalie took my hand and I looked at her.
"School's finally over" she whispered.
"Where does this leave us?"
"I told you Red. I'm not gonna just drop everything that we have because we're going to different schools and we won't be that far away from each other. I love you and some how…we'll make this work".
She looked back at me and smiled before leaning over and kissing my cheek. "I think some of your clinginess is rubbing off on me because I can't keep my hands to myself tonight" she said before trailing kisses down my neck.
"You don't have to" I sighed as she moved towards a soft spot. I tightened my grip on the wheel and tried to focus but having Natalie so close to be always made my head spin.
"Red, this isn't safe for a number of reasons," I mumbled while she continued her onslaught on my neck. "I can't help it" she chuckled before pulling away. I smiled at her and raised an eyebrow.
"So does the great Natalie Hudson find me irresistible now?" I teased. "I always did. Even when we first met there was just something about you…or maybe it was the number of times you sent me flying into the floor?" she shot back.
"I've apologized for that and I never meant to hit you! It was a complete accident but maybe it was fate for me to knock into you in the hallway? It could have been anyone else but it was me; Beck Smith, who was tired of always trailing behind her friends who were in happy relationships" I exclaimed, pointing a finger at her.
She crossed her arms and leaned back against the seat. "Maybe it was fate or destiny…"
"There's no maybe. It was. No one bumps into their future girlfriend in the hallway at their school two times for no reason" I interrupted.
Natalie laughed and rested her head against the seat and looked at me. "…I got a picture of Nicholas from my mom today" she said, pulling out her cell phone.
I perked up just by hearing the sound of his name and Natalie blushed. "I swear, I think you love him more than me," she said pouting. "I do, but I don't think it would be a good idea to go after someone 17 years younger than me" I said smirking.
She shook her head and held up the phone so that I could see while keeping my eyes on the road. He was bigger now, probably 6 months and his black hair was longer, about the edge of his ears, and straight just like Natalie's. He had on a blue and white striped shirt and jeans.
"Only mom would put him in jeans as soon as he's able to wear them" she mumbled to herself. I was glad that Natalie was starting to become more open around me. It was almost like she was finally at peace with herself and she was no longer hiding who she was.
She knew I would still love her no matter what she did in her past…unless it was something really out there. But I know Natalie and I trust that whatever happens next for her, would be that bad.
One Month Later
"Beck, if you say her name one more time, I'm going to hit you".
I laughed as I sat on Jessie's couch, holding little Jamie in my arms as she looked around the house. Chase was sitting on the ground, his head against the cushions and staring up at the TV in exhaustion.
"Chase, you should really take a nap. It must not be good for you to stay up all night like this. Aren't you going back to school next year?" I asked.
He nodded his head and then shook it before pointing at Jessie. "If she has to stay up all night with her, I will too. Cause one school starts again, I won't be here to help all the time," he said yawning.
Jessie sighed. "I told you you didn't have to come everyday. Lee's going to be here too and he's offered to help," she said before sitting down next to me.
"I know…but I'll feel kind of, I don't know, weird knowing he's over here when I could be" he replied before glancing over at Jamie, who had fidgeted in my arms.
"He's here for me and you need to rest. Look at you. Every time she moves I feel like you're going to have a heart attack," Jessie said, shaking her head.
"I'm just worried. I'm still trying to get this father thing down and…I can't help it. I worry about her all the time and it's only been a month!" he said, lifting his arms in the air and dropping them back down.
I laughed to myself at the way he was acting. This couldn't be the same guy who told Jessie he wanted nothing to do with Jamie, now, you couldn't find him with his daughter in his arms.
Jessie had to literally take her away from him so that I could hold her for a second.
She looked over at me and smiled down at Jamie, who was rubbing her face, and then looked back at me. "Where's Natalie?" she asked.
"Putting gas in the car. We're going to Ocean City today to meet up with Charlie, Alexis, Dylan, Gloria, and Gloria's younger sister, Grace" I replied.
"Are Melody and Kieran going with you?" I nodded and she cringed. "I'd hate to see how things play out when Melody sees Charlie again," she said, motioning to Chase when she noticed him falling asleep.
She took Jamie from me and we slowly walked to Jessie's room so that we wouldn't wake him up. He deserved all of the sleep that he could get.
Jessie handed Jamie back to me while she closed the door and I sat down on the edge of her bed.
"He's really good with her. Sometimes, I wonder what I would have done without Chase" she said, sitting across from me on her couch.
