* 6 Months Later *
"Don't tell me you are still going to have this summer party." Miranda rolled her eyes at the thought as Haley paced the living room floor.
"Yeah, why not?" she stopped and looked at her.
Miranda walked into the living room and sat down beside Cassie. "Well, lets see, because the last party idea blew up in your face?"
"Hey, I had no control over that. I had no idea that he was leaving."
"Yes, we know. You've been thanking Ashley every day for that." Miranda sighed heavily.
"What if he doesn't show up again?" Cassie asked bluntly.
"He will." Haley paused. "He'll be back for her."
"Yeah, he will be back for her because he loves her. And that's exactly why you'll never have him." Miranda added as she stared at Haley with a menacing glare.
"Just like you'll never have Jeff because he loves Christina." Haley snapped back.
Miranda stood up in Haley's face. "Yeah, but I have accepted the truth and reality of it." she paused and walked back towards the doors. "Maybe you should try it sometime."
"Ugghh!" Haley grumbled and stomped like a little child. "I hate her sometimes!"
"More like all the time." Cassie jumped in as she too left, leaving Haley standing alone in the living room.
"We haven't done this is so long!" Christina said to Ashley as they walked through the mall, carrying their many bags towards the parking lot.
"I know." Ashley smiled. "But, it was still as fun as the last time."
"Definately, even if it did take us many months to work our way back to a civilized relationship."
Ashley looked down the floor and continued. "I know things have been going good since Justin left, but, what is going to happen when he comes back in a couple days?"
Christina paused before answering. They pushed the doors open and entered back out into the humid summerlike air. "I think we have worked things out with that. I'm going to be happy to see Justin again too. Let's just forget about all that stuff that happened before. Everything's okay now."
Ashley smiled again. "He will only be here for a week until he goes on tour so I think things will be okay."
"Hey maybe you can go with him on tour." Christina replied with a sly smile.
"Yeah, wouldn't that be the typical thing to do? That theory is getting so old. I think I'll just stick it out here at school."
"Ok then, you can just put up with me all summer."
"And Jeff." Ashley quickly responded as she opened the door to her car.
"But, that's okay now." Christina added as she jumped in the passenger side.
"Yeah, I can actually say 'and Jeff'. Strange that it is. He has really changed since you have been with him."
"See, I told ya."
"Okay, okay, I was wrong.
"I told you he wasn't a player."
Ashley smiled at her just as her cell had started to ring. It was Justin. Plans had changed again. He wouldn't be there for the party. They were all wrong, he wouldn't come back for her, even if he did love her.
* 1 Year Later *
Off and on, Justin had visited Ashley at college. Haley pretty much gave up her infatuation with him and let go of her devious plan on stealing him away. It was now May and everyone had graduated college. The graduation party was supposed to be the biggest one yet and everyone was invited. This time, no one waited around or expected Justin to be there. This time, everything was supposed to go smoothly.
"Can you believe we are finally gonna be out of this place?" Christina said excitedly as they both got ready in their dorm. They never felt comfortable living in the Gamma House so they instead got the same dorm room for their second year.
"I know. I mean I don't even recognize this room anymore. The walls are so bare. We almost have everything packed up. After this party, I am so ready to go home."
"Tell me about it. I'm glad Jeff lives only a half hour away from home. It won't be too hard to see him."
Ashley looked out the dorm window. She could barely see the Gamma House from that distance but she could make it out by all the lights on in every room and the sound of music blasting through the walls. "I wish Justin was here. But, he's never here."
"Don't say that. He has been here to see you alot." Christina replied from her bed as she put her socks on.
"Yeah, a day or two at a time, tops. Not like the first time I met him. It was so nice having him around for two months."
"Well, you know what he does and the lifestyle he has. He doesn't have much time for himself let alone anything else. I'm sure he would be with you all the time if it was up to him. But, the man's gotta make a living, ya know? If I were him, I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Ashley sighed. "Yeah, me either."
