Author's Note: Okay… first of all, the title and summary didn't fit with what the plot turned out to be so I revised that. Second, this story finally had its long overdue chapter overhaul. There used to be 91 (pretty short) chapters to this enchilada and it was absolutely ridiculous. I finally found the time to take care of it and a few other blatant typos. But, let me reassure you, it's the same story. I promise. Just fewer chapters and a new title/summary. For past readers, read the last chapter if you want to know why I changed the name. I also took out my replies to my reviews but I still love all my readers. Enjoy!
Stand By Me
2:15 in the morning.
All was still. All was peaceful. It was magic.
I lay peacefully sleeping in my room.
A piercingly high song filled the silence.
I jerked awake from my pleasant dream about Brad Pitt, an island, and chocolate that had been... well... you connect the dots.
Oh you have got to be KIDDING me.
My cell phone rang on, unattended.
I finally dove for it. " 'Lo." I grumbled.
"HEEEE.… DUMPED.… MEEEE," she howled way too loudly into the phone for now 2:16 in the morning.
Of course it was my best friend Isabella, wailing about her latest boy drama. "Izzy.…" I sighed into the phone, flopping back down on my bed. I had fallen asleep early but now the moonlight was shining in my face through my uncovered window. "Izzy, please.… don't cry. He's a dumb ass."
"I KNOW!" she wailed louder still.
"And he doesn't deserve you." I added shortly.
"If he doesn't deserve me then why am I not WITH him?" she sobbed in reply. "Ana… I need you," she quit sobbing for a second to whisper breathlessly into the phone.
"Ugh.…" I groaned loudly. "Iz, it's 2:20 in the morning."
"But my boyfriend just broke up with me!" she began to wail again.
I slowly sat up as she sobbed and pushed the covers off. "Okay I'm coming." I mumbled.
"Really?" she sobbed crying for a second to sound hopeful.
"Yeah." I cursed myself for being such a good friend.
"Thanks," she sobbed.
"Bye." I hung up the phone and pulled on a sweater over my cami then slid my feet into my Ugg boots. I grabbed my car keys and wallet then shuffled out the door.
"Anastasia?" a voice came from out of the darkness, scaring me shitless.
"Geeze, Mom." I gasped, holding my chest.
"What are you doing up so late? And where are you going?" she asked, concerned, tying her bathrobe across her middle.
"Mom, don't freak out." I said wearily, putting my hands in the air. "I'm just going to Isabella's house; her boyfriend just broke up with her."
"Show me," she said softly. I pulled out my cell phone and scanned through to the received calls list and handed the phone over. She squinted at the bright screen in the dark and then nodded once. "Be home soon."
"Okay." I agreed wearily then walked downstairs.
I walked outside to my Jetta and climbed in, wearily starting the engine. I drove down the street.
I pulled the Jetta to a stop in front of the huge iron gate in front of me. I dialed in the code that Izzy had given me long ago and waited as it slowly slid open. Behind it loomed the huge white mansion complete with Scarlet O'Hara, southern pillars. Izzy's mother had been a huge fan of Gone With the Wind so THAT was why there was a huge plantation southern home in the middle of California.
I pulled to a stop in the circular driveway and turned off the engine. I pushed the door open and climbed wearily out of the car.
I was about to knock when the door was yanked open. "Good Lord, Iz... you trying to give me a heart attack?" I demanded.
"Thank God you're here!" she wailed and then threw herself into my arms. I hugged her as she sobbed, gave her a few minutes, and then pulled back. "Come on, let's go inside." I said quietly, putting my arm around her and leading her back inside.
"How could heeeee... dooooo... this to meeee?" she wailed.
"Because he's a dumb ass." I maintained soothingly. I opened the doors into the library and then walked her inside.
She threw herself dramatically down onto the divan. Even at 2:45 in the morning, her beauty was obvious. Her thick long blond hair was sprayed all over the pillows, making her look like a depressed goddess. No, I'm not harboring some lesbian fantasy (she's my best friend!), she's just strikingly beautiful.
I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror above the fireplace. My dark brown hair was in a bun but messy from sleep and my blue eyes were weary. I looked years older then the lovely Izzy. I hated her and then I didn't. She is, and has always been, my beautiful best friend.
