Out Of Bounds

In all honesty, my sister and I had never been close

But one person was going to tear us further apart

His name is Luke Hemmings

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9. 9

"Where the hell have you been? We've phoned the police! I've been to that boy Calum's house multiple times and you wasn't there? I've been to see Amy and you didn't stay with her so where the hell were you?"

I stand in the living room and watch my mother pull at her hair in frustration. Tom is nowhere to be seen. Thankfully

"I stayed at a hotel, I didn't want to come back here obviously"

Moms face softens and she pulls a tissue out of her pocket. She gestures for me to sit down on the couch and she sits next to me. She holds my hand and takes a deep breath to try and steady her breathing through her tears

"Carly, I know things can be hard here. Not seeing you very often, it can make me feel distant from you. It's all a process, we just have to put this behind us and try and move forward. Tom is so very very sorry for the things he said. He hates himself right now"

I feel nothing for Tom. I don't feel any sympathy for him that's for sure. He's feeling bad about it? Good. So he should

"Look, I just came back here to get my things and to leave. Things between Tom and I have always been strained and I don't see that changing. I just want to go back home, I don't belong here-"

"Carly yes you do belong here! I'm your mom. I love you too"

"I just want to go home. Please mom. Don't cry I hate it"

I hug her and she wraps her arms around me that tight I'm pretty sure I'm about to stop breathing but I don't pull away. I feel sorry for her, a feeling I have never felt before. I get the feeling having me around makes her happy because Jodie just sees her as a maid and obviously she is having issues with the perfect "Tom" not that she would ever admit it. The door opens and I close my eyes. I don't want to see Tom right now. I have too much pent up rage and I'm not ready for round two of a slanging match

"Carly?"

I open my eyes and this time I move out of moms grip so I can get up off the couch

"Dad?" I run over and can't help but cry when he wraps his arms around me

"I don't know what is happening here but it needs sorting. Family meeting. Right now"

It's odd to sit around moms table having a family meeting with my dad here. Apparently when I left last night my mom phoned my dad and filled him in on what happened. He was beyond angry about what Tom had said to me and dad was worried sick that he actually drove for six hours throughout the night to get here. Jennifer has stayed in Coonamble and this just makes me feel so guilty. This should be their time, they wanted to go on the boat, they are meant to be spending time together and yet dads here. Running after me like I'm some wayward child. I'm actually embarrassed by it all!

Tom sits opposite me but as yet we haven't made eye contact. Instead he looks into his coffee mug and he looks absolutely mortified. Dad sits next to me, his back is slouched against the chair and he sits rigid with his arms folded. Mom sits opposite him and every so often I catch her looking at him. I wonder in these moments if she thinks "what if?"'does she still find my dad attractive? The years have been kind to him although he looks a few years older than late thirties. Maybe being a fisherman does that to you? His face is tanned from being out at the open sea so much and his jet black hair is peppered with silver strands. It suits him though. It just shows he's a hard grafter. Dad clears his throat which makes me stiffen. This family meeting is about to start although I would rather just skip it and get to the part where I pack my suitcase and wave goodbye to everyone

"So, I don't appreciate being woken up at two o'clock in the morning to be told you are awol. You are eighteen Carly, what were you thinking? You could have text your mother, answered one of her phone calls? Everyone has been worried sick!"

My mouth falls open as I realise that I'm in the firing line first. Dad is my best friend, right now he's being a traitor

"Well maybe if I would have felt wanted in the first place I would never have left. I am supposed to be here on vacation, I'm not here to see Tom drunkenly talking to mom like crap!"

I hit my hand off the table and sit back in my chair, mirroring dads body language by folding my arms

"Carly, don't talk to me like that! I'm exhausted after that drive and I haven't come all of this way to argue with you too. I just expect you to act like the responsible adult you are. But whist my daughter has brought up the issue" dad turns his attention to Tom "I do not appreciate a grown man arguing with my daughter. What the hell was it about?"

