That night, I lay wide awake inside of my hotel room staring at the wall. Although Kayla’s words had been a comfort, it still didn’t change the fact that Caitlin was missing and no one seemed to be doing a God-blessed thing about it.
I glanced at the clock and realized it was now 1AM. I’d been trying to fall asleep since 9:30.
Sighing, I climbed out of bed, threw on a hoodie and skinny jeans, grabbed my car keys, my cell phone and left the hotel room without even waking my mother.
I rode the elevator to the empty lobby.
I walked through the glass doors and out to my Range Rover.
I hopped in the car and started driving.
I had no idea where I was going and honestly, there was nothing to do in Stratford at one in the morning.
I drove until I found myself in my mother’s boyfriend, Kevin’s driveway. I climbed out of my car and walked over to the front door.
Wondering if I’d lost my mind, I knocked on the door.
Just when I was about to turn and walk away, the door opened to reveal Kayla dressed in red satin pajamas, a matching robe, and flip-flop style slippers.
“Justin?” She asked. “What’re you doing here?”
I stood there flabbergasted. I opened and closed my mouth, but no words came. Honestly, I had no idea why I was here.
She simply smiled at me and gestured for me to enter the house.
I stepped inside and looked around.
The house was 3 stories and resembled the traditional family home. It was warm and cozy, but sensible.
I followed Kayla into the kitchen where she placed to mugs of water into the microwave and watched her move around the kitchen.
I’m not sure if it’s the fact it was 1 in the morning and I was half-crazy, but I saw something in her that I hadn’t seen before.
The kindness in her tone, although, I’d woken her up in the middle of the night, her sweet hospitable nature. The way her red satin PJs flowed behind her, caused her to resemble a fairy. I could see her being a pastor’s wife someday.
She placed the tea and sugar on a tray and led me into the family room.
“I hope you like raspberry tea.” she said as she sat the bags in the tea cups.
I simply nodded as my eyes fell on her perfect pink lips.
“I’m sorry for bothering you.” I said. “I just...”
“Couldn’t sleep?” she finished for me. “It’s fine. Besides, Uncle Kevin’s at the hospital praying for one of the kids at his youth group that has Leukemia. This place gets pretty creepy when you’re home alone.”
She opened up the little porcelain container that contained sugar cubes.
“Do you like one or two?” She questioned.
“Five.” I said with a crooked grin. “If that’s not too greedy.”
She laughed, “I always get five too. The secret is you discreetly keep adding them.”
I chuckled as she handed me the cup.
“So, tell me, what’s on your mind?” she asked as she took a sip.
Once again, my eyes landed on her mouth.
“Huh?” I asked realizing she was talking to me.
She giggled softly.
She must think I’m a complete lunatic. First, I knocked on her door in the middle of the night and now I was acting like a blubbering fool.
“You miss Caitlin, don’t you?” She asked.
I made sure I listened this time.
“I just wish I knew she was safe.” I sighed.
She nodded her understanding.
“And the thought that Seth is hurting her...it just...it scares me, a lot.” I admitted. “I feel as if it’s somehow my fault—that I should have seen it. Afterall, I’ve always been the one who could read her like a book. This time I failed and it hurts.”
“I know how you feel.” she said.
“Yep.” she said. “You know, I told you my step-dad abused my mom.”
“Well, every time he’d do it, I’d just sit there and cry and watch. I was too scared to do anything and then I’d feel bad, like I was the one who’d inflicted the pain.”
“But, Kayla,” I protested. “You couldn’t fight a grown man!”
“I know that now, but then I thought that I should have, that it was my duty to protect my mother. But someone made me realize that even if that was true—it wasn’t—but if it WAS that I couldn’t change the past and honestly, I couldn’t control the future either.”
“Who made you realize that?” I asked.
I was just waiting for her to gush about her perfect boyfriend. Pretty, sweet, perfect, sensitive girls like Kayla always have a boyfriend.
“God.” she said.
I did a double-take.
“God.” she repeated. “I fell on my knees and prayed really hard and God made me see that it was out of my control, I had to trust in Him and that’s what you need to do too, Justin, throw your burdens on God. He knows where Caitlin is right now and He can help her.”
I allowed Kayla’s words to sink in.
I called myself a Christian, in fact the Beadles and all of their friends did, but we had yet to go to God about this. If anything, we’d all been silently second-guessing where He was at the moment—how could He let something like this happen?
“I can pray for you right now, if you’d like.” she said holding out her hands
I took them in mine. They were soft and dainty—a sharp contrast to my rough, guitar string & hockey stick callused ones.
We both bowed our heads in reverence.
“Hi Heaven Father!” she began to speak as if she was talking to her best friend.
