Chapter 3

When we finally arrived in Tempe, I decided to leave behind the affair we'd started on the two day road trip. Dakota was devastated, truly broken, because I chose your father over him. It hurt me, too, to end things with him. I hadn't felt that loved since your father and I first started dating. With all the excitement of college parties and the new freedom, your father went a little overboard. Back then, he was definitely no saint. I think it was because of this that Dakota's pleading finally struck a chord in me, and the two of us got back together. I know, why didn't I just leave your father for Dakota? It's because I still loved him and I couldn't let him go, so until I sorted out my own feelings, Dakota and I would sneak around behind your father's back. After a while we started feeling guilty, but your father was so busy making a name for himself that Dakota and I had nearly a whole week to ourselves. It was within that week that you were conceived. Since we'd been so irresponsible, I had a hunch you were there, in me, so I decided I was going to own up to my mistakes. I was going to leave your father for Dakota. I packed up my things and was ready to go find your father and explain myself when I got a call from the hospital.

Dakota was driving again, taking the last shift of the road trip. It was a little after eight at night and Eileen was out cold next to him. They were just pulling into town and needed to call Chris for the last of the directions to their apartment. He couldn't do it, though. Feeling panicked, he pulled over into a gas station and jerked Eileen awake. She stirred easily, rubbing her eyes and looking around her for clues of where they were.

"Are we there yet?" She said groggily, straightening herself out.

"We're in town, yeah," Dakota rushed, bouncing his knee, "But before we call Chris, I had to stop and talk to you." He unbuckled himself and got out of the car, coming around the passenger side and opening the door. "Stretch your legs." Dakota suggested, holding out a hand to Eileen. She took it and stood, doing as she was told. He closed the door gently behind her.

"Okay," She finished stretching and leaned against the car, "What's this all about?"

"Leena," Dakota started, standing in front of her, leaning in close with his elbows to the car, his arms resting just above Eileen's head. She placed her hands on his hips, "I don't want this to end," His eye's glistened with the possibility of their affair ending now. "I care about you and you care about me." He bit his lip to keep from getting too emotional, "Right?"

"Dakota," Eileen began, removing her hands form his side. He immediately knew this wasn't going to end up the way he wanted it. She'd started with his full name. "It's time. We need to go back to just being friends." He couldn't help it now, his eyes glistened with tears, "You knew this was coming." He wasn't hearing a word she said, "I have Chris. I have to take care of him."

"Yeah?" Dakota pulled away from her, pacing in a circle, "You said you needed me." He glared at her then, using his hands to talk, feeling hurt. "Damn it, Leena, I need you." He sighed, waiting for a response.

"Please don't do this, Dakota," She was serious then, crossing her arms and tonguing her right eyetooth like she always did when she was mad. He took note of that.

"You please don't do this!" He fumed. Eileen didn't say anything back. In the silence, he calmed down. Sighing, Dakota came back to Eileen, wrapping an arm around her waist and another up to her cheek, caressing it, but Eileen turned her head away. He dropped his hands then, defeated, and climbed back into the driver's seat wordlessly. Eileen called Chris and asked for the final directions, keeping a mental note of all the landmarks he told her to watch for. Once done, she sat back into the car and gave Dakota the directions. He started the car back up and took off down the road, both silent, and both hurt.

When they pulled into the parking lot, Chris was already outside waiting for them. Not wanting to unpack that night, they only took in their overnight bags with them. Eileen feigned excitement at seeing her boyfriend again, willingly jumping into his arms as he spun her around just as she'd done a million times over the summer with Dakota. She noticed how her feet were too close to the ground, unlike when Dakota picked her up. When he put her down, she was happy to see that his light brown hair was a little longer, looking less like a buzz cut now. The stubble along his jaw had grown some, too, also looking longer than the average look Chris went for. Aside from the changes, she noticed the one constant thing about him; his eyes. His light blue sea colored eyes sparkled when he smiled.

Chris kissed Eileen all over her face, tickling her, just before kissing her deeply on the mouth. Dakota watched, uncomfortable, as he held their bags. When they were done making out, Chris took his girlfriend's hand and led them both upstairs to their new home. Once inside, both Dakota and Eileen noticed how tiny the apartment was. From the front door, straight ahead was the living room, and to their left was the kitchen, consisting of only a fridge, dishwasher, and oven with two counter spaces opposite of the appliances, connecting to the wrap around bar, framing off the small kitchenette. To the right was a hallway that led down to three doors: The first on the right being the bathroom, the first on the left being Dakota's room and the one at the very end of the hallway was Chris and Eileen's.

Both beat from the drive down, declined drinking to celebrate their homecoming and turned to their separate rooms, pausing to look back at one another before opening their separate doors and entering their separate lives. Chris decided to drink without them, watching a season set of South Park as he did.

