"Hey Leah, its Ben. I wanted to talk to you, so call me back whenever you can."

"Leah. It's Ben. Could you call me? I really need to talk to you about today. Sometime tonight, okay?"

"It's Ben. Please call me."

"Leah, stop avoiding me, I know you're getting my calls!"

I pressed the delete button on my phone and watched with satisfaction as the green bar slowly moved across the screen until all of the voicemails had gone.

Ben had called ten times and left four voicemails.

I had been lying on my back in my room since I had gotten home. Kelly had come in for a few minutes before she declared that my mood was infectious and fled. The sky outside was getting dark and I still hadn't eaten or made any attempt to contact civilization. I felt I was entitled to one day of wallowing in embarrassment and hurt and then I'd force myself to rejoin the living world.

When I felt my phone begin to vibrate in my pocket, I was tempted to throw it, but stopped when I realized that it wasn't Ben calling.

"Hey, Mia," I said, surprised.

"We need to talk," Mia said pointedly.

"I'm listening."

"You shouldn't have gone behind my back like that."

"You're right," I replied dully. She was, after all.

"God, Leah, stop acting like the victim in all of this. You went behind my back with Ben even though you knew I like him. You tried to get him to fall in love with you even though he's always loved me."

And then something just clicked.

"You're a terrible friend," I said casually.


"You heard me," I said, "You're a terrible friend. I have put up with your selfishness and your mood swings and everything because I truly care about you! But enough is enough. I did this whole thing with Ben for you. But I'm done trying to make you happy all of the time. You know what, Mia, the world doesn't revolve around you. It's sick how you play Ben. You're dating Noah but you still string Ben along like a little puppy. I make excuses for you all the time, but I'm done. Ben isn't some guy you can just play with. Neither is Noah, for that matter. They're both people, people who you are using in some sick and twisted game where you make the rules. Well guess what? I'm done playing."

And then I hung up.

I think I lay in bed for about ten minutes, feeling the adrenaline course through my veins. I had never done anything like that. My heart thudded in my chest and in my head, but I felt good. I felt so free. I didn't know where any of that had come from, but it had been right.

It was in that moment that I knew that if Ben called me, I would pick up the phone. And if he didn't call me, I would find him the next day at school because I was done getting walked all over and used.

It was only 8:30, but I quickly changed into my pajamas and lay down to go to sleep. I cried for a few minutes, then laughed hysterically, then fell into a peaceful sleep. Its nights like these where I hope that the wall between my room and Kelly's is thick and sound proof. Otherwise my parents may have me carted off to an insane asylum.

The next morning at school, my fingers were itching in anticipation for lunchtime.

When the bell rang for lunch, all of the steely resolve I had quickly crumpled away. What can I say, I wasn't born for confrontation. On the contrary, I had lived my entire life avoiding any form of confrontation. As a result, I'd been walked over by both Ben and Mia. Enough was enough.

I think the look on Kelsey's face when I walked up to the table was priceless. Obviously she'd heard all of it from Mia. I watched as she got up, probably coming to warn me to step back, but I continued walking forward, in the opposite direction of Kelsey. Kelsey, however, turned out to be harder to avoid than I thought. She sprinted to get in front of me, running into me.

"Leah," Kelsey said with her teeth gritted as she grabbed my arms, "We need to talk."

"I'm kind of in the middle of being confrontational," I said as I looked over her shoulder, trying to locate Ben.

"Seriously," Kelsey said, "Could you just listen for one second?"

I dropped from my tippy-toes.


"You need to wait to bite Ben's face off. I know that he kind of deserves it…but…okay he's asking Mia to prom during lunch today and I don't want you to ruin it," the end of that came out in one fast breath, causing me to have to pause and replay what she'd said before I understood.

"How do you know?" I asked, chastising myself for feeling hurt about Ben asking Mia. I was supposed to be confronting him.

"Well last night he called me asking for advice on the best way to ask a girl to prom. I gave him all the information he wanted," Kelsey said sheepishly, "Look, I know the timing sucks, but Mia's going to be so happy. This is what she wants!"

"What about what I want?" I said quietly, more to myself.

