The coincidence of calli.., p.5
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       The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, p.5

         Part #1 of The Coincidence series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 5

 

  He shakes his head quickly with his attention immersed in a box. “I’m not a charity case. If you want an apartment, then go get one. You don’t have to stay in the dorms just because I am. ” He pulls out a headless bronze statue and his face reddens. “What the hell is this?”

  I shrug. “I didn’t pack your boxes man. ”

  “Well, I did and I didn’t put this in there. ” He chucks it across the room and it dents the wall. “God fucking dammit, she’s trying to mess with my mind. ”

  “Don’t let your mom get to you. You know she’s just trying to get you to come home so she doesn’t have to deal with things on her own. ” I pick up the broken statue and step out into the hall to toss it in the garbage just outside the room.

  On my way back, I spot Callie walking in my direction with the guy she was with earlier and she’s smiling again. I pause in the middle of the hallway and wait for her to reach me, forcing the traffic of people to move around me. She doesn’t notice me, but her friend sees me and he whispers something in her ear.

  Her head whips in my direction and she stumbles back like she’s afraid I’m going to attack her. Her friend puts his hand on the small of her back in a comforting gesture.

  “Hi,” I start off awkwardly, thrown off by her skittishness toward me. “I don’t know if you remember me—”

  “I remember you,” she interrupts, her blue eyes flickering to the scar on my cheekbone. “How could I not remember you? We’ve known each other since we were kids. ”

  “Right,” I say, unsure how to respond to her offish attitude. She didn’t act this way that night. “That was just my way of starting the conversation. ”

  Her lips form an ‘O,’ then she stands silently, fidgeting with the strap on her oversized jacket.

  Her friend glances at her and then extends his hand toward me. “I’m Seth. ”

  I shake his hand with my gaze still on Callie. “Kayden. ”

  “You’ll have to forgive Callie. ” Seth gently pats her shoulder and she winces. “She’s feeling a little off today. ”

  Callie’s eyelids descend as she narrows her eyes at him. “No, I’m not. I feel fine. ”

  Seth presses her with a relenting look and grits through his teeth, “Then maybe you should say something. Perhaps something nice. ”

  “Oh. ” She focuses her attention back to me. “I’m sorry… I mean…” she trails off, cursing under her breath, “Oh my God, what is wrong with me?”

  Seth sighs, like he’s used to her awkward behavior. “You’re just starting school today?” he asks me.

  “Yeah, I’m here on a football scholarship. ” I eye him up, questioning if he’s ever touched a football.

  He arches his eyebrows, rocking back on his heels, feigning interest. “Aw, I see. ”

  Callie’s bangs flutter away from her forehead as she lets out a slow exhale. “We have to go. We have dinner plans. It was nice talking to you, Kayden. ”

  “You could come with us,” Seth offers, ignoring the glare Callie targets at him. “If you want. It’s just this new place we’re going to check out. ”

  “It’s Sushi. ” Callie meets my gaze for the first time. Sadness and diffidence possess her pupils and I almost reach out to hug her pain away. It’s an odd feeling, since I’ve never hugged anyone, other than Daisy and I only hug her when I have to. “I’m not sure it’ll be good. ”

  “I like Sushi. ” I look over my shoulder at the open door to my dorm. “But I’d have to bring Luke, if that’s okay? Luke was the running back for the Broncos. ”

  “I know who he is. ” She swallows hard. “He can come, I guess. ”

  “Just a second. Let me see if he’s up for it. ” I duck back into the room where Luke is sitting on his unmade bed, sifting through a stack of papers. I brace my hands on the doorframe as I stick my head in. “Are you down for some Sushi?”

  His eyes elevate from the papers to me. “Sushi? Why?”

  “Because Callie Lawrence just invited us,” I say. “Or well, her friend did… do you remember her being offish?”

  He tucks the papers away into a dresser drawer, but crumples up a small one and throws it into the trash. “Yeah, she got that way around sixth grade. It was like one minute she was normal and then the next minute she was fucking weird. ”

  My hands fall to my side and I lean back, glancing out into the hall at Callie who’s whispering something to Seth. “I don’t remember that. I mean, I remember her being kind of normal and then not really remembering her at all. She didn’t really hang out with anyone, did she?”

  “Not really. ” He shrugs. “What’s with the obsession with her now?”

  “It’s not an obsession. ” He pisses me off with the accusation. “I don’t ever get obsessed with anyone. They just offered and I accepted to be polite. If you don’t want to go, then we don’t have to. ”

  He stuffs his wallet into his back pocket. “I don’t care if we go. If I can make it through tons of freaking dinners with Daisy, I’m sure I can make it through a dinner with some girl we went to school with that barely says a word. ”

  I feel like an asshole. He seems to remember more about Callie than I do and I should know the girl who saved me in so many ways that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain it to her.