"You could have talked to some guy, oh I don't know, about 6"2', long dark hair, of Asian decent, named after your daughter's middle name" I sarcastically said while Jessie sighed.
"I couldn't do that," she said honestly. "Why not?" I asked. "Because it isn't fair to Lee. Yes, I love him. Yes, he was there when I needed him. Yes, I know that he cares deeply about Jamie but…he's still not the father and I wasn't going to ask him to pretend to be."
"That's why I didn't want to marry him. Lee has his whole life in front of him and I'm not going to be selfish and take that away from him. Chase and I conceived Jamie, not Lee and it shouldn't be his responsibility to provide for her. I thanked his family for taking me in and for helping me find a really good doctor but…I can't ask Lee to give up his dream, his life, for Jamie and I. If Chase is here and willing to help me, than that's all I need. As much as I love Lee, and as much as I want to be with him, and go to college with him…I can't".
Jessie tears began to fall and I reached my left hand over and gently pulled her towards me so that she could cry on my shoulder.
"I have to take care of her. She's the most important thing in the world right now and always will be. Chase understood that as soon as he saw her and I should too," she sobbed between gasps as she took in my air into her lungs.
I kissed her forehead and we both jumped a bit when we heard Natalie's car horn. "That's Natalie," I whispered. She nodded her head and wiped her tears away.
I heard footsteps as Chase opened the door and I handed him back Jamie before getting up. We walked back into the living room as Natalie came through the front door.
"Hey!" she exclaimed happily when she saw Jamie in Chase's arms. "She's gotten bigger!" she said smiling. Jessie nodded and Chase held her closer so that Natalie could see her.
I saw Lee getting out of Kieran's car and my heart skipped a beat. Did Jessie even want to see Lee after what she told me? Did she even think they would have a chance once Lee started college?
I decided to stay out of things that didn't involve me and watched as Lee opened the front door. He smiled at Jessie and she smiled back before he walked towards us.
"You ready to go?" he asked me. I nodded my head and looked back over at Jessie. She put a finger to her lips and I realized that the conversation we just had was only for my ears.
I guess she would tell Natalie in her own time. Jessie and Chase walked us down to our cars and I got in the passenger seat while Kieran, Melody, Lee, Chase, and Jessie talked.
Natalie moved around her car and sat in the driver's seat before looking at me.
"Are you gonna tell me what happened in there or do I have to wait to hear it from Jessie?" she asked. I just smiled at her and laughed. "You know me too well" I replied.
She smiled back and started the car. "I'm thinking I'll have to wait and hear it from Jessie". I nodded my head as Kieran, Melody, and Lee walked back towards Melody's car as we prepared to go pick up Mark.
"Alright, be careful you guys!" Jessie yelled to us. "We will! Chase, look after Jessie and Jamie! I'm not kidding, if we come back and something happened…" Kieran teased.
Chase just smiled and nodded his head as we pulled off. I stared into my rear view mirrors back at Jessie as we drove away and it dawned on me that this was what she would have to go through, watching all of us move on with our lives while she took care of Jamie with Chase. It wasn't that she didn't love Lee, she just didn't want him to deal with what she would when he had a choice to move on with his life, but knowing Lee, if Jessie wouldn't have said "no" to his proposal, he would have stayed there with her regardless of college.
"She's really brave, you know. Braver than anyone else I know" I said to myself. "Yeah, she is Beck" Natalie said before taking my hand.
I knew she knew exactly what I meant by that and I hoped to God that today would be another good day for us at Ocean City; and I just prayed that Kieran would be able to hold Melody back if something did happen to go down between Alexis and her.
"God, please protect my cousin".
"Is there anything you can't do?"
"I'm not that great of a hockey player"
"You play hockey?"
"Babe, you never told me you could play hockey"
"I can't. Which is the exact reason why I don't. Dylan used to be on the team in middle school until we took up surfing. I tried one time, fell on the ice, and hurt my elbow, never played again".
We all laughed as Charlie shook her head and Alexis just rubbed her back. We were sitting on the deck of their beach house, drinking sodas around the table, and staring at the ocean.
"Do you surf Beck?" Dylan asked, pointing towards me. I took a drink of my soda and shook my head. "Never tried to" I replied.
Dylan and Charlie both shared devious glanced before running over and picking me up from my feet. My eyes widened and I tried to get out of their hold.
"Mark! Grab my board!" Charlie yelled over to him. Mark laughed and quickly picked up Charlie's surfboard.
