Caroline threw the last few socks from the washer into the dryer and slammed the door shut, wiping the beads of sweat that had formed on her brow. She needed to get started on her homework but still had the bathroom, sweeping and mopping to do. On top of serving dinner as soon as her baked chicken was done.
Her dad and step mother had been at the bar since she came back from May’s earlier that morning, leaving her to once again watch the younger kids and do all of the household chores by herself; because according to her step mother, she was the oldest so she should have more responsibilities then the others. They were younger.
Caroline called bullshit on that. She knew all to well that it was because the younger kids were hers and Caroline wasn’t. But there was nothing she could do to change it. Her daddy was literally eating out of the palm of that woman’s hand. But she also knew that for the first time since her mother left them, he was happy. Caroline loved her daddy and would put up with anything just to keep that smile on his face. Yep... she was a daddy’s girl through and through.
“Care... Im hungry.” Bubba came up to her rubbing his sleepy eyes. Caroline glanced at the clock and cursed under her breath. It was getting late and the chicken had been in the oven a few mins to long.
throwing the broom and dust pan back into the corner of the kitchen, she ran to the oven and jerked it open. Relief flooded her when the chicken wasn’t burnt.
“Ok baby, go tell sissy supper is ready and you two wash up while I get your plates made.” Caroline smiled when he toddled away to do as she asked.
Pulling the chicken out of the oven, she couldn’t help but to miss the feeling of being the child she is.
Caroline pulled the foil off the top of the chicken and with another tired sigh, began dishing up the dinner.
Later that night, Caroline poured herself over her books and notes. Finals started tomorrow and even though she had studied with May over the weekend, she still felt like she needed to study more. Her dad expected A’s or B’s and nothing lower. And so far she had been able to deliver on the expectation. No thanks to her Math class.
It was nearing on 11Pm and the parents still hadn’t come back from the bar. She figured they were trying to get that last drink in before they had to finally come back to reality. Good for them.
Deciding with a tired stretch that studying was done for the night, Caroline rose from her bed and grabbed a set of PJ’s from her dresser and went to take a shower. Coming out, she heard her cell phone ringing in the living room and hurried to wrap a towel around herself, she ran to answer it. The Collar ID read back a number she didn’t recognize. Glancing at the clock in confusion. Who would be calling at this time of night? Finally pressing the answer button, she pressed the phone to her ear.
“Hello?” Her voice held a bit of irritation.
“Caroline...” She recognized the voice from somewhere but couldn’t put her finger on it completely.
“Yea, Who is this?” She was tired and cranky, and didn’t really want to be on the phone at this time. She wanted to be in bed.... Didn’t this person know that when the its dark outside, most people were getting ready for bed?
“Now that really hurts my feelings you know.” He picked and caroline felt her ears heating up.
“Well I really dont care. Do you have any idea what time it is? Im tired and would like to go to bed.” Caroline answered making her way back to her room to get dressed.
“Its Jesse.” He said as if he was talking to an idiot. But besides that, the fact that he had called shocked her.
“How did you get my number?” She asked feeling a little more then surprised seeing as she doesn’t remember giving it to him in the first place.
“Does it really matter?” He challenged and she groaned. Here we go again.
“Yeah, kinda. Seeing as I never gave it to you in the first place.” She gasped in sarcasm with a smirk on her face. “Are you stocking me?” She said, pulling her shirt over her head, taking the towel she was using and scrubbing it through her hair one handed.
“Haha... you wish. I got it from May. She was all to willing to give it to me.” Caroline chuckled on the other end.
“Yea well that still doesn’t tell me why you are calling me. Last time we talked I was ready to choke the life out of you. I didn’t think we made it to the best buddies category.” She picked, flopping down on her bed on her stomach so she could reach the other side for the brush that was sitting on her night stand.
“Awe and here I thought we had that connection. ” Caroline couldn’t help but smile. If she was honest with herself. She was totally crushing. But another part of her was annoyed as hell by his smug behavior. And the way he was always so arrogant and confident.
“Yeah, sure whatever helps you sleep at night buddy. Anyways, are you going to tell me why you called me in the first place?” She asked finally finished brushing her hair and laying back into her pillows on her bed.
“Well I kind of had fun talking to you yesterday.” He said and Caroline couldn’t hold it back. She laughed. Throwing her head back. Was he kidding?
“Are you serious? All we did was fight. How could that pass as a pleasant conversation?” She asked.
“Well, If I’m honest. I’m not really used to girls talking to me like that. or anyone for that matter. Usually girls bat their eyes and flirt shamelessly. Its nice sometimes, but most times annoying as hell. You didn’t do that. Your... interesting... Even if you couldn’t stop blushing like mad.” Jesse smirked when he heard her snort on the other line. He was quickly falling in love with teasing her.
“Oh pah-leese! I was so not blushing in the slightest. If you even know girls in the least bit you would know that it was pure anger written all over my face. Not a stupid crush blush.” She retorted. Feeling said blush creep up her neck and to her cheeks. But she wouldn’t tell him that.
“Sure, what ever helps you sleep at night, honey badger.” He teased again.
“Honey Badger?!” She challenged.
