Fighting to be free, p.33
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.33

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
 

  A frown creased his forehead. “Well, if they start trying to link you to unsolved GTAs, then things are going to get a lot worse for you. Now that they have you on record admitting it, the slightest piece of evidence surrounding the theft of a car will be linked to you and charges will be filed. So what I’m proposing is a deal,” he explained. I nodded for him to continue, eager to hear what I was hoping would be some kind of mastermind plan. “You plead guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, you tell them where you got it from, and in exchange, I’ll pull some strings that will make the car investigation disappear into thin air.”

  I licked my dry lips, thinking about it. Either way I was screwed. I was going down for something, so I guess it was better to plead guilty to possession of a firearm than to go down for hundreds of counts of grand theft auto as well. “So what will that mean?”

  He sighed. “Usually, twenty-four to thirty-six months in prison.”

  My body jerked at his words as my chest tightened and I struggled to breathe properly. “Oh shit,” I mumbled.

  He nodded sadly. “Plus your time that you were let out on good behavior,” he added. “I should be able to get that all reduced, but you’ll serve a minimum of a year, maybe eighteen months. But the alternative is being linked to hundreds of car thefts. I think you’re getting off pretty lightly with that.”

  Ellie. What the hell am I supposed to tell Ellie? The thought of going inside again was terrifying. I would have no idea what to expect, considering that it’d be prison this time, not juvie like last time. Plus I would have to cope with not seeing her every day.

  “A year, minimum,” I repeated, trying to get my head around it. Three hundred and sixty-five days without holding her in my arms or kissing her good night. This was going to kill me.

  He nodded, closing his file. “I think it’s the best I can do. I’m sorry I can’t do more, but I can get all the other charges dropped, I’m sure of it. Unfortunately, though, you’ll have to take the consequences of that one in order for me to give them something in exchange.”

  I gulped and nodded in agreement, knowing that I wasn’t going to get a better deal than that. I was getting off lightly here, one year as opposed to about ten. I had to take it.

  “Okay,” I agreed.

  He smiled and pushed himself to his feet. “I’m going to go and speak to my friend and negotiate the other stuff away. You need anything?”

  I need to rewind time back to when I was cuddling with a naked Ellie on the sofa. “Think maybe I could get my phone call now? I need to speak to Ellie and tell her that it looks like I won’t be able to take her traveling for a while.”

  He nodded, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a cell phone. “Here, use this, no one will know. The number’s blocked on there anyway.” He tossed the expensive-looking phone at me, and I caught it just in time.

  “Thanks,” I muttered, dreading making this call. “Can I make two calls?”

  “So long as the other one isn’t to do anything illegal,” he joked, winking at me.

  I half laughed despite the horror that was settling over me. “No, I just want to call a friend of mine, too. He’ll need to know what happened to Brett tonight.” I sighed and closed my eyes, imagining Ellie’s reaction to this news. “Ellie’s gonna hate me.”

  He smiled sympathetically. “Ellie’s a good girl; if she loves you, then she’ll wait for you to get out.” He turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him, leaving me in silence.

  I knew his words were right, I knew she would wait for me. There was no doubt in my mind that Ellie would play the dutiful little girlfriend, waiting patiently for my release, visiting me every week, sending me letters sprayed with her perfume. I knew, without question, that she would still love me when I dropped this bombshell on her. Ellie was special; she deserved to be treated like a princess, not wrapped up in this scandal with a convict. She deserved better than this, much better than a loser, jailbird boyfriend.

  This phone call was going to be the most painful call I’d ever make in my life, but I couldn’t allow myself to think about my needs now. I couldn’t be selfish, not when it came to her. This needed to be done, no matter how hard it was.

  CHAPTER 31

  ELLIE

  AN ANNOYING, SHRILL sound was blaring near my head, making my ears ring as it dragged me into consciousness. I groaned, rolling over and stretching my hand out for my cell phone, which was vibrating on the nightstand. As my hand closed over it, I blinked my heavy eyes and looked at the clock: 6:23 a.m. A glance at the caller ID showed the words PRIVATE NUMBER.

