Author's Note: Guys! This is not the last chapter! It so isn't! Okay, well, nothing to see up here, go on and read this chapter! You KNOW you want to.

Chapter Thirty

Glass Slipper, Dragon, Poisoned Apple

The drive, which had seemed so short on the way to the beach, seemed infinitely long on the way home. It gave me plenty of opportunity to think, question myself and contemplate turning back.

Was I completely insane for doing this? Probably. Was it even going to work? Most likely not. What was Sevin going to say when I turned up on his doorstep? Would he even want to talk to me? Would he even look at me?

Which was a problem in itself. Because I had left the hotel room with one thought alone, which was 'tell Sevin how you really feel.' I had not paused to check my appearance which, it turned out, was quite haggard and unattractive. I could have changed, at the very least, out of the scruffy jeans, tee shirt and hoodie that I was sporting. Surely if someone were going to turn up at my door and declare their feelings for me, I would expect them to be dressed in their Sunday Best. Or a nice shirt, at the very least. But no, mine was powder blue, a tad too big and proclaimed in chocolate brown script "Shakespeare hates your emo poems." It didn't seem as witty as it had when I bought it.

I was so concerned about my appearance that when I stopped to get gas at a 76 station I went into the bathroom and tried to make myself a little more presentable. All I ended up doing was tying my hair back and spritzing on some perfume, and then letting my hair out again because I didn't like it tied back. I bought myself a cup of gross gas-station coffee just so I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel and headed off. The clock in my car read 10:47. I could probably make it to Sevin's house before midnight.

As I got nearer and nearer, I felt myself getting jumpy and nervous. What was I going to say to him? I hadn't thought about anything specifically, just the basics: get to Sevin, tell him the truth.

I realized this was exactly what I had been thinking before I went to school looking for him and then when I found him, I had chickened out. That wasn't going to happen again…but what if it did? What if I got there and didn't have anything to say? Or what if I messed it all up somehow?

Thoughts like these made it very hard to continue on, but I did anyway, despite feeling like my whole body was turning into lead.

It turned out, I was right. I did make it to his house before midnight. It was 11:32 when I pulled up. Before I could re-think it, I took the keys out of the ignition and jumped outside. The cold air hit me hard, and I could feel myself shivering in nothing but my thin hoodie, a t-shirt and a pair of old jeans. I was so not prepared for this.

Curiously, all the lights in the house were off and none of the cars seemed to be in the driveway. Odd. I went up to the front door, still trembling from a mixture of my nerves and the cold. I would be seeing Sevin again for the first time since…since I had basically told him I never wanted to see him again.

Five…four…three…I reached the door. I stretched my hand out to the bell. The sound of their doorbell seemed to strengthen my resolve. I had done it. I had rung the bell and now I couldn't turn back. I could only wait.

And wait.

And wait. It felt like I had been on the doorstep for twenty minutes, though it was probably only five. I rang the doorbell again and waited for another three minutes before I decided it was too cold and I scrambled back to my car. I sat in it without turning it on.

I felt terribly defeated. And really, really stupid. Here I had driven almost one hundred miles to set things right and he wasn't even here! Where was he? It was New Year's Eve for god's sake, my timing was perfect!

Wait. New Years. People had parties on New Years. Jess was having a party. That's where he was!

Suddenly full of hope and determination again, I reached for my cell-phone and selected Jess's name on my list of contacts. I waited as it rang.

"Hello?" Jess picked up. There was a cacophony of sound coming through the line, which made it hard to hear her.

"Jess?" I said into the phone.

"What? Who is this? I can't hear you very well, sorry!" Jess shouted back.

"Jess, it's Daphne!" I said into the receiver, louder than I would under normal circumstances. "Look, um…I know I said I couldn't come to your party but I'm back early and I thought I might stop by." That was kind of an abbreviated, cleaned-up-to-save-Daphne's-pride version of events.

"I'm not really sure what you said, but if you're coming over, that's awesome! Get here before midnight, yeah?" Jess screamed back.

"I need your address," I told her.

"What?" she yelled. "Oh! Right. Okay, it's 1660 Sycamore Road. You know how to get there?"

"Yeah," I answered, noting that the address she gave me was only about a mile-and-a-half away. "I'll be there soon."

