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The foundation series bo.., p.28
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.28

           Kira Adams

  I knew I had shot my father; I knew I had killed him, but it didn’t become real until I had the orange pants and shirt on.

  You always imagine what jail or prison must be like as you drive past them on the freeway or you watch television series about them, but the real thing is so much worse; so much more intimidating.

  I had to surrender everything-my phone, my keys, my shoes, and my wallet. They stripped everything away from me and then shoved me in with the wolves. After processing, I was shown to my bunk.

  The bottom one was already occupied when I entered, so it was inevitable I would end up with the top bunk. The guy below didn’t even look my way as I entered our small living quarters, complete with a small sink and toilet that looked like they were from the cold war. Oh joy.

  “Hey, I’m Jace,” I said politely, sticking my hand out to my intimidatingly large cellmate.

  “Do you have a death wish son?” he asked in a deep tone that called for respect. I immediately snapped my hand back.

  “I’m-I’m sorry,” I stumbled over my words as I backed away from his bunk.

  How long was it until my arraignment and trial? Oh that’s right, too long...

  Sixteen: Freedom at Last

  I breathed in deeply, taking in the weeping willow trees outside the courthouse. I had really underestimated Peyton. In less than two hours since I was allowed my first phone call, she had managed to round up Gia, my Grandmother, a lawyer, and a few neighbors who all showed up to defend me. My lawyer said my case was a slam dunk, I guess I didn’t allow myself to believe that possibility until now…I was free. Those two weeks felt like years in hell—I never wanted to go back to that place. I had been exonerated and I planned to stay out of trouble from there on out.

  I really had to give Gia credit. She didn’t hold back on her testimony and she earned a lot of respect from me because of it. Honestly, it was a culmination of everything; the witnesses I had, Gia’s corroboration about that night, the picketers outside fighting wildly for my freedom, and my proof of my father’s earlier unstableness that we were able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that it was self-defense; justifiable homicide.

  As I walked outside I came face to face with the crowds of people who had been camped outside the courthouse since the beginning of my trial. A lot of them were parents of the victims from the school shooting, others were the survivors of the shooting. The signs they held up in protest read things like, ‘Stop jailing the heroes’ and ‘Stop punishing the innocent’. It felt good to know I had people in my corner.

  It took me forever to make it home, although I simply found myself standing outside the familiar house which was roped off with caution tape. I swallowed deeply, my mind going back to that night. I was the only person left in my immediate family…were we cursed?

  “You know my parents said you can stay with us,” Peyton said lightly from behind me.

  I turned around. “I’m tired.” I fell to my knees roughly.

  “Jace!” Peyton screeched out, dropping beside me. “Are you okay? Do you need some water?”

  “I’m tired of fighting, Peyton,” I said simply.

  Raindrops began to pelt the sidewalk beneath us. Peyton’s eyes never left my face. “You’re tired of fighting what?”

  “Life…I’m tired of fighting life, Peyton. It’s like no matter how hard I try, someone always ends up hurt. The universe obviously wants me miserable.” Tears began to creep up. “I have no one.”

  Peyton’s stare instantly softened. “You have me Jace, you’ve always had me.”

  “Does this mean you forgive me?” I asked through tear stricken eyes.

  “I forgave you a long time ago…I just needed some time to realize that.” She helped me to my feet as the rain continued to pour down.

  “I don’t want to be alone tonight,” I whispered, feeling afraid and unsure of my actions.

  “You don’t have to be.” Peyton began leading me back to her car.

  Am I cursed? Do I break everything I touch? Am I no good for Peyton and too stubborn to let her go; let her be safe?

  I wasn’t really sure of anything other than the fact that she fought for me when I really needed it—I saved her life once or twice and now she had saved mine.

  * * *

  Peyton’s parents didn’t rush me to return back to school, they understood that I had been through a traumatic event and needed some time, but they subtly hinted at it as the weeks went on. My grandmother begged me to come live with her so she could keep an eye on me. As if a 4’8” eighty year old woman could do much damage. I appreciated the concern nonetheless though; she really was the last living relative within a 2000 mile radius.

  It was February, and although Valentine’s Day had passed quickly and under the radar, I still felt guilty for not being a better boyfriend and planning something unforgettable for Peyton. I felt as though I hadn’t touched her in months. My skin was yearning for her—begging for her. Living steps away from her and not being able to hold her tightly every night was ripping me apart at the seams.

  Luckily her parents had bought tickets to a local play tonight and I planned to give her my full attention. When will your parents be home? I asked through a text message while Peyton was at rehearsal with Capiche.

  While she was out, I prepared dinner, enchiladas, and set the table in a romantic fashion; complete with lit candlesticks at each end.

