Chapter 11:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 110

Leah met them at the door as they arrived.
‘I was wondering where you’d gotten to,’ she said, laughing. ‘I was actually going to give you another ten minutes before I rang to make sure you hadn’t gotten lost or something.’
Kara smiled, ‘Sorry, my cousin showed up and then your son here was looking at my photos so I had to explain who everyone was to him.’
Kara laughed her light, airy laugh. The sound of it and the obvious ease that she found around his mother made Corey smile.
She’s so sweet, Leah thought, I'm glad she seems to like it here. We’ll have to make her feel welcome.
‘Are you guys still up for a movie? I might have found a block of chocolate. And I swear,’ Leah looked at Kara with an enormous grin on her face. ‘If you turn down chocolate you had better get out of this house right now!’
Kara laughed, ‘Well it’s been nice but I guess I should be going now…’
The three of them laughed. Kara put down her overnight bag and shoved her jacket on top of it, noticing the difference in temperature between inside and outside.
‘Why don’t I get the chocolate,’ Corey said. ‘And you girls can go choose a movie. But nothing too mushy, okay?’
‘Hmm,’ Kara glanced at Leah, trying very hard to keep a straight face. ‘So, what’s the mushiest movie you own?’
‘Well…’ Leah and Kara headed towards the main lounge room.
Corey stood in the hallway for a moment. He watched as his mother and his girlfriend walked down the hall laughing. It was strange but then it was nice. He liked that they felt comfortable with one another already. Corey shrugged off his jacket, hanging it on a hook before heading to the kitchen. He took out a small bowl and got a block of Dairy Milk chocolate out of the fridge and broke it up.
Suddenly he heard a cry of, ‘Oh my gosh I love that movie!’ come from the living room. He laughed as his mum replied, ‘I know. It’s one of my favourites too!’ Corey picked up the bowl and walked into the lounge room.
‘I guess if you both like it I'm going to hate it then,’ Corey laughed.
‘Oh, come one. It’s just…’ Kara pulled a DVD case dramatically from behind her back. ‘A Cinderella Story!’
Corey groaned and slumped down on the floor next to her, ‘This is going to be the worst hour and a half of my life.’
‘We’ll see,’ was all his mother said as she took up her position on the couch.
Kara laughed, ‘Let’s start the movie already.’
Corey sighed and stood up. He flicked the light switch by the arched entrance to the room and pushed play on the DVD player. He then resumed his seat next to Kara and glanced quickly at his mother. She raised her eyebrows at him, smiled and looked back to the television screen.
The movie played out before him, a story of a girl who lost first her mother and then her father, living with her step mother and two step sisters, the way that the main character found strength in herself to keep going when everything fell down around her feet. He cringed as the movie ended in the typical chick flick way with the girl and her crush ending up together. It was so stereotypical he almost laughed. Or at least, he almost laughed until he looked over and saw both his mum’s and Kara’s eyes glazing over as they watched the final scene.
The end credits rolled and both of the girls sat up and yawned.
‘Well,’ Leah yawned. ‘That was good. If you kids want to watch another movie do that upstairs. I think I’ll clean up and go to bed.’
Corey laughed and poked his tongue out at Kara as his mother left the room, ‘I so get to choose this time.’
Kara shrugged, ‘Do what you want. I don’t care.’
Corey half groaned half laughed at the pout on her face. ‘Fine, Fine,’ he said. ‘Help me choose.’
* * *
Leah walked to the kitchen, smiling as she listened to the continuous stream of chatter coming from the living room as her son and his girlfriend chose a movie. As she placed a stack of dishes into the dishwasher she sighed and couldn’t help wondering whether her husband would actually be coming home from the office tonight or not.
As the noise retreated up stairs she glanced around guiltily and picked up the phone. She knew better than to call Jeff at the office. He didn’t like his work being interrupted.
Well, Leah reasoned, sometimes I need to know and if he doesn’t tell me then I need to find out.
In some ways Leah could relate to Kara. She hadn’t seen Jeff in weeks. Even back when she’d married him four years before she’d know that his work meant a lot to him but she hadn’t realised just how much until later. Now she was lucky if she saw him once a month. Friday nights used to be their nights. The kids were at their Dad’s and there was nothing else to worry about.
No, I need to know; Leah thought and pressed the call button on the phone.
Suddenly there was a noise at the door. Leah jumped a mile and the phone fell to the ground. She took a deep breath and walked to the front door just as it opened. As much as she wanted to be angry at him, for never calling and never being there, Leah couldn’t help but smile as Jeff walked through the door. He placed his briefcase by the jacket rack and hung his jacket up. Jeff stepped forward, tilting his head on the side and looking at her with his sorry eyes.
