Pacing the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Braxton Street, I distracted myself from checking the clock for the twentieth time. My mind tired itself out with numerous case scenarios playing out in my head, thinking of what she could be doing right now. I had done my best to not question her about Gabriel when I saw him on the front porch, even though my first instinct was the punch the bastard. I reminded myself that Silvia wouldn’t go for a guy like him.
He drove a Prius.
A fucking Prius.
I bet his mom still packed him lunch and stitched his name into his underwear.
The only thing he did after school was work on school plays and socialize with the other drama geeks on campus. He probably thought dating a Senior like Silvia would give a golden ticket to popularity. Drama students like him didn’t hang out with Pierson’s crew. I should know, I used to be friends with him. Gabriel was the kind of guy Maven would pick on for fun.
I had handed her the letter around eight o’clock. She should’ve already read the letter by now. A half an hour had already passed. What was taking her so long? I had deliberately told her to follow the instructions after reading the letter.
You should’ve talked to her. You’re an idiot for not saying anything to her. A complete idiot, my thoughts nagged. Talking to Silvia wasn’t a hard task to accomplish, but getting her to listen was a real challenge. Even with her eyes on me, I could tell by her distant gaze and uninterested expression that she didn’t want to hear a word I said.
If she didn’t show up, I knew I had to stay true to my promise and quit trying to talk to her. Right now was the moment of truth, waiting for her under the pitch-black night, hoping she’d show up and give me time to explain everything. I zipped up my jacket once my phone alerted me that it was 8:45pm. Squinting down the street, I watched to see if she was there or not.
Give her five more minutes. I told myself. Just five minutes.
Not seeing much harm in that, I sat back down on the curb. Only a few minutes later, a car slowed down in front of me. It was a gold Mazda with plates outside of this state.
“Dakota?” the driver called out.
I got up and walked to the car, surprised to see Marilyn Washington in the driver’s seat. She was Finn’s cousin and obviously too kind to be related to that dickwad. Marilyn went to university in Texas. With it being the holidays and all, it made sense to why she’d be back in town. We grew up together and we were close friends for most of our lives. She graduated that year and didn’t get to witness my fall from popularity when Maven swore to ruin my life that very next year. We had been on good terms when she left and she never asked me questions about my mother. She didn’t even bother to point out the fact that I never talked about my father.
“Hey, I didn’t know you were back.” I said, walking up to the car. “How’s it been?”
She tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, processing the question. “It’s been okay so far. What are you up to? Do you sit on lonely streets on most weekends? Is that your thing now?”
“No, I was actually waiting for someone.” I snuck a look to the street that would lead to Pierson’s house. “I don’t think they’re coming though. There’s not much use in staying here.”
“Oh, is it someone over at the Redmond party you’re waiting for? I just dropped someone off less than ten minutes ago. I wouldn’t even be out here if it weren’t for Finn.”
“If it weren’t for Finn?” I echoed. “What did he do?”
“He paid me like fifty bucks to drop off some kid at the party.” She unlocked the car doors. “C’mon on in. I’ll drive you home.”
“No, you don’t have to do that.”
“No, but I want to. Get in, Dakota. It’s in the same general direction I’m heading. It won’t be much of a hassle.”
I denied her offer for a second time, but she continued to insist on taking me. Yanking the door open, I ducked into the gold Mazda and shut the door behind me. Marilyn was quick to ask me how things were going at Crescent High. She even went as far as to ask me how Carmen and I were doing.
“You guys aren’t together anymore?” she questioned, a bit dumbfounded.
“We’ve been broken up for a long time now.”
“Oh, so sorry to hear about that. I thought you guys were going to last. I liked you with her.”
“You wouldn’t like the new Carmen. She’s a bit of a nightmare now.”
She slapped my arm. “Dakota. That’s not very nice.”
“What? I’m not lying. We changed a lot after you left. I think it was a good thing we broke up.” I shrugged and peered out into the night sky, becoming hypnotized by the sparking white street lights that twinkled outside of my window. “So who’s the kid you dropped off at the party? It must’ve been a big deal if Finn paid you fifty bucks.”
