Broken silence, p.18

Broken Silence, page 18

 part  #2 of  Silence Series


Broken Silence

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  “Jasper…” There was a time when Dad was Jasper’s hero. I knew he hated what Dad had done, but he had to feel more than anger and hatred. Emotions were never that straightforward.

  “Don’t, Oakley. I’m okay. Get ready, yeah? We need to go soon. ” Jasper walked back into his room, and I felt awful for him.

  Sighing, I walked into the bathroom and closed the door. Let’s just get this over with.

  I sat between Mum and Jasper in the public gallery. Cole was on the chair in front of me, and my family were dotted around. I wanted to be between Mum and Jasper rather than Cole because I wanted to show Dad that he hadn’t broken us.

  My heart felt as if it was going to burst right out of my chest. I wanted him to get the maximum sentence but at the same time, I felt wrong for wanting that.

  Separating who he was from knowing he was my dad was hard. I wished he could have been different but now all I could hope for was that he wasn’t ever given the opportunity to hurt another girl.

  Dad seemed older and smaller. He stood with his shoulders hunched over and looked at the floor. His hair had greyed so much he looked ten years older. I couldn’t believe, looking at this man in front of me, that I had ever been afraid of him. But appearances were deceptive.

  The judge stood up, in what felt like slow motion. I took Mum and Jasper’s hands and prayed that my father would spend the rest of his life in prison. When the judge opened her mouth, I couldn’t hear a thing, just a ringing in my ears.

  My head felt light and I could just about lip-read. I caught a few words. ‘Gross abuse of trust’ and ‘Danger to young children’ were the only things I could pick out. I blinked rapidly, spilling my tears. Please.

  Jasper sucked his breath through his teeth and gripped my hand. What? The courtroom burst into life, but I hadn’t heard what the sentence was.

  “What happened?” The shrill ringing in my ears and distant murmuring was still all I could hear.

  Mum gripped my arms and cried. “Life, Oakley. He will never hurt anyone again. ” Her voice sounded muffled, as if I was hearing her from under water, but I made out every word. My father received a life sentence.

  Breathing in sharply, I collapsed into Mum’s arms. He got life. How would he cope in prison? Why did I even care? Oh God.

  I pulled back from Mum and looked down at him again. His eyes were wide with shock. The dad I knew had gone fifteen years ago. I felt the air rush to my lungs as I finally let go. He wasn’t my dad, and I didn’t ever want to see him again. He was nothing to me now.

  As he was being led away to start serving his sentence, he looked up. Our eyes met, and there was nothing. No remorse. His expression was empty.

  My heart was beating at a hundred miles an hour and I wanted to run, but I held his gaze, refusing to back down.

  Page 69


  Mum and Jasper both put their arm around me. The last image he would have of his family would be us standing strong together, watching him being hauled away.

  Goodbye, Dad.

  “Honey?” Mum whispered. .

  “It’s okay now, Mum,” I whispered. “We’re going to be okay. ”

  Back at Ali’s, I went up to Lizzie’s room for a few minutes to clear my head. Downstairs a celebration had started, but I couldn’t bring myself to raise a glass to helping put him behind bars. I had gone through too much to be able to celebrate anything connected to what happened to me.

  I sat on the futon and took a deep, calming breath. Letting him go felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had a dad, but that was good, because I no longer had an evil one.

  Cole pushed the door open. “Hey,” he said, kneeling in front of me. He pulled a little red velvet bag out of his pocket. “Open your hand. ”

  “Okay,” I replied, frowning as I did as he instructed.

  He tipped the bag up, and a small, egg shaped, orange-red gemstone fell onto my hand. A black lace was threaded through a hole cut into the top, creating a necklace. “Fire Agate,” he said.

  “Fire what?”

  “Agate. ” He grinned. “Energy, warmth, strength and courage. You have so much already, but I know you struggle sometimes. ”

  My heart swelled as I ran my thumb over the smooth stone. I definitely could do with a little more of all of that. “Thank you. It’s perfect. ” I leant over and kissed him. “You chose this yourself?”

