“I just don’t understand why you’re so determined to keep this baby. Why would you want to have a constant reminder of Seth?” Mom questioned in a loud voice.
“It’s not about Seth! This baby is a part of me too.”
“Only because he took advantage of you! This isn’t a situation where you gave your consent and ended up pregnant, Caitlin.” Dad added.
“I know that.”
“Look, Caitlin, your father and I have always wanted you to get a good education.” My mom shot back.
“What about what I want?” I asked. “Huh?”
“You’re too young to rationalize all of this.” Dad stated.
“No, I’m not!” I shook my head. “I just don’t want to give my baby up for adoption. I can take care of him or her, I can provide a loving environment, if you just support me!”
“As long as you’re under our roof, you’re going to do what we see fit and that is not kicking your goals to the curb because of a mistake!” Mom shouted.
I felt tears burn the rim of my eyelids as I turned on my heels and stormed up the stairs.
“Caitlin Victoria Beadles, come back here right now! We’re not done discussing this.” My father’s voice sounded, but I ignored them as hot tears poured down my cheeks.
I flopped on my bed and sobbed as the sound of my parents now yelling at each other filled the atmosphere. Nothing was going right.
I didn’t need this. I needed the love and support of my parents, I needed them to allow me to live my life, my way—like they usually did. Now wasn’t the time for them to pin their will on me and control my life. That had been the problem all along—Seth had forced me into doing what he wanted, not what I wanted.
I heard the sound of my phone ringing and I grabbed it off my night stand. I saw Justin’s picture and I answered.
“Hello,” I sniffed.
“Are you okay?” Justin asked.
The concerned tone of his voice caused me to break down into sobs.
“Where are you?” I questioned.
“At my grandparents’.” he answered. “What’s the matter?”
“I just, I need to get out of here. Can I come over?”
“Of course,” Justin said. “I’ll see you in a few minutes?”
I hung up the phone and grabbed my emergency duffel bag. Mom always had the whole family to keep a bag packed just in case. I slid my arms into my jacket and stuffed my cell into my purse.
I opened my bedroom window, slid out and closed it back quietly. Carefully, I climbed onto the large tree branch that hung like a bridge to my window.
Expertly, I made my way down and onto the ground. I readjusted my bag and began trekking towards Justin’s grandparents’ house. They lived about three minutes away by foot, and I’d walked to his house many times growing up.
I felt my phone buzz and I looked to see that I’d received a text from an unknown number.
Peek-a-boo, I’d b scared if I were u, just mite end up in I-C-U
A cold chill ran down my spine and I could’ve sworn I heard the sound of footsteps, but I looked everywhere and didn’t see anything. I picked up my pace to a jog. Over the last few days, I’d received several similar texts and they were starting to scare me.
I found Justin waiting for me on the porch.
“Hey,” I smiled slightly.
Justin didn’t say anything he just pulled me into a tight hug before leading me into the house.
I looked around for his family.
“Everyone’s out,” he explained as he grabbed my bag from me.
I nodded as Justin pulled me up the stairs and into his bedroom. He closed the door behind us and plopped on his bed.
He patted the spot next to him and I sat down.
We sat in silence for a moment, and I took in the environment.
Justin’s room looked the same way it had when we were kids, everything seemed to be in the exact same place, like time had frozen here. I felt a sad sense of nostalgia wash over me, our days of child’s play and complete safety seemed so far away.
“My parents are giving the baby up for adoption.” I told him as tears filled my eyes.
“You don’t want to?” he asked.
I shook my head, “No, but I don’t know if I have a choice. Unless they change their minds, I can’t do it alone.” I admitted. “They keep talking about my education and saving my childhood but I don’t think I’ll ever get that back. I’ve seen too much.”
“I know, I feel the same way,” he sighed. “My innocence is gone—and you’ve seen more than I have; things that some people never deal with. And then, on top of that, you’re pregnant. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
“I feel like I’ve aged at least twenty years, but my parents just don’t understand that. It’s like, for years they’ve played this laid back role and now all of a sudden there being super authoritative.”
