I feel weird going with Luke, for various reasons, one being that I barely know him. I have no idea how I got into the situation. Actually I do. I was walking around the back end of the campus, because I like how quiet it is there.
As I was pouring some M&Ms into my mouth, I rounded the corner and nearly stepped on Luke. He was sitting down on the ground, in the dirt, with his head lowered and his legs bent up in front of him.
“Oh my God.” I jumped back, pressing my hand to my heart. “What Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. are you doing back here?”
He had on shorts and a white t-shirt and his brown hair was damp. He lifted his face up and his skin was paler than snow. “Callie, what are you doing?”
I balled up the candy wrapper in my hand. “I walk this way after my English class is over. I was actually getting ready to meet up with Seth to go to the gym.”
He bobbed his head up and down and sweat was beading his forehead. “Oh.”
I turned to leave, but decided I couldn’t leave him looking so Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. terrible. “Are you okay?”
He scratched at his arm. “Yeah, I was working out and started feeling like shit so I came back here to take a breather for a minute.”
I crouched down in front of him, keeping enough distance to make me comfortable. “Are you sick or something? You look…”
“Like shit,” he finished for me as he got to his feet and sighed.
My gaze snapped down to his leg, swollen twice its size, blotchy and red. “What happened to your leg?”
He released a slow exhale as he inclined against the brick wall of the Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. school. “I may or may not have forgotten to take my insulin for the last few days.”
“You’re a diabetic?”
He put a finger to his lips and shook his head. “Don’t tell anyone. I don’t like to show weakness. It’s a weird thing with me.”
“Why haven’t you been taking your shots?”
“I ran out and never picked up more. It’s another weird thing with me… I sometimes can’t bring myself to stab a needle into my body.”
I didn’t press as I eyed his leg, enflamed from the knee down Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking.. “Do you need me to take you to the doctor? Or go find Kayden?”
He shook his head, stepping forward and then stumbled back, banging his elbow into the wall. “Don’t tell Kayden. When I say no one knows, I mean no one knows.”
I adjusted the strap of my bag higher up on my shoulder. “I think you need to go to the doctor.”
“I know I need to go to the doctor.” Putting some weight on his leg, he hobbled toward me. “Look, don’t you have stuff you don’t want people Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. to know?”
I nodded warily. “Yeah.”
“Okay, well for me, this is one of those things,” he said. “So can you keep quiet about it?”
I nodded again. “As long as you let me take you to the doctor.”
He shut his eyes, breathed in through his nose, and his chest expanded out from underneath his shirt as he opened his eyelids. “Okay, we have a deal. Let me go change my clothes, make an appointment, and then I’ll meet you out front in like twenty minutes.”
“Maybe you should just go to the ER,” I suggested. “You look Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. terrible.”
“ER trips cost a lot of money,” he replied, limping toward the metal doors. “Money I don’t have.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you out front,” I told him and then he stepped inside, letting the door slam shut behind him.
As I headed for my dorm to drop my stuff off, I had no idea how I’d gotten myself into the situation. I’d spent the last six years trying to stay away from guys, but it seems like that’s all I've been around lately, but I wasn’t going to bail out on Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. him.
When I met him out front twenty minutes later, it turned out he couldn’t get into the doctor for another two hours, so we exchanged numbers and I promised him I’d be back from the gym in time to take him.
Two hours later, we’re sitting in the office. Luke jiggles his knee up and down as I read through a copy of People magazine while finishing off a piece of licorice. I changed out of my workout clothes into jeans and a t-shirt. I’m surprised how well I’m handling what I Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. did at the gym with Kayden. Sitting on top of him like that was strange, but my body liked it. A lot. Seth teased me about it the entire drive home and I kept waiting for it to crash into me, yet I still feel fine.
Luke’s skin looks almost yellow beneath the lighting of the waiting room. I flip the page and then tilt my head to the side to try and make out what I’m looking at.
“Don’t you hate doctor’s offices?” Luke says abruptly.
I glance up and his brown eyes are huge Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. as he stares at a man across from us, hacking into his hand. “I guess so.”
He scratches agitatedly at his temple until there are red streaks on his skin. “It’s so fucking unsanitary.”
I close the magazine and drop it on the table. “Maybe if you didn’t think about it so much, then you’d relax a little.”
He pauses and his foot quits tapping. “I just really hate needles.”
It makes no sense, since he’s probably had to take insulin shots for a while. The fear in his eyes makes me wonder Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. if there’s more to his phobia than just the needles, though.
“Okay, think of something else.” I scoop up a copy of Sports Illustrated from off the table beside me. “Read this. It’ll help take your mind off stuff.”
His eyebrows furrow as he takes the magazine from me and studies the girl on the cover. “You know, I don’t remember you being this way in high school. You were really quiet and everyone…” He trails off, but I know what he was going to say; that everyone made fun of me, picked on me, teased and tortured me Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking.. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t bring that stuff up.”
“It’s fine,” I assure him, but memories explode through my brain like shards of glass.
