Drowning. I found myself using that term a lot lately. Drowning in the lies. Drowning in my emotions. Drowning…in his love. It was all just too much.
The current was pulling me down into its dark abyss but I had to ask myself: did I really want to pull myself up? Or did I want to keep drowning in his affection despite the inevitable consequences?
My body shook with silent laughter as he ran his fingers down my bare back. He flipped me over and stared down at me adoringly.
“God…you’re beautiful.” His voice was husky and smelt of cloves. He must have taken up smoking again. I didn’t blame him. The situation was stressful.
I didn’t answer him with words, though my lips said it all.
He pulled away a little breathless and asked, “What time…what time are your parents expecting you home?”
I smiled. “Not until six. We have a dinner party to go to tonight at seven.”
He sighed. “You have to go soon.”
It wasn’t a question but I felt the need to answer it though I felt differently. “Yes.” I closed my eyes and bit the inside of my cheek absentmindedly.
“Damn.” He looked over at the clock sitting on his bedside table. “Four fifty. We have time.”
He ran his hands through my hair for a moment as he gazed down at my naked form. After a moment, he brought his mouth down to mine and I found myself answering my own question.
No, I was content, drowning in this forbidden fantasy.

Chapter One

Chapter One
“Layla, come on we are going to be late!” Rebecca screamed from the living room.
She didn’t have to yell, the walls were paper thin, even if I was upstairs. I probably would have heard her if she whispered it.
I could hear my father’s keys rattling as he headed to the car. He knew I was becoming a woman and like all women, we took a while to get ready. I was currently in a royal blue sweater dress with black leggings and matching ballet flats. The blue went perfectly with my light caramel skin tone. My normal long curly brown hair, which I usually kept in a ponytail, was brushed in silken waves down to the small of my back.
When I was done I went down to the kitchen were Rebecca waited impatiently. I could understand her anger; this auction thing was a big deal to her. It was her work after all and I was making her late. The fact that I had come home thirty minutes late wasn’t any better, but I always lost track of time when I was with Jack. He’d had practice and I couldn’t miss it.
She shooed me to the car and we headed downtown.
Earlier Rebecca had told me there would be a lot of important people there and for me not to mess anything up. I told her I wouldn’t and she looked toward my father. He looked at me and I promised him I wouldn’t screw this up for her. He was the glue in my mother and my relationship. Well, my stepmother and my relationship. My real mother had died when I was eleven. After that, my father moved us from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to the pleasant city of Baxter Springs, Kansas where he met Rebecca White.
She wasn’t anything special. Younger than my father by about five years maybe, shoulder length red hair and laugh lines, though I never heard her laugh enough to prove how she’d gotten them. She was a tall woman, a little too skinny if you asked me, but then again no one ever asked me what I thought anymore.
We arrived to the auction house about five minutes late. Rebecca told everyone it was because of the traffic and they all believed her. My father and I sat as she got things in order and settled down the crowded room.
The first few pieces she auctioned off went quickly but when it came to an old rug that looked like someone had taken a crap all over it, things started to slow a bit. As she spoke, her voice seemed to carry on like an old record player being slowed.
When it was finally over, we mingled for a while; moving from white room to white room looking at different paintings and artifacts. I left my parents to look at some painting with a weird red smear on it.
“Very unique, isn’t it?” A man asked from behind me.
I jumped at his sudden appearance.
“Sorry,” he said giving me an apologetic smile, which made me falter a bit. He was quite handsome.
“It’s alright,” I told him. I moved out of his way and continued to stare at the painting.
“Do you like it?” He asked.
I tilted my head to the left. “I’m not sure. It-it looks like a blood smear. As if someone reached their bloody hand out and just wiped it on a piece of paper. No, I don’t like this. It’s too... simple.”
I looked up to see him holding back a smile. He nodded his head and said, “Interesting. May I ask your opinion on these?” He pointed to three more.
One was a black and white photo of a small girl. She was crying over her dead dog’s body, or rather what was left of it. It looked as if the dog had been run over. Another was a painting of a naked woman, but she was grotesque. Her limbs and features were in the wrong places and her eyes were dark red with black circles around them. The other was a painting of a Gothic home. Not Gothic like the new frenzy of metal, but a classic European feel. Red streaks ran from the windows making it look menacing.
“Is this all the same person?” I asked.
He nodded.
“I like them all. The girl, she shows a strong sadness and I can feel her pain. The woman, she’s strange, shows we are not perfect. The circles around her eyes say she’s tired of striving to be that way. And the house says don’t come knocking if you hear any screams. Makes me think of domestic violence, maybe?”
He stared at me for minute, green eyes inquisitive, and then asked, “How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” I replied a little shyly as to why this man was asking my age.
He seemed to be older than I was by a few years, though I wasn’t sure how many, and taller than me by a few feet. I found myself constantly looking up at him. His short black hair reached the tip of his ears but looked a little strange on him seeing as he looked about twenty-eight. It made me wonder if he was going through a midlife crisis early. He wore jeans that seemed to be a bit too loose on him and a black shirt with white stripes.
To be honest he didn’t look like he belonged in this setting. Everyone else was dressed in slacks, ties, and heels, but him? Sneakers?
“You think differently than that of a teenager. Your mind seems to be…ahead of the game so to speak.”
“I get that a lot.” I shrugged.
“You’re 'becca’s daughter, right? I saw you all come in together.”
“Step-daughter actually,” I said brushing a strand of hair behind my ear. “And you?”
“Devin.” He extended his hand and I shook it. “I’ve heard so much about you. Rebecca has mentioned so much of you that I feel I know you.”
“There you are Layla,” Rebecca said coming up behind Devin. Speak of the devil.
My father was with her though his eyes said otherwise. He looked as if he’d rather be anywhere but here, then his eyes traveled to Devin and our linked hands. Devin released my hand and put his in his pockets. I rolled my eyes.
“Devin, I see you’ve met my step-daughter.” Rebecca smiled at him.
“Yes, she’s very bright. Plus she said she likes my work so that’s an extra bonus.”
Rebecca laughed while I eyed him. “Your work?”
He nodded.
“Yes, he didn’t tell you?” Rebecca asked. “He’s very talented to only be twenty-six. Which is why I’m sad to be letting him go, he’s leaving us to become a teacher.”
I didn’t like the way she said teacher. She made it sound like he was wasting his life on something frivolous.
“But I’ll still be painting,” he said. “I’ve just always wanted to give back you know? Teaching seemed like a fulfilling job. I actually majored in education in college.”
Devin and I smiled at each other.
My father cleared his throat.
“Yes?” I asked looking at him.
“Shouldn’t we be getting home?” He whispered into Rebecca’s hear. “She’s got school tomorrow.”
He did a horrible job of whispering it to her, Devin and I could hear him clear as a bell. He was just in daddy mode right now. He didn’t know I was dating Jack and this was exactly why. He was a little weird when it came to boys and me. However, Devin wasn’t really a boy, but a man.
Rebecca laughed nervously and excused them both. She took my father to a different room, probably to talk to him.
I on the other laughed a little at my father’s over protectiveness.
“I don’t envy the boy that has to ask you out,” Devin said smiling down at me.
“Which is why I don’t date.” I lied.
“You should, you’re pretty…” I raised an eyebrow. “Intelligent, pretty intelligent,” he finished.
I tried to hold back my smile but couldn’t. A small laugh formed in my throat.
“Sorry, sometimes I forget to finish my sentences.”
“Sure,” I said laughing.
I looked from Devin to see my father coming out of the room Rebecca had taken him. He didn’t look too happy to see me still talking to Devin.
“Look I’ve got to go, I’ll see you around.”
I walked away, and as I did, I could have sworn I heard him say, “I hope so.”
The ride home was uncomfortable. My father kept mumbling something like, “Too young for him.” He would look into the rear-view mirror and stare at me occasionally.
I could tell when he thought I was sleeping, he’d catch himself and smile like he used to do when he watched me sleep. Well, thought I was sleeping. I could feel him watching me and I’d pretend to stay that way. Then I could feel the happiness emitting off him.
When we got home, I did my usual routine. I showered, brushed my teeth, said goodnight to my father, and then went to bed.

Chapter Two

Chapter Two

I walked into my second class and saw Marina waiting for me anxiously. She practically bounced in her seat. She was the go to person for gossip and today she was sitting on something big. Her brown hair, darker than mine by a few shades, was bobbing around her small face as she waited for me.
She was wearing the red and gold kimono I’d given her a few years ago. I’d grown out of it but her weight never changed so she’d have it a lot longer than I would. It had looked good on me but looked even better with her skin tone. While my skin was caramel, hers was light mocha, darker by a shade or two compared to mine.
I walked slowly, just to mess with her, and she rolled her eyes. I laughed as I sat my things down then sat myself in the seat next to her.
“Oh. My. Gawd,” She said making each word its own sentence. “They fired Mr. Finch.”
“What?” I choked out. “I liked Mr. Finch. He was nice.” Not to mention cute as-
“I know right!” She whispered fiercely, cutting off my thought. “Plus he was hot but they got someone even hotter to replace him.”
“Really? Who?”
“I don’t know his name.”
I stared in shock. Marina knew everything. It was strange for her not to know his name.
“Well, I just found out. I got here late. I can’t remember, give me a minute. I’ll think of it.”
I laughed and watched as the students tried to pour into the classroom before the bell rang.
The teacher came in, late as always, and sat at his massive desk that spread across the room.
Students chattered and texted but he didn’t care. He had better things to do than to stand there and lecture the do’s and don’ts of talking in class. He was a pretty cool teacher. This class was a filler and he treated it that way.
“Simmons!” Said Marina loudly. She looked at the teacher who wasn’t paying her any attention and I tried to stifle my laugh.
“Simmons.” She whispered this time. “That’s his name, but I don’t know his first name, wouldn’t tell us. Tamie told me he said he didn’t want any stalkers.”
I nodded.
“Girl, he’s hot.” She fanned herself with a blue folder and I laughed.
Marina and I had been friends since I’d moved here. She’d lived down the street from me but had to move when the house became infested with a rodent problem. We’d clicked like sisters when she introduced herself.
Marina went on and on about the new teacher until the bell rang. I sighed both from information overload and from the fact I didn’t want to go to gym.
She gave me a sympathetic look and trotted off in the other direction. Normally I liked gym, but I was tired today. I didn’t feel like running for an hour or enduring some type of physical activity.
I was thankful I had first lunch, which meant I would get to eat before I had to spend any energy.
Jack was waiting by the cafeteria doors looking devilish as ever. When I reached him, he pulled me to his chest and gave me a gentle squeeze. Then his mouth found mine, though he never kissed me like I wanted. He’d pull back too quickly and stare at me like I was the best thing in his life.
He had cut his already short blonde hair into an even shorter military fashion. I hated that he did it but if it pleased him, it was fine with me. Jack was the Center in football and could do whatever he wanted and he normally did.
We had started dating a couple of months after I became enrolled here. We’d met at one of his football games; Marina had dragged me to it. I wasn’t one to go to school affiliations but I was glad I’d gone to that one. Jack had followed Marina and I to my car and asked me out. I had said yes after a few moments of a brain malfunction.
“Ready?” He asked taking my hand.
I nodded. We entered the rambunctious cafeteria and got our food then went to our usual table. Since dating Jack, I didn’t sit alone. I sat with his fellow football mates and their girlfriends.
There was Cindy and Mitch, Quarterback, Laura and Steve, Running Back, and Rachel and Haven, Linebacker. The girls and I normally chatted with each other at the table but after that, we went our separate ways. Or I went my separate way.
I didn’t really like the football girls, they tended to be more empty minded than I preferred. And they could tell I thought so, I wasn’t big on hiding my feelings from people unless it was something I was feeling upset about. If I felt something was wrong with a situation or a person for that matter, I tended to speak my mind. Though when I was with this group I tried to conceal this. It wasn’t their fault they were taught differently. I did it for Jack and he knew this.
Today, though, I didn’t feel like putting up a front. I was tired and their voices grated on my last raw nerve.
When Cindy said something rather ignorant I opened my mouth to tell her where she could stick her comment but Jack kissed me, making me cut off. I kissed him back and the table laughed.
He released me and I took that as a “keep my mouth shut” kiss. I laughed at his attempt then continued to eat my salad.
When lunch ended Jack walked with me back to the gym. He kissed me gently and walked away. I watched as he left then went to get dressed or rather, undressed.
Gym wasn’t that bad. We got to go outside and play tennis against each other. It provided me movement and a way to get rid of my anger, though; I didn’t care for the smell that came with it. The coach released us to the showers and I thanked her repeatedly in my mind.
The water didn’t get as warm as I’d liked but it did the trick. I now smelt of melons and cucumbers.
The ringing of the bell alerted me to my dwindling time. I rushed to get dressed not liking the fact my hair was still wet.
I had made it to my last class just as the bell rang. The teacher wasn’t in yet so I was safe for a moment. Normally I had Mr. Finch for English but since they got rid of him, I was a little anxious to meet the new person.
I took my seat next to Jack and he smiled over at me, taking in my wet hair.
“I like it,” he said suppressing a laugh. “It’s cute.”
“Oh, thanks a bunch.” My remark was sarcastic which only made him laugh harder.
“Alright class,” a familiar voice said entering the room. “Settle down.”
I looked up to see Devin writing his name on the board, probably for the umpteenth time today.
“No friggin’ way,” I whispered. The class was quiet so my whisper wasn’t all that…whispery.
The class snickered and my cheeks took on a deep red.
Devin turned to see who had caused his class to act so immature. When his emerald eyes met mine he looked a bit shocked, then shock turned to amusement.
So I amused him now?
“Is there a problem Ms….” He searched the role-book though he already knew my name. “Bungah?”
The class laughed a bit while I shook my head quickly and mumbled a no.
“Good,” he said going back to his name. Once he was done he called the role then told us the lesson for the day. Since we were all new students to him he wanted us to tell a few things about ourselves so he could get to know us. This took up most of the period.
When the bells rang I took my time gathering my things. Jack had practice so he left quickly after kissing me goodbye. The class emptied and I picked up my bag and went to Devin’s desk.
“It’s nice to see you again,” he said, smiling up at me. “Nice hair.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Well, I guess I’m your new English teacher.” He stood and came to sit at the corner of his desk.
“I can see that, what I mean is, I didn’t know you taught.”
“Rebecca mentioned it last night.”
Right…I remembered now. Well, hell. I didn’t expect him to be teaching my class. Or my school. I thought, you know, kindergarten.
“Oh, okay.” I rummaged my mind for something to say. “Well, welcome to the school.”
“Thanks.” He laughed.
I began to walk away but he called me back.
“Was that your boyfriend?” He asked.
“Uh…” Oh, crap. I had forgotten about that. I’d told him I wasn’t seeing anyone due to his relationship with Rebecca.
He laughed at my flustered expression. “Relax, I won’t tell your parents.”
I let out a sigh. “Thanks.”
He waved it off, like he understood my predicament.
“Well, I will…uh…see you tomorrow, Mr. Simmons.”
“Devin,” he said giving me a warm smile. “Please, call me Devin.”
I nodded, and then left, feeling a bit giddy that I was allowed to call him by his first name. I shook off that feeling immediately.
I had to shake off the strange feeling I got when I was around him. I didn’t know how I felt toward him but I knew nothing good could come of it.
The comfort of my car helped to clear my head. I drove to the football field and watched the boys practice a bit. After I had composed myself, I got out and went to the shaky bleachers, praying they didn’t break under the weight of people sitting on them.
I didn’t sit next to the other girls and I could see they were glad for that. They went back to watching the practice.
I watched as Jack tackled people and cheered when I was supposed to even if I didn’t follow the game. I was just there for moral support just like all the other girls.
It didn’t take long for me to get sidetracked and for time to fly by. I swore under my breath as I realized I was going to be late for dinner, yet again.
I waved a goodbye to Jack, whether he saw it or not I wasn’t sure, then left the field to head home.
Once there my father gave me a slight lecture on being home in time for dinner then dismissed me to wash up. Our dinners were a family tradition that were not to be broken for any reason. My mother had been the one to make the rule that everyone was to be home in time for dinner and was probably the one thing my father kept of hers after she passed.
After dinner I went to my room to catch up on some homework that I, of course, waited to the last minute to complete. I was a big procrastinator if the homework was too easy. And it generally was.

Chapter Three

Chapter Three
“He’s sexy right?” Marina asked as I sat in my seat for second period.
I pretended to not know who she was talking about resulting in her slapping my arm playfully.
“Yeah.” I laughed. “He is. But he’s totally off limits to talk about. He’s one of the shrews clients.”
Marina pouted mumbling a ewe. Then she paused. “Wait, your stepmothers client? Like psycho-analysis client or…”
“No, she doesn’t do that anymore. Remember, I told you. Now she’s an art dealer or something.” I tried my best not to put air quotes around art dealer. Rebecca had two jobs when she married my father and now that he was bringing in the big bucks she decided to quite being an accredited therapist and instead deal art. I wasn’t exactly sure what her job was but from what I saw a couple nights ago, it seemed pretty boring.
“So…he’s not crazy.” Marina stated.
I shook my head, doubting the school would hire anyone dangerous to teach high school students. “He’s just…an artist. A deep, artist. He’s actually pretty good.”
I bit my bottom lip to prevent myself from smiling.
“So you’ve seen his work?”
“Yeah, at the gallery Rebecca works at.”
She thought for a moment. “So he’s an artist, he’s sexy as all get out, and he’s got rather large shoes.”
Now I slapped her arm, causing her to laugh uncontrollably. Marina normally said whatever came to her mind, which was why I loved her like my sister.
After second period, I met with Jack at the gym and he led me to the cafeteria. He wasn’t very talkative and I knew it was because I had left practice rather early. He liked for me to stay the entire time so we could have a moment together afterwards. It didn’t always happen like this. We both had lives outside of our relationship and he knew that. My father didn’t want me dating and neither did his parents. If my father found out I was sneaking around with Jack he’d have a conniption.
Jack often joked that that would be hilarious to see. I didn’t think so.
Before we reached the cafeteria I pulled him to the side and placed his hands on my waist. I tilted my head to the side and pouted my lips a bit knowing that was his weakness. He was always trying to please me and vise versa. It was why our relationship worked. We worked well with each other’s emotions. He smiled as he brought his mouth to mine gently.
I didn’t pull away from him when he began to breathe heavily, knowing he liked to be in control.
When he pulled back I smile greatly at my accomplishment. I didn’t like it when he was upset with me, it gave me an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
We then continued our trek to the cafeteria.
After lunch, gym passed quickly and as always, Coach Murphy had us doing some kind of activity that had me sweating profusely. I hit the showers, hoping I wouldn’t be late to class like I normally was. That hope always diminished because it didn’t matter how long I took in the shower, I was always a minute or two late to class.
There was never enough time to dry my hair. I knew that one day I was going to end up catching phenomena from walking across campus with moist locks.
The door to Devin’s classroom was open and I could see the student getting their books out. I vaguely heard Devin writing something on chalkboard on the right side of the classroom so I took this moment to try my best to sneak in without getting myself caught. Jack locked his eyes on mine and tried his best to hold back a smile. His eyes darted to my seat when the time was right and I quickly entered the classroom.
I hadn’t gotten halfway there before Devin called my name.
“Layla, nice of you to join us,” he said never turning from the chalkboard.
I stopped mid step as he then looked over his shoulder. “Sorry. Gym ran long?”
He turned away from me before I could make out his expression but I could have sworn it was a bit amused. I took this time to take my seat and take out my things.
He finished writing as I took my place besides Jack. Turning, he dusted his hands and smiled wickedly at me. “I trust next time you’ll dry your squeaky shoes before attempting to sneak into my classroom.”
I nodded and the class laughed a bit.
“Alright,” Devin said going to his desk at the front of the room. “Settle down. It’s time to begin our lesson on Beowulf. Turn in your books to page two hundred and thirty six.”
There were a few collective groans but none from me. I was relishing in the fact he hadn’t given me a detention.
“Oh, you all don’t like reading do you?” He smiled and it seemed like he was smiling directly at me. “Isn’t this what you all have been working on?”
I looked around and notice some people nodding.
“Alright, well if you all think you know the story write a paragraph, no less than seven grammatically correct sentences, summarizing the fable.”
He gave us about twenty minutes to do this then took them up. He then sifted through some of them and began to read some of them aloud. Most people were spot on while others were clearly not.
“Keep your books open,” Devin said. “But instead of having you read word for word today, we’ll just talk about your opinions on the story.”
He called on one girl in the back and asked her opinion on whether she thought the main character has heroic or not.
Her voice faded into the back of my mind as I watch Devin lean precariously on his desk, arms crossed over his chest.
He wore a white button down shirt with a red tie and slimming black slacks that completely contrasted with his look from two nights ago. He looked more like a teacher in this instant that he had then, more professional.
His eyes focused on the girl that was speaking and while he listened he nodded, black hair shifting a bit. Every couple of seconds his mouth would twitch and he’d lick his lips. His lips parted as he spoke but I never heard what came out. I could only think about what it would be like to taste those lips.
My mind began to linger on the rest of him, what it would be like to run my hands across his broad shoulders and down his chest. What was under that shirt? Was he muscular? The shirt he wore was a bit see through on the arms but I couldn’t make out if he had any muscle tone. He was a painter so did that mean he took special interest in his appearance?
I found myself thinking back to what Marina had told me earlier this morning. How he wore rather large shoes. Today they were black but I didn’t think that determine how large he was. Every person was different.
My eyes went back to him gorgeous face and I noticed he was staring at me, emerald eyes dancing with delight as his lips parted once more.
I was certain he was speaking to me, his lips formed my name but all I could think was-
“So hot.” I mumbled before I could stop myself. My voice snapped me back to where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. “I mean, so not. Beowulf was anything but a hero.”
I looked down at my book to prevent my face from flushing with embarrassment.
“Would you care to elaborate on that?” He was clearly amused. I could hear it in his tone.
I went on to explain my thoughts on the main character. When I finished I dared a look up from my book to see him nodding.
“Interesting. Becky, what do you think?”
His attention turned to the girl I sat next to for a moment but would occasionally dart back to me, causing an uneasy fluttering in my stomach.
When class ended he told us that we all did great and that we had an assignment that was do three weeks from Friday. We were to write an essay on our thoughts today. Why the main character was heroic and why the monster acted the way he did.
Before I could leave the classroom, Devin called me back.
“Yes,” I asked groaning internally.
“You should join creative writing club.” He told me. “There was a meeting yesterday and I was surprised you didn’t show considering that was the one thing you told me you liked to do yesterday. To write, right? Well, why aren’t you in creative writing club?”
“I only write poetry.” I lied, causing him to raise an eyebrow at me.
“Lying is not a becoming quality in a young lady. There’s another meeting tomorrow. Come, bring your poetry. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
If it meant I could gawk at him, there was no doubt in my mind I’d be showing up. I pushed that thought away. Clearly, that was a reason not to go.
I was sure he saw the conflict on my face because he spoke before I could. “Just…try it. We meet in here at three forty. I hear it gives people enough time to come across campus.”
My lips twitched and the corners of his mouth turned up a bit. “It wouldn’t kill you. Think about it.”
I would and I did.
The next day I stayed behind after the bell rang releasing the car riders, causing him to smile widely.
When the room cleared out, he spoke to me, voice like silk. “I knew you couldn’t stay away. You’ll like it. I promise.”
There weren’t very many people who showed up, just eight, and they were a bit shocked to find me there.
I didn’t blame them. I didn’t really talk to people at school. Marina was my sister and Jack was my boyfriend. Those were the only people I ever really interacted with. I mean, the guys at the table would go out of their way to talk to me but I knew that was because Jack made them. I had a hard time trusting people enough to let them get close enough to know me, so having many friends was definitely out of the question.
It wasn’t like I was mean to anyone, that was Rachel’s job. I just chose not to speak to people unless the situation called for it.
So to say I was nervous around these people was an understatement. And Devin wanted me to read a poem in front of them? Not going to happen.
But it was. Once the session started, Devin told me they had told him, it was mandatory that every new group member read a piece of work they wrote or liked. Including the teacher. He told me he did it yesterday and now it was my turn.
I shook at I stood near my desk and muttered a poem I had written a for a freshman English class.
It wasn’t anything special but they still clapped once I had finished and taken my seat.
Devin smiled my way then began to distribute a handout to everyone in the class.
“Don’t write on these, please, I have to use these in class tomorrow and don’t have any idea how to use the point system to print any more off.”
We laughed a bit which eased some of my tension.
I’d never recited my poetry to anyone before and it was a bit nerve-wracking.
The meeting wasn’t very long but I had told my father not to expect me home before five just in case. He seemed proud that I was going somewhere to practice my craft and didn’t pressure me to tell him anymore about it.
After the meeting, everyone left but Devin and me. He began to pick up the papers scattered on every other desk and I helped.
“How was it?” He asked as I came to him, handing him the papers I’d collected.
“Nerve-wracking.” I admitted.
“Well, I mean, that’s everything in life. Everything is scary in the beginning but once you do it enough times it because pleasurable.”
I wasn’t sure but I was certain he was making a reference to sex. No, I thought, it was just my dirty mind.
“It’s like riding a bike.” He said interrupting my thoughts. “Once you’re on, you’re on. The hard part is nearly over.”
I nodded as I leaned on one of the student desks. “Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it. It was…fun.”
“So you’ll come again next week?”
“Maybe.” I shrugged. “It kind of interferes with Jack’s practices though. He doesn’t like when I miss them.”
Before he could comment, my foot slipped on the slick speckled floor and the desk I was leaning on fell forward with a bag. I too fell to the floor with a huff. I laughed involuntarily as I covered my face with my hands.
“Oh, god, I can’t believe I just did that.”
Devin laughed too, causing me to remove my hands from covering my eyes. When I did, I saw that he had his hand extended out towards me. I took it and he helped me up.
“Yes, that was really smooth, Layla.”
As he pulled me up, another teacher entered the room to see what had caused the commotion. I recognized the man as Mr. Miller from a couple of halls over. His eyes locked on Devin and my hands then the fallen desk.
“Is everything alright in here?” He asked.
Devin released my hand and put them in his pants pockets.
“Yeah,” I said going to fix the fallen desk. “I’m just a klutz. FYI, slick shoes on a slick surface do not go well together.”
I pointed to my shoes after I fixed the desk.
“It’s alright, Layla. No harm done.”
I noticed Mr. Miller look at Devin strangely. There was no doubt in my mind it was about the first name basis thing.
“I should go. But thanks for telling me about the writing club, Ms. Simmons. I had fun.”
“I’ll see you here next week, right?” He asked as I walked towards the door.
Mr. Miller took a step to the right to give me room to get out.
I turned and began to walk backwards slowly. “Maybe. I’ll check with Jack.”
He nodded as I left.

Chapter Four

Chapter Four
I had never willed the school day to go by faster in my life. It was Thursday meaning there was only one more day until the weekend. Part of me knew that that wasn’t the only reason I was willing the day to go by faster.
I knew it was wrong to admit but I wanted to see Devin . I wasn’t sure what it was about him that made me feel like the stereotypical giggling Asian school girl but he did.
As the day progressed, I felt myself getting antsy to be in the same room as him. I arrived a couple of minutes late as always and he didn’t punish me for it. There was a pop quiz today and not surprisingly I knew the answers easily.
I was one of the first ones finished so instead of gawking at him the entire time, I figured it was best to busy myself with reading. I took out the book I’d been reading for the past couple of days to busy myself.
Though I had wanted the day to pass by faster, I didn’t want this class to be like the others. I actually liked being in here. But that didn’t stop time from flying. It didn’t seem like ten minutes had passed after we all had submitted our quizzes and began watching clips from the movie Devin had planned, that the bell was ringing. Devin too seemed a bit surprised at the swiftness of class time.
Jack left on the first bell, telling me he had to get something from his locker before he headed to the field. Coach would kill him if he was late to practice again. I didn’t mind, I’d just meet him at the field.
When the second bell rang, I began to leave only to have Devin call me back.
“You do realize you don’t need the approval of your…boyfriend to come to a meeting. Right? You’re not one of those girls who has her whole life centered around one boy are you?”
“No.” I laughed. “Jack knows that I have a life. It’s just that he likes for me to be at his practices. He’s not…controlling. He’s just…he’s fine with it. I just don’t think I like going.”
“But you said you did.”
“I don’t think I like going for the reason you’re thinking, Mr. Simmons.” I blurted then blushed. “I’m just not comfortable around people I don’t know.”
“But…you know me.”
I wasn’t exactly sure why he wanted me there but I just…I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate on him teaching.
“I think I should, go. But thank you for asking me to come back.”
I left him then to go to the field but instead of watching Jack like I normally did, I put my mp3 player in and looked for my book. When I didn’t find it in its normal spot I cursed myself internally. I had probably left it in Devin’s class. So instead of reading like I had planned I figured I’d write. The classical music drowned out the coaches shouting and let me write in peace. Every once in a while I’d look up to see Jack tackling the snot out of someone. I laughed every time.
At one point, I looked up and nearly had a heart attack. Someone was standing right in front of me, blocking my view of Jack.
I squeaked at the man’s sudden appearance but calmed a bit when I saw it was Devin.
“Crap, man, you scared me,” I said clutching my rapidly rising and falling chest. I pulled the buds from my ears.
“Sorry.” But I could tell by his eyes he wasn’t. He enjoyed watching me squirm and to be honest I rather liked it. “Saw you up here and figured you could use the company.”
I didn’t want his company though. When he was around me, my stomach started turning flips and my heart pounded in my ears. I shouldn’t have been feeling this way, especially since I was seeing Jack.
He sat next to me and I put my notebook and pen back in my bag.
“You okay?” He asked. “You look a bit pale.”
“Yeah.” I croaked out. Why had my throat suddenly gone dry? “I’m fine.”
Jack looked up at me, smiled and waved. I waved back but when he looked over and saw Devin sitting next to me his smile faltered for a fraction of a second.
He quickly turned back and got his head in the game.
Devin and I sat in silence for a moment then he asked, “Why don’t you tell your father?”
I didn’t ask about what because I already knew. He wanted to know why I was lying to my father about seeing Jack. Seeing anyone for that matter.
“You’ve met him.” I told him, not wanting to look his way, but feeling a strange urge to do so. I was sure what I was feeling but it certainly wasn’t normal towards a teacher. Yeah, sometimes I thought they were hot, but I never wanted to taste someone’s bottom lip so much in my life! His mouth was moving but I didn’t hear what was said as I thought about leaning in and actually fulfilling my thoughts, as wrong as they were.
“Hey,” Devin said bringing my attention back to him. “Did you hear me? I said I’ve got to go.” He was looking at his watch. “I’ve got dinner plans.”
I nodded, though didn’t want him to leave. For a moment I thought about the person he had dinner plans with. Was it a woman? She was probably gorgeous; I doubt he went out with anything but. Then I had to push that thought away. He was my teacher for God’s sake. It wasn’t right to be thinking about these things.
“Oh,” he said setting his laptop bag on his lap. “I nearly forgot. This is yours right?”
He pulled out my small book of Shakespearean tales. My mother had gotten me a full set one Christmas and now they were worn. The binding on this one in particular was peeling off and the pages, once straight and stiff, wrinkled and flimsy from use.
“Thank, you. I wasn’t sure if I’d left it in your room or not.”
He nodded. “You don’t want to leave things of such value just lying around. It probably wouldn’t have been there next week. I’ll catch you later, Layla.”
“Bye,” I told him as I put my ear buds back in.
Practice went on longer than I expected and I found myself being late yet again. I didn’t mind though, Jack made me happy and I’d rather be somewhere with him than at home under the watchful eyes of my stepmother.
I entered the house and was immediately stuck by the smell of spaghetti and garlic bread. My stomach growled in protest. I’d only had a small salad at lunch and didn’t even finish it all. Not to mention the work out Murphy gave us today, I was starving.
“Layla?” My father asked tensely as I placed my bag by the door.
“Yeah, I’m home,” I said walking to the living room.
“I’m sorry for my daughters’ tardiness.” I heard Rebecca say.
I rolled my eyes. I hadn’t been in her presence for a whole minute and already she was apologizing for me. It wouldn’t have surprised me if she hadn’t been telling this to whomever she was talking to for a while. I was, after all, expected home nearly two hours ago. For a moment, I wondered who she could be apologizing to.
It didn’t take long to find out. When I entered the living room the scene before me shocked the hell out of me.
Devin sat with Rebecca and my father. For a brief second, I worried about the reason he was here. Had he lied to me? Would he tell my father? My heart ached at the thought of that, though I didn’t understand why.
“It’s alright,” he said smiling at me. Again it was a warm smile that caused my stomach to flip against its will. I chopped the whole stomach-flipping thing up to not have eaten since lunch.
“What are you doing here?” I asked still in a state of shock.
“I invited him, Layla, didn’t we tell you?” Rebecca asked.
”No, but maybe that’s because no one ever tells me anything.” I had mumbled that last part but Devin, being the closest to me, had heard and chuckled a little.
“What did you say?” She asked me.
I shook my head and said as innocently as I could, “Nothing, mother dearest.”
“Girls,” my father sighed. “Not in front of our guest.”
I hadn’t noticed until then how tense he was. His arms were crossed and he sat in a ramrod straight position.
When he saw my stern stare, his posture relaxed a bit and I smiled and nodded with satisfaction. I’d told him repeatedly if he kept being so tense he was going to pop a vein one day, or worse, have a heart attack.
“So, what’s got you coming in so late?” Rebecca asked.
“I was at the library. I needed to study for a test and I guess time slipped away from me.”
Devin was still smiling at me, though this time I knew why. He knew the truth. I also knew he hadn’t told them or the shrew wouldn’t be asking.
My father nodded but Rebecca looked as if she wasn’t buying it.
She looked at Devin and asked, “Devin, you told us you were Layla’s English teacher, right?” My father tensed again. Was that what had him so upset? “Did you see her at the library today?”
“I wasn’t at the school library,” I said before he could answer. “I was at the public.”
“Really?” Rebecca asked, skeptical.
I nodded. “So what’s for dinner?”
“Spaghetti,” my father said standing. Rebecca still looked as if she wanted to press the subject of where I was, but didn’t. She stood with my father and motioned for us to follow to the kitchen.
I followed with Devin behind me.
“What are you staring at?” My father’s voice was tight, making me flinch at its power.
I looked back at Devin who wore a calm face. “She’s got something on her back.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and turned me around. I thought my knees would give out. He released me after a few seconds and I turned to see what he’d pulled from me.
It was small and dark brown. God! And it crawled!
I shrieked when it moved and recognized it as a bloodsucking tick. It must have crawled on me when I was at the bleachers. I took off my light jacket and threw it to the floor. I hated ticks and to think it was so close to my hair, it could’ve gone to my scalp. I shuddered. I didn’t know why but ticks just freaked me out. I loved all animals, except ticks. They could rot in hell for all I cared.
When I looked at Devin he seemed to be staring at me, eyes dancing with delight.
“What?” I asked, looking myself over franticly. “Is there another one?”
He shook his head and swallowed.
“Layla!” My father snapped. Again his tone made me flinch. “Go up stairs and change!”
I looked down and shook my head. I’d had on blue jeans and a white tank top that just barely reached my pierced stomach. But I’d had my jacket on all day so no one could really see my complete outfit. Since my jacket had been removed I was basically baring it all in my father’s eyes.
I sighed and, after picking up my jacket, went up to my room. I tossed the jacket in the hamper and pulled an old black ACDC hoody over my top then went back to the kitchen.
“Happy?” I asked, taking a seat next to Devin.
My father nodded.
I figured my father wouldn’t be happy until Devin left…or died.
I’d pulled my hair from its tail and let if fall in messy waves around my face.
After we fixed our plates no one really said anything. I had gotten through most of my dinner when I couldn’t take any it more. I started to laugh.
The table eyed me and I explained.
“Why so serious?” You could cut the air with a butter knife. “I mean, am I missing something? Did someone die? Oh gosh, is it grandma?”
I knew my father hated his mother and would be glad if she died. It was why I’d said it, hopefully to get a rise out of him.
But he said nothing. No one said anything.
“Okay, back to silence then,” I said twirling my fork around a noodle.
Then Devin laughed. It wasn’t a loud laugh; it was more of a chuckle.
Then Rebecca chirped in.
Follower, I thought. I rolled my eyes which caused my father to give a little chuckle.
“That’s a start,” I said. “Now, what did you all do today?”
I didn’t normally ask so I could tell it shocked my parents when I did. They stopped laughing and stared at me as if I had gone insane.
“We have company.” I shrugged. “It’s called being polite.”
Rebecca nodded and began going on about her day.
Her voice was…unpleasant for lack of a better definition. No, wait. I could do better than that. It was annoying and almost nagging, like she hated what she did but didn’t have the gall to quit.
When she was done it was my father’s turn. I loved my father and could listen to his voice all day, every day. He’d been there my whole life, when my mother died, through my rough patch after. I loved him and always would.
Then Devin spoke and just as with my father I could listen to his voice all day long if I got the chance. I didn’t know why but my stomach was doing that fluttery thing again. To be honest I rather liked it.
I wanted to listen to him, honest, but when I looked his way my mind drifted. His kissable lips, his opaque eyes that I could get lost in, his black hair a messy disarray on top of his head. I wanted to run my hands through that hair.
When he smiled at me, my cheeks flushed as I realized I had been staring like an idiot. Not laughing along with my father and stepmother or contributing to what was possibly an engrossing story.
I turned my attention back to my dinner. My father was too busy laughing with Rebecca to notice my quickly changing cheeks but Devin had. I looked back at him and he seemed to be suddenly busying himself with his dinner, too.
My father and Rebecca were reminiscing about something they’d done when they’d first started dating. It made me a little sick to my stomach that he could stare at her like that when he used to gaze at my mother with those same loving eyes.
When he kissed her both my heart and stomach dropped. I knew they kissed, I’d seen it before. At breakfast, after dinner, when one would get home. But something about this kiss bothered me.
“Can I be excused?” I asked, voice small. I tried to ignore Devin’s questioning gaze.
They didn’t hear me or pretended not to. I rolled my eyes and left the table abruptly. I could hear my father ask what was wrong and Rebecca call me rude. Devin didn’t say anything at all.
I went to my room, closing the door behind me, and fell to my bed with a silent cry. I didn’t know why but I felt queasy. My eyes began to tear but were soaked into my multicolored comforter.
I laid there for a while, thinking about my mother. At that moment, I missed her more than anything.
I went to my dresser and moved the clothes in it to find the picture frame containing the one with my mother. Once I found it, I went back to my bed. She was beautiful and vibrant. I was told I looked like her but I didn’t really see the comparison. She was far more beautiful than I was. I even remembered her being more chipper, too. But that was just her personality. When she’d left I’d been traumatized. I couldn’t function properly; it was like my world was ending.
My father had been there to pick up the pieces, afraid to leave me alone for fear of what I’d do. But then, he married Rebecca and he lost himself in her. I hated her for taking him away from me, for trying to take my mother’s place.
I could hear my door try to open so I pushed my wet picture under my pillow and brought my face back to my blanket. I hadn’t realized I’d still been crying but my face was clinging to the fabric making it hard to breath. However, I hadn’t really doing a great job in the first place.
“You, uh, you okay?” My father asked kneeling by my bed.
“Yeah,” I said though never brought my head up.
“Can you look at me?” His hand rubbed my head.
I shook my head telling him no. “I’m fine, papa. Just…just go finish eating. I’ll be down in a minute.”
I heard him sigh then leave. I pushed myself up from the bed after a moment and gathered the courage to go back down there. I wiped my face and made my feet move, doing my best to plaster a small smile on my face.
I went to the kitchen and realized Devin had left. My dad was at the sink washing dishes. Normally that was my job so I stepped next to him and started drying them and putting the plates in the cupboard above my head.
This worked for a moment but soon it started to get tense again. I could sense he was about to ask me a question or talk about a subject I didn’t feel like discussing so I began to hum.
He recognized the tune and I looked up to see him smiling at me. Then he began to sing along with me.
He used to sing My Girl to me when I was smaller. It made me feel better.
I sang along with him and he bumped my hip with his. He took the plate from my hands, sitting it in the sink, and then we began to dance. I used to hop on his feet and he’d shuffle me around but I was too big for that now, so instead he spun me.
On the third spin I laughed aloud but stopped when I saw Devin standing in the doorway with Rebecca. They must have been in the bathrooms washing up.
I smiled sheepishly while my father laughed a bit. I looked up at his face and laughed a bit myself. He had one of those enjoyable laughs, like he was actually happy. I liked when he was happy. Which was one reason I hated Rebecca. He seemed so happy with her.
I looked back at Devin and Rebecca. He was smiling while my stepmother was trying. Her smile kept faltering. She’d seen pictures of my mother before my father took them down and knew she couldn’t compete. I was a splitting image of her and just as my father did, she saw her in me every day.
Me being me, I could’ve called her out for the fake wench she was but I kept silent.
My father still held my hand and he now brought me in for a great bear hug.
“Thanks papa,” I whispered once he released me.
He nodded and placed a kiss on the top of my head.
“Beautiful,” Devin said. “You have to let me paint you.”
I smiled and nearly nodded had it not been for my father’s strong “no” shutting me down. My smile dimmed.
“What do you mean no?” I asked stepping away from him. “It’s just a picture.”
“It’s alright I didn’t-”
“Hell no,” my father said cutting Devin off. His posture was stiff like his words. “Next he’ll be asking you to pose naked.”
“That’s not what-”
“Oh, please.” Now I cut Devin off. “It’s a picture dad, with the both of us.”
“I said no, Layla. And that’s final.”
I was silent.
Devin broke the tight silence. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to impose. I just-I don’t know. I love to paint. And I figured…”
Rebecca and I nodded but my father crossed his arms. I knew if he could he’d set Devin on fire with the hole he was burning into him.
“I think it’s time for you to go,” Rebecca said giving a weak laugh. This too was fake.
“I think you’d be right,” Devin said.
I brought my eyes to my fathers. “What do you have against him?”
“Alright, time to go,” Rebecca said quickly escorting Devin to the door.
“Oh, nothing!” My father said sarcastically.
“Yeah, that’s real mature.” I placed my hands on my hips. “He’s Rebecca’s friend and we are only being friendly.”
“Yeah, he’s a little too friendly with you if you ask me.”
“Why do you do this with every boy I talk to?” I asked angrily.
“He’s not a boy, Layla! He’s a grown ass man!” He shouted.
“Yes, he is, so why are you freaking out about this?”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you.”
“Well, what do you want me to do? I can’t stop seeing him because he’s my teacher, papa.”
“Yeah, don’t remind me.”
“God, you’re such an ass.” I mumbled.
“Layla!” Rebecca screeched. I turned around to see her behind me. “Go to your room!”
“You’re not my mother, you fake bitch. You don’t get to tell me what to do.”
Before I could react, her palm snaked out and connected with my face. I inhaled as the pain registered.
I turned to my father who looked shocked as bat poop at the fact she’d just hit me. His face changed quickly back to anger.
“Go to your room,” he said crossing his arms and shaking his head.
I stared at him in complete astonishment. She had just hit me and he did nothing about it.
“I hate you.” I whispered fiercely.
I had never said that to him before and I could see how much it hurt. I turned on my heels and pushed past the shrew and to my room, slamming my door shut behind me.
I went to my desk to retrieve the tiny mirror there. I gazed at the reddened flesh upon my cheek. It stung something fierce but I refused to let the tears stain my face.
My sigh was small but sure. I couldn’t stay here tonight. I grabbed my bag, it was only carrying one book since I hardly ever had homework, and stuffed it with the things I’d need for overnight.
Once I was sure I had everything, I climbed out my window and down the ladder covered with wild flowers. The thorns pricked my skin but not enough to stop my mission. I got to my car and, after pushing it to the street, left the premises.
I’d decided to go to Marinas but then decided against it. Her mother knew my father and if she sensed something wasn’t right with my story she’d definitely call and check. I couldn’t go to Jack’s either, his parents didn’t know he was dating, let alone dating a foreigner. He’d told me he’d dated a Latina girl once and they tore her to shreds. It was one of the reasons we kept our relationship a secret from both our families.
I didn’t know why but I then thought about going to Devin. Would he understand? I was sure he would but I didn’t want to bother him. I wasn’t sure what it was about Devin that made my stomach turn flips but I kind of liked it. But I couldn’t go to him because not only did I not know where he lived, I wasn’t sure where things would go if I went.
If I couldn’t go to Marina’s or Jacks and Devin was definitely out, then there was nowhere I could go. Well, nowhere with a roof over my head.
I smiled to myself and pulled a U turn. I could go to the dock. I’d gone their numerous times but never for an overnight trip. There was never really a reason to, but now? Yes, now was a good time.

Chapter Five

Chapter Five

It was warm tonight. Warmer than any other night for which I was grateful.
I removed my shoes and lied on the end of the dock. My feet hung freely, swaying through the murky water. The water, too, was warm, almost inviting but I wouldn’t dare go for a dip, not tonight.
The wood beneath me was hard but bearable. I could sleep peacefully tonight.
I let myself slip under, with the sound of the crickets to soothe me.
My phone ringing woke me too soon. I looked at it groggily and realized it was my father. Tossing it to the fish was a pleasurable thought but catching the hell from him later for a waterlogged cell wasn’t.
The ringing stopped but I’d have to get up soon enough. I dressed in the bathroom the rent-a-boat place at the dock offered, then headed for school.
I was on my way to breakfast when I bumped into him. Devin caught me as I stumbled and I let out a string of apologies. He held my hands, which were still a little sore from my escape. I also tried my best to shield my face from him. It was still a bit red from Rebecca.
He smiled down at me but when he felt the flaws in my skin he frowned a bit. He looked down at my hands questionably.
“Thorns.” I shrugged.
He stared at my face for a moment then horror took his. Anger blazed in his eyes.
I pulled away from his hands and pulled at the sleeves of my jacket.
His face changed from fury to composed.
“Did he do this?” He asked voice tight.
“It’s nothing.” I ran my fingers through my hair self-consciously.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
I rolled my eyes. “My father didn’t hit me.”
“Then who…” Recognition lit his face, followed by confusion. “Rebecca? Why would…”
“Because I called her a fake bitch.” I shrugged, not even caring that I just swore in front of him. I tried to keep that part of myself under control. I didn’t too much care for swearing, it was a filthy habit that was hard to break.
“Does it hurt?” He lifted his hand to touch my face then hesitated. I almost wished he’d touched me. He quickly dropped his hand to my disappointment. What the heck was wrong with me?
If someone saw us, they’d no doubt think the worse.
I stepped back and adjusted my bag. I didn’t want anybody getting the wrong idea. I knew quite a few male teachers in this school who seemed a bit…pervy but I doubted Devin was like that. He was sweet…sexy-but not in a “I want to jump my teacher” way. I didn’t know anything about him, not to mention he was my freaking teacher. I had to stop thinking of him as a regular guy. So I took my mind off of it.
“No,” I lied. “I’m good.”
He smiled and I couldn’t tell if he knew I was lying or not.
Well, I’d had worse. My father had only hit me once and I’d made sure he never did again. He’d done it in the heat of the moment when I was on verge of hysterics from my mother dying. Not to mention the whole moving situation plus the fact he was marring that woman. I had basically deserved it. After he’d done it I broke down crying and he swore he’d never hurt me like that again.
“Well,” he said, not meeting my eyes. “I need to go. I’ve got papers to grade.”
I nodded and we went our separate ways.
Most people didn’t comment on my face but when I got to the gym Jack was furious. He’d seen my hands and I explained but my face was something different.
“How could she slap you?” He asked twisting my face this way and that. He was examining the flesh and it made me a little uncomfortable. “Where the hell was your father?”
“Standing behind me.”
“And he did nothing?!” He whispered fiercely.
“Yes,” I said removing his hand, though kept a firm hold onto it. “Now, let’s go, we’re going to be late for lunch.”
“It can wait. I’m worrying over my girlfriend.” He placed a kiss on the tip of my lips.
“Really?” I asked leaning into his chest. “Is she pretty?”
He wrapped his arms around me and said, “Beautiful. Magnificently beautiful.”
I giggled despite myself.
“Babe, are you sure you’re okay?”
I nodded.
“Yet you slept at the dock?”
“Hmm…well, I’m fine now. Like I said I couldn’t stay there. Not with them. I just needed to get out.”
I felt him nod.
“Can we go to lunch?” I asked pulling back. “I’m really hungry.”
He laughed and took me to lunch.
The day seemed to pass quickly and I dreaded that. It meant I’d have to go home soon.
I stayed in the showers longer than I should’ve which earned me a look from Devin when I entered the classroom nearly eight minutes late. Jack laughed silently as I took my seat.
When the day ended I was upset. Jack had told me practice was canceled for the rain that was coming. I frowned but he’d made me laugh by telling me not to go sleeping at any docks anymore. I shushed him and kissed him goodbye. Before I could walk out the door, Devin called me.
I went to his desk and he asked, “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged.
He studied my face, which made me nervous. I couldn’t help the blush that rose to my face.
He saw this and tried to smile. “Go home, Layla,” he said taking out some papers.
I sighed.
“Or…” he began. Or? “Or you could…help me with these?”
I smiled. “I would hug you right now if I didn’t think it’d make you feel uncomfortable.”
He smiled at me but it seemed forced. I took half his stack and went to a desk up front.
After about five minutes of grading, my phone vibrated in the silent room. I could feel Devin staring at me but I didn’t look up from grading. I knew who it was and I didn’t want Devin to hear my cussing out.
The phone died down after a moment then started up again. I took it from my pocket and turned it to silent.
I didn’t meet Devin’s eyes, though I knew he was willing me to do so. I continued to grade my half of the papers.
We had them done in nearly two hours.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Yes, you’re not grounded or something, are you? Is that why you weren’t answering your phone?”
“No.” I shifted uncomfortably. I went to go sit back in the seat. “After our…tiff last night I snuck out.”
“Layla…” He shook his head. “Did you go to Mr. Riley’s house?”
He sounded a bit disappointed when he said my name but there was a small smile playing at his lips. He also didn’t sound too please at the idea of me spending the night at Jacks. I wasn’t too sure why though. It wasn’t any of his concern who I spent the night with. Unless he’d like to make it his concern. I smiled but pushed that dirty thought away.
“No, I slept somewhere else.” It wasn’t a lie; I just didn’t feel the need to tell him every detail of my great escape.
“When you left, that’s how you received the…” He pointed to my hands.
He did his staring again and my face got all hot. Again I fidgeted in my seat.
I looked at my hands and couldn’t meet his eyes. When I did, I saw he was smiling.
Placing a strand of hair behind my ear and standing, I said, “I should be heading out.”
“Yeah…me, too. I’ll, uh, walk you to your car.”
We grabbed our things and headed out. When we reached my green punch buggy I thanked him and he left.
I sat in my car and looked at my phone. Six voicemails blinked rapidly on the screen. Four of them consisted of death threats and torture treatments while the last two my father actually sounded worried.
I listened to the last one twice.
“Layla, sweetheart.” His voice was shaky. “I know. Okay? I know I was wrong. I don’t-something about him…just please, baby. You don’t have to come home if you don’t want to. If you’re not ready, just…please, at least call me. Let me know you’re safe and not somewhere dead in a ditch. Please, Layla. I’m sorry.”
He ended with an I love you and I nearly cried if I hadn’t been thinking about the witch that slapped me. Where the hell was her apology? What did she think about the last two messages my father sent?
I sighed, letting my head fall onto the steering wheel. I let out a scream so loud if anyone were near, they’d think I was being murdered. After a few seconds, I sighed then drove off the property.
My car pulled into my driveway too soon for my liking. Grabbing my things, I got out and went for the door.
Before I could reach for the knob, the door swung open revealing my father. I stopped, waiting for the screaming that was sure to come. Instead, he hugged me.
My things dropped to the floor as his arms wrapped around me. He held me so tight, lifting me from the floor, that I thought I’d run out of air.
I couldn’t hug him back; my hands were pinned to my chest.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured against my hair. “So sorry.”
“I shouldn’t have said-”
“It doesn’t matter, she shouldn’t have hit you.”
Did this mean she left? Did he put her out? Was my father mine again?
All hopes of that dream crashed as I heard clanking in the kitchen.
Son of a-
“Get in here,” he said releasing me. “We need to talk. Go on to your room and I’ll be up in a minute.”
I nodded, grabbed my things and dashed upstairs. I didn’t think he’d be up for a minute so I emptied my bag and started my homework.
About ten minutes had passed of fun filled essay homework when someone knocked on my door.
It was my father of course but I didn’t expect her to be with him.
He entered first and sat on the edge of my bed, the only clean spot to sit since I had papers everywhere. She stood in the doorway, shifting from foot to foot like she didn’t want to be here.
My father brought my attention back to him when he spoke. “We were all in the wrong.”
“She hit me.” Instead of using English, I used our language.
He sighed but didn’t do the same. “Yes, I know that was wrong, too. And Layla, could you please refrain from using that language?”
“Why?” I asked looking at my hands. You and mom used to all the time.”
“You’re not your mother.”
“Neither is she.”
“Layla please.” He sighed.”Let’s talk about what happened.”
“I am. She hit me because I told her she wasn’t my mother.”
“No,” said Rebecca impatiently. “I slapped you because you call me a fake bitch, you ungrateful slu-”
“Becca, please.” My father snapped. “As I said, we were all in the wrong but that didn’t give you the right to run away.”
“I didn’t run away,” I said meeting his eyes. “I just needed to get out for a while. You know…cool my head.”
“I understand that.” He nodded. “But what you did was still wrong. So we have to settle on a punishment.”
“You will go straight to school, and then come straight home for the next two weeks.” I smiled only two weeks, I could do that. Plus it could’ve been worse. This was the second time I’d scared him like this and this punishment was reasonable. “If you need to study, you will do it here. You’re grounded until next Friday.”
I nodded.
“Rebecca?” He asked. “Do you have something you want to say?”
“Her first.” She whined.
I hated that noise. It was beginning to grate my last nerve. And she wanted me to apologize to her? Tough shit. I refused.
I must have looked shocked and appalled because my father asked if I wanted to go for a month.
“Fine,” I growled. “I’m sorry I called you a fake bitch.”
My father didn’t too much like my choice of words but I could’ve said worse. She was indeed a fake whinny bitch and I could’ve stated that along with other things.
She smiled as if she’d won a prize. “Fine, then, I’m sorry for slapping you.”
No she wasn’t. I could clearly see that. My father couldn’t, but I could.
“Now,” he said. “Hug and everything will be fine.”
“Are you serious?” I asked accidently in our language. Hey, it was an accident.
“Yes,” he said crossing his arms.
I smiled at his commanding posture. I could understand why Rebecca had married him. My father was handsome. He still carried a maze full of hair, none of it grey but a rich brown. He still wore muscle under his shirt though tight as it was. He had few wrinkles, only from laughing or the new ones from scowling at me.
I stood slowly and walked over to my stepmother. She stood rigid and for a moment, I thought she wasn’t going to do it, but when I wrapped my arms around her she did the same.
We were both tensed and broke apart instantly.
“See,” my father said. “Now, Layla, finish your homework and I’ll fix dinner.”
Rebecca and I shrugged.
They left after that and I continued with my essay.