"Red! Red help!" I yelled, trying to break loose as Dylan tickling my ribs.
"I don't know if I should. I mean, I think Charlie could take me," she teased before putting her chin in her hand and smirking at me.
My jaw dropped and she poked her tongue out at me. "My own girlfriend won't defend me! Lexi!" I yelled when I heard them splashing through the ocean.
"A couple of lessons won't kill you Beck!" she yelled back. "This is mutiny! Mutiny! All of my friends turning against me. Even my own blood!" I exclaimed before watching Lee run up towards us.
"Lee, thank God! Only you care about my well being!" I sighed. "Actually, I'm going for a swim" he said, smirking.
"What? Fuck you all!" I yelled before they dropped me in the water.
For 35 minutes, and against my will, Dylan and Charlie gave me surf lessons until I successfully surfed one wave. By the time we got out, I was wet, cold, and ready to take a bath.
"I'll take a shower with you when we get home" Natalie whispered seductively to me when I sat back down and suddenly, I was in a better mode.
Mark was walking with the shore and talking to Grace, Gloria's younger sister, who was actually in the same grade as him.
"I'm glad they're getting alone," Natalie said as we watched them talking together. "Yeah, I thought it would be a good idea to bring her so that Mark wouldn't feel like the odd man out. I mean, I know you all are friends but he's still 15 and I bet sometimes he feels a bit like a kid around you guys" Gloria said.
I had forgotten about the fact that Mark was actually 15. He's spent so much time with us that sometimes I even forget that he's actually not in the same grade as us but she had a point. Hanging out with 17 and 18 year olds is cool but not when you're 15 and aren't always old enough to go to certain place.
I saw Kieran and Melody walking over to us from the boardwalk and nudged Natalie. Now was when the real fun began. The last time Charlie and Melody saw each other was the day Melody returned home and I had no idea how the both of them were going to react to seeing them with someone new.
What didn't surprise me…was Kieran being Kieran.
"Hey, you're that girl that said her girlfriend was dead?" she said bluntly while looking over at Charlie.
Natalie and I held in our laughter while Melody hit Kieran. "Kieran! What the hell?" she scolded.
"What? Well she did and personally, I'm just asking, why'd you say she was dead if she's very much alive and you two are together now?" Kieran asked.
"Because back then, Alexis was dead to me but, I'm sorry, who are you again?" Charlie asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
"Kieran Holloway. I'm a friend of Beck and Lee's. We all go to the same school and I'm Melody's girlfriend" she replied, sticking out her hand to her.
Charlie took it and you could practically feel the tension coming off the two of them. Melody fidgeted nervously and pulled Kieran's hand away.
"You don't have to pretend to act decent Charlie. I know how this works," she said quickly before pulling Kieran off towards the beach. Charlie's jaw dropped before she jumped out of her seat and walked after her.
"Charlie!" Alexis called after her. "How what works, Melody?" Charlie yelled.
Melody stopped mid step and turned around. "Oh, you know, how you pretend to be interested in somebody and then completely shut them out!" she yelled back.
"Mel…" Kieran said, trying to calm her down. "Pretending? I wasn't pretending to be interested in you. I liked you! I seriously liked you but I didn't love you as much as I loved Alexis and I couldn't help that! I was crazy about the girl!"
"And how was I supposed to know that Charlie? You told me she was dead!"
"Charlie, when someone tells someone else that the person they love is dead. They must mean physically and if they mean emotionally, they say "dead…to me!"
"I never meant to hurt you!"
"But you did! And you didn't give a shit how I felt about it! You played your games and you made me think that you cared about me…but as soon as Alexis shows back up…you kick me to the curb like I meant nothing, absolutely, nothing to you. I hated you for that Charlie! I fucking hated you more than I hated Beck when I realized she loved Natalie more than me! I was always second best to someone…even to you!"
I stared in shock as Melody exploded and Natalie covered her mouth as she looked over at me. Mark and Grace were watching from their spot on the shore and Lee was walking back up from the beach.
I never knew how she felt. I didn't know that she hated me. I didn't know that I had hurt her so bad and if anything, her words made me feel like the ultimate asshole.
I slouched down against my chair and felt the impact of what she said hit me right in the chest. I had hurt my best friend and she had put up a fake persona that she was fine in front of everybody else, just so that she could hide her pain.
I wonder how many times Kieran has heard her cry over Charlie or me. I wonder how many times she has cursed my name.
