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The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden

Jessica Sorensen
Page 17


  I run my hand up and down my arm, trying to erase the goose bumps. “Why?”

  He shrugs, kicking the toes of his shoes at the dirt. “You always look like you’re thinking deeply… Are you cold?”

  “I’m okay,” I say through chattering teeth, wishing I hadn’t left my jacket in the cab. “It’s just a little bit chilly. ”

  He reaches around to the back of his neck and pulls the collar of his shirt over his head, taking it off. The black t-shirt he has on underneath rides up a little and I catch a glimpse of the jagged scars on his lower abs.

  Tugging down the bottom of his shirt, he stretches his arm out to me with his thermal shirt in his hand. “Here, put this on. ”

  “You don’t have to give me your shirt. ”

  “But I want to. ”

  Hesitantly, I take it and the fabric is soft against my fingertips. I pull it over my head as Kayden runs his hands through his hair. The shirt dwarfs me and I feel small.

  “Better?” he asks as I insert my arms through the sleeves.

  I nod, wrapping my arms around myself, enjoying the warmth, and the smell of his cologne. “Thank you, but aren’t you going to get cold?”

  He smiles like he finds me amusing. “I’ll be okay, Callie. I promise. A little cold air is nothing. ”

  “Callie!” Seth hollers and I jump, whirling toward the cliff with the flashlight darting across the rocks. “Get your ass up here and write something poetic. ”

  I sigh and trudge toward the cliff with the light pointing just in front of my feet. The circle of light shows the way around the rocks and to the base of the cliff.

  “Toss me your flashlight,” Seth yells with his hands around his mouth. “I’ll point it at you while you climb up. ”

  “If you miss it, it’ll break,” I call out, standing up on my tiptoes.

  “Just do it,” he says in his silly, drunk voice as he skips from side to side on the ledge, swinging his arms.

  I’m worried he’s going to fall. “Be careful!”

  Kayden moves up beside me with his hand held out to the side. “Here give it to me. I’m an excellent thrower. ” I put the flashlight in his palm and he tips his shoulder back, raising his arm. “Go long. ”

  “Huh?” Seth says as Kayden’s arm whips forward. He releases the flashlight and it soars through the air like it’s a football.

  Seth screeches as he sticks his hands out in front of him to catch the flashlight, which flickers like a firefly as it lands in his hands. It bounces out of them, hitting the ground and shuts off.

  “Where is he?” I ask as Luke comes up behind us and beams the light at the rock above. It’s silent for a moment. The yells and laughter of the party below travel up to us.

  Seth pops up from the rock, stretching his arm in the air with the flashlight in his hand. “I got it. ”

  “Maybe you should come down,” I advise. “I’m worried you’re going to fall. ”

  “Only after you tag the rock. ” He flips on the flashlight and the glow illuminates across the writing behind him. “Now come on. ”

  I trek up to the rock, roll up the sleeves on Kayden’s shirt, and place my hands onto the nearest ridge. Tilting my chin, I look up at the top as I bend my knee and brace it on a lower rock. Bouncing up and down on my toes, I prepare to climb up, but I hear someone move up behind me.

  “Let me help you,” Kayden whispers in my ear, and for the first time in my life I actually shiver from the nearness of a guy.

  “Okay. ” Since I’ve never been drunk before, I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol relaxing me or what, but even when he places his hands onto my hips, I’m okay. In fact, I’m more than okay.

  With the guidance of his hands, I stretch my body out and reach up to the next ledge. The rock is rough like sandpaper against my palms as I drag myself up and Kayden’s hands slide down my back as he pushes me higher. Swinging my leg up, he gives me one last shove by cupping my butt, before pulling away.

  My eyes widen as I roll on top of the ledge and stare up at the sky. The spots on my skin where he touched me tingle and a shiver courses through my body.

  Seth appears above me, the silver bolts of lightning reflecting in his eyes. “Are you okay?”

  I flip over onto my stomach and use my hands to push myself to my feet. “I’m okay. No scrapes or cuts. ”

  He beams the flashlight below his chin. It illuminates his face and causes his eyes to look like coals. “I wasn’t talking about the climb. I was talking about the fact that he just grabbed your ass. ”

  “You saw that?”

  “Of course I saw that. He basically just groped you. ”

  I place my hands on my hips and pace the length of the narrow cliff, kicking up dirt with the bottom of my sneakers. “I’m okay. Really. In fact, I feel more than okay. ”

  “I think that might be the alcohol talking. ” Seth holds out the spray can.

  “You think?” I take it from him and shake it.

  He nods guiltily. “I think just a little bit. I just hope you don’t have an oh my God moment when you wake up tomorrow morning. ”

  “I’ll be okay. This is the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. ” Walking toward the rock, I consider what to write. I read along the vague words of wisdom others have written and the declarations of love.

