RECAP OF WHAT LAST HAPPENED:
-Silvia and Dakota are broken up. On the last day of school, there was a video that showed Dakota (or a lookalike) making out with Carmen. Pierson was the one that caused this. He did this Segg prank so Silvia would run to him and so Dakota can be completely out of the picture. The prank against Silvia hasn’t happened yet. Finn (Ronnie’s Ex Boyfriend) was going to stop Silvia’s prank from happening if Silvia got him back with Ronnie. Silvia refused to get them back together. Pierson tells Hunter that Finn has a huge prank for Silvia because she refused this deal.
HOURS BEFORE THE PARTY
It’s my birthday and all I want is Silvia back.
Much of me knows that it’s next to impossible for her to come back. In the silence of my own mind during the first few moments after I left Pierson’s the other that day, I realize a few things. Most of those things revolved around how fucking stupid I felt for even going there. But one of the most crucial notes I made was in regards of what I had said to Silvia.
Or what I didn’t say.
I was a far better liar than Silvia, and sometimes, I almost tricked myself into believing what I said. This time though, there was an utmost certainty in my voice when I told her I wasn’t involved in this. Despite what I said, she still rushed in to Pierson’s arms as if he was the only one she could trust.
There was nothing else I could do, but I walked back to my car and drove myself back to Boulder Valley with my pride and spirit dragging on the floor all the way home. She had her mind made up. Before, I used to find her stubbornness admirable--at times. But it was never to this extent. If I could only have a moment of her undivided attention, then I could change her mind.
Time was all I ever asked for, yet time was everything she feared. Silvia had a deep yearning to find answers to everything. She wanted to know about her parents past, about my sister’s past, about my past. She dug so deep into the past that she forgot to live in the moment. I knew if she didn’t stop herself now, she’d only be the cause of her own damnation. Somethings are just better unsaid.
The drive back to Dion’s apartment was draining, to say the least. Partly because of how exhausted I was from my lack of sleep. It was the late nights and pestering thoughts that stole my peace. It corrupted my sleep with memories of Silvia, too real to be ignored.
And it wasn’t like I was thinking back on our last moments as a couple. It was small details about her that would keep me up all night. Like the way she scrunched up her nose right before she would disagree with me about something, and how she muttered numbers and random things under her breath to relax her--not aware that I could hear her-or the fact that she refused to have pickles or mustard on her food at fast-food restaurants, but would ask for extra mayo. It was almost as if my mind was trying it’s hardest to remember the Silvia I knew because that would be the closest I’d ever get to her.
"How long has he been sitting there, Dion?” I heard a voice from behind me ask. I could tell by the voice that it was Heath Slater.
“I don’t know. About six hours.” Dion said. “I got home pretty late last night. I came into his room to check-up on him and I found scraps of paper on the floor. He keeps drawing the same images.”
“Has he moved much?” There was a pause. Knowing Dion, he was mouthing the answer. “What’s he been drawing?”
“It’s not a what, it’s a person.” He cleared his throat. “Who do you think he’s drawing?”
“You know I can hear you assholes, right?” I growled softly, pushing my pencil down and stepping away from my drawing desk. A flash of lightheadedness hit me, causing me to stumble back and catch the corner of my desk. I sucked in a dry breath and shut my eyes, regaining stability.
“This shit is not normal.” Heath boomed from the door frame of my room. “Normal breakups are supposed to consist of rebound sex and lots of regrets. It’s not supposed to be a time of drawing your ex in your sketch book. I bet she’s having the time of her life right now with that Pier-whats-his-face guy.” He motioned at me, “And here you are, drawing her like one of those stalkers on a 20/20 special.”
I shook my head, getting woozy in the process. “Silvia’s not like that. She’s not having sex with him.”
“You don’t know that for sure! For all you know, they could already be dating. Maybe even have some wedding plans in the works.” Heath supplied. “The fact that she’s moved on this fast proves you should go out and have some fun yourself.”
Dion snorted. “Most virgins don’t go for rebound sex.”
I had the desire to slap Dion for saying that, but I was too dizzy to run up to him and do it.
“Most...what? He’s lying right, Dakota. You’ve had sex before. You’re not a v-v-” Heath choked on his own breath. “No. There’s no way you’re a virgin. Remember that time when we went to that party in San Diego and I left you in the room with that blond girl? I’m pretty sure you slept with her.”
“No, we fooled around, but we didn’t have sex.” I stated. This was not the discussion I wanted to have, and definitely not now. “Don’t you remember what happened literally seven minutes after we got in that room? You stormed back in and said you saw Megan Fox and you dragged me out of the room.”
“Okay first of all, seven minutes is way more than enough time to get in and out. Some people get conceived in seven minutes or less. Don’t fucking blame me if you were nervous or whatever.” Heath huffed. “Second of all, I still stand with my previous statement that night that Megan Fox was there.”
