Chapter Twenty-Six

That night was the first night in three weeks as roommates on tour that both Belle and Wing-Yee slept in their hotel room. The girls stayed up far into the night, talking about love and life, and everything they’d experienced over the past few weeks. Thesecrets they exchanged left them alternately in tears or in gales of laughter they tried to keep down in order not to keep the entire floor awake with them. When they finally fell silent, neither friend slept. They were both awake, pondering their relative dilemmas...

When Belle awoke after finally drifting off, her friend was gone. Mark was set to leave for Lake Placid that very evening... Belle knew Wing-Yee was probably trying to get in every last possible minute with him. But in the end, what would she do?

And what would she do? As much as talking to Wing-Yee had made her feel better, she knew she still had a disaster of her own on her hands. Colin was furious with her... the entire cast of the tour knew everything about her messed up life and probablythought she was as shameless as Elena... and as for Jason, she didn’t even want to think about what *he* must be thinking of her. But it mattered the most. It hurt the most...

A knock at the door pulled her out of bed. God, who was it now?

Not even caring that she was still in her pajamas and probably looked like a complete wreck after a night of confessions and very little sleep, she went to answer it.

“Morning,” Elizabeth said awkwardly, standing there. “I guess I woke you up, huh?”

“Well, I was awake,” Belle replied. “But you got me out of bed.”

“Okay, that’s a good thing,” her friend decided, coming in. “God, Belle, I wanted to come earlier, but I didn’t know what to say after that.”

“You mean after I completely destroyed myself in front of the entire cast and half the others in the hotel?” Belle said ruefully.

“Yeah,” Elizabeth said softly. “That.”

There was silence for a minute.

“How... how are you?” her friend finally asked. “I know that sounds stupid, but...”

“I know what you’re asking,” Belle cut in. “But I don’t really have an answer. Even I don’t know exactly what I’m feeling. I feel... numb.”

“What are you going to do?” Elizabeth asked gently. “Wait. That must be the stupidest question you’ve ever heard. I know you must be--”

Belle held up a hand to silence her friend. “It wasn’t a stupid question. It was a realistic one. And I have to think like that.”

“Just when you thought you had the answers...” Elizabeth trailed off.

“It blew up in my face big time.” Belle hugged her pillow tightly. “I should’ve expected it, Liz. I should’ve braced myself for it. I should’ve known it would all fall apart eventually.”

“When you’re confused, you don’t think straight,” her friend said. “I know. We’ve all been through it before, in some way or the other.”

“But now I have to figure things out, and it’s all up to me,” Belle said. “Just like it always should’ve been. We’re only in Toronto for two more days, and you know what? After that, Colin was supposed to come back to Riverside with me.” She laughed bitterly. “Well, that definitely ain’t gonna happen.”

“Uh uh.” Elizabeth shook her head.

“All I hope is that he’ll let me talk to him,” Belle said. “To explain. Well, not explain... I don’t really have an explanation... but just... I don’t know. I can’t leave things like this. But I’m afraid he won’t talk to me, Liz. He was...”

“Really, really mad?” Elizabeth suggested.

“Understatement,” Belle responded. “And he had the right to be. Oh, God, I can’t believe I did this to him. I did this to him. Me.”

“Try to talk to him, Belle,” Elizabeth said. “I’m sure he’ll come around. He has to, eventually. You guys can’t leave four years hanging like this.”

“I hope he thinks the same way,” Belle whispered. “But I’m afraid he won’t...”

The door suddenly opened and both girls looked towards it. Wing-Yee came into the room and sat down across from Elizabeth and Belle.

“I did it,” she said quietly, looking at Belle.

“You did... what?” Belle asked, puzzled.

“I did it,” Wing-Yee repeated. “I signed the contract. No turning back now.”

Elizabeth was thoroughly confused. “Contract? For what? What’s going on?”

Wing-Yee swore Elizabeth to secrecy and filled her on her story.

“And signing the contract isn’t the only thing I did, either,” she told them. “I also switched my plane ticket. I’m not going back to Beijing. I’m going to Lake Placid with Mark. Tonight.”

“Oh, my God!” Belle gaped at her friend. “You did it. You really did it!”

Her friend nodded. “Yup, and I’m...” She trailed off, and her voice dropped. “I’m scared, but I think it’s gonna be worth it in the end. No matter what.”

“So,” Elizabeth said. “Do we get to meet him?”

“Yeah,” Belle teased. “When do we get to meet the famous Mark?”

“Um...” Wing-Yee looked sheepish. “After I tell him all this?”

“You mean you haven’t told him yet?” Belle said incredulously.

“Not exactly,” Wing-Yee replied.

Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “The girl’s got spunk.”

Wing-Yee rolled her eyes. “You mean the girl’s insane. I can’t believe I did it...”

“So, when are you gonna tell him?” Belle pressed.

“Now,” her friend replied. “He’s leaving... we’re leaving... at 5:30. That’s a few hours away.”

“Speaking of telling him...” Elizabeth raised her eyebrows at Belle.

“I know, I know,” Belle sighed. “I’d better see if Colin will talk to me now, before I completely lose any courage I’ve got left in me.”

Elizabeth put one arm around Wing-Yee and the other around Belle. “Just watch, guys... soon everything will be fixed, and you’ll forget any of this ever happened.”

Belle and Wing-Yee exchanged glances.

“No, we won’t!” they chorused in unison, and all three girls laughed.

“I’d better go,” Wing-Yee said, rising.

“Go,” Belle replied, standing up and giving her friend a hug. “And make sure you bring him with you when you come to say goodbye.”

“I will.” Wing-Yee looked back at Belle. “Good luck.”

“You, too,” Belle responded softly, and watched her friend leave.

“Now it’s your turn to go, and my turn to send you off.” Elizabeth stood up and gently pushed Belle towards the door. “You can do this,” she assured, hugging Belle. “You can.”

Belle returned the hug tightly. “I hope so,” she said shakily, walking out the door. “I really hope so.”

Onto Chapter 27
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