So sorry for disapearing on you guys. Good news is, my laptop is working again. I have at least two AU Eclare stories I really want to write and I also want to write a Maybell story once I get an idea for one. Anyways, finale week! Yay! I really hate seeing Clare taking nude pictures of herself because I highly doubt they are for Eli. It's more than likely some crazy plot to get back at Asher. Which makes me sad cuz it may endanger my beloved Eclare! *tear tear* Anyways enough of my rambling. Enjoy Freedom! (Links to pictures to outfits and things like that for this story are on my page!)

I woke up this morning smiling. I was seventeen today. One year closer to freedom. I put on the brand new outfit I bought specifically for today. It consisted of a short floral skirt that flowed away from my body, paired with a long black cardigan over a maroon tank top that was tucked into the skirt. I wore a small black belt, my cross necklace, and purity ring. Lastly, I curled my hair to complete the outfit.

Before I knew it, I was ready for school. I guess it does help planning what you're going to wear to school the night before. Jake was still in the shower. Which was no surprise since you could easily guess what he was doing in there. I'll give you a hint, no guy takes that long to wash his hair. Other than captain jerk off and I, the house was empty. Also no surprise due to the fact that neither of our parents really care to see us at any point in the day now that they have each other. It's kind of ridiculous really. Jake and I don't do drugs, have sex, or stay out too late and we both get above average grades depending on the class. But when either of our parents get a free moment, they take the chance to reprimand us for something we are doing wrong rather than spend any time with us.

I grabbed a banana and a mini bottle of Sunny D and headed out the door. Since it was a nice day and school was just five minutes away from my house, if you take the right shortcuts, I decided to walk. I figured that I would get there early and I could get ahead on some of my homework. As I said, the day was nice. It was sunny and warm but with a light breeze. As cliche as it sounds, the birds were singing. I felt like God had pulled spring closer, just for a day, my special day.

When the school came into my line of vision, my cell phone chirped, signaling the fact that I had received a text message.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope u r ready 2 PAR-TAY 2nite! -Alli

Just as long as I'm home by curfew. Mom's been on my case about how "a good christian girl" should be home early. -Clare

Aw poo. She's such a party pooper. But stop standin in the parkin lot lookin 4 ur bf. Come 2 ur locker, I have a surprise 4 u. :) -Alli

I closed my phone and laughed to myself. Of course she'd stalk me from the windows at the front of the school. But sure enough, when I walked through the glass doors, she was nowhere to be found. I was a little surprised at how early she was for school.

"Clare!" She squealed, bouncing up and down while blocking my locker with her body. "Happy birthday!" She yelled and looked so excited she was about to burst as she jumped away from my locker. She had covered the plain blue metal with pink wrapping paper that read "Happy Birthday!" in purple bubble letters. There was a giant blue bow in the upper left corner.

"Thank you Alli." I laughed.

"Don't even start. That's not all I've got in store for you." She waggled her eyebrows as she handed me a bag with pink stripes with the Victoria's Secret logo on it.

"Oh no." I said, shaking my head and backing away.

"Oh yes." She flaunted her evil smile. "You are opening this right here, right now, and you are wearing them tonight."

"Alli," I whined.

"Don't you 'Alli' me. I know Eli will appreciate them if by chance," She tried to shrug nonchalantly. "you two end up having some alone time tonight."

"Okay fine." I huffed, secretly hoping the scenario Alli was hinting at would come true. I grabbed the bag from her. I peeked in the bag so no one else in the hallway could she Alli's gift. She had gotten me bright pink boyshort panties that were made of all lace and a bra that matched.

"Alli!" I exclaimed. "I can't wear these!"

"Why not?" She crossed her arms stubbornly.

"It's not me. They are way too," I tried thinking of a word. "too, uh racy." I whispered the last word. "I would be blushing all night if I wore them."