  I debated rejecting the call. If I didn’t know the person, then chances were that it was a wrong number or something anyway. My head felt fuzzy, and my eyes stung because I’d fallen asleep only a couple of hours ago due to my overexcitement about today. Unwillingly, I answered it and yawned at the same time.

  “Hello?” I mumbled, settling back into the bed.

  “Hey, Ellie.”

  A smile crept onto my lips at the sound of his voice. “Hey, you,” I cooed. “Do you know what time it is? Can you not sleep, either?” I chewed on my lip and sighed dreamily.

  Jamie cleared his throat. “Sorry I called so early, I just—I need to speak to you.” His voice sounded a little off, a little tight, but I dismissed it, thinking that he was just tired or something. Maybe he’d only just gotten home from his boost and hadn’t actually been to sleep yet.

  “Okay, what’s up?” I rolled onto my stomach, propping myself up on my elbows. There was silence on the other end of the phone. “Jamie? Is everything okay?”

  “Not really,” he answered. I gulped, switching on my bedside light, immediately starting to worry that he was sick or hurt. “Ellie, I can’t … I’m not coming with you today.”

  “Huh?” He isn’t coming, what the heck is he talking about?

  He blew out a big breath, making it whistle down the line. “I’ve been thinking about it all night, and I’ve decided that it’s not the right thing for me. I thought I could do it, I thought I could give up everything for you, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”

  His words just weren’t making sense to me. I frowned, trying to work out what he was talking about. “You … don’t … Jamie, what?” I stuttered, confused.

  “I was thinking about what happened between us last night, when you came over and accused me of killing Sophie.”

  A wave of guilt washed over me again because I really shouldn’t have entertained that thought for a second. I’d obviously hurt him by thinking that of him, he’d already admitted that to me last night. “I’m sorry about that,” I whispered, wincing.

  He sighed. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and then it suddenly hit me: I can’t be with someone who doubts me like that.”

  Can’t be with someone … My body stiffened as I started to understand what he was saying, but my brain refused to accept it. “What are you talking about?”

  “Ellie, look, this was fun, I had a great time with you. I really thought we were good together, but traveling with you would mean that I’d have to give up everything here: my friends, my work, my home. I thought I was okay doing that, I thought it would be fine, but after last night, I’ve realized that it’s not what I should be doing.” His words felt like he’d shoved a knife into my gut and was slowly twisting it.

  “So you don’t want to go?” I asked, needing clarification. I knew he was giving up a lot for me, which was why I had been so shocked when he suggested it in the first place. It was my dream, not his, yet he was changing his whole life just to do something that I wanted.

  “No.”

  I nodded. The disappointment hit me hard. I’d been so excited for weeks, and now we weren’t going to go, but I understood what he was saying; it wasn’t fair of me to have expected that he do this in the first place. “Okay. I understand. We won’t go then. I don’t think we can get a refund on the tickets for today, but at least we hadn’t booked too many nights in hotels and stuff.
It’s fine,” I agreed. I laughed humorlessly. “I think my parents will be a little relieved, actually,” I added, thinking of my mom’s sad expression earlier.

  “You’re taking this really well,” he observed. His voice shook as he spoke, almost like he was disappointed that I wasn’t freaking out or something.

  I shrugged, trying not to let my disappointment sound in my voice. “It’s okay, I understand. Are you coming over today? Maybe you could help me break the news to my parents,” I suggested, closing my eyes and praying he wasn’t going to say what my heart already knew he was going to say.

  “Ellie, are you not understanding what I’m saying?” he asked incredulously.

  “Don’t,” I whispered. My eyes prickled with tears as I focused on the ceiling, trying not to let them fall.

  “I’m sorry, okay? It’s just not working for me. After last night I know how you really see me, and I can’t be with someone who thinks that of me,” he stated nonchalantly.

  Oh God. “Jamie, it was just a spur-of-the-moment mistake; I jumped to the wrong conclusion, and I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, but please don’t throw us away because of that, please,” I begged desperately.

