Belle got out of uni one day a few months later feeling flat. The work was a lot harder than she was used to, and the extra work was cutting into her social life. Plus the University had just lost funding for her tutor, so life was even harder.
In fact, a lot of funding had been lost recently, especially for the Legal studies. First they'd upped the price of the course, then they fired a few staff, and then the price of textbooks went up. Webster was getting pretty annoyed, and Maddy thought it was a conspiracy.
Belle sighed to herself, wondering at her misfortune and the misfortune of the University. At all the work she had to do. At how unfair life seemed at that moment. But still, at least she could still walk home with her friends, right?
“Where's Charlie and Sunny?” Belle asked as she approached the group.
“They're staying back to work on a project together for Wood Work.” TJ replied.
“Cool.” Belle said. Inside she felt cold and upset. Charlie had been spending a lot more time with Sunny recently. Even when Belle was in school she felt like a third wheel.
Charlie had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. To be honest, she wouldn't have been surprised if they ended up together – in fact, she was hoping for it, and had been since she was ten. Now Sunny was on the scene, and Belle didn't like it.
'She was always jealous of me.' Thought Belle. 'So she's finally decided she's stealing my best friend.'
“Anyway, we're heading off to Dan's place for his parents anniversary. We'll catch up with you later Belle!” Sammy patted her back as the group headed off towards Dans place.
Belles shoulders were slumped as she walked back home. Didn't ANYONE want to hang out with her?
“This.” Said Master Revolver. “Was a brilliant idea.”
“I can't believe we didn't think of this before.” Mobster Marion agreed.
The third figure at the table was a boyish-looking young lady with jet-black short hair and green eyes that could turn wild in a heart-beat. They hadn't been wild in a long time though, they'd been dark and downcast for a good year.
“I did tell you it was a good idea. The less students they graduate out of the Legal program, the less prosecutors there'll be to send you to gaol.” She said smugly.
“Yes, plus with the Council tipping less money into education, they have more to devote to projects more in line with our interests.” Master Revolver sipped the dark red wine.
“You get what you want, and I get what I want.” The young lady said, eating another spoonful of soup.
“You still haven't told us what you want.” Mobster Marion eyed her warily. “Why are you helping us?”
“What does it matter?” The young lady looked up. “You should just be grateful I've joined your cause.”
“You're one of the richest self-made business owners in the country. Why would you want to lower yourself to the level of us petty criminals?” Master Revolver asked.
“You certainly rose to prominence quickly. It must have been a lot of hard work.” Mobster Marion mentioned.
“I had a good example when it came to hard work.” The young lady sipped her drink. “I knew the only way I could meet my goals was to work harder than I ever had.”
“We certainly have much respect for you. Your should be proud of your achievements.” Master Revolver toasted her.
“They're nothing but a stepping stone to what I really want.” The young lady frowned.
“I like her. So much lust for power. You will go far indeed.” Mobster Marion grinned.
The lady merely smiled back, and continued eating the delicious soup that was on offer. It wasn't power she was after of course, although it would help in her in the long run.
No. What Tate wanted was her beloved Webster back.
And she would stop at NOTHING until he was hers, even if it meant destroying his dreams.
Even if it meant destroying Pleasantville.
Belle was sitting in the tree petting Meow, bored out of her skull. Her father had forbid her from studying, saying she was starting to look pale, and told her to go out and play with Charlie.
One problem – he was still at the school with Sunny.
It annoyed her no end. Sunny had been downright cruel to them for YEARS. Belle could still remember the time Sunny had taken her favourite school bag and set it alight – thankfully Charlie had stepped in and saved the contents from harm at least. Then there was the time she and Daryl shoved Charlie down the stairs of the English block – thankfully Belle had caught him before he fell too far and broke any bones.
Now Sunny and Charlie were all buddy-buddy. Belle was going to fix that. This weekend she was going to take Charlie on a picnic – just them. She'd gotten her licence a while back and was going to drive him to the Silver Coast for the weekend. They would do all the things they used to, go for walks, watch movies, sing loudly and obnoxiously to the car radio…
Belle sighed, thinking of how much fun they were going to have, when she heard voices.
It was Charlie and Sunny!
“And then my Dad smacked the living daylights out of the two thugs like it was nothing!” Charlie chuckled, recounting the story of Peter and Johannas.
“Wow, poor Belle.” Sunny replied.
“Yeah. He won't ever hurt her again though.” Charlie promised. Belles heart gave a little leap.
“She's really lucky to have a best friend like you.” Sunny looked at him wistfully.
“Don't fall for it Charlie!” Belle muttered to herself. Slimy, no good Jones!
“I'm not ALL that great.” Charlie laughed bashfully.
“I think you are.” Sunny continued.
“You're pretty awesome yourself. Everything you've been through…” Charlie trailed off. He looked at Sunny. She was beautiful. Even the little scar under her eye added to her allure.
“I have you and Belle to thank for getting me out of that.” Sunny smiled shyly. Charlie wasn't the most handsome boy, but he was still charming, polite and kind. Sunny couldn't help but want to be close to him.
“Friends look out for each other.” Charlie an arm around her.
“It means a lot to me that you consider me a friend. Especially after everything I did…” Sunny looked down.
“Water under the bridge. You were a different person.” Charlie lifted her chin up.
“Not really. I still get jealous of you and Belle sometimes.” Sunny admitted.
“Knew it.” Belle muttered.
“There's nothing to be jealous of. You're one of us now.” Charlie told her.
Sunny smiled up at him again. Charlie couldn't help it. Neither could she. They kissed.
Belle nearly fell out of the tree. Her blood ran cold and her heart stopped. She couldn't breathe. Tears began to burn at the backs of her eyes and she felt like she was dying. Charlie had KISSED Sunny Jones!
The pair pulled apart. “Umm…” Sunny smiled shyly again.
“I'll see you at school tomorrow?” Charlie asked.
“Sure. See ya!” Sunny gave him another peck on the cheek and bounded off, the happiest girl in Pleasantville. Finally, she felt like she had someone, someone who was hers and hers alone. It wrapped around her like an invisible cloak, not even her cold family could hurt her that night!
Charlie couldn't believe it either. It was as if all his Christmases had come at once. He bounded inside, kissed his sisters, hugged his mother, thumped his father on the back and bolted upstairs.
He had to tell Belle!
He scrambled out of his bedroom window into the tree, nearly falling head-first into the ground below in his haste.
“BELLE! Belle! Something AMAZING just happened! Belle? Belle, are you home?” Charlie knocked on the closed window, the blind drawn down. Odd. “Belle!”
Inside the bedroom however, Belle was sobbing, completely and miserably heartbroken.
In her heart, she felt that she had lost her Charlie forever.
To Sunny Jones, who had once made her life unbearable.