Caleb sat and watched the flames dancing in the fireplace, a glass of whiskey in his hand. He heard a thud upstairs and smiled – Jack was up early today. He let his glance slide over to the pool table and his smile faded. He and Kaylynn had been standing right there when she’d told him he had to choose. Her and her son or me and mine.
Closing his eyes, he took a sip of his drink, letting the slow burn travel down his throat and settle into his gut. He was so cold, always so damn cold. The whiskey was the only thing that was able to warm him up, so he took another sip. He opened his eyes again and stared at the fire; how had he arrived at this moment?
As Kaylynn blew out her candles, she glanced up and caught his eye. He was smiling at her. She frowned and looking away, blinked, because for a moment there, she thought she’d – but no, that must have been the beer he’d snuck her early in the afternoon. She glanced up at him again and – there it was again, a slight squeezing feeling in her heart.
He caught her staring at him and his smile widened, “Make sure you give me a big piece, I’m starving.”
He walked around the table and slung his arm around her slender shoulders. She poked him in the ribs, “What have I told you about resting your massive weight on me, Caleb?”
He laughed and rubbed at the spot where her finger had dug in. “Ouch.”
Rolling her eyes, she turned back to her birthday cake. She started to remove the candles and as she placed them on the table, Caleb picked each up and licked the frosting from the bottom. “You are so greedy,” she murmured, but a smile was on her lips.
He was always hungry, but when you became a werewolf every month, it made sense you would always need to refuel. It took a lot out of him each time.
When she was done removing the candles, she cut a huge piece and passed it to him, grinning. “Here you go.”
“Thanks Calli.” He kissed her cheek and walked away to sit and eat. She felt herself start to blush and had to duck her head so no one would see. She continued to cut up pieces of the cake and hand them out to the guests. When she finally looked up, she saw her uncle Dillon staring at her.
“You want some cake Dillon?” She held out a plate with an equally large portion of cake for him.
Dillon smiled and took the plate from her, brushing her hand as he did so. “Thank you, Kaylynn.”
She smiled, “No problem.” Dillon wasn’t really her uncle. He was her second cousin, once removed or something like that. But her family lived with him and he was Caleb’s uncle, so she grew up thinking of him as her uncle too. Dillon was a little weird, but everyone had one of those in their family.
Her mom came up at that moment and took the knife from her. “Here, let me do that sweetheart. Go and enjoy your party.”
Kaylynn gave Patricia Payne a quick hug and taking a plate for herself, walked to where Caleb was still seated and sat down next to him. He was speaking to someone so she was surprised when he reached over and swiped some of the frosting from the top of her slice of cake. She started to say something but he turned back around and continued his conversation. She looked down at the trail his finger left and knew she should feel disgusted but the only emotion that seemed to be coursing through her body was a tense, giddy feeling.
She pushed her fork into the edge of the cake and took a bite, pretending not to listen to the conversation he was having. She frowned when she realized he was flirting. She glanced up at the person he was speaking to and saw that it was Bethany.
Bethany Moore was two years older than Kaylynn but still a year younger than Caleb was. Kaylynn supposed Bethany was pretty, if you went for the busty, long-legged, dumb blonde look. Okay, to be fair, Bethany wasn’t dumb, she was actually brilliant, but that didn’t make Kaylynn feel any better. Thankfully, Caleb only spoke to her for a few minutes more before he turned around to Kaylynn.
“So, Calli, did we do good?” He grinned at her and she felt herself start to blush – again. What the hell was wrong with her?
Frowning, she said, “Yeah, it was a great surprise, though I kind of guessed something was up last night. Mom is horrible at keeping secrets.”
He leaned over and smoothed out the frown lines on her forehead, “I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m heading out now, though. I’ll see you later, okay?”
“You’re leaving?” She tried not to show her disappointment.
“Yeah, we’re going to the waterfall.” He lowered his voice and leaned over, “You wanna come?”
Yes! “Who are you going with,” she asked instead.
“Bethany.” He winked at her.
Kaylynn stiffened and pulled away. “No, I can’t leave my own party. Have fun.”
He looked at her for a bit and then shrugged. “Alright, see you soon.” He tugged on her ponytail and got up, nodding to Bethany and waving bye to Kaylynn’s mom.
“I hope her hair strangles her while she’s underwater,” she mumbled.
