Chapter 14: ... and satisfaction brought it back
~When she stood up the prince looked into her face, and he recognized the beautiful girl who had danced with him. ~
Brian couldn’t believe what he just witnessed.
After he pulled the fire alarm to get out of Theater, he didn’t expect to see the ‘it couple’ at school going at it like that.
And he caught it all on video.
He was just taking his leisurely time walking back to class when he saw Peyton rushing down the hall. Scared that Mrs. Hanson sent Peyton to look for him, he ducked down the side hallway. But when he kept going, Brian got a little curious. Where was Peyton going looking so mad? Had someone scratched his Mercedes or something?
Brian followed him all the way outside, where he hid behind a bush to keep Peyton from seeing him. Evelyn Queen was standing there behind the bleachers, obviously there to see him.
Brian immediately took his phone out and pressed record, certain that he was going to some action.
(Don’t judge him, he’s a perfectly normal hormonal teenager)
But what he got was way better.
The whole ‘win a date with Peyton Charming contest’ was rigged. Evelyn stole the winning prize from that weird girl, Cindy Woods. Evelyn was also willing to go to the public with lies to keep Peyton from telling people the truth.
This was juicier than when the whole school found out that Bea Evans was fucking Mr. Korman. She got expelled and he got fired, but that wasn’t the point.
Evelyn just revealed her inner demon and the fact that Cindy was the real winner of the contest . . . and Brian just got it all on camera.
When she stormed off, and then Peyton soon afterwards, Brian walked out of the shadows with a smug grin. He was even more awesome than he previously thought.
Now, what to do with such information?
Cindy had gone to her next class way before Peyton even made it back in the school. She knew that Fanny would be upset with her for not telling him, but it wasn’t her fault that he had run out of there before she had the chance.
By the end of school, Cindy hadn’t been able to find him again. She walked out of the building feeling in low spirits. Every minute that she hadn’t been able to find him and tell him the truth had just convinced her more that his reaction wouldn’t be good anyways.
When she got to Fanny’s car, Fanny was already there. She stopped her before she even asked. “No, I didn’t tell him.”
“But why?” Fanny whined, already started the car.
Cindy sighed and strapped on her seatbelt. “He got a text message right after I walked back in class. He got all angry and left the room in a hurry. He didn’t even come back after the bell rang. I didn’t see him at all the rest of the day, so I couldn’t bring it up.”
Fanny sighed this time and pouted. “Well, maybe you can tell him tomorrow.”
“Yeah.” Cindy said halfheartedly. “Just take me to the coffee shop. Tracy has me working overtime this week. Evelyn must’ve let something slip to her.”
A couple minutes later, Fanny had dropped Cindy off at the coffee shop and she was already in the awfully pink uniform that Tracy had recently added.
But when she turned to get the order from the next customer, she was surprised to find Peyton Charming standing in front of her. Since the normal crowd from the school hadn’t shown up yet, she thought it would be a good a time as any to talk to him.
“Hey, Peyton.” She smiled nervously.
Peyton’s expression was one she hadn’t seen much of. It was as if he was trying to study her face in a new light. He smiled too, but his was genuine. “Hey, Cindy.”
There was something about the way he said it that gave her the chills. “You look troubled - is there anything you want to tell me? You never got a chance at school to tell me what you wanted.”
Cindy swallowed nervously. “Maybe it would be better if I told you in private.” Even with barely anyone in the shop, Cindy was nervous as to someone she knew hearing her confession.
He nodded and she guided him to the pantry just past the kitchens. There was just enough room for there to be two feet between them.
She took leap of faith and started talking when they were settled. “Well, you see . . . I have this . . . friend who is keeping this really big secret from someone.” He nodded. “And she doesn’t know whether she should tell them, because it’s a big secret. And she doesn’t think this person will believe her. You see her dilemma?”
Peyton nodded and smiled, stepping a little closer towards her, which she ignored. “I understand perfectly.”
“It’s just that she’s tried to tell this person before, but something always came up.” For instance, a fire alarm being pulled. “Plus, she doesn’t really know how to tell them, you know?”
Peyton nodded again, his smile only getting wider. He was only less than a foot away from her now.
Cindy didn’t know what his problem was with the smiling, but she knew that she had to tell him now. She looked down and took a deep breath. “Peyton, you were right, Evelyn did lie to you about being your mystery girl, and the truth is . . . I’m her, Peyton. I’m your mystery girl.”
She looked up, expecting him to say something along the lines of, “Yeah, right, and I’m the Prince of Denmark,” or, “Yeah, umm, I don’t think this is going to work out,” but he did something totally unsolicited instead.
As soon as her eyes met his, his hands snaked under her chin and he pulled her up for a kiss.
And, god, it was so much better than that one on the steps at the dance.
When her brain registered what was happening, she kissed back. He smiled through the kiss and she brought her arms around his neck. She didn’t care what anyone thought anymore, because she was finally doing what she should’ve done two months ago when he started looking for her.
