Chapter 28 – And the Oscar for Best Actress Goes to...

"Chelsey! Hey, Chelsey! Wait up!"

Chelsey Smith stopped in her tracks and slowly swiveled around. Her face lit up when she saw who her pursuer was.

"Why hello, Brandon," said Chelsey, batting her eyes as if they were having a spasm. "Ready to lose everything?"

"Nah," said Brandon. "See, that's something I'm not too sure of."

Still batting her eyes, Chelsey giggled. "Oh Brandon, you're such a boy. Too bad I want a man."

Brandon rolled his eyes. "Too bad no man wants you."

Chelsey's face fell. Her expression turned serious, all business, as she now narrowed her eyes. "Okay, fine. What do you want?"

He smirked in return. "Just wanted to let you know all deals are off," he said casually.

Her eyes grew wide. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me. I don't care. Tell the whole school. It won't change things," he said firmly. "I'll still be hot, girls will still love me, and most of all you'll still be a bitch."

Chelsey's eyes had an evil glint in them. "Are you sure you don't mind? What if, oh, say, Shelley was to find out? I'm sure that would change things."

Brandon leaned back against a locker and smiled even wider. "Go ahead. Say what you will, but it doesn't matter. I actually don't have anything to lose."

"Except for your reputation," Chelsey put in.

"That's what you think," he sneered, "I've got more to gain that I could ever possibly lose."

"What, you think that by dedicating a song to a girl on the radio, Shelley's all yours? It's not that easy!" cried Chelsey.

"Oh, so you heard it too?"

"Everyone heard your little confession," Chelsey said, sounding fully frustrated. "It was so sickeningly sweet."

"Good," he grinned.

If there was anything Chelsey Smith couldn't stand more, it was seeing the boy she had pined after for years grinning because of a girl! A girl who didn't happen to be her. The girl who was her ex-best friend.

Oh, how life had a way of kicking you in the ass when you least expected it.

"Humph," grumbled Chelsey. She struggled to regain some composure. All she needed was a little power; then she'd be back to normal in no time. "Have it your way, then. I'm going to go tell Shelley everything."

Brandon didn't look the least bit intimidated. "Chelsey, in the past three or so minutes of this conversation, I have repeatedly told you I don't care who you tell. None of it matters, because I've finally beaten you at your own sick game."

"I think you've forgotten the rules. You win if you break her heart by Christmas," she corrected, "Not for winning her heart."

"Oh, but winning her heart is winning."

"Ew," Chelsey scoffed. "Well we'll see how happy you feel once Shelley knows the truth."

"Know the truth about what?" asked Shelley.

Oh, shit.

Brandon sent Shelley a pointed look. She noticed and gave him a slight nod in recognition.

"Just wanted to talk. Clear things up, you know, the usual," said Chelsey airily, filing her nails as she said so.

"Since when have you just wanted to 'talk' to me?" snorted Shelley.

"Well, I heard about what Brandon did for you on the radio last night," Chelsey said, her voice laced with contempt, "And I want to give you the facts so you don't get confused into thinking he actually meant that."

"Excuse me?" Shelley said icily.

"Silly goose! You don't actually think that Brandon likes you, do you?" Chelsey clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh my gosh, you did! That's so cute!" Her face turned malicious. "Too bad he doesn't like you at all. He thinks you're a selfish bitch who's incredibly full of herself!"

"Now, Chelsey, that's not true," Brandon said quickly, but he went unnoticed.

"What the fuck are you on about, Chelsey?" demanded Shelley.

"Oh, you didn't know? Well I guess I'll tell you then. See, Brandon only pretended to like you because I was blackmailing him!" said Chelsey, as if it were obvious. "I mean, why would he go out with you when he could go out with me?"

"Good question," Shelley said in her fakest voice. "I mean, you're slutty, malicious, and stupid. Gosh, even I would go lesbian for you!"

