Slammed, p.7
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       Slammed, p.7

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover

  Instead they were met head-on by death,

  disguised as an eighteen-wheeler

  behind a cloud of fog.


  Death didn’t forget about them.

  If they only would have been prepared, accepted the inevitable, laid out their plans, understood that it wasn’t just their lives at hand.

  I may have legally been considered an adult at the age of nineteen, but I still felt very much


  of just nineteen.


  and overwhelmed

  to suddenly have the entire life of a seven-year-old

  In my realm.

  Death. The only thing inevitable in life.

  Will steps out of the spotlight and off of the stage before he even sees his scores. I find myself hoping he gets lost on his way back to our booth so that I have time to absorb this. I have no idea how to react. I had no idea that this was his life. That Caulder was his whole life. I’m amazed by his performance but devastated by his words. I wipe tears away with the back of my hand. I don’t know if I’m crying for the loss of Will’s parents, the responsibilities of that loss or the simple fact that he spoke the truth. He spoke about a side of death and loss that never seems to be considered until it’s too late. A side that I'm unfortunately all too familiar with. The Will I watched walk up to the stage is not the same Will I’m watching walk toward me. I'm conflicted, I'm confused, and most of all I'm taken aback. He was beautiful.

  He notices as I'm wiping tears from my eyes. “I warned you,” he smiles as he slides back into the booth.

  He reaches for his drink and takes a sip, stirring the ice cubes with his straw. I have no idea what to say to him. He completely put it all out there, right in front of me.

  My emotions take control over my actions. I reach forward and take his hand in mine and he sets his drink back down on the table. He looks at me and smiles as he reaches to my face and traces the side of my cheek. I don’t understand the connection I feel with him. It all seems so fast. I turn his hand over and gently kiss the inside of his palm as we hold each other’s stare. We suddenly become the only two people in the entire room; all the external noise fades into the distance.

  He takes my face in his hands and I close my eyes. I feel his breath draw closer as he pulls my face toward his. When he touches his lips to mine, he hesitates. He slowly kisses my bottom lip, then my top lip. His lips are warm, still wet from his drink. I try to kiss him back, but he pulls away when my mouth responds. I open my eyes and he is smiling at me, still holding my face in his hands.

  "Patience," he whispers. He leans in and kisses me on the cheek. He moves his mouth to my other cheek and kisses me again. I close my eyes and inhale as I try to calm the overwhelming impulse I have to wrap my arms around him and kiss him back. I don't know how he has so much self-control. He presses his forehead against mine and slides his hands down to my arms. Our eyes lock as we open them. It's during this moment that I finally understand why my mother accepted her fate at the age of eighteen.

  "Wow,” I exhale.

  "Yeah,” he agrees. "Wow."

  We hold each other’s gaze for a few more seconds when the audience starts to roar again. They are announcing the qualifiers for round two when Will grabs my hand and whispers, "Let's go."

  As I make my way out of the booth, my entire body feels like it's about to give out on me. I've never experienced anything like what just happened. Ever.

  We exit the booth and our hands remain locked as he navigates me through the ever growing crowd and into the parking lot. I didn't realize how warm I was until the cold Michigan air touches my skin. It feels exhilarating. Or I feel exhilarated. I can't tell which. All I know is that I wish the last two hours of my life could repeat for eternity.

  "You don't want to stay?" I ask him.

  "Lake, you've been moving and unpacking for days. You need sleep."

  "Sleep does sound good," I say as I yawn.

  He opens my door but before I get in, he wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me to him in a tight embrace. He runs his hand through my hair as I take in his scent. I try to pull him closer, but we can't seem to get close enough. Several minutes pass as we just stand there, holding on to the moment. I've always been so guarded. This new side of me that Will brings out is a side of me I didn't know I had.

  We eventually break apart and get in the car. As we drive away from the parking lot I lean my head against the window and watch the club as it minimizes in the rearview mirror.

  "Will?" I whisper without breaking my gaze as the building disappears behind us. "Thank you for this."

  He takes my hand into his and I fall asleep, smiling.

  I wake up as he's opening my door and we're in my driveway. He reaches in and grabs my hand as I step out of the car. I can't remember the last time I fell asleep in a moving vehicle. Will was right, I am tired. I rub my eyes and yawn again as he walks me to the front door. He wraps his arms around my waist as I raise mine around his shoulders and we embrace again. He squeezes my waist tighter and moves me closer into him. Our bodies are a perfect fit.

  "Lake, I already miss you," he whispers in my ear. A chill runs down my body as his breath warms my neck. I can't believe we only met three days ago; it seems like we've been doing this for years.

  "Just think," I say. "You'll be gone three whole days. That's the same length of time that I've known you."

  I didn't think it was possible, but he pulls me even closer. "This will be the longest three days of my life," he says.

