The coincidence of calli.., p.39
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       The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, p.39

         Part #1 of The Coincidence series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 39

 

  I end up falling asleep on the bed in the corner and when I wake up, I have an, “oh shit” moment. My phone is beeping with a thousand messages from my mom. I don’t even bother checking any of them. I spring up from the bed and hurry over to the couch where Kayden is lying on his side with his eyes shut and his arm draped over his face.

  I glance over my shoulder at Luke, sleeping on the floor with his head on a pillow and then crouch down in front of Kayden. “Wake up. I need a ride home. ”

  He breathes quietly, his chest lifting and falling, so I place a hand on his cheek, running my thumb along the scar below his eye. “Kayden, please wake up. My mom is freaking out. ”

  His eyelids lift, his pupils shriveling as the light hits them, and it looks like he wasn’t even asleep. “What time is it?”

  I check my cell phone screen. “Almost eleven. Were you awake the whole time?”

  He shrugs, sitting up and stretching his arms above his head. His shirt rides up and I try not to stare. “I’ve been awake for a while. Thinking about stuff. ”

  “Oh. ” I straighten my legs and search the room for my jacket. “Can you give me a ride? Or should I wake up Luke?”

  “That’d be walking into dangerous territory,” he says, getting up from the sofa. “Luke is not a morning person. ”

  I slip my arms through the sleeves of my jacket. “I don’t even remember falling asleep. One minute, we were talking and the next, I’m waking up in the bed. ”

  He smiles, grabbing Luke’s keys off the coffee table. “I think you did that in your sleep. You were lying by me and then you got up and wandered off over there. You looked pretty out of it. ”

  He opens the back door and we step out into the cold afternoon air. The sky is a light blue with a haze covering spots and I can see the pool house to my left. Kayden shuts the door and we start across the grass silently. I don’t know what to say. I feel awkward carrying around his words that he doesn’t remember.

  He stops suddenly at the corner of the house and rakes his hands through his messy hair. “I remember it. ”

  I peer over my shoulder at him. “Huh?”

  He takes a few tentative steps toward me. “I wasn’t that drunk. I remember what I said. I’ve been lying on the couch for practically half the night trying to figure out what the fuck to say to you when we were both awake. ”

  I blow out a breath. “You don’t have to explain. I’ve been around Seth enough that I know how the day after goes. Trust me, he’s done and said so many things that he regrets. ”

  He shakes his head, with a quizzical look on his face. “But I don’t regret it. I just… I just don’t know how to handle it. When I said I felt things for you that I never have, I meant it and it fucking scares me, especially because there are still a lot of things you don’t know about me—bad things. ”

  I close the gap between us. “I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that there are bad things about you. Only things that you think are bad. ”

  Massaging the back of his neck, he looks out at the road behind me. “You wouldn’t be saying that if you knew what the stuff was. ”

  “You could always tell me,” I suggest. “And let me be the judge of it. ”

  He locks eyes with me. “You wouldn’t like me if you knew. ”

  I summon a deep breath, ready to say something that terrifies me. “For the last six years, I’ve been afraid of almost everyone except Seth, but he and I shared this connection and I trusted him fairly quickly. It was the same with you. That day we went up to the cliff, it might have seemed like I was terrified—which I was—but just going there with you and letting you help me get up onto that cliff was a huge step for me. I trusted you and that means something. ”

  “I want to tell you,” he says softly. “I do, but I don’t know if I can. ”

  “You told me about your dad. ”

  “Yeah, but this is different. This is—”

  “Where the fuck have you been?” Kayden’s dad comes storming around the corner, dressed in a navy blue sweat suit, his face bright red, and his hands forming fists. “You were supposed to go…” He trails off when he sees me standing by Kayden. “Who are you?”

  I grab Kayden’s hand automatically. “Callie Lawrence. ”

  Recollection surfaces in his irate expression. “Oh, you’re Coach Lawrence’s daughter?”

  Déjà vu. “Yeah, we’ve met a few times. ”

  He stares at me for a while, like he’s trying to force me to cower back. Finally he fixes his gaze on Kayden. “We were supposed to be working out this morning. Remember?”

  Kayden’s hand tightens around mine. “Yeah, sorry. I overslept and I have to take her home, so I can’t go yet. ”

  He opens and closes his hands and a vein in his neck bulges. “How long are you going to be?”

  Kayden shrugs. “I don’t know, maybe thirty minutes or so. ”

  Mr. Owens glances at me, appearing annoyed. “Why can’t she drive herself home? We have a schedule. ”

  “No, you have a schedule,” Kayden says and then tenses as his dad’s face contorts with aggravation. “You just think I’m supposed to follow along with it. ”

  “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?” The intimidation he sends off is terrifying as hell and I want to dive behind Kayden and hide. “Because I think you’re forgetting the rules here and what the consequences are for forgetting the rules. ”

  “I have to go. ” Kayden’s breath is ragged as he strengthens his grip on my hand and walks around his dad, towing me with him.