Before Eileen crashed that night, she tossed and turned, her mind occupied with thoughts of Dakota. She thought of all the wonderful things they'd done together and all that they'd confessed to one another. Feeling her heart tug inside her, she did what she needed to do, picking up her phone in the dark of the room and texted Dakota, hoping he was asleep and that they could talk about it tomorrow.

To: Dakota Sakinisky

"I'll think about it."

Sent at 10:36 PM

The next morning Eileen woke up late to a note next to her face.

Went to Work

Love, Chris

She stretched in bed, rubbing her eyes and cracking her fingers. She realized she only had one free day left before she had to report in for work the next day. And on top of that, she had to go register for classes the day after that. Eileen shook her to do list from her head, reminding herself, before she could stop herself, to put Dakota on that list. She chided herself for that and grabbed her tooth brush from her overnight bag before heading to the bathroom to brush up before her run.

Dakota, having been the driver for most of the trip down, was far more exhausted than Eileen had been. As soon as his head hit his unmade bed, he was out. This morning, he woke up to humming that faded down the hall. He could tell it was Eileen. She always sang Early Bird by Shirley Temple in the mornings, just for kicks. Just like when she sang her altered version of Usher's Love in This Club to him. He reminded himself to try out talking to her in lyrics. Still groggy, Dakota reached blindly around the floor, still lying face down in bed, looking for his phone. When he finally grabbed it, he lifted his head to check the time only to see that Eileen had texted him. He opened it, reading it, and smiled to himself. At least she was considering being with him again.

He was too excited to stay in bed when he knew that Eileen was up and about to take off for a run. He rolled himself up and left his room quickly, just in time to see Eileen stripping off her tank top, left only in her sports bra and running shorts. She was wiping the sweat from her face, unable to see that Dakota had entered the hallway. She ran right into him. Eileen popped her head out from her tank top and blushed.

"Back from your run?" Dakota asked, taking in her flushed face and how the sweat from her morning exercise left her skin glistening. Eileen didn't say anything back, too absorbed in Dakota's perfectly defined body. She already missed being able to kiss up and down his torso. "Eyes up here, doll face," He winked, making her blush and turn her head away.

"Shut up," She stumbled over her words and pushed past him, into the bathroom. Dakota only nodded to himself, strolling into the kitchenette for cereal.

The two spent most of their day lounging around the apartment, watching TV, playing video games, and reading magazines. Of course, they did all these things separately due to their snuffed out flame. Dakota hated that it had to be this way until she decided. And if she decided to stay with Chris? He wasn't sure what he would do. It hurt too much to think about her denying his feelings for her. Dakota easily forgot those pained thoughts thanks to some weed he found next to his bedroom door, a welcoming present, courtesy of Chris. Even then, he couldn't completely erase her from his mind. She still roamed there, but in a more positive light. She lifted him up in ways he couldn't even describe. Well, he glanced down at his lap where a tent had formed in his basketball shorts, he supposed she could lift him up in more ways than he thought. Aroused, he glanced through the window between the cabinets and the counter top where Eileen was humming to herself, chopping up a salad.

Feeling like she was being watched, Eileen stopped humming and peered up at Dakota's glazed eyes, searing into her. She gasped at the look he was giving her, but she couldn't pull her eyes away. At least, not until he blinked, blushed, and turned towards the TV again. She missed him. She couldn't deny that. Not being with him was like having a hole in her chest, numbing her of all emotions that related to anything or anyone other than Dakota. Chris, she tried to tell herself over and over again, Chris is the one she loves. She even tried remembering sweet things Chris had done for her, like take her to parties and introduce her to all the people she thought she'd never talk to; the popular kids. She was introduced to a whole new life in high school because of him. He showed her how to have fun, he took her to nice restaurants and went to all the movies she wanted to see, he even bought her jewelery every now and then. But, she remembered, he also showed her how to parachute drugs, how to sneak drugs through an airport successfully (which caused her to have a panic attack on the plane), and how to steal bulk items from stores. She hated what he did, but she loved him for who he was. Chris was everything she had ever wanted in a man: around her height, blue eyes, interesting facial feature (his full eyebrows), experienced in the bedroom, standoffish, cool, calm, fun, good sense of humor, risky, and above all else, he loved wholly. There was no, "I think I love you," or, "I think I'm falling for you," or, "I have a feeling this date is going swimmingly." No, Chris was all about knowing and acting on his feelings. So why did she want this tall, dark eyed, angel faced, iffy, poor humored, moody artist? She didn't have time to dwell on that thought, though. Dakota was behind her now, arms around her waist, and his chin resting on top of her head.

"Dakota," Eileen signed, but it didn't come out the way she wanted it to. To her, it sounded more like a sigh of longing, not of scolding.

"I miss you," He said simply, wistfully, "I miss us."