Charlie stared down at the sand as Melody's words hit her as well. "I'm sorry Melody. I really am. I'm sorry that I led you on and I'm sorry that I lied to you and I'm sorry that I pushed you away and locked myself from you. I'm sorry for everything that I did that ever offended you. You deserve so much more than how I treated you and…I honestly apologize," she said, staring Melody straight into her eyes.
They looked at each other for a while until Melody turned and walked the other direction. Kieran followed after her and took her hand once the reached the sidewalk.
Alexis walked towards Charlie and pulled her into a hug as Dylan and Gloria walked over to comfort her as well.
Lee, Mark, and Natalie all looked towards me but I brushed them off. What happened between Melody and I was a long time ago and I didn't want to think about the past. This vacation was about the future and whatever Charlie and Melody had going on, they would work it out in time.
We walked back towards our cars after a long day on the beach. Mark was getting Grace's number so that the two of them could talk and I was glad to see him trying to get back out there again. Lee was resting in the back of Kieran's car and talking to Jessie on the phone about today's trip.
Melody was sitting in the front seat and I didn't blame her for wanting to head back home.
I pulled Alexis into a hug and kissed her cheek. "Tell Mandy Beck misses her," I said smiling. "I will," she said, smiling back. We all said our good-byes and hugs before getting back in our cars and heading back home.
Mark was sleep in the backseat, his IPod in his hand and the window rolled down. Natalie was deep in thought and I decided to sit back until she wanted to speak. We drove in silence for 10 minutes before she opened her mouth.
"Were you hurt…by what Melody said today?" she asked. I wanted to be truthfully with her and I nodded my head.
"A bit. It's mainly because I didn't know. I just wished she would have told me how she felt and I almost feel like if Charlie would've dragged it out of her, she wouldn't have said anything about it at all" I replied.
"Do you think Charlie knew?"
"No. Melody's actually pretty good at hiding her emotions but she's never kept anything from me, especially something that important. I don't know, I just really wish she would have told me".
"…Kieran won't hurt her, will she? I honestly felt bad about what she said and I know Alexis did too. It felt almost like we had stolen you two from her"
"You didn't steal me from Melody. Things between Melody and I weren't working out and-"Beck…you cared for me more than Melody…and she knew that. It wasn't the fact that things weren't "working out" that killed Melody, it was the fact that she knew you loved me more than you loved her" Natalie interrupted.
I opened my mouth to say something before slowly closing it. Natalie was right. I lied to Melody about how I felt about Natalie. Even when I was with Melody, I still couldn't stop thinking about Natalie…and she knew that. She just never had the strength to tell me.
"…I couldn't help how I felt for you"
"Just like how Charlie couldn't help how she felt for Alexis but I need to know, will Kieran hurt Melody?"
"No…because Kieran's not the type to half-ass anything, especially a relationship. Why?"
"Because Melody doesn't deserve being hurt anymore," she said quietly.
I could understand where Natalie was coming from. She had been hurt in relationships too in the past and I'm sure she knew how Melody felt better than anybody else.
"She won't be Red…at least not by Kieran," I said, taking her right hand and interlacing our fingers. She smiled at me and I turned on the radio as she sped up towards home.
Two weeks after returning from Ocean City, I had all of my clothes and personal belongings packed into my car and were heading to Towson.
Brandon sat on the curb as I put the last box in my trunk. I slammed it closed and looked over at him. This was the first time in a long time that I had seen him actually look sad.
I sat down on the curb next to him as we watched the cars go by.
"Are you coming back for Halloween?" he asked softly. I smiled at him but shook my head. "Sadly enough, no. But I will come back for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all the big holidays and I'll be sure to send you letters and emails. It will be like I never left" I replied.
"But you won't be down the hall anymore. What if I have a nightmare like I did before?" he said, crossing his arms. "Brandon, that was 2 years ago and you had that nightmare because you stayed up to watch "Friday the 13th" with me" I replied.
"But still, what if I can't pass a level in my game?"
"You'll just have to find a way to beat it yourself or look up a cheat code".
"What if I don't have anything to do?"
"Go see Kylie"
"You have an answer for everything, don't you Beck?"
I laughed and pulled him against me for a hug. He put his arms around my waist and just leaned against me. "I won't be gone forever Brandon and I'll only be like an hour away" I said to him.
"I know…but I'll still be lonely without you" he said. "Yeah…so will I, B," I said, leaning my cheek on his head.
