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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 5

Jessica Sorensen

Page 5


  She didn’t follow me and I wasn’t surprised. I’d never expect anything more from her.

  “Earth to Callie. ” Luke waves a hand in front of my face and I flinch. “Did you hear what I asked? About Kayden?”

  “Yeah. ” I press my lips together, thread my finger through the laces, and begin to unfasten them. “That’s what everyone’s saying—that he cut himself. ”

  Grabbing the gap between the blade and the bottom of the skate, he slips off his skate, tosses it to the side, and stretches out his toes. “You don’t believe that, do you?”

  Part of me does, whenever I think about that night when Kayden and I had sex and there were all those fresh wounds on his arms. I didn’t think about it at the time, but they could have been track marks from self-inflicted injuries. But I don’t believe that he stabbed himself.

  “I think it might have been his dad. ” Saying it aloud changes everything, makes it real, true. I’m breathless, not just because of the idea of Kayden’s father stabbing him, but because Kayden hasn’t said anything and it aches to think about what his silence could mean. I know the pain that causes that kind of silence way too well.

  Luke kicks off his other skate, then relaxes back in the bench and crosses his arms. “You know, I remember when we were kids and Kayden used to sleep over at my house all the time. I always thought it was weird because he wanted to stay at my house and not his. Mine was a fucking shithole and my mother’s fucking crazy. I didn’t get it, until the first time I stayed over at his house. ”

  I want to know why he thinks his mother is crazy, but the tension in his jawline is an indicator not to ask. “What happened?”

  He pulls off his gloves, balls them up, and puts them into the pocket of his jacket. The intensity in his liquid brown eyes carries the severity of what he’s about to tell me. “I broke a cup. Not on purpose, but still the fucking cup was broken and that’s all that mattered. I remember when it happened, Kayden flipped out. We were like ten and I didn’t get it. It was a fucking cup, right?” He exhales loudly and I notice that his hands have a slight tremble to them. “Anyway, Kayden’s panicking and yelling at me to get the broom from the storage closet. So I go to get it, but it’s not in the storage closet. So I start looking everywhere and finally find it in the hallway closet. At this point, I can hear all this yelling coming from the kitchen. ” He pauses and his throat muscles move as he swallows hard.

  I realize my own hands are shaking and my heart’s hammering inside my chest. “What happened? When you went back into the kitchen?”

  He stares at the other side of the rink. “Kayden was on the floor and his father was standing above him, with his knee bent, like he was getting ready to kick him. Kayden had blood all over his hands because he was crawling through the shards trying to pick them all up. He had this huge cut on his face and there was a piece of the cup in his dad’s hand. ” He pauses. “Kayden denied his father did anything to him, but I can put two and two together. ”

  I breathe through my nose over and over again, fighting back the tears. “Did he ever tell you the truth?”

  “About that day?” He shakes his head. “But there was one time I was over there and he got into this huge argument with his father and his father hit him right in front of me, so after that the cat was kind of out of the bag. ”

  I wiggle my foot out of the skate, shut my eyes, and let my lungs expand as cold air fills them. “Do you ever feel guilty for not saying anything?”

  He’s quiet for a very long time, and when I open my eyes, he’s watching me. “All the God damn time,” he says with fire in his eyes.

  There’s a moment when Luke and I are connected by a piece of thread that’s frayed and thin and very breakable. Then it’s over and he gets to his feet, collects his skates by the laces, and heads for the locker that’s holding our shoes. I follow him, grabbing my skates before rounding the bench. We put on our shoes and walk to his truck, not speaking and allowing the guilt to seep into our already chilled bodies. He starts up his old battered truck but dithers when he’s about to shove the shifter into gear.

  “Maybe we should go see him,” he says and pushes the stick shift forward into drive. He cranks the wheel to the right and turns up the heater before pressing the gas and pulling out of the parking spot. “I’ve got only one more class before Christmas break, but I can blow it off. I already took the final. ”

  “But they’re not letting anyone see him except for family,” I remind him as I bend my arm and reach behind me for the seat belt. “At least that’s what my mom told me yesterday when I called her. She said that Maci told her he wasn’t allowed visitors except for her and that he can’t even talk on the phone. ”

  His gaze cuts to me as he stops the truck at the exit and looks both ways at the empty street. “You believe her?”

  I pull the seat belt down and buckle it, and then my shoulders lift and slump. “I don’t know. Maci Owens is a lot of things, but why would she lie about that?”

  “To cover up what really happened. ” The truck fishtails as he pulls out onto the main road that’s slippery with snow. It’s late, the sky is gray, and the lampposts lining the street highlight the flakes falling from the sky.

  I’m about to tell him yes, let’s drive down the highway and fly toward Afton. I was planning on heading back in a few days anyway, but then my phone starts playing “Hate Me,” by Blue October.

