A/N: Eeee FINAL CHAPTER!
Carly and I stood behind the couch, arms crossed over our chests, as we stared at the boys in front of us. It was like nothing on earth existed at that moment except that stupid video game.
"Run run run...I'm gonna getcha..." Brad stated, glancing over at Freddie.
Freddie shook his head, eyes glued to the screen as he continued pressing buttons on the little black controller.
"Not in a chance in hell...you are so going down...BAM! Firepower!"
"So close yet so far...BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!"
"You are going downnnn motherfucker! DIE DIE DIE!"
Carly cleared her throat. "Guys?"
"Your pesky hand grenades are no match for my epic assault rifles, Benson...get a load of THAT!"
"In your face, Bradley!"
"Dude, don't call me Bradley...KA-POW!" Brad hollered, standing up. "You are dead!"
"Oh, that was such a cheap shot!" Freddie yelled, throwing a decorative pillow at him.
I glanced over at Carly, shaking my head. "They're not paying attention AGAIN."
Carly rolled her eyes as Brad did one of his dramatic victory dances in Freddie's face. I guess no matter what, boys will always be boys...
"Oh my god," she muttered as Freddie suddenly stood up and dove for Brad, tackling him to the ground and the two rolled around the ground like middle schoolers.
"Don't hate on my epic video game skills, Benson!" Brad hollered, pinning him to the ground. Freddie just flipped him off and claimed the top position again.
"Don't hate on my full nelson!" Freddie roared, getting Brad in some weird hold that had Brad flailing around like a fish out of water.
"Aaah! Uncle, uncle!"
"GUYS!" Carly and I yelled, trying to get their attention. The boys stopped what they were doing and looked up at us, Carly in a form-fitting black dress and me in the dress Freddie had bought me for Carly's bachelorette party.
"Dayum..." The guys scrambled to their feet at once, and I couldn't help but laugh.
"You two are such guys..." I stated, then struck a pose. "What do you think, baby?"
Freddie smirked as he not-so-stealthily checked me out. "I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't let you out in that thing..." he walked around the couch, wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling me to him. I giggled as he kissed my neck.
"She'll be fine, Freddie, it'll be just us girls," Carly told him.
"I thought you said Callum was going too," Brad commented, referring to Carly's makeup artist, and she laughed.
"Callum's basically one of the girls anyway..." Carly replied. "Brad, do you like my dress?"
"Give me ten minutes alone and I'll show you how much I like it," he responded. She just shook her head.
"Carlyyyy..." he whined. "Don't you think this sex ban has gone on long enough?!"
"Oh god, you're making him wait until after the wedding, aren't you?" Freddie laughed. "Geez, that sucks man."
"We waited," I reminded him.
"Yeah, but we'd never done it before then," Freddie pointed out.
Brad just grumbled to himself. "Yeah, just flaunt all the goods in front of Brad, but not give him any..."
Carly just laughed at him, putting her arms around him and giving him a quick kiss. "It'll be worth it, right?"
He sighed. "Right. Well, you ladies better get a move on, don't want to be late or anything..."
"Sam, no drinking, remember," Freddie told me, and I just regarded him with an irked expression.
"How could I forget?" I responded. "Oh, god, speaking of forgetting, I better go get my jacket..."
"I'll get it," Freddie told me, giving me a kiss on my forehead and then heading off to the bedroom. Carly opened her mouth to say something, but then her phone went off. She snatched it off the counter to answer it.
"Hello? Brooke! Oh my god, girl, I am sooo excited about tonight," she gushed, walking off to the other side of the room to talk.
I glanced over at Brad, who was making a concerted effort to look anywhere except in my direction. Finally, a little bit of restraint on his part. Still, I had to call him out for his comment earlier.
"You wanna tell me what you were trying to pull earlier on the deck?" I asked in a low voice, taking a step toward him.
Brad rolled his eyes, looking away. "I didn't mean anything by it. You felt bad. I was trying to make you feel better. I do that, remember?"
"Just remember the deal, okay? We have to maintain distance..."
"I know that, Sam."
"That includes not being weird," I pointed out.
"I'm not being weird," he shot back.
"Then why won't you look at me?" I countered. He sighed, finally looking at me.
"Because I might not be able to look away. And I don't want to get busted checking you out, alright?"
I suddenly felt like I was wearing too few clothes, and crossed my arms over my chest self-consciously. This whole thing was beginning to be too much, and I was starting to feel angry at Brad. I knew what was happening was probably mutual, but...I was still angry at him. One overhead comment, one look taken the wrong way, and we'd both be in a world of trouble, and most likely find ourselves alone.
"You're just antsy because you're not getting any right now," I hissed, narrowing my eyes at him. How dare he make those kind of comments to me, try to screw up my relationship, because he was horny!
"Like you don't get antsy," he responded, sounding miffed. "And give me some credit, Sam. I was honestly just trying to make you feel better. I love Carly, you KNOW that." He glanced in the direction of Carly, who was still chattering away excitedly. "And I'm fucking trying here, okay? Sorry it's not as easy for me as it is for you..."
I bit my lip. "Who said it was easy for me?" My eyes widened as soon as the words left my mouth. God, I was just as bad!
Brad stared at me for a second, opening his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Freddie walking back out with my jacket in hand. Brad took a step back away from me as Freddie's eyes darted back and forth between us suspiciously.
"Everything's fine," I told him, kissing him. "Thanks for getting my jacket."
