Broken silence, p.20

Broken Silence, page 20

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  “I’ve not looked at the TV, but I assume it’s news. ”

  “Yes,” I confirmed. Two people from the press and most of the neighbours had witnessed the arrest. They would be having a field day writing their stories for the papers, reporting half-truths with their own messed up fantasy twists.

  “I thought so. Well, since it’s already news it might be a good idea to get the public behind Cole. This isn’t something I would usually suggest, but then this isn’t your usual situation. ” She let out a shallow breath. “Oakley, I think you should go to the local press with the truth, before they put their spin on what they assume to be the truth. ”

  I froze, automatically shrinking from the idea of speaking to journalists, then shook myself, remembering what was at stake here. “Okay. I can do that. ” There was still a large gathering of people out in the street, there would most likely be one or two members of the press still out there.

  I heard Linda’s car door slam and the engine roar to life. “One second, I’m just putting you on hands-free,” she explained. I waited, listening to her press a button. “Alright. I’m now on my way to the station. Before you go out there we need to run through a few things you should and shouldn’t say. ”

  For the ten-minute drive to the station, with one two-minute break as Linda called the police to say she was on her way, we spoke about what I should say. Linda promised she would call the second she had any news, and I was happy that she had given me something to do that might actually prove helpful.

  I was scared though. Actually, I was terrified. What if I said something wrong? What if people thought Cole deserved to be arrested for it? I just prayed that they would see our point of view. Yes, I was underage but barely and there wasn’t a huge age gap between us. It was nothing like what Frank did to me and to think other people would be making it out to be the same made me feel sick.

  Five minutes later and I had mentally prepared myself, getting everything I needed to say straight in my head. This was all happening so quickly. I hated not having control over the situation. Taking a deep breath, I opened the front door. Jasper stood beside me on high alert with his chest puffed out. The rest of my family were just inside, behind me all the way.

  My name was shouted over and over. The sea of noise was deafening. I held my hand up and surprisingly they all shut up. I guessed they really wanted to hear something from me.

  Deciding to get straight to the point and not hang around wasting time, I said, “I really need your help. ” Questions were yelled at me all at once, the second I finished my sentence. “Stop! I’ll answer some questions but one at a time. ”

  “Oakley, what’s happening with Cole?”

  Jasper stepped closer and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “I’m okay,” I whispered to him, before addressing the reporter who had asked the question.

  “Cole has been arrested because we slept together when I was fifteen. ” Another round of questions started, and I wanted to scream. Could they not just let me finish? This was so important. I wanted the whole country behind Cole, but they were making it so difficult.

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  “Please,” I shouted, sighing in exasperation. “Cole doesn’t deserve this. We were both teenagers, both in school and both made the choice to be together. What happened between us was completely different to what my father and Frank did. Cole is nothing like them. This shouldn’t be happening. ”

  Words of support and disgust at the situation buzzed around the crowd, in which neighbours outnumbered press. Talks of a campaign and protests made my head spin. They really were willing to help. Most of the explicit words were spat by the neighbours, the people that had known me and Cole since we were born.

  I opened my mouth again, and the crowd paused. “Please, I need your help. ” Launching into the details I could say, I prayed they would follow through and help.

  “Oakley, are you sure you know what you’re doing? Drawing this much attention to Cole?” Jasper trailed off, frowning as he debated internally with himself. He locked the front door behind us.

  I was overwhelmed by the support everyone was showing and just needed to keep going. “I can’t sit around and do nothing. It’s already all over the news, and I want people on Cole’s side. And if Linda thinks it’s a good idea…”

  I pushed past Jasper and headed back up to Lizzie’s room to get my phone and try calling Linda for some news. Lizzie was in her room for the first time in weeks. She looked up, startled. “Oh, sorry. ”

  “Lizzie, this is your room. Don’t be sorry. I was just getting my phone. ”

  “You don’t have to go, you know?”

