Chapter 11: I Can't Believe That
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
~ Carl Jung
I had never been kissed before. It felt magical…beautiful…soft. It was everything wonderful combined into the one simple action. I had thought about kissing, dreamt about it occasionally, but not thought nor dreaming could ever compare to the way it felt to have my lips melting against Shad's. No amount of back rubbing or hugs could overpower the kiss. The butterflies in my stomach had come out to play and it felt as though I had put hot cayenne pepper on my lips, the way they felt like they were on fire.
I was surprised by the kiss so I gasped, allowing Shad to do something even more amazing—his tongue entered my mouth and we began a tango. My arms, somehow knowing more than I did, automatically reached up and encircled Shad's neck, playing with his shaggy hair, feeling its softness.
Though Shad was careful with touching me before, he tossed that all away. That's not to say he wasn't gentle—Shad always handled me with the same care he'd give his most precious possession—but he was more passionate…more lively. I wasn't used to this new Shad—and I loved it. His hands ran up and down my back, playing with my hair. It was an amazing sensation to be touched in such gentle, yet animated ways. My back tingled wherever he touched.
I ran my hands down Shad's back and up his chest and felt him grin into the kiss. He pulled me up against him even closer and it seemed like our bodies became one.
I felt like an alcoholic who'd been in withdrawal for months and was now finally getting to drink again.
We broke apart—mostly for air—though Shad's arms held us tightly together.
I stared at Shad and his huge smile. I couldn't help grinning either.
"Um…wow…" I breathed out.
"Wow," Shad agreed.
I suddenly became aware of the noticeable empty room. "Where'd everyone go?" I asked, looking over Shad's shoulder.
Shad gave me a suggestive look. "They decided to give us some privacy."
His words made my lips tingle with excitement.
Shad brought me closer again and resumed painting my lips with his. It was odd—I had no clue how to kiss but my body seemed to know more than my mind did. Somehow I was able to kiss Shad back which made him grin, as I felt his lips move upwards.
Suddenly my conscience rolled into view and I broke the kiss rather abruptly. Shad looked confused, but did not let me break the embrace. I guess he felt that I'd stepped away from him too many times already.
I explained, "I-I don't know if I'm ready for a…relationship."
Shad paused. "And why is that?" A simple question, no anger or suspicion behind the words at all.
I stared into Shad's blue eyes. Eyes the colour of blue ice, and yet eyes that could melt my heart. "I've never had a boyfriend," I admitted, "so I don't know…relationship-things."
Shad raised an eyebrow. "And what exactly are 'relationship-things'?"
"You know—kissing and stuff."
Shad smirked slightly. "Judging by your kissing, you know everything about 'relationship-things'."
I blushed. "Seriously Shad. I don't know the rules. The relationship rules. I can make things awkward. I…I look like a kid—"
"Sarah," Shad cut me off, "why in the world do you doubt yourself? Haven't we been over this? I don't care if you make things awkward. I can break anything uncomfortable with one push. And there's no such thing as a 'relationship book'. In reality we all make what we want of our relationships. There might be books out there that tell us 'this is what the most romantic, loving relationships are doing', but in truth, we are the judge of our own fortune.
As for looking like a kid—I'd argue the opposite. Sure we pretended you were Anna that one time at the park, but even they doubted you. And what does that have to do with anything? Kids are cute." He smiled at me.
I couldn't help but smile back. "Sorry. I guess I am just a little doubtful. I mean, I never get anything. It's so odd, these feelings inside. I used to feel empty, almost like there was nothing in the world to live for—no point of existing. But recently the hole's been filled up. I almost feel like…fighting. I've never felt that way."
Shad brushed my hair, sending tingling sensations through my scalp. "Maybe it's because you believe in yourself. You don't believe your dad's words."
"So Sarah, don't you think our relationship will be good for both of us?" He took my hands. "Like you said—you've never felt this way before—well I can say the same."
My eyes locked with his.
"I may have had many girlfriends, but I can tell you that none of them deserve love. None of them cared about anything other than looks and status. None of them have the freshness, and innocence and beauty you have. They only wanted three things—money, looks, and power. That's what I love about you. You go for the pages, not the cover."
