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Truce

Summary

When Mackenzie Hamilton and Luke Jefferson cross paths during Mackenzie’s 11th birthday, the two are automatically at war with each other. Even growing up together and going to the same school since middle school has not changed their relationship. But when their friends and family have finally had enough, they thought it was time to get the pair to stop fighting once and for all. Their solution? Get Mackenzie and Luke to move into their own place together. And so, begins the journey of a love-hate relationship between Mackenzie and Luke. But hey, all’s fair in love and war. 

Prologue: The 11th Birthday Party

“Mackenzie? Mackenzie, honey, come here. There’s someone I want to introduce you to.” My dad called from at the bottom of the stairs. I turned to my Mom, who just finished tying my hair into a beautiful braid.

“Can I go?” I asked. Mom nodded, giving me a smile.

“Be careful with your dress and shoes, sweetie. I don’t want you to trip and fall on your special day.” She pulled back the chair from in front of my dresser and helped me stand up.  I opened my room door and walked out of my room.

“Coming, Daddy!” With one hand, I grabbed the side of my dress and lifted it up slightly. With the other, I grabbed the railing and walked down carefully, as Mom had instructed me to. Once I reached the bottom, I walked over to the living room, where Dad was standing, noticing that he was talking to another man whom I have never seen before. Just as I reached, Dad turned around and gave me a smile when he saw me.

“Ah, there she is, my beautiful little girl. Mackenzie, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Jefferson; he works with me at the hospital.” Dad said, gesturing at the man he was talking to earlier.

Mr. Jefferson gave me a kind smile. “Hi there, Mackenzie. It’s very nice to meet you. Happy birthday,” he said, kneeling down to my level to shake my hand.

“Thank you,” I said, shyly.  He nodded and stood up, before reaching for a smaller boy, who appeared to be hiding behind him. I hadn’t noticed the boy until Mr. Jefferson gently pushed him till he was standing directly in front of me. I turned to Dad in confusion, and he gently put his hand on my shoulder.

“Honey, this is Luke Jefferson- Mr. Jefferson’s youngest son. He’s also eleven, like you. They just moved here recently, and I thought I would invite him over so that you two can become friends.”

I nodded in understanding, before turning to look at Luke. He was slightly scrawny for an eleven-year-old boy, with messy dark brown hair that was sticking up everywhere, and dark brown eyes that were narrowed in a scowl. I could already tell that he didn’t want to be here, but even so, I stuck out my hand politely.

“Hi, Luke, I’m Mackenzie. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for coming to my birthday party,” I introduced myself, waiting for Luke to shake my hand. After a few seconds of silence, Mr. Jefferson gave Luke a tiny little prod on his shoulder, before shooting me another smile.

“Hi, Mackenzie. It’s nice to meet you too. Thank you for the invitation,” he grumbled, not meeting my eyes.  He also didn’t shake my hand, so I let it drop to my side. Mr. Jefferson gave a nervous chuckle.

“Sorry, he gets quite shy when meeting new people, especially kids around his age,” he apologized.

“That’s okay, I’m sure Mackenzie will be nice enough to include him in all her games today. I’m positive they will have lots of fun,” Dad said, with a wave of his hand.

Turning to me, he said, “Mackenzie, why don’t you go introduce Luke to all of your friends before we bring out your birthday cake, hmm?”

I nodded again, before turning to Luke. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to my best friends, they’re waiting outside in the backyard.”

Grumbling again under his breath, Luke slowly followed me outside, to where the remainder of the guests were waiting. All my friends were either at the bouncy castle, getting snacks or running around, while all the grown-ups were sitting at the tables or standing by the pool while talking about grown-up things. I walked over to where two of my best friends, Liza and Maya, were standing.

“Hey, Mackenzie,” Maya said happily when I reached the two of them. Liza gave me a big smile and both leaned in for a hug.

“Happy birthday! Your party looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun!” Liza said, bouncing up and down in excitement. “I can’t wait for all the games!”

I smiled back at both of them. “Thanks, you guys! I’m so glad you’re here. I want to introduce you to someone. His name is- ”

            I turned to look back when I noticed that Luke is nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t following me as I thought he had earlier, and he was too quiet for me to realize that he was no longer behind me.

            Shrugging, I turned back to Maya and Liza, who were both looking at me in confusion. “Never mind, I guess he ran off when I wasn’t paying attention.”

            The rest of the party went without disruption, but that all changed when it was time to bring out and cut the cake. Mom brought me over to the food table, where she cleared out a space for the two cakes she had brought for today; one was for all the parents, and the other one for my friends and me.

 Dad walked into the backyard, holding the large of the two cakes in his hands, and, to my huge surprise, Luke was holding the other one. One of my uncles was holding a video camera and was taping the whole thing, and he turned to me as Dad put the cake he was holding down in the table. And that’s when it happened. I turned back to face Luke, but instead of putting the cake down on the table like he was supposed to, he ended up tossing it on to me.

            It was dead quiet as all the parents suddenly stopped talking as they realized that I now had birthday cake dripping down my favourite blue dress and whipped cream staining my brown hair. And, instead of apologizing and helping me out like he was supposed to, Luke had collapsed onto the ground, clutching his stomach. His loud laughter filled the silence, and the more he laughed, the more awful I felt.

It was the sound of my crying that brought everyone back to life. While Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson immediately ran to Luke, both scolding him animatedly, my parents ran to my side. Dad gathered me into his arms and carried me back inside towards the kitchen to clean me up, while Mom stood outside to quickly tell the guests they would be right back before ushering back into the house and coming straight towards me.

            I stood in the middle of the kitchen, crying my eyes out over the fact that at least 100 people saw me get cake drenched all over me. While Dad started to wipe my hair and clothes, Mom was trying to soothe and calm me. Just then, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson ran into the house, tugging Luke and an older boy, whom I assumed to be his older brother, along side them. They came to an abrupt stop as soon as they saw me standing in the kitchen. I stopped crying long enough to direct a glare at Luke, who was still trying not to laugh.

            “We are so very sorry about this, Charlotte! I don’t know what he was thinking, dumping the cake on her like that,” Mrs. Jefferson hurriedly apologized to my mother.

            “It’s fine, Johanna, I’m sure it was all just an accident,” Mom assured.

            “Go on, Luke. Apologize to Mackenzie,” Mr. Jefferson said, giving Luke a pointed look. Luke groaned and turned to me, a small glare on his face.

            “Sorry,” he said, not sounding apologetic at all.  

            “For…?” Mr. Jefferson prompted.

            “For purposely dumping the cake on you! You should have seen your face, it was priceless!” Luke started laughing again, and this time, his brother joined him.

            “Luke, Colin! Behave yourselves!” Mrs. Jefferson said angrily, giving both of them a little smack on the back of their heads.  She turned to me afterwards, a small hasty smile plastered on her face.

            Kneeling down, she says, “I’m so sorry about what my son did, Mackenzie. I hope you can still forgive him and be friends with him.”

“It’s okay,” I said, trying not to get angry with Luke, who was still laughing. I am eleven years old, and so I have to act maturely, even if Luke did behave like a jerk.  

“I think it’s time we leave, George, just so that Luke doesn’t cause anymore trouble. I’m so sorry about what happened here. Let me know if there’s any way to make it up to you two and Mackenzie,” Mr. Jefferson apologized to my father. My father nodded as he opened the front door, shooting Mr. Jefferson a smile to say that everything was fine.

“Come on, you two, it’s time to go. As soon as we get home, we are going to be having a huge talk about the way you two acted today. No XBOX or Wii for either of you for the next few weeks. Hopefully, you’ll learn your lessons,” Mrs. Jefferson said, ushering Colin and Luke out the door. Colin’s jaw dropped in shock and Luke finally stopped laughing. I, on the other hand, hid a triumphant smile, feeling gleeful that Luke would be getting what he deserves for dumping my cake on me.

Just before they left, Luke turned to me angrily. “This is all your fault! You’re going to pay for this, Mackenzie,” he hissed before he was finally out the door.

I childishly stuck my tongue out at him, crossing my arms over my chest. My fault? As if. But that little exchange made me only surer of one thing: Luke and I will never, ever, be friends.  

Chapter 1: Senior Year

11 Years Later (Mackenzie ’s P.O.V.)

My first thought when I wake up this morning is that I have finally reached my senior year of college. I lay in bed, thinking about how quickly the summer holidays ended. Despite having four months off for summer, it feels as if time passed by in a breeze. Of course, I was mostly busy working at the café downtown, but if I wasn’t working, I was hanging out with Maya and Liza. And just like that, summer passed by in a second, and senior year has just begun. Just as I was about to get out of bed, the door to my room slams open, and Maya and Liza both rush to my bed.

“Rise and shine, Mackenzie! It’s our first day as seniors and we are not going to be late!” Liza sings. She attempts to pull me out of bed, but only succeeds in falling back on her butt. I stifle a laugh and just turn to the other side of my bed, pulling my comforter closer to my body.

Just then, Maya pulls back the curtains from the window, and a flood of sunrays light up my room. I cringe from the brightness and shut my eyes again, not wanting to get up from the warmth of my bed. I hear Maya whisper something to Liza, and before I know it, I was lifted into the air, comforter and all.

I let out a tiny shriek, and after a quick laugh, my friends toss me onto the ground. I land roughly, the comforter doing nothing to lighten the fall.

“Are you finally awake, Mackenzie?” Liza asks innocently, while Maya just tries hard not to laugh.

I glare up at the two of them from my spot on the floor. “Yes, you dunce, I’m finally awake. Now leave so I can get ready!” I say, rubbing my back.

“You have 40 minutes to get downstairs for breakfast, or we’re going to leave without your sorry butt, you hear me?” Liza says, posting her hands on her hips while she stares down at me.

“I hear you,” I grumble, getting to my feet. “Now, go!”

Letting out a giggle, the both of them leave my room, closing the door behind them. I shake my head, but smile, before rushing to my en-suite bathroom. Stripping out of my pyjamas, I set them onto the counter before jumping into the shower. I shower as fast as I could, before getting out and wrapping a towel around myself. I shiver when a blast of cold air swirled around me when I open the door to my closet.

I wince as I take in the multiple racks of clothes, trying to find something decent to wear on my first day as a senior college student. Seeing as my Mom was a very famous high-class supermodel, she takes it upon herself to buy me only clothes designed by high-end fashion stylists. As such, most of the clothes in my closet were all branded, classy and too flashy for college. I shake my head and walk to the back end of my large closet, to where I store all my school clothes; various shorts, pants, jeans, shirts and sweaters were hung up or folded neatly.

Somehow, every year, I manage to convince Mom to let me buy “normal” clothing for school, so that I don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Either that, or I get Dad to convince Mom to let me buy whatever I want, while Mom grumbles about how indecent I look. I know she means well, and we always have had a great relationship, but when it comes to clothes, she always tries to win out. That was only one of the downsides of being rich. That, and my parents always try to spoil me, even though I wish they would just let me be.  

I grab a white underwear set and then tug on a pair of blue jean shorts that reach mid-thigh, a white frilly tank top, and a white cardigan, before walking back to the washroom. After quickly towel-drying my hair, I combed it until all the tangles were out and pulled it back into a French braid. I don’t care too much about make up, so I just put on some eyeliner and lip gloss before going back to my room to grab my bag and heading downstairs.

As usual, Maya and Liza were already seated at the table, each with a stack of blueberry pancakes downed in syrup and a glass of orange juice sitting in front of them. I put my bag down and joined them, just as Mom set the same breakfast in front of me. She gives me a smile and sits down next to me, holding a mug of coffee in front of her.

“Morning, honey. Sleep well?” She asks.

I simply nod, my mouth already stuffed with pancakes to reply.

“She slept well enough that she didn’t hear the doorbell ring,” Dad says with a chuckle.

“Well, it worked to our advantage, Mr. Hamilton,” Maya says with a grin. “We managed to surprise her quite well.”

I shoot Maya a glare over my glass of OJ, and she just laughs in return. I expect that from Liza, who is quite the prankster, but not from her. She’s meant to be on my side!

“No fair, you guys! You know I’m a deep sleeper. It takes a lot to wake me up,” I say, sulkily.

“Yeah, yeah, stop your complaining. We have to get going, class starts in 30 minutes!” Liza interrupts. She stuffs that last little bit of pancake into her mouth before gulping down the rest of OJ, as does Maya. I try to hurry, and the minute I am done eating, Mom grabs all of our plates and glasses and puts them in the sink.

“Get going, sweetie. We’ll see you when you get back from school,” she says, passing my backpack to me. I give her a hug and push the chair back into its spot, before joining Maya and Liza at the door. I quickly tug on my white converse and open the door.

“Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad. See you both later,” I call out as I leave. My parents both say bye as I shut the door and walk over to where Liza parked her car. It was a vintage red convertible, and since the weather was quite warm, she has put the top and the windows down. Maya slides into the passenger seat next to Liza, while I clamber into the back.

“All set?” Liza asks.

“You bet. Let’s hit it!” Maya says cheerfully.

With a laugh, Liza pulls out of the driveway and we’re finally on our way to college.  

