Letting Go

After being brutally abused by her father and outcasted by her classmates, seventeen year old Keller Alvidas is glad and even relieved to spend her last year at Edge-of-The-World, the sleepy small town she grew up in. Everything changes when the Gabriels, a group of orphaned teenage boys arrives. They break all her rules about meeting new people but they too have secrets and when the truth comes out Keller has to decide wether to let go and save herself or to continue to be dragged through everything she wanted to run away from, all for one chance she might never get.

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32. Don't Tell

Keller's P.O.V

I mope up my tears with my ruby fingers and lift myself off Josh's lifeless body. James runs forward with his hair falling out of place again. Guilt makes my eyes well up with tears again, I told Josh that I love him. I don't really love him, I'm sure of that but seeing James run up to me makes me heavy with guilt. He reaches me and wraps his arms around me, nearly lifting me off the ground.

"Are you okay?" he asks quietly. I shake my head, I'm most definitely not okay. He purses his lips together and holds me tighter. I lay my head against his shoulder and breathe in his soapy scent. James finally lets go and holds me at arms length, assesing my physical state.

"You're covered in blood Keller,' he says breathlessly as he wipes away the bloody tearstains on my face.

"Yeah, I know," I say in a flat voice.

"Well what happened?" he asks crushing me against him. I look over his shoulder at Josh's body which is currently being treated by paramedics, which is pointless becasue he's dead.

"Josh got stabbed James. He's dead," I say flatly again. James drops his arms, now he knows why I'm covered in blood.

"Who killed him?" he says in a hoarse voice.

"Lanny," I say bitterly. More police cars, more sirens, more noise.

"James?" I ask.

"Hmmm," he answers as he buries his head against hair.

"I think that I'm going to kill Lanny," I say.

"No, that's silly Keller," he says.

"No it's not, he killed Josh. I'd just be returning the favour," I reason.

"Well if you put it like that," he laughs. Footsteps approach as one of the paramedics runs towards us. He's tall and lean, just like James but with warm chocolate skin and intelligent eyes.

"Are you his girlfriend?" he asks me while gesturing towards Josh's body. I shake my head.

"Oh, well I might as well tell you anyways. He's alive you know. He'll be in crital condition as he lost way too much blood but he's going to live," he informs and walk away. James clucthes me against him still but shake myself loose and run after the paramedic.

"Excuse me but he wasn't breathing. How's he still alive?" I ask puzzled.

"I'm not sure but his heart was beating and his lungs were working. It's nothing short of a miracle," he smiles before walking back into the ambulance. I stand there dumbstruck while James walks back up to me.

"Now you don't have to kill Lanny," he says and I smile.

"Maybe, but I'm still returning the favour," I say. James mirrors my smile.

"I don't know what you're up to but I'm in," he smiles.

---

We spend the night in the living room, the little kids have scuttled off and we take over the sofa. Soft silence settles in and we lay like that for hours, neither one of us wanting to fall asleep and miss the other.

"Are you tired yet?" James asks after a long time. I hold on to his neck a little tighter.

"No," I answer even though my eyelids are dangerously close to falling. James laughs softly, my favourite one of his laughs, and slips my eyes shut.

"Liar," he jibes and plays with my hair.

"I'm not lying, I'm just thinking a lot," I explain with closed eyes.

"Thinking about Josh," he says and lets go of my hair. I shrug and pull the pillow closer to me.

"Yeah, I think I'm going to visit him in the hospital. You know, since I nearly killed him," and because he loves me and I told him I love him back.

"You didn't nearly kill him. It was Lanny's fault," he says. I sigh and his arms tighten around me.

"Did he say anything to you while you guys were stuck there?" he asks with an edge in his voice. My eyes snap open, suddenly alert.

"No," I lie.

"You sure?" he asks.

"Positive," I answer as my eyes grow heavy again. I think again and before I can stop myself I say, "I love you."

"You too," he mumbles. I get up and lay my head against my hand.

"How much?" I ask out of curiosity.

"More than you'll ever love me," he answers. Blush creeps up again and I feel giddy with joy. Thinking that that'll suffice I rest my head and don't protest when sleep catches me.

---

I scan the halls of the school and hesitantly check my watch, five minutes until end of the day. Then I see him. Tall, with eyes that seem blacker than black. Lanny.

Blood, knife, death. These things flash before my eyes as I remember last night. I walk over to him, only now noticing his arms around Sonia. I laugh a little bit, jerks stick together. People swarm together like bees to honey and they whisper about 'scarface' walking up to Sonia and Lanny, no doubt saying that I'm asking for trouble. And maybe I am.

I finally make it there and carefully tap Lanny on his shoulder. He turns around and flashes me a look of annoyance. He recognises my face and his scowl turns into a cheeky smile.

"Hey there Scarface! Come to check on me have you?" he laughs. I smile.

"Yes actually, I forgot something last night," I say with my brightest smile.

"A kiss maybe," he jokes. Sonia hits him.

"No, but you're going to get lip alright," I say, my voice suddenly low. A fat lip, I silently add. I pull my arm back and before I can doublethink myself, I swing.

Remember when you rode your first bike without training wheels? Or got your first pet? That's what punching Lanny felt like. He's wiping blood out from the corner of his mouth with anger burning like coals in his eyes. I put my lips against his ear, "Don't you dare hurt anyone else or I will personally kick your ass."

