Summer was almost over but it was still hot and humid in Hillside. Dakota couldn’t wait for cooler weather. It was always summer in Sierra and she really wanted to experience fall and winter seasons.
It was almost three months since she left Sierra. Her and Nate were dating for over a month now and things were going great.
“So the pool party I was telling you about is this Saturday. Do you want to come with me? Nora will be there, too,” she asked her boyfriend.
“Sure, it sounds like fun.”
“Great. Well…I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” she kissed him on the lips.
Trevor was watching her from the living room window. He knew Nate was a good guy, that wasn’t his problem. The problem was, Dakota was kissing the wrong guy in his eyes. But he was kissing the wrong girl, too.
He wanted to tell her so many times over the past few weeks, but she seemed happy with the way things were.
On Friday after work, Dakota run to the bus station to pick up her friend Martha, who was visiting for the weekend. Her classes start the following week so she decided to make a stop in Hillside on the way there.
Dakota was very excited to see her after three long months. They were talking on the phone all the time, but it was not the same.
Martha’s bus arrived on time and when she dragged out her suitcase the two girls hugged so tight they almost squeezed out all their insides.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here!”
“I know! I missed you so much!”
“Are you tired?”
“Not at all. I slept on the bus for like six hours,” Martha laughed, “I can’t wait to meet everybody.”
“We’re doing dinner tonight at seven and tomorrow there is a pool party at one of my roommate’s friend’s, so you will. But now, I want you all for myself. What do you wanna do?”
After they dropped off her luggage in Dakota’s house, they walked around the city for a little bit before they met all Dakota’s new friends and Leila for dinner. Nora with Dean offered to cook steak for this occasion so Dakota could spend time with Martha.
They had to bring in a folding chair from the garage so everyone can sit at the table. Dinner was delicious and everybody seemed to have a great time except for Leila.
“What are you guys, forty? Why aren’t we out partying? This is boring as hell,” she said annoyed.
“Why do you always have to be so negative?” Trevor asked, obviously tired of her never ending complaints, “every one is having a good time, but you.”
“Well I don’t even know these people, how can I have a good time?”
“Maybe if you took the time to get to know my friends, you wouldn’t be saying that.”
“Screw you, Trevor,” she barked, got up, leaving her unfinished dinner on the table and left the house without saying goodbye.
It wasn’t the first time Dakota heard them fight. She wasn’t surprised at all. She didn’t understand this couple from the beginning. Trevor was such a nice guy, always happy, always eager to help and Leila was the exact opposite.
The mood was pretty much ruined after that argument. Trevor spent the rest of the night in his room, embarrassed. Dean and Nora left to spend the night in her apartment and Nate left too, giving his girlfriend some space to catch up with an old friend.
“So she’s the one you were telling me about, huh?” Martha said when they were chatting in Dakota’s bedroom, “you weren’t lying. Poor Trevor.”
“Yea, I feel bad.”
“Nate is cute,” she changed the subject, “did you already…you know.”
“No. Stop it,”
“What do you mean, no? It’s been almost two months, right?”
“Yea, so? We’re taking it slow. Remember what happened when I didn’t take things slow? I’m lucky I didn’t get pregnant with that jerk,” she referred to her ex boyfriend Dylan.
When Dakota, Martha and Nate arrived to the party, few girls were already dancing on the edge of the pool.
Dakota scoffed when she noticed Leila walk by, holding a red cup filled with beer, “of course she’s wearing a bathing suit with the least fabric possible.”
“She’s not shy, I’ll give you that,” Nate agreed with her.
It was the perfect day for a pool party. Even Nora and Dean were catching some sun.
Dakota was dancing with Martha just like they practiced when they were younger. That was what Dakota felt like. Because she moved in with Dylan and then moved across the country, she had to grow up fast. But being with her childhood friend made her forget all the challenges.
Leila was having a different kind of fun. She was drinking beer all day, never putting down her cup.
Later in the afternoon, she could barely stand on her feet. She was lucky Trevor caught her before she hit her head on the stone floor.
He picked her up and started walking towards the sliding door that lead into the house.
“Is she ok?” Dakota asked when he was walking by her.
“She’s drunk. I’m gonna take home.”
Sunday morning Dakota and Martha had a great breakfast at the diner across the street. The same diner Dakota first stopped at after driving all night from Sierra. She never thought this would become her favorite breakfast place.
“This must be my bus,” Martha said when she saw a blue bus pulling into the stop.
Dakota sighed sadly and hugged her friend goodbye, “call me when you get to Bridgeport. I can’t wait for all the college experiences you are gonna tell me.”
“I wish you were going with me, like we always planned when we were younger.”
Dakota would like to experience college like other kids her age. Everyone around her was at least four years older than her, but she didn’t mind. She loved her life as it was right now.
When she got home, she found Trevor on the couch. She hasn’t seen him since he left the party with Leila in his arms.
“Hey, how’s Leila?” she asked politely.
“I don’t know, we broke up,” Trevor answered casually.
She should have said ‘I’m sorry’ or ask ‘what happened’ but instead she just blurted, “Oh, thank God.”
That made him laugh, “you really hated her, didn’t you.”
“Sorry, no…I just…I hate that you wasted your time with her,” Dakota said and sat down on the couch next to him.
“I know,” he said seriously and looked her in the eyes, “she’s not the person I want to be with.”
She had nothing to say to that. Was she with the person she really wants to be with?