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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 44

Jessica Sorensen
Page 44


  We walk back to the truck and climb in. Callie sits on my lap, and even though everything seems about as shitty as it can get, I know it’s not. Because I’m not lying on the floor bleeding to death, giving up my will to live. I’m here, sitting with her, and she’s amazing and keeps my heart beating. She gives me a reason to live without pain, without sadness. And she gives me hope that maybe this will work out somehow.

  Chapter 20

  One month later…

  #6 Take a leap of faith

  #38 Finish Get somewhere with a major project

  #44 Eat chocolates, have a lot of sex, and enjoy Valentine’s

  Day, the day of LOVE!


  “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” Seth comes running up to me shrieking like a psychopath. The library is pretty empty, but the librarian, a younger woman with square-framed glasses and fluffy brown hair, scowls at us from behind the counter. There are paper hearts all over the shelves and walls and even hanging from the ceiling. Valentine’s Day is in a few days and I’m still trying to figure out what to get Callie, because I want it to be something special, something perfect, something that will represent her.

  “Seth. ” Angling my chin up, I nod my head at the counter.

  “Watch the shrieking. ”

  He’s holding a crinkled paper in his hand. I’ve been searching the library for about an hour for a book on Darwinism. Usually, I’d use a computer, by Professor Milany is totally old-school and always requires one book reference.

  “Who gives a shit?” he says and then scrunches his face at the librarian, who tsks, tsks him in return. He unfolds the paper and shakes it out, trying to get rid of the creases. “I got fantastic fucking news. ”

  I put the book I’d been holding back onto the shelf. “No, there’s no way you’ve found him yet… Fuck. You have… no…” I’m kind of stuck on words because it’s unbelievable. It can’t be possible. But the look on his face says otherwise. “Shit. ”

  Grinning, he hands me the paper. It’s been printed up from the computer and has an article beneath it. Above the article is a face that resembles an older version of the brother who left my house years ago: dark hair that’s thinned a little, the same green eyes as me, and a nose still crooked from when he broke it from getting slammed into a wall. I’m stunned beyond words as I stare down at the picture of him.

  I hadn’t expected this to happen so soon. I’d returned from the therapist only yesterday evening and told Callie that I think I was ready to start searching. My therapist, Jerry, an older guy who wears a lot of Hawaiian-print shirts and loafers, suggested it might be time for me to start searching for Dylan. I put up a pretty good argument about why I shouldn’t, including the fact that I’d slipped up the other night and kind of rammed my fist against the door in a fit of rage when I got a call from my father’s old boss who was looking for him. No one knows where they are, why they left, and it’s surprising how little people care. My dad’s boss was only looking for him because he said my father had something of his. I don’t even know how he got my number and the call reminded me of everything wrong outside my Callie-Seth-Luke-school world. I messed up, but I told the therapist. And Callie. And somehow Jerry thought it’d be a good idea to start searching for Dylan, even though I was worried of what he might be, or what he might not be.

  “You’ll be fine,” he said, chewing on an Altoids, which he always has on him. “It’ll be good to have someone to talk to about what you’re going through and maybe he can help the abandonment issues you’re dealing with. ”

  “What abandonment issues?” I’d played dumb. “I’m glad they left. ”

  “Yeah, I know you are,” he replied and scratched down some notes on a piece of yellow business paper. “But I think you also feel abandoned. Even if they’ve done terrible stuff to you, they’re still your family and I think you feel connected to them. ”

  “Or stuck to them,” I muttered in response, slumping back in the lumpy leather chair I always had to sit in.

  He wrote down something else and then shut the manila folder and shoved it aside with a stack on the corner of his desk.

  “How about this?” He overlapped his hands on top of his desk.

  “How about we just try to look for your brother? It doesn’t hurt to try, right?”

  I rolled my wrist until it popped and gave a burning aftershock, something that’s been happening ever since I cut them open. “And what if we find him?”

  He opened the tin of Altoids on his desk and popped one into his mouth, leaning back in the chair. “Well, that’s really up to you. ”

  After sitting in silence for about fifteen minutes, listening to the wall clock tick and the traffic rush outside, I’d agreed. When I went out to dinner that night with Callie, Seth, and Luke, they decided to take it upon themselves to look for him.

  I just didn’t expect Seth to find him so quickly.

  “He kind of looks the same,” I note, taking in his green eyes, which resemble mine in an eerie, uncomfortable kind of way.

  “He’s married,” Seth says, tapping his finger on the top of the paper. “And he’s a teacher. ”

  I gape at him. “A teacher? Fuck, really?”

  Seth’s eyebrows knit. “Why are you so surprised?”