"Maybe you want to take up that going on tour idea that I had last year."
Ashley smiled. "Right now that doesn't sound too bad."
Through the heavy blasting of music, the sounds of the doorbell still rang sharply through the rooms. Haley kept running breathlessly to the door almost every 30 seconds. As the hostess, she decided to be polite and finally stay by the door to let everyone in.
"Cass, can you please grab me something to drink? I'm getting dehydrated here!" she exclaimed although she could hardly hear herself.
"You know, you don't have to stay by the door all night."
"Yes I do, This is my party, I need to be polite."
Cassie snickered. "That would be a first."
Haley threw her a mean glare as Cassie walked out of the foyer. Perfectly timed, the doorbell rang once again. Deciding on dropping the whole 'polite' act, she just threw open the door and walked away.
"Is that how you answer doors around here?"
Haley turned around and her mouth dropped. "Justin!"
"Hey girl, whats up?" he smiled as he let himself in and gave her a hug.
"I never thought in a million years that you would finally make it for a party."
"Yeah, I know I've bailed out on ya'll a couple times but, hey, I'm here now." he paused and looked around. "Where's Ash?"
"Oh, uh, she's not here yet." she studdered as a million things raced through her head. "I'm sure she'll be here soon though. Go mingle. Have some fun 'til she gets here."
"Ok then. Catch ya around." he finished and walked away.
"Most definately." Haley said under her breath as she made a mad dash in search of her friends.
"Can you believe that there are like 30 drunk people around the kegs in the back room?" Cassie said to Miranda as she joined her in the kitchen, the only undiscovered room as of yet.
"Oh yeah? I wasn't thirsty yet."
"I was trying to fill up Haley's cup but I couldn't even get near the beer. They are like a pack of vultures."
"That bad huh?"
"Even Jeff is in there. I didn't even see him come in." Cassie added as she opened the fridge for the secret stash of beer.
"Oh my God, guys! You will not believe who is here!" Haley exclaimed as she ran into the kitchen.
"The president?" Miranda replied sarcastically.
"Even better! Justin!"
"Oh yeah, that's great. Cass, I'm gonna head to the beer room."
"Have fun." Cassie smiled.
"Ok? What's that about?"
"I saw Jeff in there with the rest of the drunks."
"Uh huh." Haley smirked. "Miranda finally has the right idea." she thought to herself.
"So you are happy now that Justin is here?" Cassie asked as she gave Haley her cup back.
"Very. I have a plan."
Cassie looked at her with wide eyes. "Oh no."
"Oh yeah. And you are gonna help me."
"C'mon Haley. Give it up."
"I did for way too long. Nows my chance to finally do what I always wanted."
"I thought you were going to forget about this."
Haley put her cup down and walked up to her. "You promised me you would help me when I first said I was going to do something. You can't back out on me now."
"Ugghh." Cassie grumbled. "Fine. What are we doing?"
Haley smiled and then explained her plan. "Well, I'm going to tell Justin that we planned something special for him and Ashley. I'm gonna prep up a bedroom upstairs, make it look romantic, and then tell Justin to wait there. In the meantime, when Ashley comes, you tell her the same thing that I tell Justin. She will go up to the room and when she goes inside, she will find me with him."
"Uh, ok? I have one question. How are you gonna get Justin to do anything with you when Ashley comes in?"
"I'm not sure yet. It will be something spur of the moment so we'll just see how it goes."
"And if it don't work?"
Haley walked back towards the kitchen door as people started coming in for other places to party. "It'll work."
"Are we ready for this?" Christina asked as she walked over a kid who was passed out on the steps.
"It's only for like an hour or so, right? I mean just to say we showed up and all?" Ashley added as she stepped on a beer can.
"Yep, just an hour." Christina said under her breath as she cordially opened the door for herself. They were quickly greeted by Cassie.