"It is so you. I made sure the color would compliment your skin tone and eye color. It works perfectly. Plus," She added as she turned away from me, "your face could use some color. Blush all you want, you're going to wear that lace." With that, she click-clacked down the hall and left me holding the pink shopping bag with a dumbfounded look on my face.

I sighed with defeat once she was out of eyesight and quickly opened my locker to hide the bag. Inside, I was surprised to find a vase full of a multitude of colorful flowers. Among the flowers there was a handwritten card that read "I'll miss seeing you today. Have fun celebrating. See you tonight. Love, Eli."

"Happy birthday! Guess who!" A happy voice scared me so bad, I jumped when they covered my eyes.

"Adam I'd know your voice anywhere." I laughed and turned around.

"I cannot wait until your Above the Dot birthday tonight. I have had such a boring life lately. I could use a little excitement."

"What's at Above the Dot?!" I questioned.

"Alli said that is where we are partying. And thanks to Alli and my tweets, it looks like its gonna be a rager." His face lit up excitedly.

"Of course you guys would do this." I said under my breath and held back the urge to roll my eyes at the idea of a raging high school party in honor of my birth. "You guys put a lot of thought into this thank you." I faked a smile. This was as bad as thanking Grandma for that hideous kitten sweater she got me for Christmas two years ago.

I shut my locker and Adam and I began to walk. "We were happy to set it up." He grinned at me. "Well I've got band practice." He nods and heads into the music room.

I continued walking, on my way to the library thinking of the gorgeous flowers Eli had left me. Eli. I loved picturing him; his handsome face, his loving arms, his toned chest and abs... "Snap out of it Clare!" I whisper-yelled at myself when my thoughts began to tread dangerous waters.

"You alright Clare?" Jake suddenly appeared at my side. "By the way, you left too early for me to wish you a happy birthday."

"Thanks. And I'm fine." I tried to leave the venom out of my voice. I wasn't mad at him. Just upset with myself for talking to no one like a crazy person.

"Talking to yourself doesn't make you seem fine." He replied and held open the library door for me. "What were supposed to be snapping out of anyways?" We sat at the table nearest to the doors. I blushed at his question. Sadly, my cheeks' betrayal didn't go unnoticed. "Was little, innocent Saint Clare thinking impure thoughts?" Jake taunted.

"Oh gosh! Not you too! I don't think that nickname will ever go away." I groaned. "I don't want to be 'Saint Clare.' Even my boyfriend thinks thats who I am and as a result he never touches me." I don't get why I spilled my guts to Jake about these things but it felt good to talk about it. "And because of that I'm just a little um,"

"Horny? Hot and bothered? Turned on? Naughty? Aroused? Lustful? Undersexed? Erotic? Impure? Lascivious?" He offered.

"While those are all great suggestions. Let's use the term frustrated." I tried hiding the blush that his lewd words caused.

"How come your reputation stops Eli from helping you to become unfrustrated?" He bit into an apple he had gotten from his backpack.

"Okay, I changed my mind. This is a way too personal talk for us to be having." I began to stand up from my chair but he grabbed my arm.

"Come on Clare. You and I are siblings now. You would easily open up to Darcy about all this if she was here. But since she isn't, you can talk to me." This was probably one of the few times I've seen Jake wear a serious expression.

I bit my lip. I'd feel more comfortable talking to Darcy, that's true. But Jake was right about her not being here. I could talk to Alli but depending on her mood, she'd go off on me and give a lecture about how bad her first time was and how sex is evil and I should wait; or she would cheer me on and encourage me to jump right in bed with Eli no matter the circumstances. I guess i could always talk to Adam. Except he has a tendency to let things involving Eli slip to said person. Also, I wouldn't want him to be uncomfortable being dragged into the middle of things.

"Earth to Clare." Jake waved a hand in front of my face. "Look, you don't have to tell me. I was just offering to lend my ear. Maybe my mouth too. I can give great advice sometimes."

"I'll talk." I said, surprising him and myself as he was about to leave.

"I'm all ears." He smiled warmly.

