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The foundation series bo.., p.26
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.26

           Kira Adams
 
She nodded rapidly.

  “Have you noticed anything different about my father lately? Has he tried anything with you?” I kept intense eye contact so she knew I was serious.

  “He has been staying out late a lot…is he cheating on my mother?” she asked in a nervous tone.

  I shook my head in an exhausted fashion. “That should be the least of your worries.”

  “What do you mean?” she questioned, her voice rising in pitch.

  “It means that I think you should take your mom and go. I have some money saved up, enough to last you guys a few months to get back on your feet, but I think it’s time to start thinking seriously about your guys’ safety.”

  “Are you just trying to get rid of me so you can go back to Peyton and live happily ever after?” she asked snidely, making me want to forget I was ever attracted to her in that way.

  “No, I’m doing what I should have done from the beginning—giving you an out.”

  “Well I don’t want your out,” Gia replied, crossing her arms across her chest dramatically.

  “You may not now, but you will—promise me, you will,” I said, still urging her to take it.

  “My mom is happy and I like being a part of this family. I’m sorry Jace, but I’m not going anywhere.” She was stubborn…just like Peyton.

  “Fine,” I finally gave in. “If you won’t go, then I will!” I threw my arms up in the air, defeated.

  “What? But if you leave, then how will you protect us?” She suddenly sounded very worried.

  “I don’t know, but it’s what you want so I figure you better start learning how.”

  Eleven: A Human Tornado

  I had been staying with my grandmother ever since I walked out on Gia. Of course I still worried about her safety with Frank back to his old ways, but I didn’t want to ruin anything I had going with Peyton. It was a catch-22.

  The New Year came and went but no one in our town was in a celebrating mood; and that was understandable. School had resumed a week ago, and it was all doom and gloom walking the same halls we had watched our peers meet their violent fate.

  People were jumpy. No one knew what to say, so it was deathly silent…oddly fitting for the massacre that had taken place. It didn’t feel right being back there without our peers who had lost their lives.

  Peyton looked just as out of place as I felt. I wasn’t sure she wanted to see me, but I approached her anyway. “Hey,” I said softly.

  She spun around, a surprised look etched across her face. “Jace.”

  “You’ve been avoiding me…” I said quietly, making sure to keep the conversation out of prying ears.

  “What?” She shook her head wildly. “No, I haven’t.”

  “You’re trying to tell me that there is a believable explanation for why I haven’t seen or heard from you since…”

  Peyton’s finger silenced me. “Don’t.”

  “Peyton, we are going to have to talk about this sometime,” I hissed, under my breath.

  “Yeah, well, not today.” She continued to shove her books into her backpack and then slammed her locker shut loudly.

  I grabbed her by the wrist to stop her. “You’re pushing me away. After everything we’ve been through. Look, I understand that losing Liam was hard on you. I even understand you still might be mad at me for Gia. Fuck Peyton, I need you to forgive me. I’m not asking anymore, I am begging you.” I got down on both knees to prove I was serious.

  “What are you doing?” Peyton snarled under her breath at me. “Get up.” She began pulling at my arm to no avail.

  “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you warned me about Felix. That’s what you want right? Me to tell you that you were right all along and that I could have prevented this from the beginning? Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it, I swear. I can’t do this without you Peyton. I need you.” Tears were already trailing down my cheeks at a rapid speed.

  Peyton’s cheeks were burning up; it didn’t help that we had a crowd of onlookers watching our entire conversation.

  “Come on,” Peyton said softly, grabbing my wrists. “Get up.”

  I let her pull me up, but the guilt was eating me alive then. I began convulsing, shaking uncontrollably, sobbing onto my girlfriend’s shoulder. My outburst had surprised her, it had her talking quickly, making promises.

  “I’ll stop pushing you away, I promise…just please, don’t do this…not in front of everyone,” Peyton begged quietly of me.

  “This isn’t about you…” I said, fighting to catch my breath. “Don’t you get it? This…” I pointed around the halls. “This was all my fault. I should have seen the signs. I could have prevented it all.”

  “You’re one guy Jace, you can’t always save the day,” Peyton replied softly.

  “How contradictory for someone who has referred to me as their hero multiple times…” I couldn’t help but be bitter. Felix had taken everything from my small town. If I had simply listened…maybe, just maybe I could have seen the warning signs. “I couldn’t save them…I couldn’t save any of them.”

  “You know that’s not true.” Peyton tested me with her eyes. “You saved everyone. If it wasn’t for you calling the cops—you standing up to him, I would be dead; we would all be dead.”

