Chapter 7.27


After I’d said good bye to Kristie, I walked in a daze not really knowing where I was.

What Kristie had said about Zachary played over and over in my mind like a horrible nightmare.

“I saw Zachary kissing a girl at a party last week and then I heard he slept with her…”

How could Zachary have been cheating on me this whole time? I was such a naive loser.

Tears threatened to clog my throat and pinch the corners of my eyes. “No, dammit!” I screeched. “I don’t care! It wasn’t going to work out with him anyway!” But he told you he loved you!

And I loved him. I had never felt like that about anyone before.

Then the torrent of tears came. There wasn’t anything I could do about it.


I heard crying from my room and thought it was Cheyenne. Why would she be sad?

Once I found her, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Tears streaming down her face, she was sobbing uncontrollably.

“Chey…what’s the matter?” I reached out to her.

When she wouldn’t respond, I patted her knee. “Come on…it’ll help if you talk about it.”

Rising up, she said, “I’m okay, Mateo…it’ll be….” But she couldn’t finish her sentence.

My mind went instantly to that asshole dickhead boyfriend. “Did Jockstrap do this to you?”

Shaking her head, she said, “I was so stupid…to…trust…” She trailed off then hiccuped. “Why, Mateo? Why am I such a loser? Am I ugly? He should have gone out with someone pretty like Kristie…instead of…”

Shit. He broke up with her. “Listen, if that asshole can’t see what a gorgeous, talented goddess you are then it’s his loss. Good riddance.”

“B-But he…slept with another girl…Kristie said…she saw….him…”

Fucking jerk cheated on her. Didn’t surprise me. Guys like him were all the same.

I wiped her warm tears. “It’s not your fault. He’s the loser. He doesn’t know a gift when he has it. Can’t you see that?”

But she wasn’t listening to me. All I could do was hold her and let her cry.


It was like I found myself in a nightmare I couldn’t escape.

Cheyenne had blocked me. And I knew why.

Somehow my drunk self got out of control and the news traveled to her.

Shit. How was I going to get her back?

I knew when it was happening it was wrong.

My drunk self told me over and over not to.

But I’d been lonely for so long…I just…


Can’t lie. I enjoyed it. Having a woman wrap her arms around me after some great sex. Well…

But in the morning, I fell out of that bed and reality hit like a cold slap.

The girl wasn’t Cheyenne. I knew that. But right then I realized I’d cheated. And that made me feel like shit.

If I could go back and do it over, I would. I wouldn’t have gotten drunk. I wouldn’t have even talked to Samara.


How was I going to get out of this one?

Looking again at my phone, I checked all of my social media for the hundreth time.

She didn’t leave one open to me.

I was blocked out of her life.



Mateo was so sweet. Just like the great friend he’d been since I met him. He’d grown up in the hood of Del Sol Valley being raised only by his brothers. His mother was a drug addict and he had no idea who his father was. He got along by his wits, his love for music and his awesome personality. I’d known from the first time I met him, he was someone special.

After he listened to me drone on about what had happened with Zachary, he suggested we get some fresh air.

“You realize guys like that aren’t good for you, right?” he asked. “And although I hadn’t said anything to you earlier, it’s kind of apparent. He doesn’t have anything in common with you.”

I gave him a look. “We might not listen to the same music but we do have some things in common.”

“Like what, Cheyenne? You both have been going in two different directions at light speed. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Like ripping off a bandaid. It might sting when it’s happening but it’ll be over quickly and you’ll feel better in no time.”

Every word out of Mateo’s mouth made sense. He always had a way about him that’d make me feel better. Whether it was finding our way through music or laughing at a meme or just being ourselves out on the patio, he knew how to center me. To make me feel okay.

“I…guess you’re right,” I breathed, like a storm suddenly lifted.

He caressed my cheek. “Of course I’m right.”

And I didn’t know how it all happened, but it was like the sun shone down on him, lighting him up in my eyes.

I couldn’t help myself. Pulling him toward me, I kissed him.


It was the craziest, most thrilling thing I’d ever done in my life.

And I didn’t regret it.

Not for one second.


What the crazy…fuck?

One minute I was talking sense to Cheyenne and the next minute she was kissing me.


I’d thought about doing that with her so many times it hurt. But…

Once we took it to my room, the shit got real.

