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Point of retreat, p.7

  Point of Retreat, p.7

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat
 


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  Kel raises his hand. “What about my birthday Friday?”

  Lake looks at me and I shrug my shoulders. She turns back toward Kel.

  “You don’t have to be grounded on your birthday. But you’ll get an extra day of grounding. Anymore questions?”

  Neither of them says anything.

  “Good. Go to your room, Kel. No hanging out with Caulder or Kiersten while you’re grounded. Caulder, same goes for you. Go to your house and go to your room.”

  The boys get up from the bar and go to their respective bedrooms. When Kel disappears down the hallway and Caulder disappears out the front door, I give Lake a high five.

  “Well played,” I tell her. “You almost had me convinced.”

  “You too. You really seemed pissed!” she says. She walks to the living room and starts folding laundry. “So? How were your classes?”

  “Good,” I reply. I spare her the details of first period. “I do have a lot of homework I need to get started on, though. Are we eating together tonight?”

  She shakes her head. “I promised Eddie we could have some girl time tonight. Gavin started his job at Getty’s. But tomorrow I’m all yours.”

  When I walk through the living room toward the front door, I stop and kiss her on top of the head. “You two have fun. Text me goodnight,” I say. “You do know where your phone is, right?”

  She nods and pulls it out of her pocket to show me. “Love you,” she says.

  “Love you, too,” I say as I leave.

  When I shut the door behind me, it feels like I left a moment too soon. I walk back in and she’s facing the other way, folding a towel. I turn her around and take the towel out of her hands. I wrap my arms around her and kiss her again, but better this time. “I love you,” I say again.

  She sighs and leans into me. “I can’t wait until next weekend, Will. I wish it would just hurry up and get here.”

  “You and me both.”

  Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

  If I were a carpenter, I would build you a window to my soul.

  But I would leave that window shut and locked,

  so that every time you tried to look through it…all you would see is your own reflection.

  You would see that my soul

  is a reflection of you…

  Chapter Four

  Lake has already left for school by the time I wake up the next morning. Kel is asleep on the couch. She must have sent him over before she left. It’s trash day, so I slip my shoes on and head outside to take the can to the curb. I have to knock almost a foot of snow off the lid before I can get it to budge. Lake forgot, so I walk to her house and pull hers to the curb as well.

  “Hey, Will,” Sherry says. She and Kiersten are making their way outside.

  “Morning,” I say to them.

  “What happened with Kel and Caulder yesterday? Are they in lots of trouble?” Kiersten asks.

  “Suspended. They can’t go back until Monday.”

  “Suspended for what?” Sherry asks. I can tell by the tone in her voice Kiersten must not have told her.

  Kiersten turns toward her mother. “They threatened those boys I was telling you about. They wrote them a note, threatening their life. Called them asswipes,” Kiersten says, matter-of-factly.

  “Awe, how sweet,” Sherry says. “They defended you.” Sherry turns to me before she gets in her car. “Will, tell them thank you. That’s too sweet, defending my baby girl like that.”

  I laugh and shake my head as I watch them drive away. When I get back inside, Kel and Caulder are both sitting on the couch watching TV. “Morning,” I say to them.

  “Are we allowed to watch TV, at least?” Caulder asks.

  I shrug. “Whatever. Do what you want. Just don’t threaten to kill anyone today.” I know I should probably be stricter, but it’s too early in the morning to care.

  “They were really mean to her, Will,” Kel says. “They’ve been being mean to her since she moved here. She hasn’t done anything to them.”

  I sit down on the other couch and kick my shoes off. “Not everyone is gonna be nice, Kel. There are a lot of cruel people in the world, unfortunately,” I say. “What kinds of things are they doing to her?”

  Caulder turns to me and answers. “One of the sixth grade boys asked her to be his girlfriend about a week after she moved here but she told him no. He's kind of a bully. She said she was a vegetarian and couldn’t date meatheads. It made him really mad, so he’s been spreading rumors about her since then,” Caulder says. “A lot of kids are scared of him because he’s a dickhead, so now others are being mean to her, too.”

  “Don’t say dickhead, Caulder. And I think you guys are doing the right thing by defending her. Lake and I aren’t mad about that, we’re actually a little proud. We just wish you would use your heads before you make some of the choices you do. This is two weeks in a row you guys have done something stupid at school. This time, you got suspended because of it. We all have enough on our plates as it is…we don’t need the added stress.”