  I sighed heavily, my heart still hurting. Peyton had warned me early on how uncomfortable Felix had made her. Why didn’t I listen? Why wasn’t I been able to prevent all of this?

  The bell rang for our first class. Peyton began walking away and then stopped abruptly when she realized I wasn’t in tow. I was still pretty shaken up about everything and sitting in a classroom that would be eerily empty was not appealing in the least.

  “You coming?” she called out to me. We didn’t have the same class, but I normally walked her to her class and dropped her off before rushing to mine. It was something we had been doing since the end of junior year and I liked it.

  “Yeah, I’ll be right there,” I hollered back and then slowly took in the absence of my peers in the hall before making my way towards Peyton.

  * * *

  Things were still awkward between Peyton and me. Although she had promised to stop pushing me away, she hadn’t stopped avoiding me. I needed her and she was not delivering.

  I was thankful to be staying with my grandma. She was overly attentive and loving. Where Peyton was lacking, my grandmother was filling in. It was nice having a calm place to come home to every day after school. I loved not having to deal with the chaos that was my father.

  I had only been out of school an hour when my phone alerted me of a call.

  Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. It vibrated wildly.

  Samina. She had never called me; ever…a familiar feeling of fear took over my entire body.

  “Hello?” I answered; my heart in my throat.

  “Jace,” her voice was panicked. “Jace, where are you? It’s your father…”

  “What did he do?” I pressed as I frantically ran around the spare room my grandmother had allowed me to use, throwing on shoes and a jacket for the cold weather.

  “Hurry Jace!” I didn’t bother drilling her any further—just hung up the phone and booked my way over to my father’s house.

  I texted Gia before I started the car. Hey, are you alright?

  The absence of a reply had my foot like lead on the gas pedal. I was aware of how fast I was driving, but I didn’t care.

  The front door was open, which was odd. I slinked inside silently, closing the door behind me. I looked around cautiously, unsure of what to expect. I slid unnoticed into the kitchen where I quietly grabbed a butcher’s knife and began to make my way through the house.

  I was sweating from the anticipation, my forehead dripping from it. The fact that I was clearing the majority of the house myself definitely boosted my adrenaline.

  The sound of breaking glass caught my attention from upstairs. I gripped the butcher’s knife tighter as I slowly crept up the stairwell. A loud shriek was enough motivation to move
faster and before I knew it, I was face to face with Samina and Gia. It appeared as though they had bested my father, as he was flat on his ass.

  “What’s going on?” I asked, the knife still raised.

  “Look around,” Gia said in a bitter tone. “Notice how it looks like a tornado tore apart this place? That tornado was your father.”

  She was right. I gulped loudly as I took it all in; the horrific sight. Goodbye faithful television. Farewell trusty Blu-ray machine.

  “What was he so riled up about?” I asked as Gia and Samina took a step back to let me in.

  “My mother found him like this—wasted and angry,” Gia said in a disgusted voice.

  “This is so unlike him,” Samina said softly, shaking her head back and forth.

  If only she knew…

  “Get out of here guys, I’ll take care of him,” I instructed Samina and Gia to leave the room.

  “Here.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. “This should be enough for one night until we can figure out a game plan.”

  “I can’t just give up on him,” Samina said stubbornly.

  “You may not have a choice—he may have just given up on you.” I felt bad speaking the truth, with how sweet Samina was, but it was something she needed to hear.

  I waited for Samina and Gia to pack their belongings before addressing my deadbeat of a father.

  “You son of a bitch…” I muttered under my breath as I reached under his armpits to carry him to his bedroom.

  Twelve: A Small Step in the Right Direction

  Peyton had been pushing me away since the shooting. That had been over three weeks ago. While having someone there who knew exactly what I had been through would have really helped, Peyton didn’t seem to feel the same way. I knew I didn’t deserve her, but after everything we had been through I had been hoping she would forgive me. It seemed like we had been through hell and high water together, and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. But what could I do if she wanted nothing to do with me?

  She wasn’t ignoring me fully; she was selective in the way she chose to execute it. At school she would wave to me, and then the moment she saw me getting close—she would book it the other way. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I had a girlfriend anymore. Our break may have transitioned into a full-on break-up.

  Today was a rougher day on me. Most of my texts went unanswered from her. When I went to her locker she was conveniently MIA each and every time. It was as if she vanished…but I knew her better.

  She wasn’t expecting me when I showed up at her front door after school.

  “Jace,” she said surprisingly through the screen door without bothering to open it.