Brandon laughed coldly, which probably wasn't the right thing to do. Chelsey's eyes were flashing. "Forgive me for not being holy and pious like you are, Shelley. Not all of us can keep our pants on."

"You say that like it's a bad thing," Shelley said mockingly. "How many STDs are you carrying, Chels? Like all of them? I wonder if your partners knew you had them. Gosh, didn't you sleep with Chris Kent last week?" Shelley's voice rose suddenly when she said, "Did you conveniently forget to tell him that you have herpes and chlamydia?"

"Shit!" cried a voice from behind them. Chelsey and Shelley both looked and saw the one and only Chris Kent himself, looking scared and thoroughly disgusted as he quickly scurried away from them.

"Face it, Smith," Shelley said coolly, "You're a walking STD. No one likes you and the

only reason you like to make people miserable is because you get some sick thrill out of

it. Your life SUCKS and guess what? It's all your fault!"

"You're just saying that because you know Brandon likes me and not you," Chelsey said evenly.

"Do you honestly believe that?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Chelsey observed.

"Then you, my whoretastic friend, have been deluding yourself," said Shelley, "Or did you really believe that Brandon likes you? Oh my gosh! You did! That's so incredibly cute!"

Chelsey narrowed her eyes. "Didn't you hear me earlier when I said I'm blackmailing Brandon into seducing you?"

Shelley's smile was eerily one of glee. "Yes, I did."

"And?" prodded Chelsey.

"And what?"

"Aren't you going to blow up? Slap Brandon or something?" Chelsey grabbed Brandon by the shirtsleeve and pushed him forward.

Shelley laughed obnoxiously loudly, throwing her head back as she did so. "Oh, no, no. The only person I'm going to slap is you."

And she did. No one saw it coming, but you couldn't say that it was totally out of the blue. Brandon quickly moved out of the way as Shelley raised her hand and slapped Chelsey so hard it resulted in such a crack that made everyone in the vicinity wince.

Chelsey had to have known it was coming.

"Yeah, actually, that felt good," Shelley said darkly as Chelsey quickly recoiled. "And I'll do it again if I have to. Slapping useless bitches suddenly makes me feel a lot more at peace with myself," Shelley said amiably. She smiled at her former best friend.

Clutching her cheek, Chelsey managed a hoarse, "You really are a bitch, you know that? I may be a bitch too, but you're just-you're…" Chelsey couldn't seem to find a word for it. "You take bitchiness to a whole new level!"

"I think you're referring to yourself, if that's the case," said Shelley.

"You know what? I was going to spare you the pain and humiliation, but what the hell! I'm going to tell you and the whole school," she paused to indicate the crowd that had formed around them, "that Brandon Miller has the smallest penis I have ever seen. And I threatened to tell the whole school if he didn't make you fall in love with him and break your heart by Christmas," Chelsey finished triumphantly. "So it's like I said. If you think he actually dedicated that stupid song because he actually fucking cared about you, he doesn't. And if he didn't do it because he cared about me, then it was for his pride. You don't mean anything to him at all. You're just another blonde bimbo."

"And you're just a lonely, bitter girl. Tell me Chelsey, what's it feel like to lose all the time?"

It was Chelsey's turn to smirk. "Not this time. I fucking beat Brandon. And I can see your heart is crushed, isn't it? Poor, Shelley Sinclair, died of a broken heart. Tell me, do you love him?"

"Yeah, I do."

"So isn't the news of Brandon being blackmailed into getting you to fall for him completely devastating?"

"Not really."

"Why not?" Chelsey demanded.

"I guess you should know, Chelsey, I've known about the blackmail this whole time. You might want to choose your lackeys more carefully next time; not all of them are," Shelley paused for dramatic effect, "loyal."

Chelsey's eyes narrowed. "Who? Who fucking told you? TELL ME!" she shrieked. "I'll kill that bitch!"

Shelley leaned in conspiratorially. "Can you keep a secret?"

"Of course," Chelsey lied.

"Good. So can I."

