The jail guard came in and slid the door open. “Blondie, come with me.”
It wasn’t Wednesday. Keeping track of time was hard here, but I thought it was still Monday. “Is my d—attorney here?” I forgot my dad told me not to mention who he was in case I got bunked with someone whose case he hadn’t won.
She shook her head. “No, but you need to come with me.”
They’re throwing me back in the black hole. “What did I do?”
“Nothing. Quit wasting time. Come on.”
“But where are we going?”
“Blondie, you’re wasting my time. If you don’t come on, I’ll lock the gate.”
I sighed and followed her out of my cell. I wasn’t sure I should. I wasn’t convinced we weren’t going back to the black hole. But I’d take my chances.
She took me to an office area. “You can’t take that home. It’s owned by the tax payers. You can change in that room.” She pointed to the right. “State your first and last name, please.”
She flipped the keys on her giant metal ring around and unlocked a desk drawer. She pilfered though it like she was going through a filing cabinet for a minute then pulled out a gallon Ziploc bag. Through the clear plastic, I saw my purple mini skirt and purple sequin top. I was so happy.
She handed me my clothes and flip-flops. “You’ll have to pick up everything else after you’ve changed. We have to go through the catalogue.”
I changed out of the smelly, oversized prison stripes and into my clothes as quickly as possible. I’d been wearing used jail flops for almost a week, and it had been days since I’d showered. These used to be my favorite flip-flops, but I knew when I slid my feet into them, they’d be tossed as soon as I got home. I folded the jail clothes and returned to the desk where I handed them to the guard. My purse, a couple of bracelets, and my keys sat on the desk.
“Does this look right?” she asked.
“Where is my phone?”
She checked a log in front of her. When she looked up, she turned up her nose. “I don’t see a phone listed.”
“Oh, yeah right. I haven’t gone anywhere without my phone since I was twelve.”
“Sorry.” Her smile said she wasn’t sorry at all.
“I want my phone.”
Her smile grew wider. “Management isn’t responsible for lost or stolen property.”
“Even when they stole it?”
The smile fell off her face. “Good luck proving it, crook.”
“You wanna be locked up again?”
“For calling a spade a spade? Yeah, right.”
She rolled her eyes as she got up to unlock the door. I opened it expecting to find my dad or Jackson or maybe even both waiting for me. Instead, Abrahem leaned against the wall, arms crossed, eyes glued to the door. His gaze connected to mine, and he bounded forward with a smile on his face.
All the doubts I had about our relationship temporarily evaporated as I crashed into his solid chest. His arms encompassed me the way they had in the courtroom. His lips found mine and for a moment, it was like that fight had never happened. Like I was blissfully unaware of how little I mattered to him.
“Ya’ll need to take it outside,” the guard said.
He pulled away from me and waved to her. Then looked at me with an intensity in his eyes, I’d only seen a couple of times before. “Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
I shook my head. “I’m fine. I’m ready to get out of here, but I’m fine.”
“Let’s get you home.” He turned out from me so he could walk but left one arm hooked around my waist and guided me out the door.
When I put my hand on the passenger side door to open it, he put his hand on the frame of the door to keep me from opening it. “Wait,” he whispered. He leaned in and kissed me again. I could have stayed like that forever, but I was gross. I pulled away from him. “Babe, I need a shower then you can kiss me as much as you want.” Although, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea.
“I haven’t seen you in—”
I tightened my arms around his waist. “I know.”
He looked pained, but he exhaled and moved away from me.
In the car, he put his hand on the console, and when I didn’t pick it up immediately, he took my hand in his.
We were halfway to Killeen before either of us said anything; then he spoke. “Kailee, I’m not going to lose you. I—I can’t. It won’t happen.”
The urgency in his words said more than the words. I sighed because I knew what he meant. The emotions weren’t so high because he hadn’t seen me in a week, but because before we were separated it already hadn’t seemed like we were going to make it. It didn’t exactly surprise me that he would be the one to rescue me from that hell, but seeing him there, that kiss and the one at the car, my hand in his, all of it had been bittersweet. Beautiful for the moment, but I prayed it would last.
I turned to look at him. “Abe, I love you. You know that, but I don’t know how serious you are, and I won’t be a game. You’re the one who told me I shouldn’t be.”