“It’s some new kid. Him and his half-sister just moved into town not too long ago and they’re supposedly going to Crescent High this second semester. Finn’s been really nice to the two kids. Their dad’s a lawyer and he’s working over at Jonah Ellington’s law firm.”
“That’s interesting,” I mused. I was intrigued by what she’d told me so far. “Do you know anything else about them?”
“Hmm, well I do know they were going to originally go to Boulder Valley High. They had their schedules and everything figured out, but Finn insisted that they go to Crescent High. I’ve never seen Finn this determined before.”
Finn was seldom to do things out of the kindness of his own heart. He made deals as if he was the Devil himself. He made wagers and bets. He loved toying with people’s emotions, reaching into their hearts and finding their darkest fears. He didn’t do things simply to be nice. He always had an ulterior motive, but he kept his hidden agenda close to his chest, making it hard for others to see what his plans were.
This new piece of information unsurprisingly sparked my interest. “Where did he say they were from?”
She paused, thinking back to a far off memory that sheltered the right answers. When it resurfaced, she snapped her fingers. “Oh, one of the two kids told me actually. They said they were from Maine. Portland, Maine to be exact.”
My back straightened when she said that. “That’s funny. There’s another student who recently moved here from Maine. By any chance, did you find out their names?”
Marilyn gave me a funny look, smirking. “Why do you care so much?”
“It’s important.” I stated, gripping the armrest and holding back any urge to leap out of this moving vehicle. If it was one of Silvia’s old friends, coming back to bother her, I knew I had to stop the car and get back to that party. “Do you know their names?”
“Uh, I think the girl’s name is Luna or something. I’m not too sure though.”
“What’s the boy’s name?”
This conversation would’ve been a lot shorter if she got to the point and didn’t dance around the answers, waiting for me to ask her a follow-up question.
I am not Diana Sawyer. Stop making me ask you more questions than I need to.
“Ian. I believe their surname is Prescott,” she blurted out. “Why does that matter so much to you?”
I lunged forward in my seat. “Stop the car. I said stop the car, Marilyn.”
The Mazda came to a abrupt stop. Not wasting any time, I clicked off the seat belt and rushed out of the car. Marilyn shot countless questions in my direction, but I didn’t acknowledge any of them. I had to stop whatever Finn was planning on doing to Silvia. There had to be at least over a hundred kids at Pierson’s house, enjoying the free booze and loud music. If Finn had something in store for Silvia, this would be the perfect time to do it. There was a lot of people watching and she wouldn’t expect it. She thought she was safe with Pierson.
Shutting the car door, I took note of my surrounds. I was only a few blocks away from where she picked me up. Like a small speck in the far distance, I saw Silvia, walking in the opposite direction.
I cupped my hands around my mouth. “Silvia!” I shouted, but I was too far away. Turning to Marilyn, I flew the door open again. “I need to ask you for a favor. Can you drive me to Pierson’s house?”
“Yeah, sure.” She nodded. Getting back into my seat, I waited for her to make a U-turn. Silvia was closer to the house than she was to us. If Marilyn drove fast enough, we could make it to the house by the time she got on the front porch.
Hugging myself against the cold gusts of wind, I shuffled my way back to Pierson’s house. Dakota was a lost cause. He needed to get his ears cleaned because I was more than certain that I was loud enough for him to hear me. Wrapping my arms around myself, I thought about the letter he’d written. Where had he learned to write like that? It was a bit strange how he could easily express himself on paper, but struggled so often to say the words out loud.
I didn’t even know he liked writing until he made that poem for me. My mind thought back to previous memories to see if I’d spotted him writing in the past.
Diana, I recalled.
On the first day of school, Dakota had spent the entire time in our AP Government class writing and drawing on two separate sheets of paper. He had dropped it on the floor after the bell rang, disregarding the fallen paper he left behind him. I had first thought the note was for a girlfriend, seeing the name match-up with one of his tattoos, but I quickly figured out that Diana was his sister. Emphasis on was.
Was he writing a letter to her that day? I know I’d heard of people writing letters to their dead loved ones, saying all the things they never got the chance to say. That thought alone tugged at my heart strings, questioning why I was even here for the fifth time tonight.
