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Dakota Blackwater is everything Janessa is not. He's kind, sweet, gentle, and a stand-up guy all in all, but when his girlfriend's betrayal hurts more than his pride, he agrees to take part in a plan that will test both their self-restraints and their feelings for one another.
Problems arise, however, when Janessa's interest for Dakota shifts from being a pawn to achieve her ultimate goal, to potential lover. After having her heart broken in the past, the last thing she wants is to get involved in matters of the heart, but how can she follow through with her plan when the more time she spends with Dakota, the less she cares about getting payback? Sooner rather than later they are forced to confront the reality that their game has slowly transformed into something else and that what seemed like a scheme to exact revenge, now comprises both their hearts in ways neither of them anticipated.
Rushing up the stairs to the second floor of the apartment complex where my boyfriend of three years, Kirk, lived, I stammered down the hall with the intention of surprising him with my unexpected visit. Well, that isn’t exactly the entire truth. You see, I was looking to surprise him all right, but not in a good way. At least not in a good way for him. This was more of a quest for answers. A finalization to weeks of suspicion and second guessing.
For the past six weeks, I’d the growing suspicion that Kirk had been cheating on me, but it wasn’t until recently�when he’d gone missing for two days without me knowing where the hell he was�that my hunch began to look more like a reality.
Unfortunately, I had no definite proof other than the actual suspicions and the ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach that told me he was. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I played my role as a detective. Investigating, snooping, and even resorted to dragging my best friend, Audrey, into this mess by having her follow him around. Our efforts had been met with failure time and time again. I had no idea how he managed to elude getting caught, but he was one sneaky bastard for sure. Kirk might have noticed something was up, and he did his best to hide his secret, but not enough to keep me from noticing or suspecting something was up.
Far from giving him the benefit of the doubt, however, I decided to take a different approach. One that would guarantee the results I so desperately wanted.
Realizing that it would take but one teeny tiny mistake for him to screw up�literally, I devised a plan. By this point, I was counting on my gut instincts to guide me, and since that ultrasensitive sixth sense of mine had never failed me before, I decided to press on with my determination to prove Kirk was in fact cheating. So, because I was so confident that if I played my cards right, the truth would be revealed, I called up my supposedly crazy-in-love boyfriend and told him I had a family emergency, which required for me to “go out of town” for the weekend.
He fell for it. Like every other lying, conniving man, he demonstrated his usual “I’m bummed” act before hanging up. All through the day�which was a Friday by the way�I waited, locked in my house while another of my best friends, Delilah, trailed Kirk for most of the late afternoon and early evening. Finally, after what seemed like days rather than hours, she texted me, stating she’d seen him with a girl outside of the gym he usually worked out in. Unfortunately, she’d lost sight of them soon thereafter.
“This is nuts, Janessa,” Audrey argued as she pulled on my arm to get me to stop from barging into Kirk’s two bedroom apartment. “What makes you think he’s even in there?” She pointed to the door just five feet away.
“Oh, he’s in there all right,” I hissed, gritting my teeth as I pictured him on top of another girl. “And I’m going to kick his ass if he’s fucking someone else.”
Audrey shook her head. “You guys have been together for three years. You should have talked this out,” she advised.
“If he’s cheating, there is nothing to talk about,” I replied.
And I meant what I said. Kirk had been my first serious boyfriend, and although he had not been the one to take my virginity, he’d been the only guy I’d seen myself sharing in a long term relationship with. To be honest, everything had been picture perfect between us since the very beginning.
Well, okay, maybe not picture perfect but good enough. We had something nice going, and that had been enough for me. Apparently, he didn’t think the same way anymore judging by his out-of-character behavior during the past six weeks.
We met on campus during my junior year in college, and we fell head over heels the moment we first saw each other. After a few dates, we went steady and were serious about our relationship for a while. He had been attentive and considerate, most times anyway. Yes, Kirk was�well, a little full of himself, which created a wedge between us on occasions. However, I was a bit of a self-centered queen myself, but a guy with an ego bigger than mine was a bit of a turn off for me, and more often than not we’d ended up arguing because of this. Far from ending the relationship, however, I tried to make it work, and for the most part, everything had sailed smoothly for a time.
Unfortunately, life had decided to play this cruel falling-in-love bit on me, and even though there had been times when I had wanted to dump Kirk, my heart�that stupid organ resting just under my left breast�wouldn’t allow me to. It sucked. It sucks being in love! I hated it, and if I had my way, I would never fall in love again. Ever.
