Reset The Pendulum"What about Adeline?" I ask looking out the window as we pass through town.
"I'll shoot her a text when I'm done driving." With that, neither of us says a word.
We end up at Ludlow Park within twenty minutes. Zarik helps me get back out of the Jeep and leads us through the park to a bench positioned in front of the lake. The view is breathtaking. Light hits the water, accenting it's ripples. My eyes are drawn to the blinding brightness, like a fly to an electric bug zapper.
Woods surround us everywhere, bringing me back to my first nightmare. Nothing about this place looks familiar in any way that my dream did, so it's safe to say there's no connection. None that I can see at least. Even though I should be happy about it, happy that I'm not reliving a nightmare, I can't keep the slight worry from showing on my face.
Sensing my uneasiness, Zarik's hand covers mine where it lay on my thigh. Warmth spreads through my body, making me forget about Josh and his victims. It's an amazing relief to know someone is able and willing to take away your pain, not be the one who wants to cause it. I want to stay like this forever; this close to him. I can't think of a life without him or Adeline, they've changed a apart of me I never thought was reachable or able for change. Whatever life throws at me, I'm ready to fling it aside.
"I didn't mean to scare you earlier, Kaylee." He says, just above a whisper, bringing me back to the moment.
I scoot closer to him on the bench and gently lay my head on his left shoulder, savoring his natural tea tree oil scented musk that's now mixed with pine and woods.
"I overheard him and one of his buddies talking about a party, and then I heard about you. . . I just lost it." Zarik's head hangs low at the memory. I don't blame him, I would have lost it too. If I heard someone I cared for being threatened in any way, I would have reacted much the same. Well, maybe if I had the muscles and strength to anyway, but that still wouldn't have stopped me.
"Zarik, look at me." I reach my hand up and cup his face, tilting his chin until he looks at me. I want him to know that I don't hate him for what he did, and I'm glad he told me; no matter the circumstances. "I don't want to talk about that idiot, alright? I forgive you anyways. And actually, a part of me wished that you would have punched him. I just couldn't believe him! I had the biggest crush on him, and he was always so nice. At least, that's what it seemed like. I feel like such a fool."
Zarik looked at me then. Half in humor, half still ashamed. "You really do fall for the wrong guys." He shakes his head to himself, then looks at me. "Kaylee, I need you to know something." He straightens his body forcing me to lift my head from his shoulder, but still leaves his hand on mine, as he says, "I don't want to scare you or somehow make you regret you ever met me, but I need you to know I care about you."
I had hoped he liked me like I obviously did, and now that he's confesed, I'm stunned. I can't find the words I want to say to him. A million words and emotions twine together in the pit of my stomach, I don't know what to do.
His gaze rakes over the ground, looking at randomly fallen acorns nervously for a few heart beats, then turns his body so he's facing me, and starts again. "Since I saw you at Infinita, you've never left my mind. I've had to control myself in more ways then one, especially around you. I hope you never have to see what I keep locked away inside. It's too much, even for me."
I search his eyes and find an unmistakeable truth hidden away. We're more alike then I gave him credit for. I never saw it until now. He's got his monsters and I've got mine. Whatever he's keeping from me I have no right to push. If he wants to tell me he can when he's ready. I wouldn't want it any other way. I want him to trust me. You can't force trust. "I don't care what you did before you came here, if that's what you're meaning. It sounds like it's caused you a lot of pain, whatever it is, and I don't want you to worry."
"You don't understand, Kaylee. Every time I'm near you I have to fight for control." Obvious pain fills his blue eyes, making me wish there were something I could do.
"You shouldn't like me, Kaylee. There's nothing here-" he says, motioning up and down his body, "that should be able to love you back, but there is, and I don't understand."
"Zarik, I don't know what you're saying." I say, feeling somewhat hurt.
"I know you don't, not right now, but you will. And you'll probably hate me for it afterwards."
His eyes snap past me, down the path we came. Startled, I look too and see Adeline making her way over to us.
"Not cool guys. You could have at least bailed me out with you." She says pouting, and stomps her way down the dirt path.
"Sorry Ads, but I had to get Kaylee out of there."
Zarik stands and locks gazes with her, regrouping over what happened earlier. That's when it hits me. Crap! School's already out and Dad will be home in an hour.
"Um, Zarik? Hate to break your concentration, but I need to get home before my Dad sees I'm gone and worries. I don't want him freaking out, he worries too much as it is."
The three of us climb aboard the Jeep and head back to the high school for my car. Adeline does most of the talking, filling us in on all the homework we'll have to make up for, while me and Zarik sneak glances from the front seat.
I feel unnaturally giddy. Zarik likes me, he said so himself. Does that mean we're dating? Why didn't he just ask me at the park. Maybe because he's not that ready?
All too soon, I'm standing in front of my car at the school and watching them drive off.
I try to remember what Zarik said about me, as I drive home. He said nothing about him should be able to love me, but it does. I can't figure out what he meant, but the only thing I find myself caring about is the fact that he loves me back. I can't stop smiling.
I turn into the driveway seconds before Dad. Thank God. Don't have to listen to his today-I-care banter.
I sit on the sofa switching through channels, when he walks through the door closing it heavily. The impact echoes off every surface in the kitchen and into my ears, making me wince. Here we go, I think hollow.
"Yeah, just another marvelous day." He said rolling his eyes, voice full of sarcastic delight.
"Ouch." Yeah I had one of those too. Infact, my crush, Josh Moore, intended on practically raping me. I don't say it out loud, but I want to. He's always too busy with his problems to care about mine now. I miss telling him things, miss knowing he's on my side and protecting me.