"What do you mean?" Kelsey asked slowly, clearly confused.

"What about what I want?" I said, much louder this time, "It's not the Mia show. It's not all about what Mia wants. I have spent so long catering to her every whim and desire and I'm done with it. It's not all about Mia. It's not all about me either, but sometimes it's going to be about me. I've spent our entire friendship trying to make sure that Mia is happy, but I deserve to be happy too. I deserve to be happy."

Kelsey shared at me like I was insane. She didn't have time to react before someone else was talking.

"You're right," someone said from behind me.

I turned around to see Ben holding flowers. Mia's flowers.

"I'm right about what?" I asked, forgetting that I was supposed to be lividly angry and probably swearing at him in sixteen foreign languages at the moment. He had the effect on me. I'm a girl, what could I do?
"You deserve to be happy," Ben said, "I'm sorry that I didn't treat you that way."

My mouth opened. Then it closed. Real spectacular, Leah.

"Are those flowers for me?" I heard Mia call from behind me. I turned to watch her get up from the table and start to walk over to us. The awkwardness of the situation was rising with every step that she took to us.

"No," Ben said. But he was looking at me.

I looked at Ben, then at Mia who had stopped walking towards us.

"Wait. No, what?" Mia asked slowly.

"No, these flowers are not for you," Ben said, "Sorry."

Mia didn't say anything for a second, "Who are they for then?"

"Leah," he said, "If she'll accept them."

I felt my eyes get unattractively wide and my mouth open as I gasped, but still no words found their way to my mouth. This was fine for Ben because he seemed content to talk for a second.

"I called Kelsey last night, trying to figure out the perfect way to ask you," Ben said, "But everything she said didn't fit you. You don't need some giant show. You're simple. So I just settled for flowers. I hope that's okay."

"Wait," Kelsey said, "This is for Leah? What for?"

"Right," Ben said, "I almost forgot the most important part. Leah, would you do me the extreme honor of being my date to prom?"

"IS THIS SOME KIND OF TRICK TO GET MIA JEALOUS AGAIN?" I said, surprised at the intensity of my volume. Apparently everyone around me was surprised as well. Mia jumped and Ben took an instinctive step back. I cleared my throat, "Because I'm not interested in being used."

"I'm not trying to get Mia jealous," Ben said adamantly, "I want you to be my date to prom."

"Of course you say that. Mia's standing right there," I rambled, "But really, I'm not going to-"

And then Ben was kissing me.

It was short, but sweet enough to curl my toes.

"Do you believe me now?" Ben asked, his face inches from mine.

And then it hit me. Ben's first kiss. One of the rules of our "relationship" was that we couldn't kiss because he was saving his first kiss for the real thing.

"Your first kiss," I said in an embarrassingly breathy voice, "I don't get it."

"It shouldn't have taken me fake dating you to realize that you were the right girl. It shouldn't of taken all of these years, but it did. I'm slow. But when it hit me, and boy did it hit me, it was so obvious. Leah, I love you and I want you to go to prom with me and then be my girlfriend and then whatever happens after that. I've spent so long chasing after the wrong girl and now I'm chasing after the right one and I only hope that I haven't let her get too far away. I'm sorry for everything I've done in these past weeks that's hurt you. I only hope you'll let me make it up to you."

"WHAT?" this time it wasn't me that yelled. It was Mia.

"I guess I owe you an apology too, Mia," Ben said, "I'm sorry that I didn't see this earlier, and I'm sorry that I fake dated Leah to make you jealous. I hope you can forgive me. I even hope we can still be friends. But I'm interested in Leah. I don't appreciate being held as a substitute while you go out with another guy. But I'm glad that you did. Otherwise, I wouldn't have figured out what a huge mistake I was making."

Mia just stared at him, obviously furiously angry.

I short stream of cuss words fell out of her mouth as she twirled around and walked away. Kelsey followed quickly behind, leaving Ben and I alone.

It was then that I realized that I hadn't said a word.

"You haven't said anything," Ben said.

I nodded.

"You still haven't said anything," Ben said with a laugh.

I closed my eyes for a second as I smiled lightly.