“Yep, it seems fitting seeing as you chewed my ass yesterday.” He said. Then she heard him laugh over the phone. Butterflies exploded in her belly and she smiled.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I was just... having an off day.” She tried to justify. But heard him chuckle over the phone.
“No your not, and to be honest I really didn’t mind. Like I said. You look pretty when your mad. So I’m expecting it to happen again anyways.” He said.
Caroline pulled her covers over her legs and brought her knees to her chest.
“Yea, your probably right. If you irritate the hell out of me again that is.”
“Ill be sure to remember that.” He said. Then sighed. “So tell me a little bit about yourself. Might as well since were on the phone.” He started.
“Ha, now that is not much of a conversation starter. There really isn’t much to me.” She explained. Tucking a loose strand of hair from her face.
“Well tell me anyways. Start with how old you are.” He said.
“How old I am? You really suck at this don’t you?” She teased and he chuckled again.
“Never said I was good at it. At least I came up with something.”
“Well I wasn’t the one who called you.” She teased.
“Yeah, true enough.” He agreed. “Alright, age please?” He asked as if he were taking notes.
“13, I turn 14 in April.” She answered. “What about you mister high and mighty?” She asked.
“I turn 16 in June. Damn you just a little girl.” Caroline choked on a laugh.
“only by age. trust me I’m a lot older then my age.” She said.
“Oh and how is that?” He asked.
Caroline thought about how she would come home from school and clean and cook and take care of the younger kids. How the parents were hardly ever home and even when they were she was still somehow stuck with cleaning and cooking.
“Well, its kind of a long story...” She stalled... biting her bottom lip softly.
“I have time.” he answered. And for some reason Caroline couldn’t help but to feel comfortable with him. Even if she just barely knew him. She felt as if she could tell him anything and he would understand. And that was something she had always yearned for... Someone who she could talk to.
Of course she had Her other friends to talk to, but she never really could tell them everything. They were busy being young and free and she felt... trapped.
“Ok, you asked for it.” She warned teasingly. “My mother left my dad when I was 10 and she took my older sister with her. Shelby was always her favorite so it didn’t really surprise me much... Just hurt like a bitch.” She laughed.
“I know what you mean. I don’t have any siblings, but my dad left my mother and me when I was really little and it hurt like hell for a long time.” He explained and Caroline smiled... So he knew what she was going through.
“Yeah, it sucks. But it wasn’t long before my dad remarried to a woman with two younger children. They go out all the time and I am always stuck here with the young ones. Sometimes I feel like a live in nanny or a teenage mom. I’m not ready for any of this... But someone has to take care of business. Its a miracle I’m passing my classes. I don’t usually get into bed until late because of the house and kids, then I have studying and homework.” Caroline shook her head with a defeated sigh. “So that’s my life in a nut shell.” She said with a laugh.
“Yeah, sound just like my own in a way. I fight because its what I’m good at and I can make a living on it. My mother is a drug head so she doesn’t work. I don’t go to school because someone has to take care of the bills and keep food on the table. I’m to young right now to go out and find a real job even if I wanted to.” He said. “So I fight. Its fun sometimes. But it is also dangerous. Like Friday... That was a rematch between one of the guys who got their ass handed to them last time we fought. I may have won again, but he sure as hell gave me a run for my money on this last one.” Caroline laughed.
“Speaking of, how is that cheek of yours feeling today?” She asked genuinely concerned.
“Oh, its nothing. Still purple if that’s what you mean.” He laughed. “But in my opinion it makes me even more irresistible to the ladies.” He said arrogantly and Caroline laughed.
“Yeah, because us ladies just loved to see what a guy who got his ass kicked looks like. So manly.” She picked.
“Hey! I totally whooped his ass, not the other way around.” He rebuked.
“Oh, I’m sure that’s what you believe but what you look like tells a different story.” Caroline teased again.
A car door slammed shut from outside and reached Caroline’s ears. Perking up, she looked out of her mesh curtains and saw her dad had finally come back home.
“Hey Jesse, I really have to go. My dad just got home and I need to get to sleep. I have the beginning of finals week tomorrow.” She said, reaching over to turn her lamp off and lying down.
“Alright. Ill talk to you later. Goodnight.” He said softly. Caroline smiled despite trying to hide how she was feeling even from herself.
“Night.” She said with a yawn and hung up.
Just as she was getting comfortable in her bed, her bedroom door opened and her dad flipped the switch to her lights.
“Aren’t you supposed to be asleep by now? Your lamp was on when I pulled up.” He asked tilting his head as if trying to catch her doing something wrong.
“Sorry dad. I was studying and lost track of time.” she explained, hiding her cell under her pillow. Because if he caught her with it this late at night, she would be in deep shit. But he didn’t seem to notice it wasn’t on her night stand like it usually was. He just nodded and flipped her lights off and shut the door.
Caroline let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. That was to close of a call and she really didn’t feel like getting in trouble. Pulling her phone out, she turned and plugged it into her charger and was about to set it down when the soft ding of a text rang out in her room.
‘Thanks for the talk. Kill it tomorrow on the finals. -Jesse’
With a smile, she typed back a quick response, then curled up on her bed and fell into a much needed sleep.
‘Ice that cheek. ;p’-Caroline