I woke a little after 2am, Cal shaking my shoulders.
‘Babe, wake up!’
His voice sounded urgent, worried. I sat up, confused. I was drenched in sweat and completely naked. I took in my surroundings and then my gaze rested on Cal.
’Cal, whats wrong?′
I still couldn’t believe we were entwined together on his sofa.
′You were having a nightmare.′ He said softly, kissing my head.
I dreamt he was dead. I had dreamt it before of course, but this was so final. I watched his casket being lowered into the ground, and people walking away sadly. I had sat on the soil screaming his name.
‘I’ll get you some water.’
He rose from the sofa and I pulled the throw around me and shuddered despite the warmth of the house. I watched Cal pad over from the sink, a glass of water in his hand. I could watch him all day. I couldn’t help but stare at his body which he smirked at.
He sat on the sofa, his hand running up and down my leg. I swallowed the water gratefully and checked my phone. He watched me as I put it back on the floor and sighed contentedly.
′Everything alright?′ his tone was casual but I know he was worried.
′Yeah, my parents bought that I was staying at Rosies. I think they would let tonight slide either way with it being prom.′ I sipped the water, before placing it on the floor beside my phone.
‘Prom?’ He groaned, wrapping his arms around me and scattering kisses all over me.
’Yeah but I was hardly going to go was I?′ I shrugged, not meeting his eyes.
’I bet you had lots of opportunities to go. I can’t even imagine how much attention you got the minute I was out of the picture. It kills me actually.′
His hand found my hand and he brought it to his lips and kissed my fingers softly.
′You’re mine. You always have been Raven, and you always will be. I just hope you always want to be.′
I smiled as I nodded my head.
I noticed his eyes cloud over with something, which quickly passed.
′Are you back now? For real?′
I asked carefully. I needed to know, there was no way I was going through that hell, ever again.
His finger stroked my cheek.
’I left because I had to. I’m here now, and I know there is no reason for me to have to leave again, know that.′
I frowned and despite myself I asked the question I most wanted to hear the answer to.
‘What happened in New York?’
His eyes narrowed.
′I know you need the truth, but I just don’t feel I can. Not yet. But I will never leave you again. Ok?′
I watched him and realised suddenly he looked alot older than his seventeen years.
′Can we go and sleep in a proper bed now?′
He yawned and smiled at me lazily. I couldn’t push it. Not at 2am. I stood, bringing the throw with me and followed him upstairs, my mind racing with the possibilities of what had happened in New York. His bedroom was simple, floor length curtains adorned the windows, a thick grey rug on the varnished floor. His bed was a up against a plain wall, white sheets lay crumpled on the mattress and I noticed an ashtray on the floor. I rolled my eyes, some things don’t change. I crawled into the bed, tiredness overtaking me suddenly. Cal slid into bed next me and kissed my head before exhaling.
′I can’t tell you how much I have missed you.′
I smiled as my eyes closed, our fingers laced together.
The next morning was Saturday. I turned over to see the bed empty next to me and I immediately panicked. Where was he? I looked around the room, and saw a pile of clothes strewn over an armchair in the corner. I made my way over to it and slipped a ramones t shirt on that only just covered my butt. I walked out of the door and was hit by the delicious smell of bacon cooking. I hadn’t even realised how hungry I was, so I quickly made my way down the stairs. Cal was over the stove, dressed in grey bottoms as he frowned at the pan with concentration. I took pleasure in watching him, knowing he wasn’t aware I was there. He was fucking delicious. Suddenly I wasn’t hungry for the bacon.
He turned his head and saw me, a huge smile breaking over his face.
He opened his arms and I slipped into them easily.
‘I could SO get used to this,’ I said, kissing his mouth.
′There’s OJ in the fridge, help yourself.′ he nodded at the fridge and I dutifully took the juice out and looked in the cupboards for the glasses. The first cupboard had nothing in at all, the second one had three plates and some mugs. I frowned and went to open the third and final cupboard.
