This story is now COMPLETE. Whoo-hoo! Thank you to everyone who's stuck it out with me, even with the unpredictable posts. It means a lot. I hope you all enjoyed this! ~MJ

:—Chapter Epilogue—:

One afternoon I met a boy (under the most unlikely of circumstances) who literally turned my world upside down.

When I started my senior year, I had two goals: graduate high school (because that was very important to society), and make enough money to buy the used car I'd been eyeing to make a cross-country summer road trip (which I realized was my way of running away from problems). Only one of those goals I managed. Somehow, after meeting that boy who assaulted me inside the mall, my road trip seemed less and less important.

It became more of an enjoyable fantasy than a need.

One night I began to fall for that boy who practically took my feet right out from under me.

That day at the mall was something I never thought could – or would – happen. To me. To anybody. It was story meant for Hollywood . . . or a romance novel. It didn't belong in the real world.

I was sorely mistaken.

I learned to expect the unexpected; predict the unpredictability of life because no way was a girl supposed to find her Prince Charming through a transaction like we ours.

One morning – very early in the morning, might I add – I stopped dwelling on the past.

The future is and always will be unknown. I learned that if we wait we can luck out on the things that will matter most; that holding back can hurt us more in the long run than being forward and honest (and quite possibly rejected). We need to go with the flow and live each moment to the fullest because we never know when our time will end.

My senior year I learned a lot of things.

But most importantly, if a guy comes up to you in the mall and asks you to pretend to be his girlfriend for money and you ask for it upfront, well, it's game over for you. You have just stepped into an entire world of chaos and mayhem.

Maybe it will turn out for you like it did for me.

Maybe it won't.

What I do know is that if I'd said no I wouldn't be where I was today.

It's July Fourth, and Adam and I are by the stream near Le pont de deux amants. We're waiting for the fireworks, crickets chirping, bullfrogs croaking, fireflies blinking. His arm is around my shoulders, my head leaning against his chest.

"So, do you like it?" he asked me, his fingers playing with strands of blue – no longer red.

I nodded.

"Good," he breathed, sighing in relief. "I've been working on it for the past three months."

"Thanks, Bump-kins," I told him, glancing back to the rebuilt Ford pickup parked behind us. As a delayed graduation gift, my boyfriend, mechanic Adam Wynters, had gifted me with a car (much better than the one I'd been looking at). "You're the best."

"I know," he teased, kissing my forehead. "What ever happened to your road trip?"

I shrugged. "I decided I liked where I was."

He smiled down at me, gray eyes light. "Well I for one am glad you didn't go."

"Oh? Why is that?"

"I'd miss you," he said honestly.

I smiled, leaned up and kissed him just as the first fireworks went off (what's that saying about true love's kiss?).

So, moral of the story is: predictably unpredictable being life's forte. You never know what life will throw at you, but if you stick it out, things will turn for the better.

Heck, you might even get yourself a custom made car!