Chapter 2: First Day

We manage to reach on time, just 20 minutes before classes start. Since most of the students at college either stay on residence or commute to class, there were quite a lot of empty parking spots. Liza pulls into one such spot, close to the building where our first class of the day will take place. I hop out of the side of the car, before grabbing my bag and slinging it over my shoulder as the three of us head to the building. Since Maya and I are both planning to go into Law, we have the same classes, namely ethics, political science and sociology of law. Meanwhile, Liza is going into medical science, so we don’t share any common classes. However, we do have all of our breaks together, so we will probably meet for lunch all the time.

Just as I was about to say goodbye to Liza, she froze in horror and grabs Maya’s arm. She shoots Maya a look, and then tries to gesture to behind me secretly. Of course, she’s totally conspicuous and I whirl around to see what exactly has Liza and Maya worrying and tense. That’s when I see him.

Luke Jefferson- also known as my worst enemy. Always has been since the time he ruined my 11th birthday party by dumping cake all over me. Somehow, every summer without fail, I always manage to forget that he goes to the same college as I do, since he never comes over to my house and I never bother going to his. That is, of course, until he shows up on the first day of class and manages to remind me that we have all of our classes together. Since Luke and I have always been competitive growing up, what with our older brothers being best friends and our little animosity, so he always tries to outdo me in everything we have in common. In this case, college, our classes, and even Law.

Luke is wearing his signature smirk as he walks over, surrounded by his two best friends, Aiden and Elliot. While I don’t mind hanging out with Aiden and Elliot, Luke always manages to get on my nerves and annoys me to no ends. In those times, I always rely on his best friends to get him to stop aggravating me. Aiden and Elliot, thankfully, were nothing like His Royal Jerkiness. While Luke was arrogant, self-centered, selfish, frustrating and downright rude, Aiden and Elliot were sweet, funny, caring and fun to hang out with if you wanted a good laugh, and I’ve known them since middle school. Not to mention they are dating my best friends.  All in all, a good group of friends, except for, you know, him.

Aiden and Elliot both give me a huge bone-crushing hug when they see me, making me laugh and forget Luke for a moment.  I let out a laugh and hug them back, giving them both a huge grin.

“It’s nice to see you guys again after a whole summer! Can’t believe you were in England for vacation for so long,” I say, after I pull back from the hug.

“It has been way too long, hasn’t it? England was great, but we missed our girls,” Aiden says cheekily, before reaching for Liza. She quickly runs to him and jumps into his arms, and he swings her around before giving her a quick kiss.

“Well, don’t worry, we missed you too! I’m so glad you’re finally back,” Maya says happily, and she too gave Elliot a huge hug. I smile at the four of them, before turning back to Luke, who directs his smirk at me.

“Hey, ice princess. Miss me?” He says cockily.

I let out a sarcastic laugh. “Not really. I finally got some peace and quiet without your sorry ass around to bother me. Those four months you guys were away felt like heaven.”

“Here we go again,” I hear Aiden whisper to Liza. She giggles quickly, but quiets down when I shoot her a look.

“Honey, you know you missed me,” Luke says patronizingly. 

“I’d rather die and go to hell than miss you and your big head,” I snap back.

“Sure, sure, you say that now. But wait until I whoop your ass this year; you’re going to regret crossing paths with me,” he says smugly.

“That’s not going to happen, seeing as you’re never going to beat me or my grades. You’re too much of a dumbass to bother me. Get on my level before making such big talks, and then we’ll see,” I reply triumphantly.

The smug grin slips of Luke’s face and is replaced by a glare. He stomps up to me and looks down at my upturned face.

“I loathe you,” he hisses angrily.    

“You and me both,” I say back with a glare.  

“You-” Luke begins again, but he’s cut off by Elliot, who grabs his arm and pulls him back away from me.

“Okay, that’s enough. Thanks to your bickering, we only have five minutes before class starts and you know how hard it is to find seats in crowded lecture halls,” Elliot says warningly.

“Fine,” Luke says. He shrugs off Elliot’s hold on his arm before turning and entering the building. I glare at his receding back, cursing the fact that I still have to deal with him and his antics during class.

Aiden lets out a sigh. “Well, it’s time we head to class too. Come on Liza, cell biology is calling out to us,” he says. He loops his arm around Liza’s waist and tugs her towards the building.

“See you at break?” I ask Liza. She nods and gives me thumbs up before turning back to Aiden.

“Come on then, we can’t be late either,” Maya says, grabbing Elliot’s hand and looping her other arm through mine, before tugging both of us towards our first class of the day.

When the three of us enter the lecture room, we see Luke sitting near the middle, with a few empty seats on either side of him. Elliot walks over and sits down next to him, leaving me to be sandwiched between Luke and Maya. I scowl at Maya, who has the audacity to just smirk at me.

Luke turns to me, leeringly. “I guess, despite all the crap you told me earlier, you really did miss me while I was away.”

“And despite all the crap you told me earlier, we already know I’m going to ace you in every single class,” I taunt back. Beside me, Maya just drops her forehead onto her palm, while Elliot just shakes his head, trying to hide his amusement. 

Luke flips the middle finger at me, and I just laugh it off and turn to the front of the classroom to get ready for the lecture. But throughout the entire lecture, he wouldn’t stop leaving me alone. Either he kept shoving his elbow into my side, claiming he didn’t have enough room to write his notes, or would keep throwing all his eraser shavings onto my shorts. Or he would keep poking me on the shoulder with his pencil, trying to get me to explode in the middle of class.

I try my best to not show any sort of reaction as to not give him the satisfaction of annoying me, but I finally lose it when he pinches me really hard on the arm, claiming that he saw a spider on it and he was trying to get rid of it.

“Will you stop?” I hiss under my breath.

“Stop what?” He pretends to ask innocently.

“Stop acting like 5-year-old kid and pay attention! No wonder you’re not getting good grades; you’re too young to be in school,” I whisper back angrily.

“Like you can talk, ice queen. How many times throughout high school did you keep throwing paper balls at me?” Luke throws back.

“I only did that because you kept aiming them at the back of my head! You’re the one who started it!” I snap.

“Did not,” he argues.

“Did too!” I retort.

“Oi! Will you two shut up! We’re in the middle of class, for crying out loud!” Elliot interrupts, smacking Luke on the arm.

“Not my fault, he’s the one who started this whole thing… again.” I cross my arms over my chest and turn my chair away from Luke.

Just as Luke was about to retort again, Maya speaks up. “Look, we get it, but can you at least keep quiet until class is over? We’re getting a lot of angry looks from the others around us,” she says.

“Fine,” Luke and I mutter at the same time. After that, he didn’t bother me at all during the rest of the class, except for throwing me glares occasionally.

Maya just shakes her head. “This is going to be a long first day,” she says quietly. 

Chapter 3: The Idea

Maya lets out a huge sigh of relief when we’re finally let out for lunch. The rest of the first lecture passed by smoothly, but the lecture we had right after was a full two hours. Two straight hours of Luke trying to goad me again, and me getting angry and retorting back passed by slowly, and our constant bickering drove both Elliot and Maya completely mad.  

            Thankfully, Luke had said that he was going to hit the gym first before grabbing lunch, so I spend the break trying to come up with ways to get him back for annoying me. I am already sitting with Maya and Elliot when Liza and Aiden join us at our table with their lunches already in hand. Liza sits down on my other side, and Aiden joins Elliot from across the table.

            “So, how did it go with you four?” Aiden asks, reaching for his apple. Elliot just grunts in response, and I try not to feel too guilty.

            “That bad, huh?” Liza says sympathetically.

            “They were practically jumping down each other’s throats the whole time. I thought it was going to end in bloody murder,” Maya says, eating a French fry.

            “Sorry guys,” I apologize. “It’s just… ugh, he just really gets on my nerves and I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.”

            “Did you ever try just ignoring him?” Maya asks, raising her eyebrows.

            “Or I could just prank him as revenge,” I say back, smiling slyly. My friends look at each other before leaning in closely, ginning in excitement.  

            “Spill, girl! What did you have in mind?” Liza says, excitedly.

I look around to make sure Luke is nowhere to be seen before telling them my plan. “Well, you know how he loves to party a lot, just so he gets the chance to flirt with girls? Well, what if we really give him what he wants?”

“And what is that exactly?” Elliot inquires. “A girlfriend?”

“Even better,” I say. “I’m going to get him a wife.”

“And how exactly are you going to do that, pray tell?” Maya asks, raising her eyebrows.

“Get him drunk and tell him he’s married to me,” I say with a grin.

Elliot and Aiden both let out a hoot of laughter, while Liza and Maya stare at me in shock.

“You’re going to do WHAT?” Maya yells loudly, making me cringe back and cover my ears from the tone of her voice.

“That’s your plan?” Liza asks, too stun to say anything else.

I shrug, “I’m open to ideas.”

Aiden stops laughing enough to say, “No, no. You should go through with it!”

            “Agreed! This is one of the best pranks I’ve ever heard of in my life! This is going to be great- I can’t wait to see the look on Luke’s face when he finds out,” Elliot smirks, and he and Aiden start laughing again.  

            “You know what? The man’s got a point,” Liza says, thoughtfully. “Besides, you know how much I love pranks, especially ones involving Luke. I’m ready to help whenever you need me.” She suddenly gives me a sly grin, and I wink back at her.

            “Are you in, Maya?” I ask, turning to her. I give her my best puppy-dog face, knowing she can’t say no to me.

            “I can’t say no even if I wanted to. So yes, count me in,” Maya grins, and I punch the air triumphantly.

            “Hey, we want to help too,” Elliot interrupts, and Aiden nods beside him.

“Of course you can! I can’t do this without you guys,” I say, chuckling.

“Can’t do what without you guys?” I suddenly hear Luke say behind from me.

“Nothing,” we all chime at the same time. I groan inwardly, hoping Luke doesn’t start to think that something is up. He stares at us for a few seconds in confusion, before sitting down next to Elliot, across from me at the table. Immediately, we continue eating our lunch and joke around, trying not to give anything away. Luke continues watching us, his arms folded across his chest. I was just about to take a bite from my pizza slice when Luke decides to speak up.

“You guys are definitely up to something,” he announces, and I almost choke. I swallow quickly and just look up at him coolly, trying not to panic.

“What? What are you talking about?” I ask, indifferently.

“It’s so obvious that you guys were talking about something before I arrived,” Luke says, staring at me suspiciously.

“We were trying to summon the Devil. Since you turned up, I guess it worked,” I say.

“To bad he didn’t take you back to Hell with him,” Luke replies icily.

“There wasn’t enough space; your ego already took up all the room,” I say with a smirk.

“More like my devilish charms,” Luke says cockily. He laughs and I suddenly feel his breath on my cheeks. It was then that I realize that Luke and I are standing up and leaning towards each other with identical glares on our face. We are close enough that I can see each individual freckle on his face, and I can see that Luke has come to the same realization.

My heart begins to thump unevenly all of a sudden, and Luke just lets out a gusty breath, his eyes wide. We stare at each other for two seconds in shock, before quickly sitting back down in our seats. Maya shoots me a look of concern.

“You okay?” She asks quietly.

“Yeah, I’m fine. That was just unexpected, that’s all,” I say.

“You sure?” Liza asks.

I nod, trying to get them to stop talking about the incident. Liza and May exchange a quick look before shrugging and turning back to Aiden and Elliot. For the remainder of break, I sit quietly, merely resorting to laughing at whatever jokes Aiden and Elliot tell us and just listen to them recounting their adventures in England. When break is finally over, Liza and Aiden say goodbye to us once again, before getting up to throw away their trash and heading back to their classes. Before leaving, Liza beckons Maya and me over to where she is standing. From the corner of my eye, I can see Luke is only half-listening to Elliot; every few seconds he glances to where we’re standing, trying to listen in to what my friends and I are discussing. 

“You guys free to come over to my place after school? We can head straight there since you already have your spare sleeping bags and clothes there,” Liza says.

“I’m good,” Maya says with a smile.

“Me, too. We can use that time to discuss the plan in full details,” I say quietly, grinning.

“Great, I’ll meet you at my car after classes are done for the day. Got to run now, Aiden’s getting impatient,” Liza laughs. She waves to us and runs back to where Aiden’s standing and they walk off together.  

Just then, I hear Luke and Elliot come up from behind us.

“Seriously, could you be any more obvious?” Luke says, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Obvious about what? The fact that you’re poking your nose into other people’s business?” I say back.

“It’s not other people’s business since I’m involved in whatever it was you three were talking about earlier. Why else would Liza say it to you three specifically and not in front of the rest of us?” Luke argues.

“For your information, Luke, the world does not revolve around you. In any case, I don’t think Liza was bent on inviting you and the other guys to a girls’ night. Unless you want us to give you a makeover and a manicure.” As I say this, an image of Luke wearing blush, eyeliner and having his hair curled while getting a manicure implants itself in my mind, and I snicker at the thought.  

“I’m good, thanks,” Luke says, glaring at me.