He just shrugged as he helped me pull the leather jacket on, and after it was on I turned around, putting my arms around him and laying a passionate kiss on his lips. I was done playing these games with Brad, he was going to get me in all kinds of trouble with Carly and Freddie. It just wasn't worth it.
"Don't stay out too late, okay sweetheart?" Freddie said as he kissed me again. I shook my head, pulling his collar down to brush my lips over his neck, smirking when I felt him tremble a little against my mouth.
"I won't. I've got plans for you and me and this dress..."
"Mmm, you got yourself a deal, baby," Freddie responded, giving my ass a not-so-subtle squeeze. I gave him a sweet smile and then pulled away, my hands going into my hair and shaking it out.
"You sure I look okay?" I asked.
"Definitely," Freddie replied. I turned to Brad, acting like I was adjusting the collar on my leather jacket but really I was just pulling it further apart, revealing my upper half again.
"Brad, what do you think?" I asked. "How do I look?"
Brad stared at me for a minute, not saying anything. I could tell by his expression he really wanted to tell me to fuck off for toying with him, but he'd been toying with me! He deserved it.
"You look great, Sam," he responded. "Have fun tonight."
"Sam, you ready?" Carly was off the phone and staring at me expectantly. I nodded.
"Definitely," I responded, putting my arms around Freddie and giving him a quick kiss. "Love you. Take care of Buddy."
Carly gave Brad a kiss goodbye and the two of us were on our way. Carly's PR company had actually gotten her a penthouse at this amazing hotel downtown, just for her, me, and twenty of Carly's closest new friends. I wouldn't know anybody except Carly, and I was understandably nervous.
"Don't worry, Sam, you'll love everyone!" Carly told me as we stood in the elevator. "I just hope nobody booked a stripper or anything. I'm pretty sure Brad would go postal."
"Yeah, I don't think Freddie would be too pleased by that either..." I responded. I pulled my minidress down a half inch. "Are you sure you look okay?"
"Yeah, you look amazing. You can't even tell you're pregnant. Although I think your boobs got bigger...again."
"Jealous, Shay?" I teased her, and she just laughed.
"Nah, just wondering how you manage to do anything with your boobs pushed up to your chin."
"Very, very carefully," I replied with a laugh. "I'll be happy when they stop growing again, but hey, it's all a part of being pregnant."
Carly's face took on a serious expression as we stepped off the elevator. "How do you feel about that? Really?" We stood in the tiny hallway between the elevator and the room door, Carly putting me on the spot.
I shrugged. "I mean, you know I wanted another baby. And it does make sense to have one now instead of later..."
"Yeah but...you guys talk about in such logical terms...not like with Buddy," Carly responded. "You guys were freaked out and scared out of your mind, but I mean...you guys were excited too."
I bit my lip. "Look, it's just things aren't great right now. Freddie's never home, and I mean...I HATE San Francisco, Carly. I hate it."
Carly gave me a sympathetic look. "Sam, maybe you just haven't given it a fair shot yet..."
I shook my head. "I have, and it's not getting any better. I mean, I don't even have time to meet new people yet, let alone socialize with any of them."
It wasn't that I was being overdramatic about San Francisco, I truly hated it. While it was a beautiful place, and I was at a great school, and Freddie was making good money, and we have this gorgeous house, I still hated it. I couldn't ignore the giant disconnect between Freddie and I, and besides, the place just wasn't home. But even home was different.
"I don't know what to tell you, Sam, just...try to forget about it tonight and don't think about it, alright? It's supposed to be fun," Carly responded. "Come on, I think most everyone's already here..."
She slid her keycard into the lock and pushed the door open. My brow furrowed. There was no music, no one talking.
We walked in to find everyone sitting solemnly or standing, looking mortified, dead silence.
"What's going on?" Carly asked one of the girls, a too-tall rail thin platinum blonde that looked like she'd walked right off a runway into the hotel room.
"Carly, somebody, they call police," the girl said in a thick Russian accent.
"Oh god," Carly shook her head. "You guys, I told you..."
"Is this the woman responsible for the party?" an authoritative voice rang out. My brow furrowed. Wait a minute, that voice sounded familiar.
"You're under arrest, miss..."
Carly and I let out loud gasps as the police officer walked out of the bedroom. He stopped in his tracks, staring at us. We stared back at him.
"Oh my god, GIBBY?!" We both shouted.
"Oh my god, girls!" He sounded mortified, and as soon as Carly and I burst into uncontrollable laughter, he looked it too.
"Oh my god, are you a stripper?" I laughed, barely able to stay upright.
"Shut up, I make good money!" Gibby yelled. "Brad and Freddie are SO dead...they had to have had something to do with this..."
"Oh god, just take it easy on us, Officer SexyPants..." Carly fake begged, tears coming out of her eyes she was laughing so hard. "Why didn't anyone tell us...I would have booked you months ago...hahaha..."
"This...is...the most priceless...thing...I have ever seen!" I gasped, laughing so hard my sides hurt. "Oh sweet jesus, dance monkey dance!"
"You guys are NOT funny!"
"Wait, does my sister know about this?" I asked.
"Yes, Mel knows! She doesn't care! In fact she kinda likes it."
Carly stopped laughing momentarily to roll her eyes. "Why does that not surprise me...oh god, this is classic..."
"Your fiance is an asshole and your husband's a dick!" he hollered.
"Aw, Gibby come on," I responded. "So they punked you, I'm sure you deserved it..."
"Besides the point..." Gibby replied, then rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Come to think of it, I do have to get back at them..." He looked at Carly, and she shook her head.
"Oh yeah," Gibby replied. "Somebody turn that music back on!"