Chapter Six

Chapter Six
Two weeks passed by quickly. I’d done my chores without saying a word, came home on time and did my homework which I thought was pretty freaking good. So it shocked the hell out of me that I got a C on my essay for Mr. Simmons.
“I don’t understand how I got a C on a perfectly good report,” I said working to keep my temper down. “You told us to write about Beowulf, I did. You told us to tell how we thought he was heroic, I did.”
“No, you didn’t.” His mouth pulled up at the corners and his eyes showed obvious amusement. He had been doing that a lot lately. It often resulted in my cheeks flushing. “You said he wasn’t heroic.”
“He wasn’t,” I said bending over and placing my five-page paper on his desk with more force than was needed. This just made the smile spread across his face. “This was clearly an opinioned paper and that’s what I gave you.”
“Really?” He asked, leaning across his desk. His breath brushed against my face, making me lose some of my composure. He saw this and his eyes danced with the delight of making me lose my haughtiness.
“Really,” I said, voice smaller than it was a few moments ago.
“If it would make you feel better, I will look over it again.” He took my hand that was on top of the paper and my knees felt weak. He took my paper and placed it in front of him, though the hand that held mine never released its grasp.
I looked at his hand then pulled it from his gentle touch.
“Thank you.” I swallowed to regain my voice. I looked at his face and he still wore his smile.
“No problem, Layla.”
His face was inching closer to mine and I noticed vaguely mine was doing the same.
I watched his mouth draw nearer and nearer until it met mine. His lips were gentle and tasted of…something I couldn’t put my finger on but knew it was something I wanted to taste more often. My mind went a little hazy at the sheer bliss I was experiencing. His tongue parted my lips and mine met his, dancing together. His hand came to the side of my face, caressing my cheek and I let out a small moan.
Then it hit me. That simple sound reminded me of where I was and what I was doing. I pulled back with a small gasp.
I was sure my eyes were wide with shock and my chest was heaving as I tried to catch my breath. At the moment, I was at a loss for words. What about Jack?
Jack. Oh, God, Jack. Wasn’t he expecting me? On the field? Was there even practice today? Hell, I’d forgotten all about him. What the hell was I doing?!
“I’ve got to go,” I said quickly, picking up my bag from the floor.
Devin, too, wore a shocked expression, though from our kiss or my sudden need for departure, I wasn’t sure.
“Layla, wait,” he said as I walked out the door swiftly.
I didn’t. I continued to walk down the empty hallway until I reached outside, then my car. I sat in the driver’s seat and stared at the steering wheel for what seemed like hours though it was only a few moments.
I’d just kissed my teacher. No…I didn’t kiss him…he’d kissed me. Right? He had kissed me? But I had kissed him back. That was just as wrong, wasn’t it? Students weren’t supposed to make out with their teachers and teachers sure as hell weren’t supposed to be kissing their students.
I was confused. So confused. If he kissed me, did that mean he liked me? He couldn’t like me. I was a kid and he was…what? He wasn’t old. He was young, like really young. He’d told us he was twenty-six on his first day which caused some of the girls in the room to giggle like a pack of idiots. And he was cute, for a teacher.
And I couldn’t deny the way my stomach fluttered when I was around him. He did something to my body no other boy could do and he hadn’t even touched me then. And I had noticed him staring at me in class for the last couple of weeks. He would always smile at me sweetly or offer to help me with my class work. Did the way my body react to his affect my feelings toward him or was I just a ditzy teen who had the hots for her extremely sexy English teacher?
I didn’t know but found myself exiting my car and going back to Devin’s classroom. When I walked through the door, he stood at my appearance. I looked at the ground, unable to form a legitimate reason as to why I’d come back.
After a moment, I brought my eyes from the ground to his.
His face showed no emotion as he closed the distance between us in three long strides. He stood before me, body nearly touching mine. My name came from his lips, caressing my face like a feather.
He brought his face down and his mouth touched mine almost as gently as his words had. I pushed up on my toes to deepen the kiss and a growl formed in his throat.
I could hear the door close and I pulled away from him instantly with a worried look on my face. My back was to the wall and he was so close, if we got caught, we were screwed.
There was no one there. Only the two of us.
“Sorry,” he said a bit out of breath.
I wanted to ask for what but he stepped closer to me sending my thought process spiraling downward. His hands went to my waist applying small pressure as he pulled me closer, making our bodies touch. My breathing hitched as he moved my hair out the way and placed a trail of kisses from my neck to my jaw line.
If his hands and body didn’t have me pinned against the wall I would have fallen down. My knees had gone weak when he put his hands on my hips and now that he was teasing me this way it took all my strength to not melt in his grasp.
I kept my hands where they were, pressed against the wall so they wouldn’t wonder. His hands, though, now decided to explore every inch of my upper body.
They slid under my pullover then my shirt. My skin reacted to his against mine; making me shiver though I sure as hell wasn’t cold.
His body shook with silent laughter at my body’s reaction. Then his teeth nipped my bottom lip and I couldn’t help but kiss him back. My arms went around his neck as his hands went to my thighs, lifting me up and wrapping them around his waist.
He ground his hips into mine while our mouths still worked. When his hands moved to remove my pullover I gripped his waist with my legs so I wouldn’t slide down the wall. His mouth released mine so he could pull it over my head. Once he’d discarded it he gently touched my face with his fingertips.
My chest was rising and falling in heavy huffs as I tried to catch my breath. I was staring at is chest and realized his was moving franticly, too, as he tried to slow his breathing.
“Are you sure about this?” He asked, cupping my face in his hand.
I closed my eyes and leaned into that hand, loving the way his skin felt against mine. My answer was to place a kiss on his lips.
He kissed me deeply, hands moving to undo my pants then his. He placed me on my feet making my jeans fall to the floor. He smiled at my black lacy underwear.
“Expecting this, were we?”
I shrugged. I’d been expecting something, alright, just not from him.
He pulled me to his desk and lied me down. My shirt had come up a bit and when my bare back touched the chilled wooden desk I shivered.
He’d removed his bottoms and my eyes widened at his length. I’d seen Jack’s before and I couldn’t help but compare. Devin’s was by far larger. He pulled my legs so they now hung off the side of the desk then positioned himself between them.
His manhood was warm as I felt it slide along my leg. He leaned over me and kissed the base of my neck. I felt his hand slide past my hips to a more sensitive area.
I moaned as he slipped a finger inside, no doubt getting me ready for something much larger. Then came another and my back arched as a wave of pleasure took over me. I gasped and let out a small squeak, which caused him to laugh with satisfaction.
My hands gripped the sides of the desk with such a force I thought I’d break my nails. My hips moved with his fingers adding to the glorious sensations and when I hit my peak my legs tightened making a small moan escape my lips.
I brought my hands to his face and kissed him long and deep. When he pulled back I knew why. It was his turn.
He slid his head until it touched my folds and I moaned at the touch. He pushed slowly until he entered me. Like I’d thought; his fingers were nothing compared to this. He didn’t move; he let me adjust to the fullness. Once my body relaxed he pulled out slightly then brought it back slowly.
My groan was one of pleasure, telling him to keep moving. He was taking me gently, not driving his erection deep within me to hurt me, just enough to keep us both satisfied.
“God, you’re tight,” he moaned low and gruff in my ear. He pushed a little deeper and I bit my bottom lip to prevent any noise. I wasn’t sure how thick the walls were and if anyone caught us…there’d be serious hell to pay.
He straightened his back and I arched mine as his movement pulled away from me. His dark laugh did something to my insides I couldn’t explain. He nodded and leaned into me deepening his thrusts.
I wrapped my legs around his waist and his hands went to my hips. His grip tightened as he brought himself in and out in swift rhythmic movements. I was sure he was leaving bruises but at the moment I was lost within a different type of pain. A blissful pain. Hell, a glorious pain!
My vision blurred and a violent shudder took my body as another wave hit me, making me reach my breaking point. He brought his mouth to mine knowing I’d been satisfied and to muffle the moan that rose to my lips. His mouth traveled to my neck, gently grazing my pulse.
He came right after me, growling into the base of my neck. He pulled out and warm liquid stained the front of my shirt. We stared at each other for a moment, our breathing slow and heavy. He lay on top of me and placed a small kiss upon my lips. I smiled into it, making him chuckle, a low rumbling sound in his chest.
He stared down at me in awe. His mouth opened as if to stay something but a small knock on the door interrupted him. He swore under his breath as he scrambled off me.
I slid off the desk quickly and quietly, the both of us looking like two deer caught in the headlights.
He put a finger to his lips and searched for a solution. His face lit when he looked past me. He handed me my clothes and pointed to the supply closet in the back of the room.
I nodded and dashed towards the back. He was pulling his pants back on when I silently closed door. I tried to get dressed but I was straining to hear the conversation in the other room.
I heard the door open and Devin asked, “Yeah?”
“Hey, we’re headin’ out,” a man said. It took me a moment later to place the voice but when I did, I recognized it as Miller. When Devin didn’t say anything Miller elaborated. “Faculty meeting? Five minutes?”
“Hell, I totally forgot about that," Devin said a little out of breath.
“I don't know how, man." A new voice said. I recognized this one as Mr. Bond. “Stubbs said it repeatedly today. Then we’ll really head out to celebrate."
Both Miller and Bond were young and good looking. Just like Devin. I could see these three men hanging out or going for drinks after work.
“Hold on,” Devin said. “Let me…just…finish grading this paper and…done. Alright, let’s go.”
He left, along with the other men.
I dressed quickly, yanking my pullover over my ruined shirt. When I was decent, I left the closet and went to Devin’s desk searching for my paper. It was under a manila folder but instead of a C there was a large red A and a note that read:
Wonderful job, enticing and thrilling.
I smiled and rolled the paper up placing it in my back pocket.

Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven
When I got home ,no one greeted me. I figured Rebecca was working late and my father was somewhere doing something.
I sighed and dropped my things by the stairs then went to the refrigerator to find something to eat. There was nothing editable to eat, everything was either frozen or spoiled.
“Great,” I said slamming the fridge door. My anger dimmed as my mind wondered back to nearly thirty minutes ago. I was still a bit giddy, I found myself giggling at nearly everything on the drive home.
I went to my room and changed out of my clothes and into some fresh ones. I looked at the stain on my shirt and knew it was useless to try to scrub it out. It was ruined but I didn’t care. Though I did care how I’d gotten it. I found myself smiling again.
After I tossed the shirt in the wastebasket I grabbed my keys and headed for the door.
I’d finally decided on what I wanted for dinner since no one was going to fix it at home. I pulled into the parking lot of Decker’s Bar and Grill. The lot was packed but I soon found a spot. When I entered the doors, I stood amongst about fifteen other people, some sitting some standing. Looked like I was in for a wait.
I was contemplating just picking up some fast food when I heard a few familiar voices. I scanned the restaurant and saw them sitting at the bar.
Miller, Bond and Simmons. As in Devin Simmons. I turned around and nearly made it out if it hadn’t been for Bond.
Devin had his back to me but Bond must have seen me before I could turn around.
“Ms. Bungah?” Mr. Bond asked shocked. I swore under my breath then turned and walked over to them. Devin’s face was neutral but his eyes danced with delight. “What are you doing here?”
I’d had Bond for Algebra a year ago and I guessed he remembered me from my constant need of assistance. He’d been a great help but most importantly he’d been sober. And a sober Bond was nothing like the man before me now. He swayed a bit and slurred his words. I wondered how many beers he’d actually had since I’d heard him only an hour ago.
“What do you think she’s doing here, James?” Miller asked. His words were fine though I could smell the liquor on him. He just hadn’t had as many.
“I got hungry.” I shrugged.
Miller and Bond nodded while Devin continued to stare at me. I did my best to keep my eyes from him, knowing if I looked at him I’d probably babble like an idiot.
“Are you even old enough to be in here without an adult?” Bond asked, sizing me up.
I tried my best to laugh it off. “Yeah, I guess. As long as I don’t drink, you know?”
“Well, no one would tell if you did,” he said licking his lips. “I mean, I certainly wouldn’t tell. Have a drink with us. I mean you’re what, eighteen now, right?”
Devin’s head wiped around to glare at his friend. Neither of his friends noticed. Miller was staring at Bond confusingly and Bond was gazing at me like a piece of meat.
“No,” I said before Devin could intervene. “I’m good. I am after only seventeen, Mr. Bond. Under aged? I wouldn’t want to do anything that could end us both in trouble.”
“Yeah,” he mumbled. “Wouldn’t want that now would we?”
Again his eyes lingered on my body and I could see the tension in Devin’s.
“I will, uh, see you guys at school.”
Before I could walk away Bond’s arm snaked around my waist, bringing me back and just a little too close to his body. He laughed as his hand tightened around my waist.
Devin jumped from his seat but I gave him a look. Bond was drunk and though, as annoying as he was, he wasn’t hurting me. There was no need for Devin to lose his temper and for things to get out of control. I grabbed his hand and tried to break free. When I couldn’t and his hand tried to grope my bottom, then Devin intervened.
He yanked me from Bond’s grip and stood between us.
“Come on,” Bond said, standing. He staggered toward me. “It’s not like she’d be drinking or anything. Well, drinking any alcohol, am I right? Just a little fun.”
Bond reached for me again but Devin moved so that now I couldn’t see him at all. “That’s enough, James.” He snapped. “Ms. Bungah, leave.”
I couldn’t. Just as Mr. Miller, I was a bit frozen in shock.
When he didn’t hear me leave he turned his head and bore his eyes into mine.
“Now, Layla.” He whispered fiercely.
I left quickly. No one had noticed our little display for which I was glad. They only saw me leaving as quickly as my feet could manage.
I didn’t think once I got to my car. Devin was clearly angry, though with Mr. Bond or me, I wasn’t sure.
I decided not to worry about it and went to Sonic. The line wasn’t long, meaning I could go through the drive thru easily. Once I had my food, I headed home. The sun was starting to set and my father didn’t really like for me to be out after dark unless he knew where I was or could get into contact with me. I realized when I was searching for my wallet that I’d left my phone on the counter.
When I got home, again no one greeted me. I sat my food in the living room and went to the kitchen to get my phone. There was a missed call from my father.
Then I saw the note. It was on the freezer door and I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t seen it before. It was in my father’s handwriting and it told me he and Becca would be home late. She had a late meeting and he had something important to take care of. He wanted me to call him when I got home.
“Damn,” I said looking at the time. He was probably just freaking out.
I sent him a text saying I was just now seeing his note. He sent me a text back saying alright.
I shut my phone and went to the living room to eat. I absolutely loved sonic burgers. They had gotten better with preparing their food and now when you got it, it was actually hot. I was halfway through with my burger when my phone vibrated. I figured it was my father so I answered without looking at the number.
“Yeah,” I said around a mouthful of meat.
“Are you alright?” He didn’t sound like himself.
“Um, yeah, are you alright, papa?” I asked after taking another bite of my burger. “You sound weird.”
“Layla…it’s, um, it’s Devin,” he said giving me a short laugh.
I nearly choked. I coughed up my bite onto the coffee table and looked at my phone. What the hell? Unknown number. I should’ve checked my phone before I answered it. Hell, I should’ve finished chewing like a normal person before I answered!
“Layla?” Devin asked franticly. “Are you okay? What happened?”
I was still coughing, trying to catch my breath. I took a quick sip of my drink to clear my throat.
“How’d you get my number?” I asked once I could speak again.
“Oh, I, uh…sorry. I didn’t mean to-”
“No,” I cut him off. “I just thought you were my father.”
“Sorry. You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I took a napkin and cleaned the table.
“I’m sorry about what happened with Bond. He was drunk and-”
“It’s okay, but…you’re not mad at me are you?” I didn’t want him to be angry with me. I didn’t know why but I just didn’t.
“What? Why would I be mad at you?” He asked truly shocked at my question. “Because of something Bond did? No, Layla. I’m more pissed at him right now.”
I was silent while I finished picking up bits of burger from the carpet.
“Layla?” He asked after a moment.
The worry in his voice made me stop cold. “Hmm?”
“What happened…between us…”
No, I whined mentally. Did he regret it? If he did I…I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t want things to be awkward between us. And this was definitely going to be a large elephant in the room. If he regretted it, I’d make things easier for him. I wouldn’t mention it again.
“I’m sorry,” I said voice small.
“For?” He asked, again, shocked by my words.
“I thought…I felt…” Dammit. I sighed. Why was this so hard? “I thought you felt…don’t worry about it. I won’t say anything to anyone. It never happened.”
“Is that what you want?” His question was hard to hear, like it was hard for him to ask.
I sighed. “It’s what you want.” Wasn’t it?
I was seated on the floor. My stomach was threatening to expel the content it had just consumed.
“No, Layla. It’s not.” My heart started to thump loudly in my ears. Maybe I’d heard him wrong. “That’s not what I want. You were…amazing. You are more than amazing. I was worried I’d taken advantage of you, overanalyzed what I thought I felt between us, but when you came back I...I don’t know what came over me.”
I was shocked into silence. My head felt higher than I knew it was and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.
I couldn’t answer him.
“Please say something,” he said. “Please?”
“I’m here,” I choked out.
“Oh, god. I screwed up. I took advantage of one of my students.” He groaned. “I’m an idiot. I thought- but I shouldn’t have actually acted upon them. You should report me. I thought when you kissed me back you…”
“I did-I-I do.”
I heard him give a small sigh of relief. “So where does this leave us?”
Hell, I didn’t know! I’d just had sex with my English teacher, nothing made sense anymore.
“Where do you want it to leave us?” I asked.
“I’d very much like for things not to be-”
“Awkward,” I said.
“Yes.” I could almost see him nodding his head.
My phone began to beep in my ear. I looked at the number and nearly shit my pants. Jack. Did I answer it? If I did and chose Jack over him, what would he think?
But I’d blown Jack off today. If I did it again I could lose him. Did I care?
“I, uh, I have another call.” I told him.
“Alright, well…can it wait? I really would like to explain myself.”
I hesitated. “It’s Jack.”
“Oh.” That alone nearly broke my heart. “Well, I guess you need to take that then. Good night, Layla.”
“Good night, Devin.” I sighed.
I clicked over to Jack who instantly had a string of questions. Where was I? Why didn’t I come to his practice? What about our plans after practice.
But I couldn’t answer any of them. Not honestly anyway. I’d lied and told him I got a call from my father insisting I come straight home. That seemed to sum up all his questions. He asked me why he’d called and at least this time I was truthful and said I didn’t know. When I got home there was no one there. But I couldn’t leave because I wasn’t sure when he’d be back.
He asked if he could come over and I told him no, I didn’t know when my father was coming home.
He sighed and told me he loved me, that he’d see me later. I told him I’d see him later. For some reason I couldn’t repeat his first words, not after what Devin and I had done.
Jack didn’t seem to notice or he didn’t say anything about it.
When I hung up from talking to him I finished my dinner.
Rebecca didn’t get in till late. I’d been watching television in the living room and fallen asleep; her inconsiderate slamming of the front door woke me.
I groaned silently as I sat up and stretched. I checked the time and realized it was going on two in the morning.
“What are you doing down here?” Rebecca asked sneering at me.
“Fell asleep.” I shrugged looking down at the blanket that covered my body. Where had that come from?
“Shouldn’t you be upstairs? Don’t you have school or something in a few hours?” Her voice was annoyed which got me a bit annoyed. It wasn’t my fault she’d had a horrible day. Why the hell was she taking it out on me?
“It’s Friday.” I nearly called her a dipshit. “No, wait Saturday.” I checked my phone to make sure.
“Oh,” she said a bit taken aback. “Well, you need to clean up your crap.”
“What part of I fell-”
“Enough,” my father said standing in the hallway. He was in a t-shirt and blue plaid flannel pajama bottoms. I didn’t even know he’d come home. That would explain the blanket.
“I didn’t know you were home, honey. Where’s your car?” Rebecca asked instantly changing from evil bitch to loving wife.
“Broke down, I hitched a ride home. And stop harassing Layla.”
“But she-”
“Enough,” he said cutting her off. “Go get ready for bed.”
She huffed and left my father and me alone.
He came to sit next to me and my body automatically relaxed. I hadn’t noticed how tense my shoulders were. My father had that effect on me. No matter how rough things got, he was always there. And I loved him for that.
“Hey, bud, you okay?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I shrugged.
“You don’t sound okay.” My father knew my quirks. Though he hadn’t paid much attention to me since he remarried, he normally knew if something was bothering me.
And this thing with Devin and Jack was definitely bothering me. But I couldn’t tell him that. He didn’t know I was seeing Jack and if he found out what had just happened with Devin he’d definitely burst that vein in his forehead. Or worse have a heart attack. Hell, or worse kill Devin then have a heart attack.
“Yeah.” I lied as best I could. “I’m fine. Just sleepy.”
He stared at me for a moment and I knew he was debating pushing the situation or not. I wouldn’t meet his stare which I knew would worry him more. He decided not to pressure me into telling him.
He stood and kissed the top of my head.
“Night, bud,” he said walking away.
He stopped in the opening of the hallway and turned back to me. “If there’s anything that’s going on…you can tell me, you know that right?”
“Of course, papa.” I nodded and plastered on a smile.
“Would you tell me if something was wrong?”
“Yes,” I said confidently. Nothing was “wrong”, so it wasn’t a lie. I would tell him if something was wrong. But wasn’t having sex with my English teacher wrong?
He nodded then left for his room.
I nearly groaned. It wasn’t like me to keep things from my father. Okay, so I kept the fact I had been dating from him and the fact I wasn’t a virgin but I knew if I told him he’d flip. I was his baby girl. He’d do anything to protect his baby girl. Even if that meant killing someone to do so.
I took my garbage to the kitchen and threw it away. Then went back to the living room to go back to sleep.
There was no point in getting myself worked up at this hour. I decided to worry about it tomorrow or maybe Monday when I actually had to deal with the subject.

Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight
The sound of a door slamming woke me. I went to peak around the corner of the hallway leading to my father’s bedroom. His door was now shut and I could hear a few noises coming from there.
I groaned. Not today, I couldn’t handle them today. I heard Rebecca laugh uncontrollably and I decided then I was leaving. I couldn’t sit through a whole sex session so I grabbed my phone and my bag then left.
I wasn’t sure where I was headed and didn’t really care. I drove until I realized where my sleepy body was taking me.
Riverside Park. I used to come here when things got rough. When we moved here this was my place of comfort. I wasn’t surprised I went there subconsciously just as I had the night a few nights ago.
The car basically stopped itself and I got out, heading to the river. I sat at the dock and listened to the sound of nothing. Peaceful nothing.
No one really came here, well, teens didn’t. They were all at the mall or movies. Boaters came to fish, maybe bask in the sunset but they never bothered me. They were all older and busy with fishing.
I had removed my shoes and let my feet hang over the edge of the wood; they brushed the water, scaring the fish away from me. Closing my eyes and laying back I let my mind wonder.
There were footsteps along the dock but I figured it was just another fisher. It was still very early, not even seven.
“Layla?” A familiar voice asked hesitantly.
I opened my eyes immediately and stared into a pair of gorgeous green ones.
“Devin? What are you doing here?” I asked.
He stared at me for a long moment, probably taking in my mess of hair, the clothes he’d seen me in the night before and my relaxed posture. “Did you sleep here?” Amusement filled his voice and eyes but then his face turned concerned. “Layla, that’s not safe. Is everything okay?”
I smiled up at him. “I didn’t sleep here.” I sat and gazed out toward the dark river instead of his eyes. “Just came here to think.”
“Oh…about?” He asked. I wanted him to sit next to me but he didn’t. He stayed behind me and I could feel his eyes on my back.
“My life.” I sighed. That sounded a bit depressing so I tried again. “Things got heated at home so I left.”
“What did he do?” Now he sat next to me, though didn’t let his feet fall into the water. I didn’t like the fact that that was the first thing to his mind. My father was actually very kind to me. It was that hateful bitch who, well, was a bitch.
I swished my feet in the murky water, loving the cold feeling between my toes. “My father didn’t do anything. Well…intentionally anyway. When I say heated, I mean him and Rebecca were…um...” I tried my best to hide my blush with my hair but he saw through it.
He nodded. He understood.
“So, yeah, I just left.” I stared out at the other boats, at the fishers casting their lines hoping to get lucky. I sighed then looked at my clothes. He probably thought I was weird for not changing my clothes before I left but I didn’t care. It had been a spur of the moment thing.
“Come boating with me,” he said tucking my hair behind my ear.
I shivered when his finger lingered on my cheek. I composed my thoughts and asked, “You have a boat?”
“It was my fathers.” He smiled. “He left it to me when he passed.”
“Oh, I…I’m sorry.” I looked back at the river.
“Don’t be. I’m not.”
His words made me look at him. He shrugged. “I’ll tell you about it…if you come boating with me.”
I’d never been on a boat before. It scared me a little. I couldn’t swim, what if it sank?
Devin saw my distress and again stroked my face. “Don’t worry, it’s safe.” He helped me to my feet.
I snatched my shoes from the dock and let him lead me to his boat. It was the largest boat out here. More of a yacht than a small fishing dinghy.
He smiled, noticing my dumb folded expression. “Yeah, it has its perks.”
He helped me climb aboard and the rocking of the floor made me a little nervous. But when he placed a hand on the small of my back it helped with my nerves. He climbed aboard after me and led me to the front of the boat.
He sat me down on one of the built in couches then left me.
A few moments later the boat took off. I held onto the seat so I wouldn’t tip over. It took a few minutes for us to get away from the other boats but once we were he stopped then came and sat next to me.
We sat there for a moment until he spoke. “Layla, we…uh, we need to talk.”
Damn, I figured this would come. I just didn’t think I’d have to deal with it until Monday. Did he have a chance to sleep on it? Was he going to tell me nothing could happen again? I couldn’t blame him if he did. What happened between us-
“Layla, I just wanted…I need you to know…what we did…it was wrong of me. And irresponsible of me to take advantage of you like that. But I…”
But he what?
I had been staring down at the floor but his hand gently pulled my face up so I met his eyes. He looked into my eyes as if he was searching for something and then he brushed his mouth across mine in a gentle kiss.
My mind clouded as his free hand stroked my cheek.
When he pulled back I opened my eyes to see him wearing a worried expression. I smiled and brought my hands to his brow, wiping away his worry.
“I’d been wanting to do that since I saw you lying on the dock,” he said smiling. Then slowly his frown returned. “This is dangerous.”
I nodded. “You could get in trouble.” I didn’t want that to happen.
“Yes, but I’m more worried about you than me. You…you should be with someone your own age.”
Now it was my turn to frown. “But I thought-”
“Yes, I still want to be with you,” he said running the tips of his fingers down my face and neck. “But like I said, it’s dangerous. You being a student and me, your teacher.”
I wanted to tell him I knew it was dangerous. That if he was willing to take the risk then so was I, but my phone rang interrupting my response. I looked at the number and swore under my breath.
He frowned. “What?”
“My father.” If there was ever a worse time for him to be calling it was now.
He nodded and stayed silent as I answered. I hit send and heard my father rambling in Malaysian. When he heard the dial tone end he started speaking to me.
“Where are you?”
“Over at Marina’s,” I said. My unknown words earned a look from Devin.
“Let me speak with her.”
“She’s in the bathroom, changing her tampon, but I can tell her you’re on the-”
“No,” he huffed, a little uncomfortable.
“Is that all?”
“Why did you leave?”
I sighed. “I didn’t feel like hearing you and Rebecca gettin’ it on. Is that alright with you?”
There was a moment of hesitation then he said, “See you when you get home.”
Then the line went dead.
“Well, love you too daddy.” I said switching back to English.
“What happened?” Devin asked.
“Hold on.” I was calling Marina.
“Yeah?” She already knew it was me so there was no need for the hello’s and how are you’s.
“I need a favor.”
“I need you to cover for me.”
“Um, okay,” she said a bit unsure.
“Well…I’m out with Jack and I told my dad I was with you.” I tried not to notice how Devin tensed at the mention of Jack. Jack was pretty likable. It was the reason I’d gone out with him.
“Oh, yeah sure. If he calls I’ll make something up.”
She laughed and we hung up.
“I didn’t think you’d take to lying so well,” Devin said looking past my head.
I shrugged. “Sometimes you have to.”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“What now?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
How did he not know? He had to know. Someone had to know what happened next and since I didn’t it was his job to provide the answers.
“What the hell,” he said then kissed me deeply.
When he pulled back it left me breathless. He laughed as I ran a shaky hand through my hair nervously.
“So we’re really going to do this?” I asked.
“Only if you want. If I hurt you or if you ever want me to stop, I will. I won’t touch you again.” I saw the pain in his eyes as he spoke the words.
It wasn’t so much as a want anymore but a need. I needed to feel his fingers on my flesh, to feel his breath caress my skin, and his body next to mine. It was too late to go back now. I was in too deep. I couldn’t be around him without my heart skipping a beat or my stomach fluttering or my entire being tingling with pleasure.
I could tell my hesitation was worrying him so I answered, bringing my mouth to his.
After a long moment of our tongues combining and my moaning he pulled back and laughed.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said laying me on the soft couch.
He ran his hands across my body, tracing small pattern across my stomach where my shirt had risen a bit. I closed my eyes both from the flesh bumps he was leaving and the sun that was beginning to blind me. When his fingers stopped around my bellybutton I opened my eyes. He was looking around himself and I knew why. If anyone saw us we’d be screwed.
He pulled me from the seat and to my feet. He led me down a corridor that took us to a small bedroom.
My throat began to get dry as he led me to the bed. He laid me down then went to shut the door. He came back to me, fingers running from my calf to my hip, and began kissing me hungrily. His mouth trailed to my chin then my collarbone.

Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

We laid there a moment, in comfortable silence. His arm around my waist and mine holding myself. Cuddling.
I liked this. I didn’t really have this with Jack. Though I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a booty call, but with Jack we couldn’t really do this. His parents were always home and with us having to keep our relationship from both our parents, we couldn’t really be seen out. The only place we could go was school and I wasn’t really the type of girl that had sex in the bathroom between classes.
Or was I?
I mean, I had had sex with Devin in his classroom. What was next? It was still sex in a school. Did that make me a slut?
Sleeping around with two guys, one being older-hell, a lot older- than the other. Plus I was doing it behind the others back. I kind of felt sluttish.
Devin making a trail of kisses from my ear to the base of my neck made all my thoughts disappear. I couldn’t think when he touched me and right now that sounded good to me. Not thinking? I didn’t like where my thoughts were going anyway.
He pulled away from me and fumbled with something on his side of the bed. I heard the light of a match and turned to see what he was doing.
He lit a cigarette that smelt oddly familiar. He took a long drag and let it out through his nose. Our eyes met and he offered me a smoke. I shrugged and took the cigarette from his lips and placed the butt between mine.
I inhaled but when it hit my throat I choked. It was powerful and thick.
He laughed then took it from my fingers. Taking another puff, he leaned over and kissed me. The smoke went from his mouth to mine though this time instead of choking me it came from my nose.
The kiss tasted of cloves and I recognized it as his taste. It made me a little lightheaded. He pulled back and laughed a bit at my high expression.
“No more cigarettes for you,” he said stroking my hair. “If your father knew you were smoking, he’d kill you.”
“Don’t worry, it’s not something I want to do again.” I laughed.
He frowned. “Sorry.”
He shrugged and put out the cigarette. “It’s a filthy habit anyway.”
“You don’t have to stop smoking. I kinda like it, it makes you look sexy.” Though he didn’t really need a cigarette in his mouth to do that. He was sexy alone.
He smiled wickedly as if reading my thoughts.
We lay there again, this time he stoked my hair absentmindedly.
“What’s your favorite color?” He asked after a moment.
I flipped over on my stomach and looked at him confusingly.
“Well…I was just thinking I don’t really know anything about you. Besides the fact you like to write. Well and the things Rebecca’s told me but I’m sure most of that can’t be true.”
“Really?” He asked.
I shrugged. “Yeah, purple, but it changes, you know? Today I like purple, tomorrow I may like emerald or maroon.”
He nodded. “Favorite movie?”
“Don’t have one.”
“Don’t have one.” I laughed.
“You like everything?”
“I never said that. I just don’ favoritism.”
He nodded, drawing random circles on my bare back.
“Well how ‘bout you?” I asked. “What’s your favorite color?”
“Now?” He asked a small smile in his eyes. “Brown, light mahogany brown.”
“It’s the color of your eyes.”
A slight blush took my entire body and he smiled.
“Favorite movie?” I asked trying to hold back my own smile.
“Hmm, I’d have to say Romeo and Juliet, the newer version with Leonardo DiCaprio.”
“Seriously?” It was a good movie; I just didn’t expect him to like it.
“Seriously,” he said emerald eyes smoldering.
Now I smiled. My breathing accelerated when he brought his face down to mine and kissed me.
He pulled back and I lay my head on his pillow.
“Hmm?” I asked looking at him again.
“You realize how wrong this is, correct?”
I nodded meekly. “But I won’t tell if you won’t.”
He smiled and kissed me once more leaving me in a state of bliss.
The weekend passed quickly after that and before I knew it, I was waking up to my alarm Monday morning, musically and upbeat.
I hummed my way down to the bathroom then back upstairs then again while I skipped to the kitchen.
My father stared at me while I searched for breakfast. There was none. My brows furrows for a fraction of a second but nothing was going to ruin this day. I had gotten to see Devin and that was all I needed.
“You’re awfully chipper this morning,” Rebecca commented as she walked into the room. Her voice carried a bit of annoyance but I brushed it off.
“Yes,” I said walking over to my father. I placed a kiss on his cheek. “I am.”
“Would you like to explain why?” He asked.
“Just am.” I shrugged.
I grabbed my bag from the table and, after telling them bye, left the house for school.
The building I needed slowly started to come into view as I drew near. After parking, I went to my locker to retrieve my books but was surprised to see Jack leaning next to it.
“Hey,” I said fixing the combination.
“You seem happy,” he said after a moment.
I shrugged. “Yeah, I am.” I got my books and closed my locker.
“That’s good,” he said cupping my chin. Before I could stop him he placed a kiss on my lips.
I pulled back after a stunned second and saw Devin walk across the hall. I tried to bring my attention back to a stunned Jack. I’d never pulled away before. Normally it was he who released me.
“What’s wrong, babe?” He asked letting his hand fall.
What was wrong with me? I couldn’t see Jack while I was sleeping around with Devin. Didn’t that make me a slut? I couldn’t be a slut. I made fun of sluts; sleeping around with two guys when they already had a good one. This wasn’t right. I hadn’t thought about how wrong this was. But now that Jack was standing there with his innocent look I…I could do it.
“Uh…y-yes. But can you give me a minute? I need to um…I need to turn something into one of my teachers. Can I talk to you later?”
“Yeah. Sure, anything.” He smiled. He was too good to me. I hated myself for betraying him like this.
He let me leave and I left for Devin’s room.
Devin looked up at my entrance but I turned to close and lock the door, not able to look into his gorgeous eyes. I placed my head on the door and tried to come up with the words. Sighing, I turned to see him standing. He started for me and I held up my hands.
He stopped, jaw snapping tight.
“We need to talk.” I began. I knew nothing good ever came after that but I felt it was appropriate. “I can’t do this to him.”
“Layla,” he said coming forward again.
“Please,” I begged. He stopped but his eyes showed obvious sadness. “I didn’t realize what it would do to him. Not even a week and I can tell he’s upset.” He stayed silent as I spoke. “I can’t…I don’t know. I want to be with you.” His eyes lit. “But this is wrong, this is so very wrong.”
Something slammed into the door, making me jump. I sighed as my heart settled.
“Layla,” he whispered, coming towards me again.
“I can’t. I won’t tell anyone, but I just…I can’t do this to him.” I opened the door and pushed past the cluster of students gathered by the door.
I could see two people were tussling in the center of the mass but it was unimportant right now. I had other things to think about than the idiotic girl fight that was happening. I pushed the crowd as best I could without anyone noticing.
“Layla!” Devin called. I turned briefly to see him torn between breaking up the fight and coming after me.
As I turned back I bumped into Rachel. She looked from the concerned Mr. Simmons to me. I knew my cheeks had to be red as a tomato along with my nose and eyes. A small smirk formed on her lips as she assessed me.
“Oh, get over yourself.” I told her. “I had to turn in an assignment.”
“Then why does it look like you’re nearly in tears?” She asked cocking her head to the side in an innocent gesture.
I glared as I walked past her to go to my first class. Hearing her small chuckle as I did so was going to irk me for the rest of the day.
Marana was already in her seat as I entered the classroom. When I sat next to her, she asked what was wrong with me; I laughed it off and told her nothing.
My day went like that until I got to the gym and saw Jack. I would not let him see how torn I was. Therefore, I put up a front.
It worked. He didn’t ask me what was wrong, he just escorted me to lunch like the gentlemen he was. He was happier than this morning when I had rejected him for which I was glad. I hoped that he would just forget the whole thing.
After lunch, he took me back to the gym but did not try to kiss me. Before he could walk off, I grabbed his arm and kissed his lips softly.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” I told him after pulling away slightly. “I had a headache but now I’m better.”
If he knew I was lying, he didn’t say anything about it. He just smiled and told me it was okay then kissed me once more so he could leave for his class.

Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten
Gym class seemed never ending for which I was grateful. I didn’t really want to see Mr. Simmons, not right now. I just couldn’t handle seeing those eyes, that smile, knowing what had gone on and was now over in just a brief second. I considered texting Jack and telling him to meet me at my car so we could ditch but I was conflicted. I liked Jack, I had been with him for over a year which was longer than any of my other relationships. But I think… maybe …that I loved Devin. I smiled as I thought of the time we had spent together. It had only been two days but they were two glorious days. I hadn’t been this happy since my mother was alive.
“Look alive, Ms. Bungah!” Murphy screamed. I tried my best to keep up a steady running pace.
I had been slowing down with all my thinking and that wasn’t like me. I wasn’t too fond of gym but I tried to excel in all my classes. Which was why I had told Devin not change my grade just because I was good at sex. He had told me I always had an A that he’d put that so he could see my reaction. I remember hitting him in the arm for it.
After coach Murphy told us to hit the shower, I reluctantly did just that, though took longer than I normally did. I was in no rush to see Mr. Simmons right now. When the bell rang, I waited five minutes before actually getting dressed. I put my clothes back on and left the gym, wet hair and all, to face my fourth class.
“Hey.” Someone said far behind me.
I turned slowly to see who was speaking. It was Bond. I grimaced slightly and pointed to myself.
“No not you, the other girl skipping class.” He mocked. “Yes, you, come here.”
I walked over to him quickly.
“Where are you going, Ms. Bungah?” God, I hated that last name.
“Me? Oh, I was just…um…”
“Save it. That’s detention missy,” he said taking out a detention slip. I had it coming so I didn’t argue with him. It was my first detention anyway so I didn’t stress it. Besides, I had heard detention was held in the theater room and the teacher let you play ping-pong. So it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.
Shrugging, I accepted the slip and walked away.
When I entered the classroom, everyone looked at me, including Devon whom I tried not to look directly in the eyes. I showed him my slip then went to go sit down. I barely noticed the half smile upon his lips.
After taking out my book, I looked at the board to see what page everyone was on and class went on. Devin handed back some papers we had finished earlier in the week and naturally my grades fluctuated from eighty sevens to one hundreds. I had always been bright, I just didn’t like to do the work unless it was challenging. Since Devin had joined the class, I’d been doing every assignment. Not only because he knew my parents but because the work was actually enjoyable. Not as difficult as I would’ve liked but rather time consuming.
Soon the bell was ringing dismissing the people who rode the massive yellow Twinkies home, then for those of us who were either fortunate enough be picked up or who actually had a car. For me, this last bell was different. It meant I had to book it all the way across campus so I wouldn’t be late or detention in five minutes.
As Jack walked pasted me he kissed me gently with a sad smile on his lips as he realized I wouldn’t be coming to practice today.
I shrugged it off and packed my things so I could leave. When I stood Devin stared at me with confusion.
“Where are you going?” He asked walking toward my desk.
“Detention.” I mumbled.
“Then have a seat.” He smiled stopping at my desk.
I gazed at him in confusion then took the slip from my pocket. Detention couldn’t possibly…there it was. Detention room 218 Mr. D. Simmons.
“Room 218. So this gives us thirty minutes to talk.” I hated the pleading look in his eyes.
They made me want to give in. His small smile was gone now, replaced with a slight frown that made me want to taste his lips. To smell his scent all over me just as I had two mornings ago. I missed that already, felt a longing for what was missing.
Even though I felt that way, Jacks face kept reappearing in my mind. The slight hurt in his eyes and in his face. I had to admit I felt something strong for Devin but I really liked Jack and knew it was wrong for me to do this to him.
“Layla, talk to me, please. Was it something I did?”
I shook my head. “I’ve already told you. I just can’t okay.”
“Tell me why, Layla. Please. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You didn’t hurt me.” I sighed, hoping I had enough time to tell him how I felt. “I can’t do this to Jack. It’s hurting him and he doesn’t even know what’s going on.”
“Don’t interrupt. There’s no time to explain this right now. We’ll talk later.”
I could tell he wanted to push the matter but he, too, knew we couldn’t really discuss this right now. So instead, he walked back to his desk and sat down, waiting for the rest of the students to show up.
There were three students who came and they all seemed to be pissed they were here. I noticed two of them were from the tussle this morning, cheering and chanting the two girls who no doubt got suspended. Boys, I thought. I didn’t really recognize the girl. She had her ear buds in to mute the already silent classroom.
Sighing, I checked my phone to pass the time. There were six missed messages. I swore internally for forgetting to tell my father I’d be late coming home.
But when I checked the messages they weren’t from my father. They were from Devin. They all consisted of I’m sorry’s and please forgive me’s.
I looked up casually to look at Devin and noticed he was already staring at me. He looked down slowly.
My phone lit in the dark desk and behold, yet another text from Devin.
I sighed mentally, knowing I’d have to talk to him sooner or later. I picked later when I wasn’t liable to cry in front of these three students.
Putting my phone back in my jacket pocket and laying my head down on my book bag, I tried my best to fall asleep.
Devin sighed. “This is really inconvenient.”
His voice was loud in the silent room even though he only whispered it.
We all looked at him but he was making a point not to look at me.
“Detention is over. I don’t have the time to sit here and do nothing so you all are free to go.”
The two boys laughed and the girl put the bud she had taken out back in her ear.
“Just sign this sheet saying you were here and put four thirty under the time.”
The three of them got up and walked over to his desk while I took my sweet time picking up my bag.
Unlike them, I knew why he was letting us go early. He wanted to settle this right now and he couldn’t do that with them in the room.
Before they could walk out the room I said, “Mr. Simmons can you go over the homework assignment with me again. I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.”
I didn’t want anyone getting suspicious about why I was leaving so late.
He nodded while the others left.
After I signed the sheet he waited for a minute or two before checking the hallway and making sure no one was passing.
When he closed the door I opened my mouth to speak, though before I could get anything out he crossed the distance and took hold of my face in both hands and touched his lips to mine gently.
It took me off guard and before I knew it, I was kissing him back.
His hands slowing slid from my face to my neck and then my shoulders then finally making their way down to the middle of my back, pressing me closer and deepening our kiss.
He pulled back with a smile. “That wasn’t the kiss of someone who wanted to end things.”
I couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped my lips. I couldn’t deny the way he made me feel either. When he kissed me, my body tingled but when Jack kissed me it just made me happy. Yes, I liked Jack but was I falling in love with Devin?
Kissing him once more, I tested my theory. He smiled against my lips, nipping at my lower playfully.
I pulled back and sighed, looking at his chest. When I looked up again he wore a face of confusion, not liking my sigh.
“I…this just isn’t right,” I said in a rush. “I can’t do this to Jack. Every time I blink I see his face, those sad eyes.”
He nodded. “I have a solution for that.” Now I stared at him in confusion. “Dump him. Break up with him and just…be with me.”
“I can’t do that. That would really break his heart.”
“Would you care?”
“Yes!” I whispered fiercely. “I’m human. I have sympathy.”
“Then show some sympathy for my feelings towards you.” He brought his hands to my arms, bringing me just a little closer. “Understand that I too have feelings for you. Strong feelings. Do you really believe I would’ve taken this risk if I didn’t feel something for you?”
“So, I’m not just some hot booty call.” I joked.
He didn’t too much care for my joke because his eyes went stern and serious.
“No, Layla. You are so much more than that to me.”
“That made my stomach flutter and my heart beat rapidly. He did care about me. I smiled as a deep blush rose to my cheeks. I seemed to be blushing a lot more around him than I usually did.
He seemed to enjoy my bodies reaction because he smiled too, kissing me once more.
My phone vibrated in my pocket but I didn’t answer. I was a bit busy at the moment. When it vibrated again I sighed and pulled away from Devin.
“It’s probably my father.” I shrugged.
“Then you better answer.” I stepped back and until then I hadn’t realized how his desk was cutting into my bottom.
I let the phone go to voicemail again, figuring I’d just call him when I got home if he wasn’t already there.
“So…are we okay?” He asked after a moment.
I hesitated. Were we “okay”? He’d said he’d cared about me. I mean, it wasn’t the same as him saying he loved me but he had to feel something for me if he was taking such a huge risk. And did I love him? How could I? I’d only known him a little less than a month. During wchich time I realized all the little signs he had been dropping. But still, that wasn’t much time to get to know a person enough to love them. Was it?
We were both taking risks here. Major risks that could get us into a lot of trouble. That had to mean something. It had to.
My thoughts were spiraling out of control and I didn’t quite like where they were headed.
So before I could tell myself things were going to end badly, I smiled and nodded meekly.
He liked this and kissed me fiercely, taking my breath away. When he released me my legs felt weak and I had forgotten what I had been thinking.
“I, uh…I gotta go home.” I laughed nervously.
He caressed my cheek lightly as he nodded. “Go, home Layla. Can I…call you tonight?”
“Um, sure. Yeah.” I tried my best to hold onto my smile but of course, that wasn’t possible. I just felt…I was always just so happy when he was around. He made me happy. He made me feel…confident and sexy and… I don’t know. He just made me feel blissful.
“Good.” He took my chin between his thumb and forefinger and tilted my face upward so he could brush his lips against mine. “You are so beautiful.”
I blushed and looked away.
The vibrating in my pocket told me I had to go now before my father popped a blood vessel.
Devin chuckled low and sexy and it nearly took my breath away. He stepped back and went to the other side of his desk.
Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I picked up my fallen bag and headed for the door.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Layla. Devin said making me look back. I smiled and waved as I left the room. As I turned from closing the door I nearly bumped into Mr. Miller.
“Ms. Bungah? What are you doing here this late?” He asked, face a little concerned.
“I needed to ask Mr. Simmons a question about my essay.” I lied. “I didn’t quite understand the subject.”
He nodded slowly after looking at me curiously. “Are you the only student in there?”
“Yes?” I asked curiously.
“Why was the door closed?”
I didn’t like were these questions were going.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just not used to asking for help so I closed it. I was a little embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone knowing I needed help.” I gave my best weak yet innocent smiled I could manage.
He nodded again. “Well next time keep the door open. We don’t want people getting the wrong idea, now do we? Teachers aren’t supposed to have one on one tutoring with our students with the door closed.”
“No sir. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” That was a lie. I felt a little uncomfortable as I adjusted my bag on my shoulder. “Won’t happen again. I’ve got to go my father’s waiting.”
He let me pass with ease but I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty for lying to him. I was lying to everyone lately. I guess I’d just have to get used to that.

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven
“Where were you?” My father drilled as soon as I got in the door.
His words became choked. “D-detention? Why? What for?”
“Relax papa. I was late to class and a teacher thought I was trying to skip it.”
“Were you trying to skip it?” He asked raising an eyebrow.
“God, no, papa. Coach Murphy had us running laps outside today and…I don’t know time seemed to get away from me while I was in the shower. The next thing I know it was like ten minutes after class time.”
“Did you not hear the bell?”
I shook my head. “But the teacher let us off early. She said she had a conference to go to and couldn’t stay.” There was no point in even mentioning it was a man. I didn’t want him figuring out it was Devin.
“Then why are you home late?”
“Traffic. There was a bad accident on the highway. By time I realized, it was too late and I was stuck behind a mess of cars.”
That wasn’t a lie. There had been traffic due to an accident on the freeway making me late.
He nodded taking my word for it. If I was lying he’d no doubt see it on the five o’clock news.
“You got homework?” He asked going to the kitchen.
“Hmm, yeah, but just to read. I need to read a few pages for a report that’s due.”
“When what?”
“When is it due, Layla?”
“Oh, uh, I don’t ‘member.” He knew how much I hated doing book reports. Essays, okay good. Research papers bring it on but book reports were the worst. I felt like it was just busy work provided by the teacher so they didn’t have to grade papers for a while. “A month maybe.”
“Layla,” he warned.
“Alright, okay. I think it’s due Friday after next.”
“Then you better get to work.” He smiled. My father liked for me to finish my work early so I wouldn’t forget to do it. Or so nothing would come up and I would have another excuse not to do it.
“But papa-”
“No buts Layla. You love to read. Why are you pushing this off?”
“It’s for agriculture.”
“You love animals.” He countered.
I sighed, groaning internally. He wasn’t going to let me out of this. I knew I had to do it, I just didn’t want to do it right now. I didn’t my best work the night before. So I tried distraction.
“What’s for dinner, papa?”
The change of subject took him off guard just as I planned though instead of him telling me what it was he stared at me for a moment.
“Go do your homework.” He smiled.
Crap, I thought. That normally worked.
“Fine.” I rolled my eyes playfully. “I’m going, I’m going.”
Leaving him, I went up to my room to start reading.
Three chapters and six different categories of dogs later, I lied my head against my headboard and touched my throbbing temples. I didn’t understand why he was doing this to us. We never had homework in his class and now he was making us do a report on the six different types and breeds of canines. That wasn’t even all the breeds, for which I was thankful.
I had a migraine from reading overload in a subject that I didn’t really care about. Leaning back against my brown headboard, I tried to figure out how I was going to put all that information into three hundred words and go into detail about them. At least if it was a thousand I could have something to work with.
After groaning, I dashed out of bed and down to the smoky kitchen where my father was attempting to cook something. He wasn’t succeeding.
“Done?” He asked using the drying towel to fan away some of the smoke.
“Nope,” I said popping the P at the end. “He wants it typed.”
Oh? Oh! He expected me to get my homework done without a computer. He wouldn’t get me my own because he thought I’d look up internet chat sites. To be fair I had said that when I was thirteen. Four years later and he still wouldn’t let me have a computer. I have to use the ones at school or go to the public library. Or I’d go to Marina’s and use her computer. Her mother let her have on and all she used it for was chat with guys on it.
Okay, so I must admit I sounded a bit immature even just thinking to myself. My father was just looking out for me. He didn’t want anything happening to me because I was the only connection he had left to his wife. We didn’t speak much of my grandparents on her side. My grandmother was dead and my grandfather, well, I didn’t know. My mother never talked of him.
“Do you want to use mine or just go to the library?” He asked bringing me back to the conversation. He was fanning the smoke alarm that I thought would go off at any minute. I wasn’t sure what he was cooking exactly but whatever it was it was definitely ruined.
“Yours, please?”
“It’s in my room.”
I nodded and dashed off. His and Rebecca’s room was nice and tidy. The large king size bed was made neatly, three dark oak dressers and one large closet filled with my step mothers clothes. The 24 inch flat screen sat on the small dresser. Two night stands, one on each side of the bed with weird looking lamps that Becca got from the auction. Probably because no one in their right mind wanted it.
“Where in your room?!” I shouted over the loud hum of the vent trying to delude the air. Normally his computer sat on his bed or on top of the blue-ray player.
“On the bed!”
I left his room to go back to the kitchen.
“Papa, it’s not there.”
“Hmm, I probably left it at work. Sorry.”
I shrugged. “That’s fine. I’ll just go to the library.”
It was only a bit after four and the library didn’t close till eleven. There was plenty of time to get it done.
I hadn’t undressed so all I needed was to get my shoes on.
“Be careful.” My father warned before I turned to go upstairs.
“Always.” I smiled and ran upstairs quickly to get my things.
When I came downstairs, my father was standing in front of the door. “Cell phone?”
“Yes, papa.” I smiled again. “I will keep it on vibrate.”
“You know to be back by eleven, twelve at the latest. And call if you’re going to be later than that.”
“Got it. But it shouldn’t take me long.”
He nodded and moved aside.
I kind of hated that he was so protective but knew it was for the best.

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve
When I pulled into the empty library parking lot, I knew something was wrong. There was a large sign on the door saying that they would be closed for the next few days due to an infestation.
I shuddered only imagining what type of infestation they’d come across.
Sighing, I took out my cell and call Marina. She answered on the first ring and I asked if I could use her computer. She told me she was sorry but her mother had taken her computer today after a random guy showed up on her doorstep asking for sexygirl93.
I laughed aloud and asked how’d he gotten her address. I could almost see her shrugging through the phone as she said she didn’t know. That the really bad part was he was cute but he was like twenty four.
This made me laugh again. She told me her mom had freaked out and gone through her computer and phone. It was sheer luck she had erased all the random guys numbers in her phone this morning in second block. She had told me earlier that she had no use for them, that they were all pervs anyway.
So Marina was out. With her computer taken away her mom was going to be a bit more strict now.
I sat in the parking lot of the library and thought. I couldn’t go to Jack, though he had a computer, I couldn’t go to his house. Damn, I was out of options. I figured since I couldn’t type it up today that I’d just write it out.
But I didn’t want to go back home. Rebecca would just be getting home and I didn’t feel like hearing her voice. So I went where I normally went.
The night was a bit chillier than it had been for the past few nights. A sign that winter was on its way. It was about the end of September, only fourteen days until the Halloween month and my birthday.
I was wearing a jacket but it was still really cool, making me shiver a bit. I cursed myself for not checking the weather channel before I left the house. The sky was just a bit too dark when I left, clearly a sign rain was to come. I sat down at the dock for about fifteen minutes but was too cold to write anything. I was just about to get up and go back to my car when my phone rang.
As I answered my phone there was a loud clapping sound out over the water. It made me jump a bit.
“Yeah?” I asked over the now whipping wind.
“Layla?” Devin asked. “Where-you?”
I could barely hear him but thought that’s what I heard. “Going home!” I shouted into my phone.
It began a light drizzle and flecks of lightening brightened the sky above the river.
“Where are you, Layla?” He was screaming now so I could hear him.
I made a dash for my car, nearly slipping on the slick wood.
“At the dock!”
The rain had picked up now, soaking me within seconds.
Layla, go to the boat!” I heard him yell through the phone.
“But the boat is-”
“Go! It’s too dangerous to be driving right now. There’s a flash flood warning out.”
I groaned and did as he said. When I got to the boat it rocked fiercely as the water moved it to its harsh rhythm.
Climbing aboard was a bit difficult only having use of one hand. I yelped as I slipped onto the boat and into the wall.
“What happened?” Devin asked frantically.
I couldn’t answer him at the moment, I was preoccupied with not slipping and breaking my arm.
“It’s locked!” I shouted trying to turn the knob.
“Dammit, I’m on my way.”
Something told me when I told him where I was he had decided he was on his way.
After he hung up I had half a mind to call him back and tell him to not worry about it. That I’d just go home. Something inside me prevented me from making that call.
I wanted to see Devin and this would be my chance to spend a little time with him. So I waited.
During the wait, though, I called my father and explained to him the library was closed and that I was going to Marina’s. He told me to be safe on the streets and watch out for idiot drivers.
About ten minutes later, a car pulled up to the boat, stopping a bit too quickly and recklessly for my liking.
Devin got out, racing up to the side of the boat, and I pettily wished I was as stable as him. He didn’t lose his footing nor did he almost break his neck climbing aboard. The rain had slowed a bit so I decided to blame the difference on the elements.
“Are you okay?” He asked pushing past me gently to get to the locked door. “I’m sorry but what the hell were you doing out here?”
There was a half-smile upon his lips as he scolded me. I shrugged as he opened the door and led me down the corridor that brought back sweet memories of two days ago. I found myself blushing in the darkness.
He left me then to go close the door so it wouldn’t flood his navy blue carpet. When he came back, he found the light switch easily and illuminated the dark space.
“God, you’re soaked,” he said taking in my wet demeanor. “Let’s get you out of those wet clothes. You must be freezing.”
Actually, I wasn’t. My body had stopped its shuddering a little while ago. I was actually a little warm.
“Layla?” He asked looking at my face.
“Hmm?” I looked into his gorgeous green eyes and knew I never wanted to look away.
Now he really smiled. “Can you get undressed, love?’
I began to go through the motions of getting undressed. He went to a tiny dresser and pulled out some dry clothes. A long white t-shirt and a pair of red plaid boxers. I didn’t care what they were so long as they were dry.
When he came to stand in front of me, I had stripped down to my purple polka dotted panties and a bra that matched. The clothes were by my feet in a wet pile of mush.
“Good, but aren’t…” He grunted, holding back a smile. “Aren’t those wet, too?”
I put out my hands for the dry clothes and after he handed them to me, he pointed to a tiny wooden door in the corner.
Behind the folding door was a toilet, a small shower-and I do mean small, for like one person to fit in- and a small sink.
I removed the wet undergarments and put on the dry. When I came out he’d hung up my clothes to dry in the entranceway, turned on some heat, and now laid half dressed-I hoped-under the covers.
When I didn’t move from the doorway he said, “Put those on top of the others then come, get in bed.”
I did as I was told then climbed into bed next to him. there was a towel on the pillow were I now sat that I assumed was for my soaked hair. Both of my assumptions were correct. The towel was for my hair and he was indeed half-dressed. He moved closer to my now shaking body, using his body temperature to elevate mine.
“Th-thank you.” I stuttered.
“Are you going to tell me what you were doing out in a storm like that?”
I sighed. “I had homework.”
“You had homework? And…it was important to do this homework in the rain, why?”
“The library was closed, Marina’s in trouble, and…”
“And I don’t know where you live,” I mumbled.
“So, you contemplated coming to my house to finish your homework?”
“It needed to be typed and since my father left his computer at work, the library was closed, Marina was in trouble, and the situation with you…I had no choice but to come here. I had to write it out.”
“You could’ve gone home, Layla.”
I stayed silent.
“Don’t worry about it, love. Just relax.”
I did just that. I let my body relax into his as I listened to his breathing.
“Can I ask you something?” He asked in the silence.
“You already have.” I said, yawning.
“Smart-ass.” He told me, nudging me a bit. “I want to know…why Mr. Riley?”
“What do you mean ‘why Jack?’”
“He’s a jock, right? What do you see in him? What could you two possibly have in common?”
I hesitated, thinking of a legit reason as to why I was dating Jack.
“I…he…hmm, he’s sweet.” I shrugged. “I mean, most people don’t get to see that side of him because he’s always…he’s always so…”
I was finding it hard to find a way to describe the boy I was ‘dating.”
“He tries so hard to put his head in the game twenty-four-seven. When I’m with him though, he’s sweet. All that crap you see is gone. When he’s with his friends he’s more of a-”
“Ass.” He cut me off.
“No, more of a jock. He has to be. It’s just his status.”
“And where do you fit into this status?”
“What do you mean?” I didn’t quite understand the question My mind was still adjusting to the warmth.
He was silent for a moment, then asked something I hadn’t been expecting.
“Have you two…” he fidgeted uncomfortably. “You know.”
Why the hell would he ask a question like that? Why the hell would he want to know?
I wanted to be truthful with Devin and to do that he wanted to know things. So I didn’t lie.
“Yeah, a few times.”
“He was your first.”
It wasn’t a question but I nodded anyway as I wondered where was he going with this conversation.
Is…well, is he…better in bed than me?”
And there it was. How could he possibly think that? Did he really want me to compare. Though, there really wasn’t any competition. Devin was far better in bed than Jack.
Jack was inexperienced, not knowing how to move just right, and not knowing how to make things awkward afterwards. Jack was a boy and he kissed as such. Devin on the other hand probably had sex with plenty of women-something which I refused to think about- and was skilled. Very skilled. He was a man that knew how to make me tremble, how to make me want to scream out his name. So, no. There were no comparisons.
To answer his question I turned around so I was now on top of him, and smiled down at him.
“You are by far a better lover than Jack is.” It hurt me a little to say but it was true. “You have absolutely nothing to worry about in that department.”
I kissed him once and he still didn’t smile.
“I only ask because…I almost lost you today. And what kept running through my mind was your and Mr. Riley’s kiss this morning. Could he have had anything to do with why you almost ended what we had? Did you like him better than me? Was he better than me? Did I-”
I kissed him, cutting off his worried rambling before he could work himself up just as I had today.
“No,” I told him, pulling back just a bit. “I like Jack, but I like you more. You did nothing wrong. And yeah, he did influence my decision, but so did you.”
He smiled up at me, green eyes dancing with delight. “You’re so beautiful.”
I smiled in satisfaction, though wished he would’ve said three different words.

