A/N: Thanks to everyone who has been reading! I know people are getting frustrated with Laila's behavior so hopefully this chapter will offer some relief :) Much Love ~ Pink
Sterling was waiting patiently for Laila outside of her dorm room. They were celebrating their one year anniversary on Saturday evening but he was too impatient to wait until the weekend. It had been exactly 365 days since she had agreed to be his girlfriend and that year had been the best year of Sterling's life. The promise ring was safe inside his pocket and he couldn't wait to give it to her. He knew she would love it. It was understated and classic, it just screamed Laila's name.
He smiled as he saw Piper and Luanne walking in the distance. Laila must be hidden behind her tall roommate. But as they approached, he realized she wasn't with them. Piper's face fell as she saw him and she quickened her step.
"Sterling, what are you doing here?"
"I'm waiting for Laila. Isn't she with you?" Sterling asked, confused.
"She's right behind us. Luanne isn't feeling well so I took her home and Laila waited for our food."
"Oh," Sterling said, slightly relieved. "So she'll be along in a few minutes?"
"Should be. Yeah," Piper gave a guilty smile. "Do you want to wait inside?"
Sterling smiled and was about to accept her offer when he heard Laila's lilting laugh in the distance. He looked up and saw her walking with a taller figure. The blood in Sterling's veins started to boil as the pair passed under a street lamp and he recognized Laila's companion. Hadn't she promised him just days ago to avoid this exact situation? But now, here she was, walking toward her dorm room with none other than Will.
Laila's smile didn't falter as she saw her boyfriend standing outside her room. She waved and skipped ahead of her friend so she could greet him. But Sterling was in no mood for her kindness at the moment.
"Where have you been?"
"I told you," Laila said with a smile. "Piper and I went to see Nikki's play and Luanne tagged along, and, Oh! I need to tell you what I discovered…"
"Laila," Sterling interrupted. "What are you doing with him?" He didn't care that Will could hear him. He didn't care that he was about to start another fight. He was livid and Laila should know why.
Finally, the smile left Laila's face as she glanced behind her shoulder at her friend. A guilty knot started to form in her stomach as she realized how the situation must look to Sterling. She cursed herself for getting caught up in her endeavors to hook up Will and Luanne. But it wasn't anything she couldn't explain.
"He saw us at the play and we all went out for a quick bite…"
"Then why is it that you are with him and your two roommates came home without you?"
"Can we talk about this inside?" Laila asked quickly, realizing she should have been the one to walk Luanne home instead of Piper. Or, better yet, she should have sent Will.
"No. We can talk about this here." Sterling's voice was low and rough. She knew he wasn't going to let this go until she explained her suspicions about Luanne and Will.
"Sterling, let's just go inside…" Laila started to say but her boyfriend cut her off.
"No! I want him to hear this so that he knows that you are mine." Sterling glared at Laila but could feel Will's eyes on him. That bastard needed to learn that Laila wasn't going to be anyone's but Sterling's.
"Of course I am yours," Laila said softly, her violet eyes pleading with him to calm down. "I love you and I know how this must look but if you just let me explain…"
"Tell him," Sterling demanded. "Tell him that you love me and only me and that you'll never leave me."
Laila's clenched her jaw. This situation was quickly becoming humiliating. Sterling's demands felt possessive and her first reaction was to push him away. But she stopped herself from screaming at him, knowing that it would only make the situation worse. Slowly, she turned to face Will.
"Will, thank you for walking me home. I have some things I need to work out with my boyfriend so I'll see you in class on Friday."
Will's face looked as if he was trying to hide a smile, his worried expression mixed with an uncomfortable awkwardness. Laila was sure he was just waiting for an excuse to run away from her and her seemingly crazy boyfriend. But Will surprised her.
"Laila, I'm not leaving you with him."
"What?" Laila asked, her voice barely audible.
"Fuck off!" Sterling said at the same time. "What happens between me and my girlfriend doesn't concern you."
But Will was still looking at Laila. "You shouldn't be alone with him right now," he said calmly. "I'm afraid he might hurt you."
"Sterling would never…"
"That's it!" Sterling screamed. "I don't want you talking to her! I don't want you even looking at her!"
"I think she can make her own decisions," Will told Sterling with a confident grin.
"Will you two please stop?" Laila stepped in front of her boyfriend who was clenching his fists like he was about to throw a punch. "Sterling, let's go back to your apartment. Will, I'll see you in class."
"You stay the fuck away from her," Sterling warned as his hand rose quickly to Laila's shoulder, ready to guide her away from her student teacher. But the movement startled her and made her jump backwards, causing her to nearly crash into Will's chest. Sterling's heart sank and his body froze. Was she scared of him? He didn't have time to think about that as he watched Will's hands wrap tightly around Laila's arms to steady her.
"Be careful," he whispered in her ear as she regained her balance. But his eyes never left Sterling's. Will was smirking at him with a devilish smile and a plotting look behind his eye. His hands lingered on Laila's arms and Sterling cringed as he watched Will inhale the scent of her long strawberry blonde hair.
"Laila," Sterling said, reaching for her hand so he could pull her away from Will, his need to protect her nearly overwhelming.
Laila stepped away from Will but shook Sterling's hand from her wrist. Tears were starting to pour from her eyes as she stood between the two men. She looked at her boyfriend and barely recognized him. The anger and hate in his face was terrifying and she nearly broke down into sobs right then and there. She took a slow step in his direction, waiting for his face to change back to the one she loved so much. But even as she wrapped her arms around his waist, his expression remained icy as he glared at Will.
"Sterling, please?" She said, trying to refocus his attention. "Let's just go."
Sterling heard her plea and kissed the top of her head, his eyes never leaving Will's as the two stared each other down. He wanted to make Will suffer. He wanted to prove to him that Laila would never leave his side. "Promise me that you won't see him again," he said to his girlfriend, hoping she would answer loud enough for Will to hear.
But Laila remained silent, her face buried in Sterling's chest. "Laila? Promise me."
She whispered something neither boy could hear and Sterling watched as the smirk on Will's face turned to a triumphant smile.
Sterling's anger rose to a level which frightened even him. He wanted to yell and scream but his body wouldn't let him. "Laila," he said calmly, not really planning on giving her an ultimatum. But he didn't know what else to do. "It's me or him."
She pulled her face away from his chest and her gaze flew to meet his. "Are you serious?"
Sterling nodded. "I can't do this anymore. I can't watch you naively go on pretending that he just wants to be your friend. Look at what it's doing to me. Look at what it's doing to us."
"I can't believe you are asking me to choose." Didn't he know that she would always choose him? Didn't he know that he meant more to her than anything?
"I shouldn't even have to ask, Laila. You should have listened to me the first time."
"You don't even know him! Don't you think…"
"I don't have to know him! And don't talk to me about thinking because clearly you haven't been doing any of that!"
His words hurt and she pushed away from him. She'd had enough. She couldn't process everything that had happened, couldn't comprehend the events that had led to Sterling's ultimatum. She loved him more than anything but wasn't about to let that stand in the way of her independence. What he was doing wasn't like him. He had never tried to control her before and she couldn't understand why he was doing it now. But he wouldn't listen to her, wouldn't even give her a chance to explain herself.
"I'm going inside," she whispered. "I want you both to leave."
"Laila…" Sterling reached for her but she stepped away and opened her door.
"I don't want to see you right now," she said with such an absolute resound that neither man questioned her further. She closed her door and sank to the ground. She didn't listen for them to walk away, her tears and sobs were too distracting and soon she could feel Piper's arms wrapping around her shoulder as she joined her roommate on the floor of their apartment.