Point of Retreat

Page 8


She does. As soon as she spots me, she smiles and runs up the steps, throwing her bag down on the table. “Morning,” she says. “I brought you a coffee. Two sugars, no cream, just like you like it.” She sets the coffee down in front of me.
“Thanks,” I say. She’s got her hair pulled back in a bun. I know exactly what she’s doing. I told her once that I loved it when she wore her hair like that. It’s no coincidence that she’s wearing it like that today.
“So, I was thinking we should catch up. Maybe I could come by your house sometime. I miss Caulder, I’d like to see him.”
Absolutely not! Hell no! That’s what I really want to say.
“Vaughn, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” is what I actually say.
“Oh,” she says quietly. “Okay.”
I can tell I've just offended her by the way she lowers her tone. “Look, I’m not trying to be rude. It’s just…you know, we have a lot of history. It wouldn’t be fair to Lake.”
She cocks her head at me. “Lake? Your girlfriend’s name is Lake?”
I don’t like her demeanor. “Her name is Layken. I call her Lake.”
She turns toward me in her seat and puts her hand on my arm. “Will, I’m not trying to cause trouble. If Layken is the jealous type, just say so. It’s not a big deal.”
She grazes her thumb across my arm and I look down at her hand. I hate how she’s trying to undermine my relationship with her snide comment. She always used to do this. She hasn’t changed at all. I pull my arm away from her and face the front of the room. “Vaughn, stop. I know what you’re doing and it’s not gonna happen.”
She huffs and focuses her attention back to the front of the room. She’s pissed. Good, maybe she got the not so subtle hint.
I really don't understand where she's coming from. I never imagined I would see her again, much less have to practically fight her off. It's strange how I had so much love for her then, but feel nothing for her now. I don't regret what I went through with her, though. We really did have a pretty good relationship, and I honestly think I would have married her had my parents not passed away. But only because I was naïve as to what a relationship should be. What love should be.
We met when we were freshmen, but didn't start dating until our junior year. We started hanging out at a party I went to with my best friend, Reece. We went out a few times, then agreed to make the relationship exclusive. We dated for about six months before we had sex for the first time. We both still lived at home with our parents, so it ended up being in the backseat of her car. It was awkward, to say the least. We were cramped, it was cold, and was probably the most unromantic atmosphere a girl could want in that moment. Of course, it got much better over the next year and a half, but I'll always regret that being her first time. Maybe that's why I want Lake's first time to be perfect. Not just another spur of the moment kind of thing like Vaughn and I had.
I was still grieving and going through a lot of emotional issues after mine and Vaughn's relationship ended. Raising Caulder and doubling up on classes didn't leave me any time to date after that. Vaughn was the last relationship I had up until the moment I met Lake. And after only one date with Lake, I knew the connection between us was something more. It was more than I'd ever had with Vaughn, and more than I ever thought I could have with anyone. For that, I'll be forever grateful to Vaughn for calling off our relationship when she did.
Friday is much better. Vaughn doesn’t show up to class, so it makes the rest of the day a lot easier. I stop by the store after my last class and grab Kel’s birthday present, then head home to get ready for his party.
The only two people Kel and Caulder invited to the party tonight were Kiersten and Abby. Sherry and Kiersten went to pick Abby up while Lake and Eddie left to go get the cake. Gavin showed up with the pizza at the same time I pulled into the driveway. It’s his night off but I had him go pick it up since he gets a discount now.
“You nervous?” I ask Caulder as I unstack the pizzas on the counter. I know he’s barely just about to turn eleven, but I remember having my first crush.
“Stop it, Will. You’re gonna make tonight my suck if you keep it up,” he says.
“Fair enough, I’ll drop it. But first, I need to lay down some rules. No holding hands until you’re at least eleven and a half. No kissing until you’re thirteen. And no tongue until you’re fourteen. I mean fifteen. Once you get to that point, we’ll revisit the rules. Until then, you stick to those.”
Caulder rolls his eyes and walks away.
That went well, I guess. Our first official ‘sex’ talk. I think the one I really need to be having the talk with is Kel, though. He seems a little bit more girl crazy than Caulder does.
“Who placed the order for this cake?” Lake asks as she walks through the front door carrying it in her arms. She doesn’t look pleased.
“I let Kel and Caulder order it when we were grocery shopping the other day. Why? What’s wrong with it?”
She walks over to the bar and sets the cake down. She opens the lid and stands back so I can see it.
“Oh,” I say.
The cake is covered in white buttercream frosting. The writing across the top is done in blue.
Happy ‘Butterflying’ Birthday, Kel
“Well, it’s not really a bad word,” I say.
Lake sighs. “I really hate that they’re so damn funny,” she says. “It’s just gonna get harder, you know. We really need to start beating them now, before it’s too late.” She closes the lid and walks the cake to the refrigerator.
“Tomorrow,” I say as I wrap my arms around her from behind. “We can’t beat Kel on his own birthday.” I lean in and kiss her ear.