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen
I woke in Devin’s relaxed embrace and to be honest it felt natural. Smiling, I looked at his tranquil face. He seemed at ease while he slept. This made me happy.
I wanted to feel that way. I wanted to be able to feel relaxed, to feel like nothing was going to happen. At the moment, if I didn’t get home something was definitely going to go wrong.
Devin groaned as I tried to slip out of his arms. I stilled immediately, not wanting to wake him. I wasn’t sure what time it was but it felt pretty early.
The room had long since warmed, making Devin’s skin stick to mine a bit. As I tried to move to the other side of the bed he moved with me, face changing from calm and relaxed to worried and distraught.
I placed my hand on his smooth face gently as to calm him. His face relaxed at my touch, along with his body. I was able to remove his arm from around my waist then. When I turned to climb out of bed he caught my arm, making me gasp a bit.
“Sorry,” I told him once I relaxed my breathing. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Where are you going?” He asked groggily.
“I’ve got to get home or my father will have a conniption.”
“He doesn’t know you’re out?” He had released my arm and was now sitting up.
“No, he knows, I just told him I was over at Marina’s.”
“Yeah, she’s grounded but the library was closed.”
“So, why did you come here again?” He sounded truly confused at my logic.
“Because…I didn’t want to go home.”
“It’s because of Rebecca, isn’t it?”
“Well, you don’t know her like I do. You don’t have to come home to her. She’s not as nice as she puts on, okay?”
“So…you think she what? Hates you?”
“I know she hates me, Devin.”
“That doesn’t sound like her.” He countered. He wasn’t really arguing with me, he just didn’t really believe that she was the manipulative shrew I made her out to be.
“Think what you want,” I told him. “But I know the truth.”
I got out of bed and checked on my clothes. They weren’t nearly as dry as I would’ve liked but at least they were warm. I checked my phone next for the time and to make sure I hadn’t missed any calls.
It was around two in the morning but I didn’t have a missed call.
I debated calling my father and telling him I was on my way, then chose not. He was probably asleep and I didn’t want to wake him, let alone wake Becca.
“You can just wear that if you’d like,” Devin told me with a smile in his voice.
“We both know I can’t do that.” I removed his shirt and put on my damp bra.
“At least put the wet on over the dry. That way I know you won’t be too cold.”
“My car has heat.” I didn’t mean for it to sound like a snap but it did.
“Alright, Layla. Suit yourself.”
I sighed, looking at him now while I got dressed. “I’m sorry. Okay? I’m just…a bit on edge. I didn’t mean-”
“I understand,” he said giving me a weak smile.
Once I had the wet clothes over the dry, I went to him. I placed a small kiss on his lips, making that smile reach his eyes.
I straightened and looked at him. “It just aggravates me that no one sees Rebecca for who she really is.”
He searched my face before replying. “I think what really sets you off is that your father can’t see it.”
I looked away from his questioning gaze. He knew me so well. Jack didn’t even see that. Maybe it was because Jack was busy juggling his football career. I mean, yes he knew I hated Rebecca and he sort of hated her too since she had hit me. But I hated Rebecca because she made my father happy when I thought I was certain I could. The way he looked at her, so affectionately, was the way he would look at my mother. I knew I should have been happy he was happy but I just couldn’t.
When I looked back, he was staring at me triumphantly.
“Shut up.” I rolled my eyes playfully.
He chuckled, low and sexy, pulling me into his arms and kissing me.
“I really need to get home.” I told him after he pulled back.
He groaned, putting his head back.
I laughed at his action and climbed off him.

When I got home, I crept through the house silently and up to my room. My father wasn’t waiting on me like I expected so it was easy to get up stairs without being heard.
Once there I removed the wet clothes that were already starting to stick to my skin. I was cold again but this time I had options on what I wanted to do. I could turn up the heat and get into bed or take a warm shower that would warm me down to the core.
Needless to say I picked the warm shower.

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen
Later that morning I half expected my father to drill me on my whereabouts the night before. To my surprise, he didn’t. He and Rebecca seemed awfully happy, making me sick to my already sick stomach. Something told me they had…done the do last night, which was why he wasn’t concerned with where I’d been. I didn’t like thinking of my father in that situation. It made me want to vomit.
My stomach was really upset, too. I figured it was due to me being so tense yesterday then taking that hot shower. Every muscle in my body had unclenched.
I went to school prepared to learn but somewhere in my mind, I knew the only reason I was going to school now was to see Devin. I knew this was very wrong of me and I had nothing against education I just…really wanted to see Devin. I found myself wishing the day would go by faster just so I could see him. It didn’t.
My first class went by in a flash but second period Marina’s endless ranting about her mother’s new rules and how unfair she thought they were nearly made me want to duct tape her mouth shut. Don’t get me wrong I loved Marina. Really I did. But she seriously needed to lay off her mother issues. At least she still had a mother who loved her. A mother who was trying to look out for her and protect her. At least her mother was still alive.
Lunch came next and boy did I feel like doing the same thing to four idiotic girls at the table. All they ever talked about was makeup and television shows. I mean really? Read a damn book once in a while for god’s sake? All their talking was grating on my last nerve, not to mention Jacks constant need to be touching me. I wasn’t sure why my nerves were on such high alert but I’d have to fix that before my fourth period. I didn’t want to snap on my favorite professor.
So during gym I ran it off. I asked Murphy if I could listen to music while I ran and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I even beat my original time by five minutes and forty two second. Once I finished my run, she let me hit the showers before the others since I had done so well. I actually made it out of gym before the end bell rang and was in my seat before the beginning bell rang for fourth period. My early entry made Devin smile. He nodded my way.
Once the bell rang he used the first few minutes to tease me.
“Class, I must say today I witnessed a miracle.” He gave me one of those genuine smiles that I loved so much. He didn’t really give those out during class unless he was really in a good mood.
“Ms. Bungah actually made it to class on time today. I think she deserves a hand, don’t you?”
A few of them clapped while Jack whistled.
I sneered playfully at Devin.
“Don’t expect it every day,” I told him. “I just got out of gym a bit early today.”
“Well any day you choose to grace us with your presence is truly a gift.”
This comment made the class look at him a bit weird. I on the other was trying to hide my blush and shocked expression.
“What I mean is,” he explained. “There are plenty of students who are supposed to be here and never show. So even if you are a few minutes late, I’m glad you care to show up at all.”
As if it wasn’t hard enough keeping my blush down, now I had to seriously concentrate on not giggling like an idiot in front of the entire class.
Class passed by pretty quickly after his comment and soon it was time for Jack’s practice. Which was something I didn’t want to attend today. So I lied and told him my father needed me home for something important. He didn’t ask any questions but instead went his separate way as I told him I needed to go to the bathroom before I headed home.
I stayed there until I was certain the halls were empty. When I was sure I was safe, I exited the girls room and went back to Devin. He smiled at my entrance then walked over to kiss me fiercely.
When he pulled back, I was breathless. I loved it when he did that. It made me feel…I wasn’t sure exactly what it made me feel but I sure as hell liked it. He looked towards the back of the room at where the supply closet was and I understood his meaning. All bets were off then. Our mouths met hot and fast and before I knew it, he was backing me up towards the closet while his hands roamed all over my body. Clothes were removed and body parts were groped.
I had to be honest. Devin gave me something I didn’t know I was craving. Happiness and satisfaction. This man seemed to bring out the best of me with just the slightest of touches.
I couldn’t lie to myself. I really felt as if I was falling in love with this man.
After our little…romantic escapade in the closet I went home only to be waited on by my father in the living-room.
He’d told me to have a seat across from him and I did after dropping my bag off at the steps. I had English homework that couldn’t wait.
“I want to talk to you about something while Becca’s not home. I, um…I have been offered a raise.”
“That’s great,” I said with enthusiasm. That was fantastic news. That meant more income. But I was confused as to why he wanted to discuss this when the shrew wasn’t here.
“Yes.” He smiled. “That’s good but there’s a catch.” Uh-oh. “This raise…requires a change in scenery.”
My face sank. “We’re…moving?”
“Well, moving back, I guess. Because of my background and status in the company
they want me to transfer to the new cooperation in Malaysia.”
We couldn’t leave. Not now. I was so happy. I had friends and a life here. Hell, a love life! A dangerous one but it was still a love life. I wanted to stay with Devin.
“Layla? Say something.”
I couldn’t.
“You’ll adjust, I mean this is really important and really, really, big. This raise could set us for life.”
“But we have enough now. You make enough now. Why do we have to move when we’re well off now?!” I had nearly been shouting and had to work to calm myself. If I didn’t I knew tears would be the next step.
“I’m sorry, Layla. I know you have Marina and probably even school you care about. Trust me sweetheart, I know, but this raise would help with your college funds. I’m thinking of you when we do this.”
So he had already decided. There was no point in arguing, once he set his mind to something there was no changing it. I’d inherited that from him. My mother had been the level headed one, the free bird if you will.
“Is Rebecca coming?”
“Of course, well, I’m hoping. I know she has her job and everything so things are going to be difficult.”
Difficult? Rebecca was going to throw a hissy fit over this. Even if she didn’t like the job there was no way she’d leave her clients.
“I’ve got homework,” I mumbled.
“Talk to your wife then get back to me.” If anyone could talk him out of this, it was Rebecca. “I’ve got homework, papa. So just confront this with Rebecca and when you have made your decision, tell me.”
He nodded. “I’m sorry, Layla.”
“Don’t be sorry for thinking of my future.” I started for the stairs. “I love you papa.”
I took my bag and went to my room. After tossing my bag to the bed, I did the same with my body.
It had been a long day and with this new information, my mind just wanted to sleep. So I let it.
Before I knew it I was waking up to someone shrieking.
“What the hell do you mean?!” Rebecca shouted. “They can’t do this to you!”
I must have fallen asleep because the sky was now darker. Judging from her yelling I figured he’d told her about the raise. I knew she wouldn’t be too thrilled and I was right. I just hoped she could talk him out of this.

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen
We were moving. And it felt like my heart was breaking. I had hoped Rebecca could talk my father out of his impending decision but she didn’t. She wanted to stay here with her clients, even if that meant breaking up the family. To be honest I liked the idea of her staying here and us moving far away from her, but what I didn’t like was the solemn look my father wore.
He walked about the house, ignoring her and she ignored him. I liked the fact that they weren’t speaking with each other but not at my father’s emotional expense. Rebecca was going to have to get with the program or she was going to be in deep shit. I didn’t want her around but I also didn’t want my father being so upset.
They were both in the kitchen but refused to look at each other or talk with one another. I hadn’t heard a silence this strong since he’d gotten into arguments with my mother. He was always so gentle with Rebecca, never really arguing with her for long. Normally it made me sick but to see the both so upset with each other was not get for any of us.
“Okay, look.” I began. “I don’t like this situation any more than you two do.”
“I actually love the situation,” My father said. “It’s good money and good for the family.”
“It is not time for you to speak, papa.” I told him, earning a stern look that I just shrugged off. “You two need to get over yourselves, especially you Rebecca. Thinking you can just stay here and break things off when you two work so well together, is very selfish of you. I don’t want this move either but I’m trying to think of ways to work around it, not to just say lets end everything we hold dear to our hearts. You love him and you love her. I don’t like it but it’s true.”
Rebecca began but I finished. “There are no buts here. You two will have made up before I get home from school and that’s final.”
With that I took my bag from the counter and walked away from them, and out the house.
This whole situation was getting blown out of proportion. It made me sad, not the fact that the folks were fighting, but the fact that my father was actually considering this move. He had actually put his foot down about this. I was going to be taken away from the people I loved and to be honest I wanted to break down and cry. I wasn’t a crier.
This was something that I had to bottle up inside, something that no one else could see.
So that’s what I did. I bottled it up just as I did with everything else.
Throughout the day no one noticed my quietness but when English was over and I stayed behind as usually Devin could see right through my ruse. He wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong but he knew something was bugging me. That’s what I liked about Devin and not about Jack. Devin could see my true feelings because I was almost positive he loved me, but Jack loved his football career. Yes, he looked at me adoringly but not with love. He couldn’t see when I was really hurting on the inside. But Devin could.
“Are you okay?” He asked coming from around his desk.
I was sitting on the right hand corner watching as he graded papers when he asked and my when I didn’t respond immediately he began to hover.
“Yeah.” I smiled as best I could. “I’m good.”
“Whatever it is you don’t want to tell me is it something going on at home?”
I shrugged.
“Is it Rebecca?”
I pursed my lips, thinking for a moment. It wasn’t a lie if I told him it was Rebecca. But he wanted the truth, which was something I couldn’t do. It would devastate him. If he loved me like I thought he did, like I was certain he did, I was sure it would nearly break his heart as much as mine felt snagged.
So I nodded. There was no need to worry him right now. Things probably weren’t even set in stone yet. I’d told them they needed to work things out at home and maybe my father had decided not to take the job. I knew that thought was wrong but there was no harm in wishing.
I didn’t feel like having him stare at me that like, all concerned and stuff, the whole time so I decided it was time for a distraction. But I knew the distraction was mainly for me.
Taking his shirt in my hands I pulled him down towards my level since I was much shorter than him, even sitting on the desk, and brought my lips to his. His response was to immediately kiss me back, arms wrapping around me. And I loved it this way. I wanted him to hold me and to never let go.
This was the way it was supposed to be and I was going to make sure it stayed that way.
As his tongue parted my lips and danced with mine I couldn’t help the moan that escaped. I could taste his very essence and I loved it. It was what I needed at the moment, something familiar to take my mind off the situation.
He hoisted me from the desk and before I knew it my back was hitting the white promethean board and his hands were gripping my bottom tightly.
The smile that formed across my face now was not one that was forced. It was as real as his body on mine. And boy did I love his body on mine. Within seconds, clothes were removed and his heat warmed me to my core.
I tried to ignore the goofy smirk that rested upon Devin’s lips as I buttoned my blouse.
“Do you really have to leave so early?” He asked zipping his pants.
I nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got to go. If I miss Jack’s practice again he’ll think something’s up.”
I didn’t have to look at him to tell he was giving me a look that said let him figure it out. But instead of voicing it, he stayed silent.
“I’ll call you later?” I asked looking towards him.
He shrugged as he sat in his chair.
I smiled, walking over to him. “Don’t be like this. You know I have to go.”
“I know that but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
I placed a small kiss on his lips but that didn’t ease up on the frown.
“What’s wrong?” It felt weird having to say that since I was that one who was upset just half an hour ago.
He sighed and looked away from me for a moment. “Maybe you should just…see Jack.”
I knew it pained him to say because it pained me to hear. But I tried to keep my composure.
“What do you me by just see Jack?”
“You’re…you’re just a child, Layla. Maybe, I’m holding you back. You should be doing things that people your age are doing.”
I didn’t comment on the child part, not wanting to cause an argument.
“Trust me. I am doing things people my age are doing.”
“With people your age.”
I pulled back from leaning on his chair. “What are you saying?”
“I’m just saying you shouldn’t be so consumed with me.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“It is, Layla. I’m your teacher. I shouldn’t be taking advantage of you like this.”
“Yes, I am, Layla. You’re a child-”
“I am not a child, Devin. If you’re trying to piss me off, it’s working.”
“Well, maybe it’s for the best.”
With those words I almost cried. It felt like a slap in the face. All the lying I’d been doing to my best friend, to my father, to Jack, and just to have him give up on us because-
No, he wasn’t giving up on us. That’s not what he said. He’s just feeling guilty. He’s feeling guilty because he thinks he’s taking advantage of me. And with that excuse he was trying to push me away. But he wasn’t taking advantage of me. I loved him.
“Why are you smiling?” He asked.
“Because you’re a man.” This confused him as I elaborated. “You’re a man and men are stupid.”
“No, let me finish. You think just because you tell me these things I’m going to give up on us? I won’t do it. You’re stuck with me, Devin.”
His smile returned though it didn’t meet his eyes as I still told him I was leaving.

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen
Jack’s face lit when he saw me sitting on the bleachers, which broke my heart a bit. I realized I’d have to do better with this whole girlfriend thing or he’d get suspicious and I didn’t want that happening.
It was dark by the time practice was over and I gave myself a mental pat on the back for texting my father earlier to tell him I’d be at the library doing research for an extra credit project I was doing.
He seemed to buy it because he didn’t call me every five minutes like he normally would.
“Hey, babe,” Jack said bringing me in for a strong hug. “I’m glad you came.”
“Well, I had to come sometime, my father can’t keep my cooped up in the house all the time.”
That had been my excuse for a while now. My father had been wanting to spend time with me or I was grounded. These were the times I spent with Devin.
“I’m just glad you’re not grounded anymore.”
He gave me a small smile and brought me in for a kiss. I kissed him back but it was nothing compared to Devin’s kisses.
Jack’s were a bit sloppy and suffocating, leaving me wanting to wash my face afterwards. I’d never noticed he did that before, but now it was unbearable.
I pulled back after a moment and wiped the corners of my mouth with my thumb causing him to smile a bit.
“You think we have enough time too…?”
I didn’t have to look at my phone to tell me that there was more than enough time to fool around. Jack was a bit of a quick draw but that was only because he didn’t know how to control it like Devin did.
But that didn’t mean we were about to have sex under the bleachers like a bunch a bloody teenagers. I wasn’t that type of girl anymore. I wanted something special that he just couldn’t give to me.
So I told him no, I had to get home before my father became suspicious. This caused him to frown and a small worry line to form on his forehead.
“When we first started dating we did it like all the time. What’s up with you lately?”
“Hey,” I scolded playfully. “I was not a slut. You may go around the locker room saying that but you and I both know that when we first started dating we didn’t have sex until nearly a year later.”
He nodded knowing I was right.
“I know that, it’s just…I feel like we’re losing our connection.”
I didn’t want to comment on that but knew at some point I would have to discuss our relationship. I figured later was better, so I lied.
“I understand how you could feel that way but things will get better.” I couldn’t promise him anything because it would be one I couldn’t keep. “I’m trying my best with my father’s constant watching, but to be honest it’s not like we can actually go anywhere. We can’t really be seen out in public because of both of our parents.”
“But it wouldn’t hurt to try.” He told me. “We used to go to the movies, sneaked out at night, but now? It just doesn’t feel the same anymore. It just feels like we’re drifting apart.”
“Well, you know high school love doesn’t always last.”
He smiled. “But ours will.”
I groaned internally, but tried my best to smile.
Looking at my cell, I noticed it was getting a bit later than I had planned. It was only about six o’clock but I still wanted to go home, finish my homework and have time to talk to Devin. So I told Jack I had to head before I got “grounded” again.
“But you’re coming to my game in two weeks, right?” He asked taking my hand.
“Yeah sure, Friday night right?”
He nodded. “Eight sharp.”
“I will be there.” I winked at him and, after removing my hand from his, I left the field.
It didn’t take me long to get home and once there I noticed the silence between my father and stepmother had dissipated. As I walked through the doors I heard them laughing in the kitchen looking at their wedding pictures. And just like that I hated her again. I mean, I didn’t like her in the first place but I felt a better understanding with her and her clients. She wanted to stay to be with them and I wanted to stay to be with Devin.
For a moment, it made me think that she was cheating on my father, but I knew she wouldn’t do that. I was certain she loved him, or almost certain.
“I’m home!” I shouted heading up to my room.
“You need to eat!”My father shouted back.
“I will,” I mumbled.
“Oh, and we need to talk,” he said poking his head from the kitchen doorway.
I dropped my bag off at the bottom of the steps and headed to the kitchen where they sat me down so we can talk.
“So,” my father began. “We’ve been talking and it has come to my attention that you are very attached to some of your friends here. Both you and Becca.”
I nodded.
“We have decided we’re not moving-” Yes! Yes! Yes! I screamed mentally. His next words, though, made me frown. “Until the early January.”
“Let me finish. I can’t push this move off any further than that. This will give you both a few months to tell your people what’s going on. And Layla this will ensure that half your semester has ended. It will be a fresh start.”
I didn’t want a fresh start. I wanted to stay with Devin but I didn’t think that would be a smart thing to say. So I said nothing for a moment. Things were never set in stone. There could be a change and his job could send someone else at the drop of a hat. Or so I hoped. I really hoped. I hoped so much that it began to hurt.
I was suddenly feeling nauseated and needed to lie down. So, after reluctantly agreeing I left them to go soak in a nice hot bubble bath. The bath settled my tense stomach a bit but not as much as I would’ve liked. I was upset and I knew that was the only reason I felt like crying my eyes out. But I wouldn’t. Nothing was ever set in stone in life. I’d just have to wait my father out.
My phone vibrating on the counter gave me something to distract myself.
I noticed I had two messages, one from Jack and one from Devin. Jack had just sent his while Devin had sent his while I was at the field. The content in the two messages showed just how different these two men were.
Jack wanted to know what I was doing and that is exactly what he typed: WYD?
Devin on the other hand, called me beautiful and said he was thinking about me. His texts always made me smile. They always made my day no matter how upsetting it was. This was the reason I was falling for Devin.
Jacks next text, though was the very reason I couldn’t end it with him. At least not right now. He told me he loved me. And I was sure he did. I was very certain he loved me, and I loved him. But I was no longer in love with him. It would hurt me if anything bad happened to Jack but it was completely destroy me if something happened to Devin.
That was the difference. Jack hadn’t changed. My feelings towards him had. And it was something I was having a hard time admitting.
Devin wanted me to do things that people my age were doing, with people my age. But I’ve never been the one who did things my peers did just because they were my age. I didn’t like doing the same things they liked doing. I didn’t party, I didn’t get drunk. That was not the type of person I was. I was made to be with Devin .Emotionally and mentally. Even he had said I was far more advanced than someone of my age group.
I guess the point I was trying to make to myself was that it made more sense for me to fall for a guy like Devin than a guy like Jack. I guess this gave me the courage I needed to decide if it was best to keep stringing Jack along or take Devin’s words today seriously.
If I was going to take Devin’s words today seriously then I’d keep texting Jack. But if I truly was falling for Devin I’d forget what he’d said, enjoy the fact that he chose to text me even though he had said those cruel words today, and just live in the moment.
Needless to say I chose to live in the moment. What can I say? I was falling hard for my English teacher.

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen
Morning came quickly, but today I woke with a smile on my face. Possibly because I wasn’t moving until January or because I talked to Devin last night. Probably because I had talked with Devin last night; not about me moving but about other things. Things that we normally talked about. Things that wouldn’t stress him out so much. Or me.
While I was concerned with Devin’s feelings I knew I couldn’t help but think about mine too. This whole thing effected me just as much as it affected him. It felt like my heart would break if I didn’t get to see him anymore. I wouldn’t go as far as to say my very being consisted of seeing him and if I didn’t get to see him then I just might die. No, that was a bit too melodramatic for me. But it felt like I couldn’t breathe at times. It felt like the air was being pulled from my body involuntarily. Almost like I was drowning.
But to be honest I sort of felt like this a lot lately. Since Devin and I had been sneaking around I felt like I was drowning in both the lies and secrecy. It felt as if they would drag me under with their weight and that was something I did not want. I did not want to be consumed by my secret, I just wanted to relish in his love. To be in his embrace. To feel him, always.
For a moment I wondered if this was how the others felt. I mean before they got caught. The other students that were sleeping around with their teachers? I wondered if they felt the yearn, the constant need to be around their lover because they understood you when the others didn’t. I wondered if they knew of the risks they were taking. Of what would possibly happen if they were to get caught. I did. And now they did too. I wondered yesterday while talking with Devin if it would be easier to just tell him and get it over with.
Or possibly to just tell him that I couldn’t see him anymore. This way when I left he wouldn’t feel anything towards me. I wouldn’t be able to say the same thing for him, though. I would still be thinking of him, still be in love with him.
And just like that my good mood was replaced with a darker one. One that I promised myself wouldn’t last. I wouldn’t let it last and I wouldn’t let it spread to Devin. I’d keep my feelings under control so I wouldn’t upset his. I could do that until I left. And that is what I strived to do.
I left that morning portraying a happy go lucky teenage girl but once my second class came around the one person that knew me the most confronted me.
“What’s up with you, girl?” She asked quieter than she normally was.
I gave her the best smile I could manage. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
The look she gave me told me she knew I was lying. “You know I know you better than that. You can’t lie to me Layla. I’m your sister from another mister. So I know your tells and girl, your tells have been screaming for the last few weeks. What’s up?”
I guess I wasn’t holding everything in as well as I thought I was. But there was no way I was telling Marina anything. I loved her and yes, she was like my sister but the girl had a bigger mouth than the town crier. If I thought she was going to be able to keep my secret, not about me seeing Devin, but about me moving, I was crazy. But to be honest that’s what I felt like these days. A crazy teenage girl that was on the brink of blurting something out. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to tell Marina. She had been keeping my secrets since I arrived here, what would be the difference?
“Bathroom,” I whispered her way. “Ten minutes.”
It would take me that long just to muster up the courage to tell my best friend I was leaving in a few months. A little less than four to be exact.
I asked for the restroom pass and, once granted it, left the room to go think.
Marina had waited the ten minutes I had asked for but that time didn’t give me the strength to compose myself. I heard when she walked through the doors and when I turned it was all I could do not to break down right there. I held back my sobs but a few tears did run down my cheeks.
“Oh, god.” Marina breathed. “You’re pregnant.”
“No,” I gasped. “What would make you think that?”
“Well, not to sound mean, love, but you’ve gained a bit of a gut. Not enough for many to notice but I did. And you’ve been a bit…moody.”
“I’m on birth control, Marina. The shot adds a bit of weight that’s hard to work off.”
I felt a bit offended that she thought I was becoming a fat bitch, but knew she was only looking out for me. Just like my father was when he decided a few years ago that it was time I was on some type of control. There were just too many creepers and God forbid something happen and I get pregnant.
“But if that’s not why you’re crying then what is?”
I sighed, turning away from her. She could still see my reflection in the mirror but it did make me feel a bit more stable.
“I’m moving.”
When she didn’t say anything I looked up at her reflection through the mirror over the sink I was standing at.
She seemed to be confused about something.
She knew it had to been soon if I was crying about it.
“In January.”
“But that’s so soon.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I know, ‘Rina. I know. But there’s not much I can do about the situation. My father has already made his decision.”
“And Becca is going along with it?”
“That’s what I was hoping for!” I squealed. “I was hoping she’d be all hell no, and he would listen to her and we wouldn’t move. But she even went as far as wanting a divorce, Marina. A divorce, okay? She doesn’t want this move anymore than I do which is why he pushed it back.”
“So you can finish out the semester.” She mumbled.
I nodded. “I don’t want to leave.”
“I understand. You’ve got me, and Jack-oh god-have you told Jack yet?”
I shook my head. “And neither can you. You cannot tell anyone about this yet. I don’t want to upset anyone and I sure as hell don’t want D-Jack finding out from someone else. That wouldn’t be good.”
She nodded. “But-”
“No, no buts. You cannot breathe a word about this to anyone.” She began to whine. “Not anyone. I mean it.”
Her pout told me she wasn’t too happy about this but she agreed to my terms.
“So where are you guys moving?” She asked leaning against the wall.
“We’re going back to Malaysia.”
“Kuala Lumpur?”
“Hell if I know. I haven’t asked that much. Possibly, though. I’m not sure exactly where they’re opening up the new branch at and quite frankly I don’t care. I just don’t want to go.”
She was silent for a moment then finally asked, “So…when are you going to tell Jack?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Not until…”
“I know what you’re thinking, Layla. You have to tell him now. You can’t tell him when you’re certain you’re leaving because it sounds like to me your father has made up his mind.”
“Nothing is ever set in stone, Marina. I’m not telling him. Not yet.”
She looked at me skeptically but nodded.
We left the bathroom then and headed back to class. Once there we handed over the passes and took our seats. Marina’s face still looked a bit worried but once I nudged her, she changed her frown to a smile.
The day passed by quickly after second period and soon I found myself heading to the field to watch Jack practice. When I left Devin he wasn’t too thrilled about it but there was really nothing I could say to sooth him in that situation. I needed to keep seeing Jack. It wasn’t that I was in love with him, because I had already had it set in my mind that I was in love with Devin. It was the fact that I didn’t want to hurt Jack. He really liked me and I…I knew that all he saw was Jack’s hard exterior when I knew for a fact there was a softer side to him.
No one knew the side of Jack that I knew. Around people he was the jock, but when we were alone he was…sensitive. He was sweet and caring. Devin didn’t get to see the side of him that I knew was there which was why he couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just break up with him and get it over with.
I stayed and watched Jack practice for about an hour then made up an excuse to leave. This was the only time that Jack and I got to spend together and we weren’t really even together during that time. The time I was sitting there just watching him tackle, run and catch could have been spent with Devin.
So that’s where I went. I had been texting him since I had reached the field. Or rather he had been texting me. He wanted to know little things like if I was okay sitting at the bleachers by myself and if I was going to come by later so we could hang out. I liked how he was always concerned with if I was alright even after I had left him to go see Jack.
When I reached the boat, Devin was waiting and he helped me climb aboard. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me once I sat my bag on one of the long seats. When I pulled away from him he asked if anything was wrong.
“Why would anything be wrong?” I tried my best to smile without giving my true feelings away.
To be honest I was beginning to wonder if I should just tell Devin I was moving and get it over with. I wasn’t even really sure how he felt about me anyway. Maybe I was only seeing Devin’s soft side just like he was only seeing Jack’s rough. I didn’t want to tell him because I thought he wouldn’t be able to handle it. I wasn’t exactly sure what I thought he would do but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to handle it. So maybe I was keeping this secret to protect myself.
Whatever the reason, Devin saw that something was on my mind and decided to kiss me to brush those thoughts away.
“You need to relax or you are going to get worry lines on your forehead just like your father,” he said after pulling back.
That was something I didn’t need at the moment. I certainly didn’t need for him to talking about my father.
When I wouldn’t look at him he cupped my face with his hands and told me, “You’re my Bungah kubur.”
I stared at him then asked, “I’m your Graveyard Flower?”
He knitted his eyebrows. “What? No…I meant you’re my beautiful flower. Sorry my Malay isn’t very good.
I laughed and nodded.
“At least I’m trying,” he frowned.
I kissed his lips. It was more than others would have gone through. He was actually trying to learn my language.
“Thank you.” I told him.
I didn’t really know what I was thanking him for. Caring enough to try to learn my language or bringing my thoughts away from the darkness that was beginning to engulf them.
He smiled and cupped my chin then brushed his lips across mine.
When I smiled he asked, “Have I told you I love when you do that?”
“You’ve mentioned it a few times,” I said smiling wildly.
“Well let me say it once more.” He pecked my lips. “I love you.”
This stunned me. He’d never said that before. Always my smile or my eyes but never me as a whole.
He saw my hesitation and frowned a bit. “You don’t have to say it back. I’m a big boy, Layla. I can handle if you don’t.”
That wasn’t it at all. I had already made up my mind that I was deeply in love with this man. But…I was moving. Could I still love this man if I was never going to see him again in a few months?
Not to mention he was my freaking teacher. That was a big glitch in my loving him and him loving me back. He was nine years older than me, something my father or society wouldn’t accept. I had no idea where this relationship was going to go. Would he still love me after I graduated. I mean before I found out I was moving. Would he have stayed with me if I graduated?
He’d just told me he loved and that was something my brain wouldn’t stop repeating. He loved me. He loved me. He loved me.
Even though my mind kept telling me he loved me something in me kept screaming that this was wrong. That it was an utterly horrible situation. But…I couldn’t help my feelings towards him. I couldn’t deny that I loved Devin.
“Layla, breathe, love. Breathe,” he said noticing the worry on my face.
But it was getting hard to do just that. Things were so screwed up. It felt like I was drowning in my own emotions.
“We are so fucked.” I whispered.
He laughed loudly, voice echoing across the lake. “I’m happy to know you feel the same way. You do feel the same way, don’t you?”
“I know I’m not supposed to, but I can’t help but love you.”
He ran his fingers down my neck and just the feel of his fingertips against my exposed flesh sent my skin tingling.
“This is bad.” I mumbled.
He removed the jacket I had been wearing.
“Let me worry about the bad,” he said making a trail of kisses from my mouth to my collarbone. “You just worry about the good.” His teeth grazed my neck and I couldn’t help but smile. “And what feels good.”
“Feels fantastic.” I mumbled.
He pulled back and chuckled. When his lips left my skin I gave a small whine that made him laugh a loud once more. He took hold of my hand pulled me down stairs.

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen
It had been about two weeks since Devin told me he loved me and since I’d told Marina my secret. She’d been doing a good job at keeping it but not from talking about it with me. She’d call me late at night when I was texting Devin and want to know if anything had changed. It was the same every other night she called.
No. My father hadn’t changed his mind about the move. If anything he was making more plans. Like what high school I would attend so I could complete the rest of my year or confirming the house we would live in with his bosses. I had to admit that I absolutely positively hated his bosses now. Like as of now I had a serious vendetta out against them. They were number two on my hit list. Number one was Arnold Schwarzen-whatever. He would always be number one.
Okay, so maybe I was over reacting. About the bosses, not Schwarzenegger. I had valid reasons on why I thought he should be assassinated. The bosses were only trying to help my father out. Or so I hoped.
Other than me moving, my life was going really well. Devin and I hadn’t fought once since then, other than a couple of petty arguments on the topic of Jack’s practices. And to end those I just stopped going. It was an unneeded argument that wasted valuable time that could have been spent doing other things.
Devin and I had gotten really skilled at our little “study sessions” too. He had changed his class room around so that now his desk was closer to the spare closet. He told me he did this because it would eliminate the problem of someone looking through the window of the door. It was once covered with some type of flyer but the activity was over and now the flyer was taken down.
He had been in the middle of replacing the flying with an orange senior newsletter when a student opened the door and handed him a note. The class was in the middle of a test so they didn’t notice the curious look he had as he looked from the note to me.
The test was really freaking long and took all damn period but once I was done with my test he handed me the note. It said it was from Mr. Miller and that he needed to see me after school. I put the slip in my pocket and waited for the bells to ring.
After the second bell released Jack and the others, I made up some reason to stay behind so I could spend a bit of time with Devin. He’d told me he had something to do later tonight so I wouldn’t be able to see him later.
He mistook my staying behind for time for a quickie in the supply room. He kissed me deeply when I came back to his room, pinning me against the white promethean board.
When I realized that his intentions were impure I tried to free myself.
“No, I can’t today.” I told him. “I have to go see Mr. Miller.”
He pulled away from me and stared at me curiously.
“Why?” He asked. “Why’d he send a note for you?”
I shrugged. “Not sure. It just said he wanted to speak with me about something after my last class today.”
“So…we don’t have time for…” His sly grin made his features a bit more devious.
I knew what he wanted but it would just have to wait. Miller’s note said after class and it was already ten to fifteen minutes after.
I shook my head but touched my lips to the base of his neck, causing him to tremble with pleasure. When I pulled away from him I could tell by his confused expression I’d given him mixed signals.
“I’ve really got to go, Devin.”
He sighed, not really wanting to, but still released me.
After leaving Devin, I walked a few halls over to find Millers classroom. He was still on the freshman hall teaching World History. I had taken it a year ago and passed with a B. It was a pretty advanced class to be on the freshman hall but I never questioned it. It wasn’t anything to question, not that anyone would change it if I did.
When I knocked on the door Miller told me to come in but there seemed to be a smile in his tone.
As I entered, he told me to close the door behind me.
I found this a bit odd but complied.
He didn’t look up as I entered or even as he spoke to me.
“How are you today, Ms. Bungah?”
“Layla,” I told him. “I don’t really like for people to call me by my last name. And I’m pretty good. Why do you ask?”
He didn’t answer that question but instead posed another.
“I’ve called you here today to see if you would be truthful with me.” I stared at him a bit curiously. “What are you and Simmons doing?”
“I’m sorry what?” I asked a bit shocked. “What do you mean?” There was no playing confused here. I was genuinely confused as to why Miller was asking. Did he know something?
Now he looked up at me, hazel eyes matching the devious smile upon his face.
“You really shouldn’t play coy, Layla. It’s a simple question. And all I need is an answer. A truthful answer.”
I shifted my bag to my other shoulder. “I’m sorry Mr. Miller but I’m not understanding what you’re asking.”
He didn’t seem to like this and in an instant, his relaxed posture became one of business.
“I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” he said smirking at me. He leaned back in his leather chair and it squeaked a bit against the pressure. “It doesn’t take a genius to see he likes you more than he should. More than a teacher should like a teacher’s pet.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I tried my best to sound confused.
“Please, Layla. I thought what happened at the bar a few weeks ago was just…a teacher protecting another teacher, but he wasn’t protecting Bond. He was protecting you. Not to mention pissed Bond was feeling up his woman.”
“I’m not his woman,” I said crossing my arms. “And what happened at the bar was…nothing. Mr. Simmons’s was just helping his drunken friend before he could get into anymore trouble.”
He had no proof Devin and I were seeing each other, other than hunches. If that was all he had I wasn’t about to admit anything.
“I saw you.” He said as I turned to leave.
I stopped cold. “Saw what?” I asked turning back slowly. I still held my confused expression, praying he was bluffing.
“You and Devin. Coming from his office. After hours.”
“So I had to turn in an assignment; I do it all the time.” I shrugged.
“The door was closed, Layla. We are not suppose to be alone with students, after hours, with the door closed.” He tilted his head and it made him look a little more menacing. “I could report him for that alone. Further investigation and…”
Obviously he had us. No need to play coy. I was sure my face changed along with my posture. I crossed my arms over my chest and shifted my weight to my right foot.
“What do you want?” He clearly wanted something or he would’ve told someone already.
“Layla, I’m a bit shocked that you’d think so little of me.” He smiled.
I didn’t say anything, just continued to glare at him.
He stood and walked past me, locking the door.
“Well, I was thinking,” he said as he walked back to his desk. He loosened his tie and sat on the edge. “Why should Devin have all the fun?”
I inhaled sharply. “I am not a slut, Mr. Miller.”
“Could’ve fooled me.” He removed his jacket. “Or we could just go ask Principle Stubbs. I’m pretty sure he’s still in his office.”
“There has to be another way. Something else, anything else.” I pleaded.
“I’m afraid not.”
I looked away. I was not a slut. I’d never stoop as low as that, not when I loved Devin.
But Larry was threatening to report Devin. I couldn’t just sit by and watch the one good thing be ripped from my life. Not to mention it would destroy Devin. His career, his life. All down the drain because I couldn’t control myself. I was a slut.
And once a slut, always a slut.
“I’m not going to have sex with you,” I said, holding back a sob.
I looked back to see him smiling-no-smirking. He fingered for me to come closer and after a moment of hesitation I complied.
I stood before him, body trembling slightly. He unzipped my jacket slowly, revealing my shirt. The shirt covered my stomach but my cleavage was definitely exposed. The bra I wore didn’t really help either.
He removed the jacket, hands lingering on my arms longer than necessary. He ran his cold fingertips up and down my arms.
My body still trembled and I knew tears would come next. I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this situation. I loved Devin and would do anything to keep him. Even if it meant…
“Relax, Layla.” He whispered in my ear. “It’ll be over before you know it.”
I closed my eyes and sighed, relaxing my body as best I could.
When I stopped my shaking he took my hand and led me to his seat. He sat and gazed up at me hungrily. I’d seen that look in Devin’s eyes before but Devin’s gaze didn’t make me sick to my stomach.
“On your knees.” He commanded.
I did as I was told as he unfastened his pants and pulled out his hardened member.
“You know what to do.”
Actually I didn’t. I’d only ever done something like this once before and wasn’t sure if I had done it right then. Jack had told me yes but I was self conscious and unsure of myself.
When I didn’t act he looked amused. “You don’t know how, do you?” His smile widened when I glared at him. “What’s Devin been teaching you?”
The question wasn’t meant to be answered and I bit back the urge to tell him to go screw himself.
“Lick it,” he said grabbing my chin roughly in one hand making my mouth squish. “Start at the base then move to the tip.”
I jerked my head from his grasp and stared hard at the black, white and grey tiled floor.
“Do it or I’ll see to it your little study sessions with Devin will only happen through two inches of Plexiglas and a plastic red telephone.”
I brought my head back, eyes burning with tears though none fell. I took him in one hand and did as he instructed. I did this a few times slowly and he put his head back, letting out a small breathy moan.
When I reached the head again he took hold of my hair and forced himself into my mouth. I nearly gagged as I choked a bit.
I pulled back only to be forced back down repeatedly. When I knew what to do he stopped forcing me and let me work on my own. Using my tongue seemed to drive him crazy the most so that’s what I did. I gripped his legs so I wouldn’t fall and with that simple touch he hardened a little more. Every time I’d run my tongue over him he’d moan. Apparently I was doing something right because it drove him over the edge. Warm liquid flooded my mouth but as I tried to pull back he held my head down so there was no escape.
“Swallow it.” He breathed. “No sense on making a mess.”
The liquid slid down my throat before I could stop it and I choked a bit.
When I finished, he told me to clean up after myself. I did. The only evidence of what had just happened was his limp member.
“That was…wonderful,” he said stoking my cheek with his index finger. “No wonder Devin was keeping you to himself.”
I pulled back from his touch. This earned me a look. He fixed his pants and instructed for me to sit on his desk. I did but never met his eyes.
“Don’t look like that, Layla.” He tilted my face up with his thumb and fore finger. “I only need one more thing from you.”
I glared at him. What could he possibly want now?
His hands groped my breast and I gasped in pain. I bit my bottom lip to prevent any more noise from escaping them.
“This is going to be our little secret,” he said lifting my shirt and bra. His mouth connected with my left breast as his hand kneaded the other. “If Devin never finds out, neither will Stubbs. Understood?”
His teeth grazed my sensitive area and I whimpered but nodded.
“Good,” he said into my breast.

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen
When I got home I felt my burden heavy. Slut, my mind screamed at me. It was right. I was a slut. I hadn’t slept with Miller but it was just as bad. I felt like crying.
No one was home again and I was grateful for that. I didn’t think I could handle my father’s questioning stare at the moment.
I went to my room to drop off my bag then went to the bathroom and started a hot shower. I scrubbed every inch of my body but nothing could get rid of the flesh bumps. I could still feel his mouth on my skin. I scrubbed harder, not realizing I was crying until I heard my sobs over the sound of the running water. I slid down to the floor of the porcelain tub and just cried.
I wasn’t sure how long I sat that way but the water was ice cold before I finally decided it was time to get out. I wrapped a towel around myself and went to my room.
My phone beeped, meaning I had a missed call. The number made me pale. Devin. The resent events popped into my head and I shuddered, nearly breaking down again.
I pulled myself together and hit the call back button.
When he answered there was a smile in his voice. “Hey, love, you home?”
“Yeah,” I said, wishing my voice didn’t crack the way it did.
“Hey, what’s wrong? What happened?” His voice changed to concern quickly.
“Nothing.” I lied. “I’m fine.”
My voice no longer cracked and I tried to breathe calmly.
“Did something happen? Is it Rebecca?”
“No, no. I’m fine. I’m alone.”
“Layla don’t lie to me. I can hear it in your voice something’s wrong.”
“I’m fine.” I tried again, this time a lot stronger. I could put up a front just till he hung up.
“Alright, Layla. I was…just calling to see if you had made it home safe. I know you said you had to stay and talk with Miller.
“Yeah, I’m home. Look I’ve got to go. I, uh, just got out the shower and need to get dressed.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah, sure. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I never meant those words as much as I meant them then. I truly loved this man. I’d do anything for him.
He hung up and I sank to the floor. I just wanted to sleep. To drift away and let this day be over with. I had long ago lost my appetite so I didn’t have to worry about that.
I closed my eyes and let my head rest against my mahogany dresser.

The door bell ringing made me jump. I looked around myself a little disoriented. The sun was beginning to set indicating I’d been asleep longer than a few minutes.
The bell rang again and I got up from the floor quickly. I had made it down stairs before I realized I was still in my towel and my damp hair clung to my face.
I looked out the window to see nothing. There was no car in the driveway besides my own and the streets were pretty barren. But the door bell rang once more. I grabbed my father’s long tan coat and pulled it over my body. It came to my knees, which was better than what the towel covered.
Opening the door just a crack, I peered out then sighed. What the hell was Devin doing here?
I opened the door wider and let him in, quickly closing it behind him. I hoped no one saw him.
“What are you doing here?” I asked pulling the jacket closed.
“I’m not stupid, Layla,” he said searching my eyes. “Something was clearly wrong when I talked to you on the phone.”
“What if my parents had been home, huh? You can’t just drop by like that.” I was just a little irritated. I wasn’t protecting our secret just so he could do something as reckless as this and ruin it.
“You said they weren’t and I had to make sure you were alright. And apparently I was right to drop by because it looks like you’ve been crying.”
“I haven’t.” I mumbled. “Everything’s fine.”
“That’s a lie, Layla.” He brought his hand to my face and his thumb stroked my cheek. “Why are you lying to me?”
I closed my eyes and leaned into that hand. “I’m not lying. Everything’s fine.”
Besides the seriously fucked up situation, yeah, everything was fine. Or would be. I’d make sure everything was alright.
“I know that’s not true but I’m not sure why you won’t tell me. I’m going to trust you know what you’re doing.” His arms wrapped around me and he placed his lips against my hair. “Whatever it is will be fine.”
I nodded. It would be fine.
“Who’s jacket is this?” He asked pulling back.
“Oh.” I removed it. “It’s my father’s, I wasn’t sure who was at the door. Your car isn’t outside.”
“I parked around the corner after I saw that your car was the only one in the driveway. Why are you still in a towel? You said you were getting dressed like two hours ago?”
Had it really been two hours? “I fell asleep.” I shrugged. “I only meant to close my eyes for a moment.”

He smiled. “Come on, let’s get you dressed.”
He took my hand and pulled me upstairs. Once he reached my room he took in my scattered clothes and tossed about bag then looked at me. It was quite clear I’d come straight home and got into the shower.
“Layla…love, what happened?” He asked looking at me now. He assessed me for a moment, eyes roaming over my body. They stopped at my cleavage.
I fidgeted uncomfortably, pulling the towel up a bit.
“What’s that?” He asked voice tight.
“Nothing.” I turned and tried to go to my closet only to be pulled back by my arm. I winced. “You’re hurting me.”
“Layla, those look new.” He was referring to the reddened flesh there. Hickies he sure as hell didn’t leave. “Did Jack…?”
“No.” My voice was small and I couldn’t meet his eyes. I tried my best to pull away from his hand but he wouldn’t loosen his hold.
“I sure as hell didn’t make them.” His voice was tight just like his grip. Then recognition lit his features. The only other person I’d been with had been Miller. I’d come straight home, took a shower and it looked like I’d been crying? Put all that together and what did you get?
“What happened with Miller?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly. A little too quickly.
“Did he make…I’m going to kill him.” He released me and headed for the door. I clutched my sore arm.
“Wait!” I said as he descended the stairs. “You can’t.”
“Explain to me why I shouldn’t go kick his ass?!” He rounded on me and I skid to a stop.
“He knows!” I cried. “He knows about us.” Again I couldn’t meet his eyes. “He said it was pretty obvious, knew just by watching the way we reacted around each other.”
I risked a glance up at him and saw he was trembling.
“So you slept with him.”
“No!” I shouted, tears spilling over. “Never, I wouldn’t. But he…he made me…”
He did something then that I wasn’t expecting. He hugged me. Took me into his arms and held me tight. I brought my arms around his stomach.
“He said he’d report you.” I tried my best to stop my sniffling. I was certain I was ruining his nice royal blue satin shirt. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t-”
“It’s not your fault.” He soothed. “I’m going to kill him. He’s dead.”
“No, no you can’t know.” I tried to pull away from him but he held me close. “If he knows you know he’ll tell Principal Stubbs about us.”
“Let him tell, if it means I can kick his ass then I don’t care.” He growled.
“You don’t mean that.” I whispered. He couldn’t. If he did then that meant he didn’t care what happened to us. If Miller told, we’d be separated.
He realized his words and back peddled. “We will figure this out. I promise.”
“You can’t tell him.” I murmured. “He knows, you just can’t.”
“I know, Layla. I know.” He stroked my hair. “I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
Little did he know I’d go through a lot worse for him.
The sound of someone pulling into the driveway made us break apart.
“Your father?” He asked.
“I don’t know,” I said frantically. The only way out was the front door and with someone about to enter it, we were screwed. There were the windows but he’d never make it out in time. Or without being seen. “My room, now. You can climb down from my window once it’s clear.”
He kissed me deeply then ran upstairs. I fixed my towel and prepared for whoever entered. I was thankful it was Rebecca who walked through the door and not my father. That is, until she spoke.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She seemed a little shocked at my attire. “Why are you in a towel?”
“I, uh, just got out the shower not too long ago.”
“Well, go get dressed,” she said pushing past me. “God, come home and you’re walking around the house naked.”
I rolled my eyes and went up to my room. I had been expecting Devin to be gone but when I opened my door he was sitting on my bed looking through my poetry book.
I gasped loudly before I could help myself.
“What?!” Rebecca screamed from the bottom of the stairs. “What happened?!”
“Nothing! Uh, just a spider!” I glared at Devin.
I could hear her mumbling something but I had closed my door, not really caring. I took the book from his hands and stuffed it back under the pillow it had come from.
I pointed to the window and he shook his head. He placed his hands on my waist and pulled me onto his lap. He stared at me for a moment which made a light blush color my cheeks.
“I love you.” He whispered into my ear.
I placed my arms around his neck. “I love you, too.”
“You don’t know how much I care for you.”
I didn’t like the way he was talking. Like he had to tell me this; almost like we’d never see each other again.
I did my best to smile. “I know. Trust me, I know.”
He kissed me deeply and hungrily, like he never wanted to part. When I pulled back for air his mouth slid to my neck.
“Wait, stop,” I said a little out of breath.
He kissed me once more but stopped to gaze at me adoringly. “I’m going to miss that.”
“Why?!” I snapped angrily. I tried my best to keep my voice down. “You are not going anywhere.”
“Layla, if I do-”
“No,” I said getting off his lap. I crossed my arms and turned away from him. My eyes burned with tears I didn’t dare shed. They weren’t sad tears, they were angry tears. When I turned back I did my best to scowl. “He will not ruin this. You will stop talking like you’re never going to see me again.”
My words were angry but he smiled.
“I love when you take charge.” He whispered standing and gliding his hands through my hair. He placed a small kiss on my lips. “I’m sorry.”
“Stop apologizing.” I snapped. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Didn’t I? I could resist you. If I had been able to keep it in my pants, none of this would be happening.”
“I doubt that.”
He looked at me curiously.
“It would’ve happened eventually. I couldn’t deny the way I felt when you were around.”
His smile widened, then he kissed me deeply. When he pulled back my head swam.
“I, um, I need to get dressed.”
I could vaguely hear Rebecca running a shower and I knew this was the most privacy we were going to have.
He released me and sat on my bed. His eyes never left me as I picked out a tank top and sweats to sleep in, or as I lost the towel and changed. He stayed seated though stiffened a bit when I lost the towel.
The bruising wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. Yes, they were still a bit sore but Devin had left worse.
He laid back and rested his head on one of my many pillows. His arms opened and I laid within them.
“Why won’t you let me read your poetry?” He asked after a moment.
I shrugged.
“Can I read one now?”
I shook my head.
“Why?” He let out a breathy laugh.
I looked toward my door and strained my ears. Rebecca was still in the shower, but she wouldn’t stay that way all night. I looked for my remote and turned the television on. At least a little noise would mask his deep voice.
“The stuff I write…it’s a little dark.”
He smiled. “Just one?”
He made his bottom lip quiver, making me laugh a little.
“Fine.” I pulled the book from under his head and gave it to him. “But you pick.”
He nodded, opening the book to where my red ribbon bookmark was. I didn’t remember my last poem, I’d written it a while ago, but the change in his face said it saddened him. Then his face changed to amused.
“Do you really feel this way?” he asked, looking at me over the book.
I wasn’t sure. I took the book from his hands and read the title. No Longer a Child.
I smiled as I shrugged.
He placed a kiss on my forehead. “Can I read another?”
“No,” I said quickly. It had been sheer luck he’d picked that one. At least that one hadn’t talked about death.
“Layla!” I heard Rebecca shout from the bottom of the stairs.
I jumped from his arms and dashed out the door.
“Yeah,” I asked a little out of breath.
“You’re father should be home soon. He’s bringing dinner. Chinese food.”
“Okay.” With Devin here I’d regained my appetite.
She left and I went back to my room.
“Hope you like Chinese food,” I whispered once I was back in his arms.
He nodded.


