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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 25

Jessica Sorensen

Page 25


  “That’ll never happen,” I whisper, letting out a slow breath and I nod, my cheeks burning from his kiss. I don’t want to go out, and not for the reasons Seth thinks. I’m worried about Kayden. We haven’t talked about what happened and it needs to be talked about. Because I don’t understand any of it. All I want is to go somewhere and talk so I can ask him all the questions I have bottled up in my head for the last months.

  Seth raises his glass in the air to make a toast. “I say, from now on, or at least for the next couple of days, we let the niceness be. ”

  Luke heaves a heavy sigh and tolerantly stretches his arm, bringing his glass up to Seth’s. “As long as we’re not sitting around in the house, I’m all for the niceness. ”

  Kayden still keeps hold of my hand, and using his free one, lifts his glass up. “I’m in. ”

  They all look at me and I feel tinier than I already did.

  Wrapping my fingers around my damp glass, I sigh and tap it against theirs. “Fine, but no trouble. ”

  Seth giggles. “Darling, trouble is my middle name, so just roll with it. ”

  Luke snorts and even Kayden cracks a smile. But I keep frowning because it feels like we’re running away from our problems. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that running away from them only allows them to chase you.

  “To the niceness,” Seth says and clinks his glass against ours, spilling a little soda onto the table.

  “To the niceness,” the three of us mutter and our glasses collide, making a promise I’m not sure we’ll all be able to keep.

  Even though I’d like to believe that the next few days will be filled with laughs and giggles and sunshine, I’m worried a storm may roll in.

  Chapter 11

  #45 Don’t let the man bring you down


  “Seth, I don’t think I can do this. ” I’m super squirmy as I take in my reflection in the mirror. My skin is pallid and even though the dress goes to my knees, I feel naked. The straps barely cover my shoulders and I’m showing more skin than I’ve shown in the last six years. The freckles on my skin are exposed, along with my boney collarbone and somewhat flat chest. Even the sandals on my feet make me feel bare. And my hair is down, which I’ve never been a fan of.

  “I look weird,” I say, tugging the bottom of the dress down.

  “And… naked. ”

  Seth shakes his head as he steps back to examine me. His hair is swept to the side, with a slight fluff in the front. He has on a pair of tan shorts and a gray button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. “You look beautiful. ”

  I cross my arms over my chest. “I don’t think I can do it. ”

  “Of course you can,” he says simply, turning back to the mirror.

  I shake my head. “Seth, why are you so dead set on this?”

  He’s fiddling with his hair and pauses. With a determined look on his face, he turns away from the mirror and looks at me.

  “Callie, I’m dead set on it for the reason you aren’t. You have to let it go. I know it’s hard, but you need to move forward—we all need to move forward and let go of the past. ”

  “Is that what you’re doing?” I ask. “Because it feels like you’re running away from something. ”

  “I’m not running away from anything. ” He fastens the bottom button on his shirt. “I let go of the running away the day I started dating Greyson. It was like I’d been freed from the fear of what happened and I finally could be myself again. ”

  “But how do you forget what happened?” I wonder, smoothing the wrinkles out of the dress with my hand. “How do you not think about it?”

  He gives me a small smile and sets his hands on my shoulders, looking directly into my eyes with a fire of determination. “You don’t forget. You just move past it. Let go. Be who you were supposed to be instead of who they make you feel like you should be. ”

  “But how do I divide the two of them,” I say, letting my hands fall to my side. “Because sometimes I feel like they mix. Like right now. It feels wrong how I’m dressed, but I don’t know if it’s because I’m associating the dress with what happened or because I just don’t like dresses. ”

  The corner of his mouth tips up and then he kisses my forehead. “Wear it and find out. ”

  He backs away from me and walks over to his bag that’s on the twin bed. He pulls out a bottle of cologne, takes the cap off, and douses his shirt in it. I head over to my bag and quickly skim the letter I wrote to Kayden. I’m still unsure of what it revealed and I’m debating if I should run away from it or embrace it. Maybe it’s time to face the inevitable.

  “Oh, I forgot to ask. ” He clicks the cap back on the cologne.

  “What did you wear underneath that dress?”

  I bite down on my lip, battling my embarrassment because I did wear the black lacy panties he made me buy. “Nothing. ”

  “Oh, you decided to go commando?” he says with a devious grin. “That’s even better. ”

  I let my lip pop free and a smile sneaks through. “You know that’s not what I meant. ”

  “I know. ” He winks at me. “But it was funny. ” He chucks the cologne back into his bag. “Are you ready to do this?”

  I glance at the mirror, noting the vastness in my eyes—they take up my entire face. Sure, I trusted Kayden to see all of me, but I’m uncertain about the world, because it’s big and scary and always shifting. One minute it feels like home and the next, distant and unfamiliar.