Tom rubs the back of his neck and finally has the balls to look up. He shakes his head and his cheeks flush, my dad can be quite an intimidating man as Tom is finding out

"Look Carl. It got out of hand. I was drunk, it's not a regular occurrence, maybe that's why I can't handle liquor, but I never ever meant to argue with Carly. Or Colleen. It went too far, way too far. And I can only profusely apologise for my behaviour. Carly I am so so sorry. Please accept my apology?"

I shrug nonchalantly and dad nudges me

"Carly Tom has apologised, it would be very mature of you to accept it"

Moms voice softly scolds me and I sigh in frustration

"Fine, whatever. Accepted. Now can we please go?"

Dad leans forward, never taking his eyes off me. He taps his fingers off the table a few times and I know his mind has gone into overdrive

"No"

"No? What do you mean no?"

Dad narrows his eyes at me before turning to face my mom and Tom

"We need to be realistic here. There's some animosity between Carly and Tom, Colleen I think that's our fault. What happened all those years back needs to be forgot about. I can see you're both happy and I am happy with Jennifer. It just seems to me that Carly is still bitter in some way -"

"I am not bitter!" OK well maybe I am but I don't have to admit it

"So what do you suggest we do? I can't keep apologising Carl?"

"Hello mom I am sitting right here! You don't all have to talk about me like I'm invisible!"

Dad shoots me a look and I stop talking

"I'm going to stay overnight, get a hotel somewhere. I'm too tired to drive back today. Carly will stay here for the next four weeks as planned. If she is still welcome?"

"Of course she is. She is more than welcome here I've told her that" Tom exaggerates and I flip him off under the table. Asshole

"Carl you don't have to book a hotel, they are expensive around here. Stay in Jodie's room for the night-"

"I'm not poor Colleen! I can afford a hotel-"

"Carl for goodness sake I didn't say you were poor I would just like you to stay here for the night. The dance rehearsals for the ball are tonight, I was going to drag Carly along as punishment for disappearing-"

"Ha, I don't think so. No. No. No. No. Definitely not!" I will accept any punishment but that! Dancing? No!

"I will stay for tonight. Can you please just give me a moment alone with Carly please?"

If Tom walked out of the room any quicker he would have been sprinting. Mom reluctantly follows him but she looks at my dad once more before shutting the kitchen door

"Dad, what are you doing? I want to go home!"

Dad stands up and starts pacing

"Carly all I can hear is what you want! Have you stopped to think about what your mother wants? Carly, I've always gone easy on you. I adore the ground you walk on but stop being so bloody selfish! You will stay here for the next four weeks. You will go to this dance, whatever it is and most of all you will smile and pretend you enjoy it!"

"Why should I?"

"Because Carly we both know this is probably the last year you will do this. You're an adult now and you chose to come which makes me extremely proud but the time has come where I can't force you to come here if you don't want to. Just please do this for your mom, she needs you more than you think"

"What does that mean? Dad, are you not telling me something?"

Dad shakes his head and sits down next to me again

"Carly, it's time to forgive her. You will feel so much better if you accept Tom. It's all in the past now honey. Leave it there?"

I've always felt like its been easier to hate Tom, that way I have never had to get to know him. I always felt like I had to choose a side even though my parents made it clear I didn't have to. But liking Tom almost seems like it's betraying dad somehow but now I know it's not. Dad has got over this. I need to as well

"OK fine. I'll give Tom a chance, I'll stay here for four weeks and I'll try and enjoy it. Happy now?"

"Very happy" dad kisses my forehead and I try and look on the bright side. I'm not sure there is a bright side yet though

At six o'clock we arrive at the school. Dad has decided to stay at home and rest, in other words he's avoiding having to be around mom and Tom. There's about twelve people in the school hall and I mentally note where all the exit signs are incase I decide to make a run for it

"I'm so glad you've decided to stay Carly. I really hope we can move forward now. I can't apologise enough for my behaviour yesterday. I promise it won't happen again"

"it's OK Tom stop apologising. But for what it's worth I'm sorry too. Now, what's going on here then?"