Dion chuckled to himself and walked up to me. The heels of his brown boots clicked on my hardwood floor, irritating my headache even more. “I care less about you getting some kind of rebound. If you ask me, I think it would be better if we got you a sandwich first.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“When was the last time you ate?”
“I ate breakfast.” I hesitated. “Yesterday.”
He sighed and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “This isn’t a healthy way to deal with a breakup by any means.”
“Well it wasn’t a healthy relationship. She would always start the fights over the most stupid things.” I admitted. “I might as well deal with it in an unhealthy way.”
“That’s not like you, Dakota.” Heath said. “What are you going to do when school starts?”
“I was planning on going to Boulder Valley high, but they put me on their waiting list.” I said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to school there right when second semester starts. It might take until February until they transfer me. Maybe longer. I only have a few months left. I guess I can just try my best to not start anything.”
The corner of Dion’s mouth twisted downward. “I still don’t get it though. If it was so unhealthy, then why the hell are you acting like a mess? Shouldn’t you be happy? You should’ve ended it earlier if you felt that way.”
“I never said I was unhappy in the relationship.”
“Then why did you stay? I can tell you didn’t like how she fought with you so much. You’ve said this before.” Heath added.
I faced Heath, looking at him dead-on. “Because I love her for her flaws, not despite them.” I glanced away, dropping my gaze on one of my drawings. It didn’t matter if that was how I felt though. She hated me and she thought of me as the scum of the earth. I doubted she even thought of me anymore in same way I thought of her.
She’s better off now.
Despite the amount of pain that struck my chest when I thought of that, I knew it was true. She was far better off without me than with me. She deserved someone else.
Heath wouldn’t fucking leave.
A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have minded him staying over for a long stretch of time. But this time was different than the other times he visited me. Something compelled him to pestering me with pointless comments and unsolicited advice. Ever since he walked into my brother’s apartment this morning, he couldn’t help but tell me everything on his mind. All of the things he kept bringing up was in regards of Silvia. I was pretty damn sure Ronnie was paying him to be here to get answers out of me. Heath was only ever persistent when it came to getting a girl. I just knew this had something to do with her.
To make matters worse, my brother had a girl in his room. Olivia and Dion had one of their infamous fights, scream at each other until one of them stormed off. Apparently she had caught him flirting with another girl - again. Olivia, as expected, broke up with him for the third time this month. After her dramatic exit, he dialed up a girl’s number and asked her to come over. I had gone to my room when I heard the front door open and close, but didn’t see who it was. Dion had this habit of getting a rebound a little too quickly. As much as I hated Olivia, I understood why she had trust issues with him.
Heath cringed every time Dion’s headboard hit the wall that separated the living room from the bedroom. I turned up the volume on the video game we were playing, hoping the sound effects in the game would drown out the noise they were making.
“I read an article once that said only 2% of all marriages are actually to the person you dated in high school.” Heath informed.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I also read that the divorce rate between high school couples who get married is a lot higher than ones who met later on in life.”
“You still didn’t answer my question. Where is this suddenly coming from?”
He reclined back in his seat, observing me from the corner of his eye. “I don’t want you to do something stupid. You tend to do things out of impulse when you get emotional.”
“I’m not emotional.” I grumbled and dug my hand into my bag of potato chips. “I don’t get what you’re referring to.”
“Well.” He rolled his eyes over dramatically, throwing his hands up. He pressed pause on his controller. “Let’s talk about fifth street.”
“No.” I munched down on a handful of chips, then I reached over to his controller and resumed back to the game. “What I did on fifth street is different. That’s a gift.”
I had made Silvia a three-part gift. The last gift was on fifth street. She refused to go with me yesterday to see it. I knew she’d eventually see it, but I wished that I could’ve been there to catch of glimpse of her initial reaction.
“Yeah, a gift that you were working on even after you guys broke up. A break up you caused, may I remind you.” Heath pointed out. “Why did you guys break up anyway? You didn’t really tell me why you split up.”
I was stupid.
“Do you know where the impulse to break-up came from?”
I messed up.
Covering my tracks.
“Are you a part of Segg?”
Yes. Or at least I was until Finn annexed me from the group.
“Wait, is that why you left her?”
“It’s complicated.” I sighed.
“Answer this at least, Dakota. You keep freezing up before you speak. I’ve asked you three questions and you’ve only replied to one of them. I know you’re hiding something. Tell me why you ended it with her? You can tell me that, right?”
Because I thought it would be safer if we were broken up. Adding distance meant there was a less chance I would hurt her....but this wasn’t what I told Heath. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find myself to form the words on my tongue. He was my best friend, but I couldn’t tell him the whole truth.