"Excellent!" Jess shrieked into the phone. "Can't wait! Well, see you soon!"

I clicked the phone shut and felt the silence ringing in my ears now that the noise from the phone was gone. I thought about what I was about to do for a second and them pushed my bangs out of my eyes and turned on the car.

It made a sound like a hyena with a head cold and then went quiet. I turned it off, took the key out of the ignition and then rammed it in again, turning and holding the key in the 'on' position. My car started to cough as though it were choking on some undercooked shrimp in a restaurant.

You have GOT to be KIDDING me. I repeated this five or six times before tearing the keys out of the ignition and throwing them onto the seat furiously. I let out a shriek of rage and collapsed against the steering wheel.

"Fuuuck!" I yelled, and because no one was around to hear, I yelled some more. I said some pretty dirty words, getting more and more incensed as my throat started to give out.

It fucking figured. I finally get up the nerve to fight—yes, fight—for what I wanted and now this. I was going to spend New Years' Eve all alone, sitting in my cold, broken, worthless piece-of-shit car. And Sevin would be getting drunk and kissing his girlfriend, pretty blond cheerleader Laylee, as the clock struck twelve.

Maybe this is what I deserved. Maybe after screwing up so much before, I wasn't supposed to have a happy ending. Maybe I wasn't Ariel, or Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella but instead one of the losers of the story. Maybe I was the ugly fucking stepsister, doomed to be unhappy. This was just fate's way of telling me it wasn't going to happen. That it was time to give up.

Except…what if I just…didn't? What if I refused to listen to whatever bullshit fate was telling me? What if I didn't give up?

I was right. I wasn't Ariel or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. I was definitely not Cinderella. Prince Charming wasn't going to come and go to every house in town, making girls try on a glass slipper until he found me. I had the glass slipper, in this case. I had to battle a dragon and give him a kiss to wake him from a century of slumber. It was my job to make sure he didn't eat the poisoned apple. Disney had caused me to expect the prince to find me, but now I knew I had to go find him. And convince him to take me back.

It really wasn't that far. Not even two miles. And it wasn't even below freezing. I slowly got out of the car, locked it, and started down the dark sidewalk. I just wished I had thought to ask Jess whether Sevin was at the party or not. Oh well. Might as well leave something up to fate. And besides, I was positive he would be there. I tucked my hands into the pockets of my hoodie and tried to scrunch up to protect myself from the cold. My ears were turning numb and my nose was freezing. I probably wouldn't make it to Jess's in time for the New Year's kick-off. I would still be walking alone in the dark when the clock struck twelve. That was kind of depressing, actually, and not the way I expected to spend the first few minutes of the New Year. But I guess a lot of things happened that I hadn't expected. Sevin liking me, for one. Me liking him back. Flo being okay with it. Me being a complete retard about it.

The walk to Jess's gave me plenty of time to dwell on my past hiccups. And also time to figure out how to fix it. And I realized there was no way to ensure that I wouldn't end up just as broken-hearted as I'd been before. In fact, chances were I would, because if I was really as clueless as I thought I was, Sevin had lost interest long ago. Who would want to go out with someone that dense? And if he stayed with Laylee, well…I'd get over it. Eventually. But at least I wouldn't have to regret never telling him.

I heard the party at Jess's house when I was still a block away from it. By this point I felt more-or-less frozen solid and was at kind of a loss to explain how my legs continued to carry me forward. In fact, I didn't realize I was standing outside the house until some kids came bursting out of the front door, cackling drunkly. I watched them with a mixture of amusement and concern as they sloshed around the lawn, apparently attempting some sort of on-land chicken fight. I passed them wordlessly and hopped up the front steps, entering the front door. I glanced over to the kitchen, thinking maybe Sevin would be there. There were only a couple of kids who I vaguely recognized, taking shots together. The clock above them read 12:07. I was right, I had missed the big countdown.

I couldn't let myself feel depressed about this (because I was on a very important mission) so I just pushed past the kids in the kitchen and entered the living room. Immediately I saw something that gave me hope and also simultaneously made my heart plummet. A tall, thin blond with a kind face was sitting cross-legged on the sofa, a martini glass in hand. Chatting with her was a boy with light brown hair and a friendly smile. She looked mature, collected and still like she was having a good time without having to get falling-down drunk.

