The coincidence of calli.., p.2
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       The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, p.2

         Part #1 of The Coincidence series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 2

 

  Someone runs into me and it nearly knocks me to the floor.

  “Sorry,” a deep voice apologizes.

  I catch myself on the doorframe and it breaks my trance. I hurry down the hall without bothering to see who ran into me. I need to get out of this place and breathe again.

  After I collect the first aid kit from the bottom cupboard and the icepack from the freezer, I take the long way out of the house, going through the side door unnoticed. Kayden’s not outside anymore, but the interior light of the pool house filters from the windows.

  Hesitantly, I push open the door and poke my head into the dimly lit room. “Hello. ”

  Kayden walks out from the back room without a shirt on and a towel pressed up to his face, which is bright red and lumpy. “Hey, did you get the stuff?”

  I slip into the room and shut the door behind me. I hold out the first aid kit and the icepack, with my head turned toward the door to avoid looking at him. His bare chest, and the way his jeans ride low on his hips smothers me with uneasiness.

  “I don’t bite, Callie. ” His tone is neutral as he takes the kit and the pack. “You don’t have to stare at the wall. ”

  I compel my eyes to look at him and it’s hard not to stare at the scars that crisscross along his stomach and chest. The vertical lines that run down his forearms are the most disturbing, thick and jagged as if someone took a razor to his skin. I wish I could run my fingers along them and remove the pain and memories that are attached to them.

  He quickly lowers the towel to cover himself up and confusion gleams from his good eye as we stare at one another. My heart throbs inside my chest as a moment passes, like a snap of a finger, yet it seems to go on forever.

  He blinks and presses the pack to his inflamed eye while balancing the kit on the edge of the pool table. His fingers quiver as he pulls his hand back and each knuckle is scraped raw. “Can you get the gauze out of that for me? My hand’s a little sore. ”

  As my fingers fumble to lift the latch, my fingernail catches in the crack, and it peels back. Blood pools out as I open the lid to retrieve the gauze. “You might need stitches on that cut below the eye. It looks bad. ”

  He dabs the cut with the towel, wincing from the pain. “It’ll be fine. I just need to clean it up and get it covered. ”

  The steaming hot water runs down my body, scorching my skin with red marks and blisters. I just want to feel clean again. I take the damp towel from him, careful not to let our fingers touch, and lean forward to examine the lesion, which is so deep the muscle and tissue is showing.

  “You really need stitches. ” I suck the blood off my thumb. “Or you’re going to have a scar. ”

  The corners of his lips tug up into a sad smile. “I can handle scars, especially ones that are on the outside. ”

  I understand his meaning from the depths of my heart. “I really think you should have your mom take you to the doctor and then you can tell her what happened. ”

  He starts to unwind a small section of gauze, but he accidentally drops it onto the floor. “That’ll never happen and even if it did, it wouldn’t matter. None of this does. ”

  With unsteady fingers, I gather up the gauze and unravel it around my hand. Tearing the end, I grab the tape out of the kit. Then squeezing every last terrified thought from my mind, I reach toward his cheek. He remains very still, hugging his sore hand against his chest as I place the gauze over the wound. His eyes stay on me, his brows knit, and he barely breathes as I tape it in place.

  I pull back and an exhale eases out of my lips. He’s the first person I’ve intentionally touched outside my family for the last six years. “I would still consider getting stitches. ”

  He closes the kit and wipes a droplet of blood off the lid. “Did you see my father inside?”

  “No. ” My phone beeps from my pocket and I read over the text message. “I have to go. My mom’s waiting out in the car. Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

  “I’ll be fine. ” He doesn’t glance up at me as he picks up the towel and heads toward the back room. “Alright, I’ll see you later, I guess. ”

  No, you won’t. Putting my phone away in my pocket, I depart for the door. “Yeah, I guess I’ll see you later. ”

  “Thank you,” he instantly adds.

  I pause with my hand on the doorknob. I feel terrible for leaving him, but I’m too chicken to stay behind. “For what?”

  He deliberates for an eternity and then exhales a sigh. “For getting me the first aid kit and icepack. ”

  “You’re welcome. ” I walk out the door with a heavy feeling in my heart as another secret falls on top of it.

  As the gravel driveway comes into view, my phone rings from inside my pocket. “I’m like two feet away,” I answer.

  “Your brother is out here and he needs to get home. He’s got to be at the airport in eight hours. ” My mother’s tone is anxious.

  I increase my pace. “Sorry, I got sidetracked… but you sent me in to get him. ”

  “Well, he answered his text, now come on,” she says frantically. “He needs to get some rest. ”

  “I’ll be there in like thirty seconds, Mom. ” I hang up as I step out into the front yard.

  Daisy, Kayden’s girlfriend, is out on the front porch, eating a slice of cake as she chats with Caleb Miller. My insides instantly knot, my shoulders slouch, and I shy into the shadows of the trees, hoping they won’t see me.

