A/N: Whenever I'm working on a longer story, short story ideas inevitably pop into my head. This story is written in a different style, told from Brooke's POV, and fills in some scenes I left out of All the King's Men. In case readers wish to refer back, this part covers events in Chapter 14 & 15.


4

I should have known better.

Chelsea had no intention at all of becoming friends with Rosie.

I had seen her do it before, dozens of times in the past, and I don't know I guess I shouldn't have thought that this time would be any different. Chelsea's unsuspecting victims would get hired to work in her father's yogurt shop. And Chelsea's father, who half the time was off on some business trip, rarely interfered with what Chelsea wanted.

We sat together in the car, watching the results of Chelsea's grand scheme through the glass windows of the yogurt shop.

The plan was simple. Hire Rosie to work in the shop, give her absolutely no training, and then watch her self-destruct. Chelsea had seen to it that all the rest of the employees had the morning off. "It shouldn't take more than a few hours to see her make an absolute fool of herself. And all of Lake Monroe High will be there to see it!" Chelsea had told me and then we set about texting everyone we knew to come enjoy froyo and a free show.

It would take a while for the student body to gather, especially on a Sunday morning, so Chelsea decided we should get pedicures while we waited. She paid for mine too which meant she was feeling happy and I didn't dare raise questions for fear of wrecking her good mood.

By the time we returned, customers had filled the empty spaces in booths and the line was long. Grumbles could be heard even outside in the parking lot.

Lazily, Chelsea and I sat in the car with the top rolled down. We were waiting for our nails to dry.

Donny dragged himself away from the big picture window. He had been watching the happenings through it with horrified fascination. He came up close to the car and offered her one of his trademark dimpled grins. He begged her to put Rosie out of her misery.

I almost thought Chelsea would relent just to receive Donny's attention and gratitude.

I was wrong. Instead, she sent a smile Bull's way and began to use a practiced wheedling tone designed to get what she wanted. "Bull, will you do me a huge favor?" The boy responded immediately. He ran over to her side of the car and she leaned over the door and began to whisper to him.

I frowned. At this rate, Bull would end up asking Chelsea to the dance. And for her to monopolize both Bull and Donny was totally unfair. Bull nodded at whatever Chelsea had suggested and then left, walking towards the yogurt shop with a decided purpose in his stride.

I had always felt a bit of kinship with Bull. With a friend as handsome as Donny, Bull often got overlooked. And he was as good an athlete as Donny, but most people assumed that Bull got invited to all the cool parties because he was best buds with Donny.

They were probably right. If there was one truth in Lake Monroe everyone knew, the company you kept could spell death of life to your social reputation.

I glanced sideways at my smug-looking friend. I was almost afraid to ask. "What did you do?"

Chelsea opened the car door and hopped out. "Come and see." Chelsea nearly skipped to the door of the shop. She didn't watch to see if I was following her orders.

I always followed.

The sound of a rumbling motor filled the air as a red pickup truck pulled into the parking lot. I ignored it and walked inside the door.

As I came inside the building, I didn't see Bull. Donny quickly settled in a booth next to the wall and I sat down across from him. Chelsea stood next to us, waiting expectantly.

What was she expecting?

Then, a loud sound drew my eyes to stare back towards the service counter.

My jaw dropped. Rosie no longer had only angry customers to deal with. She stood behind the counter as fountains of slimy yogurt spewed out of the machines, covering everything nearby with cold slime including Rosie herself. Laughter and camera flashes filled the air as everyone took in the sight.

Chelsea laughed loudest of all. As Chelsea glanced over at me, I opened my mouth to laugh too but that's when the door of the shop suddenly burst open.

Carter walked in and Ed followed her.

Carter didn't look surprised. She stormed through the crowd, cutting through the lines of students, and she didn't stop. Her eyes swept the room and landed on Rosie.

Then, Rosie disappeared from sight as she fell in that awful, goopy mess.

Carter's expression changed to shock and concern as she raced towards Rosie.

But before Carter could reach her, Ed rushed over and helped the yogurt-soaked girl to her feet.

A mixture of outrage and anger radiated off Carter, especially as she spotted Bull slinking out of the back of the shop. So that's where he went-that's why the yogurt machines had gone crazy. Noting her glare, I was glad Carter was not looking in my direction.