“I had a feeling you wouldn’t tell me.” He pressed paused on the controller again and made his way over to his backpack. I protested against him walking away from the game. I was just about to win. Lugging his backpack over to the couch, he fished out his laptop and set it on the coffee table. He made sure it was directly in front of me. I had a perfect view of the screen. By the time he pressed play, I could tell where he was going with this.
He showed me this clip before. It was a surveillance video that was facing Franklin’s house during his big party. A car pulled up and two figures jogged out of the vehicle. Heath had interrogated me, over and over again, on who I had in the car with me. No matter how many times I told him the ‘Erick’ story, he wouldn’t believe me.
“That’s not me.” I pushed the screen down and went back to my video game.
“It looks a lot like you.”
“It also looks a lot like Dion,” I concluded. Countless people mixed us up, especially when we were younger. From a far, we looked pretty identical. You could tell us apart if you got close to us, seeing that we had different tattoos and eye colors. Dion had a lip and tongue ring and I didn’t. His eyes were gray, like Diana and our father. I had blue eyes like my mother.
“What would Dion be doing at a high school party?” He inquired all too sure about himself. “And to add on to that, Ronnie showed me that video that caused Silvia to hate you so much. You were all over Carmen, kissing her, grabbing her. You even had the same clothes on.”
"Similar clothes to what I always wear. Everything in my closet is black or gray. Anyone can have a similar outfit as me. It’s not like I have a trademark look,” I rectified. “Heath, I told you where I was that night. I was nowhere near that party.”
He was pissing me off with all of these question. Yes, it made sense to why he would be grilling me this much. He felt as if getting answers out of me would help him find his little sister, Sherri. I wanted to help him, but I didn’t have any knowledge that would be useful to him. Simply because you were in Segg didn’t mean you know the different operations going on in the group or about what previous Segg members did. The only person who would have access to that kind of information would be the maestro, Finn.
“I will admit that you have told me—numerous times—about your whereabouts on that night, but there’s way too much evidence against you, Dakota.” Heath supplied and started to count off reasons, “There’s the unexplained desire to break-up with a girl you clearly care about, the video of you make-out with your ex, the information I have on you being a part of the bidding against Silvia, and also the other video I have of you leaving Alexander’s car and going to that party.”
“None of that’s true. I was set up.”
“I thought you were set up, too...until I saw this.” Heath leaped to his feet and stormed into my bedroom, returning with my laptop. My stomach dropped. “I thought you said Beth stole this from you.”
I got off of the couch and snatched the laptop from him. “Why were you in my room?”
“Answer my question first.” He ordered me. “Why would you lie about getting robbed by Bethany?”
Once again, I was covering-up my tracks. Redirecting the attention on someone who wasn’t me.
“No, I don’t need to give you any answers.” I went to my bedroom and placed my laptop back on my nightstand. Returning to the living room, I crashed on to the couch, acting as if nothing had happened. “Why the fuck were you in my room?”
“I saw it earlier when I was in there with you and Dion. I wasn’t snooping around or anything. Why aren’t you telling me the truth, Dakota?”
Shaking my head, I rested my face into my hands, laughing more than I probably should’ve given the kind of predicament I was in. The rebuttal I had in my defense was at the tip of my tongue. My response was cut off by the ringing doorbell.
I darted a glance at Heath. “Did you invite someone?”
“I figured you wouldn’t tell me the truth so I thought you needed a visit from someone.” Heath got to his feet, but I stopped him.
Walking in front of him, I reached for the front door. “I want to open the door.”
“I think it would be best if I open the door. She’s pissed.”
I dismissed his warning and twisted the door knob. Silvia was who I was expecting to see on the other side, but I was faced with disappointment when I saw Ronnie there instead. I exhaled loudly. “Ramona. We’ve been over this. I don’t want your Girl Scout cookies—”
Ronnie raised her hand up, ready to hit me across the face. I got a hold of her wrist before the impact.
Heath was at our side in seconds, wedging himself between us like a boarder. “You promised on the phone that you wouldn’t punch him.”
“I didn’t say anything slapping him,” she hissed. “He deserves it.”
“Let him explain. Maybe there’s more to the story,” Heath defended me. It was a change of pace. Only moments before, he was pressing me like I was in an interrogation room. With Ronnie here now, I hoped they weren’t going to do ‘Good Cop and Bad Cop’ on me.
Ronnie strut past me and made herself at home by sitting on my couch and sticking her hand into my bag of barbecue chips.
I slapped the back of Heath’s head.
He winched. “What was that for?”
“For bring her here. The last thing I need is for a second person to piss me off. Having you here is bad enough. I don’t need her to tag-team with you.”