During the last month and a half of our relationship, Kirk had begun to change. At first, it was little things like not calling every night as he used to. Then he graduated to standing me up more than once, which led to ugly fights between us. To finding excuses to be somewhere else instead of with me, hiding his cell phone, unable to account for missing condoms�yes, I knew how many condoms were in the damn box�and even picking fights so that he could leave. You know, the kind of thing men usually do when they’re sneaking around or trying to anyway.
To top it all off, he would disappear and then come back the next day with no credible explanation as to where he had been all night long or why he had not answered my calls, but Kirk wasn’t such a smart cookie even though he tried to portray himself as such. He made the mistake of leaving his cell phone of top of my nightstand one night while he hurried to the bathroom, and I quickly learned how to decode his passcode, which wasn’t so hard considering the idiot actually used his freaking birthday.
Within moments, I was navigating through his emails, contacts, and text messages and that’s when I found strange text messages to an unnamed girl. I wasted no time calling and imagine my surprise�yes, surprise, because deep down some part of me wanted to believe Kirk would never betray me�when a girl picked up. The girl didn’t even give me time to ask anything. She hung up and every time I tried calling the number again she wouldn’t answer.
I didn’t let that deter me. Not by a long shot. I memorized the number and tried calling from my cell and house phone, but she would either block my calls and eventually changed the freaking number. When I confronted Kirk about it, he assured me she was just a friend. I didn’t believe him of course and he knew it.
At first, I was completely stunned. It was hard to accept that anyone would want to cheat on me for Christ’s sake. But as more and more time passed, I realized it looked like my boyfriend was stepping out on me, and this triggered my inner devil to come out.
To make matters worse, I was convinced everyone on campus knew what was going on. There wasn’t a single person�to my knowledge at least�who did not recognize me and if they were smart�which I suspected Kirk was not�they knew that messing with Janessa Rowe was a big mistake.
“Janessa, think about this,” Audrey insisted, her pale hands shaking as she gazed at the door as if expecting someone to come out at any moment. “If Kirk isn’t cheating, you’ll put a huge wedge in your relationship.”
Rolling my eyes, I glared at her. “What the hell are you afraid of? It’s not like we’re going in there to confront your boyfriend.”
“I don’t have one,” Audrey bit back angrily after which, I regretted my harsh words.
Audrey wasn’t what most guys would call sexy or even pretty. She was the kind of girl that loved life so much she had the tendency to overindulge in everything she did including eating. She was a size twelve, tended to snort a little when she laughed, and had the bad habit of overthinking everything. But to be perfectly honest, I would not change her for anyone. She was my best friend, the only one aside from Delilah I could count on. The one person I knew would always be there for me no matter what.
“You can always turn back and leave,” I said. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to be a part of this.”
She shook her head. “No. I don’t want to leave,” she said. “You might need someone to bail you out from jail or worse�keep you from killing Kirk.”
That’s my girl! I smiled. “Damn right.”
Taking the copy of the key to Kirk’s apartment out of my jean’s pocket, I gestured for Audrey to follow me as I tiptoed to the door. One of Kirk’s biggest mistakes was handing me a copy of the key to the apartment he shared with his best friend, Jeff. Let’s face it, the guy isn’t exactly smart. Sure, he had a body that most guys would kill to have and a face like an angel, but when it came to the brains department, he was as stupid as a sack of potatoes, and conceited to boot.
Although I had never felt the need to use the key before tonight, it sure was convenient to have it nonetheless. Somehow, it almost felt as if life itself was doing me justice. Kirk might have been careful not to get caught for a while, but if he opted for taking advantage of my “weekend away” by messing around on me, he was in for a nasty surprise.
I was extra careful unlocking the door, making sure that the noise was cut down to the minimum. Once I was positive the click was barely audible, even to my own ears, I turned the knob and slowly inched the door open, sighing in relief when it open easily and without a creak.
In a matter of moments we were slipping inside. Careful not to make a single noise as we snuck into the living room right after closing the door, I stood there for a moment just glancing around; looking for any signs that indicated someone other than Jeff or Kirk was in the apartment. Nothing seemed out of place.
As soon as I’d opened the door, we heard music, but it wasn’t until Audrey and I were standing perfectly still in the middle of the living room that we were able to make out where it came from.
“It’s coming from Kirk’s bedroom,” I pointed out.
Audrey winced as if she’d been hit. I knew for a fact Kirk’s roommate was not in the apartment because I’d seen him on the way over, so I knew that either Kirk was behind the closed door alone�or accompanied.
It wasn’t long before the sound of muffled speech traveled to my ears, and my body immediately moved into action. Before Audrey could stop me, I stormed across the living room and to the closed bedroom door at the other end of the room.
