Silence, p.16

Silence, page 16

 part  #1 of  Silence Series


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That night I barely slept at all. I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, overthinking everything that was happening with Cole. I really liked him. Too much. So much it would crush me if it all went to hell.

  I prayed he felt the same. His actions suggested that he did, but I was so out of my depth here I didn’t really know what to think. If he could be friends with me for nearly eleven years without us saying a word, my silence wouldn’t matter to him if we were actually together, right? Sighing in frustration, I turned on my side and squeezed my eyes shut. Second-guessing myself every two seconds was driving me crazy.

  I woke up about an hour later to my phone alarm beeping loudly. Quickly turning it off, I forced myself to get out of bed and not hit the snooze button for five more minutes. I was still tired from barely sleeping and felt like crap. Today wasn’t starting great, but I had a feeling a certain blue-eyed boy could change that.

  After a long, hot shower, I got dressed and went downstairs for a much-needed hot chocolate. I rarely drank tea anything else. Hot chocolate was the drink that turned me into a human in the mornings.

  “Good morning, sweetheart,” Dad chirped, looking up from behind his paper. Why was he so cheerful? I smiled meekly, waving at him sleepily, grabbed the biggest mug I could find and made a hot chocolate. “Didn’t sleep well?”

  Sleeping well wasn’t something I really did anymore, but last night had been better and worse. I got even less sleep, but my mind had been filled with something else. Something good.

  I shook my head and sat down opposite him, wrapping my hands around my boiling drink. Dad’s eyes bored into me, but I pretended I didn’t notice and focused on flicking through one of Mum’s Better Home magazines.

  “Hey, Oaks,” Cole sang loudly and cheerfully as he walked into the kitchen. I grinned, so grateful he was with me now too. I didn’t like being alone with Dad. I could never quite predict his behaviour and how I should act.

  Cole grinned and sat down beside me. He took my mug and stole a sip of my hot chocolate. How was he up and out so early? I guess he slept properly last night and hadn’t spent hours stressing over what was happening between us. I frowned and pressed my head against the table, making Dad and Cole laugh.

  “Hurry up and finish your drink, Mia said we’re leaving in fifteen minutes.” He gave me the drink back.

  Why did I agree to go shopping again?

  Taking two large gulps, I handed the rest to Cole and made myself go and get dressed.

  I had always wondered if Cole would believe me if I ever did manage to tell him everything or if Dad was right and everyone would believe him.

  As much as I wanted to believe Cole would choose to have faith in me, I could never risk it. In just over two years, I would be eighteen and could leave home. There was no point in ripping my family apart and hurting so many people when I’d leave soon anyway.

  I quickly got ready and sprinted downstairs. Cole stood as he saw me enter the kitchen.

  “See you later, Max,” Cole said as he made his way towards me.

  “Bye, kids. Have fun,” Dad called after us.

  “Ready for this?” Cole asked, scrunching his nose up.

  I nodded and smiled. Well, sort of anyway.

  Mia was waiting for us in the car outside my house, tapping the steering wheel impatiently. I jumped in the front seat and stuck my tongue out at Cole. He raised an eyebrow suggestively, which set my bloody face on fire.

  “Morning,” Mia greeted me and launched into reciting her shopping list.

  Today was going to be long.

  Cole followed us into the first two shops, and I could tell that he was already bored. Unsurprisingly as soon as we stopped at the swimwear he brightened up.

  “The little blue one,” he quietly whispered in my ear, discretely pointing to a light blue bikini with a white polka dot pattern. Wow, when he said little he wasn’t joking.

  I smiled shyly and picked it up. Oh, God, I was buying something for a guy. Should I? Was it for him? Yes, it kind of was, but it was different because I wanted to look nice for him. He wasn’t forcing me to wear anything. I got a choice.

  Avoiding eye contact with him, I stepped to the side to pick out a pair of flip-flops. I also picked up a few tops, maxi dresses, shorts and new sunglasses. Cole leant against the wall near the changing room and played on his phone. There were another two men standing near him, all with the same bored look on their faces. Clothes shops needed to open a crèche for men.

  “Oakley,” Mia squealed, holding up two short halter neck dresses, one in salmon pink and the other yellow, a look of indecision on her face. I pointed to the yellow. Always yellow.

  “Thanks,” she shouted, slamming the pink one down on the rail and flicking through the skirts beside it. She was going all out. Cole looked like he just wanted out.

  We shopped all morning and had almost everything we needed for the holiday. Throughout the morning, Cole stroked my hand or the small of my back, making it hard to concentrate on anything else. He’d gone off a couple times on his own but came back not long after.