No wonder Sevin got back together with her.

I looked around nervously—if Laylee was here, it meant Sevin was probably close. But I didn't see him anywhere.

I was glad that she was here. I realized that if I was going to carry off my stunt tonight, I would need to talk to her first. There would be no more mistakes made by me. I was going to do things right, starting by being honest with Laylee, who had a right to know what I was about to do.

So without thinking about it another minute, I walked quickly and purposefully over to the sofa. Laylee was engrossed in her conversation with the boy and didn't notice me at first, but the guy did. He dropped off what he was about to say and stared at me expectantly.

"Um," I said. Laylee glanced up.

She gave me a smile and handed the guy her drink as she stood to greet me.

"Daphne! Hi, it's nice to see you," she said in a friendly tone. "I didn't know you were here."

"Oh, I just got here," I answered automatically. "But um, actually, I need to talk to you about something."

Laylee blinked at me and waited patiently while I tried to gather my thoughts.

"The thing is, I really like you, and I genuinely think you're a nice person," I began.

"Thank you," Laylee said, bemused.

"Well, my point is that you're not a bitch, and actually it would make this whole thing a lot easier if you were, but you're not. And I really don't want to hurt you or…make things weird for you but…" I trailed off here, biting my lip. Admitting to my dad that I was about to win back the boy I liked (loved?) was all fine, but telling the boy's girlfriend? A little different. And way scarier. "Well I came here to do something tonight. And that's…I came here to tell Sevin how I feel about him. And I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but it's something that I need to do and I hope you can forgive me for that."

Laylee stared at me for what felt like an hour, looking me like I was telling a joke and she was still waiting for the punch line.

"I'm sorry, I'm a little confused," she said finally. But it wasn't in a passive-aggressive 'are-you-really-going-to-hit-on-my-boyfriend' way, it was in a genuinely baffled way. "I don't…really know what you're talking about. Or rather, I don't really know why you're telling all of this…to me."

"Um, isn't that kind of obvious?" I said, feeling very uncomfortable. I began to fidget.

"I'm afraid not," Laylee said apologetically.

"Well, I just…I don't want you to be blindsided. I thought it would be decent to tell you," I tried to explain.

"Tell me that you like Sevin?" Laylee clarified. "Look, if this is because we dated last year that's…nice of you, I guess, but really unnecessary. I definitely don't have any feelings for him anymore."

"You…" WHAT? Was she for real? "You mean you're not…together?"

Laylee laughed, and I noticed the guy she had been talking to rose to stand next to her. "Um, no. Definitely not. We broke up like six months ago and neither of us looked back. In fact, Daphne, this is my boyfriend, Brandon. Brandon, this is Daphne, my friend from school. She's not actually crazy I think there was just…a misunderstanding."

Blushing furiously, I shook hands with Brandon and muttered a 'nice to meet you.' Then I decided to add, "Sorry I thought your girlfriend was dating someone else."

Brandon laughed and looped an arm around Laylee. "I might have to look into this matter," he said cheekily, but it was clear that he was joking and trusted Laylee far more than a stupid, babbling teenager with absolutely no people skills.

"So um," I said. "If you aren't dating Sevin, why did Carla say you were, and why did I see you guys leave school together when we got out for Winter Break?" I did not mean for this to be accusatory, I just wanted some light shed on the issue.

Brandon, for his credit, did not look alarmed at this.

"Well, I really don't know about Carla because I don't know her that well, but as for why I left with him? It's because we recently decided to patch up our friendship and I wanted to introduce him to Brandon and some of his friends so he went with me to Brandon's dorm. Said he wanted to take his mind off something," Laylee added.

I blushed darker. It was possible that 'something' was me. "Oh," I said.

I realized I was still standing there awkwardly while I'm sure Brandon and Laylee wanted to get back to their conversation. "Well, um…"

"Wasn't there something you came here to do?" Laylee asked with a pointed smile.

"Oh! Right," I said. "See you guys later."

"Hope all goes well," Laylee said kindly, and turned back to her (actual) boyfriend.

I shuffled away, heading towards the back door.

I couldn't believe it. All this time I had been stressing about Sevin getting back together with Laylee and…he wasn't even back together with her! And the last conversation I had with him…woah. If he wasn't talking about Laylee, what on earth was he talking about? Oh my god, he must have thought I was the bitchiest person to walk the planet. All of that 'even if it means we can't be friends' shit…he probably thought I was doing it because he kissed me! He thought I was mad at him for that!