  I frown. “It’s my mom. ” I take my phone out of my pocket and stare at the glowing screen. I briefly consider letting it go to voicemail where she could yammer to it about how messed up she thinks it is that Kayden beat up Caleb. But giving her an open door to a one-sided conversation is like Christmas morning for her and I don’t want to have to listen to her go on and on in hopes of hearing something important.

  I press TALK and put the phone up to my ear. “Hello. ”

  “Hi, sweetie,” she singsongs and my face instantly sinks.

  “How are you?”

  “Fine. ” I ignore Luke’s questioning stare and watch the road.

  “You don’t sound fine,” she replies and then sighs. “Callie, you’re not going back to being depressed again, are you? Because I thought college was healing that. ”

  “I was never depressed,” I respond flatly. “Just quiet. ”

  She sighs exaggeratedly and I grit my teeth. “Look, honey, I just wanted to let you know that Caleb’s probably going to be pressing charges against Kayden for what he did. ”

  “What!” I exclaim, startling Luke enough that he jumps and swerves the truck a little and the side of the tire clips the curb, causing the truck to lurch. He quickly regains control and I lower my voice and press my finger to my ear to hear better as I huddle toward the door. “What the fuck do you mean he’s pressing charges?”

  “Callie Lawrence, you will not use that kind of language on the phone with me, young lady,” she warns. “You know how much I don’t like the F word. ”

  “Sorry,” I apologize. “But why is Caleb pressing charges? They both beat each other up. ”

  “No, Kayden hit Caleb for no reason,” she says. “Caleb was just defending himself. ”

  “He didn’t hit him for no reason. He hit him because of me. ”

  It slips out like poison vapor and I choke on each syllable.

  There’s an extensive pause. “Callie, what do you mean he hit Caleb because of you? Why would he do that?”

  My shoulders curl in as the shame and the dirtiness floods my body and I remember her limited ability to understand things.

  “It’s nothing. I’m just upset and saying stuff. It doesn’t mean anything. ”

  She pauses again and I wonder if for a split second, she’s contemplating my words on a deeper level. “Callie, is there something you want to tell me?”

  When I breathe again, it’s deafening and I swear the whole world can hear it and they know my secret. “No, Mom. ”

  “Okay then. ” She s
ounds disappointed, like I was just about to give her the secret locked in a box inside me. But only Kayden has the key to it. “Well, I just wanted to let you know in case it comes up. I know his best friend goes to school there with you and I don’t want you to have to hear it by gossip. ”

  I shake my head. “All right. ”

  “I’ll talk to you later, Callie. ”

  “Okay, bye. ”

  We hang up and I clutch the phone in my hand, strangling the life out of it. My palms start to sweat and I can’t stop thinking about Kayden. He did it for me. He did it for me. I need to save him. “I think we should go to Afton. ”

  When Luke looks at me, there are lines on his forehead and his hands are gripping the steering wheel. “Really?”

  “Yeah. ” I raise my hips and slide the phone into the pocket of my jeans. “My mom said Caleb’s going to press charges against Kayden. ”

  He keeps some of his attention on the road as he turns the truck into the parking lot in front of my dorm. “Are you shitting me?”

  I zip up my coat and put my gloves on. “No, and I need to fix it… somehow. It’s my fault it happened to begin with. ”

  He parks the truck near the front, puts his hand on the shifter, and pushes it into park. The radio plays and the engine keeps cutting out. I wonder if he knows why Kayden beat up Caleb that night, if he ever told him.

  “All right, it’s a deal. ” Luke stares at the McIntyre residence hall in front of us. It’s the tallest of the residence halls at the University of Wyoming and it looks lonely, towering above the others. “You want to leave tonight or in the morning?”

  I grab the door handle and pull on it. “In the morning. I’d like Seth to come too if that’s okay. ”

  He nods and reaches for his pack of cigarettes on the dashboard. “That’s fine as long as you guys don’t mind squishing into this thing. It’s a piece of shit, but Seth’s car’s never going to make it to Afton with all the snow. ”

  I shove open the door. “He’ll be fine with it I’m sure. ” I swing my feet over the edge of the seat, getting ready to jump down.

  “Callie,” Luke calls out. “Is there any way we can fix this? Stop Caleb from pressing charges? You know, if he does, Kayden’s going to get suspended from the team. He’ll probably never play again. And he’ll probably get suspended from school. Plus, he might have to go to jail or pay a huge fucking fine that he can’t afford without his father’s help. ” He pauses, deliberating with his forehead bunched. “I just really want to make sure that everything’s okay with him… Sometimes when people hit bottom, they give up…” His voice grows softer, like the weight of a fall leaf.

  “Kind of like my sister. ”

  The gravity of the situation pushes on my chest as I hop out, grabbing the door for support. I remember that Luke had a sister.