Sure enough, one of Carly's new friends obliged, some obscure club anthem from the 90's, and Gibby began shaking his hips seductively, taking a step towards Carly with every pelvic thrust.
"No, no...no way Gibby..." Carly backed away laughing.
"Lord of the dance!" Gibby posed dramatically and tore his shirt open, throwing it to the ground. Oh my god, what was happening?! I couldn't stop laughing...
"GIBB-AYYYY!" Gibby grabbed Carly and threw her over his shoulder.
"Aaaahhh!" Carly squealed.
"So what exactly are we doing for YOUR bachelor party?" I glanced over at Brad as we sat next to each other playing video games. We'd been doing this for two hours or so, Brad pausing every few rounds to take 'smoke breaks'.
"You're looking at it," he replied with a shrug, focusing on the game. "Killed you."
I looked at the screen in surprise. "You son of a bitch...do over!"
Brad shrugged like he didn't care one way or another as he reloaded the game. "I'll just kill you again."
"So why exactly are you not having a bachelor party?" I asked.
"Because Carly doesn't want me to have one," Brad responded as he blew me up again without blinking an eye.
"Dude, come on!" I yelled. "You're not even being fair right now..."
"Hey, not my fault you don't log enough hours..."
"Well, I don't exactly have time...so...in the doghouse already and you're not even married?"
Brad flashed me a look of warning. "Look, we get enough rumors about cheating just walking around doing day-to-day things, can you imagine the shit-storm of controversy that would come from me having like a serious bachelor party?"
"Okay, fine, so no strippers. Except Gibby."
Brad's brows furrowed. "Okayyy...but he'll have to work pro-bono."
"Not like that you idiot," I responded. "You, me, Spencer, Gibby...we'll go do something. Laser tag or paintball or something very guy-ish."
"Then why would we bring Spencer?"
"I'm just kidding," Brad laughed. "Thanks, man."
"No problem," I picked up my controller so we could play again. "So, big day in less than 48, huh?"
"Yeah," Brad replied. "Does it make me a pussy to say I'm nervous as hell?"
"Why would you be nervous? Having second thoughts?" I asked. And they better not have anything to do with my wife, I added silently.
"No, not all, I just don't want to fail."
I gave him an empathetic look, relieved it WASN'T second thoughts. That would seriously break Carly's heart, and I'd hate to watch that happen. And as much as I hated it, it'd probably be better for everyone involved that Carly and Brad got married. I don't think Brad and Sam were aware of how much Carly and I talked, whether it was video chat or on the phone. We talked a lot. Some days I talked more to Carly than I did to Sam, and yeah, I felt guilty about it sometimes, but Carly and I were both sort of dealing with the same thing, having to prove ourselves at something new. I guess Brad was too, but...the way I saw it, those two were the ones who opened this entire can of worms. Every time I started to feel bad about talking to Carly as much as I did, I pictured Sam and Brad kissing, and all that guilt disappeared. Besides, it wasn't like Carly and I were doing anything wrong. It wasn't as if we were off kissing behind our significant others' backs or anything...
I shrugged off my inner thoughts to focus on the present.
"You won't fail. Carly loves you."
Things sure were tricky between all of us these days. There was something about your best friend and wife having feelings for each other, while you and your best friend's fiance are constantly plotting all sorts of ways to keep them apart to the point that you spend too much time together, that just wasn't healthy or normal. When I broke it down that way, it sounded like total madness, but that was what we'd been dealing with for years now, to the point it almost seemed normal. Like I said, it was a good thing for Brad and Carly to be married.
My phone went off, and I grabbed it off the coffee table, opening the message. I just shook my head, laughing.
"That son of a bitch..."
"What?" Brad leaned over to look at my phone, groaning at the photo of Sam and Carly sitting on a shirtless Gibby's lap throwing up gang signs.
"Damn," he grunted. "Alright, new plan...hey Bryson!"
Bryson stuck his head out of his bedroom door. "What?"
"Get dressed, we're going to the art supply store."
"For what?" he responded.
"Saran wrap and about a thousand balloons," Brad replied seriously, then glanced over at me. "Let's amp the game up a little."
I just laughed. Some things about Brad would never change, and that wasn't such a bad thing...
"So how long did it take Gibby to get into his car last night?" I asked as I sat in the makeup chair while my stylist Callum fussed with my hair.
Sam laughed. "Like an hour. Even more to get all the balloons out. How long has the prank war been going on?"
I rolled my eyes dramatically. "Since we got out here."
She laughed again. "Oh man...saran-wrapping the doors shut, that's a good one..."
"Carly, stop nibbling your nails, girl!" Callum scolded, yanking my hand out of my mouth.
"Sorry..." I groaned. "I can't help it, I'm so nervous..."
"I can't believe you're doing...well, everything you're doing," Sam commented as she picked up a production binder and leafed through it.
"You're not the only one," I replied.
It was like a dream come true; opening for something big like the Billboard Music Awards, but at the same time, hello pressure! This week had proven to be the most stressful week of my life – in the best way possible – and it wasn't even over with. I couldn't believe this time tomorrow night I'd be married.
Sam glanced down at her phone. "Freddie said him and Brad and Spencer and Gibby are on the way up here. Brad tried calling your phone but it's dead."
I gritted my teeth. "I forgot to charge it. I swear, if my head wasn't attached..."
"That's why you have people to do it for you," Sam replied, pawing through my bag to find my charger and phone.
"Knock knock, bitches!" I glanced up to look at the door right as Callum was trying to curl my hair, yanking it out of the iron. "Ow!"