  “Oh my God, is that Callie Lawrence?” Daisy says, shielding her eyes with her hand and squinting in my direction. “What the heck are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be like hanging out at the cemetery or something?”

  I tuck my chin down and pick up the pace, stumbling over a large rock. One foot in front of the other.

  “Or are you just running away from the piece of cake I have?” she yells with laughter in her tone. “Which one is it Callie? Come on, tell me?”

  “Knock it off,” Caleb warns with a smirk on his face as he leans over the railing, his eyes as black as the night. “I’m sure Callie has her reasons for running away. ”

  The insinuation in his voice sends my heart and legs fleeing. I run away into the darkness of the driveway with the sound of their laughter hitting my back.

  “What’s your problem?” My brother asks as I slam the car door and buckle my seatbelt, panting and fixing my short strands of hair back into place. “Why were you running?”

  “Mom said to hurry. " I fix my eyes on my lap.

  “I sometimes wonder about you, Callie. ” He rearranges his dark brown hair into place and slumps back in the seat. “It’s like you go out of your way to make people think you’re a freak. ”

  “I’m not a twenty-four year-old who’s hanging around at a high school party,” I remind him.

  My mom narrows her eyes at me. “Callie, don’t start. You know Mr. Owens invited your brother, just like he invited you to the party. ”

  My mind drifts back to Kayden, his face beaten and bruised. I feel horrible for leaving him and almost tell my mom what happened, but then I catch a glimpse of Caleb and Daisy on the front porch, watching us back away, and I remember that sometimes secrets need to be taken to the grave. Besides, my mom has never been one for wanting to hear about the ugly things in the world.

  “I’m only twenty-three. I don’t turn twenty-four until next month,” My brother interrupts my thoughts. “And they’re not in high school anymore so shut your mouth. ”

  “I know how old you are,” I say. “And Im not in high school either. ”

  “You don’t need to sound so happy about it,” my mom grimaces as she spins the steering wheel to pull out onto the street. Wrinkles crease around her hazel eyes as she tries not to cry. “We’re going to miss you and I really wish you’d reconsider waiting until fall to go away to school. Laramie is almost six hours away sweetie. It’s going to be so hard being that far away from you. ”

  I stare at the road that stretches
through the trees and over the shallow hills. “Sorry Mom, but Im already enrolled. Besides, there’s no point in me sticking around for the summer just to sit around in my room. ”

  “You could always get a job,” she suggests. “Like your brother does every summer. That way you can spend some time with him and Caleb is going to be staying with us. ”

  Every muscle in my body winds up like a knotted rope and I have to force oxygen into my lungs. “Sorry Mom, but I’m ready to be on my own. ”

  I’m more than ready. I’m sick of the sad looks she always gives me because she doesn’t understand anything I do. I’m tired of wanting to tell her what happened, but knowing I can’t. I’m ready to be on my own, away from the nightmares that haunt my room, my life, my whole world.

  Chapter 1

  #4 Wear a shirt with color.

  4 months later…

  Callie

  I often wonder what drives people to do things. Whether it’s put into their minds at birth, or if it is learned as they grow. Maybe it’s even forced upon them by circumstances that are out of their hands. Does anyone have control over their lives or are we all helpless?

  “God, it’s like spazzville around here today,” Seth comments, scrunching his nose at the arriving freshmen swarming the campus yard. Then he waves his hand in front of my face. “Are you spacing off on me again?”

  I blink away from my thoughts. “Now don’t be arrogant. ” I nudge his shoulder with mine playfully. “Just because we both decided to do the summer semester and we know where everything is, doesn’t make us better than them. ”

  “Uh, yeah, it kind of does. ” He rolls his honey brown eyes at me. “We’re like the upper-class freshmen. ”

  I press back a smile and sip my latte. “You know there’s no such thing as an upper-class freshman. ”

  He sighs, ruffling his golden blond locks, which look like he gets them highlighted in a salon, but they’re actually natural. “Yeah, I know. Especially for people like you and me. We’re like two black sheep. ”

  “There are many more black sheep than you and me. ” I shield my eyes from the sun with my hand. “And I’ve toned it down. I’m even wearing a red t-shirt today, like the list said to do. ”

  The corners of his lips tug upward. “Which would look even better if you’d let those pretty locks of yours down, instead of hiding them in that ponytail all the time. ”

  “One step at a time,” I say. “It was hard enough just letting my hair grow out. It makes me feel weird. And it doesn’t matter because that has yet to be added to the list. ”

  “Well it needs to be,” he replies. “In fact, I’m doing it when I get back to my room. ”

  Seth and I have a list of things we have to do, even if we’re scared, repulsed, or incapable. If it’s on the list, we have to do it and we have to cross off one thing at least once a week. It was something we did after we confessed our darkest secrets to each other, locked away in my room, during my first real bonding moment with a human being.