  “Well, I wanted to get you something, but it was Mia that suggested one of those stones. Shall I?”

  Nodding, I handed him the necklace and pulled my hair out of the way. With it hanging around my neck, I felt stronger. I knew it was all in my head, but that didn’t matter.

  I leant forwards and kissed him softly. “Let’s get down there. ” He smiled and stood up. I followed.

  Down in the living room, my grandparents sat with Ali on one sofa while Jenna and David sat on another. Lizzie, Miles, Jasper, and Mia were dotted around the floor.

  I sat on the carpet between Cole and Jasper. There was a space on the sofa near Ali, but that must be where Mum was sitting. “Where’s Mum?” I asked.

  Jasper’s eyes flicked to the floor. “Just on the phone. ”

  What’s he hiding? “On the phone to who?” He shrugged. “Jasper?” I insisted.

  “Linda, okay? She’s on the phone to Linda. ”

  Why would she be on the phone to her so soon? Frank’s trial was a few weeks away, and Dad’s was completely over. “Don’t freak. It’s probably nothing. ”

  “Then why were you trying to keep it from me?”

  “Because I knew you would freak. ”

  Mum walked into the room clutching the phone. “You don’t have to go through it again,” she said straight away. “Frank’s changed his plea to guilty. He’s admitted everything. ”

  My eyed widened in surprise. I felt my mouth pop open. “Really?” Frank was pleading guilty now? “So that’s it. It’s all over?” Relief conflicted with disappointment. I wanted to stand up to him, but by him changing his plea he was admitting I was right anyway.

  She grinned. “Yes, sweetheart. It’s over. ”

  “Good,” Jasper said. His voice was as hard as his posture. “He can rot too. ”

  “What happens next?” I asked.

  “Linda said the judge will set a date for the sentencing. She’ll let us know. ”

  I blinked. “Oh. ”

  David stood up. “Well, this definitely calls for the other bottle now. ”

  “Thank goodness,” Nan said, standing to hug Mum.

  I looked over at Cole, ready to tell him I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t get to look Frank in the eye when I told my side, but he looked so relieved. And that was ultimately how I knew I would come to feel. I wouldn’t have to go over what had happened with Frank again.

  He’d heard what Max watched and allowed, but he hadn’t had to hear what it all felt like, how painful and sickening it was. My family and he would be spared that, at least.

  “To justice and moving on,” Grandad said, raising his champagne. Everyone lifted their glass and repeated his words. I lifted my glass, but I deep in my heart I didn’t feel justice had been served. There was no sentence that could take back what either of those men did. But finally, they were going to be in a place where they could never do it again.

  Page 70


  Chapter Twenty


  Oakley had been too quiet all day. I wanted to celebrate that that bastard Frank was going down as well as Max, but she didn’t seem to want to. When I watched Max give evidence I was almost convinced that the jury believed he was innocent when it came to Oakley and that she’d stopped talking for attention or because of some condition.

  She sipped on her vodka, lemonade and lime while staring down at the table.

  Not for the first time, I couldn’t think of anything to say. It would
be okay. It already was in the sense that they would spend a lot of time in prison, but for her it wasn’t okay. Oakley still had to live with the memories.

  She looked up and gave me a small smile, her fingers gripping the necklace I’d bought her. I nodded towards the door, questioningly, and she stood up. I followed her out to the porch and wrapped my arms around her tiny body. I loved how perfectly she fit against me. She pressed her face into my shoulder and gripped hold of me.

  Her hair tickled my face. “What are you thinking?”

  “I don’t know. ” She admitted. “Just looking forward to when I don’t have to worry about trials and sentences. I’m so tired of it all. ”

  “Yeah, I know. Not long now and it’ll be done. Soon there will be no more worrying about what will happen. ”

  Oakley laughed humourlessly. “Unless he gets a short sentence. ”

  “Don’t worry about that. Whatever happens he will never come near you again. ”

  She pulled back, frowning as she ran her finger down the side of my face. “It’s not me I’m worried about. I’ve got nothing he wants now. ” I bit down hard on my lip and swallowed. Now she wasn’t a child.