  “You don’t have to stay over at your boyfriend’s every night, either. ”

  She shook her head and shrugged. “He’s not my boyfriend. ” But she wanted him to be, that much was clear.

  “Maybe not yet. ” I grabbed my phone and headed to the door before I realised we’d just had a normal conversation. She really wasn’t that bad. “Lizzie, tell him how you feel. You never know you could just get everything you want. ” I did, and I hoped with everything that I hadn’t lost it again.

  “Oakley,” she called, and I turned around, poking my head around the door. “You’ll tell me if there’s anything I can do, right?”

  “Yes. Thanks. ” I closed her door, giving her some privacy. “Jasper,” I shouted, running down the stairs. He jumped up and spun around, looking up at me confused. What had he been doing? I didn’t even want to know. “Can you take me to the station, please?”

  “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

  I nodded. “Yes. ” Now I’d told the world and asked them go get behind Cole, I needed to do the same thing.

  He frowned as he considered what would be the best thing to do. Finally, he gave in with a grunt of exasperation. Jasper found it hard to say no to me, and I tried not to use it to my advantage too much, but this was different. “We leave if we need to, though. If it’s best for Cole, we leave, okay?”

  Of course that was okay. “Yes, I promise. Let’s go. Mum can you—”

  “We’ll keep calling and researching. You go. ” She waved her hands, dismissing us and went back to the computer. She was looking into laws and calling our local MP with Miles and Mia.

  We arrived at the station and headed straight to the front desk. A short plump woman in a police uniform sat behind the window drinking from a take-away cup.

  “Hello?” I snapped to get her attention.

  She looked up at me and sighed. Oh, sorry, was I disturbing your break? Putting down the cup, she scooted her chair to the opening. “How can I help?”

  “I need to know what’s happening with Cole Benson. Please?”

  “He’s still being questioned. That’s all I can tell you, Miss Farrell. ” She knew who I was, then; not that it was a surprise.

  I sighed. “Please?”

  Jasper pulled my arm. “Go and sit down, Oakley. I’ll try talking to someone who knows what’s going on. ” She made a face at him but didn’t comment, just sat back down and looked at her computer screen.

  “David!” I pushed past Jasper and ran to Cole’s dad, who had just appeared from around the corner. “Where is he? Is he okay? What’s going on?” I questioned, speaking too fast.

  He held his hands up. “Calm down, it’s okay. He’s still being questioned. Linda’s with him. I don’t know anything else, but Linda assured me she would do everything she could. We didn’t get time to speak properly, but I think she’ll be able to get him off. ”

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  David looked stressed and worried. He was usually a closed book, hiding his emotions well, but right now the book was lying wide open.

  “Really?” Oh, God, please! My heart started pounding in my chest.

  “We just have to wait. Come and sit. ” I let him lead me to the black fake-leather chairs, and Jasper followed.


  Just have to wait. How long for though? What did they have to ask? Yes, we’d slept together when I was underage but we both wanted to, we were both kids. It wasn’t the same. They were turning it into something sick and twisted and that wasn’t what it was.

  We all sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. The mahogany clad clock on the wall ticked loudly with every second. Watching time pass was never a good idea. Time was different in here it seemed. Every second lasted a minute.

  “What the…?” David trailed off, looking out of the window.

  Turning in my seat, I gasped as my eyes fell on what he was looking at. Oh, wow. Outside were most of our neighbours, some of the press I recognised, and others I didn’t. It was hard to hear what they were shouting, but a few people had ‘Free Cole’ banners. They really listened. My heart leaped into my throat, and I ran for the door.

  There was a round of applause when I stepped outside, and the all-too-familiar flashing of cameras. I didn’t mind the cameras this time. They were there because I’d asked them to be, as well as just wanting a story.

  “Thank you all so much,” I said. My eyes filled with tears. It was so overwhelming to see all these people here for Cole.

  “Oakley, what’s happening now?” someone from the crowd shouted.

