The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 20Jessica Sorensen
Seth follows me at a slow pace and veers to the side for his kit that’s in the bathroom. “What’s wrong with you, baby girl?”
There’s clanking as he gathers his cologne and razor from near the sink. “You’re acting like a weirdo. ”
I toss my shirts and a few pairs of jeans into my bag and then zip it up. “There’s… there’s…” I can’t get it out and he steps out of the doorway zipping up the mini bag he carries his toiletries in.
“Callie, whatever it is, just tell me. ” He drops the smaller bag into the larger one on the bed. “It’s okay. ”
“There’s someone in the house,” I sputter, dragging my bag to the door.
“Obviously. ” He raises his eyebrows at me and then scrutinizes my bag. “Did you put any shorts or sandals in there? It’s going to be a hell of a lot warmer there then it is here. Plus, you don’t want to walk around in the sand wearing sneakers. ”
“I don’t own anything else,” I say and then swiftly shake my head as I jerk open the door. “Seth, we have to go. Now. ”
Everything’s about to fall apart, just like it did last time.
Seth rolls his eyes and slings his bag over his shoulder. “Fine, but you’re going to eventually tell me what the panic is all about. ”
He turns sideways and squeezes through the doorway.
I flip off the lights, close the door, and trot down the stairs after him, wrestling my overly large bag down the steps behind me. I should have left some of my stuff here, but I’m too afraid that Caleb or my brother or my mom will walk out.
I dash passed the side door, my legs nearly trotting in the rush, but Seth snags my elbow as he slams to a halt. “Don’t you want to tell you mother where you’re going?”
I glance at the side door, the light spilling through the window in the center, and I shake my head. “I don’t think I should. ”
His brow creases as he examines my face with concern. “Are you sure? I know she’s been bugging the crap out of both of us, but she seems like she’s going to panic if we just bail and not tell her. ”
My body ripples with a tremble when I see Caleb rise from the table and head across the kitchen. “It’ll be okay. ” My voice is insignificant like the snowflakes drifting down from the starless sky, touching the ground, and instantly melting.
“Callie, I… why are you shaking?” He glances back at the house as the side door flings open. Pale yellow light floods the darkness but then suffocates out like a flame as a tall figure emerges in the doorway.
It’s Caleb carrying a trash bag in his hand. He’s probably trying to win my mother over and she’s probably letting him, because she always wants to see what she wants to see. Why is she so blind?
Caleb’s demeanor doesn’t change as he steps out onto the porch and into the snow, making sure to close the door behind him to smother out whatever he’s going to say from my family’s ears. “What are you doing out here? Standing out in the snow?”
His gaze cuts to Seth as he steps down a stair. “You got another one, huh? Decided to dump that crazy football player after he kicked my ass. ”
“Fuck,” Seth breathes, suddenly understanding who it is. His fingers plunge into my arm as he begins to tow me back, one foot after another, the snow crunching beneath our shoes.
Caleb moves down a stair, reducing the distance between us with a smirk on his face. His eyes are black like coals and his face is masked by the shadow created by the hood over his head.
Sometimes I wonder why he doesn’t seem to care or show any remorse for what he did. What is wrong with him? Is he so warped and split that he likes torturing me?
“Come on over here and introduce him,” he calls out as he arrives at the bottom step.
“Fuck you!” Seth shouts, taking longer strides, practically dragging me backward down the driveway as my tiny legs work to keep up with him.
My legs feel like rubber and won’t work right and I keep tripping over my feet. I wish I could find some kind of strength that has to be suppressed inside me and shout at him, take him down, scream, throw things. Do anything to wipe the pleased smirk off his face.
But in his presence I’m still the child he pinned down on the bed. He has his hand forced over my mouth while he shatters me into fragments. I allow Seth to haul me down the driveway toward Luke’s truck, watching Caleb through the curtain of snowfall. His eyes are fixed on mine and I feel tears beginning to leak out of my own. I’m crying and weak and I want to crumble into the ground and melt with the snowflakes.
“Callie. ” The sound of Kayden’s voice snaps me back to real life and the bigger picture.
I have more problems at the moment than how I feel, like getting Kayden away from Caleb before a reenactment of that night happens. I spin around and Seth’s hand falls from me.
Kayden is standing in front of the bumper of the truck with his arms folded. His eyes are not on me but locked on Caleb. His face looks like a shadow as he stands with the rays of the headlights aimed at his back.
I shift my bag higher onto my shoulder and my shoes lose traction against the snow as I run to him. His eyes don’t leave Caleb even as I approach him and then he steps forward, dodging to the side, out of my path. I drop my bag and before he can get any closer to the house jump up, fling my arms around his neck, and latch onto him.
Every muscle in his body hardens as I hook my legs around his waist, clutching onto him like I’m a leech because that’s what I need to be at the moment—something he can’t get rid of without a lot of work.