  I gripped her tight. No one would ever hurt her again. “Want to get out of here? I’ll let you drag me around home furnishing shops. ”

  “Okay. ” She smiled. “Start the car for a quick getaway. I’ll let them know. ”

  “I feel like I’m in an action movie. We should blow something up too. ”

  She rolled her eyes. “I’ll get right on that. ”

  I started the car and seconds later she got in. That was quick. “To the boring shops,” I muttered. At least it would take her mind off everything.

  “Whichever one you want,” I whined. What the hell did it matter what coffee table I got anyway? It would just end up cluttered with video games and empty bottles of beer…

  Oakley turned to me and sighed, exasperated. “Cole, just choose a fucking coffee table. ” My mouth dropped open. I could count on one hand the amount of times I had heard Oakley swear. It was so alien but weirdly sexy. “I’m serious,” she said threateningly: “Pick one. ”

  Blinking, I pointed to the table we were standing by. She’d picked out four that were the same wood as the window and door frames, but it was my job to choose which I preferred.

  She smiled. “Good. I’ll go get someone to help. ” I watched her walk away, delighted by her increasing confidence.

  When she returned she was arranging delivery to my place. The guy was grinning and looking at her in a way that made me want to smash his face into the effing table. “Oh, and do you have any end tables?” She turned to me. “You could have one beside the corner sofa. ”

  “What do I need two tables in the living room for?” The happy glint in her eye made me give in immediately. “Fine, where are they?”

  “What about that mirror in the hallway?”

  “Yeah, that too. ” Maybe she didn’t know it, but I was decorating the house for us both. All I had to do was get her to stay with me. “What about photo frames? I promised Leona I’d put her picture up so I wouldn’t forget her. ” Like I could ever forget my beautiful, crazy niece.

  “I think I saw some in the first or second aisle, we can go back in a minute. ” Great, back to the start. Why the hell did I say anything? I scowled at how stupid I was.

  “Aww, stop the frowning. ” Oakley rubbed her thumb over my forehead as if erasing frown lines and smiled. “We’re almost finished and then you can take me home to bed. ”

  I was sure my eyes lit up when she said that. “You know, we don’t really need to get the frames now. ”

  She stopped walking and grinned up at me. “Oh, really? You have a better idea?” I nodded. I had a much better idea. “We’re getting them. I think you can wait an extra five minutes. ”

  “Can’t,” I grumbled. “How the hell am I going to concentrate on picking stupid photo frames out when all I can think about is those legs of yours wrapped around me. ”

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  “Cole!” Oakley scolded, ducking her head to hide her blush.

  I laughed and nudged her forwards. “Alright, just hurry up. The sooner I get you naked the better. ” She giggled and pulled my hand towards the stupid lamps. I was picking the closest one, and then the closest frames and getting her home.

  “Oakley…” I said, when we had been looking at two very similar-looking lamps for seven minutes.

  She frowned. “Cole, what you buy for your house is important. You have to live with it every single day. ”

  “I can live with either of those, what I can’t live with is not being–” She gasped and slapped her hand over my mouth. Her cheeks turning a dark shade of red. I would never get bored of making her blush like that. “You’re such a prude, beautiful. ”

  “And you’re such a…” She paused and frowned. “Whatever the opposite of prude is. ”

  “Oakley!” We both turned around at the sound of her name. Marcus, her old gymnastics coach bound towards her, and she stepped into his outstretched arms. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen you in years. ”

  “I know, it’s been too long. ”

  He gasped and pulled back. “How have you been?”

  She smiled. “Good. You?”

  “Fabulous. Listen you should drop by the gym sometime. ”

  “Yeah? I’d love to. I can come next week. ”

  “Perfect. Drop me a text?” She nodded, took his phone and started tapping her number in. “Cole, how’s it going?”

  I shook his hand. Marcus had always been really good to Oakley; therefore I liked him. “Good, man. How’s Jack?”

  Marcus shrugged. “The same, gorgeous and possessive. ” He’d been with Jack for as long as I’d known him.

