Episode 21

Episode 21 Firm Words

Caitlin knew her friends were on the war path and the worst part of it all was that JC hadn’t contacted her yet. She knew he wouldn’t for a few more hours at least and she had enough sense to make the assumption not to call him. She pushed open the door as she entered their usual convening place for crisis situations and pulled Callie in beside her.

“Caitlin!” emily didn’t sound friendly to say the least but Caitlin sauntered over and took a seat with her friends. “Hey, Caitlin,” Lexie huffed as she took her seat and unclipped Callie’s harness who seemed to sense the mood and quickly took shelter under the table. Caitlin half wish she could follow her and curl up, not wanting to have this conversation. It was bad enough she had to lie to her friends but to have them realize she was lying was even worse. Smiling weakly, she looked up, ready to take the shower of verbal bullets.

“What’s up, guys?” she asked in a light tone as she fiddled with her bangle on her wrist. Making a note to herself to stop playing with anything that would make her seem to be nervous or agitated, she placed her hands on the table, then stood. “Where are you going?” Emily growled, afraid Caitlin was going to flee. “I’m in Starbucks, Emily. Where do you think i’m going?” She smiled a mischievous smile and headed to the counter, ordered her coffee and slowly began to relax knowing that it was so important to make them believe her.

Emily and Lexie continued to share anxious glances as Caitlin strode back, replacing the golden dog beneath the table and taking her own seat again. “We know you lied,” Emily said harshly as Caitlin took her first sip of her coffee. “O you do?” Caitlin raised her eyebrows in confusion. “How?” She kept her smile fixed upon her gentle face, knowing there was no possible way that they knew she was lying and to keep her calm. “It’s obvious!” Emily slammed her hand on the table. “Why are you protecting him?” “Why are you?” caitlin retorted with the calmness of the ocean on a still, sunny day. “I mean, if you really think he’s guilty, why didn’t you tell the cops that? and if you truly thought he was capable of doing it, then why did you get Cory to back up the facts?” Caitlin spat the last word as she took another sip. “You’re misdirecting,” Lexie snapped now. Caitlin merely smiled. “I didn’t lie and if you guys think I have, I’m sorry. But I have an afternoon of meetings and I would much rather not have this conversation when it is purely pointless!” “If you didn’t lie, how is it pointless? just tell us, was he at our place last night? We have a right to know!” Lexie’s eyes were flashing dangerously like the stop lights. Caitlin looked at her, her mouth moist from the coffee but she wasn’t sure how to proceed with this, after all, lying wasn’t her forte.

“No Lexie,” She said in an ultimately calm tone as she prayed that she didn’t go to hell for this. Not that caitlin believed too much in heaven or hell. Maybe karma was more of the thing she feared. things did, after all, have a habit of coming back and biting you on the ass. But her intentions were right, weren’t they? as she toiled with this, Emily and Lexie glanced at each other. something in their friend had changed over the past few weeks and it all seemed to coincide with her meeting JC. He had seemed like a nice dude but after having the wake up call from the cops, both Emily and Lexie weren’t convinced he was that nice at all. someone who has the cops looking for them, first thing in the morning has definitely got something going on that isn’t exactly ligit. “Have you talked to him? Told him about the cops coming by?” Lexie decided to take a different approach and caitlin smiled. she had definitely been prepared for this question. Taking a deep breath she remained calm and said in a quiet tone: “I tried too, but he’s either busy or ignoring my calls.” “What was the fight over?” emily smiled at Lexie, knowing that Caitlin would have to fess up about several facts within the next few minutes. What had their so called fight been over anyway? And why hadn’t Caitlin told either Lexie or Emily about it? Sure, emily had known there had been something up between them on Sunday night after they had left the hospital but she had never tried to discover what due to the fact she was so preoccupied with her own trauma of that day. Emily watched Caitlin now as she calmly wiped a strand of hair from her eyes. she looked troubled.

“He called me stupid,” She said somberly as she sipped at her coffee. “He said I should never have put myself in danger like I did on Sunday. After I talked with him when I was at the hospital, i haven’t spoken to him since. Kept trying to call him but he’s ignoring me. Now I’m not sure what to think. But I know, in my heart, JC wouldn’t have tried to do anything to hurt me. And I know, as you do, Emily, that he did nothing to Battle at the show.” “OK,” Emily felt a pang of sorrow as she looked at her best friend. she looked so pitiful and unhappy over what JC had said. “He was trying to protect you?” “He said, the reason he stormed off was because I’d been so idiotic to run into the possible path of a shooter and he didn’t want to see me hurt.” Caitlin’s eyes welled with tears. She was really falling into this roll expertly now as she wrung her hands in anxiety. “I guess, he just cares!”