  “Sorry,” Kel says.

  “Yeah. Sorry, Will,” Caulder says.

  “As for Kiersten, you two keep doing what you’re doing, sticking by her. She’s a nice kid and doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. Is anyone being nice to her other than you two? She doesn’t have any other friends?”

  “She’s got Abby,” Caulder says.

  Kel smiles. “She’s not the only one who has Abby.”

  “Shut up, Kel!” Caulder hits him in the arm.

  “Whoa! What’s this? Who’s Abby? Caulder do you have a girlfriend?” I tease.

  “No, she’s not my girlfriend,” Caulder says defensively.

  “Only because he’s too shy to ask her,” Kel says.

  “You’re one to talk,” I say to Kel. “You’ve been crushing on Kiersten since the day she moved in. Why haven’t you asked her to be your girlfriend?”

  Kel blushes and tries to hide his smile. He reminds me of Lake when he does this.

  “I already asked her. She is my girlfriend,” he says.

  I’m impressed. He’s got more nerve than I thought.

  “You better not tell Layken!” he says. “She’ll embarrass me.”

  “I won’t say anything,” I say. “But your birthday party is this Friday. You better tell Kiersten not to be kissing you in front of Lake if you don’t want her finding out.”

  “Shut up, Will! I’m not kissing her,” Kel says with a disgusted look on his face.

  “Caulder, you should invite Abby to Kel’s party,” I say.

  Caulder gets the same embarrassed look Kel had.

  “He already did,” Kel says. Caulder hits him on the arm again.

  I stand up. It’s obvious my advice isn’t needed here. “Well, you two have it all figured out, then. What do you need me for?”

  “Someone has to pay for the pizza,” Caulder says.

  I walk to the front door and grab both of their jackets and toss them in their laps.

  “Punishment time,” I say. They both groan and roll their eyes. “You guys get to shovel driveways today.”

  “Driveways? As in plural? More than one?” Caulder asks.

  “Yep,” I say. “Do mine and Lakes, and when you’re done do Sherry and Kiersten’s, too. While you’re at it, go ahead and do Bob and Melinda’s.”

  Neither of them moves from the couch.

  “Go!”

  ***

  My stomach is in knots Wednesday morning. I really don’t want to see Vaughn today. I try to leave a few minutes sooner, hoping I can make it to class early enough to pick a seat next to someone else. Unfortunately, I’m the first to arrive. I take a seat in the back again, hoping she doesn’t want to make the trek to the back of the room.

  She does. As soon as she spots me, she smiles and runs up the steps, throwing her bag down on the table. “Morning,” she says. “I brought you a coffee. Two sugars, no cream, just like you like it.” She sets the coffee down in fron
t of me.

  “Thanks,” I say. She’s got her hair pulled back in a bun. I know exactly what she’s doing. I told her once that I loved it when she wore her hair like that. It’s no coincidence that she’s wearing it like that today.

  “So, I was thinking we should catch up. Maybe I could come by your house sometime. I miss Caulder, I’d like to see him.”

  Absolutely not! Hell no! That’s what I really want to say.

  “Vaughn, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” is what I actually say.

  “Oh,” she says quietly. “Okay.”

  I can tell I've just offended her by the way she lowers her tone. “Look, I’m not trying to be rude. It’s just…you know, we have a lot of history. It wouldn’t be fair to Lake.”

  She cocks her head at me. “Lake? Your girlfriend’s name is Lake?”

  I don’t like her demeanor. “Her name is Layken. I call her Lake.”

  She turns toward me in her seat and puts her hand on my arm. “Will, I’m not trying to cause trouble. If Layken is the jealous type, just say so. It’s not a big deal.”

  She grazes her thumb across my arm and I look down at her hand. I hate how she’s trying to undermine my relationship with her snide comment. She always used to do this. She hasn’t changed at all. I pull my arm away from her and face the front of the room. “Vaughn, stop. I know what you’re doing and it’s not gonna happen.”

  She huffs and focuses her attention back to the front of the room. She’s pissed. Good, maybe she got the not so subtle hint.

 
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