The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 24Jessica Sorensen
“Kayden, what are you doing?” Callie stammers as she trips over her feet, struggling to keep up with me.
I shake my head as I push through a group of people and head down the trail toward the shoreline. “Just hang on. ”
I cross the street and then when I reach the front of the yellow store, I round to the side and tuck us between it and the building next to it. There’s a large Dumpster near the back end and a pile of crates at the other. It’s not the perfect place, but perfection is overrated.
“Are you okay?” she asks, breathless as I slow us down.
I take a breath and face her. I don’t give her, or myself, time to react as I wind my hand around her waist and press her small body into mine. She gasps as I attach my lips to hers, knowing I’ll probably regret it later when I’m by myself. But I need her now.
When our mouths unite, I can finally breathe again. It’s like I’ve been drowning for the last month, only coming up for air when my lungs are about to burst. But her kiss has brought me to the surface.
“Kayden,” she murmurs as she grips handfuls of my shirt. “Oh my God. ”
I slip my tongue inside her mouth and she opens her lips to let me in deeply. I devour her, realizing how starved I’ve felt over the past month. I press her closer as I back us into the wall, our legs tangling as we fight to keep our balance. Her bag falls from her hand and my hand comes down on the side of the building.
The wood scratches at my palms and I savor the small abrasions.
But the most pain comes from my heart rupturing open from kissing her.
She lets out a quiet moan as my hand slides up her back and to her neck. The sound nearly drives me mad. The small kiss heats like a flame and my heart comes to life again. She opens her mouth wider and I slide my tongue in as far as it will go, running it along the inside of her mouth, tasting her, breathing her in. Her hands move around my midsection to my back and she holds onto me.
I want to stop it, but I’ve lost all control. I move my hand away from the wall and the other away from her back and quickly glide my palms down her side to her thighs. Spreading my fingers around her legs, I pick her up and she latches onto me, crossing her ankles behind my back.
Her bottom lip trembles as I gently nip at it and I’m reminded of how innocent she is and how I’m the only one she’s ever trusted to touch her like this. And that’s got to count for something. Because Callie is the most stunning, incredible, kind, loving person I’ve ever met.
It has to mean something that she cares for me.
Callie I forgot what it was like, how scary it is, but equally as wonderful, to be touched, felt, held by him when he’s letting go of his pain. At first I have no idea what’s going on. One minute we’re talking about sushi and the next he’s dragging me away from the beach. I start to ask him why, but he silences my thoughts with a brush of his lips and all thoughts about life—about everything—vanish. He’s kissing me and not pulling away and that has to mean something, like we might have just stumbled forward from our standstill.
He tastes like mint and need, as he overpowers me with his tongue. His scruffy face is like sandpaper against my skin as I clutch onto him, wanting him to touch me all over and terrified by the thought of him ever letting go. I’d latch onto him endlessly if I could, so I know he’ll be okay—we’ll be okay.
He has to be thinking the same thing too because he picks me up and presses me close to him. My legs are like magnets and attach to his back. He lets out a deep, throaty groan and I’m shocked by the images that flash through my mind, back in the garage, nervous, but eager to be with him in every way possible. I want to breathe, be alive again.
I open my mouth wider and his tongue seeks every square inch of my mouth. I’m shaking from head to toe and it only gets worse when he nips at my lip, dragging his teeth along the inside of it.
“Kayden,” I moan and fasten my arms around his neck. I pull him against me and he crushes us against the side of the building.
His hands start to stray down my body and my hips curve into him.
Smothering heat sizzles off our bodies as our tongues melt and twine together. A shot of ecstasy shoots up between my legs as I feel his hardness pressed against me and the sensation amplifies when his hand cups my breast. I forget where we are and how hard it is to exist sometimes. I just want him. So badly. I want him to hold me forever.
But then his lips are leaving me and he sets me back down just as quickly as he picked me up. We slam to a standstill again and I try not to fall apart. My lips feel swollen, my lungs are heaving ravenously, and everywhere his hands touched, brushed, and grazed tingles, and all I can think about is doing more with him.
His emerald eyes are glossy and he pants erratically, looking away from me to the beach and out to the side of the building. “I shouldn’t have done that. ”
I shake my head and place a hand on his cheek. “Kayden, look at me. ”
He blinks his eyes against the sunlight and then forces his eyes to meet mine. “Callie, I can’t be doing this. We need to be… we need to be just friends. ”
“Just friends?” I frown because I don’t want to be friends. But at this moment it’s not about what I want. It’s what he needs.
“That’s what you really need?”
He nods his head, with his jaw clamped tightly. “For now…”
He swallows hard as he stuffs his hands into his pockets, the muscles in his lean arms wound tight. “And this isn’t about you. I promise. ” He’s not looking at me, but just over my shoulder. “It’s me. ”
I bite at my lip, considering my next words carefully.