’Yeah, its right at the back baby, whatever you are looking for.′
I turned to see Cal watching me hungrily, the t shirt raising up to give him a wonderful view of my naked self. I rolled my eyes and instructed him to find the glasses himself, making my way to one of the stools by the kitchen bar. I wondered how he had this house, who did it belong to? I gazed around it, imagining that it was ours. I remembered my phone on the side and leant over to grab it. My parents had texted me asking how I was today and if I had fun. Oh if they knew, I smiled wickedly to myself. Cal slid a bacon sandwich over to me and I thanked him, taking a bite.
′So do you have any plans today?′ He leant on the counter before taking a bite of his sandwich.
’No, you?′ As I spoke crumbs of bread fell out of my mouth and he laughed shaking his head.
′I wondered if you wanted to go to LA ?′ He said it so casually, whilst my mouth dropped open. LA? That was over 2000 miles away.
′How exactly are we going to do that?′ I asked, staring at him.
He smiled and winked at me. ‘Do you think we could get a night away, or not?’
I laughed nervously. ′Are you serious? First of all, thats a FLIGHT away from here, the nearest airport is like, Minnesota. What would I tell my parents?!′
He nodded. ’Yes, we could do it another time, maybe for your birthday?′ His eyes met mine.
’My birthday?′ I squealed. ′Oh I would love that.′ But my face fell. ′But Cal, I really need my parents to be okay with us.′ I stared at the remnants of my sandwich. He walked around the table, swivelling my stool around so that he was in between my legs.
‘Hey’ He said softly, lifting my head back. ’I would love that. I want to be with you. Properly. Whatever I have to do, I’ll do.′
He was thinking of my birthday, which was six months away. He was willing to do anything to be with me. Tears threatened to spill down my face as our mouths met. It wasn’t a long walk back to the sofa......
I couldn’t bear to be away from Cal, but I knew I had to return home or my parents would start to become suspicious. He drove me home, our fingers laced together as much as we could.
’When will I see you next?′ I asked as he pulled up near my house. ′Its not like you are near me anymore.′ I cast a sad look in the direction of the home he used to be in.
He turned towards me, kissing my hand.
‘I will take you for dinner later.’ He said simply.
‘But Cal, what will I tell my parents? I can’t keep lying.’ I put my head down, frustrated. Why was everything so difficult?
He watched me for a moment, biting on his lip. ‘Right, come with me. Lets do this.’
He got out of the car and walked around to open my door. I stayed seated, confused.
′I’m sorry, do what?′
He smiled at me.
′Come on. If this goes completely wrong, I promise you, I won’t leave you. Ok?′
I stared at him open mouthed. He leaned on the car door, a smile playing at his sexy lips.
‘Baby, if I have learnt anything at all, its that life is too short. I love you. Let me meet your parents.’
I finally slid my legs out of the car, and struggled to stand as they felt like jelly.
’Cal-′ He put his finger to my lips, and shut the car door behind me. He leaned against me and kissed me hungrily.
’Lets go.′ I felt breathless from his kiss, his touch, damn even his presence. He laced his fingers through mine and led the way up my drive, towards my house.
′They thought I was at Rosies,′ I hissed as he smiled at me, ringing the doorbell.
′Cal I don’t need to ring the doorbell at my own home.′ I rolled my eyes. The door swung open and my mother stood in front of us, her eyes creased with confusion as she saw Cal, then me. She looked back at Cal and widened her eyes.
‘Gretchen?’ she said questionably.
Cal stepped forward, moving his hair out of his eyes.
‘Hi Mrs Red. I think its time we met. I’m Cal.’
Their eyes met and I watched as my mom went through about a million different emotions. She frowned, then looked back at me, my cheeks flushed with happiness and eyes shining with love and adoration.
′I thought you stayed at Rosies last night Gretchen?′
She was looking back at Cal, who hadn’t missed a beat.
’She did, I gave her a ride home this morning as I didn’t want her walking home alone. ′
He smiled at her then and I saw her face relax slightly.
’I see. So, are you going to come in Cal?′
I nearly fell over when she said this, whilst Cal nodded and held his hand out for me to go first. I walked in, staring at my mom whilst she closed the door.
‘So Cal. Its good to finally meet you, but I have to say i thought you and Gretchen had cooled it off somewhat lately?’
She sounded hopeful until he laughed.