"Hey guys, I'm glad you showed up. We've been waiting for you."
"Well, at least we are fashionably late." Ashley smiled.
"Can't say we never taught you anything."
"Did you see Jeff at all?" Christina asked as she looked inside the crowded rooms of the mansion.
"Actually, he is in the back room, you know which one I mean. It's now our beer room so go have fun."
"Ok. Catch ya'll later!"
"There is a surprise for you up in the first room on the right upstairs." Cassie smiled nervously as she pointed to the top of the stairway.
"A surprise? What kind of surprise?"
"You'll see. Go on up."
Ashley hesitated before walking towards the first step and looked back at Cassie with a reluctant look.
"Hurry!" Cassie rushed her. Ashley turned back around and continued walking up the stairs. Cassie bit her quivering lip and went back into the kitchen.
"Ok, we got the flower petals, the candle light and the music. I think we are all set."
"I can't believe you are doing this for us." Justin said softly as he admired the soft red petals that adorned the black satin sheets on the bed.
"Just one more thing though. Take off your shirt and lay on the bed."
"What?" he quickly looked up at her. "I don't know about that."
"C'mon you chicken. It'll be a great mood setter. Show her how sexy you are." Haley's eyes gleamed with a growing hunger but Justin didn't notice.
"Okay, whatever you say." he added as he pulled off his shirt and jumped on the bed. All of his tight bicep, peck, and ab muscles were highlighted from the glowing candlelight. Haley screamed silently. She wanted every part of him and could not hold her patience back anymore.
"Just stay right there." Haley added as she walked into the bathroom that was in the bedroom.
"What are you doing? Shouldn't you go and get Ashley when she gets here?"
"She'll be here any minute, don't worry." she answered with a deep voice as she entered back out into the room with nothing on.
"Uh, what are you doing?" Justin studdered nervously. He jumped off the bed and tried to make a quick exit to the door.
"I want you Justin." she replied as she stepped in front of the door. She walked towards him, making him walk backwards.
He met the wall beside the bed and had nowhere else to go. "Oh shit." he said under his breath as he looked around for another escape.
"You know you want me." she snickered as she put her arms around his neck and pulled him down on top of her on the bed.
Ashley finally reached the door and anxiously threw it open only to see Justin, half naked, on top of a completely nude Haley. Suddenly there was a flash of light outside and a loud boom. It was if the weather had suddenly matched the feelings that ripped through Ashley at that moment.
"What the...?" she stopped herself short as her mouth gaped open at the scene that she was witnessing.
"Ash, this isnt what it looks like!"
"Go to hell!" Ashley screamed as she quickly ran down the stairs.
"Don't chase after her! Stay with me." Haley pleaded.
"You're a bitch!" he finished and ran out the room.
Ashley continued running as she ran out the house and down the street to the dorm. The rain was now pouring but it didn't slow her down. Justin followed after her, still without his shirt on, his body becoming completely drenched.
"Leave me alone!" she yelled as she ran up the stairs to the dorm hallway.
"Ash, listen to me!"
"I hate you!" she added as she opened the room door and exhaustedly fell inside.
"Please listen to me!" he leaned down and tried to pick her up but she pushed and kicked him away.
"You need to calm down!" Justin yelled, now becoming impatient with her.
"Calm down?" she repeated as she picked herself up off the floor. "How the fuck am I supposed to calm down when I find my boyfriend naked in a bedroom with one of my friends?"
"First of all I wasn't naked."
Ashley cut him off. "Having your shirt off and laying on top of someone who is completely nude is very naked to me!"
"It wasn't what it looked like. You need to listen to me." he tried to calm her down and touch her but she only backed away from him.
"I don't want to listen to you. I saw what I saw. Nothing you can say will make up for what I have seen with my own eyes."
"You've got it all wrong."
"Get out! I hate you! You are an asshole and a liar! Now get out or I'll get someone to throw you out!" she exclaimed with fury in her eyes.