He cleared his throat. “Do I seem like the kind of guy to play a game to you?”
“I didn’t think so.” Until I realized we were planning on moving away together and your mama didn’t even know you were dating someone.
He parked in my driveway, and I’d never been so happy to see home before. As we went up the steps on the porch, I noticed something sticking out of the mailbox beside the door. It was a large green and white envelope. I grabbed it and saw it had my name on it, and it was from UNT. I ripped it open and studied it for a second. It wasn’t bad news, but it wasn’t good news.
“What is it?”
“UNT—I got accepted to the school, but to get into the fashion design program I have to send a portfolio.”
“So do it.”
I looked at him. “I don’t have a portfolio.”
“Yes, you do.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Carissa’scollection.blogspot.com. And Carissa is currently in Paris at a fashion show.”
I laughed. “Are you serious? How did you come up with that?”
“I looked at a couple of other blogs while fabricating your story.”
“Thank you. I never thought of my blog as a portfolio. I thought they’d want drawings.”
He shrugged. “Send your blog posts, and if they ask for drawings, send drawings then.”
Sneaky. I liked it.
I pushed the front door open, and Abe followed me in. Jackson sat on the couch eating a sandwich. “When did you get out?” He set his sandwich down.
“Like long enough ago to drive here.”
“Sorry if you called. I lost my phone.”
“That’s too bad,” Abe said. His voice had never been so rough. What happened while I was gone? They looked friendly at court.
“Damn, dude. What’s wrong with you?” Jackson said.
“Bad case of indigestion.” Abe glared at him.
Okay. I didn’t know where things had gone downhill, but I wasn’t going to let it continue. I turned and laid my head on Abe’s shoulder. “Let’s go to my room. I need a shower, and you can wait there.”
He nodded and that surprised me as much as anything. After Jackson found us in my bed that day, Abe had asked for permission to be alone with me, leave the house with me, anything really.
As we walked up the stairs I asked, “You’re different. What happened?”
He shrugged. “My girl—umm my—you were arrested.” By the way he stammered through that, he didn’t know where we stood anymore either. “And my sister ran away to Mexico and eloped.”
“They got married?”
“Wow! You never mentioned it.”
He shrugged. “I—I had to do whatever I could for you. That’s what was important. Mirriam caused her own problem, and I hope it works out for her. But you needed me, and I wasn’t going to let you down.”
“I love you.” After what he said, it hardly seemed adequate, but I had to say it.
“Are you still angry?”
“I don’t know that I was ever angry. More like heartbroken—”
“But I love you—”
“Can we talk about it after I get out of the shower?”
He sighed. “I’m supposed to say yes, but I don’t want to.”
I laughed. “I like that answer. We’ll talk later. I promise.”
I washed my hair two or three times before using conditioner, and I enjoyed my lavender body wash. I stood under the hot water until it ran cold then took forever blow drying my hair. Abe was waiting for me, and he wanted to talk. I wasn’t putting him off, but I hadn’t had a blow dryer in a week. My hair was a mess. This really was a necessity. I got dressed and went back to my room.
He lay on my bed with a pillow propped under his head, and he looked so good. When I came through the door, he looked up at me and smiled. My stomach growled, and I wanted to shove every carb and calorie I’d avoided in my life down my throat. But Abe wanted to talk, and he was right. We needed to.
He laughed. “Did they not feed you in there?”
I smiled, but I didn’t know what to say.
He stood up. “Let’s get a pizza.”
“Don’t you want to talk?”
He nodded. “I want to hear you say we’re okay, but I’ll feed you first.”
“Abe, I won’t say it unless it’s true.”
“So we’re not okay?”
“I want to be.”
“I do, too.”
“Pizza can wait. I’ll go downstairs and grab a sandwich. Then we can talk.” Or kiss. Kissing was good, too.
Abe followed me out the door.
I giggled. “You’re coming with me to make a sandwich?”
“You’ve been away from me too much lately.”
I could forget about everything that had happened and kiss him now. But we only made it to the bottom of the stairwell when someone knocked on the front door. Jackson opened the door and those damn cops that had been harassing me all this time slapped handcuffs on him.
“What?” I screamed.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Jackson asked.
“Jackson Hill, you’re under arrest,” McGarrett said.