′Certainly not. I decided to give Gretchen some space to concentrate on her studies. I know how much she wants to be a therapist.′
He sat down in the chair beside him. I stared at him, this smooth talker who seemed to have the answers to everything. He glanced over at my mother who was watching him suspiciously.
She cleared her throat and fixed him with her fierce gaze.
‘So, it is graduation soon. What are your plans Cal?’
He frowned as he seemed to be deep in thought.
′Well to be honest, I am not entirely sure which path is best to take. I could follow my father down the acting route, or I could stick with sports therapy, which I am better at, to be honest.′
He laughed at that point. I couldn’t hide my surprise as I took this information in. He was interested in sports therapy? His dad was an actor?! His eyes met mine and he tilted his head to the side, acknowledging my confusion.
’So I assume you won’t be keeping my daughter out overnight anymore without letting us know first, right?′
My moms voice had softened slightly, but she still made it clear she meant business. Cal held his hands up, eyes wide.
‘M’am, I can only apologise about that. It will not happen again.’
We were all quiet for a moment until Cal rose from his chair, smiling at my mom as he did.
‘It was a pleasure to meet you, but I have to head home. I have so much to be getting on with. Oh, Gretchen, I didn’t know if you were free this evening but I wondered if you would like to come out for dinner with me?’
My mom folded her arms, and looked at me, her eyes wide. I actually couldn’t have loved him any more than I did at that point.
‘I would love to. Mom, I will be back home after.’
My mother pursed her lips and nodded.
’Does Cal know you will be going to Hayville?′
She said this part proudly, beaming at me as my eyes met Cals. The colour drained from his face as he recognised the name, and more importantly, the location. He recovered quickly, nodding enthusiastically.
′Its great news, I am so proud of her. Thats what tonight is about, celebrating.′
His voice hadn’t changed at all. Wow, an expert liar. I needed to take note of this.
My mother nodded her approval.
’We are so proud of her, I have no doubt she will excel at everything she does.′
I walked Cal to the door as he said goodbye to my mother. I pulled the door closed behind me and leant against it, my eyes closed.
’I’m sorry I didn’t tell you...′
I mumbled, refusing to meet his gaze.
′You weren’t around, I didn’t know....′
He nodded slowly. ′New York hey?′
I gulped, unable to take the pain in his voice. He stood up straight then and leant over to kiss me lightly on the lips.
′I’ll pick you up later, about 7?′
He skipped down the steps from the porch, walking backwards. I couldn’t stop staring at his beautiful face, his hair in his eyes.
‘So the beard- are you gonna lose it?’
He laughed then, running his hand over it slowly.
’Hmm, you seemed to like it this morning?′
He smirked and walked round to his car. I watched him longingly as he swept his hair back, pulling on his aviators to avoid the glare of the bright sun. He looked at me one last time, his lips curling into a smile before he pulled off back in the direction we had come. I sighed, not entirely sure what to think. There was so much to consider. What had happened to him in New York? What would happen when I moved to New York? How did he feel about it? My mind buzzed with questions as I made my way back to the house. My mother sat on the kitchen table, coffee in hand. Her sapphire eyes locked on mine when I walked in, a small smile playing on her lips.
‘He was..... Interesting. I can’t think what you see in him.’
We both laughed, thawing the ice between us. I took a seat in front of my mom who watched me quizzically.
’Everything ok honey?′ she asked quietly, watching me.
’Its really complicated Mom....I am so in love with him.′
She didn’t blink, instead she sipped her coffee silently.
’He is all I think about. I know me moving to New York is going to be a big thing for him... but I also know he supports me entirely.′
I sighed, absentmindedly playing with one of my dark spirals.
′I don’t doubt you are in love with him. I think it is quite clear you are in love. Both of you. But I know long distance is hard, really hard. Where will he be able to study sports therapy?′ She cocked her head to the side as she gave it some thought.
I looked at her, answering her honestly. ′I have absolutely no idea.′
She shrugged then, reaching for my hand.
‘If its meant to work it will. Now why don’t you go and have a relaxing day before your date tonight? I have to go to the supermarket if you want a ride to the mall?’
I wanted to pinch myself. My mom actually understood? Since When?! I smiled and grabbed my phone, dialling Rosies number. She answered yawning, asking what time I called this.
‘Rosie, I need to see you. I need your help.’