“That’s too bad. You finally would have unlocked your inner potential,” I say, grinning. With that, I grab Maya’s hand and drag her with me to our next class before Luke can respond to my jab.

Take that, you conceited jerk. 

Chapter 4: The Plan

As soon as we leave the cafeteria, I let out a loud laugh, while Maya just looks at me in slight amusement and slight concern.

            “Did you see the look on his face? It was priceless!” I chortle.

            “Yeah, yeah, I saw it. But don’t you think you’re being a bit much?” Maya says, uncertainly. That certainly shut me up.

            I turn to look at her, my surprise evident at her comment. “What is that supposed to mean?”

            “You didn’t have to take it that far, you know,” Maya continues.

            “He’s the one who started it. It’s not my fault he’s so arrogant that he thinks everything is about him. He was butting his nose into our business.” I argue back.

            “That may be, but it doesn’t you mean you have to fight back. Did you ever think that if you ignored him, he wouldn’t have to keep insulting you all the time?” Maya asks.

            “On the contrary; if I ignore him, he’ll keep bugging me till I snap. You saw how it was during our first class; ignoring him clearly didn’t work, nor will it ever.” I say, crossing my arms over my chest.

            Maya just shrugs helplessly. “I still stick to what I said earlier. Ignoring him is better than egging him on. And it will only get worse, until he says something that will really upset you. What will you do then?”

            “I’ll figure it out when we get there. For now, are you still going to help me with my prank or not?” I say.

            Maya stares at me for a few seconds before sighing. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

            I crack a grin at her. “Nope.”  

            “That settles it, then.” Saying so, Maya loops her arm around me, and we walk arm in arm to our next class, with Luke and Elliot following us from behind.  

            Thankfully, for the remainder of the day, Luke completely ignores me. He refused to sit down next to me for our last lecture, choosing to plop down between Elliot and another student in our class. Maya, obviously, chooses to sit down next to Elliot, leaving me the furthest from Luke. Not that I am complaining; at least this time, I can actually focus without Luke driving me up the wall. As soon as our last class ends, Luke gets up, says some quick words to Elliot and then leaves the room without so much as a glance in my direction.

            I admit that I am surprised at his sudden behaviour; being so used to our constant fighting makes me so expectant of his undying insults flying in my direction. But this was something else entirely, and for whatever reason, I can’t stop thinking about how he was acting after our little exchange in the cafeteria. But as soon as Maya and I meet Liza by her car, all those thoughts fly out my mind, and the only thing I’m focusing on is my plan for the prank.

            Before leaving, I give Mom a quick call to let her know that I would be staying at Liza’s tonight and that I’d call her in the morning. Mom tells me to have fun before hanging up. I slip my phone back into my backpack and hop into the backseat as usual. In the time it takes us to get to Liza’s house, she and Maya keep exchanging quick looks every few minutes, as if they’re having a silent conversation without me. Of course, I still notice, but I act otherwise, choosing not to say anything and just listening to the radio. My friends don’t say a word until we have pulled up into Liza’s driveway and have walked inside her house.

            “Okay, I’m going to make some popcorn and grab some snacks and drinks for our movie. You two get your sleeping bags from my room and meet me in the movie room,” Liza says, walking into her kitchen.

            “Sure thing,” Maya says. She turns and heads upstairs to Liza’s room, me following behind her. We walk into her room, and just like Liza’s personality, it’s a little crazy and disorganized, as usual. Her papers are all strewn haphazardly on her desk, her comforter tucked unevenly under her mattress, her closet doors wide open and posters of all shapes and sizes are plastered on all of her walls. She also has a number of picture frames sitting on her desk and on her night side table, some with her and her family, some with all three of us in them, and some with just her and Aiden.

I smile when I spot a photo of her, Maya and I standing arm in arm at the beach. It was taken last summer, a few weeks before school was set to start for the year. We were having a mini beach party with the boys, and I could see Luke and Elliot in the background of the photo, having a mini splash war in the water behind us. I notice that Luke, for obvious reasons, is half-naked, and he’s smiling brightly at Elliot, a laugh permanently etched on his face. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to look away from his face, wondering if I’ve ever seen him smile like that before. I’m so used to seeing him scowl or smirk at me that seeing a smile on his face is foreign to me.

            Just then, I feel Maya come to my side. “What are you looking at, Mackenzie?”

            I quickly put the photo back down. “Nothing. Let me just grab my stuff and we’ll go.”

I walk over to Liza’s closet, and reach for the top shelf, where my spare sleepover clothes and sleeping bag is stowed. Once I grab what I needed, Maya and I head to Liza’s movie room, where she is already seated, the snacks and drinks already on the floor in front of us. The movie room is a huge; probably one of the biggest rooms in Liza’s house, and it holds one of the biggest screens. Perfect for watching movies during a sleepover. There’s also a karaoke set in one corner, and a large stereo system in the other. The remainder of the walls holds Liza’s intensive music and movie collection, which she says is her “biggest accomplishment”.

Maya and I plop down next to Liza, who is sitting with her chin in her hand and staring at a few DVD covers that are spread out in front of her.

“I don’t know what we should watch,” she moans when we join her.

“What have you narrowed it down to?” I ask.

“Up, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Catching Fire, Hangover 1 and 2, The Proposal, A Walk to Remember, She’s the Man, and The Avengers,” Liza lists.

“Forget about Up, Lion King and A Walk to Remember. I’m in no mood for crying,” Maya says, scrunching her nose.

“I agree. I vote for either The Proposal or She’s the Man,” I say.

“I vote for The Proposal, too,” Maya says.

“The Proposal it is, then.” Liza grabs the disk from the cover and slips it into the DVD player before hitting play. Automatically, the lights dim and the movie starts to play. Every few minutes, my eyes stray to where Liza and Maya are sitting, side by side, but they are too interested in the movie to continue their silent conversation from before. Halfway through the movie, we hear the door open and we look up from our spot on the ground to see Liza’s mom walk in. She flicks the light on and gives us a small smile from where she’s standing.

“Hi girls, I thought it was you all. I saw your shoes in the foyer. Are you staying the night?” Mrs. Sanders says.

“Hey, Mrs. S! Yeah, we’re staying tonight. Hope that’s okay with you,” I say, smiling back.

“Of course! I’m so used to seeing you and Maya coming over since middle school that it’s no longer a surprise when you come over. This house is as good as yours too,” Mrs. Sanders laughs kindly.

“Hey, Mom, welcome back. Where’s Dad? Is he home too?” Liza asks, giving her mom a hug.

“Not yet. But since your friends are over, I’ll call him and ask him to pick up pizza for dinner. What toppings do you guys want?”

“Black olives and mushrooms, please!” Liza, Maya and I say in unison, before laughing.

“Gotchya. You three have fun, but you still have school tomorrow, so no staying up too late, you hear me?” Mrs. Sanders says, and in that moment I see how much Liza resembles her mother.

“Mom, we’re not kids anymore. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine tomorrow morning. If anything, we can always count on Maya to wake us all up,” Liza throws Maya a cheeky grin and Maya swats her arm playfully.

“Alright, I’ll call you when the pizza gets here. Have fun.” Mrs. Sanders gives us all another smile before switching the lights back off and closing the door behind her.  

The pizza arrives just as the movie ends, and we all scramble down to the kitchen. After quickly saying hi to Mr. Sanders and thanking him for the food, we grab our plates of food and head back upstairs to the movie room. The three of us settle on the floor again, and finally start discussing our plan for the prank.

“So, how are we going to do this? We already know the gist of the prank, but how exactly is this going to work? Are we going to hold a “wedding” or skip straight to the honeymoon?” Liza says, smirking a little.

I crinkle my nose in horror. “Oh god, no. The whole idea is that we get him drunk and after he wakes up from his nap, we tell him he’s married to me.”

“And how are we going to do that? Throw a party?” Maya asks, taking a bite of her pizza.

I nod. “Exactly that- we throw ourselves a party. I know for a fact that Mom and Dad won’t be home this weekend because Dad will be at a seminar for his work and Mom is participating in a fashion shoot. Which means that my dear older brother will be hosting one of his parties at our place. And since Trenton is friends with Luke’s older brother, Colin will be invited, and Luke will obviously tag along.”

“So that’s it? We just get Luke drunk and wait till he passes out before we dress him up in a tuxedo? How are we going to manage that?” Liza asks.

“Well, as for getting Luke drunk, I’m sure we can rely on Trenton and Colin for help. And as for dressing him up, Aiden and Elliot can help us with that. All we need now are ‘wedding rings’ and a fake photo shoot of the ‘bride and groom’.  I can borrow one of Mom’s dresses and Luke can just wear one of Trenton’s dressier suits. Or we get Colin to bring over a change of clothes for his brother. In any case, once that’s figured out, we’ll be good to go. For the photo shoot, one of you can borrow my Mom’s camera and we can take a pic in her photography room and just Photoshop in a background or something. I’ll probably have to let Mom and Dad know the plan, just so that they don’t freak out.” I explain.

“What about the rings?” Maya says. “I don’t think your parents will allow you to borrow their wedding rings and Luke isn’t dumb enough to believe in fake wedding rings. It won’t seem convincing enough.”

“Plus, there’s no point in spending a ton of money to get wedding rings for a prank. Besides, we don’t even know if the ring we get will even fit Luke,” Liza adds.

I scrunch my eyebrows together thoughtfully. “Well, maybe we don’t have to use wedding rings. Or even rings at all. I can borrow one of Trenton’s slightly less expensive watch and tell Luke that it is my wedding gift to him and I can wear one of my fancy necklaces and tell Luke that it was his gift to me. It’s more foolproof compared to having to get rings, and a lot less expensive.”

 “It’s better than nothing, I guess,” Maya says.

“So all we have to do now is plan the party,” Liza says.

“Exactly.” I pull out my phone and dial Trenton’s phone. He picks up after a few seconds, and Maya and Liza move closer to me so they can hear the conversation.

“Hey, Kenzie. What’s up?” He asks, casually.

“Hey. Are you busy right now?” I ask. 

“Nope, I just got home after dropping Anna back at her house after work. Why, did you want to talk about something? Is it important?” Trenton says. 

“Sort of. It’s about this weekend,” I say.

“What about it?”

“Well, I know you will be throwing a party this weekend since Mom and Dad won’t be home, and I was wondering whether you’d be interested in helping me pull a prank on Luke,” I say.

“What kind of prank?”

I can hear the curiosity in his voice and I laugh before telling him the whole plan. Trenton lets out a low chuckle after I finish.

“I’d be honoured to help my little sister, but do I get anything in return?” Trenton asks mischievously.

“I’ll take you out to dinner next time and I’ll pay. Promise.”

“Done. Just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it.”

I grin. “Tell Colin to bring over one of Luke’s dress suits the day of the party, preferably a few hours before the party begins so that Luke doesn’t find out. Doesn’t have to be overly fancy. I’ll also need to borrow one of your watches, if you don’t mind. One that you won’t mind parting with if need be. Lastly, when you get home, let Mom and Dad in on the plan. I don’t want them to freak out and really think that I got married to Luke.”

From the corner of my eye, I see Liza’s eyes brighten slightly and she turns to give Maya another meaningful glance, who laughs quietly in understanding. I am about to whisper something to them when Trenton replies.

“I don’t think they’ll come to that conclusion at any point in time, trust me, but fine, you got it. Anything else?” Trenton says.

“That’s all for now. I’ll let you know if I need anything else, but just so you know, if Luke finds out from either you or Colin that I’m planning a prank, you can say goodbye to your free dinner,” I say.

I can hear Trenton laugh over the phone. “Alright, I hear you, sis. Anyways, I’ve got to go. See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Night, bro,” I say.

“Night.” And with that, he hangs up.

I turn to Maya and Liza, grinning slyly. “Ladies, the plan is now in motion. This weekend… we fight back!”

The two of them high five me and we laugh in anticipation.

This is going to be one hell of a weekend.

Chapter 5: The Prank ... Part 1

The rest of the week passes by quickly and the weekend is finally here, meaning my prank is finally going to be put into action. Mom and Dad have already left for their work this morning and since they won’t be back until Monday evening, my friends and I have enough time to get ready for the party. Liza and Maya decide to spend Friday night at my place so that they can help me prepare for Saturday night’s party.

            We get to work immediately Saturday morning. While Trenton leaves to go grocery shopping to get all the snacks and drinks, Liza and Maya help me pick out a dress to wear for the party, and the dress I will be changing into for the “wedding” photos. We spend a good two hours just going through all the clothes I have before we finally settle on two outfits; a deep red halter neck dress for the party, and a long, semi-formal sleeveless silver dress for the photographs. We also pick out the necklace that Luke is going to “give” me as my wedding present.

            Trenton comes home awhile later, and we help him set everything up. Liza and Maya help put away all the food, I set up the stereo system and gather all the music, and Trenton sets up the bar in the formal living room to make sure there’s enough drinks for all the guests. He sets aside the beer we got especially for Luke, as per Colin’s suggestion. Colin arrives later that evening, just as we’re done getting everything ready, and he passes the bag with Luke’s suit to me before joining my brother on the couch to watch a football game.