Love about you…
"You've convinced me," I said, unable to look away from his penetrating stare. "But Shad, if we're going to go out, there's a few things I think I should know. Some times you haven't explained and this time, I don't want any secrets."
Shad sighed, but in a way that showed he expected these questions. "Okay, what do you want to know?"
"I want to know exactly how you met Caleb. I know you tried to find us and tracked us down and all that, but I want to know your exact first meeting with Caleb."
Shad nodded and let me go—leaving me feeling rather cold—took my hand and led me into the same common room I'd been in with Ivan, not a moment earlier. It was conveniently empty.
"Alright, this may take some time." Shad plopped on the couch, pulling me down onto his chest.
I nestled into his body, quite content with the contact I was receiving. Again it was such a change from my father's usual brutish manners.
"I owe my life to Caleb. The day I met him was the day he saved me."
I almost fell off the couch in surprise. Caleb had never told me this.
"Let me start at the beginning. I was having trouble tracking you guys. I wasn't making any progress. I had no idea where Joseph White had his gang hiding, and I knew that wherever he was living, so were his children. Both our families pushed the children into the shadows, believing they were unimportant to the fight. I guess they thought they would end it before we all grew up.
"Of course, it didn't, but both families knew nothing of each other's children and whether they were a threat or not. Your dad didn't think much of me, Alice, Vance, and Susan until recently. He knows something's up and I know he's scared.
"Anyway, I was in this area one day—not actually looking for you guys. I was trying to find an ice cream store because I'd just taken Anna to the park. I don't even know why I was in the alleyway in the first place, but one moment I was smiling at my sister, the next the light from the street up ahead was blocked off and a guy dressed in blue stood there, gun in hand, pointing it at me. I stood paralyzed, not daring to move. I don't know who he was, but he sure knew me. He said, 'Now I've got you Derek Sauveur. I know exactly who you are and what you're trying to do. You're a threat, I know it. I'm sorry, but I'm going to kill you now…' I cringed in anticipation of the gun shot—and it came, but not as I suspected. The guy fell to reveal Caleb, gun in hand. He was staring intently at the gun, eyes a little crazy. I think he couldn't believe what he did. But he saved me Sarah."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Caleb saved Shad? Caleb killed someone?! That was even harder to believe. My brother always seemed much weaker than that. But if you never give someone a chance to shine, they never will.
"So what happened?" I asked. "How did you find out he was the Caleb you were looking for?"
"He just saved Anna and I. Of course I was going to go over and thank the guy. He seemed dazed though. All my thanks didn't even faze him—he just kept staring at the guy like he had been possessed. Finally I looked him in the eye and asked, 'What's your name?' He took his eyes off the gun and stared at me. "Caleb," he said. "Caleb White."
Shad stared in shock at him. "Caleb White – son of Joseph White?"
For a minute Caleb forgot about the gun. "That's my dad's name. How do you know who I am?"
"I've been looking for you and your sister."
Caleb now looked scared. "Are you going to kill us?!" He asked frantically.
Shad put his hand on Caleb's arm – which proved to be the wrong thing to do since Caleb clearly did not like to be touched, as he wrenched his arm away from Shad.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Shad gave him the most reassuring look he could. "I'm sorry! I don't want to hurt you at all! You don't understand. I'm not here to kill you. I'm here to help."
"Help?" The word sounded foreign on Caleb's tongue. Almost like he'd never heard the word before, let alone understood what it meant.
"Yes," Shad said. "I want to offer you help. I want to offer you a place where you can live safely, away from your father and everything he's put on you. I want to offer you an escape."
Caleb turned around and walked away.
Shad stared at him for a moment. Then he followed him. After five minutes, they were on the street. "Where are you going?" Shad asked him.
Caleb stopped and stared at him again.
"This is real. What you're offering me. It's…not my imagination playing tricks on me again, is it?"
"No. Caleb, I'm real. I'm going to help you and your sister."
Caleb fell to the ground, crying. And for the first time in his life, it was truly in happiness.
We both sat for a moment in silence. I always said Caleb shouldn't have been the oldest. If someone could have been born somewhere else, in another family, in another lifetime, it was him. And it wasn't his fault. Just because he was weak – no one could ever judge him. Tell him to suck it up and be a man, and people have gone through worse. My brother was never asked to take all the blows for me, but he did.