Did I really want to be her rebound hook up?

But what could I do?

I wouldn’t turn her away. So I just went with it and hoped I’d be the one who’d be good to her. Turn our friendship into something real.

With our band lighting up, making a go at a relationship seemed like the best thing. Jockstrap was an inconvenient roadblock that just got swept away.

At least I’d hoped so.


I booked it to Del Sol Valley as soon as I could.

But once I got there, I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.

Her and Mateo were all cuddled up like they’d been together for years.

How long had this been going on?

And I was the cheater?

Crossing my arms, I yelled, “What the hell, Cheyenne?”

They pulled apart like the guilty people they were.

Blood boiling, I shouted, “Get the fuck away from my girlfriend, you bastard.”

Cheyenne’s eyes watered as she looked away.

“She’s not your girlfriend. You ruined that for yourself when you fucked that whore.”

Pulling her away from me, he muttered, “Come on, Cheyenne.”

If he thought he could erase everything we had by moving in when it was convenient, he didn’t know who he was dealing with.

I grabbed Cheyenne’s hand. “Not so fast.”

“Baby, please.” I looked her in the eyes. “Can we talk?”

Mateo thrust his body between us. “Not unless you want me to pound you, asshole. Now leave.”


I couldn’t believe Zachary had the nerve to come here. And now both Zachary and Mateo were about to get into a fist fight. I couldn’t let that happen.

Even though I didn’t want to talk to him (I didn’t even want to look at him), I couldn’t let Mateo get hurt. Although Zachary was smaller in height than Mateo, he was a professional athlete and would probably kick Mateo’s ass in a second.

I nudged his shoulder. “Please, Mateo. It’s alright.”

I felt like a zombie. Like I was witnessing someone else’s life on the sidelines. Sour bile flooded the back of my throat when I glanced at him as we sat on the couch.

“I’m…sorry,” he said with the worst look of guilt I’d ever seen.

I turned away. “I…just…can’t do this.”

He added, trying to touch my shoulder but I jerked away, “For what it’s worth, I…was drunk out of my mind. I didn’t know what I was doing. If I could…”

His excuses sounded so stupid. “Just stop, Zachary. It’s…over.”

He didn’t say anything for a while, then whispered, “Yeah. I guess…you’re right.”

Chapter 7.26


The party wore on like a bad dream. All I could think about was how Cheyenne and I could never work out no matter how hard we tried. I missed her so much. Why did that asshole Mateo have to ask her to join their fucking band in the first place? If he hadn’t done that, she’d be here with me now.

“Screw it,” I mumbled and downed the whole bottle. I’d drown her memory out tonight.

Beer empty, I wandered over to the bar and ordered another one. My head was spinning. How long had I been here?

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Come on, Zachary. I think you’ve had enough.”


I was really going to quit smoking but whenever I had a few drinks, the nicotine cravings knawed at me. Unfortunately, I caved when Malik offered his pack.

“So…the Del Sol Valley Llamas actually drafted you? Are they that hard up?” I teased Malik. He was a top wide receiver and a big reason the Lobsters did so well this year. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had Zachary throwing to him.

He blew out his drag. “Yeah. Moving to Del Sol Valley as soon as the semester’s over. And you? Going to that snooty ivy league law school?”

I smirked. “You know it. Slandford Law School isn’t too far from Del Sol Valley, you know.” Was I being too obvious?

He chuckled and winked at me.

Oh who was I kidding? I didn’t need an overly handsome, overly smug boy to chase after while I was taking the hardest classes of my life. The future stress of the following year needled me, and I inhaled the soothing smoke.

Just then, I heard Zachary’s slurred voice, breaking me out of my thoughts.

“I don’ wanna sleep it off. I’m okay. Honessst…” he mumbled, clutching his face.

Oh, God. Zachary was plowed. And it was only 6:30 in the evening. The night was young.

He took this girl by the hand and said, “Stay with me, baby. I’m tired of being alone all the time.”

And before I could blink, Zachary was sucking this girl’s face right in front of everyone.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I breathed.

Poor Cheyenne. Zachary Hawthorne was a first class loser.


I didn’t realize how much I’d missed my girlfriends until they all came this weekend.

We had such a blast!

We enjoyed dinner and drinks at my favorite wine bar.

Then played a ton of video games.

And to top off the night, we took goofy pictures so I would remember it forever.

