Chapter 9: The Evil Queen always wins
~ The sisters did everything imaginable to hurt her. ~
Ana and Drew fancied themselves extremely good friends to Evelyn Queen. They were like her little spies. Nothing went on in this school without Evelyn knowing.
That’s why they were stalking all the girls being interviewed by Peyton Charming that Monday morning.
Evelyn wanted them to find his mystery girl before he did, so that they could bribe her into silence. That way, Evelyn could get back together with Peyton and Ana and Drew got to be upgraded to Best Friend status.
It just so happened that they were standing a couple feet away from Cindy and Fanny’s table when they started talking about the dance.
“Ana!” Drew hissed. “Look, little Miss Cinders is talking about the dance. She’s probably jealous of the mystery girl.”
They both turned their heads and listened.
“. . . before I found out that he was the Peyton Charming. Trust me, he’s better off not knowing that I’m his mystery girl.”
Drew, immediately recognizing the significance of her step-sister’s words, dragged Ana out of the cafeteria and into the nearest supply closet.
“That hurt, Drew!” Ana wined.
“Listen, you idiot! Didn’t you hear what Cinders said? She thinks that she’s Peyton’s mystery girl. And. Most importantly, she doesn’t want to tell him that she is.”
“But how do we know that she isn’t just delusional? I heard that ash inhalation can cause mental problems.” Ana said.
Drew was startled for a second. Since when did her sister know random facts?
“Well, it would make sense if Peyton is looking for a charm bracelet. Didn’t you ever notice that Cinders usually wears one? And now it’s gone, coincidence? I think not!” Drew exclaimed.
“But mother didn’t let her go to the dance. How could she have gone without a dress?”
Drew thought for a second. “I’m not sure, but if I know one thing, it’s that she is not going to get away with taking away Peyton Charming from our best friend.”
So the two sisters did the only rational thing that came to their minds, they brought the horrible news to Evelyn.
“What?” Evelyn practically screamed.
They had found her and dragged her into the same closet, thankfully they were able to get the whole explanation in before Evelyn could complain about their accommodations.
“Peyton fell for that little rat? He chose pond scum like her over someone like me? How is that even possible?”
Ana looked down. “Well, considering he didn’t see her face, he doesn’t technically know what she looks like. For all he knows, it could’ve been you. It’s been like a couple of years since he’s seen you, maybe your personality could’ve drastically changed.”
Drew looked at her sister. Never before had she had such an intelligent thought.
Evelyn got a diabolical look on her face. “Yes, that’s brilliant. We need to convince him that I was his mystery girl. And I know exactly how to do it.”
Cindy absolutely hated school. Everywhere she turned she saw those stupid posters. Everyone she talked to was just about as obsessed with finding Peyton’s Cinderella as Peyton himself.
It was absolutely horrifying.
Only Fanny knew her secret, so she was possibly the only other girl in school who hadn’t tried to convince Peyton that they were his mystery girl. Except for, strangely, Evelyn and the two step-demons.
They were currently in theater, perhaps the only class that Cindy actually enjoyed. And, of course, the one guy that she wanted to avoid the most was in there with her.
“Class,” Mrs. Hanson smiled a little too joylessly, “today we will be exploring Shakespeare.” Which was followed by a couple cheers and tons of groans.
“Why art thou killing me?” said Brian, the class clown, as he fell to the floor, pretending to be shot in the heart.
“Brian.” Mrs. Hanson sighed. “For once in your life could you actually be excited about something in this class?”
Brian got up, half the class laughing at his antics. “I am truly s’rry, I sweareth to nev’r act enchafed in thy class again.”
Mrs. Hanson sighed in defeat and handed out the scripts. “Pick a partner and begin reading through the lines.”
Since this was one of the only classes that Fanny was not in with her, she had little choices of a partner. Cindy could always choose Angsty Angie, but she feared that it would result in total social suicide.
Of course, half of the girls in the class rushed towards Peyton, hoping that he would choose them. But, to most everyone’s surprise, he came straight in Cindy’s direction.
Now, this is no fanfiction.net story where two people get partnered for a school project and end up dating by the end of the book. No, this is real life, so when he walks her way, she immediately tries hide herself in her handy book.
“Hello, you’re Cindy, aren’t you?”
Cindy nodded, still not looking up, wishing for him to go away.
“I bumped into you at the mall the other day and at school a couple days before that, didn’t I?”
“Yep.” She said, flipping a page in her book.
Peyton paused. “Do you, you know, want to be my partner for this thing?”
Cindy looked up, she hadn’t taken Peyton for the type to actually be nice, well, except when she was dancing with him . . . no, she was not thinking of him like that. She had already decided that she wasn’t going to tell him who she was. It didn’t help to think of him like that.
She sighed. “Why don’t you go ask someone from that hoard of girls over there, I’m sure any number of them would love to be partnered to you?”
It was his turn to sigh. “Look, I’d rather be in a group where I can get something done than answer twenty questions about what shampoo I use. And, going by your obvious distaste for me, we could get through this assignment and actually get it done.”