This is the very reason I made the story Forbidden Fantasy. I just thought the poem was so good that it needed a story behind it, I never imagined Devin's and Layla's story would be so friggen complicated.

Just A Child

If I’m just a child

Why do you expect so much from me?

If I’m just a child

Why do you please me so blindingly?

You push me away

then pull me back roughly

And kiss my neck gently

As you whisper you love me

Place me on your desk

Hike up my skirt

But in the halls

You expect me not to flirt

When we’re alone

You tell me I’m lovely

When I text your phone

You say you cant live without me

We both know this is wrong

And you’ve acted on it a few times

But you cant stop thinking about me

Even though you know it’s a crime

I’m just a child

and shouldn’t have to deal with this

That’s what you tell me

and I know its all bullshit

You love me

And my childish ways

You want to snuggle up to me

At the end of the day

I see it in your eyes

As your heart beats wild

So shut up and kiss me

Because I am no longer a child.

-Layla Bungah

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty
When my father came home, Devin hid in the closet until I told him he could come out. I had fixed my plate and managed to stuff two forks in my pocket. I’d made up some excuse to eat in my room and neither my father or Rebecca thought twice about it.
Devin and I sat on my bed eating Chinese food and watching television. Well, the television was on but we were watching each other more. I had to admit I was afraid. I wasn’t sure if this would be the last time we’d see each other. Yeah, I’d done what Miller had asked, meaning he’d keep Devin and my little secret but for how long?
Not long enough if Devin confronted him tomorrow. He promised me he wouldn’t but I had to promise I wouldn’t meet Miller alone anymore. My only concern about that was Devin. If I refused there was no doubt in my mind Miller would tell Stubbs. Then Devin would be sent away.
Devin reminded me that Miller had been in the wrong, too. That if he breathed a word to Stubbs that it would be like confessing himself, too.
I saw the truth in his words and it made me feel a little better. Knowing Miller couldn’t tell without ratting himself out gave me some sort of confidence that we wouldn’t be separated.
After we ate, I took the plate to the kitchen and did the dishes quickly. I told my father goodnight then headed back upstairs to Devin.
I really like that. The fact Devin was waiting upstairs in my bed. It felt good to say he was mine. He loved me and I loved him. That was something I still wasn’t used to saying or hearing. Devin loved me.
When I came in, he smiled as I turned off the light and climbed into bed with him. He wrapped his arm around me and I relaxed, falling asleep quickly.
My alarm woke me hours later and I wasn’t surprised to find Devin gone. He’d probably left some time in the night.
I dressed for school, wearing my black and white checkered skirt and black tank top. I straightened my hairs so it hung freely around my face then went downstairs to tell my father bye.
I felt pretty confident as I walked the halls trying to get to my locker. Devin’s words replayed in my mind repeatedly. I could handle today. There were only two more days until the weekend and a few days until my birthday. Devin had told me yesterday that he had something planned for the weekend after so that was something I was looking forward to.
Jack was waiting by my locker, greeting me with a kiss and a smile. I did the same.
“You look beautiful as always.”
I blushed. “Thanks. I see you’re growing your hair out.”
I’d noticed his hair had gotten longer in the past weeks. He was growing it out for me. It was a sweet gesture but a wasted effort.
“Yeah,” he said running a hand through his golden locks. “You said you liked it long, so I figured…”
“It’s cute,” I switched out my books. “Makes you look sexier.”
He kissed my cheek. “Thanks, babe.”
I shrugged.
“So I was thinking,” he said leaning against the locker next to mine.
“Uh, oh.” I joked.
“Oh, hush.” He smiled. “I was thinking, maybe we could…go see a movie this weekend.”
“You know we can’t do that.” I never looked at him.
“But it’s dark. We wouldn’t even have to meet each other at the same spot. We could meet in the theater. Just hang out a little.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. You know my father’s been doing that whole ‘wanting to spend time with me’ thing. Besides, you know my birthday is in a few days. He’s bound to have something planned.
He nodded.
“Maybe next week, okay?” I knew that wasn’t going to happen but it got him off my case for the moment.
“Okay.” He shrugged.
He didn’t say anything else about my plans for the weekend but I knew my dismissal hurt him. I’d been blowing him off for weeks now and was starting to see pain in his eyes. That and a…coldness. Sometimes I’d feel it but as suddenly as it was there it was gone.
“Ms. Bungah,” Mr. Miller said walking up behind Jack. “Just the girl I was looking for.”
His eyes lingered on my legs a little longer than I or Jack would’ve liked. Jack raised an eyebrow at me.
“Hello, Mr. Miller.” I tried my best not to gag.
“I need to speak with you for a minute.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m in a bit of a rush.” I closed my locker.
“Babe, first period doesn’t start for like another twenty minutes.”
“Exactly and it will only take a moment,” Mr. Miller said looking at Jack.
“Oh, I get it. Some teacher student confidentiality thing.” Jack smiled. “I’ll see you at lunch, babe.”
He kissed me then left.
“I’m quite shocked you can keep this thing going between those two,” Miller said not even trying to keep his voice down.
I glared at him then looked around to make sure no one had heard him.
The halls weren’t full but there were still a few students roaming around. No one had heard, though, they weren’t really paying us any attention.
“Oh,” he said putting a finger to his lips. “Was that too loud?” He smirked.
“What do you want?”
“Why would you assume I wanted something?”
“Oh, just get on with it.” I spat.
“Oh, temper, temper.” He smiled. “I need another…favor.”
“What?!” I asked then looked around. I tried to control my rising anger. “I thought that was a onetime thing.”
“Whoever said that?” He laughed. “Look, just be a good little whore and meet me in my classroom in thirty minutes.” My face must have said confused because he went on to explain. “It’s my planning period.”
Meaning his free period. Normally teachers had those later in the day. I was surprised he didn’t just come in later when his class actually started.
“I can’t,” I said quickly.
“You can and will, Layla. Or do I have to remind you of what I know. Oh, wait, I’ll just run that information by Stubbs and-”
“Wait,’ I said catching his arm. He had turned slightly as if to walk away. When he turned back he smiled. I knew I was playing right into his plan. “You can’t.”
“Then I’ll see you in twenty-seven minutes.”
“You have no proof.” I blurted, crossing my arms though tried not to look as if we were having an argument. I didn’t want to draw attention. But most importantly I didn’t want to meet with him alone. I replayed Devin’s words in my mind and they gave me a bit of strength.
“Proof of what?”
“If you tell Principal Stubbs about…you know what, I’ll just tell him what you did.”
His smile widened a little. “Ah, but I do, Layla. And you don’t.”
“Liar.” I was a bit shocked at his words and my tone said so.
“My room twenty-five minutes.” He turned and walked away then, leaving me standing there thinking.
Could he have proof? How the hell could that be? Devin and I were so careful.
I decided then I had to find out, but not after consulting with Devin first. So I went to him and told him what happened.
“He’s bluffing.” He spat. “Lying son of a bitch.”
He had stopped his furious shaking and now paced in front of me while I sat on his desk. When he reached the door again he looked at me though seemed to be really looking at me for the first time.
I was propped on his desk with my hands placed in my lap. Though I was worried about myself and what Miller was going to have me do now that Devin knew about his little “favor”, I was more concerned with Devin. His job, his life-hell-his sanity. All gone because of me. It was a burden I wasn’t sure if I could bare.
“You know, your eye twitches when you’re worried,” he said coming to stand in front of me. He placed his hands on my cheeks and brushed his lips against mine. “Stop worrying. I’ll handle it. Everything will be fine, it will all work out, okay?”
I tried to believe that, but couldn’t. Well, I knew he’d handle it but I wasn’t too sure about the everything will work out fine part.
“Just…go on to class, do as he says but I’m coming, too,” he said releasing me.
That couldn’t be good, but I didn’t argue. I kissed him, then went to class.
When the time came, I asked to go to the restroom. I took the pass and went to Mr. Miller. Devin wasn’t waiting by the door and I didn’t know if I should just go in or not. After sighing, I did.
He smiled at my entrance. “Lock the door behind you.”
I tried to close the door but a hand stopped me. Devin pushed open the door and nodded for me to go further into the classroom. He closed the door and stood behind me, arms crossed, chest rising and falling rapidly. Had he been running?
“Hmm, somebody’s been naughty,” Mr. Miller said, smile never faltering.
“We need to talk, Larry.” Devin stepped next to me.
“Looks as if Layla has been doing enough talking for the both of us.” He stared at me with amusement.
“Layla did nothing wrong, it was all me.”
I must have looked shocked as hell when I looked over at him because Mr. Miller laughed.
“That’s not what her face says. Besides, I know that’s not true. Little slut was probably begging for it. Tight ass clothes, I’ve seen her shaking her ass in the halls.”
I didn’t think it was possible but Devin became even more tense. “Larry, shut your mouth. She is not a slut.”
“Really? Tell me Layla, how does it feel to be fucking three guys?”
“She never had sex with you, you bastard.”
“But her tongue is wonderful.” His smile turned evil. “And she certainly knows how to work it, does she not?”
“That’s not why we’re here,” Devin said, eyes ablaze. “You said you had proof, let’s see it.”
Mr. Miller pulled out a manila folder from his drawer, pulled quite a few large papers from it and placed them on his desk. Devin went to look. His shoulders fell as he took them all in.
“You’ve been following us?” He asked, voice defeated.
“Well, after that little incident at the bar I got a little…suspicious. Then in the halls, you two were a little too friendly.” He shrugged. “It was a little too weird. The after class study sessions with the door closed just pushed things a bit. You should really know better, Devin.”
“What do you want?” Devin asked, crossing his arms over his wide chest.
“Funny, Layla said that not thirty minutes ago. Tell me, did Layla tell you just now or yesterday? Quite the little chatter box this one. Maybe we should find another use for her mouth.”
“She didn’t tell me. Your bruises did.”
“Ah, so even after your time with me you two still…nice Layla, very nice.” He was looking at me.
Devin must have reached his limit because he reached over the desk and took Mr. Miller’s shirt in his hands. “Look here, you perverted son of a bitch, keep your hands off her. Do you understand me?”
Miller’s smile faltered for a fraction of a second. “Me perverted? I’m not the one who’s suddenly required a taste for pedophilia.”
“If you touch her again, I will kill you.”
“Empty threats mean nothing to me. Not when I have something to show for your time together. Yes, Layla told me about your little plan to tell Stubbs if-or rather- when I do. What proof do you have?” He removed Devin’s hands. “I win, Devin.”
Devin straightened. “What do you want?”
“Layla knows.”
“Other than that.” Devin spat.
“This is not a negotiation deal.”
“Fuck you, Larry.”
“Careful of your temper, Devin, or Layla might have to take that offer.”
“Layla go back to class. Mr. Miller and I have things to discuss.”
I turned to leave but Miller called me back.
“I’d stop listening to him, Layla. He’s going to get you two in a shit load of trouble.”
“Layla, leave, now.” Devin’s gaze was heavy. I nodded then left. My body was shaking now that I was out the room. The way Devin had grabbed and threatened Mr. Miller still played in my mind. I’d only seen a glimpse of this side of Devin before and if I was being honest, it scared me a bit. Devin was always so gentle with me. Caring. He’d never once raised his voice to me but this Devin, he was protective. Considering the circumstances I knew my worries were irrational; but I didn’t like this Devin.
I sighed, not really feeling like going back to class. Skipping the whole day seemed to be a good idea, catching the hell from everybody was not. Because now there was my father, Rebecca, Marina: for leaving her in second period by herself, Jack: For the actual skipping, leaving him with his friends, and Devin: for giving into Mr. Miller. If I left it would be like admitting Millers threats had scared me off and he would win.
So I stayed. I knew Devin had a class in session right now and couldn’t figure out how he’d managed to find someone to watch them on such short notice.
As I entered his classroom I found the answer to that question to be that he hadn’t.
People were out of their seats and talking extremely loud. When I opened the door some shushed the class but once they realized it was just another student they continued with their conversations. Though someone went out of their way to whistle, causing a few boys to laugh hysterically and join in with a few howls. I rolled my eyes and went to the front of the room. Which I guess was the back of the room since Devin switched the desk around after our first…study session.
“Hey, listen up,” I said crossing my arms. No one did. “Hey,” I tried again a little more forcefully. They shut up and looked at me. “De-Mr. Simmons told me to come and checkup on you guys.”
“Hmm, you can give me a checkup anytime, honey,” A dark skinned boy in the back of the room said. Some of the guys laughed while a few girls scoffed.
I looked around the room and met eyes with Marina. I had forgotten she had this class first. She smiled at me and I returned the smile. I knew exactly what that smile meant. There was no way in hell she wanted me to let that comment slide. If I didn’t say anything she certainly would have.
I then looked toward the boy who’d spoken. “Love, I wouldn’t poke you on facebook.”
The class roared with laughter and I tried to settle them down.
“All right, what are you all suppose to be doing?” No one said anything. I looked at the board, where the instructions were. “Well, hop to it.”
They groaned but took out their books. I sat in Devin’s black leather seat and smiled a little. I felt pretty powerful and it was just an added bonus that his chair smelt of him.
Being able to boss someone around was pretty awesome. I wondered if that’s how Devin felt when he taught.
I looked toward Marina who was smiling, too. She had taken her book out and began working. She met my eyes and a small laugh escaped her lips. I rolled my eyes but still couldn’t help but laugh.
The door opened after a few minutes and Devin walked in though seemed a little shocked that his students were working so diligently. Then he locked eyes with me.
He tried to smile but failed. “Layla, I need to speak with you outside for a moment.”
I nodded and followed him out.
“What’s the verdict?” I asked trying not to show how concerned I really was.
“Why aren’t you in class?”
I sighed. “It’s advanced Spanish and since I already speak another language fluently I don’t really pay attention, meaning I have time to think. And my mind would come up with all types of scenarios. So I came here.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said looking past my head. “Everything’s alright.”
I nodded, feeling a little more at ease.
“You got them to work?”
“The class, you got them to settle down.”
I shrugged. “I didn’t want them to get in trouble. I knew you were upset and I didn’t want you to have to deal with something else.”
“Thank you.” Again he tried to smile but failed. I couldn’t help but feel a little worried. I wanted him to be happy and this whole situation was making our lives hell. And I couldn’t help but feel responsible for that.
If I hadn’t come back that day we wouldn’t be where we were now. Though I had to admit if I hadn’t come back Devin and I probably wouldn’t have had so many wonderful times. We probably wouldn’t have gotten to know each other and would be wondering what could have happened instead of experiencing them.
“Layla, I’m sorry.” He shook his head.
“Why?” I asked confused.
“For getting you into this, I never meant for-”
“Stop,” I said looking around. I did my best to smile as I looked at him. “So I’ll see you in fourth, Mr. Simmons.”
The corners of his mouth pulled up a bit. “Alright, Ms. Bungah.”

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One
“Why did Mr. Simmons ask you to watch us?” Marina asked towards the end of our second class.
“Because he didn’t want you animals having a wild and sexy party.” I teased.
“No, I mean, how’d he pick you. Isn’t your class like on another hall or something?”
“Oh, yeah, but I…uh, had to use the restroom. He caught me when I was coming back and asked if I could watch the class.”
“Oh, okay. I like how you took charge in there mama.” She laughed.
“Thanks, love.” I smiled.
“So…what’s been going on between you and Jack?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve noticed you two have gotten a little…distant. What’s going on? Have you told him yet?”
“No not yet. And nothing is going on. I mean, I’ve been busy a lot so we haven’t been spending much time together. But it’s not like we spent much time together before, you know?” She nodded. “With our whole family situation it was hard before and now with my new schedule it’s a lot worse.”
“I know, but you guys are such a great couple. I just want things to work out for you.”
“It will, everything’s fine.”
I knew Marina was concerned about Jack and me. She was like my sister and we cared for each other, so it was a little hard to lie to her like this.
The bell rang soon after that and I headed for Jack. He smiled when I walked through the doors and we kissed then headed for lunch.
“So, Layla what did Mr. Simmons want?” Rachel asked after Jack and I sat down. I had forgotten I’d seen her in his class, too. Well, hell.
“He just wanted to thank me for watching his class.” I shrugged.
“You didn’t tell me you watched his class,” Jack said. I could feel his eyes on me but I just ate a bite of my salad and shrugged again.
“You have his class right?” Rachel asked.
“But you have it with me, for fourth. What were you doing with Mr. Simmons in the first place? Isn’t your class on a different hall?”
“Yes, forgive me if I had to pee.”
The table grew quiet. Rachel smirked at the satisfaction of finally seeing the golden couple fighting. There was no way in hell I was about to let that last. I may not have been in love with Jack anymore but that didn’t stop my competiveness. I hated Rachel. She was always trying to one up me and my relationship with Jack was one of the many things she hated about me. I wouldn’t let her have the satisfaction of seeing us fight.
“I’m sorry.” I told him. “I didn’t think I had to tell you because it wasn’t important. All I did was watch his class so they wouldn’t get out of hand. Which they were.”
I had looked at Rachel when I said the last part and she shrugged.
“I didn’t mean to accuse you of anything,” Jack said. “It’s just…I don’t know. I just don’t like him.”
What was with people and not liking Devin? He was funny, charming, sweet…
“Babe, relax. I mean, he’s just a teacher. We’ll be changing classes soon anyway.”
As I said the words I realized the truth in them. We’d be switching classes in a little over two months and he’d have new students. Maybe perkier, prettier students that he like more than me. But that wouldn’t matter because I was moving right? Maybe once I left he would seize the opportunity to see one of those perkier-
No, I mean, Devin loved me. Right? He wouldn’t have threatened Miller if he didn’t. But maybe that was a front. Maybe he was only protecting his reputation. I sure was. Hell, I wasn’t even concerned about myself. As long as Devin’s life was fine I didn’t care about anything else but what if Devin didn’t care about me like he said he did?
My mood quickly plummeted. The small burst of happiness I had experienced was now replaced with dread and uneasiness.
The conversation at the table changed quickly and no one seemed to notice my mood change. After lunch Jack took me to the gym and kissed me before he left for his class. Coach Murphy had us running the football field. That did little with keeping my mind busy so I had a full period to think about Devin. At the end of the class I hated myself for being so stupid.
Men lied. They lied all the time just so they could get what they wanted then abandon the girl. But did that mean Devin was lying to me?
I showered slowly, letting the bell ring and about ten minute pass before I got dressed.
When I finally got to class everyone stared at my entrance. I was normally late but this was a little too far. I didn’t care. I was peeved at Devin and didn’t care if he knew it.
And if he couldn’t tell by my face he sure as hell could by my attitude.
“Ms. Bungah, why are you so late to my class?” He smiled and I almost caved.
“I just got out the shower,” I said rolling my eyes like it was obvious. I mean, it was. My hair was still wet, wasn’t it?
“I understand that but this is a little unacceptable. You’re fifteen minutes late to my class and the only excuse you have I that you were in the shower?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged, taking my seat.
Jack looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. With this attitude I wasn’t too far from getting-
“I’m sorry but I’m going to have to give you detention.” Devin said staring at me confusingly.
“Whatever,” I said rolling my eyes once more. So I got detention. It was only a small blemish on my squeaky clean record.
I took out my English book, deciding it was better to keep my eyes from his.
There was a bit of tension throughout the rest of the class between Devin and I. I was sure he noticed it too and it got him more agitated.
He gave us all a shit load of homework that he wanted done by tomorrow. I gave a hard laugh. If I got it done I got it done, but I wasn’t going to stress myself out over it.
When the bell rang, I gathered my things only to be told to sit back down by Devin. Jack gave me a sympathetic smile then left for the field.
After the classroom cleared, he rested back on the desk in front of me and just stared at me.
“What?” I asked after a moment. I crossed my arms and stared him in the eyes.
“What’s going on with you?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged, though brought my eyes from his to his chest.
“Look me in the eye and say that.” His voice was low probably because the door was still open. I couldn’t hear anyone in the hallway but better safe than sorry.
“Nothing.” I looked him in the eye. “I’m fine.”
“Layla…” He tried to caress my check and I moved from his touch. He stared at me for a minute then went to the door and closed it.
When he came back to me, he took my face between his hands and kissed me deeply before I could struggle. And against my stubborn thoughts, I kissed him back.
Then he pulled away leaving me breathless. “I don’t know what happened to make you act this way but I’m sorry.”
He was apologizing and he didn’t even know what he did. And he didn’t do anything to begin with. So…what? Was he guiltily for something?
I held my frown.
“What’s wrong?” He still held my face.
“We’ve got half an hour for this. The more you say nothing the longer we’re going to be here.”
I pulled my face from his hands. “You’re going to move on.”
“What?” He asked, hands falling to his sides.
“What happens in a few weeks when our classes switch? I won’t see you every day. I’ll barely see you at all. What if…what if you lose interest? You know, in me?”
I had started off strongly though when I finished I was almost in tears. I refused to let any fall.
“That will never happen.” His eyes were as serious as his words. “It doesn’t matter if my students change; you are the only one I love. You will never change in my eyes.”
I didn’t smile, I wanted to believe his words but somehow couldn’t. I was moving so what did his words really matter? He said he loved me and he proved it many times but…I didn’t know. I just didn’t know. The whole situation with Miller had me turned upside down.
“Layla, words cannot describe how I feel for you. When we switch classes I will still want to be with you. Hell, it’s hard being away from you during the day. And don’t get even mention the weekends when I don’t even get to see you. Two whole days without seeing the love of my life.”
That made me smile. I was the love of his life?
“There’s the smile I love. I don’t like when you’re upset. Especially with this thing going on with Miller. I don’t want you to worry about that either. He’ll keep his mouth shut. There’s nothing to worry about. I will always love you.”
“I’m sorry.” I apologized. “I don’t know, I just felt-”
“You were confused. I understand, but you have to trust me when I say I love you and that’s not going to change.”
I nodded.
“You got it?” He asked placing a small kiss on my lips.
“Yes, got it.”
“Good. Now, let’s get out of here.”
“What about my detention?”
“You don’t have to stay. I mean, I still have to mark you and I’m sorry for that but you don’t have to stay here.”
“It’s alright, I understand. I was out of hand, I have to be punished.
This made him smile. “Really, well, who’s going to deliver this punishment.”
“Hmm, I don’t know,” I said standing and walking into his arms. “Maybe my sexy English teacher?”
There was a brief moment when I saw a bit of sadness in his eyes and I knew what it was from. The comment about him being my teacher was a touchy subject. It was something he wasn’t too proud of but the gloom disappeared and was quickly replaced with arousal. His hands played with my hair, fingers twirling fragile brown strands. He kissed me hungrily, hands sliding down my face and making their way down to my hips. They went under my shirt and squeezed my hips gently.
He pulled back from the kiss and looked over at his desk then me. I smiled and nodded. He pulled me toward his desk and I giggled uncontrollably.
This quickie was just as exciting as the first time I’d had sex with Devin. I was nervous we’d get caught but that only made it more of a rush. After we finished, I dressed.
“You go out first,” he said zipping his pants. “Then I’ll come, okay?”
I nodded.
As I left the classroom, Miller was walking by.
“Another study session?” He smirked.
I felt Devin’s body stiffen as he came out behind me. Though I couldn’t see his face, I could see Miller’s pale to a chalky white as he walked away.
“If he does that again, tell me.” He growled low.
I nodded.
“If he thinks he can just fuck you over, he’s got another thing coming.”
I said nothing, knowing he was just ranting. He walked me to my car and his face tilted towards mine slightly then he straightened. He had wanted to kiss me but knew he couldn’t.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Simmons.” I smiled.
“Have a good night, Ms. Bungah.”

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Two
Words could not express how much I cared for Devin. But I knew things would have to end soon and that saddened me. He loved me. He cared for me. He apologized when I was the one in the wrong, and yet, I still couldn’t bring myself to break it off.
I didn’t want to. I couldn’t. I loved him too much.
I’d just have to find a way to change my father’s mind.
So that’s what I did. I worked hard to try and find a way to change my father mind.
When I got home my father wasn’t there but Rebecca was. She was sitting at the kitchen table staring at her phone as if expecting it to ring. I was certain she didn’t hear me when I came in through the front door or else she would have said something snarky by now.
I stared at her curiously as she stared at the silver cell phone in front of her. The worried expression on her face concerned me a bit. What was she doing home so early and what was she so worried about.
“What’s going on?” I asked, voicing my concern.
Her head snapped up and she grabbed the phone she had been looking at and put it in her lap.
“How long have you been spying on me?” She snapped.
I sighed. I liked the quite Rebecca she wasn’t a complete asshole. “It’s not spying if the person is sitting in the kitchen. You know, a mutual area? Besides, I just got home.”
“How long have you been home?” She asked raising both of her eyebrows awkwardly. Her expression made her face look longer than it was.
“Geez, only for like a minute. Calm down.”
She rolled her eyes. “Just…leave me alone. Go to your room or something.”
“I was headed there anyway, grumpy. I just wanted to get something to drink.”
I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and left her to mope around the house.
Once up in my room I tried to think of reasons I needed to stay in the U.S.. There was college, but I’d already told my father I was waiting a year before I went. The university already had all my information and I had tons of scholarships that would help me get there without out his help. I didn’t need his money for college.
Also the fact that if we were moving back to our old town it would be very awkward now that he was remarried. Our old home would bring back unneeded memories and discussions of my mother that none of us wanted.
I hoped that if I explained this to my father that he would reconsider this whole moving thing. My father was a man of authority and one that rarely changed his mind on things. I had never prayed before but I prayed tonight. I prayed he saw reason.
I’d figured out my game plan. I was going to sit my father down and talk him out of this move as soon as he got home. Fix dinner for him, give him a beer, hell rub his feet if I had to. Anything that he wanted. But an hour later my stomach had different plans for me.
I’m not exactly sure what I ate but it definitely was not agreeing with me. Instead of me going to my father, he found me, head hovering over the toilet. I was certain what I had was food poisoning and could only credit it to the tuna I’d had with my salad at lunch.
One rule. My mother had one rule and that was never eat tuna off a buffet bar. You never know how long it’s been sitting there.
I had broken that rule and now I was paying the price.
“Bud? Are you okay?” My father asked putting a hand on my back. “What happened?”
“Tuna.” I muttered.
“Oh, Layla. What did your mother say? You had it at school didn’t you? You know better.”
“Papa, please.” I groaned. “I feel awful.”
I couldn’t see Rebecca standing behind my father but I heard her snicker.
“You smell awful.” I figured she had her hand over her mouth because her words sounded muffled.
I wanted to say something snarky but vomited instead.
“How long have you been like this?” My father asked.
“Not long but I don’t feel too hot papa.”
“Do you feel well enough to get into bed?”
I thought about it for a moment. If I could get to my bed then I could just use the wastebasket next to my dresser. Well, after I emptied it. I’d already ruined the bag that was there when I first felt sick. I wasn’t sure if my father had been in my room but I was certain it was going to be smelly in there.
“I’m fine papa, just a bit of food poisoning.” I put my hands on the floor and managed to push myself up and stand on my own. I was standing but I felt bit woozy.
“Go to your room, get in your jams and I’ll make some of your mothers famous chicken soup.”
I smiled. I missed my mom’s soup, though it was only really famous to us. My father had only made it once before when Becca and I had the flu. She had said she didn’t like it and he never made it again. But tonight he was going against her wishes and I loved it. I loved the anger on her face more.
It didn’t take my father half an hour to make the soup and before long it served its purpose.
The soups warm temperature and slight liquor content had me out like a light within minutes of finishing it.
I didn’t get to sleep for long though. I was waking up throughout the night expelling the soup. There wasn’t much sleep to be had that night so I was surprised when I felt someone shaking me awake.
“Layla.” I heard my father murmur. “Wake up, love.”
I stirred groggily. “Hmm?”
I didn’t want to wake up. I couldn’t have been sleep for long.
“How are you feeling?” He asked as he sat on the side of my bed.
I groaned.
“Love, I think it would be best if you stayed home today.”
My eyes shot open. “But-”
“No buts. No offense, but you look awful and I heard you all night. I know you barely got any sleep. You’re not going to be able to function.”
I closed my eyes. I had to go to school. I wanted to see Devin. But I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sit through nine hours of teachers lecturing. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. I wanted to see Devin but I wasn’t sure if was going to be able to go an hour without vomiting.
“Fine,” I mumbled. “I’ll stay home.”
“That’s my girl.” He stood and placed a kiss on my forehead. “I’ve got to get going. I’ve deactivated your alarm clock so it shouldn’t go off in fifteen minutes. I need to get going if I’m going to make it into the office early to finish those reports.”
I didn’t answer him and I didn’t think he expected me to. He knew I was really tired and as soon as he left I was asleep again.
“Layla.” Rebecca sighed. “Wake up.”
Suppressing a groan, I rolled over to face her. Light was pouring into my room which told me that my father had left hours ago. I didn’t know what she wanted but it had better be good to be waking me up. I was actually feeling a bit better and wasn’t actually vomiting anymore.
“You need to wake up. Your father wanted me to check on you.”
“I’m fine.” I never opened my eyes.
“Layla get up. I need to talk to you.”
She actually sounded concerned about something so I shook the sleep off and tried my best to focus.
“I wanted to ask you about what you saw yesterday.”
“What do you mean ‘what I saw?’”
“When you got home yesterday, I need to know what you heard.”
“Nothing.” I yawned. “I just saw you looking at your cell phone all worried and stuff.”
She nodded. There was something she wasn’t telling me, I was almost positive. The fact that she wasn’t demanding me to tell her what I saw was a bit of a hint too. She was normally so rude but now? When she needed something? It was all polite Becca.
“If you’re feeling up to it, do you mind joining me in the kitchen?”
If I’m feeling up to it? If I don’t mind? What the hell was she up to?
I nodded but was still a bit skeptical.
Following her down to the kitchen was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. My legs felt a tad weak and I hadn’t realized just how hungry I was. But just thinking about food made my stomach roll.
When we reached the kitchen there were two bowls sitting out on the table.
“What’s going on?”
She smiled and I almost shit my pants. She had never smiled when it was just the two of us.
“I’ve made homemade ice-cream. Your father said you needed to eat. Won’t you have some?”
For a brief moment, I wondered if she had poisoned mine. I quickly dismissed that. She wouldn’t be trying to kill me, not when I meant so much to my father. He wouldn’t let my death go unnoticed.
She sat at the table and motioned for me to sit too.
“Eat…I promise I didn’t poison it. I know that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Well, you are being strangely nice to me today.”
She shrugged. “You’re sick.”
I wasn’t sure what she was up to but I wasn’t buying it.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Three
“I don’t want this move anymore than you do, Layla.” Rebecca began to explain. “I have a lot of clients here that I care about. Clients that need me.”
I looked at her skeptically. “It’s not like you’re a therapist. You’re more like a manager for artists.”
She looked down at her ice-cream and gave a small smile. Her eyes seemed to be somewhere else. “To some, I’m more than just a manager.” She looked at me. “They talk to me. And some of them are really close to me. I’ve grown to love them all.”
“I understand that,” I said around a small bite of ice-cream and Captain Crunch. The original kind of course. “I understand that you want to be near them but I have no say in the matter. You know my father. When he makes up his mind about something, it’s very difficult to change it.”
“Yes, I know that. But your father told me you haven’t really been talking to him about it. I completely understand why, I just want you to know that I’m here if you need me.”
Really? She was being really strange and to be honest I didn’t like it one bit. I liked Rebecca better when she was being a bitch. It gave me a reason to hate her.
But I had to ask myself if we were really enemies in this situation. For whatever reason, she wanted to stay here as much as I did and that had nothing to do with my father. She was willing to get a divorce so she wouldn’t have to leave. It just sounded a bit fishy if you asked me. She had a secret and I wanted to know what it was.
“What the hell is up with you?” I kept my tone light so she wouldn’t get agitated.
She kept her smile and said, “I’m just hoping we could work together on changing your fathers mind. You’re his daughter. No one knows him like you.”
“So what are you saying? What do you want me to do?”
“Just…talk to him. I’m sure you could convince him to change his mind.”
Originally, I had hoped Rebecca could change my father mind. I hadn’t even put up much of a fight really. I just knew he would listen to her more than he would me. But maybe I was wrong. Were they really as close as I thought they were?
“Fine, I’ll talk to him. On one condition.” She raised an eyebrow. You go back to being a bitch. I can’t handle the nice ‘becca.”
She frowned. “I was never the bitch. You were just an ungrateful little slut. It’s not like I don’t know where you sneak off too after school.”
I could tell the ruse was over. The bitch was back and I liked it. Though I didn’t like where this conversation was going.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I took another bite of ice-cream, my last bite. The bowl was empty.
“You have a boyfriend and god only knows what you two have been doing.” She smiled again but this time it was a bit smug. “I was a teenage girl once. I know what goes through your mind at this age. Especially at this age. Your libido is raging, you-”
“Oh god, gross! Really Rebecca? I am not about to have this conversation with you right now.”
“Regardless of what you think, I know what you’re going through. I know why you want to stay. I feel the same way. Well, not exactly the same way of course.” She smiled and giggled a bit nervously.
I stared at her curiously then tried to right myself. “Whatever you say Rebecca. But I’m going back to sleep.”
I stood and began to leave the kitchen only to have her call me back.
“You need to eat before you go.”
“I did, we had ice-cream and it was good.”
“That doesn’t count, it’s ice-cream. It melts once it’s in your stomach.”
Now I raised an eyebrow at her. “That’s rubbish logic.”
She laughed. “You’re rubbish for saying rubbish. You’re eighteen and you speak like an elderly woman.”
I rolled my eyes but had to admit I was happy she was being herself again. “Goodbye, Rebecca.”
I left her then to go up to my room where I nestled down into my bed though it wasn’t long before I was waking up again. It was my father again which told me it was later in the day than I thought. He hadn’t wanted anything, just to make sure that I was alright and to see if Rebecca had fed me like he had told her.
Once he heard the answer he wanted, he left me to resume sleeping.
I slept for most of the weekend and had to admit it was some of the best sleep I’d gotten in a long time. Though, I only realized on Monday morning why I had only been sleeping so well. It was because there was no one calling or texting my cell throughout the night.
I began to search frantically for my phone. It wasn’t sitting on my dresser where I normally kept it, nor was it in my bag. I checked the last outfit I’d worn and still came up with nothing. Now I began to freak out. The last time I’d seen it was before my father came home.
I tried my best to keep calm and not hyperventilate. If my father had looked through my phone then he would have been freaking out all weekend. He was not acting like a man that had just found out his eighteen year old daughter was not only dating a boy from school but was sleeping with her English teacher. A man that he absolutely despised.
After showering and dressing quickly, I dashed down to the kitchen praying that my father was awake. It was with luck that he was sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper and drinking a mug of coffee.
“Papa?” I asked sliding into a seat across from him.
“Yeah bud?” He never looked up from the paper.
“Have you…seen my phone by chance?”
“Hmm,” he said flipping one of his pages. “Yeah, Thursday night actually. It was vibrating like crazy so I answered it.”
My heart nearly dropped.
“No, wait. I was going to answer it but they were just text messages so I turned it off.” Oh thank gawd! I screamed in my head. “I put it in your dresser.”
“It’s not on my dresser, I checked.”
“In, Layla, not on.”
My heart, that had been pounding in my ears a moment ago, was now settling down. I thanked whatever god there was out there that my secret was still safe.
I left him then to go upstairs and find my cell.
He hadn’t lied, it was in the first drawer of my dresser next to my bed. After turning it on and waiting for a few moments it came to life in my hands. There were numerous messages from Jack, Marina and Devin. But mostly from Devin.
I let out a groan. He was probably freaking out since I missed school Friday. They all probably were. I check the text messages as I descended the stairs. They were all worried about me but Devin’s texts were a bit more concerned. Though he had good reason to be.
In Jack’s first couple of messages he just wanted to know why I wasn’t at school. Then when school ended he wanted to know if we could meet up somewhere. Marina on the other hand was a bit more concerned with if I was alright or not. She knew it wasn’t like me to just not show up without texting her. And then to go the whole weekend without texting her? The first five were concerned text but the rest were torture treatments for making her worry so much.
I texted them all back before I made my way to school and hoped Devin wasn’t too concerned.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Four
“Where the hell have you been?” I could tell Devin had been a nervous wreck for most of the weekend due to his tone and lack of composure. His emerald eyes were wild, the polyester stripped shirt he wore was wrinkled, and his five o’clock shadow was showing.
When I’d first entered his classroom his eyes blazed with anger only I could see. I’d only known him a few months but I knew his corks. And he was definitely pissed about something.
And he wasn’t the only one. Earlier in the day both Marina and Jack had given me a cussing for my absence and for making them worry. Though I had texted them earlier that morning they still had pent up energy that wouldn’t be released until they saw me. Jack kissed me fiercely while Marina gave me a strong punch to the arm, one that still hurt a bit.
But neither of their reactions concerned me like Devin was at the moment. His eyes bore into mine with such passion and a bit of something I had never seen before. It wasn’t worry nor was it anger. But I knew it was skirting along those borders. I was in serious trouble.
I gave my best smile to try to console him. I even tried to sit on his lap as I explained how I had sent him a text earlier saying I was fine and I would be attending class today.
“I never got that message, Layla.” His tone was firm as he stood and brushed me off his lap. “I’ve been checking my phone all weekend. I thought you were still upset with me, I thought…I thought-I thought something had happened with Miller again.”
His voice was rising even though I knew he was working hard to keep his cool. I couldn’t figure out why he was so angry with me. I sent him a text explaining things. He was acting like I had committed a crime or something. He knew I had a life outside of our relationship and accidents happened.
“No buts Layla. I called numerous times. And texted. And…you just-you had me fucking worried out of my mind.” He ran his hands down his face then mumbled under his breath, “I can’t believe I expected so much out of a child.”
That hurt. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that but I didn’t like it.
“Why are you being so…damn mean?” He wasn’t normally like this. He was kind, sweet, loving. I wanted that man. I wanted the man who loved me. Not this one who was borderline screaming at me because I’d turned off my phone for three days.
I could understand what he was saying, three days was a long time not to talk to someone you loved. But that was no reason to suddenly turn into a complete asshole.
“Look,” I began. “I don’t know what your problem is but I don’t like this new attitude of yours.”
He smiled but it wasn’t the one I was used to. Maybe it was just the way I was feeling but this smiled seemed and appeared more evil than his others. “This is the way that I am, Layla. This is a side of me that has always been there. You were just too absorbed with me to see it.”
I felt like choking him. He was making a mountain out of a mold hill and I couldn’t understand why. “If this is your way of trying to piss me off to get rid of me it’s working, Devin.”
He sighed then came to stand in front of me. He took hold of my forearms but it wasn’t the consoling gesture I was hoping for. When he stroked my arms, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
“Not everything is about you, Layla,” He said looking into my eyes. “You have to realize that there are things that you don’t know about me. Things that I’ve done that make me a bad person, that you…that you just wouldn’t understand. I’m…I’m not good for you, Layla. You’re just a child, an eighteen year old with her whole life ahead of her and you act as such.”
“That’s not what you said when you first met me.” I snapped.
“No, when I first met you I told you were smart. Not that your actions were. And this weekend proved to me that you are just child.”
I had to bite my tongue to hold back any sarcastic remarks about how he didn’t care about me being a child when he was on top of me.
“I love you. I really do. But-”
“You know what?” I asked cutting him off. “Save it. If you loved me you wouldn’t be insulting me.”
I pulled away from him and went to retrieve my bag that I’d placed by the door.
“I’m going to leave before I say something you’ll regret. But I will say this. I was sick, you asshole. That’s why I didn’t answer my phone. If you would have bothered to let me explain instead of shooting off at the mouth you’d know that my father turned off my cell because I was vomiting for the better part of the weekend, but I guess you wouldn’t care about that now would you? ”
I left him then to think whatever he wanted. If he wanted to show me that he was a complete butthole then he had done a magnificent job of doing so. If he wanted to push me away then…mission accomplished. I didn’t like it but it was…it was whatever.
I shook my head as I rushed to my car. He was being unrealistically rude today. If he didn’t want to be with a child then so be it. I never had to talk to him again if that was what he wanted. I’d go home and tell my father that I had no ties here and we’d move away forever.
It was obviously what he wanted. To not see me again? To not be with me? That was the only explanation I had to why he was being so foul.
But that’s not what I wanted. Despite his butt-holiness I refused to accept that this was the man I had fallen in love with. I refused to accept that he didn’t want to be with me. He was just…I didn’t know what he was just. But I did know I didn’t want to go home.
I wasn’t exactly sure what was up with Rebecca but I knew she was spending a lot of time at home lately. There was no way I was going to be able to slip by her today without her asking why it looked like I was on the verge of tears.
And I was. I felt like breaking down and crying my eyes out over this man that made me feel…that made me feel like I didn’t have a care in the world. But the reality of the matter was that despite my feeling this, things were happening around us. The world wouldn’t just stop because I was “madly in love” in love with this one man. My father still wanted to take this deal in Malaysia, Rebecca was still crazy as hell, Jack was still being hurt, and Devin was finally showing his true colors. He was finally realizing that this relationship was doomed to fail from the beginning. No one would understand if and/or when they found out.
There was no way that this was going to last. It wasn’t like we could get married somewhere and have kids. He was my teacher for Pete’s sake.
And how the hell would I explain it to my father? Oh, yeah by the way I’ve been sleeping with my high school English teacher for the past semester. He loves me, I love him and we’re planning getting hitched?
Hell no. That wouldn’t work. That definitely would not go over well with my father. Or society. Not that I cared what society thought or wanted from me. I just wanted to be happy. And Devin made me happy.
However, before Devin showed up in my life with his passion and sexified body, I thought I was happy with Jack. I just…I just didn’t know anymore.
Devin seemed to be the only real thing in my life at the moment and now that he was acting this way…it just made me unsure of myself. What if Devin wasn’t the man I knew? What if this new aggressive Devin was the real Devin?
As my mind reeled, I found myself drawn to the dock. It was my safe haven and whenever I needed to think about things that’s where I went. And at the moment there was much to think about.
I sat on the wooden dock thinking about when things had gotten so screwed up. And then I realized, they got screwed up when I came back. When I decided to carry on this relationship is when my life became more complicated than I needed it to be. Soon after that, I felt like I was drowning in the lies. Drowning in his love.
I hadn’t noticed I was crying until my vision blurred and it became harder to breathe. For a moment I thought it was just my thoughts getting the best of me but no, I was definitely crying. I recognized the sound of my rapid breathing, borderline hyperventilating. As the hives in the creases of my arms began to redden I groaned. I didn’t need the nervous hives. Not now.
I just needed to calm down. If I didn’t I knew I’d end up passing out. And that was something I definitely didn’t need. I brought my knees to my chest to call myself, though it didn’t really work. My breathing had accelerated, my palms became sweaty, and my vision began to get spotty. I just needed…I just needed…
Before my mind could react, my body was pushing itself off the dock and into the cool water. It wasn’t very cold today but the water didn’t know that. It was still a very cold temperature despite the oddly warm weather.
The cold water worked to snap my mind out of its dark funk. All my thoughts were then on the water and how it was tingling my fingertips.
Closing my eyes and holding my breath, I submerged myself within its cool depths and let the water wash all over me. The fish didn’t bother me, normally they snapped at my toes or swam around my feet but now that I was disturbing their habitat they kept their distance. I didn’t mind. I decided they could join the club along with the other people who didn’t want to be around me.
Thinking about him made me sad all over again. And then the thought of letting myself cry over this one man just pissed me off. I let out a scream and opened my eyes to watch as the air bubbles made their way to the surface.
As I did this water filled my mouth and I knew if I didn’t want to drown I’d have to go up for air at some point. Besides my eyes were beginning to burn a bit.
I swam to the surface to take a breath and wipe my burning eyes and spit out the foul water that made its way into my mouth.
“That can’t be sanitary.” There was a smile in his voice, which was something I hadn’t been expecting.
“What do you want?” I croaked out. The last thing I wanted right now was to have another fight with Devin. Our argument earlier had taken a lot out of me and now his smile was giving me mixed emotions.
“Come out of there before you catch your death.” He kneeled on the dock and extended his hand. “I’ll take you to the boat and you can dry off.”
“I’d rather drown.” I mumbled.
“Please…don’t-don’t joke about that.” His words were a bit strained. “I wouldn’t be able to handle if you left me.”
Okay, was he serous? What the hell was with his mood swings? One minute he’s picking a fight with me over something stupid and then he’s saying he can’t live without me?
“I find that hard to believe. I am, after all, only a child. Why would you express such concern over a child?”
I made my way over to the dock. His hand was still extended but I didn’t take it. Instead I hoisted myself on the dock on my own. It wasn’t an easy thing to do since my clothes were wet and wanted to force me back into the water, but I did it anyway. I didn’t need his help.
Once on the dock I got to my feet and began to walk to my car.
“Layla please, wait.” He called.
“Why?” I asked stopping and turning around. “So you can insult me more? Or how about so you can jump to conclusions. Or tell me how I’m so damn immature?”
“I was wrong okay? I’ll admit that.” He sighed and closed his eyes as he put a hand over his mouth. “I…don’t know why I acted the way I did. When you didn’t show up Friday I just knew-”
“But you didn’t give me a chance to explain. I told you I sent you a text message telling you I was alright. I was going to explain everything but you never gave me a chance.”
“Please, Layla. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were sick. If I would’ve known…”
“But you didn’t and the first thing you mind went to was yelling.”
“Can you blame me with all that’s been going on? It’s hard enough to keep us a secret, you won’t break up with Jack, and then Larry finds out about us? It’s all just too much to expect from you.”
“There you go assuming for me again. How about you let me decide what I can handle. Do you remember asking me that when we first got together? If I didn’t like it then you’d stop? If it was too much for me to handle then we would call this all off? Remember that? I’m not a child, Devin. I can make my own decisions. I don’t need you to make them for me. I’ve got a father who already tries his best to do that for me.”
He looked down at his shoes for a moment then looked back at me. “I’m sorry. I thought-I love you. I will always love you. No amount of me fucking up or you screwing up will change that. I love you.”
He extended his hand and for a brief moment I thought about how easier my life would have been if I didn’t go back that day. For a brief second I thought about how my life would be exactly the same as it was. Me loving Jack even though that relationship would’ve never gone anywhere. When my father decided it was time to move I wouldn’t have really put up a fight because I could still talk with Marina. She’d come visit.
I thought about how easy my life could have been without Devin in it. There would be no lies, no constant looking over my shoulder to make sure we weren’t being watched. No fear of if someone caught us that he’d be taken away.
No excitement or pleasure.
And I didn’t like it. Life wasn’t meant to be easy. If it was we’d all shoot through it in a breeze and then it would be over. Life was nothing without a bit of worry, sadness or excitement. Life was meant to be difficult and if it wasn’t…then it wasn’t worth living .
So I took a chance at life and took hold of his hand.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Five
I didn’t know what to say. Honestly I didn’t. One minute Devin was the charming, loving, man of my dreams and the next? He was confusing on a completely different magnitude and I wasn’t sure what to do about that.
Normally I would go to Marina and ask her for advice. Not that she really knew any better than me but she would normally know what to do in these situations. Okay, so she didn’t but she would always make me feel better regardless of how ridiculous the advice was. And that’s all I really wanted.
I wanted someone to tell me something, anything to make my heart stop hurting. To make me stop feeling so freaking confused. It didn’t really make sense that he could be fine one day then completely different the next.
And when I asked him why, he gave me some vague answer. He’d told me that he’d had things going on that he couldn’t-no-didn’t want to explain to me. And when I tried to coax it out of him he tried to change the subject. I found that when it came to getting to know him, he was always trying to change the subject. To be honest I didn’t really know that much about Devin.
Like where he came from, who his parents were, hell I didn’t even know his middle name. The only reason I knew that his father died was because he wanted me to get on his boat. Other than that I really didn’t know anything about him. His new mood swings could have been there all along and maybe I was too absorbed with him to notice.
As I sat in my Spanish class, I decided that that was what I was going to do today. I’d try to do my best to find out more about Devin while trying not to anger him at the same time. I could tell when I left him last night that he was still a bit angry with me. He wouldn’t admit to it but I could tell by his eyes he was still upset. His eyes, just like mine, were his tell all and they still held a bit of that something I couldn’t identify. That new emotion I couldn’t explain.
After he gave me a towel so I could dry off, things were pretty awkward, which was highly unusual for us. I didn’t know what to say to him to make him feel better, but was it really my job to make him feel better? I loved him so I knew part of that answer was yes but it shouldn’t be a full time job. I shouldn’t have to worry every second of my life if I would do or say something that would upset him.
It just….it just really shouldn’t have to be this hard. When I was with Jack, things just seemed so easy. He wasn’t one to be temperamental, emphasis on the mental. I will admit that lately I had been a bit ill with people but hardly ever with Devin. He was always the one who made me happy. But lately his constant mood swings were giving me emotional whiplash.
“Layla?” Senorita Esmeralda asked.
I hadn’t really been paying attention to her lecture and I was certain she knew it as I brought my head up from my desk and looked at her with a puzzled expression.
“¿Te molesta la traducción de la frase en la página cincuenta y dos?”
Crap.I didn’t even know what number we were on. I understood that she wanted me to translate something on page fifty two but since I hadn’t been paying her any attention for the past-hell for the past few classes, I wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted from me.
“Which question?”
One page fifty two there were different questions about camping and what you would bring and or do while camping.
“Tres, por favor.”
Three was really freaking long but I didn’t want to seem like a slacker so I tried my best. It just wanted me to explain a time that I had been camping and what I did. So I told that my father and I went camping all the time. While camping we needed a tent, flashlight and food to make things comfortable. We had tons of fun but because of the numerous bugs, it was something I did want to do again. Basic and to the point but at least it was what she wanted.
She nodded and told me I did excellent.
My cell vibrated in my pocket then and after she turned to finish lecturing I looked to see who it was from.
I rolled my eyes as it was yet another text from Marina. Probably about the situation with Jack and I. I wasn't sure why she was so concerned with my telling jack. He would be alright once he found out. I was counting on it, hoping that he wouldn't be too upset to find out about my moving.
She had been texting me all throughout the night and early this morning. But when I told her class was about to start and I really didn’t want to get into trouble with the teacher she had stopped. And now she wanted to know about my birthday party.