"Basically we are just learning some routine steps. With it being a high profile event I think it's only appropriate that the dancing is old school sophistication. We will find you a dance partner" He smiles and I grab moms arm

"Found my partner"

"You can't dance with your mother Carly. Oh you are funny" he awkwardly pats the top of my head and I force a smile

"Actually guys, I have a terrible headache. I might just go home if that's OK? I think it's a migraine"

"Mom are you alright?"

"I'm fine sweetie, it will pass after some pain killers and sleep"

Tom hands mom the car keys and she kisses him before leaving. I follow Tom over to the stereo where he puts on a frank Sinatra CD and claps his hands to get people's attention although in all fairness there's hardly anyone here

"Right. Pick a partner. Preferably boy girl. It doesn't have to be your permanent dance partner. I know we are missing some people tonight"

Amy bursts through the door followed by Luke

"Sorry I'm late. My mom needed to borrow my car and I saw Luke driving down my street, anyway panic over. We are here"

"That's fine, you are here now" Toms smile broadens and I look anywhere but at Luke. Last night only ignited my attraction for him and right now I know this means that I should avoid him "Amy, you and I know the dance so we will lead. Carly, Luke can be your partner-"

"I'm not staying-"

"Yes you are Luke" Tom tells him sternly "Jodie is really looking forward to this dance so at least you will know some moves by then. Come on, you two are friends. Let's just get on with it" Tom claps his hands again and Amy gives me a brief hug before joining Tom in the middle of the room. They start to dance and people around them follow their moves

"Let's just get this over with" Luke grabs hold of my hand and we stand nearest the edge of the room. He puts one hand on my waist and his other hand holds mine as I put my hand on his shoulder. My mom has brought me a dress for every occasion possible and tonight I'm wearing a white linen dress that is a corset style that goes into a nipped in waist and then the skirt flares out to my knees and there's some pink netting underneath. My hair is in soft waves and I'm grateful for the fact I put make up on. Granted at the time I applied it, it was because I looked so shocking thanks to last nights drinking but now I'm glad my bronzed cheeks hide my blushing. Luke is wearing his usual attire of black skinny jeans, black converse and a plain black T shirt but today he has a black and red checked flannel shirt over the top and of course, he looks good. I look down at his feet as we start to try and make a box shape. As he goes back, I go forward then we both step to the side. To distract myself I repeat this over and over. Forward, feet together, to the side, feet together. Stop. Back, feet together, to the side, feet together. Stop

"I thought you were leaving" I look up at him and he's frowning

"Nice to know where I'm wanted. There's been a change of plans" I snap at him and then look back down. Forward, feet together, to the side, feet together. Stop.

"I never said I didn't want you here Carly"

"It's fine, I get the hint" back, feet together, to the side, feet together. Stop

"Luke and Carly. I could fit a train between you both. Hold Carly closer to you Luke, it will give her better posture" Tom calls over but I carry on reciting the steps to myself. Luke abruptly pulls me closer to him and my forehead softly brushes his against his chest

"Head up Carly" seriously if Tom doesn't shut up I'm going to scream. I look up but focus on Luke's shirt. He's taller than me so I can't even see over his shoulder. How long does this rehearsal last for? An hour? Please go quick, please go quick

"You move like a robot"

I look up and Luke is smirking. My frown fades and I bite the inside of my cheek to stop myself from grinning like a fool

"Yes well, you aren't exactly the best dance partner"

"Really? How so?"

"The serious expression, the fact you are holding me like a bag of rubbish. It's hardly the most romantic of dances"

His hand grips tighter around my waist and he pulls me closer to him so my head is just beneath his chin

"Is that better?"