“You’re sure Luke has no idea about the prank?” I ask Colin.

            “Yes, I’m positive. I made sure to sneak into his room when he wasn’t home. He took off around twelve to go hang out with Elliot and Aiden and he told me he’ll meet me here tonight. So relax,” Colin grins.

            I sigh in relief. “Great. What time are your other friends going to be coming over, Trenton?”

            “In about an hour, I believe,” Trenton replies, not taking his eyes off the TV.

            “And Mom and Dad are aware of the prank?”

            “Told them this morning when they called to check in on us. Mom wasn’t too pleased, but Dad seemed pretty amused. They promised not to give anything away.”

            “And the watch you were going to let me borrow?”

            “Sitting on my desk in my room, in the little black box. It’s an older one that I don’t wear too often, so it’s okay if he keeps it.”

 I give my brother a big hug. "Thanks, bro."

 

            Trenton ruffles my hair affectionately. "Anytime."

 

       After thanking Trenton and Colin for their help, I head back upstairs to my room to get ready. Maya and Liza are already changed, so they plop down on my bed and wait for me to get ready. I quickly change into the party dress that we picked out earlier, and then go to my washroom to put on my makeup- just a little bit of lipstick and some mascara and eyeliner. I also brush my hair back before joining Liza and Maya in my room. The two of them are acting strangely and I can tell they are discussing something secretly because they change the subject as soon as I open the door and walk over to join them.

 

    "-this is getting out of hand," I hear Maya whispering. "We've got to do something about the two of them before they bite each other's head off. And that's not something I want to witness."

 

    "I agree, but neither Mackenzie or Luke are willing to give in and stop fighting. And I can't think of anything that will get them to get along with each other for more than 2 seconds," Liza whispers back.

 

     "I have an idea, but it's a long shot. Maybe we can-" Maya says but she cuts off her sentence as soon as she hears me approaching the two of them.

 

      I pretend as if I haven't heard anything. Sooner or later, I will find out what's happening with them. "Hey guys, are you ready?"

 

      My friends nod quickly, and I have to stop myself from laughing at how nervous they seem. Of course, I wasn't going to tell them that I heard everything they were saying; if they are keeping secrets, it will be funny to watch them squirm uncomfortably.

 

      Just then, Maya's phone vibrates, indicating she's got a text. She reads it quickly before promptly saying, "That was Elliot. He says they are going to be here in about a minute or two."

 

      I jump up from my bed, suddenly feeling both nervous and excited. Everything was ready and set to go. I quickly ran through the plan again once more with Liza and Maya when the doorbell chimes. I take a deep breath and exchange grins with the two of them.

 

"Ready, girls?"

 

"You bet!" We high five each other, then make our way downstairs and head towards the living room. Aiden and Elliot both wink at me secretly before turning their attention to their girlfriends, leaving me to deal with the devil himself.

 

Luke gives me a once over before sending me one of his trademark glares and I know he's going to say something stupid, as usual. I roll my eyes, telling myself not to give into his antics tonight and that the prank will be enough of a revenge.

 

“Well, well, well. Looks like someone is trying really hard to cover up her ugly personality. But I’ve got to tell you, it really isn’t working out for you,” he sneers at me.

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Thanks for coming, grab a drink, get comfortable, blah blah blah. I don’t have time to deal with your stupid comments tonight, Luke. I actually plan on enjoying myself. I suggest you do too,” I say back, trying hard not to get angry.

 

Luke’s eyes widen at my response, and momentarily, he looks stunned at the fact that I didn’t actually insult him back. I have to hold back a laugh. He stares at me for a few seconds before narrowing his eyes again.

 

“You’re planning something for tonight, aren’t you? That’s why you seem all smug. I’m onto your tricks, Mackenzie, so don’t bother trying to fool me,” Luke says again.

 

“I don’t have to fool you; you make a big enough fool out of yourself already,” I say calmly.

 

Luke looks like he’s about to kill me at this point, but I’m saved when the doorbell rings again. I run to the door and quickly pull it open to reveal Anna, my brother’s girlfriend. They met when they were in high school, and though Anna absolutely hated my brother’s guts at first, she eventually gave in to his pleadings and went on a date with him. Ever since then, they’ve been together, and I couldn’t be happier for my brother. I’ve loved Anna ever since I met her, and she always treats me like a younger sister and she always takes my side whenever I fight with Trenton. In short, she’s one of the coolest people I know.

 

Anna pulls me into a hug as soon as I let her in, as a way of greeting.

“Kenzie, I’ve missed you! How have you been?” She kisses my cheek. “How’s senior year of college holding out for you?”

 

I hug her back tightly. “I’ve missed you too, Anna! You really have to stop by more often,” I say. “Oh, and senior year is fine, considering it’s only been a week. But then again…” I trail off and jerk my head in Luke’s direction.

 

Anna, who knows the whole story between Luke and me, just smiles sympathetically. But then she grins slyly, and I know Trenton has told her about my plan. Ah, you got to love my dear older brother. Just then, Trenton appears at my side, and he leans down to give Anna a kiss.

 

“Glad you made it,” he tells her and she smiles up happily at him.

 

“I’ll see you later, Anna. Hope you enjoy the party!” I say, before leaving to give my brother and her some privacy. She just winks at me in response before giving my brother another kiss. I smile at their cuteness before walking over to join Liza and Maya, as more and more people arrive for the party.

 

Chapter 6: The Prank ... Part 2

In about half an hour, the entire party is in full swing. Everyone is either dancing, grabbing drinks or chatting with their friends. I survey the entire room before I locate Luke, who is currently holding his favourite beer in his hand and is joking around with Aiden and Elliot, as per the plan.

 

At first, I may have seemed confident, but as the party goes on, the more nervous I become. My eyes never stray from Luke, and my vision follows his every move; from when he takes a swig of his beer, to when he laughs at something Aiden or Elliot says, to when he goes over to flirt with one of Anna's friends. I think her name is Jenny.

 

Jenny is pretty, no doubt. Having long brown hair, bright green eyes, olive brown skin, and a wide eye-crinkling smile would make any guy go crazy. For Luke, she would be gorgeous no matter how much he drank. I watch as he makes his way over to her, and introduces himself. I expect her to ignore him and move away, considering she was already dancing side by side with one of Trenton's friends, but to my surprise, she responds. She just gives him a smile and introduces herself to him as well, before the two of them walk over to the couch and sit down to talk.

At this point, I am more than nervous to get started on the prank, especially since Luke is only drunk enough to flirt, but not drunk enough to “accidentally” propose and get married to someone. I need him to be completely out of his mind, and I feel like I’m going crazy from being nervous. I think Maya and Liza notice that I am fidgeting while watching Luke talk to Jenny, because they briefly make their way over to Aiden and Elliot, who are talking to Trenton. No doubt my friends are saying something about how I am about to lose my nerves because Trenton suddenly lowers the stereo's volume before catching everyone's attention.

 

"Hey everyone! Thanks for coming to my party. Now, I know this isn't how we usually do things at my parties, but I thought we could mix things up a little bit to make tonight a little more interesting. I suggest we play a game of Chug." Trenton pauses, before quickly winking at me slyly, and I just shake my head in amusement.

 

“The rules are simple: two players compete against each other to chug down five cups of beer. Whoever finishes the five cups first wins the first round and moves up to the second round and challenges someone new. It keeps going until only one person wins the game. Oh, and I get to pick the contestants for each round. Any questions?" Trenton continues.

 

Trenton's friends just cheer loudly in response, and I suddenly see Colin smirking in Luke's direction. Thankfully, Luke wasn't paying too much attention and was still flirting with Jenny. I snicker to myself, knowing fully well what Trenton was planning. Thank you, dear brother. I owe you.

 

"So, our first contestants are.... Jake and Luke!" Trenton says loudly.

 

Luke freezes in his seat, before getting up and walking over to where Trenton, Colin, Aiden and Elliot where setting up a table and filling cups with beer- the special beer Colin brought that apparently gets Luke drunk faster. Luke, though drunk, looks confused at the turn of events, while Jake looks absolutely excited. I stifle my laughter, and shoot a grin at Maya and Liza. They both grin back at me and give me thumbs up. It’s payback time!

 

"Remember, you have to be the first to drink all five cups without stopping! If you stop at anytime, you're out! And you'll have to complete a dare for losing!" Trenton explains again, grinning wickedly. Luke just stares at the cups determinedly in response.

 

"Ready...set....CHUG!"

 

Luke immediately grabs the first cup and drowns it almost immediately, just as Jake also finishes his first drink. The two of them move onto their second cup simultaneously. Luke continues on strongly, but Jake gets to his fourth cup before Luke, and I suddenly feel nervous all over again. Trenton slyly makes his way over to Jake before saying something quietly in Jake's ears, causing him to splutter and cough. It gives Luke enough time to drown his fourth cup before they both finally reach their last.

 

I hold in my breath as they begin chugging down their last cup, when they both start to lower their cups almost at the same time. Luke must have sensed this, because he quickly smashes his cup down onto the table before Jake does, and raises his arms triumphantly while everyone cheers. Jake turns to Trenton, sulking, while Trenton just smiles cheekily. I knew Jake lost because of Trenton but all I care about at this point is the prank.

 

"And the winner is Luke!" Trenton announces, and I let out a sigh of relief.

 

"Alright, next round: our winner, Luke vs. Drew!" Trenton yells again, and I realize that my brother is choosing all of his “lightweight” friends to challenge Luke so that Luke will easily win and get even more drunk as the night goes on. And it works.

 

By the fourth round, Luke is completely hammered. I know this because as soon as he lost the game during the fifth round, he suddenly loses his inhibitions and starts joking around and flirting with every girl he lays his eyes on. Of course, that's not too hard because some of Anna's friends begin to flock to him and start laughing at his jokes.

 

For some unknown reason, I feel a twinge of jealousy and anger, which surprises me. Unable to watch Luke anymore, I turn around and am about to walk away when I suddenly feel someone grab my shoulders and whirl me around unexpectedly. I stumble in surprise and look up to see who caught me before I fall. My jaw drops in shock when I see Luke holding me on my arms, a lazy smile on his face.

 

“Hey, Mackenzie, I see that you’ve finally ‘fallen’ for my good looks!” Luke slurs, laughing at his own joke.

 

From the corner of my eye, I can see that Trenton, Anna, and my friends are watching the exchange and are openly grinning at the scene unfolding in front of them. Aiden and Colin have even taken out their cell phones and are recording the whole thing as proof.

 

I turn back to Luke, smirking triumphantly. If Luke is openly flirting with, he is completely and utterly drunk out of his mind. But if the plan is to succeed, I have to flirt back with him.

 

I immediately switch to a wide smile, trying to be as flirty as possible, like how some of Anna’s friends were.

 

“You’re right, Luke! I guess you’ve finally won me over with your hellish good looks,” I flirt back. Just for good measure, I bat my eyelashes and briefly brush his arm playfully. It takes all of my willpower not to run far, far, far away from Luke.

 

Luke frowns at me, and for a full minute, I’m scared that he finally realizes that something weird is going on- I mean, we’ve never had a civil conversation before, let alone flirt with each other. But then he smiles widely again, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

 

“Well then, why didn’t you say that you liked me too? If you told me earlier, we could have saved a lot of time,” Luke pouts.

 

“What do you mean?” I ask, genuinely curious as to what he was going to say.

 

“Well, if you told me earlier, we would’ve already done it, y’know? I mean, you’re good looking, and I’m good looking, and good-looking people should stick together. If you catch my drift,” Luke flirts back. And then he winks at me.

 

I almost choke from the utter shock of his words. Good-looking people should stick together.  But then I laugh, when I understand what he just said. I guess it’s true that some people blurt out the truth when they’re drunk.  I could use this to my advantage.

 

“You think I’m good looking, do you? Well, then, why didn’t you mention it before?” I ask, smirking.

 

“Well, I told you now, didn’t I? I think we’d make a pretty good team…. And probably some really cute babies too,” Luke winks again.

 

“Cute babies huh? What are you trying to say, Luke?” I wink back.

“I’m saying… how about we take this upstairs, in private?” Luke says suggestively.

 

Jackpot! I cheer mentally. Time to take this prank to the next step. I look up at Luke and nod ‘shyly’. He grins widely, like he won the lottery, and he begins to walk up the stairs.  

 

I laugh silently as I follow him upstairs. Oh my gods. Is this guy for real? I thought he hates me, and here he is, blatantly trying to get into my pants. I turn back to see if my friends are following us, and smirk at them. Trenton, Colin, Aiden and Elliot are having trouble containing their laughter, while Maya and Liza are just grinning back at me. Aiden and Colin still have their cell phones out, and I silently thank them for recording everything as evidence.

 

Luke stops at the top of the stairs, waiting for me to lead him to my bedroom. Instead, I lead everyone to the photography room, and usher them inside. Luke walks into the middle of the room and looks at me in confusion as I shut the door and walk over to him.

 

“What are we doing here? I thought we were going to your bedroom?” He asks, and I have to hide my grin.