  Their play should get out around ten, why?

  I just want to know how much alone time I will get with you…I sent back, checking the clock on the wall. 7 pm, which gave us a little more than three hours.

  In that case, I’m hurrying home! Peyton replied. From where she was I estimated another twenty minutes in drive time.

  I raced up to the temporary room I had been set up with, which was actually in fact Kayleigh’s old room and threw on one of my nicer button down shirts. It was teal with pearl buttons, I liked it.

  When she finally arrived I was sprawled out on her family’s gigantic sectional couch sucked into some reality show about wrestling babes…I was surprised by how addicting it was.

  “Did you make me dinner?” Peyton asked loudly as she walked through the front door, following her nose to the kitchen.

  I waited for her to come into the living room before responding. “I’m sorry I haven’t been the best boyfriend.”

  Peyton approached me hesitantly then. “Are you joking? You’ve been my lifesaver and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

  I quickly turned the TV off and stood up, facing Peyton. “We’re even.”

  I pulled her into me, making her drop her purse. I closed my eyes, inhaling her scent first.

  “What are you doing?” She giggled as I opened my eyes.

  “I’m taking in this moment. It feels like forever since I was able to touch you,” I said softly, yet seriously.

  “It has been forever—and that was partly your fault and partly mine. Listen Jace, we’ve both made mistakes in the past…but it’s time to look to the future; our future.”

  Without wasting another breath, I lowered my lips to hers. It was like our first kiss all over again; the passion and emotion growing with each brush of our lips. “You have no idea how badly I’ve been missing you,” I whispered into her ear seductively.

  “I miss you even when I’m with you. I feel like I can’t breathe without you. Is it healthy? God no…would I change a thing? Hell no.” She pushed me back onto the couch, climbing on top of me.

  It was amazing to see how much her confidence had grown in such a roller coaster of a year. But Peyton never ceased to amaze me.

  Seventeen: Falling Back into Place

  Job fairs were popping up everywhere, and being that we were seniors, Peyton and I made sure to attend a couple to get ideas.

  “So, what do you think?” Peyton asked me one day at the end of February, after we had spent a couple of hours attending another job fair.

  “I think you are going to be a musi
cian and you don’t need to attend any of these,” I joked.

  She rolled her eyes. “You know I was not talking about me.”

  I shrugged, slipping my hands into the pockets of my jeans. “I think I want to be a social worker.”

  Her green eyes lit up with my confession. “Oh my God, Jace, you would make the most incredible case worker!”

  My cheeks felt like they were burning up. “You have to say that, you’re my girlfriend.”

  She wrapped her arms around my neck. “I never say anything I don’t believe.”

  “I was thinking about trying to get some kind of a scholarship to Ohio State…maybe a grant or something.”

  “I am so proud of you—you know that?” Peyton was shaking her head as she said so.

  Her phone began to go off inside of her purse. “Hey, your purse is vibrating,” I joked.

  She swiftly reached into her bag and pulled out her familiar white iPhone. “Hello?”

  I watched as her expression brightened up immediately and it wasn’t difficult to imagine who was on the other end.

  After a few minutes of watching Peyton pace our school’s hallway in a complete circle, she finally hung up the phone—grinning from ear to ear. “Let me guess, Brooklyn?”

  She nodded enthusiastically. “Pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.”

  I had heard snippets of the conversation, Peyton’s side of it, but I was waiting for her to tell me the good news.

  “DarienMae told the founder of Twisted Tour about us last year when they were on the tour and apparently he called Madison to see if we could be on the entire tour this year. We won’t be on the main stage, but a smaller stage called Up & Comers.”

  I swallowed, digesting her words. “So, you are going to do it? When would it start?”

  Twisted Tour was an annual, 44 city music festival that spanned 29 states and 2 countries. It brought together bands from all kinds of rock genres from punk, emo, screamo, and even metal.

  “The band is going to sit down and discuss it to see if it is a direction we want to go.”

  “What about Capiche and everything you two have been doing together?” I found myself asking.

  “Actually, I was thinking it may be cool to incorporate him into some of the songs…give it a hip-hop element.” Peyton’s answer surprised me.

  We had made it out to the parking lot now and were both climbing into my car.

  “That’s a long time you know,” I muttered, nearly under my breath.

  “What is?” Peyton asked with her supersonic hearing.

  “The tour,” I replied as I closed my door.

  “I know…” Peyton looked down “but, you could come with me.”

  “On tour?”

  “Yeah, you could be our merch guy or something.” She giggled lightly.

  I loved being around Peyton, and I even loved watching her perform…but the idea that I would be on tour with her and Noah, and possibly even have to run into Colton was as unappealing as black olives to me.

