|So You can be Mine
Author: Birgitta Snyder PM
It's not easy being the new kid, just ask Cara. Especially when your mother is an alcoholic, your father is always gone, and the Reverend w the local church wants you to join despite of you being an atheist. When Cara gets in trouble and has to do community service at the church, Cara is thrown together with River, the Reverend's serious & odd sonRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 8 - Words: 23,166 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 12-13-12 - Published: 08-31-12 - id: 3054715
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
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Remember the Rules, Cara!
"What are you doing here? I don't…"
I hold up my hand, stopping him. "I know. You don't need me. Please, can I just…" I wait to see if he is going to tell me to leave and chase me out. He doesn't say anything or move so I dare to continue. "River, I am so sorry. You were right on everything. We are friends… were friends… and I am selfish and conceited. Just call me Scarlett. But, I'd like to make things right. How can I make it right? I'll do anything. I'll say hi in the hallway, I'll wave in the cafeteria, whatever you want, just… forgive me… please. Everything has fallen apart since I lost you."
He says nothing, simple stares, and the nausea returns. I shift my stance, widening my legs, yet it too late. Unable to stable myself, I sway and nearly fall. Strong steady arms grab me and hold me upright… River.
"Hey, are you alright? Here, sit down."
River leads me to a chair, my usual math chair, and I sit down heavily. "Thank you."
River shakes it off, apparently uncomfortable by my gratitude or closeness, and takes the chair next to me. His usual seat is the one across so I am rather shocked. Concerned, he evaluates me before rising and heading off to the back. A minute or so later, he returns with a glass of ice water. With gratefulness, I accept it and take a big gulp. The dizziness is part due to dehydration.
"I've been throwing up," I croak, my throat still dry, and I take another swig.
River nods as he watches me. "I saw you leave at lunch. I wanted to follow you but I didn't think you would want me to."
"That would have been ok. I would have like that."
A small smile across his lips and my heart lifts. It has been days since I've seen it, since I ruined it all. I've missed this side of him. If he has forgiven me already, I am not surprised. And, it has nothing to do with me. River is a good person; that is why he has so easily brushed aside my horrible behavior.
"You should go home if you are not feeling good, Cara. You should rest. I'll drive you if you want me to."
He is so sweet but… "I don't want to go home. Not yet. I can't face her."
The confession is on the horizon. I am sharing with River like I have never shared with anyone. It isn't easy. There have been too many years living in silence and secrecy. My foot begins to showcase my inner struggle by shaking under the table.
River places a hand over my knee to steady my leg and I freeze by the feel of his touch. "Hey, what's going on? Why can't you go home?"
Preparing to tell him, I exhale slowly to even my voice. "When I pulled up earlier, coming home, my dad's car was in our driveway."
River smiles widely, not understanding yet. "That's good, right? He's back home again?"
I shake my head. "No, River. Not home. He was only there to collect his things. He's leaving us. He's divorcing my mom."
Smile gone. "I'm so sorry."
It's exactly what I needed to hear to continue. "I don't know if my mom knows. And I'm scared, River. I'm scared that she is going to go back to drinking and neglecting me. I can't lose them both. I can't make it alone."
"You'll never be alone, Cara."
His hand comes up to cradle the back of my head and he leans me into his shoulder. Accepting his strength and support, I surrender myself to him. It feels good to completely let go and allow myself to crumble, if only for a little while. This is what I had hoped for with Joey, for him to be my rock, but he had not provided what I needed. He had not understood.
With tears falling and nose running, I pull away embarrassed. "Sorry, your shirt," I say and point to a wet spot on his shoulder. Roughly and unladylike, I wipe off the wetness on my face. "Thank you… for this… and for forgiving me."
"There's nothing to forgive," he answers with chivalry. He chuckles, now the embarrassed one. "I was acting childish and yes, I threw a fit. It was wrong of me to put you in that position. So, I'm sorry too."
I'm able to offer him a smile since my insides are starting to stable. From my bag, I pull out a package of crackers and I begin to nibble carefully. River gets up to finish up his work, giving me time to check my messages. There are several from Joey, which I ignore, and one from mom. I click it, my finger trembling, and her text brings tears to my eyes again; 'Everything is going to be alright, honey.'
I exhale and the world clears. Mom is right; it is going to be alright. After putting away the cell, I join River to see if he needs any help. He shakes his head at me and points to the chair. With a scowl, I give in and follow his advice. Instead, I pull out the test result and lay it on the table.
"So, how did it go?" River sits down next to me again and gives my test a tap with his pointer. Our eyes meet and he knows. "You didn't look?" He nods his head, again understanding. He just gets me. "Ok, so can I look?"
I shrug, pretending to be indifferent, but I hold my breath. My insides clamp up as I watch him unfold the paper stack. He frowns as he reads, biting his side bottom inner lip, and I cringe. It is not good.
"D-," he reveals and show me the dreaded letter circled and written in red. I lean my face into my palms in shame. "Hey," he says, places a hand on my one shoulder, and I dare to raise my head. His voice is cheery and full of hope. "It's a step back, but no problem. Next week, we'll move a step forward again and the next week…"
"So, you're still going to tutor me?"
He stops, removes his hand, and tilts his head to the side. "Yeah," he answers hesitantly. A tiny smile as he points at the test, insinuating. "You need it and we're friends… right?"
"Right," I agree and I like saying it.