“I’m here with Justin and I know that you know that he’s hurting, Lord. His friend Caitlin has gone missing and we’re all worried about her. Please just help him to not feel guilty and to allow You to take on his burdens. Help him to rest at night and keep a clear mind so that he can be ready to help find Caitlin—if that’s Your will.
In Your Son, Jesus Christ’s name,
I felt tears fill my eyes as I slowly lifted my face.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t one of those, ‘It’s a miracle! My pain has magically disappeared!’ moments, but I still felt better after hearing her prayer.
She had known just the right words to say and I felt even more drawn to her.
“How about we get some rest?” she suggested standing up. “You can sleep in the guest room tonight. Uncle Kevin won’t mind.”
I opened my mouth to refuse, but Kayla leaned over and pressed a finger against my lips. As she bent over, her pajama top slid down a little, allowing me to catch a glimpse of her black bra.
I tried not to look—but, I’m a teenage boy, in a house all alone with a pretty girl—how much can you expect from me?
“No buts.” she giggled.
Although she was being completely innocent, every move of her body was seducing me.
“Follow me,” she said walking towards the steps.
Her hips swayed as she walked and her long legs could’ve belonged to a super-model.
I felt my pulse quicken as I looked at her.
I stood up off the couch and followed her.
She led me to a room that had a big comfy-looking bed and mahogany furniture.
“My cousin usually sleeps in here when we visit Uncle Kevin. I’m sure he probably left some pajamas that you can wear.” she said as she walked over to the closet.
I found my feet moving towards her.
“Here, try these on.” she said closing the door and turning towards me.
I must’ve misjudged the space between us, because she ran smack into my chest.
She began to back away to widen the gap between us, but she was up against the closet door.
My hormones took over and before I’d even known what I’d done, I had leaned down and kissed her.
I felt a surge of electricity go through my whole body. It was like the adrenaline rush I got when I was on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, but this feeling was like that—times 100. I never wanted the feeling to end, but Kayla pulled away and slid to the side of me.
Her cheeks were cherry-red as she bit her lip and cleared her throat.
“Uh, um, goodnight, Justin.” she stuttered before hurriedly leaving the room.
I stood in place, once again speechless and more confused than ever.
What had just happened? What did I feel for Kayla? Was it a crush? Something more? Or just lust? Why had I come here instead of going to Ryan or Chaz’s house?
I’d wanted peace not more confusion!
Now, I was worried about Caitlin AND whether or not I’d just ruined the friendship I was building with the one person who seemed to be able to understand what I was going through.
I considered going and apologizing, but then I decided against it. Was I really sorry? My head hurt. I didn’t want to have to deal with this—not now.
Seth’s cell phone on the nightstand caught my eye.
“I’ll forgive you, if you prove that you’re truly sorry.”
“I’ll do anything, baby. Anything.” he said.
“Call my parents. Tell them where we are. I’m certain that they’re worried sick.”
It was the middle of the night and I sat in the passenger seat of Seth’s car as he drove off to some distant location from where we were staying, in order to find a pay-phone. He hadn’t been willing to call my parents from his cell-phone, which was really no surprise. He’d said it was too risky, but to my utter amazement he’d suggested calling them from a pay-phone and had agreed to let me speak to them.
He turned up the radio and began singing along to Love Like This by Natasha Bedingfield and Sean Kingston. He reached over and squeezed my hand.
“Relax, would you? You keep acting like you think I’m gonna flip out and change my mind.” he chuckled.
I forced a smile, but I couldn’t relax. Seth had done too many crazy things for me to allow myself to let my guard down.
He finally selected a gas station that looked like it’d been deserted since the 1960’s.
Seth helped me hobble over to the dusty old phone and held me up as I held the phone away from my ear, but close enough to be sure it had a dial tone—I wasn’t about to press it against my ear, who knew what germs were all over it?
Once I was sure that it was working, I inserted the requested amount and dialed the number to my house.
The phone rang and rang and I silently prayed that someone would pick up, but no one did. I only got the answering machine.
I swallowed hard and forced a peppy voice. Seth handed me the script he’d written for me to say.
“Hi everyone! It’s Caitlin,” I said in a sing-song voice. “I’m calling to let you all know that I’m fine. Seth just decided to take me on....vacation.” What a lie. “And there wasn’t any reception, but anyway, don’t worry. I’ll see you all soon. Love you! Bye!”
As I hung up the phone, I felt tears burn the rim of eyes. I probably would’ve just been better off not contacting them at all. What if they took my message seriously and stopped looking for me? I decided to look on the bright side—at least now they knew I was still living and for now, Seth was being nice to me.
But how long would that last? I had no idea.