"We lasted as long as freshmen whores in heat," Eileen turned in his grasp, pushing his arms away and stepping back against the counter to shake his chin from the crown of her head. Dakota couldn't help but smile at her humor. Even when she was in a situation that caused her stress or made her upset, she still managed to say something funny. She always knew how to brighten his mood, even though she was the one causing his bad mood.

"We could last longer, you know," He fought his case, putting both hands on the counter, on either side of Eileen, trapping her where she was. "Much longer." He pressed into her then, bringing more than one meaning to what he just said. Eileen could feel how much he wanted her. How hard he was for her. She wanted to give in, but wouldn't let herself. She had more willpower than that. So she pushed him. Hard. Dakota stumbled backwards, hurt. Eileen could swear she saw tears in his eyes before she darted back into her room, but she didn't want to stay long enough to find out for sure. She spent the rest of the day there, no longer hungry.

Chris didn't come home until the next morning, around four AM, reeking of booze, weed, and sweat. What did he do, rave all night? Eileen woke up as he stumbled in, passing out on the bedroom floor where he tripped just before reaching the bed. She hated him. In this moment, she didn't care what anyone thought. She wanted Dakota. She wanted someone who understood self control and moderation. And this, she glanced down at Chris, was none of that. When she was sure he was out for good, she stood, tip toeing around his body, and left the room.

Dakota woke to a pleasant sensation in his nether regions. When he pulled back the covers, he was ecstatic to see Eileen's head bobbing between his hips in the dark of his room, illuminated by the light of his alarm clock. He knew she couldn't stay away for long. She choked, but continued, sucking harder, taking in more of his dick with each bob of her head. Dakota was in heaven. His head fell to his pillow, completely absorbed in what she was doing to him. When he could feel his orgasm coming, he grabbed the back of her head and gently intertwined his fingers through her hair, politely urging her to go deeper. Eileen could feel him cumming in her mouth with each pulse. She sucked for a few lengths more, wrapping her tongue around the head of his penis, and swallowed. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she lied down next to Dakota, wrapping an arm around his middle and resting her head on his shoulder.

"What was all that about?" Dakota asked, kissing her forehead.

"I hate Chris," Eileen said it numbly. She was so mad. She was trying her hardest to keep the aggressiveness in her voice muted, but Dakota picked up on it. He didn't even have to see her face to know how she was feeling. "And you," She sighed, more exhausted than angry this time, "I don't know where to begin." And that's when she started crying.

Dakota could tell she was crying and trying hard to keep it from him. Eileen was one of those girls who hated crying in front of others. Not wanting her to get upset with him or embarrassed about her tears, he let her cry without trying to console her. He hated that this is what Chris drove her to. She would get so mad at him that she'd cheat on him and cry her eyes out, hating herself for what she'd done, and hating him for driving her to that point. Dakota wondered if she hated him, for tempting her, for letting himself be an outlet to her. She calmed down quickly, sniffling, and making an excuse about allergies and leaving his room.

When Eileen finally left for work later that day, she was exhausted, but she didn't let that keep her from doing a good job. Just as Chris had said, Melanie, who lived in the apartment above them, worked at Hooters. Unlike Eileen, though, Melanie was more than qualified to work there. When she introduced herself, Eileen couldn't take her eyes off the girl's rack.

"They're big," Melanie, who besides having big boobs and impossibly white teeth, also had honey colored hair, pale green eyes, and puffy glossed lips. She reminded Eileen of her Barbie dolls. "I know. It's nice to finally meet you. Chris talks nonstop about you!"

"Nice to meet you too," Eileen smiled politely back, "So you'll be training me today, then?"

"Yup, now follow me fresh meat!" Melanie dragged Eileen to the back to change into the uniform. After going over paperwork and signing away her boobs on the dotted line, the two went over the basics of customer service, how to earn better tips, and sexual harassment. "I know we're not strippers or go-go dancers, but you wouldn't believe the kind of crap that happens around here," Melanie went on, going into detail about a time she was almost raped. "But don't worry, after that incident, the boss man hired Steve to watch over us girls."

"Steve's the bouncer out front?" Eileen asked, recalling a bulky man in black circling the front of the restaurant. Melanie nodded in reply and went on describing the other girls who worked there as they tidied up the back office, the kitchen's pick-up zone, and the empty tables out front. "Wow, this place looks dead."

"For now, yes." Melanie sighed, "Give it another couple of hours and this place will be so packed you won't be able to get between tables without your ass rubbing against some customers and your boobs being in some loser's face." She laughed then.

And she was right. Eileen had plenty of experience as a waitress in a few diners and upscale restaurants, but she'd never experienced anything like Hooters on a Saturday night. She was doing her best to squeeze between two tables of frat boys who were hooting and hollering about Melanie's tits when one of them, seated at the end of the booth, pinched her ass. She was so startled, her immediate reaction was to swat at his hand with the back of her hand. The boys hollered some more, having a good old time harassing Eileen. She glanced over at Melanie for help, who was distracted by a customer who was distracted by her rack. Eileen sighed and let the frat boy ass pincher go without filing a complaint. She didn't want to start off on the wrong foot.