  I could be supportive without being with her every day.

  “I think I need to figure out what I want with my life before following yours.” I kept my tone as light and positive as possible but Peyton still looked down. “Look, you know I love you right?”

  She nodded, remaining mute.

  “If anyone should be worried it’s me—I can already imagine how many guys will be ogling you at your shows.”

  “Oh, shut up!” Peyton slapped me lightly across the shoulder as I started the car.

  “Where to now?” It was a Thursday night, but our school planned conferences for Friday, so we ended up with a three day weekend.

  “Surprise me,” Peyton shot back, her eyes dancing wildly.

  * * *

  It had been much too long since I had seen my good friends Elijah and Boone, and now that things were in the clear I wanted to spend more time with them.

  Boone had always had eclectic tastes and was known for his “Halloween on Christmas” parties. This last year though he had been overseas for the Holiday with his family so he decided he wanted to change it to “Halloween on Saint Patty’s Day”.

  Peyton and I had a lot of fun going out and searching for outfits to coincide with one another’s. We ended up choosing a retro-film noir look. Peyton liked the elegance of the era and I simply liked the clothes. It was fun to pretend, even for a day.

  When I picked up Peyton for the party, she looked beautiful. Her long, classy red dress went nicely with my dark grey pin-striped suit and red handkerchief.

  We arrived to the party and after locking up the car, I pulled Peyton into me briefly before heading inside. “Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?”

  “Yes.” She giggled, beaming. “But feel free to keep reminding me.”

  “Oh I will.” I lowered my lips to hers in a soft, passionate kiss. I pressed her lightly up against the passenger side door as I continued to ravage her with my mouth.

  She was giggling and panting hard. It wasn’t difficult to tell I had turned her on.

  “You sure you want to go in?” I teased, kissing her neck, then licking it lightly.

  “This was your idea mister!” She pointed in my face.

  I took both of her hands and moved them above her head, holding them captive. This seemed to excite her because she was kissing me fast then.

  I don’t know how long we were out there, simply enjoying one another, but things had never felt so right.

  Eighteen: I Know What I Want

  The party was hopping; in all the years Boone had been putting on his annual event, there had never been such a huge turnout. It was like bumper to bumper traffic trying to walk through his front door and through the entry way. People in costumes were littered everywhere. I held tight to Peyton’s hand as I led her through the crowded hallways and finally into the familiar kitchen I had spent countless summer nights in.

  Immediately, I caught sight of Boone and Lana, attached at the hip, mingling outside on the back porch. They were dressed as John Smith & Pocahontas, and Lana made a great lookalike.

  “Hey,” I greeted them with Peyton in tow.

  “You guys made it!” Lana said, throwing her arms around Peyton.

  “Peyton has never experienced ‘Halloween on Christmas’ before, she needs to be initiated.”

  Boone threw his arm around Peyton enthusiastically. “You have no idea what kind of iconic parties you have been missing!”

  I chuckled, looking around for other familiar faces. “Is Eli here?”

  “Yeah, he’s around somewhere—but watch out, he thought he was being original by choosing to be Michael Jackson but there are like three others walking around here tonight. Must be because of his newest cd release,” Boone warned.

  I rolled my eyes. Typical.

  “You guys want a drink?” Lana offered, already making her way inside, but keeping her eyes on us the entire time.

  I looked over at Peyton who nodded lightly. “Yeah, what do you have?”

  She walked inside to open the fridge and Peyton and I followed.

  “Looks like we have beer, wine, or whiskey.” She looked back at us awaiting our answer.

  I knew how much I loved my whiskey, but I also knew how much of an ass I had been to Peyton while drunk off my ass on whiskey—I wanted to lay low, so I went with beer.

  “What do you want babe?” I looked over at Peyton.

  “I guess I’ll do beer too.” I knew Peyton’s usual drink of choice was sweeter and more sugary than any of the options provided.

  “Do you want me to run to the store to get you a bottle of cherry rum?” I offered. Even though Peyton was acting as though she was fine with a beer, I knew her inner voice was probably dreading it.

  “I’m okay,” she said, although her facial expressions spoke mountains.

  “Okay, that’s it, I’m going to the store.” I set my beer down on the counter. Lucky for me, I had been able to secure fake IDs for the both of us nearl
y a year ago, and they had been working like a charm.

  “Do you want me to come with you?” Peyton offered.

  “No, it’s okay, it will only take me ten minutes. I’m just going to the liquor store down the street.” I looked at my watch. “I better hurry up, I think they close soon.”

  I kissed Peyton lightly on the lips and then began making my way back towards the front door. People were still squeezed tightly into the hallways and living room.

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