"I wish I could just bail you out." I make a point to say this every day I go to see Christian. "But I don't have a-hundred grand."
"It's alright, Princess. I don't expect anything of you." For the past few days he's been kind to me, talking in a sweet voice, and no trace of anger lingering anywhere. He has two days left in here. I can't imagine what it's like to have to sit in a jail cell all day. He tells me how the rooms are cold and the beds are so uncomfortable. I've never slept anywhere but my own bed. He says that the food is horrible, like something old people are served in a nursing home. All the vegetables are mushy and everything else is squashed, like a bird chewed it up and spit it back out onto his plate. I shudder at the thought. "Everything is good though. I don't have a cell mate, so I don't have to worry about getting raped in the middle of the night," he jokes.
I laugh, feeling happier than I have years. I feel as if Christian and I broke down a barrier we had built between us and are now on level ground. He hasn't made one snide remark to me since I first came to see him.
"Does Cole know you come here?" he asks cautiously. It seems as if this question has been lingering on his tongue for a while.
I bite my lip, shake my head.
"You shouldn't be ditching your boyfriend for some delinquent," he says wittily.
"But I like the delinquent now," I say, then bite my tongue. I wish I could take that back.
He gives me a look and I can't read his eyes. He looks down, loosely holding the phone to his ear. "It's bad that you're lying to him," he finally says.
"I'm afraid he'll get upset."
"Yeah well, he'll be furious when he finds out that you've been here every day."
"He won't find out..."
Christian sighs. "I'm not some secret you can keep. Just because he seems sweet and everything noble, doesn't mean he can't get mad."
"You say that like I'm cheating on him," I say, wrinkling my nose. "Cole doesn't need to know every move I make."
Christian is starting to get frustrated. "Glad to know I'm something no one can know about..." He sounds genuinely hurt.
"You know you're expelled from school? I think that's a little ridiculous," I say with a nervous laugh. "Suspension would have been easier."
"Yeah it would have, but I don't show up anyways. It's what's best for everyone, Princess."
"So you're just done with school?" I ask.
He shrugs. "I guess so. I've learned more out on the streets than I have in that hell hole. School doesn't teach you how to make money or buy a house or fend off danger. They tell things that happened hundreds of years ago that barely have any relevance today. I don't need the past, I need now, and I need what's real."
I don't know what to say to that. There seems to be a deeper meaning to his words, but I can't seem to put my finger on what exactly. Something about what he says makes me worry for him gravely.
"You won't even consider coming back? I'll be partner-less because of you."
He mocks sympathy. "Sweetheart, you haven't had a partner for two weeks already. You should be used to that by now."
"I don't think I will be," I say.
I hesitate. Why won't I get used to him not being around? Is it because he's always there, even when I don't want him to be? Every time I turn I see him lingering around. Sometimes it's creepy, but it also seems intriguing.
I don't know how to answer so I avoid the question. "So what are you going to do when you get out of here? Just stay at home?"
He purses his lips in thought. "Nah, my buddies are going on a trip somewhere and I think I might go with them."
"Oh. Where are they going?"
"Why does it matter to you?" His voice is suddenly hard, all sweetness swept aside. Where did it go?
"Christian I'm just trying to make conversation—”
"We'll you don't need to be questioning my every move. I have a probation officer for a reason now, I don't need you breathing down my neck too." He slams the phone in its holder, pushes the chair back and leaves without a goodbye. A weight drops in my chest. What did I do to upset him this time?
I feel bad for not visiting Christian today, but I also don't feel bad about it. It seemed like he didn't want to see me again for a while. I try not to let it get to me, so instead of not going to see Christian, I let Cole come over. We talk and do homework. I help him with English, he helps me with Chemistry. I know, cliché, an Asian who's super intelligent in the science field. It's a bonus for me.
"Reading English is a bit hard for me," Cole says, looking at the worksheet as if it were in a different language. I guess it is for him. "It's easy to read Korean for me."
I show him how to do the work, help him comprehend the task and he seems to get better at it. I'm starting to get Chemistry too. I understood it before, but I have a high C in the class and Cole just wanted something to do so he wouldn't feel useless. He said he's used to helping people, so sitting around would make him feel like he's no good.
After we finish our work, Cole scoots the desk chair over to where I sit on the bed and leans down for a kiss. When he pulls away he says, "I was waiting to do that for long time."
"Well then keep doing it," I say against his lips. Cole gets out of the chair, wraps his arms around my waist and lowers me back until I'm lying down. He seems more dominant this time, more comfortable than he was before. His fingers run through my hair and down my arms. I can hardly breathe with the way he's kissing me. I pull him closer to me as much as possible, moving with him as if we're two rivers forming into one. His thumbs grip my sides firmly, the rest of his fingers pressing into my back in desperation. His tongue slithers into my mouth and a sound I never knew I could make escapes from the back of my throat.
Cole's hand fumbles underneath my shirt as he kisses down my neck. He presses his palm flat on my stomach, spreading his fingers. They're warm against my skin, and the angels come around to sing.
"Cole wait —"
He pulls back, breathing heavily. His cheeks are a rosy read, filled with heat and embarrassment. "I got a little too, ah, excited," he says.
"It's okay," I assure him. "I just want to wait."
He sits up, running his hand over his messy hair. I sit up with him, wrapping my legs around his waist. He reaches out to touch my face and I lean into his palm. "We can wait," he says softly. "I wasn't really, ah, prepared for that either." He chuckles. "I go too fast, did I?"
"Kind of," I say, biting my lip. "I'm still trying to catch my breath." My voice is so low, I can feel my vocal chords grinding against each other. I give him a smile and pull him up to the pillows. "Do you want to...spend the night? It's kind of late to go home."
He frowns at me. "I don't think your mom let me sleep with you."
"Yeah she would. She trusts me."
"I don't have clothes to change into..."
Now I frown. "Okay, maybe another time."
"Yes." He kisses my forehead and scoots off the bed. As he stands with his back to me, I kneel and tap his shoulder. He turns to me and I pull him down by his shirt to kiss him again. He laughs against my lips and flattens my hair down, caressing my jaw with his fingers. Afterwards I walk him down to the driveway, begging for a kiss every step of the way.