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Thereafter: College

Chapter One- New Beginnings, Old Flames

Arizona was sweltering. Not that L.A was a cooling pot but the dry desert air made it feel like Letty was suffocating in her car. It didn't help that Letty was wrapped up in Dom's hoodie in the heat.

The car was stuffed with boxes and suitcases, behind her, her mother's car was just as stuffed. Mimi had gone to Burlington and decided that Letty needed everything in the store to make the transition from living with her to living on her own. Behind Mimi was Mia and Mr. Toretto. All cars were packed with wares, clothes and boxes of memories they couldn't part with. Mia out-packed Letty by a ton but Letty knew she was having a had time leaving home.

Letty on the other hand, didn't have those same sentiments. She was elated to be her own boss, have her own roof.

She looked down at her ringing phone. It was a text message from Leon. He told her he would be coming to see the new place later tonight. He was working a shift at the bowling alley, where they had met. Leon was fun. Letty wouldn't call what they were doing a relationship and neither would Leon. He was enamored with the way Letty didn't pressure him for something serious. It worked out perfect, he couldn't give it and she didn't want it. He had gotten out of a bad relationship and her heart belonged to someone else.

She toyed with the zip on Dom's hoodie. It was practically all she wore since that night two months ago. Summer without him was a drag but bearable. Especially when she and Mia walked into the bowling alley Leon worked. They had taken the summer by storm. Like she said, fun.

She had Dom had spoken every week, they spoke about everything. Well almost everything, Letty had left out that she had been running around town with Leon. She was just having fun and she was certainly single. She could have easily told him but with Dom she never knew what she was going to get. He could be calm and collected or he could vow to kill Leon and since the latter was more than likely the case, she kept her mouth shut.

Finally, out of the desert and into the city, they pulled into the apartment complex they had never seen before. All transactions had been done over the internet and the phone. Mia picked the place, Letty didn't really care once she had somewhere warm to lay her head at night. Mia had made sure there were hot and cold water, wifi and that it was fully furnished.

There were three blocks of apartments, one in front at the side of the driveway and two more around an oval shaped quad with a fountain at its center. They were painted brick orange and looked identical, two windows and a small balcony attached to each unit.

Letty got out of the car and inhaled the desert air deeply. Even the air smelled differently. Starting a new life was so exciting, she only answered to herself now. What could be better?

When the others parked behind her, they began following Mia who had the keys.

"Block C, apartment 3B," Mia she collected the keys from the landlord and said, "Follow me, third floor, second door."

They went up the stairs of the last block of apartments and easily found 3B.

Mia squealed when she opened the door. They stepped into the small kitchenette, a countertop separated it from the living room area with a small three piece set and an even smaller circular dining table. There was small balcony area off the living behind sliding glass doors. A short hallway held both girls' rooms on either side and a bathroom at the end of the hallway.

Mia began rattling off about her décor ideas but Letty was soaking it all in. Her life had just begun.

Dom hoped he would be able to meet his dad at the girls' new apartment. He raced along route 70 following the location sent by Mia. Arizona was roughly seven hours away from New Mexico but it felt much shorter on the open road, somehow the scenery made the time melt away quickly.

He wasn't able to attend any of his classes before he raced down to see the girls. He had missed them, wanted to make sure they were prepared for university and he was excited to see Letty. They had exchanged only calls since she had tattooed her name on his body all those months ago. He still had flashbacks of that erotic night.

He was glad the girls' got into NAU but he did wonder why they never considered New Mexico State.

When he reached the apartment complex, he saw that only the girls cars were parked. The parents would have gone already. He missed his dad. Wanted to catch up, he made a mental to drive down and see him one his freer weekends.

He called Mia when he got out of his car. Her directions led him to their apartment door, there he realized he was nervous to see Letty. He didn't know why.

When the door flung open, Mia strangled him while attempting to hug him. Boxes were everywhere as Mia showed him around the small apartment. It was a good starter for the girls, he felt that they were safe too.

He didn't want to interrupt Mia and ask for Letty but he really wanted to see her. He heard deep laugh from the hallway and wanted to run and barge into the room but he heard a male's laughter as well.