What she really wanted to do was throw me a big going away bash but that wasn't going to happen any time soon. Not until I decided to actually tell people.
My phone vibrated in my sweats and as I took it out I was shocked to see that this text message was from Devin and not Marina. I began to wonder if she was alright. She wasn’t as strong as people thought she was. I knew this whole move was going to affect her just as much as it was affecting me. We both knew we would still stay in contact with each other but still. I was going to be halfway across the world and that meant no meeting up with her at the mall, and no spending the night gushing on how cute the swim team looked in their new uniforms.
It was going to be hard on the both of us, which was why I was still trying to find a way to tell Devin. I loved Marina but I was in love with Devin. Yes, she was my soul sister but he was my soul mate, for lack of a better definition. Besides there was no way my father was going to let me keep up a long distant relationship with Devin like he would Marina.
I chose not to think about that at the moment while I read the text Devin had sent me.
He wanted to know if I was alright, which was normal since what was going on with Miller. I told him I was fine but his next text concerned me. One because I wanted to know where he was finding the time to be texting and hoped he wouldn't get into trouble. But as I read the question "Is there something you want to tell me?" my stomach dropped.
I was a bit confused as to why he was asking that question, especially this early in the morning. Did he think something had happened with Miller? Because there was nothing I hadn’t array told him.
And that's basically what I sent back. That no, I was fine and what the heck he was talking about.
I didn't get a reply after that which concerned me. With his constant mood swings I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong now. I decided it was best not to pressure him into telling me over text. I wasn’t sure if that would just make him angry or get something accomplished. So I waited for my last period to talk to him.
But I could tell something was wrong with him when I first walked into the room. He didn’t look at me or the class for the first five minutes, and then when he finally did he was stiff for the entire lesson. He was angry towards us but I saw in his eyes how distant he was. I found it strange that he was going out of his way not to look or speak to me. Even going to the point of when he asked a question that no one knew the answer but me gave the answer without even looking at me.
When class was over I stayed behind as usual and sat on his desk.
“What’s wrong? I asked watching him collect the pop quizzes from the desks.
He didn’t say anything for a moment, just continued to walk around the room. When he came back to his desk I tried to grab his arm only to have him move away from my grasp. I turned as he sat in his chair.
“There aren’t any secrets between us, right?” He asked looking at his cluttered desk. In his eyes I could see that emotion I couldn’t identify.
“No?” I asked a bit concerned. “Why?”
“And I can ask you anything?”
“Yeah. Devin, what’s wrong?”
“Then why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?”
I was stunned into silence. How did he find out I was moving? Now I knew why he was pissy during class.
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled.
He lowered his head and mouthed something.
“You’re sorry.” When he looked up his smile wasn’t pleasant. It was more tortured than the one I was used to. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to. I just…I just didn’t know how.”
“The end of December.”
He had lowered his head again, though now it snapped up with great force. “Three months? I only have three months left?”
“We only have three months.”
“That really doesn’t make a difference.” His words were becoming really clipped, making him sound angrier than he had a moment ago.
I mean, he had a right to be angry, didn’t he? The only reason I hadn’t told him was because I knew how he’d react. I guess it really didn’t make a difference if I had told him or not. He was still very angry with me.
“I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you, I just didn’t…I wasn’t sure how. My father got a promotion and…I don’t know. It’s out of my hands. It’s not like I could tell him to go on without me.”
“No, but he could go without you and Becca. Did you consider that?”
“Why are you so angry about this?”
“Because-” He shouted then broke off. “Because it just seems that…everything is going wrong. I love you.” He swallowed. “And I…I just…I don’t want you to go.”
“But you’d want me to sty with the shrew.”
He hesitated then nodded.
II looked away from his pleading eyes before he could see the resentment in my own.
How could he possibly want me to make that decision? How could he want me to let my father leave me with Rebecca? I began to feel nauseated just thinking about it.
“Lalya, I’m sorry, but I can’t-”
“Yeah, I know.” I snapped. “You can’t live without me. You love me. I get it.”
“You don’t have to sound so hateful.” He murmured.
Hateful? He thought I was being hateful?
He saw the twisted look I gave him and back peddled. “I didn’t-”
“Oh, no, I know what you meant,” I said adjusting my bag. “You’d rather me be miserable with Becca than live my life away from you. No, that’s not selfish at all.”
Now he looked shocked. What did he expect? For me to just say oh of course dear, I’ll just stay with Rebecca and suffer for the next few years? That wasn’t going to happen. I loved Devin and I was started to realize that he was the kind of man that wanted an… obedient housewife. I was no housewife and certainly wasn’t obedient.
“I’m not trying to be selfish. I just don’t want to lose you.”
“By asking me to change my whole life around.”
“You’ve done it before.” His voice strained as he tried to tone it down a bit.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I whispered fiercely, voice rising a few octaves.
“You changed for Mr. Riley, why can’t you do the same with me?”
“You inconsiderate bastard.” I glared at him. “I’ve already change for you. Before I met you my life was a hell of a lot simpler. There was no pain in my chest every time I saw the guy I thought I loved. There was no constantly wondering when Jack was going to be in a rotten mood. I know everything about Jack. But you? It’s like pulling teeth to get a little information about why you’re upset lately, about what’s with all the mood swings and hostile behavior. I’ve been trying in this relationship, or what I dare to call a freaking relationship since I know absolutely nothing of the man I’ve been sleeping the with for past two months besides that fact that he’s a good lay.”
He had no idea how much I disliked him at the moment. I very much wanted to punch him in the face but I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere so I reeled in my anger as I shook my head.
“I swear Devin, sometimes I could just…I love you but something is seriously wrong with you. Like seriously? In all seriousness, at this very moment I can’t believe I ever fell in love with you in the first place.”
Before he could answer me back just as angrily I left his room, not caring who saw. There wasn’t a soul in the hall which I had to admit I was glad for. I didn’t need anyone seeing me this angry coming from my teachers’ room.
My head was pounding, my cheeks were flushed, and my heart was thumping loudly in my ears. It was the day before my birthday and Devin and I were fighting. Yet again. That made me feel so much better about how this whole relationship thing was going to work out.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Six
I sped home not really thinking, just driving the hell away from Devin. If I got stopped by the police I would’ve earned that speeding ticket. Oddly, there wasn’t a cop in sight.
I got home in record time only to find my father was home, too. As I walked through the door and saw him watching television in the living-room, I instantly regretted slamming both my car door and the front door.
“What’s the matter, bud?” He asked taking in my anger.
Thinking quick on my feet, I shouted angrily, “I have a lot of homework to do before my birthday!”
This puzzled my father. I had never been this angry about having homework before. He wasn’t too sure what to do.
I thought for a moment. How was I going to get out of this?
Sighing, I hung my head. “I’ll be in my room.”
He let me leave but I knew he was debating whether or not to help me or not. He wasn’t sure if that had been the true reason for my anger but didn’t want to bother me if it was.
In my room, I sat on my bed and just stared at my phone, half hoping it would ring.
I was waiting for him to call me and apologize for overreacting. That call never came.
And as seconds turned to minutes and minutes then turned to hours, I began to get depressed.
He had to find out today. He had to find out the day before my freaking birthday. It wasn’t that I wanted a gift or anything from him, it was just…now this was going to be the only thing I thought about tomorrow. Even at the moment while I tried to take my mind off of the situation by watching television or writing poetry, I couldn’t take my mind off of him causing serious writers block.
Not to mention my father was constantly checking up on me since my little outburst when I got home. I was certain he thought I was insane. And maybe I was. I understood why Devin was upset about me moving, I had expected it. He was even more upset that he had to find out from someone else.
I knew that was why he was so upset. It wasn’t that I was moving-well, a bit that I was moving-it was that I hadn’t had the nerve to tell him myself. I think it was the fact that I had been lying to him for weeks and he hadn’t know. But that didn’t make me crazy. I was just looking out for him. I wanted to make sure that he would be alright when I left.
Okay so that made me a little crazy. To think that this man, who said he loved me, would be “alright” with me leaving the country was just downright insane. But I wasn’t the one who was having mood swings.
Devin was insane. At least I was beginning to think this. To be honest I didn’t really know much about him or his upbringing. What if there were signs of this in this family. Did I really want my kids to be a psychopath?
I shook that thought from my head, not really knowing where it came from. Who said anything about having kids with this man? Was that even something he wanted? Hell, I didn’t know because he was being a psychopathic, PMSing bitch who hoarded all information on his past. How the hell was I supposed to know what he wanted in life? I wasn’t even sure what he wanted out of this relationship.
At the moment I wasn’t even sure if there even was a relationship anymore. We had been fighting way too much lately. And I’m not going to lie, I was the cause of most of them. It was either something I did, or I was angry with him for something he didn’t even do. So could I really be angry with him for doing the same thing? He never did with me because he loved me and didn’t want to fight.
I didn’t like the fighting either which was why I decided that maybe it was best if I called him Just because he was acting more than strange didn’t mean that things had to be blown out of portion. I knew that when it was that time of the month for me, despite being on the shot, I could be a really you know what. So maybe it was my nastiness that was rubbing off on him. Some of his actions had rubbed off on me so it wasn’t such a far stretch.
But even though my heart wanted me to call him and apologize repeatedly, my brain kept screaming that maybe it was for the best. Nothing real could come out of this relationship. It was just wishful thinking if I actually thought my father was going to be okay with me dating a man that was six years older than me.
It didn’t seem like such a big deal for people who were in their twenties and older but I was still technically a minor. I wouldn’t even be able to drink legally until I was twenty-one. What we were committing was a felony and my father would no doubt see it that way despite my telling him that it was consensual.
I loved him and I was certain he loved me despite recent events but that wouldn’t matter. If my father wanted he could report us. He could-
I stopped myself from thinking anything of the sort. It was becoming harder for me to breathe and the last thing I needed was another panic attack like at the lake. If I didn’t want anything like that to happen then I’d just have to be careful. That meant no more fighting at school, no more hooking up at in the classroom, and being extremely careful out in public. If we were even still together. And the only way I would find that out was if I called him.
I picked up my phone of my nightstand and noticed that there was a missed call. I cursed myself internally for not putting my phone on sound. But it was a moot point because it wasn’t the person that I really wanted to talk to. The missed call was from Jack and since Jack and I weren’t fighting I decided it was best to call Devin first.
But as I began to look up his pseudo name my phone began to vibrate in my hands. It was Jack again. I almost hit the reject button but I knew if I didn’t want him calling back five times tonight, that it was best if I just take the call.
“Are you alright?” He asked as soon as I answered.
“Yes, why wouldn’t I be alright?”
“I don’t know.” I could almost see him shrugging through the phone. “I was just wondering. I hadn’t talked to you since lunch. Besides, you were sick remember? I just wanted to know if you were alright.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I couldn’t help but smile at his efforts. He was always trying, checking up on me. Making sure I was alright.
“Fine enough to go to the fair tonight?”
My smile quickly turned to a frown. I’d been so absorbed with Devin that I hadn’t even noticed. I did remember Jack saying something about the fair today. Or was that Devin last night. Regardless of who it was, I knew I wasn’t able to go with either. “Jack you know we can’t do that. Isn’t your dad going to be there monitoring the place?”
“Yeah, but if we see him, we’ll just make something up.”
“What about-”
“Layla, stop trying to make excuses. Get your ass out of bed, like I know you are, and meet me at the damn Ferris wheel.”
I smiled again. He wasn’t really one to make demands but I liked when he did. Besides, it had been a while since we had spent any real time together. I was certain he was beginning to feel neglected.
“Okay,” I told him. “Let me see if I can get my father to let me leave.”
“Okay,” He said with a smile in his voice. I could hear him beaming through the phone.
After I hung up I dashed downstairs to ask my father if I could go to the fair.
“With who?”
For a moment I almost said by myself but I knew that wouldn’t be a good answer. He’d want to make a family thing out of it. I mean, it’s what I’d been telling Jack I had been doing, spending time with my father when I was really with Devin. Jack hadn’t suspected a thing but I was certain if I used that excuse or didn’t come up with a better one that he’d suspect something of being up. At least this time it would be the truth.
“Marina. She just called me and asked if I wanted to go.”
He debated for a moment but he all had ever seen out of Marina were good things. She was outgoing, respectful, and he knew she was the closest thing I had to a sister. We always looked out for each other and told each other everything.
This thought saddened me. I had been lying to my sister about a very important man in my life. I wouldn’t say the most important because that would always be my father. Despite his constant worrying and over protectiveness.
“Yeah, you can go. But don’t stay out too late. It may be the night before your birthday but it is still a school night.”
I nodded. “Got it. I’m going to go change.”
He just shrugged and went back to watching the five o’clock news.
I went back upstairs and slipped into something comfortable but still a bit sexy. But thing revealing. My father would most definitely change his mind if I decided to leave wearing a mini skirt as cold as it was going to be tonight.
“Do you have a jacket?” He asked as I headed for the door.
“Yup.” I thought about where I’d last left my hoodie. “It’s in the car.” At least I was certain it was in the car.
There’s a bit of ice in the forecast for tonight so-”
“I’ve got boots on, papa. I’ll be fine.”
“Drive safe! And be back by one.”
This made me skid to a stop. “One?”
He smiled. “You’ll be eighteen by then. I figured you needed a new curfew.”
“Thanks papa.”
I left then and headed to the fair downtown.
It didn’t take me long to get there, but took me forever to find a parking spot. Once I did I headed to the ticket booth to pay to enter and to pay for my wrist band that would allow me to ride whatever I wanted. As I stood in the unbelievably long line, I noticed that there were quite a few people around. The parking lot didn’t do the crowded area justice. It seemed that everyone in town was here. And I do mean everyone.
As I scanned the inside of the temporary amusement center, I saw a few familiar faces but one in particular stuck out to me. Miller. He was with a redheaded woman who was dressed in a very short pink dress for it to be less than fifty degrees tonight.
He didn’t see me which made me realize that coming here was a big mistake in the first place. What if he did see me in there? Would he cause a scene? Was he drunk? Would he tell someone?
I took out my phone so I could call Jack and tell him something had come up. As I began to turn and leave the line I bumped into someone a few feet taller than me. He steadied me before I tripped over my own feet.
I looked up at the man that had just prevented me from an embarrassing fall with a smile and apology, though when I realized it was Devin, they turned a shocked frown and a small apology.
“No problem. Funny running into you here.”
So it had been him talking about the fair tonight.
The line began to move considerably faster since my almost accident and a few people behind me began to groan at my slowness. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave now or not.
“Can we talk?”
“Look buddy,” an older man behind me with graying hair and three children said. “Some of us want to get in there before the place closes. So take the clumsy girl and go talk somewhere else or keep the line moving.”
I could tell Devin didn’t too much like the man’s attitude but he refrained from saying anything to him. He looked back at me who, still standing shocked holding up the line, looked at him in a daze as the question still hung in the air.
As a cool breeze passed, whipping my hair a bit, I snapped out of my haze.
“I sorry.” I said moving forward. I realized that another ticket taker had come to aid the original which was why the line was now moving faster. “I can’t, I’m meeting…”
“Jack.” He nodded moving with me. “I came-” He broke off, looked behind him at the man that was standing a little too close to us, then whispered, “I wanted to apologize.”
I didn’t say anything. Not because I didn’t want to. I just didn’t know what to say.
“I was hoping to catch you here. I was hoping we could talk about today.”
“I don’t think this is the perfect time for this.” I whispered back looking around us. There were a few people here that I knew personally. And I knew if I knew them then there was a possibility that he knew them too.
It was finally my turn at the booth but as I took out my wallet and tell the woman what I needed, Devin spoke up.
“Two tickets and two wrist bands, please.” He said slipping the money under the glass window.
She didn’t question him; I actually don’t even think she noticed us. She had seen numerous faces tonight, both young and old. I didn’t think she really cared anymore so long as she got the money.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I said as he placed the blue band around my wrist.
He had walked me inside and my senses, already overrun by funnel cake and children’s laughter, were overrun with that and now the bright, flashing lights and other foods.
He just shrugged. “I know you don’t want to talk to me right now.”
“That’s not it at all. I was actually planning on calling you tonight.”
He gave me a small smile. “If that’s true then meet me before the park closes, at the Ferris Wheel.”
The park closed at twelve, if he wanted me to meet him around that time my father was not going to be too happy with me.
“Okay.” I nodded despite knowing the cussing I was going to get. “I’ll meet you there.”
His smile widened. Good. I’ll…see you around then?”
I nodded once more. “I’ve got to get going.”
He let me leave then and I went to go find Jack.
“I didn’t think you’d make it.” Jack brought me in for a hug after making sure no one was really paying us any attention.
“I saw your father on the way here.”
He frowned. “That’s not really something I want to talk about when I’m hanging out with my girlfriend.”
“Jack if we get caught-”
“We won’t.” He brushed his lips against mine. “That was the last affectionate thing I will do tonight. Publically anyway.”
I smiled.
He grabbed my hand and began to lead me away from the Ferris Wheel.
“Where are we going?”
He smile brightly. “To ride all the rides here of course.”
And that’s what we did. The Spaceship, The Titanic, The Bottle Rocket, The Pirate Ship. You name it we rode it. And not once did we get sick. We ate pretzels and shared a nacho with jalapeños. All in all the night was pretty perfect.
That is, until I saw the creepy ass clown. Jack knew I hated clowns, especially creepy ass clowns. They were just….well creepy as hell. But that didn’t stop Jack calling it over, nor did it stop him from pinning my arms behind my back as the clown danced it’s way over to my trembling and groaning form as I tried to break free from Jack’s hold.
As it got closer my fear began to take over. I was deathly afraid of clowns ever since I’d seen this movie where the clown sprouted razor sharp teeth, claws, and killed these kids. Clowns really freaked me out and he knew that.
But tonight he thought it was funny. Even as I began to cry out for him to let me go. I shut my eyes trying to envision a happier scene. One where this clown was being pushed in front of a truck or being torn apart by a swarm of hammerhead sharks. But every time I opened my eyes I saw that mocking red smile, pale while face, and bodacious red nose coming towards me.
“Jack,” Devin commanded suddenly behind us. “Stop messing around. Let her go.”
“Oh come on, Mr. Simmons.”
“Now.” His voice held a very commanding tone that shook me a bit. “You see she’s terrified.”
I knew it shook Jack too because he released me and before I realized, I was running from him and into Devin’s arms. I closed my eyes shut tight to get rid of the image and after a moment I was fine.
“I didn’t mean to upset her.” Jack’s voice snapped me out of my terror and made me realize that it wasn’t him I was nearly hyperventilating on, it was Devin.
I pulled away from him and quickly wiped my teary eyes before I turned back to Jack.
“You can be a real ass you know that?” I asked. “You know. You know I hate clowns.”
I couldn’t talk to him right then. As I looked at him, I knew he was sorry for what he had done, but I just…my heart was still racing and people were still staring.
“It’s getting late,” I said shaking my head. “I need to get home.”
“I’ll walk you to your car.” Jack offered.
“I can make it.” I snapped.
“Layla, I didn’t mean-”
“Yeah,” I sighed. “But you did it anyway.”
I walked away from him then. Sometimes Jack was sweet, but other’s like tonight, he could be a real jerk. He liked preying on peoples weaknesses and he knew this one was mine. I was terrified.
Checking my phone, I saw that it was about twenty minutes till closing. My father hadn’t called yet but I knew it wouldn’t be long. When I was out with Marina there was normally a thirty minute grace period but this may have been pushing it a bit.
Still, I made my way to the Ferris Wheel to meet Devin. People were beginning to leave the park so I made it there faster than I would have if it was still crowded. He was the only one standing there so it wasn’t hard to spot him.
“Are you alright?” He asked removing his hands from his pockets.
“What did you want to talk about?”
“I paid him to keep it open just for a few more minutes so we could go up,” he said looking over at the operator. “Take a ride with me.”
I did as he said and let him help me climb into one of the creaky chairs.
Once to the top things were pretty awkward again until he spoke. He began apologizing right from the start.
“I’m sorry. I love you, Layla. Please know that that is the only reason I act the way I do. I can’t help the way I feel about you. But when you lie to me…I just…I want us to be honest with each other.”
“I was going to tell you. You have to believe me when I say I didn’t mean for you to find out this way. I just…”
“You love me and you didn’t want to hurt me. I understand that.” And I loved that he understood that. “But you have to realize that withholding that information from me hurt me more than if you would have told me from the beginning. I wouldn’t… I would have been trying to spend our last few months together trying to figure out how to get you to stay or hell spending more time with you. Making sure our last few months were filled with perfect moments and not with arguments.”
I nodded. I understood now that no matter what, this man was going to love me. It didn’t matter how many times we argued, how times Miller tried to break us apart. This man was going to love me. All of me.
“I need you to promise me something, I need you to promise that from here on out there will not be any more secrets between us.”
“I can do that,” I said looking into his pleading eyes. “But you have to promise me that you’ll explain what’s going on with you, why you’re so angry lately. I can’t handle the mood swings, Devin. I just can’t.”
He nodded but I wasn’t quite sure if he’d be able to keep that promise. Call me naïve, or immature for not trusting him but…I just wasn’t sure what it was. Something in his eyes told me he wanted to tell me something, that he just couldn’t.
And for that I knew I couldn’t truly trust him. Yes I loved him but I hated that I couldn’t trust him to tell me the truth when a situation rose.
He sighed as I looked away from him and down at the tiny people heading for the exits.
“This song is very appropriate.” He half smiled.
I vaguely noticed a sultry man’s voice sing the words “you’re my angel” as he harmonized with the piano he was playing.
“Why?” I asked as I watch the park emptied.
“Because, Layla. You’re my angel.” I looked at him then, seeing the joy in his eyes. “And I thank the universe everyday that I finally found the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life.”
And just as the climax of the song hit, so did the climax of my night. He brought his lips to mine slowly and kissed me with a tenderness I had never experienced from him before. It was a simple kiss, nearly like our first but without the nervous passion. No, this was more of a fiery passion that warmed me to my very core.
He pulled back after a moment, forehead touching mine, and whispered two words that I was certain I’d never hear from him.
“Marry me?”

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Seven
I was certain my ears were deceiving me. Yes, I was certain my ears had only thought he’d asked me the biggest question of my life on probably the most romantic moment of my life because my brain certainly knew better. That was it. It was just my heart, loving the romance going on, connecting with my ears and telling my body what it wanted to hear. He didn’t serious just as me to-
“Layla, will you marry me?”
My heart was still pounding in my ears but I was certain that that was what his lips just said.
“You’re making me a bit nervous, love. Say something, anything.” His loving smile was now turning into one of worry and unease.
“Are you insane?” I asked though I was confident it was not what he wanted to hear.
He let out a small chuckle. “You can say that. As cliché as it sounds, I’m crazy for you. What do you say? Will you?”
Before I could decide on my answer my cell began to vibrate in my pocket. I made a move to take it from my pocket but he stopped me.
“It can wait. I really need an answer. Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me or not?”
His voice had begun to shake at his nervousness.
“Of course I do.”
He sighed. “But? There’s a but at the end of that sentence.”
“You know exactly what the but is. The but is that no one will approve of it and it’s illegal.”
“Well, I’m not suggesting that we run off to Vegas and get hitched tonight. And do you really care what people will approve of?”
“You know that I don’t. It’s just…you know just like I know that we can’t do that.”
“Yet.” He stated. “Think about it. Just…think it over. You don’t have to decide tonight, though I had hoped you would, but that’s fine if you need time to think it over.”
“I don’t need time to think it over. I know that you’re the one I want. You’re the one that I want to be with. So without thinking the answer will and always be yes, but you have to understand. Please, understand when I say that my father will kill you if he ever found out. I’m positive he would, without exaggeration, hunt you down and punch you repeatedly in the face until you died. So I have to say no. I love you too much to let that happen.”
He took hold of my other hand and brought it with its mate. “You don’t have to give me an answer right now. I just want you to think about it.”
After he motioned for the ride conductor to bring us down, he checked his watch and smiled. “Happy birthday Layla.”
Yeah, happy birthday to me.
I was positive he was going insane. With me moving, Miller trying to abuse me, and whatever it was that had him on edge, it just all seemed like too much for him. I understood he wanted to make every moment count but good lord. Marry him?
Was he seriously considering that option? Not that I didn’t want to get married one day, just…not so soon. And not when it was just the two of us who knew about it. I wanted a-well not a big wedding but hell, I at least wanted my father to be there to give me away.
I just…I just couldn’t see that happening which was why I was so hesitant to answer. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, because I was certain I did. I loved everything about him, even if I didn’t know every little thing about him. I was certain I could learn things about him in time. We had, after all, only been seeing each other for three months. Hell, a little less than three months. That wasn’t enough time to really get to know anyone.
I sighed internally. But that was plenty of time for me to sleep and fall in love with him. Emphasis on the falling in love part.
As we got off the Ferris wheel, I noticed the place seemed pretty deserted. There were still a few people lingering around but they were only there to pack things away and lock up after we left. We walked side by side, neither of us saying anything as we exited park.
“I’m sorry for what happened earlier,” he said as we neared one of the exits.
“That was pretty silly of you.”
He looked at me curiously. “I meant what happened with Jack.”
Now I sighed aloud.
“What did…you thought I was apologizing for the proposal? Why was that silly of me, Layla? Is it silly of me to want to spend the rest of my life with someone I love?”
“It is when she’s only eighteen.” I whispered.
“Whatever.” I shook my head. “Same difference. It doesn’t escape the fact that it is illegal, Devin. Have you forgotten that? Or has love blinded you from that little fact. Actually that humongous fact.”
“No,” he sighed. He stopped me so he could turn me around to look me in my eyes. “I have not forgotten how dangerous this whole relationship is. I worry everyday if we will get caught, if someone will see us and take you away from me, about the fact that we can’t even go out in public with each other, or the fact that I may possibly be taking advantage of you. No, Layla. I have not forgotten the danger. But I do know that I love you, and love conquers all.”
I gave harsh laugh at that. “What fantasy are you living in? This isn’t a Disney movie where everyone sings and dances and in the end everyone lives happily ever after. Those are movies, and to be honest, now that I think about it they kind of suck. They don’t tell you about what happens after the happy couple rides off into the sunset. They don’t tell you about the people around them who were heartbroken while the lovely couple just up and left. This is reality. And I just can’t see this situation having a happy ending. I’m sorry I just can’t.”
“To be honest, I don’t think you have to. That’s not what I want you to have to worry about. Let me worry about the bad. Do you remember me saying that? You and I will have a happy ending.” He stroked my face gently. “You and I will have a happy ending. I don’t care what I have to do, who I have to kill. You will get the happy ending you deserve.”
I tried to smile at how much he was trying but I just couldn’t envision it. I could envision numerous things, but us getting married and riding off into the sunset with no problems was not one of them.
But instead of voicing those thoughts and causing an unneeded argument I just stood on my toes and placed a kiss upon his lips.
“Thank you so much for at least trying.”
My phone began to vibrate in my pocket and with our closeness I knew he felt it too. Before he could tell me not to get it, I told him I needed to get home. I knew my father had to be worried by now.
He didn’t like it but it wasn’t like I could just spend the night at the dock with him whenever I wanted. I had rules at home that I had to follow. One of which I was breaking just to meet him before the fair closed. Actually two. The fact that I was seeing him, a guy, despite him being my teacher, was very forbidden to my father.
Devin nodded as he slid his hand from my face down my neck and arms, until it reached my hand so it could give it a gently squeeze. “I’ll see you tomorrow then. And like I said, think it over for a few days. I don’t need an answer tonight-”
“Even though you know my answer.” I cut him off.
“But I will love you,” he said ignoring my previous words. “No matter what decision you make.”
“And if I say no? What happens then? Do you call this whole thing off because I won’t marry you?”
“Oh, no, god no!” He laughed. “What part of I will love you no matter what your decision do you not understand? You’re stuck with me, Layla.”
I smiled, remembering that I’d said those exact words to him once. Some part of me was happy he’d said that while the other was a nervous wreck.
He kissed me once more then sent me on my way. It was late and to be honest a bit creepy as I made my way to my car. I cursed myself for parking so far away from the fair. The lights from the fair didn’t reach this far and the scarce light that there was made the lot look far more creepy than I knew it was.
Finally, my car started to come into view but I was wrong about the parking lot being empty. There was a black car parked in front of my green buggy, which worried me a bit.
But what really worried me was the arm protruding out of the driver’s side window waving me over. I decided it was best to try and ignore it but as I drew closer my stomach knotted.
I took my phone out as discreetly as possible and searched for Devin’s number. If anything went wrong, he was the one who was closest to me. He was the one I prayed would find me in time.
“Layla.” I familiar voice said in a singsong tone from the dark window.
I could tell the windows were tinted and since the inside of the car was dark, the driver’s window seemed to match the others. But I didn’t need to see inside the car to recognize the voice.
My stride quickened as I tried to get to my car.
“I know you hear me, Layla.” He said, waving me over once more.
I sighed as I complied. I wasn’t exactly sure what Devin had told Miller to get him off our case or if he was even going to leave us alone, but I really wasn’t sure if what they had discussed pissed Miller off. Seeing as we were the only people in the parking lot, I wouldn’t put it past him to run me down with his car.
“It’s nice to see you again,” he said as I reached his window. “Can we talk?”
“I don’t see why we would need to.” My phone was in my jacket pocket and my right hand was ready to press the send button if he did anything shady.
“Just get in. We need to talk about what’s going on between you two.”
“I don’t think-”
“Just get in, Layla. I’m not going to hurt you.”
I debated for a moment, looking around myself nervously. There were no security cameras to be found and no excuse for me not to get in. Despite how controlled I wanted to be, I began a slight tremble as I walked around the car and sat in the passenger seat.
“I just want to talk.” I could see his form shrug in the darkness. “You’ve been a naughty girl, haven’t you?”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“I saw that little…display earlier.” There was an unmistakable smile in his voice. “You love him don’t you? Devin, I mean. Not that…Riley feller.”
I didn’t say anything.
“How much do you love him, Layla?”
When I felt his hand slide onto my leg I decided then was a good time as any to press the send button.
There was no illumination in the car so I couldn’t really see his face but could tell he was pretty close by his breath on my face. He smelt of alcohol.
“You’re drunk, Mr. Miller. I think it’s best you let me go home before you do something you’ll regret.” I removed the hand that was softly caressing my leg.
“I’m not drunk, Ms. Bungah. I, unlike Bond, can hold my liquor.”
I wasn’t sure if he was right about not being drunk but he wasn’t slurring his words. The only sign that he’d been consuming alcohol was his breath.
“I just don’t think a dim car is the right place for us to be having this conversation. I actually don’t think we need to talk at all.”
“You read my mind, Ms. Bungah.” His hand gripped my thigh again.
“Stop touching me.” I commanded as I tried to remove his hand again. Turning away from him, I quickly scanned my free hand over the door to find my way out, only to realize the door was locked.
“You’re not getting out of here until I get what I want.” His voice was just as commanding as Devin’s was back at the fair and it scared me. He gripped me harder as I tried to wiggle away from him.
This only caused my phone to fall out of my jacket pocket and illuminate the car with an eerie dim light.
“What the hell is that? Who did you call?” He shouted into my face.
“Just let me out of the car!” I countered putting up a fight. If he wanted it he was going to have to fight for it. I wasn’t just going to let him violate me again without him ending up with bruises this time.
As I pushed him off of me his head hit the light above us, shedding light on his act. He clutched the back of his head then looked at his hands were. I noticed there was a bit of red on the light above him. He swore under his breath. When he recovered, he did so quickly and I could tell by the anger in his eyes that he wasn’t too pleased that a teenage girl made him bleed.
Before I knew it, his fist was connecting with my stomach, knocking the wind out of me even though I wanted to scream. When I could finally breathe, I let out gasp and a loud groan.
He drew his fist back for another hit but before this one could connect with my face, there was a loud double tap on the window.
Miller swore again as he scrambled to get off me.
“Open the door, Miller,” Devin said banging again.
He complied and as he unlocked the door Devin opened it. I would have fallen to the floor if Devin hadn’t been there to catch me.
“What the hell is going on here?” Devin asked taking in the scene.
“Just two adults talking.” Miller wiped his hands on his pants as I clutched my side.
“What happened to your side?” He asked, hands hovering over my body. “Did he hit you?”
I could see his eyes blaze in the moonlight and I had to think quick. If I said yes, there was no telling what Devin would do now that there were no witnesses around.
So I shook my head as I tried to stand up straight. “No, no, I just…I just-”
“Don’t lie to me, Layla. He hit you didn’t he?!” He pushed me behind him roughly. Before he could lunge for Miller I held him back.
“Wait, think for a minute. Please. You can’t hit him.”
He looked back at me for a moment, eyes still blazing with anger. I could tell he wanted so much to hit him. To hurt him like he’d hurt me. But instead of acting on this anger he looked back at Miller and mumbled something I wasn’t exactly sure I liked.
“You’re dead, Miller. Dead.”

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Eight
“What did you mean by that?” I asked franticly after Devin had made Miller leave.
He had threatened him within an inch of his life and I prayed he didn’t seriously think he was going to kill him. That was a threat. I mean Miller could go to the police if he wanted to. He could-
“Why are you protecting him? He hit you, he fucking struck you and you’re still worrying about him?”
“It’s not him I’m worried about. Miller could go to the police”
“He could’ve gone to the police when he first found out about us but he didn’t, which means he’s just going to keep fucking with you, Layla. He’s not going to stop, not unless I do something.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked voice small. “You said you handled it before and that didn’t work. What are you going to do now?”
“That’s none of your concern.” He sighed. “Go home, Layla. I’ll figure something out.”
But I didn’t want him to have to figure it out. I wanted to hear whatever he was planning so I could tell him if that idea was stupid or not. He wasn’t in his right mind. He was angry and irrational, I could see it all over his face.
“I can’t just leave you here like this, all…brooding a-a-and plotting. You could-”
He gripped my arms tightly and shook me a bit. “I could do what, Layla? Do what? Kill him? I’ve got half a mind to go after him and do just that for what he’s put you through. For what he pulled tonight. What do you think would have happened if you hadn’t called me? How far do you think it would have gone? He could have seriously hurt you tonight. Miller is clearly unstable and he has to be stopped.”
I agreed with him, but I was beginning to think Miller wasn’t the only one unstable.
My body shook with fear as the force of his grip around my arms intensify along with the hurt and anger in his dark emerald eyes.
After a moment, he saw the alarm in my eyes and quickly composed himself. He then drew me into his chest and wrapped his arms around me. But I didn’t want his comfort. I didn’t want to be held by this man.
I pulled away from him, causing him to look at me strangely.
“Layla, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean- I just know men like him. He’s not going to stop.”

“It doesn’t matter. I need to get home.” I was feeling extremely tired both mentally and physically. I just couldn’t think of how to make him realize that there was no good outcome with the way he was thinking.
“Are you okay?” Again his hands did this hovering thing that I couldn’t quite explain. It was almost as if he wanted to aid me but was afraid to touch me.
“No,” I said placing a hand on my stomach. “I’m tired, my side hurts, I’m a bit nauseous and to be honest I’m feeling a bit run down emotionally. But other than that I’m peachy Mr. all of a sudden mass murderer.”
There was a small smile playing at the corners of his lips but I couldn’t understand why. There was nothing funny about this situation.
“I’m not- I’m not going to kill him.” He sighed as he looked at the dark asphalt. “I’m just-”
“Angry. I know but you cannot just go around making threats to people who know about what we’re doing.” I looked at my phone and realized it was getting later and later. It was already a little half past midnight. “I need to get home or my father is going to kill me.”
He nodded but didn’t say anything.
I walked over to my little green car, but looked back at him before I entered it. “Don’t do anything stupid tonight. Okay?”
Again he nodded. “I promise not to do anything stupid tonight.”
I only prayed he kept that promise.
The drive home was both tiring and a bit painful. My side still hurt a bit and I found it really hard to keep what I’d eaten at the fair down. I could feel my stomach muscles constricting and cramping which I didn’t find too comforting.
Once home I noticed there was a lump on the sofa in the living room. It was covered with a multi-colored wool blanket and was snoring very loudly. Since my father was the only one in the house who snored I knew he was the one under the blanket. He must have fallen asleep waiting on me.
I chose not to wake him as I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I had been both really thirsty and hungry lately but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I just chopped it up to a temporary chemical imbalance in my body. I remembered reading something about it in health class. I also remembered that I hadn’t been pushing myself as hard in my health class like I used to before I met Devin causing me to gain a few pound in my lower body. I wasn’t sure if it was water weight but at the moment I didn’t really care. I was thirsty and nothing was healthier than a glass of water.
Before I could take a sip of my water, my stomach convulsed violently and I dropped the glass as I gripped the counter for support. I didn’t hear the glass break as it hit the floor, nor did I hear my father enter the kitchen but he was there in an instant gripping my arms.
I tried not to whimper as the pain settled to a small, pulsing throb in my lower back. I could see my father’s mouth moving but I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying over my heart beating pounding in my ears.
“Layla, can you hear me? What happened? Are you okay?”
Rebecca came in next, worry written all over her face. That is, until she saw it was me who causing all the noise.
“What the hell is wrong with her?”
“I-it’s nothing,” I managed to rasp out as I touched my stomach. The pain had stopped and now I felt a bit embarrassed that I’d caused them to run. “I’m fine, just a stomach cramp.”
“That didn’t sound like just a stomach cramp.” Rebecca commented.
“Well it was.” I sighed. “I’m fine. Just tired. Can I go to sleep?”
My father still held onto my arms, which made me a little uneasy. He then looked at the clock on the stove then back at me.
“Where were you?” He asked raising an eyebrow at me. For a moment, I wondered if my appearance looked as if something had gone wrong. I didn’t remember checking myself before entering the house. “It’s after midnight.”
“And my birthday, so could you not punish me for this one? I was out with Marina and time just got the best of us.” I pursed my bottom lip in a pouting motion that I hoped my father still thought was cute.
He looked from me to Rebecca, who rolled her eyes at my childlike expression, then again back at me.
“Fine, just this once. But you know you need to call when you’re going to be late.”
I nodded.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” He asked giving me a once over. He had removed his hands but they were still hovered over me like Devin’s had.
I thought for a moment. Was I okay? My side still hurt from where Miller had punched me but that cramp thing in my stomach had stopped and was now replaced with a slight throb in my lower back. But was I okay? Yeah, for the most part. So that’s what I told him.
“Yeah, papa, I’m okay. I just really want to get some sleep so I can concentrate tomorrow.”
“You mean today.” Rebecca mumbled.
I ignored her and took a step towards the door only to have to stop and cross my legs if I didn’t want to make an accident. I let out a small gasp as I realized what was happening.
“What happened?” My father asked frantic again.
“Crap,” I groaned. “I think I’m getting my period.”
I noticed my father grimaced involuntarily. “Aren’t the…the…you’re um-”
“What your father is trying to say is, aren’t the fifty dollar birth control shots we’re paying for every three months supposed to stop those.”
“So nothing.” I straightened. “Now, if you excuse me I need to-”
“Ah!” My father shouted plugging his ears. He still wore his grimace. “I don’t wanna- j-just go do whatever it is you girls do in this situation.”
I resisted the urge to smile as I wobbled away.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Nine
I was feeling sick to my stomach again and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the blood or my body reacting to the events of the night. I chose to believe it was a bit of both. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was still able to stand I would have thought I was bleeding to death from the inside out.
Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. It wasn’t that much blood, but it was more than usual. Actually, it had to be more than humanly possible. But who was I to question mother nature and her mental verdict to cause woman to experience the opening of the floodgates of hell for seven distressing days. I bet being on the shot only angered her.
I laughed a little too giddily for my liking as I thought about her reprimanding women for being on birth control that prevented this bloodletting.
Once I’d composed myself, I disposed of the evidence and I began to perform my nightly routine for bed. I did everything except saying goodnight to my father. I didn’t want to risk him changing his mind about punishing me. Before I actually made my way into bed, I made sure I prevented any more accidents from happening.
My body tried to relax as I nestled within my comforter and I hoped that both the nausea and slight tingling feeling in the soles of my feet went away by morning.
Reluctantly, they didn’t. Morning came far too quickly for my liking and before I knew it I was waking up to the sound of my alarm blaring and a sense that I was going to vomit on my purple sheets. As I made my way to the bathroom, slowly because it seemed like the soles of my feet were on fire, I sensed that today was not going to be the happy birthday I was sure everyone was going to be screaming.
Seeing as it was my birthday I rather hoped my father would let me stay home, but I didn’t see that happening.
I prepared for the school day even though I didn’t want to. I just wanted to crawl back into bed and go back to sleep. The only good thing about the day was that I was no longer bleeding, which I found a bit weird. But my body did that sometimes. It was weird whenever it wanted to be and there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.
As I went to the kitchen to get breakfast I notice my father and stepmother whispering about something.
“I hope you two aren’t planning my surprise party this late in the game.”
The look my father gave me told me I was right, well half-right. I had overheard them talking about a party for me a few weeks ago but I didn’t think Becca would go for it. She wasn’t one to like happy things. Or at least happy things for me.
“No.” My father smiled. “That is not what we’re doing. But you will have to be home on time today.”
“Like directly after school.” Rebecca smirked. “No sneaking off to do whatever it is you do.”
I nodded. “Got it, I’ll be here.”
Before I could make my way to the refrigerator, my father tossed a banana and a cereal bar my way. I caught them clumsily and looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
“You need to get to school. You don’t want to be late.”
Again, I looked at him confusingly. “I’ve got like ten minutes before I have to leave. Can’t I scarf down-”
“No.” Rebecca snapped. “Now get the hell out the house.”
“Geez, alright,” I said backing up. “I guess I’ll see you when I get home.”
They said nothing so I took that as a dismissal.
At school the first words I heard were happy birthday. From almost everyone who walked by. Which was weird, because I didn’t know or like most of the people who walked by. Some were genuine while others were flat and laced with annoyance.
Once I reached Jack I realized why practically everyone who walked past me knew it was my birthday. Jack didn’t see me as I walked up behind him but I heard him reminding everyone of the day. Some people, the smaller freshmen for one, seemed a bit nervous at the larger senior just about threatening them.
“Jack, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” I asked, though tried to be polite for the younger girl who was standing in front of him. “You can go.”
She left but not after muttering a happy birthday.
“You can’t just threaten people like that,” I said sternly. Sometimes I felt like his mother.
“But I wasn’t. I was just suggesting that they do. It’s not my fault it sounded mean because I’m taller than most of them.”
He smiled down at me for a moment then looked over at my locker.
“I’m still upset with you.” I commented.
He nodded. “And I completely understand why. But just open your locker.”
I did as he said and was shocked to see a dozen roses resting there. They were beautiful and smelt wonderful. They were all fully open and dethroned, meaning if I wanted to carry them around all day I could. But I wouldn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, they were gorgeous. I just didn’t want to ruin them.
Jack pointed inside my locker once more, causing me to take another look and see the card behind the flowers. It was small but the words within them were what really mattered. He apologized for what he did last night.
“I tried to call you but you never answered.”
I hadn’t even looked at my phone yet. Maybe Jack had been the one calling me. Not my father.
“I didn’t I mean to hurt you, Layla. It was supposed to be a joke. I guess it wasn’t as funny as I thought.”
It took a lot for him to say this and I knew it. He wasn’t really one to admit when he was wrong about something. And to be honest it made me want to break down and just tell him everything. He was always changing for me. Always so sweet to me.
And what was I doing? Running behind his back, cheating on him.
“So, what do you say? Do you forgive me?” He asked, blue eye showing complete sincerity.
Could he forgive me? I hoped he would.
My answer was to hug him. I had no right to be angry with him over something that silly when I was doing something far worse. Something that I couldn’t tell him about just yet.
“There’s another surprise at lunch,” He said smiling into my hair.
I pulled away from him and looked up at him meekly “Sometimes I think I don’t deserve a guy as nice as you.”
His smile widened. “Of course you don’t. You’ll just have to make it up to me somehow.”
I kept my smile but knew that wasn’t going to happen. I liked Jack. No, I loved Jack. But there would be no more sex for him. I was Devin’s. Not that I was his property or anything possessive like that. It just didn’t seem right to be having sex with two guys at once.
“I’ll see you in a few hours, okay babe?”
I nodded, not really knowing what to say. So instead of saying what needed to be said, we just went our separate ways.
First period was a blur as usual but second period was the class I think I liked just as much as my last. Mariana was always doing something spectacular for my birthday and I didn’t expect this one to be any different. Only it was.
She greeted me like she did every day, with a warm smile and that’s it.
“Is everything alright?” I asked a little concerned.
“Don’t get your thong in a twist, girly.” She smiled wildly. “I’ve got something planned. Just not right now. Oh, and also not today. There’s been a change of plans.”
“No buts, I can’t tell you what it is because it’s a surprise.”
“If it’s about the party my fathers throwing I already know about it.”
“It’s not. That’s what has been changed.”
I looked at he a bit skeptically.
“I just got my phone back today from Mr. Simmons, which thank goodness I did because if I didn’t then I wouldn’t have gotten your dads message.”
“Wait, Devin took you’re phone from you?” That would freaking explain how he found out I was moving.
“Yeah, Mr. Simmons took my cell yesterday. I think he read my text messages too.”
“You think?”
“You’re not mad are you? I didn’t think it really mattered. I mean he’s a teacher. Who’s he going to tell that you’re moving.”
I sighed. She had gotten caught texting me.
“No, I’m not mad.” I plastered on a smile. “He’s just a teacher.”
After I said this it wasn’t ten minutes before I felt the urge to throw up again. I mean, I had been nauseated for the better part of the morning but now I really felt sick to my stomach.
I asked to go to the restroom where I proceeded to toss up my makeshift breakfast. My prediction about today being bad was beginning to come true.
I’d been excusing myself all day to go puke and sometimes something would come up while others were just irritating false alarms. I didn’t like being sick. It was a sign of weakness and people tended to use advantage of it.
Like Rachel for instance.
When I entered the cafeteria she automatically turned her nose up at me.
“You look like a dog.” She commented, smirking a bit “Sick as a dog I mean. You’re not the only one who get’s American phrase wrong.”
Once. Once I had gotten an American phrase wrong, accidentally insulting her, and she was still holding a grudge.
Ignoring her attitude, I sat at the table and thanked those who signed the card in front of me. It was one of those singing cars, the one with the pink and purple animated animals. It was cute.
There were even cupcakes in the middle of the table, enough for everyone at the table and a few extras which Jack said I could take home. He’d thought of everything. He’d even claimed to make the chocolate cupcakes, which weren’t half bad. Chewy, but for someone who couldn’t really bake, he tried his best.
“I don’t see how you can eat that, Layla.” Rachel began. Again, scrunching her nose up at me. “All the calories that are in that thing. Or do you not care how fat you’re getting. I can’t be the only one that’s noticed.”
No, actually she wasn’t. But no I wasn’t concerned with how “fat” I was getting. Because I wasn’t. If she thought a few pounds were fat then she really needed a reality check. Her perception on fat was already distorted. She was pencil thin with long black hair cascading around her pale, fragile face. I wasn’t the one who looked sick as a dog. She was the one looking as if she was knocking on deaths door.
But because of her comment none of the girls at the table ate their homemade cupcakes, which I considered extremely rude and vindictive. The boys on the other hand, had no problem eating theirs and the four prissy girls half. They would’ve eaten the two Jack had saved for me if he hadn’t threatened them within an inch of their lives.
After lunch, Jack walked me back to the gym where he told me he’d keep the cupcakes with him while I was in class. He kissed me on the cheek then left me so I could change.
Murphy didn’t work us too hard which made me happy. She did make us run but since I had to stop every other ten minutes because I thought I was going to vomit, she didn’t make me run as hard. But even that made me tired.
Once gym was over, I headed to class only to be stopped by a man in a pink striped shirt and matching pants before I walked through Devin’s door. He was carrying a mess load of colorful balloons, most of which consisted of happy birthdays.
“Are you…” He pulled a small index card from his pants pocket. “A Layla Bungah?”
“Yeah.” I half smiled. “Why?”
“Over here boys.” He motioned for three men in matching outfits to come over. The first guy handed me the balloons then they all proceed to sing happy birthday to me. A light blush overtook my body as I looked towards Jack.
He crossed his arms across his chest in a satisfied gesture and I couldn’t help the laugh that rose to my lips. Again, sweet gestures like these made me realize just how good I had it with Jack. He really loved me.
I looked towards Devin, who didn’t seem too happy with all my happiness. I knew once class was over I’d get an earful on why I needed to break up with Jack.
As class ended I told Jack how I couldn’t go to his practice because I needed to get home for whatever my father had planned. I told the same thing to Devin as he asked me if I wanted to stay and help him grade papers.
“Don’t you want to hear about my plans?” He asked head cocked to the side.
I smiled. “You have plans?”
“Of course I have plans. Mr. Riley isn’t the only one that can be spontaneous. Besides, I’ve been planning this for weeks.”
“Weeks? I mean, I don’t mean to sound like I’m shocked or anything. I never doubted you’d do anything for my birthday but you…you really didn’t have to.”
“So Mr. Riley, is the only boy allowed to do anything for your birthday. I guess that make sense see as he’s you’re…boyfriend.” He nearly choked on the word. “But what does that make me.”
I thought about that for a moment. I hadn’t really been expecting anything from him because he was…what? Was he considered a boyfriend? It just didn’t sound right to say that about a twenty four year old man.
“I’m you’re fiancée and I deserve to be able to do something for you.” My eye twitched involuntarily which made him laugh. “Does that word bother you, Layla?”
I shook my head and mumbled a no.
“The word fiancée bothers you, doesn’t it?”
There was no use lying about it. My eye revealed my true feelings.
“Why? Why does it bother you? Why does it bother you that I could possibly love you so much that I want to be with you for the rest of my life?”
“I can’t have this conversation right now.” I told him “I need to get home.”
He sighed. “It’s because you don’t trust me, isn’t it?”
“That’s not it at all. Maybe you’re just not understanding the severity of the situation here. I’m not trying to argue with you, believe me I’m not. I’m just…”
“Not ready to trust that someone loves you.”
“I don’t want you to leave me.” I blurted. He looked at me strangely for a moment and before he could voice his opinions on not being like the other boys and the fact that he really loved me, I stopped him. “It’s not that I don’t trust you because I do. I trust your judgment, I trust your heart, and that’s one reason why I really and truly love you. But I don’t want to end up like my parents. My father trusted my mother. They trusted each other, and look how that ended. She’s dead.”
I took my cell from my pocket to look at the time. “I need to go or my father is going to be very upset with me for not keeping my promise.”
He nodded and let me leave.
On the way home my mind drifted back to that day. Getting the news, seeing her pale body lying on the slab. I just couldn’t handle it. Which was why I blocked it out again. I refused to think about her like that. That wasn’t the memory I wanted. I wanted the memory of the three of us together on my eighth birthday. Or hell any of the birthdays before she was gone. I wanted the good memories, not the bad.
So that’s what I thought about on the way home. The good.
When I finally got home and realized my father was the only one waiting for me in the living room, I was a bit confused.
“I…thought you needed me home after school.” I asked adjusting my bag on my shoulder. If I would have known nothing was going on I could have just stayed with Devin.
“There’s been a change of plans. Rebecca had to go into work and I really wanted her to be here for this so the party’s been moved.”
“I’m sorry, so…my birthday party has been bumped up because Rebecca had to work?”
I just wasn’t seeing the logic here.
“Well, she really wanted to be here for-”
“But I’m not understanding. So, does that mean the day just goes on like it’s unimportant because Becca says so or what? I mean, you didn’t even tell me happy birthday because you were rushing me out the house.”
I didn’t mean to sound spoiled and to be honest I didn’t think it was too much to at least get a happy birthday from my own father. Jack, the guy I was cheating on, did more in a few hours than my father was doing all a day.
He sighed, bowing his head. “It’s not like that, bud. It’s just that Rebecca is a part of this family too.”
“But what does that have to do with today? I didn’t even ask for anything. At all. I didn’t want gifts or a fancy dinner I just wanted to spend my birthday with my father.”
Judging by his attire I didn’t think I’d be doing that either.
“That’s something else I wanted to talk to you about. I won’t be home tonight. Rebecca needs me at her business dinner tonight.”
Before I could say something that would no doubt get me grounded again. I just shook my head and shrugged. It was always going to be Rebecca now.
“Sometimes I wish…”
No, that thought was cruel. My father wouldn’t be able to live with himself if I even muttered what I wanted to say. “I’m going to my room.”
“I’ll be leaving soon, alright? I just need to finish getting ready.” He had stood up and began to walk to his room, though stopped in the doorway. “And Layla? Happy Birthday.”
I mumbled a thanks then went to my room where I could write in private.

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty
“So…they did nothing?” Jack asked as we walked to lunch.
I shrugged. “Not even when they got home.”
“And you were awake right?” He just couldn’t believe they would do nothing for my birthday. That didn’t even sound like my father.
“Yup,” I said popping the p on the end, again shrugging. “Sitting in the living room eating the leftover chicken from the night before.”
He just shook his head.
But it seriously wasn’t a big deal anymore. I had gotten all my screaming rage out about an hour after my father had left. There was no use in crying over something that I couldn’t help. I wasn’t the number one woman in my father’s life any more. I hated it but that just meant I’d have to change things about myself. No more depending on my father to do things for me.
Last night was an eye opener for me. I needed to be more independent. I was eighteen after all I needed my own life.
“I just can’t believe-”
“Well, believe it.” I snapped, though didn’t really mean to. It wasn’t his fault my father hadn’t done anything. He was the only one who actually went all out.
Which made me think about my and Devin’s conversation yesterday. It wasn’t so odd that he wanted to do something for me since he loved me. It actually made sense even if I hadn’t thought about it. Jack loved me so he did something, Devin loved me so he was planning something, my father loved me...
“Aren’t you glad you have me?” Jack asked wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
“Ecstatic.” I half smiled.
I hadn’t told Marina about what happened in second period, though she kept asking. Apparently she was supposed to attend the party and knew earlier that it was going to be canceled. I wished my father would have let me in on it so I could have at least made other plans. But Marina had given me my gift, an ipod she’d gotten off ebay for a little less than nothing because of a penny auction, and I hugged her like five times. I would use it when Murphy had us running laps, or in the car, or hell anywhere. I was just glad I finally had one that actually worked.
Just like Jack, Devin wasn’t too pleased with my parents at the moment either. He couldn’t see the logic in their moving my birthday because Rebecca had an important meeting to attend to.
“It just seems like they would have tried to reschedule or something. I’ve been to some of Rebecca’s meetings, actually with her. So I know they give her weeks of advanced notice.”
“Wait, so…you think she did this on purpose?” I asked watching him as he straightened some of the desk.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. Something could have come up last minute that made her have to reschedule. I’m just saying there was no need for your father to attend.”
I looked at my hands that were placed in my lap, then put them on the desk as I shook my head.
“Don’t even worry about it, love. You know that you’re father loves you. He doesn’t have to say it every day or on your birthday for you to know that. Besides, you’ve got me. And I tell you constantly how much I’m in love with you.”
Yeah, but that wasn’t the same as hearing it from my father. He didn’t have to say it every day but I did want him to at least acknowledge my existence. Since Rebecca had shown up I felt like we were competing for my father’s attention which was something I didn’t like to do. She was the new woman in his life. He had no blood ties to her. The only reason he fell for her good looks was because he of the death of my mother. He was still going through shock at the time. We both were.
When I didn’t answer Devin, he came to stand in front of me.
“Layla, don’t worry about them. Don’t give them a second thought. They are idiots if they can’t see that they hurt you.
“He’s still my dad, Devin.” I wasn’t trying to mope, I promise. I just felt…hurt. It was the first time my father hadn’t done anything for my birthday.
“Meet me at the docks tomorrow night,” He said cupping my face. “You need a vacation from all of this. I’m going to take you somewhere special for your birthday, alright? Somewhere where it’s just the two of us. Where we can go anywhere you want and you don’t have to worry.”
“You don’t-”
He gave me a stern look before I could finish my sentence. “You will let me do what I have had for weeks, Layla.”
I smiled and nodded meekly. “Yes, sir.”
“And be prepared to stay the weekend. So…you know. Come up with something to tell your parents.”
“Where are we going?”
“I can’t tell you, it’s a surprise. And then there’s another surprise when we get there.”
I nodded not wanting to ask any more questions so I wouldn’t ruin what he had planned.
“Would you like to see one of your surprises now?”
I nodded noticing his raised eyebrows. He was doing his best to hold back his smile so I knew he was excited about whatever it was. Biting my lower lip, I waited as he went to the other side of his desk and retrieved a little, worn blue box.
“Oh, God. You didn’t.” I mumbled before I could stop myself.
He rolled his eye and said, “Don’t freak out.”
“So…it’s not a-”
“Oh, no, it’s definitely a ring.” His dazzling smile spread across his face as he lifted the lid revealing a gorgeous diamond ring.
Over a dozen tiny diamonds circled a larger one in the center as they sat on a silver band. The diamond in the middle was possibly three times the size of the fourteen surrounding it causing them to look like petals on a daisy. A very sparkly, diamond covered daisy.
I was speechless, which judging by the sly look on his face was exactly what this ring was supposed to do.
“It’s beautiful.” My voice was barely audible but with him being so close, I didn’t have to worry about him not hearing me.
“It was my grandmothers. She passed it down to my father who then gave it to my mother who passed it on to me so I could give it to you.”
My smile dimmed a bit. His mother didn’t give this ring to him so he could give it to some teenage girl he barely knew for a little less than four months. She’d given him this ring hoping he’d fall for a woman who he’d known for a while. A woman who he could actually get married to in a big fancy church with all of their closest family and friends watching.
“I can’t accept this.” I croaked out. “It doesn’t belong…I just wouldn’t feel right accepting this.”
He took it from the box and slipped it onto my ring finger delicately. It accentuated my finger beautiful, almost making me reconsider my thoughts. Almost.
“You can and it does.” He told me cupping my chin. “I don’t think you’re understanding me, Layla. I’m not going to leave you. We are not your parents. I don’t know what happened when your mother passed but I’m not her, if you can’t already tell. I’m certain, and I can’t make any promise, but I know I would never leave you willingly. I think I started falling for you the first time I saw you.”
This time his smile dimmed for a fraction of a second and I could see that emotion reappearing in his eyes again.
“What’s wrong?” I asked slipping the ring off.
He took it from my hand, placed it back inside it delicate case and mumbled a nothing. He wouldn’t even look at me as he took my hands within his and stroked my wrists.
“I know that’s a lie.”
The half smile I liked reappeared on his face as I cocked my head to the side and pursed my lips.
“No, really,” he said kissing my forehead. “It’s nothing. But…shouldn’t you be getting home? We don’t want to worry your father.”
Now I really knew something was up. He was never concerned with my father’s worries. That was always my job.
But I didn’t push him on it for fear he’d snap and shut me down. Instead I kissed him deeply before leaving.
I wouldn’t say I was dreading going but I sure as hell wasn’t liking it. The only thing I was really looking forward to now was the weekend. Tomorrow night to be exact. I wasn’t sure what Devin was planning but was sure I’d like whatever it was. I found that just being around him made my day a bit brighter.
That feeling didn’t wear off even as I had made it home and realized that only Rebecca was there, fixing herself something to eat.
Yes, herself. Not dinner for the whole family or even just for her husband who had to be on his way home sometime soon. I didn’t blame her though. She wasn’t really a cooker. She was more of a privileged girl when it came to things around the house. Cleaning and dishes were normally things I did since my mother had passed.
I didn’t speak to her when I got home and I didn’t expect her to either, so I headed straight up to my room.