 

“Well, I thought that since we’re planning to have sex and have babies, we might as well get married! That way, we can have as many kids as you want!” I chirp, batting my eyelashes at him again.

 

“Get married?  Really? I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Luke says uncertainly. “Besides, I don’t have a ring to propose to you with, and I’m too young to get married.”

 

“But I thought you said that good-looking people have to stick together, and that we make a good team! Didn’t you mean what you said?”

 

“I…. I did,” Luke admits.

 

“What’s the problem, then? Besides, if we get married, we can do it whenever you want,” I probe him, trying very hard not to show him how disgusted I am with what I’m saying. I can’t believe I have to stoop this low just to get him to agree to the prank.

 

“I… I guess,” Luke says. He thinks for a minute, and then he nods. “Okay, let’s do it. Besides, who am I to walk away from someone who wants to marry the almighty Luke Jefferson?” He boasts proudly, sticking his chest slightly.

I have to stifle my giggles, and my friends snicker in the side.

 

“What am I supposed to propose to you with if you or I don’t have rings?”

 

“Give her this necklace, Luke,” Colin interrupts us. He hands over the necklace I had left on the table.

 

“And Kenzie has a watch that she can give you,” Trenton grins. He tosses me his watch and I wink at him response.

 

Luke grabs the necklace from Colin and then gets down on one knee. “Mackenzie, will you marry me?”

 

I pretend to hold back happy sobs and nod quickly in response. Everyone cheers to hide their laughter and my friends rush over to congratulate us.

 

“Alright lovebirds, time for you to change for the wedding and photos!” Liza says slyly. She nods at Aiden and the other boys, and they wink back in response before grabbing Luke’s suit and start pushing him towards the washroom so that he could change.

 

As soon as Luke disappears into the washroom, I burst into loud laughter. “I can’t believe he fell for it! How desperate is he for a girlfriend? I never knew Luke to be like this when he’s normally so annoying and rude!”

 

“Well, some people have always said that they turn into a completely different person after drinking,” Liza chortles appreciatively.

 

“All I know is that Luke’s never going to drink ever again after this,” Maya chuckles, “but it’s too early to celebrate. Let’s wait until the wedding’s done before we really party.”

 

“Time for you to go and change too, Kenzie. We wouldn’t want to keep your ‘groom’ waiting, now do we?” Liza says.

 

I wink at them before grabbing my dress and going to change in the other washroom next door. As soon as I’m done, I open the door to let the girls in so they can help me with my hair and makeup before we head back to the photography room.

 

I’m surprised when I see that Colin has dressed up as Luke’s best man, while Trenton, Aiden and Elliot have dressed up as Luke’s groomsmen. Colin and Trenton have even agreed to be our “witnesses”. I give them thumbs up and they laugh. I walk over to where Luke is leaning against the wall, his eyes closed.

 

I tap him on the shoulder, and he opens his eyes and gives me a “once-over”, a smirk playing across his lips.

 

“Well, don’t you look all hot and ready for the wedding,” he says. “I’m definitely looking forward to the honeymoon.”

Believe me, I’m definitely looking forward to your reaction when you find out that this is a prank, I laugh to myself.

 

“Let’s get the wedding started, you two! May the bride and groom face each other?” Trenton announces.

 

Luke turns to face me, still smirking, and I smirk back at him.

 

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to partake in the blessed union of one Mackenzie Hamilton and one Luke Jefferson. Before we hear their vows, voice any objections or forever hold your peace,” Trenton continues.

 

When no one speaks, Trenton starts the vows. “Luke Jefferson, do you promise to take Mackenzie Hamilton as your lawfully wedded wife, in sickness and in health, in happiness and sadness, until death do you part?”

 

Luke winks at me. “I definitely do.”

 

“And Mackenzie Hamilton, do you promise to take Luke Jefferson as your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, in happiness and sadness, until death do you part?”

 

I wink back at Luke. “I do.”

 

“Please exchange your tokens of love.”

 

Luke turns me around and puts the necklace on me. In return, I put his watch on for him before we turn back to Trenton.

 

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride!” Trenton shouts, and I have to stop myself from panicking. Kiss the bride?  That wasn’t the plan!

 

Liza noticed my panic and quickly says, “Why don’t we save the kissing for the bedroom? For now, let’s take pictures! Please place your hands around your wife, Luke!”

 

I whisper a thanks to Liza as she comes over to me to fix my hair and she just grins in response and pushes me closer to Luke. I try not to move away from him when he puts his arm around my shoulder for the picture.

 

“Three, two, one. Smile!” We smile, and Liza clicks the photo.

 

“Congratulations on your marriage!” Everyone yells afterwards, and I allow myself a laugh while my friends grin knowingly. Only Luke, the stupid idiot, is oblivious to everything.

 

He turns to me, wiggling his eyebrows . “Ready for our honeymoon?”

 

I nod, chuckling to myself. “You bet. Let’s go to my room,” I simper.  I shoot my friends a look so they know to follow us to the room.

 

“Have fun, you two! Enjoy your honeymoon,” Colin smirks.

 

“Oh, we plan to.  Come on, Kenzie, get ready for the time of your life.” Without waiting for my response, Luke opens the door and pulls me into the room behind him. I barely have enough time to yell a “see you later!” to my friends before Luke kicks the door shut. He climbs onto the bed and immediately starts to strip off his clothes.

 

“Whoa, hold on tiger, not so fast! How about a drink to celebrate first?” I suggest playfully.

 

“Fine, just one. Hurry up!” Luke whines.

 

Grinning to myself, I open the mini fridge and pull out a bottle of wine and two wine glasses. While Luke is sitting on the bed, I slyly pull out a packet of sleeping powder and pour some into Luke’s glass secretly and mix it into the wine. It is not a lot, nor is it harmful; it is just enough to make Luke fall asleep peacefully until next morning.

 

I stand up and hand Luke’s glass to him. He grabs it from me and drinks it in one gulp, while I sip mine slowly, waiting for the powder to take affect. The reaction is immediate; Luke starts to doze off, and after a few minutes, he is completely passed out.

 

“Cheers, Luke. May you finally learn your lesson and never try to fight with me again,” I whisper triumphantly.

 

By the time I change back into my party clothes, Luke is snoring peacefully. I chuckle quietly and open the door to let Aiden and Elliot in. I turn away and close my eyes as they strip down Luke completely, tuck the covers around him and leave his clothes on the ground, next to my wedding dress. As soon as they leave the room, I shut the door.

 

As soon as we make it downstairs and meet up with the others, we burst into laughter.

 

“That’s got to be the best prank we’ve ever pulled!” Aiden chortles.

 

“I can’t wait to see his reaction in the morning,” Elliot says as he wipes tears of laughter away.

 

“His reaction is definitely one I can’t wait to see,” I snicker. “It serves him right…. Did you guys capture everything?”

 

“Right up till the part when he pulled you into your room for your ‘honeymoon’,” Colin says, and he gives Trenton a high-five.

 

“Perfect, let’s go celebrate! Operation Prank Luke is 100% successful!” I yell. My friends shout loudly and we re-join the party in full celebration mood- the perfect way to end the prank.

 

“Tomorrow is going to be one hell of a day,” Maya chuckles as we all grab a new round of drinks.

 

“It sure is,” I agree. Grinning, I hold up my glass. “To Luke!” I toast.

 

“To Luke!” They echo back.

 

Game on. 

Chapter 7: The Morning After

The party went on full rage for another two to three hours. By the time it ended, everyone was tired. In the end, all of my friends, and Colin, decide to just spend the night. I know it’s because they want to witness Luke freak out in the morning when he finds out that he’s ‘married’ to me. Before I changed back into my party clothes, I had written a note for Luke and stuck it onto the table next to the bed so that he could see it when he wakes up.

 

            But before we can go to bed, however, we have a lot of cleaning up to do. The place isn’t trashed, and thankfully, nothing is broken. There are just a lot of plates and cups that have to be picked up and thrown into the trash. We got to work in silence as soon as the last guest left, hoping to finish quickly and go to sleep.

 

            Aiden decides to break the silence. “So… how do you think he’s going to react when he wakes up in the morning?”

 

            “You mean when he finds out that I’m his dear ol’ wife? Let’s see; first, he’s going to be angry. Then comes the strong denial. Then after we show him the evidence, he’s going to be absolutely livid and will start to freak out,” I grin.  Everyone laughs.

 

            “What about when he realizes that he’s been pranked?” Maya asks.

           

            “That’s not going to be a pretty sight, that’s for sure,” Elliot snorts.

 

            “Well, I can’t say that I’m not looking forward to my dear little brother have the scare of his life,” Colin whistles.

           

            “Neither can I,” I snicker. “Come on, it’s finally done. Let’s get to bed. We have a long and exciting day tomorrow, and I don’t plan on missing a single thing.”

 

***

            We are all sitting down at the table the next morning, enjoying some good breakfast, when we hear a loud yell coming from upstairs. Maya almost drops her plate in shock, and we laugh silently as we hear Luke stomp down the stairs. A few seconds later, he walks into the kitchen, and it takes all my determination not to burst into laughter at the sight in front of me.

 

            Luke looks positively livid. His normally neat, straight brown hair is sticking up in all different directions and it looks like a bird’s nest. His eyes look a little bloodshot- recovering from the hangover, I suppose- and he has dark circles underneath his eyes. But, despite my amusement at his appearance, I notice that he’s only put on his boxers and I have to stop myself from looking away from his face.

 

            “Well, it looks like sleeping beauty is finally awake. You do not look too good, little bro. Didn’t you sleep well last night?” Colin grins.

 

            Luke just glares at his brother. “I have no time to deal with your shit right now, Colin!” He yells, before wincing at his own loudness.

           

“Wow, you’re really not a morning person,” Elliot laughs. Luke ignores him and just looks around the room, his chest heaving in anger.

 

When he spots me, his eyes narrow angrily and stomps over to me. “What is this? WHAT IS THIS?” Luke screams, brandishing the note I left him in my face.  I have to hide my laughter, choosing instead to give him my ‘concerned wife’ look.

 

“What’s wrong, babe? Are you okay? Did you not sleep well?” I ask, pretending to be concerned. As if I really give a crap about how he slept.

 

Luke just gets even angrier at the use of my endearment. “Babe? BABE? I am not your babe! Why did I sleep over? Why did I wake up naked? And what is up with this note you left me?”

 

“Oh dear,” Aiden says dramatically, “Kenzie, it seems like your dear husband has woken up with amnesia.”

 

Luke splutters at Aiden’s words, his eyes widening in shock. “Husband? What in the world are you talking about?”

 

He turns to me. “What. Is. He. Talking. About?” He stresses each word, speaking through gritted teeth.

 

“We got married last night. You proposed to me during the party and I accepted. That’s what it means,” I answer. “You really don’t remember?”

 

“This has got to be some stupid joke, or a prank, or-” Luke suddenly stops rambling and a look of realization dawns upon his face. He suddenly looks absolutely furious.

 

“You. YOU- this is what you were talking about the other day at school, with Liza and Maya, weren’t you? You were thinking of pranking me! You little-”

Well, he’s not wrong. “It’s not a prank. You really flirted with me and I flirted back, and then you proposed to me, and then we got married and went on a honeymoon. That’s why you woke up naked upstairs,” I interrupt, holding back my grin.

 

“Hey! I may be hungover but I am not stupid! This is all your doing! You planned this!” Luke shouts again.

 

“It really happened,” I say again.

 

“Prove it,” Luke says stubbornly, folding his arms across his chest.

 

“Okay,” I say simply. I nod at Aiden, and he pulls out his phone. He opens up the video from last night and passes his phone to Luke. Luke grabs it out of his hand and presses play.

 

I watch his face while he watches the video, and I feel amused by the change in his facial expressions, starting from confusion, to shock, to surprise, to shock again, to suspicion. Then all the blood drains from his face until he looks positively pale. I suspect he watched the part where we walk into the guest room because he looks completely stunned into silence. That’s a first. 

 

As soon as the video ends, he starts freaking out. "No. NO. No, this isn't right! There must be a mistake! That's not me!" He starts rambling again.

 

"It is not a mistake and it is you, Luke," Elliot says. "We witnessed the whole thing."

 

"You... You were all there? You watched the whole thing? Everything?" Luke persists.

 

Everyone nods. This angers Luke again, and he whirls to face Colin, glaring at his brother while Colin hides a smirk.

 

"You're my brother, and you watched instead of stopping me? Why didn't you stop me?" Luke yells again, furiously. "Why didn't any of you stop me?"

 

We tried, honestly. But you kept wandering off and wouldn't listen to us. You were convinced that it was a good idea to marry Mackenzie because, as you put it, 'good looking people should stick together', and nothing we said changed your mind," Liza says. I see her lips twitch as she tries not laugh in front of Luke.

 

"This can't be happening right now," Luke moans. He runs his hand through his hair agitatedly, messing it up even more, and drops into the chair in front of him.

 

"It is happening, and you'd better get used to it," Colin says.

 

"No, no, no, this has to be a bad dream. Or a hallucination. There's no way I would have ever agreed to marry ice queen of all people," Luke groans again.