‘Did you miss me?’ he asked and she crumpled into his arms in tears. Jeff ran his fingers gently through her hair and pulled her up to face him. He wiped her eyes and pulled her into a long, deep kiss.
‘My bag’s still downstairs,’ came a voice upstairs.
‘I’ll come with you. We can grab a drink and then start the movie.’
Jeff raised his eyebrows, ‘Corey got friends?’
Leah headed into the kitchen, ‘Sort of.’
* * *
Kara and Corey came down the stairs and into the hallway. Corey stopped by the front door, slightly confused.
‘Jeff must be home,’ he murmured.
Kara looked at him in confusion, ‘Jeff? Who’s Jeff?’
‘My step dad. I guess he must be home. His stuff is here now but it wasn’t before. Come on lets go grab a bottle of soft drink and head back upstairs,’ Corey picked up her bag and walked towards the kitchen.
Kara followed Corey into the kitchen to see a middle-aged man sitting at the kitchen table. He looked up as they entered the kitchen.
‘Corey, how’s things mate? I hear you have friends,’ the man spotted Kara by the doorway and raised his eyebrows at Leah. ‘Girls?’
‘A girl. My girl,’ Corey corrected him. ‘Jeff this is Kara. Kara this is my step father, Jeff.’
‘Hi Mr Richards,’ Kara walked further into the kitchen and sat at a kitchen stool while Corey answered questions about school. He took a bottle of Sunkist from the fridge and two glasses from the cabinet.
‘Well,’ Corey said. ‘We’ve really got to get going if we want to watch a movie so I guess we’ll catch you in the morning if you haven’t left yet.’
Jeff smiled, ‘The early bird catches the worm, son.’
‘Well, I guess I’ll see you after work then. Have a good day tomorrow,’ Corey picked up the stuff, kissed his mother on the cheek and led Kara out the door.
Half way up the stairs she insisted on carrying her own bag and he finally gave in. They climbed stair after stair until they had reached Corey’s hideaway at the top of the house.
He smiled at her ‘Sorry about all this. I guess it’s been a much more eventful night than planned huh? Dump your stuff anywhere.’
‘Nah it’s okay. It’s been fun and distracting. Just the night I needed. At least I can collapse and just die when you’re here,’ she smiled at him and put her bag down next to the computer desk.
As Corey bent over the DVD player Kara glanced at the computer screen. Corey had left it logged on to MSN. A menu flashed at the bottom of the screen

Kara clicked the close button on the window and shutdown the computer, it wasn’t worth wasting the energy.
Corey bent over the DVD player again and started the movie. He sat down at one end of the couch and poured two glasses of Sunkist.
Kara watched him and walked over to where he sat on the couch. Whatever the movie was she didn’t care. She sat next to him, watching him out of the corner of her eye. Corey looked over at her about ten minutes into the movie. He slid his arm around her waist, drawing her closer. She moved so that she was laying on his lap, her head on his arm that was on the armrest. Kara sighed as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in tighter, closer to him.
‘You know,’ she said. ‘I love it here. It’s the most at home I’ve ever felt.’
‘Mmm,’ he said. ‘I'm so happy you get along with my mum.’
‘Well,’ Kara wrapped her arms loosely around him as she spoke. ‘She’s kind of hard not to like. But I'm glad.’
Corey turned his eyes back to the movie for a moment before looking down at Kara.
He couldn’t help love everything about her, everything about this moment with her. Everything was perfect. He saw her eyes, bright and blue containing less pain than they ever had before. He felt her head against his chest, slowly rising and falling with his steady breathing. He felt her arms looped around his neck, the soft, warm hands gently rubbing his neck and fiddling with the ends of his hair. He could feel her soft red-brown hair falling gently across his arms as he held her close. Slowly she let her arms fall from his neck, running down his chest before falling into her lap as she turned to face the TV again.
The movie was alright. Not exactly Kara’s cup of tea but it was okay. The sort of movie she would once watch with her brother – or at least before the twins came along. Deep in her heart she knew that while she probably shouldn’t be there, this was the most at home she’d felt in such a long time. It was about this time that her mind set changed. She was no longer afraid to go home as such, but rather afraid to continue living the life that had been laid out for her, the life she’d been forced to live. Two years, she thought, two years until they’ll be home. But by that time I’ll be nineteen. By that time I’ll be free.
Kara gazed up at Corey again. She loved they way she felt in his arms, like everything was perfect, like she could take on the world. She felt safe, secure, brave and best of all she felt home. Gazing at his face she noticed a lot; the hazel colouring of his eyes, much bluer than they had been that morning, the rich dimples in his cheeks when he smiled, the way he subconsciously raised his hand to his hair and pushed it back so that it wasn’t in his face but rather sticking up.