“Callie,” he says in a low tone, not holding onto to me. “Let me go. ”
I rapidly shake my head. “No, please just get back into the truck. ”
His hair brushes against my cheeks as he shakes his head.
“Callie… I can’t. ” He sounds strangled and I really believe that he thinks he can’t walk away.
“But you can. ” I breathe against his ear as I bury my face into his neck. “For me. ”
It’s like I’ve discovered the magic words and unexpectedly he’s backing up toward the truck, slowly, but he’s going.
Then I hear Caleb say, “Oh, so she didn’t ditch you. I guess she’s turning into a little slut then. ”
“Please, please, please,” I chant as he starts to walk forward.
“Please don’t do this. I need you. I need you. I need you. ” I close my eyes as I hear a door creak open and then another one opening. Suddenly everyone is shouting.
I hear Luke’s voice first. “Why don’t you shut your fucking mouth and go back inside before you get yourself hurt again. ”
“Oh, I’m so going to press charges now,” Caleb replies. “The epic, favorite—and apparently suicidal—football player is going down. ”
And then I hear my mother’s. “Callie Lawrence, you get in here this instant. I told you to stay away from him. ”
I feel Kayden’s chest stirring with mine as he seeks oxygen with me, treading forward and then backward, like he can’t decide where to go or what he wants to do.
“Callie Lawrence!” my mom shouts and her voice echoes through the streets and dogs start to bark. “It’s Christmas break.
You should be in here with your family. ”
But I am with my family. I summon every last ounce of courage I still have thriving inside me, push back from Kayden’s shoulders, and forcefully meet his gaze. “Please take me out of here,” I plead in an uneven voice. The anger fleetingly diminishes in his pupils as he blinks at me. “I can’t do this without you. ”
Just like that we connect again and our hearts beat together, erratic and untamed but still together. And that’s all that matters.
It’s just him and me, shielded from the shouting and yelling going on around us. He backs up to the truck, holding onto me, and opens the door. Without taking his eyes off me, he climbs in and slams the door shut. The warm air engulfs us as we hold onto each other. Seconds later the driver’s
-side door opens and Seth hops in and Luke follows. The shouting enters the cab, but the cranking of the heater and stereo stifle it. As we’re backing away, I realize that I’m not alone in the world. I have a truck full of people who care about me enough to not ask what the fuss was about. One day I’ll give them all hugs for it.
Kayden starts smoothing his hand down the back of my head and his pulse is beating through his fingertips. He keeps kissing my head and mutters that it’ll be okay. I’m not sure if he’s talking to me or himself.
When I feel the truck driving down the road, I finally look back at the house. My mom is standing in the middle of the driveway in the snowfall without a jacket or shoes on. She has to be cold, but her face looks red in the dim porch light. My dad’s on the steps, dressed in jeans and his favorite jersey, scratching his head. And Caleb is nowhere to be seen.
I wish that’s how it always was. I wish he would just disappear and my mom and dad would wave at me from the driveway, letting me live the life I should have had a long time ago.
Kayden I can tell she’s worried about me and I’m pretty sure that if we were alone, she’d tell me that we shouldn’t go on the trip. She thinks I’m going to break apart, but the only time I’m not completely broken is when I’m around her. At least that’s what I’m thinking while Luke and I wait for Seth and her to come out of the garage.
Luke lights up a cigarette as we wait. Neither of us speaks as he inhales and exhales puff after puff and the heater drowns out the chill in the air as he cracks his window.
“Okay,” he says as he sticks his arm through the open window and ashes the cigarette. “I just want to know one thing. ”
I stare at the garage in front of us and at the headlights lighting up the tire tracks in the snow. “And what’s that?” I ask, unsure if I want to hear his response.
He puts the end of the cigarette back into his mouth as he tosses the pack onto the dash. He sucks in a deep breath and exhales the smoke as he relaxes back in the seat. “Was it worth it?”
“Hitting Caleb?” I check without looking at him.
The smell of smoke gets stronger as he sucks in another lungful. “Yeah. ”
My gaze elevates past the stairway to the upper section of the garage. The light is on inside of the small room and I can see Callie and Seth’s figures moving back and forth in front of the window. I remember what Callie and I did the last time we were up there, how she felt while I was inside her—how I felt.
“Yes. ” It’s a small word that doesn’t really mean anything, yet it does. In fact, I think it means something more than I’m ready to admit to myself.
He puts the cigarette into his mouth again and the paper withers and glows orange as he sucks in a deep drag. “So… are you doing okay with everything?”
I drum my fingers on top of the door handle. “Yeah, I’m okay. ”
He clips his fingers around the cigarette and removes it from his mouth, breathing out the smoke and it fills up the cab. “Are you sure… because if you ever need to talk or anything, I’m here. ”