I shake my stinging fist and readjust my backpack strap  and stalk off meeting Ed and Will at the end of the hall, both of them positively laughing  their arses off.

"What's so funny?" I ask nonchalantly while on the inside my fist is screaming in pain from punching Lanny.

"I think our behaviour has rubbed off on you," laughs Will.

"Definitely," agrees Ed.

"Well he deserved it," I argue with my arms crossed over my chest. The bell rings aggressively loud and the students scatter off and out the building. I wak out with Ed and Wlil.

"Are you still checking on Josh?" Ed asks. I nod.

"I kind of owe it to the guy. I almost killed him," I sigh.

"Good luck then. We'll be at orphanage," Will says and saunters off. His stride makes me crack a smile during the walk to the hospital.

I pull open the heavy glass doors and sterile medicine is the first thing I smell. I wrinkle my nose and walk over to the nurse at the front desk.

"Excuse me, may I see Josh McKenzie," I ask nervously. The lady smiles widely, too widely. Sort of  like she's over excited.

"Are you his girlfriend?" she asks.

"No, I'm just a friend ma'ma," I say.

"Ah, too bad. I guess a visitor is a visitor though," she sighs. I wrinkle my brow.

"He hasn't had a visitor yet?" I ask.

"Nope, father's dead and mom's on vacation. You're the first one to come," she says. I feel even worse for Josh.

"What's your name?" she asks.

"Keller," I answer as she gets paperwork.

"You sure you're not his girlfriend? He's been whispering your name for the past hour, ever since the surgery was over," she says.  I blush, he's been asking for me? My heart sinks a little more.

"Just a friend," I assure as I sign the visitor paperwork.

"If you say so, room 235," she says. I nod my thanks and walk in.

The room was wide with a blue wallpaper making me feel cold. The white furniture gives the impression of never being sat on before, preventing me from sitting there too. Instead I grab a stool and bring it over to where Josh is unsuccessfully trying to spoon himself some pudding.

"Hey," I say dragging the stool over and planting myself down. He looks over and throws me a his sunniest smile. His gray eyes light up and contrast to his dark hair. He checks himself, and flashes a dimer smile my way.

"Hey," he says back.

"I heard you had surgery," I say.

"Yeah, wasn't that rough though, got a massive scar also," he says and lifts his hospital robe. A pink streak runs from one side of his stomach to the other. Before I can stop myself I'm running my finger across it, the soft skin still freshly cut. Josh shivers a little and I retract my hand.

"Sorry," I mumble. He smiles wider.

"Didn't hurt," he says. Tubes running from his hand get tangled with his spoon and chocolate pudding get everywhere. I laugh a little and offer to clean it up.

"Nah, it's fine. I'm a klutz," he laughs with pudding all over his upper lip.

"You got that right," I scoff and wipe the pudding off. I shoot the napkin in the trash. I sit back down and wipe some pudding off his hand.

"So, how's hospital life doing you-" I start to say but the words get lost as I realize that we're technically holding hands. I try to let go but something inside me doesn't exactly want to. I ignore it and let go. The defeated look on Josh's face adds to the protest in my head but I refuse to pick his hand up again.

"Look, Keller about last night-" he says.

"No Josh, It's fine-" I say as I cut him off.

"No Keller, listen to what I have to say," he says. I puff out a breath and obey.

"I just want to say that everything I said was true, and I stand by it," he says, "Do you think there's a chance, for you and me?" No, not again. This is making me so confused about everything.

"Josh, I don't know if there is a chance, in all honesty. James, he just, he's-"

"I'm guessing that's a no," he says shaking his head slightly.

"I'm sorry," I whisper. The handle of the door jingles slightly and for a second I'm scared it's James. I rush over to it just in case only to see that no one's there. I walk back to the stool and push myself down forcably, causing the stool to fall back and me to hit the ground. I land with a thud.

"Who's the klutz now?" laughs Josh as he extends his hand. I scowl up at him but take his hand anyway. I under estimated his strength. His pulls me up so quickly, even in his bed-ridden state that we're suddenly so close together, close enough that I can see specks of blue in his gray eyes.

"What if I asked you to stay?" he asks suddenly with his other arm winding around me, keeping me pressed against him. I can feel his heat through his hospital outfit and I gulp before answering. I'm going to regret this.

"Then I'd stay," I say. And he lights up. He more than smiles, he glows and then he closes the gap between us and for a second I forget about James. I forget about my damn scar and how ugly it makes me looks until I forget myself entierly, I forget there is a Keller Alvidas and that I'm her.

I don't know how long we stayed there. All I know is that I kept making little 'oh' sounds at the back of my throat. I know I shouldn't be doing this, goodness this is all messed up, but a part of me, the part that didn't want to let go of Josh's hand didn't want me to leave yet.

"We shouldn't be doing this," I sigh and finally pull back.

"I know," a gruff voice at the back of the room growls. We jump apart at the sound. I don't want to turn around, please don't make turn around. But in the end I need to, this is my mistake.

It's Ed, thank goodness.

"I'm telling James," he whispers quietly and disappears out the door in a flash. I stand there, stupified, while Josh still holds onto me.

"I need to go," I mumble quickly before escaping after Al.

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