  “Peyton,” I followed her lead.

  “What are you doing here?” she asked, looking around my head uncomfortably.

  “You weren’t at school—and you’ve been avoiding me like the plague. I need to know what is going on,” I said through the screen.

  “What’s going on with?” she played dumb.

  “Us. I need to know what is going on with us.”

  She swallowed loudly.

  “Look, what Felix did was hard on me too. I lost all of them too…” I filled the awkward silence. “Are you just going to make me stand out here all day or are you going to invite me in?”

  “Jace…” she stalled.

  “Are we over?” I asked, point blank.

  “What?” she replied, caught off guard.

  “You heard me—are we over?”

  Silence.

  “I guess I got my answer.” I turned to walk away, my heart shattering with every step I took forward.

  I had never been so relieved and happy to hear the creak of the door. “Wait,” she said softly, barely cracking the screen door open.

  I turned around slowly, waiting to hear what she had to say.

  “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” her voice trembled as she spoke the truth.

  I nodded. I hadn’t either. The idea that I may have lost Peyton that day was the scariest feeling I had ever encountered. It was the moment I knew with a hundred percent certainty that she was the one for me. Losing her was the most terrifying feeling in the entire world.

  “Let me be there for you,” I spoke the familiar words she had introduced to me once upon a time.

  “My PTSD has returned—I’m not in control of my actions. I don’t want to hurt you,” she said as she shakily opened the door a smidge.

  Great, here I was worried about the fate of our relationship, while Peyton was having relapses. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked as I grabbed the handle and opened it hesitantly.

  “Last time something like this happened, I ended up punching you in the face—I didn’t want to lose you…” she trailed off, looking down at her feet.

  I stepped closer to her and she stepped back, yet again distancing herself.

  “Jace, I’m not ready for physical contact just yet,” Peyton said quietly, tucking her hair behind her ears. “I just need a little time. Please.”

  I nodded, stepping backwards. “Take all the time you need if that means you will return to me.”

  She smiled, although small, it was the first time I had seen it since before the shooting. “You saved my life…more than once…although I may not act like it, I owe you mine.”

  I shook my head in disagreement. “I just did the right thing.”

  “You wouldn’t have gone to those extremes for anyone else, believe me, I know that. I’ve had a hard couple of years, and honestly, you are the only thing that got me through.”

  “I love you.” I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

  “I love you too—more than you will ever know,” she said, and I could have sworn I saw her take a step towards me before stopping herself.

  Peyton was right. She had been through a hell of a couple of years…a failed suicide attempt, an attempted rape, a car crash, PTSD, an attack from my own blood, and not to mention all her romantic drama. Throwing in the shooting must have been very traumatic for her; completely understandable.

  “I’ll wait for you—take all the time you need.” I turned on my heel and headed away from her house. It was hard enough being around her and not being able to touch her. Especially after the storm that was Felix. All I wanted to do was hold her, touch her, and make sure she was okay.

  My car was in the shop so I walked the short distance to my house. Every day had been so different, I had no idea what to expect as I made my way there.

  Gia was sitting outside on the porch steps as I approached. “Hey,” she greeted me as I came closer.

  “Hey.” I nodded back at her. “How’s it going?”

  “Fine,” she answered shortly.

  Her response was so sharp, I ended up doing a double-take. “What’s up?”

  “Nothing.” She was still short with me, looking in the opposite direction.

  “What are you doing outside?” I asked, removing my backpack and taking a seat next to her.

  She shrugged, lightly nodding her head towards inside.

  “Is he home?” I asked tensely.

  She nodded.

  “Where’s Samina?”

  “They had a fight earlier—she took the car and left…”

  “And she left you here?” I pressed.

  “I just got home forty five minutes ago. She was long gone by then.”

  “So how did you know what happened?”

  “Frank’s belligerent, yelling and tossing the house.” It was as if she had come to expect such behavior from him.

  I looked back towards the front door. “How bad is it?”

  “Bad,” she answered.

  This was getting old.

  “Do I even want to know?” I asked.

  Apparently not. Opening up the front door proved she had been right. Chairs were overturned. Lamps and their glass lights were strewn across the floor, the glass broken. And passed out right in the middle of it all was my sorry excuse
for a father.

  Thirteen: Desperation

  I had been staying closer to home due to my father’s growing unstableness. I knew I wouldn’t be able to prevent everything, but I was damn well going to try. Peyton was still needing her space which made it easier not to feel guilty about being around Gia.

 
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