"Damn," he grunted, pulling me back. "Still, Carly!"
"Sorry." Melanie looked apologetic.
"Mel!" Sam rushed over to her sister, enveloping her in a hug.
"Spam!" Melanie hugged her. "Oh, god, I've missed you...how's San Francisco?"
"Terrible," Sam said with a shake of her head. "How was New York?"
"It was great...I can't wait until I can have my own line. Fashion week was like...well, the stuff dreams are made of. I might have to move to New York instead of LA."
"Yeah, Gibby wouldn't go too postal," I replied with a shake of my head. Melanie just laughed, leaning over to give me a hug.
"So, diva popstar extraordinaire one night, and blushing bride the next morning?" Melanie shook her head. "I don't know how you do it."
"I don't either, honestly," I said with a laugh. "But hey, at least I can say my life's not boring."
"At least one of us can say that," Sam grumbled, and then turned to her sister. "Have you seen Gibby?"
"No, not yet, I barely had time to drop my bags off at our place and then change," she twirled around dramatically, her red a-line dress doing a little swirl through the air. "You like? It's Dolce."
"I have no idea what that means, but it's nice," Sam replied.
"I love it," I replied. "Wait until you see my wedding gown, you're going to go apeshit. It's Vera Wang."
"Classic," Melanie said with a nod. "I like it."
"We're here!" Brad announced as he strode through the door. "Sorry we're late." He bent down to kiss me.
"Aah, lipgloss!" Callum shrieked. Brad rolled his eyes and then winked at me.
"Wanna try and mess it up more?"
"Uh-huh," I replied, grabbing his shirt collar and pulling him back to me. "C'mere..."
He smiled, pressing his mouth against mine as my arms went around him. We hadn't seen each other all day. I'd had to get up at six AM to start my day, a whirlwind of press, a photo shoot, soundcheck for tonight, more press, more photos, and now here I was. If I hadn't had Sam with me I wouldn't have even remembered to eat. That reminded me...
"Where is Tabitha?" I asked, looking at Callum. "She's gotta be the shittiest personal assistant ever..."
"She quit, Carly. I thought we told you that..." Callum responded.
"No," I replied, confused. "I mean, I don't think so..."
"She got a better offer from Tori Vega."
"Tori Vega?" I responded, glaring at Callum.
A long time ago, before I started dating Brad, even before Sam and Freddie got together, I was dating this really cute guy named Steven, but I wasn't the only one dating him. He divided his time between Seattle and Los Angeles, and while he was in LA he had another girlfriend, Tori. When I found out, Spencer immediately drove Sam, Freddie, Gibby, and I to LA so I could confront Steven and embarrass him live online. I ended meeting Tori that night.
Tori was apparently a pretty talented singer in her own right, and it didn't take her very long to secure a record deal – right around the same time I had. The iCarly archives were still scattered all over the internet, and it didn't take the media very long to find the footage of me and Tori, both played by the same guy, before we were stars. It had been spun into this sort of vicious rivalry, supposedly, and now the two of us were the new Britney vs. Christina.
I honestly didn't harbor any ill will for the girl, but it was always annoying whenever one of my people jumped ship into Tori's camp, or Tori got some promotional campaign that I didn't, or booked a gig that was down to the two of us. But hey, beating Tori was good motivation.
Callum shrugged, as if to say sorry, and a put a hand on my shoulder. "You've still got me, darlin'."
I smiled at him. "Yeah, I do." I glanced back over at Brad, who was pawing through one of the snack trays laid out in my dressing room. "So what took you guys so long?"
"Oh, we would have been here an hour ago," he responded. "Except..." he gestured both arms dramatically towards Heather, who rolled her eyes.
"Excuse me, but I am not going to my first awards show looking busted!"
"You settled for the same hair and dress you started with," Freddie replied with a laugh. Sam leaned next to him, her head on his shoulder as he toyed with her hair.
"I'm so tired," she said softly.
"When's the last time you ate?"
Sam shrugged. "The food out here's gross. Way too healthy."
"We can go to Pink's afterwards," Gibby suggested, and Sam's eyes lit up.
"Oh my god, yessss..." Sam responded, looking re-energized and giddy.
I eyed Heather carefully. "Is that my dress?"
Heather sighed. "Yeah, but...nothing I had looked good on me, Carly, and Brad wouldn't take me to the mall or let me go by myself, and..."
"Heather, it's fine," I held up a hand to silence her. "Besides, it looks better on you anyway..."
"Is this what you're wearing?" Melanie eyed my outfit critically, pinching the fabric and rubbing it between her fingers.
"Will there be a moon landing later?" she asked sassily, and I rolled my eyes.
"Don't blame me, blame management."
"You need a stylist, Carly," Melanie replied. "Which brings me to my next point – ta-da!" she pulled a binder out of her bag and dropped it in my lap. I leafed through it, my eyes widening. It was apparently Mel's 'look book', a portfolio of different outfits designers use to get funding and orders.
"Did you design these all by yourself?" Sam looked over my shoulder to get a better view, and Heather squeezed through to get her own view.
"These are tight, Mel..." I said honestly. "I really love that dress."
"Oh my god, does it come in pink?" Heather gushed. "I want it. Seriously."
"Ugh, girls..." Spencer commented.
Callum made a face. "You know, it's getting rather crowded in here..." he said pluckily, giving me the hairy eyeball. I made an apologetic face.
"Guys," I turned at looked at everyone. "As amped up as I am about you guys coming tonight..."
Spencer nodded. "We're out." He bent down and kissed me on the cheek. "Good luck tonight, kiddo. Are we staying for the whole show, or..."