God, I was such an idiot. A total, massive, thinks-flying-reindeer-are-real idiot. You'd think that now that I knew Sevin was still single, it would be easier to tell him how I felt. But actually, this knowledge only seemed to make it harder, because now I felt like even more of a bitch, and I felt it was even less likely that Sevin would reciprocate my feelings.

Well, that was just one more reason I needed to find him. So I could set this all straight.

I exited through the back door and the cool night air hit me full force again. Clusters of teenagers were milling, drinks in hand, raucous laughter emanating from every corner of the yard.

Before I could even look around for Sevin, I was accosted by a tipsy brunette in a sparkly, sequined top, brandishing two of those plastic popper toys, the ones that you pull on the string and it cracks with a slight smell of gunpowder and confetti comes shooting out.

"Daphneee!" Jess cried, popping one of the toys above us. "Happy New Year!" she tackled me into a hug and I, bewildered, returned the gesture as confetti rained down on us.

"Yeah, you too," I answered as we drew apart, dusting sparkles off of ourselves. "Um, I'm kind of looking for…Sevin. Is he here?"

Jess seemed to become excited but then quickly her expression fell. "No, I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure he left right after the countdown. You just missed him."

"Did he go home?" I asked her, filled with a tentative sense of hope.

Jess shook her head and looked sympathetic to my crestfallen expression. "He said he needed to 'go think.' I don't know where he went. I'm sorry."

I closed my eyes, willing myself not to cry or scream. This was simply too much to take in one night.

"What is she doing here?" a much-less-friendly voice demanded from behind Jess. I opened my eyes to see Carla glaring over Jess's shoulder. She was wearing a hot pink halter, a demin miniskirt and tall black, lace-up boots. Compared to my Shakespeare shirt and worn-in jeans, she looked like a fashion model.

"I was just leaving," I told her coolly.

She tossed her rich brown hair over her shoulder and made a clucking noise with her tongue.

"Aw, you can't do that!" Jess whined. "Have something to drink. Here, come on!"

Before I could protest, she was dragging me back inside and into the kitchen, leaving Carla's seething form behind.

Once we were standing back in the warmth of the house (which I appreciated), Jess turned to me. "Listen, I need to tell you something."

She was apparently much less tipsy than she seemed, or else had the ability to sober up very quickly.

"Um, okay," I said. I really didn't care what it was, all I cared was that I had missed my chance. Again.

"You're not going to like it," Jess warned.

"It's fine Jess, just tell me," I said wearily.

"It's about Sevin," she said.

"He actually is here?" I asked hopefully, despite the fact that Jess had specified 'you're not going to like it.'

Jess shook her head. "Sorry, no. You know how bitchy Carla was being just now?"

"Yeah, pretty hard to miss," I agreed.

"Well, it kind of has to do with you," Jess said. "And Sevin."


"I'm just going to come out and say it," Jess decided firmly.

"That would be a good idea, I think," I agreed. I really had no more patience for misunderstandings, beating-around-the-bush or euphemisms. If there was a time for confrontation, it was now.

"Sevin and Carla hooked up last weekend," Jess said in a rush. But not so quickly that I couldn't understand her. Oh no, I understood it plenty. "But…apparently, she was more into it than he was. And he stopped everything pretty quickly and told her nothing like that was ever going to happen again. And I talked to him about it and I'm pretty convinced it all happened because of you. And Carla thinks that too."

"Explaining why she hates me now," I said matter-of-factly.

"Right," Jess conceded. "But Daphne, you really can't blame him, I mean what with everything that happened, what you said to him—"

"I'm not," I said stiffly. "I mean, I don't. I don't like it, obviously…I really don't like it, but I'm not angry at him. Like you said, it's really my fault. If I had…if I had just been less stupid and taken responsibility for my actions, we would already be together and it never would have happened. It's my fault."

Hearing about Sevin and Carla made me feel a little squeamish and a little hollow, but it was nothing compared to the fact that I had come all the way back here and missed Sevin yet again. And that I would be spending another twenty minutes walking in the cold back to my broken-down car.

