Dakota walked downstairs to the ground floor and to the door to go outside when she noticed that it was raining. Rain wasn't hard to come by in Highland, but it didn't mean she liked it anymore. She grumbled as she pulled the hood to her winter coat up and over her head, cursing whoever had left the note on her bed. She knew she had left the door unlocked, but she didn't think anyone would just come in.
The campus felt so empty at this time of night. No one lingered on the grass quad in the middle, and no one walked around with their friends. It was too late, and too cold for that. And yet, here she was, going to the café to meet someone when she didn't even know who it was. As she approached, she saw that the curtains inside had been closed, so she couldn't even see inside and sneak a glimpse of the one who had summoned her.
She pushed the door in, darting inside before too much of the cold could sneak in behind her. Sagging against the door, she pulled her hood down and looked around the café, her breath catching as she saw who was waiting for her.
"Hey, Dakota," he drawled softly.
She felt her muscles tensing, awaiting the argument she didn't want to happen. "Brian, what are you doing?"
He tilted his head of shaggy black hair down slightly, looking up at her from behind hooded eyes. "I just want to talk. You didn't exactly give me a reason for the way you ended things."
She sighed and took the long way around the tables to the cozy leather armchair next to the fireplace, purposely avoiding being close enough to him to touch him. "Brian, can we not do this?"
He followed her, sinking into the opposite chair. "No, Dakota, I don't think so. I need something from you, anything. I just don't know what happened."
She stared into the fireplace that had long ago burnt out and grabbed the fire poker, reaching out to poke the coals in a sad attempt to restart the fire. "I don't want to get into it."
Brian reached out and touched her arm, making her recoil from his touch. Just a month ago, they would have been snuggled up together, stealing kisses until the guy behind the counter shooed them and told them to get a room. But now, they weren't together, and Dakota felt awful that she had hurt him. "Just tell me why," he said softly, retracting his hand.
She sighed deeply and set the fire poker back down. "I just got…claustrophobic, I guess. We were always together, and I couldn't deal with it anymore. I needed some time to myself."
Brian scooted forward to the edge of his seat. "I can do that. We can work it out."
Dakota shook her head enthusiastically. "No, Brian. That's just who you are, and who I am. Our personalities clash."
Brian pleaded with her. "But we were Dakota and Brian, the southerner and the Brit. That has to count for something."
She glanced at him tiredly. "Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I don't want to be Dakota and Brian anymore. I just want to be Dakota. I just want to be me."
Brian looked at the fire in defeat. "But…I thought we really had something."
Dakota looked at him with pity. But there was more to the story than she had told him. She had heard the rumors about the past, and she couldn't disprove them. No one had ever leaked the truth about the incident, but they had continued to gossip about it since sophomore year of high school. She hadn't known Brian then, somehow, but it didn't matter. What he did then still mattered, even if it didn't involve her.
"You could have at least told me all this before you left for break," he said quietly, but she could detect the trace of resentfulness in his voice. "You just told me, 'It's over, Brian.' Nothing else. No reason, no goodbye, or anything. At least agree that I deserve better than that."
She nodded. She really was sorry that things had ended the way they had, but she wasn't experienced at breaking guys' hearts, and she was nervous. She hadn't even told him face to face. She had sent him a text message and never said goodbye, just like he said. "I'm sorry, Brian. You're right; you deserve better. I was scared and confused, it was the best I could do."
He nodded and stood suddenly. "Well, I guess that's it."
She stood as well and faced him, noticing the new awkwardness between the two of them. In a brief moment of guilt, she stepped toward him and hugged him, feeling him tense up before relaxing and hugging her back. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek before walking away, bundling up to trudge back through the winter cold.
By the time she had reached her dorm room again, Claire was inside, repainting her nails and filling the room with the noxious smell of polish remover.
"Do you have to do that in a confined area?" Dakota growled lowly, taking off her coat and grabbing her pajamas for the second time that night.
Claire glared at her. "Where were you?"
Dakota shut the bathroom door and changed out of her damp clothes. "Talking to someone. You know, intelligent conversation. The kind you never have."
Claire scoffed. "What was it, a late night rendezvous? I bet it was."
Dakota rolled her eyes as she came back out of the bathroom, turning the light off as she walked through the door. "Oh yeah, Claire. That's exactly what it was. At least I'm sure that's what you'll tell all your little friends who will then spread it all over the school. I'm over it." She crawled into bed and faced the wall away from Claire's curious gaze. The day hadn't gone like she planned at all. Not only had she run into Kaitlyn and Victoria, but now she had met with her recent ex-boyfriend and omitted part of the truth of why she broke up with him, and she was also under Claire's unfailing scrutiny. Tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow will be better.
A/N: I'm sorry this is such a short chapter, but I just didn't have much more to say. I didn't want to give away the secret of why Dakota really broke up with Brian yet, and it's too late at night in Highland for much to be going on…lol. But read and review please!