I heard footsteps and saw my dad walking towards us. Brandon looked up as he lifted us both onto our feet and I smiled at him.
"Are you gonna miss me?" I asked. He smiled and wrapped his arms around me. "All the time Becca" he replied before kissing my forehead. I put my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat through his shirt before he let me go.
"Don't forget to call me when you get there" he said. I nodded at him before my mother ran out the house carrying a box.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing at it. She pulled out a cell phone and I laughed. "Now you'll have no reason not to call me. I'm gonna miss you so much Becca. You have no idea," she sobbed before pulling me into a hug.
I smiled and hugged her back. Dad grabbed Brandon against me and we al huddled into a group hug. I felt sorrow about leaving my home and my family and friends. I almost didn't want to go but I knew that I had to begin my own life.
They let me go and mom told me her cell phone number and made sure I saved it into my phone. I walked towards my car and double-checked that I had everything before calling Natalie.
"Hey, I'm outside. Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute"
I hung up and put my phone in my pocket just as Lee pulled up with Mark, Jessie, and Jamie. I smiled at them and ran over to the car to look at Jamie in her car seat.
"Awwwww. When I come back for Thanksgiving break, she's gonna be big" I whined. "Hey, don't talk about my daughter. She'll still be cute" Jessie said, stepping out the car but leaving the door open.
"Now give me a hug," she added before opening her arms up to me. I smiled and walked towards her and put my arms around her waist. "I'm gonna miss you Beck. You're my last girl friend in high school that I've known since freshmen year," she said softly.
"I know. I'm gonna miss you too Jessie. Take good care of Jamie and I want picture too, alright?" She nodded her head and I looked at Mark, who was texting Grace, and smiled.
"Come here Mark," I said, motioning for a hug. He smiled and leaned down to hug me.
"Hopefully you'll be a better gamer when I get back" I teased. He scoffed. "Anywhere and anytime, Beck" he shot back.
"Take good care of Lee's club. You know that's our pride and joy. Pick a good gamer to keep it running. I want it to still be around when I come back for my 25th reunion" I exclaimed. He laughed and then I looked at Lee. I didn't think I could over saying good-bye to him without crying.
"Alright. Let's just say good-bye and make this quick. Just rip the band-aid off," he said, trying not to cry himself. I inhaled deeply and we quickly hugged and said good-bye but I couldn't prevent myself and a tear slipped, before I know it, we're both crying.
"Damn it Beck! I said make this quick!" he said, wiping his eyes with his shirt. "I'm sorry! This has been a very emotional day for me!" I shot back, rubbing my eyes as well.
"Awwww, it's alright Beck. He was retelling stories the two of you had together the whole ride here. He's really going to miss his best friend" Jessie said, arching her eyebrows at him.
"I will too". Lee rolled his eyes but I could see him smiling.
I turned around and saw Kylie running towards me with Natalie behind her. I smiled and reached down to hug her when she stopped in front of me.
"Have fun at college, Beck!" she said smiling. "I'll try too Kylie. Watch out for Brandon for me alright? He has ways of getting into trouble," I said, smirking at my little brother.
"Says the one who got suspended this year!" he said, pointing an accusing finger at me. I smiled at him and then looked at Natalie.
"My dad and Elizabeth both wanted me to tell you to study hard and fun a good time at Towson" she said. "Tell them I'll try my best too".
"More like you will" my mom said, crossing her arms. I ran my left hand over my neck and smiled at her.
"So…are you ready?" Natalie asked. I looked once more at my house, the neighborhood I had grown up in, and my family and friends before nodding my head.
Natalie got in the passenger seat and I walked around to the driver's side and opened the door. "Drive careful Beck and Natalie, Elizabeth is picking you up right?" my mom yelled from the front yard.
"Yes Mrs. Smith" Natalie called back. "Alright. Be careful Beck," she said.
"I will. I will". I started the engine and put the car in drive before pulling off, watching in my rear view mirror as they waved good-bye.
I smiled to myself and Natalie took my hand before interlacing our fingers. "So…where to first? Wanna go straight to the campus or do you want to get something to eat?" she asked.
I smiled at her and squeezed her hand. "I don't really care…as long as I'm with you" I replied. She smiled back at me and brought my hand to her lips and kissed it.
"I love you," she said. "I love you too Red….Natalicious". She groaned and I burst out laughing.
"Don't call me that!"
It didn't matter where we went to me because as long as I had Natalie by my side, I'm sure that we could go anywhere.