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Point of retreat, p.13

  Point of Retreat, p.13

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat
 


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  She pulls away. “It’s fine, Will,” she says, wiping her eyes. “I’m okay with it, really. I shouldn’t be putting you in this predicament, anyway. I just hated how I hurt you and I wanted to say I’m sorry in person. I’ll go,” she says. "And…I really do want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy."

  I can tell by the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes that she’s being genuine. Finally. I know she’s a good person, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent two years of my life with her. But I also know the selfish side of her, and I’m thankful that side didn’t win tonight.

  I brush the hair away from her face and wipe the tears from her cheeks. “Thank you, Vaughn.”

  She smiles and hugs me goodbye. I’ll admit, it feels good finally having closure between us. I feel like I’ve had closure for a while, but maybe this is what she needs. Maybe being in class with her won’t be so unbearable now. I give her a quick peck on the forehead when we separate and I turn to the door.

  And that’s when it happens…my whole world comes crashing down around me.

  She’s standing in the doorway watching us, her mouth open like she’s about to say something, but can’t. Caulder brushes past her when he sees Vaughn standing behind me. “Vaughn!” he says excitedly as he rushes to her and hugs her.

  Lake looks into my eyes and I see it…I see her heart breaking.

  I can’t find my words. Lake slowly shakes her head, like she's trying to make sense of whatever she's seeing. She pulls her gaze away from mine and turns and leaves. I run after her, but she’s already out the front door. I slip my shoes on and swing the door open.

  “Lake!” I yell as soon as I’m outside. I reach her just as she makes it to the street. I grab her arm and turn her back around to face me. I don’t know what to say. What do I say?

  She’s crying. I try to pull her to me but she fights me. She shoves me back and starts hitting me in the chest without saying a word. She just keeps hitting me. I grab her hands and pull her to me but she continues to try and fight me. I keep holding her until she grows weaker in my arms and starts to fall to the ground. Rather than hold her up, I melt to the snow-covered street with her and hold her as she cries.

  “Lake, it’s nothing. I swear. It’s nothing.”

  “I saw you, Will. I saw you hugging her. It wasn’t nothing,” she cries. “You kissed her on the forehead! Why would you do that?” She continues to cry. She’s isn't trying to hold back her tears this time.

  “I’m sorry, Lake. I’m so sorry. It didn’t mean anything. I was asking her to leave.”

  She pulls herself away from me and stands up and walks toward her house. I follow her. “Lake, let me explain. Please.”

  She continues inside the house and slams the door in my face…and locks it. I place my hands on both sides of the doorframe and hang my head down. I’ve screwed it up again. I’ve really screwed it up this time.

  “Will, I’m really sorry,” Vaughn says from behind me. “Really, I didn’t mean to cause problems.”

  I don’t turn around when I respond. “Vaughn, just go. Please.”

  “Okay,” she says. “One more thing, though. I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but you weren’t in class today. He assigned our first test for Wednesday. I copied my notes for you and put them on your coffee table. I’ll see you on Wednesday.” I hear the crunch of the snow beneath her feet fade as she walks back to her car.

  The lock unlatches and Lake slowly opens her front door. She pulls it open just far enough so that I can see her face when she looks me in the eyes.

  “She’s in your class?” she says quietly.

  I don’t respond. My whole body flinches when she slams the door in my face. She doesn’t just lock it this time; she deadbolts it and turns the entryway light out. I lean against the door and close my eyes, doing my best to hold back my own tears.

  ***

  “Honey, it’s fine. We’re taking the box with us, that way they won’t be bored. We don’t mind, really,” my grandmother says as they pack their things in the car.

  “It’s not a box grandma, it’s an x-box,” Caulder says. He and Kel climb into the backseat.

  “Now you go get some rest. You’ve had enough stress for one night,” she says. She leans in and kisses me on the cheek. “You can pick them up on Monday.”

  My grandfather hugs me before he gets in the car. “If you need to talk, you can tweet me,” he says.

  I watch as they drive away. Rather than go inside and get some rest, I walk back to Lake’s and knock on the door, hoping she’s ready to talk. I knock for five minutes, until I see her bedroom light turn off. I give up for the night and walk back to my house. I leave the front light on and the door unlocked, in case she changes her mind and wants to talk. I also decide to sleep on the couch instead of in my bedroom. If she knocks, I want to be able to hear it. I lay there for about half an hour, cussing myself. I can’t believe this is happening right now. This isn't how I'd envisioned falling asleep tonight at all. I blame the damn basagna.

  I jerk up when the front door opens and she walks in. She doesn’t look at me as she continues across the living room. She stops at the bookshelf and reaches her hand inside the vase and pulls out a star, then turns and walks back to the front door.

  “Lake, wait,” I plead. She slams the door behind her. I get off the couch and run outside after her. “Please, just let me come over. Let me explain everything.” We make our way across the street again. She keeps walking until she gets to her front door, then turns to face me.

