Broken silence, p.8

Broken Silence, page 8

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  “I paid two hundred. ”

  “Pounds?” she blurted out, her eyes widening in disbelief.

  “No Euros,” I replied sarcastically.

  She stared blankly and dug her spoon into the ice cream.

  “Wow, two hundred pounds. They saw you coming. It’s barely worth fifty!”

  “I changed my mind, I didn’t miss you. ”

  Oakley grinned and shook her head. “Liar. ”

  Every single time I looked at her I wanted to beg her to give us another chance. We could make it work. I would give up everything and move to Australia if she still wanted to live there. Something stopped me bringing up the subject, and that was the thought of her saying no. It hurt so much the first time. I couldn’t do it again. She loved me, but that wasn’t enough four years ago, so why would it be enough now?

  I sighed and sat back in the seat. There was nothing I could do right now. I didn’t want to push it.

  “What are you thinking? Your face has gone all serious. ”

  “I wasn’t thinking anything. ”

  “Of course you weren’t,” she said sarcastically. “It’s fine, don’t tell me. ”

  “You’re so dramatic. Anyway I’m getting the keys to the house one day this week so I can measure for carpet quotes and stuff. Wanna come?”

  “Are you going to carpet shops after?” she asked, smiling hopefully. I wasn’t going to. I couldn’t think of anything more boring. I was just gonna call them up and get a quote, but her pleading eyes worked on me again.

  I sighed. “Yes. ”

  “Then I’m there. Oh, do you know what colours you want yet?”

  “Something neutral? I couldn’t care less really. ”

  Oakley shook her head. “We can have a look in a couple of places. ”

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  “Great,” I responded with fake enthusiasm. I think I would actually rather play golf than shop for carpets, and man, golf was boring.

  “You have to buy everything, don’t you? Like a washing machine, cooker and all the other appliances. ”

  “Did you think I was joking when I said I was taking it to my mum?”

  “You’re twenty-two years old, Cole! You’re doing your own washing. ”

  She held her hand up as I was about to say something. “Don’t even think about using I don’t know how to as an excuse. I’m going to show you. ”

  “You just wanna touch my dirty clothes. ”

  She rolled her eyes.

  “Kinky,” I added, wanting some proper reaction.

  “Yeah, I’m having a really hard time not jumping you and having wild sex on the table. ”

  I leant further back, holding my arms out.

  “I’m not stopping ya. In fact, I actively encourage it. ”

  Oakley rolled her beautiful blue eyes again.

  “Of course you do. ”

  I looked down at my milkshake and then back at Oakley. Her eyes widened as she knew exactly what I was thinking. Hmm it had been a while.

  “You’re a grown up now, Cole!” She giggled and grabbed her straw too, ready to flick it back at me if I started it.

  I slowly stirred the milkshake with the straw, watching her the whole time. Her smile grew wider as she waited for the inevitable. I was just about to flick the straw at her when cold milkshake hit my face. My mouth dropped open.

  “Too slow,” she sang.

  Quickly recovering from the shock, I dunked my whole hand in the glass, ready to wipe it across her pretty little face but she was already on her feet, heading towards the half open door.

  She couldn’t move very fast as she had to weave around all the junk Mum insisted on keeping, so I quickly caught up with her. I wrapped my arm around her waist and pulled her against my chest.

  She grabbed my arm, holding it away from her and wriggled to get out of my grip.

  “Stop struggling, Oakley. It’s happening. ”

  “No! Cole!”

  “I’ll give up if you say sorry. ”

  “Not a chance,” she mumbled, laughing. I managed to get my arm closer to her face. “No, no, no! I only flicked a little on you. ”

  “Fine, I’ll only wipe one finger across your face. ”

  Again, she started laughing and struggling harder. She was a lot stronger than she used to be. I almost had to try.

  “No, Cole!”

  Five minutes later, I gave up. We sat back down to finish eating, well, drinking, our melted ice cream. She made me feel like a teenager again.