He laughs and I narrow my eyes at him, causing him to laugh louder. "Don't get mad but…" I fake a growl, increasing his amusement. "… can I ask what happen." He stops to open the test to the third page and point at a question. I can tell that math really excites him for his breathing has picked up and he is squirming in the seat. "Like here, right here, we went over this. You had this. You knew it. What happened?"
I shrug, half embarrassed by my own math stupidity and half captivated by his excitement over math. "I don't know. It just made sense when you explained it. Without you, everything just fell apart. I guess I need you."
He freezes, his breathing faltering briefly, and our eyes lock. I smile, encouragingly, but he doesn't smile back. For some reason, his deep brown has a way of drawing me in, holding me, seizing me… especially now since he has contacts.
Contacts! He has contacts now, I recall, and also recall how he shut me down last night I asked about it. It's because he was mad at me. Now, we are back to being friends and I can ask him.
"Seriously," I start and grin. He blinks, returning to reality and out of his dream state. "Did you get contact because of what I said, because I thought they were ugly?" I demand to know, pushing him up against a wall. He gets ready to speak and I hurry to remind me. "Don't lie. We are in church, after all."
His mouth pops open, taken aback, and I can also hear the wheels turning and his mind debating.
'Had he almost lied, and in church? Whatever would his mother have said?'
He looks down, at his hands which are tightly knit and grinding nervously. "I had never given contacts a try. And when you said… Then, I try them and they felt ok. So, I thought… Anyway…"
"Well you look great, River. Hot almost." Not sure why I said the last. Maybe it was just to mess with him… or maybe because it is the truth. "So, you do care about outer beauty and the use of accessories. Guess I'm not the only one who is conceited."
No comment except for another apology for something I've already forgiven him for. "I'm sorry I called you selfish and conceited. You're not."
I shrug, disagreeing and deeming it not the end of the world. "Yeah, I am. Just call my Scarlett."
He holds up a hand, asking for an explanation. "You said that before too, when you were apologizing. What does that mean 'call me Scarlett?' Who is Scarlett?"
Flabbergasted I take back me proclaiming him a genius. "Scarlett! Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. Duh!" I laugh, feeling rather smug actually.
He rolls his eyes at me. "You are no Scarlett."
"I am. I was being a total bitch to you," I admit.
"You were not and don't curse in church."
'Is he serious?'
I laugh out loud and my astonished glee bounces around the open space. "Bitch is not a curse word, River. It is a female dog or an ill-mannered female, or an ill-mannered female dog." He shakes his head at me, deeming me impossible. I somewhat agree with this. "I am Scarlett!" I settle once more, leaving no room for argument. "… And, you are my Brett," I boldly add, also indisputably. His face drains of all humor which I decide to ignore and continue. "Except you accepted my apology and wasn't all like 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn'. Thank you for that." He is still staring, looking rather shocked. "What? What did I say?"
He swallows hard and then gets up to move to the chair across. "You do remember the rules… don't you… for us?" He inquires and points to the two of us. I showcase my confusion and he specifies. "I can never be your Brett. We can talk, hang out, study math… but that is it."
I evaluate him, study him as he sits there looking all pale and wide-eyed. "We just became friends again. Slow down!" I joke but somehow it doesn't come off as funny. This is real and serious… and for some reason… really pissing me off. "Why? I demand to know, out of interest and because I am irritated with his obvious line drawn.
He squirms, his hands once again claiming his attention. "This is an old town, Cara. Old traditions still holds here and things are done by the old ways. We are to behave a certain way, especially around girls. For instance, my mother would have been here if she had known you would show up. She thinks you are all done here and I'd be lying if I said she was saddened by this."
I am not shocked by any means. His mother has clearly shown how she feels about me.
"Cara, I am not allowed to have interaction until I marry."
My mouth falls open. "Are you saying that you're a virgin?"
"Yes… aren't you?" The concern in his face, voice, and entire body language is obvious.
For a moment, I consider answering him differently but then I dismiss my gut and say what I normally say. "Of course not!"
I nods, slowly, settling whatever his mind was battling. "Then that's another reason why it could never be."
"Never be what?" I ask, not quite following.
I see sadness and defeat. "Never mind. It doesn't matter, Cara. So are you busy this weekend or are you going out?"
I know where he is headed with this one. "Is this your way of asking if I am going on a date with Joey?" He doesn't answer but he doesn't need to. On this subject, he is an open book. "I was supposed to," I share and pick up my cell. I hold it up and push to the numerous unanswered texts. "He is pissed at me because I hung up in his ear and have ignored his messages for hours."
River displays a small smile and seems happy with this. "Why did you hang up on him?"
"Cause he didn't understand like you did. He didn't say what I needed to hear like you did. While you did everything right, he was an ass."
"Don't curse in church, Cara," he scolds me, yet I can tell that he is pleased with my response.
I roll my eyes at him like a typical rebellious teenager and correct him. "Ass is not a curse word, River. It is a donkey or a backside, or a donkey's backside."
He sighs and throws his hands up in the air. "You are impossible."
'You have no idea,' I warm him in my head.
I don't know what is going on with River and this non-interaction thing, but I do know one thing. I have never been very good about playing by the rules. Forbidden fruit has always been my weakness and River has just declared himself forbidden fruit.
'… remember the rules…" River words echo in my head, increasing my curiosity and the naughty rebel in me.