"Probably not," I admitted. "I mean, I really need to get some sleep for tomorrow, plus Brad and I wanted to spend a little time before you guys ripped him away from me..."
Freddie rolled his eyes. "Groom's not supposed to see the wife the morning of, Carls. Doing you a favor."
"Yeah, you get to stay at the house, I get stuck at Gibby's stinky pad."
"My house does not stink!" Gibby shot back, and Melanie squeezed his arm.
"Well, not anymore. I must've gone through three Febreeze bottles before I left."
"Fine," he grumbled. "Alright troops, everyone out!"
I grabbed Brad's hand. "Stay?"
"Sure, babe," he replied, giving me a smile, then turned to Freddie and Sam. "You guys got Heather covered, or..."
"Brad, I don't need a baby sitter," Heather whined, and Brad shook his head.
"Yeah right, like I'm going to leave a fifteen year old alone in a giant convention center full of rock stars. That'll happen." He turned to Freddie, putting both hands on his shoulders. "Do NOT let her out of her sight. If Big Time Rush shows up, we'll never see her again..."
Ugh. I made a face as Sam gave me a pointed look. I still hadn't told Brad I'd agreed to tour with them...he was not going to be happy.
Heather put her hands on her hips and glared at her brother.
"Hilarious, Brad. Honestly. I don't even like them! In fact, if they showed up right now, I'd look right at Kendall Knight and tell him that he desperately needs a nose job..."
"Knock knock! Looking for Carly Shay?"
I turned around and put my head in my hands. I wasn't sure who had worse timing, Heather Harrison or Kendall Knight himself.
"Oh my god!" Heather squealed. "Aaaahhh!"
He gave her an amused look. "I happen to think my nose gives me character."
Heather looked mortified. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry...did I mention I love you? I mean like, fully love you..."
"That's enough, Heather," Freddie put his hands on her shoulders and started pushing her towards the door.
"You're just mad I don't like you anymore..." she argued as he forced her out the door.
"Yep, that's it. Really angry over THAT. C'mon, hot blonde wife!" he called over his shoulder to Sam, who just shook her head and laughed.
"Good luck tonight," she leaned down and hugged me. "Everyone out! Celebrity Secret Meeting!"
Everyone cleared out, leaving me alone with Brad, my drop dead gorgeous future husband, and Kendall, my drop dead gorgeous future tourmate. Well, isn't this awkward...
I tried to look nonchalant, turning around in my chair and giving Kendall a smile. Brad leaned against the dressing room table, arms crossed over his chest as he stood a little too close to my chair, as if he were marking his territory or something. I'll be honest, I didn't mind it all that much. Brad had always been a little too cocky when it came to our relationship, like I was steal-proof. While of course I was, Brad didn't need to walk around thinking he had me on lock!
"Hey, Kendall. What can I do for you?" I asked.
"Just wanted to stop by and wish you luck, and tell you that I'm really looking forward to the tour this summer. I think if your first single does as well as is predicted, you're gonna blow up, and we kinda need that for an opening act right now."
"I'm sorry, what?" Brad asked, glaring at me. My eyes squeezed shut in mortification.
"I uh, forgot to tell you in the midst of all the chaos..." I began.
"You think?" he responded.
"So this must be the fiance," Kendall observed. "I'm Kendall Knight."
"I know who you are," Brad responded with a nod. "Brad Harrison. Filmmaker."
"Right, right, you're doing that film that everyone's talking about...Dirty Little Secrets or something?"
"Our Little Secret," Brad corrected.
I tried to give Brad an ego boost in front of Kendall.
"Yeah, it's going to be pretty intense. Bunch of teenagers beating the shit out of a rapist, an underage marriage, a really weird love triangle...or square, in this case."
"Epic," Kendall agreed. "Where'd you get the idea for that?"
"Uh..." I glanced over at Brad, who shrugged.
"I watched a lot of John Hughes movies when I was a kid, Tarantino later. Makes for really weird inspiration," Brad improvised. Smooth, Brad. I nodded at him, and he just winked.
"I'll say," Kendall responded. "Yeah, I wouldn't worry about Carly here, we'll take good care of her on the road."
"That's what I'm worried about," Brad shot back. "Okay, so you got your congratulations and good luck out of the way, so maybe..." he waved towards the door, and I smacked him on the leg.
"Brad!" I exclaimed.
Kendall looked uncomfortable – and annoyed. "Okay, well, I should be going before my bandmates start looking for me...it's really not a good idea to leave James and Logan alone for too long..."
The more names Kendall dropped, the more irritated Brad looked, and I could already see this unfolding into a tabloid nightmare. I stood up, coming between the two of them.
"Okay, well, I'll see you later, Kendall. Um, just have your people call my people, and..." I trailed off. "Oh my god, did I really just say have your people call my people?"
Kendall burst out laughing. "It was weird for me the first time too. I think we start rehearsals in a month or so, somebody will be in touch. Hey, congrats on you guys getting married too!"
"Thanks," I said with a smile, sighed when I felt Brad put an arm around me.
"Yep, married. OFF the market."
Kendall held his hands up, as if to say 'chill, bro', and with a final nod and smile to me, off he went. I sighed, shaking my head. I couldn't believe I had to pull my fiance out of a confrontation...with a celebrity...over ME. Was this my life now? And was it just me or was Kendall Knight WAY hotter in person?
Before I could ponder the matter further, Brad cleared his throat, and I turned to look at him.