He felt like he had been sucker punched in the gut. Of course, he had gotten calls about seeing 'his girl' out and about with another guy. Leo and Santos had mentioned it once or twice but he didn't expect the guy to be here.

Who the fuck was he? She forgot to mention that in her emails. Mia's face reflected the shame she felt for not giving him the heads up. It also explained why she was trying to distract with talks of a decorative tapestry she wanted to hang above the couch.

"Letty, Dom's here," Mia yelled when she saw his hardened expression.

The laughing subsided almost instantly and her bedroom door opened soon after that. Letty emerged, with his hoodies tied around his waist. That put him at ease, she was still his. It didn't matter who she was with.

She walked toward him, "Dom, hey," she hugged him tightly. It was so good to have her in his arms again. Two months was too long. He breathed in her shampoo and let out hot breath on her neck. He felt her shiver in response and held on tighter.

When he finally released her, he forgot what he was so upset about. She was here

"I still can't believe you two, in your own apartments." He looked at them both, in their new space. They both smiled in response.

"We were gonna order some pizza," Mia said.

"I'm sure Dom's got places to be," Letty interjected. She very clearly did not want him around her man piece. Dom wanted to have as much fun with that as possible.

"I just got here and I'm starving," Dom smirked at Letty who glared at him.

She cleared her throat. "Right well, I'm going to try and finish up in my room. Call me when the pizza gets here."

Dom was blowing off an evening class by toying with Letty and he didn't mind in the least. He grinned when she sneaked a glance at him as he stripped off his leather jacket.

She floated back to her room, his hoodie flapping over her ass making him enjoy some flashbacks from their night of passion.

Mia put him to work, she had him rearrange the entire living room. She barked orders at him like only she and Letty could do. She had him move the largest couch against the wall with the two windows. He positioned the couch between the two windows as symmetrical as he could. She helped put two side tables on either side. She had brought the side tables and a brown rattan coffee table. He then moved the love seat opposite to the big couch and positioned the single chair in the empty corner.

He moved the dining table to the kitchen as it wasn't that big. The now open space in the corner she placed a magazine rack. The space had quickly transformed into a home.

Satisfied, she finally ordered the pizza. Dom opened the windows to cool down after all that exertion. He sat on the couch and waited patiently for Letty and her boy toy to emerge.

Pizza came and Mia summoned Letty and her 'friend' who he was introduced to as Leon.

Mia sat in the loveseat, Dom stayed sitting in the long couch and Letty sat the foot of the small chair Leon sat in. They ate pizza and had easy conversation about what courses they were taking, and navigating Arizona.

"The university is stone throwaway, I'll get some cardio everyday at least." Mia said.

Though Dom was barely listening, he kept eyeing Letty and she kept eyeing him back. They were not being nearly as subtle as they thought they were.

He was mostly amused about Leon, he could tell there was nothing between them. At least nothing like what he had with Letty.

Letty finally excused herself to the kitchen to pour more soda. Dom mumbled an explanation and followed her to the kitchen.

He dug into the pizza box and helped himself to another slice, "So, Leon huh?"

She peered at him with an unreadable expression. "Maybe, you have a problem with that?"

He took a bite out of a folded slice. "I have a big problem with that."

Though he was half joking, Letty tried to hush him. "Not here,"

Dom didn't back down with his teasing. "Does he know that I know the face you make when you-"

"Shh," she pulled him out the door.

They leaned over the railing laughing.

"You're an asshole you know that." she said. "You're lucky you're cute when you're jealous."

"What if I didn't need to be?" he said.

"What do you, mean, she turned over, back to the railing while he remained leaning over.

"What if we tried…to be an us. We both drive, that drive down wasn't that bad. I mean, do you want to wait any longer?"

"Spell it out for me here Dom," Letty said.

"I'm saying we should be together, exclusively. Distance be damned."

Letty would think he was joking if not for his serious expression. She had long put the thought of them to bed, at least until after they finished university. But here he was telling her, "I want you Letty. I always have. And I'm not gonna wait another day."

Letty was speechless and she would have babbled a response but he didn't seem like he wanted an answer just then.