When the night had ended and her shift was over, she was beat. She was in the back room changing back into her modest attire when Melanie popped her head in, biting on her lower lip with unease. Eileen turned to her, hearing the door open.

"What's up?" Eileen buttoned her pants, pulling up the zipper.

"There's some hottie here asking for you." Melanie fanned herself in mock-heat. Or maybe she really was hot. The floor out front was still packed and she was still working. "Says he's here to pick you up."

"Oh," Eileen sighed, "That's just Dakota, my roommate." She grabbed her purse and followed Melanie out.

"THAT is Dakota?" She pointed at him, standing casually by the hostess podium.

"Yeah, Chris mention him or something?" Eileen tied her hair up into a pony tail, curious.

"Once or twice, but he never said he was gorgeous as all hell!" Melanie toyed with the low cut collar of her shirt. "Oh, Eileen, I know we've just met, but you've got to set me up with him!" She begged. Eileen bit her tongue, trying to swallow the jealousy that spiked in her. Instead of slapping her new co-worker and neighbor, she only laughed it off and approached Dakota, waving at Melanie as the two left. Once they were outside, Eileen dropped her happy facade and let herself feel what she really felt: drained.

"I thought I might come pick you up," Dakota started, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. "Since it's your first day and all. And it's late. I wouldn't want anyone mugging you." She wasn't hearing a thing he said. He took notice. "You alright?"

"Just tired," Eileen yawned, wrapping an arm around his waist and leaning into him. "Thanks for coming to pick me up."

"So we're..." Dakota was afraid to ask, "We're...together now, right?" Eileen only sighed, letting herself consider it for a minute.

"No," She said, feeling just as defeated as Dakota, "But we can pretend every now and then." Dakota smiled, happy to at least share her until she decided who she wanted to be with more. He was starting to think he had a fighting chance at being with her. In fact, he felt like he had the upper hand and was winning against Chris in the competition for Eileen's affection.

"Come on," Dakota couldn't wipe the smile from his face, "I'll get you a cup of coffee before we get home."

They spent a good hour at the coffee house two blocks down from Hooters, in the opposite direction of their apartment. They talked and laughed, enjoy each others company before they had to cut their conversation short and turn around back to their apartment. When they walked in through the front door, they were surprised to see that Chris was home. And looking pissed.

"Hey, what're you doing here?" Eileen approached him, "Your Business class doesn't let out for another half hour." Chris back stepped, moving away from her. "What's the matter with you?"

"I wanted to be here at eight, when you're suppose to be home from work, before my class starts, so I could give you this." Chris rushed his words, sounding aggressive, and handed her a black velvet box. He tapped his foot impatiently when she didn't open the box. Chris grabbed his keys and pushed past Dakota, mumbling something about a party. When the door slammed, Dakota's heart dropped to his stomach. Her earrings.

"So," Dakota inched towards Eileen, who had her back to him, cradling the box in her hands. "What's in it?"

"Doesn't matter." She threw it at the wall and turned to him then, pulling him down to her level by the neck and crashed her lips onto his. He could feel her hot tears streaming down her face, her nose scrunched up, trying to choke down a sob. Dakota did the only thing he knew how to do to cheer her up. He kissed her back with as much ferocity as she had. And just as he predicted, one thing led to another.

Dakota had Eileen lying flat on her back on the dining table with her ankles over his shoulders as he pounded into her, holding her hips still so she wouldn't slide back from the force of his thrusts. He loved every moment he had with her, even if it was just out of spite. Eileen bit her fingers, trying to keep from moaning.

"Be loud," He urged, wanting to hear her call out with the pleasure he was causing her. She only shook her head no. Not happy with this, Dakota moved his hips faster, driving into her harder. She let out a yelp, then, curling her toes and clutching the edge of the table. "God," Dakota muttered, watching Eileen toy with her body. She was playing with her nipples, and then, trailing south, she swirled her fingers in a circular motion over her sensitive pink bean. "Fuck, Leena," He gasped, feeling his orgasm approaching. Eileen moaned, tightening herself around his dick, riding out her orgasm. Dakota came after she did, his grasp on her hips almost painful as he finished in her. Eileen sighed, relief spreading throughout her body as she sat up, kissing Dakota's chin lightly.

"That was amazing," She sighed again, tucking Dakota's penis back into his boxers and doing up his pants. "Thanks for that." Dakota smiled, watching her dress him.

"Leena," Dakota stopped her when she tried buttoning up his flannel. "That was un-fucking-believeable." Eileen only laughed at that, wrapping her arms around Dakota's waist. "I mean it." He laughed too, realizing he sounded stupid. He gazed down at her lovingly, adoring how confident she was around him. She was ass naked on the dining table, smiling up at him without fearing that her boyfriend could walk in on them at any moment. He backed up, picking up her clothes off the floor and handing them to her. She dressed slowly, hopping off the table, and stretched.