  “How are you going to explain it?” she says. Her cheeks are streaked with mascara. She’s heartbroken, and it’s all my fault. “The one girl you’ve had sex with has been sitting in class with you every day for over two weeks! Why haven’t you explained that? And the very night I’m about to leave with you…to make love to you… I find you in your bedroom with her? And you’re kissing her on the freaking forehead!”

  She starts crying again so I hug her. I have to; I can’t watch her cry and not hug her. She doesn’t hug me back, though. She pulls away from me and looks up at me with pain in her eyes.

  “That’s the one kiss of yours that I love the most, and you gave it to her,” she says quietly. “You took that from me, and you gave it to her!” she yells. “Thank you for allowing me to see the real you before making the biggest mistake of my life!”

  She slams the door in my face, then opens it again.

  “And where the hell is my brother!?”

  “In Detroit,” I whisper. “He’ll be back Monday.”

  She slams the door in my face again.

  I turn around to head back to my house when Sherry appears out of nowhere. “Is everything okay? I heard Layken yelling.”

  I walk past her without responding. When I get to my house, I slam my own door. I don’t slam it hard enough, so I open it and slam it again. I do this two or three more times until I realize I’ll just have to pay for it when it breaks. Instead, I shut the door and punch it. I am an asshole. I’m an asshole, a jerk, a bastard, a dickhead…I give up and throw myself on the couch.

  When she cries, it breaks my heart. I hate seeing her sad. But the fact that her tears are because of me now? That my own actions are responsible for her heart breaking? That’s a whole new emotion I’ve never experienced before. One I don’t know how to deal with. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can say to her. If she would just let me explain. But that wouldn’t even help at this point. She’s right. She didn’t accuse me of anything I didn’t actually do. God, I need my dad right now. I need his advice so bad.

  Advice! I go to the vase and pull out one of the stars. I sit down on the couch and unfold it and read the words hand written across it.

  “Sometimes two people have to fall apart, to realize how much they need to fall back together.”

  ~Author Unknown

  I fold the star back up and place it back inside the vase on the very top. I’m hoping Lake picks this one next.<
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  Saturday, January 21st, 2012

  FML.

  Chapter Seven

  I didn’t get any sleep at all last night. Every single noise I heard would bolt me right off the couch in hopes that it was Lake. It never was.

  I put on a pot of coffee and walk to the window. Her house is quiet-the shades are all drawn. Her car is still in the driveway, so I know she’s home. I’m so used to seeing the gnomes line the driveway next to her car. They aren’t there anymore, though. After her mother died, Lake gathered all the gnomes and threw them in the trash. She doesn’t know it, but I dug one out and kept it. The one with the broken red hat.

  I remember walking out of my house the morning after they moved here and seeing her dart out the front door with no jacket…in house shoes. I knew as soon as those shoes hit the pavement, she was going to bust her butt. Sure enough, she did. I couldn’t help but laugh. Southerners seem to underestimate the power of cold weather.

  I hated that she had cut herself when she landed on the gnome, but was so happy I had the excuse to spend those few minutes with her that morning. After I put the bandage on her and she left, I spent the entire day at work in a daze. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I was so nervous my life and the responsibilities I had would scare her off before I got the chance to know her. I didn’t want to tell her about it right away, but the night of our first date I knew I had to tell her. There was something about her that was so much more than all the other girls I’ve known. She had this resiliency and confidence about her.

  I wanted to be sure that Lake knew what my life was about that night. I wanted her to know about my parents, about Caulder, about my passion. I needed her to know the real me, and understand who I was before we took it any further. When she watched her first performance that night, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I saw the passion and depth in her eyes as she watched the stage, and I fell in love with her. I’ve loved her every second since.

  Which is why I refuse to let her give up.

  ***

  I’m on my fourth cup of coffee when Kiersten walks in. She doesn’t check to see if Caulder’s here, she just walks straight to the couch and plops down beside me.

  “Hey,” she says flatly.

  “Hey.”

  “What’s going on with you and Layken?” she asks. She looks at me like she deserves an answer.

  “Kiersten? Hasn’t your mother ever told you it’s rude to be nosey?”

  She shakes her head. “No, she says the only way to get the facts is to ask the questions.”

  “Well, you can ask as many questions as you want. That doesn’t mean I have to answer them.”

  “Fine,” she says, standing up. “I’ll go ask Layken.”

  “Good luck getting her to open the door.”

  Kiersten leaves and I jump up and go to the window. She gets halfway down my driveway and turns around and heads back to my front door. When she passes my window, she looks at me with pity and slowly shakes her head. She opens the front door and comes back inside. “Is there anything in particular you want me to ask her? I can report back to you.”

  I love this kid. “Yeah, good idea Kiersten.” I think for a second. “I don’t know, just gauge her mood. Is she crying? Is she mad? Act like you don’t know we’re fighting and ask her about me…see what she says.”

  Kiersten nods and starts to shut the front door.

  “Wait, one more thing. I want to know what she’s wearing, too.”

  Kiersten eyes me curiously.

  “Just her shirt. I want to know what shirt she has on.”

  I wait by the window and watch as Kiersten walks across the street and knocks on her door. Why does she knock on Lake’s door and not mine?
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