  “You threw us away the second you thought I could hurt my little sister,” he shot back harshly.

  “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. Please forgive me. We’ll work through it, we can do that, I know we can. We’ll stay here and just work through it, please?” I closed my eyes and prayed for a second chance. Part of me knew, deep down, that this was the end because he sounded so final and detached. He wasn’t listening to my pleas at all. It was probably about time that he realized he could do better than me anyway.

  “After you left last night, everything just kept playing over and over in my head. I love you, Ellie, I do, but it’s just not enough, not after what you thought of me. After the boost I went to a bar with some of the boys … I met a girl there.”

  His words were like a kick in the stomach.

  A girl? I whimpered as my mind filled in the blanks.

  “I realized as I was talking to her that you and I just aren’t going anywhere. I realized that I couldn’t give up everything for you because we just aren’t right together, not really,” he continued. “You obviously don’t know me at all if you could doubt me like that, and I thought I knew you better, too. That’s all there is to it.”

  “That’s all there is to it?” I repeated incredulously.

  “Yeah, so I guess that’s it. You take care, okay?” he said dismissively.

  My mouth dropped open in shock because this was all happening so fast. I hadn’t seen this coming; it was all so quick and out of the blue. One minute we were planning our lives together, and the next he was telling me it was over? My heart and head just couldn’t process it all.

  “Jamie, what the hell? That’s it? Are you kidding me?” I asked disbelievingly.

  There were two agonizing seconds of silence before he figuratively reached into my chest and ripped out my still beating heart with his words. “I slept with the girl last night. It made me realize that I’m not ready to settle down, especially not with someone who doubts me.”

  My whole body tightened as hurt radiated through my system. But part of me refused to believe it. Jamie was an incredible person, so sweet and thoughtful; he wouldn’t have cheated, would he? “No you didn’t. You wouldn’t do that, you love me. You didn’t cheat, you’re just trying to hurt me,” I whispered, silently praying that I was right.

  “I’m a guy, Ellie; guys cheat. It’s what we’re good at,” he shot back.

  Each word was like the sharp stab of a knife. Tears pooled in my eyes, making my vision slightly blurry. “Jamie, no,” I whispered. My heart was aching, and my chest tightened painfully as my stomach started to tremble because of his rejection.

  “Yeah, Ellie. I’m sorry, but I don’t love you enough to give up my life for you. I thought I did, but last night and you doubting me just made me think about our relationship. It’s not working, and I was fooling myself to think that it was. It’s over.”

  My blood seemed to turn to ice in my veins at the finality of his tone. I didn’t know what to say. I opened my mouth to speak, but all that came out was a strangled sob. The two words were playing on repeat in my head: It’s over. I didn’t want that, I couldn’t lose him. I was totally crazy about him. I saw him in my future. Actually, I saw him as my future.

  “Can’t we talk about it?” I begged. “We won’t go traveling; we’ll stay here and work it out if you don’t want to give up your life. I can understand that; just don’t say it’s over, please?”

  “Have some self-respect. Christ! I’ve just told you that I fucked someone else last night. I’ve just climbed out of her bed, and you want to work things out?” he hissed angrily.

  His words made me flinch. I knew I was being stupid, right now I was behaving like a doormat, but I loved him and I wanted to work it out with him. The way I felt when I was with him made me want to forgive him for his indiscretion. He was right, I probably wasn’t enough for him, but I could try to be. And the fact that he’d slept with another girl just didn’t ring true. He wasn’t the type of person to do that.

  “I don’t believe you cheated,” I stated, shaking my head. “I love you,” I mumbled, swiping at the tears that were endlessly falling down my face. “I’m … I’m coming over and we can talk, okay?” I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, immediately looking for something I could throw on to go talk to him. I needed to look into his eyes, I needed to hold his hand, smell his smell. I just plain old needed him right now, and I couldn’t do this over the phone, I couldn’t beg through a piece of plastic. I needed to see him in person and show him how much I loved him.