"Don't say that," Jess said consolingly. "We all make mistakes. Listen, let me get you that drink and you can relax, okay? I think you really need it."

I sighed and shook my head. "Sorry, I'm going to have to take you up on that another time. I'm just going to go home…I'm really not in a partying mood. Sorry."

Jess nodded in understanding and gave me a hug—this was much less frightening than the first had been— and I felt a little better knowing I had made another friend who I could rely on.

"Thanks, Jess," I said. "For, you know, everything. I'll see you around."

"Don't be a stranger," she replied, smiling. I left the kitchen and headed toward the front door. Despite the fact that I had to walk back to Sevin's house in the cold with nothing to motivate me, I really felt there was nothing else I would rather do at this point.

"Jess told you," I heard a female voice hiss from behind me. I turned and there was Carla, standing with her arms crossed and a nasty snarl on her face.

"Told me what?"

"About me and Sevin," Carla responded nonchalantly. Those three words together made my stomach turn uneasily. "Whatever, I don't care."

"Yeah, she did," I replied honestly. "And you know what? Neither do I."

Carla seemed outraged by this. "Well you should," she retorted. "Because once Sevin realizes you're just a selfish bitch, he's going to come back to me. And it's going to happen again." She sounded so smug and self-assured, just like she had in the bathroom at Uncle Alfie's pizza.

"Great, congratulations," I said mildly. "I'm going home. See you."

"You don't believe me?" Carla half-shrieked from behind me. "Sevin is mine, okay? He doesn't want anything to do with a self-absorbed little princess like you."

Princess? Ouch, that really hit home.

"You think he's still going to want you after everything you did to him?" Carla continued. "Fine, you go on believing that, but starting now, he never wants to see you again. Those are his words, by the way, not mine."

I felt myself go a little pale and shaky. "When did he say that?"

Carla scrunched up her face and looked at me like I wasn't worth answering. "Just now, before he—"

I nearly jumped out of my Keds. "You saw Sevin just now?" I asked, a pang of anxious excitement in my words. It no longer mattered what Sevin had or hadn't said about wanting to see me.

"Two minutes ago," Carla said, still smug, maybe because was proud that she had seen him and I hadn't. "He left because he heard you were here and, like I said, he didn't want to—"

Sevin was here the whole time and I had missed him? He had just left?

"Oh my god, thank you so much Carla!" I said in a rush. I almost jumped up and hugged her but stopped myself just in time. "You've been a real help."

Before she could respond I flung open the front door and dashed down the steps, this time not caring about the chilly air. Scrambling down the lawn I looked around frantically for Sevin, or his car, or anything.

And then I saw a tall figure ambling down the sidewalk, about one hundred meters away. If I didn't know Sevin so well, I wouldn't have known it was him, but his particular way of walking was familiar to me, as was his habit of kicking pebbles and leaves along the sidewalk, like he was doing now.

I felt myself flush and start to smile and then, without wasting another second, I started to sprint down the sidewalk after him.

And when I say sprint, I mean sprint. I mean, I was moving so fast that my head was pounding, the only noise I heard was the wind rushing past my ears and trees blurred past me as I kept my gaze focused on the boy in front of me. He was slumped over, eyes trained on the ground like there was something particularly fascinating on the sidewalk and, luckily for me, he was moving slowly. I noticed he had a distinctly unhappy air around him. I wanted to just throw my arms around him and say 'I'm here, I'm here, please don't walk away, I think I might be in love with you' and I wanted to see him smile and I wanted—more than anything—him to kiss me.

"Sevin!" I called out as I neared him. He paused, the light from the house behind him illuminated his features to me and I saw his eyes narrowing as he tried to spot who it was running towards him like a maniac.

I was just nearing him, my feet flying faster than ever, when the toe of my shoe caught on an uneven bit of sidewalk. My momentum was so much that it caused me to go flying forward, heading facedown for the pavement.

I yelled some sort of garbled explicative as I went down, but I never hit the pavement. Instead I felt Sevin's strong arms go around me and my body crash against his. He didn't even stumble.

Still supporting me, he said with polite detachment, "Are you okay?"

I could feel his breath against my hair and I closed my eyes, overwhelmed by the feeling of being so close to him after being so far away for such a long time.

