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The Year of Second Chances, Page 12

Jessica Sorensen


  Kai

  I was so lucky tonight. So damn lucky. All I ended up with were a few cuts and scrapes on my face and knuckles, along with an achy body. If Jules and his friends hadn't shown up when they did, though ... I don't want to even think about it. But it's all I think about as the fight breaks up and people go their separate ways.

  I hand the money to T and get my phone back. Then he blows a kiss at Isa as he walks by Jules car. It takes all of my willpower not to charge after him for the move, but my gratitude for being okay keeps me in place

  So damn lucky. So damn lucky.

  Never again. Never again will I get into this mess.

  I am done.

  "The flash drive's gone," Isa announces after we've climbed back into her grandma's car.

  She doesn't sound that surprised, and neither am I. I saw someone messing around with the car while we were waiting for Jules to show up. I would've gone after them, but I really doubt T would've let me get that far.

  Isa reaches inside the console and removes a folded up piece of paper. She carefully unfolds it, and her eyes sweep across the handwritten words. "We took matters into our own hands since you looked pretty busy. Just consider yourselves lucky this time. Don't worry. We won't tell if you don't." The paper crinkles as her fingers fold inward. "I can't believe they're blackmailing us."

  "Well, they're not really blackmailing us, just me. And I'm more than happy to deal with the consequences." I throw out the opportunity for her to change her mind and let us go to the cops. After what happened, I wouldn't blame her. But her lips remain fused, the stubborn look forming. "Fine, have it your way." I stick my hand out. "Can I see the note?"

  She hands it over and observes me intently as I read it. Yep. Just like I thought.

  I don't know what kind of expression I pull, but apparently, it gives away exactly what I'm thinking.

  "You recognize the handwriting," she says with a frown. "Don't you?"

  I stuff the note into the pocket of my jeans. "I don't know. Maybe."

  "Fine, lie to me." Her harsh tone startles me.

  "Isa ..." I start, but she cuts me off, starting up the engine and cranking up the stereo.

  Fuck. I'm messing this up just like I do with everything. One of my biggest mess ups, though, was stammering that I love her right before the fight broke out. Seriously, could I be any more melodramatic? That was not the way I wanted that to go down at all, but I panicked.

  "I really think we should talk," I shout over the music as she pulls out onto the street.

  "I only want to talk if you'll tell me who it is." She gives me a moment to say something before turning up the music so loudly she couldn't hear me if I screamed.

  I spend the rest of the drive to her grandma's apartment fighting the urge to gouge my ears out. Sure, I'm all for music, but I'd prefer to be able to hear music for the rest of my life.

  When we finally pull into the parking lot of the apartment, she parks the car and jumps out before I can even get my door open.

  "Isa, would you slow down?" I call out, hurrying across the grass after her. "Look, I know you're upset, but I ..."

  She storms into the house, leaving me outside, talking to myself.

  Huffing a frustrated exhale, I open the door and walk in. She's in the kitchen when I step inside, rummaging around through the cupboards.

  "I get that you're upset, but this is for the best." Because if you knew who was doing this, your heart would be crushed. "Just trust me on this."

  "I do trust you, and that's the problem." She flings open the cupboard above the sink and grabs a medical kit. "I trust you so much, and you didn't even trust me enough to tell me what was going on with T." Her voice cracks, and she quickly turns her back on me.

  Fuck, I'm the worst person alive.

  "Isa ..." I wind around the kitchen island, stopping just behind her. "I do trust you ... a lot. You're the only person who knows about how shitty my dad treats me. Well, besides Kyler and my mom, but they only know because they witnessed all the shit he's done to me." I hold my breath, waiting for her to do something, and finally, she turns around.

  "He's hit you, hasn't he?" she asks quietly. "Your dad, I mean."

  I know what she's asking of me, but she doesn't want just an answer. She wants me to trust her.

  "He has a couple of times," I admit for the first time aloud, maybe even for the first time to myself. "But it's not a big deal. He mostly just told me what a fuck up I am. But that doesn't matter ... I'm not living there anymore, so ..." I shrug, unsure what else to say.

  She brings her hand up to my cheek. When her palm touches my skin, I automatically lean in.

  "You're okay, though, right?" she asks. "You know all those mean things he said aren't true?"

  "Yeah ..." I struggle to keep my eyes open, but her touch makes me want to lie down and fall asleep beside her. "You know what Lynn and Hannah said to you isn't true, right?"

  She nods. "I mean, for a while, I didn't, but ... I don't know ... Things are getting better ... and certain people helped me realize who I really am."

  "I hope I'm one of those people."

  "You are."

  "Good." I wet my injured lip with my tongue, ignoring the pain. "Can I kiss you now? Or are you still mad at me?"

