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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 23

Jessica Sorensen

Page 23


  The cashier laughs as she says something into the phone.

  “No way. Are you freaking kidding me? He did not. ”

  “Yes way, he so did,” Seth mutters mockingly and he drops a pile of clothes down on the countertop. The cashier glares at him as she coils the cord of the phone around her finger. Seth makes a face at her and she turns her back on us.

  “Now we’re going to be here forever. ” I flip through a selection of necklaces on a small rack near the register. Most have seashells on them and one even has a miniature bottle of sand.

  “Well, I’m going to file a complaint to her manager,” Seth says loud enough for the cashier to hear.

  I pick up the top item that Seth set down: a pair of denim shorts. “Are you planning on wearing these?” I say sarcastically.

  “Ha-ha. You must be feeling better if the sarcasm is coming out. ” He sets a tank top down on the counter. “And no, these are for you. ”

  I pick up the tank top. “I’m okay with this. ” I pick up a pair of black lacy panties and then drop them like they’re toxic. “But this is too much. ”

  I move my hands toward the pile to scoop it up and take it away, but he slams his hand down on top of it. “Just in case,” he says and then a sly smile curves at his mouth. “Like maybe if you feel like being scandalous. ”

  My cheeks are as flaming hot as the black asphalt shimmering in the sunlight just outside the store. But I’m smiling and I momentarily surrender. I figure I’ll get the clothes and then argue with him when we get back to the house and out of sight of anyone.

  “Fine,” I say and then smile as I point to a man walking down the street in a pair of mini pink shorts and a T-shirt. I’m trying to act cool and control my blush but it’s hard when there’s so much skin showing everywhere. “But if I have to dress in this stuff, you have to dress in one of those. ”

  He follows where I’m pointing and then grins. “Deal, but I’m totally getting one in blue. Pink doesn’t look good on me. ”

  “God, he has to be cold. It’s not that warm. ” I start to laugh at the idea of Seth in them and then my laughter picks up when he joins in. We’re laughing hysterically by the time the cashier hangs up the phone. Tears are steaming down our cheeks and there are temporary laugh lines around our mouths. We keep laughing even when she gives us a dirty looks, because we’re on the beach, trying to have fun. And laughing is the first step to fun.

  By the time we walk out of the store, it’s gotten even hotter, but maybe that’s because of Seth’s last few items he threw on top of the stack. I have a bag in my hand and Seth is carrying several more at his side. The sun is at its peak and shining down on everyone. But I feel terrible. Guilty. Sad. I’m walking around in the sunlight and laughing when Kayden is bearing so much darkness inside himself.

  Chapter 10

  #14 Let the niceness be


  The sun’s bright. Like really fucking bright. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trapped indoors for the last few weeks. Or maybe it’s because I feel so dark inside. Who the fuck knows. I’m trying not to think about it too deeply because then I’ll have to think of the pain—feel it—and I don’t want to yet. Maybe not ever.

  Luke and I are strolling up the sidewalk beneath the sun. We stopped and grabbed some clothes at a local shop and I also ended picking up something for Callie. I’m not sure when—or if—I’ll ever give it to her, but it was just too perfect not to get. One day, maybe, I hope.

  Since Callie and Seth still haven’t showed up, we decide to walk down to the beach. Luke keeps checking out every girl who walks by. He’s acting weird, even for him. But he’s always been this way whenever something bad is going on at home.

  “Are you okay?” I ask as we cross the street at the corner where the two roads converge.

  He glances at me with his eyebrows creased. “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” When we reach the other side of the street he asks, “Are you doing okay?”

  “I’m fine,” I lie, weaving around a woman shoving through the crowd while talking really loudly on her cellphone. Luke checks out her too, angling his head to the side so he can watch her until she disappears around the corner. “I’m just a little tired. ” It’s the stupidest excuse I’ve ever given, but he doesn’t press.

  We walk the rest of the way down the street without talking and pause at a crosswalk at the end. There aren’t any cars coming but we both just stand there staring at the land as it opens up to the ocean. The waves are fairly quiet and the sun hits the water and creates a blinding reflection.

  I shield my eyes and start to cross the street. There aren’t too many people, but I don’t want to be around even the small amount who are headed toward the water. I just don’t want to be around people right now. I want to be inside somewhere in the dark, because I feel like they all know what’s inside me by the bandage on my wrist and the rubber bands. It’s like everything I worked so hard to hide is out in the open. Luke knows it. The people half-dressed on the beach know it. Callie knows it.

  “So what do people do around here?” Luke asks as we hike through the sand to where the frothy waves collide with the shore and wipe away the footprints in the sand.

  I shrug, lowering my hand from my eyes. “I’m not sure. Your father’s the one who lives here. ”

  His jaw tightens. “Yeah, doesn’t mean I know anything about this place… or him. ”

  “How did you even get a key to his place?”