"Ugh!"

"Part of being a good friend is knowing how to keep a secret," said Shelley. "But I guess you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

"Whatever. You can all go rot in hell, for all I care," Chelsey said irritably.

"We'll see you there, then," Shelley called back.

"Oh, go fuck a goat, Chelsey," Brandon said irritably, waving the girl off. Chelsey, assuming her work there was finished, slinked off. He turned and glared at their classmates. "What the fuck are you staring at? You guys can fucking get lost too!" he barked.

"Geez," a few students muttered under their breath as they went to class.

"Do you think having a smaller you-know-what makes a person more of a jerk?" someone else whispered loudly.

Brandon rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to Shelley. "Thanks for helping me out, back there. You didn't have to. Great slap, by the way. It made everything seem very realistic."

"Anytime," Shelley said amiably. "Chelsey Smith deserves anything that comes to her. And you did dedicate that song for me, so I guess we're even."

"About being even…" he trailed off. "You knew about the blackmail?"

"Like I said, Chelsey doesn't have very good friends," Shelley said nonchalantly. "Besides, they used to be my friends too."

"So, um, I was wondering, if you knew about it, are you okay with 'it'?" he said cautiously.

"Am I okay with you having a small you-know-what?" smirked Shelley. "Kind of disappointing, but I'm sure we can work with it."

"That's not what I meant!"

Shelley laughed. "I know, I know. I'm not sure…should I be okay with it?"

"Is that a trick question? Like if I tell you the truth and say 'yes, you should be fucking pissed off' then you will actually get pissed off?"

Shelley shook her head vigorously. "You're lucky I knew. Besides, I find it more amusing than anything. But how will I get you back? I mean, trying to get me to fall in love with you was totally uncalled for."

"I'm never making any deals with the devil again," he murmured.

"Well, I'd say your first mistake was getting involved with Chelsey at all."

"If this is your attempt at forgiving me, you're failing miserably."

"Actually," she said, "I believe you should be the one apologizing. I just saved your ass, and I could be plenty pissed off at you. Let's get back to that shall we? Hmm…I could have you write 'Shelley Sinclair is the hottest chick alive' all over the boys' bathrooms."

Brandon scoffed.

"Oh, you're right," mused Shelley, "That's already there."

"Maybe in the girls' bathroom, then," he threw in.

"Well, I can't help being so devastatingly attractive. There's enough of me to go around, I suppose."

"Well you don't exactly discourage the notion, the way you strut around."

"I," she said arrogantly, "do not strut."

"Oh please," he said with a laugh. "You strut."

Shelley smirked.

"What?" asked Brandon.

"Have you been watching me strut? Do you like it? Oooh, you do," cooed Shelley. "Tell me, Brandon, do you loooove me?"

She had been joking around, but Brandon's expression suddenly turned serious. Shelley couldn't tell if this was a good or bad thing.

"You don't strut," he said, more serious than she'd ever heard him, "You just play hard to get. Kinda makes it hard for a guy to tell whether you like him or not."

"Are you implying you can't tell whether or not I like you?"

"Uh, basically."

"What do you like about me, anyways?"

"Uh…" he pondered, "I can't really tell you off the top of my head. There's just…something about you. It's indescribable."

He didn't realize until too late that she'd surreptitiously made him confess that he liked her. But what was done, was done. Besides, the situation wasn't so bad, was it? She wasn't mad at him; in fact, she was being pretty damn friendly.

But how 'friendly' was she willing to get?

"I thought you still hated me," said Shelley.

"I think we got over that a long time ago," he said. "Didn't we?"

"Hmm," mused Shelley, "Maybe you, but not me. Didn't I tell you I hold grudges, Mr. Luscious Lloyd?"

"What?!"

"Yeah, I mean, I helped you out today, but it wasn't really for you, it was for me."

"So you don't really care about me at all?"

She made a face and shook her head. "Not really. You're still kind of a jerk."

