A/N: I absolutely adored The Count of Monte Cristo, so I did a fanfic about it. I hope you enjoy it. Constructive criticism is more than welcome. The real Count of Monte Cristo belongs to Alexandre Dumas, the greatest writer of revenge. Ever.

Spirited Away

"You look beautiful." My boyfriend said to me as we walked in the gardens after my sixteenth birthday ball. I blushed.

"Thanks."

He put his arm around me a pulled me close. I shivered. He was so gentle. And passionate. "So." He said as he sat me down on a bench in front of an elegant swan fountain. "I've been thinking."

I looked up at him. "Yes?"

He knelt on one knee and reached into his jacket. "You deserve…only the best. And I think I can be the best." I smiled at his egotistical words. I was oblivious to the coming surprise.

"Eric-"

"No, Esmeralda. Sh. You need to understand something." He looked me right in the eye. "I love you. So much. It hurts every second I look at you and you're not guaranteed to be mine."

I blushed crimson.

"Therefore, I played a gambit. I hope it can keep you loyal to me and only me."

I wanted to roll my eyes. Gosh. He was so cute, but he didn't see what he was saying. I was sixteen! He was eighteen! He was talking about long-term commitments here. We had only been together two months. I sat, dumbly, speechlessly, and surprisingly, not heaving a sigh and telling him to get to his point.

"So, I pondered. How can I guarantee that you love me alone? Then it hit me. So I kneel here before you today and ask: Esmeralda, my darling, will you be my bride?" He pulled a small box from his coat and opened it in front of me.

I laughed. Then my eyes got wide. He wasn't kidding. "Eric, I...I..."

"Esme! There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!"

Eric snapped the box shut and stuffed it into his pocket.

"Hey, Pierre!" I twisted around and cautiously called out to him. Then I snuck a peek at Eric. He was easing up off of the ground.

"Eric! Hello, I didn't see you there."

"Pierre. Your presence is always a joy." Eric said through slightly clenched teeth.

I jumped in. "Did you need something, Pierre?"

"Oh, I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. And tell you that Mme. Greene is past ready to serve the cake. She's getting impatient."

I rose. Eric stood beside me. "Go on inside, Pierre. We'll be right there." I said.

"Sure."

I turned to Eric. "Eric, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But I'm sixteen. I can't make that kind of commitment yet. And we've known each other two months! Not yet, Eric. I'm sorry."

I turned and pulled away from his gentle grasp. Then I followed Pierre into the grand hall. As soon as I walked away, I knew I didn't regret my decision.

I walked into the party and looked around. Mme. Greene signaled to me to get over to the cake. I took a step forward. Pierre intercepted me and walked next to me.

"What was that?" He whispered.

"I-I'm not sure." I answered haltingly. Pierre was my best friend. I could tell him anything. But, for some reason, I couldn't look him in the eye when I told him that Eric had proposed to me.

"Wow." He said.

"I know." I agreed and walked a little faster. My friend Odette was the next to fall into step with me.

"What happened? You look like someone just killed your puppy."

"The term is 'kicked', Odette. And don't pretend you don't know what happened."

She squealed. "Okay, I know. So… What did you say?"

I sighed. "I said that I'm sixteen and we've been together two months."

She gasped. "You said no?" She fell back and I closed the distance between me and Mme. Greene by myself.

I guess you could say my sixteenth birthday wasn't every girl's dream. My mother and step-father had just taken another trip to the Americas and had left me and my step-brother to throw my party. Did I mention he's two? My boyfriend proposed to me and then promptly left after I said 'no'. I can't help but look at my best friend as if he'd just grown another head. This whole rumor that he has a crush on me has got to be quashed. My other best friend was disappointed in me and was jealously craving the relationship I had with my aforementioned best friend. (Odette really needs to realize that Pierre really does not lust for her *shudder*) And, as I reflected on all that, I realized that I needed to add another thing to my list. The embarrassment of tripping over your own foot and being launched headlong into the poor table that had been chosen to support my massive cake.

All of my "friends" laughed and jeered. Mme. Greene hastily dismissed them. I looked up through cake-blurred vision and watched Pierre rush to my aid. Odette was close behind, if only to ensure that Pierre didn't ignore her.

But, as Pierre wiped the icing from my face and helped me up, I noticed how extremely envious Odette seemed. And I got mad. Well, mad is a relative term. It was more of a, what's the word, feeling of pure rage and hatred that I had just had the worst birthday ever and all she could do was stand and watch HIM.

I broke free of Pierre's strong grip and strode over to Odette. "Thank you for coming, dear." I walked her to the door. When we stood together on the threshold I wrapped my cake-smeared arm around her shoulders. "You know the biggest reason I said no to Eric?"

She looked at me warily. "What?" She asked quietly, as if afraid to hear the answer.

"I love Pierre. Not him." Then I turned on my heel and left her to ponder my statement and maybe even comprehend it.