  I submit though and Seth opens the door for me. My knees wobble as I amble out into the kitchen where Luke and Kayden are laughing about something at the table. There’s a tall bottle filled with a brownish liquid sitting on the table. When I step closer I realize it’s a bottle of Jack Daniels. There’s also a lit cigarette in Luke’s hand and smoke is filling the air.

  I halt in the doorway, watching how Kayden’s eyes light up every time he says something. I wonder if he’s drunk because he’s gone from sad to happy in a matter of a couple hours. There’s a huge smile on his face and his eyes are a little glazed over.

  “Drinking already?” Seth rubs his hands together, looking eager as he swings around me, bumping into my shoulder. I grab hold of the countertop to catch myself and then step to the side so I’m slightly hidden behind the counters.

  Kayden’s eyes brighten when he sees me and I know right then and there that he’s buzzed. “Yep, we thought we’d get started early,” Kayden says to Seth as he picks up the bottle and hands it to him. His eyes lock on me and I’m thrown back to all the fun moments we had together, the ones that leave me hope even though things look grim right now.

  He smiles as he pushes up from the table, the legs on the chair scraping against the tile. He takes long uneven strides as he curves around the table and Seth steals his seat.

  Kayden’s hair is styled and flips up around his ears. He has on a dark gray shirt and a pair of loose-fitting jeans that hang at his hips. He’s also put a few leather bands on his wrists to try and cover up the bandage on it and his face is clean-shaven, which makes me worry because that means he had to use a razor.

  “Hey,” he says as he crosses the kitchen in long strides and winds around to the cupboard area.

  “Hey,” I reply, rotating around, so I’m facing him and my back is pressed into the edge of the counter. I give a fleeting glance at his arms, checking for fresh wounds. Everything looks great, except I can’t see underneath the bandage.

  He abruptly stops and his forehead creases as his eyes lazily scroll up my body, lingering for a moment on my chest before resting on my eyes. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear a dress. ”

  I shake my head with my elbows bent and my fingers gripping the counter. “That’s because I haven’t. Not for a long time anyway. ”

  His gaze is relentless and makes me grow fidgety. Finally, his eyes lock on mine and even through the subdued sea of alcohol, I see the real Kayden still lives o
n the inside. “You look beautiful. ”

  “Thank you,” I say quietly and tuck a few strands of my hair behind my ear. “I think—”

  His lips come crashing down on mine and I suck in a deep breath through my nose as my legs start to give out. His warm tongue enters my mouth and he tastes like Jack and smells like cigarette smoke. His hand grabs my waist and he holds my weight up as our bodies crush together. He angles us back, our legs entwining, and my heart knocks in my chest. The edge of the counter jabs at my back, but I don’t care. All I care about is him.

  My hands slip up his strong arms and knot through his hair.

  In the back of my mind, a rational voice is screaming at me to stop, because he’s drunk and confused and I need to stop it.

  “What are you doing?” I slant my head back a little. “I thought you needed us to be friends. ”

  “I do,” he assures me, sounding choked up and then his lips touch mine. I’m trying to pull away, yet at the same time I’m pulling him to me. I’m conflicted. Muddled. I’m a terrible person.

  His long fingers spread around my hips and his fingers dig into my skin as he picks me up and sets me down on the countertop. My head bangs against the cupboard as his hands move around to the front of my thighs and he splays my legs open. Moving between them, his fingers sliding farther up my legs until his thumbs are grazing the sensitive inner section. For a moment, I forget where I am and who I am and open up my legs wider, allowing him to get closer.

  “Um, I hate to break this up. ” Seth’s voice slaps me back to reality and I instantly jerk away, panting and slamming my head against the cupboard again. “As much as I love you guys, I’d rather not see how far this is going to go. You guys should probably save the groping for later, when you’re alone. ”

  Kayden rests his head against my shoulder, breathing abundantly, and his body is tense under my hands. “Sorry,” he whispers to my collarbone and then he’s pulling away, leaving me more exposed than I already was.

  I blink my eyes and adjust my dress as far down over my legs as it will go, and then I hop off the counter. I run my hands through my hair, trying to fix it in place, and I struggle not to cry from the stabbing sensation in my heart.

  Seth arches his eyebrows at me. “See, dresses aren’t so bad. ”

  I press my lips together, because it’s not funny, and yet it is.

  “I guess not. ” My mouth sinks to a frown. It aches in every part of my body. All I want is to be with him in a stress-free situation where we can enjoy one another, be real, be us.

  His shoulders move up as he lets out a low laugh and then extends his hand out to me. “Come on, baby girl. ” He touches my bottom lip that’s pouting out. “Don’t let the man get you down.

  Let’s go have some fun. ”

  I nod and follow him into the kitchen area and we stop beside the small wicker table. Seth’s carrying the bottle of Jack in his hand and he swings his arm around toward me, offering it to me. “Here, this will relax you. ”