Chapter Thirteen


Mid-December had arrived, and the fast-flying time only solidified my happiness. (Other than never wanting it to end.) The office building had been properly decorated in fake snow (as there would be no real snow).

In accordance with some weird rules, the company required you purchase your secret santa gift nearly two weeks before Christmas. Which, for a procrastinator, wasn't enough time. To say the least, I was happy Nick from the software department wouldn't know who got him a Rudolph mug and hot cocoa.

The gifts were passed out slowly, and I searched for Sebastian in the crowded conference room. A small box was shoved in my hands. I carelessly held it as I continued to roam the room.

The box in my hands had been wrapped in brown paper with simple string. I admired the simplicity of it before gently tugging the loose end and peeling the box open. A sparkle met my eyes and I snapped the box shut, eyes darting suspiciously.

I hid in the corner of the room before I looked again. This definitely goes over the twenty dollar limit. I thought, as the sapphire necklace beamed back at me. The blue petals of the flower encased a large diamond.

"What'd you get?" I closed the box, hiding my awe as Chance appeared in front of me. "No shit, I got a fruit cake."

My entire body froze in order to hold back the laugh. "Wait, what?" I asked to make sure I had heard correctly. Chance shoved a large box into my hands, and written on top of the fruitcake, in periwinkle frosting, Fruitcake. I laughed audibly.

"Seriously, what'd you get? Can't be that much better."

"Gift card." I shrugged, holding up the small brown box which held the necklace, careful as it didn't jiggle inside.

"Trade?"

"Not a chance in Hell."

My eyes shot to the door, sensing the flash of blond, remaining locked onto him until Chance spoke, reminding me he was still next to me. "I'll leave you two, then."

I nodded, still in a daze, my opportunity to speak gone, the awkward stand-off still ongoing. Sebastian reached me, pulling me into a hug. "Thank you." I whispered, pushing the thought aside.

"You like it?" I tip-toed to reach his lips for a response.

"You cheated." I pouted.

Sebastian smirked. "What's the fun in cheating? I did get Chance as my person, surprisingly enough."

"You're too cruel. You get me this necklace and him a fruitcake." I nearly laughed at the word.

"He's not my girlfriend."

Someone nudged me. "Josie, here's yours." Another gift was placed in my hands, the person handing the gifts out unaware I had already received one.

As the present was revealed, Sebastian commented, "See how disappointed you would have been with just a self-help book." I hardly heard him, as my sixth sense twinged, my eyes searched until they landed on target. Something about the look in Chance's eyes told me that his smile was artificial as he watched Sebastian and I from across the room.

*.*

The majority of the workplace had left the party at work to start a party at a bar. On the stage, Chance's band set up their instruments. My heart clenched, remembering the skipped gig from the month before. But as I reminisced, my heart sang and my eyes stealthily glanced at Sebastian.

The music began without introduction, and my heart froze with the symphony of sound, beginning to crack as the first word was uttered from Chance's mouth.

Josie

Where have you been?

Missed my chance, and you are winning

Didn't this feel right?

I never said thanks, but here's to you

The girl of my dreams

This can't be over, I am breaking

When you said 'forever'

We were in the making

I missed my chance, a worthless endeavor.

Went to London, come home heart-broken,

Wouldn't be no-where without me,

Together we could have everything.

Now you've been showing your true self

Childhood dreams forgotten,

Didn't you always say you wanted to sing?

Josie

Where have you been?

I waited for you

You're afraid to live

Wasn't our love right?

You hold my heart, and here's to you

The girl of my dreams

This can't be over, not with what I'm facing

'Never too late'

But the clocks racing

I missed my chance, is this my fate

Josie

Everyone that knew...was looking at me, and I was frozen in terror. The song ended, and everyone cheered, time still slowly creeping by. The microphone gave some feedback as Chance removed it from the stand. "Josie, come on up here."

The entire crowd cheered, and I realized the cold spot on my hand was from the release of Sebastian's warm one from my own. I met his eyes, and he looked at me with expectant eyes, with no clue of what my decision should be.

"Go on stage! Go on stage!" Everyone began chanting. With the occasional "Give him a chance!"

I trudged up the stairs of the stage in my humiliation.

Before I reached him, Chance began to speak. "Josie, we've known each other a long time." There was some 'aww's in the crowd, but my eyes locked onto Sebastian's. There was no way out of this now. Sebastian's eyes conveyed a clear message, This is something you need to handle alone. I breathed deeply. "You've been my best friend since we were in diapers, but I have to know if you feel the same way?"

The crowd began to cheer, as though egged on by some demonic force. "Kiss him!" Everything clouded into a dreamlike state, and my heart beat wildly.

I shook my head. No words could come out, not there in front of all those people. My head continued its sway as I met Chance's eyes, running off the stage and out of the bar.

Caught in Sebastian's arms, he guided me out.