  "I'm not mad at you anymore," she says, her gaze flicking to my lips. "And you can... kiss me."

  Smiling, I slant forward and seal my lips to hers, hoping she realizes I meant what I said. I do love her ... enough to make my own brother's life a living hell for what he did to her.

  Chapter 17

  Isabella

  "Will you stop wiggling?" I scold Kai for the millionth time. "I need to put peroxide on this, or you'll probably get an infection." I move the cotton ball toward his lip again. "God knows where T's hands have been."

  "His hand didn't cut my lip," he says, wiggling around on the barstool. "It was the corner of a dumpster."

  Ew, yucky. Then again, so is T.

  "I don't know which one's worse," I tease, dumping a few drops of peroxide on the cotton ball.

  "Probably his hands." He flinches as I press the cotton ball to his mouth. "Goddammit, that hurts."

  "Quit being such a baby." I smile at him so he'll know I'm kidding then toss the cotton ball into the trashcan.

  He relaxes against the counter. "You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were enjoying torturing me."

  "Maybe I am just a little," I admit, digging out an icepack from the freezer.

  "Wow, you're mean," he jokes as I stand in front of him and rest the ice pack against his cheek.

  "I'm not trying to be mean." I slant forward to examine the cut on his brow, wondering if he needs stitches. I offered to take him to the hospital, but Kai being Kai, he refused. "I'm just trying to fix up your boo-boos."

  "My boo-boos?" He tilts his head, leaning into the icepack. "Man, you make me sound like a baby."

  "You kind of are. But that's okay. I think it's cute."

  "Hey, that's my line," he gripes with a grin.

  Even with the fat lip and the puffy cheek, he looks absolutely adorable. How did I not notice this before? How could I ever have been so obsessed with Kyler while Kai was right there?

  "So what?" I wink at him. "And now I just stole your move."

  He laughs, grazing his finger below my eye. "Okay, now that's cute."

  And there goes my gooey, gooey warm cheeks again, even now, after everything. I think my embarrassment meter is broken or something.

  "You're so cute when you get embarrassed," Kai says, shifting forward and going in for another kiss.

  Part of me wants to refuse him and demand for him to tell me who's been texting me, who kidnapped me, who left all those flyers. But part of me fears the answer, fearing I'll know who they are, and it will shatter me. The other part of me really just wants a kiss.

  After tonight, after the fight, the kidnapping or whatever that was, I want to forget and move on. With Kai. Kai who pro
tects me. Kai who loves me.

  My heart misses a beat at the memory of him uttering those words. Did he really mean them?

  Kai ends the kiss, but his lips remain a sliver of an inch away. "What's wrong?"

  "It's nothing." I move back, picking at my chipped purple fingernail polish. "I was just thinking about the fight and some of the stuff that was said."

  "I know you're scared," he says. "But it's all over. I promise."

  "That's not what I was thinking about." I stare down at my hands, too afraid to look him in the eye, or else I might chicken out. "I was thinking about what you said right after you told me to run."

  "Oh," is all he says.

  Insert crickets chirping.

  My cheeks warm. Hello, awkward girl, it's nice to see you again.

  "I meant it." His voice shakes with his nerves. "What I said ... back there. I do love you. I have for a while. I just didn't know how to tell you, especially with all this shit going on."

  I fix my gaze on the floor as a wave of emotions roll over me and sweep me right off my feet. Tears well in my eyes. I can barely breathe. I don't even know why or where the emotions are coming from.

  No one has ever said that to me before except for my grandma and my grandpa when he was alive. And never in a million years did I ever dream someone outside of my family would ever love me. How could they when my own father never loved me?

  The important question is, do I love him? I don't know, mostly because I don't know what love is. Do I feel like I'm falling whenever I'm around him? Yes, all the freakin' time. But I'm terrified out of my mind to take that leap.

  "I'm sorry if I'm freaking you out." He sounds like he's freaking out himself. "But I can't take it back, not when I mean it."

  Unsure of what else to do, I angle my head up and place a kiss on his lips, letting him know I'm okay, that I care about him. A lot, a lot.

  He murmurs something incoherent before he wraps his arm around me, pulling me close and deepening the kiss.

  "Get a room, you two, would you?" Grandma Stephy says as she strolls into the apartment.

  Kai's breath dusts my lips as he chuckles. "How the heck does she manage to do that? It's like she has some sort of freakish radar built into her that lets her know when we're about to kiss."

  "About to kiss?" Grandma Stephy chucks her purse onto the counter, puts her hands on her hips, and stares us down. "I'm pretty sure you two were about a step away from getting frisky with each other."