Well, he wasn’t wrong.
“Sure, Pretty Boy. But I don’t hate you in particular, just your hoard of fans and your horrible songs.” Cindy smiled, hoping to scare him away. Instead, Peyton sat down next to her and opened their scripts to page one.
Peyton looked up and smirked at her. “So do I, shall we begin?”
“Thanks, Fanny. I’ll see you tomorrow!” Cindy yelled as Fanny’s car slowly drove away after dropping her off at her house.
Cindy was drained. She’d had a test that she had to retake afterschool, AP Chemistry, which meant that she was getting home much later than usual.
She yawned and pushed through the back door. Tracy normally never let her come in through the front door, something about not wanting Cindy to have a key to her house.
She walked into the kitchen to find Tracy, Ana, and Drew siting on the couch staring straight at her.
“Where were you?” Tracy asked, her voice menacing.
“Umm . . .” Cindy faltered. “I was retaking a test, AP Chemistry and all.”
Tracy gave her a death stare. “I don’t mean today, I meant on Saturday. While your sisters and I were at the dance.”
“I was here, cleaning my room.” Cindy didn’t miss a beat. She had been practicing in case Tracy or her demon spawn ever became suspicious.
Drew smirked. “We know that you were at the party, Cinders.”
“Yeah,” Ana followed, “you aren’t that smart, Cinderella.”
“Ladies,” Tracy said, looking at the demon spawn, “let’s be nice about this. You see, Cindy,” she looked back at her, “it has come to my attention that you went to the party anyways. No doubt your fashion designer wannabe friend gave you that hideous dress, am I right?”
At that moment, Evelyn came down the hallway. She was wearing Cindy’s golden dress from the party, even complete with the heels she’d been wearing.
“Oh, darling! She looks wonderful, doesn’t she, Cindy?” Tracy smiled.
It was her worst nightmare.
“Oh!” Evelyn smiled Cindy’s way, her eyes filled with venom. “I think that it looks much better on me than you, don’t you think? Though the shoes are a little too small, it’s still perfect. Wait until Peyton sees that I still have it!”
Cindy took a deep, shaky breath. “What do you mean, ‘when he sees that you still have it’?”
“From the dance, of course. I danced with him and then we went and sang onstage together. And then, when you threw the marbles onstage, I slipped and fell. When I saw Peyton without his mask on, I only ran because I was afraid of what he would think if he knew the real me. But, now that I’ve realized my true feelings for him, I’ve decided to go and fess up that I was his mystery girl, his Cinderella.”
“No, it wasn’t you. It was me!” Cindy exclaim.
Ana clapped. “Oh, she admitted it!”
Evelyn’s smiled never faltered. “Of course it wasn’t sweetie. After all, who’s going to believe a nobody like you? It’s your words against mine. You’re just another crazy fan.”
Cindy backed away a couple steps. Her mouth was wide open. Sure, she never really wanted to tell Peyton that she was his mystery girl, but having Evelyn lie to him and trick him, it made her want to take back that decision. She knew that no good would come of Evelyn trying to pretend to be her.
She had one last piece of leverage though. “But you don’t know the charms on my bracelet. Only I know the charms on my bracelet.”
Tracy pulled out a picture from a notebook that Cindy hadn’t noticed before in her lap. “The bracelet used to be your dear mother’s, right? It just so happened that your father left me his photo album, in which is your mother.”
She showed her the picture, which showed Cindy’s birth mother, tired but smiling. In her arms was a little baby, Cindy. Cindy’s father was standing beside her, a proud smile on his face. If it hadn’t been for the situation at hand, she would’ve cried. She’d never seen this photo before, of him and her mom so happy and in love together.
On her mom’s wrist was the charm bracelet, all four charms in full view.
“No.” Cindy whispered.
“Yes.” Evelyn grinned. “Now everything is back the way it is supposed to be. I’ll be with Peyton, our parents merge the record companies, and I’ll definitely win the talent competition at the end of the year as well, being Peyton’s girlfriend will have its perks. And you, you’ll be where you belong, cleaning up after stars like me.”
With every sentence she had stepped closer to Cindy, her gaze even more threatening. With her last words, Cindy fell to the floor.
Ana and Drew laughed along with her, sneering at Cindy’s crumpled figure on the floor. They got up to leave, but not before Tracy had some last words.
“Oh, and Cindy? Make sure to clean the pool before you eat tonight, it’s been looking quite atrocious lately.”
She picked herself up and ran straight to her room. She collapsed into the folds of her bed and cried.
Cindy didn’t realize why she was so distraught until later. Her whole life she’d been controlled by Tracy and her step-sisters. She’d never been allowed to have anything for herself, and now that she did, it was taken away from her almost as soon as she realized that she had it. She was told again and again that she was worthless and didn’t deserve anything, and when she did, they ripped it out of her arms.
Cindy wiped a tear from her face and looked in the mirror. She knew that they were right. She was nothing compared to Evelyn. She just wished that, for once, she could be.