"Uh, yeah," I mumbled in reply as he started to set me upright again. "I'm—"

"Daphne?" he said incredulously, immediately dropping his arms.

In addition to feeling a terrible pull at my heart from the absence of his arms, I also started to pitch forward again, having not quite regained my balance when he let go.

He caught me again, this time with his hands on my shoulders, holding me a foot or two away from him. "Are you drunk?"

"No," I said. "Just really unfortunate." I stood upright, but Sevin's hands stayed on my shoulders. I didn't mind in the least.

He didn't say anything in response, just stared at me with this intense, hard-to-read expression on his face. And that was when I realized that for all my agonizing over what would happen when I finally saw Sevin, I had not actually thought of anything to say.

"I guess…you're probably not…very happy to see me," I said quietly.

He drew his hands away so he was no longer touching me and responded, "Jess said you weren't here."

That wasn't really an answer, but I kind of got what he was saying. He had come because he thought I wasn't going to be there. The truth of it stung, but I also knew it was because I had hurt him so much.

"I wasn't," I told him. "I mean, I'm not here, really, I just came for…well, I came to see you, actually."

I could tell he was surprised to hear this, but judging by the mask of impassiveness he held in place, he did not want me to know that.

"Great, well, now you've seen me," Sevin said roughly and started to turn away.

Now that was really uncalled for. "Well I also need to talk to you," I elaborated.

"So talk," he replied brusquely.

I fumed. This was not at all how I wanted it to go. He was being so goddamn stubborn! "Are you mad at me?" I demanded.

"I don't know Daphne, why should I be mad?" Sevin whirled around, and I recognized the fact that he was mimicking what I had said to him over a week ago at the movie theater.

"Look, I know I've been stupid—"

"You completely ignore the fact that I like you, you make out with my friend and then when you finally get that I'm completely crazy for you, you kiss me and turn me down! And then you inform me that you don't even want to be friends anymore! Stupid does not even begin to cover it," Sevin cut in darkly.

His words hit me like I was being doused in ice-cold water and I realized how angry he must be with me. "I just…I thought I was doing the right thing at the time," I said weakly, feeling a lump form in my throat.

"Oh, that's a good one," Sevin said with a dry, derisive laugh. "I bet that goes over really well with juries. 'Oh, yes, Your Honor, I did rob that bank, but I thought I was doing the right thing at the time!'"

"I did!" I insisted, feeling hot tears well up in my eyes. "I never wanted to hurt you, I only wanted to do what was—"

"We are not having this conversation," Sevin said in a short, clipped tone. "I don't want to hear how you turning me down is some sort of act for the greater good and how everyone is going to turn out even happier because of it. That's not how life works, Daphne, and sometimes shitty things happen and people get hurt because this isn't a Disney movie where Snow White and Prince Charming live happily ever after. So you can stop trying to tell me how breaking my heart is just a long, round-about way we all get to happily-ever-after, because it's really fucking annoying."

There was that heavy-throat teary feeling again. "That's not what I'm trying you tell you!" I said, half-sobbing through my words. I was angry more than I was sad, and even more than that I was frustrated.

"Then what are you trying to say?" Sevin asked, sounding like he was trying to provoke me.

I could only think about how unfair he was being, and I tried to defend myself against his unwarranted hostility. "I drove all the way from Malibu and then walked two miles from your house because my shitty car broke down just so I could see you!"

"Well, I'm sorry you had to endure all that," Sevin said in a bitter, sarcastic tone.

"Well I'm sorry you're being such a jerk!" I screamed back, my voice sounding hoarse because I was trying not to cry. It was about the most childish thing I could have picked to say. But he was being a jerk, and he knew it, too. The saddest thing was that despite how unreasonable he was being, I still just wanted to fling myself into his arms and kiss him senseless.

"You can't exactly blame me!" Sevin shouted back.

Fuck. He was right. "Maybe I deserve it, but you should at least give me a chance to explain instead of dismissing everything I say!" I shot back, and choked back an angry sob. This was about as angry as I'd ever gotten with Sevin, including the time he called me a bitch behind my back. He couldn't just let me tell him how I felt, could he? He had to be all hostile and aggravating and say things that made me want to just smack him.

"What if I don't want to hear your goddamn explanation?" Sevin yelled forcefully.