  “I don’t have a key. ”

  I give him a questioning look. “You don’t have a key?”

  “Nope,” he says simply.

  Great. Just what I need. I’m already facing charges if Caleb doesn’t accept my dad’s bribe. And after what happened last night, I’m wondering if he’ll decide to turn it down. I got a text from my mom this morning saying that he blew her off on the phone when she called to check up on their deal. Part of me doesn’t want him to accept. Part of me wants to be cut off from my dad. As I think this, a hint of rage and agony surfaces inside me and I quickly choke it down because I’m not capable of dealing with it without a sharp object to transfer the tearing inside of me to the outside of me.

  “Are we going to get into trouble?” I ask, fidgeting with the bandage on my wrist, peeling the tape away and then pressing it back down.

  “Nah,” he says and inches up to the brink of the water. “He hardly ever comes here. And if he does, he won’t be pissed. He’d probably be happy. ”

  I end the conversation there because I know it’s bothering him. Setting the few bags of clothes on the ground, I lower myself down to sit in the sand and I bend my knees up and rest my arms on top of them. Luke plops down too and we just sit there, letting the silence wash away the pain like the water does to the sand.

  I’d probably have stayed that way if my phone didn’t start beeping. I move my arms off my knees and take my phone out of my pocket.

  Callie: Where r u?

  Me: We r at the beach. Where r u guys?

  Callie: At the shopping center looking for you guys.

  Me: Go to the end of the street and head toward the beach. We r right there on the first opening.

  Callie: OK I put my phone away and rest back on my hands. “They’re headed over here. ”

  Luke bobs his head up and down as he stares off at the horizon. “What are we going to do tonight? I don’t want to just sit around and do nothing. I came here to do… something. ”

  “I think I’ll just stay in. ” I stretch out my legs. “I don’t feel like going out. ”

  He mulls over what I said with his brown eyes squinty against the light. “Look,” he says. “I know you’ve been through a lot, but… but I think the last thing you need is to sit around and think about it. ”

  “We don’t have to go out. ” Callie’s voice floats over my shoulder and my body immediately goes as rigid as a board as emotions rush through me.

  I turn my head and
look at her. The sun is shining in her big blue eyes that are shielded by her long lashes. Her hair is pulled up and her skin glistens from the heat. She has a bag in her hand and a skeptical look on her face. Seth’s next to her, carrying an extensive amount of brown paper bags with a purple flower logo on them. He’s staring at the ocean with a puzzled look on his face.

  I stand to my feet. “What did you get?” I nod toward the bag and force a smile to my lips. “Anything good?”

  Her brow puckers as she glances down at the bag in her hand and then back at me. “I don’t know. ”

  The way she says it, with such perplexity, makes me wonder what’s in the bag. I start to reach for it to tease her. “Can I see?”

  She shakes her head quickly and moves her hand around to her back, her cheeks turning a little pink. “No way. ”

  Okay, now I’m even more curious. I look at Seth for an explanation but he just shrugs nonchalantly. “Callie’s just being Callie. ”

  I’m not sure what that means because Callie being Callie means her being sweet and adorable, but she’s acting offish and twitchy. “Okay… do you guys want to go get something to eat?”

  Callie nods and I can’t help but think about how she told me she makes herself throw up. I’m not sure what to do with this or if there’s anything I can do. I understand bad habits and how they own you.

  Luke grumbles something as he pushes up to his feet and brushes the sand off his jeans. “No sushi or crab or anything seafood related. ”

  A smile forms at my lips. “I think we established the first time the four of us went out that none of us like seafood. ”

  Seth raises his hand above his head and then points a finger down at himself. “Um, hello. I’m pretty sure I said that I love sushi. ”

  “You did,” Callie tells him and then peeks through her eyelashes at me. “It was Kayden and me who said we didn’t. ”

  “It seems like forever ago,” I mumble as my mind travels back through time, back to when I was first met her, back when everything was nothing. God, she’s incredibly gorgeous in more ways than most people will ever know. As stupid and as cheesy as it may sound, she’ll perpetually own my fucking soul—or the pieces of it that are left, anyway.

  I don’t know how she does it. How I can be feeling so shitty one minute, and then she smiles and for a second the pain is gone.

  I can’t take this anymore. I need her like I had her before. I need her right fucking now before I lose it.

  I grab her hand, surprising her, and lead her with me as I stride across the beach toward the street, because at the moment I don’t give a shit about anything but touching her. Her shoes shuffle against the sand as she hurries along with me. I search for a place out of the way, because what I want to do can’t be done in public. I spot a gap in between two small shops, one an alarming yellow and the other a clear blue, like the sun and the sky. They are shaded by slanted roofs that nearly connect over a narrow alley.