"Much better" my voice is barely a whisper and he rests his cheek against my hair. Somehow our feet do what they are supposed to do and I suppose what we are doing sort of resembles the same steps as Amy and Toms. The whole time I'm aware of his hands on me. The way his fingers lightly grip my waist but every so often he runs his fingers up and down my back. It's like electric when he touches my skin

"That's all for tonight. Thank you for coming. Next rehearsal is Friday" Tom takes a frantic bow and I have to stop myself from laughing. Luke lets go of me and I can't help feeling disappointed that this is over. He mimics Toms bow and I let out a soft laugh as I curtsy

"Thank you for the dance Luke"

"My pleasure Carly"

The space between us is closed as Luke steps forward and pushes a strand of hair off my face. Feeling his fingers touch the side of my cheek feels exciting and wrong at the same time that all I can do is close my eyes and savour this forbidden moment

"Guys, me and Amy have got some prep work to do here. Would you like to stay and help?"

As Tom approaches I snap my eyes open and take a step back from Luke. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye and I know he doesn't want to stay

"Actually I best get back to see my dad and check in on mom. What time will you be back?"

Tom looks at his watch and tilts his head to the side

"Should be a few hours. Tell your mom it should be around ten o'clock but if it's any later tell her to not wait up. Luke, are you staying?"

"Hmm, no. I'll give Carly a lift"

Tom nods his head and I can feel Luke looking at me. I instinctively reach over and hold his arm

"I'll just go and say goodbye to Amy" he nods his head and when I look at Tom he's frowning at the fact I am obviously so comfortable around Luke. I smile innocently and hope I'm not coming across like some home wreaking hussy. Although let's face it, Tom knows all about that!

Amy is packing away some CDs and when I walk over she grabs me by the elbow and pulls me to a corner of the room

"Carly where did you go last night? Can you remember anything?"

"I remember tequila, and dancing. Other than that nothing. Somehow I managed to check into a hotel though. Luke dropped me off at one and left me there, it's best if you don't tell no one that bit though. Please?"

"Of course I won't. I'm your best friend! My lips are sealed. I take it you're going to stay though? Please say you are?"

"I am, I am staying. And I am also going to be nicer and politer so just tell Tom how wonderful I am as I don't think he's convinced?"

"Carly Tom adores you. He was really looking forward to having you here. It's all he talked about at these meetings. He just feels like he doesn't know you that's all. Try and be his friend?"

I give her a kiss on the cheek as Tom and Luke walk over to us

"Ready?"

I nod my head and smile at Tom before leaving. The walk to Luke's car is quite and I don't think either of us knows what to say. It shouldn't be this awkward between us but I know my behaviour last night has probably made it this way. Luke opens the car door for me and I thank him as I get in. I watch him walk round to his side of the car and once he's seated I decide to try and clear the air

"Luke"

"Carly"

We both speak at the same time and I want to hear what he has to say but he goes quite so I can continue

"Luke I was just going to apologise for last night again. I promise I'm not staying to cause any trouble, especially between you and Jodie. I will keep my distance from you if I have to but I would really like us to be friends?"

He sighs and unclips his seatbelt. He looks around the car park but we are the only ones parked on this side. He runs his fingers over his chin and turns to face me

"Carly, I didn't want you to leave. Well maybe I did, but I've been on edge all day thinking you had left and I hadn't said goodbye, not properly anyway"

Oh. He didn't want me to leave? Well he did but he's glad I didn't? All of this is so confusing

"So you're glad I stayed?"

"Carly can you keep a secret?"

I nod my head but his face doesn't look satisfied by this

"Of course I can Luke. What is it?"

"I'm more than glad you stayed, from that first day I met you I haven't been able to stop thinking about you. I'm going to regret this-"

I'm about to ask what he's going to regret but I soon realise what he means. His fingers entwine in my hair, softly holding my head in place and I close my eyes as Luke Hemings kisses me

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