"That was a little much," I stated, sitting back down in my makeup chair so Callum could finish my makeup. I glanced over at him. "Callum, stop fangirling."
"Oh my lord, I cannot help it! That boy is...mmm."
Brad glared at Callum, shaking his head. "Carly, when were you planning on telling me that you accepted the tour? I mean, you wanna leave me totally blindsided for press? That's not going to look very good for either of us."
"Well, no...but you picking fights with Kendall is going to land us in tabloids pretty damn quick too!"
"I don't like the way the guy was looking at you, alright?" Brad shot back.
I rolled my eyes. "You really want to get in a fight the night before our wedding, AND right before I have to go onstage?"
Brad let out a deep breath, looking down at the ground for a second, and then back up at me.
"No, babe, I don't. Sorry, I don't wanna put your performance at risk." He kissed me on the cheek. "I know you'll do great tonight."
A stagehand rapped on the open door. "Ms. Shay, you need to come to stage. You're on in five."
"Oh god..." I said, starting to feel panicky. "Brad, I don't think I can do this. I mean, this is live, in front of celebrities and the media and it's televised! I've never done anything this big before!"
"Babydoll, you'll be fine," Brad responded. "You've been rehearsing for weeks, you've got in the bag. Everyone will love you."
"Walk with me?" I asked as I hastily pulled the rest of my outfit on.
Brad nodded, taking my hand. "Down to the stage, down the aisle, wherever you want, babe." He leaned down to kiss me, and I smiled against his lips.
"This is a disaster..." I grunted as I looked at myself in the mirror.
Freddie eyed my tuxedo critically, cocking his head like one of those confused golden retrievers. "How did they get the shoulders so off? I thought you got it fitted?"
"I had to run by the set, I kinda blew it off," I responded, smacking Freddie's hand away as he poked at the puffy shoulder.
"Well, looks like you've got a problem now. Shirking off your responsibilities, and it turns into THAT."
"Thanks, DAD," I said rudely, looking back at my reflection. "I really wish he was here today."
"And your mom?"
I shrugged. "Like you guys said, she gave up. And in the most deprecating, spiteful way possible. I really think she took her own life as...for lack of a better pun, the final nail in the coffin. Get back at my dad, punish us for not accepting her back into our lives with open arms."
Freddie nodded. "So you've finally dealt with it."
"LA has a way of doing that to you. You really start to question everything about yourself," I stated. "Dude, what am I going to do with this shit?"
"I bet Melanie could take the sleeves right off and sew them back on the right way before anyone else knows what's going on," Freddie said offhandedly, and I whirled around to look at him.
"Dude, don't just stand there, go find her!" I exclaimed. "Am-scray!"
"On it," Freddie replied, heading for the door.
The door slammed shut behind him, leaving me alone and staring at myself in the mirror. I was in one of the men's rooms at Our Lady of Perpetual Grace Catholic Church, less than thirty minutes away from marrying Carly.
Carly and I had been through a whole host of bullshit, much of it brought on by me, and she was a saint for staying through all of it, and wanting to be with me regardless. I wasn't very happy with how I'd behaved in the past as far as she was concerned. Hell, I wasn't happy with my behavior this week. I'd been way out of line with what I'd said to Sam, and now things were really awkward between us. Sam had let me know, in no uncertain terms, to back off. She'd been removed, sticking closer to Freddie and making a point to be generous with their public displays of affection whenever I was nearby, as if to say "I'm with him, not you, take a clue."
I had. I was with Carly, not Sam, and besides, I loved Carly. She'd stuck with me through everything, and I owed her big time. Watching her onstage last night had been a sobering moment for me. Carly was on the verge of really making it big, and the girl was talented enough, gorgeous enough, and perfect enough to leave my ass in the dust. Judging by the way male celebrities and people in the business reacted to her, she'd have no short supply of suitors to replace me with either. If I wanted to keep her in my life, I needed to shape up.
I heard a light tapping at the door, and it creaked open as Sam poked her head in. "Is Freddie here?"
"He went to go find Mel," I responded. "I kinda need her help."
"With what?" Sam asked as she walked fully into the room.
I didn't respond, just pointed to my puffy shoulders, causing Sam to giggle.
"Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well..." she recited in a slightly off British accent.
"Very funny," I grunted. "So you done giving me the cold shoulder, or..."
"Dude, you were out of line, and you know it," she replied, hopping up on the sink. "I told you, no more...funny business. All we need is for Freddie to kick your ass and divorce mine."
"Yeah, and for Carly to hook up with some boybander," I grumbled.
"Ah, somebody sounds jealous..." Sam noted, and I rolled my eyes.
"You tell me you wouldn't have a major problem with your husband spending three months on the road with four chicks."
"Dude, come on, she'll have her own bus. They'll barely even see each other."
"We're never going to find time to have a honeymoon," I grumbled. "By the time she gets done doing promo for her album I've gotta start doing promo for my film."
"You'll figure it out," Sam responded, swinging her legs back and forth. "Look, just...I know work's a bitch and everything, but as long as you make Carly first priority in your life, you guys'll be just fine." She bit her lip. "When you lose sight of that, that's why you start having problems."
"Sounds like you speak from experience."
"I do," she replied. "I know that a lot of problems Freddie and I are having are because of me. I lost sight of what we had, last year. Took it for granted. And he resents me. That's why he's never home. He can blame it on bills all he wants, but...he wants to be at that office all day."
I gave her a sympathetic look. "Sam, you can't blame yourself completely..."
"No? I put everyone in front of him. Because I thought he'd always be there...and he's stuck with me through a lot of it, but it's not like it used to be. I hope one day things will be like they were again, but until they are, I'll just spend a lot of time making up for it."