"Why? WHY can't you just listen to what I'm saying?" I shouted, tears stinging my eyes. I was close to a total meltdown, and the only thing that kept me from completely falling apart was how furious I was at Sevin.

"Because I'm tired of hearing it, Daphne! I'm tired of hearing that you just want to be friends, or you don't want to be friends or whatever the hell it is now, I'm just—I'm done! I know that I never stood a chance with you, I know that you're never going to be mine so why can't you just leave me the fuck alone already?" he roared, his body visibly shaking with fury.

"Because I'm in love with you!"

The words exploded out of me and I flushed deeply at my outburst and at the virtual vacuum of silence that followed. But to finally tell him—and not just tell him, scream the words at him through tears—was overwhelming. I felt anger, longing, hopelessness and a sense of relief well up inside me and my tears broke free, running down my cheeks

"You asshole," I added quietly, my voice breaking on the last word. That said, I began to sob. This wasn't the pretty kind of crying that happens when Jasmine finds out that Aladdin is dead (even though he's not) or when Belle first gets locked up in the Beast's castle or when Cinderella finds out she can't go to the ball. No, these were loud, heaving, uncontrollable sobs that seemed to come from deep within my chest and pour out of my eyes in rivers of salty tears. I was just glad I wasn't wearing makeup.

I saw the anger and frustration completely drop off of Sevin's face as he froze there, his expression now one of shock and disbelief, like maybe he had heard me wrong. "W-what?" he whispered, looking pale and quite possibly queasy.

"You heard me, you stupid jerk," I muttered incomprehensibly, barely able to get the words out through my pathetic sobbing. It was the overwhelming onset of emotions that made me cry—and it was starting to cry that made me unable to stop. I knew I must have been freaking Sevin out pretty badly since I'm pretty sure no girl has ever confessed her love and then cried at him like that. He certainly looked freaked out and more than ready to bolt and leave me crying on the sidewalk in front of some stranger's house.

I thought maybe I'd beat him to it (and you know, really round off the cliché of the hysterical crying girl) and make a run for it when I felt Sevin's arms pull me against his chest. This, believe it or not, made me cry harder which made Sevin hold me tighter as I clung to the front of his shirt and sobbed into it.

"Fuck, Daphne," he whispered, his mouth inches from my ear. "Why didn't you tell me this, you know…back when I said it to you?"

"Because I'm an idiot," was my muffled reply as I buried my head against his chest. At least my sobs were subsiding.

He squeezed me a little. "That you are," he agreed, but there was a teasing tone to his voice.

I drew back (as much as I could with Sevin's arms still firmly around me) and pounded a first against him. "And you're a jerk."

Sevin dipped his head so his lips brushed my ear. I felt my skin tingle and flush. "But I'm your jerk."

I smiled, a stupid, dopey smile, through my tears. "Then I guess I'm your idiot."

"Believe me when I say nothing makes me happier," Sevin said, cupping my cheek in his hand and gently tipping my face up towards him. I saw the pure, surreal happiness that lit up his eyes and upturned the corners of his mouth and I knew I must have been staring back at him with a similar expression.

My eyes fluttered shut and I felt my breath hitch as Sevin's fingers threaded through my hair, his other hand pressed against my waist. I felt…weightless. I had done it—I had told Sevin how I felt and he still felt the same way and here we were on a dark street at one in the morning, about to kiss…I could feel his breath on my lips and I could smell his incredibly sexy mix of coffee and aftershave. I felt my lips part slightly before Sevin was closing the gap between us, capturing my lips in a kiss —a more passionate, more electrifying, more amazing kiss than our first had been.

I threw everything I had ever felt towards him into that kiss as I lifted my hands from his collar and threaded them through his hair, pressing him closer to me. I felt his grip on my waist tighten in response. And then, just as I let my tongue run over his bottom lip, he pulled away abruptly, causing me to let out a little gasp.

"Daphne," he said in a pained voice. I opened my eyes, fearing the worst. For a single, dreadful moment I thought he was about to do the same thing I had done to him—tell me he just couldn't and that he didn't feel that way about me.

Instead he said, "Daphne, I need to tell you something."

