A/N: I'm a little worried about this last chapter, simply because I hope that you all will like how it turns out. If you don't like it, just pretend it ends some other way. XD Thanks so much to all of you who have read and reviewed this story. I really appreciate it!
"Niles, this is the most gorgeous fake ring I have ever laid eyes on!" C.C. commented, admiring the engagement ring upon her finger. "The diamonds look so real."
"We needed something that looked real enough so that your mother wouldn't get suspicious," he replied. "That's the beauty of cubic zirconia."
"You'll be glad when all of this is over, won't you?" he asked, smiling softly at her.
She nodded slowly but did not meet his eyes. Niles thought he noted a hint of sadness in her expression, but he couldn't be sure.
"You know, Niles, I-"
But she was cut off by Fran, who suddenly entered the room.
"Miss Babcock, your mother is back."
Fran's tone made it sound more like a warning than a simple announcement. C.C. thanked her, and she and Niles followed on to greet B.B.
There was a dangerous flash in B.B.'s eyes that would have made the average person cower in fear; C.C., however, was not the average person. She glared right back at her mother, refusing to back down as she approached her.
"C.C., I'm not staying long. I only came to give you one last plea to end your relationship with this servant."
"That's too bad, Mother," she said, placing her hands on her hips, "because I refuse. I've already told you, I love Niles. I've loved him for a long time, and I don't care that he's a butler."
C.C. wondered if Niles could tell that she was no longer pretending.
"Fine!" B.B. shouted, taking a threatening step towards her daughter. "Do whatever you want; you will anyway. You're just like your father."
C.C. smirked at this but felt her heart sink when she heard Niles clear his throat.
"C.C., I have a confession to make," he said, stepping up beside her.
This was it: the planned breakup. She couldn't shake the dread that she felt, as if the breakup were going to be a real one.
"The ring I gave you… is real. It was my grandmother's engagement ring. I gave it to you to wear because I've always dreamed of seeing my ring on your finger; I figured that this was my only chance."
"Niles…" C.C. was breathless.
"Maybe it sounds crazy, but I love you. I can't remember a time I didn't love you, and I believe you feel the same way. Forgive me if I'm moving too fast, but… will you marry me for real?"
Everyone looked at him as if he had a second head suddenly sprouting from his neck. C.C.'s eyes grew so large that she was certain they would pop out of her head. She could barely hear herself think for the sound of her heart hammering in her chest.
Niles nodded and cradled her left hand into both of his before kissing it lovingly.
"Yes, for real."
C.C. couldn't believe the things she was feeling. She had already wasted far too much of her life denying her love for Niles, and if she let him go now, it would be the biggest mistake and regret of her entire life. She had never done anything so reckless in her life, but she knew what she had to do.
"Yes!" she finally answered.
Niles instantly kissed her passionately, forgetting the presence of the others in the room.
"What just happened here?" Fran asked.
Maxwell shook his head, his mouth hanging open.
"I have absolutely no idea…"
"I've had enough of this," B.B. proclaimed, heading for the door. "Maybe one day you'll come to your senses, C.C."
"I can only hope the same for you," she countered sadly.
Niles held onto her supportively as B.B. left in a huff.
"We'll be in the kitchen when you two are ready to explain all this," Maxwell stammered.
Niles kept his embrace around C.C. as she fought tears.
"I really do love you, Niles," she whispered. "So very much. I just wish my mother could understand that."
"I know," he whispered back, kissing her forehead and gazing directly into her stunning blue eyes.
"There's one more thing I need to do," C.C. said, pulling back into his arms.
"What's that?" Niles asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
"I have to give you the thousand dollars I owe you from our agreement," she replied with a soft laugh. "You haven't forgotten, have you?"
Niles shook his head.
"I don't need the money," he said, kissing her lips again. "I have everything I need right here."
A/N: I feel like I should go hide under a rock right now or something…