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-One
I watched as the dark trees blurred together outside of my passenger window. The highway had gotten extremely dark since the sun had set a couple of hours ago making it hard for me to see what was outside my window.
Though I didn’t mind. I didn’t need to see what was outside to know that I was safe with Devin. I wasn’t concerned with if he was taking me away to marry me against my will or if I refused him, to cut my head off and bury me where no one could find me.
Okay, so I had watched a scary movie last night and that happened to the girl. I wasn’t scared. Okay, so I was a little scared. But that wasn’t the point. My point was that I wasn’t scared that Devin would hurt me and I liked that. He was trying to give me a weekend away from all the issues at home.
But just because Devin was taking me away from the problems at home didn’t mean that I could stop thinking about them. I’d still be moving away from the man that I loved, Miller still needed to be dealt with and Jack, oh god I needed to find away to break it off with Jack before he asked me for a quickie under the bleachers again.
Miller needed to be dealt with because if he did anything else to me I was certain Devin would snap. Which was why I’d kept his latest act to myself. Devin didn’t need to know that Miller had made a vulgar gesture towards me at lunch with a room full people who could have seen him. I knew he’d flip his lid if he found out.
Not to mention the fact that my father had brought home boxes from different warehouses today so we could start packing things away. The only thing that made up for him bringing the empty boxes was him bringing home one that held a laptop. He had apologized for not being able to do anything the day of my birthday or the one after. He had been busy with things he didn’t want to worry be about. But he didn’t want me to feel like he didn’t care or that he didn’t have anything planned because he did. Other things just got in the way.
“What are you thinking about?” Devin asked placing a hand on my thigh.
I turned my head in his direction, giving him a half smile, and shrugged. “Nothing in particular. Why?”
“Just wondering why you had suddenly gone quiet on me.”
I had forgotten what we had been discussing in the first place.
“Are you alright?” He asked concern leaking through his voice.
“Yeah, just wondering when we’re going to get to wherever you’re taking me. We’ve been driving for hours.”
I could see the silhouette of his head shake as he laughed in the darkness confined in the car. “No, we have only been driving for about two hours. We should be there in maybe another hour, hour and a half.”
“Do you mind telling me where you’re taking me?”
He thought about it for a moment and when he finally spoke he sounded serene. “I’m taking you to my parent’s home town.”
“I’m sorry, what? You’re taking me to meet your parents?”
“Oh God no.” He laughed. “That wouldn’t be very romantic. But you’ll see when we get there. I think you’ll love it.”
“What’s there?”
He looked over at me once more though I couldn’t see his face. “You’ll see, but in the mean time why don’t you find something to listen to on the radio to pass the time.”
As I turned on the radio on Devin removed his hand from my thigh and placed it back on the wheel. When I found a station that played classical music, I stopped and rested back into my seat.
“You like classical music?” He asked a bit surprised.
“Yeah, it calms me down.” I shrugged, knowing he couldn’t see me. “It helps me to clear my mind.”
“What are you trying to clear?” He sounded truly concerned.
“You know the usual.”
He didn’t say anything for a long while after that and I tried my best not to let the soothing music lull me to sleep.
“Layla, love, wake up we’re here,” Devin said nudging me.
“I swear, I only meant to close my eyes for a minute.” I mumbled, groaning a bit.
“I know. You said that before you nodded off.”
As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I noticed that we were still driving on a road surrounded by trees. There was no house in sight as we drove around curve after curve then finally, after about the fifth curve, a large cabin type home came into view.
There seemed to be maybe two or three floors with large bay windows on the front of the home. I leaned forward in my seat, jaw hanging agape, and mumbled a whoa.
“Nice right?” He asked pulling up in front of the large log cabin.
“Where are we?”
“Salina, Kansas. Birthplace of Robert Simmons and Caitlyn Marie Brewer. My parents.”
“You were born here?” I asked exiting the car with him.
He shook his head while he went to go retrieve our bags from the trunk. “No, I was born in Colorado but my parents raised me here. Well, not in this house, this is just where we’d vacation.”
I nodded.
He led me inside the house and the interior was just as gorgeous as the outside. Oak flooring led from the front door to an even larger room, though it wasn’t a living room. It was more of stopping place for people to look at the artwork and family portraits on the walls. I recognized some of the work as Devin’s just by the abnormal brushstrokes.
Some of the family pictures were large and sophisticated, meaning the people in them looked strong and sophisticated. There was a older man in a black striped suit with a round face and a belly to match. His short hair was going grey around the edges of his face and bald at very top. The woman at his side wore an elegant red dress that matched her husband’s plain tie, accentuating her very slender and frail form. Her body looked sick compared to her face and long blondish brown hair, which made her look very young. He hand rested upon the shoulder of a young girl, maybe a year or two older than me, who’s arched eyebrows and supple scowl made me think she wasn’t too pleased with the red and green paisley dress she was wearing. She was a splitting image of the woman behind her, blond hair darker by a few shades, fewer worry lines above her brows and a perkier nose rested above naturally rosy lips. The man standing next to her resembled Devin very closely but seemed to be much older with shorter dusty brown hair. Even the half smile resembled the one Devin had been giving me lately. But I knew that wasn’t him. The last person in the picture was Devin. He wore no smile at all, with tense shoulders, and crossed arms. He, just like the man standing next to him, wore matching black suits with green ties.
“These are your siblings?” I asked after he came back into the room. I hadn’t noticed where he had gone with our bags while I studied the different pictures on the walls. The walls in this room, too, were oak or of some type of wood. “I thought you were an only child?”
“Yeah, that’s what I normally tell people.” When I gave him a shocked and confused look he went on to explain. “I don’t need people’s sympathy, Layla. Especially in my line of business. I wanted people to like my work because I was talented not because they heard most of my family died of stokes.”
“I don’t think they would have done that,” I told him taking hold of his hand. “Your work is beautiful, abnormal. I think they would have bought it for those reasons alone.”
“Yes, if only that were true.” He mumbled.
I wandered what that meant but before I could ask, he was taking me into his arms.
“You like the house? It’s been in the family for decades, but it has been update to code and for luxury. We can have the house setting on fire now can we?”
I shook my head a bit distracted at both out closeness and my suddenly full bladder. Knowing my bladder would win out eventually I asked him where the restroom was.
“Again? Do you realize we had to stop five time so you could…”
Seeing the stern, questioning look on my face made his words slow.
“All I’m saying is, that’s a lot of pee for someone…okay, um, there’s one right down that hall. It’s on the left.”
“Thank you,” I said placing a quick kiss on his lips. “And to be honest, you’re the one who got me the soda on the way up here, knowing that it was like a three to four hour trip.”
I heard him mumble something as I walked off but I couldn’t make it out.
When I finished in the bathroom, Devin wasn’t standing in the parlor anymore, but sat in a lavish living room.
“Waiting on me?” I asked leaning against the wall.
“Actually yes, I am. Are you hungry?”
It was around eight thirty at night but since I had told my father I’d eat at Marina’s before we left for the three day writers conference in Pierce City, Missouri I was definitely ready for dinner.
“Yeah, I could eat.” I shrugged. “What did you have in mind?”
“It’s your birthday weekend so it’s whatever you want.” He came to stand in front of me.
“How about we order pizza?” I asked fidgeting with the tattered sleeves of my pullover. “That way you can explain to me more about why you don’t want people to know about your family.”
He sighed but I remembered him telling me a few days ago that he would explain what had been going on with him. And I had a feeling that this was it.
“Alight, if that’s what you want.”
“That’s what you promised.” I smiled meekly.
He nodded. “I did promise didn’t I?”
Now I nodded.
“Alright, okay. I will…order the pizza and then we can talk. In the mean time, why don’t you go get comfortable.”
When he pulled his keys from his pocket I asked where he was going, which caused him to smile. “None of the pizza places around here deliver out here. They can never find it. I’ll have to go get it.”
“Oh, can…I come with? I sort of watched this movie last night and it freaked me out. I don’t want to be in this big house alone.”
“No one comes up here, love. It’s a private estate.”
I nodded not really liking it. “Is there cable?”
“There should be, but it may not be on until tomorrow.”
“Connected with the cable. Sorry, you can check but I doubt either will be on.”
My face must have shown that I wasn’t too happy about that because he went on to explain. “Well, to be honest I didn’t think we’d be doing a lot of watching television. Not because of that. I just figured we’d be talking for most of the weekend or out in public doing…well, anything.”
I thought about it for a moment and figured that that made sense. We hadn’t been really going anywhere back home because we couldn’t be seen out in public, but here…
“Okay.” I smiled. “That sounds good to me.”
He then kissed me once more before he headed out the door.
As soon as he left, I dashed to find my bag. I’d packed my new iPod and since there probably wouldn’t be any television until tomorrow I really needed some background noise so I wouldn’t freak myself out.
I wasn’t sure how long Devin was gone but after about an album and a half of rock music he came sneaking in and interrupting my wild dancing and singing session.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.” He smiled.
My grin matched his after I realized it was him and not a mass murderer. The smell of pizza filled my nose but I wasn’t sure what kind. I didn’t remember telling him what kind I wanted, I just trusted him to get it right.
He led the way to the kitchen area, which I hadn’t discovered because I didn’t want to be a snoop. Okay, I didn’t discover it because the rest of the house was dark and the wood creaked when I tried to move to another room. So, I had decided it was best to stay in the living area.
“Have you thought about my offer any?” Devin asked after putting down plates for the both of us.
“What offer?” I opened the box of pizza and saw that it was half pepperoni and half cheese. He knew me so well.
“Well, I just thought it was nice coming home to my wife, putting dinner on the table, and you know it made me think about my offer. Have you thought about it any?”
“Actually, I’ve already told you my answer.”
“Actually, no you haven’t. You basically said in a fantasy world yes you would marry me. But in the real world no. You wouldn’t.”
“No, not that I wouldn’t. I can’t,” I said around a mouthful of cheese pizza. “Besides, we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you. That’s one reason why I can’t. I want to, I just don’t know enough about you. And I really don’t feel you know enough about me.”
“What more do you need to know besides the fact that I love you?” He asked looking down at the pizza he hadn’t even take a bite out of.
I gave a hard laugh. “One, that is a very naïve way of thinking and two, how about what happened with your family? Why you don’t tell people about them?”
He sighed and, after taking a small bite of pepperoni pizza, began to explain to me what happened between him and his family.
“My sister died right before my father and he acted like he didn’t even care.”
I stared at him for a moment. There had to be more to the story than that. And there was.
“At a very early age my sister developed CML, Chronic myelogenous leukemia. It’s very rare in children but…my sister just had that type of luck, you know? She was always…accident prone when she was a child, never really grew out of it. Anyway, my father…he wasn’t a kind man. Instead of spending his money on treatments for Rosie he’d spend it on alcohol and strippers. He would come home from work and beat the crap out of my mother right in front of us then leave and wouldn’t come home until all hours of the night. He was an alcoholic, reeking of both the beer and women he’d just come from and still my mother wouldn’t leave him. The only reason my sister got the treatments she needed was because of my grandparents. They would take us here so we could get away from my father. They were willing to help their daughter in any way they could despite her decision to marry this man. I think the only reason they married was the fact she was pregnant with my older brother Carter.
Carter was always the glue in my father and my relationship. After my sister was diagnosed it became my mission to help and protect her in any way I could, even if I was just three years older than her. She was my baby sister and seeing her suffer was torture for me. For everyone. The sickness receded for a while when she was nine, but not for long.
I’m not sure if it was the stress of my sisters condition or the fact that he had been abusing his body for so long, but my father had his first heart attack at thirty seven. After that, claiming he saw Jesus and he wanted him to put all his money into nursing homes, he seemed like a completely changed man. Well, besides the fact he was still smoking like a chimney and drinking like fish. But he did it. He basically turned his life around, opened a chain of nursing homes after miraculously getting a loan from the bank, and after that we moved up in the world. But then Rosie got sicker and my parents let her do anything she wanted because of that reason. She wanted to go to Paris, okay done. She wanted to open up a foundation for people with incurable illnesses. Done. Then came the request that we didn’t too much care for.
She wanted a boyfriend. She just wanted to be normal like the girls she saw out in public. And this new guy she found seemed to make her happy. He was sweet to her at first, but then, after a few months, he left her. He had sex with her, then left her. She was devastated. All the happiness we had seen in those few months was gone and she went back to being extremely ill. She didn’t want to get out of bed, she would barely speak and it was all because of this one guy.”
He sighed not seeming to want to go on, but eventually he did.
“My brother and I…we found this guy and beat him within an inch of his life.”
I sat back in my seat, in awe and a little bit of shock. Was he serious? Did he actually do this to a person. I mean I understood that he was angry and yes the guy deserved it but he shouldn’t have done that he could’ve-
“He sued us. He wanted money from my father’s business and wanted us to see jail time.”
“Oh god, what happened?”
He looked at my empty plate and the pizza box that only had a few more slices left. Standing, he took both of our dishes and put them in the sink. When he came back for the pizza box he continued.
“My brother took the fall. It was the guys words against ours and since he had multiple broken ribs, a hair line fracture, and a broken arm, there really wasn’t much we could do. But my brother wouldn’t let me take the fall. I was nineteen. They would have trialed me as an adult and I would have gotten five years in prison. He took the sentence and I’m sure he’s still there. I’ve lost touch with him. He won’t talk to me since I-”
He broke off, looking at me for a moment. “I told him something that I had done since then and he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
“Well, what was it?” I asked going to the sink to help him dry the dishes.
“It’s…not important what I did. I’m not doing it anymore which is the important part.” He gave me a small smile and I could see that emotion in his eyes again. It was almost like hurt but not quite. “During those four months my sister was seeing that guy my father had three heart attacks. During my brothers trial he had another two. He got frail looking. The doctors said he didn’t have much longer and to be honest I was happy about it. I wanted him to die. Because even though he was paying for my sisters treatments and giving her all the material things she wanted, he was never really there for her. He never really cared for her. She died that Christmas a few days after we took the picture in the parlor room. It was the last Christmas we all had together. She was only seventeen but my father acted as if she were an old woman dying of old age. He didn’t show any emotion when she died. So I showed no emotion when he died about half a year later.”
“That’s horrible.” I took hold of his hand and he closed his eyes.
“It’s really not. I just…it’s fine.” He dried his hands on a towel. “I just don’t really like to talk about it to people. You’re actually the first person I’ve told.”
“Well, I’m glad you told me. Now I know.”
“So…does this affect your decision?” His eyes looked torn, as if he was really hoping it didn’t.
But it did. All I wanted was to know more about him, regardless if it was good or bad. It turns out that it was a little bad but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. With the way he had been threatening Miller I thought he had actually killed someone before. But hurting someone because they hurt his sister? Okay, so that was really bad, but I mean, I couldn’t judge. It was a part of his past he wasn’t too proud of and he admitted that. He was being truthful.
“Yeah, it does, but not in the way you think,” I told him. “I just wanted to know a bit more about the guy I with. That’s all. You could have told me this sooner and my answer would still be the same. Yes, I want to marry you but I just…I just don’t see how it will be possible. We can’t explain to people how we know so much about each other to want to get married. They would know too much. But the answer was always yes, regardless of your past.”
He looked pleased as he brought his face down to mine and gently kissed my forehead.
“But now that you know my secrets,” he said cupping my face. “Would you mind telling me yours?”
I pulled away from him and looked down at my feet. “I don’t have any secrets.”
“Are you cold?” He asked.
I hadn’t noticed that I was shivering and until he said something. I had been pretty cold during his story but I didn’t want to interrupt him. So I shrugged and mumbled a yeah.
He took my hand and led me out of the kitchen and to the bedroom where our bags were.
“Sit, get comfortable. I’ll go turn up the heat. It gets really cold here at night. Especially in the winter.”
While he was gone, I took my shoes off and sat on the bed, fiddling with my fingertips.
When he came back he took in my nervous posture and sighed.
“Rebecca’s told me a lot about you and you’re father,” he said as he sat next to me. “She told me a lot about you but I know some of the things she told me can’t be true. For one you are not the rude bitch she said you were. You are one of the most polite people I have ever met. Even when people are rude to you, you don’t really let it affect you.”
I shrugged. “My mother taught me that no matter what people do don’t let it define who you are.”
He looked at the red comforter we sat on. “She also told me about what happened with your mother. Is it true? How she died?”
I didn’t like talking about my mother that way. I chose to remember her as a vibrant woman not the shell she became. But we needed to be honest with each other for this relationship to work. I couldn’t just tell him the same lie my father and I told everyone else.
“If she told you that she died of cancer yes, that it was a drunk driver that hit her…no. My mother was a very bright woman. She was always smiling, adventurous…and spontaneous. But when she got the brain tumor she became empty. I could see it in her eyes you know.”
“Do you know how she got it?”
“I..I don’t really remember because I was ten at the time. The doctors were using a lot of big words I didn’t understand. All I know is that it could possibly be hereditary.”
I nodded slowly. “I get checked out every few months. What my mother was diagnosed with was Ependymomas. It generally only occurs in children and people around my age but it’s like you said about your sister, my mother had that type of luck.” I tried to smile but I knew it came across as a grimace. “When she first got it she often joked about the tumor choosing her because she was still a child at heart. She didn’t do much joking when it started to affect her. After about a year she started to change, her mind seemed to just…I don’t know how to describe it. She just wasn’t herself anymore. She didn’t smile and when she did it was a bit creepy. When the growth started to appear…I guess she sort of freaked.
About a week later my mother came into my room and told me to get dress. She told me we were going to the store to pick up milk. I thought it was a bit odd because my mother didn’t really go out anymore. It wasn’t recommended for someone in her deteriorating position, you know, with the tumor spreading faster to her spinal cord. I remember noticing the dull look in her eyes before we left but I…I didn’t stop her. I didn’t know. We hadn’t been driving ten minutes when she looked over at me and smiled. And it wasn’t one of her new creepy smiles it was the one I liked from before she got sick. She told me…she told me she loved me, unbuckled her seatbelt, and wrapped our car around a light pole.”
Devin flinched at my words then wrapped his arms around me. “I’m so sorry, Layla.”
I inhaled his scent and it calmed me a bit. I’d only ever told this story to Marina and even then I cried. But being with Devin kept me calm. Feeling his strong arms around me made me push on with the story.
“I remember waking up in the car but I wasn’t hurt. But my mom, she was…she was gone. My father and I don’t tell people she killed herself. We just say it was a drunk driver. No one ever really questions it once they find out it was a drunk driver.”
“Rebecca doesn’t know, does she?” He pulled away from me and stoked my cheek.
I shook my head. “No, my father didn’t want to worry her with the details.”
“But she knows about the tumor.”
It wasn’t a question but I answered anyway. “Yeah, she knows my mother was diagnosed with a tumor. Rebecca is the one that takes me to my appointments every three months so I can get my birth control shots and to get my brain x-rayed.”
“I bet she just loves that.” He was being sarcastic and I knew it.
“No, no she does not. She doesn’t see the point in it. If I haven’t gotten it yet, what are the chances of me getting it in the future.”
“Don’t stop getting tested.” He told me. He brushed his nose against my in a gentle Eskimo kiss. “I love you.”
“Stop worrying. The odds of me getting a tumor are very slim.”
He kissed me deeply then pulled away. “I would be very upset if you did, but I would love you regardless.”
“Even if I went crazy and tried to kill myself.” I looked down at his hands on mine.
“You wouldn’t do that. You’re stronger than that.”
“I thought my mother was strong.”
He took my face in his hands. “She was not. She was not sane if she thought it was a good idea for her daughter to witness her suicide. You are not your mother.”
Then recognition lit his features. “You aren’t worried about me leaving, are you? You’re worried about you. You think this whole tumor thing would get in the way of us being together but it won’t. You will not be like your mother, you will not go crazy, and you will not get a tumor. You won’t. I love you, Layla. I wouldn’t let that happen.”
“My father loved my mother and look what happened.”
“Is that what you meant a couple of days ago? Layla, love, I don’t see how you’re connecting us with your parents. So you may get a tumor. There’s no guarantee that you will. You can’t live your life afraid to love people, Layla. You just can’t.”
He then kissed me deeply, this time laying me back onto the bed. His hand ran from my neck down the curve of my body and rested on my hip while the other rested behind my neck. Our mouths were moving hot and fast, leaving me a bit breathless. He nipped at my bottom lip and I couldn’t help the smile that formed on mine.
As he pulled back he removed his shirt and I quickly did the same. He stared down at me like he was really seeing me for the first time. I hadn’t been sure what was going to happen this weekend but I had hoped it would be more of this. Which was why I wore and packed my cutest lacy under garments.
When he tried to kiss me again I told him to wait as I slipped into something I was sure he’d liked. He smiled and let me take my luggage to the bathroom.
It was a little something I’d picked up for my birthday and since this was technically my birthday weekend I figured it would be a perfect time to wear it. The lace clung to my body in a very sexy way. It was extremely short, barely covering my bare bottom.
After I freshened up I went back to Devin who wore a shocked and amused expression at my entrance.
“Good lord.” He mumbled.
I smiled triumphantly running back to bed because my bare feet were cold on the wood floor. He let out a laugh as I slid under the cover in a not so graceful motion.
“You are magnificently beautiful, Layla,” he said running his fingertips down my body.
He then gave a gently squeeze to my bottom as he nestled his face into my bosom, causing me to giggle uncontrollably.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Two
I gazed out at the lake. The rising sun shimmered against the surface like amazing crystals trying to catch one’s attention while the tall trees tried their best to hide this beautiful scene.
But hiding was something I didn’t have to worry about this weekend and I loved it. Yeah, the ride here was long but no one knew who I was which meant more freedom.
Devin and I could go out in public without having to be afraid someone would see us or be afraid that he’d get locked away. I think I liked that the most. Though he had told me there were more surprises on the way.
I could hear the soft footsteps of someone coming up behind me on the dock. I already knew who it was since we were the only two here. Plus it was like six in the morning. So I didn’t turn around, letting him slid his hands around my waist and brush his lips against my neck. I let out a small moan and he smiled behind the kiss.
“Good morning,” I said holding back my own smile.
“Morning, beautiful. Why are you up so early?”
I shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep.”
“I don’t see how.” I could feel his body shake with silent laughter as a light blush overtook my skin.
“Last night was wonderful.” It really was. We hadn’t actually gone to sleep until like three in the morning.
“This morning could be, too.” He turned me around. “Come back to bed.”
I smiled and let him take me back to the house.
I climbed out of bed in a little pain but I didn’t mind. Devin’s hand slid down my back as I stood, leaving flesh bumps. I slipped on his t-shirt and went to the bathroom to freshen up.
When I came out he was sitting up, waiting for me to exit. He smiled.
“We have a busy day ahead of us,” he said opening his arms.
I smiled as I went to go sit in his lap. “My surprise?”
He nodded. “So I need you to run a few errands for me.”
I raised an eyebrow. This was supposed to be my birthday weekend and he wanted me to run errands?
“It’s just to get you out of the house. And they’re not really errands. I just want you to get out and have a little fun.”
“Are you sure? I mean, I could help out here if you want.”
He gave me stern yet playful look. “Get dressed.”
“Hmm, yes sir,” I said straddling him.
He moaned as I slid off him, wiggling my hips as I did so. I could tell by his eyes he wanted me to stay but I knew he needed me out the house so I stopped teasing him and got dressed. The weather here was warmer than back home so I dressed casually. Blue jean shorts and a tank top.
“You look beautiful as always.” He commented as I entered the kitchen. “Are you hungry?”
“A little.” I shrugged, trying to force my blush down.
We both knew exactly why we were both so hungry. Sex could take a lot out of a person and to have it all night long was…exhausting.
He smiled. “Sit. I’ll make you breakfast before you go.”
I nodded and sat at the table.
“So, what do you want me to do today?”
“Hmm, look around town. Go to the beach. See a movie. I don’t really care, just be back by eight. That’s when everything will be-”
I smiled as he broke off. He was just about to tell me the surprise.
“You know what?” He asked as he searched for something on the counter. His wallet. “Go out, get something to eat.”
“Because you’re a temptress and you’re going to get me to spill everything if I’m not careful.”
I pouted. “But-”
“No buts.” He smiled. “I want this to be special.”
Aw, he was really trying. Though it didn’t surprise me. That’s just the way he was. He knew with everything going on back home I needed a break from the constant drama. Well, we both did. I in particular had been cranky lately and I wasn’t sure why.
“Okay. I’ll go.” I nodded.
He handed me a credit card. “Buy a dress, too.”
His stern stare made me close my mouth and nod.
“Good, now get out.”
I sulked off.
“Layla?” I turned. “I mean that in the most loving way.”
I rolled my eyes playfully and left.
After I got a breakfast croissant, I headed to the mall. Though, really didn’t know where the mall was so had to call Devin around a mouthful of food and get directions. I didn’t really know my way around this place so I found myself driving really slowly. Especially coming from the house. All the twist and turns had me questioning if I was even going the right way into town.
When I finally found the mall I went to find my dress. The mall was hu-freaking-mongous. It was like two floors and it had a freaking movie theater. How awesome was that?
So instead of dress shopping first I saw a movie. It was filled with action and blood and gore. Needless to say it was pretty awesome. After the movie was over I actually shopped. I bought a new pair of jeans since the ones I had were getting a little tight. I was going to have to go on a diet soon or something was going to have to give. My skinny jeans made me look pudgy and all my regular jeans that were comfortable were now not. So, yeah, a diet was definitely in order for me.
Next was the dress, which I didn’t really want to shop for. I wasn’t really a dress type of girl. Yes, I’d worn dresses and skirts before and had been told I looked good in them but I was more of a jeans or sweats with flip-flops sort of girl.
This meant I needed a little help picking one out. The saleswoman was very polite when I asked for some assistance and helped me into and out of many dresses. Some were long and elegant while some looked as if they should have been in a rap music video. Those were definitely out, though I thought Devin would get a kick out of those since he’d like what I had on last night.
She then helped me into a silk dress that pooled onto the floor a bit and shimmered purple. When I came out she gasped.
After she zipped me up the dressed clung to my body though covered a lot of me. It was sleeveless and had a turtle neck that made my neck look longer. The dark purple went very well against my skin tone it was long enough to make my body look long even though I was five foot three. The bottom flared out a bit but was not too prom dressy. It also made my breast look larger than they already were and my stomach…
“God, I’m getting fat.” I worried as clutched the small bulge.
“Please,” the woman said placing her hands on her hips. I couldn’t tell where she was from but her accent sounded a bit French. “You’re just a bit pudgy, you’ll lose it quickly.”
I looked at her skeptically but her reassuring gaze made me feel a little better.
“You look fantastic. Devin will love it.”
I looked at her quickly and tried to hide my worried expression.
“How do you know about me and Devin?”
She looked confused. “Well, word spreads a bit, love. We may live in the city but everybody still knows everybody.”
Right, we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Or rather, we weren’t in our small town anymore. We didn’t have to hide. Though I wondered how Devin would feel that the whole town knew he was back and with me.
“Plus,” she added. “Devin and I used to go out, so when I heard he was back in town I figured I’d swing by on my break.”
My jaw almost dropped. “And you are?”
“Oh, my name is Anna. Oh, I’m sorry, he didn’t tell you did he? I’m such a blabber mouth. It’s not that big a deal anymore. Promise. I just wanted to stop by and say hello to an old friend.”
I nodded. “Well, I’ll tell him you said hello.”
“Oh, no need. I’ll just go on my break. Which is…in a few minutes actually.”
Again, I nodded. “Um, can you help me out of this dress?”
“So you like, no?”
“Yes, I love.” I tried my best to smile though my stomach felt like it was in knots. “Do you have a restroom?” I was suddenly feeling very dizzy.
“Yes, it’s right through there.” She pointed towards the back of the fancy store. “Are you alright?”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Yes. Just a little, um..dizzy.”
I quickly removed the dress and after she gave me a silken pink robe to put on, I walked to the back of the store and found the restroom. I rushed to an empty stall and violently tossed my breakfast into the toilet.
When I was sure I was done I went to the sink and rinsed my mouth out. As I looked at my pale form in the mirror I noticed the name scribbled in dark pink across my right breast.
Anna’s Fashion Boutique.
She freaking owned the store. I nearly vomited again.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Three
When I first saw Devin I could tell something was bothering him. I didn’t confront him on it because I knew he wanted this night to be special.
And it was special. Dozens of candles illuminated the spacious living room, making it seem a lot more romantic. The furniture was moved to make room for the large fuzzy black blanket. He motioned for me to sit and I hesitated.
“I can’t believe you did all of this.”
“Believe it. “ He smiled. “Come, sit.”
“Uh, let me change first.” I jiggled the bag I was carrying.
He nodded and let me go change into my dress.
When I came out he was carrying a platter of food and nearly dropped it at the sight of me. “Whoa.”
“You like it?” That was a silly question. The way he was ogling me was a clear sign that he liked what he saw. The bulge in his pants was a bonus too.
He was too stunned to talk so he nodded instead.
“Put your tongue back in your mouth and come sit with me.” I laughed. Guys.
He quickly did as I asked, setting the platter down in the middle of the buffet.
“You look…ravishing.” I smiled. “That dress is beautiful on you, Layla.”
“Thank you.” I pulled my hair behind my ears to keep it from shielding my face.
The dinner looked and smelt fantastic.
After we ate the main course he brought out the dessert. Strawberries and whip cream.
I smiled at his creativeness.
“This is nice, isn’t it?” He asked placing a strawberry in my mouth.
I nodded.
“You know I love you right?”
I swallowed and placed a strawberry in his. “Yes, and I love you.”
He pulled me into his lap and I relaxed into the shape of his body. I loved how we fit together, like two perfect puzzle pieces.
He placed a hand on my stomach. “And you can tell me anything. You know that right? Even if you think I wouldn’t want to know?”
“Yes,” I said looking up at him. “Are you okay?”
“Are you?” I wasn’t sure but it almost sounded as if he was accusing me of something.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I shrugged.
It was a moment before he said anything. He just drew random patterns in the dress on my stomach.
“Is there…something you want to tell me?” Again he was pushing, like willing me to tell him something. I would if I knew what it was he wanted me to say.
“I don’t think so. I saw a movie today and then got my dress.” Hell, I’d paid for my new pants with the money my father gave me for my imaginary trip. But his pushiness reminded me. “Is there something you want to tell me? Like a visit from an old friend…”
He hesitated, the hand on my stomach resting too.
“You can tell me.” Hell I already knew she came over, but his hesitation made me worry a bit. “You can tell me anything.”
I didn’t face him for fear my face would give away how I really felt. I worked hard to keep my voice strong.
He sighed. “I did get a visitor today. From an old girlfriend.”
I nodded. “And what happened.” Because clearly something did happen pr else he’d have just spat it out.
“Nothing,” he said quickly. A little too quickly. He sighed. “She told me some things, things that were personal between us. And she mentioned things that were personal between you and me.”
I looked at him confused. “Like?”
“Like…how you seem to be putting on weight and the fact that you threw up today and I’ve noticed it’s not the first time.”
“And what?”
“And, what about it? So I’ve been sick lately and yeah, I’ve put on a pound or two-”
“And you’re defensive.”
“I am not.”
“I’m not trying to start a fight, I’m just saying…”
“Saying what, Devin?” I now sat on the floor.
“It’s more like asking. Are you…are you…pregnant?”
I was too stunned to speak.
“Layla? Are you?”
“God, no!” I hesitated. “I don’t think so. I can’t be.”
“I’m pretty sure you could be, love. You are a woman.”
“I’m not,” I said stubbornly. “Did the slut tell you this before or after you made out?”
I knew what I was saying was petty and untrue but I said it anyway.
“She kissed me, Layla. Not the other way around, I promise.”
“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, my voice was choked and I could feel the tears coming up. “You kissed her?”
“No,” he said trying to take my hand. I snatched it from his grip and stood up. “Layla listen.”
“You kissed her?! When were you going to tell me that part of the story? I mean, I was just pissy ‘cause you called me fat. But you really did kiss her?”
“She kissed me, Layla.” He stood and tried to hold on to me. I refused to let him. “And I pushed her away the instant she did.”
“But you let it happen.” I sighed as the room started to spin a little. “I don’t feel well.”
Again he tried to hold me but I pulled away, tripping over the blanket in the process. I caught myself before I fell and rushed to the bathroom as a terrible sensation rumbled in my stomach.
I met the toilet and expelled the food I’d just eaten.
“Are you okay?” Devin asked from behind the door.
“I’m fine.” I mumbled, though doubted he heard it.
I let the tears run freely as I cried into the bowl. My head was swimming and it felt as if the room was spinning around me. Not only were the creases of my arms beginning to itch but my stomach was doing that painful cramping thing again. I’d only felt like this twice before and I recognized the blackness that came next.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Four
I woke up to the feel of someone lying beside me, arm draped over my bare stomach. I smiled for a moment and inhaled his scent. He smelt of cloves. Then the recent events popped into my mind and I felt like vomiting again. I gently removed his arm. He must have undressed me because I only wore a bra and underwear. I grabbed a t-shirt from his drawer and went to the living-room to sleep on the couch.
When I woke the second time it was to the smell of waffles. I rubbed my nose and groaned.
“Wake up, sleeping beauty.” A familiar voice whispered against my face. The smell of cloves filled my nostrils.
I opened my eyes and saw Devin waving a plate of waffles under my nose.
“Good morning.” He tried his best to smile.
“Go away.” I was still very angry with him.
“Layla, please. Let me explain.”
“Explain how you made out with your ex? I’ll pass.” I pulled the blanket over my head. If he hadn’t been my ride I would have left earlier.
“And don’t think just because you fixed waffles that means I’m going to forgive you.” I didn’t like showing favoritism but waffles supper freaking good.
“Well, there goes that theory.”
I yanked the blanket from my head. “You inconsiderate bastard.”
His smile confused me.
“I was kidded, Layla. I just said that so you’d talk to me. I would never try to bribe you into forgiving me.”
“Whatever.” I sat up and crossed my arms. His eyes lingered on his shirt. “It was the first thing I grabbed.”
“Can I explain, please?” I didn’t say anything. “Please, Layla.”
“There is really nothing to explain.” I turned my head.
“There really is,” he said turning it back. “Nothing happened, Layla. She kissed me and then I pushed her off. I promise. I didn’t even know she was going to be here. Yes, we used to go out but that was it. I didn’t love her like I love you.”
I don’t know why I was so upset about this. It wasn’t like he’d slept with her or hell, that he kissed her. I shouldn’t be upset with him, I should be trying to kill that no good hoe.
When he realized I believed the truth in his words he placed a gentle kiss against my lips.
“I would never lie to you about that, Layla. If I say nothing happened then nothing happened.”
I nodded. “I shouldn’t have been so angry with you. It wasn’t your fault. Hell, she told me she was going to stop by. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming.” Maybe I did. I had gotten nervous and threw up. Then when I found out about the act, threw up again. Any stress made me sick? That didn’t make sense.
“I’ve been truthful with you,” he said sliding his warm hands down my chilled arms. “Now it’s your turn.”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you pregnant?” His eyes bored into mine and for a brief second I saw a glimpse of hope. Did he want a child? Did he want a child with me?
“No.” And just like that it was gone. That glimmer of hope. Gone. “At least I don’t think so. I’ll…I’ll get a test when we get home.”
“Why the wait? Don’t you want to know now?”
Did I? “Do you?”
“Yes,” he said excitedly.
I didn’t think I did. It would be nice to know but a little frightening.
“Why are you so gung-ho about this? Do you seriously think a baby would be a good thing to add to this equation?”
He hesitated. “I guess not.”
“I’m not saying I don’t want a kid when I get older, it’s just…I’m eighteen. A baby is just far down on my list right now.”
“I understand.”
“I mean, I’m going to be a college student in about a year. I just…it’s not on my agenda.”
“That’s fine. I was just asking a question.” He stilled sounded upset. As if I’d crushed something inside of him.
“Look, if it’ll make you feel better, go out and get a test. I’ll pee on a stick for you.”
“Really?” He asked making this goofy face. “You do that for me?”
“If you never make that face again? Then yes, I will.”
He kissed me deeply as he stood and when he pulled back I was a little breathless.
“Thank you.” He placed the plate he held in my hands and went to our room. When he came out a few minutes later he was fully dressed. “I’ll be back.”
“Yup,” I mumbled around a bite of waffles.
It didn’t take him fifteen minute to get back. By that time I was on my second plate of waffles.
“Are you ready?” He asked pushing the small white bag towards me.
I shrugged and stood. “Don’t be upset when it’s negative.”
He nodded, though looked so childlike.
I took the bag and went to the bathroom.
“I don’t know why you’re so set on this.” I yelled through the door. “I’ve had my period this month.”
“Yes, but I know just like you do that you can still have a…visit even if you’re pregnant.”
I smiled as I peed on the small white stick. He was such a guy. How hard was it to say period.
“Whatever.” That’s all I could come up with as I sat the stick down and waited the time it took to process.
It was the longest three minutes of my life. Numerous things began to run through my mind. What if I was pregnant? It had to be Devin’s, I hadn’t had sex with Jack in months. But how would we raise it? How would I tell my father? Did I want to keep it? Devin sure as hell did but could I go through childbirth?
And for a moment, I actually pictured myself pregnant. Holding a miniature Devin in my arms. Of course it was a boy, though I’d never really thought of having a kid I knew it was meant to be a boy. For that one second I saw my future and it seemed fantastic. I wanted it.
Then the timer went off and it was moment of truth time. I held my breath as I took the stick of the counter, careful not to touch the part I’d peed on. There was a moment before I looked at it but when I did, I sighed.
I wasn’t pregnant.
“Well?” He asked through the door.
I closed my eyes and let my head fall. I felt the moisture run down my cheeks before I could control it and I quickly wiped them away. There was no point in crying over something that didn’t want in the first place.
“See,” I said opening the door and showing him the stick. “I told you. Negative. Nothing to worry about.”
I could tell he wasn’t happy with the news but it was better this way.
“Well, I wouldn’t say I was worried. I was actually looking forward to…you know.”
I shrugged. “Well now you don’t.”
“Why are you being so blunt about this?”
“It’s just not a big deal to me, okay?”
“So…being pregnant isn’t a big deal to you?”
“No.” I shook my head. “Not being pregnant isn’t a big deal to me.”
I tossed the stick in the trash and, after washing my hands, went back to my waffles.
“Okay, so you’re not pregnant. That still doesn’t explain your symptoms.”
“And what exactly are my symptoms, Dr. Phil?” I asked eyeing him.
He sat in front of me. “Well, the nausea, the fainting, mood swings…”
“So I’m coming off a bad period. Just because I don’t bleed doesn’t mean I don’t have the usually symptoms.”
“But you did…Rebecca told me how you had had an accident last week. How do you explain that?”
“When the hell did you talk to Rebecca?”
“Oh, we…I, um, I still work with her on little art projects. But that’s not the point. What about the weight gain?”
“Excuse me?”
“I-I mean, not that it doesn’t look good on you I just-”
“Choose your next words wisely, Devin Simmons. I’m bloated. That’s all.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean-”
“Just drop it, okay?”
He nodded and let the conversation drop. But I couldn’t help but think about us living here, in this house with little us running around.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six
Halloween was just around the corner and I couldn’t contain my excitement. One because it was one of my favorite holiday other than Christmas and Comic Con and it had been about three days since Devin and my weekend getaway and we hadn’t gotten into an argument since that Saturday. I wouldn’t go as far to say it was blissful because it really wasn’t as fantastic as it sounded. While we hadn’t gotten into anything really heated I knew it was only because I hadn’t actually gotten to spend any time with him since we had returned. Rebecca had him working on some projects for her company after school and between that and grading papers he didn’t have any free time. But he had given me two tiny pictures to put in my locket a couple of days ago. He’d given me the one I asked for and then he’d given me one that I hadn’t known he’d taken. It was me at the dock at the lake house. I was wrapped in a sheet and the wind made my hair flow a bit behind me. They were perfect together. One was very dramatic with the sunrise contrasting against my light skin tone and white sheet, while the other was more romantic with my cheesy smile and his sexy one.
I think I liked that one the most because it was proof that we had been together. Proof that we were actually in love. Yes, the ring and locket did the same thing but I wasn’t really a materialistic girl. I liked when people put a lot of thought into things.
Which was why Marina and I got along so well. She enjoyed the holidays just as much as I did and maybe even more. We had already been consulting about what we wanted to be for Halloween in January. All we needed to do was go out and get them when the time was right. And when I got to second period Monday morning she had told me she had picked out my costumes already. She was going as a sexy witch and I was going as going as a sexy Fairy. But we liked to be original, so we got multiple cheaper costumes and made out own.
The school had decided it was all right if we dressed up this year since there wasn’t going to be a prom and there would even be a contest to see who was the best dressed. Basically a king and queen type deal.
The holiday was on a Monday but since the school didn’t want to start the week out with fun we were going to have the contest Friday and over the weekend we’d hopefully get all of our silliness out.
Yeah, like that was going to happen.
Devin didn’t know what I was coming dressed as and neither did Jack. I didn’t tell Jack because with the school being a buzz with the talk of everyone’s costumes, I couldn’t risk Jack saying something then Devin finding out.
So it was a surprise for the both of them.
Marina and I decided it would be best if we met at my house since my parents would be out of town this weekend. She also had the idea that we could do some of the girls makeup then go out for trick r treating.
I didn’t too much like that plan but Marina said it would only be a few girl so I really couldn’t argue.
I remember the smile she gave me as I told her it was alright.
The bell rang and snapped me out of my doodling and thoughts. I looked up into Devin’s laughing eyes, realizing I hadn’t really been paying attention to his lesson at all.
I smiled ruefully then looked down at the doodles on my paper. As I suspected, the only notes were from the first five or so minutes of the class.
“Damn,” I muttered.
“Didn’t you take notes?” Jack asked nudging me playfully.
I shook my head. “I can’t concentrate. I love Halloween.”
He smiled at me and shrugged. “It’s only Wednesday, babe. You’ve got two more days.”
“Only?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
He laughed at my excitement. “But I’ll get to see that costume you keep not telling me about.”
I looked over at Devin who didn’t seem to like our conversation but tried his best to busy himself with some paperwork.
“I’m sure you’ll like it,” I said not looking at Jack. I wasn’t really talking to him either which made Devin try to hold back a smile.
Jack leaned in close to me, making me jump a bit at his proximity. He whispered into my ear, “Whatever it is, I bet it would look better off you.”
With that said he kissed me deeply. Something he had never done.
I was a bit taken back at his abruptness and pulled back, blushing more than I, or Devin, would’ve liked. I knew after Jack left I would be getting an ear full of why he thought I should breakup with Jack.
The second bell rang then and Jack had to leave.
“I’ll see you at practice babe.” He told me as he left.
I nodded as I gather my things slowly. I waited until the last person left before I left, too. I went to the bathroom and waited a good five minutes before I went back to Devin.
There was no one on this hallway while I slipped into his room and locked the door behind me.
He sat at his desk, grading papers, and didn’t look up at my entrance.
“Hey,” I said standing by the door.
He said nothing, didn’t even look up.
“It didn’t mean anything.” I told him.
He gave a hard laugh at that comment. “The moan was nothing, too?”
I hadn’t moaned, had I? No, I didn’t think I had.
I went to stand behind him, running my fingers up his arm as I passed. I ran my hands down his chest once I was behind him only to have him stand up abruptly, pushing me back.
He walked around his desk and looked at me. His green eyes looked torn.
“That little…scene is exactly why you need to end this with him.”
“I can’t do that.” I told him. I tried to go to him again but he stopped me with a raise of the hand.
“You love him.”
I hesitated before I answered with a no and he scoffed at my lie.
“Alright, yes. I love him but not like I used to, not like I’m in love with you. I don’t understand why you’re making this into a big deal. It was just a kiss.”
“That you enjoyed.”
I couldn’t deny that. I had enjoyed it a bit. Jack had kissed me like Devin kissed me. Tongue and all. So maybe I had moaned. I couldn’t really blame Devin for being pissed.
“What do you want from me? I pulled away.”
“Not after liking it. Do you know how that makes me feel to see you kissing another guy?”
I knew he felt threatened by Jack and my relationship but I couldn’t break up with Jack. Jack loved me. It would crush him if I broke up with him this close to playoffs. It was a big deal for the school for him to win this game. He’d have scouts and the school would have sponsors.
There was too much riding on our relationship. But did I really want Jack’s relationship more than Devin’s?
The answer to that was no.
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll break up with him.”
He looked skeptical. “Really?”
I nodded. “As soon as football season ends.”
“Layla,” he whined.
“Stop whining.” I groaned. “You know what I mean to him. And you know what he means to this school. If I break up with him now, with it being so close to the end of the season it would crush him. There’s too much riding on this.”
He looked more upset now than before and it made my stomach hurt.
“Get out, Ms. Bungah.”
This shocked me. “Wait, what?”
“You heard me, Layla. I can’t talk with you when you’re being unreasonable.”
“Unreasonable, me? I-”
“Just go.” He hung his head to look at the papers on his desk.
I sighed in defeat. “If that’s what you want.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Fine,” I said picking up my bag by the door. “I guess I’ll see you tonight then.”
“Don’t count on it. I’m busy.”
“Something’s come up and I can’t see you tonight. You’ll get over it. You’ve got Mr. Riley to keep you company after all. Maybe that’s what you should have been busying yourself rather than me.”
“Goodnight, Ms. Bungah.”
I left then, feeling like I could cry. I refused to let any tears fall in front of a man that could not see reason.

