Chapter Nineteen.

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Songs for this chapter are:

Someone Else- The 1975

When We Were Young- Adele

She Will Be Loved- Maroon 5


Dakota is standing in the kitchen, her eyes on me and her mouth set in an angry frown. Her hair is down, wild ringlets hanging loose over her shoulders. She's picking at her fingernails and I really don't like the way she's behaving, acting as if we are in high school.

Scratch that, she's acting full on elementary.

"What was that? What's up with you?" I ask her.

She's immediately defensive, glaring at me like I'm the one acting like a jealous child. Dakota doesn't say anything, she just looks at me and softens her gaze. Her lips pout out and she leans casually against my counter as if nothing happened.

"Why did you just dismiss Tessa's friend from my apartment?" I decide not to let this one go.

Dakota looks me over. I assume that her silence is buying her time to decide what to say.

Finally, after a few seconds she sighs and begins to speak.

"She's not just Tessa's friend to me, Landon. She's my roommate and I don't want her around you. She's not good for you and I'm not going to let her try to attach herself to you."

She pauses a beat then, "I refuse to let that happen."

I don't know if it's the tone of her voice or the possessive jealousy threaded through her words, but my skin prickles and adrenaline begins to build in my chest.

"You don't get to decide who's good for me, Dakota." I say and she blanches back like I've smacked her across her face.

"So you actually do like her!" Dakota replies, her mouth twists into a grimace at the end of her matter-of-fact statement.

I can feel myself getting angrier at her by the second and I can feel the tension between us building with every rise and fall of her chest.

"No. Well, I don't know what I feel about her, honestly." My answer sounds like I'm avoiding the truth, but I truly don't know how I feel about Nora. What I do know is that Dakota doesn't get to be the one who decides.

I have almost always been honest with Dakota. Almost, because sometimes the truth is better left unsaid.

Dakota walks across the kitchen to me, her glittery tutu sways with every step she takes.

"Well, try to figure it out because I don't want you to be confused about how you feel about me either," she rolls her eyes.

I recognize this tone, this guard.

"Cut it out. Turn it on," I tell her.

She knows exactly what I mean.

Dakota is good at turning her emotions off and completely unlatching herself from any danger of pain and throughout the years I've been good at reminding her to turn them on and put the guard down. Only when it's safe tough, I've always wanted to keep her safe.

She sighs in defeat, "I've been thinking about you so much lately."

"What about me?" I ask her.

Dakota swallows and pulls her bottom lip between her teeth.

"Just that I love you, Landon."

She says the words so casually, as if her words didn't unwind something inside of me, a knot pulled so tight, that has been stuck underneath my ribcage, waiting for her to untie, to ease the pain.

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