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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 29

Jessica Sorensen

Page 29


  He starts to move back into the seat but then drifts to the side and grabs the door handle. Flicking it up, he pulls the door open and then hops out. He stretches his arms above his head and then offers his hand to me. I take it, feeling the warmth of his skin as he helps me out and doesn’t let me go as he closes the door.

  We both stand in the driveway beside Luke’s truck as the cab backs down the gravel path and out onto the street. Once he speeds off, Kayden looks at me.

  “Do you want to go for a walk?” he asks, nodding his head at the shore.

  I nod through a sniffle. “A walk sounds nice. ”

  He gives me a tiny smile and laces our fingers together. We walk hand in hand past the house and step out onto the shore.

  Sand fills up my sandals and is cool against my skin. It’s hard to walk, because they keep getting stuck, so I stop, giving a gentle tug on his arm.

  “What’s wrong?” he wonders, refusing to let go of my hand.

  I wiggle my feet out of my sandals and bend over to scoop them up, hitching them on my finger before standing back up. He nods, understanding, and then we continue walking deeper into the darkness. I can hear the waves rolling like a lullaby and the sound of music drifts from one of the houses. The sand seeps through the cracks between my toes as I listen to every sound and feel the coolness of the air.

  “Are you cold?” Kayden asks as we slow down just out of reach of the water.

  I glance at my arms, feeling myself shiver, and in the moonlight, I see the goose bumps on my arms. “A little. ”

  He sighs and then glances back at the house up at the top of the sandy slope. “Let me run back and get you a jacket. ”

  I quickly shake my head and strengthen my hold on his hand. “No, please stay here. We need to… we need to talk. ”

  He eyes me over skeptically and in the darkness his eyes look hollow. He rubs the back of his neck tensely and then he lowers himself onto the ground, guiding me down with him. He gives me a gentle tug to the side and maneuvers me onto his lap, settling me against him. I lean back, shutting my eyes, feeling safe, feeling like this is where I belong.

  Kayden is the only guy who’s ever made me feel this way, more than Seth, more than my own self. He is all I need and I hope he feels the same way too. But before I ask, there’s something else I need to know—need to understand.

  I summon a deep breath and the release it out into the open.

  “Kayden, what happened?”

  Three tiny words, so heavy and meaningful that they crack the earth. He tenses and so do I, before I turn to look him in the eyes. He swallows hard and so do I. He takes a deep breath and it’s nearly soundless as it eases back out of his lips.

  His lips part and as his voice slides out, my heart nearly stops. “My father stabbed me. ”

  Kayden I have no idea why I tell her. I wasn’t planning on it. I was planning on keeping it a secret forever, just like everything else.

  But she’s sitting there, waiting for me, trusting me enough to hold her and be close to her. She expects the truth and I want to give it to her. I want to give her everything.

  “My father stabbed me. ” And just like that, I’ve shattered the box inside my heart and it fractures into a thousand jagged splinters.

  Her eyes widen and her breath hitches in her throat. She’s verging on crying again, so I wrap my arms around her and pull her against me. “Relax, I’m okay now. ”

  Her skin is like ice. I rub my hands up and down her arms, trying to warm her up. She shivers, not from the cold but from my touch. Or maybe it’s from the shock I’ve just given her. I suddenly wish I could take it back, because I never should have put it on her shoulders.

  “I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I shouldn’t have put that on you. ”

  Her hands wiggle between our bodies and she flattens her hands on my chest. Pushing away from me, she looks me in the eye. “Yes, you should have… You should have told me sooner. ”

  I shake my head, putting my hand onto the small of her back so she’ll stay close. “Callie, you don’t need to know this kind of stuff… You’ve got your own problems. ”

  She looks angry suddenly, her eyes flaring and I lean back, concerned she’s going to hit me or something. “Kayden… I don’t…”

  She can’t find the right words. She shifts her body, bending her knees so her weight is on my lap. She places her hands on my shoulders and with a steadfast look in her eye she says, “This is all my fault. ” I start to protest, but she puts her hand over my mouth.

  “You should have never hit Caleb… I should have never let you find out about him. If you hadn’t, then none of this would have happened. We’d be back at the house lying in my bed. ”

  “That’s not true,” I say, my lips moving against her hand. “It’s good that you told me. He can’t just go walking around living his life when he took yours. ”

  She lowers her hand to her lap and sighs. “That’s what you father’s doing. ” She huffs a frustrated breath. “Does anyone even know?”

  I shake my head and then shrug. “My mom, but she’s known about everything… about the hitting, the beating, the kicking… She doesn’t care. ”

  Her eyes wander out to the ocean. “This isn’t right,” she mutters and turns her head toward me. “We have to tell someone. ”

  She starts to get up, but I dig my fingers into her side and hold her in place.