  If I know my mother at all, then we've got an audience, so I'm relieved his final kiss is nothing more than a quick peck on the cheek. He slowly walks backwards toward his car, his fingers sliding out of mine, eventually letting go. My arm falls limp to my side as I watch him get into his car. He cranks the engine and rolls down his window. "Lake, I've got a pretty long drive home," he teases. "How about one for the road?"

  I walk to the car and lean through his window, expecting another peck. Instead, he slips his hand behind my neck and gently presses me toward him, our lips separating as they meet. Neither of us holds back this time. I reach through the window and run my fingers through the back of his hair as we continue kissing. It takes all I have not to swing open the car door and crawl into his lap. The door between us feels more like a barricade.

  We finally come to a stop; our lips are still touching as we both hesitate to part. Our breath rises in small waves of fog as it meets the cold air.

  "Damn," he whispers. "It gets better every time."

  I plant a small peck on his mouth. He does the same. We continue back and forth until I start to laugh. "I'll see you in three days," I smile. "You be careful driving home tonight." I give him one final kiss as I pull away from the window.

  He backs out of the driveway and again straight into his own. I'm tempted to run after him and kiss him again to prove his theory. Instead, I avoid temptation and turn to head inside.


  I turn around just as he shuts his car door and jogs across the street toward me. Did I leave something in his car? I wait for him to say something else to explain what he's doing, but instead he just smiles as he gets closer.

  "I forgot to tell you something," he says as he wraps his arms around me again. "You look beautiful tonight." He kisses me on top of my head, releases his hold and turns back toward his house.

  Maybe I was wrong earlier-about me liking the fact that he didn't compliment me tonight. I was definitely wrong. When he gets to his front door, he turns around and smiles before he goes inside.

  Just like I had imagined, my mother is sitting on the sofa with a book, attempting to appear uninterested as I walk through the front door. "Well, how'd it go? Is he a serial killer?" she asks.

  My smile is uncontrollable now. I walk to the sofa opposite her and throw myself on it like a ragdoll and sigh. "You were right Mom, I love Michigan."


  "But I can tell by wat
ching you

  That there's no chance of pushing through

  The odds are so against us

  You know most young love, it ends like this."

  -The Avett Brothers, I Would Be Sad

  Chapter Three

  I'm more nervous than I had anticipated when I wake up Monday morning. My mind has been so preoccupied with all things Will, I haven't had time to process my impending doom. Or rather, my first day ever at a brand new school.

  Mom and I finally had a chance to go shopping for weather appropriate clothing over the weekend. I throw on what I picked out the evening before and slide on my new snow boots. I leave my hair down for the day but slide an extra band onto my wrist for when I want to pull it back, which I know I’ll do.

  After I finish up in the bathroom I move to the kitchen and grab my backpack and my class schedule off of the counter. Mom began her new night shift at the hospital last night, so I agree to take Kel to school.

  Back in Texas, Kel and I went to the same school. In fact, everyone in the vicinity of our town went to the same school. Here, there are so many schools I have to print out a district map just to be sure I'm taking him to the right place.

  When we pull up to the elementary, Kel immediately spots Caulder and jumps out of the car without even saying goodbye. He makes life look so easy.

  Luckily, the Elementary is only a few blocks from the High School. I’ll have extra time to spare so that I can locate my first class. I pull into the parking lot of what I consider to be a massive High School and search for a spot. When I find one available, it's as far from the building as it could be and there are dozens of students standing around their vehicles chatting. I am hesitant to get out of my car, but realize when I do that no one even notices me. It's not like in the movies when the new girl steps out of her car onto the lawn of the new school, clutching her books, everyone stopping what they're doing to stare. It's not like that at all. I feel invisible and I like it.

  I make it through first period math without being assigned homework, which is good. I plan on spending the entire evening with Will. When I woke up this morning, there was a note on my jeep from him. All it said was, "Can't wait to see you. I'll be back by four. I've missed you so bad."

  Seven hours and three minutes to go.

  History isn't any harder. The teacher is giving notes on the Punic Wars, something we had just covered in my previous school. I find it hard to focus as I literally count down the minutes. The teacher is very monotonous and mundane. If I don't find something to be interesting, my mind has a tendency to wander. It keeps wandering to Will. I am methodically taking notes, trying my best to focus when someone behind me pokes my back.

  "Hey, let me see your schedule,” the girl directs.

  I inconspicuously reach for my schedule and fold it up tightly in my left hand. I raise my hand behind me and quickly drop the schedule on her desk.

  "Oh please!" she says louder. "Mr. Hanushek is half blind and can barely hear. Don't worry about him."

  I stifle a laugh and turn toward her as Mr. Hanushek is facing the board. "I'm Layken,” I tell her.

  "Eddie," she responds.

  I look at her questioningly and she rolls her eyes.

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