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Six
Halloween was just around the corner and I couldn’t contain my excitement. One because it was one of my favorite holiday other than Christmas and Comic Con and it had been about three days since Devin and my weekend getaway and we hadn’t gotten into an argument since that Saturday. I wouldn’t go as far to say it was blissful because it really wasn’t as fantastic as it sounded. While we hadn’t gotten into anything really heated I knew it was only because I hadn’t actually gotten to spend any time with him since we had returned. Rebecca had him working on some projects for her company after school and between that and grading papers he didn’t have any free time. But he had given me two tiny pictures to put in my locket a couple of days ago. He’d given me the one I asked for and then he’d given me one that I hadn’t known he’d taken. It was me at the dock at the lake house. I was wrapped in a sheet and the wind made my hair flow a bit behind me. They were perfect together. One was very dramatic with the sunrise contrasting against my light skin tone and white sheet, while the other was more romantic with my cheesy smile and his sexy one.
I think I liked that one the most because it was proof that we had been together. Proof that we were actually in love. Yes, the ring and locket did the same thing but I wasn’t really a materialistic girl. I liked when people put a lot of thought into things.
Which was why Marina and I got along so well. She enjoyed the holidays just as much as I did and maybe even more. We had already been consulting about what we wanted to be for Halloween in January. All we needed to do was go out and get them when the time was right. And when I got to second period Monday morning she had told me she had picked out my costumes already. She was going as a sexy witch and I was going as going as a sexy Fairy. But we liked to be original, so we got multiple cheaper costumes and made out own.
The school had decided it was all right if we dressed up this year since there wasn’t going to be a prom and there would even be a contest to see who was the best dressed. Basically a king and queen type deal.
The holiday was on a Monday but since the school didn’t want to start the week out with fun we were going to have the contest Friday and over the weekend we’d hopefully get all of our silliness out.
Yeah, like that was going to happen.
Devin didn’t know what I was coming dressed as and neither did Jack. I didn’t tell Jack because with the school being a buzz with the talk of everyone’s costumes, I couldn’t risk Jack saying something then Devin finding out.
So it was a surprise for the both of them.
Marina and I decided it would be best if we met at my house since my parents would be out of town this weekend. She also had the idea that we could do some of the girls makeup then go out for trick r treating.
I didn’t too much like that plan but Marina said it would only be a few girl so I really couldn’t argue.
I remember the smile she gave me as I told her it was alright.
The bell rang and snapped me out of my doodling and thoughts. I looked up into Devin’s laughing eyes, realizing I hadn’t really been paying attention to his lesson at all.
I smiled ruefully then looked down at the doodles on my paper. As I suspected, the only notes were from the first five or so minutes of the class.
“Damn,” I muttered.
“Didn’t you take notes?” Jack asked nudging me playfully.
I shook my head. “I can’t concentrate. I love Halloween.”
He smiled at me and shrugged. “It’s only Wednesday, babe. You’ve got two more days.”
“Only?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
He laughed at my excitement. “But I’ll get to see that costume you keep not telling me about.”
I looked over at Devin who didn’t seem to like our conversation but tried his best to busy himself with some paperwork.
“I’m sure you’ll like it,” I said not looking at Jack. I wasn’t really talking to him either which made Devin try to hold back a smile.
Jack leaned in close to me, making me jump a bit at his proximity. He whispered into my ear, “Whatever it is, I bet it would look better off you.”
With that said he kissed me deeply. Something he had never done.
I was a bit taken back at his abruptness and pulled back, blushing more than I, or Devin, would’ve liked. I knew after Jack left I would be getting an ear full of why he thought I should breakup with Jack.
The second bell rang then and Jack had to leave.
“I’ll see you at practice babe.” He told me as he left.
I nodded as I gather my things slowly. I waited until the last person left before I left, too. I went to the bathroom and waited a good five minutes before I went back to Devin.
There was no one on this hallway while I slipped into his room and locked the door behind me.
He sat at his desk, grading papers, and didn’t look up at my entrance.
“Hey,” I said standing by the door.
He said nothing, didn’t even look up.
“It didn’t mean anything.” I told him.
He gave a hard laugh at that comment. “The moan was nothing, too?”
I hadn’t moaned, had I? No, I didn’t think I had.
I went to stand behind him, running my fingers up his arm as I passed. I ran my hands down his chest once I was behind him only to have him stand up abruptly, pushing me back.
He walked around his desk and looked at me. His green eyes looked torn.
“That little…scene is exactly why you need to end this with him.”
“I can’t do that.” I told him. I tried to go to him again but he stopped me with a raise of the hand.
“You love him.”
I hesitated before I answered with a no and he scoffed at my lie.
“Alright, yes. I love him but not like I used to, not like I’m in love with you. I don’t understand why you’re making this into a big deal. It was just a kiss.”
“That you enjoyed.”
I couldn’t deny that. I had enjoyed it a bit. Jack had kissed me like Devin kissed me. Tongue and all. So maybe I had moaned. I couldn’t really blame Devin for being pissed.
“What do you want from me? I pulled away.”
“Not after liking it. Do you know how that makes me feel to see you kissing another guy?”
I knew he felt threatened by Jack and my relationship but I couldn’t break up with Jack. Jack loved me. It would crush him if I broke up with him this close to playoffs. It was a big deal for the school for him to win this game. He’d have scouts and the school would have sponsors.
There was too much riding on our relationship. But did I really want Jack’s relationship more than Devin’s?
The answer to that was no.
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll break up with him.”
He looked skeptical. “Really?”
I nodded. “As soon as football season ends.”
“Layla,” he whined.
“Stop whining.” I groaned. “You know what I mean to him. And you know what he means to this school. If I break up with him now, with it being so close to the end of the season it would crush him. There’s too much riding on this.”
He looked more upset now than before and it made my stomach hurt.
“Get out, Ms. Bungah.”
This shocked me. “Wait, what?”
“You heard me, Layla. I can’t talk with you when you’re being unreasonable.”
“Unreasonable, me? I-”
“Just go.” He hung his head to look at the papers on his desk.
I sighed in defeat. “If that’s what you want.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Fine,” I said picking up my bag by the door. “I guess I’ll see you tonight then.”
“Don’t count on it. I’m busy.”
“Something’s come up and I can’t see you tonight. You’ll get over it. You’ve got Mr. Riley to keep you company after all. Maybe that’s what you should have been busying yourself rather than me.”
“Goodnight, Ms. Bungah.”
I left then, feeling like I could cry. I refused to let any tears fall in front of a man that could not see reason.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Seven
It was Halloween day and Devin and I still weren’t speaking. I tried to stay after class yesterday to talk with him and he still ignored me.
I didn’t like the fighting between us, it made me feel nauseous and gave me an unnecessary headache. But I wouldn’t let him ruin my Halloween. So I took some pain killers and just decided to roll with his actions.
Looking in my bathroom mirror, I adjusted my corset. My blue and black fairy costume made me look and feel sexier than ever. The corset was perfect against my light skin tone, hugging my body just right. The flared black and light blue shirt came to my thighs but was also probably too sexy to be wearing to school. I had styled my hair in perfect curls that cascaded down my back. There was glitter everywhere, from my eye shadow to my hair and arms, down to my tights. The wings completed my costume almost as well as the black fishnet tights and knee high stilettos.
I looked like a perfect oriental fairy and knew people would both love it and hate it.
Before I headed out, I grabbed an apple for the road. My father had stocked the house with food for the weekend, both junk and healthy, so I wouldn’t have to go out get anything. I wasn’t exactly sure what the business trip was but I was glad he had to take Rebecca with him. It would give me a chance to relax without having to worry about her mouthing off.
When I arrived to school people stared. Both students and teachers. My costume, while challenged the dress code, was still following most regulations.
Everyone was in costume, including the staff. Most people were dressed with awesome costumes while others just threw something on, slapped on some makeup and called it a day. I didn’t like those costumes. If you weren’t going to go all out, why even try.
When I walked into my second class Marina’s jaw dropped as she said, “Holy crap.”
That had been the general reaction to my costume today and I smiled at hers.
“Holy crap to you, too.” I told her.
She had on a black corset too that made her chest look larger than ever. Her black skirt was ruffled and came to her mid thigh just like mine did. Her stockings were black thought still sheer enough to see her perfect legs. He dark brown hair was as straight as I’d ever seen it and a black hat was topped on her head. Her makeup was a bit glittered like mine, though not as much, and much darker.
She indeed was a sexy little witch.
“Jack is going to love that costume.” She told me smiling wildly.
I smiled, too. Yes, some indeed would love this costume but it wasn’t Jack I was trying to impress.
We took the period to talk about how we were going to do some of our friends make up tonight.
“What the hell do you mean you invited five more people?” I whispered fiercely.
She shrugged. “It’s just their boyfriends, Layla. The girls didn’t want to go all the way home to be picked up when the guys could just meet at one place.”
I saw the logic, I just didn’t want all those people at my house.
“Fine,” I said. “But no more.”
She nodded and finished telling me about how she had the whole weekend planned.
Soon the bell was ringing and we went our separate ways. Before she left, she called out, “Too sexy for our own good!”
I rolled my eyes at her and headed to the gym to meet Jack.
When I walked through the doors, his eyes widened.
“Whoa.” I heard him mumble. “Excuse me; I’m looking for my girlfriend. You haven’t seen her have you? She’s about five two, a bit sexier than you…”
“Shut up.” I told him, smiling playfully. “Take me to lunch.”
He nodded a bit, too stunned for words.
“Close your mouth,” I told him, looping my arm through his. “You’re drooling, love.”
This snapped him out of his haze and he led me to the cafeteria.
“I like your costume,” I told him.
He was dressed as Justin Timberlake from NSYNC, roman noodle colored hair and all. He looked very cute with his sparkly grey shirt and black leather jacket.
He shrugged. “Not as much as I like yours.”
I beamed. One down, one more to go.
When we got to the table the football guys whistled while the girls glared. Rachel, in particular was shooting fiery daggers of death. If there was any doubt in my mind that she hated me before, I was certain now. The glare she was giving me counteracted the elaborate angel costume she wore.
It was official. She hated me.
I almost felt as if my job was complete.
After lunch Jack walked me back to the gym and before he could kiss me goodbye I pulled away and mumbled something about my lip gloss. He rolled his eyes at that but didn’t seem too upset.
I was grateful Coach Murphy didn’t make us run laps or do anything for that matter. She let us do whatever we wanted so most of us just sat and talked.
When gym was over I took my time getting to English. I wanted to be fashionably late, but not tardy.
The bell rang just as I walked through the door. Devin had been writing the lesson on the board but when I walked in, he dropped his chalk.
“Whoa.” He stared.
I tried my best not to jump up and down with satisfaction. Finally, some attention.
I smiled ruefully and looked at the class that was staring at the stunned Mr. Simmons puzzlingly.
“I mean,” Devin began, “Whoa, you’re actually on time today, Ms. Bungah.”
The tension in the class relaxed a bit as the suspicion dissipated.
I shrugged. “Coach Murphy didn’t make us workout today.”
“Hmm.” Was all he said, eyes dancing with delight. I knew what he wanted but I wouldn’t give it to him. I’d ignore him just as he did me.
He grunted and rubbed his scraggly face. You can take your seat, Ms. Bungah.”
I walked sultrily to sit next to Jack.
Since it was the weekend before Halloween, Devin decided it wasn’t fair if he was the only teacher who gave an assignment so he just gave us a few crossword puzzles to do for extra credit.
We could work together on the puzzles so, Jack pushed his desk closer to mine.
The touching was a bit much in my opinion but I had a point to prove. If Devin was so jealous of Jack that he wanted to ignore me then I’d just give him something to ignore and be jealous about.
For the whole class period, Jacks hand was on my thigh. I could feel that Devin didn’t like it but apparently he didn’t care anymore.
When the final bell rang I nearly stayed behind to talk to Devin, but I had to stick to my point. So I left with Jack’s arm wrapped around my stomach.
As I walked by, I knew that really pissed him off.
Practice was only an hour which let Jack and I get to my house at a pretty decent hour. Jack reeked of sweat so I told him he could take a shower then get back into his costume.
Marina showed up about an hour later with about twenty people right behind her.
“What the hell, Marina? I thought you said ten!”
“I might have told a few more people than I thought.” She told me, wincing. “And they might have told others it was a party.”
“But it’s not!” I shouted.
Then the house came alive with music. I glared at her and she mumbled a sorry.
“If my parents find out about this-”
“Relax, babe,” Jack told me. “They won’t find out.”
It had been a while since I had hung out with Jack and to honest; I had forgotten how easy it was. He had a way of relaxing me somehow.
I nodded. “Fine, but nothing can be broken.”
The few people around us cheered and began to dance.
The doorbell rang then, and Marina’s smile widened.
“So…it’s okay that it’s a party?” She asked.
I nodded.
“Good, because that’s probably the food.”
I suppressed a groan as she let in about fifteen more people.
“Just relax, babe,” Jack comforted, pulling me away. “Marina’s got everything under control.”
I let him lead me to the living room and then to the couch.
“Have a drink,” he said handing me a cup he’d picked up from the coffee table.
I downed it immediately.
“Babe,” he laughed. “That wasn’t water.”
“I know, get me another, would you?”
He nodded and got up.
I didn’t like being around so many people. It put me on edge. And I was already on edge from Devin and my fight, so I really didn’t need this. If my father found out I had thrown a party I’d be dead. He’d kill me, bring me back to life then kill me again.
When Jack came back he had two red cups, one for me and one for him.
He noticed my worried expression and told me not to worry, that if anyone messed up my house he’d beat the snot out of them.
I felt a bit of comfort in this idea.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Eight
It was getting late and our trick r treating plans were turned into party plans. My home was infested with strangers that were probably destroying it.
And to be honest, I didn’t care. I just didn’t care. I was drunk and it felt really good not to care about anything anymore.
The fact that I was making out with Jack probably was giving me that mentality, too.
It wasn’t the same as making out with Devin but I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about Devin, now was I?
But I still couldn’t help but think things just weren’t right between Jack and I. I didn’t really love Jack if I had to get so wasted that I didn’t really care anymore. That wasn’t love. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
Before I could stop kissing Jack, he was pulled off me. I gasped as I saw Devin was the one who had separated us.
“M-Mr. Simmons,” Jack stuttered. “What are you doing here?
It was a moment before he said anything. He just continued to stare down at me.
Finally he spoke. “I’m here to break up this little get together.”
“You can’t do that,” I told him.
He stared at me once more. “Layla, you’re drunk.” He looked like he disapproved.
I didn’t like that. I didn’t like how he could not care one minute then bust in here like he freaking owned the place and stir up feelings inside me.
“Well, I’m not sure why you should care.” I tried to stand only to have gravity betray me and bring me back down to the couch.
Both Devin and Jack hovered above me. When Jack looked at his teacher trying to aid his girlfriend, Devin straightened and I could tell something in him snapped.
“That’s it, everyone out!” Devin shouted. Only a close few heard him over the loud music. He went to go turn it off then shouted it again.
“If you all don’t leave right now, I’m calling the cops.”
The fact there was a teacher at the a party didn’t seem too appealing for the people dancing in my house. They were all underage drinkers and seemed to be gone faster than they had arrived.
I tried to protest but suddenly didn’t feel too well. I figured that standing I tried to do rushed the liquor to my stomach or something because my stomach was cramping and I was beginning to feel very nauseous.
Devon saw this and ordered the two people that were left to leave.
Marina and Jack didn’t want to leave me alone with the light green color I was turning but they didn’t have much of a choice. Marina told me she’d see me later then left. Jack said the same but before he could try to kiss me, Devin grabbed him by his leather jacket and shooed him out the door.
When Devin came back to me I was now seated on the edge of the couch with my arms crossed.
“Layla.” His tone was commanding, almost expecting me to look at him. It made me want to do the exact opposite. He sighed trying again, though this time his tone was softer. “Layla, look at me.”
I did. “What do you want Devin?”
“To tell you that this was very immature of you.”
“I thought you wanted me to act like a kid.” I remembered that being his main concern at one point.
“I wanted you to dump the jock, not nearly have sex with him on your fathers couch!” He shouted. “This was just stupid and immature.”
“Oh, so now I’m stupid and immature.” I slurred, standing up.
I swayed a little which made him hold onto my arm. I yanked it from his grip and walked away from him.
“You know, I just don’t get you, Devin. You say you love me one day then refuse to talk to me another.”
“I had a good reason not to!”
“I told you I love you!” I shouted nearly in tears. “I told you, you had nothing to worry about. I wanted you and only you.”
“Yes, wanted.” What I wanted to say was ‘want you’ but I wouldn’t say it until he apologized. “I don’t understand why you’re so jealous, Devin. I hardly ever see Jack, I barely go to his practices, I try my best to avoid his kiss, his touch, and still you just…I told you, I love you.”
“That’s not enough…” He murmured.
“Since when?!” I was nearly in hysterics and as my voice rose so did the pain in my stomach. “Since when is my love not enough? Oh, is it enough when you’re on top of me? Is it enough when it comes to Miller? Is it enough when you just want to use me?”
All these questions and no answers.
“Bullshit,” I told him. “I love you, and you love me. You proposed to me for Christ sake. Why can’t you just trust me?”
He was going to say something but I cut him off.
“No, I can’t break it off with Jack. Not right now at least. I will do it in eventually but you have to understand that I just can’t hurt him like Lydia hurt you.” I could tell that hurt but I went on. “I hate hurting peoples feeling. And if I’m hurting you, I’m sorry but you are a man. You have broken women’s hearts and that was oaky with you, but that’s not okay with me. I will break up with Jack-”
“When, Layla? When? You move in two months. Football season is over in the middle of December. How long do I have to wait for you to realize that you are not going to break up with him until you move. And don’t even get me started on that. Have you even talked to your father about that? I know Rebecca has. She’s been trying her best to get him to stay here but you? I wouldn’t know because whenever I ask you about it you say you’re going to handle it or you just completely shut down. You are moving, Layla. And despite what you keep telling me, I can’t help but feel you want to.”
“How could you think that?” I asked holding onto my stomach. “You’re the only reason I want to stay.”
I used the couch to steady myself. The nausea was definitely taking control over my body. I wasn’t sure how much I had had to drink but I know I lost count at five refills.
Devin’s eyes held a bit of worry but his face was still angry. “You really aren’t showing that you want to stay. Are you alright?”
“Do you care?” I countered. When I saw the pain in his eyes I sighed. “I’m fine. I’ve just…I’m fine.”
I tried to straighten but it caused too much pain. When I cried out, he acted quickly. He stood behind me in two quick strides, hands holding onto my arms to keep me steady.
“Do you need to go to the hospital?” He asked frantic.
“No, no hospitals. I’m drunk, my father cannot find out about this.” I looked up into his eyes. “Please. He cannot find out I did this.”
Again he looked torn.
“Look, I’m fine. I’m just a bit…drunk as hell. I just need to sleep off the pain.”
Before I could move away from him, he sighed, scooped me into his arms and carried me upstairs. When we got to my room he sat me on the edge of my bed then left the room. My phone rang while he was gone and I recognized the number as being Marina.
“You okay?” She asked as soon as I answered.
“Yeah, just a bit nauseous.”
She laughed. “Me too. Sorry we got busted. I shouldn’t have thrown the party. I’ll come over tomorrow and help clean up.”
“Good ‘cause there’s crap all over my floor.”
When Devin came in he didn’t look too pleased that I was talking and not laying down, resting. He took my phone and smiled at something she was saying.
“Yes, Mr. hunkalisious is still here. Layla needs to sleep off the liquor and I think you need to do the same.”
I wasn’t sure what she said but he nodded and said, “Well, that’s good to know. I will tell her you said you’re sorry. Goodnight.”
He looked at me and tossed a warm cloth my way. “She told me the party was her idea. That you didn’t even know until it was too late. She said you weren’t responsible for the beer or hard liquor and that you don’t even normally like doing this sort of thing. She’s a good friend but you still acted very immature tonight. I mean, illegal drinking, Layla? What if someone had gotten hurt.”
I smiled. “You’re the one who sent them home drunk. I was just going to let them stay the night then some of them could have helped clean up.”
“Now who’s living in a fantasy world? You really think they would have helped you clean up. Layla, I recognized half of those people and let me tell you, most of them are failing my class. They fall asleep, they don’t turn in assignments, and they certainly wouldn’t have helped you clean up your parents home.”
I looked down at the cloth in my hands and didn’t say anything.
“Clean the makeup off your face so you can get some sleep. It’s after one in the morning.”
I did as he said and after he helped me out of my costume and into some sleepwear I sighed.
“I didn’t mean…”
“I know, Layla.”
“It’s just you-”
He nodded. “I know. We’ll talk about it in the morning.”
When he began to leave I called him back. “Stay with me? My stomach still hurts a bit.”
He nodded once more and, after kicking off his shoes, climbed in bed with me. He wrapped his arm around me as I slid my body next to his and tried to relax my muscles.
After a moment of us laying there in silence, I sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“I know, love. Just remember that tomorrow when you’re sober.”
I laughed a bit at that as he turned on the television.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Thirty-Nine
Words could not express how much pain I was in. My head was throbbing erratically and I didn’t think it would ever stop. Hangovers were so not my thing and I began to regret-no-I did regret ever drinking last night. I climbed out of bed and groggily made my way downstairs. I knew if I wanted to get the house clean I needed to do it now before I decided I didn’t care again.
Devin was already in the kitchen making breakfast and for a second I flashed back to last weekend. Then the last couple of days came back.
“My head hurts,” I said.
He smiled. “I bet it does.”
He slammed one of the cabinet doors.
“Geez, do you have to be so loud?”
He shrugged. “Makes me feel better. Your friend should be here soon to help you clean. She called about fifteen minutes ago while you were sleeping.”
“Did she want anything?”
His smile widened. “Just to know why I’d slept over. I made up an excuse. You know she called me Mr. hunkalsious last night? Is that what you call me?”
Shaking my head I said, “No, I hardly ever talk about you. I don’t want my face to give away to what I’m really feeling.”
“Well, that does tend to happen. I was certain Jack wanted to hit me last night. You know, when you fell? He had this look on his face like-”
“What the fuck, get away from my woman?” I asked using my best guy voice. It sounded awful.
“Yes!” He laughed. “Exactly.”
I looked at my bare feet on the cool tile floor. “You know, you get that look, too.”
“I do not.” He mumbled.
“Yeah,” I chuckled. “You do.”
“Well…you snore. Loudly.”
I gasped. “I do not snore!”
He turned to look at me skeptically. “Like a damn fog horn, love. But I love it, because…I love you.”
Again I looked at my feet.
“You have to break up with him sometime, Layla. You can’t just keep stringing the both of us along. You have to choose.”
“I have chosen.” I told him. “I have. It’s you, it’s been you since, well not since I first met you because that would be borderline creepy.” I tried to hold back my smile, resulting in a half smile. “But I did choose you, I fell in love with you, which is why I don’t understand why you don’t trust me with Jack. A stolen kiss is just that. Stolen. Unwanted and undesired. I don’t sleep with him, I haven’t been spending time with him and when I do it’s so…it’s so he feels better. I hate hurting him, Devin. I really do.”
“Then just end it already. He’s a big boy. He can handle it.”
The doorbell ringing ceased our conversation. As I went to go get it, I heard him pulling out dishes for us to eat on and figured he’d made enough for the three of us.
“Hey,” Marina said a bit too excitedly. “You ready to clean?”
“Why are you so damn chipper?”
She thrust a thermos into my hands then pushed past me. “It’s my own concoction but don’t ask me what’s in it because you won’t want to drink it. And don’t sniff it. Really, don’t.”
“Hey Mr. Simmons’s, what’s for breakfast?”
I followed her back to the kitchen and noticed the half smile on Devin’s face as he stared at Marina who automatically took a seat at the kitchen table.
“Is she on drugs?” He asked placing a plate in front of her.
“Nope,” she mumbled around a bite of toast. “Never touched the stuff.”
He looked at me. “And I’m supposed to believe this from the girl who thought Jesus was a vampire hippie who knew Bigfoot.”
She nearly choked. “Hey, I put that in an essay. You can’t tell anyone that. What about the teacher student code of conduct thingy.”
We both looked at her confusingly.
“You know, Jack said the same thing.” I told her. “You two do know that that’s only for like lawyers and therapist, right?”
“It is?” She asked as I took a seat in front of my plate. “Damn, I guess that note I sent to Mr. Lewis telling him I wanted to jump his bones is going to be a problem, now won’t it.”
Both Devin and I choked on our food causing Marina to laugh.
“Chill, it was a joke.” She shrugged. “Tough crowd.”
Devin gave me a serious look, which I tried my best to ignore.
After an awkward breakfast-well, awkward between me and Devin, Marina didn’t seem to notice with all the talking she was doing-we all got to work.
I thanked Devin numerous times for helping clean when he hadn’t been the one to make the mess in the first place. When he left to pick up the trash from outside I punched Marina in the arm.
“How many times can I say I’m sorry?” She asked throwing her head back and groaning.
The house was a mess and it didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. There were spilt drinks and those stupid red silicon cups everywhere, popcorn colonels and cheddar puffs on the floor, a weird brown stain on the wall-that I prayed to God wasn’t what I thought it was and someone had even peed in my downstairs bathtub. Had they never heard of a toilet? I mean, it was the smaller porcelain bowl sitting right next to it.
Marina looked at me. “Sorry?”
“Yeah, you sure are. You start picking up the cups and I’ll start scrubbing the carpet.”
She grabbed my arms, shook me playfully, then yelled in my face, “Stellaaa! Please forgive me!”
I couldn’t help but laugh, she just had that affect on me.
She cocked her head to the side and smirked. “You can’t stay mad at me.”
Sticking my nose in the air I said, “Get to work and we shall see what we see, when we see it.”
She huffed as she turned around and went to the kitchen to get some black trash bags.
When she came back I’d brought a bucket of soapy water and a carpet scrubber and had gotten to work.
It didn’t take us long to get the majority of the house clean. We’d gotten most of the grime away and then started putting things back in their right place.
“Oh, have you heard Miller’s MIA?” She asked tossing a bag of chips my way.
The mention of Mr. Miller made my spine go cold. “What do you mean, MIA?”
“Like, missing in action. Total James Bond mode.” She stopped for a moment then laughed loudly. “Do you remember Mr. Bond? He was such a little perv sophomore year. Remember? He was always looking at my chest whenever I asked for help. Anyway, no one’s seen or heard from Miller since last week. Last Thursday I think.”
“Well…have the police gotten involved?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’ve just heard rumors going around school. Some of the teachers are upset. They think he’s dead.”
“W-why would they think that?” I had completely stopped cleaning.
“Because when they sent someone over to his apartment, not sure who, but they said it was ransacked. Their words not mine. It was a complete mess. Yeah, Principle Stubbs hasn’t gone to the cops because he said he’s been to his house before and it generally looks like that so he’s going to give him another few days to like, call in or something, but yeah. He’s totally MIA.”
“Well, that’s too bad.” I mumbled. She had gone back to cleaning and I wished I could do the same.
I looked over at Devin who had his back turned, sweeping the stairs. He didn’t look at me nor did he acknowledge that Marina had spoken.
When the house was finally clean Marina asked me if I wanted her to stay so we could watch movies or something and I made up an excuse for Devin and I to be alone. I just told her that I wasn’t feeling too well and maybe call later tonight. After she left I went to find Devin, who was in my room lying on my bed staring up at my ceiling.
“Why doesn’t your room look like every other teenage girls?”
“Have you been in another teenage girls room to compare?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“Well, no but you have no posters, no pictures, and yeah, I see you’ve packed up some things but even before…you just don’t act like a kid.”
“Is that why you fell for me?”
He thought for a moment. “I chose you because you are an intelligent, affectionate, strikingly beautiful woman. And no one else compares, remember that.”
I shook my head and tried to keep the corners of my mouth from turning up. “You’re trying to distract me with compliments. Did you know what happened with Miller?”
After shrugging and playing with the fringe on my blanket he nodded. “Yeah, I heard.”
“Alright let me rephrase that, do you know what happened with Miller.”
“Yes,” he said nodding. “He’s missing.”
“Don’t play stupid with me, Devin. What the hell did you do?”
“What? Why would you assume I did something?”
I looked at him with astonishment. “Okay so did you forget the whole, ‘oh I’m Devin, big and bad man, I will kill you, Miller. You are dead.’ Did you forget that from just last week.”
He smiled at my very bad interpretation, broad arms and all.
“You know,” he laughed. “You suck at that. You should glower less, it would make you seem more menacing.”
“This is not a laughing matter, Devin. Did you…did you kill Mr. Miller?”
He looked down at his hands for a moment then stood and walked over to me. For an instant, I was scared. For just a fraction of a second I was afraid of this tall man walking towards me, hands extended toward my face. But just as quickly as it was there, it was gone and I knew he would never harm me.
Devin took my face in his hands and placed his forehead onto mine. “Miller is…he is a bad man. He’s rude, he hurt you repeatedly and he threatened what we have. But he was still, as hard as it is to believe, he was still my friend once. I couldn’t just kill him. I don’t have it in me. I wouldn’t go that far…to risk everything I have just so he wouldn’t be a burden anymore? No, Layla. I wouldn’t risk that. I wouldn’t risk us.”
“You’re not the cause of him going missing?”
He shook his head. “No, I’m not.”
I sighed in relief but then realized that Miller was actually missing. Was he dead? Being held captive? What the hell happened to him?
“Stop worrying.” He placed a hand on my brow to wipe away the worry. “It’s still twitching, Layla. Just calm down. He’s not our problem anymore. It’s sad that he’s missing, really it is but I just…don’t care. It would be upsetting if he’s dead but I. Just. Don’t. Care. He got what was coming to him. He struck you, despite what you told me that night, I know he did. So no, I didn’t kill him but I hope he’s dead.”
I didn’t want to look at his face because I knew what I would see. I’d see that glint of emotion I wasn’t used to, and I was starting to think it was evil. But this was not some fantasy world, despite how much I would like to believe. This was the real world and I had to consider the possibility that Devin, while calm, sexy, loving on the outside could possibly hold a darker emotion within him. He’d already told me of him and his brother nearly beating a guy to death. Would he go as far as to lie to me and say he didn’t kill Miller when he actually had?

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty
Another week had gone by and still not a word from Miller. I was beginning to worry. The police had gotten involved and I’d heard from Marina that they were dusting his apartment for prints, looking for any evidence at foul play.
Last week I was concerned with Miller’s well being. I hoped he was just on an unknown vacation somewhere and not lying dead in a ditch. Yes, he had abused me but I wouldn’t wish a death sentence upon him. I wanted him to stop but I didn’t want him dead. I just didn’t think I had it in me to wish that upon someone. But now, instead of wondering if he was dead for my own mental sake, I wondered if he was dead both Devin and my relationship. What if something actually had happened to him? Where were the photos of Devin and I? Were they in a safe place? What if someone found them? Oh, god, what if a cop found them. I hoped Mr. Riley wasn’t on Millers case. If he found the pictures he would no doubt ask Devin and I in for questioning. We’d be number one suspects. And what was I supposed to say? Was I supposed to lie and not tell them about how Devin had threatened Miller. What was Devin going to say? If he actually had done it, would he run? Would he leave me?
I couldn’t concentrate all day and, during my last class, Devin could tell. I could feel him constantly looking at me while I tried my best to take notes. However my thoughts kept getting the best of me and my mind would begin to wonder.
After class, as I entered the room for a second time, he pulled me into his arms and just held me tight. I dropped my bag by the door and just let him hold me. We didn’t say anything for a few moments and even that worried me.
“You have to relax, love.” He told me. “It’s written all over your face. I know you’re concerned with this whole Miller thing but don’t be.”
“How can you say don’t be concerned? Don’t be concerned? Don’t be concerned. Okay well what about the pictures Devin? If Miller’s missing and you didn’t…kill him, then I have to assume that something unexpected happened to him and he didn’t have time to properly dispose of or hide the pictures of us making out on your boat, or me sneaking in and out of your office. Or how about the one where you nearly kissed me in the parking lot. What about the pictures Devin? What part of this situation am I not supposed to be concerned about?”
“All of it. Him missing has nothing to do with us. It has nothing to do with you so that means you don’t have to worry about it. Which means you need to make your eye stop twitching or you’re going to get a condition.”
I put a hand to my still twitching eye and rubbed it gently. “I just don’t see how you can be so calm about this whole thing.”
He looked away from me for a moment. “I’m not. Honestly, when I think about the things he made you do I get sick to my stomach.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“I know, I know. But that’s all I think about when someone mentions his name. And I know it scares you when I say things like this. I know you didn’t like it when I threatened him, and now that he’s gone missing it’s just pushing you over the edge but I just don’t care. Not about your feelings, because that I do care about. I can’t explain to you how much I care about what you think. What I don’t care about is the fact that he’s gone. I just am not concerned with it.”
“So…you don’t care if the cops find the pictures.”
“No, I do. I just don’t think they will. If Miller kept those photos out in the open he was a fool. And Miller was no fool.”
I tried my best to nod and not seem like I was worried about it but Devin knew me far too well to know that I wouldn’t just stop worrying.
“Just…try to relax.” He told me as he rubbed his hands up and down my arms. “If it becomes a problem I’ll handle it.”
I really hoped he would, because the next day there were cops all on campus.
“What’s going on?” I asked Marina. “Is it about Mr. Miller?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “They still can’t find him. Jack’s dad is questioning some of the teachers to see if they found him acting suspicious before he went missing. Miller’s family doesn’t even know where he is.”
“His family?”
“Yeah, his parents. I heard they didn’t even know he was missing until like two days ago. Oh, and apparently Miller was in like some kind of trouble. He owed some money to these people, not sure who, but apparently they weren’t very nice. His folks said he came home one weekend last summer real battered, needed some quick cash. Said it was a life or death thing.”
“How the hell do you know so much?”
“People talk,” she said tapping her right ear. “And when people talk, I listen. It’s a habit of mine.”
“So I’ve learned.” I mumbled.
The rest of the day wasn’t much in my favor either. Jack was pissy about something, my nervous hives were back, and Devin popped a surprise quiz on us that I definitely wasn’t ready for.
However, what I really wasn’t ready for was the cop walking through Devin’s door, handcuffs and gun on his belt, interrupting our quiz. He was a tall man, square jaw with just a hint of a five o’clock shadow, blue eyes set to kill and lips pursed into a hard line. His blonde hair was cut into a military crop, the same one Jack had worn not too long ago, and I knew exactly who he was as he walked up to Devin’s desk.
“Can I help you officer?” Devin asked standing.
Officer Riley scanned the classroom, he laid eyes on Jack then me and for a fraction of a second I had another concern. I was doing a lot of worrying lately which wasn’t like me. It wasn’t something I liked doing but there were enough reasons to lately.
“Yes.” He turned his head towards Devin. “Actually I hope you can. I just need to ask you a few questions.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Devin looked towards his students, specifically not locking eyes with me. “Keep your eyes on your own paper, if I catch anyone cheating you will not receive credit for this quiz. And I will know if you cheat. There are eyes in the walls people, I will know.”
He brought his attention back to the cop and nodded for him to follow him out the room.
And again, I worried. I didn’t know what Jack’s dad wanted with Devin but I didn’t think it was good. I remembered Marina telling me the cops were asking questions but did they really have to ask questions at the school. It kind of freaked me out. What if Devin said the wrong thing and got caught in a lie? What if the cops didn’t believe him? Or worse. What if Devin had been the reason for Miller’s disappearance?
I finished my quiz to the best of my ability and took it to the back of the room where we normally placed our quizzes. While back there I tried my best to look out the doors small window both without getting caught or seeming too suspicious.
Devin was just talking with Jack’s dad. I wasn’t a lip reader so I couldn’t figure out what they were saying but it didn’t look too serious. They were both smiling while they spoke but when Devin shook his head and caught my staring his smile faltered for a second. Before Jack’s father could look my way, I headed back to my seat.
Jack looked at me a bit curiously but I didn’t say anything.
Soon Devin came back into the room, but the fact Jack’s dad wasn’t with him really eased my knotted stomach. If things had gone smoothly, Devin wouldn’t be a suspect in their cases, right? Jack’s father wouldn’t have to question him anymore and he certainly wouldn’t have to question me. Not that I’d know what to say even if he did. Devin wouldn’t let me get involved, though that didn’t mean I didn’t worry and get a headache from it. Even though Devin promised me he had nothing to do with Miller’s disappearance he still didn’t want me talking with the police. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust me not to run off at the mouth it was just…okay, it was the fact that I was a nervous wreck and would run off at the mouth. I did that when I was nervous, it was something that couldn’t be stopped.
After class Devin shook his head slightly, telling me to just go home. I didn’t think he thought it was very wise for us to talk after class with the Baxter Springs Police department roaming around every corner. It made sense but it didn’t mean I had to like it.

Chapter Forty One

Chapter Forty-One
It was just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Two more weeks had passed and still nothing from Miller, but at least know I had accepted it. That sounded bad. When I say accepted, I meant accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. The police were beginning to put the case on the backburner since there were more pressing crimes going on.
Not much went on in our little town, there weren’t many murders or shooting, which was a good thing. But that also meant this thing with Miller, while it was cooling down a bit, was still the most pressing matter. Saving cats from trees or arresting punk kids for shoplifting seemed irrelevant to the fact that there was a man missing.
And though Devin kept telling me he didn’t do it, I just felt…I just felt like he was keeping something from me. I didn’t like when he kept things from me, though he did seem a bit happier lately. Again, I wasn’t sure why but I kind of liked it. He wasn’t pressuring me into breaking it off with Jack or talking my father out of moving.
Which was something else I was beginning to stress out about. My father had already made plans for the house we would be moving into in about a month. He’d told me it was a big estate and I’d basically be living in my very own pool house. But it wasn’t a pool houses because there wasn’t really a pool, yet. It was more of a small house in the backyard. It was fine by me so long as I didn’t have to see Rebecca’s solemn face all day. What wasn’t fine was the fact that I’d be away from Devin.
I understood that my father needed to take this job because it was a big deal for him. He was becoming a cooperate man, a CEO of the company in Malaysia. I just couldn’t understand why they needed to make this company overseas. It couldn’t possibly be stationed in the States? I don’t know somewhere close but not too close to Devin. Even when I did manage to move out I didn’t want my father knowing I was seeing Devin. Not right away anyway. He wouldn’t be able to handle it and I wouldn’t be able to handle if he had a heart attack on the spot.
“Bud?” My father asked nudging me.
I looked up from my plate and mumbled a yeah.
“You don’t like it.” He stated, confusing me a bit. “The food? I probably should have ordered from that other Chinese place, huh?”
“Oh, no, papa.” I looked at my half eaten food. Most of it was just pushed together on my plate. It didn’t really look like I had been eating much of it. “It’s fine. Just…got a lot on my mind is all.”
“Well, you want to tell me what’s up? I might be able to help.”
He turned down the television so he could hear me better and positioned himself on the couch so he could see my face. His eyes were sincere and his small smile comforting, making me hesitate before I said anything.
For a moment I thought I could tell him about what was going on between Devin and me. But I knew he wouldn’t understand. Not right now anyway. So instead I brought up a topic I knew he had already put his foot down about.
“Do we have to move so soon? And why there? Why not somewhere in the country, papa? I have so many friends here.”
“Oh really?” He asked. “Who? Because all I ever hear you talking about is Marina. And you two can talk over the phone or online. That was the main reason I got you the computer for your birthday. You two can do video chat. It’s how I communicate with my associates.”
“I just…”
“I know, Layla. You don’t understand right now why we have to move but we just do. It’s a good career move and it just seems like the right time for it, especially with everything going on.”
He looked at the new watch on his arm. “Speaking of, I wonder what’s keeping ‘Becca.”
I sighed and shrugged. “Not sure. She’s been late for the past couple of nights. Getting in real late, but you can’t really say anything because you haven’t really been here either.”
I didn’t mean for it to sound snarky but it did and I knew he could tell. “Sorry, papa. I’ve just been on edge lately.”
“I know,” he mumbled. “Rebecca’s told me.”
“You can’t believe anything that b-that she says. Just because I’ve been moody lately doesn’t mean she can use it as an excuse to get you on her side.”
“Bud, I’m not taking-”
I stood up abruptly. “Don’t say that. You took her side when you married her. You took her side when you chose her over my own freaking birthday. When you choose to make her home remedies instead of moms when I’m sick. So…don’t say that you haven’t taken sides. You two may be at odds with this whole moving thing but other than that, you’ve always taken her side, papa.”
I left him to go to my room, suddenly losing my appetite. Not that I really had one in the first place. I hadn’t been eating much lately. Not because of the diet I kept promising myself I was going to stick to, but the fact that I just wasn’t hungry. I actually hadn’t had much of an appetite since…well, for a while. I wasn’t sure how long but it had been longer than I or Devin would have liked. He’d noticed my lost of appetite and didn’t too much care for it. He said I was beginning to look thin in the face. I didn’t see it.
Though I didn’t want to get as thin as the stick figures I sat with at lunch, the added weight I was gaining was in fact bothering me a bit. I wasn’t fat, nor was there anything wrong with plus sized women, hell, I knew a few sexy ones myself, I just…I just didn’t like how I couldn’t fit my clothes anymore. And I certainly wouldn’t be going out and buying new ones. I just didn’t have the money for it at the moment and I didn’t want to ask for a raise on my allowance. I hadn’t really been keeping up with most of my chores anyway.
After channel surfing and noticing there was nothing really on, I decided I’d go for a run to clear my head. I was tired of thinking about things lately and having nothing to do was not helping with that. But running, even when I did it in gym, really proved to both help me think and clear my thoughts. So that’s what I did.
I changed my jeans to sweats, put a warm jacket over my purple top, laced up my boots and headed for the door after putting my cell and iPod in my pockets.
“Where are you going?” My father asked as I descended the stairs.
“Out,” I said shrugging. “Out for a run.”
“At this time of night/?”
“It’s only seven, papa. The sun just set not ten minutes ago. I can’t get into that much trouble.”
He debated letting me leave for a moment. Then, probably after running different scenarios in his mind, decided it was alright. “Be back before nine. You know I worry.”
“What could possibly happen to me here?”
His head shot up from the magazine he was flipping through. “A lot. Have you not heard of the…of course you have he used to be one of your teachers. He’s missing for Christ sake. Missing, okay? The streets aren’t safe in my eyes until he’s found, Layla.”
I nodded, swallowing hard. “Okay. I understand. Back by nine.”
“No later, got it?”
“Got it.”
When he returned his attention back to his magazine I left, stopping just outside the door to put my ear buds in and choose my running music. I picked something upbeat so I wouldn’t get discouraged and wimp out along the way. I did some stretches just as Coach Murphy instructed before every activity. She said it was to loosen us up and prevent us from having muscle spasms. It worked most of the time. It just depended on what activity she had us doing. If it was something hardcore then we were all definitely sore afterwards.
About half way through my run I experienced pain in my chest and throughout my legs and arms but it was nothing I couldn’t power through. It was just from the lack of oxygen they were getting since my body was probably dehydrated.
When I got home a few minutes before nine and found that Rebecca still wasn’t in, I knew my father wasn’t too happy about it. It wasn’t the latest she’d ever come in but at least before she’d call. When I’d gotten home from school he hadn’t said anything about her calling, and his reddened face said she still hadn’t informed him of her whereabouts. My father was a stickler on his rules and Rebecca was not above these rules. He only wanted to know where we were and about what time we’d be back so he wouldn’t have to worry. My mother agreed with that rule and never went against it. Rebecca on the other hand had been coming home later and later without warning or, from what I overheard, a valid excuse.
I waved to my father as I stuck my head in the living room to tell him I was back and okay, then went up to my room to prepare for a shower. Though my muscles ached, I didn’t think it was a good idea to let them sit and soak up water. They needed to be massaged by the hot water not gently caressed.
After my shower I got ready for bed, deciding I’d do something with my hair in the morning. It wasn’t that I was sleepy, my arms just still hurt. I noticed that my body was doing a lot of aching lately. I was certain my body wasn’t getting something it needed and knew I’d find out in about a week when Rebecca took me for my regular check up.
I checked my cell and realized there were quite a few missed text messages Jack and Devin. I apologized to the both of them and answered their questions about where I’d been or what I was up to. After a moment Jack texted me back and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him lying in bed and not two minutes later he sent a text back asking if I could send him a…dirty picture. When I refused he told me he’d just talk to me tomorrow if he found the time.
Devin wasn’t as immature. Well, most of the time. Tonight when he texted me he basically wanted to know the same thing as Jack: if I was okay and what I was doing. When I repeated what I’d told Jack, he wanted to know if he could call me. He knew it was getting late but he just wanted to hear the sound of my voice before he went to sleep for the night.
This made me smile and I complied. This was why Devin was getting all of my attention and well, sex and dirty pictures whenever he wanted. He wasn’t all about the intimacy. He actually had a brain in his head that told him asking for such things every time he saw a girl was unacceptable.
When Devin called I was bringing out my computer so I could work on an assignment, but it was also an excuse just in case my father came in and asked what I was doing and who I was talking to. I’d just say homework and Marina.
Devin and I talked for hours while I worked. However, I was doing more talking and quiet laughing than actually working. It was nearly two in the morning when Devin realized that maybe we should get off the phone. It wasn’t a school night or anything but he told me I needed my rest. I’d been looking tired lately.
I didn’t even acknowledge the last part, instead I told him I loved him and would call him tomorrow if I got the chance. After hanging up and closing down my computer my stomach growled and I knew it wouldn’t be long before the nausea started. It had been growling rather loudly and Devin could hear it over the phone, causing him to laugh. He said it sounded like a bear cub. I laughed it off but now I knew I needed to eat or else I’d make myself sick. It was late so I quietly made my way downstairs. I wasn’t expecting my father and Rebecca to be awake but when I heard them having a silent argument I stopped cold and strained my ears to hear what they were whispering so fiercely about.
“It’s bad enough you did it behind my back but now you are purposely broadcasting it in front of my face.” My father didn’t sound to happy with whatever Rebecca was doing. “You’re coming in at all hours of the night, going god knows where in the day time and I’m tired of it. You told me you’d stop seeing him.”
Seeing him?
“I have stopped seeing him. What I do with my spare time is my business.”
“Not when you’re married, Rebecca. Not when you’re in a committed relationship. You shouldn’t have slept with him in the first place.”
I placed both my hands over my mouth to cover my gasp then took a step back only to have the floor boards creak under my feet and give me away. The whispering stopped and before my father could stick his head out his bedroom door, I quietly rounded the corner and went to the kitchen.
I tried my best to make my actions seem normal. I didn’t want my father to know that I’d been eavesdropping so I grabbed a plate from the cupboard and opened the refrigerator door.
“Layla?” I heard him call from his room. The floor squeaked a bit with every step he took as he neared the kitchen.
“Yeah, I’m in the kitchen.”
He flipped on the light and smiled at me. “Got hungry, didn’t you?”
I nodded. “I’m going to eat my dinner then head to bed.”
He looked at me for a moment and it made me uncomfortable.
“So what are you still doing up?” I asked. I’d began warming up my food and had no other choice but to look at him.
He shrugged. “Can’t sleep.”
I chewed the inside of my lip and tried my best to sound concerned. “Rebecca still not home?”
Crossing his arms he said, “No, she’s…in bed. She’s out cold. I just couldn’t sleep.”
I nodded and turned to check my food. I wasn’t exactly sure why he was lying but I didn’t like it. This family was tuning out to be a bunch of lies. I was lying to him, he was lying to me, and Rebecca was apparently lying to him.
The microwaves timer went off and I removed my food then walked past him.
“See you in the morning, papa. Try and get some sleep.”
He nodded as I made my way up the stairs.
I suspected something was going on with them but now that I actually knew what it was, I couldn't believe it. I mean, to be honest I suspected but I never.... I never really thought she would actually step out on my father. I just....I realized now that that was why she didn’t care about leaving him. She didn’t want this move because she was already seeing someone else here. Just like me. She would risk losing my father just for this one mad that she had slept with. This was an all time low for Rebecca.
And why the hell was my father still with her if she had committed such an act? He was a smart and handsome man. He’d do just fine on his own.
I could only figure that he really, truly loved this woman. He loved her so much that he was willing to stay with her after she repeatedly lied and cheated on him.

Chapter Forty Two

Chapter Forty-Two
We sat at the dinner table, looking like one big happy family. My father was cutting the ham while Rebecca passed around the bread. Devin sat next to me, just like he had the first night we’d had dinner together, and I sat looking at all the food I’d helped my father prepare.
Rebecca had mentioned Devin had no plans for the Thanksgiving holiday and my father, out of courtesy for the both of us, offered to invite him over. He wasn’t too happy about the fact we both complied so quickly but it was his idea after all. I was very glad my father was making an effort not to hate Devin. There really wasn’t any reason for him to dislike him, he barely even knew him.
My father and Rebecca weren’t doing much talking besides bickering every once in a while causing Devin to look at me curiously. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t even supposed to know what they were bickering about. But it was becoming hard to sit there and listen to them and not say anything.
“So how has your short vacation been, Layla?” Devin asked.
I looked his way and gave a small smile, knowing he was just trying to settle the tense atmosphere.
“It’s been…good actually. I have gotten some of my final report done for your class which is good.”
I didn’t need to tell him this, we had just talked last night about it and I had asked him then if he would help me on it. His answer, of course, was no. It wasn’t fair if he helped me and not the others. It was just small talk for the table. That and keeping up appearances with my family.
“And yours?” I asked holding back a smile.
“Fine really. Thank you. Rebecca’s been keeping me up to date with my paintings and you all are keeping me busy with grading paperwork.”
I shrugged. “The class is finally bringing their grades up I hope.”
Now he smiled. “Actually no. But your grades are fine as always.”
I watched my father through our entire conversation and not once did he look at me. But he kept glancing over at his wife who never once looked at him, only her plate.
“How are things going at work, papa?” I asked hoping to get a little something out of him.
“Hmm? Oh, nothing new.”
“Of course not.” Rebecca commented. “Why would we expect anything new?”
“I don’t know, why do I expect anything new from you?”
Devin’s eyes widened and I excused myself from the table for a moment, unable to take the snide comments anymore.
I just needed a break from the hostility. So I went to the bathroom for a minute and just leaned against the wall. When I came out a moment later Devin was leaning on the wall opposite of the door.
“What are you doing here?” I mouthed.
He shrugged then pulled me from the doorway and into a gentle kiss and hug.
“I’ve been wanting to do that since I got here.”
I glanced down the hallway to make sure we had a bit of privacy.
“What’s up with them?” He whispered into my ear.
I pulled away from him and shrugged.
He knew that wasn’t true as he raised an eyebrow at me.
I could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t too happy with me. He wanted to know what was going on and I couldn’t tell him yet. Not with my parents being in hearing distance. They were literally down the hall and I was certain if I told him Rebecca had cheated on my father he’d have an outburst. That or it would be far more uncomfortable than it already was.
There wasn’t much talking besides what Devin and I were doing and it was starting to get aggravating. They’d never fought like this before.
He placed his hands on my hips and pursed his lips in a begging expression.
“Tell me what’s bothering you.” He mouthed.
Biting the inside of my cheek, I contemplated telling him. Could he handle it. I mean it couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, right?
I pulled him closer and whisper their secret into his ear.
When I released him, he straightened slowly. The expression on his face was clearly confused.
“Do you know who it is?” He asked.
I looked towards the end of the hallway then back at him. Shaking my head, I mumbled a no.
He then did something I didn’t suspect. He kissed me again. He brought his mouth down to mine hungrily and walked me across the small hallway, pressing my back against the wall.
He left me breathless as he released me and I let out a heady giggle.
“I love you more than anything.” He placed his hands on my arms and slowly slid them down to my hands.
“I love you, too.”
I wasn’t sure why he was so affectionate but I wasn’t complaining.
As I began to walk back to the kitchen he pulled me back causing me to raise an eyebrow at him.
“Guys finish first.” He shrugged.
“Yeah but I left first.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s a rule or something.”
After shrugging and rolling my eyes at his childishness, I let him go back to the kitchen first. I waited a moment before following suit.
Though I expected things to be…a bit more tense, I was wrong. Devin actually tried to talk with my father and Rebecca. Not about her affair but about anything. Both replied back to him but never initiated a conversation nor did they talk directly to each other.
This was the worse I’d ever seen it get.
At least until my father finally began a topic.
“I was going to wait until after company left to tell you but I guess now’s a good a time as any. I talked it over with my supervisors and, though they weren’t too thrilled with it, they’ve decided to postpone my move. That is, if you all still are not ready in time for our actually leaving. They are still hiring people for positions so they don’t technically need me until the end of May, early June.”
“Next year? So…that means La-you all won’t be leaving until school lets out?” Devin looked my way and tried to control the smile that was creeping over his face.
I, on the other hand, was still a bit shocked. Devin was right, that meant I could graduate with my classmates and figure out a way to stay with Devin. If I decided to change my college plans and go somewhere nearby I could stay in the State. I didn’t think my father would mind so long as I was taken care of, living in a dorm, had a stable job and promised to contact him daily.
It would take some getting used to but there was no doubt in my mind he’d be able to handle it. He’d have to anyway if I was leaving in a year or two.
“Yes,” my father answered. “Which will give you two time to adjust to the situation.”
I knew my father wasn’t talking about Devin and I but it felt that way.
“I understand that it’s a drastic change for the both of you, specifically Rebecca since she’s never been out of the country before. For Layla because you’re leaving a lot behind. But this will give you time to say your goodbyes, graduate and we’ll be able to start fresh somewhere else.”
I looked over at Rebecca and saw that she still wasn’t too pleased with the arrangements. I knew she wouldn’t be happy until he said we could stay here permanently. And I knew my father. He was doing this to benefit all of us in some way. He was trying to help us all financially, to help Rebecca’s relationship with my father and to bring us all closer together as a family.
But what he didn’t realize was that there was a possibility he was pushing us away. More importantly, pushing his wife away. Or was she already pushing away? Maybe that was why we were moving. Like he said, to start fresh.
I did my best to smile and seem happy. I mean, I was happy that Devin and I had more time. There were no buts in this scenario. I was happy.
“That’s…that’s great news papa. Really, it is.”
“Yeah, it is, Abiden.”
My father raised an eyebrow at him.
“Mr. Bungah, sorry.”
Devin then busied himself with his food causing me to shoot my father a stern look.
He was treating Devin as if he was a teenage boy when he wasn’t. Devin deserved a bit of respect. He was twenty-four, not fourteen.
My father’s puzzled gaze didn’t fool me. He knew exactly what he was doing.
Dinner, or rather our late lunch, went a lot smoother after my father’s announcement.
Everyone but Rebecca spoke to each other. And surprisingly my father initiated conversations with Devin.
He wanted to know how I was doing in class and if Devin was enjoying teaching.
Devin gave a lighthearted yes to liking teaching then went on to explain how well I was doing and how bright I was. He definitely recommended I attend college for writing.
“Actually I’m teaching a course on creative writing during the winter break if you’d allow her. I’d talked to her once about it but she turned it down.”
My father looked at me as I tried not to give Devin the fiery eyes of death. “And why would you do that?” He asked truly curious.
Looking down at my nearly finished food, I shrugged. “I doubt there will be a lot of people signing up.”
“I’ve already gotten five definitely.” Devin chimed in.
“Are there any expenses?”
Devin shook his head at my father question. “No. None.”
“Then you might as well, Layla. It wouldn’t hurt. It could only prepare and help you.”
“I guess.”
I wasn’t too thrilled with the fact Devin had brought this up. I liked writing but I liked knowing it was my thing. Finding out other classmates liked to write or possibly wrote better than I did concerned me a little.
Devin didn’t know my fears which was why he brought it up in the first place. He was normally pretty in tune with my feelings so it surprised me that he couldn’t feel the heat radiating from my body.
I wasn’t angry that he’d told my father about the classes, but I was a bit upset.

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Three
“I don’t understand why you are so upset.”
I closed my eyes and sighed for the umpteenth time since I’d reentered his classroom fifteen minutes ago.
“I’m not upset. I’m fine.”
“You’re lying. Your eye is doing that twitching again.”
As I placed a hand over my right eye I said, “I’m fine. Not angry, not upset. I’m fine.”
But I wasn’t. This thing with my father and Rebecca had me on edge. I hadn’t really noticed how unhappy they were before. But now that I knew their secret, I could tell every time they were upset with each other. They wouldn’t talk with each other, my father would spend all his time in the living room or spare bedroom and Rebecca would either come in late or leave early.
Even though my father had changed around some of his life for this woman she didn’t care. But when the coin was reversed?
My father cared for this woman enough to talk with his bosses and see if he could our trip postponed. Rebecca cared enough for my father to marry a man who could possibly have to move across the world in a split second. I knew they both loved each other, at least a little or else they wouldn’t have gotten married. It was just…
I wasn’t sure where it went wrong, it just did.
School had resumed and they were still at each other’s throats. Well, not literally. They were doing more ignoring each other than actual fighting. Which I was a bit happy about. I didn’t need them yelling at all hours of the night, every night. But it was doing more upsetting me than actually making me happy. I liked that they were at odds but not at the expense of my father’s happiness.
My father was upset, even though he was trying his best to hide it from me. I could definitely tell. I mean, if my wife was cheating on me I’d be upset, irate even.
Devin cupped my face with his hands and made me look him in the eyes. He knew eye contact was the key to making me tell the truth. My eyes were also my tells and I knew it. Which was why I tried my best to look him in the eyes and not avert them. I failed. Which caused him to smile devilishly then place a gentle kiss on my lips.
“I understand if you don’t want to tell me what’s up. But if it was something vitally important going on with you…you’d tell me right?”
I nodded. “Of course.”
He looked at me for another moment then asked, “Have you given anymore thought about my offer?”
I took hold of his hands to remove them from my face as I backed away from him.
“I’m not trying to pressure you.” He told me. “I’d never try to do that. But in light of the news you father gave us…I would kind of like to know if-”
“Why?” I asked turning away from him. “Why do you want to marry me? You know I may be leaving , you know this thing between us will never work out. We will always be the odd couple. So why?”
“Don’t say because you love me-”
“Why is that not a good answer or reason?”
I didn’t have to look his way to know that he was becoming angry but I did anyway. It showed in his eyes along with his tone and posture.
“Yes, I love you. Is that such a bad thing? Is it such a bad thing that I want to be with you?”
“I. Am. Eighteen. We’ve been…dating, sleeping together, seeing each other, whatever it is that you want to call it, since I was seventeen. What part of that do you not think is wrong? What part of that do you think the law is going to approve of? So…forgive me if I’m not picturing the happy ending like you are. It’s not like was can just come right out and say we’re in love because it just doesn’t happen overnight. They are going to want a story. And what do we tell them? Hmm? What exactly do I tell my father that will not make him want to come after you with a wet brick and beat the hell out of you? I just can’t see it. I can’t And I’m not trying to start an argument. I’m just not, so you can wipe that angry look off your face. Go on, wipe it off because I just want you to think about it. You are such a happy go lucky man, Devin. You think of the good, your really do. But you have to think of the bad too.”
He smiled a bit. “You know you basically just described yourself, don’t you. These are your fears not mine. I am not afraid of your father.” The look I gave him made him backpedal a bit. “Alright, I am a little. But he is just a tiny dot on my radar compared to how I feel about you. I want you to be happy. I know you say you are but I can tell you aren’t. You haven’t been happy for a while now and I understand that I am partly to blame for that. I just…I just want you to be happy.”
“And you think you being killed or locked away forever is going to make me happy?”
“No, but-”
“Exactly. So let’s just put this whole proposal thing on the back burner for a while. At least until I can figure out if I’m staying or not.”
He nodded then gave me a strange look. “Oh, you’re staying. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t care what we have to do. You are not moving back to your home country. It’s just not happening. That’s too far. You just need to realize that no matter what happens I’ll be here for you. Because I love you.”
I nodded knowing he meant it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, well, a bit. But that was my problem. It was just hard for me to trust people enough to let them get close to me.
I’d done it with Jack, dove right into a relationship without hesitation and nothing bad happened. I’d done also done it with Devin so why should things be any different?
The difference was that I hadn’t slept with Jack without know much about him. I hadn’t fallen head over heels, without trying to sound too cliché, for a man I didn’t really know.
But now I had. And it scared me. I didn’t want to get hurt, and that’s all Devin ever said he wouldn’t do.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. He wouldn’t hurt me. I’d finally been told his background and nothing about him scared me. Not even his criminal past. He wouldn’t hurt me. I was certain of it.
“Why are you shaking your head?” He asked.
“Nothing, just clearing my thoughts.”
“Do you mind telling me your thoughts?” He took hold of my hand and intertwined out fingers.
I hesitated for a moment. My fears were irrational. Did I want him to know I didn’t trust him? He wanted to know the truth. So that’s what I gave him.
“I have trust issues. So know that it’s probably nothing you did. I just…I have a hard time…I just have a hard time trusting people, that’s all.”
He looked down at our locked hands. “And you have a hard time trusting me.” He sighed. “Layla…there’s something…I need you to…”
Before he could tell me whatever it was my cell phone vibrated in my pocket interrupting him.
He released my hand and walked away from me. “You should probably take that.”
I stared at him for a moment then answered my phone.
Rebecca was on the other end screaming at me about being late for my appointment.
I swore under my breath, causing Devin to turn around concerned. I shook my head at him and told Rebecca I’d be home in a minute.
After hanging up Devin asked if everything was alright.
“Yeah, I forgot. I’ve got a doctors appointment today at four.”
He looked at his watch. “It’s twenty past three. You need to leave.”
“Well, it can wait. What were you going to tell me?”
He smiled but it was forced. “It’s…it’s nothing important.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. I didn’t want to leave if something was troubling him.
“Yeah, it’s fine. You’re going to be late. Go one.”
I went to retrieve my bag but came back to stand on my toes and kiss him. He held my face deepening the kiss.
He released me and just stared down at me for a moment while I stared back at him. I didn’t want to read into it but I had no choice. This kiss, it was just like the one he’d given me the first night he found out what Miller had done to me. It was pained, filled with longing.
I thought about that kiss the entire ride home. That and what he could have possibly wanted to tell me.

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Four
Rebecca and I sat in the stale waiting room of our family physician. Others sat around us in small metal chairs with colorful printed backs. The quiet murmur of people was just above the hum of sixties music coming from the walls. The female receptionist smiled each time someone new entered our space, filling the air with his or her own person scent. They were mainly older people who wore too much cologne or perfume to mask the smell of lingering death.
I very much disliked going to the doctor’s office.
Nothing was ever wrong with me besides possible a small cold or slight temperature resulting in me taking cold medicine for a few weeks until it dissipated.
Rebecca sat next to me, red stilettos-or at least I thought they were stilettos, all high heel shoes seemed to be stilettos to me- constantly tap taping away on the black and white checkered flooring. Apparently, my coming home a few minutes late hindered her schedule. She had something far more important to do than take me to the doctor and find out the same exact thing every time, her words not mine.
We had gotten here a few minutes past my appointment time which meant we had to wait until something opened up. Rebecca tried to explain her situation but the receptionist was new. She didn’t know of our situation.
Rebecca constantly checked her cell for the time. She wouldn’t tell me what it was she had to do nor did I care. I just needed her here because she was my ride. If they gave me a powerful shot or something I wouldn’t be able to drive home.
I looked at the round clock on the wall adjacent from me. It had only been fifteen minutes but Rebecca’s sighing and groans made it seem like an hour.
Finally, after checking her phone once more, she stood abruptly and walked up to the receptionists’ desk.
“How much longer are we going to have to wait?” Her voice not only carried a tone of annoyance but so did her posture.
The woman at the desk saw this and looked past her and at me. I shrugged and looked elsewhere.
“You came late ma’am-”
“That’s not my fault.” Rebecca interrupted.
“and you’ll just have to wait your turn.” She continued.
It was a moment before Rebecca turned around. She just stood there, staring the woman down. Finally, she turned with a huff.
“You have my cell number.” She told me. “Call me when you’re done.”
She then stormed out of the office, causing a scene.
I never met any of the questioning gazes around me.
Another five minutes passed and finally a nurse poked her brunette head through the once closed door and called me back.
“And how are you today?” She asked politely.
I smiled back at her. “Fine, and you?”
Her smile was genuine. “Wonderful, thank you.”
She led me to the scale, which was only a few steps from the door we’d just passed through. I stepped on it, fearing the results.
The nurse moved the first and largest bar to the right a space, then the next again to the right until the rod balanced itself out slightly. It still wasn’t right so she moved the next bar to the right, then to the left a bit.
She still wore her smile as she wrote down my weight and height. It wasn’t as bad as I suspected. I’d only gained six pounds since my last appointment, which was normal for me. My weight always fluctuated.
Our next location was an examination room, where she sat me down to check my blood pressure and sugar.
Both were a bit high for me but nothing critical. Next, my temperature which again was a bit higher than normal but nothing that required me to fret. She did that annoying knee reflex thing and told me I was fine with that.
My vitals were fine, meaning I was fine. Nothing to worry about.
She left me then, after telling me the doctor would be in next to examine me.
I sat on the bed or chair thing, trying not to move so I wouldn’t disturb the white paper I was seated on. The walls around me were a medium green, containing posters for different diseases, how to prevent them, and different certificates for the different doctors who worked here.
Soon a woman I didn’t recognize came into the room.
Just like everyone else, she was all smiles but wearing different scrubs.
“Hey there, you must be Ms. Bun-”
“Call me Layla.” I smiled. “You’re new; I’ve never seen you before.”
“Yes.” She nodded. “I just transferred actually. About two weeks ago. I’m still trying to get the hang of things here.”
She began to look over my chart.
“Alright, so what can I do for you today? How have you been feeling?”
“Run down.” I admitted. “Though for the past couple of days I’ve been feeling better.”
“You’ve just been really tired.” She confirmed before she wrote it down in my chart. “Have you been taking any vitamins or medications?”
I shook my head. “Well, except for the occasional pain killer but nothing hardcore. Just the basic Advil.”
She nodded. “Just making sure. I see here that you’re also here for your Depo?”
I nodded.
“How have those been working for you?”
I wasn’t sure what she meant so she elaborated.
“Any bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea…”
“Bloating.” I laughed. “Definitely. I was sick not too long ago so vomiting but that was just from the food poisoning. I did have my period for about a night about three weeks ago, I think. But that’s normal.”
She nodded again as she wrote everything down. “I see that’s happened a few rimes before in the past?”
“Yeah, which was why I wasn’t too concerned.”
“It’s normal. The injection does not stop the cycle permanently, just sometimes. There’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll still have one every once in a while. Anything else?”
I thought for a moment. “No, I think that’s it. I just come here for the shot and check up.”
“I see that you also need to go the ER to get checked out.”
“Yeah, to make sure I’m basically tumor free.”
“Hmm. I see that. May I ask how you feel about that?”
I shrugged. “It’s not much they can do to prevent it. I have my mother’s genes so there’s a possibility I could get one day. We just want to make sure to catch it early.
She smiled. “Very good. I can set up your appointments for your blood tests, CT, MRI, and X-ray while you go to the nurse up front to get your shot.”
This was the part I hated. I didn’t mind getting shots in the arm but the butt? Not my cup of tea.
“Oh, before I forget. I’m writing you a prescription for some vitamins. You can get them across the hall at the pharmacy after you leave. I’m positive it’s just your body coming off of the Depo and once you get another your body chemistry will regulate. But it wouldn’t hurt for you to start taking vitamins. Once those run out you can probably just get some for any store. Anything you think will help.
I nodded and followed her from the exam room to the nurses room in the front of the building. It was where I normally got my shots, where everyone got their shots actually.
She left me with the first nurse who had take my vitals then closed the door behind her.
The shot hurt but didn’t take two minutes to administer. My bum hurt but I knew it would only be that way for a bit.
When I came out the woman at front desk waived me over.
“There’s been a bit of an issue with making your appointments. I can’t seem to get you in until the twelfth of December.”
That was…two weeks from now. Yeah, I tried my best to do the mental math calendar in my head. I wasn’t sure if my father would like that but if that was when they could fit me in for all the tests in one day, who was I to judge. It didn’t normally take that long, a week tops.
“Hmm, yeah, go ahead and book it, please.”
She nodded then confirmed my appointment over the phone.
I took a step back, resisting the urge to rub my right hip, and began to call Rebecca.
It took Rebecca about an hour and a half to come pick me up. During her absence I took the time to pick up my script from across the hall. When I’d gotten back into the waiting room, before I could take my seat, my regular doctor called my name.
“Why are you waiting out there like a stranger?” He asked causing me to shrug and the new receptionist to look at me curiously. “Come in here, how’s school going?”
I grabbed my purse then went back into the main office.
“Good, I’ve been getting all A’s and B’s.”
Dr. Lovelace smiled. “And the Spanish class?”
I sighed, taking a seat in one of the empty office chairs. “Not as bad as it used to be. I see you’ve acquired quite a few new staff members. Debbie didn’t work out?”
He just shrugged. “No, not really. Ann should be in with Mindy in just a bit.”
“How’s she doing in her soccer games?”
Mindy was Ann and Christopher’s seven year old daughter. I hadn’t seen her since my last visit. Normally when the fair came in to town my father and I would take her seeing as her parents didn’t like to ride the rides. I’d forgotten this time but I was certain they had gone another night.
“Scoring goals like always, and competitive.” He laughed, looking at his watch. “I’ve got to get back to work, but I trust you’re staying out of trouble? Keeping away from those troublesome boys?”
I nodded and lied like I had been doing since I’d moved here. “Yes, sir.”
He scuffed my hair like her normally did. “Good girl.”
He turned to the new receptionist. “I’m going for a cig break before I get back to it.”
He winked at me and I knew it was because he was supposed to be quitting. It was more like he was going to sneak a cigarette before Mindy came back.
Ann and Mindy came into the office a bit after that and Mindy rammed into me, hugging my waist.
“And how have you been, Layla?” Ann asked taking a seat behind her desk.
“Pretty good.” I shrugged, chewing the inside of my lip. “You?”
“Tired.” She laughed. “Keeping up with two children and running this office…it’s hard work.”
Mindy was an only child but I knew she was talking about the hyperactive Christopher. Both suffered from HDHD and needed constant grounding to make sure they didn’t run amuck, so to speak.
I played and talked with Mindy until Rebecca came back, which wasn’t too long. I’d already waited a little over thirty minutes for the pharmacy to call the office and tell them my meds were ready.
Rebecca didn’t speak to me the entire ride home, which wasn’t surprising. We barely spoke to each other when it was just the two of us.
My father wasn’t home when we got there so it shock me when she spoke.
“So…are you just not going to tell me what the doctor said?”
It was a moment before I spoke.
“I didn’t think you cared.”
Her cold expression never changed. “I don’t, really. I just want to make sure you aren’t dying.”
“Like you’d care?”
“I would. It would kill you father.”
I sighed. “I’m not dying. That I know of. You know just like I do that the next appointment is what really determines things. It’s in about two weeks. But other than that…I’m fine.”
She nodded then let me leave.
I felt fine. So…I was fine. I was. Repeating those words seemed to be the only thing that ever got me to relax after a doctor’s appointment.