I nodded. I got what she was saying. "Just promise me something."
"In your fervor to put your husband first and restore your marriage, DON'T put off law school, okay? You're one of the smartest people I've ever met, Sam, and if anybody could make an amazing lawyer, it'd be you."
She nodded. "Thanks." She hopped down from the bathroom sink. "Well, I better get out of here, before Freddie walks in and makes all kinds of assumptions. I just wanted to wish you luck." She bit her lip. "I'll be here, Brad. Just...not in the way that either of us want. You know where my heart lies."
She nodded, standing up on tiptoes and kissing me on the cheek. "And that's why we can't hurt them again."
"I know that, Blondie."
"Just checking." She squeezed my shoulder. "Now go get married."
Freddie showed up with Melanie not much later, and just like Freddie had said, she took care of it right away, pulling the tuxedo jacket right off my body and pulling a little miniature sewing kit out of her bag. She ripped the sleeves off with little fanfare, stitching them back on so they were flat and smoothed out in a manner of minutes. I watched in amazement.
"Melanie, you're like a wizard or something," I observed, shaking my head.
"I try," she replied. "Here, try it on." I slid it on, doing a little spin, and both Freddie and Melanie nodded, impressed.
"Perfect," Melanie said. "I think you're ready to get married."
"You want a job, Mel?"
"Don't toy with me, Harrison," she threatened, and I gave her a Look.
"I'm not. You want a job as costume designer on my next film? I've almost wrapped up funding."
Melanie gaped at me. "You're serious?"
"As a heart attack," I replied. "Of course, this does mean you're going to have to move to Los Angeles full-time..."
"Oh my god!" Mel squealed, throwing her arms around me. "Done and done! Oh god, I HAVE to go tell Gibby!" She ran out of the bathroom, squealing happily to herself, leaving Freddie and I alone.
"Boy scout good deed of the day?" Freddie asked.
"Nah, Mel's pretty talented," I responded. "Gibs is gonna owe me majorly."
"Like calling off the prank war?"
"Maybe not that major," I replied. "Geez, I am so nervous. What if she pulls a runaway bride on me?"
"You'll get your cardio work out in today after all," Freddie summed up, and I glared at him. He just laughed. "Come on, man. It's Carly. She wouldn't do that. She loves you." He walked around behind me, putting both hands on my shoulders and steering me towards the door. "Come on, let's go get you hitched..."
I stood next to Brad at the altar, pretty convinced he was going to throw up, pass out, or both. I'd seen the guy nervous a few times before, but nothing like this. Couldn't blame him. I was pretty nervous the day I got married too.
Things had changed so much since that day, nearly four years ago. A child, another on the way, a career change, a move. Sam and I had been tested in so many different ways, and we'd seemed to make it through all of them. Still, I couldn't help but wonder what lay ahead. Still, I loved the girl, that part was unquestionable. I'd never stopped, and I doubted I ever would.
Everyone ooh'ed and aah'ed at Leah as she came wandering down the aisle in her fluffy white flowergirl dress, scattering flower petals here and there. She was certainly adorable. I really, really hoped this time around, Sam and I would have a little girl. I wouldn't mind having a daughter.
Heather was next down the aisle, Carly's bridesmaid, and right behind her came Sam, looking all too gorgeous in a mint green dress. She gave me a smile and I smiled right back. Funny how after all these years, she could still make my stomach do acrobatics.
'I love you,' Sam mouthed to me as she took her place at the altar.
'Love you too,' I mouthed back.
Our concentration was broken when Carly came walking down the aisle. I'll have to be honest, I was a little blown away. She looked absolutely gorgeous in her dress. But she wasn't looking at me. She wasn't looking at anyone but Brad, and he wasn't looking at anyone else either. To them, no one else even existed.
And that's the way it should have been. No childhood friends gumming up the works. No popstars or actress-slash-models inciting jealous rages. Just the two of them.
Carly took her place across from Brad, and he leaned forward to lift the veil from her face, pulling it behind her. Carly turned and handed her bouquet to Sam, who then looked at me and waved it ever so slightly, the look on her face reading 'Look what I got!' I just smirked and shook my head.
"Dearly Beloved," the priest began. "We are gathered together here in the sign of God – and in the face of this company – to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore – is not by any – to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly – but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace."
Sam looked at the audience, a threatening glare upon her beautiful face, as if to say 'Go ahead, I dare all of you,' but everyone was silent. Satisfied, the priest continued.
"Marriage is the union of husband and wife in heart, body and mind. It is intended for their mutual joy – and for the help and comfort given on another in prosperity and adversity. But more importantly – it is a means through which a stable and loving environment may be attained."
Stable? That part was questionable. I wasn't even sure if any of knew HOW to do stable, but loving? I was pretty sure of it. Brad may have had too many near-indiscretions with my wife for me to be comfortable, but all that aside, I knew he loved Carly. And as much as Carly complained about him and had tremendous jealousy issues, she loved him.
"Through marriage, Bradley and Carly make a commitment together to face their disappointments – embrace their dreams – realize their hopes – and accept each other's failures. Bradley and Carly will promise one another to aspire to these ideals throughout their lives together – through mutual understanding – openness – and sensitivity to each other.
We are here today – before God – because marriage is one of His most sacred wishes – to witness the joining in marriage of Bradley and Carly. This occasion marks the celebration of love and commitment with which this man and this woman begin their life together. And now – through me – He joins you together in one of the holiest bonds.