  I shrug and then head for the exit, winding around the book cart blocking the path. “I don’t know… It just seems so fucking normal. ” I slam my palm against the door and push it open. The area around and underneath my scars aches a little and I massage my thumb across it as I walk out into the sunlight with the paper in my hand. The sun is gleaming and melting the snow off the grass and the sidewalks. It’s nice to see, but it makes everything a watery, muddy mess. The gutters near the streets are flooding the sidewalks and the grass looks like a pond.

  “So what are you going to do?” he asks, hopping over a puddle and then he kicks a rock off the sidewalk.

  I shake my head and sidestep a large hole in the sidewalk filled with murky water. “I don’t know. ”

  “You don’t know?”

  “I don’t. ”

  He doesn’t get it and I don’t expect him to. But there is one person who will. “Is Callie at her dorm?” I ask.

  Seth nods as we veer around the side of the humanities building and hike diagonally across the lawn toward the sidewalk that borders the street. The trees are raining down droplets of water and they land on my shirt and the paper. There’s a light spring breeze blowing against my back. “She’s working on some paper that needs to be turned in by the end of the year, but she’s hit a”—he makes air quotes as he walks backward—“writer’s zone. ”

  I smile at the thought of her locked in her bedroom, scribbling away in her journal, naked. Although I’m pretty sure the last part isn’t true. But if I really wanted it to be, I could probably strip her down and have her write naked for me. She’s trusted me a lot lately and our relationship has been heating up immensely.

  But I never push her—I don’t ever want to.

  “I’m going to head over and talk to her. ” I swing around a jogger stretching near a tree. “Are you coming?”

  He shakes his head, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his tan pants. “Nah, I got a date. ” He hurries off, with a spring in his step, toward the parking lot on the opposite side of the main office, the puddles splashing up beneath him. When he reaches his car, there’s a guy waiting for him with a big teddy bear in his hand.

  It makes me smile, thinking of Callie and the teddy bear at the carnival.

  I pick up the pace, taking as long a stride as possible, allowing the wind to take me where I need to go.

  * * * I knock on the door several times before her roommate, Violet, answers. She’s kind of a scary chick, with studs on her clothes and one in her nose. Her black hair is streaked red and she has a dragon tattoo on her neck. She wears a lot of black and she always has this look on her face like she’s about to start a fig

  Violet walked in on us one time when we were having sex.

  Callie was absolutely mortified, although I thought it was kind of funny. Violet didn’t think so though, and she chewed us out, saying we needed to hang a scarf on the doorknob next time. I was a little surprised by her reaction. Violet has a reputation around the campus and it seemed a little unfitting for her to get so worked up over sex.

  “You’re not Jesse,” she says, with her hand on the doorknob, frowning. She takes me in with her eyes and then she fiddles with the diamond stud above her upper lip. “Do you two ever take a break?”

  I roll the paper in my hand, making a cylinder as I shake my head and shrug. “Nope, not really. ”

  She rolls her eyes and then steps back to let me in. I wipe my wet boots on the rug in front of the door and then stand in the center of the narrow room between their beds. Instead of closing the door behind us, Violets leans over and grabs her jacket and bag off the chair next to her bed and then heads out the door.

  “You don’t have to leave. ” I turn to her. “I just need to talk to her. ”

  She raises an eyebrow, looking at me and then at Callie, who’s sleeping on her bed. “Yes, I do… You two are a little too much for me. ” She walks out and slams the door. The whiteboard on it falls to the carpet and I pick it up. It’s Callie and Seth’s list of things they have to do before they die.

  I’m surprised at how many have been crossed off, especially number eleven: do a dance in your underwear. Laughing underneath my breath, I hook the board back onto the door and then stand next to Callie’s bed. She’s lying on her back, with her arm draped over her stomach and her shirt folding up at the hem so I can see a sliver of her soft pale skin. She’s wearing the necklace I gave her—she always wears it—and it makes me smile every time I see it because it makes me feel like she’s mine. Her journal lays open beside her head and there’s box of chocolates next to her. Somehow she’s managed to fall asleep with a chocolate in her hand. She’s put on a little weight since Christmas break and seems to me to be doing better. I think it might be her therapist. She’s always a little happier when she comes back from her sessions. It hurts, though, sometimes, thinking about what was done to her and all those years she spent in solitude. It’s probably the biggest regret of my life. That I didn’t see who she really was back when we were kids. Maybe if I had, then her life wouldn’t have been so hard.

  I drum my fingers on the side of my leg, deciding the best way to wake her up. There are tons of ways, from using my fingers to my tongue, but I know I have to be careful. She sometimes still has nightmares and if I surprise her in her sleep, it could upset her.

  Kneeling down on the bed, the mattress caves beneath me. I set the paper down on the nightstand beside the bed and the lean over her, resting one of my arms next to her head. With my other hand, I trace her temple, the one with her birthmark, a small brown spot beside her eye that makes her even more perfect.