I couldn’t believe how my life was working out so well right now. I had the best besties and the best boyfriend plus my career seemed to be in full jet mode. It was such a rush!

“Say cheese,” Akia said as we tried to mimic goofy K-pop poses.

Earlier, we’d gotten into a pillow fight! I hadn’t had this much fun since highschool.

Sometimes it was okay to act like you were young again.

Because when would we be able to meet like this in the future? I didn’t know. We kind of were at a crossroads. Kristie was going off to law school. Akia was already doing her student teaching and moving away. Phoebe had an internship in Evergreen Harbor and my brother got a job with a design studio there as well. He and Pheebs were going to officially move in together. We just…were going our separate ways.

The biggest thrill was having my very best friend with me though.

Kristie and I connected unlike any other friend I’d ever had.

We just “got” each other. I was happy she’d be only a city away from my home base here in Del Sol Valley and I’d hoped the law firm that hired her would be local. But one thing was for sure…we’d always be friends. And that felt comforting after what had happened last fall.

So after I’d said goodbye to Phoebe and Akia, Kristie told me she needed to talk with me. Alone. That put jitters in my stomach.

After we both poured ourselves some much needed coffee, I asked, “So, Kristie…what’s up?”

She sighed then said, “I know I haven’t been a good friend to you this year and I’m so sorry for it. You know that don’t you?”

I nodded, not liking the tone of her voice.

She twirled her hands over the table nervously and sighed, not looking at me. “I…wasn’t going to do this but I’ve been thinking about it all week and well…if I were in your shoes, I’d want you to tell me…so that’s where I am with things.”

My mind was spinning. What kind of horrific thing was she going to tell me? “God, Kristie, what is it? Did I do something wrong again? If I did, honest, I didn’t mean to.”

She shook her head. “No, Cheyenne. Of course YOU didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that…” She waved her arm. “I saw Zachary kissing a girl at a party last week and then I heard he slept with her. I’m so sorry.”

That news slammed me. I covered my mouth thinking about Zachary with someone else.

Blinking back tears, I countered, “But are you sure, Kristie? I mean…he’s been so normal with me all week. Maybe you confused him with someone else.”

She winced. “He was two feet away from me on a couch making out with a girl. And they went off together up to her dorm. You know the rest, Cheyenne.”

Oh God. Oh God. Yes, I knew the rest because I’d experienced the rest.

How many girls had he slept with since we got together?

I was so stupid.

I knew who he was when I’d slept with him the first time. Why did I trust him?

Kristie added, “Cheyenne, if it makes you feel any better, he was drunk off his ass, so maybe he didn’t realize what he was doing?”

I shook my head. “That only makes it worse, Kristie. Don’t you get it? He probably had been cheating on me the whole time. I’ve been such an idiot.”

Chapter 7.25


“Oh my GOD, Kristie! Like the whole Dragon football team is going to be at this party. I’m sooooo freaking hyper I can’t stand it!” My friend, Piper James, was almost jumping out of her boots. She was in my sorority and had become my closest friend.

But she wasn’t Cheyenne. Even though she was a pre-law major like me and came from a prominent family, she was such a bubble head that it got a bit monotonous. She liked to copy off me whenever we studied and I practically wrote her senior level philosophy research paper.

But because of her, I passed my LSAT and had my pick of law schools to go to.

I walked into the dorm where the party was going on. I sighed. I really missed Cheyenne.

I was so happy I decided to SpaceTime her the other day.

I was so nervous before I hit her number. I mean, would she forgive me? What I did was honestly so shallow and mean.

And selfish.

But if I didn’t apologize and beg her to forgive me, I’d never see her again. I couldn’t let that happen. Sure I’d been mad she basically stole Zachary away from me. And although I’d told her that wasn’t the reason for me wanting a break from our friendship, my jealousy got the best of me. It’d happened like that almost my whole life with Cheyenne. Back at the acting camp when we’d first met Jack Rackham, I had a super crush on him, too!

Even though both of us didn’t know he was the real deal, I kind of had an inkling and a crush on “Jake”.

But he always sought Cheyenne out no matter where we were. And it was like she was the only person in the room.

It wasn’t lost on me so I gravitated toward his best friend, Hudson.

I knew Cheyenne was jealous of me spending so much time with him. But I couldn’t help myself. She always got the most popular guy and I got the sidekick.