  Oakley handed his phone back. “Here. Text me your number and we’ll meet up next week. ”

  “I absolutely will. ” He kissed her cheek and shook my hand again before gliding off towards the kitchens. The man didn’t walk like normal people, the only part of him that moved were his legs, his upper body was that solid.

  “Nice to see him again,” Oakley beamed. Marcus hadn’t spoken about those bastards like everyone else did, and I think she appreciated that.

  “Yeah, he’s a good guy. Now can we please finish in here and go?”

  When we finally got out of the damn shop, I was ready to burst – from boredom and sexual frustration.

  “Straight to bed?” I asked as we got in my car. She smiled shyly and nodded. “Good, because you’re getting it. ”

  “Who said romance was dead,” she muttered sarcastically.

  “Please. I can do romance. You want roses on the bed?”

  “Not really. Don’t fancy thorns stabbing me to be honest. ”

  My parents’ car was in the drive when we got back. I let out an exasperated sigh. “Why can’t they leave us alone?”

  Oakley opened the car door. “This is their house, Cole. ”

  “Whose side are you on?”

  She laughed and got out. I traipsed behind in a bad mood. All the house crap was still in the boot, apart from the big stuff that was getting delivered. We still had to get it over to the new house and store it in the spare room. All I wanted to do was lock myself in my bedroom with my girlfriend and forget everything else, but the universe hated me today.

  The front door opened right before we reached it. Mum and Dad stepped out. Mum had her bag and Dad was holding his car keys. It was all looking positive. “Oh, hey. Did you get everything you need?” Mum asked me as she gave Oakley a hug.

  “Pretty much. You guys going out?” Please say for a while.

  “Yeah, dinner at Judy’s,” Dad grumbled. Judy’s my aunt, Mum’s sister, the lady that criticised everything.

  “Oh, stop moaning, David. I endure your mother, the least you can do is put on a smile for my sister. ”

“My mother is nowhere near as bad as your sister,” he argued.

  “Alright parents! As fascinating as this is, we’re going to go inside. You two enjoy your dinner. ” I pushed Oakley inside and shut the door before they could say anything else.

  “Rude,” Oakley said.

  “I know. Sorry about them,” I chose deliberately not to understand her.

  “I wasn’t talking about them. ”

  “I know,” I replied, grinning. “Come on. Bed you. ” She giggled and grabbed my arm, pulling me towards the stairs.

  The second I’d closed my door, I pulled her top gently over her head. “I love you,” I whispered, against her lips and moved us both down on to the bed.

  Page 72


  Oakley yawned and laid back. “I’m so tired. ” She yawned and pressed her face into the pillow.

  What! I groaned internally. “Okay, get some sleep then. ” Be understanding.

  She looked up and grinned. “Oh, stop teasing me!” I dived down on top of her, making her squeal and laugh. I kissed her hard, gripping her face between my hands. She wasn’t going back to Australia. There was no way we were being apart again.

  Chapter Twenty-One


  “Do you want to sit with your mum and Jasper?” I asked as we stepped inside the public gallery. I swear if he didn’t get sent down for the rest of his pathetic little life I was going to murder him.

  She shook her head. “No, it’s okay. ”

  I gripped her hand and led her to the end of the first row of chairs. “You got me. Always. ” We still hadn’t had that what’s going to happen when this is all over conversation. I had no idea where she was on that score. Not going back to Australia, I hoped and prayed.

  Sarah sat the other side of Oakley and Jasper was beside me. He muttered something under his breath that would probably turn the room blue. I glanced at him and he whispered: “I wish I owned a gun,” in my ear. I couldn’t agree more.

  There were a few reporters in the room; they all turned to look at us. The case had become so high profile that it was in the national newspapers every single day. Even my family were featured. The press were like vultures, hovering around, waiting to dive on you the second they got the chance.

  Oakley had been offered so much money for her story, most of her family and friends had too. Of course, no one had taken up the offer. I really hoped they never did that to her. The last thing she needed was someone she cared about profiting from the trauma she’d lived through. The attention was mental, but if it made the world see what disgusting fucking monsters those bastards were then it was worth it.

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