  "Oh, my God, will you stop saying that?" My cheeks are glowing as brightly as Christmas lights. "We weren't getting frisky. We were just kissing."

  She waves her finger at me. "Yeah, but if I hadn't walked in, you would've ended up doing a lot more."

  I glare at her, and she smirks, totally enjoying my discomfort. Then her smile fades as she catches sight of Kai's face.

  "Jesus Christ, boy, what happened to your face?"

  "That's what happens when you don't use the paintball gun right," Kai lies without missing a beat.

  My grandma meticulously eyes me over. "You look unscathed except for that scratch on your cheek."

  I bury down the fear connected to that scratch and flash Kai my best evil villain grin.

  "What can I say? That's the difference between an amateur and a pro."

  Kai gives me a dirty look, and I bite back a smirk.

  "Are you okay?" Grandma Stephy asks Kai. "If you want, I can go get the doctor. I'm sure he won't mind coming over and taking a look."

  Kai holds the ice pack to his cheek. "That's okay. It's really not as bad as it looks."

  It could've been, though.

  Reality slaps me hard across the face, knocking the breath right out of me, and my legs threaten to buckle. I must have been in shock or something up until now because everything that happened suddenly pierces through me at once.

  "I have to go get something from my room," I choke out then hightail it out of the kitchen before I fall apart in front of them.

  When I make it to my room, I move to shut the door, but Kai squeezes in behind me, pushing his way inside.

  "Are you okay?" he asks, shutting the door and locking us in the room.

  Tears sting my eyes. "It's all just catching up with me."

  He wraps his arms around me before I can catch my next breath and rocks me back and forth. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to take care of this."

  I want to protest. I don't want him getting hurt. But part of me wants to let him make whoever did this to me pay, whether it be Hannah, my dad, Lynn, or someone else entirely.

  "Just be careful," I whisper against his chest as tears slip from my eyes. "Promise me you won't do anything that will get you hurt."

  "I promise." He traces a path up and down my spine. "Isa ... If you want, we can tell the police or even your grandma's detective friend. We could get them put in jail. That'd be a pretty bad punishment."

  More tears fall from my eyes. "Yeah, but then you could go to jail, too."

  "I can handle it. And honestly, with some of the stuff I've done, I might deserve it."

  "No, you don't." I squeeze him tightly, never wanting to let him go. "Besides, I couldn't handle losing you."

  His chest rises and falls as his breathing quickens. He rests his chin on the top of my head, holding me close. "Okay, then. Revenge, it is."

  Nodding, I hold on to him for dear life, hoping upon hope that this doesn't backfire.

  Coming Soon!

  The Year of Kai & Isa

  (Sunnyvale Alternative Series, #4)

  About the Author

  Jessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

  Other books by Jessica Sorensen:

  About the Author

  Jessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

  Other books by Jessica Sorensen: Mystic Willow Bay, Witches Series:

  The Secret Life of a Witch The Secret Life of a Witch 2

  Shadow Cove Series:

  What Lies in the Darkness A Deadly Little Game (coming soon)

  Standalones:

  Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl Confessions of a Kleptomaniac The Illusion of Annabella The Forgotten Girl

  Broken City Series:

  Nameless

  Forsaken

  Oblivion (coming soon)

  Guardian Academy Series:

  Entranced

  Entangled

  Enchanted (coming soon)

  Sunnyvale Series:

  The Year I Became Isabella Anders The Year of Falling in Love The Year of Second Chances

  The Coincidence Series:

  The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden The Redemption of Callie and Kayden The Destiny of Violet and Luke The Probability of Violet and Luke The Certainty of Violet and Luke The Resolution of Callie and Kayden Seth & Greyson

  The Secret Series:

  The Prelude of Ella and Micha The Secret of Ella and Micha The Forever of Ella and Micha The Temptation of Lila and Ethan The Ever After of Ella and Micha Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always

  The Shattered Promises Series:

  Shattered Promises

  Fractured Souls

  Unbroken

  Broken Visions

  Scattered Ashes

  Breaking Nova Series:

  Breaking Nova

  Saving Quinton

  Delilah: The Making of Red Nova and Quinton: No Regrets Tristan: Finding Hope

  Wreck Me

  Ruin Me

  The Fallen Star Series:

  The Fallen Star

  The Underworld

  The Vision

  The Promise

  The Fallen Souls Series (spin-off from The Fallen Star):

  The Lost Sou
l

  The Evanescence

  The Darkness Falls Series:

  Darkness Falls

  Darkness Breaks

  Darkness Fades

  The Death Collectors Series (NA and YA):

  Ember X and Ember

  Cinder X and Cinder

  Spark X and Spark

  Unbeautiful Series:

  Unbeautiful

  Untamed