"Well he automatically assumes that because of my faith and my goody-two-shoes past that I don't want anything to do with any of that type of stuff. He's been intimate before with his previous girlfriend years ago. And I even asked him when we dated last year if we could and he rejected me, you did too soon after." Jake blushed a bit at my comment. "Now, things are so good between him and I. I really don't want to mess that up if I ask him again." I buried my head in my hands.

"Hey," He pulled my hands from my face. "You said it yourself, things are good between you two. Now that you both are doing well, if anything it wouldn't hurt to ask." He shrugged. "You're older now and you've grown out of your saintly stage. He's bound to be seeing you in a more suggestive way. He might even bring it up this time." He winked at me just before the bell rang and he left for class. I realized I didn't get one bit of homework done.

"Clare! You are wearing this. You know that if you fight me on it, you'll lose." I crossed my arms. "Please?! It would look so cute on you!" Alli exclaimed.

I scoffed. "This dress is anything but cute. It's-"

"Sexy? Racy? Daring? Risque? Seductive? Sensual?"

"It's provocative Alli! Too provocative for me." Gosh, what was with everyone thinking I couldn't come up with my own damn adjectives today? "The underwear is one thing but wearing this out in public where people can see? That's just too much for me."

"You are seventeen today. You are older, more mature. It's only fitting that you would wear something mature."

"It isn't 'mature.'" I huffed. "It looks like something Bianca would wear."

"Clare, listen to me. You are always talking about wanting to be treated differently than you've been treated the last seventeen years. And if you want to stop being treated and being seen as childlike, virtuous Saint Clare, you've got to show people that it isn't you anymore." She held both my shoulders. "You are seventeen. Dress like it."

After chewing my lip like I was a starving bear and it was the last salmon in the stream, I came to a conclusion. "Gimmie that dress." Alli squealed and helped me into the dress she bought me. Of course, it was from Victoria's Secret. Alli tends to go overboard with her shopping at that store. It was cream colored and tight in every place imaginable. "Alli I can't breathe."

"That means the dress is working!" She declared. "Lemme curl your hair." She dragged me over to my vanity and while drowning me in hairspray, she accomplished a sexy, tousled look. She finished everything off by giving me a light smoky eye with liquid eyeliner. I was forced to shut my eyes and stand in front of my full length mirror that hung on the back of my bedroom door.

"Open." She said. "You look perfect."

As always the teen night club that Alli drags me to on a regular basis was dark, loud, and packed. Almost the whole school was there. Of course Adam was here setting up with his band WhisperHug on stage whom he had all invited. Imogen was setting up some colorful water glasses, Mo was near his keyboard, kissing Marisol, Maya was tuning her cello, and Zig was doing a sound check. Adam had also invited Drew and he had brought Bianca and Fiona. Zig's girlfriend Tori and her friend Tristan had shown up and were near the stage talking to Zig and Maya. Jake and Katie were holding hands when they thought no one could see them. I could see Dave filling up a plate full of nachos after Alli pointed him out. Much to my distaste the whole hockey team was here along with Becky Baker who was having a lively conversation with Jenna. (1)

"Sorry that Becky and the hocky team are here. She came because of her brother and Jenna. Her brother and the rest of the team came because of the fact that Dallas is living with Adam and one of the players is dating that Maya girl." Alli Whispered. After she said that I saw Maya run to a cute young boy who looked like he was a sophomore or a freshman. She jumped, and he caught her in his arms. (2) I felt a small twinge of jealousy at their cuteness.

"It's fine Alli. Thank you for all of this." I said a little coldly.

"We can leave, if you want. I mean I know what jerks those guys are..." She trailed off.

"No Alli, it's fine, really. It's just," I looked around the room once more. "Eli's not here. I haven't heard from him all day. I just got those flowers in my locker. No text, no calls, not even a Facerange message. On the card that came with the flowers he said that he'd see me tonight. I just thought he'd be here." I shrugged.