  “Can we please eat now?” He whined for the hundredth time as we walked out of another shop with all our bags.

  Mia growled in frustration and pointed to KFC. “If we feed you, will you promise to stop the whinging?”

  Cole grinned. “Yep.”

  We made our way into the restaurant. Cole went up to order while Mia and I found a table. “So, what happened last night?” She asked me as soon as we were away from Cole. My mouth went dry. I hadn’t expected her to come right out and ask that.

  She laughed at me and rolled her eyes. “Don’t look so worried! He hasn’t said a word to me. He was just really, really happy, so I figured something happened between you two.”

  He was really, really happy? I bit the inside of my mouth to stop myself from smiling.

  Squealing, she clapped her hands together. “He finally told you then?”

  Told me what?

  “They’re bringing your burger over, Mia, since your order’s so awkward!” Cole said as he placed a tray of food and drink down in front of us.

  No! Why! He had the worst timing ever. Finally told me what? I needed to know, like now.

  Mia laughed and grabbed her chips. She never had mayonnaise or lettuce on her chicken burger, but for some reason it took longer for them to prepare a burger that had less on it. Cole sat down next to me and immediately started stuffing food in his mouth. I ate at a normal speed and tried to keep a straight face as Cole stroked my knee while having a stupid argument with his sister.

  Mia wanted her on/off boyfriend, Chris, to come on holiday with us. The only problem was that every else hated him. I never got why Mia took Chris back every time he cheated on her. Or why he did it in the first place. As they argued, my mind kept flitting back to Mia’s words: ‘He finally told you then?’ How could she say that and not at least finish the rest in a discrete text message. I was dying here.

  Cole’s hand waving in front of my face made me jump and snap out of my obsessive thoughts. “Welcome back.” He smiled. “Kerry and Ben are going to watch a movie tonight. Do you want to go too?”

  I shrugged casually, letting him know I was cool with that. What we did didn’t matter.

  “Yeah? Great. I’ll pick you up at seven. We’re eating before. We should get going. Mia’s waiting at the car.”

  Waiting at the car? I looked up and, sure enough, we were alone. Whoa, I really had zoned out. Cole was messing with my mind. I stood up and chucked my rubbish on the tray Cole was holding out.

  We started to walk out of the building towards the car park and he put his hand on my back again. “Oh, we’re seeing that new paranormal film, by the way.”

  No. Come on! I stopped and glared at him.

  “Sorry, you’ve already agreed.” He chuckled and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “You’ll be fine. I won’t let the film attack you.”

  “There you two are!” Mia exclaimed. “I was
about to come find you.” She opened the boot so I could shove my bags in. “Let’s go, I’m going out with Chris tonight.”

  You can do better, I wanted to say, but even if I did it wouldn’t change a thing. Mia didn’t listen to anyone when it came to Chris. She had to realise that she was worth a million of him on her own.

  “You get everything, Oakley?” Cole asked, poking his head between the front seats once we were on our way.

  Nodding, I turned to him and smiled. Soon enough I’d be in Italy, lying on the beach with Cole. Wait, on a beach in my bikini with Cole. I suddenly felt self-conscious. He’d seen me wear bikinis a thousand times before, but it was different this time. We’d kissed. Our relationship was changing.

  Don’t overthink.

  I did gymnastics regularly so that kept me fit, but what if it wasn’t enough? My body wasn’t womanly. I didn’t have proper hips and my breasts were a small B cup. Now he was seeing me differently, would he notice that? Would it even bother him if he did?

  Mia stopped outside my house.

  “Now get your stuff and go,” she joked, making me grin.

  Cole helped me get my bags out of the boot and walked them to my house for me. Dad came out of the house just as we had put all my bags down on the floor.

  “How long do you think we’re going for?” He teased, shaking his head.

  “You should see the amount of crap Mia got then!” Cole replied.

  “Women, eh?” Dad picked up all the bags and turned to me. “Come on then, love, you need to spend some time with me and your mum if you’re out again tonight. We’ve barely seen you.”

  That was the point.

  And how did he know that I was going out? Cole must have asked him before he asked me. I couldn’t wait until the day that I didn’t need to get his permission to do anything.

  “See you later.” Cole smiled and headed back to Mia’s car. I waved to them both and went inside.

  “Your mum’s making cakes and wants help. I’ll warn you now that she’s planning your birthday party.” He put the bags down on the sofa and gestured for me to go in the kitchen. When Dad was like that, joking around, it made me hopeful.

  Perhaps now it was all over we could be a normal family again. I still loved the dad I remembered from before. I still wanted him to be who he once was to me. If he could just be that person everything would be okay. Our family would be okay. I could live in silence for our family.