  “Jasper wants to go,” she blurted out. Okay…

  She had done that a lot recently, slipping serious stuff into conversation. She’d be joking one minute, and then something she obviously found difficult to say would slip out.

  “To the trial?”

  “Yes. I tried to talk him out of it but he told me he’s made his decision and he’s going. ”

  I wanted to be there when they were both found guilty and sent down too.

  “Why would he want to hear what happened?” she asked, ‘What Dad had done?”

  “Probably for the same reason as you. He wants closure, Oakley. ”

  She sighed and rested her chin on her hands. I knew what she was thinking.

  “I feel guilty. ”

  For a few seconds I was speechless; it was so hard to know what to say. But then I replied, “Why do you feel guilty?”

  “Jasper lost his dad, and as much as he says he hates him there must be some part of him that still cares. ”

  “Some part?” What the hell is she thinking?

  “Yes! The part that remembers Dad teaching him to ride a bike and drive a car. Every Christmas where Dad would make a fort out of the empty boxes. When he took him to the park and helped with his homework-”

  “Okay, stop. That man wasn’t real. ”

  Her eyes glazed over, and I felt the temperature drop.

  “But that’s not true. He was real to Jasper. ”

  I moved quickly, sliding in beside her and wrapping my arms around her tiny body.

  “The guilt shouldn’t be with you. It’s not your fault. Jasper may have lost his dad, but that’s not because of you. ”

  Oakley nodded against my chest.

  “You don’t believe me, do you?”

  “No one believes you, Cole,” she said with a shaky voice, trying to make a joke.

  “That’s because you all suck,” I mumbled against her hair. Her body shook lightly as she laughed.

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  Every time I saw her upset, I hated myself. I didn’t understand how we all could have missed it. I had told Oakley thousands of times over the years that she could tell me what was going on but she never did.

  “Sorry. Again. You must think I’m an unstable mess!”

  “Not unstable. Although you are getting a little more like Jasper,” I joked.

  Oakley’s moods were about something. She had a good reason, whereas Jaspers were about the most random things, even when he was a kid. He had always been the joker and after a while no one could tell if his reactions were genuine or an act.

  “That’s the same as unstable. ”

  I chuckled quietly and closed my eyes, pulling her closer. She couldn’t feel exactly the same about me as I felt about her or there was no way she would be able to go back to Australia. But if I felt leaving her was the best thing for her, could I do it? I thought about that for a while. Loving someone meant putting them first. I would have to do it.

  “Do you want to go when it starts?”

  She shook her head. “No. I don’t want to be in there any longer than I have to. ”

  “So you’re just going to give evidence and watch the verdict?

  “Yeah. ”

  “Me too. ”

  “Thanks, Cole,” she whispered.

  “Stop thanking me. ”

  To
change the mood, I started a conversation about our childhood and the time she tried to rescue a half-dead bird. She kept it in an old shoebox filled with tissue and made me and Jasper bring it worms because she wouldn’t touch them. It died after two days, and we buried it in her back garden.

  “He’s still there, you know. ”

  “Yep. The new owners probably think ‘Squawk’ is a cat or dog. ”

  My dad carved the bird’s name into a cross we made from lollypop sticks.

  “Poor bird. I was really upset when he died. That was the day I stopped wanting to be a vet. ”

  I laughed.

  “Yeah, you shouted that you couldn’t even save one bird so you would be the ‘rubbishest’ vet ever. ”

  She was only four. I think that was one of the last times I heard her shout, too.

  I took in every part of her as we spoke. Her light blue eyes and long wavy blonde hair. Her full pink lips that I had a hard time not attacking. No one was supposed to be perfect, but to me, she was.

  Finally, long after we’d finished eating and drinking, I drove her back.

  “Do you want to come in for a bit?” she asked.

  “You just don’t want to face your mum and crazy brother alone, do you?”

  “That’s not the only reason. ”

  I was a little taken back with how honest that was. I expected a sarcastic reply.