"He deserves to be wherever he is right now," I said quietly.
"I'm glad you helped him escape first. He never deserved anything—"
"Sarah," Shad titled my face up so I could look at him, "neither did you."
"I know that," I agreed, "it's just that Caleb was so much more destroyed then me. He knew everything, his whole life, and had to carry the burden. Whatever you did for him was the right thing to do."
Shad smiled half-heartedly. "I glad you think so. Sometimes I regret that we didn't save you first. But I barely even knew who you were after I found out what was happening with Caleb. With him is always seemed like everyday was his last. That he'd collapse from the weight of it all. Once he told me that he thought about committing suicide everyday. He'd go to the bridge at the lakeshore, everyday, deciding whether to jump…"
"I knew about that," I mumbled. All the memories washed over me; they running back like a terrifying waterfall. And though I was at such a different part of my life, and so much had happened since the summer, it was almost as thought Caleb was right here and nothing had ever changed and it was just me and him and my dad. I had been scared then too. I thought everyday was his last – and probably mine too. When he disappeared, I thought he'd killed himself. "My father knows that he ran away – you told me that he went through a lot to leave. He considers him dead, whether or not he is."
"Which is a good thing," Shad assured me. "It means that he won't go after him, and that way Caleb can live freely for the first time in his life."
"And he's somewhere safe?" I asked.
"Yes. Somewhere no one will ever find him."
I sighed. I knew I had to let it go. And although I tried, and thought I had, I guess I really hadn't because I couldn't stop the lump in my throat from forming, or the hot tears to rush behind my eyelids. "I just—" my voice cracked "—I wish I had told him not to help me."
Shad didn't say anything. He just held me as until the tears ran out.
We stayed there for a while. Just in each other's arms, until Shad murmured, "Let's go somewhere."
I was so warm and comfortable that I was almost falling asleep. I hardly registered what he said. "Sure…"
Shad chuckled. "No, really. I know a place." He started to move off the couch.
I hugged his arm to me with barely any strength. He could have easily shaken me off, but he didn't. "Not yet. So comfortable." I snuggled deeper into his embrace.
I couldn't see it, but I sensed Shad was smiling. "Okay, a little longer."
It took about an hour before we left the apartment in Shad's black car. "So…" I looked sideways at Shad. "Where are we going?"
I gazed out at the city. It was still overcast, but the sun was coming out behind the clouds in the west, preparing for a grand sunset. We drove for a while in a comfortable silence. We left the poor area of town and drove into the richer area, as the weeks before when Shad had gone to the ice cream restaurant.
"Are we going to your house again?" I asked.
Shad shook his head.
We weren't. I could tell, because we had driven past the houses and were now onto a narrow road which wound through Cliff Hanger's Forest. The city was enclosed by the river on the West side, and the forest on the east. The forest was called "Cliff Hanger's Forest" because it was known for its huge cliff jutting out in the middle. It was a land-mark, in fact. We drove up for a while, until the road levelled and we came to a clearing.
Shad stopped the car.
"The forest?" I raised my eyebrows.
"Not just the forest," Shad explained, getting out the car. I followed suit.
He waited for me to join his side before taking my hand and leading me into the woods. We didn't have to walk very far before I saw that the trees stopped just at the infamous cliff. But before we could go any further, our path was blocked by a huge fallen tree.
I opened my mouth to ask Shad what we were going to do, but gasped as he picked me up with ease and held me in his arms as he jumped over the big log proving his superb athletic abilities.
"Whoa," I whispered.
We walked a bit farther until the trees stopped and came to the cliff. It was barred by a fence, though it wasn't secure, I noted.
I gasped in amazement. You could see everything. The whole city in its grandeur. The lights from office buildings and such in the downtown area, the bridge over the river, the houses from the rich area, the beautiful sunset just beginning to descend.
"I used to come here a lot," Shad admitted. "When I was little, Alice, me, and Susan would camp out here. We would play all sorts of games, like hide and seek, and capture the flag. We even had a camp fire."
"Isn't that a little dangerous?" I asked. "Not only could you start a forest fire and burn the city, but this fence," I motioned to it, "isn't exactly in best condition."