Leaning down so his lips were next to her ear Corey whispered, ‘You look so hot right now…’
She turned her head to look at him and smiled. Then shook her head and laughed slightly. Kara didn’t know who he was seeing but obviously it was someone completely different to the person who stared back at her whenever she looked in the mirror.
He turned his head slightly, his lips were right there, right next to hers. So close that she could move her head two centimetres and she would be close enough to kiss him. He ran his hands in slow circles along her back and she leaned closer into him placing her hands on his chest, feeling the strong beat of his heart.
Kara took a deep breath and allowed her eyes to slowly fall closed. Corey was so close now that she could feel his lips lightly brush against the edge of hers. Suddenly he turned his head back towards her ear.
‘I think Mum’s coming upstairs,’ he whispered letting her fall back to his lap.
‘Fine then, I'm asleep,’ Kara said and closed her eyes again. She sighed and shifted slightly as she heard feet on the stairs. Corey put an arm around her stomach and pulled her in close as his mother’s head became visible at the top of the stairs. Seeing her he moved a finger to his lips to indicate to be quiet. She came up the stairs and crouched beside the couch.
‘Everything alright? Is she asleep?’ Leah whispered.
Corey simply nodded.
‘Well,’ Leah continued. ‘I'm going to head to bed. Will you guys be alright?’
Corey nodded again and leaned over to kiss his mum goodnight.
‘Sleep well,’ Leah said and headed back downstairs.
Corey waited a moment before saying, ‘She’s gone, you realise.’
‘I'm asleep, you realise,’ Kara said sitting up and yawning.
Kara sat there watching him for a moment until she saw a smile creeping across his lips. She couldn’t hold it back any longer. She laughed. She laughed and laughed and in the end Corey ended up laughing as well. Watching her laugh, watching the outrageous smile on her face he couldn’t help but be happy. He pulled her close as her laughter subsided.
‘I love you, you know that?’ He said as he fiddled with her hair. ‘I love it when you laugh.’
Suddenly Kara’s phone rang again.
The loud ring filled the room as she quickly grabbed it and pressed the answer button.
‘Hello?’ she was strangely full of panic, not that it was likely anything was wrong but why would someone be calling her at half past twelve?
‘Kara?’ the voice on the end sounded strangled and full of emotion.
‘Erik? Erik? You there? What’s going on? It freaking late, couldn’t it wait til the morning?’ Kara stifled a yawn and ran her fingers through her hair, pushing the knotted and tangled mass off her face.
‘Are you okay? I’ve been calling your house for the past two hours; I drove past and rang the door bell five times. Where are you?’ Erik sounded genuinely concerned.
Kara sighed, ‘I'm fine. I promise I'm okay. I got home fine and had a phone call. I'm at a friend’s house for the night. Now while I appreciate you calling and all we’d like to get back to our movie.’
Erik sounded slightly wounded, ‘You aren’t at Corey’s are you? I don’t know what you see in him. He’s a bad influence on you.’
‘Look. No I'm not,’ Kara said, ignoring both the relieved sigh from the other end of the line and her conscience telling her off for lying to Erik. ‘But still who says it’s up to you to decide who I can and can’t like? Since when do you control who I hang out with? Look I don’t have time. I’ll see you Sunday.’
‘But Kara-’ Erik tried to interrupt.
‘I don’t want to hear it Erik. Not now. I'm too tired and it’s too late.’ With that Kara hung up the phone and crumpled in Corey’s arms. She screwed herself up into the smallest, tightest ball she could force herself into and curled up into him, needing to be as close as she could.
Corey seemed to sense this. He knew she needed him. He pulled her in towards him, safe and close. His arms surrounded her and his hands gently ran through her hair and down her back. He needed to feel her close, like if she was near enough he could protect her, keep her safe from anything, everything that could ever harm her. He just wasn’t exactly sure of the best way to keep her safe right now. At the moment he was just grateful that she came to him, that he could hold her, care for her, love her and that she trusted him enough to let him close. He felt a faint dampness on the front of his shirt as she wept quietly in his arms.
‘Shhhh,’ he said soothingly. ‘Hush now. It’s okay.’
Slowly as both the movie and her tears came to an end Kara sat up, exhausted and incredibly dishevelled. Her eyes were red and puffy, her hair was a knotted mess that fell across her face, her hands shook violently.
‘I can’t anymore…’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t keep pretending everything will get better. Right now you are it. You are all I have. You are the only good thing in my life. Promise me you’ll never leave me. Promise me. Promise me.’
She was hysterical. Corey was pained to see her like this, it was heart-wrenching.
‘Shhhh,’ he said, pulling her close again. ‘I'm not going anywhere.’

Submitted: October 15, 2009

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