"Hey Rose can I pick you up at one?" I asked Rose after dialing her cellphone number.
"Sure, is your dad working today?" she said.
"Nope, so I've got the car for the day! I have a mini surprise for you guys!"
"Cool! Who else is coming?" she asked eagerly.
"Avery and Luke," I told her without blinking an eye.
"Okay well I'll see you at one!" Rose exclaimed and hung up.
I smiled to myself. I had a plan to expose Luke in front of our circle of friends. My plan was to take them all to the lake in the woods behind our old house. Since Luke put the notebook underneath the panel of the dock and no one knows about that lake except me, I decided to make the revealing end interesting. I ran out the door of Aunt Millie's house and started our old grey pick-up truck.
I picked up Luke first in front of his apartment building, then Avery at his huge house in the wealthier part of town, then Rose in her common neighborhood subdivision. A wave of excitement ran through the truck as I headed to Hillside Street.
"Where are we going?!" Rose asked excitedly.
I forced a smile on my lips, "I'm not telling you or else it won't be a surprise!"
As I turned down our old driveway the excitement in the truck slowly faded.
"Why are you taking us here Carmen?" Luke asked.
Oh you'll find out, I thought.
I parked at the edge of the meadow and waved them towards the woods.
"Why in the woods?" Avery asked.
"I found a little place I haven't been in a long time. I want to show it to you guys."
This brought the atmosphere back up to eagerness it had been in the truck and we set off into the woods for our hour long hike. We passed the rope and the beehive and reached the cliff. I helped them climb up it and we took a water break by the stream.
"This place is beautiful," Rose commented, "I can see why you always liked it here."
We headed off towards the lake; I took the lead followed by Rose, Luke, and finally Avery. I smelled the clean, fresh aroma of the lake before I could see it and I knew we were getting close. The trees finally receded into the big wide circle around the shimmering water of the lake and the cattails brushed around the sides of the old dock.
I let them explore for a minute. Luke practiced skipping stones across the lake's smooth surface. Avery tied together a few cattails with a long blade of grass to create a boat. Rose peered off the edge of the dock in search of creatures in the muddy water. Now's the time, I thought and headed over to the dock. I stepped a certain way on the loose dock panel and my foot fell in the tiny nook.
"Oww!" I screeched. I proceeded to lift my foot out of the nook, sit on the dock and cradle it with my hands as if it became injured.
"Carmen are you okay?!" Rose hurried over to me.
"Yeah I'm fine, I mean, no I'm not. My foot hurts!" I whimpered.
"Careful," Avery took a look at my foot, "That panel's always loose."
It wasn't till a couple seconds later that I realized what Avery had just said. That panel's always loose, the words echoed through my head. The pieces came together. Avery knew that the panel was loose. I was the only one that knew the lake. Avery put the notebook there. Avery was the criminal. Avery hurt Kate!
I looked up at Avery slowly and carefully. You could tell by the expression in his face that he just realized what he said.
"I mean – uh - that panel's probably always loose," he attempted to cover his words.
"LIAR!" I screeched at the top of my lungs. I lunged at him and tackled him to the ground.
"What is going on?!" Luke demanded and pulled me off of Avery.
"He did it! He almost killed Kate!" I screamed.
"No, no! I didn't! I – I…" He had no words to defend him.
"You did! You attempted to kill her didn't you?! Why?!" My heart was on fire, I could feel the flames spreading through my body carrying anger.
"I – I didn't do it! It – It… Rose did it!" Avery panicked.
That actually made me freeze. I looked at Rose whose face had become a mask of shock, fear, and guiltiness. I would've thought Avery was just trying to blame someone else if it weren't for Rose's expression. She looked at each of us in shock and I could tell she had something really big she needed to say.
"Rose?" Luke asked quietly.
"I did it! I did it! I – I tried to hurt Kate!" Rose became like water, she sobbed and fell to the ground, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" She said over and over again.
I immediately felt shock and pain that my best friend since kindergarten would've done this to me. Instead of screaming at her I crossed over to Rose's curled up body and stroked her hair.
"Rose? Sit up please. Don't be afraid. I'm not going to tackle you," I whispered into her ear.
It took about five minutes of coaxing before she came out of her shell. Her red, puffy eyes filled with tears and she looked on the verge of collapse.
"Please explain what happened," I asked her gently.
"I – I sent Avery to set the fire," she sniffed, "I was angry. Ever since Owen died I was angry at you. For killing my little brother, even though it wasn't directly your fault. When little Timmy was born last year my mom and I got in a huge argument. It was completely obvious that Timmy was a replacement of Owen even though my parents never admitted it. I let it all gain up inside me; I let it fill me with rage and anger. Finally, a couple weeks ago I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to do something to get revenge, to get even. So I made a compromise with Avery. I would pay him $200 and become his girlfriend if he set the fire himself."
She sniffed again and started crying, "It wasn't until a week later I realized what I had done was the worst thing imaginable. Not only did I almost kill my best friend's sister I used Avery to risk it all for me. I pretended like I loved him and that was all he needed to do what I wanted him to do," She looked up at Avery's torn face, "Words cannot explain how sorry I am Avery. You could hate me forever after this and I wouldn't be able to stop it, because I deserve it," Avery's expression didn't change.
Rose began to tell the rest of her story, "So after Avery set off the fire we just acted as if it was all normal, I remember I felt so guilty when you were crying about the fire and how bad Kate was hurt. But I kept on telling myself that you deserved it. Which you didn't. You would've never deserved it. And that's it. I guess all I can say now is how sorry I am, which won't even make a difference compared with Kate who is going to die any day."
She began to cry again and I looked up at Avery, "Anything else?" I asked him.
His voice shook as he spoke, "Only that when I was running to get away from the fire before the police came I fell right near the dock and that's when I saw the loose panel."
There was a long moment of silence until Luke spoke up and asked the dreaded question.
"So what are we going to do now?"
I looked at Rose bawling on the ground and Avery's torn expression. But I remembered Kate's limp body on the gurney. There was a choice to be made here, and it could only be made by me. Either tell the police about my two best friends or keep it secret even though my sister would've died. I couldn't decide until Rose spoke up.
"Carmen, just send us to jail. I know I won't like it there and it will ruin my plans for the future but we deserve it, more me than you, Avery. In fact, maybe I can bribe your way out of jail," she glanced at him.
"You know I can't do that," Avery leaned down by Rose's side.
"Yes, you can. I used you and pretended I liked you and just stabbed you in the back," she reasoned.
"But I deserve it too. I'm the one who set the fire. Besides, I want to be wherever you are."
Rose peeked at his face from under her arm, "You don't mean that."
"I do," he argued.
I took a deep breath, "Rose, I have to do it. For Kate. But know that I'll always love you and that you'll still be my friend. You know you did something wrong and you admitted it and truly want to be friends with me. I also probably have to turn you in, Avery."
"I understand," he said.
We headed back to the truck and I started the engine. I knew it would be difficult to get past that obstacle in life but there were so many more out there that could've been worse. There was one quote that stuck in my mind forever after that incident, one I saw in the police station:
"Though no one can go back
And make a brand new start
Anyone can start from now
And make a brand new end."
- Author Unknown
End of Chapter 11
Note From Kaikeline:
So the end of Burnt has been revealed! What do you think about the ending? Remember next week will be the official end of Burnt when the epilogue is be posted! Please tell me what you think! I also wanted to say thank you for all your reviews: whether support or criticism. Your reviews really encouraged me to continue writing this story and I really tried to apply some of your criticism to this story, hopefully making it better! Again, thanks for everything and I enjoyed every minute of writing this story! Love you all! Review and Share!