Shad nodded, "When you're young you don't think about the safety of anything. It was fun. We'd roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. Susan was the best at that. She had this way of making her voice go so low you thought she was being possessed."
I shivered. I could definitely see that.
"There used to be a second fence that rose higher and was in much better condition. I'm not sure why it's gone now, but this place looked a lot better when we were kids."
"This city is falling apart." I mumbled.
Shad rubbed my hand, which he was still holding, "We can stop that."
I looked at him. "We need to find my dad's hideout. I can help. I know I can. I'll look through his stuff—"
"No." Shad stiffened. "I can't put you in more danger. He's a strong man and you know that. What will he do to you if he finds you rifling through his papers?"
"He'll think I'm doing it for him. I'll cover. I'm used to his abuse by now…"
Shad put on hand on either side of my face. "Sarah, you can never get used to abuse. It doesn't work that way."
I just stared at him. It was hard to believe I had kissed those wonderful lips. He was practiced, that's for sure. It still made me kind of mad to know he had kissed plenty of girls before me. And I had kissed no one. But I threw that aside because in the end, it didn't really matter. All that matter was me and Shad. And it wasn't fair for me to judge Shad only on his past.
As if my body had a mind of its own, I found myself leaning towards Shad again, my face reaching up to his. But Shad was faster than me. Reading my mind, he captured my lips in his. He picked me up again and this time, sat down on a nearby stump placing me on his lap. He kissed me with intensity – one I couldn't even begin to describe. It felt like I'd drank ten cups of coffee, the way the adrenaline rushed through my body. I wound my arms around his neck and he kept his on my waist, moving them up occasionally. I was in favour of that – and I think I purred, but I couldn't remember because I was too focused on Shad's lips.
We broke away only because both of us needed air. Shad's eyes were the warmest I'd ever seen them. He had the ability to contain so many different emotions in himself. I'd seen him scary – and I knew he could do scarier if he wanted. I hoped to God that I never did anything that would make those cold eyes land on me, but somehow I knew that even if I shot Shad he would never treat me that way.
And then now, with his liquid, smouldering eyes. You would never guess that it was the same person.
My heart jumped at his stare. He ran his hands through my air again. I smiled. "You like my hair a lot, don't you?"
Shad leaned in and whispered into my ear, "It's soft."
His eyes shifted beyond me, towards the descending sun. "Look." He moved me, so my back was touching his chest. The clouds had completely cleared up producing an amazing sunset.
"I don't think I've ever seen anything like this," I said.
"I know. That's why I'm showing you."
We stayed until dark and then headed back to Shad's apartment. Shad offered to let me stay over, but I knew I'd be in a lot of trouble if I didn't come home, especially because my dad now suddenly cared where I was.
"Let me at least walk you to your door," Shad insisted.
"You can't," I shook my head. "My dad told me to stay away from you, remember? I don't want him to see us together."
Shad frowned but he knew I was right.
We were standing in the entrance of his apartment. He pulled me to his chest. "Then let me give you a goodbye kiss," he murmured.
It took me half an hour to make it back to my apartment. I was still feeling the effects of Shad's kiss when I opened the door. I was relieved to note that my dad wasn't home.
Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head. I could use this as an opportunity to raid my dad's office. I hurriedly took off my shoes and ran over to his office, opening the door.
My dad's office was probably the nicest room in our house. I'd never really been inside, as I never had a reason to go in. There was an actual cherry wood desk and bookcases filled with older looking law books and business articles. I walked over to the desk. There was a folder on top – I opened it – and was disappointed to see that it was filled only with receipts and bills. From the first few, it looked like my dad had gone on an expensive trip grocery shopping. I assumed it was food for his gang.
I began opening drawers now. The first couple had pencils and various stationary. It wasn't until the third drawer when I came across something. There was a folder and when I opened it, I found drawings and pictures of landscapes. When I looked closer, I realised that it was the same place in all of them, just drawn from different angles. There were sketches of the pictures, as well. The pictures were of a cliff, and the sketches were of the same cliff, but there were rooms and halls drawn where the rocks on the cliff should have been with arrows pointing to different parts with words like "Boss's room" and "Common Room".
