Home > The Redemption of Callie & Kayden (The Coincidence #2)

The Redemption of Callie & Kayden (The Coincidence #2)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

Acknowledgments


A huge thanks to my agent, Erica Silverman, and my editor, Selina McLemore. I’m forever grateful for all your help and input. And to everyone who reads this book, an endless amount of thank-yous.

 

 

Prologue

 

Callie


I want to breathe.

I want to feel alive again.

I don’t want to feel the pain.

I want it all back, but it’s gone.

I hear every sound, every laugh, every cry. People move around the room frantically, but I can’t take my eyes off the sliding glass doors. There’s a violent storm outside and rain is hammering against the concrete, dirt, and dry leaves. Lights flash as ambulances drive up under the port and the glow reflects off the rain on the ground, red, like blood. Like Kayden’s blood. Like Kayden’s blood all over the floor. So much blood.

My stomach is empty. My heart is hurting. I can’t move.

“Callie,” Seth says. “Callie, look at me.”

I take my gaze off the door and stare into his brown eyes filled with worry. “Huh?”

He takes my hand in his and his skin is warm and comforting. “He’s going to be okay.”

I stare at him, forcing back tears, because I have to be strong. “Okay.”

He lets out a sigh and pats my hand. “You know what? I’m going to go see if he can have visitors yet. It’s been almost a damn week. You’d think they’d let him have visitors by now.” He gets up from the chair and walks across the packed waiting room to the receptionist’s desk.

He’ll be all right.

He has to be.

But in my heart, I know he won’t be all right. Sure, his wounds and broken bones may heal on the outside. On the inside, though, the healing will take longer, and I wonder what Kayden will be like when I see him again. Who will he be?

Seth starts talking to the receptionist behind the counter, but she barely gives him the time of day as she multitasks between phone calls and the computer. It doesn’t matter, though. I know what she’ll say—the same thing she’s been saying. That he can’t have visitors, except for family. His family, the people who hurt him. He doesn’t need his family.

“Callie.” Maci Owens’s voice rips me out of my daze. I blink up at Kayden’s mother with a frown on my face. She’s dressed in a pinstripe pencil skirt, her nails are done, and her hair is curled up into a huge bun on the top of her head. “Why are you here?” she asks.

I almost ask her the same thing. “I came here to see Kayden.” I sit up in the seat.

“Callie, honey.” She speaks like I’m a little kid, frowning as she stares down at me. “Kayden can’t have visitors. I told you this a few days ago.”

“But I have to go back to school soon,” I say, gripping onto the arms of the chair. “I need to see him before I go.”

She shakes her head and sits down in the chair next to me, crossing her legs. “That’s not going to be possible.”

“Why not?” My voice comes out sharper than it ever has.

She glances around, worried I’m causing a scene. “Please keep your voice down, honey.”

“I’m sorry, but I need to know that he’s okay,” I say. There’s so much anger inside me. I’ve never been this angry before and I don’t like it. “And I need to know what happened.”

“What happened is that Kayden’s sick,” she responds quietly and then starts to get up.

“Wait.” I get up with her. “What do you mean he’s sick?”

She slants her head to the side and gives me her best sad face, but all I can think about is how this is the woman who let Kayden get beaten by his father for all those years. “Honey, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Kayden injured himself.”

I shake my head as I back away from her. “No, he didn’t.”

Her face grows sadder and she looks like a plastic doll with glassy eyes and a painted-on smile. “Honey, Kayden’s had a problem with cutting for a very long time and this… well, we thought he was getting better, but I guess we were wrong.”

“No, he doesn’t!” I scream. Actually scream. I’m shocked. She’s shocked. Everyone in the crowded waiting room is shocked. “And my name is Callie, not honey.”

Seth hurries up to me, his eyes wide and full of concern. “Callie, are you okay?”

I glance at him, then at the people around the room. It’s gone quiet and they’re staring at me. “I… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I reel on my heels and run for the sliding glass doors, bumping my elbows onto the trim when they don’t open quickly enough. I keep running until I find a cluster of bushes around the back of the hospital, and then I fall on my knees and throw up all over the mud. My shoulders shake, my stomach heaves, and tears sting at my eyes. When my stomach is empty, I fall back on my heels and sit down in the wet dirt.

There’s no way Kayden could have done that to himself. But deep down in the center of my heart, I keep thinking about all the scars on his body and I can’t help but wonder: What if he did?

 

 

Kayden


I open my eyes and the first thing I see is light. It burns my eyes and makes my surroundings distorted. I don’t know where I am. What happened? Then I hear the deep voices, clanking, chaos. There’s a machine beeping and it seems to match the beat of my heart as it hits my chest, but it sounds too slow and uneven. My body is cold—numb, like the inside of me.

“Kayden, can you hear me?” I hear my mom’s voice but I can’t see her through the bright light.

“Kayden Owens, open your eyes,” she repeats until her voice becomes a gnawing hum inside my head.

I open and close my eyelids repeatedly and then roll my eyes back into my head. I blink again and the light turns into spots and eventually into faces of people I don’t know, each of their expressions filled with fear. I search through them, looking for only one person, but I don’t see her anywhere.

I unhitch my jaw and force my lips to move. “Callie.”

My mom appears above me. Her eyes are colder than I expected and her lips are pursed. “Do you have any idea what you put this family through? What is wrong with you? Don’t you value your life?”

I glance at the doctors and nurses around my bed and realize it’s not fear I’m seeing, but pity and annoyance. “What…” My throat is dry like sand and I force my neck muscles to move as I swallow several times. “What happened?” I start to remember: blood, violence pain… wanting it to all end.

My mom puts her hands next to my head and leans over me. “I thought we were over this problem. I thought you stopped.”

I tip my head to the side and glance down at my arm. My wrist is bandaged up and my skin is white and mapped with blue veins. There’s an IV attached to the back of my hand and a clip on the end of my finger. I remember. Everything. I meet her eyes. “Where’s dad?”

Her eyes narrow and her voice lowers as she leans in even closer. “Gone on a business trip.”

I gape at her unfathomably. She’d never done anything about the violence when I was growing up, but I guess I was kind of hoping that maybe this would have pushed her to the end of her secrecy and her need to always defend him. “He’s on a business trip?” I say slowly.

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