I swallowed and looked into his eyes, willing myself not to start crying again. He no longer had his hand in my hair or on my waist, but instead both hands were in front of him, nervously fidgeting. "What is it?" I said, and my voice barely rose to the volume of a whisper. I was terrified that the happiness I'd just found was about to come crashing down around me, and I longed to reach out and touch Sevin, hold on to him, make sure he didn't get away.

"I, um…I hooked up with Carla. Last weekend," he said in a voice wracked with guilt. "It didn't go beyond, you know, making out, but…and I mean, I don't have any feelings for her, not in that way, but I was so upset about what had happened between you and me and I guess…she was just…there? I know it sounds terrible, and I know you're probably pissed but I swear to you, it was only…"

"Sevin," I interrupted, finding my voice again.

"It was just once and if I could I'd take it back…look, I just, I don't want to ruin what—"

"Sevin!" I cut in sharply. "I already know."

"Oh," he said quietly, looking at me apprehensively.

"And I already decided I don't care," I went on.

"Oh," Sevin said again, but this time it sounded like a sigh of contentment. We just sort of stood there, and I didn't really know what else to say, because how do you tell someone they need to go back to what they were doing (i.e. kissing you) before they decided to get all honesty-is-a-virtue on you? So I just sort of stared at him expectantly.

"What?" he asked, purposely acting clueless.

"Oh so you don't want to kiss me," I surmised haughtily.

"Um, no, not particularly," was his cheeky reply.

I gave him my best glare and turned away. "All right then, have a good new year." I started to walk away.

Sevin moved quickly behind me and grabbed my arm, turning me back around to face him. Before I could muster another sarcastic statement, he pulled me toward him with both hands on my upper arms and pressed his lips against mine. I returned the kiss most enthusiastically, spreading my fingers against Sevin's neck and pressing myself against him. We broke apart, our breathing labored.

"Um," I said romantically.

"Want to, uh, go to my car?" Sevin asked. This seemed like a good idea since I was pretty much freezing but hadn't really had time to notice.

"Yes, actually," I replied.

"So," Sevin began as we continued down the sidewalk. He caught my hand in his. "How do you think we measure up?"

"Not following," I responded.

"Against your beloved Disney princesses and their respective Prince Charmings," he clarified. "Do we make it into the top five?"

I threw my head back and laughed. "Are you kidding me? None of those bitches and their lame-ass boyfriends hold a candle to us."

"Wow Daphne," Sevin said, looking impressed. "I never thought I'd see the day you would insult Cindy and the others!" he pretended to be shocked.

"Well, it's a new year," I answered with a smile. "I'm thinking it's time I take an interest in other types of film."

"Like Hitchcock?" Sevin asked eagerly.

"Um…I was thinking crappy super-hero movies and their excessive sequels," I answered, just to be mean to the poor boy.

"Just you wait," Sevin said confidently. "I will have you obsessing over Psycho, Rebecca and Vertigo."

"Ookay," I said with a tone of doubtfulness as we turned the corner of the block.

"There's my car," Sevin said as the sedan came into view. "Hey, where's yours?"

"I told you," I replied. "It broke down at your house and I walked."

"Wait, you were serious about that?" Sevin asked quickly. "I thought you were just, you know, exaggerating. You really walked? No joke?"

"No joke," I replied shortly. "It was fucking freezing."

"Wow," Sevin whistled in appreciation as we stopped in front of the sedan. "You must really like me, then."

"No kidding," I said with a grin, and then shoved him back against the car and proceeded to kiss him thoroughly.

End Notes: So, after finishing chapter 29, I was so excited to get to the end that I wrote this almost immediately and spent days fine-tuning it. I had been agonizing over the final confrontation between Sevin and Daphne for ages. I had no idea how I was going to get the feeling I wanted from it. It turned out much better than I could have anticipated and I hope you guys all enjoyed it! Remember, there is still one more chapter for this story, so don't miss the conclusion (which I am currently writing). Thank you all so much for your reviews and continued enthusiasm!

Also, if you guys have any questions about the story, what happens or questions about me, please ask me in your review and I will answer them at the end of next chapter! Questions like "is Sevin based on a real person?" or "why is this story so freaking long?" or "why didn't Daphne tell Sevin how she felt in the parking lot before Winter Break?" I will he happy to answer all of these types of questions, and even some personal ones (like "how old are you?" or "do you live in the Antelope Valley?" or "is this your favorite genre to write?")

Thank you again and please review!