  “Jesus, it’s high up here,” Luke declares as he hoists himself over the edge. He gets to his feet and peers over the cliff, popping his knuckles. “I’m not a fan of heights. ”

  “Me neither,” I tell him as Kayden ascends over the top, dragging himself up with his arms, and then he lies on his stomach. Panting, he rolls onto his back. “Yeah, I remember,” he says, turning his head toward me and grinning.

  I target the nozzle at a bare spot on the rock. As I press down on the top, I pretend I’m an artist tracing the most beautiful painting, the lines blending together to put everything into meaning. When I’m finished, I step back, breathing in the air, which is potent with paint fumes.

  Kayden moves up next to me and drapes his arm around my shoulder. “In the existence of our lives, there is a single coincidence that brings us together and for a moment, our hearts beat as one. ” He looks at me. “I’m impressed. ”

  I hand him the paint can and his fingers graze my knuckles. “I actually wrote that a while ago. ” I lower my voice and lean in. “Right after that night at the pool house. ”

  His expression plummets as his hand drops from my shoulder. He tosses Luke the can. “We should get going or the cab driver will leave our sorry asses and there’s no way I’m walking back. ”

  My mood sinks as I realize that what I said upset him. As I watch him climb down, I feel my happy night drift away to the sky and the lightning.


  When we return back to the dorms, Kayden leaves without saying good-bye. It hurts inside and confuses me to no end.

  “What happened between you two?” Seth asks as I swipe my card and open the door to my residence hall.

  I shrug as I step inside. “I think it’s because I brought up the pool house. I don’t even know why I did it. ”

  His eyes look red under the lights as we make our way up the hallway toward the elevators located next to the lounging area. “It’s because you aren’t thinking very clearly tonight. ”

  I swerve us to the right as two bulky guys, wearing football jerseys, walk down the hall toward us. “I know. Being drunk is weird. ”

  He covers his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter. “Oh my God. I love you so much. Especially when you say stuff like that. ”

  “Like what?”

  He shakes his head, still smiling as we enter the elevator. “Nothing. Never mind. Although Im dying to know why your shoe is green. ”

  I crane my neck to look over my shoulder at the heel of my sneaker as he pushes the button to my floor. “I stepped on a spray can while Kayden and I were fighting over one. ”

™d have loved to see that. ”

  “I’m sure you would have. ”

  The elevator doors open and we turn down the hall, stopping at the very end in front of my door. There is some giggling and thumping on the other side and the air smells like smoke.

  Seth unties a red scarf from the doorknob and holds it up in front of my face. “What’s this for?”

  “It means I can’t go inside. ” I take the scarf from him, dangle it over the knob, and sigh tiredly “I’m so tired. ”

  “Is she having sex or something?”

  My skin warms. “I don’t know… maybe. ”

  His fingers wrap around the top of my arm and he hauls me toward the elevators. “Come on, let’s go get you to bed. ”

  I hurry to keep up with him. “Where are we going?”

  “To bed. ”

  When we reach the bottom floor, he steers us away from the noisy lounge, heading outside and around the corner toward his building. “You’re going to sleep in my room. My roommate is never there anyway, so I’ll take his bed and you can sleep in mine. ”

  I want to hug him, but I’m afraid if I let go of him, I’ll fall over from the sleepiness taking over my body. “Thanks. I’m so tired. ”

  When we get to his room, he punches the code to unlock the door and pulls me inside as he flips on the light. His roommate’s bed is empty and piled with dirty laundry. Seth’s side is orderly, expect for a row of empty energy drinks on top of his computer desk—Seth is addicted to energy drinks.

  “He never sleeps here?” I ask, kicking an empty soda can out of the way.

  He shakes his head, shucking off his jacket. “I think he’s afraid of me. ”

  I pout my lip as I tuck my hands up into the sleeves of Kayden’s shirt. “I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, he’s a moron. ”

  “You don’t need to be sorry, baby girl. ” He empties his change and wallet out of his pockets and drops them on top of the dresser beside a lamp. “You’re the most understanding person I’ve ever met. ”

  He starts to unbutton his shirt and I enfold my arms around him. “You’re the greatest person ever. ”

  Laughing, he pats my head. “Yeah, we’ll see if you still think that when you have your very first hangover in the morning. ”

  I gladly collapse onto his bed. Fluffing the pillow, I turn to my side, and stare at a picture of him and a guy with dark hair and bright blue eyes. “Seth, is this him? In this picture. ”

  It takes him a minute to respond. “Yeah, it’s him. That’s Braiden. ”

  Braiden looks like a football player; strong shoulders, a lean chest, and well-defined arms. He has his arm wrapped around Seth’s shoulder. They look happy, but deep down one of them isn’t. One of them will out the other one when accusations of their love start to swarm around the school like a cluster of bees. One of them will watch as the other one is beaten. I want to ask him why he kept the photo—why he has it on the wall—but I can tell he’s growing uneasy with the subject.