  “Sure, I’ll come in. ” I don’t want to leave you yet either.

  I couldn’t help putting my hand on the small of her back as we walked inside. Touching her was too natural. Oakley grabbed the post from the floor as we walked towards the kitchen.

  “Oakley?” Sarah called, the second we closed the front door. “Honey, how was it? Are you okay? We’ve been so worried. ”

  “I’m fine. It was fine. Sorry I made you worry, but everything was alright. I was with Cole. ”

  I smiled proudly. Everything was alright because she was with me.

  “What’s that?” I asked, frowning and turning my head towards the source of the awful noise coming from upstairs.

  “Jasper’s showering. He sings in the shower,” Sarah replied, shaking her head in discouragement. He was singing very loudly. I couldn’t make out every word, but I caught a few, moves and Jagger. Jasper was murdering a perfectly good song.

  “What’s wrong?” Oakley’s asked. I spun around and saw her looking at her white-as-a ghost mum.

  “It’s a visiting order from prison,” Sarah said. “Max wants to see me. ”

  Chapter Nine

  Oakley

  I couldn’t breathe. My lungs were tight. He wanted to see Mum. Why? Did he want to explain? Was there even an explanation for what he did? He was trying to talk his way out of it. If he could get Mum on his side… No, that wasn’t going to happen. She would never believe him.

  My eyes wouldn’t focus properly. I was vaguely aware of Cole’s arm around my waist, holding me tight. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have collapsed. What if she wanted to see him, too? They were married after all, and she must have things she wanted to say. She never got the chance to talk to him after he was arrested.

  “Oakley?” Cole shouted, standing in front of me. He frowned, taking my face in his hands.

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  Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I desperately tried to think of something to say.

  “Oakley? Are you alright?” Mum asked.

  “I’m fine, Mum,” I muttered in reply.

  “I’m not going. You know that, don’t you? I don’t ever want to see that man again. ”

  Mum pulled me away from Cole and into one of those hugs that made me feel like a little girl again. She held me tight and stroked my hair. She used to hug me like that if I’d had a bad dream or hurt myself. It made me feel safe and like nothing bad could happen to me. I stopped feeling completely safe like that from the age of five.

  The night she found out she held me, and for the first time in eleven years I believed that eventually it would be okay. That night I felt like I got my mum back.

  “Y-You can if you want. I understand if you do. ”

  This trip was about Mum and Jasper getting closure too, not just me.

  “No, Oakley. The only time I want to lay eyes on him again is when he’s being carried away to rot in prison. ”

  I flinched at how much hate was in her voice.

  “Okay,” I whispered.

  “What’s going on?” Jasper’s demanded, thudding down the stairs, hair dripping.

  “Max wants to see Sarah,” Cole explained, making Max sound like a dirty word.

  I watched Jasper’s eyes tense and his jaw clench.

  “What?” he growled, disbelievingly. His face turned red with anger.

  Mum held her hand up.

  “I’m not going, Jasper. Of course I’m not. ”

  “Good! Why can’t that sick bastard just fucking leave us alone?” Jasper paced the room, shaking his head. “What the hell does he want anyway?”

  “I doesn’t matter. She’s not going,” Cole said, trying to calm Jasper’s temper.

  “It does matter,” he countered. “What the hell is going through his sick mind? Does he think Mum would actually want to see him? What was he going to say to her, oh sorry for selling our daughter—”

  I cringed and squeezed my eyes closed as if that would prevent me from hearing what Jasper was about to say.

  “That’s enough, Jasper,” Mum snapped.

  Don’t cry, don’t cry. I didn’t want to keep crying all the time. I wanted to be stronger than that.

  Jasper groaned “Shit. I’m sorry, Oakley. ”

  “It’s fine. ”

  He looked like he wanted to say something else, but I wasn’t up for talking about it. I would speak to Mum once Jasper wasn’t around. He would get too angry.

  “I’m tired. I’m going to bed. ”

  Cole looked at me sceptically. He knew that I just wanted to get away. I was tired though. It had been a very long day.