  “Callie, there’s no point telling anyone… and you… you need to stop worrying about me. ” My breath starts to tremble from my lips. God damn it. This is the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever had to say. But I need to say it. I need to make her understand who I am, deep on the inside. “I messed up. Big time. What I said at the diner about… about cutting myself… I’m broken. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to stop… to stop cutting. You need to stay away from me. Please, walk away. ”

  Her eyes stay on me as she takes in my face and makes me feel unsettled on the inside. “No. ”

  I shake my head. “Callie, you don’t want this—”

  “Yes, I do. ” She places her hand over my mouth, pressing her lips together as she slips a finger underneath one of the rubber bands on my wrist. “Kayden, you think I’m walking blindly into this, but I’m not. I think I might have known for a while that you… that you cut yourself, even before you told me. ”

  My heart shrivels into nothing as she lowers her hand from my mouth. “How?”

  Tears bubble in the corners of her eyes. “That night when we… when you and I…” Her breathing is unsteady. “When we had sex, I saw you had all those cuts on your arms, I thought… the thought crossed my mind that you might have put some of them there. ”

  “Why didn’t you say anything?”

  “What was I supposed to say? ‘Did you cut yourself?’ Besides, I didn’t want to believe it. ”

  My shriveled heart has become a fucking pile of nothingness.

  “Because it’s too much?”

  She quickly shakes her head. “No, because I don’t want to believe that you have all that pain trapped inside of you… I know how much pain it takes to go that far… to want to hurt yourself. ”

  There’s this mind-blowing moment when I realize something.

  Someone understands me. Callie understands me. She gets it and she’s not afraid of me or what’s inside me. And while I don’t understand it, I want it—I want her. How is it even fucking possible that I’ve been walking around for years and years and years with her in the same town—the same school—and I never really saw her? What would have happened if I had?

  “I’m too messed up,” I press again, wanting her to fully understand. “I hurt myself and let others hurt me and I don’t tell anyone. ”

  “But you need to. You need to tell someone about your father. Even if they think you hurt yourself, people need to know. ”

  “No one will ever believe me. I just got arrested for beating Caleb’s ass and
then I have my fucking scars that I put on my body myself. No one will get it. ”

  “I don’t care,” she responds and her fingers dig into my shoulders as she clings onto me. “We’ll make them understand. ”

  I stop and look at her. How can someone like her exist? It’s impossible, and yet she’s here in front of me, looking as beautiful as ever beneath the pale glow of the moon. “Callie… but what about you and Caleb? You haven’t told anyone about that. ” I feel like a jerk for saying it, but it seems like it needs to be said.

  “I’m working on it,” she utters and there’s a quiver in her voice. “You and I, we’re going to work on it… We’re not going to let other people own us anymore. ” She seems to be making the speech to herself more than to me, but that’s okay. I want her to tell someone so that piece of shit can stop walking around owning her.

  She looks at me and I can tell she’s about to cry. I don’t want her to cry. I want her to be happy. “Callie, tell me what you need,” I say and tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear.

  “I need the world to stop being such an ugly place full of hurt. ” Tears slip out of her eyes. “I need to wake up and really believe everything will be okay instead of just hoping it will be. I want to be one of the lucky ones who has a good life. ”

  I nod, because that’s what I want for her too. “You can still get that. Just tell me what you need to make you happy. ”

  She looks me in the eye with tears streaming down her cheeks. “You. ”

  I flinch because she just threw herself out there to a person who’s hollow and cracked. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I can give her what she wants. I don’t understand need or love. I don’t understand what makes people’s lives whole. My lips part and I honestly have no idea what’s about to come out of them, but I never find out because she presses her lips against mine and silences me.

  Maybe she knew it wouldn’t be what she wanted to hear or maybe she just wanted to kiss me, either way I pull back. Cupping her cheek, I say, “Callie, you don’t want me. Trust me. I’ll get you nowhere. ”

  All she does is shake her head and kiss me again, clutching onto my shoulders for dear life. This time I can’t help myself. She’s shaking in my arms and I want to make her better, so I kiss her back, slowly at first, but then this hunger take over and I begin to kiss her fiercely and with all the passion I’ve kept trapped inside me.

  We fall back into the sand. She’s lying on top of me and our bodies are joined together as our tongues entangle. The heat of her is mind-numbing and I forget where I am. It’s just me and her lying in the sand and I swear for one fucking moment that everything is going to be okay. That this will be my life. Just her and me.


  And for a second, the thought doesn’t scare the shit out of me.

  Callie I can tell I’m scaring him and I start to shy away, fearing rejection. But then I see something in his eyes put there by years of beatings and God knows what else. I suddenly get it. Kayden can’t love me because he doesn’t understand love. He understands pain and hurt and disappointment, but not love. I know right then that I can’t tell him how I’m feeling, but I can show him.