Author: K.M. Paxton

Chapter 8

 All night and through the breaking of the dawn, I couldn't get Caleb's broken appearance (in both literal and figurative ways) out of my mind. I simply lied in my bed, attempting to sleep, and occasionally flipping my fluffy, feathery pillow over to the cold side. That undescribable expression on his beaten face charged all other thoughts out of my head, and it really just wasn't possible to go to sleep with that in my mind.  

I didn't do anything wrong, right? I mean, not really, anyway. It was Caleb's own fault he got beat up. He shouldn't have gotten drunk with Tatum and insulted Jesse and me aftwerwards. There wasn't anything I could have done to stop it. But if that was true, why did I feel so bad? Before I could think about it any more, I heard a light knock at the door to my bedroom.

I cleared my throat, croaking, "Oh, uh, come in!"

The door slowly squeaked open and I wiped the tears and mascara off my face, foolishly, as if my puffy red face wouldn't give away my tears.

Of course, with my luck, it was Jesse nervously ambling in, Converse-clad feet bouncing slightly on my trampoline floor.

"Hey," he whispered, voice shaking, as he awkwardly stood a few feet away from my bed.

I didn't know what to do. Should I bring up last night's events? The...kiss? Or do I pretend it never happened and move on? I had to say something back...but what?

"Hi," lamely I murmured, and then tried to recover. "What's, uh, what's up?"

"I didn't wake you up, did I?" he stammered, and I smiled softly and shook my head. "Are you sure?" He continued, showing a lot more concern that I felt necessary, or felt I deserved for that matter.

"Trust me, I've been up for a while..."

A panicked but curious expression crossed his face before he spoke again. "I was just wondering if you would want to, um, go out today? I-I didn't know you were still in bed."

Nonchalantly I checked my Renu-Pod for the time. To my surprise, it was already 9:30. Back home, I was always up, dressed, showered, and already gone for a run by 9:30.

"Oh, uh, yeah, I'd like that," I forced a tight smile and coughed. "What were you thinking of doing?"

I could tell his expression was perked up now. "Well, I just got a Renu-Message that told us about the events today. There's open breakfast, group exercise, a tour of the island, and stuff like that. Maybe we could check out the jogging trail?"

"That'd be cool. Wanna get a bite to eat and then go jogging?" I felt like this might get my mind off everything happening. I needed a good meal and some fresh air, and as long as I didn't see Caleb or Tatum anywhere, I'd be good to go.

"Sounds good! I'll, uh, let you get dressed and I'll meet you downstairs," he nodded once and bounced out the door, closing it softly behind him.

Sighing, I decided I'd have to use the clothing application to find some workout clothes. After tapping through most of the options, I'd finally decided on a pair of cotton exercise short-shorts, a tight racerback tank top that read "Renu-Athletics", an elastic headband, and a pair of running shoes.

"Your clothing items will appear in your dresser," a robotic voice rang out of my Renu-Pod.

Sure enough, that's where they were. I put them all on and twisted my hair into a messy bun with the headband. Checking my appearance in the full-length mirror, I threw on some chapstick and mascara and trotted down the stairs.

Jesse was standing aimlessing waiting for me, wearing basketball shorts and a white short sleeved shirt, carrying two clear water bottles. "Monorail's just around the corner. You look beautiful today, by the way."

"Thanks, so do you," I smiled and took one of the bottles

"I think so too," laughing, he replied. I giggled and shook my head as he led me out the door towards to monorail that was now about to stop outside our house. Pressing the button that signaled the large train to stop, he suddenly took my hands and looked into my eyes.

"Look, let's just have fun today. Don't worry about-all that stuff that happened before. Today's a new day, let's just move forward. We'll have a great time, I promise," he pecked me softly on cheek and held my hand as the monorail's platform lowered down.

I hoped his advice would turn out, but I just couldn't shake the worries of what might happen if we ran into Caleb while we were out. Would he start something? A fight? I wouldn't know until it happened. IF it happened.

I just had a bad feeling.



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