"I'm sorry Clare! I noticed that too but I didn't want to say anything incase it would upset you. Just try to enjoy your party without your knight in shining black armor. I'm sure he'll show up sometime." She patted my back.

"He wasn't in school today." I sighed sadly.

"Maybe he's sick." She shrugged.

The rest of the night was kind of a blur. I remember sitting alone at a table with Tristan while couples slow danced. Other than Tristan's brother, a pair of twins on the Hockey team, and Mike Dallas, Tristan and I were the only ones without a partner. Alli had Dave, Bianca had Drew, Katie had Jake, Jenna had Luke, Marisol had Mo, Tori had Zig, Fiona and Imogen had each other, Maya had Cam, even Becky had Adam.

"Do you want to dance?" Tristan asks. "I noticed Eli wasn't here and we're both alone. Plus, us gingers gotta stick together." He jokes.

"I'm sorry Tristan. Without Eli here, I don't feel like slow dancing much. But it is a very nice offer." I tried to be as honest and nice as possible.

"It's quite alright hun. I can always find me a place to cut in." He smiles and walks to Zig and Tori. A minute later, I see Zig walking over to the buffet where Dave was munching earlier.

During the faster songs, I managed to dance with Alli and Jenna a bit, and allowed myself to have a little fun.

Later, there was karaoke. Tristan and Tori sang Defying Gravity and they devoted it to Kurt and Rachel, their favorite Glee characters. Cam and Maya sang I Believe in a Thing Called Love by the Darkness, which I think they mentioned as their song. Jenna sang Call Me Maybe and kept suggestively winking at Luke the whole time and he rolled his eyes and stormed out.

After that little fiasco, Dave sang Jason Mraz's I Won't Give up on Us to Alli and I could almost literally see her melting. Dallas sang U Can't Touch This with a couple hockey guys as backup. Adam sang One Direction's What Makes You Beautiful while smiling at Becky Baker a whole lot. I seriously needed to have a little talk with him about his Becky mania.

Jake sang Justin Bieber's If I Was Your Boyfriend, and during the process he pulled Katie up on stage with him. I was laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face. After, Katie sang What the Hell by Avril Lavigne in response to Jake's song. Drew sang Gorgeous Nightmare by Escape the Fate to Bianca and in turn, she sang Rihanna's We Found Love.

Mo and Marisol sang My Boo by Usher and Alicia Keys. Becky surprisingly got up there and sang Katy Perry, Firework. Though Becky wasn't too happy when right after her, Imogen sang I Kissed a Girl. Zig sang Shake It by Metro Station very, very well. Fiona sang Madonna's Vogue. And last, but not least, Alli sang Happy Birthday to me. I did not sing one note.

I was ready to pass out when Jake drove me home but for some reason I drank a Diet Coke that he offered me and I was wide awake once I reached my room. I layed on my bed, tight dress and all. I just thought about how all through school I missed Eli. All through the awkward Martin-Edwards family birthday dinner I wished Eli was here. Even after I loosened up and let myself have fun at my party I still hoped he'd show up. And now laying in my room, the least likely place he'd show up, I wished for him one last time.

There must have been a shooting star outside that night.

I was resting my eyes for just a minute when I heard a creaking noise. My eyes flew open and I was ready to scream bloody murder until I saw him. "Shh. It's just me." He said. "Oh and happy birthday by the way." Eli smirked as he climbed through my bedroom window. When both his boots were firmly planted on the carpet, I flew out of bed and attacked him. My momentum knocked us into my wall. My lips were quickly on his. My arms were around him and his snaked around me. I deepened the kiss, coaxing his lips open with mine and he slipped his tongue in my mouth. We stood there for while, kissing passionately. Too soon, he pulled away. Once he disentangled from me and caught his breath, he said "Wow."

"Where the hell were you all day?" I demanded.