“Fine.” She leans her neck to the side, allowing me easier access. “But I get the first punch.”
“Stop it!” Kel yells. “You guys can’t do that crap tonight. It’s my birthday and I don’t want to have to watch y’all make out!”
I let go of Lake and pick Kel up and throw him over my shoulder. “This is for the butterflying cake,” I say. I turn his back toward Layken. “Birthday beating, here’s your chance.”
Lake starts counting off birthday spankings while Kel fights to get out of my grasp. He’s getting stronger.
“Put me down, Will!” He's punching me in the back, trying to break free.
I put him down after Lake finishes with the beating. Kel laughs and tries to shove me, but I don’t budge.
“I can’t wait until I’m bigger than you! I’m gonna kick your butterfly!” He gives up and runs down the hallway to Caulder’s room.
Lake is staring down the hallway with a serious look in her eyes. “Should we be letting them say that?”
I laugh. “Letting them say what? Butterfly?”
She nods. “Yeah. I mean, it seems like it’s already a bad word.”
“Would you rather him say ass?” Kiersten says, passing between Lake and I. Again, she’s here and I didn’t even hear her knock.
“Hey Kiersten,” Lake says.
There’s a young girl following closely behind Kiersten. She looks at Lake and smiles.
“You must be Abby,” Lake says. "I'm Layken, this is Will."
Abby gives us a slight wave but doesn't say anything.
“Abby’s shy. Give her time, she’ll warm up to you,” Kiersten says. They turn and make their way to the table in the kitchen.
“Is Sherry coming?” Lake says.
“No, probably not. She wants me to bring her some cake, though.”
Kel and Caulder run into the kitchen when they hear Abby and Kiersten.
“There they are,” Kiersten says. “How was your week off school, lucky butt’s?”
“Abby, come here,” Caulder says. “I want to show you my room.”
After Abby follows Caulder out of the room, I look at Lake, a little concerned. She sees the worry in my eyes and laughs. “Relax, Will. They’re only ten. I’m sure he just wants to show her his toys.”
Regardless, I walk down the hallway and spy.
“I’m the guest, dork. I should get to be player one,” I hear Abby say.
Sure enough, they’re just being ten. I walk back into the kitchen and wink at Lake.
After the party is over, Eddie and Gavin agree to take Abby home. Kel and Caulder go to Caulder’s room to play Kel’s new video games. Lake and I are alone in the living room. She's laying down on the couch with her feet in my lap. I rub her feet, massaging the tension away. She's been going nonstop all day, getting everything prepared for Kel's party. She's laying with her eyes closed, enjoying the relaxation.
“I have a confession to make,” I say, still rubbing her feet.
She reluctantly opens her eyes. “What?”
“I’ve been counting down the hours in my head until next weekend.”
She grins at me, relieved that this is my confession. “So have I. One hundred and sixty three.”
I lean my head back against the couch and smile at her. “Good, I don’t feel so pathetic now.”
“It doesn’t make you any less pathetic,” she says. “It just means we’re both pathetic.”
She sits up and grabs my shirt, pulling me to her. Her lips brush against mine and she whispers, “What are your plans for the next hour or so?”
Her words cause my pulse to immediately race, and chills to run down my arms. She touches her cheek to mine and whispers in my ear. “Let’s go to my house for a little while, I’ll give you a little preview of next weekend.”
She doesn’t have to ask twice. I pull away from her and jump over the back of the couch and run to the front door. “Boys, we’ll be back in a little while! Don’t leave!” She’s still sitting on the couch so I walk over and grab her hands, pulling her up. “Come on, we don’t have much time!”
When we get to her house, she shuts the door behind her. I don’t even wait until we get to the bedroom. I shove her against the front door and start kissing her. “One hundred and sixty-two,” I say between kisses.
“Let’s go to the bedroom,” she says. “I’ll lock the front door. That way if they come over here, they’ll have to knock first.” She turns around and latches the deadbolt.
“Good idea,” I say. We continue to kiss as we make our way down the hallway. We can’t seem to make it very far without one of us ending up against a wall. By the time we get to the bedroom, my shirt’s already off.
“Let’s do that thing again where the first person to call retreat is the loser,” she says. She’s kicking off her shoes so I do the same.
"You’re about to lose then, ‘cause I’m not retreating,” I say. She knows I’ll lose. I always do.
“Neither am I,” she says, shaking her head. She pulls her legs up and scoots back onto the bed. I stand at the edge of the bed and take in the view before I join her. Sometimes when I watch her, it seems surreal that she’s mine. That she really loves me back. She blows a strand of hair out of her face, then tucks her hair behind her ears and positions herself against the pillow, waiting for me to join her. I slowly slide on top of her and slip my hand behind her neck, gently pulling her lips to mine. I move slowly as I kiss her, trying to savor every second. We hardly ever get to make out; I don’t want to rush it.