"Think about it." He pushed himself off the railing and headed inside. Letty stayed there for a moment longer trying to gather her thoughts. She was sure she looked like a deer in headlights at Dom's proposition.

Dom returned with his keys and jacket before she had time to make it back inside.

"Leaving so soon?" she said, trying to grapple for normalcy.

Dom juggled his keys and said, "Such is the life of a university student. You'll see soon enough."

She smiled softly as he began his decent down the hall. He pivoted just before he reached the stair case and doubled back to her smashing his lips against hers before she could react. Not that she would have pushed him away. Her arms wrapped around his neck as they quickly fell into old rhythms with their tongues. When they parted, he dropped his forehead to hers and said, "That was for your consideration,"

Letty blushed profusely as he left. She was sure when she went back inside, she looked like she had just won the lottery. Mia acknowledged her with a roll of her eye. Mia had said to Letty with her own mouth how sick she was of her and Dom. They were always off and on but Letty knew this time, once she sank her teeth into Dom, she was never letting go.

Even later that night, as she let Leon undress her, she couldn't help but wish they were Dom's hands on her. She was in trouble.

Dom caught up with some of his friends on the steps of the library. He had finished his classes for the day and needed a distraction from the mountain of work he had outstanding. He was even more on edge when Letty had not contacted him for a week.

Every time he opened his laptop to get some work done, he saw Letty rejecting him. He needed a distraction and he knew his band of misfit friends would deliver.

"I thought you were going to hunker down in the dorm today and finish Shaw's assignments?" Vegh called to him. Dom dropped himself unto the steps next to Han and Gisele.

"Plans change," he said, leaning back against Vegh's leg. "Not worth it either, no matter how good I do Shaw's going to mark me down. I'm telling you that man has it out for me."

Gisele shook her head, "Not this conspiracy again."

"I'm serious, that man is a nightmare." Dom said.

"I told you not to take his class," Han said.

Dom clenched his jaw. "He's the only one teaching the course this semester. I need to do it now to graduate next year."

"Yeah, yeah," Han said. "You have to suffer his wrath then."

Dom shrugged. He basked in the warm sunlight for a bit. The library steps was one of their spots because it was one of the few places on campus you got decent wifi. The weather was also nice and Dom could feel his stress melting away in the sun.

"Thank God he doesn't teach any course in Soc-Sci," Vegh bragged.

"That's because your faculty is failing and no one of joining," Han threw back. They began their interdepartmental fight/debate while Gisele nudged his shoulder.

"They're just teasing you know. Shaw does seem to especially hate your guts."

He shook his head. It wasn't Shaw who had his mind preoccupied.

"It's not that, I took a risk last night and I'm not sure if it paid off."

Gisele shrugged. "They usually do." She glanced at Han to his side with a small smile. Dom was the only one who knew were dating because they didn't 'want to make it weird' in their friend group.

Dom respected their wishes but it was very awkward having a secret amongst his good friends.

"I think Dom needs some cheering up," Gisele said, "Who's up for some wings and beer at Dinos?"

Vegh clenched her teeth, "I have a class at seven guys,"

They all got up, gathered their things from the steps and looked back at Vegh. They were waiting for her eventual yes. Vegh hated feeling left out, she only protested because she was dramatic.

"Let's go quick so I can be back for the last ten minutes." she finally said.

He and his merry band of misfits loaded into two cars for the fifteen-minute drive from campus. Only in university he would find a South Korean from Mexico, an Israeli and German to be friends with. He had learned more culture from them than he had from his anthropology 101 elective.

Letty had gotten her course outlines and realized she was already behind in work. It had been a tough first day, instant culture shock from high school but she was still in a good mood. She had a lot to be happy about, living on her own with Mia. And of course, Dom.

She was on her way back from campus. The sun beat against her bare shoulders and the wind made her clammy hair cling to her neck. She needed a shower. Dom's hoodie still swung from around her waist. She could imagine him stewing in his own thoughts of 'what ifs'. She hadn't decided but she took her time, she would enjoy having him wait it out.

When she got to the apartment, Mia was entertaining friends in the living room. How had Mia made friends already?

"Letty, come meet our neighbours." Mia said. "This is Cara," the curly haired girl waved from the loveseat and this is Monica." The other Latina waved from the single seat.