"So why did the dumb ass dump you?" I asked quietly. Better get this one over with.
"He said I was a "chore," she wailed. "That being with me was like some... unpleasant task or something," she scoffed.
I neglected to point out her high drama at that point and only commented, "Ouch," quietly, as I sat down on the priceless coffee table (I'm so rebellious; Izzy's dad would've had a fit if he'd seen me). "Awww poor you, Iz."
"I know," she noisy wiped her nose with the back of her hand.
"That was charming." I commented with disdain.
She looked at me, confused for a second, and looked at the back of her hand. Then she began to laugh, first a little and then a lot. "That was DISGUSTING!" she exclaimed. She then threw one of the throw pillows at me. "Thanks for pointing it out, Ana."
"I'll always be here to point out your most unattractive moments, dear." I replied sweetly.
She laughed weakly then looked at me. "I'm really tired," she whispered.
"You think I'm not?" I raised a weary eyebrow.
"You want to spend the night?" she asked.
"Yeah." I yawned.
She got up. "Let's go to bed," she looped her arm through mine and we left the library.
I followed her upstairs, our footsteps muffled in her thick carpeting. Sure, I envied her home for its opulent furnishings and priceless artwork. But I still liked my house more for one single reason: at the end of the day, it felt like home and not a museum.
We headed up the right staircase (and yes, there are two to choose from.… the staircase goes up and then splits to the left and right.… just like in Gone with the Wind) to her rooms. Yes, that was an intentional plural on the rooms. She had her bedroom, bathroom, TV room, study room, exercise room... etc.
She pushed open her door and quickly gathered all the crumpled tissues off her king sized bed. We flopped down and she clapped off her light. "Thanks for coming, Ana," she murmured sleepily.
"Sure." I murmured quietly as we drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, my cell phone buzzed on vibrate, waking me. I checked the caller ID.… my mom. "Hello." I whispered, trying not to wake Izzy.
"Where are you?" she asked.
"I'm at Izzy's, Mom." I whispered back. "I'll be home later."
"Just... making sure," she said slowly.
"Bye," we hung up. Izzy was still sleeping peacefully, of course. She could sleep through a cannon blasting and tended to sleep until noon anyway. I slipped out of bed and walked downstairs.
I entered the kitchen quietly and froze at the sight before me.
A broad, muscular, shirtless back was to me. It rippled as the owner leaned forward to look at something on the counter.
BAM! The swinging door whacked me hard in the back. "OW!" I yelped loudly, unable to help myself.
The owner of the muscular back jumped and whirled around. It was Izzy's twin brother Andrew, who was just as muscular in the front as he was from the back. "Damn it, Ana, I nearly had a heart attack!" he exclaimed, voice still thick from sleep.
"Sorry, Andrew." I mumbled then pursed my lips to hide my smile. "Nice boxers by the way." I walked over. He glanced quickly down at the red boxers with Abercrombie white moose all over and.… "Is that a blush I see on the cheeks of the unblushable Andrew Walters?" I teased, walking over to the counter.
"Shut up," he grumbled, turning back to whatever he was hunched over.
"What are you looking at?" I asked, walking over to the counter. The sports page, naturally. "Ahhhh.…" I nodded.
"Anastasia!" Izzy and Andrew's chef Andre exclaimed at the sight of me. "I didn't know you were spending the night!"
"I didn't get here until late." I replied.
"Andrew, is that the way to be dressed in front of a guest?" Andre asked.
"Yeah, Andrew." I teased. "Is that the way to be dressed in front of me?" he glared at me. Then, a devilish smile slid across his face as he pulled at his boxers... then lowered them an inch. "ANDREW!" I shouted, thoroughly scandalized, looking away.
He leaned forward and I felt my breath hitch. His light blue eyes, set off by his blond hair, came closer as he hovered dangerously near. He leaned in far... only to swerve and whisper in my ear, "Made you look," my heart didn't beat until he left the kitchen.
"That boy just seems to love rattling your cage." Andre commented.
"Because he's known me for years and knows exactly what buttons to push." I rolled my eyes.
"Do you want something to eat?" he asked.
"Just two coffees for me and Iz." I replied.
He poured me two cups as he grumbled, "I'm a five star chef stuck working for people who only want Atkins, the Zone, and coffee, I cook, I slave, nobody appreciates my art..."