"My parent's anniversary was today and Bullfrog surprised my mom with a chance to renew their vows. All day, I was at their wedding and my phone died when we left for the wedding reception. I wanted to call you so bad. I was planning on at least going to your party but the reception ran much later than expected. I left and walked over here as soon as we got home. Thank God you are still awake." He hugged me. "But it's late. At least let me tuck you in."

"Okay." I said, trying my best not to sound sleepy. I layed down on my bed.

"I love you." Eli said. There was a blanket at the end of the bed, and he pulled it up over me.

"I love you back." I smiled. "It's not a school night. Sleepover?" I asked. "Don't worry I won't pressure you into anything." I giggled.

He pondered it for a minute and then nodded. "Your birthday wish is my command." He turned his back to me for a moment, and I heard his shoes hit the floor. While he was doing this, I shimmied out of my dress and dropped it on the floor when he wasn't looking. Might as well get comfortable right? He got under the blanket with me and propped himself up on an elbow. He was looking down at me. It was very dark, so I couldn't discern his expression. "What happened to your dress?"

"I was uncomfortable in it and you already tucked me in so I took it off. And I know I won't get cold because I have you here to keep me warm." I snuggled next to him.

"Oh." He sounded a little surprised and slowly laid down and stretched his arms. One of his hands knocked something off my bedside table. He bent to retrieve whatever it was. "What's this?" He asked and turned on my small lamp. "Clare," he read off a small envelope. "Keep this handy incase you and Eli take that next step. Happy birthday." he raised his eyebrows at me. "Jake."

"Lemme see that." I grabbed the white envelope and tore it open. Inside, was a square package with a round indent. It read 'Trojan Charged.' "Oh." I said, taken aback.

"Your step brother sure has a sense of humor." Eli chuckled. He took the package from me and set it back on the night stand.

"That's all you're going to say?" I asked incredulously.

"What? You want to use it or something?" He joked and shut the light off.

"And what if I did." I crossed my arms.

"Clare. We, you, I-" He sputtered.

"What Eli? Am I not good enough for you to sleep with me?" I inquired childishly.

"Clare you know that's not it. It's just, you're not ready." He put his hand on my shoulder and I shook it off.

"You don't know that Eli. You know after my parents divorced my beliefs changed. You can't keep 'protecting' me with the fact that I'm waiting. Because I'm not anymore."

"I thought you were waiting for true love." He said quietly.

"Eli!" I took his face between my hands. "I have true love with you."

"I'm sorry. I'm just so scared you'll regret it." He said shamefully.

"I'd never regret this."

"Well in that case I am also very..." He dipped his head and kissed me slowly, leisurely.

"Lascivious." I said, smiling at the fact that I had used one of Jake's words.

"Exactly," He said, and kissed me again. "I've hidden behind the fact that you were waiting, I haven't pressured you, and you still want to be with me. I will admit that you are very, very irresistible. And I have been resisting you for far, far too long." His eyes began clouding with lust. "Your ass is mine." He declared.

"I agree. You can't resist me any longer or I will be sad." I faked a pout.

"How sad?" He frowned.

"Sad enough to not talk to you." I teased.

"Well then I can't have that can I?" He smirked as he leaned toward me.

While he was kissing me, I trailed the palm of my hand down his back. Through the fabric of his shirt, I could feel the muscles and tendons and the bones of his spine as they moved. My hands seemed to remember the map of Eli's topography even as my lips remembered the way he kissed. Him and I hadn't been this inimate for over a year. And even then, it was just intense making out. We went on this way very slowly for a few minutes as he reacquainted himself with me.

He had my bra unhooked before I'd even realized his hand was back there. "You are so beautiful." he said, his hair falling around his face as his mouth fastened on my breast. I hadn't even bothered to cover myself in front of him though I considered it. I felt a sharp pleasure from his mouth. I touched the fly of his jeans, brushed my hand against the bulge inside, which was a foriegn thing to feel, and suddenly the moment for being tentative was over.