"Come on," She nudged him, "Let's play some games or something. I've got nothing better to do tomorrow." He followed her over to the couch and spent the rest of the night and some of the morning playing video games with her and chomping down Doritos.

When Chris came home, drunk, stoned, and a number of other things, he was surprised to see Eileen lying face down on the couch with an Xbox controller in her hand and Dakota sprawled across the floor parallel to her, with a chip bag and controller next to him. They were both out cold. What caught his eyes was seeing Eileen's hand resting on Dakota's chest. Had he been sober he would've thought her hand slipped from the couch. But Chris wasn't sober. He was fucked up. And fucked up Chris was hurt, feeling that she genuinely liked Dakota more than him. She wasn't even wearing the earrings he got her...

What hurt worse...?

"Leena," Dakota mumbled, sleep talking, "No," his words coming out slowly, the letters in each word jumbled up and mashed in a way that made him almost incoherent. Almost. "Don't go,"

Chris wasn't even sure if what he was witnessing and hearing could possibly be true. He really was messed up from his night of partying with some guys from his class. For now, he dismissed whatever had happened, and sluggishly made his way to bed, ignoring the rest of Dakota's mumbled desires for Eileen. He didn't even think Eileen would go for a guy like Dakota. She loved him. Not some moody artist who stole Justin Bieber's wardrobe.

The next few weeks flew by in a familiar pattern. Eileen's infidelity would begin with a fight with Chris, ending with him storming off, and Dakota storming in. Occasionally, Eileen would turn to Melanie and the two would go out dancing with the rest of the Hooters girls. She even made friends with a few guys from her English class, who seemed to enjoy literature more than she did.

What surprised Chris along the way was how confident Eileen had become with her body. He remembered when she would blush and cross her arms over her chest when she was only wearing a tank top around anyone other than him. Now she was different. Eileen watched TV on the couch in her towel while Dakota was at the table, writing a paper for class. She wore short shorts, with her ass cheeks hanging out. She even wore a see through floral print top without a tank top or bra. That day, he noticed that she didn't even try to cover the slip of her nipple from under the floral print when she reached into a cabinet overhead. Did Hooters and her stripper class do this to her? He wasn't sure. Not that he was complaining. Chris just wanted her to turn down the sexuality a notch. Especially since their sex life had come to a complete halt. He felt like she was showing him something he couldn't have anymore. Like she was taunting him.

Dakota, on the other hand, was the reason for Eileen's confidence. He was also the reason why she dressed so provocatively. She never felt so wanted and sexy in her life. It was because of Dakota that she felt more comfortable with her body. Where Chris had called the birth mark on her left breast weird, Dakota had kissed it, saying it looked like half a heart, one that he intended to make whole. Chris would pinch her ears and call her a mouse, because they stuck out when she wore a hat, but Dakota would suck on her earlobe and whisper into her ear that he loved the curve of her ears. All the things that Chris had poked and prodded, Dakota had caressed and kissed.

Early on in their arrival, Dakota had even found a job as a bartender at one of the clubs Eileen and her friends frequented. On nights she'd show up with a large pack of girls, the two would often end up in the backroom, with Eileen holding her ankles or on her knees. Dakota loved every second they had together, her, drunk, and him eager to love her deeply. When Dakota wasn't busy with the bar or fucking Eileen in the backroom, he was having a good time with his co-worker, Cindi, who happened to be a lesbian with knowledge of the affair. She didn't mind. As long as they cleaned up after themselves and didn't make a scene in the club.

Everything was going smoothly, the universe on Dakota's side for once, and he couldn't be happier. Well, he could, if Eileen were his. That seemed to be the only problem with their secret rendezvous. It was secret.

"Leena," Chris spoke over the noise of her racing game. He was failing to catch her attention, but she was definitely catching his. Today she was wearing a black, long sleeve, crop top with mid-rise faded blue shorts, that when she bent over, the curve of her cheeks would show. He shook his head of all his dirty thoughts and continued, "Pause it, I've got news." She shushed him, which irritated him, but he waited another thirty seconds for her to finish in first place.

"What is it?" She turned to him, leaving the Xbox controller in her lap.

"I'm gonna be changing my schedule today," Chris explained, "I'll be working less, and taking more classes."

"Okay," Eileen reached for her controller, thinking that his schedule change wasn't anything important. "Good for you."

"Wait," He pushed her hand away from her controller urgently, "I'm doing this because I want to join a frat. SigEp" She looked at him, dumbfounded.

"You're going to pledge SigEp?" Now Eileen understood the importance of his news. He would be out partying in his free time, studying hard with all the extra classes, and wouldn't be making as much money. She wanted to be mad at him for choosing a party lifestyle and wanting that chaos, but she chose to support him. All it meant to her is that he'd be coming home bruised from hazing and drunk from parties. Nothing new, really. She sighed, "Alright," She forced a smile, "Good luck."