"I'd appreciate your art if you worked in my house, Andre." I said as I took the coffee from him.
"Ahh thanks, bella," he beamed at me.
"We'll be in later." I pushed the door open with my back and slid out of the kitchen.
Andrew was fully clothed and walking down the stairs. "For me?" he asked sweetly, taking a swipe at one of the coffees.
"If I liked you." I sniped back, pulling it out of his reach carefully.
"Come on, Ana, you know my need for caffeine," he groaned after me as I walked upstairs.
I turned at the top of the stairs. "You're like two feet from the kitchen. Get your ass inside and get yourself a cup of coffee!" I ordered.
He scowled at me and then pushed his way into the kitchen.
I opened the door into Izzy's room noiselessly and stopped at the sight on the bed.
Izzy was on her cell phone and tears were streaming down her miserable, crumpled face.
Why does she do this to herself? I gave her a pitiful look and walked over quietly, holding out the coffee. She held out the phone to me and whispered, "Tell him goodbye."
I took the phone calmly as Brian, her ex, rambled on about how he couldn't be tied down right now and said calmly, "Well Brian, she can't be tied down with thinking of you anymore. She may not want to hang up on you but I definitely will."
"ANA!" he shouted.
I flipped the slim phone shut in my hand and gave it back to her.
"Why do I do this to myself?" she asked miserably.
"Because you used to care about him." I replied, sitting down next to her and handing her one of the cups.
Her identical to Andrew blue eyes filled with tears. She looked away, unblinking, and then rested her head on my shoulder.
There was a knock on the door. "Isabella?" a deep voice boomed.
Izzy quickly brushed away her tears, cleared her throat, and put on a fake perky voice as she answered, "Yeah?"
Her father, all 6'4 of him, entered. "The planner is coming over today so can you be out of the house?"
"Yes Daddy," she replied, expression all six year old innocence. I bit my lip to hold back my laugh.
"Hello Anastasia." Mr. Walters nodded to me.
"Hi." I smiled back nervously... the man was impressively terrifying.
"Are you going to help Izzy pick out a dress?" he asked.
"Of course." I replied, having no idea what he was talking about.
"Good," he looked at Iz. "Go get beautiful, Princess," he allowed himself a short smile before strolling out of the room.
"Princess." I whispered.
"Shut up." Izzy pouted. "You know he won't stop calling me Princess."
"That's because you are his little princess." I teased.
The door banged open without a knock and Andrew strolled in. "Dad just came into my room and ordered me to go shopping with you."
"Thanks for KNOCKING, ANDREW." Isabella snapped at him.
"What?" he questioned innocently, leaning against one of her four posters of her bed. "It's just you and Ana."
"We could have been naked." Isabella told him wickedly.
Andrew looked like he had just thrown up in his mouth. "Don't ever say those words to me again," he ordered, looking a little green.
"What..." she asked innocently. "Naked?"
"Just tell me when you're ready to go." Andrew quickly exited the room.
"Works like a charm." Isabella nodded with a smirk. "I'm going to have to try that one more often."
"Definitely." I laughed.
"So are you coming?" she asked.
"I need a shower." I replied, pulling at my limp hair.
"Use mine," she shrugged.
Ooh good... that meant I could borrow her clothes, which were the best. "Okay." I got up and, on an after thought, grabbed her phone. "Just in case you try to do something rash like call Brian and beg for him to take you back." I explained at her at her pained expression.
"Been there. Done that," she stated bitterly.
"Oh Izzy... no..." I stared helplessly at her.
She nodded grimly in reply then added, "You can imagine what his response was."
"Oh Iz." I hugged her. "Come on... drink up, get dressed, put some makeup on, and we'll go shopping."
"Okay," she nodded. I peeked out at her as I shut her bathroom door and worried slightly at her blank expression. Only slightly since she always wore that expression after one of her little boy toys broke up with her. She'd be over it in a few hours.
I slipped out of my clothes, turned on the hot water, and stepped into her huge glass shower. A few minutes later, I was toweling off with one of her thick yellow towels.
I walked out of the bathroom in my towel and immediately wished I hadn't.
Iz was gone, God knows where, and Andrew sat in her place on her bed. He looked at me and I think we both stopped breathing.