In the end, everyone knew Jack Rackham was in love with her. Even though she couldn’t see it.

When Hudson filled me in that Jake really was THE Jack Rackham, it just stoked my jealousy even more. But I decided to not think about it.

Except it kept happening over and over.

Cheyenne would get all the lead parts in high school so I gave up my dream of acting and dancing. Cheyenne would turn the head of a guy I was too shy to even talk to. I hadn’t even told her I liked him so it was okay back then.

But with Zachary, I’d gushed about him all semester and I’d finally gotten to meet him at that party. He was flirting with me and I thought I was in heaven!

I knew I’d lost him to her once we started singing and then after I’d gone to the bathroom, I found them kissing in the cafeteria.

That was it! I was spitting nails. So tired of it. How could my best friend STEAL my crush? She knew I’d liked him.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a break. Had to get away. When I couldn’t concentrate on my studies anymore I knew I had to split with her even though I sounded like a bitch.

And…I’d seen them on campus last semester. They looked so in love and by now, it was just stupid to stay away. I was over him and actually hoped the best for them.

I just wanted my best friend back.

Bracing myself for her to hit the end button, I was shocked when I saw her face. “Hello, Cheyenne. It’s me. Kristie.”

Instead of me seeing an angry face, Cheyenne actually smiled and waved. “Kristie! I’m so glad to see you. What’s going on? I hope everything is okay.”

“Everything’s fine…it’s just…I missed you. I wanted to…say I’m sorry. For everything.” I swallowed a lump that started to form in my throat.

My arms got tired and I flipped on my side. When she didn’t say anything, I added, “I hope you’ll forgive me.”

“Oh, Kristie…” She looked around, biting her lip. “I’m…not mad at you anymore. I just hoped I’d hear from you again. I mean, I’m hurt but…I knew you had your reasons. I honestly would have stayed away from Zachary if we still would have been friends. I feel so awful for what happened.”

Typical Cheyenne. She was sometimes too nice. I wanted her to shout at me. “But it wasn’t okay and I promise I’ll never do that again. If you steal my next crush, I won’t care. Chicks before dicks. Okay?”

She laughed then changed the subject. “Listen, Kristie! Some amazing things have been happening around here. My band just got a label and we’re going on a real tour. Can you believe that?”

Then she caught me up on her whirlwind life. I knew she’d left college to join BLITZED–Phoebe had told me but this was big news. I was so shocked, amazed and really happy for her!

“So, you and Pheebs need to come out before I go on tour, okay? God, I miss you both so much it hurts. It’s been hard being cooped up with a bunch of guys all the time. I gotta have some girl time.”

I giggled. It was just like we hadn’t had a falling out. And I missed her so much, I hadn’t realized it until we talked for hours, I hardly got any sleep that night.

But it was worth it.

I decided I’d stay for an hour at this party. I was so over college and couldn’t wait for law school. Then my life could really start.

I was crazy amazed at Cheyenne and what she was doing with hers. It seemed things always went her way. And that was okay. I’d grown a lot since last semester and looked at things differently. I was forging my own life, separate from hers. And just because it seemed like she was a firework that could drown out the lights of the stars in the sky, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a sun in my own solar system apart from hers. That thought became so clear after we’d talked. I didn’t need to be jealous of her anymore. And that felt freeing.

I couldn’t wait until next weekend when Phoebe and I would visit her in Del Sol Valley.



“Come on, dude,” I said to one of my friends, Ryder Kirkland. “I really don’t want to be here. Why did you make me come?”

Ryder answered, “Because. This is a cool party and we’re seniors. Not ever going to get hot babes served up to you like this.”

“I don’t need ‘hot babes’. I already got one,” I countered.

He nudged me. “You’re not married yet. And besides, you need to let loose once in a while.”

“I see one girl who’s turning my head already,” one of my football friends, Malik Foley, added. He whistled. “See you, bros!”

I reluctantly followed Vance, Malik, and Ryder on the dance floor. Already, my friend, Dax was girating like he was on Dancing With the Sims. I shook my head. When I glanced up, I saw a girl winking at me. Oh God. People were already shitfaced.

Then I heard some black rock song erupt out of the speakers. It reminded me of Cheyenne’s band. BLITZED had driven a wedge between us so much that I wasn’t sure if we could survive it.

