Everything I had done prior to this was leading me to this moment. Having her forgive me was the only thing that motivated me. Restlessly, I had tried to talk to her, and clearly my attempts did not go unnoticed. She was undoubtedly going to take me back. Life rarely handed out second chances, but I had been given this one. I didn’t want to take it for granted.
Ronnie had told me that if I ever got the chance that I need to tell Silvia everything I didn’t before. That I should do what I didn’t do before. Being unable to talk about how I felt with Silvia was something that ticked her off. Miscommunication and lack of openness was the cause of our relationship’s demise and I didn’t want it to break us again. If I was going to do better in this relationship, I needed to be honest.
Today was going to be the first test on honesty. If I couldn’t convince Silvia that I cared about her, then this would be the last time I’d see her. Though I had sleepless nights, wishing for just one last night with her, I knew that it wasn’t true. I didn’t want one night. I wanted every single night for the rest of our lives and then some.
But by the way her hands were roaming, I wasn’t sure if we’d get much talking done.
Silvia’s hands racked the back of my shirt, digging her nails against the thin fabric. Lips locked and hands clawing at my clothes, I lowered her body on to the bed. Reeling back, I let my eyes dance over her body as she peeled off her shirt and discarded it to the floor. I held her attention the entire time, not breaking eye contact.
Leaning back on her elbows, she peered up at me with an enticing glimmer in her eyes. “Are you going to take your shirt off or do you want help?”
“I could do it myself. But what’s the fun in that?” I hovered my body over hers, decimating the proximity between us. Electricity charged the air the closer we got, feeding me with each passing second. Her lips met my jawline and made a path of kiss that trailed down my neck. She sat back and looked at me, grinning.
Using my left hand, I brushed the strands of hair away from her cheek, returning the smile. “I think I missed that smile as much as I missed you.”
Silvia sucked a sharp breath, backpedaled and shimmed up from under me. She cursed to herself and drifted away from the bed. What had I done wrong? Was it something I did?
What she said next raised more questions. It was so low that I almost missed it, but I was able to catch it as it left her lips. ”I can’t do this if you keep saying stuff like that.”
I came to a pause. Dumbstruck, I strained my neck forward. “Okay, I won’t say sappy shit like that again.”
Hooking my finger with the belt loop of her jeans, I tugged her back toward the bed and on top of me. We were chest to chest. Her untied hair fell around us like a veil, concealing us from the dark night outside these walls. Tucking her hair behind her ear, I rekindled our kiss from earlier.
I broke the kiss for a brief moment, gazing into her eyes. “I love you, doll.”
“I love y...” she trailed off.
Silvia stiffened against my body. When I reached for her, she shrugged me off and moved to the edge of the bed. She hurried to put her shirt back on. “Don’t say that.”
What did I just walk into? This didn’t resemble the person I knew. She was extremely sensitive and far more aggressive over the smallest things.
“What am I doing wrong? I thought you liked it when I call you doll.”
“No, it’s not about that,” she spat. “That—you know what? Forget it. Can you just leave? I want this room for myself.”
Burying my face into my hands, I let out a sigh I was holding in for a while. Hopefully it would help redirect my blood to the right places and not in my dick.
Won’t be needing you tonight.
“I’m not leaving.” I declared in a stern voice. “We’re going to figure out what the issue is here. If you want to scream, scream now. Shout. Throw things—preferably not at me.” I added quickly. “Get it out of your system and tell me what you’ve been holding back. I don’t care how you do it. I want to get through whatever problem we still have. I’m tired of this back and forth fighting thing, and I know you are, too.”
Silvia crossed her arms over her chest with her back against the door. “No, what I want is for you to leave.”
“A few moments ago you wanted me to stay.” I stalked up to where she was. “Are you saying that you don’t feel anything for me? Because if that’s the case, I’ll gladly leave right now. I can’t force you to be in this relationship if you don’t feel anything. I can’t make you love me, Silvia.”
Her gaze dropped to the floor, avoiding me entirely. “I still care for you.”
Grabbing her chin, I made her make eye contact with me. “Say that again.”
“Why?” She slapped my hand. “I said it once.”
“I need to see if you’re lying.”
“I’m not lying,” she boomed. “As pathetic as it may sound, I still care for you despite everything that’s happened.”
Her voice didn’t raise in pitch and there weren’t any bumps or hiccups in her statement. It was a clear sign she wasn’t lying to me. Relieved at this discovery, I was pleased to see that I had at least somewhere to start.
“Okay.” I took a precautionary step back. “At the count of five, I want you to tell me what you think the issue is between the both of us.”
“Count from the number fifteen,” she suggested.
“Alright, from the number fifteen.”
I counted down, waiting for me to get to that final number.
“Trust,” Silvia spewed out.
“Communication.” I said at the same time.
"Communication?” She echoed. “We have communication skills. You listen to me. I listen to you.”
I barked a laugh. “That in itself proves my point. Communication skills isn’t just about listening to each other. It’s about understand it and processing it. For all I know, things could be going in one ear and out the other when I speak to you.”