Once in the sanctuary of the cool air outside (though the fifty-degrees normally would chill me), I released my fury. "I cannot believe the nerve...argg!"

"What more can you expect from the guy who screams to your entire workplace that you're a whore?"

"You don't understand. He's not like that."

"Josie, I should have kicked his ass for saying that about you. And it was only for you that I didn't."

My stupid heart fluttered, but I forced my eyes into a glare. "Is that your idea of romance or chivalry? You can't just go beating up people you don't like."

"I can if they insult you." He shrugged with the calmest defense possible.

"On whose authority?" I said, only for purpose of rhetoric.

"My own."

"You're infuriating," I groaned. "All you do is mess up my friendship with Chance with your pointless vendetta." My voice was high-pitched and girl like, complaining about nothing as I nudged myself under his arm.

"The moment he stops looking at you with those eyes, believe me, I'll stop hating him."

My heart sang.

The double doors swung open, and Chance came out, facing me. "Really?" My eyes dropped shamefully to the floor. Tell him, chanted the voice inside me. "Really, Josie? You don't feel anything for me?"

Sebastian cut in the longer I didn't answer. "Leave her alone, man."

"Fuck off, dude. She's an adult, not your little pet. She can talk and walk and make her own decisions," Chance spat.

"I think it's already been made-"

"Sebastian, it's fine." I said. I looked at Chance. And then back at Sebastian. "Could we have a minute alone?"

He rolled his eyes, but obliged.

"Nothing?" Chance repeated when Sebastian finally slouched off.

I forced myself to look in his eyes. "Of course I feel something for you... Sebastian just..."

"What? Kidnapped your soul and made you a completely different person?" Chance accused.

"Swept me off my feet. Took hold of my heart by surprise. I'm the same person." The lies were so natural. I had to admit it. But the words had already had ten years of coercion working against them. "You know I've always loved you...but Sebastian...he's completely bewitched me and..." I blurted the words out. "And this is something I've wanted...for a long time."

Chance shook his head. "Maybe if you just-" He leaned in, the second passing and our lips touching I pushed back, but before I could react myself, Chance was thrown off me, a jab to the stomach throwing him to the ground.

News of a fight spreads faster than wildfire. It seemed that moments before the initial impact, the swarms began to filter out like a pack of hungry hyenas, yelping for a throw-down. "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"

I pushed through to the center of the crowd, and then sprinted over to push Sebastian off of Chance, only to help him to his feet. I stopped, watching to see what would happen next as the crowd encouraged them to continue.

"You two! Get out of here!" A hand was raised over the heads of the people, pointing out the two in the middle.

Sebastian's hand clasped in mine, almost naturally as we prepared to leave. But he leaned forward to Chance. "Let that be your warning."

The bouncer easily split the crowd and gave both Chance and Sebastian unnecessarily hard pushes toward the street. I met Chance's eyes, hoping one day our friendship would mend.

"You didn't have to do that," I told Sebastian, though I leaned into him as I said it.

"Yes, I did." He lifted my chin gently, leaning down to plant a kiss on my lips.

*.*

A light breeze of mist from the ocean carpeted our clothes, the winter sun setting early. Sand leeched between my toes and would appear spontaneously to annoy me for the next two weeks the second I dragged a few grains back into my studio apartment.

As it turned out, ridding the apartment of sand was least of my priorities, as there as already a pile of boxes near the front door. A splash of the tide washed my feet clean- for a second.

The sudden tug of my hand drew me to a halt, and I glanced at Sebastian. "You're missing the sunset." I gave him a smirk, a very poorly executed one, before standing next to him and allowing him to pull me close. I shivered against another cool breeze, his hand rubbed against my shoulder. Moving in front of him, he protested, but I tiptoed (and tugged his head to my level) to give him a light kiss. He lifted my body from the ground, my head above his.

Our lips crashed together once more, and I slowly slipped from his hold until my feet retouched onto the beach. He leaned back to look at me, and I took the opportunity to tackle him to the ground, no regard to safety. He braced for impact, and pulled me down, amassing damp sand within my clothes as we rolled carelessly. Sebastian triumphantly held me down against the cold ground, and a cold wave crashed up my spine, the millimeters of water wetting my hair. He leaned down and gave me a peck on the forehead.

"I love you, Sebastian." His bottle-green eyes stared down at me, the last of the yellow sun disappearing from the cascading colors above me.

"You have for a long time." He remarked, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

The two of of laid there for a long moment before strolling back the direction we had came. Once in the perfect cleanliness of his car, all grains of sand became apparent, but my mind was more agreeably occupied with a certain blond. The engine roared the life, the radio playing:

Josie

Where have you been?

FIN

*.*

Thank you in particular to Jester79, Nidchat, HopelessGenius, Du, and Bookworm, whose reviews and messages are truly what inspired me to finish this story.

Thank you to everyone who favorited or followed.

Favorite line that didn't appear:

Any normal person would have let Sebastian go- not me, like a girl with a dream, I clung.