  Callie

  “I’m so mad at you,” I hiss under my breath at Seth as we walk across the dark parking lot toward the restaurant that’s lit up by florescent lights. The four of us drove to the restaurant in the same car and the silence was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. “Why did you invite them?”

  “To be polite. ” He shrugs and swings his arm around me. “Now relax, my lovely Callie, and let’s cross off being more social from our list. In fact, we can cross off inviting someone to dinner. ”

  “I’m going to burn that list when we get back. ” I jerk the glass doors open and step through the doorway into the stuffy atmosphere of the restaurant. Most of the booths are empty, but the bar is rather loud, with a group of girls wearing feather boas and tiaras, like they are at a bridal party.

  “No, you’re not. Now relax and try to make small conversation,” he replies and struts up to the hostess, resting his arm on top of the counter. “Hi, are there any seats available at the bar?”

  She giggles, twisting a lock of her red hair around her finger as she scrolls through a list, completely smitten by Seth. “Let me check. ”

  Seth pops a mint into his mouth and rolls his eyes at me from over his shoulder. “Wow. ”

  I smile at him then turn toward Luke and Kayden, but can’t find anything to say. I don’t do well with guys, except for Seth. I wish I did, but my memories just won’t let me.

  Luke plucks a waxy leaf off the artificial plant near the door. “I thought Laramie was supposed to be more of a party town then it seems to be. ”

  I point at the window to my right. “It is farther down that way. There’s a lot of clubs and stuff. ”

  With his buzzed brown hair, a tattoo around his forearm, and intense brown eyes, Luke always looks like he’s about to start a fight and it makes me want to cower back. “So you know where they are?”

  “I’ve heard of where they are. ” I peek out of the corner of my eye at Kayden. He’s listening to me intently as he leans against the door with his arms crossed over his chest. Why is he looking at me like that? Like he’s actually seeing me. “But I haven’t been to many of them. ”

  “Yeah, you were never really a party girl, were you?” Luke flicks the leaf to the floor.

  “Actually she kind of was at one time,” Kayden intervenes with a proud expression on his face. “I remember now. It was the beginning of sixth grade and my mom was supposed to bring the cake, but she forgot or something… I think it was your birthday. ”

  “I was turning twelve. ” My voice is breathless as the images of balloons, confetti, and pink frosting surface, but then bleed away into a pool of blood. “And that
doesn’t make me a party girl, just a little girl who wanted a birthday party… that’s all I wanted. ”

  They stare at me like I’ve lost my mind and I try to mentally summon my lips to form words, but they are bound together by the painful memories crushing my heart.

  “Okay, I got us a table, but it’s not at the bar. ” Seth strolls up and drapes his arm around my shoulder. “What’s up? You look sick. ”

  I blink several times and then force a smile. “I’m just tired. ”

  He knows I’m lying, but won’t bring it up in front of Kayden or Luke. “Then we should probably get you back early. ”

  The hostess ushers us to our table and leaves the menus for us to look over, along with four glasses of ice water, flaunting Seth a grin before she heads back to the front. My vision is clouded by dark thoughts I’ve tried not to think about in a while, and I can’t see a single word on the list. I press the palms of my hands to my eyes and blink.

  “I think I need to admit something,” Kayden announces. When I glance up at him, a slow grin turns up at his lips. “I don’t like Sushi. In fact, it kind of creeps me out. ”

  “Me too,” I agree with a timid smile. “It’s weird that it’s not cooked. ”

  “She’s never had it,” Seth divulges, turning the page of his menu. “So technically, she can’t put in her opinion. ”

  “I think she can offer her opinion. ” From beneath the table, Kayden’s knee brushes mine, whether accidental or not, I’m unsure. It sends a hot flow of heat up my body that makes my stomach somersault. “It seems like a valuable opinion. ”

  I don’t know how to take his compliment, so I keep my lips fastened.

  “I’m not saying it’s not valuable,” Seth explains. “Only that she may like it if she tried it. A code that I live by. ”

  I’m sipping my water and I snort a laugh, choking on a piece of ice. “Oh my God. ”

  Seth pats my back with his hand. “Are you going to make it?”

  I nod, pressing my palm to my chest. “Yeah, no more jokes while I’m drinking, though, okay?”

  “It’s what I live by. ” There’s a sparkle in his eyes as he grins devilishly at me. “But I’ll tone it down. ”

  “Shit, I left my phone in the car,” Luke slaps his hand on top of the table and our water glasses shake. “I’ll be right back. ” He gets up from the booth, strolls down the aisle, and exits out the front doors.

  We return to our menus when Seth jumps up from the booth. “I locked the car. He can’t even get inside it. ” He rushes off toward the door, taking his keys out of his pocket.

  “Luke actually went to smoke,” Kayden tells me, spinning the saltshaker between the palms of his hands. “He just doesn’t like to admit it to people he doesn’t know. He’s weird about it. ”