Chapter 24 - Stay or go
"I'm gonna kill him."
Jackson growled as he slammed his fist down on the kitchen table.
It took me over twenty minutes to get the whole story out. I knew I had to tell him but I didn't want to. It made me so uncomfortable to look into my brother's eyes and tell him someone had taken advantage of me. Beau saw it first hand, I didn't have to explain it to him. And the policeman were strangers. This was so very different.
"Look at me, I'm fine. Beau was there, I swear I'm okay."
I tried to reason with my brother. I didn't want him to think I was anything but fine.
He shot up from the table and Beau stepped in front of the doorway, blocking him.
"We filed a report, it's already taken care of."
He put his hands on Jackson's shoulders trying to calm him down.
"How? She's a minor, she-"
"I'm not a minor anymore Jackson. I filed the report myself."
He sighed as he sank back into the chair.
"I'm fine, really."
I assured him.
I looked over at Beau because I could feel him staring at me. He looked away as he sighed and I knew he still wanted to get his hands on Novack. It had to be taking all of his control not to let Jackson lose.
"Well, if I'm not allowed to break every one of his fingers, I'll need a distraction. I guess we could do something today."
Jackson suggested, weakly. I knew his suggestion was for me. He was tired, beyond tired and all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. But I was glad for the change of subject.
"Bonfire at the beach later? You can invite Taylor."
Beau made a grunting noise and I smiled at my brother.
"He might be busy, but I'm sure he'd want to come."
"I hope you two applied to the same colleges, I can't picture sending you off without him. How are your applications going by the way?"
My college applications had been sent out long ago. And it was true that Taylor had applied to a few of the same ones, but he only did that for me. I knew he has no intention of leaving North Carolina.
"Going good. But why are you worried about sending me away? What if I want to stay here and go to college? There are plenty nearby."
My brother opened his mouth but it was Beau who spoke.
"Because you're too smart to stay here."
What did that mean?
Would it make me dumb to assume staying here would mean staying with Beau? Would that be so terrible?
Judging by the look on his face, it would be something worse than terrible.
"What he said."
Jackson slapped the tabletop lightly before standing up.
"I'm going to nap for a few hours, then we can get the food ready for tonight."
I waited until my brother walked down the hall and had shut his door before I spoke.
"You want me to go?"
Beau sat down silently across from me. I counted to sixty then stood up, because what was the freaking point? He was never going to say what I wanted him to.
What I needed him to.
I spun back around toward him.
"Can you sit back down, please?"
I didn't want to sit anymore. I wanted him to lay it all out and if he wasn't willing to do that, well, I wasn't sure what came next.
"I don't want you to go, " he sighed before continuing, "I want you to go to the best college that you get into, I want you to experience all the things someone your age is supposed to. Go to parties, pledge to a sorority, pledge to hate all sororities if you want hell, I don't care just experience life."
He shook his head as if he was as confused as I was.
Stay or go?
Which was it?
"So you don't want me to go but. . . You want me to go?"
"I don't want you to be stuck here."
"And why would I be stuck here?"
I wanted him to say it, I wanted to watch the words leave his mouth.
"Don't do that."
I shook my head and sat back down.
"You know exactly what you're doing River. You're too close to the line, step back."
"The line? You mean the one you've come close to crossing more than once? It's gone."
He shook his head this time.
"It's not. Trust me."
What was he talking about? I was eighteen now, that was the issue. Now it's gone. It was simple.
He stood up and cleared his throat.
"You're not staying here. You're going to go to some fancy college and have fun like you're supposed to."
He nodded then tugged at the ends of his hair.
"I've gotta go."
I stood up walked closer to him as he took a step back.
"Well are you coming back?"
"I'm not sure."
I watched as he walked away, he hesitated when his hand landed on the doorknob and I wanted to scream.
Just say it.
He shook his head as he opened the door and left without even so much as glancing back at me.
I let out a shaky breath and hated myself for wanting to cry. What was it about Beau that stirred my emotions up so quickly?
Seconds later I heard his key slide into the deadbolt from the outside as he locked the door and solidified the inkling I'd had in my mind for so long now.
No matter what, he couldn't stop. He could be mad and want to leave but he couldn't stop himself from thinking about me. Putting me first, always.
He could push me away all he wanted and it still wouldn't make any difference. He was only lying to himself and it was just a matter of time before he realized it.
But the problem was I wasn't sure how much time was left.
I walked to my room and laid back on my bed. I needed to do something, I needed Beau to admit to himself that he felt something real for me.
I wasn't proud of the plan I had concocted, but if it got me the reaction from him that I wanted then it would be worth it.