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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 35

Jessica Sorensen

Page 35


  She’s never been good at handling things that don’t fit into her world. And rebel-runaway Callie fits about as well as lone-Goth Callie did.

  “We could get a hotel room,” Seth suggests as we pull into town. “And keep the vacation going. ”

  “Or at least avoid going home,” Luke mutters, grumpily.

  It’s late, the trees in the park are flashing with lively red twinkly lights, and there’s a huge inflatable Santa at the entrance welcoming us to town. Kayden has been really quiet the entire drive, staring out the window, lost in his thoughts and it makes me sad. Luke has been silent too, chain smoking the entire drive and Seth has been equally as bad.

  I glance at Kayden, wondering what he thinks of the hotel idea, but all he does is stare out the window. “I feel like if I go to hotel then I’m running away from my problems,” I say. “I should probably go home and face the wrath of my mom. ”

  “Why?” Seth asks, surprising me. I gape at him as smoke snakes from his lips and he takes out the cigarette and sticks his hand out the window, scattering ash into the street as he grazes his thumb across the end. “Callie, I hate to say this”—his brown eyes flick to Luke, then to Kayden, before he leans in and whispers—“but until you can tell your mom, and you-know-who will officially no longer be showing up at your house, it might be good for you to stay away from there. Stop torturing yourself. ”

  I press my lips together as he leans back. “I’m don’t torture myself,” I mumble.

  “You don’t?” Seth flicks his cigarette out the window and then rolls it up. Luke’s truck is really old and doesn’t have automatic windows so Seth’s arm fights against the tension in the handle.

  Kayden glances at me with a frown on his face. “Seth’s right,”

  he agrees quietly.

  I think about all the times I spent wishing I could just shrink into a ball, maybe become invisible, maybe disappear altogether.

  But if I could have just broken Caleb’s hold over me, maybe I would have escaped from the tortuous years I spent locked away, living inside myself. Could I do it? Just free myself? Do I have that kind of power? I really don’t have to go back unless I want to. I can go back when I’m ready to confess. “All right, let’s get a hotel room. ” It’s such a simple conclusion, yet it took me forever to get to it.

  I don’t have to go back home until I’m ready. I have choices, power, freedom. I can sever the ties with the things that hurt me.

  You can do this. I can do anything if I want to. I just have to choose to do it. Suddenly, I can breathe freely again. I’m smiling and Seth and Luke are looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.

  Kayden glances at me, a forced grin at his lips. “Sounds good. ”

  I offer him a smile, wondering why he’s acting so upset.

  Everything had been okay when we left the beach house, at least I thought so. I lean into him and whisper, “Are you okay?”

  He nods, giving me a puzzled look. “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”

  “I don’t know,” I say, eyeing the sadness in his eyes. “You look sad. ”

  “Well, I’m not. I promise. ” He returns his attention to the window and my heart sinks in my chest, knowing there’s something he’s not telling me. But I don’t want to press him in front of Luke and Seth, so I keep quiet.

  Ten minutes later we’re checked into a motel room with two queen-size beds, a retro décor, and air smelling of mildew. Seth and Luke start arguing about the sleeping arrangement and I take the opportunity to talk to Kayden about what’s bothering him.

  “Are you sure you’re okay?” I ask, sinking down on the bed beside him.

  He nods, fiddling with the remote, even though the television isn’t on. “Yeah, I’m fine. I already told you that. ”

  “But you’ve been so quiet,” I say. “You’ve barely said a word since we left California. ”

  “I’m just tired. ” He drops the remote down on the nightstand and stares out the window. He does look really exhausted, but I don’t think that’s the real reason. Like he senses my doubts, he places his hand on my knee and gives it a gentle squeeze. “Callie, stop worrying. I’m okay. ”

  “Okay,” I say quietly and then get up from the bed to use the restroom. I lock the door and sit down on the edge of the bathtub.

  I don’t really have to use the bathroom; I just needed to gather myself. The urge to make myself throw up is rising inside me and I really want to give into it, because it’s been a while and I’m really stressed out about Kayden and about telling my mom. I start bouncing my knees as I breathe through my nose and count to ten, reminding myself that I’m strong. That I can live life without making myself purge.

  It takes me a while, but about ten minutes later, I calm down and walk out of the bathroom, surprised to find Luke on one bed and Seth on the other watching television and Kayden is nowhere to be seen.

  “Where’d Kayden go?” I ask, walking between the two beds.

  They both look up at me, blinking their eyes, and then they gaze around the room. Seth sits up with his brows furrowed. “Huh?

  I didn’t hear him leave. ”

  Luke yawns. “He went to get his bag out of the back of the truck,” he tells me. “But he’s been out there for a few minutes. ”

  Panic surges through me as I round the foot of the bed and draw back the curtain. The neon VACANT sign lights up the parking lot where the truck is parked down below, snow falling on the hood and roof. I can’t see Kayden anywhere, but I tell myself he has to be coming up the stairs, which are out of my view.