“Whatever you need, Kayden. I’m here. You can talk to me. ”
He conclusively meets my gaze and there’s a spark within his pupils that I haven’t seen since we reunited. “I know that. ”
A smile touches my lips, and daringly, I reach forward and lace my fingers through his. “Let’s go get something to eat, before Seth ends up throwing a tantrum. He’s been complaining the last hour about how hungry he is. ”
Kayden nods, his fingers twitching as I stroke my thumb across the palm of his hand for reasons that are unclear to me.
“Okay. ” He fakes a smile and I hate that he’s faking it in front of me. It means he’s closed off, and I don’t want that. I want him to trust me like I trust him. I owe him that much.
I owe him a lot more.
I owe him everything.
* * * An hour later we’re seated out on the deck of a restaurant that’s right by the ocean. The air smells like salt and there’s a light breeze that kisses my cheeks and blows strands of my hair into my eyes. The sun is lowering and the heat is a little bit more bearable.
There are a few people sitting at the round wooden tables scattered around the deck, but for the most part it’s quiet.
The four of us are sitting silently as we read our menus.
Kayden’s seated next to me and he has his knee resting against mine. I’m not sure if he notices or not, but I don’t dare move, afraid that he’ll move it—pull away again.
“So how about some sushi?” Seth jokes, shattering the silence. “Or some crab. ”
Luke rolls his brown eyes as he pops his knuckles. “I think I’m going to go with a burger. ”
Kayden is biting his lip and I watch him as he reads over his menu, fantasizing about his mouth back on mine. He has his hand tucked under the table and he keeps flicking the rubber bands on his wrists over and over. By the sound of the snap, it has to hurt, but I don’t dare try to stop him. If that’s what he needs, then it’s what he needs.
“I think I’m going to have the same. ” Kayden closes his menu and places it into the middle of the table beside the ketchup and mustard rack.
It goes silent again and Seth starts texting on his phone while Luke stares out at the beach to the side of us. The waiter finally comes and takes our orders and brings us our drinks. We sip
on our straws quietly, with the rush of the waves filling up the empty miles of space between our thoughts.
“That’s it,” Seth abruptly says and pounds his hand down onto the table. All three of us jump, startled, and Kayden almost knocks his drink to the ground.
Luke’s head whips in his direction and he shoots Seth a death glare. “Next time a fucking warning would be nice. ”
Seth brings his straw to his lips and slurps on his drink. “I’m sorry, but the dead silence is maddening. ” He sets the drink back down and wipes his lips with the back of his hand. “We need to have some fun. ”
Kayden immediately stiffens and the rubber band on his wrist snaps and snaps. “Yeah, I think I’m just going to head back to the house. ”
Seth shakes his head as he rips the wrapper of the straw into tiny pieces. “No way. We did not drive out here to hang out at the house. We came here to have some fun. ”
“Seth, I don’t think—” I start.
He talks over me, flicking the pieces of wrapper into the center of the table. “No. This isn’t going to happen. We all have our problems we’ve been dealing with and we all need a break from life. So we’re going to get dressed up and go have some fun. ”
“Where?” Luke questions and moves the straw to his lips, taking a drink. “At, like, a club or something?”
“No clubs,” I beg with my hands overlapped in front of me.
Seth aims a weighted look at me. “Miss Callie, we’ve gone over this. Clubs are fun. And you have big, strong Kayden here to protect you. ”
My shoulders tighten and hunch as I think about just how far he went to protect me and his hand grabs mine from beneath the table. It’s like he can read my mind and he leans over and puts his lips to my ear.
“It’ll be okay,” he says softly, meeting my eyes and giving me a crooked smile. “If you want to go, we can go. ”
I lean in until there’s a sliver of space between our lips. “I want to do whatever you want. ”
His pupils are huge and his breath caresses my cheeks. “If you want to go out then so do I. ”
We’ll never be able to reach a conclusion this way and I guess Seth sees that too.
“Then it’s settled,” Seth says and it makes me kind of irritated because I can tell Kayden doesn’t want to go out. “We’re all going out and have a fucking fun night. ”
Luke sets his drink down on the table and I catch him glancing at Kayden. Maybe I’m not the only one concerned.
“Is everyone okay with this?” Luke asks, but he’s looking at Kayden.
Kayden leans away from me and shrugs as he reaches for his soda on the table in front of him. “I’m good, man. ”
“I don’t think—” I start to protest.
Setting his drink down on the table, Kayden squeezes my hand with his free hand, then slants over and places a soft, moist kiss on my cheek. “Callie, I’ll be okay. ” He breathes against my neck as his finger grazes my wrist. “I promise… you need to… you need to stop worrying about me. ”