  Reluctantly, I went in and sat down at the table. A birthday party was the last thing I wanted.

  “Oh, I’ve got so many ideas, honey! You want to have it here, or we could hire somewhere? How many people did you want to invite? What colour scheme?” Mum gushed.

  I frowned and looked down at the table. Why couldn’t she accept that I wasn’t the popular, social daughter she wanted? I would never get excited over a party or an outfit.

  “Come on, love, it’s your sweet sixteen! We have to do something special. Please, please, let me organise this party?” Mum pleaded, looking at me with round, hopeful eyes. Great.

  Groaning internally, I nodded in agreement. She squealed and leapt forward, squeezing me tight. I couldn’t say no to her. She deserved to throw me a party after all the hurt and guilt I had caused her. Mum blamed herself for me not speaking. I’d heard her crying over me so many times. The very least I could do was give her this.

  “It’ll be amazing,” she promised.

  Like hell it would

  Dad chuckled deeply. “You should hear some of her ideas. Chocolate fountains and candy floss machines. Just remember it’s a party for Oakley and not yourself, Sarah.”

  Mum waved her hand at him dismissively. “Hush. You’re a man. The only part of this which concerns you is when it comes to the payment.”

  “As in most things,” he countered, mixing the butter-cream icing for the cupcakes. I grabbed the chocolate shavings and started sprinkling them over the cakes they had already iced.

  After decorating twenty-four cupcakes and listening to Mum go on about my stupid birthday party, I went upstairs to get ready to go out. I froze as I suddenly realised why Cole was so nervous asking me before. This wasn’t a normal trip to the cinema. Oh God, this was a date. How could I not have realised sooner? There was being inexperienced in romance and then being plain stupid.

  But now knowing it was a date made me nervous. So nervous I instantly felt sick. What should I wear? Should I dress up? Swinging my wardrobe doors open, I frantically searched through my clothes. My wardrobe was fairly plain. I chucked aside any skirts or dresses, even though they were long and more casual than dressy. I didn’t want to look like I’d tried too hard. Did I?

  I shook my head after fifteen minutes of looking through everything I owned over and over. Cole wouldn’t care what I wore anyway. I grabbed a nice white top with diamantes scattered over the front and dark wash jeans and put them on before I changed my mind. We were just eating and going to the cinema. Casual it is.

  When it was ten minutes to seven, I brushed my hair and applied some lip balm. I heard the front door open and knew it would be Cole ready to take me on a date.

  It didn’t seem real.

  Minutes later, my bedroom door opened and my stomach fizzed with excited nerves. Cole walked in wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. How could he be dressed so casually but look so incredible?

  “Hey,” he muttered nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “You look nice. No. I mean amazing.” He frowned to himself and shook his head. I reached up and kissed his cheek, making him smile. “Let’s go.”

  We walked out to his car and just as I was about to get in, he called my name. I turned around to face him and gasped. He was standing right in front of me. My breath caught in my throat as he gently kissed me on the lips.

  “You really do look beautiful,” he whispered, stroking my arm with his thumb and reaching to open the car door for me with his other hand. I smiled happily.

  Once in the car I started to relax. He didn’t look like he’d spent ages stressing over what to wear. We’d done dinner and a movie plenty of times before so it was time for me to chill and go with the flow. Cole casually gazed at me out of the corner of his eye as he drove to the restaurant, and I pretended not to notice.

  “It’s Chinese. That’s okay, right?” He asked as we pulled into the car park opposite Golden King Chinese restaurant. Too late if it wasn’t! Chinese was one of my favourites anyway, so I nodded enthusiastically. My stomach suddenly called out for food in a gurgle.

  Cole chuckled. “Hungry?”

  Blushing, I nodded and got out of the car. Kerry and Ben were waiting by the entrance, smiling at each other. They only turned away as we approached.

  “Hey,” Kerry chirped, and immediately started talking at a hundred miles an hour. She grabbed my hand, pulling me ahead of Cole and Ben.

  “So how’s it going? You two actually together yet? It’s so sweet how he looks at you,” she whispered so quietly I barely caught any of it. I smiled and shook my head.

  “Don’t worry, it’ll happen soon. Cole’s crazy about you.”

  Crazy about me? I was really, really okay with that.

  Kerry had requested a table in the corner so we could have some privacy. As I had hoped, Cole sat next to me and grabbed the menu, wasting no time in deciding what to eat.

  “You having sweet and sour chicken?” He asked, scanning the menu absentmindedly. It was pointless; we always had the same thing. I nodded and pointed to the egg fried rice too.

  “Cool. I’m getting the beef chow mien so we can share.”