  I couldn’t see who it was, so I replied in their general direction, “Cole’s being questioned, so at the minute we’re just waiting. ”

  Jasper pulled my arm. “We appreciate you all coming, but we need to get back inside. Thank you,” he said and dragged me back into the building. “Just stay in here, okay? You’ve done your bit now, but you can’t get too involved. ”

  “Yeah. Okay,” I agreed, nodding. He was right. If I stayed around out there, I could mess something up, say too much. Jenna paced the reception area. “What’s going on now?”

  She shrugged and rubbed her hands over her face. In the short few hours that Cole had been here, Jenna had developed dark circles under her eyes. Did she hate me for what had happened? I gazed at her, anxiously.

  “Come and sit, sweetheart,” she said as she finally sat down. “How are you holding up?”

  “I don’t know,” I replied, sitting next to her. I was just about holding it together. I wanted to scram and cry. “Why are they doing this to him? I’m so sorry, Jenna. I should have never said—”

  “Oakley. ” She grabbed both of my hands. “Please don’t blame yourself. Everything will be fine. ”

  “How do you know?” I whispered.

  “Because I won’t let anything happen to my son. ”

  I smiled and prayed she had the ability to do that. Of course she would want to protect her child, but was there anything she could realistically do? “You should go home, Oakley. Especially now there’s so much media attention. There’s no use in you waiting around here too. ”

  I started to panic. My stomach turned. “I don’t want to leave him. ”

  “I know, and I understand that. I do think that while he’s being questioned, and we’re not sure if they’ll charge him, you shouldn’t be here though. Please don’t think it’s because I don’t want you here. I just need to make sure everything is done properly to give him the best chance, and I don’t know if the press following you and getting wind of what’s happened is the best thing here. ” Her eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t even imagine how she was feeling.

  “Okay. I’ll go,” I agreed. If that’s all I could do now then I would. “When you see him tell him…” Tell him what? “Tell him I love him. ”

  “I will. You know he loves you too, don’t you?” Jenna rubbed my arm, and I nodded.

  “I’ll take you back,” Jasper said, and turned to Jenna and David, “Call when you know anything?”

  Jenna nodded. “Of course we will. ”

  “Come on,” Jasper whispered, wrapping his arm around me. “Walk quickly to the car and don’t stop to talk. Let me handle the questions, okay?” I nodded. David smiled as we passed him, but I couldn’t bring myself to smile back.

  As soon as the door opened the deafening noise returned. It was only a few minutes ago we had told people we were going back inside to wait, and now we were leaving. I was all over the place.

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  “Just walk, Oakley,” Jasper instructed. He held his hand up as he ushered me to the car. “There hasn’t been any news, but we will let you know as soon as there is. Now, I’d appreciate if you let me get my sister home. Thanks. ” He spoke so confidently and calmly, so unlike Jasper.

  He practically pushed me into the car, and ran to the driver’s side.

  “You should be Prime Minister,” I smiled at him.

  He grinned and shut his door, already starting the car. “I should. ”

  We drove in silence until we were almost back at Ali’s house. “He’ll be okay, won’t he?” I asked, desperately needing reassurance.

  “He will. ”

  Jasper’s sudden cry of complaint pulled me out of my thoughts. The crowd outside our house had easily doubled since we’d left. The drive was barely visible.

  “Let’s just run for it,” I said.

  “Good plan,” Jasper agreed as he carefully drove the car through the parting crowd. He got out first and ran to my side. My hands were shaking as I got out. It was all so surreal. Jasper bundled me under his arm and propelled me through the door.

  “Any news?” Mia questioned, stumbling over her words.

  No news. Unable to hold it in, I started crying. It was like I’d opened the floodgate again and everything came pouring out. Jasper picked me up like I was a little child, but I didn’t even care. I curled up in his arms and cried until my throat was sore.

  Later, I laid on the sofa staring at a pin hole in the ceiling left from the Christmas decorations. I had returned to my zombie state of numbness.

  “Oakley,” Mum shouted. I jumped. She ran into the living room as I shot up.