  “Don’t bother, I’m not there,” he grunted.

  I whimpered and closed my eyes, trying not to think about it as a wave of nausea rolled over me. “Jamie, I’m sorry I doubted you last night. I’m so sorry about what I thought. I shouldn’t have done that, I should have known better. I promise I’ll never doubt you again, never,” I vowed. My legs wobbled so I sat down on the edge of the bed as my breathing hitched with a sob.

  “Ellie—” The way he said my name, so soft and tender, just like he used to say it, made my insides churn. “We wouldn’t have worked anyway, we’re so different, things would have fallen apart eventually. We’re not right for each other at all.”

  “Yes we are!” I protested. “I love you. Just meet me at the airport at one o’clock, please? I’ll meet you there. We can go away and work this out,” I choked out.

  “No. Move on and get over it. Your time with the bad boy has ended.”

  The line went dead, and I whimpered as I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain of it. This was all so sudden that I could barely take it in. Last night we had been all set to go and start a new life, and today he’d changed his mind and slept with someone else. My mind was whirling as my heart fractured into a million pieces. The phone dropped out of my hand and I flopped back on the bed, curling into a ball, hugging my knees to my chest as I sobbed for the future with him that I wanted so desperately.

  * * *

  I just lay there for what felt like hours. My tears eventually dried up, but my breathing didn’t really return to normal as I stared at the ceiling and went over everything that had ever happened between us. Once I’d gained a little control over myself, I’d sent him several texts asking him to meet me at the airport, telling him that I wasn’t giving up on us and that I was confident we could make it work. Of course, he didn’t reply to any of them.

  In the painful solitude of my bedroom, I started to wonder if he ever even loved me in the first place. He was right, we were so different—he got off on stealing cars, and I was a stupid cheerleader in high school. People like us weren’t well matched at all. Maybe we were doomed from the beginning.

  When my bedroom door burst open, I couldn’t bring myself to move. The mattress bounced a little as Kelsey settled hersel
f on my bed, sitting cross-legged and smiling down at me. “Dad says get up, sleepyhead, we’re waiting for you so we can eat breakfast,” she sang.

  I forced a smile. I couldn’t tell my family what had transpired this morning. I was clinging to the fragile hope that Jamie would reconsider and we’d just go away for a couple of weeks to get a fresh start. I couldn’t very well tell my parents that he’d cheated on me and basically ripped my heart to pieces, because then if he did change his mind, they wouldn’t let me go with him anyway. So, for now, I needed to try to keep my heartbreak hidden. That was going to be easier said than done, though, because my throat hurt, my eyes stung, and my head ached because of all the crying. If I looked in the mirror, I was sure to see a red, blotchy mess looking back at me.

  I cleared my throat before speaking, trying not to wince as it scratched and cracked. “I’ll be down in a minute, okay? I’m just gonna jump in the shower. Tell Dad to go ahead and make breakfast, I’m not really hungry anyway.”

  Kelsey’s eyes narrowed. “Have you been crying?” she asked, reaching out and touching my cheek.

  I laughed humorlessly and pushed her hand away. “Kinda,” I admitted. “I’m just a little sad that I won’t get to see you guys for a while. I’m gonna miss you.”

  She grinned then, nodding enthusiastically, obviously buying into my complete lie. “Mom’s crying too, but she’s pretending like she’s fine and that she has something in her eye.”

  My mom was crying over me leaving? I didn’t quite know how to feel about that after the moment we’d had last night while packing. Though maybe I was just fooling myself, the woman probably did have something in her eye …

  I took a deep breath and pushed myself up to sit. “Go eat then. I’ll be down in half an hour.” I nodded toward the door and she grinned, immediately jumping up. I smiled at her back as she skipped out of the room, humming quietly to herself. I was really going to miss them all, that wasn’t a lie. But I guess there was a pretty good chance now that I wouldn’t be going after all, so there would be no need for me to miss them. That thought made me whimper and my chin tremble, so I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before heading into the bathroom.

 
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