Who gives this woman in marriage to this man?"
"I do," Spencer said, standing up. The priest nodded to him, and after a quick smile at Carly, which was easily returned, he sat back down.
"This is a beginning and a continuation of their growth as individuals. With mutual care, respect, responsibility and knowledge comes the affirmation of each one's own life happiness, growth and freedom. With respect for individual boundaries comes the freedom to love unconditionally. Within the emotional safety of a loving relationship – the knowledge self-offered one another becomes the fertile soil for continued growth. With care and responsibility towards self and one another comes the potential for full and happy lives.
This relationship stands for love, loyalty, honesty and trust, but most of all for friendship. Before they knew love, they were friends, and it was from this seed of friendship that is their destiny. Do not think that you can direct the course of love – for love, if it finds you worthy, shall direct you."
I glanced at Sam, and I realize that she'd been staring at me the entire time. She looked like she was about to cry. I wasn't sure what was going through her head, and I'd have to wait until after the wedding to find out.
"Marriage is an act of faith and a personal commitment as well as a moral and physical union between two people. Marriage has been described as the best and most important relationship that can exist between them. It is the construction of their love and trust into a single growing energy of spiritual life. It is amoral commitment that requires and deserves daily attention. Marriage should be a life long consecration of the ideal of loving kindness – backed with the will to make it last."
The priest turned to Brad, and Brad took a visible deep breath.
"Do you Bradley Harrison take Carly Shay to be your wife – to live together after God's ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon her your heart's deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?"
"I do," Brad replied, staring at Carly. 'I love you so much,' he mouthed to her.
"Do you Carly Shay take Bradley Harrison to be your husband – to live together after God's ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart's deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?"
"I do," Carly responded.
"What token of your love do you offer?" the priest asked. Carly and Brad both turned and looked Bryson expectantly, all of us groaning as we realized Bryson was holding the rings with one hand and texting with the other.
"Bryson!" Brad hissed, glaring at him.
"One sec," Bryson replied. Brad rolled his eyes, snatching the rings out of his hand as well as his cell phone. He tossed the phone right out over Carly's head, Heather reaching up and catching it effortlessly and tucking it into her bouquet.
"Epic trouble at home," Brad growled under his breath, then turned and presented the rings to the priest.
"May these rings be blessed as the symbol of this affectionate unity. These two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever they go – may they always return to one another. May these two find in each other the love for which all men and women yearn. May they grow in understanding and in compassion." He handed Brad Carly's ring, and Brad took Carly's hand in his.
"I, Brad Harrison, take thee Carly Harrison to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God's holy ordinance."
Sliding the ring onto Carly's finger, he smiled at her, and she looked like she wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. Kinda like Sam did on our wedding night. I glanced back over at my wife, who just smiled back at me.
Now it was Carly's turn. She took the ring from the priest, and turned to Brad.
"I, Carly Shay, take thee Brad Harrison, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God's holy ordinance."
"Bless these Rings, O merciful Lord, that those who wear them, that give and receive them, may be ever faithful to one another, remain in your peace, and live and grow old together in your love, under their own vine and fig tree, and seeing their children's children. Amen." He looked at Brad. "You may kiss your bride."
"About time," Brad responded, looping an arm around Carly's waist and pulling her to him, pressing his mouth against hers urgently. Her arms went around his neck as everyone clapped and hollered.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Bradley Harrison."
'Oh my god!' Sam mouthed to me.
They'd actually finally done it, and they didn't seem like they could be any happier. They bounded out of the chapel, barely acknowledging anyone except each other.
I offered my arm to Sam. 'M'lady," I said.
She just laughed. "I am starving. I'm going to my weight in wedding cake, do you know that?" she asked as we walked down the aisle.
I nodded. "Sam, I'm sorry."
"For what?" she asked as we exited the chapel.
"I shouldn't be working so many hours, I..." she covered my mouth with her hand.
"Stop," she replied. "It's okay. It's not like I didn't bring some of it on myself. Freddie, I know I've apologized over and over about the whole Brad thing, but...it was so out of line, and I..."
"Hey bitches, let's move! We got a wedding to celebrate!" Carly yelled as she stood on the sidewalk, letting out a squeal of laughter as Brad threw her over his shoulder and carried her to the limo.
Sam and I shook our heads, and then looked back at each other.
"Sweetheart, I love you, no matter what," I told her. "It's a thing of the past. Besides, I don't think I have anything to worry about anymore, do you?"
Sam glanced over at Brad and Carly, who were leaned up against the limo kissing while Leah was shouting about how gross it was, and then looked back up at me.
"No," she responded, kissing me. "You definitely don't. And it's not because he's married."
"It's not?" I asked.
"No," she replied, interlacing our fingers. "Because we're married. And I love you. More than anything."
I smiled, kissing her. "I love you too."
"Yo, Benson! Blondie! This limo ain't gonna sit here forever!"
Sam and I separated, glaring at Brad.
"Pipe down, Harrison!" I yelled as I led Sam to the limo. "Keep your overpriced pants on!"
Sometimes things weren't perfect with the four of us. Sometimes things were just plain weird. And sometimes everything fell apart. But it always got put back together again. And even though we were in different parts of the country, headed on different paths, the four of us always got put back together again too.
And that was pretty cool.
A/N: So that's it, the END of The Ballad of Sam and Freddie: Second Verse! I can't believe I've written TWO of these massive drama-fests, but hey, it was fun! Taking a little break to wrap up Gravity, and then I'm going to start writing the third ballad. Just keep checking back on my author profile or my twitter for updates!