Chapter Forty Five-END

Chapter Forty-Five
“How’d it go?” Devin asked as soon as I reentered his classroom. It was actually a lot easier to do now that the police weren’t around anymore, though the security cameras the school was planning to install were going to be a problem.
I sighed, repeating what I’d texted him the night before. “It went fine. I’m fine. I told you last night.”
He nodded. “Yeah but I can’t see and hear your emotions through text. And when I tried calling you, you didn’t answer.”
“My father had me busy last night finishing your final report.”
“So…you got it done already?”
I nodded.
“But it’s not due until the sixth”
“Yeah, that’s next week.”
His mouth formed an Oh. “Right.”
“Yes, Devin. You’ll have a boatload of papers to grade before the fourteenth.”
The fourteenth was the last day of the semester. Winter break began the seventeenth and ended January the third. It would be the beginning of a new year and the end to all the rumors of the world ending.
Shrugging, he said, “I’ll get them done in time. But seeing as it’s so close to Christmas time, what is it you want?”
“I don’t care. Nothing really.” It was what I’d been telling everyone who asked. I didn’t really want anything materialistic. “What do you want?”
He stood and walked over to where I leaned against the wall. His right hand hovered next to my cheek for a moment then brushed a strand of hair from my face, only to have it fall back into place.
“I’ve already gotten part of what I wanted. More time with you. Now all I need is you to be healthy.”
I lowered my head, looking at his light blue stripped button down shirt. He always dressed like a gentleman when he was at work. In his down time he was just as sexy but he looked…normal. He looked more like someone you’d see on the street rather than a teacher with his button down shirt and tie.
He tilted my head up to meet his gaze. After a moment he smiled causing a light blush to rush to my checks and neck.
“You have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.”
I tried my best to hold back my smile but it wasn’t possible. So instead I tried to change the subject to one that would keep my face from flushing.
“Marina told me they’re placing security cameras in the halls and most classrooms.”
This caused his provocative mood to darken a bit as he nodded.
“I heard and don’t blame them. It’s about time they enforced better security. It prevents mistakes from being made.”
When I agreed with him, his eyes widened. However, they went back to their flirtatiousness as soon as the sly smile crossed my face. He wasn’t the only one who could be a tease.
“You caught that, didn’t you?” He asked, again touching my face with his fingertips.
I nodded. “What we have is not a mistake. I know that, and so do you. The mistakes I’m talking about are teachers cursing at their students or starting fights resulting in the suspension of the kid. It’s not fair.”
He nodded. “You know if they install them…this will have to stop.”
“Hmm, probably. But we’ll figure something out. We won’t be able to meet here, at school, but at the dock.”
“You’re fidgeting.” He commented, amused.
I hadn’t noticed until he pointed it out. I stuffed my hands in my jacket pockets. It was a nervous habit and he knew it.
“Don’t worry about it. Things will work themselves out, they always do. In the mean time we just need to be a bit more cautious of where we…”
My smile was small though my mind was reeling with all the times we’d carelessly snuck around in this classroom. Someone could have easily come in and caught us.
We were reckless. Miller had figured us out easily.
Miller. Thinking of his name reminded me.
“Have you heard anything new on Miller’s case?” I asked though already knew the answer.
“No.” He shook his head slowly. “And-”
“You don’t care. Yeah, I know. You’ve told me.”
He smiled though it was a bit darker than normal.
“You’ve learned. It’s not that I don’t care that he’s missing with our secret. It’s the-”
“I know. You don’t have to explain. I get it. Trust me.”
I didn’t need to keep hearing him explain that he didn’t care if Miller lived or died. It was cruel. Even if what Miller had done to me was wrong he wouldn’t have had a reason if we didn’t give one to him.
“You’re upset.” He stated, lightly placing his hands on my shoulders.
“No, actually not at all. Just…understand your reasoning.”
“So…no argument.” He smiled.
“Nope,” I said popping the P. “None.”
“Would you start an argument with me if I asked if you were truly going to come to the winter writers club?”
“Of course not.”
His hands slid down my arms then connected with my stomach. There were only there for a brief moment when a strange look came across his face. He pulled his hands from my abdomen quickly.
“What the hell was that?” He asked lifting my jacket uncomfortably and placing a hand there.
“Whoa, what are you doing?” I was a bit confused as to what he meant.
He slid his hand across my smooth stomach slowly.
“You didn’t feel that?”
“Feel what?” At that moment my stomach growled and the skin there trembled, causing me to laugh. “I’m just hungry.”
He stared at me for a moment. “I don’t think…I felt-”
“You felt my stomach growling, that’s it. I’m hungry, so…I’m going to head out.”
He nodded, pulling my jacket down.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
I shrugged nonchalant. “Maybe, maybe not.”
He raised an eyebrow at me. “So you’re ditching class now?”
“Oh, no.” I chuckled. “No, I forgot. There was class tomorrow. I just…get my time mixed up when I’m with you.”
Now he chuckled. “So do I. Sometimes I have to remind myself to give you space. I just want to talk and be with you all the time.”
I bit my bottom lip. “That’s not creepy at all.”
He chuckled darkly once more then pulled me into his arms, leaving a trail of kisses from my forehead to my neck.
My stomach rumbling loudly made him stop and look at me curiously.
“Do you ever feed that thing?” He joked.
“Hardly. I need to go before it gets angry.”
His hand stroked my face gently before he let me leave.

Chapter Forty-Six

“Come on,” I pleaded to Marina over the phone. “It’s only like for an hour and a half. For two days out of the week. Just come with me.”
I was trying my best to get her to this winter writers club tomorrow. Yes, it was tomorrow. Marina was the type of person who, when had time to think about things, changed her mind quite often. So with her, everything was spontaneous and last minute.
“I don’t-”
“Want me to be alone so yes, you’ll come?”
I could almost see her smiling through the phone as she laughed. “But it’s-”
“Going to be loads of fun and you’ll see me tomorrow?” I asked again cutting her off.
She laughed loudly. “You’ve got to stop doing that, but yes. I will go. What time is it?”
I mumbled the answer. Knowing that if she knew she’d cause a fuss.
“Layla, don’t play. What time is this thing?”
“Eight thirty.” I admitted.
“In the morn? No, heck no. I hated getting up that early to go to church.”
“But you don’t-”
“Exactly, Layla. Eggs-actly.”
“Really? Eggs?”
“I’m hungry. And don’t change the subject. What’s in it for me?”
Now I smiled. He was my secret weapon. She could look but she couldn’t touch. Besides, hot guys were always going to be Marina’s weakness.
“Mr. Simmons is teaching it and I’m pretty sure there’ll be some really hot Goth guys.”
“Hmm, honey childe!” She moaned. “You know I love me a work in progress.” Again, she slipped into her southern accent she had been perfecting. And perfect it she did. It was eerie how good it was.
“So that’s a yes?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there bright and early. But if you want me to be there you’re going to have to let me off the phone, lady. It’s late.”
I looked at the clock on my bedside table. Yeah, it was going on two in the morning. We’d spent most the night talking about things we hadn’t discussed in what seemed like forever. It was nice to just talk to Marina and not have to lie. I’d forgotten how easy it was to be a teenager with no worries.
Though she, just like everyone else had wanted to know about my test results. I told her just like I’d told Devin and Jack, that the people at the hospital said it would take a minute for the test results. They were a small hospital, after all, and they needed to send most of my test somewhere else. It was normal, they did it every time I came. Certain scans like the one they did on my brain came back immediately, they were always normal.
I didn’t blame her for being concerned and, after she found out I was okay, we went back to talking about what we’d been up to. That was why I loved Marina. She never took anything seriously.
I hung up with her then, heading to bed myself.
I woke in the morning, ready for anything the world could through at me. That is, until I actually arrived at the school. Marina was standing by my locker and instead of the ecstatic, hyperactive girl I was used to, she gazed down at her colorful shoes a bit solemn.
When I reached my locker she took a step to the right, giving me space to open it. She stared at me while I twisted the combination and while I took a notebook out.
“So were you ever going to tell me?” She asked after a moment.
“Tell you what?” I asked closing my locker.
“I thought I was your sister.”
Raising an eyebrow at her I said, “You are. Why would you say that?”
“Because a real sister wouldn’t keep things from me. My sister wouldn’t keep a hu-freaking-mungous secret from me causing me to find out by some pictures a missing freaking teacher sent me.” She took out a manila envelope and thrust it into my chest. “What the hell? Are you nuts?”
I didn’t need to open it. I recognized the envelope as being the one on Miller’s desk the day he showed Devin and I proof.
“What’s going on, Layla? Why does Miller have photos of you and Devin…what the hell are you two doing?
“I was going to tell you.”
“Tell me what? Are you cheating on Jack? Does he know?” My face gave way to the answer. “He doesn’t. Does he?”
I shook my head.
“Oh, Layla. What have you done? I mean he’s your teacher.” She whispered. “He’s old.”
I stared at her for a moment.
“Okay, so he’s not old but he’s still twenty-five, twenty six? That’s illegal isn’t it?”
I nodded. Knowing that if I told her age was just a number her reply would be that a jail cell is just room. This was a big deal.
“No,” I said. “Not me. Him. Which is why no one can find out. I’m eighteen now but if anyone knew what was going on they’d send him away and I couldn’t see him again.”
“What about Jack?” Her eyes filled with worry. For me?
“I don’t know.” I admitted. “I really don’t know. I love him.”
“Which one?”
I hesitated. “Both.”
She sighed. “God, Layla. Only you could get yourself into this situation.”
I shrugged. I’d only been saying that since this whole thing started.
“You have to choose, you know that right?”
I had chosen. I wanted Devin but I couldn’t tell Jack. I couldn’t hurt him.
“You have chosen, haven’t you?” She shook her head. “You have to tell Jack. You have to.”
“I will.” I whispered. “But for now you need to keep this under wraps, okay? This can’t be like my secret about moving. You can’t tell anyone.”
Realization lit her features. “Oh my gawd. The Halloween party? He slept over didn’t he? Did you two…why am I even asking that question? I wouldn’t blame you. He’s smoking hot. How long have you two been…sneaking around?”
I looked behind me to see a couple of students walking our way. When I looked back Marina was figuratively zipping her lips.
We followed the two students to Devin’s room and took a seat.
Throughout the class I couldn’t concentrate because Marina was looking from me to Devin. I was barely making eye contact with him which I knew concerned him. The fact that I was carrying a manila envelope when I entered the class concerned him, too.
He expressed this concern when I came back into the classroom when everyone left. He started for me until Marina came through the door behind me.
“Layla, Marina? Is there something I can I help you two girls with?”
“Cut the nice act, Mr. Sexy. The jig is up.”
Devin stared at me confusingly and I nodded. “Miller sent her these.”
I handed him the packet of photos and, after he looked inside, his eyes blazed with anger.
“So…do you love her?” Marina asked breaking the uncomfortable silence.
Devin sighed and took a seat. “Yeah, I do.”
“You better because you have gotten her into a shitty problem. The both of you have gotten yourselves into a shitty problem and my evil genius brain can’t figure out how to get you out of it. Have you two even thought about the consequences?”
“Jeez, Rina. You sound like your mom.”
“Well someone has to be the adult around here. Because obviously you two are acting like a couple of love strung teenagers.”
“In all fairness, Layla is a teenager…” Devin’s words trailed off as Marina gave him a stern look.
“That didn’t stop you from sleeping with her.”
“Marina,” I snapped. “That’s enough. Don’t be rude.”
“I think I’ve earned the right to be a bit snippy.” She told me. “You’ve been lying to me for how long? A few months probably. You’ve been acting very weird. And don’t think Jack hasn’t noticed. He talks to me when he can’t reach you, Layla. He’s concerned that he’s losing you.”
“He has lost her.” Devin mumbled not helping the situation any.
“I know, and I’m sorry for that. But-wait. He talks to you? Why is he calling you?”
She looked down at her feet. “I don’t see how you can be angry when you’ve been cheating on him for the past few months with your English teacher.”
“Why would I be angry?”
“She kissed him, Layla,” Devin said. “Students talk. It happened a while before I showed up.”
I looked at her. “Is that true?”
“We were drunk it meant nothing. It was just an innocent kiss, unlike the dirty you’ve been pulling.”
I couldn’t be upset with her. It wasn’t like I was any better. I was actually sleeping around with someone else. Jack had simply had one drunken mistake.
“Are you mad?” She asked. I could see the concern in her eyes. We were sister through thick and thin. All the lies definitely had to stop.
“No, I’m not mad. I mean, I should’ve seen it coming, you know? You told me you liked him then he asked me out…”
“No.” She walked over to me and hugged me. “Don’t make it seem like it was your fault. Well yeah, this is your fault, but not that. He liked you, so he asked you out. I was the crappy friend. I’m being a crappy friend right now.”
“Actually I’m the crappy sister. I should have never kept this from you.”
“You’re both crappy sisters, alright.” Devin chimed in. “Can you be trust to keep this a secret or not?”
I looked at Marina pleadingly. “Fine. But this is going to be the hardest thing I’ve had to do since that time I had to tell you that swim suit made you look fat.”
I hugged her, loving how easily she switched back to her old self.

Chapter Forty Seven
There was no sleep to be had last night. Not only was Marina constantly texting me about details of Devin and my relationship but my stomach was upset again and I wasn’t sure why.
But it didn’t stop me from getting out of bed so I could attended Devin’s class. It was pretty early, a little before eight so I was a bit surprised when the doorbell rang throughout the house.
I descended the stairs in my pajamas and slippers to answer the door but before I could make it halfway, a voice I hadn’t heard in weeks made me stop in my tracks.
“Mrs.…Bungah?” Jack’s father asked Rebecca.
“Yes. Can I help you officer?” She asked a bit hesitant.
“I’m sorry for the intrusion but I need to ask you a few questions, may I?”
It was a moment before she answered. “Um, yeah, sure. Come in.”
I snuck back up the stairs before they could see me as they headed to the living room. I stayed hidden behind the wall until I was certain it was okay to sneak back down.
“Coffee?” Rebecca asked.
“No, thank you. I just need to ask you a few questions about your relationship with a Larry Miller.”
Rebecca sighed.
“Is it true that you two were sexually involved?”
I nearly choked on my own spit. I put a hand to my mouth to stifle my shock.
“Yes, I assume my husband told you.”
My father knew she was cheating on him with Miller? Oh, god.
“Yes, he is no longer a suspect in his disappearance…”
“But I am.” It wasn’t a question.
“I am not saying that. I just want to get your side of the story. Did you love him?”
“God, no.” She laughed, then sighed. “I just…he was looking for a good time. At the time…so was I. It was a time that Abiden was working all the time. I felt like he wasn’t…he wasn’t there for me.”
“Do you still feel that way?”
“No, we’re working things out. He knows that I had a slip up a few times. But we’re working things out.”
“Can you tell me where you were the third weekend of November? We estimate that to be about the time Miller went missing.”
She thought for a moment. “I’m positive that was the weekend my step daughter was out of town. Abiden and I took that time to work on our marriage. We fought that Saturday but Sunday we went to a marriage counselor here in town.”
“Just making sure your story’s add up.”
“Do you mind if I ask if there are any leads? I know what we did was wrong but I wouldn’t want him dead, neither would my husband.”
“No, none at the moment. It’s a bit like he just disappeared into thin air.”
I could see her so I was unsure if she was nodding or not. I could hear them both stand so I slid back up the stair until Jack’s father left.
“You can come down now.” Rebecca commented.
She much have heard me at some point.
I came out from behind the wall.
“So…now you know.” She crossed her arms. “Look, I’m not perfect-”
“No one said you were. But I just can’t understand why you’d do it. My father loves you-”
“And I love him” She cut me off. “I do. We are getting past this, Layla. This whole thing with Miller’s disappearance has nothing to do with us. Nothing at all.”
Good, because for a moment I thought my father had killed him. For a fraction of a second. But I knew my father. He wouldn’t do anything that would jeopardize our family.
“I need to get ready for class.” I mumbled, backing up the stairs.
“I do love him, Layla. Honestly. He’s the best thing in my life. I realize that now.”
I nodded as I reached the top step.
“I believe you.”
I turned and went back to my room to start my day. I dressed quickly, wanting to get to class early enough to talk to Devin.
He’d wanted to know who Rebecca was having an affair with and I knew he’d be shocked to find out this information.
I smiled a bit deviously as I went to the kitchen and grabbed a green apple from the fridge. I was about to spread gossip. Marina would be so proud of me.
I shouted to Rebecca that I was leaving but I doubted she cared.
Once at school I headed to Devin’s classroom, knowing since class started in the next twenty minutes he’d be there.
He smiled as I came in but it dimmed a bit when I closed and locked the door.
“You know we can’t-”
“I know, but I have to tell you something.” I didn’t like the fact his mind automatically went to kinky classroom sex when he saw me.
He stood as I came towards him. For a moment I contemplated if he needed to know. Yes, it was juicy gossip but it was why my father had been so upset lately but then I thought about it. Devin worked with Rebecca, did he know all along?”
“Remember when I told you Rebecca was cheating on my father? I need you to be honest
with me, okay.”
I could tell by the look on his face he was seriously upset about something.
He took me in his arms and looked down into my eyes pleadingly.
“I wanted to tell you, Layla. I just…I didn’t know how. I never meant to hurt you.”
“So you knew she was sleeping with Miller and you didn’t tell me?”
“Miller? She slept with…” His words trailed off as his concerned expression changed to confused then quickly back to its original expression.
“Wait, so you didn’t know?” I asked pulling away from him a bit. “Then what-”
“Layla, love, hear me out.”
“What’s going on, Devin?”
I was trying my best to pull away from his grasp but he didn’t release me.
“What did you mean by that?”
“It’s not as bad as you think, okay? I was planning on telling you, I just didn’t know how.”
“Tell me what, Devin? Because a few moments ago I found out Miller slept with my step mum and I thought you knew but if you didn’t…”
Then it hit me. The reason he and Rebecca were still staying in touch, the fact he’d been so moody for the past few weeks. The nights he couldn’t tell me where he was going and the nights Rebecca got in late.
“Oh, God.” I croaked, yanking my body away from his. “Please…please, no.”
“Layla, please wait. I’m sorry.”
“You slept with her.” I was beginning to feel nauseated all over again.
“It meant nothing. I swear. It was at a time I didn’t even know she was married. She still went by her maiden name.”
“Liar, how many times, Devin? Because you two have been a little too cozy lately.”
“Layla, I swear to you. It meant nothing.”
“When was the last time you two slept with each other? Three months…two…”
He sighed. “Three weeks ago.”
Now I did vomit. I had barely made it to the wastebasket before I threw up my small breakfast.
“It meant nothing to me. She was…she was blackmailing me, Layla.”
“For what?” I nearly shouted, wiping my mouth. “For what?”
“I paid Miller to get lost, okay? I’m the reason he’s gone. I threatened him within an inch of his life then paid him to leave and never come back. She found out that I made him leave and was extremely upset. At first I thought she was just going to let it go but then she did some digging. Found out who I was exactly and found out my past. She told me she was going to tell the police I killed Miller if I didn’t...The situation was getting out of control. I had to do it…for us.”
“Shut up, just…shut up. I don’t want to hear anymore.”
“But I did it for us. If she told the police they would have done a hell of a lot more digging than she did and they would have found about us. I did this for you.”
“No, you did this for you, Devin. You did this for you. You said no more lies. No more lies…”
I closed my eyes and shook my head, tears falling from my face. “We were supposed to have a happy ending. You promised me and…you lied.”
He touched my arm slightly and I pulled away.
“Don’t touch me. I don’t…I can’t…”
I ran. I turned and ran from him, not caring who saw. When I ran into Marina in the hall I could tell she was confused but I was too upset to care. I was certain I looked a wreck, my whole face felt reddened.
I ran past her and to my car. I felt like such an idiot for ever trusting him. I’d been drowning in the lies I’d told to others but I never thought I’d have to worry about the lies from him. I promised him no lies, he did the same, and like a fool I believed him. I was just some ditzy schoolgirl with the hot’s for a man who would never change.
I wasn’t too sure where I was driving, I just was. My heart felt like it was ripping in two and my air kept getting cut off, causing me to gasp.
I’d gotten to the dock before my mind actually connected with my body and I wasn’t sure why but it comforted me a little. The water was frozen over and there was snow covering everything. It looked like a winter wonderland.
I stood at the dock, waiting for something to happen but I wasn’t sure what. For anything to just come and take me away from this nightmare.
It began a slight drizzle but it wasn’t rain that hit my cheeks and mixed with my slowly freezing tears, it was sleet. It hit my uncovered cheeks and stuck to my loose hair. I pulled at my coat and placed the hood on my head. The fuzzy lining brought immediate warmth to my chilled ears and face.
When I heard the snow shifting under someone’s feet I turned, half expecting Devin to have blown off class and followed me. My scream for him to leave me alone got cut short when I realized it was Jack instead of Devin walking towards me.
“Jack?” I asked a bit worried. “What are you doing here?”
“I think the better question is, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, I uh.” I just couldn’t think of another lie to tell him. “I just….”
“Save it, Layla.” He came closer. “Are you in love with him?”
His words were a bit choked, as if they were hard for him say.
“Do I love who?” I asked walking towards him, rubbing the water from my face. “What are you talking about?”
“Cut the crap. I know you’re sleeping with Simmons.”
I tried not to look as shocked as I felt. “What are you talking about?” I held up my hand to touch him only to have him grab my wrists painfully.
“Stop lying to me!” He shouted into my face.
“Jack.” I winced. “You’re hurting me.”
“Good. Maybe it’s time you hurt, too.” He tightened his grip as I tried to break free.
“Let go, Jack!” I yelled pulling back while still trying to keep my feet from slipping on the mush.
“Let go? You want me to let go just like you let us go?” His face was twisted with both pain and fury. “Do you love him, Layla?! Do you love him?!”
“Yes!” I shouted, stopping my struggle. “At least… I thought I did.”
His grip loosened and I pulled my hands from his. If he looked hurt before, now he was distraught.
“I’m sorry, Jack. I didn’t mean for things to happen like this.”
“Like what? You didn’t expect for me to find out about your slutty escapades?”
That felt like a slap to the face. “How’d-”
“I overheard you and Marina in the hall yesterday. But you know what is really upsetting? I knew. I knew all along something was going on with you. I just didn’t know exactly what it was. You two were always just…too close. I knew I had a right to not like him. All the weekends with you ‘father’? You missing my practices and games? I knew. But you were a sneaky bitch. Always having an excuse.”
I couldn’t really say anything. I didn’t know what to say even if I could. He knew. I guess I wasn’t as great a liar as I thought.
“Tell me why, Layla.” His voice was softer now as he closed his eyes.
I couldn’t. I didn’t know why.
“Tell me!” He began shouting again.
“Layla?” Devin asked from far behind Jack.
Jack turned to see Devin running flawlessly across the snow-covered parking lot.
I didn’t feel like talking to either one of them right now so I started for the lot only to have Jack grab my wrist and yank me back.
“No!” Jack shouted. “We still need to talk.”
“Not while you’re angry, Jack!” I didn’t want him to get hurt but I also didn’t want his hand wrapped so tightly around my wrist.
Devin had stopped a few feet away from me, hands held up in a pleading gesture. “Please, Jack, just let her go.”
“Why so you can continue sleeping with her, you pedophilic bastard. You’ve met my father, the cop? I can’t wait to tell him this information. I bet you even had something to do with Millers disappearance. I heard Marina say Miller gave her pictures. Proof of you two-” He broke off unable to finish.
While he spoke I still struggled for him to ease his grip.
“Layla didn’t mean for you to find out this way. She wanted to tell you, but I wouldn’t let her.”
“I doubt you forced yourself into her life. She seemed more than willing to me.”
I couldn’t help the tears that kept streaming down my face. It was true. I had been more than willing to hop on Devin’s love train and look where that had gotten me.
“Please, Jack. I didn’t-”
“No, Layla, you did. And since you clearly don’t care about us anymore…fine. Be with the pedophile.
He released my arm and instead of balancing myself out, I slipped on the slush. My feet couldn’t get friction on the ground and as I slipped I slid backwards. My feet tangled and I knew I was going to fall harder, and it was going to be painful. I yelped as I lost my footing and fell off the dock and onto the frozen lake. Things went a little hazy as my back met the ice then my head.
I looked up at the grey sky a little dazed with the loud high pitch ringing in my ears. But what was louder than the ringing was the sound of the thin ice cracking under my body. I fell through before I could get the strength to stand.
When I fell through I tried my best to swim to the top but I couldn’t find the opening. The water was too cold for me to open my eyes and for my body to want to save itself. My head was throbbing and I was finding it harder and harder to focus. Finally I felt my body numb and to be honest I didn’t care.
I was certain I was drowning and I only found the irony suitable. Things slowly went dark as I couldn’t hold my breath anymore.
Then all at once I could breathe again. I was choking on the air that was being forced into my lungs and the freezing water that was leaving them. Devin’s dripping face hovered above mine as he said something my ears couldn’t hear. His face was concerned and began to fade away and get darker.

Chapter Forty-Eight
I woke groggily and with a headache.
“Layla?” A familiar voice asked next to me.
“Devin?” I croaked rolling my head towards the voice. My vision hadn’t adjusted to the bright lights above me.
The person hesitated then replied, “No, it’s papa.”
Now I tensed. Where was I? It was silent and smelt somewhat stale. I definitely wasn’t at the dock anymore
“Papa?” I tried to sit up only to have a strong hand push my arm back down. “What happened?”
My eyes finally adjusted and I could now tell I was lying on a hospital bed. The three walls were a light blue but the one with the door was green and had a large window with large blinds covering it.
“Layla,” he said deflating. “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
I didn’t say anything. What did he know?
“Layla,” he said again. “Why…why were you with Devin and Jack at the dock?”
“Jack and I had an English project. We went to the dock to ask Mr. Simmons…”
I broke off ass my father lowered his head in disappointment. “That’s not what they told me. Actually neither of them really said anything but are you really going to lie to me in your condition? Did you think you could hide this from me? And for how long, Layla?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Please, don’t act stupid. You can’t tell me you didn’t know you were pregnant.”
This shocked me. “Pregnant?” I couldn’t- No, there was no…We had been so careful.
“Words cannot express how…” He sighed. “Why have you been lying? Who’s the father? It’s the boy isn’t. Jack. I could just kill him.”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t think there was anything I could say to make this situation any better. Even if I could think of something, he probably wouldn’t believe me. Everything seemed to be crumbling down around me. My relationship with Devin, with Jack, my honor…my life…
It all seemed worth it at first, but now?
I looked away from him, trying my best to keep the tears from pooling over but failed.
“I’m sorry.”
He stood abruptly. “You can’t just cry your way out of this one, Layla. This is why I’ve tried my best to shelter you. Because when you’re out on your own you act…you don’t know how to say no. What was the one thing you mother and I taught you? Be your own person. Since we moved here you’ve…you’ve changed. I thought you were just maturing, hell, I guess you were. How long have you been…been…”
I looked at him. “For a while. Jack and I have been seeing each other for a while.”
“When were you going to tell me?”
“I wasn’t. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”
“How long have you known you were pregnant? Geez, Layla. You just went to the doctor. Did you tell them. Please tell me you told them so they could help you.”
I shook my head. “I didn’t know.”
“You didn’t know. You didn’t know? How the hell could you have not known? You’ve been having sex, no? Exactly, why the hell weren’t you being careful?”
“We were.” I mumbled. I was certain we were.
He rubbed his forehead.
“Papa, you need to calm down.”
His stare was stern and his eye twitched slightly. “Do not tell me to be calm. My baby is have a baby.”
“I am not a child anymore, papa.” I sighed.
“Clearly.” He scoffed. “But that didn’t stop you from making childish decisions.”
He turned and walked away from my bed. “I don’t know what you all were doing out there but you better be glad Devin jumped in after you. Apparently you little boyfriend was going to let you drown.”
“Jack can’t swim.” I explained, feeling tired. “He didn’t mean to make me fall off the dock.”
“He made you fall off? He’s the reason you’re here, fighting for your life?”
I rolled my eyes. Clearly I wasn’t dying. I was cold, yes. A bit of a headache, sure. My throat even hurt a bit. But dying I was not. Right?
There was a knock on the door, or I guess on the door frame since there wasn’t really a door there that I could see. My father turned, revealing Devin in sweats and a tee, wrapped in a heating blanket. There was a small towel on his shoulders but I could tell his hair was still a bit wet.
“Are you alright?” He asked staying in the doorway.
I turned my head away from him and stared at where my father once sat. It was a moment before I answered him. “I’m fine.”
“Layla…I didn’t mean…”
“What’s going on here?” My father asked causing us both to look his way.
“Nothing.” I answered a bit too quickly. “It’s nothing, papa. Mr. Simmons was just leaving.”
He stared at me for a moment. My eyes met the blanket that covered me quite a few times as I tried not to look at Devin, knowing if I did the waterworks would start all over again.
I met my father’s gaze once more and realized he wasn’t just looking at me curiously, he was putting two and two together.
His face turned a shade of red I hadn’t seen in years as he turned to Devin. “You son of a bitch. What the hell did you do?”
Devin said nothing as he stepped inside the room a bit more. He looked at me once more, eyes pleading.
“Is it true?” He asked me, ignoring my father’s question.
As I wiped away the stray tear that had escaped from the corner of my eye, he sighed. Though he wasn’t too upset, I could see the corner of his mouth twitch as he held back a smile. There was also that glimmer of hope in his emerald eyes.
Devin took a step towards me only to have my father intervene. He blocked Devin’s path and I quickly sat up despite the pain in my stomach and the fuzzy edges around the world. Before I could stop him, my father grabbed Devin and thrust him roughly against the wall.
“What the hell did you do to my daughter?” His voice was low and dangerous. “What the hell is going on here?”
I got out of bed, wobbling a bit as the world spun, and quickly went to my father. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to, if I should have done anything. Devin lied to me, made me feel like an idiot for trusting him. For letting him into my life. I should have let my father rough him up, just to scare him, but I was certain we would gain unneeded attention. And despite the fact Devin had lied to me, cheated on me…I still felt something for him. I still loved him. I didn’t want to see him harmed. Let alone, locked away.
“Papa,” I pleaded, tears streaming down my face and clutching one of the arms that had Devin pinned against the wall. Devin didn’t move, I doubted he would even if he could. “Let him go. You can’t hurt him.”
“And why not, Layla? Did he force you to..” He slammed Devin against the wall once more and Devin just took it. “Tell me what’s going on, dammit! Tell me!”
“I love her.” Devin blurted. “Alright? I’m in love with your daughter.”
I clutched my father’s arm a bit tighter as the pain in my head intensified. When he pulled back his hand to connect his fist with Devin face, my grip slipped and my knees went weak. Black splotches danced behind my eyes and my vision blurred even more as I slumped to the floor.
It was all just too much to take in. I was cold, the pain in my stomach and lower back had returned and my body just felt…weak. My arms and legs hurt but not as much as the pain in my chest. I was certain the crying I was doing wasn’t helping any. My chest burned and there was a pain somewhere in there. A pain far worse than all the others.
“Layla?” My father asked turning his attention on me. I could feel his warm hands on my chilled arms as I put one hand to my eyes and the other to clutch my aching chest. “Get a nurse, something’s not right.”
I couldn’t stop my sobbing and it only made the pain in my chest worse, making it harder for me to breathe. My father pulled me to his chest and rocked me just as he had when I was a child and had scraped my knee resulting in the same blubbering. Just like when I was smaller, it calmed me a bit but now only added to the pain in my stomach. I didn’t tell him this, though.
I worked hard to get my breathing under control knowing that if I didn’t I’d pass out.
Once my sobbing ceased a bit my father stoked my hair gently. “Everything’s alright now. It’s…okay. You’re okay. It’s going to be fine. We’re going to be fine.”
He kept repeating his words, and I knew he only did this to help himself. He needed to know that everything was going to be alright, that we would make it out of this situation.
“Is she alright?” A female voice asked entering the room. “Why is she out of bed?”
I opened my eyes as they helped me from the floor and back to bed.
Devin was in the doorway again while my father watched as the nurse placed a hand to my forehead.
“She’s clammy. Let me get a warm blanket. In the mean time, no stress and no more getting out of bed. The cold water really did a number on your body’s system. We don’t want you going into shock.”
My father nodded as she left.
“Get out.” My father cut Devin off. “Get out, now. It is all I can do to stand next to my impregnated daughter and not beat you to a pulp. Get out, or I will call the cops.”
I noticed that my father said or, not and. I was certain Devin realized that too because after a moment of hesitation he left.
My father took his place next to me and watched me as I watched him.
“What has he done to you?” It was a question but it wasn’t meant to be answered. At least, I didn’t think it was. “He’ll pay for this. I’ll make sure of it. His ass with be thrown in jail for this. What kind of teacher…a perverted son a bitch. Who does he think he is….did he think he was the exception to the law? Taking advantage of you like that? I’ll see too it he doesn’t bother you, I promise.”
He stroked my hair and I closed my eyes, suddenly tired. He couldn’t send Devin away. It wasn’t just his fault. I loved him.
“I know you think you do,” my father stated. I opened my eyes. Had I said that aloud? “But he took advantage of you. You’re a minor and he should have known better.”
“Don’t,” I said closing my eyes again. “I loved him.”
He sighed and his hand that had stroked my hair was removed. “I know…get some sleep, bud.”
I didn’t. All I could think was that my father was going to send Devin to jail for something we both had a hand in. He lied to me but I didn’t want to see him locked away. I didn’t want to see him at all, but I didn’t want him to go to jail.
My father sat with me while I lied there, eyes closed for I don’t know how long. The nurse came back in with the warm heating blanket during this time and after a while someone else came in.
“Mr. Bungah?” The man asked.
I could hear my father stand. “What’s wrong?”
The new man sighed. “Well, we’ve run a few test on your daughter and along with the result we received yesterday afternoon, I’ve got a bit of bad news. Layla is very malnourished. Her body hasn’t been getting the nourishment it needs to produce energy for her and the two fetuses she’s carrying. I’m surprised she lasted this long.”
“What are you saying? She’s having twins?”
“Yes, if we can get enough substance in her, run a few more test, keep her warm. Yes, hopefully she will be having one healthy baby.”
“What do you mean by one?”
“Well, after looking at some of her test results we found there’s an abnormal growth on one of her ovaries. After further investigation we found it’s a Dermoid cyst. It’s located on the side where the male has taken route. If we act now we can remove it before it causes any further damage.” My father didn’t say anything so the doctor continued.“Normally mothers bodies can protect the fetus against different things, the Depo shot she received a few weeks ago may not affect the children but that is something we just don’t know for sure. They seem to be doing alright for her condition but they are smaller than we’d like for her to be in the middle of her second trimester. The boy is surprisingly smaller than the female and he, at the moment, is our main concern.”
“What do we need to do?”
“Just keep an eye on her. There’s nothing you can really do at the moment. We’ll book an OR for her and remove the cyst. But under no circumstances is she to be stressed. It’s a miracle this thing hasn’t burst or caused her any server problems.”
My father took hold of my hand. “Do it. Do whatever you have to do to help my daughter.”
“We will.” I heard as he left the room and my father sat.
He wiped away the tears that I didn’t know were falling from my eyes. He shushed me, trying to calm me down but I couldn’t. This was all my fault.
I could have prevented all of this, all the heartache, the lies, even this pregnancy if I would have just kept away from Devin.
“It’s okay,” my father soothed. “Relax, everything’s going to be okay.”
I opened my eyes and stared at him. This shocked him. “You heard him?”
I didn’t answer him.
“Layla, I need you to talk to me. Explain to me what’s been going on these last few months.”
Again, I didn’t answer him.
“Do you not want to talk to me? Is that it? Is there something I can get for you?”
I averted my eyes, not able to stand his pleading look. Instead I looked at the wall.
He stood and paced in front of my bed for while. He paced until the doctors came in quite a while later. There were no windows around me, and no clocks so I didn’t know what time it was exactly.
When they said they were going to give me a shot in the hip to numb me a bit, my father looked at me. I didn’t care. I was beginning to hurt again anyway.
They took me away from my father a few minutes later and if I was being honest, I was a scared.
They put a mask on my face once we had gotten to our destination but it wasn't like the ones they were wearing. There's were surgical while mine was to help me sleep.
“Alright, Layla. This won’t take long.” I recognized his voice as being the doctor who explained things to my father. “I want you to breathe deeply and count back from one hundred, okay? It’ll all be over soon.”
I did what I was told and within a few seconds everything went dark.
“How are you holding up?” Rebecca asked waking me a bit.
It took a moment for my eyes focus but when they did I realized I was no longer in the room surrounded by doctors. My body no longer hurt but I chopped that up to the drugs they probably pumped into me. I opened my eyes and saw that my father was still seated next to me, still in the same clothes from hours before. I half expected him to go home but I knew he wouldn’t. He was too worried about me.
“She won’t talk to me,” said my father a bit disappointed. “I don’t…I don’t know what to do.”
“It’s after eight, go home. Get something to eat.” Rebecca told him. “I’ll keep an eye on her.”
He looked at me for moment then stood, placing a hand on mine for a moment.
“He doesn’t get to see her.” He snarled. “Got it? He comes nowhere near my daughter.”
Rebecca took my father’s place sitting next to me. Her red hair was pulled into a tight bun at the top of her head and the black dress she wore clearly wasn’t suited for winter.
Once my father left the room she spoke.
“You have to talk sometime, Layla.” She commented. “You can’t just lock down what you’re feeling.”
Who the hell was she to tell me what I was feeling? She was lucky I wasn’t screaming about her affair to the high heavens. She had no right to be telling me to speak.
I never looked directly at her.
“So…you know. Don’t you?” Now I looked at her. “You can’t tell your father.”
I don’t know why I expected any sympathy out of her, we didn’t have that type of relationship.
“We are finally getting past this whole Miller thing and if he knew I was sleeping with Devin…it’s been weeks, Layla. I haven’t slept with him in weeks. I haven’t cheated in weeks.”
She kept repeating it like it made a difference. Regardless of the time frame she still cheated. They still slept together when Devin was sleeping with me. That made me sick to my stomach. Just to think about them naked together, holding each other-
I closed my eyes tight to get rid of that image.
“Can I trust you to not tell your father?” She asked. “It would kill him if he knew. Not to mention he’d kill Devin.”
I don’t know why I cared what happened to him anymore but I did. I’d keep their secret. For my father’s sake, I’d keep this whole thing to myself.
I nodded meekly, answering her question.
“I misjudged you, Layla. Well, I knew you were a slut from the get go, but you are trustworthy. I’ll give you that much.”
If that was her way of making me feel better or her attempt at a compliment, she failed miserably.
“He’s sitting in the waiting room,” she said after a moment. “I wasn’t exactly sure who he was seeing, but I was certain he loved her if he was willing to sleep with me to stay here. I never would have guessed…” She gave a curt laugh. “Moron. He just didn’t know when to say no.”
I wanted to scream at her to shut up but the happy medicine they had me one prevented me from getting too upset with her.
She leaned back in the chair and turned on the television. I turned my head, not wanting to watch her sit there and act so calmly.
My father came back later that night wearing a fresh set of clothes.
“Anything?” He asked.
“Not a word.”
His face held a slight red tint to it. “Has she eaten?”
“They said she’s not supposed to. Not until tomorrow. She can have ice chips though, to keep her hydrated.”
Yeah, that was fun. Eating ice chips then having to pee them off every half hour. To be honest I wanted it to be like the time I had my tonsils taken out. I wanted ice-cream. Hell, I wanted a burger. Now that I was actually hungry, I couldn’t eat.
He nodded and walked over to me. “He wanted me to give you this.”
My father opened my hand and placed the locket Devin had gotten me for my birthday in my palm. I put a hand to my neck and realized that it was indeed gone. It must have broken somehow. I remembered having it before I went into the water but after...things were a bit of a blur.
“He’s still down there?” Rebecca asked incredulous.
He nodded, face flushing again. “I could kill him.”
“Well, that’s not going to solve anything. They both made mistakes. We’re all human. They made a mistake. You can’t be angry with her over something so human in nature.”
“I’m not angry with her. He’s her teacher for Christ sake. He’s eight years older than her. Eight years older than you, Layla.” He looked at me. “What you two have done is…it’s-”
“It’s done. It’s happened and there’s nothing to be done about it now.” Rebecca cut my father off. “Unless, you want to terminate the pregnancy.”
I looked at my father pleadingly.
“Of course not.” He spat. “Those are my grandkids in there. Despite the stupid decisions the parents made, I wouldn’t take it out on them. We’ll figure this thing out.”
“Well, you do that,” Rebecca said standing. “But I’m hungry. I’m going to pick up dinner. Do you want anything.”
My father shook his head. “I can’t eat, not when she’s like this.”
“Layla?” She asked smiling and tilting her head to the side. “Do you want anything?”
“That’s not funny.” My father mumbled.
She shrugged. “Just trying to get a rise out of her.”
When she left my father closed the blinds in my room then took her seat. I didn’t look at him, but looked at the locket he placed in my hand. I let it slide from my grasp as I turned my back on it.
“He really hurt you didn’t he?” He asked and I closed my eyes. “You loved him and he hurt you. Tell me what he did, maybe I could help.”
He couldn’t. There was nothing he could do to help the situation. Then it hit me. He’d wanted to help Rebecca and his situation, to move us away from all of the pain and bad memories. That’s what I needed right now. He wanted to help? That’s what I wanted. To forget.
“I want to leave, papa.” I muttered. “I want a fresh start.”
I didn’t open my eyes to see his expression and I didn’t think I wanted to. Though I could hear him sitting there, hear his light breathing above the monitors I was connected to.
Finally, after a moment, he spoke.
“Okay, bud. I’ll make the arrangements.”

Chapter Forty Nine
My carryon bag was packed, the rest of my belonging packaged and shipped off already. The only thing left in my room were the rails that once held my bed. It seemed smaller, colder now that the space was bare.
The entire house seemed that way. With the furniture gone, walls bare, and dim lighting leaking in from the gloomy outside world, it just made the home seem…eerie.
“Layla?” My father asked placing a hand on my shoulder. “Is everything alright? Are you feeling okay?”
I nodded, turning away from the saddening scene.
“Fine,” I croaked.
He began to reach for my bag but I pulled away. I wasn’t helpless, just pregnant. I was fine. If I wasn’t the doctors wouldn’t have released me and cleared me for air travel.
“You don’t need to strain yourself.”
I wasn’t too sure if my father was still angry with me, or if he had ever been. But now he was doing everything in his power to please me.
I dropped the bag and embraced my father. It shocked him for moment.
“I’m so sorry, papa.” I breathed.
He sighed, then after a moment wrapped his arms around me, placing his chin on top of my head.
“It’s alright. Everything is alright.”
We stood there for moment until Rebecca came thought the front door.
“The taxi’s here, we need to go or we’ll be late for our flight.”
My father and I looked her way.
I knew Rebecca’s main concern was me telling my father her secret but I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. They were really beginning to get past the first affair she’d had, it wouldn’t make sense to bring up another.
It wouldn’t be fair to my father.
As I pulled away from my father, he bent down to get my bag. There wasn’t much in there, a couple extra pair of clothes, the iPod Marina had gotten me and a book for the ride.
Rebecca was the first out the house and I was the last, locking the door behind our home of nearly nine years.
As we pulled out of the driveway my father wrapped his arm around his wife as she stared out the window. Our vehicles, I wasn’t exactly sure how, were being shipped already. Probably by boat. I was certain I overheard my father saying most of our things were too large for regular mall shipment. I was certain they were too large to be put on a plane, too.
As we headed to the airport we passed by the entrance to the dock. I didn’t look, for fear I’d break down then and there.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep the entire ride.
It took about an hour to get to the airport. Once there my father paid for the drive and we made our way through the bustling building.
When we reached the metal detectors, we all emptied our pockets and put the contents in the bins. Before I could walk through the metal detector, my father pulled one of the men with wands to the side and whispered into his ear.
The man nodded and waved me over. I stepped to the side and slipped between two of the detectors. It wasn’t too hard, I still hadn’t gained much weight in the last week.
I unbuttoned my coat revealing a comfortable dark red sweater dress and black tights. My stomach bulged just enough for people to know I wasn’t fat. I was indeed pregnant. I still wasn’t used to saying that.
The man waved the wand over my body beginning with my head.
He didn’t get halfway down before someone interrupted him, calling my name and causing me to turn.
It was a reflex action because I already recognized the voice
“Layla, please wait!” Devin shouted from behind the rails dividing us.
“What the hell are you doing here?” My father snapped.
“I just need to speak with her for a moment.” He pleaded.
I turned away from him, mumbling to the man, “Can we speed this up a bit, please?”
I felt like crying just as the sight of him. To be honest I hated him for being able to stir up theses emotions in me.
“Please, I just-”
“Don’t cause a scene, Devin,” Rebecca said. “Not here.”
“I just need for her to understand why-”
“Why what?” My father snapped. “Please do go on because she hasn’t explained anything to us.”
This caused me to turn back.
“Just…go, Devin. You lied to me and I completely understand why. I wasn’t ready to know. Just...go.”
“I don’t want to see you anymore, okay?” I asked on the brink of tears. “I can’t handle it any more. I’m asking…I’m begging…I want you to stop. It’s over.”
The man with the wand finished and Rebecca led me away.
“Layla, please. This isn’t how I want it to end. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”
I wanted so much to look back at him but knew it would only result in me changing my mind about the whole thing.
Yes, he lied to me. He said we were going to be truthful with each other. He lied. We were supposed to have a fairytale ending like he promised but he ruined it. Prince’s didn’t lie to their princess’s. The life guard was always supposed to save its drowning victim. But I guess I wasn’t meant to be saved. I wasn’t supposed to have a happy ending. This was real life, where shit happens.
Life…life wasn’t a fairytale.

I stood and watched Samara try to stretch her tiny arms over the docks wooden floor to try to touch the shinny fishies, as she called them. Her mahogany eyes shined with delight as she turned her head to plead with me again. She pushed her bottom lip out in a pouting motion but as I gave her a stern stare her rosy cheeks took on a deeper red with anger and disappointment.
She so wanted to jump in and play with her fishes like she did back home but I had already explained to her that these fish were different. The coy pond back home was just a bit more sanitary than this river was.
Not liking my answer, she decided to pay me no heed. I didn’t mind. To be honest my mind was focusing on the one thing I told it not to. The one thing I had tried not to do for the past four years.
I thought about him. It was hard not to. Hell, it was hard not to when I was standing in our very spot. The memories had never left, despite how hard I had wanted them to the first year. If there was a way I could have removed them and burned them I would have then. I wanted to forget and his daughter was a constant reminder of the mistakes I had made. So was her deceased brother.
He was only in the world a moment, a brief hour, thirteen minutes and six seconds, but he left a mark on my heart. Just as Devin had. There were complications with his heart causing it to be underdeveloped.
Every day that I had to live with one child and not two was torture. For the first year of my daughter’s life, I constantly thought about what I could have done differently. What I could have done to change my fate.
I thought meeting Devin was the key but without Devin I wouldn’t have my beautiful four year old daughter. I wouldn’t have grown over the years. But most importantly I wouldn’t have known true love.
It took me two years to figure out Devin and I were meant for each other and another two to gather enough money to move out of my father home and get a plane ticket for my daughter and I.
My father was no longer upset with my decision to see Devin and told me once I figured out what I wanted to do he’d wire me whatever I needed. He loved his granddaughter and didn’t want her to go without. He spoiled her rotten. Rebecca did the same which surprised me. Though she completely despised me, she loved Samara.
Now that they had worked everything out she didn’t step out on my father. At least I didn’t think she did.
And Samara didn’t mind. She loved her grandparents but often asked about her father. At first I’d just change the subject but she was smarter than a normal four year old. She wanted to know. And that’s why we were here at the dock.
I’d given her the locket Devin had gotten me for my birthday. The clasp had been replaced a few weeks after her birth. She’d open it, revealing the picture there, and would ask if that was her father.
Finally after realizing my mistake I told her yes. My mistake was leaving in the first place, not meeting Devin. I realized too late that I should have never left. I was keeping Devin from his daughter and that was very wrong of me.
But now that I was here, in our spot with memories rushing back, I was afraid. What if he didn’t want us anymore? I didn’t too much care about his feeling towards me anymore. It had been four years and if he still loved me fantastic, but I was concerned with Samara. Could I trust him to love Samara? She was flawed, and I didn’t think she’d be able to handle if he refused her. That was my main concern. Her feelings.
“Layla?” His voice asked from behind me.
I turned slowly, realizing I’d been so consumed in my thoughts that I hadn’t heard his footsteps on the dock.
He didn’t look like he’d changed any. He was still the sexy man I remembered. He was in his button down shirt and green tie that nearly matched his gorgeous emerald eyes. His shirt was tucked neatly into his black slacks and, naturally, I had to pull my eyes away from his crotch.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t…I didn’t expect to see you here.” He told me. “Marina said you were back, but I thought…”
I smiled. Marina. I’d been keeping in touch with her since I moved, sending her pictures of Samara, video chatting with her when I could.
She and Jack had gotten together a few weeks after I’d moved. I remembered her concern but I told her I was fine with it. So long as they both were happy. And they were. Jack was better off with someone who liked him and wouldn’t cheat on him. That person was Marina.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, eyes shifting from me to the little girl who was still trying to reach the fish.
It was a moment before I spoke. I’d run this scenario a hundred times in my head, trying to figure out exactly what I was going to say to the man I loved then left, taking his unborn children with me.
“She’s been asking for you.” I told him then hesitated. I was uncomfortable and I hoped he couldn’t see it. “How have you been?”
“Lately? Better. After you left…things were a bit rough. I was a bit…rough.”
I looked at his feet and mumbled a sorry.
He smiled. “Jack tried blackmailing me for a while. He wanted a better grade in my class. I helped him out a bit so he wouldn’t tell his father about us. He tried it again with one of his football mates but Marina made him stop.”
“Sounds like you and Marina have grown closer.” I commented. I wasn’t upset, just curious.
He put his hands in pockets. “Yeah, after you left she was there, you know. I mean, she was pissed at the fact I’d hurt you but…she understood. She’s sort of been…an informant. With you, I mean. She told me not to give up on you, that you’d come back.”
That damn Marina. I laughed a bit at that. Marina was truly the best sister to me. She knew what I needed even if I didn’t.
“I didn’t need her to tell me that, Layla. I would have never given up on you…on us.” Now he looked at his feet then met my eyes again. “I’m sorry about Samuel. I’m so sorry. If I could have been there for you…I tried calling but-”
“My father changed my cell number.” I nodded.
“Marina gave me your new one but I didn’t think I’d be helping by calling. She said you needed time.”
I did need time. I needed time to figure out who I was outside of Devin, Jack…my father. I just needed time to grow up. I’d had four years to grow up, to figure out my emotions decide where I was going in this life. To take one day at a time.
“I did and I want to thank you for giving me space.”
Samara, who had stopped watching the fish, came to stand by me; hand clutching my pant leg.
“She’s shy around people at first.” I told Devin who watched his daughter with wonder in his eyes.
“She looks just like you,” he said smiling.
I looked down at Samara as she tried to read his lips. She knew both English and Malay but she often go her words mixed up.
“Just in the eyes and hair.” I agreed. “But she really looks like you when her hair is pinned back, when she was a baby it drove papa nuts.”
Samara smiled at Devin, finally recognizing him from her locket. She brought her hands to her chest, fingers slowly forming the words she wanted me to understand.
Devin stared at her with confusion, then his eyes met mine. I couldn’t hold his gaze for long.
“Yes.” I both signed and said aloud. “This is Devin, your father.”
Her smile faltered for moment.
“Her ears,” I told him. “She was born with Microtia. Her ears are…deformed. She can hear a bit, but it’s hard on her sometimes. So we sign until she can have the surgery she needs when she’s eight.”
He nodded, a bit speechless. Then he came closer and dropped to his knees to be at eye level with her. He brought his hands to her face, brushing her curly locks back a bit revealing her misshapen ears. But he never once looked at them. Instead his emerald eyes met hers.
“You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen, Samara,” he said slowly then placed a light kiss on her forehead. “I don’t think I have ever loved someone so much since I first laid eyes on your mother.”
I got a bit teary eyed but I didn’t let them fall as she looked up at me and smiled wildly.
He picked her up and propped her on his hip. She touched his smooth face for a moment then rested her head on his shoulder.
“I mean it, Layla. You both are my world. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
I smiled, not really knowing what to say
“Are you still looking for a place to stay?”
I hesitated before answering. Marina told us we could stay with her and her mother for a while until I found something. She had been going to a community college nearby and was still living at home. I was doing the same back in Malaysia but now that I was here I had nowhere to go. My hesitation gave him his answer.
“You’ll stay with me. The both of you. Until we can figure out the situation you can stay with me.”
“Thank you.” I told him, sincere. “But there’s really nothing to figure out. I know now that I want to be with you for the rest of my life despite what anyone thinks, despite our rough story. You and Samara are the only thing that matter.”
He smiled, leaned down and kissed me. It was one of those kisses that took my breath away, one that consumed me and set my body ablaze. He just had that effect on me.
As he pulled away from me, his free hand went to my face and stroked my cheek gently, just as he had so many times before.
“I love you.” He smiled.
Before I could say the same, Samara sighed and mumbled, “I love you, too.”
My smile spread across my face. “What she said.”
He then took my hand and led me to the taxi that was still waiting on us. He handed Samara back to me, took our things and put them in his car.
I placed Samara in her car seat, paid the taxi then took my place next to Devin on the passenger side.
He took my hand and intertwined our fingers as we drove away from the dock and towards our fairytale ending. And at last, I didn’t feel like I was drowning in this forbidden fantasy.


Text Copyright Holder: I've updated this book a bit so if anyone wants to start over that's fine but if you don't I completely understand
Images Copyright Holder: For those of you reading this story, I am sorry but I am having issues updating here. I'm not sure if it's my computer or not but I don't seem to have issues uploading here. This is the link on wattpad, I have completed the story and will try my best to update here if I can. Thank you for reading, it really means a lot to me. ~Nina~ 10/18/12
Proofreading and Editing by: At the moment I don't have an editor or proofreader but I'm always looking. So if anyone reads this and would like to contact me about being a Beta reader or editor then I would greatly appreciate it :)
Release Date: 12-18-2010

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