“I think they’re scared.” Justin said.
“Scared? Of what?”
“Try and put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t you feel horrible if you found out that your daughter was having to deal with constant abuse, and you never suspected a thing? Wouldn’t that make you more protective?” he asked.
“Even when I found out, I felt like I should’ve noticed something. I felt so helpless and angry with myself.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“I still felt like it was,” Justin gently tucked the loose strands of hair that hung in my face behind my ear.
I sighed, “I understand all of that, but they’re making it about Seth. It’s like they want me to get rid of the baby because of what he did, but I just think it’ll be too hard for me to go through with an adoption.” I bit my lip. “I just want someone to be on my side.”
“I’m on your side,” Justin whispered.
I looked up and realized that we’d slowly inched closer together. I rested my head on his shoulder as he pulled me close.
“Why don’t we go for a walk?” he suggested.
“Okay,” I nodded as I put back on my jacket.
Justin did the same and we were off.
We walked side by side awkwardly for a moment, before Justin carefully reached over and entwined his fingers with mine.
I smiled at him and he smiled back.
As we wandered the walking path we laughed and talked about old times. Once, we reached the humongous fast flowing river, we sat down on a bench on the bridge and admired it.
The waters rushed by and created the same sounds of the ocean. It was so beautiful in the moonlight.
I felt my phone buzz, indicating that I’d received another text from an unknown number.
1, 2, what should i do? 3, 4, hurt u more. 5,6, pick up stix. 7,8, make you ache. 9, 10 do it again!
I gulped as I stared at it.
“What’s wrong?” Justin asked.
I handed him the phone with shaky hands.
Justin’s eyes grew wide as he read it.
“Who sent you this?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged.
“Have you gotten any other messages like this?”
I bit my lip.
“Caity,” Justin said. “You need to tell the police about this.”
“I’m sure it’s just some crazy prank.”
“These don’t sound like pranks to me, I mean did you read this? ‘Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish, how many bruises do you wish?’ That’s a threat, babe.”
My phone began to ring, which caused us both to jump. Justin glanced at me and I gestured for him to answer.
“Hello?” he paused for a moment before the phone slid out of his hand. He stared at me with wide eyes.
“What?” I asked.
“What?” I repeated.
Suddenly, we heard the sound of rustling leaves and we turned to see a figure dressed in black coming out of the shadows.
I instantly slid closer to Justin.
“Well, well, well, if this isn’t a Hallmark card moment. All cuddled up on a bench by the river in the moonlight. I have to give it to you Bieber, you’re a romantic one.” I felt my whole body shake at the sound of the venomous voice, I’d sworn I’d never here again.
Slowly, Justin stood up and took a protective stance in front of me. “What do you want, McIntosh?”
“I want a rematch.” he said as he pointed his infamous pistol at us.
“What are you talking about?”
“The last few times around it’s been an unfair fight, wouldn’t you agree?” Seth smiled wickedly and I felt chills roll through my body as I slowly reached for my phone that lay on the ground. “Freeze, Cait.”
“I’m not going to fight you, Seth. You’ve already got a rap sheet longer than the dictionary and the police are looking for you. Just leave us alone.”
“Aww, is the Biebs scared?” he asked in a baby voice as he waved the pistol around.
Justin’s jaw clenched until the blood drained from his face. “Seth, just put the gun down and leave us alone. I swear, we won’t call the police. You can run away and no one will ever find you. Just please, don’t hurt us.”
“What do you think I am? Stupid? Do you really expect me to believe that you won’t call the police?”
“You have my word,” Justin said as he cautiously moved towards Seth, but dangerously closer to the edge of the bridge. “Just give me the gun.”
Seth hesitated for a moment before he leaped at Justin with a ferocity that scared me to death. The force of the attack pushed them both over the bridge and into the rushing waters below.