I walked up to the dj and she yelled over the loud noise, “I’m taking requests. Just put it on a piece of paper for me. Okay?”

I knew her–Samara Jenkins from my business administration class last year. “Hey, Samara, how’re you doing? Can you stop this toxic noise coming out of these speakers?”

She waved her arms. “Sorry, Zachary. I only play what’s requested. What would you like me to put on? I’ll play yours next. Okay?”



I couldn’t believe my eyes. Malik Foley was here. We’d kind of had a thing going several months ago, but neither of us wanted anything serious. And so we kind of drifted apart. But I’d love to talk to him again and catch up.

He looked a little lonely sitting next to a couple who were fighting.

He was one of the most handsome guys I’d ever seen. And funny.


I pumped the keg for more beer. I’d downed two cups and was already feeling a nice buzz. Wouldn’t hurt to have more. I hadn’t thought about Cheyenne for the past half hour. That felt good.

A girl who’d been fighting with her boyfriend came up to me and started flirting. Although flattered, I didn’t need any temptations. Sure, me and Cheyenne were long distance and things weren’t rosy but we were still together, hanging on.

I gave her a quick answer and left.

Samara played a cool song and I was vibing, swaying to the music.

I noticed Samara for the first time. Maybe it was the booze getting to me but…she was so freaking beautiful. I’d never saw her that way before.

She kind of reminded me of Cheyenne in a way. Okay, so she wasn’t a goddess like Cheyenne. No one could hold a candle to her.

I shook my head. I was such a dumbass going over the same shit in my head. This wasn’t going to be a night where I was mooning over Cheyenne. She was my girlfriend who I’d see in a few months. Tonight, I was going to let loose and have fun.

I danced to one of my favorite songs that Samara played for me.


Malik and I were playfully talking when one of his girlfriends came up to him all in a huff. He’d just asked me out and I was so over being just another number on his calendar. I didn’t want him as a serious boyfriend, but playing games like this wasn’t my style. Not anymore.

“Malik,” I said. “So…you’re taken. Is that it?”

He breathed out angrily. “Rosaly is NOT my girlfriend.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Then why’d you dance with me, huh?”

She stormed away.

Malik moved over and I sat next to him.

He said, “I’m serious. She’s just a girl I danced with when I got here. I didn’t even know her beforehand. I promise. S-She’s kind of crazy if you ask me.”

He looked so cute stammering like that.


“What do you mean we’re leaving? We just got here,” I cried. My buzz was at all time amazing and I didn’t want to go just yet.

Ryder knitted his eyebrows. “We’ve got another party to go to, dude. You know that.”

“Well, I don’t want to go. You dragged me to this one and it’s not even dark yet. Let’s stay a few more hours.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Who’re you hitting on? Anyone I know?”

“Why do I have to be hitting on someone just because I want to chill at this party? There’s some rocking tunes and good beer. That’s all.”

He shook his head and left. I was glad I’d convinced him.

Next, I noticed Cheyenne’s former friend, Kristie Barnes tickling Malik. God, I’d have to warn him about her. She was like this psycho girlfriend who’d attach and never let go. I only looked at her at that party so many months ago and she thought she could lay claim to me. What a nut job.

But he looked like he was swilling her koolaid. Nothing I could do about that, I guess. It was his own funeral.

Damn. I was all out of beer. And I wanted something a bit stronger. If Kristie was here, I’d never get rid of the Cheyenne thoughts. Liquor might drive them away.

As I made my way to the bar, I saw Vance’s judgemental face. I knew he wanted to jet out of this party. He needed to chill. I told him that with my face. He rolled his eyes.

And then I saw Samara, toiling away in that dj booth.

She looked so cool just bobbing to the beat of the music. She was in the zone. I could tell she really got into music.

Vance waved at me. “Come on, Zachary. It’s time to go. Party’s getting lame.” That was code that no girls wanted anything to do with him. Poor guy. He just came on too strong.

I laughed at him. “Alright, dude, keep your pants on. Just two more songs and we’ll go.”

Dax pulled out a bottle from under the cabinet and came over to me. “How about we drink a little from this baby before we go. We’ll take a suber to the next party.”

Sounded like a plan to me. I grabbed the bottle and took a huge swallow. The satisfying liquid burned all the way down.