"Really?" Chris was baffled, "You're really okay with this?"

"I'm just happy you're taking more classes." She rolled her eyes and picked up her controller. "Now go change your schedule." Chris kissed her temple before grabbing his keys and heading out to campus. Eileen just hoped he didn't drag a bunch of frat bastards back to their place for parties. She could only imagine the kind of hazing Chris would be put through.

Chris hadn't been lying when he said he was going to be busy. Just as he said, Dakota and Eileen rarely ever saw him during pledging, which meant all the more sex and fun for the cheaters. The two spent every second together, and even got cocky one night and slept in Dakota's room together, knowing that Chris was doing some overnight partying at the apartment complex SigEp took over. Dakota felt like Eileen was actually his for a change and just lending her loyalty and support to his friend. Eileen was happy too. For once she wasn't wondering where Chris was or what he was doing or if he did too many drugs. Everything felt right.

As the end of the week drew near, Dakota contemplated making Eileen choose between himself and Chris. He had a strong feeling she'd choose him, so he wasn't afraid of her rejection. He didn't even know what would happen if she refused him and went back to Chris. As he thought over his options, lying in bed, Eileen emerged from the hallway and slipped into his room, wearing only a lace thong.

"Come here," Dakota smirked at her attire, "I was waiting for you. What took you so long?"

"Sorry," Eileen blushed, loving how much he admired her figure, "I was jotting down some notes." She climbed under the covers with Dakota and straddled his hips. "But I'm here now," She rubbed against his growing erection under his briefs. "And I know you want me." She teased, leaning down to kiss him. Before she could, though, he turned away, trying to focus more on his internal war than her little thong and the blood rushing down to his crotch. She peered at him curiously.

"But do you want me?" Dakota asked, holding her hips, running his fingers up and down her sides.

"Of course I do." Eileen smiled, kissing his cheek.

"That's not how I meant." He frowned, pulling her hands from his face. Eileen realized what he meant now. She sighed, thinking back on how this all began.

"Do you?" Dakota wanted his answer now. He was tired of waiting. Their affair was dragging out, their secrets piling up, and their lies becoming more unbelievable. One time they skipped class and stayed home to have loud sex in the middle of the day, when Chris had come home. In their passion, they didn't know he'd come in. When Dakota left his room to get them something to drink, he was surprised to see Chris. Thankfully, he was baked, so when he was asked who he was fucking, Dakota told him it was the naked model from his drawing class. Chris believed it, but Eileen had to stay hidden in Dakota's room until Chris left an hour later to pick up some weed from his supplier. Dakota was sick of sneaking around. He wanted to take her out on a date in their town, to tell all his friends about how wonderful she is, and kiss her on campus without their mutual friends throwing a fit.

"Kota," Dakota could drown in Eileen's sad eyes. They were so deep and so full of pain, "I don't want to leave you," She chewed her lip, thinking over her choices, "I just don't think now is a good time for—" This wasn't what Dakota wanted to hear. He scooted himself up into a sitting position with her still in his lap, and held up his hands to stop her from explaining further.

"Can I just make my case, please?" Dakota clenched his jaw, crossing his arms over his chest. Eileen didn't respond, so he took it as a yes. "I know I wasn't suppose to feel so strongly about you. Right from the beginning I knew, but I couldn't help myself. Fuck," He shook his head, "I was so selfish with you." He sighed, "I want this to end, Leena. I want us to be just us, no Chris, no sneaking around, no secrets, none of that. Just us," He touched his fingertips from her chest to his, holding his other hand in a fist just below his chest, doing his best to keep calm. When she still didn't say anything, he pushed her off of him and started pacing his room, kicking away Xbox controllers and a string of condoms. "Goddamn it, Eileen!" He punched the wall next to the door, "God fucking damn it!" He glared at her, his eyes fierce. She couldn't even bring herself to look up at him. She folded her arms over her breasts. "Don't you fucking get it?" He screamed at her, hurt, "I love you so damn much and you can't even see it!" Dakota's voice quivered, holding back tears, "You still don't see it..." He trailed off, letting silence fill the room. Eileen hadn't expected that. Dakota loved her? She couldn't even fathom the idea. "Well it's clear where this is heading," Dakota sniffled, holding his bedroom door open for Eileen, "You don't love me, you only wanted me for the sex, you're so sorry, you really want to stay friends, and you hope I find someone who loves me as much as I love you. I get it," He kept his eyes to the floor. "You love Chris, I get it! Just go!"

Eileen stood up and took slow steps to the door, pausing before Dakota. She searched his face for something, but she wasn't sure what. Twin tears fell from his eyes, but he still couldn't bring himself to look at her. He had so much confidence in their relationship ten minutes ago. How did it get so bad? Eileen wasn't sure either. She reached out to wipe away his tears, but she stopped halfway there, letting her arm come back to her chest, and walked out the door.