  “What?” My stomach lurched in anticipation. She held her hand up as she listened to someone on the phone. I looked at Miles, and he mouthed, David. David. Oh God, please say Cole’s coming home, please.

  When Mum gasped and smiled I felt a pang of hope. “Okay, bye,” she said and hung up the phone. “They’re not pressing charges. ”

  “They’re not? Really? You’re sure?” I questioned. My heart soared. It was going to be okay. Cole was going to be okay.

  She smiled and hugged me, her arms squeezing me in celebration. “Yes, he’s coming home now. They’re already on their way. David said everyone at the station was less than happy at the arrest. Because Cole and Oakley’s similar age at the time the charges against him have been dropped. ”

  I gripped Mum, sagging against her body with relief as she stroked my hair. I stayed hugging my mum like a child until I heard the front door open. I dried my tears just in time to see Cole walk in, closely followed by his parents and Linda. His eyes scanned the room and settled on me.

  For a second I couldn’t move. He was really back. His face fell, and he took the few steps towards me. “Cole,” I sobbed, stumbling to him. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly. “I’m so—”

  “Don’t,” he said. I closed my eyes and buried my head in his neck, needing to be close to him. “We’re gonna be okay now. ”

  “Are you okay? They’ve definitely dropped charges for good?” I took a shaky breath and blinked back tears of relief.

  He nodded and squeezed his arms around me. “I’m fine. It’s over. I promise. ”

  “Definitely?”

  Cole smiled and pressed his forehead against mine. I closed my eyes, savouring the moment. “Definitely. They were so apologetic after they’d finished the questioning. Nothing will go on my record. Think we can maybe keep our private life private from now on?” he teased.

  All that mattered was that he was home and was staying home. “Think we’ll get a break now?”


  He pulled a face. “Now where’s the fun in that?”

  “Cole, man, good to have you back. ” Jasper ripped Cole away from me and gave him a man hug, before pushing him my way again. “You can go back to feeling up my little sister up now. ”

  I rolled my eyes. Hugging was hardly ‘feeling up’.

  Jasper turned to Linda and said, “So, love before we all sit down, is there anything else, anyone of us could be arrested for?”

  She laughed a little and shook her head. “No. Well, just me for murder if you call me love again. ”

  “Awesome,” Jasper exclaimed, clapping his hands together. “I’ll crack open the JD. ”

  “Yes, do you want to stop for a drink?” Jenna offered Linda. “It’s the least we can do. ”

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  “Thank you, but I have a lot to do. ” And she probably needed to lie down after dealing with me and my family. “Now, don’t take this the wrong way,” she said to me and Cole, “but I hope I don’t see either of you for a while. ”

  I stepped closer to her and smiled. “Me too. Thank you again, so much. ”

  “You’re very welcome. ”

  We hugged and said goodbye. I tried to think of something I could do to repay her, but nothing would ever be enough for what she had done for me, Cole and the other girls and the ones that would have been at risk. She had given me freedom by putting Max and Frank away, and made it possible for me to move on.

  As we closed the door behind Linda and the crowd that was still hanging around the house, I felt lighter. We were done and could just live our lives now. Smiling, I turned to Cole.

  “Wine?” Mia said, giving Cole a sideways hug. “I could drink some wine. ”

  Cole feigned disapproval. “What kind of example are you setting Leona?”

  Mia pointed at him. “A good one. Mummy only drinks in the evening when it’s Leona’s bedtime. ”

  Jasper fake coughed. “Apart from yesterday. ”

  “Oh, please, Jasper. You’re the worst role model ever,” Mia argued. “What would you show your son, huh? That Daddy can get laid by a different woman every night of the week?”

  He grinned widely, and I was glad all our parents had gone in the kitchen. “Yeah, ’cause Daddy’s the boss. ”

  Cole laughed and wrapped his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder. I loved it when he did that; I felt completely protected. “Daddy’s an idiot. ” The three of them started bickering about who was the best role model.

 
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