"I don't know what to say," I said slowly. Good, my voice was working.

"Are you mad?" Ben asked.

"I was," I said, "Maybe I still am. I don't know,"

"Okay," Ben said, his face kind of dimming, "Do you believe me?"

"I'm not sure," I said slowly, "Not really."

"Why not?" Ben asked.

"Because you love Mia," I replied.

"I thought I did," Ben said, "But then I realized I was interested in someone who actually cared about my feelings."

"There's loads of girls who care about your feelings."

"There's one Leah," Ben said, "Look, I'm explaining this terribly. You make me happy. You make me laugh when I'm in the worst mood. You're quirky, and kind, and adorable. You've been my best friend for years and I guess I just didn't see that you were more than that until I was faced with the idea of losing you. And when you said you liked me too. That helped."

I nodded, thinking.

"So what's your answer?" Ben asked.

I thought of Ben being my best friend and making me laugh. I thought of fake dating him and how good that had felt. I thought of crying after school. I thought of how he had made me feel insignificant. I thought of how angry I had been that morning.

"I don't know," I whispered, "I wish I did. Can I think about it for a few minutes? I think I'll know by the end of lunch."

I saw Ben's face fall and wanted to back track and say yes but I reminded myself that this was for me.

"Yeah, that's fine," Ben said slowly.

I nodded and turned around without another word. I needed a long walk to sort out my thoughts.

"Leah!" I turned to the sound of my voice to see Kelsey calling to me. Mia was sitting next to her.

"What?" I asked.

Kelsey jogged over in my direction.

"What'd you say to Ben?" Kelsey asked.

"I told him I didn't know," I answered honestly, "How's Mia doing?"

"She's acting like she's fine. Saying she's better off without him, but you know her, she's really upset about it. I mean, who wouldn't be."

"That's too bad," I said.

"You should come and talk to her," Kelsey suggested, "Let her know that you said no to Ben."

"I didn't say no," I said slowly, "I said I needed time to think about it."

"But you're going to say no, right?" Kelsey said, "Because saying yes is totally breaking girl code. You can't date your best friend's crush. That's just cold."

I stared at Kelsey for a second.

"You know what's cold?" I asked, "What's cold Mia stringing Ben along while she dated Noah. That's cold."

"She's just insecure. She was worried that Ben wasn't going to like her back," Kelsey said.

"I can't believe that you're still defending her. This is ridiculous."

"You're being a horrible friend," Kelsey said, "Mia needs us and you're thinking about going out with the guy that she loves."

I shook my head.

"I've put up with this for too long. Mia doesn't rule the world. She's not always the victim. And you and I are no longer friends. You can pass the message on to Mia. I want to have friends that are there for me. Clearly I'm wasting my time here."

"You're overreacting!" Kelsey called as I turned and walked away.

I shook my head and kept walking.

Everything was unclear at the moment except one thing. I needed to talk to Ben.

I retraced my steps to where I had been with him a few moments ago to find him sitting with the guys at the table. There wasn't much talking going on.

"Ben!" I called from where I was standing.

He shot up and jogged over to meet me.

"What's wrong?" he asked when he got closer.

It was only then that I realized that there were tears prickled in the corners of my eyes.

"I just lost my two best friends," I said.

He came up to me and gave me a tight hug. I took a deep breath in, smelling the light scent of boy and shampoo.

"I'm sorry," Ben said into my hair, "But you deserved better."

"Yeah," I said into his shirt, "I did."

He squeezed me tight for a moment before letting go.

"I have an answer for you though," I said slowly.

He suddenly looked very worried.

"If you're not interested, I really hope we can still be friends and-"

I stood up on my tippy toes and kissed him softly on the lips.


Author's Note: First of all I am so, so, so, sorry for how it took for this final upload. I've had tons of work for school but still, it's not excuse. Thank you for all of you who still read this and I hope you enjoyed this final chapter. I thought about how I wanted this to end for a long time. I went back and forth on a lot of things, but in the end, this is what I chose. I hope you like it, and if not, sorry! Thanks again for reading and I pretty please leave reviews! Xoxoxo, Caitlin