She heard laughter and turned around to see Dillon standing behind her, whiskey in hand, laughing loudly. He took Caleb’s vacant seat and wrapped an arm around her, still laughing.
“You heard that, huh?” She smiled sheepishly.
When his mirth died down a bit, he said, “Don’t be jealous Lynn. You’re a beautiful young woman. Much prettier than Bethany. Everyone can see that.”
“Not Caleb,” she countered, sadder than she had any right to be.
“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Soon it’ll be Caleb who’s jealous.”” He leaned down and tilting her head up, gave her a kiss on the cheek. He winked at her and got up, walking towards the dining table to grab some more food.
She wished she could believe that. But for Caleb to be jealous, he would have to notice that she was a girl first.
She glanced up to see her mother frowning thoughtfully at Dillon. Kaylynn got up to go help her mother clean up.
Summer break was almost over and Caleb would start college in a couple of weeks. As she finished washing her hair, she heard the bathroom door open. Opening the glass door a bit, she saw Dillon standing inside the doorframe. He seemed unsteady on his feet.
“I’m in the shower Dillon, get out!” Kaylynn said. Dillon was drinking again, and when he drank he did stupid things like walk into a bathroom that already was occupied.
She wiped water out of her eyes to see him better and tensed when she noticed that he wasn’t wearing anything but shorts. He was looking at her intensely and he seemed very sober. “Dillon? Are you alright?”
He didn’t say anything, just stared at her and she was very aware that she was naked behind the almost transparent shower door. She was about to call for her mom when he abruptly turned around and left, slamming the door behind him. She got out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself. Quickly drying off, she checked to make sure the coast was clear before making a beeline to her bedroom. Dillon was so freaking weird!
Kaylynn was sitting in the middle of her mattress, folding socks into neat little balls and then tossing them into the suitcase. Her hair had fallen down to cover half her face and the sun streaming in from her bedroom window brought out the purple highlights in her hair. She glanced up when Caleb walked in and brushed the hair away from her face. “Sorry I didn’t make it to the park. We’re moving,” she said flatly, before he could say anything.
A brief pause, then, “Why?”
She just shrugged. She didn’t want to talk about it. It was just a stupid mistake, but her mom was adamant that they leave and her dad was no help either. She went back to folding her socks. She couldn’t look at Caleb without wanting to cry and she’d done enough of that.
The end of her bed dipped as he sat down. His hand wrapped around hers, stopping their movement and she looked up to find his eyes wide with concern. “What happened?”
Caleb’s hand tightened and he asked between clenched teeth, “What did he do?”
“Nothing, not really. He’s just creepy, you know?” He hadn’t always been like that. When she was younger, he was this funny, smart man who would let her sit on his lap and read her baby books. As she got older, he’d started drinking more and become meaner; sulkier; more unsociable.
“Calli, tell me.” He searched her face and she knew she couldn’t lie to him.
“He accidentally walked into the bathroom while I was taking a shower.” She rushed to continue, already seeing the anger start to rise in his eyes, “It was an accident, Caleb. But mom is upset and wants to move back to Bridgeport. She says these little accidents have been happening all year and she doesn’t like the way he’s been looking at me.”
She shrugged and pulled her hand out of his grip, picking up a pair of purple and blue socks. “So now we have to move. I’m being shipped away from – from everyone because my mom is imagining things. I guess it was only a matter of time before we had to leave this place anyway. It belongs to Dillon and you.”
“This is your home too. Patricia and Tom know that. I’m so sorry Calli. Maybe I can talk to them?”
She smiled sadly at him. Ever since he’d heard her singing to herself as a child, he’d called her Calli or Calliope. He called her his muse and said all his inspiration came from her. Hearing his pet name for her now was going to make her cry.
Caleb’s hand still rested on top of her sheets and glancing up at him, she started to ask him if he was okay, but that was a dumb question. So she shut her mouth. Of course he was okay, it’s not like she meant more to him than an annoying little kid who lived in his house.
“Bridgeport isn’t that far away,” he said suddenly, “we’ll just visit each other. It’ll be fun, you’ll meet a bunch of new people and it’s a huge city, better clubs! We’ll have a blast.” He got up and walked to the door. “Yeah, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll make it work, Calli.”
As he walked out, Kaylynn felt herself smiling. He would miss her enough to visit. He’d come visit.