  “Call me if you need to talk,” Cole whispered in my ear and hugged me tight.

  As soon as Cole left, I went to Lizzie’s room. She was staying at ‘someone’s’ house tonight, so I had the room to myself. I had a feeling Ali made her stay at a friend’s, knowing that I would just want some time alone. I also had a feeling that this someone was Lizzie’s boyfriend.

  I laid on the futon and stared up at the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep. Thousands of thoughts were swirling around my head making it impossible to drift off. The scariest one was what if they get off? I knew Linda said there was too much evidence, but it wasn’t impossible for a guilty man to be found innocent.

  Would Dad have some believable excuse or elaborate story that the jury would believe? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did.

  I eventually gave in to the fact that sleep was not going to come anytime soon and got up. It was one in the morning so Cole probably wouldn’t appreciate a call now.

  I made my way downstairs and into the kitchen. Mum was sitting at the table drinking tea. I blinked to make sure I really had seen her.

  “Mum?”

  Her head snapped up to me. “Oh, hi, sweetheart. Everything okay?”

  “Yeah, just couldn’t sleep. What about you?”

  “Same. ”

  I chewed my lip and sat down opposite her. Drinking tea at one in the morning wasn’t a good sign.

  “Can we talk, or are you going to bed?”

  “No. Of course we can talk. I’ll make us a drink; this one’s cold now anyway. ”

  I watched Mum boil the kettle and get the mugs out. She was too calm. That meant something was bothering her. Dad.

  “Are you okay, Mum?”

  She nodded and busied herself making hot chocolate. I smiled as she sat back down, handing me a mug.

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br />   “What do you want to talk about?” she asked.

  “Dad, and what happened earlier. ”

  She pursed her lips and nodded once. “I thought so. ”

  “I know you said you didn’t want to see him, but if you’re only doing that because of me then please don’t. You were married for a long time, so I understand if there are things you need to talk to him about. If you want answers or—”

  “Oakley, I appreciate you thinking of me, but I hate that man. You won’t understand until you’re a mother yourself, but when someone hurts your child you want to kill them. ”

  I blinked in shock. I knew that Mum loved me, but I didn’t understand how deeply.

  “I stopped loving him the second I found out what he’d done. If I had the opportunity I would pull the trigger on him myself. ”

  Mum had never said anything like that to me before. It made me want to cry. I finally realised how wrong Dad had been: Mum would never have abandoned me for speaking out. I wish I had known that years ago, but I was a kid, and I believed my dad.

  “I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you. ” A tear slid down her face and I instantly got up, moving around to her side of the table and hugging her. No.

  “Please, please stop apologising, Mum. There was no way you could have known what was happening,” I whispered and blinked to clear the tears. Mum had said sorry so many times over the past four years, but it wasn’t her that should be sorry.

  “I should have,” she murmured against my hair. “I don’t understand how you’re not angry with me. ”

  “Because it wasn’t your fault. ”

  She pulled back and wiped the tear from my face. “I’m so proud of you. The way you’re handling everything is unbelievable. You deserve to be happy. Cole makes you happy, doesn’t he?”

  “Yeah, he does. ”

  “I bet he’d come to Australia if you asked him. ”

  I shook my head. “I wouldn’t ask him to do that four years ago and I won’t now. ”

  “You could always move back here. ”

  “Trying to get rid of me?”

  “Yeah, you’re a pain in the arse. Seriously, though, it’s something you should consider if you want it. ”

  “I don’t think I could live here again. ”

  Her face fell as she understood exactly why I couldn’t be here. Too much reminded me of Dad and Frank, and Cole’s parents lived so close to our old house. Although I’d moved on as much as I could and can now talk about it without breaking down, I still wasn’t ready for all those physical reminders.

  “Don’t let them ruin your happiness, Oak. Find a way of being with Cole if that’s what you want. He’s one of the good ones, you know. ”

 
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