"Haley set us up, dammit! You have to believe me!"
"I will never believe you or trust you ever again! Why don't you go back to the party and have fun with your new skank!"
"Yeah, why don't you go do that." Christina added from behind him.
"How long have you been standing there?" he quickly whipped around to see Christina who also had her own set of tears in her eyes.
"Long enough to know that you have hurt my best friend in the worst possible way and you know what? I've had enough of my own shit to deal with tonight and I think that it's time that me and Ash call it a night."
"I think it's time that you leave and don't ever come back!" Ashley sobbed from the corner of her bed.
"Why can't you believe me that we were set up?"
"Just leave! And, don't forget to put you fucking clothes back on!"
"Goodbye, Justin." Christina finished as she pushed him out the room and slammed the door in his face.
"I can't believe this. I can't believe he would do something like this." she cried.
"Me either. What the hell happened tonight?" she sniffed.
"Why? What's wrong with you?"
"Let's just say that I am going through the same thing you are."
"Why?" she repeated.
"I found Jeff in the keg room." she paused.
"Miranda was all over him like a fly on shit. She was giving him the sluttiest lapdance I think there is possible."
"Oh my God."
Christina looked down at the floor and back up again. "Let's just say that I saw hands go places that I don't even wanna comprehend."
"Did he know that you saw him?"
"That's the sick part. He asked me to join them like it was some kind of joke or something they had planned out for awhile."
The sound of Ashley's name broke the brief silence. They both looked out the window at Justin who now stood outside in the parking lot in the pouring rain. Ashley stared at him intently. She could see the tears streaming down his face, the pain in his eyes. She slammed the window shut and turned away as the tears started flowing once again. Christina jumped on her bed and gave her a hug. They stayed side by side and cried together until the morning light.
* 6 Months Later - Two days before Ashley's letter *
"Ashley, you're wanted on the phone!" her mother yelled up to her.
"Ok, I got it!" she replied as she picked up her phone. "Hello?"
"Uh, yeah? Who's this?" she asked as she sat up on her bed.
"It's Cassie, ya know, from Gamma?"
Oh, uh, hi." she studdered, not knowing what exactly to say.
"I really needed to talk to you. I should have gotten in contact with you a long time ago but I didn't know when was the right time to tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"About that night." she said bluntly.
"You know I really don't want to talk about that, okay?"
"There is stuff you need to know."
"I think I've seen all that I need to know. Haley and Miranda ruined that night for everyone. You are like the only good one left."
There was a slight pause. "I'm not as good as you think."
"Whadya mean?" she asked inquizitively.
"That whole night was a set up and I was a part of it."
"What are you talking about?"
"That whole scene with Justin and Haley, I knew about it. I knew what was gonna happen in that room when I sent you up there."
"So, that makes you no better than anyone else!" she started to get mad. "If that's all you needed to tell me then I have to go, I've got better things to do!"
"Nothing happened in that room, Ashley!"
Ashley paused. "What?"
"Haley told me that she pulled him on top of her right as you came in the door. Nothing happened between them."
"And, how am I supposed to believe you or her? You are all the same!"
"You don't have to believe me but I am telling you the truth. Justin is innocent. He loved you more than anything. He believed that the whole night in that bedroom was going to be for you and him. He even came to the party unannounced just to surprise you. He would never have hurt you. Never."
A tear slowly escaped from Ashley's cheek as Cassie's words echoed through her mind. "I need to go." she finished and hung up on her, letting the phone fall back down on the bed. She stood up and walked toward the window. She threw Justin out on the street and kicked him out of her life and the whole time he was the innocent one. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Another tear quickly fell down her cheek. If only she had listened to him like he had told her to. But instead, she ripped his heart out with a spoon and she knew that he might not ever forgive her for that. Ashley turned away and looked at her desk. There had to be a way to say she was sorry. There had to be a way to get him back.
Epilogue: Justin's Reply