“I’m not the only one with a listening issue. It took you ages to realize I wasn’t like my father or my step brothers. You didn’t want to listen to me.”
“You’re a lot worse at listening than me.”
She furrowed her brows at me. “This isn’t a competition of Who’s The Worst Listener, Dakota. I will admit that I have messed up if you can admit you’ve messed up just as much.”
"Barely.” I snapped. “Let’s not forget how quickly you ran off to Pierson.”
“Last time I checked, you broke up with me.” She defended. “I was hurt, blinded by what I saw, and sought comfort in a person I thought was my friend.”
“You ran off with him, taking Carmen’s word as the truth.” I snapped. “You don’t know how much it hurt for me to see you with him, staying at his house for days on end. Why can’t you see that?”
She backed up, but she was already up against the wall. There was nowhere for her to go.
"I’m sorry.” Realizing how loud I had been, I retreated back to the bed, providing her more room. Scaring her wasn’t a wise way to win her back and screaming at her definitely wasn’t either. I had to do a better job at getting Silvia to listen.
Flatting both of her palms on the walls, she slid down to the carpeted floor. “I don’t like this fighting. It reminds me of my parents right before they cut the chord on their marriage. Granted, they didn’t start fighting like this until after the affair with Evelyn.”
“I don’t like this fighting either.” I looked over at her. The moon’s glow snuck into our room, outlining the features of her face with a pale white brush. “Arguing necessarily isn’t unhealthy.”
“I know.” She dodge my gaze for a second time tonight. “But it isn’t the fact that we fight, it’s the way we do. That’s the difference. That’s what divides us from being healthy or not.”
I exhaled. “You mean so much to me it’s impossible not to feeling all kinds of extremes with you. When I get frustrated...I don’t know how else to voice it.”
“Besides getting angry?” She supplied. “I agree with that. I can say I do the same thing a lot of the time. I think we both struggle with expression, just in different ways. I have no clue what you’re think most of the time and I know I can annoy you really fast.”
I snorted, fiddling with the fabric of my shirt. “It’s a little more than that.”
Her brows raised. “Oh, go on then. What else is there?”
“You have the tendency to expect so much from me. I felt like after Pierson’s party this semester, you were already planning our prom date. You are so worried about the future that you forget to pay attention to the present. Also, you always let other people’s idea of what a relationship means define us. Why does it matter so much if I call you my girlfriend or not? I care about you. That’s more important than some overused word.”
She grumbled under her breath, clearly displeased. “How about we talking about what you do wrong? You’re not the victim here, Dakota.” Using the walls, she guided herself up and back toward the bed. “You barely give me anything in return. I don’t know one thing about your past whereas you could write an entire memoir about my life.”
"Biography,” I rectified.
“What?” she breathed.
“A memoir or autobiography is written by the person who has experienced the events. A biography is written by someone unrelated to the events, writing about someone else. I’m not you so I can’t write your m—”
“Dakota.” She interrupted me. “Can you just refrain from your smart ass comments for ten minutes? Please. That’s all I ask of you. I want this to work out.”
My head bobbed up and my back straightened. “You want to work this out?”
It was a slow nod, but it was a nod nonetheless. “Yes, I do, but I can’t do that if you keep correcting me every few seconds.”
Little did she know I had suppressed my smart ass comments for awhile now. There were numerous times I wanted to correct her, but stopped myself. The most recent one was right before the Thanksgiving Dinner. I had put on a Morrissey Album and she went on and on about how much she loved “the band Morrissey.”
Morrissey wasn’t a band. He was a person.
After promising Silvia that I would do my best to not correct her, my phone began to ring. I grabbed it up off of the bed and excused myself to the hallway. It didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway
+ + +
After he had walked out to the hallway to take a call, I pondered on what I had almost done to Dakota. As much as I liked to pretend I hated him, I knew I couldn’t use him as if he was a toy. It had seemed reasonable at the time, thinking that sex would calm the hatred toward Ian I had and the painful past that was crying out to me.
Dakota was the last person who should get played. When the idea came to mind, I had forgotten that he had never gone that far with a girl before. My virginity was stolen from me, without much choice or say in the matter. If anything, I shouldn’t toy with his virginity simply to hush my hideous past.
An unknown source was charging my decisions before my conscious could correct the error, leaving me reckless and dangerous to anyone in my path. I had to straighten something out within myself. Somewhere down the line, I had snapped out of control during my stay in Crescent Height. Perhaps I hadn’t healed at all from my previous scars.
Dakota came back inside. I wondered if could change before I lost something more than my temper. Something that wouldn’t be that easy to get back.
His voice, like a beacon in the dark, ripped me out of my burdensome thoughts. “We need to seriously talk about something that’s been eating me up inside. Is there something you want to ask me that you learned about when Heath came over? Do you need any clarity?”
“Why?” I croaked, unleashing a part of me I’d masked so well up until this point. “Why me?”
“There was someone who didn’t want you in California anymore. They wanted to know what made you move in with your dad in the first place. They figured if they unearth the truth, they’d get you to run off again. At first, I rejected their offer, but by the second time they came to me, they had leverage on something I cared about.”