  I was having a great time already and we hadn’t even ordered our drinks yet. A week ago I hadn’t even had my first kiss and now I’m on a double date with the guy I’d liked for forever.

  Kerry and Ben were great and I was having the best time. Mostly due to the fact that Cole kept stroking the back of my hand under the table.

  “We need to go to the toilet, Oakley,” Kerry announ
ced and jumped up so fast she almost knocked her chair over and hit a server. I frowned. Why we? I’d not done the going-to-the-toilet-in-a-pair thing since I was old enough to go alone. What teen can’t pee by themselves?

  Kerry ushered me to the toilets, pushing me forward as if we were in a hurry. I wasn’t that naïve enough to think we were actually going to the toilet. She wanted to talk. Great. As soon as the door closed behind us, she turned to me. “Ben asked me to be his girlfriend! Can you believe that?”

  I nodded. What I couldn’t believe was that it took him so long.

  She spent the next two minutes revealing the details. He’d bought her pink roses and asked her to be his girlfriend right before we came out tonight. Every word she spoke rolled into the next as she tried to get the whole story out as quickly as she could. Her excitement was infectious, and I couldn’t help smiling with her.

  “So,” she took a breath, “has Cole seriously not asked you yet?” Again, no! She was impatient. I shook my head and her face fell a little. “Well, what’s taking him so long? It’s not like he doesn’t want to, duh. It’s so obvious. Don’t worry, he’ll do it soon, I can tell,” she said confidentially. It really didn’t bother me. Well, not too much anyway. I was happy to take things slowly. Rushing into a relationship when I was only just getting used to all these teenage hormones wasn’t smart.

  “Has he kissed you again?”

  I flushed and nodded. He had kissed me quite a lot actually. Kerry squealed.

  “Aww, it’s so cute. OMG, we’re gonna be friends-in-law!”

  What? I grinned in amusement and bit my lip. Friends-in-law. Was that even a thing?

  “Anyway, we should get back, come on!”

  Again, I was pulled along. I couldn’t be mad with her. I had a feeling she’d got away with a lot as a child because it was impossible to be angry with her. Cole and Ben were chatting about football when we got back to the table – my least favourite subject.

  “You survived then,” Cole whispered as I sat down, careful to turn his head so Kerry wouldn’t hear. I laughed softly. She wasn’t annoying at all. He draped his arm over the back of my chair and kissed the side of my head. His lips against my hair gave me goose bumps. Don’t grin too wide or you’ll look like a desperate idiot.

  After dinner and listening to Kerry talk about the hottest celebs for forty-five minutes, we made our way to the cinema. Cole held my hand as we picked up our tickets. I wasn’t looking forward to watching the film, but I was just glad to go out on a double date like a normal teenager.

  The cinema was small and old. Since the new chain-cinema opened up in town, this one had become much quieter. It probably wouldn’t be long before it closed down entirely. I loved it though; the stained carpet, lingering smell of popcorn and ripped seats felt homely and welcoming.

  Cole stroked my knuckles with his thumb to get my attention. “You sure you don’t mind seeing this? I’m sure we can find something else.”

  I shook my head and awkwardly took the ticket he was holding out for me with the hand I was holding my drink with. As stupid as it sounded, I didn’t want to let go of his hand.

  “Okay.” He smiled and nudged me towards the door signed Screen Two. There were only two screens. I could count on one hand the amount of people that were in the cinema and that included the four of us.

  “We’re going to the back,” Kerry announced, bounding up the stairs.

  Cole carried our popcorn, eating some from the box with just his mouth. I grinned as I realised he was doing it because he didn’t want to let go of my hand either. When we reached the top of the stairs and walked to the end of the row where Kerry had already settled down, I dropped my hand from his to pull my seat down.

  “Scared yet?” He whispered in my ear, three seconds after the film started. I raised an eyebrow, which made him chuckle quietly.

  About twenty minutes into the film, that music started. The one where you knew something bad was going to happen but not when or what. Shyness didn’t even register with me as I grabbed Cole’s hand and gripped hard.

  I jumped up on the seat as some ghost-like creature popped out from nowhere on the screen. This is no longer fun. Hugging my legs with the other arm, I hid behind my knees.

  My heart was beating too fast as that music blared out from the speakers again. A door, or something that sounded like a door, slammed in the film and I jumped again. I couldn’t watch any more. I picked a spot just below the screen and concentrated on it.

  “Wanna do something tomorrow? Just us?” He whispered into my ear. I nodded and lifted the armrest that separated us. Leaning against his side, I felt safer. Spending time alone with him was definitely something I wanted. “Cool.”

  Yeah, it really was cool.



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