“Hey,” she barked with a mouth full of chips. “May I remind you that I am Silvia’s best friend. I am the person you should be impressing. It isn’t like I came here willingly. I had to come.”
I scoffed. “Why? Is he paying you?”
“No, it’s Silvia.” She popped another chip into her mouth.
“Silvia’s paying you?”
“No, idiot. She’s not paying me. I’m here because of Silvia. I don’t want to see her get hurt again.” She sighed, slowly easing further into the couch. “I don’t know what Pierson has been telling her, but she’s sure that he’s a saint. I keep trying to tell her that he might be a part of Segg, but she won’t believe me. Right now, she’s going over to his house to help with the party—even after I told her we shouldn’t go to the party.” She said between gritted teeth. “I got a call from Heath an hour ago. If we prove that it wasn’t you in the video, then she’ll need you there during the big revaluation. Heath promised me that you had information to help your case.”
“It depends what you want to ask me.”
She peered up, blinking at me. “Let’s start with the basics. Do you care about Silvia?”
“Of course I do.”
“Do you love her?”
“More than anything else.”
She reeled back, astonish at how quick I answered her. “Well, if those two things are true, then why did you break up with her without much warning?”
“In retrospect, I shouldn’t have done it in the way I did. At the time, I thought it was a smart idea. I thought I was keeping her safe by leaving her.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard.” She grumbled, munching down on some more chips. “What were you trying to keep her safe from what?”
The truth was all that ever haunted me when I closed my eyes at night. What was the point of telling the truth if I know it would make her hate me even more? I was creating more wounds than healing them if I opened my mouth.
“Can we start asking the more important questions?” Heath demanded. “Something more along the lines of: are you a part of Segg?”
“No,” I hesitated. Being dishonest was only hurting me. A war was raging inside of my own head. One side wanted to take ownership of what I’d done whereas another half of me wanted to hold on to my lies for a moment longer. Even though I wanted Silvia to be the first one to hear it from me, I knew I had to fess-up eventually. “Well...I’m not a part of it anymore. Finn kicked me out.”
“I knew it! You liar.” Ronnie catapulted off the couch. She lunged at me, but Heath caught her, pushing her back and holding her in place. “I can’t believe I actually thought you weren’t behind this.”
“Do you want to know why I got kicked out of Segg in the first place? It was because I said I didn’t want to do a prank on Silvia. Finn found out that I was protecting her and he got pissed off. He took my spot and gave it to the next willing member.” I confessed. Truth be told, protecting Silvia wasn’t my intention at first, but they didn’t need to know that. “Also, none of what I’ve said makes me a cheater. I wasn’t the guy in the video. I never cheated.”
“Why should I believe you now? Who knows, maybe you’ve been with Carmen this entire time. ” She sneered, baring her teeth.
“Carmen’s eighteen. I’m sure she’s got some 40 year old she’s temporarily screwing. There’s no reason to why she’d want to go back to dating high schoolers.”
She huffed. “You know what? I’m actually glad I set her up with Gabriel.”
“Gabriel? Gabriel Feldman? That guy drives a fucking Prius to school like he’s a substitute teacher.” I scoffed.
"Hardly. Isn’t he the same asshole who hit on Silvia in front of me?”
“Well you weren’t ‘involved with anyone’ at the time.” She made air-quotes, rolling her eyes at me. “It’s not his fault that he saw an opportunity. Besides, Gabriel is nice. Which is a quality you don’t have.”
I chuckled. “He’s not her type.”
“That’s exactly why I picked him for her,” she muttered. “I bet you’re hiding a crap-load of secrets compared to him.”
I had a comment to her statement, but the words were muffled by the loud moans coming from the room adjacent to mine. “I can’t take this anymore.” I pushed past the both of them. “This is getting annoying.”
Heath grabbed my shoulder, yanking me backwards. “Going in there is a bad idea.”
I shook him off. “Him bringing a girl over is a bad idea. Doesn’t he care about how Olivia feels? They were together for a long time. A substantial amount of time. Why would he throw that all away for some fling?”
“You hate, Olivia. You could care less about her.” He reminded me.
Ronnie snorted. “Why do I feel like this more about Silvia and Gabriel than it is about Dion and his rebound?”
“Shut-up, Ramona.” I turned to Heath. “Why don’t you two leave already?”
“I’m here to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.” He gestured to Dion’s door. “Walking in there is a stupid move. Don’t do it.”
Disregarding his instructions, I went for the bedroom door and banged on it. Not as hard as he was banging her though. “Open the door, Dion.”
After a short pause, the door flew open. Dion had a pair of boxers on backwards and pressed his body against the doorframe, making it hard for me to see who was behind him. I didn’t have to see her to know who it was. Her voice gave her away.
“Oh God, don’t tell me you’re leaving me to go help him get over Canada.”