 

I'm about to reply when the front door opens up, and Dad walks in, looking tired and sleepy. I get up immediately and walk over to hug him.

"Hey, Dad, how was the flight back?" I ask.

 

"Hey, pumpkin. It was exhausting. I'm going up to sleep. What's happening here? Why are all your friends here?" Dad asks.

 

"The prank, remember? We put it into action last night," I whisper.

 

Dad laughs in response. "Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Your mother wasn't too happy about it but I'll always take the side of my little girl," he says affectionately.

 

"Are you willing to play along?" I ask, hopefully.

 

"Sure thing," Dad winks. "I suppose you told him you got 'married' already?"

 

I nod, and Dad laughs. "Well come on, then." He walks into the kitchen, with me following behind.

 

"Well, look who it is- they lucky husband! Welcome to the family, Luke, I heard you and my daughter got married. Sorry I couldn't make it to the wedding, but I offer you my congratulations. But just so you know, if you hurt my daughter, you'd better watch out." Dad deadpans.

 

I hide my laughter, choosing instead to gulp down some juice so that I won't start giggling from the look on Luke's face. Dad said it so seriously that even I thought he meant it, so I could imagine the terror that Luke felt this moment.

 

            "I...I...," Luke stutters pathetically. Then his face became slack and all the fight drains out of him. He slumps back in his chair, and closes his eyes.

"Have a good day, you guys. I'm going to sleep now. And Luke, remember- no funny business; if you try anything, I’ve already given Trenton my permission to take care of you." With a wag of his finger, Dad leaves to go upstairs, but he winks at us from behind Luke on his way out and everyone grins.

 

"I can't believe this is really happening to me! What did I do to deserve this?" Luke mutters to himself.

                        

"Well, I feel sorrier for Kenzie than you, Luke. You can't even remember marrying her last night and now you're angry with her too. This isn't her fault," Trenton says, pretending to be angry.  

 

“This is crazy… this is absolutely crazy,” Luke mumbles on, as if he didn’t hear Trenton speak.

 

I take this opportunity to grin at my friends, and they grin back in understanding. Time to turn up the dramatics.

 

“This isn’t crazy, Luke! You saw the video- you agreed to propose and you agreed to marry me! Colin and Trenton were even our witnesses; the watch you’re wearing right now is what I gifted to you and the necklace I’m wearing is what you gave to me as proof of your love for me! We even had our honeymoon! And you want to tell me that all of this is crazy the morning after our honeymoon? Didn’t our wedding or night together mean anything to you?” I say back, trembling.

 

Luke laughs bitterly. “What wedding? What honeymoon? I don’t even know what happened last night! The last thing I remember is playing that stupid game Trenton came up with; everything after that is completely blank!”

 

“Just because you don’t remember the wedding doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” I say sadly.

 

“But that’s the perfect excuse, isn’t it? You knew I wouldn’t remember anything but you still went ahead with the wedding anyways. That’s not my fault, is it? It’s yours!” Luke argues.

 

“But no one told you to propose to me and no one asked you to marry me! You did that on your own!” I whimper.

 

“Oh, but you did ask me to propose to you! Luke insists.

 

“But you didn’t have to do it! You still had a choice not too,” I say, my voice breaking. 

 

Before Luke can respond, I turn my back on him and clamp my hand over my mouth so that I don’t start laughing at the ridiculousness of what I’m saying. But seeing that the dramatics aren’t working, it’s time to end with a bang. I wink at my friends, then count to three to calm myself down and to get ready for the last step. Cue the waterworks!

 

I sit down in my chair and start sniffling, quietly at first, before starting to cry. “I can’t believe this. I really can’t believe this! My own husband’s blaming me for everything when all I did was agree to marry him! I knew he doesn’t love me, and that all he ever wanted to do was get me into bed with him!”

 

Luke looks absolutely astonished and slightly panicked. “No, wait! I-”

 

Ignoring him, my friends jump to their feet and rush over and gather around me.

 

“Oh, no! Kenzie, don’t cry,” Liza pleads, trying to comfort me.

 

“Yeah, it’s not your fault! It’s your good for nothing husband’s fault!” Maya says, shooting Luke a glare.

 

“Great job, little bro. You sure are a really good husband to your wife,” Colin says sarcastically.

 

Luke’s mouth just opens and closes as he tries to find something to say in return, but he fails. Instead, he just looks like a deer caught in headlights. His expression is funny enough to make me hiccup in laughter through my tears.

 

“You’re such a jerk for making her cry,” Elliot interjects.

 

“Man, poor Mackenzie. She has to spend the rest of her life being married to someone like you,” Aiden says, shaking his head.

 

“Prepare for some major hurt, Luke. You’re going to get it for making my sister cry,” Trenton threatens, cracking his knuckles menacingly.

 

“But… I-” Luke stammers. Then his expression hardens again and he gets up. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

 

As soon as he says that, I start to cry even harder. At this point, I’m practically wailing at the top of my lungs, clinging to Trenton as he tries to soothe me.

 

“That’s it!” Maya suddenly announces. She jumps up to her feet and stomps over to Luke angrily. Luke, though he’s much taller than her, takes a few steps back until he’s forced into his chair again.

 

“Apologize to Mackenzie. Right. Now.” Maya demands. Although Maya is normally pretty nice to everyone, she can get pretty scary when she’s angry. Like she is right now. Oh boy, Luke’s going to get it now! Serves him right.

 

Though Luke is clearly afraid, he does his best to hide it. So he stands back up from his seat, looks down at Maya and says, “Once again, it’s not my fault.”

 

“Yes, it is! You proposed, you got married, and you went on a honeymoon with Mackenzie, and you can’t even take responsibility for what you did. What kind of a man are you!?” Maya yells.

 

Luke winces at the sound of her tone. “Jeez, woman, take it down a notch!”

 

“I’ll stop yelling only when you apologize,” Maya says.

 

“Fat chance,” Luke snorts, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

 

“Do it!”

 

“No!”

 

At this point, I’m just about ready to do anything to get Luke to give in. So I start wobbling, as if I’m feeling dizzy, and then after a few seconds, I fall to my feet.

 

“Mackenzie!” Trenton shouts. His arms shoot around me in support as he tries to catch me before I collapse.

 

I hide my face, and shake my shoulders. Only my friends know that I’m laughing really hard; to Luke, it would look like I’m still sobbing my eyes out.

 

“Great! Now look what you’ve done!” Liza snaps.

 

At this stage, Luke no longer looks angry; he looks absolutely petrified. “I…. No, I…. Oh god, I-”

 

“Stop standing there and get over here and help your wife!” Liza shrieks.  

 

“Oh… Oh, right!” Luke says, and I grin at how flustered he sounds. Then I hear his chair scrape against the ground as he pushes it back and the pattering of his feet on the ground. Two seconds later, I feel his arms grab my shoulders as he pulls me upright, and I’m surprised by how gentle he is. My friends back up a little to give us some space.

 

Luke guides me over to his chair and sits me down, before kneeling in front of me. I slump in my seat and pretend to take deep breaths.

 

“Are- are you okay? Have you calmed down?” He stammers. His eyebrows are scrunched together questioningly, and he’s pouting slightly. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he’s actually concerned that I’m not well. And he actually looks… cute while worrying. Maybe the jerk has a heart after all.

 

Then I realize what I’m thinking and have to slap myself mentally. Snap out of it, Mackenzie, you have no time to think about whether he’s really worried about you. Remember, he hates you and you hate him and remember why we’re pranking him.

 

I nod slowly, then reach up and massage my temples. “I’m fine, I just have a headache.”

 

Luke lets out a gusty sigh and closes his eyes for a few seconds. Then when he opens them again, he looks at me and says, “Sorry.”

 

I look at Luke in surprise. Did His Royal Jerkiness just apologize for being mean? That's a change. But I have to think everything through now, since I can't let Luke find out that he's been pranked until I'm ready to tell him.

 

So I just sigh and say, "It's okay, I understand. But if you want to go, then go. I won't stop you."

 

Luke looks at me, confused but slightly wary. He's unbearable quiet for a few seconds but then he groans and dips his head into his hands.

 

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but…. I’ll stay,” he mumbles.

        

 

“I’m sorry, what? I didn’t hear you,” I say, even though I did actually hear what he said. I just wanted the satisfaction of hearing him say it again.

 

Luke sighs. “I said that I’ll stay.” He drags out the words, almost like he regrets saying them and knows he can’t take them back.

 

But then he automatically switches back into the Luke I know and hate when he adds, “But don’t expect to be a loving husband and act all couple-y and lovey-dovey with you. I’ll take responsibility for marrying you but that’s all.”

As if I want you to act like a real husband, you gigantic asshole. But instead, I say, “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

Luke sighs again. “Fine.” 

 

Colin claps his hands suddenly, and we all turn to him in surprise.

"Well, now that that's all been taken care off, Luke and I have to take off." He announces.

 

"Why so suddenly?" Luke asks. "I thought we going to chill here for awhile longer."

 

"Anxious to be away from your wife, are we?" Colin says, his eyebrows raised.

 

At this, the tips of Luke’s ears turn red, and he almost growls at Colin when he says, "Shut up, I'm not. You better tell me why we have to go now before I kick you."

 

"Geez, so violent. It's because Mom wants to speak to you about what happened last night. You, dear little brother, are in so much shit right now." Colin smirks.

 

"Crap," Luke groans. He gets up dejectedly and walks over to the door. "Let's go before she decides to ground me for life."

 

"It's already too late for that," Colin snickers as he opens the door and heads out to his car, with Trenton walking behind him.

 

Luke, however, pauses and he turns to to face the rest of us. "If I survive this, do you want to meet up later?"

 

"Sure," Elliot says.

 

"Good luck, bro. You're going to need it," Aiden chuckles, clapping Luke on the shoulder. Luke grimaces in response.

 

“Bye,” I say.

 

Luke opens his mouth to say something but changes his mind. "Bye," he mutters, before he turns and closes the door behind him.

 

Chapter 8: Cat out of the Bag

The rest of the weekend passes by quickly, and it is suddenly Monday again. I haven’t seen Luke since the night he found out that he and I got married. Colin informed us that Luke was ‘grounded’ for the time being, which explains his absence. I’m not too bothered by the lack of Luke’s annoying antics, using the time he was away to continue planning how and when I was going to tell him that he was Punk’d by all of us.

 

The first few days after the prank when we were at school was a test period to see how he would act around me; to see if he would change his behavior towards me. I, for the sake of the prank, acted civilly and polite, trying my hardest not to get into fights or arguments with him. Of course, I wasn’t expecting him to come over and spend time with me just because he said he would stay. Nor was I expecting him to act somewhat civil to me either. So when he still kept throwing insults and snide comments my way, or irritated me during class, I wasn’t surprised. After all, he did say he wouldn’t treat me any different than before. Which is why I find it amusing to watch him struggle to apologize every time he said anything remotely mean to me. In fact, he would refuse to apologize until someone (usually Trenton) forced him to. It stayed like this for the entire first week.

 

But the second week was different, although not by much. He started acting a little differently, albeit he would still slip once in awhile. He still made a few comments and insults here and there, but not as much as before. He would even sit down next to me in class, and though he still bothered me, it was kept on the down low. The most surprising part was that he actually started making a bit of an effort, although I knew it was hard for him to suddenly go from hating me to attempting to treat me a little better than before. This was the scary part; I kept feeling that he finally caught on and figured out what was happening and was just pranking me back by acting somewhat nicer to me. Or maybe that was just him being as stupid and clueless as ever. But I knew for sure that once he finds out the truth, it was going to make things worse between the two of us.

 

I made the decision to tell him the truth the night our little gang was coming over to my house for a movie and pizza night. Liza, Maya and I are currently lying down on my bed and chatting.

 

“So, why do you think tonight is the night you want to tell him?” Liza asks, idly flipping through one of my Mom’s fashion magazines.

 

“Well, he finally let his guard down a couple days ago. Not entirely, of course, since he wasn’t a total gentleman. But he wasn’t as rude as he normally is. He was being somewhat civil to me. So if I tell him now, while he’s being a little nicer to me, he’ll realize he was being played like a fiddle. Plus, I’m sick of acting like I’m in love with him,” I reply.

 

“And what did your parents say?” Maya asks.

 

“They agreed. They thought this went on too long and that it was time to cut the act,” I say.

 

“Makes sense, I guess,” Liza says. “I just hope this finally ends the stupid feud between you two. We don’t need things to get any worse than it already is.”

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Maya muses.

 

“Oh well. At least it was really entertaining to watch you guys fight like a married couple. Especially when you acted like a married couple,” Liza laughs.

 

Just then, the doorbell rings and we head down stairs. Maya and Liza plop down on the couch in the living room while I open up the door to let the boys in.

 

Aiden and Elliot give me a hug before walking over and joining their girlfriends on the couch.

 

 “Don’t expect me to give you a hug too. That’s crossing the line,” Luke says in way of greeting.