Bull spotted us and grabbed a seat in the booth behind me.

In a moment the chaos was done. The spewing yogurt was turned off.

Carter tried to offer Rosie a napkin, but the thin piece of paper was no match for the yogurt Rosie had all over her clothes. Ed spoke once more and Rosie only shook her head and absently handed him the useless napkin. Then, she turned to Carter.

Ed gestured and Rosie and Carter glanced out over the crowd. Carter and Rosie were standing together, speaking in low tones that my ears weren't able to catch. All I knew for sure is that Carter looked angry and Rosie looked like she wanted to cry. Then Rosie's eyes focused back on Carter.

Several more words were exchanged. The cousins seemed to be having a disagreement.

Suddenly, Rosie didn't look ready to cry anymore. Instead, she spoke to Carter as if all the rest of us didn't matter and her words took immediate effect.

All the anger in Carter's posture drained away and she looked a little bit in awe.

And even though I had no idea what they were talking about, or what Rosie had said, I guessed Rosie had won her point.

Chelsea sighed impatiently, bored by this wait, but kept smirking like a cat waiting to pounce on her prey. She would toy with it, before she went in for the final kill. She grinned wider when she realized Rosie had left the counter and was walking directly towards us.

"Your father, the king of yogurts, would be very disappointed in you." Rosie shoved her yogurt-soaked, employee cow bell hat at Chelsea.

I had never seen anyone call Chelsea out on her actions the way Rosie did.

I watched as Chelsea clenched her jaw and knew that her good mood had flown.

Rosie and Ed exited but Carter stopped suddenly. She was standing right by me as I sat in the booth. I didn't see her pull the waffle cone from behind her back until it was too late. I gasped and watched as Bull's head was covered in a strawberry froyo cone.

Carter chuckled. "Yeah, well, I'm not princess," she said with satisfaction. Carter shot one last death glare at Chelsea and departed.

Bull's cheeks flushed red and he sprang out of his seat, rushing off to the public restrooms. Ick! Though I have to admit, the sounds of disgust Bull made as he ran off were pretty funny.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out and checked it. I frowned as I scrolled through the messages.

I wasn't worried about Bull. Chelsea was another story. It was rare to see her left speechless. I climbed out of the booth and walked over to her.

Chelsea quickly recovered her tongue. She looked ready to strangle something. "She can't be a princess!" Chelsea fumed at me.

I could not agree. "Don't freak, but she kinda can. I've just been texted like ten times. Everybody thinks she's pretty cool." I didn't add that I was among them. Rosie standing up to Chelsea was cooler than cool. And the way Carter had come to Rosie's rescue had also created buzz, but I didn't mention that fact. I knew there was only one thing Chelsea truly cared about at the moment. "Tomorrow when the whole school votes for three princesses, she could be one of them. And if she gets enough votes, she could become queen."

Chelsea lost it. She shouted at the top of her lungs. "No! I'm the queen, it's my destiny!"

At this outburst, the conversations in the room halted as students stared at her, then they went back to whatever they'd been doing.

Harsh. No mention that I was in the running to be queen too. That stung a little. "That's kinda iffy now," I persisted.

Chelsea insisted that we had to do something to stop Rosie.

"How?" I asked in exasperation.

"If she never becomes princess, she can't be the queen, right?"

I was not a mind reader. "I'm not sure where you're going here." As far as I could tell, Chelsea's plans had backfired. Both Rosie and Carter had been thrust into the spotlight. And if anyone at Lake Monroe hadn't known Carter Mason and Rosie Gonzalez, this certainly wouldn't be the case after today.

"Grab your cell," Chelsea ordered. She turned and headed out the door. "We've got a whole lotta texting to do."

Chelsea's philosophy had always been if people were foolish enough to fall for her humiliating pranks, then they deserved whatever they got. I had never questioned her reasoning. I had never let myself think too deeply about the students Chelsea targeted. Her means were effective and my popularity had always been assured as long as I stood by her. Because that's what best friends did for each other, right?

That's what Carter had done for Rosie.

As I followed her into the parking lot, I wondered if Chelsea would ever do something like that for me.