When Dakota closed it behind her, he let himself feel everything full force. He didn't even care if she was sitting right outside the door or not. He held his chest and went back to bed, weeping softly at how cruel life has been to him. He'd only ever been good to his girlfriends. He'd been good to his mom and selfish brother. He'd done everything right, with school and grades, relationships, and family. His father was out of the picture by choice and his mother struggled even without contributing to his college fund. His first love cheated on him with her ex, which led to his sleeping around a lot more, and losing faith in love. Eileen made him believe again. She gave him the confidence and faith in love that he'd never felt before. And now she couldn't even choose between him and her junky boyfriend.

Eileen, on the other hand, still stunned from the sudden ending of their secret relationship, didn't want to feel anything that was about to burst from within herself. So she did the only thing she could think to. She found her phone and texted Chris.

To: Chris 3

"I'm up for some Molly.

Think you could ditch the frat for the night?"

Sent at 9:17 PM

When she didn't get a text back, she did the next best thing. She went back to her room and picked out some club-wear and headed upstairs to Melanie's apartment.

Eileen woke up the next morning naked, with an arm around her middle. At first, just feeling with her eyes closed, she thought it was Dakota. When she opened her eyes, though, she realized it was Chris's arm. She shot up, holding the sheet to her chest. She slept with Chris. She held her head in her hands and tried to pull herself together. Eileen slid out from under Chris's arm and went in search of her phone. When she found it and some spandex shorts and her Ramones T-shirt on, she quietly made her way out of her room and into the bathroom, checking the time on her phone. What she found was her reminders piled up on her calender to take her birth control. She counted how many were there; how many she'd skipped. There was a total of fourteen. Eileen held a hand over her mouth, realizing how careless she'd been. On top of that, she felt sick from her night of partying before. She could barely remember anything past Taco Bell, where she ran into Chris picking up a dozen of everything for his frat buddies. Whatever happened, she couldn't let it get to her today. She had classes, her dance lessons, and work today. Somewhere in between she needed to get her hands on a pregnancy test.

Dakota had been up for hours when he saw Eileen go into the bathroom from the corner of his eye. Instead of sticking around, he headed out to campus early, deciding to study in one of the libraries. He didn't think he could ever look at her the same anymore. After everything, and then last night... He didn't even want to think about it.

Where Dakota's day had been bland and just taking one step after another, Eileen's had crash landed in hell. She was late for class, could barely pay attention to her professors, and couldn't get herself to stay upside down on the pole in her dance class. On top of that, Hooters was swamped and she managed to spill two drinks on customers and flip a whole tray of wings and beer. Her boss yelled at her, she couldn't find the lyrics to express herself the whole day, and all she wanted to do was curl up with Dakota and escape the world with him. She couldn't even do that. She couldn't even go home and face Chris or Dakota. Instead, she said goodnight to Melanie, picked up a pregnancy test from a drugstore, and took the test in the bathroom there. She wasn't surprised by the results, but was surprised by her sudden realization. This answered everything.

Eileen went to Melanie's that night and stayed there, deciding to tell her everything. When Eileen had finished explaining everything, tears streaming down her face, Melanie smiled.

"Why are you smiling?" Eileen was emotional, but confused.

"I think you should tell him." Melanie picked up her cell phone and started calling someone.

"Who are you calling?" Eileen began to panic, "Who are you calling?" Melanie only held up her index finger, signaling her to wait. "Who are you calling, Mel?" She reached over to take the phone from her, "Mel?"

"Hi, Dakota?" Melanie swatted Eileen's hand away, "I think the mail mixed us up again. There's a package here for you." Eileen tried over and over again to pry the phone from her friend, but Melanie was stronger, and managed to keep her phone to her ear. "You'll be right up? Okay, perfect." She hung up. "There," She addressed Eileen this time, "He's coming up. So tell him, okay?"

"I don't think I can do this, Mel," Eileen held her stomach, feeling a wave of sickness come over her. "I can't tell him. He hates me," She began to cry all over again, "I really screwed up," She bit her fingers; a bad habit she did whenever she was trying to hold back sobs.

"Breathe," Melanie rubbed her friend's back, trying to calm her down, "It'll all be okay. You just have to be honest and tell him everything."

"He won't," Eileen hyperventilated, "He won't, he won't, he won't,"

The door bell rang.

"Well," Melanie sighed, "He's here, so try," She stood then, bringing Eileen with her and the two made their way to the door. Eileen stood just behind the door as Melanie opened it, hiding from Dakota.

"You said I had a package?" Dakota was confused. He didn't order anything online recently. He understood, though, when Melanie opened the door farther and stood back, revealing Eileen and her patchy tear soaked face. He swallowed, looking away from her. Melanie could tell this was going no where without help.