 

I hide my scowl. Forget two weeks; two years wouldn’t be enough to change this guy’s attitude. I can’t believe I thought he was acting nicer. “It’s okay, I understand…”

 

         Luke stares at me for a few seconds, eye brows raised. And then he says, “Good”, and goes and plops down on the couch next to Aiden.

 

         A few more hours, Kenzie. A few more hours. You can finish this I say to myself. I sigh, rubbing my forehead then grabbing the phone. I quickly place our order for pizza before joining my friends.

        

         Elliot and Aiden were in charge of brining over the movies, Luke said he’ll get the drinks, and Liza and Maya were tasked with bringing all the snacks. I had set up a few blankets and extra cushions downstairs so that we could all watch comfortably. Mom and Dad, for better judgment, decided they would go out for dinner, and Trenton was, as always, out with Anna. Too bad they won’t be here to witness Luke’s meltdown.

 

         “So, what movies did you bring?” I ask as I settle down on the ground in front of Maya.

 

         “Insidious 1 and 2, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Conjuring, The Woman in Black, and The Apparition,” Aiden states.

 

         I freeze. “What? Why those movies in particular?”

        

         “Because it’s about to start raining outside which makes it the perfect time to watch a horror- Oh,” Aiden cuts off, when he realizes the problem. “Oh. Oh right… I forgot you don’t like horror movies.”

 

         “Some friend you are,” I joke weakly.

        

         “I’m sorry,” Aiden apologizes sheepishly.

 

         “It’s fine, forget about it. There’s nothing we can do now. But if I get nightmares, I blame you.” I say.

 

         “You don’t like horror movies? Who doesn’t like horror movies?” Luke says, sounding surprised.

 

         “Me, that’s who,” I almost growl at him.

 

         “Luke, that would be your cue to sit next to your wife and protect her while watching the movie,” Elliot says, grinning.

 

         The doorbell rings again, effectively cutting of Luke before he can reply. I sigh in relief before opening the door. I quickly paid the delivery boy before shutting the door. As soon as I put the pizza boxes down, everyone attacked the food and the snacks before re-settling down for the movie. Against my will, I put on The Woman in Black and shut off all the lights in the living room but leaving the hall lights on just in case.

        

         True to Aiden’s words, it did start raining heavily, just as the movie began. And Luke, who did not say anything, ended up sitting down on the ground next to me after he was forced to. Thankfully, he still left some space between us so that we weren’t touching, but I wasn’t focused on him. I was too afraid of watching that I barely paid any attention to him, spending the whole time just rocking back and forth and eating my pizza.

 

         Halfway through the movie, right at the climax, there was a huge clap of thunder outside and the tv shut off.  I involuntarily let out a shriek and latched onto Luke’s arm- not my choice- since he was the closest one to me.  A few seconds later, and all the lights flickered on.

 

         “Ouch!” Luke hisses. “That hurts!”

 

         “Sorry!” I squeak, before letting him go and scooting further away from him.

 

“Wow, you really hate horror movies, don’t you?” Luke winces, rubbing his arm where I grabbed him.  “Next time, remind me never to sit next to you at the movies. I don’t need to lose another body part.”

 

At this, I reach my breaking point. For the past two weeks, all I did was act nice to him, and he’s still being a giant asshole.

 

“What the freaking hell is your problem, Luke? Would it just kill you to act nice once in awhile?” God, if we were really married, I probably would have left you a long time ago, you insufferable jerk!” I snap. 

 

This stuns him into silence. Maya and Liza stare at me with their mouths open wide. Both Aiden and Elliot, who were getting drinks in the kitchen, froze in shock at my outburst. But Luke’s reaction was the best.

 

His eyes have gotten so wide, he looks bug-eyed. His mouth keeps opening and closing like a fish, as if he’s trying to say something but cannot think of the words.

 

Finally, after a few seconds, he manages to choke out, “I’m sorry, what? Say that again? What do you mean, if we were really married?”

 

“You heard me. I said if were really married, I would probably leave you. Meaning that you and I, aren’t actually married. Never were.” I say.

 

“What do you mean ‘we’re not married’? How are we not married? What was the wedding and the honeymoon then?” Luke asks, his voice raising slightly.

 

I smirk. “It means that…. You were played like a fiddle, Luke. You’ve just been Punk’d!” I announce smugly.

 

Unable to take it anymore, my friends and I burst into laughter, while Luke looks bewildered and confused. Suddenly, everything dawns on him, and his expression suddenly changes to one of anger.

 

“This was a prank? This was a prank?!” He suddenly yells. “You mean to tell me that being married to you, and having to act like your husband, and being nice to you for the past two weeks was a prank?”

 

“Exactly.”
        

“Then what the hell was the honeymoon?! Why did I wake up naked?”

 

“Well, as I recall, you did say that ‘good looking people should stick together’. But the ‘honeymoon’ was just you passed out after taking a sleeping medicine and being stripped naked by Aiden and Elliot. As if I would really have sex with you. Sorry to burst your bubble.” I snicker.

 

As soon as I say this, Luke whips around to face his friends, his expression livid. “You guys knew that this was a prank? You let this psycho trick me?”

 

“Sorry, man! It was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” Elliot chuckles.

 

“Oh come on, lighten up, it was just a silly prank. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have hesitated in doing something like this to Kenzie to get her all riled up,” Aiden adds.

 

Luke flips the middle finger at both of them, but it only makes the guys laugh harder. Even Maya and Liza are having a hard time stifling their giggles.

 

“Besides, it wasn’t just them that knew. Everyone was in on it, including your parents and mine,” I say. “You never were really grounded. Then again, you were naïve enough to believe that all of this was real. This is what you get for being a total pain in my ass,” I say.

 

I’m proud to say that Luke does not handle this all very well. He swears loudly, saying a few choice words I’m not going to repeat, before turning to me and giving me the dirtiest glare. 

 

“You just messed with the wrong person, Mackenzie. You’re done for. I suggest you watch your back for the next few days, because one way or another, I will get you back for this mess,” Luke snarls. Wanting the last word, he gets up, walks out and slams the door shut behind him, leaving me to laugh in his back.

 

“Well, I’d like to think he handled that well,” Liza snorts derisively.

 

“Not my fault he’s as clueless as a two-year-old,” I shrug. “You’d think the boy would have enough brains to realize that it was a prank, considering he almost caught on before we actually put the prank in action.”

 

“So… what do you think is going to happen now?” Maya asks.

 

“You think he’s going to try and get you back?” Aiden asks.

 

“I wouldn’t put it past him to try something stupid like that. He never learns his lesson,” I say.

 

“Still, I’d watch your back, if I were you,” Elliot warns. “Once Luke’s that mad, there is no stopping him.”

 

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but let’s just leave it at that. We’ve still got movies to finish and pizza to eat.”  

Chapter 9: The Intervention

It turns out that Maya and Liza were right about what would happen when Luke would find out that he was tricked. When I walked into the lecture hall the next morning for class, I spot Luke talking to Maya and Elliot. He looks okay, but as soon as I walk over to join them, his temper returns.

 

         “Well, look who decided to join us. Seems like the She-Devil’s back from hell. Trying to wreak more havoc, are you?” He sneers at me.

 

         “No, I’m not. No one else is as clueless or as stupid as you. Or more deserving to be pranked than you,” I merely reply.

 

         “That’s because your prank was for total amateurs. Only someone with a low IQ would come up with a dumb idea like you did,” Luke says.

 

         “And only someone with a low IQ like yours would actually fall for such ‘dumb’ pranks. And seeing that you did believe me, that would mean your IQ is significantly lower than mine, yes? It would explain why I’m doing better than you in all of our classes,” I smirk.

 

         “For fuck’s sake, we’ve been through this! You are not doing better than me in all of our classes. The last time I checked, our scores were tied in every single course,” Luke barks back.

        

         Just then, Maya snaps. “Okay, that is enough! Both of you need to calm down, stop fighting and just listen to the goddamn lecture!” She says, glaring at the two of us. “And not a word out of you, Luke Jefferson, or I swear to God, I will hurt you,” she adds threateningly after Luke tries to speak again. I guess Maya scares him, because he finally shut up for the rest of the lecture. Of course, that didn’t mean he decided to leave me alone altogether. He was back to being a five-year-old throughout the remainder of the day, and each passing second made my temper wear thin. And this was just the first day after we told him that he was pranked. At the rate Luke was going, he was going to be dead by the end of the week, and I will not take responsibility for my actions.

 

         The worst part was that he kept coming over to my house, just to spite me, whenever Colin came to hang out with Trenton, meaning I had to see him even outside of school. That did not make me happy, but I felt even worse for our parents, who had to witness each fight between the two of us. I had already prepared myself for Luke’s backlash, refusing to back down whenever anything happened between us. I was even starting to prepare myself for my parents to say something about our fights; every so often, I would catch Mom on the phone with Mrs. Jefferson, the two of them talking ever so secretly. I would even catch Dad talking to Mom quietly, although Dad didn’t look nearly as unhappy with my behavior as Mom did. But nothing, and I do mean nothing, could have prepared me for what our parents had decided to do about this whole situation.

 

         I had just gotten home after school, having been late due to swimming practice. As I was closing the door, I notice a couple of extra shoes in the foyer, ones that didn’t belong to my parents or to Trenton. Curious, I call out, “Mom, Dad, I’m home! Where are you?”

 

         “We’re in the living room, hon,” I hear Mom say in reply.

 

         Cautiously, I walk over before stopping dead in my tracks from shock. My eyes trail from my parents, who are are sitting in the loveseat, to Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson sitting opposite of them, all four of them looking at me expectantly. The biggest surprise of all was Luke, who was slouching in an armchair next to his parents, wearing a grumpy expression with his arms crossed over his chest. Immediately, I’m filled with a little bit of dread at what’s to come.

 

         Mom clears her throat. “Why don’t you sit down, Mackenzie? We have a lot to talk about.”

 

         I slowly sink myself down into the armchair facing Luke, warily eyeing him from the corner of my eye.

 

         The room is silent for a few seconds, before Mom clears her throat again. “Mackenzie, do you know why Luke and his parents are here tonight?” She asks me.

 

         I shake my head.

        

         “They’re here because we’re holding an intervention,” Mom says.

 

         I raise my eyebrows. “An intervention?”

 

         “Yes. To discuss the way you two have been behaving this past week,” Mom says. The way she says it reminds me of a mother reprimanding her child for taking cookies from the cookie jar when they aren’t supposed to. Mom always had a knack for making me feel guilty, even if I haven’t done anything wrong. Although this time, I know she is pissed with how I’ve been acting.

 

         “It’s starting to get out of hand. It was never this bad before, and I don’t know why it’s gotten like this,” Mrs. Jefferson adds.

 

         I was just about to reply, when Luke suddenly interrupts. “It’s not my fault, Mom. She’s the one who pranked me, and she’s the one who always fights with me,” he interjects.

 

         Unable to hold back, I bite back. “Oh please, what a liar. How many times in the past have you gotten in trouble in class for being annoying and bothering me and the other students? And who was always the one who got detention for pranking me in high school? Oh right, it was you.”

 

         “The only reason I got detention and you didn’t was because you never got caught by our teacher! If you were, you would have been in heaps of trouble too. Except you were too busy kissing up to the teacher and being a goody-two shoes,” Luke retaliates.

 

         “And the only reason I never got caught was because I never actually misbehaved! Especially when there were teachers around. Not my fault you were stupid enough to be seen whenever you tried to prank me,” I snap back.

 

         Luke opens his mouth to reply, when both my Mom and Mrs. Jefferson snap.

 

         “That is enough, both of you!” Mrs. Jefferson says, with a surprising amount of authority, quite unlike her usual friendly demeanor.  

 

         “We are sick of you two fighting like children. It’s about time that you start acting like the adults you are instead,” Mom says, with equal ferocity.  

 

“And that is precisely why we all agreed that you two are going to move in together for the rest of the year,” they both say together.

The room drops dead silent again, as Luke and I just stare at our parents in disbelief, our mouths agape, before turning and gawking at each other. A few seconds later, we both start laughing at the absurdity of what was just said.

“You’re…kidding…right?” Luke says in between laughs. “Move in together? Right, like that’s going to happen.”

“Do we look like we’re joking?” Dad finally speaks up. His tone is enough to get me and Luke to stop laughing, and we fully begin to understand the gravity of the situation we’ve put ourselves in.

“You can’t be serious, Dad! We hardly get along now, when we see each other at school. How do you expect us to stay together and not fight with each other twenty-four-seven?” I protest.

“How you two get along is up to you to decide,” Dad replies calmly.

“Besides, living with someone long enough often changes your opinion about them. Maybe the same will happen to you,” Mr. Jefferson adds.

“I hardly doubt that,” Luke mutters under his breath. I shoot him a glare.

“Dad, please! You were totally fine with the prank, so why are you doing this?” I plead.

“This is not up for discussion,” Mom says with an air of finality in her voice. “You two will live together, and you two will get along together. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” Luke and I say unwillingly.  

“Good,” Mom says, satisfied. “Now that this has been settled, we expect you to move out this Saturday. We’ve already found an apartment for you close by, and since you only have 4 days until move in day, I suggest you both start packing.” And with that, the discussion ends.