  “Kayden Owens,” he calls out. “You better not be walking away from me. ”

  Kayden and I dash toward the truck parked in the driveway beneath the trees.

  “God fucking dammit!” his dad yells after us.

  Kayden helps me in the truck, then jumps into the driver’s side and starts up the engine. From the middle of the yard, his dad watches us with a dark look masking his face. My mind goes back to that awful night and what that man can do.

  The tires spin as we hit the road and Kayden shifts the truck into a higher gear, the trees on the sides of the road blurring by. An elongated pause passes before Kayden speaks.

  “Can you text Luke?” He hands me his cell phone. “And tell him to just hang out downstairs until I get back?”

  I nod, taking his phone, and scroll through his contacts until I find Luke’s name. “Do you think he’ll go down and yell at Luke?” I ask as I send the message.

  He shakes his head, his fingers tightening around the wheel. “He only does it to his kids. ”

  I set the phone on the dash and scoot across the seat toward him. “Kayden, I don’t think you should go back there. What if he does something to you?”

  “I’ll be fine. It’s nothing I can’t handle. ” His voice is sharp and I recoil, starting to slide back across the seat. “No, stop. ” He quickly places his hand on my thigh. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that. It’s just that, it’s what I do. I’ve been dealing with it forever. It’s my life. ”

  “Well, make it so it’s not your life anymore,” I say, my voice taking on a pleading tone.

  He turns toward me with doubt in his eyes, like that isn’t an option. “And what am I going to do? Never go back? As fucking messed up as he is, he’s still my father. That house is where I grew up—it’s my home. ”

  “It doesn’t have to be any more. Just leave,” I say, trying to understand what I need to say to convince him. “Come stay with me. You don’t deserve to be treated like that. There’s so much good in you and you deserve better. ” My voice tremors. “Please, please, just come stay with me. ”

  He swallows hard, his eyes widening. “You would let me do that?”

  I nod my head, my heart aching for him as I reach out and touch his arm. “Of course. I don’t want you to go back to him. He’s… why is he like that?”

  “I think that’s how his father was with him. ” He s
teers the truck toward my road. “It wasn’t quite as bad when we were younger, although it still fucking sucked. He would just get mad at things and yell and sometimes slap us or hit us with the belt. It got worse as we got older, like he knew he could…. ” He grinds his teeth. “Hit us harder without killing us. My brothers fought back when they got old enough, but when they moved out… and I was alone. . . Things just kind of fell apart. All his anger was kind of focused on me. ”

  My eyes burn as I blink several times to stop my tears from pouring out, thinking about him alone in that house with that God-awful man. “Don’t live with it anymore. Come stay with me. You don’t need to be there. ”

  As his eyes search mine, he looks terrified, confused, and kind of like a lost little boy. “Okay, but I have to go pick up Luke. ”

  I can breathe again, my lungs relaxing as the airflow returns to them. “You’ll come right back, though? Promise?”

  He nods as he turns the truck into my driveway, parking it behind my mom’s car. “I promise. ”

  I glance at the window by the back door, where the curtain is pulled back and my mom is peering out. “Do you want me to go back with you? I just need to tell her. ”

  Kayden cups my cheek and rubs the pad of his thumb beneath my eye. “I’ll be okay. You stay here and try to calm your mom down. ”

  “Are you sure? Maybe I should get my dad to drive over with you?”

  “Callie, I’ll be fine. Luke’s there. I’m just going to grab my stuff and then come over. Nothing will happen. ”

  My heart knots as I lean over and brush my lips against his. I start to pull away, but he slides his hand to the back of my neck and presses his mouth to mine again, kissing me fiercely, before releasing me. With a heavy feeling in my heart, I climb out of the car and watch him back away, knowing I’ll be holding my breath until he returns.

  Kayden

  I’m scared shitless. I’ve never talked back to my dad like that and the look in his eyes told me I was screwed, but Callie is right. I don’t have to deal with it anymore. All I have to do is walk away. Something I should have realized a long time ago, but for some reason I just couldn’t. All I’ve ever seen in my life, is people leaving, not caring hitting, yelling, telling me to suck it up. But then Callie comes along and tells me I can change it—that I deserve so much better. It’s so simple yet her words mean so much to me.

  I park the truck behind the tree and send Luke a text to meet me out at his truck in ten minutes, because I need to get my bag. Memories haunt my mind as I walk up the front porch. The atmosphere is dead silent and the front door is agape.

  Putting my guard up, I step inside the house. When I was younger, my dad liked to make a game out of the beatings. He would give us time to hide and then he would come searching for us. If we hid well enough, we’d win. If not, we’d pay. We always ended up paying because he’d never give up looking.