“You know, you remind me of my sister, Amy,” he says. “I don’t know if you remember her. She was a couple of years older than us.”
I shake my head. “I don’t. Sorry.”
He opens the magazine and flips the page. “She was a lot like you. Quiet, nice, but sad.”
I notice he said was. I press my lips together as the glass in my head multiplies as Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. it shatters into more pieces. “Will you excuse me for a second?”
I get up from my chair and scurry down the hall to the bathroom. My shoulders start to hunch over as the ache in my stomach builds. Thankfully, the bathroom is empty, otherwise I would have done it in the hall and everyone would have known my little secret. The one thing that makes me feel better during the darkest times of my thoughts. The one thing that belongs to me and no one can take it away.
“I think I should take you there as a thank Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. you,” Luke says as we drive by a carnival set up in the fairgrounds. The sun is descending behind the mountains and the sky is grey with splashes of pink and orange. Neon lights and music take over the land.
“I haven’t been to one since I was like eleven,” I admit. “I was never really into the rides, especially the ones that went high.”
“Didn’t you ever go to our town fair?” he asks, pausing at a stoplight.
I shake my head. “I stopped going when I turned twelve.”
He looks at me Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking., waiting for an explanation, but what would I say? That my childhood kind of ended at twelve when my innocence was stolen? That after it happened, cotton candy, balloons, games, and rides made me wish for a time I’d never have again?
“Well, then I’m taking you,” he says as the light changes and a green glow reflects across his face. He releases the clutch and the truck rolls forward.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I tell him. “I was happy to help you, especially since you no longer look like you’re going Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. to drop dead.”
“Did I look that bad?”
“You looked like shit.”
He shakes his head with a small smile on his face. “Still, I think we should go hang out. It’s better than going back to the campus and sitting in the dorms. I’ve barely gotten out of my room since school started.” He pauses as he spins the wheel and makes a right into the dirt parking lot at the side of the white tents and the neon glow of the rides. “You can call Seth and invite him.” He considers something as he shuts Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. off the engine. “I’ll call Kayden and see if he wants to come.”
I pick at my fingernails as I try to stay calm and not get all giddy like a silly girl. “I guess we could do that.”
I pull my cell phone out of the pocket of my jeans while he grabs his off the cracked dashboard. While I call Seth, he talks to Kayden. I hear Luke being vague as to why we’re together and I wonder if Kayden’s still mad.
“Seth’s in.” I raise my hips to shove my phone back into my Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. pocket. “And he said he was going to call Kayden to see if he wants a ride… if he’s going.”
Luke repeats what I say to Kayden, and then he snaps his phone shut, rubbing the back of his upper arm where he got the insulin shot. “Kayden says he’s in, too.” He opens the door and hops out, slanting back into the cab to snatch the keys from the ignition. “I told him we’d meet him over by the Zipper.”
I climb out, push the door shut with my hip, and meet him around Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. at the other side of the truck. I take in all the crazy, spinning rides. “The Zipper? That one sounds interesting.”
He chuckles as we hike across the parking lot toward the gated entrance. “Yeah, we’ll see if you’re still saying that when you see it.”
We’re waiting in line for a ride that has a long metal center with cages attached to it. Each cage flips around as the middle section whips in a circular motion, so there is double the spin. The lights twinkle and some heavy rock music plays so loudly I can barely Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. hear the screams from inside the cages. I watch it spin around and around, psyching myself out while Luke texts on his phone.
“Are you going to make it?” Kayden’s breath caresses my neck as his voice touches my eardrum.
I turn my head and his lips nearly touch mine. The abrupt closeness throws him off as much as it does me and we both take a step back at the same time.
He’s wearing a loose fitted pair of jeans, boots, and a long sleeve black shirt. His dark hair looks a little wet Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking., like he just got out of the shower before he came here.
He’s gorgeous, I admit to myself. It’s the first time I’ve been able to admit that about a guy in a very long time.
“You look freaked out,” he shouts over the music as he leans closer. “Are you seriously considering riding that thing?”
“Maybe…” I slant my neck back, tipping my head up at the ride. “But it goes so high up.”
Pink and yellow lights dance across his face as he glances at the ride and then looks me in the eyes. “How Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. about we share a cage?”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I say. “In fact, I think it’s a very bad idea.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” The corners of his lips quirk as his gaze darkens. “Don’t you trust me?”
“Yes, I trust you,” I say. “But I don’t want to end up throwing up on you.”
“You’ll be okay,” he assures me, nudging his shoulder into mine and then he winks at me. There’s something different about him tonight; he’s freer and I think he might Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. be flirting with me. “I promise I won’t let anything happen to you. In fact, you can hold my hand the entire time.”
Where was he during my twelfth birthday? Probably playing hide-and-seek with the rest of the kids.
“Alright, I’ll ride with you,” I say with hesitance. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Warning taken and rejected.” He interlocks his fingers through mine as he jerks me forward with the moving line.