  Slipping on my shoes, I run out the door.

  “Callie, what the hell?” I hear Seth call out as I leave the door wide open. I don’t turn back, racing to the bottom of the stairway and out into the parking lot. When I reach Luke’s truck, Kayden isn’t there. I search the parking lot and even walk over to the lobby, wondering if maybe he went to raid the vending machines, but I can’t find him anywhere. My mind is racing with a thousand thoughts of what’s going on. Where would he go? Why would he leave? Why did he look so sad?

  By the time I’m headed back to the stairway, Seth and Luke are walking down it. I’m about in tears, frozen without a jacket on.

  “He’s gone,” I sputter.

  They meet me at the bottom of the steps and Luke’s forehead creases as he stares at his truck. “What do you mean he’s gone?”

  “I searched everywhere. ” I wrap my arms around myself, shivering from the cold and my nerves. “I can’t find him. ”

  Seth’s arms encircle me. “I’m sure he’s fine. Maybe he just went for a walk. ”

  “It’s almost ten thirty at night and freezing,” I say. “There’s nowhere to walk to. ”

  “Maybe he walked to a gas station to get something to eat. ”

  Even he sounds like he doesn’t believe it. “I thought I saw one a few roads up. ”

  “Hang on a second,” Luke says as he removes his phone from his back pocket. “I’ll call him and see if I can get him to answer and see what’s up. ” He dials the number, puts the phone up to his ear, and wanders away toward his truck, leaving footprints in the snow.

  Seth hugs me as I watch Luke kick at the snow with one arm resting across his stomach. He keeps walking and walking farther away from the motel. My legs grow weak and finally I have to sit down on the stairs.

  Seth sits with me. “I’m sure everything’s okay. ”

  I shake my head. “He seemed so upset the whole drive. I think something was really bothering him. ” I pull my knees to my chest and rest my chin on top of them. What if he’s going to do something… something hurtful to himself?

  I slide my phone out of my pocket and try to call him myself.

  The phone rings four times and then goes to his voicemail. I hang up and send him a text.

  Me: Hey, where r u… I’m worried. You just took off.

  I wait, but there’s no response. I suck back the tears frant
ically wanting to escape, wishing I could curl into a ball and cry myself to sleep. I hurt everywhere. And I’m afraid. Not for myself but for Kayden and what he’s doing. I can’t get the picture of him trying to cut himself out of my head. What if he ends up hurting himself really badly?

  Finally, Luke heads back toward us with a puzzled look on his face. Right before he reaches us, my phone beeps.

  Kayden: I’m ok.

  He’s okay?

  Me: Where R U?

  “I got ahold of him,” Luke says as my phone beeps again. “He said to tell you that he’s okay, but that there’s something he needs to take care of. ”

  I glance down at the screen, trying to hold the phone steady in my shaking hand.

  Kayden: There’s someone I need to talk to and it can’t wait… with my therapist… Look, I’ll explain everything later.

  I’ll come back and then we’ll talk. And Callie, I promise I’m OK.

  I don’t understand. My hands tremble as I type.

  Callie: I thought I was going to go with you… and it’s late. The office isn’t even open.

  When he doesn’t respond, I don’t know what to think. Is he really seeing him? Or is he lying?

  I stand up, brushing the snow off the back of my jeans. “We should go look for him. ”

  Luke shakes his head, squeezing by us and heading up the stairs. “Callie, I’m sure he’s okay… and he’ll said he be back soon so I think we should just wait here for him. ”

  I glance at Seth, wondering what I should do. Sighing, he swings his arm around me and leads me up the stairs. “I’m sure he’s fine,” he says quietly.

  I clutch onto him, hoping with everything I have that he’s right.

  Kayden I am obsessed about telling the truth and finally having my secrets out in the open the entire drive home. The longer I thought about it, the more anxious I got until I felt like I was going to burst.

  I’d spent my whole life holding my emotions and secrets in and suddenly I needed to get them all out. Now.

  Even though it was late, I knew if I lay down on that bed, closed my eyes, and went to sleep, my mind would probably change by morning. It was just one of those things where if I’d sat on it, I’d talk myself out of it. So as soon as Callie went into the bathroom, I slipped out of the room, muttering something about getting my suitcase out of the back of the truck.

  I knew she’d be upset that I took off without saying anything, but I had to do it; otherwise she’d look at me with those sad puppy eyes, wanting to go with me, like we talked about, and I’d have a hard time saying no. Despite the fact that I told her we’d do this together, I realized on the way home that it’s something I need to do on my own. Otherwise I’d hold back, and I want—no need to let it out. All of it.

  I walk out of the room and run over to the park just a few blocks down, and then I stop and take out my phone and the card Doug gave me. When he gave me the card he said I could call him anytime and I hope he meant it.