Lexie watched warily as Emily caved into Caitlin’s sorrowful display of emotion. Lexie shrugged. Not because she didn’t believe Caitlin but because she hated emotion. Standing up, grumbling she wanted a cigarette, Lexie stomped outside.

How could Emily cave into Caitlin’s emotional state? They were supposed to be letting her know they wouldn’t deal with this bullshit. That she couldn’t let her deviant boyfriend have the cops wake them up at ridiculous hours due to his criminal behavior. And here Emily was, telling Caitlin it would all be OK and oh! Wasn’t it so lovely that jC cared for her even if he did call her stupid! Emily needed her head testing. So did Caitlin for that matter. She couldn’t be serious about still wanting to be with him after this. He was suspected of attempted murder and he was having her best friend act shady, nothing good could come of Caitlin dating JC carter.

Emily placed a comforting arm around Caitlin as she realized, maybe she had been too harsh on her friend. She had walked into starbucks that day, sure she would give her blond friend a piece of her mind and here she was, hugging her and telling her JC would call and everything would be OK. Caitlin may be crazy, still being involved with him but he sure did seem to treat her good. Despite where he was from he took her to dinner, respected her and most importantly, made her happy. What more could a friend ask for?

Hugging her tightly, stroking her long, blond hair, Emily felt shameful of her thoughts earlier. “I’m sorry I upset you, caitlin! I should have believed you! After all, you are my best friend!” Caitlin looked up at Emily, sighed and nodded, wiping the tears from her pink cheeks. her eyelashes glimmered beneath the strobe lighting in the brightly lit coffee shop, tears clinging to her eyelashes in desperate desolation. “I understand!” Caitlin sniffled like a child who knew she had done wrong and was now repenting but Caitlin didn’t feel like she had wronged her friends in any way. If anything, she was protecting them from the world she was now heavily involved in. They didn’t need to know about it or be involved in any way, it wasn’t right or fair to drag her two best friends into an uncertainty beyond any of their comprehensions. “Emily, I really like him, and I don’t know even if he’s safe right now, so I’m sorry if I’ve been snappy but the cops showing up was much of a shock to me as it was to you and Lexie. I just wish I knew he was OK.” Fresh tears fell for this of course was straight from her heart and more true than anything she’d told Emily that day.

Hugging her tighter, Emily tried to console her but knew that nothing she said could make her best friend feel better. There was only one person who could do that, and he was either in more trouble than they knew or he was simply ignoring her. Emily, despite herself hoped to God it was the first one for Caitlin’s sake. She looked broken as she sniffled solemnly in Emily’s arms. Her blue eyes were dark with heavy emotion and her posture was slumped and dismal. Emily just wanted to see her smile again.

Caitlin hugged Emily and thanked her again as she left Starbucks and headed toward work again. Callie was happy to get away from all of the emotion and padded happily down the familiar streets. The sun beamed overhead as Caitlin walked distractedly toward work.

“Hey!” A hand grabbed her arm and she tensed, ready to scream as JC pulled her down a side street. “O my god!” She gasped, clutching at her chest in shock. “It’s you!” “Of course its me!” he laughed. I couldn’t call you, but I wanted you to know, I’m OK! And,” He took a deep breath, uncertain of why the hell he was about to say the following words. “And I wanted to see how you were!”

As much as her instinct told her not to, she threw her arms around his neck and buried her face into his chest. His shirt was clean, he smelled of soap and a warming fragrance of Ax deodorant. The smell reminded her of him and as his arms closed around her back, his chin rested on her blond head, she felt safe beyond any feeling she had ever encountered. Shaking with emotion, she remained there, unspeaking for a few minutes, he stroked her hair and kissed her head, whispering, “It’s OK, ?Caitlin, it’s OK now! I promise!”

Pulling away and looking up at him, she smiled weakly. “I lied for you! I’ve never done that or anything like it before in my life!” He nodded, then realizing her eyes couldn’t see her managed a vocal acknowledgement. “I know.” She smiled stronger now and took his hands into hers. “Don’t let me down!” She said firmly, her tone almost menacing. “Don’t let me regret lying to my friends for you! The cops, I couldn’t give a shit,” She whispered, “But my friends…” She trailed off and dropped his hands but he understood. The look on her face said it all.