Something about it was really familiar. I looked at the picture closer and there was no mistaking the crappy fence. It was the cliff me and Shad had just been at. But something was odd about the whole situation. It looked like that's where my dad's hideout was – or at least some place that he owned – but why would it be in such an obvious drawer, unlocked? Unless my dad really trusted me, I would have thought he'd securely lock up something like the secret location to his hideout. It made sense that the cliff was his hideout. It overlooked the city, and that must have been why the second fence was gone.
But Shad and I had been there just now. How would my dad and his gang not have seen us? They would have heard our discussion, and I was pretty sure I had said that I was going to look through his stuff…
There was a commotion and I heard the front door open. I panicked and shoved all the pictures back into the folder and threw it into the bottom drawer.
"Sarah?" I heard my dad call.
I knew there was no way to make it out of the room without him seeing, so quickly scrambled to the floor. "Yeah. I'm in here."
My dad appeared in the doorway. He frowned. "What are you doing on the floor? And what are you doing in my office?"
I grinned sheepishly. "I tripped."
My dad looked at me suspiciously. He grabbed my arm and pulled me up. "I don't want to see you in here again, do you hear me? I know you're part of the gang and going to lead them at one point, but you have NO RIGHT to be in here," he growled.
I only nodded. My dad smacked me and then pushed me out.
"Now leave and go to bed or something. I have work to do."
I quickly left, rubbing my cheek. It was nothing compared to what he used to do, but Shad was right. I would never get used to his abuse.
The next day I was eager to leave the house and find Shad to tell him what I'd found out. When Shad picked me and Rachel up, I told them everything I'd found. Shad stopped the car and turned around.
"This is too important to pass up," he told us. "We're skipping school."
Me and Rachel looked at each other and shrugged. We didn't care.
"I'm calling Alice," Shad said. "I'm going to tell everyone to meet at our apartment."
While Shad talked to Alice, I turned to Rachel. "I don't know where Caleb is, but I know he's okay."
Rachel gave me a hopeful look. "How?"
"Shad told me. He helped Caleb escape. You know how hard Caleb's had it? Shad said he's somewhere safe, free from my dad."
Rachel smiled, and for the first time in a long time I saw the hidden grief and burden in her eyes lift away. "I'm glad."
At the apartment, we all sat in the common room, minus Vance who was taking care of Anna. Rachel had never seen it, and she fought her urge to stare at the room in amazement.
Shad explained what I'd said to everyone. "We don't know what's at the cliff that has the Whites so pre-occupied, but it might be important."
"Then we have to go there!" Alice said excitedly.
"Yes," Ivan agreed.
Shad nodded. "But I don't think we should all go. This isn't that important that we need everyone. Especially not Sarah," he looked at me. "If your dad sees you there without us, it ruins everything."
"Then who's going?" Lysander asked.
"I can't," Susan said immediately, in a frosty tone.
I looked over at her curiously, but she did not expand. Everyone seemed to know what she meant though.
"I'll go," Ivan said.
Shad thought for a minute. "Ivan, me, and Alice will go. Rachel and Lysander will stay here. Sarah – you'll go with Susan."
Huh? I wrinkled my eyebrows. "Where is she going?" I asked at the same that Susan exclaimed, "What?!?"
Shad gave Susan a stern look. "I want her to go with you."
Susan folded her arms and growled. Lysander put his hand on her back and I half expected her to shake it off, but she didn't.
I made eye contact with Shad. "Where is she going?"
"To see her mother."
"…and why am I going?" This was so random. Why did Shad want me to go with Susan – of all people – to see her mother?
Shad smiled. "I think you and Susan should spend some time together."
I met Susan's icy eyes and gulped. I was not looking forward to this.
A/N: I am so, so, so sorry about not updating in months. I feel so bad, and ashamed because I started this story, and I definitely have to plans to finish it, but I have been so bad in updating. I've just started university and it took my whole year. I had no time to write. I have actually been working on this chapter for 6 months and I finally decided to post it since these last few days I've found time.
I want to apologise to Trench Coats Suck for not getting back to you. But I've posted the chapter so hopefully that makes you happy :)
Thank you for all the reviews for the last chapter. They honestly helped me find motivation to post this chapter.