“Hey Calli.” It had been a year since he’d seen her. He almost didn’t recognize the girl standing in front of him. She’d grown up. A lot. Caleb let his eyes rest on her breasts, her hips, her long legs before climbing back up to look into her eyes. Yeah, she’d definitely grown up.
“Hey Caleb.” Kaylynn smiled shyly up at him and he grinned back. He’d missed her, more than he thought he would. He leaned down and hugged her tight. “I’ve missed you,” she said. He leaned back a little to look at her and saw her blushing.
“I’ve missed you too Calli. More than you know.” She had always been able to calm him. He still remembered hearing her sing for the first time. She couldn’t have been more than six – a skinny little thing, she was sitting on the floor in the living room, singing a song to a ratty looking stuffed animal. Patricia and Tom had moved in that fall and he’d been having a hard time with strangers in his home. He’d been yelling and arguing with Dillon about it and had stomped into the room and there she was, this little kid who was the same age as the brother he’d left behind three years ago. She’d looked up at him and smiled, as if she hadn’t just heard all the yelling. She’d asked him if he wanted to play with her and he’d run out of the room, crying for the first time since he’d been forced to leave his parents and his baby brother.
He didn’t know what it was about Calli, but something about her made him feel safe, made him feel like he had a place in the world. She was his little sister, a replacement for the family he had lost. But holding her now, hearing her say she’d missed him, he felt anything but brotherly toward her.
She smelled great, fresh and clean – like citrus and the summer air after a rainstorm. He kissed the top of her head and stepped back. “You’re getting taller, you’re all legs now.”
“Not all legs. I’ve grown in other places too!” She laughed when he made a face at her and grabbing his hand, she pulled him into the house she now lived in. He’d been here once before, when she and her parents had first moved in, but with the house fully furnished, it screamed Patricia and he felt a pang of longing. This was his family, he should be here with them, instead, they had left him. He shook his head, refusing to feel bitter about their decision to move. They’d done it for Calli’s protection and he couldn’t blame them for that. He’d have done the same thing.
Dillon was growing worse every day. He was no longer the man who’d promised Caleb’s parents that he would watch over their son. That man had died at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. The thing that was left in his place was a pathetic imitation.
“Where are Tom and your mom?” He looked into the kitchen as they passed it and started upstairs. Her parents weren’t home; he’d known that the moment he walked into the house. It was too quiet.
“They went grocery shopping; they’ll be back in a couple of hours.” She pulled him into her bedroom before releasing his hand and flopping on her bed. Her room looked like a tornado had passed by. For as long as he’d known her, Calli’s room had always been a mess. He didn’t know how she found anything among the piles of clothing, shoes and books that littered her floor.
“How can you find anything in this mess?” He looked around for a place to sit.
“What mess? I know where everything is. The only time there’s a problem is when mom comes in here to clean.”
He doubted Patricia would ever step foot in here. She was a neat freak and she was liable to have a heart attack at this mess.
He moved a stack of books from her desk chair and straddled it, facing her prone form on the bed. The hem of her shirt rose and fell with every breath she took, exposing a sliver of flesh with every inhale. He found himself matching her breathing, focused on that small bit of skin. She was wearing shorts and an old t-shirt, her normal attire, except now she filled out her clothes. When she rose up onto her elbows and looked at him askance, he realized she’d asked him a question. “I’m sorry, what?”
“I asked why you waited a year to come visit. You missed my birthday.”
“I know and I’m sorry. I tried to make it back in time, but I was out of the country. I’ll make it up to you. Promise.” He’d been sent on an errand to Spain by Dillon and hadn’t made it back until last week. “I’m hungry; let’s go get something to eat.” He had to get out of this room. She still had that ratty stuffed animal on her pink and purple bed. It was very much a young girl’s bedroom and did not reflect the young woman lying on the bed. It made him feel decidedly uncomfortable. He got up from the desk chair and headed towards the door, not checking to see if she was following him or not.
“Caleb?” Kaylynn said softly.
He turned around and saw her still leaning on the bed with her elbows supporting her upper torso. “Yeah?”
She didn’t say anything for a while, just stared at him. Suddenly she smiled and shook her head. “Nothing, forget it. Let’s get you something to eat.”
A/N: This is part of a larger Novella about Caleb and Calli. To read the full story go to Novellas.