"You're self-centered, you know that?" said Brandon.

"How so?" said Shelley, giving him a sideways glance.

"On the outside, everyone thinks you're nice and perfect and shit. But you're actually really a bitch too. Like with Chelsey," he forged on, "You said you only did it for yourself. I'm beginning to think you only do a lot of things for yourself. You only did it because there was something in it for you."

"Very good observation," said Shelley. "But you're pretty selfish yourself."

"Proud," he corrected her. "It's called having your pride. Besides, if you had been in my place, would you have wanted to let Chelsey tell the whole school?"

"If it involved making a ridiculous deal to break a girl's heart by Christmas, then no," she said. "What you did was wrong."

"Nobody's perfect, baby."

"Especially not you," she retorted.

"And least of all you," said Brandon. "You know what? Up until today, I did think you were perfect-perfect for me. But I guess not."

"You thought I was perfect for you? Wow, I'm flattered," grinned Shelley.

"It's not funny. I thought maybe you liked me too."

Shelley looked around and leaned in closer. She whispered, "Okay, you don't have to lie. There's nobody around to listen."

"I'm not acting!" he nearly yelled. "This is your problem: you hold grudges. Why can't you get past a small little joke?"

"That small little joke gave me the heebie jeebies," she pointed out.

"Fine," Brandon growled. "You can go fuck a goat too."

Brandon swung his backpack over his shoulder and made to leave, but Shelley called him back.

"Hey, Brandon!"

Without turning around, Brandon slowed his walk and said, "What do you want now, Sinclair?"

"Hey, I thought we got past last names a long time ago," she said with a playful smile.

Brandon cautiously turned around, perhaps afraid of what might happen next. "Are we?"

Shelley's grin grew wider. "God, either I'm a really good actress of you're still as oblivious as ever."

"What?" he asked intelligently.

She gave him a scrutinizing glance, the kind her father had given him on their first day. Finally, with a smile still plastered on her face, Shelley said, "I think you're kinda cute."

Uh, what?

"That's cool, cause I think you're kinda cute too," Brandon said suavely.

"Maybe we could kinda go out sometime? Cause I kinda like you too," Shelley said with a sly grin.

"Are you serious?"

"I've never been more serious about anything."

Cue the 'Hallelujah' chorus. Throw confetti. Jump for joy. Dance like no one's watching. Shout as if you're the happiest person on earth. Bust out some glowsticks and have a rave right where you are right now.

It's about fucking time.

A/N: Who's playing who? Or maybe they're both seriously in LIKE with each other…ONE CHAPTER LEFT! And maybe I'll put the epilogue at the end of that chapter too.

If you are confused as to what went on in this chapter, read what I say next! So at the beginning, Brandon called everything off because he got Shelley to help him "beat" Chelsey. And beating Chelsey is equivalent to ruining all her plans (maybe I should have told you that before) and telling Chelsey that Shelley 'loved' Brandon. Anyways, Shelley went along with Chelsey, only Brandon had no idea Shelley knew about the blackmail the whole time. She's not mad or anything, so we find out the whole thing was just a freaking waste of time. Actually, Shelley's knowledge of the blackmail affects how she sees, treats, and feels about Brandon, so I suppose not all is lost. I had another version of this chapter, but it was just too full of drama, and I'm more of a "let's-keep-things-funny" person.

It took me so long to find time to write this; you have no idea. After this week, I won't be as busy, but I won't be completely free until May (yay!). Anyhow, it's seriously ALMOST OVER and I'm excited! I won't be updating Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell until I finish this story.

I really hope you guys liked this chapter; I'll be sad if you didn't. Thanks for all your reviews, and I hope you review this chapter too. Also, I'd REALLY appreciate it if you checked out my other story and told me what you think of it (if you haven't already done so). Personally, I think Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell is going to be a lot better than this one just because it's my second story AND I know where I'm going with it. It's based on Pride & Prejudice, so it's not like I can completely veer off course.