"Um," Melanie began, "Leena has something to say to you," She held onto Eileen's wrist to keep her from running away, "So, would you mind coming inside for a few minutes?"

Dakota didn't want to hear anything from Eileen, but nodded anyways, stepping past the two, if only to keep from having a scene out in the hall where all their neighbors could hear. The two girls followed him inside and the three sat on the couch, with Melanie and Eileen on the loveseat and Dakota in the middle of the couch next to them.

"Leena," Melanie, still holding onto her wrist, shook her a little, "Maybe you should start." Eileen didn't know how to start, so she stayed silent. "Tell him or I'll tell him way more than he needs to know." Eileen's face screamed panic. She shook her head, silently pleading with Melanie to keep her mouth shut.

"Fine," Eileen's voice was coarse from crying. She cleared her throat, "Kota," She chewed her lip nervously, "I don't know how to tell you this,"

"How about I go first?" Dakota volunteered, "I don't care what you have to say. Clearly this isn't just between us and Cindi anymore," He nodded at Melanie, "No offense."

"None taken," Melanie understood.

"After all this time and after I tell you I love you," Dakota's jaw clenched, still upset from the night before, "You go off and fuck your boyfriend like we never happened!"

"I know, and I'm so sorry!" Eileen cried, biting her fingers.

"Shut up!" Dakota yelled, "You are such a fucking nympho! All you've ever cared about was the sex. You never really cared for me, I get it. I told you, I get it!" He shook with rage, "But to come home with him, have sex with him, so obnoxiously loud, like you didn't know I'd be home?" Dakota's eyes were filling with tears, threatening to spill down his cheeks, "I hate you."

"No, Dakota," Eileen got up and sat in front of him, on her knees, "Don't. Please don't hate me. I didn't know what to do! I did the only thing I knew how to. I did what Chris would do, and that was so fucking wrong." She sobbed, reaching for his face, but he swatted her hands away, "Dakota, listen to me. Please," She pleaded through her tears, "I never wanted to leave your room yesterday, but you wanted me to leave so badly, so I did! And all today, all I could think about was you and how much I missed you and needed you! And now," She held her stomach, begging herself to control her tears, "Now I feel something so much more and I just," She swallowed, winning the fight over her anxiety, "I wanted to tell you that I do love you."

"It's a little late for that, don't you think?" Dakota asked coldly.

"No," Eileen held his hands, begging, "It's not! It's been one day, I made one mistake, and honestly, I don't even remember it."

"Eileen," Melanie cut through their foggy world of two, "Why don't you tell him the rest?" No one spoke. Melanie went on, "He should know."

"I should know what?" Dakota's interest peeked, turning to Eileen, "What is it that I should know?" When Eileen didn't start explaining, Melanie did.

"Dakota," She began, "Exactly how careful were—"

"I'll leave Chris!" Eileen shouted, in her fear of Dakota finding out. "I'll leave him. You and I can get a place of our own. We'll be together." Dakota sat silently, debating between circling back to what he should know or moving forward with what could be. Whatever it was that Eileen didn't want him to know, he could easily find out by being with her, but that wasn't the only reason he leaned on the latter. His heart spiked with excitement when Eileen said she would leave Chris. "Oh Dakota, I know our love is new/I barely know ya/I'm falling over you/It's the way you do, the things you do/That make me fall in love with you/Dakota, are you in love with me too? " Eileen sang Dakota by A Rocket to the Moon, despite it being about a girl named Dakota. He couldn't take it anymore. "I love y—"

Dakota, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, grabbed Eileen's face with both hands and pulled her in for a deep kiss, smashing his lips onto hers. At first, Eileen was so shocked she didn't kiss back, but after a second, she did. Melanie clapped happily, watching the two kiss passionately. She was glad that her interference made life better for those two. Although, she was a little upset that Chris was pulling the short straw in this deal. Poor guy, she mused. Dakota pulled away, giving his girlfriend one last peck, and smiled.

"You're my girlfriend now," His smile stretched farther. Eileen sighed happily, nodding against his forehead. "Come on, let's go home," The two rose and said their goodbyes to Melanie, going back down the elevator and into their own apartment.

Over the next few days, Eileen and Dakota planned for their move. They'd found another apartment closer to campus, packed up their personal belongings, and left their furniture be until Eileen got a chance to break up with Chris. The new lovers were about to take their bags over to their new place when Eileen's cell phone rang. She looked at the unfamiliar number curiously, and answered.

"Hello?" She asked.

"Hi, this is Tempe St. Luke's Hospital. May I speak with Eileen O'Donnell?"

"This is she," Eileen could feel stomach bile turning, nervous.

"We're calling in concern to Christopher Bennet. He was admitted to the hospital about an hour ago. We'd like you to come in as soon as you can."

Then Eileen puked, letting the contents of her stomach spill onto the kitchen floor.