His jeans were soon off, and his shirt, too, and my panties vanished. His long warm body pressed full-length against mine. He kissed me over and over in a kind of frenzy. He made a hungry noise, and I echoed it. His fingers probed me, fluttering against the hard nub in a way that made me squirm. Though Eli and I had never made it this far before, it still felt right to be doing this.

"Eli," I said, trying to position myself underneath him. "Now."

He looked in my eyes. "One last time, you're sure you want this?"

"I need you, Eli." I whined. "I'm sure."

He hurriedly pulled on the condom and lined at my entrance and I grabbed his arms to brace myself. He slid all the way inside me like he belonged there and he looked at me. I felt the barrier break yet I didn't feel any pain. I didn't move. He pulled out a little, and I made a choked noise.

"Oh sorry! Are you hurting?" He asked.

"Hardly." I said.

"Losing your virginity hurts most girls." (3)

"Bring it on," I said.

He shoved forward.

"Oh my gosh," I said through clenched teeth. My finger were digging hard into the muscles of his arms. "Yes, again!" He was as deep inside me as he could get without an operation, and he glowed above me, his pale skin shining in the darkness of the room. He began to move quicker and quicker until I thought I would be pounded into pieces, but I kept up. When he started sucking my neck, I left my body for a minute. I'd never felt anything so good. I didn't have enough breath to scream or even speak. My arms were around Eli's back, and I felt him shudder all over as he had his own good moment.

I was so shaken I couldn't have talked if my life had depended on it. We lay in silence, exhausted. I didn't mind his weight on me. I felt safe. He disposed of the condom quickly and came to warm me with himself as we cuddled. I smiled into the darkness. I stroked his back as if I were soothing an animal. I felt better than I'd felt in months. Eli and I's first time was perfect. I didn't mind that it wasn't exactly planned. The spontaneity made it that much better. Lying with him in my bed felt like absolute freedom. I hoped this would be a hint at what this next year of my life would be like. I wanted to bottle this feeling. Even now I felt little jolts of pleasure ripple out from the epicenter of the orgasm.

"Will this change things between us?" I asked. I was careful not to sound like I was accusing him of something. After all, I had jumped him.

"Only for the better. I feel so close to you right now. I love you."

I grinned. "I love you too."

"In that case," Eli started, his voice flowing over me like a feather quilt. "I have a present for you."

"Oh, other than the birthday sex?" I teased

"Other than the birthday sex." He agreed with a smile. He took my left hand. I frowned at the now expired purity ring. He looked at it too and after a minute, he slid it off. "Now even though this wasn't planned, I do have something to replace this." I could feel my eyes go wide as he picked his pants up off the ground and pulled a little black box out of the pocket.

"Eli, I-" I put my hand over my heart.

"Now Clare, this isn't what you think. This is a promise ring. And with it, I promise to love you and be there for you forever. But this is just a temporary ring. One day, when the time comes, I'll replace it with an engagement ring and after that, a wedding ring. I love you so much Clare and I've experienced life without you and it's excruciating. I missed you every day. And with this ring I'm trying to ensure I never have to go through that again." He opened the box.

Inside, was a silver ring. the front was woven into an infinity symbol. On the inside, 'now & forever' was engraved. "Oh my God, Eli. This is such a big step."

"Bigger than the one we just took?" He smirked.

"I guess not." I smiled. I brought his face to my own and gave him a lingering kiss. "I love you so much baby!" I let him slide the ring on my finger and after he intertwined his hand with mine.

"Good because I'm not going anywhere." He kissed my forehead. "Now and forever." He whispered as I fell asleep in his arms.

Hi again :) Just wanted to say that I really value your opinions and constructive critizism.

(1) Connor is not at the party because without KC, I don't see anyone who would invite him to the party.

(2) While I did include the fact KC has left, I have omited the fact that Cam broke his arm because that fact made me really irritated and want to slap the boy upside the head.

(3) There are some girls who don't feel pain the first time they have sex. Because of all the stress Clare has been going through lately, I've decided to make her one of these girls.