“I’m sitting this one out,” Luke calls out as he drifts over to the bench with his Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. attention on his phone. “I got some stuff I got to take care of.”
“Where’s Seth?” I ask, glancing around at the booths, the games, and the trailers with food, trying not to make a big deal that Kayden’s holding my hand.
But it’s all I notice.
“He went to meet up with someone.” Kayden steps forward and I move my feet with him. “He said to tell you that he would catch up with us in a little bit and to relax and have fun.”
I scrunch my nose at the ride. “And this qualifies as fun?”
“Oh Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. yeah.” He tugs me toward the guy running the ride, who’s dressed in a blue polo shirt, old jeans, and a trucker’s hat. “You’ll have a blast.”
I show the guy the stamp on my hand and then Kayden puts his arm in front of me to show him the stamp on his. As he pulls back, his hand unintentionally grazes my boob and I blink at the tingling sensation it elicits.
The ticket guy unlocks the gate for us and we walk up the ramp. Kayden lets go of my hand so I can hop Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. into the cage. Once I’m in the seat with my feet planted firmly on the bottom, he joins me. Without any preparation, the ticket guy slams the door shut and locks the cage from the outside. There are padded bars on the inside that push against my shoulders and secure me back into the seat. It’s a tight fit and Kayden’s leg is pressed against mine; scorching hot through my clothes.
He angles forward, meeting my eyes and a slow smile spreads across his face. “It’s snug in here.”
I nod my head and it Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. bumps against the back of the seat. “Too snug. If it flings off the hinges, it’ll be crushed into a ball when it hits the ground and smash us right along with it.”
“Stop psyching yourself out,” he says in a carefree tone, then jerks his shoulders forward and rocks the cage.
“Don’t,” I beg, my fingers tightening around the bars. “Pretty please. Can’t we just stay stationary?”
He shakes his head as the ride progresses forward and halts so the cage in front of us lines up with the ramp. “Now what would be the Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. fun in that?”
“It would be fun because I would be able to hold in all that candy corn I ate,” I say innocently.
He stops rocking the cage. “Oh, come on, Callie. It won’t be fun if we don’t rock it. In fact, the more we rock it, the better it’ll feel.” His voice drops to a deep whisper. “We can rock it nice and slow or really, really fast.”
His words make my cheeks flush, but luckily it’s dark. “And what if I get scared? Or my gag reflex gets Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. a little too excited?”
“I’ll tell you what.” He maneuvers his hand around the bar and squeezes my knee with his fingers, sending a shot of warmth between my legs. “If you feel like you’re going to throw up and you get freaked out of your mind, yell, Kayden is the sexiest man alive and I’ll stop.”
The cage jerks backward and I grip the bars as we begin to ascend to the top. “That is seriously what you want me to yell?”
“Absolutely.” He pauses as our cage reaches the highest point and the ride comes Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. to a standstill, swaying in the breeze. “Do I have your permission to rock away and give you the ride of your life?”
Why does it feel like he’s secretly talking dirty to me? “Yeah, go ahead, rock it nice and hard,” I say without thinking, then bite down on my lip as the dirty section of my brain catches up with me. Honestly, I didn’t even know that side existed.
“Wow.” He releases a slow breath with wide eyes and then shakes his head. “Okay, are you ready?”
I intensify my grip around the bars and Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. press the tips of my shoes to the floor. “Yep… I think.”
He flings his body forward as the ride takes off. Our cage starts to spin gradually at first, but the more weight he puts into his rocks the faster it goes. The lights from outside flash all around and the music picks up. I hear the roar of other rides; people laughing, screaming. The wind blows against my cheeks and the air smells like salt and cotton candy.
The faster it goes, the more I lose sight of what’s up and what’s down as we go Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. around and around. The hinges squeak and I hear Kayden laugh as I let out a little squeal. Surprisingly, I don’t freak out, nor does Kayden get a lap full of candy corn. I’m having fun, even though it feels like my face is being sucked back into my skull and my brain is rattling around.
When the ride stops, we’re at the top and the breeze sneaks in between the holes in the door.
Kayden opens his eyes and a confused look rises on his face. “I thought you passed out or something with how Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. quiet you were.”
“I was just enjoying the ride,” I say breathlessly. “It was actually pretty fun.”
“Well, I’m glad I’m that good,” he says, resting back in the seat.
I turn my head away to hide the smile on my face, because he’s just having fun and I’m enjoying it way too much. He has a girlfriend. A very pretty girlfriend, who isn’t up to her neck in problems. One that he can touch and rock away with or whatever.
We don’t speak until our cage reaches the ramp. When the ticket guy Offer to Help Someone Without Them Asking. opens the door, Kayden hops out and I follow, stumbling over my own feet as the world sways from my dizziness. My shoulder slams into his broad chest. He laughs at me as his fingers grip my waist and he guides me closer to his side. Between the rush of adrenaline and the feel of his hands holding me, it seems like it’s going to be a good night.
And I’ve been looking for one of those for a while.