“I won’t,” his hands were holding hers again, as though he needed to touch her to guarantee she was real. That she was existing, in his world, alongside him. a beauty, an intelligent woman, this wasn’t meant to happen to him or anyone like him. He was a gangster. A law breaking, drug dealing gangster that would rather fuck people up if they crossed him than talk it through. And here she was, the only thing that seemed to matter besides his family. no girl had ever achieved such a fit before. No one had ever made him feel like their safety mattered more to him than his own. Despite his cowardice on the Sunday, now he knew he would do anything to protect her. She was what he wanted and even though he would never want to see harm befall her, he knew if she crossed him, his gangster mentality could kick in within seconds. His heart raced at the emotion displayed upon her face. She had shown him more than he had needed to see but he felt relieved and reassured that she had what it took to truly be his girl.

“Listen to me,” He said, his tone firm and authoritative. “Caitlin, i’m into you, in a big way. But baby girl, what you did proved to me that you are the right one for me. You are a straight up bitch girl, and I want you by my side. But you ever cross me…” She gave his hands a squeeze. “I have no reason too. I trust you. But JC, promise me you’ll leave Battle alone.” He tensed now and pulled her tight. “I can’t make that promise,” He kissed her head. “Caitlin, if he comes after you, I cannot make that promise!” “Ok, if he provokes you, I can accept it, but please, don’t go after him again unless he gives you reason too.” He nodded and smiled bashfully. “What the hell are you doing to me, ma?” His lips met hers in a kiss of fire hot passion and she giggled, pulling away. “Why?” She asked breathlessly. “If any girl asked me to not do anything, I’d tell her where to get off.” They both laughed and both knew that what they had could only get better.

Lexie slammed into the house around seven PM to find Emily sitting on the couch with Cory. She glowered at the pair not having had a great day as it already stood. First of all, she had been awoken by the cops banging on the door looking for Caitlin’s stupid boyfriend, then Emily had backed down on giving Caitlin harsh words and her boss had been giving her shit while Dan was ignoring her all afternoon. The word fowl didn’t come close to describing Lexie’s mood that evening.

“Where’s Caitlin?” She growled at the happy couple, snuggled up on the couch watching sixty minutes. “Not sure,” Emily said, dipping her hand into the bowl of chips she and Cory were sharing. “Oh,” Cory smiled. “She and JC were going to dinner.” Emily and Lexie stared at him now quizzically. “How do you know that?” Emily asked curiously. “She came back to get some food and a spare set of clothes while you were in the shower,” He told her, noisily crunching on some chips. Taking another handful, Cory was unaware of the girls looks. “So she is staying with him?” Lexie’s blood was boiling as she leaned on the couch, staring at Emily. “See, this is because you didn’t stick to your guns! You needed to tell her something! she can’t still be serious about him after everything!” “Well, she likes him and he certainly cares about her. Lexie, maybe we should give him a chance.” Emily looked at her friend thoughtfully. She knew Caitlin was happy with JC, why was Lexie dead against it? If she had felt like a fight she may have asked her that precise question but Emily was growing tired of fighting with her roommates. She could possibly conceive that was why she hadn’t stuck to “her guns”, as Lexie had phrased it, but Emily knew in her heart she hadn’t stood fast against Caitlin because she was happy for her. She knew how it felt to be happy with a guy, having the same experience with Cory at that exact moment in her life, why would she want to take that away from her best friend?

“Emily, I don’t want him here!” Lexie growled. “Caitlin lives here too,” Cory spoke up and his voice made both girls turn in astonishment toward him. Cory was the last person on earth to be apart of a confrontation, so to hear him talk against Lexie’s proposed action made both girls stare. “What?” He stuffed another handful of chips into his mouth and watched his girlfriend’s eyes widen in shock. The smile playing across her lips told him she was proud of what he was doing so he continued. “You can’t dictate who Caitlin sees and who comes to visit her. Her name is on the lease and she has every right. JC did nothing, you can’t be playing juror Lexie. In this country, you’re innocent until proven otherwise and JC hasn’t even been arrested. The cops got the wrong guy and I’m betting it was a shock to you all them showing up here, but I’m also guessing Caitlin was as shocked as you both were. But she’s talked it over with him, she’s happy and I say let her get on with it.” “Wait, they had had a fight,” Lexie’s green eyes flashed dangerously again as realization struck her. “Guess they made up,” Emily stated the obvious while smiling. She was happy for her friend and turned her attention away from Lexie’s glowering.

Lexie stomped off to her room and text Caitlin in sheer annoyance. “Better watch your back with that one! or have you forgot what he did to our ex roomy?” Slamming her phone onto the table, Lexie leaned back and blasted her music as loud as possible to shut out her angry thoughts.

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