Luke and his family leave right after, with Luke giving me the dirtiest glare he could muster up before being ushered out the door by his parents. As soon as he leaves, I run up the stairs to my room and collapse on my bed with a groan. Worst. Day. Ever.

***

The next morning, on our way to school, I fill Liza and Maya in on my situation. I recount everything that our parents said, right down to the whole thing about having to move in together with Luke. When I finish, Liza lets out a low whistle.

“Oh man. I’ve got to say, I wasn’t expecting that. I mean, we talked to your parents and all, but for them to come up with that idea is a bit scary,” she says.

I groan. “I can’t believe they expect me to move in with Luke! I mean, this is crazy, and- wait. Wait, you talked to my parents?”

My friends nod sheepishly. “It was really starting to get really bad, and we didn’t know what to do. So, we thought talking to your parents was the only way to get you two to stop fighting,” Maya says quietly.

“Only, we didn’t know that they would force you guys to become roommates,” Liza says.

“Is this what you two have been secretly talking about this whole time?” I ask. “I can’t believe this! I thought you guys were on my side,” I grumble.

“We are,” Liza is quick to reassure me. “But we were starting to get really worried, that’s all.”

“Are you mad?” Maya asks, softly.  

I sigh. “No, I can never be mad at you two. And I guess I probably would have done the same thing as you if I was in that same situation.”

“So… when do you have to move in?” Liza asks.

“This weekend. I only have 3 more days to convince my parents that this was a bad idea,” I say, shaking my head. “I can’t believe they thought this was a good idea! I don’t know how it crossed their mind that moving in together was the best solution.”

“You never know, Kenzie. This may actually change things between you two. Living with someone and seeing them every single day changes a lot of things, especially about how you see and think about them. This might actually improve your relationship with Luke,” Maya says.

“Funnily enough, that’s what they said,” I grumble, just as we pull into the school parking lot. “But that’s besides the point. The point is, I don’t care about my relationship with Luke, I don’t care about improving it, and I don’t think that’s about to change any time soon.”

“Just watch, Mackenzie. You might end up eating your words,” Liza says. “Anyways, I gotta run to class, Aiden’s waiting for me. See you at lunch!” Saying so, she waves and heads off to her lecture, while Maya and I head to our own class. When I go in, I’m surprised to see that Elliot is sitting alone and that Luke is no where to be found. Elliot is playing around on his phone when we approach him, and as soon as he sees us, he jumps to his feet.

He immediately hugs me. “I heard about what happened. Can’t imagine that you like having to move in with Luke,” he says sympathetically.

I sigh again. “Luke told you, huh?”

Elliot winces as he moves to hug Maya. “More like… growled. He called me and Aiden last night and was practically yelling profanities on the phone.”

“I don’t blame him. I did the same thing this morning,” I say as we sit down. Just then, Luke walks into class, and I have to hold back my laughter. He looks like he just rolled out of bed and decided to come to class. There’s hints of dark circles under his eyes, his hair is unruly, and he’s dressed in sweatpants and a hoodie. He walks over to where we’re sitting, and plops himself down next to Elliot.

“Looks like someone didn’t get any sleep last night,” I say.

Luke shoots me a glare. “It’s your fucking fault. If you hadn’t pulled that stupid prank, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”  

“And if you had stopped being such a pain in my butt, I wouldn’t have had to prank you!” I snap back.

“I am in no mood to deal with your shit right now, Hamilton,” Luke says roughly.

“Well, it’s too bad. Thanks to this mess, we have to deal with each other, whether we like it or not,” I say.

“Well, I’d rather not. Just drop it,” Luke retorts. He runs his hand through his hair in frustration before drawing up his hood and pulling it over his head, ending any chance of a further conversation.

I just shake my head in reply, before turning to face the board. I had a feeling this day was not going to get any better. 

Chapter 10: Move In Day

Luke’s bad mood stays for the rest of the day. He was sulky, distant, and just downright unpleasant to be around. Even Aiden and Elliot had a hard time getting through to him. He was even too pissed off to deal with me, choosing instead to ignore me like he said he would. I guess the news of us moving in together hit him harder than I expected; even harder than it hit me. And, believe me, it hit me rather hard. I, in no way, was happy with this arrangement. But for the first time ever, I understood how Luke was feeling and why he was so irritable. 

I guess that part of me still hopes that our parents are pranking us back; that this ‘solution’ that they came up with is just to mess with us and to get us to behave with one and other. And it was exactly the hope that they’d call this whole thing off that led me to study hard for my upcoming midterms than pack whenever I had free time.  But Saturday is soon approaching, faster than I liked, without them telling me that they were just kidding about this whole arrangement. And I knew better than to try to talk Mom out of her idea, lest she gets even angrier and comes up with a much worse solution.

So, instead of spending Friday night at Maya’s house for a sleepover like I hoped, I am up packing my things into boxes for the big move tomorrow. I am busy peering at my list of things to pack when someone knocks on my door.

“Come in,” I call, still looking at my list and checking off what I already packed.

“All packed, princess?” I look up to see Dad walk in. He manages to find an empty spot on my bed, which is piled with all my clothes, and sits down.

I sigh. “Not even close,” I say, plopping down next to him.

Dad puts his arm around my shoulders, and I lean into his side. “I know you’re not happy with this whole arrangement. And, believe me, I’m not happy with it either. I mean, which father would let his daughter willingly live with a guy that he doesn’t like?” Dad says, making me laugh.

“But,” he continues, “I think moving in together might actually be the one thing that helps you two out. I know that you can’t see that right now, but soon, you will. Just give this a chance, okay?”

“Thanks for the pep talk, Dad,” I say, wrapping my arms around him in a hug.

He kisses the side of my head. “Anytime. Now, how about I leave you to finish packing?”

Once he leaves my room, I sigh, before reluctantly getting back to the job at hand.

It was around one a.m. when I had finally finished putting everything in boxes. I had left my desk untouched, having only packed my laptop and all my books. I had packed all my clothes in suitcases, and all my other essentials in a hand bag. Exhausted, I slip into bed, before quickly drifting off into dreamland.

***

The next morning, Mom woke me up, seeing that I had packed my alarm clock the night before.

“Morning, hon. Why don’t you freshen up and come down for breakfast?” Mom smiles down at me.

I groan, stretching and getting out of bed. “What time is it?”

“Nine. The movers will be here in an hour, so I suggest you get a move on. Breakfast will be waiting for you downstairs, whenever you’re ready.” Mom says.

Not wanting to look like a hobbit when the movers come by, I grab some clothes and go into the washroom to get ready.

About half an hour later, I’m downstairs and eating breakfast. Maybe Mom was trying to make up for the whole situation, because she had all my favourite food ready for me: pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, the works. Not realizing how hungry I was, I quickly scarf down some food, finishing just in time for the door bell to ring.

Mom opens the door as I was putting the dishes away, and to my surprise, I turn to see Liza and Maya.

“Hey, what are you guys doing here?” I smile as they tackle me with a hug.

“We weren’t going to let you do this all by yourself,” Maya says.

“Besides, we want to see your new place. We’ve got to start planning your housewarming party,” Liza says, winking mischievously.

“Should I be worried that you’re going to trash the place?” I ask, jokingly.

“You haven’t seen the place and you’re already worried that something’s going to happen to your little love nest?” Liza smirks.

“And this is exactly why I should not have told you I was moving in with the He-Devil,” I sigh.

“So, I guess the ‘He-Devil’ is going to be meeting us at the apartment then? I know for sure that Aiden and Elliot are going with him to stop him from setting the apartment on fire, or something like that. Anything to stop moving in with you,” Maya laughs.

“Honestly? I would too.” I laugh back.

The movers arrive shortly after, and soon the house is bustling with people going to my room and taking my things to their van. It didn’t take them too long to load my things. Liza, Maya and I got into one car, following the movers, with my parents trailing behind us.

The ride to the apartment started off joyful, but the closer we got to our destination, the unhappier I was feeling. But even I had to admit that the area we were moving to was pretty amazing. It was in the heart of the city, all the way downtown. There were cafes and restaurants and shopping malls everywhere, and the city was bustling with tourists and residents spending the surprisingly good weather outside. Five minutes later, and we reached the apartment complex the building was in. My first impression: I couldn’t see the sky. It was seriously that tall. My jaw dropped and I turned to my parents in shock.

“This… is where I’m going to be staying?” I croak.

“Yes. We thought that living in a good apartment might make things easier for you to get along. And it was also our way of thanking you for listening and trying this out without throwing a tantrum,” Mom says.

“Luke, or no Luke, I could get used to this,” I say as we walk inside.

The interior was just as impressive as the exterior; the floor was sparkling, there were long, red carpets that trailed everywhere, and even small chandeliers on the ceiling. I glimpsed at the gym as we passed by it on the way to the elevator, and almost fainted at the sight of the Olympic style swimming pool. All in all, the building looked more like a five-star hotel rather than an apartment building.

We got into the elevators, and headed up to our suite. The ride up was surprisingly long. I glance at the buttons and almost choke on my breath. We were going to the penthouse? I mean, I know money’s never been an issue- I’ve lived in a big house all my life- but I didn’t think our parents would have spent that much money on a house just for Luke and me to live in, especially after all the fighting we did. Even Liza and Maya did a double-take when they noticed where we were going.

A second later, and the elevator doors finally opened up, revealing just one giant set of double-doors. Mom and Dad stopped right in front of the door then turned to me.

“Here. Why don’t you do the honours?” Mom asks with a smile.

I take the keys from her grasp and unlock the door. When I open them, I stop breathing.

Right in front of me, facing the backside of the apartment, were wide glass panels, stretching from one end of the wall to the other. I walk to the windows in a trance, and just stare outside. It gave a magnificent view to the ocean harbour and the clear blue sky. Everything seemed so tiny from up here, especially the little white sailboats that dotted the sapphire blue water.

I slowly walk towards my left, where a giant television was mounted on the tiled wall, right above a stone fireplace. White leather couches covered in blankets and black recliners sat in a circle, surrounding a dark mahogany coffee table atop a white woven carpet.  I wanted to just fall asleep on the recliner then and there.

Just as I was about to head to the right, towards the kitchen, the door to one of the bedrooms open and Elliot sticks his head out. He grins when he spots us, and he opens the door wider to reveal Aiden and Luke. He shuts the door before I can get a good look inside, but even from the smallest glance, I could tell the rooms were pretty big.

“Hey, you guys made it!” Aiden grins, walking over to where we were standing.

“Took you long enough,” Elliot says. “We thought you guys got lost on your way here.”

“Too bad they didn’t,” Luke mutters quietly. Before I can speak up, his parents come out from behind him.

“Ah, there you are Charlotte! I was wondering what you were up to,” Mrs. Jefferson says.

“The movers came a little later than expected, but here we are,” Mom replies, giving her a hug.

They both turn to Luke and me. “Well? What do you think?”

“It’s actually really nice, Mom. I don’t know about Luke, but I like it already,” I say truthfully.

Both mothers nodded in approval before they turn to Luke questioningly.

He lets out a sigh. “It’s not…bad,” he says unwillingly.

Apparently, both our responses were enough to please our parents.

Satisfied, Mom says, “Great! So since you have a lot to unpack, we’ll get going. We’ll check on you two later, okay?”

“You’re leaving already?” I panic. I was so not ready for this. Forget getting along with Luke for a year, I could barely get along with him for an hour!

“Don’t worry, we’ll drop by every once in a while,” Mrs. Jefferson says.

“Exactly. So no getting into any funny business, okay? Our visits are going to be a surprise, so you two better behave,” Mom adds as an after thought.

“Mom!” I groan. “Don’t worry, that’s never going to happen,” I say quickly. One second thought, maybe it’s best that they leave now.

“Be good, princess,” Dad says, kissing me on the cheek.

“I’ll call you later, okay hon?” Mom gives me a hug.

“Remember our conversation from before, Luke, okay?” Mrs. Jefferson says.

“Yes, Mom,” Luke smiles painfully.

“Bye, you two!” Liza says with a grin. “Don’t do anything naughty,” she whispers right before she leaves.

“We’ll see you tomorrow, first thing. We’ve got to plan for that party. Take care!” Aiden says.

With one last parting hug, everyone walks out, leaving Luke and me behind standing in awkward silence.

After a few seconds, I sigh. “Well, looks like there’s no going back now.”

“Whatever. I gotta go unpack. Let’s just try not to get in each other’s way, and we’ll be good.” Luke mutters as he turns to leave. Right before he enters his room, he says, “By the way- there’s only one washroom.”

Before I can reply, he shuts the door, and the room is silent again. Then his words register in my mind. One washroom? Just one? No, no, this apartment is huge. There’s definitely more than one washroom here.

But as I quickly survey the entirety of the rooms, opening up all the doors that are closed, and checking any rooms that I may have missed, I have come to accept the fact that, for the first time ever, Luke was right. There was only one washroom. And I knew from that point on that this was just the beginning of my never-ending bad luck.