Chapter 7

Preston's parents were in New York for New Year's. The plan was for Tammy to spend the day with Preston but because she left the party so abruptly and unhappily she wasn't sure what to expect – or do.

She called Preston's cell several times and got no response so she decided to walk to his house, even though it was quite a hike from her place.

Upon her arrival, Tammy rang the doorbell three times. It was a cold January 1st morning and she was freezing standing on the stoop.

No answer.

Preston had shown Tammy where the extra key was hidden so she used it to let herself into the house. She figured Preston was passed out and hung over, but she knew he was home because his car was in the driveway.

She glided up the stairs and opened the door to his bedroom. She stopped in her tracks and her body shook with shock, anger, and betrayal when she saw Preston and Iris together in his bed. Tammy's eyes filled with tears as she stood frozen in the doorway.

Iris opened her eyes and looked at Tammy with a wry smile before sliding naked from the bed to find her clothes. Preston lay motionless and oblivious.

"Surprise!" Iris said with a smirk. Then her expression turned revengeful. "I told you I'd get you back," Iris said with satisfaction.

"You're such a bitch, Iris," Tammy said with a trembling voice, tears streaming down her face.

"This is true," Iris agreed without a care as she dressed.

Preston mumbled as he turned in the bed and then his eyes went wide when he opened them to see both Iris and Tammy standing in his room.

"Oh, shit," he groaned.

"You bastard," Tammy said, sobbing. "How could you do this to me?"

Preston searched for his underwear on the floor. "I'm sorry, Queenie, I was drunk," he said pathetically.

"It would appear the Emperor has no clothes," Iris smirked smugly.

"This isn't what you think," Preston said lamely, finally finding his underwear and putting them on under the covers.

"What am I supposed to think?" Tammy demanded.

"Let me explain, Queenie," Preston said, leaping from the bed in his underwear and searching for his clothes.

"How could you betray me like this?" Tammy cried.

"Obviously, you couldn't give The King what he needed," Iris smirked. "I told you I was the real Queen in all of this."

"Iris," Preston pleaded. "Don't."

"She's right," Tammy realized. "I was never the real Queen, was I?"

"I don't know what happened, Tammy," Preston insisted. "I was drunk. I made a mistake and I'm sorry."

"So aren't I," Tammy sobbed.

"I'm hardly a mistake," Iris said proudly.

"Please, let me explain," Preston begged.

"You know what Preston – I don't want to hear it," Tammy snarled angrily. "Your lies and excuses won't mean anything. You've hurt me to the soul and I'll never forgive you. I can't believe you slept with Iris so easily. What does that say about us?"

"Not much," Iris laughed.

The anger raged within Tammy. "You win, Queen Iris. Have him! I'm done with him," she said before running from the room.

"No, Tammy! Please, don't go! Let me explain," Preston shouted after her but she was already out the front door.

The cold January air slapped her across the face as Tammy rushed from Preston's house. She dug her cell out of her coat pocket and desperately called Lonnie.

"Can you please come get me?" She wept.

Lonnie found his friend sitting on the bench in front of the library. Her tears were practically frozen to her face. Lonnie walked her to his car, saying nothing as he drove her home.

"Where's your grandmother?"

"With some friends for a holiday celebration," the dazed Tammy reported.

Lonnie helped her into the house, escorting her into her bedroom.

Tammy fell onto her bed and buried her face into the pillow. Lonnie sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her back while she cried.

Tammy fell asleep and she wasn't sure how much time had passed when she opened her eyes. Lonnie was sitting in the easy chair in the corner of her room staring at her.

"You gonna live?" He asked.

"Do I have a choice?" She sighed.

"I'm sorry," Lonnie said.

"Happy New Year," she deadpanned.

"You'll be okay," Lonnie told her.

"You were right," Tammy realized as she sat up on the bed. "I should have listened to your instincts."

"Perhaps you were always meant to be a Princess instead of a Queen," Lonnie realized. "I'm sorry I tried to make you somebody you're not. I shouldn't have pushed you. I shouldn't have forced you."

"This could be the saddest day of my life," Tammy said. "But I'm not going to let it be."

"Oh?" Lonnie said with surprise.

"I'm not going to let that bastard destroy me or ruin my New Year's," Tammy decided. She wiped a final single tear from her cheek. "Everything is going to be okay."

"We'll get through this together," Lonnie pledged.

"I've learned something very important," Tammy realized as she dragged herself off her bed and fell into Lonnie's lap in the easy chair. "I'll make you proud of me again. I promise."

"I'm already proud of you," Lonnie assured her.

"Right now, the pain is unbearable but I know with time I'll heal and learn to laugh again," Tammy said, resting her head against his chest.

Lonnie stroked her hair. "Happy New Year, Tammy," he said quietly, kissing the top of her head.

A Happy New Year Surprise," Tammy decided.

"How' bout a Happy New Year restart?" Lonnie suggested. "A new beginning."

"Am I still your Princess?" Tammy asked, her voice shaking.

"Always," he whispered, leaning in to kiss her.

"Surprise," she whispered into his mouth.