“Janessa!” Audrey whispered harshly behind me. “Wait!” she squeaked.
With my hand on the knob, I actually found myself hesitating. Although I was all strong on the outside, truth was, the possibility of my boyfriend of three years sticking it to someone else actually hurt. I had grown to love the guy. Had cared for him longer than anyone else, and he found the time to fool around with someone else? What the hell was he thinking?
Blind white fury coursed through me, and I used my rising anger to barge into the room just in time to see�Kirk�humping some girl I didn’t know. Engrossed in what they were doing, neither noticed me standing there with the door wide open. Of course, the music blaring from a pair of speakers to my left helped muffle any other sounds aside from the grunting and moaning slipping out of their mouths. It wasn’t until I reached out, grabbed the IPod, which had been attached to a set of speakers, and smashed it against the floor that they finally looked up at me.
“You piece of shit!” I roared, rushing to the bed.
Kirk’s eyes widened in shock, and he immediately pulled back and out of the girl, his cock glistening as he backtracked across the mattress, falling on his ass on the floor when he ran out of space. The girl, a pretty brunette with big doe eyes reached out to cover herself with a thin blanket, all while trying to scurry off the bed and out of my reach. Undeterred, I walked right up to Kirk just as he was picking himself off the floor and looked at him straight in the eyes.
“I knew it!” I screamed. “I knew you were screwing someone else!”
Struggling to cover his man parts with both hands, he looked at me and said, “I can explain.”
Yes, he actually said that. As if what I’d seen could possibly have an explanation other than him being a lowlife piece of shit of a man, that instead of stating he no longer wanted to be in a relationship with me, he opted for betrayal.
“Oh, yeah? Explain this!” And then, before I even realized what my body was up to, I pulled my arm back as far as it could go and then released my pent up anger with a punch to his nose. My fist connected hard, breaking it immediately. It happened so fast Kirk had no time to react.
He only reacted after the fact. Yelping, he brought his hands up to his face to scoop up the blood now flowing out of his nostrils. His eyes stared back at me in shock, as if he couldn’t believe I’d actually hit him.
“God! Janessa! Why’d you do that for?” he cried. “You know I have a casting call tomorrow night.”
Seriously? I just caught him fucking some other girl, and he was more worried about the stupid casting call?
“Like I care,” I said as I shoved him against the wall and hurried to the brunette trying to make herself invisible by hiding in a corner. The moment she spotted me heading in her direction, she screamed and pulled the sheet over her head. Apparently, she was brave enough to screw around with someone else’s boyfriend but too much of a wimp to actually face me.
Grabbing a hold of the sheet, which was thin enough for me to take a fistful of hair along with it, I yanked her forward and away from the wall.
“I really do hope you enjoyed him,” I spat.
“No. Please. It’s� not� what�” she stuttered.
“It looks like. Are you kidding me?” Was she seriously trying to pull that one on me? “What’s your name?”
She shook her head.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll find out anyway.” I pulled on her hair so that her sheeted face was but a few inches from mine. “Allow for a word of advice though, if he did it to me, what makes you think he won’t do it to you?”
She shook as she mumbled a barely audible apology.
I wanted to hurt her, punch her pretty nose in, but watching her pathetically trembling figure barely able to hold herself up, I realized she wasn’t worth the effort. Kirk wasn’t worth it.
“You know what, you can have him,” I said, suddenly disgusted by the whole situation. “You two were made for each other.” Shoving her against the very corner she had been using as a shield, I hurried back to Audrey’s side.
Kirk ran after me, pulling on my arm as Audrey ushered me out of the room.
“Please, Janessa,” he begged, pathetically I must add. “Just let me explain.”
I spun around so fast he jumped back, letting go of my arm. “Touch me again and I will crack your skull open,” I threatened.
He winced. “Don’t walk away,” he started again. “We need to talk about this.”
Stunned by his stupidity, I said nothing for a moment and just stood there, gaping at him. I just could not believe he would think that I would want anything to do with him after everything I’d witnessed. After about a second or two, however, I reached out for him with open arms.
“You’re right. We need to talk.” I put on a sweet face, and he smiled.
He walked toward me, and when he stepped into my embrace; I brought my knee up and slammed it against his groin so hard he cried out.
“You can have your whore. I’m done with you.” I practically spat out the words.
Gasping for air, he doubled over in pain as he fell to the floor, grasping his man parts as he writhe in agony.
“Let’s go.” Audrey pulled on my arm, and soon we were out the door and heading for our townhouse.