The kiss soon turned into a full out make out session when it became clear that neither of them wanted to move away. Peyton bit her bottom lip, and Cindy immediately obliged. His hands moved down from her face and around her back, pulling her closer to him, so there was no empty space between them.
Cindy finally pulled away after a couple minutes of the soft kissing, gasping for breath. “That was . . .”
“Amazing.” Peyton finished for her.
She blushed and looked down. It felt kind of cool to know that she just made out with a superstar, one who hadn’t pushed her away when she told him.
She remembered the way he was smiling during her whole confession. Somehow he knew that it was her before she said it.
“How did you know that it was me?”
He sighed. “Evelyn told me.”
Cindy immediately pulled away from him. “Why? She’s the one who threatened me not to ever tell you.”
“I got a text in theater to come meet her by the bleachers. She knew that I’d found out she was lying to me and threatened to spread lies about me if I ever broke up with her for you. She was going to go to the media with fake stories of how I mentally and physically abused her, all to ruin my reputation and gain more fame for herself. And then she told me who you were, thinking that I wouldn’t come after you if I knew who you were.”
“Then why did you come after me?” Cindy asked.
He chuckled. “Well, I guess I took the news in a better light than she expected me to. When she told me it was you, it all clicked into place. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. The girl in theater who I’d been crushing on for a month was the girl I’d been hungover with for two. It was a dream come true.”
Cindy gave him a confused look. “Wait, you had a crush? On me?”
His brow furrowed. “Yeah, how couldn’t I?”
It was obvious. “I’m not your type. I’m no Valley girl with connections and rich parents. I’m an average girl with a horrible step-family who spends her nights watching Netflix. People like you don’t like people like me.”
He laughed. He actually laughed.
“What? There’s no need to laugh at me.” She defended, feeling worse by the second.
“No, it’s not you, it’s just . . . I chose you at the dance for a reason. I liked you because you weren’t like Evelyn and every other girl my father wanted me to be with. I wanted you because you were you. I want you because you’re better than all those other girls in every way. You’re blatantly honest and funny . . . and real.”
Cindy’s stomach full of bad feeling suddenly turned into butterflies. Peyton really did want her.
So, this time, she was the one who leaned in for the kiss.
He responded immediately, pulling her close like she was before. Cindy ran her fingers through his hair and smiled. This was what it felt like to have someone that cared for you.
They pulled away from each other and Peyton rested his forehead against hers.
“You know,” Cindy started, “isn’t this technically cheating? You are still dating Evelyn, no matter how much you hate her.”
Peyton chuckled lightly. “If I could break up with her, you know I would. But, for now, I’ll search as hard as I can for a way to end things with her without it ending in a big media reveal on her part. I’ll find a way.”
Cindy laughed darkly. “I finally tell you the truth and I can’t even be with you. That’s just some dark karma right there. I should’ve told you at the dance.”
He pulled away slightly and gave her a funny look. “Yea, why did you run away from me at the dance?”
Cindy blushed. “Well, my step-mother had a strict curfew for me, midnight. It just so happened that the clocked dinged right when I saw your face without the mask.”
“So, what I’m hearing is that you would’ve stayed if it wasn’t midnight?”
“Maybe, maybe not.” She teased. “Finding out the amazing guy you were with the whole night is a super star does bring its own shock.”
They stood there in silence for a while until Peyton realized something. “Hey, Cindy?”
“So, if you are my mystery girl, doesn’t this mean that Evelyn still has your charm bracelet?”
Cindy’s chest filled with a dark twisting hatred. She didn’t like to admit it, but whenever she saw Evelyn wearing that bracelet, she wanted to claw her throat out. Evelyn just loved to flaunt it, especially when Cindy was around. It proved that she had won the prize.
“Yeah, and she flaunts it in my direction every chance she gets.” Cindy said with a voice full of malice. “It was my mother’s, one of the only things I have left of her”
Peyton took her chin in his hand and brought her face up until she was facing him. “I swear, I will do anything and everything I can do to get it back. I promise.”
Cindy smiled at his promise.
“Maybe we should get out of the pantry now, though. I’m pretty sure chef Angelo thinks we’re doing the do.” Cindy giggled.
Peyton stifled a laugh and gave her a quick peck on the cheek before taking her hand and leading her out of the pantry. Chef Angelo gave them a strange look, but they ignored him as they walked back out into the (thankfully) mostly empty coffee shop.
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow at school?” Peyton questioned.
Cindy nodded and grinned. He gave her a quick hug before he left and waved once he was outside.
Mandy chuckled from behind her. “So, when’s the Happily Ever After wedding?”
Cindy punched her lightly in the arm. “Shut up.”
Mandy gave Cindy a knowing smile before grabbing the coffee and muffin order for table three and walking away.
Maybe things were capable of changing after all.