Disclaimer: I do not own Count of Monte Cristo.

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

"Thanks."

He put his arm around me and pulled me close. I shivered. I wasn't used to such intimate contact as this. "So." He said as he sat me down on a bench in front of an elegant stone 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. Sebastien always liked to build himself up, even when it may have meant tearing someone else down. He would open with words such as these and you would think what was coming next would be sweet or thoughtful, but it never was. Sometimes it was quite hurtful. Sometimes, though, it was quite amusing. I wasn't in the mood for it tonight, though.

"Sebastien—"

"No, Alexandrine. 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 mine."

I blushed crimson.

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

I sat, dumbly, speechlessly, and surprisingly, not heaving a sigh and telling him to get to his point. I figured not saying anything was my best shot at getting out of this as soon as possible.

"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: Alexandrine, 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. "Sebastien, I...I..."

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

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

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

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

"Phillipe. Your presence is always a joy." Sebastien said through slightly clenched teeth.

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

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

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

"Sure."

I turned to Sebastien. "Sebastien, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But I'm not yet ready to be married. I can't make that kind of commitment yet. And we've known each other two months! No, Sebastien. I'm sorry."

I turned and pulled away from his grasp and followed Phillipe into the grand hall. As I walked away, I didn't regret my decision. He didn't follow me.

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

"What was that?" He whispered.

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

"Wow." He said.

"I know." I agreed and walked a little faster, leaving him behind. My friend Victoire was the next to fall into step with me.

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

"The term is 'kicked', Victoire. 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 not ready for that big of a commitment and we've been together two months."

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

I guess you could say my eighteenth 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 years old? My beau 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 (Victoire really needs to realize that Phillipe 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 my own foot and being launched head-long 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 Phillipe rush to my aid. Victoire was close behind, if only to ensure that Phillipe didn't ignore her.

But, as Phillipe wiped the icing from my face and helped me up, I noticed how extremely envious Victoire seemed. And I got mad. Well, the word "mad" does not quite encompass the raw feeling that rose up within me. It was more of a rush 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 Phillipe's strong grip and strode over to Victoire. "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. She made a small squeak at the fact that her lovely dress was now smeared with cake. "You can go now."

With that, I turned from her and left her at the door, gaping at my back.

AN: Please review!