Mia picked up some margarita mix, "they brought provisions."

"Then we're going to get along great." Letty said. They laughed. "Pour me a glass while I grab a shower."

Out of the shower and wrapped in a leopard print robe Mia had gifted her years ago, Letty joined them in the living room. She had heard the blender going while in the shower and now a margarita was being shoved into her hand. This living alone was doing wonders for her.

"So you both go to NAU?" Monica said. Letty and Mia exchanged looks and nodded.

"Fresh meat," Cara said laughing. "I'm a senior and Monica graduated last year."

The four girls talked all evening over margaritas. By dusk, Mia was painting Monica's toe nails like they were old friends. Besides Mia, Letty had rarely felt comfortable with female friends. Their taste usually differed but Cara and Monica were different. She guessed it was how limited L.A was. She had only met one type of girl, she had the capacity for other friendships now that she was meeting people from all walks of life.

"Where were you from?" Letty said.

"Miami, but my boyfriend is from L.A so I might just be staying in these parts." Monica said.

"How long have you guys been together?" Mia said.

"A couple of months, he's always at my place I'm you'll be running into Brian a ton."

"Do you guys have boyfriends?" Cara said. Mia turned to Letty and rolled her eyes.

"It's complicated," Letty said.

"You're looking at the president of complicated," Cara said, knocking her glass against Monica's who laughed knowingly.

Letty sighed, "Well…."

Cara and Monica were speechless by the time Letty told them about her and Dom's history.

"Well, uncomplicate things and tell him yes." Monica said matter-of-factly.

Letty laughed. "I will. When there's an opening."

Monica got up and set her glass down. "There's an opening right now."

Cara squealed. "Road trip." She slapped her hands together.

"Letty, we're going to get your man right now." Monica took Letty's hand.

There were on the road to New Mexico twenty minutes later. Mia was busy on the phone.

"You can surprise him outside his class." Cara swooned.

"Whoa, this is not a romantic comedy. I'll call him when we get there." Letty said. The girls were feeding her fire but even she couldn't' deny that she was excited. It was finally their time. She had been waiting for this moment since freshman year of high school.

Monica drove Letty's car and she didn't do to bad. Letty realized then, her allowing Monica to drive her car was cementing their friendship.

Cara and Mia were singing along to the radio, seemingly just as bonded.

Professor Shaw's pointed accent was raking Dom's insides. He didn't like the best bone in his body. Dom slouched further into the chair as he battled a headache. Today wasn't his day. He had just found out he was failing the class, he would need a miracle to save cumulative GPA this term.

It was after eight, his last class for the day and he wanted so bad to bail out but he couldn't give Shaw another reason to hate him. He would have to endure.

"Am I boring you Toretto?" Shaw said.

Dom sat up in his chair, flattened his lips and tried to look interested.

The class seemed to stretch on, Dom couldn't take it anymore. He picked up his bag from the floor and rushed out of the class. He knew that every university student had a breaking point. They joked about their classmates having mental breakdowns all the time but he realized then how real it was.

His phone rang and he considered throwing it away but he answered when he recognized the number.

"It's good to hear your voice." Dom breathed into the phone.

"Rough night?"

"I could really use a friendly voice right now." he said.

"How about a friendly face?"

Dom wondered what she was talking about.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"Where are you?"

"New Mexico State University's parking lot."

Dom gave her directions and walked from his side of the campus to meet her halfway. He hung up when he saw her likeness moving toward him. He all but jogged toward her and enveloped her in a tight hug. He buried his face in her neck, smelling her hair. Drinking her in.

She seemed to sense the need in his embrace and stroked the back of his neck.

"Have I arrived just in time?"

He let up enough for him to answer her. "Letty, you always get here just in time." He kissed her slowly, in the middle of campus. Not that they cared about anything else in that moment.

"Good. You better not change your mind this time." she said. He squeezed her hand to assure her because words failed him in that moment. They stayed locked in that tight embrace when Letty looked up and realized there was a full moon. She didn't know when the tears had welled up but she began to cry.

"What is it?" he said.

She wiped away her tears. "Nothing, just that—we're finally under the same moon."