“What did they know?”
“They had information on Diana that I needed.” He went on to say, “It felt wrong at first. I didn’t think it would take that long or that I would get that mixed up in this arrangement. But then they started asking me to get closer to you. Once I realize that they wanted me to do something huge, I knew I had to get myself out of the mess—”
I flailed my arms around. “Hold up. You’re not telling me a lot of stuff. You’re only skimming the surface. You need to cough up more details, Dakota. Start from the beginning.”
“The beginning has to be after my car fucked up this semester.”
I remembered how Dakota had used his bike to get to school when it was raining out. He had come to school, dripping wet with soaked clothes. I eventually offered him a drive home. During our interaction, he had revealed that someone I knew had damaged his car.
“Is this before or after I drove you home?”
“Before,” he retorted.“When I took it to the repair shop, I had a run-in with Finn. He had heard about my car being in the shop and he offered me this outsource job that I might be interested in. He had offered it to me before, but I denied it. He wouldn’t tell me who was sending the original orders. But I eventually learned it was Beth.” Dakota said. “Ten minutes into the conversation, Fin offers me more money if I did this one thing. I took the offer so I could get my car fixed.”
“What did you do for him?”
“They told me to make some drawings of you and date them back when we first met. And then leave them in a place where you’d find them.”
“After that, I thought the offers would stop. But they saw that you wouldn’t leave so they asked more and more things from me. Things like taking you to that party at Pierson’s house. Little things like that. There was a point I got a drop-off of new orders at the party.”
“That’s why you had disappeared at the party?” I recalled. When Xander and Ronnie got in a physical fight, Dakota was nowhere in sight. Now I knew where he was.
“I never told them anything about your personal life, Silvia. You have to believe that. I constantly would say I didn’t learn anything about you and that I needed more time. But that only pissed them off in the end. I knew that I was in too deep after that gig I did in Los Angeles. I couldn’t keep doing it. I called them up and I texted them and I told them that I wanted out.
“In the hopes to get you to run away from me, I got my friend Paul to take a photo of us in Dion’s apartment and try to scare you. I met up with him after I left the apartment. It took you a while, but when you finally responded, I knew I had to do something more to scare you off and not want to be involved with me.”
“You set up that entire thing in your car.” My voice cracked. Moisture ran the side of my face, falling to the front of my shirt and embedding itself in the hollowed out casket that was my heart.
He nodded. “I knew if I ignored you for the entire day that it would strike up some kind of argument. I didn’t show anyone that video.”
“How does Finn know about it though?” I burst. “He came to my Thanksgiving dinner threatening about it.”
“It’s really hard to do anything without Finn knowing. I have a theory. My best guess is that Beth might’ve found your phone when she was in my brother’s apartment, seen the text messages, and went through the rest of your phone. You don’t have a lock on your phone. I know I’d be tempted.”
A flood of white-hot anger boiled into my blood. The video and images were the first thing I deleted after I saw them so there was no way she would’ve seen it. The text messages were still there. She could’ve easily accessed my phone.
Dakota reached out to touch my face, but I slapped it away. I threw my legs over the edge of the bed and went to my shoes, putting them on in a hurry.
“Silvia. Don’t leave.”
I tied my laces. “I need to go on a walk to my head.”
“We still need to talk about us.”
“There is no us, Dakota. You blatantly stated that you started this relationship with the intent to tell people my business. I can’t trust you.” Once I was done I headed for the door. With my hand on the doorknob, I shot a look at him. “I don’t get it. Why would Beth want me out of California?”
“Hello, Silvia? Earth to Silvia? Anyone home? Use your head,” He said, racing up to where I was at the mouth of the room. “You came in and stole Pierson’s attention. For fuck sakes, he was uninterested in most of the girls on our campus until you came along. She wanted you out before anything started between you two. If there was a second suitor, then she could get you to like that person instead of Pierson.” He pointed at himself. “That person being me.”
Unsaid words piled on top of each other, ready to be spewed at this lazy excuse of a boyfriend. My hand raised up to his chest, pushing him away from me. “Don’t follow me.”
“I said I was sorry.”
The way he kept saying sorry before our breakup. It was a pattern. At the time, I didn’t know what he was asking sorry to, but I definitely knew what he was talking about now.
“That sorry isn’t fucking needed. I’ve already made up my mind. I let you talk, Dakota. I listened, but that doesn’t change that the foundation of this relationship was a lie.”
“I did it because they knew something about Diana. They knew something about her that I didn’t. They had leverage.” His voice wobbled, but I wouldn’t let that change in speech sway me. “You don’t understand how much I wanted to know. I broke up with you because I was fearing this conversation. I knew you would act this way. You have to believe though, Silvia. At a point, I wasn’t acting anymore. I honestly do love you.”
“Save the bullshit for someone who cares,” I spat, closing the door behind me and hopefully closing that chapter in my life as well. I was done with trying to disarm Dakota. The best thing I could do was dismiss him for what he did.