Why was I here? What I doing? I had better things to do than hang out with these people. After what happened on the last day of school, only a few people had said I felt sorry for me. Most people just whispered about it, pointing and giggling at me from a distance.
I replayed the last day of school numerous times, hoping to unearth something I didn’t see at first glance. There had to be something I wasn’t seeing. I knew there was a missing puzzle piece—a grand sign, waiting to hit me across the face.
Dragging my feet up the front steps, I walked around drunken teenagers and their sloppy smiles, slurring a pickup line that wasn’t doing much for me. My head snapped around the room, in search of Pierson or Hunter. In the far corner of the house, I saw Hunter, leaning against the walls with a couple of stoners.
After I reached him, I asked if he’d seen Pierson at all. Hunter’s face instantly brightened. He passed the joint to some blonde kid and he puffed out a white stream of smoke, facing it toward the ceiling. “Pierson’s the last person you should want to talk to.”
“I hear he dates older women.” The blonde guy exhaled, wiggling his eyebrows up and down.
I rolled my eyes. “That’s a stupid rumor made by idiots who don’t know him.”
Hunter chuckled to himself, as if he knew something I didn’t. “You don’t know him either, Silvia. You’re saying that as if you know everything there is to know about him.”
“I do know him.”
“You don’t know a thing about Dakota and you’ve been dating that freak-show for a couple of months.”
“I’m not with Dakota anymore,” I told him. “I don’t care about him.”
“Ah. So now that you’re done with Dakota, you think you’ve got Pierson all figured out, don’t you?”
I crossed my arms over my chest, cocking my hip to the side and squinting at him. His eyes were starting to get red and he wasn’t really focusing on me all that much. “I know all I need to know about him.”
Hunter took back the joint and inhaled. “Ooh. Okay, then you know?”
He coughed out a bit of smoke. “Wow, you’re so stupid. I almost feel sorry for you.” He paused, shaking his head. “Oh, wait. No I don’t.”
I backpedaled a little. Thinking of what he just said, it finally clicked. I should’ve known who it was after he called Dakota a freak show. It made complete sense. ”Maven?”
“Who else did you think I am? I’m not your Fairy godmother.” He narrowed his eyes at me and took back the joint from one of his stoner friends, placing it between his thin lips. “Let’s get serious, though, Silvia. You’re telling me you haven’t suspected Pierson of arranging that entire event on the last day of school? Think about it Silvia. What did that video damage? You and Dakota’s relationship—or whatever was left of that train-wreck of a romance. Who does that benefit?” He made an over dramatic gasp and waved his hands around. “Oh, I don’t know? Pierson.”
“Pierson’s not a part of Segg.”
“And you know that for a fact?” He asked and I nodded my head. “All right. If you’re so sure, then tell him to take off his shirt.”
“Why the hell would I do that?”
“Because,” he groaned, visibly getting tired of me. I didn’t like Maven on a normal day, but I definitely didn’t like stoned Maven. I had a feeling he wasn’t just stoned. “Every Segg member has a burn mark of a cursive S on their under arm. It’s toward the armpit. They get it at their Initiation Ceremony. If he has it, that proves that he’s in Segg.”
“How would you know that?”
“Because I’m a part of it,” he said smugly and pulled back the short sleeve of his polo shirt and lifted his arm up toward the ceiling. An old burn mark was engraved into his pale flesh. It was about four inches long and two inches wide.
“I don’t get it. I thought you hated me.”
“I do. That has not changed.”
“Why are you trying to help me, then?” I didn’t trust his information, but I was willing to see if this was true.
He blew the smoke in my face. I swatted it away and coughed. “Because I feel like doing charity work today for the less fortunate.”
“Thanks,” I huffed, holding my nose as I walked away from him.
“Wait, Silvia. I want you to do one thing for me.” Maven said.
I spun around to see what he’d say. “What do you want?”
“Tell Dakota I said hi.” The corner of his mouth curled and he cocked his head in the direction of the front door. I followed his gaze and found Dakota, entering the house with an unfamiliar girl.
“Who the hell is that?” I snarled.
Maven chortled, smiling to himself. “For a girl who doesn’t care about Dakota anymore, you sure do care a lot about who he’s with.”